Showjumper Yazmin Pinchen is blown away by two very different heroes - Scott Brash and Jessie J!
"Hi everyone, sorry it's been such a long time!
First of all, massive congratulations to Scott Brash for absolutely smashing the Rolex Grand Slam. He is a legend; a true horseman and he fully deserved that. If you didn’t get to watch it, do try because the last line was insane, anyone else would have panicked but he stayed so cool and calm and carried on. It was amazing to watch. He is a true inspiration.
I have been abroad quite a bit riding, nothing to exciting to report on my behalf, I went to a show in France recently and it was a disaster. I’ve never seen so much rain. The ground was like a river and we gave up and left before the Grand Prix. I had never been happier to see the UK being so sunny! It was really nice actually to get a Sunday in the UK, I went to London and became a tourist for the day and had a blast.
A couple of weeks ago Hickstead showground held a music concert over two days, I often go to the showground because my hair dresser has a salon there overlooking the arena so I saw them setting it all up and couldn’t get my head round how it would look. When the day arrived myself and my friend Abbie got there and it looked amazing, it was really well put together. They had cute shops everywhere for face paints, feather head bands, the lot. Every food stand possible was there, so much choice!
The stage was huge and the atmosphere was really chilled and friendly. We arrived at 3pm and left around 10.30pm. All the calm bands played first where everyone was sat down enjoying the sun and music, later on in the evening Soul 2 Soul played and it was amazing. I loved it and had a good old dance to some older music, and was impressed I knew the words! The Vamps played shortly after and were surprisingly really good, they're not someone I would usually listen to but they were so energetic on stage they really got the crowd going. I mainly went to the concert to see Jessie J. I have always wanted to see her sing and it was so convenient she was going to play so close to my hometown. She blew me away, she was insane. That woman can sing! Overall, Abbie and I had an amazing time, lots of dancing and singing resulting in sore throats the next day but it was totally worth it.
I am also so happy to be finally able to announce the launch of my Olympic bracelet that I designed with the Burnished Horse Hair company. I decided to ask the four Olympic gold medallists from London 2012 to donate their horses tail hair to me so we could make a bracelet out of it and auction them off for Just world International, a charity for which I am an ambassador. I hope you like it.
Recently I got some great news that I got into Horse of the Year Show. I am so thrilled to get to jump there finally. I rode once in the pony class and unfortunately it was not successful. That was a long time ago, so I'll forget about that day! I hope to see lots of you there, and I'm really excited to be jumping on home turf. Fingers crossed..."
Never one to shy away from a challenge, H&C blogger Emma Massingale had to train her stallion to chase her on a quad bike for a music video...
"I'm excited to announce that Marcus is starring in a new music video for the band Brother and Bones.
Earlier this year a production company came to me and asked if I had a horse that could look imposing and impressive galloping along a beach – completely loose! I knew my 17.2hh stallion Marcus would be perfect for the job as he has previous experience doing a similar shoot for NAF last year.
This shoot was to be quite different, though as they didn't want a beautiful horse, skipping along the beach with his ears pricked – they wanted it to be much darker.
After getting the brief, we found a suitable beach in Cornwall. After all, you can't just let horses loose on any old beach!
I started training him at home, first teaching him to follow me on my push bike, before upping the pace behind the quad. Marcus and I hadn't done any practise since we filmed the NAFs commercial for H&C, but luckily horses never forget!
The only difference was Marcus was looking way to gorgeous with his ears pricked. So it was back to the drawing board.
I realised that rather than following the quad I had to teach Marcus to chase it – just likes he does with the rabbits in his field for entertainment. Over the next few weeks he started to get it and by the time of the shoot I was confident he could pull off the look they wanted.
On the big day we headed off to Carbis Bay. It's a beautiful beach, but it was an incredibly cold day, with the wind blowing. Even with a hundred layers on I was still freezing.
As with most filming projects it takes a lot longer than you think. The crew knew they had five runs with Marcus, including a warm-up run. As with everything you do with horses, (especially when working at liberty) you can use up their good will, so there was no negotiation on this – we would do it five times, and no more.
Even though the beach was privately owned and had been rented for the shoot, there were some die-hard dog walkers there, who no matter what will always get out with their dog!
Thankfully, Marcus was a total pro and really knew his job. Jeremy my fiancé was driving the quad and when I let Marcus go I sat on the back and called him, while the crew came up along side him, on another quad, and filmed him.
He did every run perfectly getting up to 42kph each time. It was awesome seeing him totally free! I’m so proud of him – and love the video. I hope you do, too."
Racehorse trainer Jim Boyle explains why a purple patch often follows a dry spell in racing...
"The last four months have perfectly encapsulated the up-and-down nature of training racehorses. In May and June I was tearing my hair out as the horses were out of form, and we were struggling to find a winner. Then, since the start of July, we have not looked back. While May and June produced no winners for us from a total of 28 runners, July saw us train four winners from 19 runners and August was even better with another four winners coming from just 15 runners. This took our tally for the year up to 14 winners from 95 runners. So far in September we have had eight runners, with Empty The Tank - our only hurdler in training - winning up at Southwell on his first start for us.
The main reason for this turnaround is that the horses are now really healthy. I mentioned in my first blog that earlier on in the year a lot of the horses were scoping badly (ie had some mucus in their lungs) and that we were pretty sure it was associated with the high pollen levels that we were experiencing at the time. Now that those pollens have settled down, the horses scopes are vastly improved and we have seen this marked return to form.
One of the few positives of having a spell when the horses are out of form is that those that do run, and run poorly, will drop down the handicap. What this effectively means is that in their next races they will have to carry comparatively less weight than previously. This means that when they do return to form, they will be more likely to win races as they have less weight to carry, which is why you often see the scenario we are experiencing whereby a yard will have a quiet period, followed by a rash of winners and placed horses.
The handicapping system is in place to try to ensure competitive racing – if horses always carried the same weight, the same horses would generally win the majority of the time. This would not provide exciting racing, which is important as both a spectacle and a betting medium. For this reason, when horses run well they are allotted a higher rating, and when they perform badly their rating drops. Their rating in comparison to their opponents denotes how much weight they will have to carry in a race. Handicaps make up the majority of races, but there are other types where the weight is not affected by handicap mark. In general, the top level races tend to be run at 'level-weights' as they are about finding out which horses are the best around at any point in time.
The August Bank Holiday Monday saw the Epsom Open Day take place once again this year. Seven Epsom trainers opened their gates to members of the public from 9am to midday, after which there were a variety of activities at the racecourse, along with an afternoon's racing. Rather predictably, the English weather had its say and it absolutely poured for most of the morning. However, it wasn't enough to dampen the spirits of the plenty of brave souls who came out in force to support the day.
I have recently watched some of our ex-racers competing in dressage, where the competition is decided on the opinion of a judge. In this respect I suppose it's no different to many sports such as gymnastics, ice-skating and diving, but I much prefer the relative certainty of a horse race, whereby the only human intervention on the result (barring a stewards enquiry) comes courtesy of the photo-finish, which in this technological day and age is very difficult to get wrong!
One of our winners in July was Jakaby Jade, and she won so nicely that an offer came in from America that was too good for the owners to turn down. It was lovely to see her go and win her first start in America, in a $100,000 juvenile fillies stakes race at Del Mar racecourse. You always have slightly mixed emotions when watching a previous inmate run, but the owners already have the yearling half-sister bought to come into training with us next year, so we can be very happy with a job well done, and look forward to seeing how far she can progress in her career in America.
We are just starting the sales merry-go-round at the moment, and I will be heading to sales in Doncaster, Fairyhouse, Goffs (both in Ireland) and Newmarket over the next few weeks, looking to try to buy some new youngstock for next year. We are currently putting together plans to build a brand new, modern purpose-built yard, but until these plans come to fruition we are holding back on doing too much marketing, as the yard at the moment is reaching the end of its sell-by date. We will look to give things a big push as and when we get our new facilities, and until that point we are in a period of consolidation. To that end, we will not be looking to buy too many youngsters, but it's always good to have one or two that we can syndicate out over the coming months, so hopefully I will be able to find a bargain or two to bring home with me.
We will be looking to have plenty of runners between now and the end of the flat season, and I'll bring you more news of these, and any horses purchased, in my next blog."
In her latest blog, international event rider Sharon Hunt explains why dressage has suddenly got a lot more interesting, plus she's been competing in showjumping alongside the biggest names in the sport...
"This year has been my quietest eventing season ever. My top horse, Loughnatousa Fabio, is off recovering after a successful operation, so I have decided to spend the time improving my showjumping and dressage. That coupled with escalating costs and more and more demand for lessons and training means my eventing career has been forced to take a bit of a back seat.
To make up for my lack of eventing I have been doing plenty of showjumping. I had a superb four days down at Bicton, jumping in the main arena. Whoever said you can't ever prepare an event horse for the final phase at a really big three-day could well be wrong. The atmosphere at some of these county shows and at Hickstead, for example, is so electric that sometimes it's an even bigger deal, just not so much pressure...
Hence then, to add in the pressure (and naturally being very ambitious!) I have tried to be more competitive with my very good seven-year-old mare HSB Harriet. She has qualified for the main ring at Hickstead a few times now, finishing fourth behind true jumping professionals in a 1.30m final. I was very proud to be collecting my prize along with Robert Whitaker, Andrew Davies and Douglas Duffin!
The Longines Royal International Horse Show was another level again. In the 1.10m class I competed against riders such as Scott Brash, Laura Kraut, Nick Skelton to name but a few. Serious competition for a low level class and an absolute pleasure to watch the masters produce their young horses. Needless to say I've been working very hard on my position and accuracy, and hoping this will make my eventing much more competitive next year (and more importantly, represent us eventers well at the pure jumping shows!).
I haven't competed at a British Dressage show for years, possibly because I did find it a less enjoyable day out than eventing or jumping (I don't think I'm the only event rider to think this?!) But this has all changed now with Emile Faurie's help and my super smart six-year-old Loughnatousa Winston. I bought him with eventing in mind, but he has quickly shown talent and promise with his excellent paces. I have won nearly every test he has entered (16 now) the only ones he didn't he finished 2nd in. So he has qualified for the Winter Regionals and we're now aiming for Elementary qualification too.
This is the first horse I have ever had that is easily capable of passage, and he now offers it happily. It's life changing for me to experience such elevation and suspension, dressage has now actually become quite exciting!
Although I haven't competed in many events this summer I have been on foot, coaching. I have just returned from Millstreet international Event. It has to be one of the most spectacular events outside of four-stars I have been to in a long time. The scenery is incredible, with mountains in the background, and the cross-country is set within the grounds of a castle. They have used some of the ruins for the most imaginative water fence I have ever seen. It has a waterfall next to it and adds to the whole beauty of the course. The attention to detail was unreal. Sorry England, we could really learn something from this event!
I know budget is the main contributing factor to building the courses and dressing them, but sometimes just a good imagination and pots of paint can be the difference between good and bad cross-country courses. We all get bored jumping brushes and portables so new fences give you that desire to get out there and jump them!
My role was to assist head junior coach Caroline Moore train the U18's who may be competing there at the Junior Europeans in 2017. The experience was so valuable for me, watching how she trains and walks the cross-country courses with her pupils, and even just the support she gives them and how it makes a huge impact on improving their results.
The riders competed in the CIC 1* section and they basically cleaned up! Bubby Upton won, Lucinda Crawford was third, and Katherine Cross fourth with Romeo Z, a horse very dear to my heart as I produced him before Alex Liddle won team gold in the Junior Europeans a few years ago. The rest of the squad were all placed in the top 25 and all went clear cross-country. Impressive stuff by riders who were between the ages of 14 to 17. This experience must have been a career highlight for many of our young eventers and I am delighted to have been a part of it with them.
My trip to Millstreeet has definitely inspired me to get out eventing again, so watch this space!"
Polocrosse player Debbie Harris reports back from the World Cup in South Africa, in the final part of her guest blog series...
"We are back from South Africa and settling back into normal life. The World Cup was a fantastic experience with teams fielded from South Africa, Zambia, New Zealand, Zimbabwe, Australia, Ireland, USA and of course the UK. We are very pleased with our result of finishing in the top four; it is a huge achievement and a great improvement from the last World Cup in 2011.
South Africa came out the overall winners after a hard fought final against Zambia; they demonstrated some amazing skills showing how much the sport has developed over the past four years. All the nations have improved so much bringing much faster and more skilful games. This has made polocrosse even more exciting as a spectator sport, as well as to play!
The horses in all pools were of great quality and we are very grateful to everyone who provided them. Our horses had to become a part of our team, and they certainly helped us achieve in all of our matches, we couldn’t have done it without them – I even wanted to take home Dancer, the horse I rode.
All the players in the UK team rose to the occasion and I was very proud to captain them, as well as playing alongside them. It was clear our preparations paid off both before travelling to SA, and while we were out there, with our player-coach Jason Webb keeping us on our toes with his training regimes.
It is a great step for the next World Cup in 2019 to be held in Australia where hopefully the UK can continue to improve on their result, using the knowledge and experience we have gathered in South Africa. Finally I just want to say thank you to everyone who supported us both at home and in SA, we couldn’t have done it without you.
I am now looking forward to finishing the season in the UK, and coaching the UK Junior team as they take on Zambia."
H&C reporter Amy-Clare Martin reflects on the huge challenge facing British showjumpers in Aachen this week. Will we make it to Rio? Only time will tell...
The pressure is really on for our showjumpers here at the European Championships. If we have bad day it’s goodbye Rio and so long to any hope of defending our Olympic gold. The tension is already building here in Germany and quite frankly, we’re confident by the end of the week the H&C team won’t have any nails left. At all.
You might think that as 2012 gold medallists we have an automatic ticket to the next Olympic Games, but there’s no such thing as a free pass and after disappointing performances at the World Equestrian Games we have pinned all our hopes on success in Aachen. It is a HUGE week for British showjumping.
Our riders must win or come in the top three teams (which have not already qualified) to secure one of the last five places at the 2016 Olympics. But with Ireland, Belgium, Portugal, Austria, Spain and Italy among the 15 nations also fighting for a ticket to Rio – it is far from a done deal.
And with top riders like Scott Brash unavailable, our team really have to pull it out of the bag for Great Britain. So it may be something of a baptism of fire for senior championship team newbie Jessica Mendoza – a rider whose incredible talent and model good looks make us at H&C green with envy. Aged just 19, she is the youngest British rider to represent GBR internationally in over 40 years.
However, team chef d-equipe Di Lampard has faith in the young rider and so do we – she has proved she has an truly unflappable under pressure and already has a Junior and Pony European team golds under her belt.
And she has some serious reinforcements in the form of Michael Whitaker who is competing in his fourteenth (yes, FOURTEENTH!) European championships. Seriously, when is HM The Queen going to give this guy some honours…I mean his brother John has an MBE so it’s only fair right?! Michael has brought a relatively young horse – but 10-year-old Cassionato has incredible scope and with the master himself on board fingers crossed he can do the job for GB.
Team mate Ben Maher has been on incredible form with his 10-year-old ride Diva II who jumped double clear at the Nations Cup in Hickstead last month, and final rider Joe Clee helped the team secure Nations Cup gold in Rotterdam in June. It all looks promising – but they are up against Europe’s best horses and riders and ANYTHING can happen.
The riders will jump three rounds, one speed round and two team rounds. The speed class will determine the drawn order for the first team round – where only the top ten teams and top 50 individuals will qualify for the third day of jumping. Then team totals from the all three classes will determine the overall standings, and crucially who will make it Rio.
H&C's Web Editor Victoria shares her views on a week of ups and downs in Aachen...
"Wow, what an unexpected week.
The FEI European Dressage Championships in Aachen have drawn to a close and I've followed it every step of the way - admittedly from back home in Britain, instead of out in Germany as planned.
Around the time Charlotte Dujardin and Valegro were picking up their 8,595th gold medal (just an estimate number) in the Grand Prix Special, I was at a family wedding (congratulations to Ben and Charlotte - no, not that one, another one) and therefore couldn't be in Aachen to take up my reporting duties.
Anyway, we've got a two-day hiatus before it all begins all over again with the showjumping competition. So while we draw breath and rally for round two, let's look back at what happened.
Before the dressage got underway, speculation was rife about whether Totilas could claim back his record-breaking crown and beat Valegro, as he did 13 months ago at CHIO Aachen. Even Charlotte's mentor Carl Hester joined the debate, saying: "It's what everyone’s been waiting for... I hope they both go well because then we really will know what the judges think."
Sadly, it wasn't to be. In the Grand Prix, Totilas showed some irrregular steps, and his test left the judges polarised - two had him on a score of 80.100%, another had him on 71.600%.
A true match between the two record-smashing horses, with both at their best, now looks to be an impossible dream. Following veterinary examination, Totilas was found to have periostitis (bone infection) and was withdrawn from the remainder of the competition. He is said to need five months off, and permanent retirement from competition has not been ruled out.
Carl Hester's own championships certainly started with a bang (literally) when he fell off Nip Tuck, thanks to a waiter dropping a tray of glasses just as the British star rode past. I was a dreadful waitress back in my youth, lasting a whole two weeks before being fired by my local restaurant, and I once poured an entire plate of venison on to someone's lap by mistake - but at least I never managed to bring down a passing Olympic gold medallist.
Thankfully King Carl wasn't badly hurt and he had a great week, scoring 75.400% in the Grand Prix to help Britain win team silver, then finishing fifth individually in the Special and eighth in the Freestyle.
But it was excitingly close at the top. From a British point of view, we were hugely excited to see Fiona Bigwood's star mare Atterupgaards Orthilia produce two brilliant tests. Sadly she had to miss the Freestyle after being found to have a slight skin reaction after competing in a deluge on Saturday. It never rains but it pours, etc - but on a sunnier note this combination could prove to be a brilliant asset in Rio in 12 months' time.
Talking of which, while team silver was a brilliant achievement, wouldn't it be great if we found a fourth horse capable of those huge scores, to really help our gold medal campaign? Perhaps a certain Woodlander Farouche might be ready for Rio?
Farouche's rider Michael Eilberg was of course on the European silver-winning team with Marakov. Michael was his usual charming self - this week we found out that Charlotte Dujardin is a bit mean to him about his breeches - but we still haven't got to the bottom of the reason why (excuse the pun).
As a side note, while Totilas was the name on everybody's lips for the first few days of competition, his former rider Gal became the subject of scrutiny later on, when social media was suddenly awash with dozens of photos of the Dutch rider in training.
Whatever your views, it was a terrible shame that focus during the championships ended up moving away from celebrating the best of our sport to the discussion of something far less savoury: a training technique that, for many, has absolutely no place in dressage.
Nonetheless, the Freestyle ended in a nail-biting finish. Germany's Kristina Bröring-Sprehe had already claimed silver in the Special, and her strong Freestyle mark of 88.804% left Charlotte Dujardin with very little room for error.
Unfortunately things went amiss in Valegro's one-time changes - not just once but twice. Everyone held their breath while the scores were announced before the Brits gave a collective sigh of relief. Charlotte had retained her winning run of gold medals, claiming the Freestyle by just 0.25%. "It was very scary," she told our reporter Jenny Rudall afterwards. Charlotte - you're telling us.
Of course, there was some murmuring about the fairness of the scoring, with Valegro beating a mistake-free Desperados. But it was just one movement and one set of marks in the entire test, which was both artistically impressive, technically very difficult, and full of the sort of jaw-dropping excellence that has made this partnership the very best in the world.
If you missed any of the action, we'll be showing extensive highlights on TV, starting this Friday night at 9pm. For all the TV listings, news, videos and so on, just click here.
So that's the dressage wrapped up for this year. I'm setting out to Aachen at the end of this week, armed with my terrible schoolgirl German, in the hope of seeing the British showjumping team pick up their qualification for Rio.
It seems almost unthinkable that the reigning Olympic champions might not be there next year to try to win their second consecutive Olympic team gold. But as we've said before, and as this week has just reminded us, when it comes to horses, there are never any guarantees."
Horse & Country's online coverage of FEI European Championships is brought to you in association with Horse First.
"Children can learn more in one week at camp than in a whole year of occasional riding." In the latest of our archive video series from British Pathe, we bring you this wonderful clip from Pony Club camp in 1953.
Daisy Bunn brings you all the latest behind the scenes gossip from Hickstead...
"What. A. Day.
While it may have been a case of history repeating itself, one really doesn’t mind that at all when it’s because yet again we had a stunning day of world class sport, a thrilling grand prix with a storming jump off, crowds as far as the eye could see, and a truly glorious British Summer’s Day!
So she did it again, not content with galloping into the history books last year as the first ever lady winner of our prestigious King George V Gold Cup, Beezie Madden today became the second ever lady winner, and the first person to win it back to back since Piero D’Inzeo in 1961/2! “No one has managed it back to back since before I was born,” said Beezie, “which is really saying something these days, that was aaaaages ago!” Bravo Beezie, we salute you, thank you for giving us such a masterclass in keeping your cool and producing the goods.
Another super fun and glamorous day, rugby legend Will Carling kept us all entertained, saying that he’d far rather take his chances in the bottom of a scrum with a 15st Samoan bearing down on him, than attempt to tackle any of the “monstrous fences” in there – “at least if you make a mistake with a rugby ball it doesn’t try and bite you.”
We were delighted to welcome our old Sky Sports family back to the showground. One of my favourite ‘special privileges’ is being allowed to sneak around behind the scenes, watching the live broadcast magic as it unfolds. It’s literally like hanging out with a bunch of wizards – Sam (who is furiously working out stats as they happen live) leans over and whispers to producer Trish that six people have had the first of the two gates down – Trish whispers down her radio, and hey presto commentary legend Mike Tucker casually drops in for the benefit of those watching at home that ‘we’ve really found the first gate to have caused a lot of problems today’ – wizards, I’m telling you, the lot of them.
One particularly special moment today was seeing course builder Bob Ellis (Bob The Builder) receive the Dorian Williams trophy for his outstanding contribution to the show. Having racked up an astonishing FORTY YEARS working on the Royal International Horse Show, people don’t perhaps understand quite how impressive it is that he’s still alive, let alone still building, bearing in mind quite how many ‘working suppers’ his great mate my Dad and him had late into the night! I’m not sure if anything could have illustrated better quite the level of esteem in which Bob is held by world-class riders, officials, sponsors and his building crew alike, than the honour guard that spontaneously popped up around him for his presentation… or the fact that William Funnell, Shane Breen, William Whitaker, Marcus Ehning etc picked him up after he’d won and fired him into the water jump! A classic Hickstead moment, that ranks up there with the best of them, seeing Bob emerge with bright blue trousers from his dip in the water! Thank you Bobbit, from us all, you are one in a million.
I must fly, as the travelling circus is about to leave our neck of the woods for another year, and there are many amazing individuals who I need to go and thank. I know it sounds like the slightly tipsy ramblings of an over-tired and over-sunned Bunn, but I cannot emphasise enough just how much we rely on our amazing team here at Hickstead. So thank you, one and all, you know who you are, you’re all complete wonders and we quite simply just couldn’t do it without you."
Showing star turned dressage diva Louise Bell has had a hectic few months of competition travelling the world and breaking the 70 percent barrier - but it's all in a days work...
"Since my last blog back in April for Horse & Country TV my feet have not touched the floor.
I got the call from British Dressage on the way home from Barcelona asking if I'd go to HAGEN! I had put my name down but...Yes HAGEN! So as GB representative with Dynamo, off we went.
I felt very honoured to be competing amongst the world’s best dressage riders and horses and I finished twelfth amongst the giants of dressage. I had a few ‘green’ mistakes but my God did I love competing there. I would like to say thank you to British Dressage and the Kassleman family, because it’s a great show. I also want to thank John Whitaker and friends for coming to watch his homebred Dynamo in between his jumping classes. Who would have thought you would have seen a Whitaker at the side of the dressage arena?
I have been to Hagen as a spectator and groom with Michael Eilberg and always thought one day I’ll ride there - and I did. I really hope to be able to go back as I loved every minute.
After a few weeks at home it was on to Somerford Park Premier League where Dynamo and I broke the 70% barrier in the Prix St Georges.
I was only home for a week when I get a formal invitation to the new state of the art CDI4* ES Fangar in Mallorca. They had invited me when I was competing in Barcelona back in April, but thought they were just being kind and didn’t really mean it. But when I got the formal invitation by the wonderful Victoria Krauss from Top Iberian it was official – I was being invited to an all-expenses paid show and even though it was a long way to go this was an opportunity not To be missed.
So in June off I set for the long drive to Mallorca. My great friend Tim Sillevis came as co-driver and care taker/groom. He was a star and we planned to drive through the night due to the heat which worked beautifully. We had stop overs in Lyon and in Barcelona – I didn't think I'd be back there so soon – staying at Barcelona Horses so a big thank you to Annabelle, Augustine, Lukas and Noria for their hospitality.
There were about 15 of us that night getting ready for the long boat trip from Barcelona to Palma, Mallorca and we all went in convoy – it was very exciting. I was worried about the long boat trip, but all the lorries were on the open deck with the wonderful breeze and ALL horses travelled peacefully. We stayed with Dynamo the whole way and the next morning we woke to the most beautiful scene – I had to pinch myself and say to my groom Jo: “Oh my God, look!” The sun was rising over the Mediterranean as we looked out at beautiful Mallorca.
We were first off the boat and the wonderful 'Dave Directions', also known as my iPhone satnav, said we were 40min away from the show. He has never let me down yet and for the last two miles I got a police escort, hugely impressive and I think they just wanted me to feel looked after.
To then be greeted by the whole Top Iberian team on arrival with a special plaque with my lorry registration and personal hook up all waiting – yes that is what they gave to all the competitors, not just me. However we arrived before the others as they didn’t have Dave Directions and took a longer route.
Dynamo came off the lorry to be met straight away by the show vet to check all was OK after the long journey. Dynamo was shown to his room for the week, his stable was bigger than my house and he loved it. Tim and I were taken to the hotel all riders were staying in – 5* all the way.
However there was training and riding to do – not lay on the beach all day – plus I was the official FEI foreign rider representative so I did have work to do. The facilities and arenas were spectacular. The horses wanted for nothing, nor the riders, judges, grooms and trainers, this was some show. Prizes included BMW cars to all Freestyle winners. Big tour and small, scooters, bikes and jewellery, you name it.
Into The Blue and I came a credible fourth in the small tour overall in both the PSG and Inter 1 and as the huge prize money paid for my diesel all the way over there and back it made this dressage show on a par with the Global Champions Tour in showjumping.
It was a great competition with great hospitality from the Eisenmann family and Matthias Rath’s (rider of Totilas) parents-in-law who own the ES FANGAR estate who invited all of the riders to such a spectacular event – a massive thank you to them!
Dynamo loves international shows as much as I do and I think that his endless energy makes him a prime candidate for long journeys and hot weather.
The best news is Get Smart is really coming on with his Grand Prix work and both he and Dynamo love piaffe, passage and one-time changes. They will both be ready for the next step this autumn. My young horse Zack has done brilliantly in the International six-year-old classes and I will do some Advanced Mediums on him soon and hope he will be my small tour horse by next spring – if he can get over his horror of other horses in the warm up.
I am also extremely proud of Michael Eilberg and Marakov for being selected for Team GB for the forthcoming FEI European Dressage Championships in Aachen. I always told him he would do it but no one believed me. After the sad sale of Half Moon Delphi I prayed good news would come.
I wish our amazing team of Carl, Charlotte, Fiona and Michael the very best out in Aachen.
So... This has been a massive blog... But I have had a lot to tell you!"