"Hope you are all wintering well and you haven't given up the ghost on our great British weather! Things have been crazy here as usual! Since my last blog lots has happened...
A successful trip to Patchetts Development Show proved to be a worthwhile trip, Athene H (Dutch) qualified for the winter small Grand Prix and the Blue Chip B/C finals. To top it off, he gained qualification for the Winter Novice Final which is held at the Longines Royal International Horse Show at Hickstead. He felt just amazing, the B/C class was his first time at this level and he just made it feel so easy. The New Priory Stud's Harlequin Joe also had a third in the opening day's 1.30m, plus he won the Blue Chip B/C and qualified for the Winter B/C final, which is also at the Royal International! This was the first time I have ever qualified a horse for Hickstead so to gain two tickets in three days was very exciting.
My trip to Patchetts also included another first time experience for me - a visit to Toby Carvery. I was amazed, I have never seen people eat so much in my whole life... A huge buffet of every kind of meat and veg you could imagine. When queuing for this feast. I saw some very large people putting rather a lot of food on there plate, while thinking to myself that I could not believe how greedy people were and the food on there plate was enough to feed a whole family, I realised I actually had said it out loud! Thankfully they didn't hear, though the lady next to me then thought it was then appropriate to show me her very small portion of food and agreed with my statement.
Christmas came early for me this year with the arrival of a new horse that Spencer and I purchased. Derby is a five-year-old bay stallion by the great sire Verdi. His mother line is Voltaire/Tangelo and he has a fantastic temperament. He had been competing in low level BSJA and was actually seventh in last years BYEH final. Derby had very quickly settled into our yard and has already had some good placings, including qualifying for the Blue Chip championships at Hartpury. He has already attracted a lot of attention from the few shows he has been to, but will be kept to run alongside Disco, my other five-year-old.
The guys on my yard have all been working hard getting ready for our big move. It's amazing how much stuff you gather over the years, so I think the move is coming at the right time. We have been trying to keep our numbers of horses down until we leave but typically we have resulted in bringing all the young horses in from the fields as they keep getting foot abscesses. Hence we are full and at bursting point.
As quickly as he came back, Dutch (Athene H) has sadly gone back home again, his owner has recently built a new yard at home and has employed a groom, so wanted him back, fortunately only 15 minutes away from our new property so hopefully I will still get to compete him.
Well guys, that's a quick round up of Jay's world. Next time I will fill you all in with details of our big move, which is just around the corner!"
Jay is delighted to have his beloved Athene H back, known as Dutch.
Hope you have all been keeping well and warm. I am sorry it's been a while, but I have been crazy busy with shows and our new property development.
Our new yard is coming on well. Even though it is still a building site, every time we go and visit something has changed. My new outdoor arena is finished and the windows and stable partitions start going in soon. Now we just have to hope and pray that the weather stays dry, so that nothing interrupts our very tight schedule.
My cold weather wear is now well and truly out from the back of the wardrobe and we have got nearly all of our young horses in the barn for winter. Harry (Candy Windsor), my favourite foal from this year, has been really poorly and at times looked like we was going to lose him. Fortunately, he is looking much better so we have decided to change his name to Candy Soldier, which seems far more fitting for this brave little chap.
A surprise trip to New York for my 30th was annoyingly scuppered by Hurricane Sandy. Spencer had arranged a Wednesday to Monday trip which involved a Broadway show and a surprise appearance from my bestie and her fiancé. Sadly we ended up having a weekend at home with Spencer feeling unwell. Even though we never made it away, it did highlight that I have the best boyfriend ever – fact.
An old face returned to stall Halim this month in the form of my old friend Dutch (Athene H), owned by Chantelle Souness. Dutch did a few months jumping with me at the beginning of the year and then went back to his mum's for her to enjoy. However, Chantelle has a had a bit of a career change recently and very kindly decided that he wasn't being used enough and he could come back to me. Exciting!
A crazy kick start to the indoor jumping season involved eight horses staying at the Hand for four days. On two of these days I ended riding 10 horses! Each day started at 9:00am and I think that three out of the four days we finished jumping past midnight. As keen and hungry as I am for success, this nearly finished me off, mentally and physically – especially now I have hit my thirties!. All the horses jumped well, and we gained a few more tickets for the Blue Chip showjumping championships.
The following week I took four horses to Addington for the premier show, which was not as successful, but still well worth the trip. Bob Ellis's courses were fantastic and both my horses and I learnt a lot.
So in my last blog I was thrilled with my boys’ first event, and since then the boys have excelled themselves again. This time Master Eli and Andreas did the Novice at Moreton Morrell College. Eli was a little fresh in his dressage this time, but managed to jump another double clear to finish just outside the top ten - his eight time faults cost him a win but being only five-years-old that can wait for another day!
Alfie kept a 100% success rate by winning his section. Both boys gave me fantastic rides so yet again I was a very proud dad! The only shocking thing to happen was after Eli's cross-country, a random stranger approached me, telling me that I had been 'randomly selected'. At this point I thought I had been singled out for a special prize, sadly it wasn't, it was a dope testing for my horse. This came as a bit of a shock and bad timing as I had to get ready for Alfie's dressage. Karen - my groom on this day - has done five Olympic Games and pretty much every event in the world and had never had a dope test done on any of her horses in national competition.
As well as my eventing I have been going out to some dressage competitions. Last Wednesday I took three horses to Hunters Dressage in Cirencester. I rode Broadlands Rossini in two Advanced Mediums, Andreas in two Elementary classes and Dr Jekyll in two Novice classes. I managed to win five out of the six classes and only lost the sixth due to a sat nav issue, so ended up second. Not bad for a day’s work, but I was very glad to see my bed at the end of the day.
I have recently started riding some jumping horses for the New Priory Stud. In a few outings I have already notch up a win and some placings on their lovely young horses. They have some very exciting babies and I am looking forward to my relationship with the team from the stud. Check out their website.
The work on our new place has taken place and is changing every time we go there. Sadly they are still only at the stage of clearing and breaking up concrete but the change already is unreal. The new yard will be beautiful and have fantastic facilities. It will be great to be able to produce our own horses from foaling down to top competition horses.
Over the past five months, Spencer and I have been the experts in the Your Horse Training academy. In each issue we have been showing training tips and exercises that we use with our horses. I have mainly used Master Eli and Andreas as my guinea pigs for the feature. The boys' first event was tied in for the final training article, so the Your Horse team were present for the whole experience.
The big day had finally arrived. It was a complete shock to the system when Emma (head girl - aka Sugar) and I had to leave the yard all loaded and out the gates by 5.30am, oh early mornings how I missed you… Nevertheless, the spirit was not dampened as this was Sugar's first event with me since Blair CCI3* in 2011, so we giggled, sang and ate our way down to Pontispool.
It was a real proud dad day, both boys did a good test and jumped double clears. I thought it was really grown up cross-country course for them so I was chuffed to bits with the feel they gave me from start to finish. On top of that, Alfie won his section, which was great as I did not want to look like a complete idiot for my training feature!
Last weekend I had a few days at the Espayo National Dressage Championships cheering on Spencer. All three of his horses performed well and they placed in all their classes, he was sadly pipped to the post in the Prix St Georges when he came second. It’s great to see Spencer and his team heading back up the ranks again; it’s been a long road for him since he was National Champion back in 2007. It just goes to show that someone of his calibre has to wait so long for horses and owners. Without being too biased, no one deserves it more.
We have also had lots of other things going on in our lives at the moment. Sadly Grove Farm (the yard we rent) has just been sold so we have managed to secure a new property that is being purchased for us to turn into something special. The new yard is not too far away from where we are at the moment but it has to have a lot of work done on it before we can have our horses there. The new yard is going to have fantastic facilities and I am thinking it will be like a taste of heaven when it is all completed and everything is established. The future is bright….but I am sure we have a few bridges to cross over the next few months!
As I write this, Spencer and I are on a mini break to Annecy in France, where our owner and good friend Jen Goodman lives. We have had a busy few weeks and a three-day get away is just what the doctor ordered!
I can't write my blog without mentioning the Olympics. The Games were quite possibly one of the best experiences of my life. Although I initially thought that the whole idea of it being in Greenwhich was farcical, I have to eat my words. The backdrop of the Maritime Museum was incredible, and London itself had an amazing buzz from the moment we got to Paddington station. Being as controversial as ever, I am going to say that I am glad the Germans won the eventing gold, even though Team GB has some of the best cross-country riders in the world. The format of the Olympic Games aren't the same as a four-star competition, the cross-country is ran over a track that has dimensions more like a two-star, so obviously the dressage and show jumping phases are very influential. Anyone watching saw that the German team gave us a perfect example of being good in ALL three phases and not just one. Michael Jung is definately the most worthy gold medal winner I think the sport has ever seen. The man is just amazing.
The showjumpers were the biggest surprise, but while I think a team gold medal was a little unexpected, it was long overdue! Although I would have love to see my old horse Hello Sailor make the final team, the remaining riders pulled together to produce that special result. My hat goes off to the course builder Bob Ellis and his team, I have never seen such an cleverly-built track. It was a true Olympic test.
As for the dressage team, I think there results speak for themselves. The atmosphere in the stadium was electric. All three riders kept their cool and proved to the rest of the world that the British are a force to be reckoned with. I think a lot of the success of the dressage team is owed to the Bectholsheimer family. The B's has devoted their lives to the sport and have not only produced Laura but where influential to Carl Hester's career. Having a friend compete in the games was really special, so watching Laura was a emotional experience. The last group of riders in the individual final was intense, I don't think there was a dry eye in the house. Charlotte Dujardin literally has balls of steel! Well done her and what a fantastic combination between horse and rider.
My guys at home have been ticking over nicely, Master Eli and Andreas have been winning at Newcomer and Foxhunter level show jumping. They both won their first dressage competitions too - Eli scored a whooping 74% and 82% in his first unaffiliated competition and Alfie scored 72% and 73% in his BD tests. Both boys are entered for their first few events next month so let's hope they keep bringing home the red rosettes and more importantly the money! Anyway I must go, I have a speed boat and some skis with my name on them and above is a video of my first attempt water skiing. Over and out."
Things have been busy as usual at my end, but have been made even more so with a terrible timewaster - in the form of a tan Jack Russell puppy called Lola. She IS indeed a showgirl and it's hard to do anything with her around to distract us!
The news from my showjumper Who Boy is still not great, a trip down to Newmarket with a massive vets bill did not reveal the whole problem, and we are yet to know if he will ever jump again.
After my disastrous round at the Blue Chip Grand Prix, my top horse VIP and I have hit some great form. I do owe some of this to trainer Corrine Bracken, who has been brilliant at kicking me back into touch. I haven't really had any help for some years with my jumping and it was definately a good step forward.
A two-day show at The Hand was a great start, dropping down a class or two and having a gallop round was just what the doctor ordered! I have not properly ridden VIP competitively until now, and needed to put my foot down and stop bubble-wrapping him! After having two second placings and a fifth out of four classes, I headed to Wales and the West and jumped the 1.40m Grand Prix, where we finished fourth. This was a great result and I am really looking forward to June, where I will be doing a few more shows with him.
Last week I took my two novice horses out for the first time this year - Master Eli, a five-year-old, and Andreas, who is a green six-year-old. I was so pleased with them, Eli won the Discovery (see the video above) and Andreas was third, so it was a great start for them.
Team GBR has been making the rest of the world take note! The showjumpers have been showing good form, Nick Skelton seems to be in the midst of a purple patch, and Ben Maher has also been winning on Tripple X. The dressage team, Carl, Charlotte and Laura, have had amazing results and really could make dressage history this summer. The eventers are also showing good form and there is nobody I would like to see win a medal more then William Fox-Pitt. It will be really interesting to see all of the riders' tactics in the run-up to the Olympic Games. Go Team GBR!