What a start to the season – the poor organisers of all those competitions that have been Abandoned – all their hard work taken by the weather.
We were on our way to Lincoln 2 weeks ago when we heard it had been abandoned – luckily only 2 hours into our journey so a U turn was done and homeward bound – the horses were really put out when they arrived back at home having missed their party.
We now start our competition season with Burnham Market taking V.I.P Vinnie to do his first advanced trying to qualify for 3* – lets hope all this rain they are talking about won’t ruin this competition. He is feeling so good and has been training well, I expect him to be very fresh as he hasn’t competed for a while – so could be exciting times!!
The Partner is also competing there starting his Calver Wealth Management campaign. He has also been working well and it will be good to get our first competition under way.
We then take V.I.P. Vino to Larkhill on the 7th April – he is a feisty horse, self opinionated and we had several visits to Jason Web of Your Horsemanship to sort a few issues out. Jason is so good at working with difficult horses and breaking the youngsters in. Although Vino has the same sire as V.I.P Vinnie he is a very different character and we have certainly been through the mill together but progress has been made so look forward to getting him out.
Preparation for the season
Osberton was our last competition in 2017 and it seems an age away – well I suppose it was nearly 5 months ago!!! It certainly has been a long hard winter – for everyone – and I feel as though I have been wet through from start to finish bar a couple of days!!
All horses had 6 weeks off – this was slightly staggered so they all came back into work at different times. I bought them back using a routine set by ARC equine -www.arc-family.com combined with an ARC program –
it is a slow process but they all came back in very relaxed and supple through their backs. V.I.P Vinnie came back into work early November as he started his holiday mid September – the others all came back during early December – very tedious walking but it has to be done.
During January the hard work really started – building up their strength and fitness and making sure we kept this going through all that the weather threw at us!!! As for everyone, it hasn’t been easy, we made the most of every opportunity and haven’t lost too many days overall. We became quite good at clearing snow paths from the barn to the walker and then clearing the walker – all very time consuming but a must to get the horses legs stretched on those days we couldn’t ride.
In February the horses had their “maintenance” sessions ready for the season – A visit from Jess Burbage at TopSpec – to go through the horses feeding programs and also weighed them all – some of the weight differences from a year ago were amazing – in a good way – Ballycoog Breaker Boy has really grown into himself over the winter and lost that big gangly look – so his weight was up by about 50kg!
The horses also had a visit from the Osteopath (although we keep this going even when they are off) the saddler and the dentist – so with their MOT’s done they are now ready for the season – the horses will all be starting at different times as some of the younger ones don’t need to be competing a whole season.
As a result of Lincoln being cancelled we drove to Somerford Park in Cheshire with V.I.P Vinnie and The Partner for some Cross Country Training as everywhere near us was closed due to the weather – this was a quick 3 ¼ hour journey but was well worth it. They have lots of combinations and a huge choice of fences for all levels and the ground was really good.
John Bowen, my Coach, was coming to do some Cross country training at the weekend but surprise – the course was closed – more rain. We adapted the day and had Arena XC training in our 20x60m arena – it is amazing what can be achieved with some imagination – we had bounces, skinnies, corners on a curve, combinations, barrels, – a few fences but used in so many different ways – the same fences were used for all levels but adapted accordingly – from trot and pop for the over enthusiastic youngsters to tricky combinations for the more advanced horses – a very productive and helpful session.
In October I decided that my fitness regime needed to change – I now focus on Strength and Condition and have worked with Adam Dobie over the winter (@equestrian_rider_performance). Adam has really helped to rebalance by body as my left side was much weaker and I could feel myself collapsing that side when I was jumping.
I have definitely found the improvements have helped my riding and feel more balanced and particularly when jumping. This will help the horses be more balanced. I plan to continue to do this 3 times a week during the season. It will be a challenge in itself now we are getting going as I will only have time to do it in the evenings – so the trick is not to sit down when I get home to change and just keep going !!!!
Time to get away
I had a lovely few days in the South of France with the family in November – it was great to get away and have some real chill time.
On Boxing day I went on a boys ski holiday to Vail, USA – Ironic that Europe had so much snow and Vail had the worst for 50 years!!! Better planning next time!! Only 600 acres of runs were open out of a possible 5000!!! We still had enough to ski every day and had a great holiday and good not to have a horse insight for a week.
New members of the team
We have an exciting 5 year who has joined the team, we bought him from Vere Phillips – he is a smaller stamp than my other horses which is lovely and is bred very well – his grandsires are Quick Star and Guidam – so he should be able to jump!! However, he is proving to be quite sharp and very quick which is testing my stickability – he hasn’t had me off yet but a few near misses!!! He is super talented and has a very good brain and learns quickly – we are taking it slowly and plenty of training so he probably won’t compete until the second half of the season.
Otter has joined the support team – Mum and Dad’s Labrador who is great company for Buddy (my Spaniel) and hours are spent playing together at the yard.
It is always difficult to change a member of the team but we had to change our farrier at the end of last year as David moved to Jersey. His great friend and Farrier Martyn Richardson has joined the team and we are really pleased with how he looks after the horses feet and his thought and attention to detail.
We had our first open day on the 10th March – we were very pleased with how it ran and everyone, including the team enjoyed it. It was lovely to meet new Eventing enthusiasts as well as welcome some loyal supporters and teams that we work with. It was a hard slog leading up to it with no water due to burst pipes for the week but where there’s a will there’s a way. Immy and Kate came in and were a huge help leading up to it and on the day. The demonstration was made more interesting by the Hunt going past the arena, luckily in walk, as we were about to change horses – they both thought this was very exciting and The Partner took a little while to relax so that we could do some jumping.
Sponsors – I have a number of exciting sponsors for the 2018 season – I look forward to working with them all – go check out their websites they have some great kit.
When I next write I will bring news of Burnham Market, Larkhill, Belton and Bicton competitions, I will also have launched my new website and have a competition for you to enter. Watch this space.
You can follow my journey via my website www.willrawlin.com, @willrawlin on Instagram, @WBREventing on twitter and @willrawlingeventing on Facebook. I look forward to telling you more throughout the season as I chase my goals, and keep you up to date on the rollercoaster as a professional event rider.