“I’ve run out of ways to say, ‘Wowsers, what a day’ when I write my blog daily! So, wowsers, what a day. I’m concentrating really hard as I write this as the lovely Jenny from HCTV (blonde and gorgeous, with a really dirty laugh - funny how none of the usually media shy riders don’t mind being interviewed by her!) has just been teasing me. She asked whether perhaps I might have had one or two glasses of Pommery before sending her my blog on Friday night (it was the sponsors’ barbecue!) as she said she never normally has to edit it, and there were just comedy spelling mistakes and a complete lack of punctuation / general coherence from start to finish! Oops! But like I said, it was the sponsors’ BBQ, so therefore I was technically working! I might have had one or two glasses tonight with Longines to celebrate a fab show…
Showground crumbles around me
As I type the showground is being dismantled around me – it always amazes me how quickly a teeming village goes back to being just another Sussex field, and another international season is over. It’s always a horrible anti-climax and I hate this week as extreme tiredness and a horrible anti climax make for serious post show blues! Luckily I managed to get a tiny wee bit of retail therapy though in this afternoon when I was waiting for a delayed VIP at my office. I couldn’t stray far but I made sure I had a right good snoop in the all of the shops in the immediate vicinity. I treated myself to a well needed new pair of Dublin boots from the lovely Adrian at Townfields. His stripey tent always reminds me of being little as he was always our favourite trade stand and we’d nag and nag dad to take us there so we could buy endless hairnets, studs and different coloured elastics for our peacock stirrups! I wish I’d stuck to that shopping and never got a taste for handbags and shoes – so too I fear does my bank manager! Oops!
Amazing King George V Cup
The Longines King George V Gold Cup was an outrageously good class today, well worthy of its status as an Olympic qualifier. A Brit-heavy jump off too is never a bad thing. It made for exceptional television, and Kent Farrington was made up with his win on his first visit to Hickstead. I’d say we couldn’t pay for better PR in America!
The last day of the show is always a funny one, with the excitement of the big class to come, and the downer of the last day mixed all in to one. It was particularly bitter sweet though this year as Catherine / Miss May / Cat Flapper Extraordinaire / The Originator of the Famous Dog Face and of course Tweedle Blondie Dee said goodbye after eight years of working at Hickstead! She and I have often been described as the comedy duo, because whilst we are clearly very busy important and efficient, we also have a massive laugh! Lizzie does sometimes send us out of the office for being too loud and cackling admitted, but it’s not our fault we’re so hilarious! Well okay I’ll correct myself, it’s not our fault we find each other so hilarious! I’m feeling a bit sad about saying goodbye to my friend so have cracked open the chocolates to commiserate and it just made us more sad when I realised the next person I get probably won’t even be as chocolate compatible as Cat and I! She likes all the gross flavours like butterscotch and Turkish delight (vomitous!) and I like all the delish flavours like all the rest (!) so there’s never any arguing!
A jolly good send off
Obviously having been plotting how we would give her a good send off for ages, we decided to award her the Dorian Williams Trophy for the person that has made an outstanding contribution to the Longines Royal International Horse Show. Past winners read like the who’s who of British equestrianism. Catherine has always had a thing that it shouldn’t be awarded to anyone who works here (we all strongly disagree, the dingbat!) and so I promised she wouldn’t get it. When I told her last night we’d awarded it to our sneaky decoy, the STRI who have done such a fabulous job on the ground in the arena, she was delighted for them. Stirring, obviously, I asked her if she wasn’t a tiny bit disappointed that she hadn’t got it (part of my devious plan!) her exact words were, ‘If you had given it to me, we would have seriously fallen out!’ Ah ha ha ha! We also got SKY to do a short piece on her and the boys said it was the most fun they’d had all week – hardly a chore they said to have to spend the day looking at footage of the beautiful Catherine to make in to an edit! Slow mo dog face even got in!
Anyway, I’m not that sad, cause I’m going to get her drunk tonight and make her sign something that promises she’ll come back in her holidays to work at the shows! She’s going to uni to train as a primary teacher – she’ll be a broke student who needs to earn money in the school holidays and hang on, I know a job going! I have this hilarious vision of the immaculate and glam Cat as a student, with dreadlocks and a rolley fags! Hopefully she’ll have to eat lots of pasta and will finally get really fat! Thank you Cat, for everything, what fun we have had.
And to everyone who has read my blogs, thank you, I hope you have enjoyed both them and the season here at Hickstead… Stay tuned though, there’s more to come!”
“Such a fun day, so fun in fact that I’m writing this with a glass of Pimms to celebrate, which is normally a complete no no because it just makes me want to sleep and that is not helpful when I’ve still got another four hours work to do.
A hat better than royalties
It was Ladies' Day today and the turnout was amazing. The car parks were all full to bursting and it was quite the sight to see lots of immaculate women stepping out carefully with an array of incredible hats and feathers and generally glam. As you can see from the attached picture, I did try to do my best! Never one to shy away from the ridiculous, I got my friend Olivia Roat to make me a special Hicksteady hat for Ladies Day. She’s quite the celebrity milliner these days, but said that mine was way more fun than the serious ones she had to make for the Royal Wedding. The response was generally really good, aside from my sister Lizzie’s bulging eyes and pretend sick making face, and my brother Eddie (not famed for his fashion experimentation) "What have you got stuck to your ‘ead? Looks like you’ve fallen head first into the rosette cupboard". I told them both it was haute couture and stalked off in a suitably fashionable faux sulk.
A Lamb that was happy to be lead to the slaughter
Every year we support a charity on Ladies' Day, and this year we teamed up with the brilliant Variety Club. Larry Lamb came to judge the best dressed filly on their behalf, and couldn’t quite believe his luck when he realised his taxing job required him simply just to check out gorgeous women. Gill Warner was crowned best in show this year, wearing a gorgeous blue silk dress that she’d acquired on a trip to NY. A gorgeous cobalt blue, the colour of the season, she was just so elegant and timeless. We had a cavalcade of minis in the arena, and a convertible whisked Larry and Gill away to huge cheers from the crowd. Had it not been for Sky Sports going live and the pressing need to get the first horse into the ring, Larry said he would have happily done 20 more laps of honour with Gill for company. It was very hard though to pick a winner and our nine other finalists all went home with some lovely flowers and a goody bag stuffed to the brim with Jemma Kidd Make Up School goodies. There are of course quite a few perks that come with my job, and after rather a late night at the BBQ last night I have to admit having the Jemma Kidd team on hand to paint Catherine and my faces first thing came in real handy. I went for subtle super glittery eyes to go with my subtle hat!
A Whitaker wedding
The BBQ last night was a huge success, and I have to admit I felt slightly worse for wear this morning. We had an amazing jazz band in the garden, I told them that when I win the lottery I’ll just have them on hand at all times so I can wake up in the morning, open my window and get them to play me some morning jazz. Having made sure all of our sponsors were well fed and watered I can’t deny that I wasn’t guilty of sneaking a bottle of champagne and having a bit of a sit in with my friend Ellen Whitaker, and a right good gossip. I haven’t actually seen her since she’s become engaged and we had quite a lot to catch up on. I can’t wait for the wedding next year, obviously I’ll need to go shopping for a new outfit although, I have already got a hat I could wear.
A golden response
I probably shouldn’t say this, but stuff it, I will anyway because it really made me giggle. Obviously being so fab and successful, Ellen gets approached a lot, and being a Bunn does sometimes attract some unwanted attention. So, Ellen had given me a little make up touch up when I arrived because I looked so tired, with her amazing new sparkly bronzer. Completely happy in our little world gossiping away, this rather annoying drunken so and so came up and started just being a wee bit sucky uppy and annoying and drunk and just wouldn’t really leave us alone - it transpired that he wasn’t actually invited and was just a bit of a chancer who’d wandered in to the garden when he’d heard the party. Anyway, one of his particularly cheesy lines was that we both had a really ‘golden glow’ about us (puke!)… To which Ellen retorted, "Golden glow? I’d like to think we do! We better bloody do anyway, this bronzer cost me a fortune!" That put him back in his box and made us both giggle for hours – nothing to do with the champagne of course!
I must fly as still lots to do before tomorrow, the last day of the 2011 Longines RIHS, boo hoo, but Grand Prix day, one of my favourites.
Who will hold aloft the famous King George V Gold Cup tomorrow, I wonder? "
The German team won on the amazing new ground at Hickstead
“Today was of course FEI Nations Cup™ day, the only place to watch Team GB compete on home turf, and one of two Olympic qualifiers here at Hickstead.
The best in the world come to Hickstead
The competition was fierce, as it would be when you pit the very best in the world against each other. Coursebuilder Kelvin Bywater certainly rose to the challenge with very few clears forcing a three horse jump off between the Americans, French and Germans. The Germans emerged triumphant with anchor man Marcus Ehning producing one of the immaculate rounds against the clock for which he has become known. What a great competition.
A Princess on a break and woman who wait
We were delighted to have the President of the FEI with us today, Princess Haya, who made a welcome return to Hickstead after some years, having been a regular here for many years when she herself was competing. She has been on a break to have her first child, but was telling me of her plans to begin competing again and suggested that she might try our new national show in September to ease herself back in gently! The topic of lady riders having children is something that is much debated in the sport, and indeed in my household, as my sister Chloe has also taken a break from competing internationally to have two children Lorna and Darcy.
It always seems rather unfair that whilst women working nearly any other job may decide not to return to work for a while in order to enjoy the very special time with their baby, apart from a bit of ‘milk brain’ they theoretically could go back a week later if they had to. For sportswomen however it is simply impossible because even if they were to start training soon after the birth, it takes so much time to regain the fitness needed to compete at the top. Recently though at least there has been a ruling that means women can ‘freeze’ their world ranking points at the level they reach before having the baby, so they don’t have to claw back to the top again when they get back to work. It is never more evident though than in a Nations Cup how men and women compete side by side in our sport, unlike so many others, and is certainly something to be proud of. Girl power.
Doughnuts and Princesses apparently do mix
You’ll all be delighted to hear that I managed to refrain myself from doing anything too clumsy whilst hosting the Princess for the day. It’s always such a funny one meeting VVIPs as they are of course all just people like you and I (although perhaps a tad less accident prone than me) at the end of the day. Princess Haya is charming, relaxed and very informal, and said she was delighted to be back seeing all of her old friends again. She didn’t even seem to mind when two-year-old Darcy Breen decided to lunge at her unannounced for a very jam-donutty-fingers hug.
Hamsters at Hickstead
Just after HRH’s arrival I could see several members of the Hickstead team staring adoringly in her direction and beginning to emit slightly alarming and high pitched noises, somewhere between a squeak and a moan. It wasn’t until Princess Haya had moved out of my eye line that I could see the swooning was caused not by being in the presence of royalty, but of a hamster. Top Gear’s own Richard Hammond was here today watching his daughter show, and tried his hand at a bit of presenting in the main ring. Proving my point that celebs really are just like the rest of us, when I asked what class his daughter was in he said, "Um, the one for ponies?" a classic 'Dad' response. He was very excited about watching her though and said she’d hardly been able to sleep with excitement. He then remembered that she was probably on ‘some kind of Exmoor’ but that ‘crikey we’ve got so many of them at home!’ I’ll never be able to watch Top Gear in the same light again, knowing that he’s just another long suffering showing Dad.
Just a bit of Saunders
Favourite celeb of the day though has to go to the lovely Jennifer Saunders, here with her daughter Freya, who I bumped into when they’d snuck off from their snazzy box lunch to hit the shops. They’re both huge horse fans, and Freya was delighted to have bagged a coveted official Team GB shirt from one of the riders.
I must be off as we have a BBQ tonight in the gardens of Hickstead Place to thank all of our sponsors, international riders and officials. It’s one of my favourite nights of the year as we have to leave work at a sensible hour to host everyone.
Tomorrow is Ladies Day and I can’t wait because I have a particularly ridiculous hat to wear. See tomorrow’s blog for piccies, if Lizzie doesn’t ban me from wearing it. Larry Lamb will be here to judge the best dressed filly, and there’ll be a very special parade not from our four legged friends for once, but our four wheeled ones.
There was not a dry eye in the house (Gary’s included) when Gary Parsonage dashed to victory on Peter Street this afternoon in the process becoming the first person ever to win four Hickstead Eventing Grands Prix this year sponsored by Amlin Plus.
Gary had decided to retire Peter Street after the class, no matter what the outcome, and I can hardly think of a more fitting finale for such a super horse. In today’s very professional, fast moving and commercial world of equestrian sport, it is lovely to be reminded of the extraordinary bond necessary to forge a special, winning relationship between horse and rider. Today though, it was more than evident in Gary’s emotional interview after the class. When asked if he was tempted after another win to give the class one more crack next year, he said quite simply that he wouldn’t because, "Peter Street is the horse of a lifetime, and he owes me nothing".
I’d like to introduce you all to a new member of our team, BF. Well when I say new, that’s not strictly true; you used to know her as Emma, our show jumping secretary and resident ghost spotter. After she sent rather an important email last night to a rather important middle aged, serious, professional and super formal man and accidentally, in her tiredness, added the cursory twenty kisses after it, I had no choice but to rename her BF: Blog fodder. Sorry BF you just make it too easy, sorry! The first we knew about it was when she screamed loudly upon pressing send, when she realised what she’d done. I have never giggled so much when he came in to the office today, full of the joys of spring, thinking he was absolutely in there. Classic!
The clumsy show
I have mulled over my next story as to whether or not it is relevant blog material but decided that actually all goings on at Hickstead count. As you’ve probably noticed from this blog, I come from rather a clumsy family. You see us Bunns co-exist pretty merrily for the other non-show 50 weeks of the year, happily minding our collective business, bumbling around the place, doing silly things and tripping over stuff. Delighted as we are when near on 100,000 people descend on us for a fortnight every summer, unfortunately our clumsy hilariousness doesn’t just turn off.
The star of today’s clumsy show is my sister Chloe, married to Irish showjumper Shane Breen. Shane took the place of Irish Chef D’Equipe in last night’s chefs’ meeting, in Robert Splaine’s absence, and was really quite pleased with himself afterwards poncing around with his Chef’s Pack under his arm. So, Chloe decided to race him to the house. It was of course she declared, much quicker to walk the long way to the office, pick up her bike and get up to the house, than Shane walking as the crow flies across the main ring and up the hill. Do bear in mind that they’re both professional sportspeople and therefore just a tiny bit competitive.
So, clearly Shane set off at a sprint, as did Chloe, and with Shane taking a very clear lead Chloe took the first corner on her bike at ferocious speed. She then made like superman, via crashing into an enormous bank of FULL wheelie bins, soared over her handle bars and ended up in a bruised heap on the floor, covered in smelly rubbish. This was of course much to the amusement of the 50 or so traders having their evening barbecues, not to mention all the boys out building the cross country course. With a nasty cut hand, broken bicycle under one arm and horribly bruised pride under another she made her way home. But not before of course deciding on one final speedy flourish around the last corner home. Unfortunately she didn’t realise she’d severed the breaks in the first crash, and went head first into the iron garden gates! Oops. The most hilarious bit in my opinion though has to be the reports from several people of the worst husband ever running up the garden cheering with his arms in the air, whilst his wife was lying in a heap at the bottom of the hill. Poor Shane was blissfully unaware of the crash and was merely celebrating his victory, not his wife’s injury.
Time to go now, but fear not, I shall no doubt be back tomorrow with yet sillier Bunn and all things Hickstead related stories anon.
“Hello faithful readers! The reason I say that is because I wasn’t ever really sure before how many people actually read this. However, having been stopped about ten times today before 8am, by a mixture of friends and strangers alike to marvel incredulously about quite how many silly things I did actually do yesterday, I can only assume that there must be millions of you out there! Its now gone 6pm and people are still coming up to me and laughing. Oh dear!
The last laugh
I was literally the one with the last laugh last night though when poor Emma, our showjumping secretary, called from her office to mine at about 11pm, genuinely quite upset that there was a ghost in the office! Now, long hours make for slightly crazy people, but Emma is very rational normally and she was really quite insistent that there was in fact a ghost! Catherine and I rushed over to rescue her from clear impending doom (brave aren’t we?) and despite her nearly managing to convince us too, we did get to the bottom of it.
Now, what had happened was this… We have a little trick we often play here (sad, I know!) which is to sit in the dark and work late at night because if we leave the lights on people can’t resist popping down to see if we’re open and if they can just enter quickly for the next day – usually on the way back from the pub! So poor Emma was just minding her own business, sitting in the dark, when it appeared that our ghostly friend had taken control over her computer mouse! She moved it left, the ghost would move it right. She’d move it up, the ghost would move it down and so on. When Emma was sufficiently scared, the ghost then moved periodically around the office turning on all of the other computers, which did of course light up suddenly in the dark. Ah! In fact, what we finally deduced (please feel free to call us Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson henceforth!) was that I’d asked the guy in charge of our showman system to make some changes to some logos and he was logging in remotely – having tried Emma’s computer he realised she was still on there and then moved from computer to computer finding the one with the file he required on it! Wowsers, lucky escape!
Highlight of the day
One of my highlights of the day must have been seeing Catherine, who I work closely with in sponsorship (we have been referred to as tweedle blondie dum and tweedle blondie dee more times that I care to remember!) doing her first presentation in EIGHT years. It was a bit mean, but she’s terrified of horses (excellent place to work) and we had a pony presentation that needed a presenter so I made her do it! She really is my very good friend but it was quite funny to watch – mean, aren’t I – but they do say you should face your fears!
I can’t write for much longer tonight as we are currently building the course for tomorrow’s Amlin Plus Eventing Grand Prix – the only place in the world where eventers and showjumpers go head to head. It’s one of my favourite classes of the year, but tonight is all hands on deck to get the course built and branded. A few years ago during a particularly wet show, suffering from a fit of girl powerness (and a desire for as much sleep as possible!) Catherine and I stupidly went and bought ourselves an electric screw driver thingy so we could do some of it ourselves. We still have the blinking thing unfortunately and have slightly shot ourselves in the foot because now we have no excuse for getting boys to do it for us! Disaster!
“…And we’re off! The first day of the show got off to a great start today with jumping in the national rings and some fierce competition as people battled it out in some of the last qualifiers to get in to the famous International Arena. Henry Turrell stormed to victory in the Outside Events Catering Winter Grades B and C Championship Qualifier, on Urlanmore Aldi, and Darren Wise won the Horse & Hound Foxhunter first round on Castlekeeps C’Est La Vie – come on girls, don’t let the boys hog the winning rosettes!
Meanwhile, we are all still busy as bees rushing around behind the scenes readying the main part of the showground to welcome everyone tomorrow. Now, whilst I normally regale you with hilarious (and usually embarrassing for someone!) stories, today I fear that this story is just down right gross! Unfortunately for me, the embarrassed person in question today is, um, me, but it actually wasn’t my fault! Poor Pippa, our lovely, very well dressed, showing secretary, was helping me with one or two things earlier and we were just minding our own business zooming (well, as fast as a golf buggy will zoom you at any rate) down the drive, when someone who I won’t name (you know who you are!) snuck up behind us in their van and beeped at us REALLY loudly. Well, such a shock did it give me that I veered off the road, very nearly crashed into an unsuspecting Peugeot and (the gross bit) literally spat the entire mouthful of squash I had all over Pip. Sorry Pip! Her very nice chiffon top might have gone a tiny bit see-through from the drenching too! Sorry Pip! Sorry, sorry, sorry! Oops!
More stupid moments
What else stupid have I done today? Well, losing my clip board and radio was stupid enough for starters! I do it at least once a show and due to the regularity of my idiocy, my laments of ‘Someone’s DEFINITELY nicked it this time’, are rather like the boy who cried wolf. It’s not ideal, because I can’t tell anyone I’ve lost it because I haven’t got anything to tell them on, and I can’t do any of the million things on my to do list, because the to do list is on the clipboard! I think they’re a bit Harry Potterish and just sometimes magic themselves away from me – today they walked up to the bit of grass outside Ring Five. Probably just a huge coincidence I’m sure that I’d just been up there putting a sign up half an hour before – maybe they liked it up there and went back for a repeat visit!
Oh, and I did spend at least ten minutes trying to track down a mystery guy called Pol, until I realised that it was in fact a Paul I was looking for (and who I know!) and that our Press Officer Vicky had just said his name in a Scottish accent. I didn’t manage to work it out however before I approached two Polish people because my silly brother Edward thought I had said I was looking for a Pole. Em. Barra. Sing.
Oh dear, perhaps we should name this ‘Daisy Bunn’s Stupid Things She Did Today Blog’ – oh well tomorrow’s another day, it can only get better!
I am SO glad I received this just before I sent my blog to be published. Check out award winning, famous, highly prestigious bla bla but certainly very important course builder Kelvin Bywater chipping in with some physical labour! Drying the paint in the water jump with a hairdryer so its dry in time for tomorrow. Words literally escape me! Hilarious!”
Tim and Nick winning Grand Champion Stallion - All draft breeds at Saratoga
“Hello again friends!
It seems ages since I last blogged and, in looking at past blogs, this is about the same time last year that I introduced myself to you. Thank you for a wonderful year of allowing me to share with you and you sharing your comments with me!
Black horses weighing a ton
Our first show of 2011 was this weekend and boy was it HOT! There was a heat advisory with temperatures expected to be over 100 degrees! When you show black horses that weigh almost a ton, you simply must be concerned about heat. We vacillated between going and staying home but in the end, our horses are worked every day in harness so, we had to believe that they were acclimated as much as possible to the heat.
We like to move our horses at night whenever possible because it is typically cooler and traffic is usually lighter on the highways. Saratoga, the show we were attending was about a three hour trip, four hours at worst pulling a rig and with a woman who needs at least one potty stop! We left home around midnight and pulled in to the show grounds around 3.30am. This is a young show string for us and we have been pleased with how they traveled and settled. We all took a quick nap on various cots and, by 6am, we were all back up to feed and water.
Show day starts
As the show day got started, the first horse in the ring was our three-year-old mare Lorelei, by our stallion Wincredible. The three-year-old class typically has pretty deep waters and Judge Ryan Black looked all of them over carefully. Lorelei and Tim had a good go at the trot and, she stood like the lady she is with a beautiful expression as she looked out at the bleachers and all the people gathered. When the placements were announced, Lorelei left the ring with a fluttering blue ribbon attached to her halter.
We found a place in the shade of a tractor trailer to wait out the rest of the classes and give Lori a bucket of water before heading back in to the ring for Grand Champion Mare. This class consisted of all the winning mares in all the different breed classes and the second place winners of those same classes. The championship class was called and Lorelei trotted back in to the ring like she was the winner, an attitude that I personally love to see in any horse! That mare of ours always shows and never quits showing! The judge looked at all the horses and lingered on a pretty shire mare a few horses down from us. Hmmmmm, Tim and I looked at each other, wondering if that would be the winner.
Another grand champion
The judge stepped up to the announcer’s booth and we all collectively held our breathe. The crowd got quiet and after what seemed like hours under the hot sun, but was actually only minutes, the Reserve Grand Champion was announced… The Shire mare. Tim and I looked at each other, neither saying a word but my fingers were secretly crossed! When the Grand Champion was announced, it was Lorelei! It was so nice to hear our farm and names announced and to hear the applause from the crowd. The fluttering Grand Champion rosette that the fair queens placed in my hand felt wonderful and we were very proud of Lorelei!
Nick being Nick
We had no time to rest on our laurels as Nick was up next! We pressed our college intern Matt, in to service with the video camera and made our way to the ring. We felt like Nick was something special and, as we walked to the ring, several folks stopped us to inquire who the stallion was. Nick had been hiding in plain sight on our farm in Connecticut since June when he had arrived from Nebraska. Once in the ring, Nick did a great job of showing himself off. Like the true adolescent that he is at two-years-old, and, feeling good despite the extreme heat, Nick gave an “I feel great” buck right in front of the spectators sitting in the stands before carrying on. Matt, who is very close to Nick, said the buck made him smile; “That’s just Nick being Nick,” he told me later.
The judge again looked Nick over carefully, as he had done with all the horses, feeling for side bone, feeling his mouth and touching his side to judge weight and condition. I always say that a great judge uses many senses to evaluate an animal and I think it is terrific when they actually use touch to confirm what the eye sees.
Getting horses fit
One of the issues with a young horse that cannot yet be ridden or driven is to build muscle and to get them fit. Nick eats a really balanced diet and he spends a lot of time on the aforementioned golf cart. He looked very fit and conditioned which, in our opinion, is how a horse should look. A few exhibitors use drugs to get that look of fitness but we just use plain old fashioned hard work and we are proud of the job that we do. Nick looked every inch of the powerful stallion that he is! One of the reasons that we wanted Matt to come to this show was so that he could see what the hours of work mean and, he could appreciate why we put in all those hours!
In the end, another blue rosette was attached to a North Point halter! Nick pranced but immediately horses were called for the Stallion Championship class so there was no waiting in the sun for Nick, which we were grateful for! It seemed like mere minutes after the class started that the reserve stallion champion was announced, another shire owned by a very nice gentleman that we had met a few years ago at another New York show. And when Grand Champion was announced, Nick was the winner!
Hours paid off
As we got back to the barn there were congratulations and hugs all around from our show team as well as fellow exhibitors. The horses were watered first and then all of us dipped in to the coolers filled to the brim with ice for water ourselves. All the hours spent driving horses and the grooming and training had really paid off for us in Saratoga and as we loaded up and called our goodbyes, we were satisfied with the work everyone had done, including the horses. It will take a day or two of regrouping and rest but we are already looking forward to the next show in a week’s time!
Thanks again for reading and sharing! Stay cool during these dog days of summer and check back for the next installment of the blog! You can also visit us at www.northpointfarm.com or see us on Facebook!”
“After Bracks’ (Headmore Boadicia) rather over exuberant performances at Sparsholt the other week, we thought it would be a good idea if she went to another party before she has her first two regionals next week. So, we took her to Pacesham on Wednesday 20 to do an advanced medium music. Although she had already qualified, we thought it would be a good chance for her to practice her changes in a test again before she has to do them at the regionals.
Leisurely build up
The show wasn’t until the evening so it was a very leisurely build up! We were hoping that we would be able to stay dry as the weather had not been very kind in the lead up to the show. She warmed up fairly well despite the fact that the warm up arena was quite wet due to the large amount of rain we had had in the lead up to it, we were clean when we went out but by the time we got into the test both of us were splattered but water! It was quite minging!
I was pleased with her test; she was much more under control than at Sparsholt! There were still a couple of places where it could have been improved but she really tried and as she relaxed into it she just got better and better! We got all three changes on the serpentine and there were some really lovely moments! It was good enough to score 70.66% which was good enough to win, and it was also the highest score of all of the music classes!
All in all it was a good final outing before her elementary and medium regional finals next week, so fingers crossed for those!”
“We had the first of a busy few weeks last week; we were at Hartpury College for the CDI with both Wiz (Wurlizer) and Del (Headmore Delegate). Wiz was entered in the big tour (scary stuff) and Del was doing the small tour.
We arrived on the Wednesday evening to get both boys settled in before the trot up on Thursday. Amy, my best friend, was grooming for me so both boys looked really smart and, thankfully, both passed the trot up without a hitch. I was drawn very good times for the first day of competition on Friday 15, Del was the penultimate horse to go in the PSG and Wiz was fifth last to go in the Grand Prix.
Del’s first international
Del warmed up fairly well for the PSG, but he got a bit tense and genuinely worried in the atmosphere as it was his first International and there was quite a buzz in the ring. This resulted in him becoming tight in the neck which resulted in a test that was very below par for what Del is capable of. He still scored 65% to finish twelfth, so it wasn’t a complete disaster! It was then Wiz’s turn in the Grand Prix. It was my first International Grand Prix and the standard was high, I was just hoping for a test that I was pleased with as we are not yet established enough or confident enough at that level yet. He warmed up very well, my trainer, Erik Theilgaard, was there to help me warm up and I was feeling quite confident as we went into the ring. We had a few mistakes and there is still much more to come in the piaffe and passage, but he stayed with me and he really tried his best, thankfully I had given him some of my trusty Nupafeed to stop him worrying about the really tricky stuff, and it worked! We scored just under 63%, which considering his stage of training at the moment and the mistakes, wasn’t bad at all. A lot of people said to me that they thought I deserved more than I had got, including a number of people who were also in the class, which was very nice to hear! That evening, we went out for dinner with Wiz’s breeder, Judith Davis, and we organised to go over to her stud on the Sunday to have a look round.
Del gets a little cocky
Saturday was Del’s Inter I and he was much more settled than on the Friday, he actually went a bit the other way and was too cocky and silly, which meant that we had some very silly mistakes as Del was trying to be too clever! This left us with a score of 64.5%, which considering the mistakes wasn’t bad, but unfortunately we finished in sixteenth place, meaning that we just missed out on qualifying for the music as the top 15 go through, which was a shame. That evening we went to the gala evening and watched the Grand Prix freestyle, as well as a stallion parade and the young horse championship winners. It was a very enjoyable evening!
Meeting Wiz’s mum
I just had the Grand Prix Special to do on Sunday, which wasn’t until after 5pm, so on Sunday morning we went to Wiz’s breeder at Hawtins Stud to have a look round. The first thing we did was meet Wizard’s Mum, Brentina. As you can imagine I was very excited about this and there were some real similarities between the two. Brentina is now 17 and still breeding and she had a lovely foal at foot, Wiz’s half brother, by Sir Donnerhall. In the same field there was a gorgeous Belissimo foal who reminded me so much of Bracks (Headmore Boadicia) and I wanted to take her home! After that we meet some of the other young stock and there were quite a few which really caught my eye! It was lucky that I didn’t have any money as I think we would have been bringing slightly more than two horses home from Hartpury! There were some really lovely horses and I will definitely be going back to buy a few when I have some spare cash! Once we were back at Hartpury it was a case of organising ourselves for the Grand Prix Special. Neither Wiz nor I had ever done the test before and I would have been pleased if I had just remembered where I was supposed to be going! We had quite a few mistakes in the test, the vast majority of them out of greenness, and I hadn’t realised quite how much harder the special in than the straight Grand Prix! Overall I was pleased with how Wiz went, it was far from perfect but I think he did the best he could at the moment, and our attempt was good enough to finish seventh, so not at all bad for our first International Grand Prix!”
“Apologies for the late blog - our KWPN approved breeding stallion Mooiman Hfd had an international Grand Prix to compete in at the beginning of the month, which delayed my administration duties! Feel free to experience snippets of our outing – there’s a video at the bottom of my blog for you to watch. After qualifying for the Kur, we were lucky enough to pip into the prize giving ceremony too. When I watch the video back, I think the piaffe and transition from piaffe to passage could be much more fluent, but sexual tension are one of the complications we stallion riders have to take in our stride.
RIP Amazing Grace
I have sad news about Amazing Grace. Despite surviving enteritis at just 12-hours-old, shortly after her return home she suffered a kick from the dam which resulted in an inpatient admission to have a huge haematoma drained on her neck. It was during this period of treatment that she suffered a serious bout of colic and perforated her bowel, losing her fight for life to a force greater than us. I will never forget this little angel - she has left a hoofprint in my memory forever.
The month of June closed with a flurry of brood mare requests from frantic breeders who had been unsuccessful at getting their current mares in foal, but had set their minds on having a foal to look forward to in 2012. Brian will make a selection from our breeders that fit the buyer’s criteria and take the hopeful customers to various studs and yards where they might find a mare in foal that they are looking for.
For us, we would never breed from a mare who has only been given stud book status. I am now referring to the terminology and grading of KWPN mares as this is our forte. The majority of our mares are KWPN. Dutch sport horse breeders have been united for more than 100 years. King William 11 recognised the first Dutch Stud Book organisation in 1887 and so laid the basis for regulated warmblood horse breeding in the Netherlands, the resulting horses are a sport horse which HFD appreciates and believes in.
When a KWPN foal is born they are registered into the Veulen Book - VB on the passport. The animal then is taken to the gradings. If there are any basic conformational or gait problems, then they stay VB. If the gaits and conformation are correct with normal development, then they are accepted into the stud book and their passports will be stamped with STB. This is the most basic inspection but a respectable one; mares not presented as foals are eligible for inspection at any age. It is unusual for foals in the Netherlands not to be presented for stud book grading as it is considered part of the normal breeding process.
Any animals presenting with genetic abnormalities, such as parrot mouth, sickle hocks and so on, would not achieve stud book status, no matter how much sporting promise the animal showed in the gait assessment. I could elaborate more on the complexities of the KWPN stud book grading system if enough of you request it - I do not want drone on with a very intense subject such as this if there is no interest!
From here on in, you in set your own standards. The KWPN stud book records the competition results of all approved stallion offspring and they form a breeding index on the result of these records. At HFD we always put the broodmares under saddle to ensure the mare has a good work ethic, we would not use a mare which presented an unacceptable level of willingness.
Should Queenie foal again?
In the same vein, once a mare entered a breeding programme should she present with above average complications resulting in the loss of her foals, we would remove her from breeding status. I note with interest the sad loss of the foal born to the National Trust MyFarm project and see that for them her success rate of a normal healthy foal is enough to continue to breed from her. For us, she would be too high a risk and we would remove her from the programme.
That aside, after a birth resulting in the death of a foal we would not cover on the foaling heat if the birth was complicated. She would be given time for any sore areas and inflammation to stabilise for fear of abortion, reabsorption or infection further hindering future breeding projects, but I am not abreast of all the facts and do not know if the birth was complicated or not. I’m sure they’re doing what they think is right and no doubt took veterinary advice which is perhaps the most important thing to consider.
Movers and shakers
June saw a changeover of staff with apprenticeships coming to an end and new employees to induct. It’s always time consuming and tiring - the staff have to work really hard to meet the standards set by a DEFRA Approved international breeding station and an international Grand Prix rider, but so far all seems to running smoothly
Although June horse sales were slow, Rolex Hfd was sold, as was Nico and Channel No5. I am currently in discussions with a very well informed pony international rider’s mother about my lovely Coolman Hfd. I think he has international potential. Although Mooiman Hfd is on the Dutch KWPN stallion rankings as one of the top 10 dressage sires in the Netherlands, I am keen to develop his breeding CV in Ireland and the UK further. I would like another Mooiman Hfd offspring to join Titanisch on the international path way in the UK, so his CV versus me, me, me is my current quandary. Decisions, decisions.
Great results for HFD offspring
This time of year much of the foaling is done and dusted and the covering season complete with the majority of brood mares in foal and just a few stallions now to get through semen freezing. Our thoughts turn to the county shows, foal shows, mare gradings, summer regionals and National Championships. We are delighted to congratulate Faye Hesketh and Mooiman Hfd son Amoo on qualifying for the Horse of the Year Show. Susan Haliday, elite sports pony breeder, has won just about everything including the sport horse class at the Great Eccleston Show, then going on to take the championship with her two-year-old Mooiman Hfd colt Esprit Mooiman. Laura Morely, a first time breeder, gained a high first premium at Writtle with her Oliver Hfd foal.
We have always enjoyed impressive results in the dressage arena and Mooiman son Tarzan comes to mind when he won the BD Eastern Open Elementary Regional Championships so these results in the show ring are a bonus for us, proving the stallion Mooiman Hfd is also meeting the standards of the very important British show producers, who themselves can boast worldwide recognition and respect. These are just a few results we have enjoyed through our breeders so a good year to date. Congratulations to you all and thank you.
Thank you for once again sharing our small corner of the universe - speak to you all in August.”