Sophie brings us an exciting and reassuring update…
Following treatment at Newmarket, box rest and lots of care, there is better news on my top horse Reece (Valerius) who has increased his walking, to the point I can sit on him. Although after a very frisky moment in the field whilst trying to hack, we have resorted to smaller spaces for a while!
Elsewhere it’s been an exciting start to the competition season. Deauville CPEDI*** went really well at the beginning of April. I only took Jorge as William did feel quite ready for his international debut. Jorge smashed out personal best performances on the first two days, which turned out to be career best for me too! He then returned home and got a personal best at Keysoe Premier League (able bodied) in the Inter 1, to win a big class.
In Deauville I also had two of my clients competing - Izzy Palmer on my horse Touchdown M, and Georgia Wilson on her own Chico. It was only Izzy’s second international abroad, and Georgia’s first, so it was quite a big deal for them. I remember when I first started going abroad to compete, it’s quite daunting. You don’t know many riders there and a lot of them are seasoned campaigners, many have done major championships too. I remember my first one and Ann Cathrin Lubbe and Philippa Johnson were competing, they had just come back from Athens with gold and silver medals. I was completely in awe of them, and still completely respect them as riders and competitors, feeling honoured I had such great role models to aspire to.
As Izzy was riding Touchdown, I know him quite well, I’ve had him for 10 years, and despite his seven-year break in the middle due to injury, I can tune into him quite well. This is also the third season I’ve trained Georgia on Chico, so we have established a good warm up routine. I’m allowed to ride Chico for a maximum of 30 minutes each day as Georgia rides at grade 2, so we just had to stick to that plan. When you have a plan, I think it relaxes everyone involved including the horse. The time you start doing something different just because you are at a bigger competition and the pressure is on, things tend to go wrong! Same sh*t different arena, as Charlotte Dujardin famously said.
Both girls did a great job. The horses are both prone to getting a little nervous, and sometimes it’s hard for riders to take control and be the confident one when they are in a pressured situation but they both proved the training they have put in and produced solid tests. It’s a really proud moment for me when the riders I train come out of the arena and everything has come together at the right time to pull off a great performance, but I also feel very proud when sometimes things don’t go according to plan and they are able to deal with it independently and make the best of the situation. That’s my goal in my coaching, not that they are reliant on me for every step, after all, they are on their own in that arena!
Sometimes it’s hard to step back and let things happen which are good for learning, even if it’s hard to deal with at the time. That’s something I have found hugely beneficial from the work I’ve done on the Youth Pathway Coaching Programme I’m on. It’s hugely inspiring to be alongside some of the most motivated and down to earth top coaches, that are wanting to continue to better themselves. It’s very humbling. I come away from the course days drained but so inspired. Thank you to the BEF for running the course!
Back at home we have had some exciting new arrivals since returning from France. You can find out more about them on the horses' section of the website, but Charlotte Hogg has bought me JZ or “Classic Jillz Gueszenhof”. He’s not 4 until July this year, so only a baby, and has a lot of maturing to do. But he has such a huge character. I can’t thank Rebecca Hughes enough for helping me in my search for a new star, and Rebecca, Gareth Hughes and Julia Hornig From Classic Dressage for allowing me to buy JZ.
Loki, a 5-year old From Oakleigh Farm Stud has also arrived. I had been teaching him and his owner for a few months when she offered me the ride. He also has a lot of character and we did our first competition together to get 7.7 in the 5-year old class to come a close 3rd after the final line up, originally sitting in 2nd. Now he’s based with me (after a bit of building work to allow for more stables), hopefully we can crack on with some training.
And finally, Dime arrived with us. A 10-year old bay mare who is training towards Grand Prix. It’s a great opportunity to get to know Dime, and so far she has been a sweetheart. Just lots more strength needed for the high level work but it’s work in progress.
I’m looking forward to keeping you up to speed on everyone’s progress, in the meantime check out the new faces for yourself 😊.