Things have been going well but there was bound to be a few bumps in the road on the journey to Badminton. Sarah and I have said on numerous occasions we want to wrap Stanley in cotton wool and we had this in the back of our mind whilst planning which events he would run at before May.

Soon after my last blog we had our first set back when one Monday morning Stanley came out of the stable lame! Sarah called and warned me not to panic but delivered the bad news. After getting the Stan at Lincoln with his breeders Trevor and Barbara Chalonerresident vet – Sarah’s husband Simon – to have a look, a foot abscess was found, and we breathed a sigh of relief hoping it wouldn’t take too long for him to get over. So a week of wearing a welly and being poulticed we hoped to be back on track with him. It did take a little longer than planned but it wasn’t too much longer before we managed to get a XC schooling session in. And he pulled my arms out!! Stan absolutely loves the XC.

This was followed by a much needed dressage lesson with Jane green after missing a couple. I find it so useful to see Jane every other week. The dressage is such an influential phase and I don’t feel like I can compromise on the training as I learn something in every single session with her.

We felt all set and ready for our first planned run at Askham Bryan and were hit with disappointment when it was cancelled. As gutting as it was, I can’t help but feel gutted more for the organisers who put so much into it.

With this cancelled we decided to re-route to Vale View for Arena Eventing. This is a great competition from a schooling point of view for Stan as he can practise his show jumping but with a 400mpm optimum time in the XC phase it keeps both of our ‘eyes’ in ready for our first outing on the XC course. He picked up two placings in the 90 and the 1m.

This was followed by our second planned run the following Thursday at Oasby to be cancelled also, due to heavy rain! I told myself it just wasn’t meant to be and once again we re-routed Arena Eventing. Jumping two super double clears but picking up time faults being too fast he finished 4th and 6th.

Third time lucky and we got our first run at Lincoln Horse Trials! A great dressage mark of 24.8 , I actually felt like our performance could still of been a fraction better, but nevertheless still a great score! A very costly but unfortunate 4 faults in the show jumping which was a shame as he  was jumping brilliant and an amazing clear cross country left us in 4th place. It was especially lovely to do well here as Stanley’s breeders Trevor and Barbara Chaloner came to support and see him go.

This was also my first time with my stopwatch! I didn’t have high expectations as I half expected to forget to set it going , and I didn’t have any minute markers so wasn’t sure how much use it would be, or if I would even get chance to look at it. But I actually found it so useful. I had a bit of a gage on how long it had taken to get to certain stages and was able to give Stan a bit of a breather half way round before a final push for home – inside the time.

The week after we got an unplanned entry for Great Witchingham after him losing two early runs. I’d been dressaging earlier in the week with a young horse of mine so hadn’t bothered to look at the BE test for fear of complicating things. So when I finally had a look which one it was the day before, I was met with a 100 test in a long arena – oh! There’s just so many letters!! Arena eventing - photo courtesy of Aimee Stephenson Animal Photography

Anyway, Stan did a good test with just one mistake when he lost concentration with a Lorry going past on a nearby road, a couple of transitions could of been better, but overall he was a good boy and we got a 29. I was just relieved to of actually remembered where to go! His show jumping was fab with a great clear, and again a brilliant round XC inside the time. I did feel him get a bit tired towards the end of the course so we now know his fitness work needs to be upped but it’s been difficult for Sarah who does this with him as the ground has been so wet, and also with his foot abscess he missed a week or two of cantering.

En-route to Great Witchingham we did the Badminton Mitsubishi Motors Cup entry on my phone. It was incredibly exciting to then click on the ‘received entries’ and see our names on there. We have a run in two weeks’ time at Norton Disney and this will be his last run before Badminton. It’s all getting very serious. We will fill the rest of the run up with some show jumping, maybe an arena eventing outing, and also some dressage – as well as more dressage with Jane Green. I just feel like I’ve not had his full concentration at these first 2 events in the dressage despite getting relatively good scores, and I don’t want to wish I was more prepared. Stan and I will keep working away and we cannot wait for the experience.

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