“We’re flat out at the Mullenscote Training Kennels, with some really lovely young dogs in for training. We have a young Labrador pup called Razz that is showing some promise and he’s certainly an interesting dog to work with. This youngster is about as ‘hot’ as any young puppy we’ve ever worked with. If we ever manage to harness his enthusiasm and energy, I’m sure we will have a really special gundog. If we don’t get it right, he will become a hooligan.
Dogs like Razz offer the sort of challenge that we thrive on. Enthusiasm from a pupil is always a pleasure, but Razz redefines ‘enthusiasm’! He has enough drive for a whole litter of puppies. One chap, who happened to see Razz retrieving a dummy, commented: ‘’I reckon that dog’s mad.’’ Watch this space!
Now that the evenings are lighter, it’s a perfect time for getting out and doing some training with your dogs. Whether you’re training a new puppy or just sharpening up the skills of an older dog, it’s really important that you ensure that you’ve done your homework first.
Start by asking yourself the question: “How good are my dog training skills?” Be honest; remember, your ability to communicate with your dog is crucial if you’re going to train him successfully. If you fail to explain what you want the dog to do, he will very soon become disillusioned. Imagine being taught by a teacher who set you a task then failed to show you how to complete it - even worse, if you failed and the teacher became irritated and punished you. Not nice!
Your dog never comes out to a training session intent on making you angry. In fact, it’s the opposite as his submissive and willing nature means he only wants your approval. Make sure your training skills and knowledge are as good as they possibly can be. Read, study, watch, discuss and research as much as you can to ensure your teaching skills give your pupil every chance to succeed.”
“My first event of the season kicked off at Isleham, and my first horse unfortunately brought my first fall – not the ideal way to start, but always best to get the first fall of the season out of the way! Charmed, one of my advanced rides owned by Mrs Pene Parker and a fantastically scopey mare, went very well in the Open Intermediate and finished 11th for her first run since Bramham. Romeo, a superb youngster, was second in the Open Pre-Novice and Azeb, another very promising prospect, came ninth.
The following weekend, the sun shone at Poplar Park. As usual the ground was very good, as were the courses. My horses were very bright with the cross country course running next to the dressage arena and my marks reflected this! For some, it was their first event so hopefully they'll be more settled next time out. Romeo Z was a complete star and won the OPN; Kenny, a very capable horse, was 12th in the Intermediate and Tankers Town jumped a brilliant double clear to finish 11th.
Next stop was Lincoln with the Novices and Intermediates. I had decided to take Tankers Town for a practice run and hadn’t planned to run him in the cross country, but I was delighted that he did a good test, was clear show jumping and the lead before the cross country. Charmed went very well and finished tenth in the OI and Ultimate Opposition, a very talented horse (owned by Miss Rosie Bailey and Mrs Jane Bailey), was 13th for his first run of the year.”
“The first weekend of February was marked by BETA. I caught up with some of my sponsors – Ariat, Baileys, Anky and Aviform. BETA is a good place to talk about the year’s plans and the events I'll be at. I’ve also given more talks, which I’m really starting to enjoy. Speaking in public was a little daunting at first, but I’m getting more confident.
Towards the end of February, I had team training at Solihull Equestrian Centre. We had lessons with Tracie Robinson, who helped tremendously with the horses' softness and relaxation, and jumping lessons from Henk Nooren. He was very particular and paid great attention to detail, with exercises for both the horse and rider. After two days of intensive training, I felt both the horses and I had really benefitted. We went home that evening and the next day left for Wiltshire with four horses to have some more intensive dressage lessons with Jane Gregory. After four physically and mentally exhausting days, I returned home a dressage rider! I only wish I didn’t live on the opposite side of the country - it takes me four hours to get there.
I’ve been working hard on improving the horses’ fitness levels and been going to the gallops twice a week as, living in a flat area, I feel fitness is something we have to work hard at.”
“The New Year started well, with exciting news of new sponsors – Subaru and Ariat.
I have had a couple of fantastic holidays – I find it incredibly hard to take time out during the year, so I tend to save everything up for January, which is usually a quiet month on the yard. I went skiing for a week and did a two-week fitness holiday in St Lucia, where I met Amy Winehouse! She was very affable and delighted some of the guests one evening by singing at the bar – she really does have an amazing voice.
After the sunshine in St Lucia, it was back to the UK and very cold weather. I did a couple of photo shoots for different magazines, which I enjoyed and I was particularly pleased to have a lovely tan for the photos!
Everything is coming together well and I am feeling really positive – I have some fabulous horses on my yard at all levels and I am looking forward to next season, the European Championships in 2009 and the World Games in 2010 - not to mention London 2012 too!”