The beginning of the season has flown past and now we are just a week off Badminton! It always comes up quickly, but having said that we have been gearing up for it for months! Happy Times has started the season off well – I’ve just been giving him some quiet runs to prepare him and he’s put up some good performances. I have been working hard at home on his dressage with our Aussie team dressage coach Brett Parbery, and with Charlotte Dujardin. Then I’ve also been training the show jumping phase with Ros Morgan who has been fantastic with Happy, which is great as he is a very quirky horse to train at home! Ros has even had me out to jumping shows with Happy and some of my other horses which has been very useful for working out warm up plans etc. Although I do think I “screamed” event rider when I was warming up at Wales and West in my XC hat and sheepskin breastgirth alongside Billy Twomey and one (never know which one as there are so many) of the Whitaker boys! Rather embarrassing… but Lucy has rectified this by ordering me a very expensive show jumping hat – I had better jump some clears in it and win some money to pay for it!

We had a great weekend up at Belton with Happy and Paulank Brockagh (Brocks). Happy ran well, (felt like a machine cross-country), but it has to be said that Brocks stole the show – she was amazing! She scored a definite PB for her at advanced level in the dressage and then jumped the most fantastic double clear to finish third in a seriously competitive advanced class. I am so excited about her – she could actually be a serious back up for me for the Games. Bramham is her next big run and I am really looking forward to it.

I also have a new “toy” – a lovely young horse called Favorit Z aka Frodo! He is stunning. He was bought for me recently from Constantin van Rickvorsel who has produced him beautifully, so I am very lucky to have him. He is still quite green but I am really hoping I might get him to Le Lion D’Angers at the end of the year – he is a serious horse that has everything going for him.

In amongst all this I have been doing quite a bit of training – I had a very successful day at Boomerang for Horsequest, who had set up a competition to win XC training with me. What a lovely group of people they were. Then, similarly, Cosequin had set up a competition to win a lesson with me here at our yard – a lovely girl called Melanie came for a lesson, by all accounts really enjoyed her time, and hopefully learnt a lot too.

All the novice horses have been going well, although I have had a few balloted recently which has stopped play. Lucy’s two horses have been excellent too and both had very successful debuts at Novice level for Angelo and Intermediate level for Beaurepaire Nemo – both finishing in the top five at Gatcombe. I’ll have to start giving her duff information to stop her “cleaning up”! It was a great shame not to get a run at Hambleden, especially as we had been going on and on about the amazing Hambleden bluebells to all our newly arrived antipodeans – aka Chris Burton and Alice Montgomery – they certainly wouldn’t get that at an Aussie/Kiwi event! Although, they probably wouldn’t get events rained off either!

Therefore, with Badminton just days away now the focus has mainly been putting the polish on things…Lucy has been videoing my schooling sessions at home and we have our grass arena set up now, and I have been running through the test and then analysing the videos. Lucy is my toughest critic so she doesn’t let me mess up too many square halts that’s for sure! We’ve had Brett here for sporadically over the past couple of weeks, and then I’ve got Ros coming again on Friday. Just to add a cherry on top to the tension of these next few days, I am running my head groom Mouse’s horse, Mumbo Jumbo, in his first advanced at Withington this weekend. I think she may need some serious supplies of Rescue Remedy to get through all this. I have Real Dancer and Brocks running too this weekend; Brocks will then head to Chatsworth World Cup and Real Dancer is being aimed at Aachen and the new Nations Cup series later in the season. In the meantime, I have a couple more gallop sessions to do on Happy and then the big ‘B’ is upon us…wish me luck!

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