May has been a really exciting month with the addition of a new horse on the yard. Redbarn Lux Ury Biscuit aka Biscuit. Biscuit is owned by Eventing Worldwide so its a pleasure to have him on the yard and have the opportunity to compete him.
There is always much excitement when an owner decides to purchase a new horse. Its a relationship that has to work for both parties, the owner has to feel something for the horse and I as the rider, have to get a certain feeling when I ride and train it to make sure I can get the best out of the horse for the owner. We exchanged a lot of adverts between us and discussed a lot of options, but then Biscuit came into our inboxes and we both felt that he was a one to view. We went together to view him and I got on him after our initial visual inspection of him. I am happy to try most types, but I know what I need to feel from the horse and what I am looking for, so the only way to test this really, is just to get on and get going! When trying a horse for an owner or even myself, I look for certain traits, Im looking for temperament, trainability, straightness, and how much jump they have and how careful they are over the jumps, the rest can all be worked on and developed. Biscuit gave me all of these in my first ride, he felt great to ride, dont get me wrong, he might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I like a sharp horse, I like to ride something with a fair amount of blood in them, I like to be able to channel the energy!!
An offer was put in that evening and the vetting arranged which he passed with flying colors and then he was delivered to my yard to start his eventing life with us.
I like to give new horses time to settle in at the yard. I will hack them for a few days, so they get to know the place and settle into their new surroundings without any pressure. After they have settled in, they are given a full health MOT, which includes a visit from the Physio, the Dentist, the Farrier and a Saddle Check. Biscuit needed to improve his top line and build a little more muscle, so on the advice of the physio we left the saddle fitting until he had spent some time working and building up his top line so that we got a true picture. He has since had another follow-up visit from the physio who was pleased with his progress. Since then the saddle fitter has been and a lovely new saddle has been purchased with fits his new physique perfectly.
I have 22 horses in my yard, 11 are eventing, 2 Pointers, my young horses, some in for schooling livery, my Show Horse and my Broodmare. So its very busy as you can imagine! I have a brilliant team behind me, 1 full-time member of staff and 4 part-time staff that I could not be without. I am quite often away for days on end competing, so its important that I have a team at home to make sure the yard runs whilst Im not there and take care of the other horses. I really am passionate about supporting my staff and making sure they all enjoy coming to work, we do lots of social things together, and I like the yard to have a family atmosphere.
On a normal day at the yard I ride 10-12 horses a day, which keeps me pretty fit!! Having the Pointers on
the yard is an ideal way to improve your fitness, doing fast work with them, getting up off their backs and up in the stirrups five times a week will soon improve your fitness!
Most of the horses that are in for eventing work 5 or 6 times a week depending on their competition schedule. The usual week will consist of two flatwork sessions, one jump session, one session on the lunge and hacking. They are always given two days off after a competition to destress and rest their bodies before coming back into their weekly training routine again.
I train weekly with flatwork instructor Helen Griffiths. I will ride 5 or 6 horses and she will help me with test riding which I think has really benefited me in terms of preparation at competitions. I also train when I can with dressage rider Adam Kemp, I think its always good to attend clinics and lessons with other professionals.
I have been show jump training with Padraig McCarthy since last year and he has been instrumental in helping me ride more positively which is so so important when you start to jump the bigger courses. Padraig set up a clinic at Chard Equestrian a few weeks ago with Ireland’s Show Jumping Coach and Level 3 High-Performance Coach Ian Fearon. I had such a great time, Ian gave a different perspective, he concentrated on my position over a fence and his attention to the smaller details was amazing, just goes to show you never stop learning! I took the new boy Biscuit to this, and I’m pretty sure he enjoyed it as much as I did!!
One thing that I have learnt over the past 5 or 6 years is that you must make time for yourself. Eventing or any of the equestrian disciplines is hard work on your body when you do it for a living.
I try to make sure I take one day off a week or two half days if that’s not possible, to spend time with my partner and family. I am very lucky that he is so understanding of my career choice and accepts that during the season I may be gone for days on end, but when all horses are back in the yard I do try to take that all important day out. I think its important that as a rider we feel fresh and rested as much as the horses do. Im so happy that my sister got engaged this month, so we now have the added excitement of a family wedding and for me a chance to wear heels instead of boots for a change!!
Thank you for reading, next month I will share with you what its like to ride different horses in different disciplines and will let you know how my show horse gets on at the county shows!