Work experience pupils got hands on experience with the puppies
“Country Shows, trips to Yorkshire dog training, puppies, work experience pupils and not to mention the day to day running of the dog training centre and shooting school have certainly kept us busy for the last few weeks.
The weather has been really good which in turn has meant that getting all of these things done has been so much easier. Although all this dry weather has meant that if, like me, you are a hay fever sufferer and the slightest puff of dust, pollen or animal fur turns you into a teary eyed, itchy, snuffling, miserable half-wit then it has not all been easy.
Wild rabbit training
I been really fortunate and had the opportunity to spend some time on the Yorkshire moors training the spaniels on wild rabbits, the terrain scenery and training alongside some of the best spaniel trainers in the world means that the ten hours of driving that the trip involves is well worth the effort. Living on chalk downland in Hampshire means that we are literally plagued by wild rabbits but in this part of the world the rabbit population live in burrows below ground so you very rarely get to achieve the contact flushes that Yorkshire offers. Out on the moors the rabbits sit out above ground in little ‘sets’ making for spaniel trainer’s heaven.
The other amazing thing is that my beloved son, Charlie, having made a full recovery from last year’s quad accident has passed his driving test and has been able to come with me and share the driving. This I reckon is spending quality time with him. Like any parent I love having Charlie around and to have him here working alongside me is just fantastic. Like all young male drivers there have been a few hairy moments when his testosterone has got the better of his judgement and I have screamed, “Charlie what the <beep> were you thinking about?”
We have had several apprentice dog trainers spend time with us over the last couple of months during which they sit in on our one to one lessons as observers. This helps them to gain the experience they will need for the future as they embark on a career in the dog training industry. Academic study is essential but hands on (it’s important that you don’t misunderstand me here) and shadowing other dog trainers is a brilliant way to learn the trade. Having these guys around serves to sharpen and reflect one’s own delivery which is never a bad thing!
Alongside the adult learners that we work with, we have a trickle of eight young people who will complete one to two weeks of work experience with us over the summer. With these guys we get a real cross section of people considering a career with animals: Vets, veterinary nurses, dog trainers, hunt servants - a few that thought it would be nice to pat the puppies and one that believed in his words, “I thought it would be a really good doss.” The bit that this fella had not banked on was that he would be working under the expert guidance of head trainer Annie Buckley, the said same lady that he was misguided enough to stand in front of with his hands in his pockets and spit on the floor while being given his welcome briefing. It goes without saying that the young man in question had anything but a week of dossing and always stands to attention when being spoken to by Annie. Ah, the youth of today. It’s rather odd that I should find myself mentoring young people, especially as I was anything but a model youth.
I’m writing this blog at 4am in the morning as I’m off to Yorkshire again today and while I don’t need to set off until 9am, I have woken up really early. You see I can’t sleep when I’m excited, at least some of my youthful qualities are still with me!”
“BASC, The British Association of Shooting and Conservation, has with the Countryside Alliance been at the forefront of promoting the eating of game in the UK. The BASC Game On campaign as well as the Game To Eat Campaign from the CA has done wonders with the help of a selected few specialist game chefs in educating the general publics perception and appreciation of game as a main stream product.
Game dealers such as UK Game and Yorkshire Game have played a big part too. These guys have improved the quality of game ten fold and are capable of supplying a quality product all year around. As part of the BASC Game On promotion they run a competition every year to win a meal for eight people cooked at your home by one of their game chefs. This is something Countrywise TV Chef Mike Robinson and I have done for the past few years. This year, a Mr Colin Bell was the lucky winner of my services for the evening. Colin is a keen countryman living in Berkshire and once he had won the competition we liaised over email and phone calls to agree a menu for him and his guests. Game and fresh fish were always going to feature on the menu and it was with this in mind that Colin and I agreed the following:
Petit tass of leek and potato soup with cepe dust
Pan fried scallops with lemon butter and chive sauce
Roast loin of Norfolk fallow with truffle mash potato, broad beans, pancetta and game jus with a selection of green vegetables
Apple and nut crumble with cream and butterscotch sauce.
The soup was a typical leek and potato soup finished with cream and a sprinkling of dehydrated cepe mushrooms that, when warmed by the soup, gave a burst of flavour to the soup.
The fish course was three large king scallops pan fried lightly and then served with a butter sauce where the butter, lemon juice and wine are emulsified together so as to give a rich glossy sauce.
Game had to be featured and in all its glory! Loin of Norfolk fallow shot by my own hand, sealed and roasted then served with a rich mash potato, flavoured with truffles. Game jus was made from the venison bones and garnished with pancetta and board beans. This was accompanied by a mixture of green vegetables, which included asparagus, snow peas and fine green beans.
The dessert had to be kept simple; a bramley and russett apple base topped with a nibed almond crumble, served just warm with a helping of butterscotch sauce and cream.
Wine matched to the food
To compliment the meal, Tanners the wine merchants matched wines to each course, which I mush say after sampling them sat well with each of the dishes.
Colin had not told his guests the plans for the evening, so it was to some quite bemused faces I arrived and introduced myself. Once shown to the kitchen, I busied myself with the menu in hand and soon had an audience following my every move and asking questions about what I was doing. Colin being a keen foodie was intrigued by how I did things but I soon found that he was quite adept in the kitchen - something that I should have guessed from the mountains of cook books around and the very well stocked and equipped kitchen. I also found out that Colin had eaten in some of the world’s best Restaurants including El Bulli, so no pressure then! As the evening passed and dinner was served, everyone enjoyed a fantastic evening. It was a pleasure to prepare and cook for people who had such an interest in food.”
Daisy's brother-in-law Shane Breen and Tim Stockdale discuss the course, before the 51st Derby meeting
"Oh my goodness I can barely type! The excitement! The 51st Derby did not disappoint today, with a stunning victory from Hickstead favourite Tina Fletcher. Editor's note: Watch our interview with Tina at www.horseandcountry.tv/hickstead2011/video.
After having knocked at the door for so long, she was finally the victor, and the first women to win the class in 38 years to boot! Whilst we were delighted for Guy last year, it was heartbreaking to see Tina jump a double clear and not win – particularly when you consider she has now jumped two of only 53 Derby clear rounds in history. Go Tina, girl power we say.
The celebs learn to Scurry
With record crowds, the drama started long before the Derby. Always a massive crowd pleaser, the Osborne Refrigerators Celebrity Scurry was particularly hilarious this year. The line up saw world famous show jumpers Michael Whitaker and Shane Breen, international vet Rob Van Pelt, showjumping legend Harvey Smith, presenter Lizzie Greenwood-Hughes, golden tonsilled Hickstead commentator Steve Wilde and Hickstead director Charlie Bunn take each other on. Harvey was brilliant, and after some initial reluctance to wear a hat (to quote, he said: "Blinkin' health and safety", but using much more colourful language) received a huge cheer from the crowd. In a sport of twists and turns and flinging your weight about the place to balance the carts, he sat resolutely upright around the entire course, looking like he might just prefer to be back on Mattie Brown. Charlie Bunn came a very unrespectable second to last, not without escaping one or two jibes from Steve Wilde about his poor partner’s weight disadvantage. The winner though was Michael Whitaker, who remained an alarming shade of green from start to finish and spluttered when he came out, "Blinkin' Nora, I’ve never been round that ring so fast before." Again, using rather more colourful Yorkshire language!
Jennifer Saunders is a Hickstead fan
I was delighted to meet the lovely Jennifer Saunders, a long time Hickstead fan, and have never chuckled quite so much on a course walk before. She did go rather quiet though when, atop the bank, she commented on the sheer terror facing such a steep drop, and we reminded her not to forget the extra height added by being on a horse!
Surprised by a kilt
The Band of the Parachute Regiment were amazing, and I had to admit I got a few goosebumps hearing them play their bagpipes as the hounds loped around the ring. Not having realised that the band had arrived, I was rather surprised when a rather large Scotsman appeared in my office dressed in full kilt and sporran!
Tired, but elated, here ends our 51st British Jumping Derby Meeting, and what a week it has been. Stay tuned as there will be a weekly episode of my blog in the lead up to the Longines Royal International Horse Show at the end of July – no rest for the wicked. To celebrate another fabulous week I’m giving away two pairs of tickets this evening, so enter the Promo Code BLOG4 at http://hickstead.co.uk/general-information/competitions-offers.aspx."
Bunn family couldn't be more pleased with Shane's win
“Hoorah, Mr Shane! We are always delighted when a friend wins a big class, but it’s even more special when it’s a family member! Our brother-in-law Shane Breen just had a storming win in the Bunn Leisure Speed Derby on the unbelievable Magic Fox. A horse that jumps amateur classes, has a heart of gold and is honest as the day is long, Shane only borrows her for a few classes here and there. She’s a yard favourite and Shane says she’s just a dream to ride – she has complete faith in Shane and will do whatever he asks of her, trusting him to see her safe. Hooray! There will be celebrations aplenty in the Bunn household tonight! Now, we’ve just got everything crossed for tomorrow. Editor's note: Watch our interview with Shane and second placed Harriet Nuttall here http://www.horseandcountry.tv/hickstead2011/video.
A Bunn fight over who gets to present
I’m sure from the gloss and glamour that Sky Sports manage to portray, the show looks like a well oiled machine. You wouldn’t have thought that had you just seen Family Bunn all squabbling in the main ring over who would make the presentation. The class is sponsored by our company Bunn Leisure, of which we are all directors. Chloe won in the end (no surprise to anyone who knows any of the women in my family!) and the boys settled for presenting the glasses! Half way through the presentation too we heard some screeching from behind us: “Mummmeee, Dadddeeee!” Darcy Breen, seeing us and her sister Lorna all in the ring was not going to be left out! Squeaks of delight as we lifted her over the presentation gate and into the ring and uncontrollable, over excited giggles when Shane galloped by on his lap of honour. I have to admit I’m still feeling a little bit over-excited myself.
Show jumpers become polo players
Today’s blog has to be a quick one I’m afraid as it’s all hands on deck for tonight’s Falcon Equine Feeds Derby Polo Challenge. One of my favourite nights of the season, some of the top show jumpers in the world take on polo. Now you may think the transition would be effortless, but believe me it is not! It soon becomes apparent that polo needs a different kind of co-ordination entirely! Our very sensitive commentator can often be heard to say how a Whitaker, Funnell or Breen has ‘left’ the ball for his team mate (read: missed!). Pippa Funnell once remarked of husband William’s polo efforts: “The only bit he managed to get right was when he jumped into the ring at the beginning!”
I’ll fill you in on all the details in the morning, but my money’s on Team Breen, because although Shane’s hand/eye co-ordination leaves rather a lot to be desired, younger brother Trevor is a bit of a whizz.
Day three has gone well as the crowds get drawn by the bigger classes
"Having just about recovered from yesterday’s embarrassment, I tried to keep rather a low profile today – tried, and failed though obviously, because it’s not that easy when the sneaky camera men from SKY Sports see literally everything you do.
Mid-course walk with some very important sponsors today, one of the production team called my colleague over on the pretence of some very important business. She was met with roaring laughter and an on-screen montage of both of us walking the ring pulling ugly faces that they’d filmed earlier! Charming.
Hickstead goes live and Baggy holds up proceedings
With our first day of live television today, there was no room for error or delays and my brother received rather an irate phone call from one of the judges asking him to get into the arena immediately and remove the silly girl who was holding up proceedings… Our black Labrador Baggy. Oops! She was languishing in the water of the double ditches, cooling herself off and playing to an adoring crowd in the open grandstand. While we do try and shut all of our dogs in during the shows, they seem to be like Houdini as clearly they are not going to miss the most exciting two weeks of the year when their back garden suddenly turns into the funniest place ever with thousands of dogs to play with, people to bark at and floor food to eat.
Britney Spears unplugged
Obviously I am super nice at all times, but as you can imagine during a frantic show day rushing around, tempers can sometimes get frayed. We communicate through radios during the show and the Show Office have at times been known not to listen out for radio calls as well as they should – to be fair it is very busy and very loud in there. So we decided that to combat this we would truss up poor Pippa, one of our showing secretaries, like Britney Spears with James Bond ear piece and all. She was most proud of herself and promised faithfully to listen hard for any calls. It wasn’t until she was boasting about how diligent she had been and remarking on how quiet the radio had been in the last two hours that she realised, resplendent though she was in Britney get up, that said get up was indeed not actually plugged in to a radio! Classic!
Shane and his groupies
I’ve just watched Guy Williams storm to a terrific victory in the Hickstead Master’s Challenge on his super horse, Titus. I had a quick chat with him afterwards and he said he’s just preparing for a win on Sunday. Shane Breen and Nick Charles were joint second having got identical times (unheard of in a speed class when it’s timed in tenths of seconds!), and I think they actually got louder cheers from the Master’s Box above the presentation than Guy did – from Lorna and Darcy, Shane’s very vocal two and four-year-old, screaming ‘Dadddeeeeeee’ at full volume.
It’s Bunn Leisure Speed Derby day tomorrow, one of my favourite days of the year, so please pray for sun and come back tomorrow for a synopsis of the day’s drama. Congratulations to Venetia Langley who won tomorrow’s tickets and don’t forget to sign up to our eNewsletter for a chance to win a pair of tickets for the Longines Royal International Horse Show in July. Simply enter the Promo Code BLOG4 at http://www.hickstead.co.uk/general-information/competitions-offers.aspx."
Steven Whitaker loved the new ground at HIckstead winning in an amazing time.
"Now whilst you may have been anticipating that this blog would start with a description of the first day’s action of the season, and matters integral to the running of one of the world’s biggest horse shows, in fact there has been one thing and one thing only on my mind since precisely 9:47am this morning.
Pub quiz queen beaten by a child
Now, not to blow my own trumpet or anything (well, to do just that actually!) I am normally a bit of a whizz at general knowledge. I’m an avid reader and tend to devour the papers every morning over breakfast. Some might say in the office that at times - this may be just a tiny bit true - I can be somewhat smug over my super pub quiz friendly skills. The word gloat, may have been used once or twice.
So as you can imagine I was not particularly worried when I went in to the press office today at 9:40am for a radio interview with the BBC, and more specifically to take part in a quiz between those in the news in Sussex. You can imagine too my somewhat relaxed and quietly confident demeanour when I learnt that my opponent was a ten-year-old from East Sussex, who was heading off to the national spelling bee championships.
Fast forward seven minutes to a severe case of shock when I found myself not only having lost to a ten-year-old, but having lost with the respectable score of… ZERO! I had not managed to get one question right! The embarrassment was horrifying! Even worse was that the last question just might have been, ‘How much does an Annual Membership to Hickstead with a car cost?’ I said £130 which is the price for a membership without a car, rather than the correct £150).
The downfall worsens
The other two steps on the way to my humiliating downfall were equally as bad – how many troops is Obama pulling out of Afghanistan (33,000 emblazoned all over the BBC News website, but in my defence I haven’t read a paper in nearly two weeks because I’ve been working so late here) and who was the last female tennis player to win Wimbledon? Wimbledon is always on during the Derby so I don’t think I’ve ever once in my life been able to watch it!
The whole thing was a complete disaster, much to everyone’s amusement, has taken me and my general knowledge smugness down about 50 pegs and even provoked one listener to text in to the office with the simple, and straight to the point message, “Crikey, Daisy Bunn’s a thicko!”
New ground holds and a surprising Whitaker win?
But back to the case in hand, we’ve had a brilliant first day and the reception to the new ground in the International Arena has been superb. Beset by torrential showers today, which thankfully did not last long, the ground held up perfectly and the course builders and riders alike were delighted. Phew! What a relief! Having spent so much money on it, we are now confident it does in fact do what it says on the tin.
It was not an unusual sight to see a Whitaker leading the lap of honour today, but great to see that it was Steven, Ellen’s father, making a welcome return to the big league at Hickstead and, unbelievably, winning his first ever class here at Hickstead. A storming win by Henry Turrell and Urlanmore Aldi too and the most consistent of the day must have been Nicole Pavitt, who jumped into the money in every class she entered. Jane Annett finished the day with a great win on Zidane V in the Bunn Leisure Derby Tankard.
Tomorrow the challenge is on
The highlight of tomorrow is the Hickstead Master’s Challenge, named after my Dad the Master of Hickstead, and with a formidable dash over four enormous white gates to reach the finish – designed in his honour by his friend Bob Ellis, who knew only too well his propensity for incredibly tricky courses!
While filming Gem goes for a sugar free polo much to Gemma's suprise
"Several busy weeks with lots of work at home. Training the young horses is keeping me even more busy.
I do have got quite a few horses in to produce and sell at the moment so have a look at my website for details. http://www.gemmatattersall.com. It's keeping me busy!
I also had some dressage lessons with my trainer Andrew Gould. He comes over to me quite often and almost makes dressage fun! I do find the dressage difficult so it is really important for me to have regular training and it certainly benefits the horses too.
Gem is back in action
On Saturday we made the long trip up to Little Downham in Cambridgeshire. It was a long way to go just for an Intermediate run but it was Kings Gem and the trek was worth it as it was a great course and the ground was perfect. This was her first event since our tumble at Badminton and it was fantastic to have her back. She was surprisingly settled in her dressage test and scored a respectable 30.9 followed by a lovely double clear. She felt mega cross country, just a bit cross because I made her go slowly.
Then there was no day off, as it was off to Germany to look at horses where we found some nice ones so hopefully one or two of them might be joining us soon
The highs and lows of horses
As is the case with horses, the following week had its ups and downs. Starting with the good, Chico Bella had an embryo which has been successfully flushed and planted into a recipient mare that has been scanned in foal. She will have another scan in about three weeks so fingers crossed that the result is still positive.
On a not so good note, I have had some bad news about my lovely Intermediate horse Tropique. He has an injury to the back of his knee which means he will probably be off for the rest of the season. It is a massive blow to me, my team and to his lovely owners as he has been coming on so well this season and has become really established at Intermediate level. This is however the unfortunate sort of thing that happens with horses so we need to stay positive and hope he will be back in action to compete early next year.
Rain, rain, rain
At the weekend we headed off to Great Tew. This is an event near Oxford that we had not been to before as it usually clashes with Bramham. We set off with Billy on Air (Pip) and Dinky Inky (Inky) in the Novice and my mum's horse Wolfgang Penelope (Lacey) in the Novice Regional Final to try and earn herself a place in the Novice Championships at Gatcombe.
Rain was forecast and they were not wrong! It did not stop from the moment we arrived to the moment we left. I really felt for the organisers as they had made a huge effort; there was a nice main arena with all of the shops and stands around it which should have made for a great atmosphere but unfortunately was a washout.
The two novice horses were great, producing good dressage tests despite the driving rain, with Pip in particular impressing the judges to score 24.5! Followed up by lovely double clears they both went on to win their sections.
On Thursday we had a visit from the Horse & Country TV team, which was great fun. We did some filming for some bits for the H&C website (so look out for that) and did a tour of the yard and some other bits and pieces for camera. It was a good day, the rain managed to hold off for most of it and I think all involved were pleased. It is amazing how doing something different from what you are used to can be so tiring. I am normally fairly active but doing the filming and using my brain a lot was exhausting!
Going further a field and Gem finally eats a polo
On Saturday we headed off up to Derbyshire for an event at Catton Park. We weren't competing until the Sunday but it is a very long way so we went up the day before and stabled.
We had Kings Gem (Gem) and Chico Bella (Bella) on board both entered in the Intermediate. After a night stabling with a lovely local couple who could not have been more helpful we headed off bright and early down the road to the event.
This was Gem's second OI run since Badminton and she felt better than ever. She was very good in her dressage and followed this with an outstanding double clear. Her show jumping round was foot perfect and xc was fairly exemplary too. She was quite headstrong across country but this is normal and we managed a nice steady round despite her being quite keen to be inside the time.
Bella was doing only her second outing at Intermediate level so I was thrilled with her dressage score of 27. She was great in the show jumping but was just a bit green through one downhill combination and rolled a pole. The xc was a big track with a lot of questions especially for a young horse so I was absolutely chuffed to bits to come home clear. She was mega and is a really exciting prospect for the future. It was a really good day and I was pleased with both of my girls.
I am very lucky to have such lovely horses, and - stop the press - we have discovered Gem loves sugar free polos! She obviously hated the others as she was watching her weight!”
Shane Breen is just one of the many big names to be seen at Hickstead.
"Wowsers, what a day! I’m sure it’s like this every year, but boy oh boy does the craziness of the beginning of a show take you by surprise.
Ellie the elephant
Thankfully, the weather has held and everyone is in without having turned the ground to liquid mud in the process! The showground looks beautiful and there are some dead snazzy new tradestands. Is it a little bit sad that I’m actually quite excited about having just a tiny cuddle with Ellie the Elephant, the enormous mascot in the Bunn Leisure tradestand? I’m also a tiny bit worried about my bank balance because I’ve just walked past some very sparkly rings in Delanns Jewels next door! I really have to steal myself not to just raid the place every time I go past it!
We’ve got an app for that!
Much hilarity was caused by the Hickstead App today (hoorah, we have broken the 1000 downloads mark!) when our designer very cleverly managed to make updates for the App come through on peoples’ phones as a neigh! The sound of whinnying phones could be heard resounding around the back rings, but we did not anticipate the irate phone call our Press Officer received from a friend who said she would delete the App immediately if it neighed one more time in the middle of her very important business meeting, Oops!
An equestrian celeb fest
The back rings got off to a great start today, with some storming wins from Louise Pavitt in the 1.25m Open and Leesa Long in the Animo Hickstead Amateur Championship Preliminary Round, to name but a few. Walking around the back rings seemed to be like the Who’s Who of equestrianism – there were even some Eventers here: Tina Cook, Wendy Schaeffer, Pippa Funnell, William Whitaker (who I refer to as Favourite Whitaker, he calls me Favourite Bunn, in big families like ours you have to be able to distinguish each other!) and Funnell, Tim Stockdale, Ben Maher, the Breen Brothers, Capt. David O’Brien… the list is endless. I really can’t wait to see the fierce competition build as the week goes on. By the look of the start list it promises to be a corking Derby this year.
Hair for radio
I better go as my to do list to be done by eight tomorrow is still rather long. My pre-seven to do list starts with wash hair and style it into submission to avoid a repeat of today’s rather fetching SKY News interview fuzzy wahoo hair incident. At least tomorrow’s first one is for the radio!
"This week has been a bit of a roller coaster of a ride emotionally. I had a lovely morning on Tuesday out in the sunshine early watching a Gloucester calf being born then out Tuesday night in the moonlight watching a Irish Moile giving birth to a dead calf.
Signs of distress
On Wednesday our Jersey milking cow showed signs of not being well, by Thursday she was down. This means generally that an animal cannot get up from a lying position. The vet came out but could not diagnose any problems that we could treat. I have tremendous respect for vets. They have to do their diagnosis without being able to talk to the patient.
On Friday morning despite our best efforts and TLC, she went downhill rapidly, she was put to sleep late morning and removed from the farm.
It's always frustrating when you lose an animal and can't identify what has happened. Post mortems are possible, are expensive and don't always actually provide a clear result. The circumstances remind me of a cow I used to call my favourite many years ago called Primrose, a black and white Fresian/Holstein cross. She was easy to identify as she looked like she had a hill painted on her side with a tree on top. Funny, what you remember. And you thought farmers had no heart!
I now need to think about finding a replacement for Angel; it will be interesting to see which breed we buy this time."
“We made the most out of having qualified all of the horses that needed to be qualified for the summers by taking Roxy (Headmore Roxanne), a five-year-old mare by Keystone Rhondeo out of the same mare as Del (Headmore Delegate), out to her first ever show on Sunday 19 June. We hadn’t been planning to take her out to a party yet, but she had come on so much in such a short space of time that we thought we might as well!
Roxy had only ever been on a lorry once before (when she had to go and have a tooth out) but she loaded like a pro and travelled beautifully! She was impeccably behaved when we were tacking her up and was absolutely perfect in the warm up even though she had never seen anything like that before! It was like she had been doing it her whole life and it was just another outing!
Not quite on track…
The only time she was slightly less than perfect was when we first went into the competition arena because she had never seen white boards or mirrors so the first circuit was not quite on the track! Once she had seen them, however, she was absolutely fine and she did settle, although it was quite green and wobbly, which was understandable I think! Once she had settled into it and relaxed, she went beautifully and I think she will be very rideable in the arena.
She finished fourth which we were pleased with as it was her first party and we also had many comments about how smart she was, I think she is only going to get better and if she was that well behaved at her first show I think she will end up being very successful!”