Our blogger, dressage rider Alice Oppenheimer, is getting back to normal after her leg injury. Find out what she's been up to in her latest blog post...
"With my leg on the mend it was back to our normal routine on the yard. We were looking forward to Addington Manor Premier League, especially as I had missed some of my classes at Keysoe.
Before the Premier League, we had another trip to Addington for the Equine Pathway viewing day. Although Del (Headmore Delegate) has been on it for the past few years it runs on an Olympic cycle so everyone was being re-assessed. We were also taking Socs (Tantoni Sir Socrates) as he had been selected for the viewing day. It was quite a good run through for the Premier League as both horses had to do the test they were entered for at the show, and I was pleased with how both horses went. Socs did a nice clear round and Del was massively improved, we just had a few mistakes as he hadn’t been to a show for a while. We are just waiting to hear the results...
We then made the journey back to Addington with Socs for another practice of the International Six-Year-Old class. Although he had qualified at Keysoe, he is quite short of mileage so we wanted to take him to another Premier League. He warmed up really well but we didn’t know that they were running a bit late so he had gone slightly off the boil by the time we made it into the arena. Nevertheless, we were pleased with him and he finished fourth in a big class, he is definitely going the right way.
We went back to Addington again the following day with Del for the Grand Prix. It was only his third test at the level so I was just hoping to get round. The weather was not looking too great; there were some very heavy showers and rather black skies. Erik Theilgaard (my trainer) was there to help me warm up and Del felt mega, although we had decided to not go flat out as we wanted to give him confidence. I was thrilled with the test, there was just a slight mistake on the final centre line where Del offered me too much - but overall we were delighted with him. I was even more thrilled when we were awarded a score of 69.2% to finish fourth behind Michael Eilberg, Carl Hester and Judy Harvey.
We also took Robin (Headmore Dirubinio) and Mischief (Tantoni White Mischief) to Quob for the Shearwater Young Dressage Horse qualifiers. As Socs and Tank (Headmore Wimoweh) had already qualified, we were hoping to get Robin and Mischief done so we could stop worrying about that show. Despite the rather disgusting and unseasonal wet and cold weather, both horses went very well and we were thrilled with them. Robin won the Four-Year-Olds with the highest mark of the day and Mischief also won the Five-Year-Olds so both are now qualified for Hartpury. One show down!
We also have some exciting news; Socs has been invited to the Young Horse World Championship Viewing Trials at Wellington Premier League. In addition, we have had our first two new arrivals, a pair of twins, one lovely chestnut filly and one lovely chestnut colt, both with a white face and four white legs by Florencio and out of Bracks (Headmore Boadicia). Any suggestions for names would be gratefully received, they have to begin with an F!"
"After our disappointing trip to the Winter Championships, we were hoping to really be able to get stuck into qualifying everyone for their relevant summer championships. Unfortunately a rather sizeable spanner was thrown into the works as I got my leg squashed when the biggest horse on the yard shot forward and squashed my leg between him and the wall of the school. Following a few x-rays and plenty of frozen peas, I was just about able to get back in the saddle a few days after. However, this meant that we missed our trip to Oldencraig with Tantoni Sir Socrates (Socs) and Headmore Delegate (Del), so we had to go to Keysoe Premier League somewhat cold!
It was still very much up in the air as to whether we would be able to make it to Keysoe with my leg, and all week it was changing from taking all four that we had entered - Socs, Del, Bracks (Headmore Boadicia) and Mischief (Tantoni White Mischief) - to not going at all. Eventually we settled on withdrawing the two advanced horse, Bracks and Del, and just taking the two young horses, Socs and Mischief, as the tests were a lot easier.
We eventually left on Friday lunchtime, although I was still slightly apprehensive that it may be a bit ambitious. We thought we had left plenty of time but the traffic was horrendous, so when we arrived at Keysoe it was a bit of a mad rush to get Mischief ready for her potential international dressage horse class. Luckily we had just about enough time and I was thrilled with her. She was much more confident, but at times I had a bit too much energy and this led to a few losses of balance in the test. This proved to be expensive, but it was a vast improvement on Pachesham.
The following day was the national young horse qualifiers. Mischief was first to go in the 5-year-old class and I was thrilled with her once again, she is really improving very quickly. The judges still felt she was green for the test however, but they also commented that she had potential for the future when she is more established. She also had plenty of admirers from people watching as well, not only for her paces but also her very pretty face - she could be a model. It was then Socs’ turn in the 6-year-olds and I was also thrilled with him. It was only the third test I had done on him and he felt really impressive. The judges also thought so too as he won the class with the highest mark they gave out of the five- and six-year-old classes, qualifying him for the final at Hickstead.
The final day was the International young horse qualifiers. Mischief was very tired after the previous two days so we withdrew her, but Socs was still full of running. He warmed up superbly, feeling better than the previous day so I was feeling very confident going into the ring. I was thrilled with the test, as it is quite difficult including half passes and flying changes, but Socs showed his class by completing a mistake free test. I was very disappointed when he scored less than the previous day and only finished 3rd, which was still good enough to qualify for the final, but I felt he was hard done by. Socs is now qualified for all of the six-year-old classes, so it was worth the trip, even with my dodgy leg!"
Alice Oppenheimer chats to Jenny Rudall at the British Dressage Winter Championships
"With all of our preparation complete, we left for the Winter Championships at Hartpury hoping for a couple of good results. Unfortunately, we had to withdraw Roxy (Headmore Roxanne) from the Albion Medium Open Championship as she was suffering from a tooth abscess and then had an adverse reaction to the antibiotics, so it was just down to Bracks (Headmore Boadicia). We hadn’t had the best build up with her either as we had had to SOS Liz from Jenny Hadland and Company (the physio), as she had got cast a couple of days before we left. What is it about horses!
We arrived on the Thursday evening and settled Bracks into her stable following the vet check before we went to dinner with one of my sponsors, Sheila Noble from Nupafeed. We had a lovely evening and Sheila served us up a delicious meal, especially considering we were only in her horsebox! She was mortified the following morning when she realised she had forgotten pudding, but it meant we able to enjoy it with Bob Walker and his wife Jackie from Clean Round shampoo!
We had the PSG freestyle championship on the Friday evening and I wasn’t competing until 21.55, so it meant we had all day to chill and shop. It also meant I was able to do an interview with H&C’s Jenny Rudall in our horsebox, which was a good laugh as always. Make sure you all check it out in the upcoming episode of 'Rudall's Round Up'. I also got to watch the first half of the class, as well as John and Char Lasseter’s hilarious display. It doesn’t matter how many times you see two pantomime horses doing dressage, it is still hysterical.
Bracks was looking very beautiful for her gala evening performance but, unfortunately, she was a bit tricky to warm up and then we had a bit of a miscommunication in a canter pirouette. This proved very costly as we dropped out of the placings, but based on our other marks throughout the test we would have finished in the top three. Mum and I were unsure of why we had had the mistake, but after discussing it with Charlotte Dujardin (who trains me and saw the class) we thought that Bracks must have been in season. Mares always have stronger seasons at this time of year, which would explain why she was a bit tricky - as she is not normally a hormonal mare. We were hoping that she would be better in the Advanced Medium the following day as we weren’t sure when she had come into season, but unfortunately she seemed even worse, which led to loads of mistakes in the test. It is very unlike Bracks to be like that and it was very unfortunate timing - but that is mares after all! Next year we will put all of our mares on Regumate at the beginning of spring for their worst seasons, as all of us girls know what it is like... I think Bracks just wanted to curl up with a duvet and a bar of chocolate!"
"Headmore Dirubinio might be the best horse we've ever bred"
"With the Winter Championships , we took Bracks (Headmore Boadicia) and Roxy (Headmore Roxanne) out for a couple of outings to try and fine tune everything.
We started off by taking Bracks to Sparsholt on a very wet and windy day for the Prix St Georges. Luckily, we managed to stay dry in the warm-up until it started to hail about 5min before I was due to go in. I was first in and the judge was already seated, so I decided to wimp out a bit early from the outdoor warm-up so I could go inside for my test. Overall I was pleased with her way of going, although there were a few little mistakes, and she scored just short of 69% which was good enough to win.
We then took the girls to Crofton. Both of them had unfortunately missed a bit of work beforehand due to some bad luck, but we decided to take them anyway as it was our final chance for a run through before the finals. Roxy was doing her first Advanced Medium and I was thrilled with how she went. Her trot work was super, all of the changes came off and it was good enough to win with 69%, not bad for her first go at that level!
Bracks then had another run through the PSG. Aside from the start, where she was a bit too fresh, I was thrilled with the test and thought that her pirouettes and changes were much more secure. Unfortunately, the judge didn’t agree and scored us 67.5%, which I was a bit disappointed with.
We also took a couple of young horses out for their first show of the year to Pacesham EC for a Shearwater Potential International Dressage Horse Qualifier. The first one was Robin (Headmore Dirubinio), our four-year-old stallion by Dimaggio and out of Rubinsteena (Rubinstein/ Donnerhall). It was his first show and he is still quite green but he was absolutely fantastic. He is such a head turner and it was amazing how many people had to stop to look at him! We are very proud and think he is the best horse we have bred and were thrilled that he won and has already qualified for the Nationals in September at his first outing.
I also took Mischief (Tantoni White Mischief) out for the first time since she returned to us at Headmore. She is now owned by Becky Hulme and has been with her over the winter but I now have her back for the season. I was thrilled with how she went; she just needs to strengthen up a bit now as she looked like a little four-year-old in amongst all of the five year olds! She still finished sixth in a big class however, and she will continue to get better and better.
Now we're looking forward to the Winters, fingers crossed for a good show there."
Tinker and Maisy (left), who is hopefully expecting puppies in early May
I’ve taken my young horse Freddie out to a couple more unaffiliated tests. He got 72% in the Prelim and 73% in the Novice, so we’re definitely heading in the right direction. I think he won the classes, but that’s not the whole reason for doing it. He was fine about getting on the lorry this time - thank goodness! It was so embarrassing when he wouldn’t load at our last show. There must have been something that he didn’t like for some bizarre reason as, touch wood, he’s been fine since.
We did have another incident with him though, as he got both his back legs stuck in his haynet. He managed to rip off an 8-inch x 3-inch piece of skin from one of his back legs, which was pretty horrendous, but he’s a tough old thing and 10 days later he was fine.
He’s working at Elementary/Medium at home now so I’ve been looking at Six-Year-Old tests and might have a play at one of them. There’s one in June locally, so I’ll be aiming him for that. I also plan to affiliate him by then, as I want him to start taking him out at Medium level.
I can’t believe I’m thinking about June already when it still feels like winter, but the dressage to music clinics are proving so popular that Julie has got me booked up till then. I don’t event know what I’m doing tomorrow, never mind in June!
That said, we've booked a weekend in France for the children as it’s both their birthdays in June. We asked Annabel whether she wanted a party or to go to France, and she chose the later as she likes practicing her French - even though she’s only five! Simon’s parents hire a farmhouse near Nice each year, which has a pool and tennis courts, so we’ll be staying there.
Before that we’ve got a big family event over Easter as my brother is getting married in Lowestoft. Annabel is going to be bridesmaid and I’ve got to get my son Ben a suit, and make sure my husband gets his hair cut as it looks like a mop at the moment. I’ve been shopping for a frock but I’ll still look like a man in drag! Somehow I look even worse in heels and I’m definitely not wearing a hat!
The big boys are keeping me busy too. I took Clyde to Myerscough Regional Championships for the Advanced Medium open, Advanced music and the PSG music. We used the Advance Medium as an arena warm-up, so that he could have a good look around. He was a bit tense and spooky, as expected, so we only got 63%, but in the Advanced he got 70% and just missed out on qualifying. And we won the PSG music, so now we’re off to the Winter National Championships next month. I was so shocked! Clyde went from zero to hero in 24 hours!
It just shows what acclimatising him to a new environment can do. I now know that he’s a horse that you need to take to a competition a few days before the main event if I can afford it.
I also took Mr President to the Myerscough Premier League, where we did the Grand Prix. Talk about a car crash! I’ve been doing Grand Prix for 10 years with him so how I can still forget where I’m going I do not know. Half way through the trot you had to halt and do a rein back, but I decided it wasn’t important and just missed it out!
One of judges said “halt steph”, and I went “oh god!”. The humiliation of it!
Mr P also had his tongue stuck out at the judges all the way round. He still got 65.6% and came fifth, so we didn’t totally disgrace ourselves. At 19 he’s still really up for it - he dragged me around the test and loved it out there. So I’m aiming for Keysoe Premier League next.
In a couple of weeks of time I’ll run through another Grand Prix with him at a pick your own test, just so I’m not so damn rusty when we get in the arena next time.
We could have even more on our hands in eight weeks time, when we hope to hear the patter of tiny paws. Maisy, one of our schnauzers, has been to find a boyfriend. She really wasn’t keen at first and I’d decided she was gay! However, it turned out all she wanted was a nice experienced man! So we’re hoping she’ll have a litter at the beginning of May. Watch this space...."
Alice enjoyed a night out in London to see Madagascar Live!
Now that the Regionals are over, we are starting to look towards the summer season and getting the young horses out competing again after a winter of training.
We took Roxy (Headmore Roxanne) and Socs (Tantoni Sir Soccrates) to Crofton on 9 March for a bit of a run at Medium. It was the first time I had taken Socs out, so I just wanted to get a feel of him in the arena before we started the young horse classes. He is still very green at this level and needs to build up a bit more strength for the collection, but he was very well behaved and we were thrilled with him as he scored nearly 71%. Not too shabby for our first outing together.
I then jumped on Roxy, who displayed the collection that Socs can’t quite manage yet. She scored over 74%, despite a dodgy first shoulder-in (my fault as usual!), which was good enough to win the class, while Socs came second.
Roxy then did the more difficult qualifier test, which she also won with nearly 68% despite a few wobbles, so it was a very good day.
We also journeyed down to Windmill Farm for the first young horse qualifier of the season. Tank (Headmore Wimoweh) was first on in the five-year-olds. He hadn’t competed since the Nationals last September so I wasn’t sure how he would be, although I was hoping that the training over the winter would have paid off.
Unsurprisingly, he was a little bit ring rusty (we did leave the arena at one point!) but the quality of his work was good enough to ensure that he scored 7.9 to finish second in a large class and qualify for the final. I was thrilled that the judges thought he had improved over the winter as much as I did.
Next, back on Socs for the Six-Year-Old class. I was pleased that I had taken him to Crofton the week before as it was snowing and quite windy when I got on him. However, he settled well and felt amazing in the arena and we were awarded with 8.44 for the win and qualification. It was also the highest score of the day, so all in all it was a very worthwhile trip and a relief to get two youngsters qualified for Hartpury so early on.
Aside from the horses, I also had a very enjoyable trip to Wembley Arena for Madagascar Live! I had organised the tickets as a welcome home present for my friend Kerri, who had been in New Zealand all winter working as a polo groom. We were joined by my sister Kate and also a friend of ours, Gina, who also appreciates the brilliance of Madagascar.
We had a fantastic evening and we weren’t the only people there without children, although we did behave like them when we were eating candy floss and ice cream. It was a fabulous show, there were plenty of laughs and the actors were fab, they even sounded like the characters from the film, particularly Skipper the penguin and King Julian. They also did ‘I like to move it move it’ a couple of times, which really encouraged the audience to get involved. It was definitely worth the visit and it’s good to know that the four of us are still children at heart!
"After our rather last minute and panicked preparation for the regionals, we set off with Roxy (Headmore Roxanne) for the first of my classes, the medium open, at Kingston Maurward. It was an early start as we wanted to get there in time to do an arena walk to give Roxy a chance to have a look at everything. Luckily it was a pleasant day so we could sit and watch the rest of the class, since we were the penultimate combination to go.
Roxy warmed up fantastically and felt super in the outdoor arena, but she just backed off me a little where she is still quite green when we went into the indoor arena for the test so we lost a bit of expression. Nevertheless, both Mum and I were very pleased with her test and thrilled when her score of 70% was announced. This was good enough for third place and a direct qualification to the Winters, so mission accomplished!
The following week we took Bracks (Headmore Boadicia) to Merrist Wood for the first of her classes. It is the first time that they have held a regional which is very handy for us. After her rather over the top performances the previous couple of weeks I gave her some of my trusty Nupafeed, which really worked. We were first to go in a fairly large class, so I opted for the ‘all or nothing’ approach and really took the handbrake off. Bracks was awesome and produced a superb test, although there was a little mistake in the walk which was completely my fault. We were awarded with a tremendous score of 71.32%, meaning that we sat out the rest of the class on tenterhooks waiting to see where we would finish.
Despite having to lead from the front, we ended up winning the class by nearly 5% and qualifying for the final, so both Bracks and Roxy and they will both be going to Hartpury. We then took Bracks back to Merrist Wood for the PSG freestyle to music regional the following day. It was a very strong class and it was the first time I had used my new music, put together by Sara Green, in competition. I was just hoping for a ‘clear round’ as she is still quite green at this level, but she surpassed all my expectations to produce a very powerful expressive test. All of my changes came off and we managed both pirouettes. We were thrilled with our score of 75.04% and though there were some strong and established combinations still to go, we managed to hold on, winning by over 2% and also qualifying for the final at the winters.
So, out of three regional finals we came away with two wins and a third place, and three direct qualifications to the championships - not a bad day at the office!"
"With the winter Semis suddenly upon us, we had a bit of a panic that none of the horses had been out to a party since they qualified! Luckily, we did manage to fit in a couple of competitions around the awkward weather, although when it snowed all day on Monday we weren’t sure it we would make it to Quob on Wednesday.
Thankfully, enough of the annoying white stuff disappeared so we were able to take Roxy (Headmore Roxanne) and Bracks (Headmore Boadicia) out for a bit of a practice. Roxy was on first in the Medium and she was super. Even though she hadn’t competed for months she was very level and rideable and produced some lovely work. There were a couple of little wobbles and mistakes but she still finished second with nearly 69%, a good start.
Bracks was not so calm about being at a party! She is always a bit excitable and over the top when she hasn’t been out for a while, and, as a result, I got piaffe, passage and all sorts of weird and wonderful things that you’re not supposed to do in an advanced medium test! She did still manage to finish third however, so there were some lovely moments in amongst all the excitement. Luckily, she was also entered in the Prix St Georges so we could do another test, although I was rather hoping that we would be able to wimp out as it had started to precipitate a mixture of snow and freezing rain, so it was rather chilly in the outdoor warm up. Luckily she was much more settled in the second test, but was just a bit green and wobbly where she still hasn’t done many tests at that level, but it was a good outing nonetheless.
We followed up Quob with a busy visit to Sparsholt on the Sunday. Roxy and Bracks were joined by Del (Headmore Delegate) and Finn (Glen Ken), a horse I have been riding for Lisa Hobkirk. Roxy was first to go again in the Medium and, as we were running through the regional test, I used it as a chance to iron out any possible problem areas. She was super however and, despite some little blips, she produced some amazing work and won, so a good pre-Regionals test.
It was then Finn’s turn in the first Elementary and, although he is very green and hasn’t done much competing, he also produced some lovely work. I then jumped on Bracks for her Prix St Georges and, thankfully, she was much more settled to produce what I thought was her best PSG test to date. Unfortunately the judge didn’t agree, but she still finished second.
It was then another quick change to jump back onto Finn for his second Elementary; it was like a military operation! Again he had some lovely bits in amongst all of the wobbles, and got some 8’s and plenty of 7’s. Overall we were very pleased as they were two difficult Elementaries and he hasn’t done much competing so after a few outings he should be well away.
It was then Del’s’ turn in the Grand Prix, which was only his second attempt at the level. We didn’t have the most straightforward of warm-ups as, for some unknown reason, a problem appeared with his double bridle just before we went in so we had to quickly change it to a snaffle bridle. We didn’t have Del’s snaffle bridle with us so he had to borrow Roxy’s, which wasn’t ideal. Luckily he’s not fussy about bits so after a quick five minute trot round, we went in. There were some amazing parts in his test, and also quite a few green mistakes, so his marks ranged between 8 and 4! It was also very tricky to see where I was going as the sun was very low so it was a bit of a miracle that the test was accurate at all. Despite all of this Del won, on only his second attempt at the level, and both judges commented on how he is going to be amazing when he is established!
I then had to swap back onto Bracks for her Advanced Medium. She did one of the best tests she has done in a long time to score just under 70% and finish second, so overall we had two firsts, two seconds and two H/C tests, so not bad at all. I was spent at the end however, but I managed to remember all of the tests without having to look at them, which is either very useful or a little bit worrying! Hopefully Bracks and Roxy will now be ready for their Regionals, fingers crossed!"
Alice meets Danciano on her recent stallion shopping trip
"The arrival of February bought with it our very long awaited trip to Germany, organised by James Crawford at Elite Stallions, in which we were going to get to see lots of potential horsey husbands. We had been looking forward to this trip since we were first invited in November, although we weren’t looking forward to our 3.30a.m. wake up call in order to make our flight on Friday morning.
At the airport, we met up with Nicky Callam of High Hoes Stud, who I’m very pleased to say has just bought Evie (Elvedina) - our accidental Brightwells purchase. I’m thrilled for both of them as Evie will get the lovely home that she deserves and Nicky will be able to have lots of fun with her, as well as hopefully have some embryo transfer babies at the same time.
We landed at Bremen (to the hideous Ryanair fanfare) and were shocked when we walked into the terminal, which can only be described as an aircraft hanger, before we realised the non-budget end of the airport was more than adequate. This was a great relief as we had to wait there for a few horse until our driver, Sandra Tinker, had made the trip from where she landed. When she arrived, we then went to the first stallion station, Sosath. Everyone managed to make it there on time, despite Georgie (Socs’ breeder) accidently bringing her daughter's passport. The most worrying thing however was that it wasn’t noticed until she arrived in Germany!
Here we were shown round all of the youngstock barns and stables before getting to meet the stallions. These include greats such as Ampere and Stedinger as well as some new exciting young prospects. They also provided us with tea and cake, and I was thrilled when one of the few German words I remembered from school was needed, stachelberre (gooseberry). We went out for a lovely meal that evening where there was plenty of alcohol consumed and Peregrine, Georgie’s husband, made me eat a caper and an onion, weird! It was nice to start to get to know everyone else who we had only met that day.
The following morning we went to Böckmanns for a private stallion show, and Alice Collins and Kevin Sparrow made it just in time. Here we got to see some of their new up and coming stallions, one of which had only been under saddle for a couple of weeks, as well as their most established dressage stallion, Fidertanz. We also saw a potential husband for a friend who would like to breed and eventer, although I don’t really know anything about jumpers. In addition we got to see Dimaggio, which was lovely, and he was looking healthy and happy.
They also showed us round their youngstock barns and they had the option to just open the doors onto turnout pens so they could all be turned out some of the time. We then had a bite of lunch at a lovely restaurant before we went in search of the Schockemöhle tack shop which, after some rather aimless driving round, we eventually found. It is like a toyshop and there is everything you could possibly want, and some things which we didn’t have a clue what they were! We came out with some new bandages and a pair of ear covers for Bracks, as well as some noseband pads.
That evening we went to the Sprehe stallion show at the hall in Vechta. It is just like one big party with plenty of alcohol and lots of noise. We saw some lovely stallions, although it was a bit ironic when Self Control escaped, and it got a bit hairy when first Lloyd George stood up and boxed his handler, causing him to run out clutching his face, and then a member of the crowd fainted under the heaters. Thankfully no one was seriously injured and the show was able to continue.
We saw a selection of lovely stallions, even though it took until after the stallion show for Alice (Collins) to realise the catalogue was in alphabetical order! There was a very exciting young stallion called Dujardin, and we also got to see Diamond Hit paraded round in a very sparkly rug to the song Diamonds are forever. The evening finished with Desperados, who had really come on since the Olympics and looked amazing.
We then had a currywurst for dinner (well, we were in Germany) before drinking till gone midnight (we had to wait for Mum’s birthday).
The following morning Alice, Kevin and I went in search for a birthday cake for my Mum. We were told we would be unlikely to get one as it was a Sunday and not many places were open. However, having wondered around Vechta for a bit we came across a cafe with cakes in the window. They were very surprised when I asked for a whole cake, the original reply was nein, but we only wanted one! In the end we settled on a raspberry cake, after I had got to use stachelberre again (twice in one trip).
That afternoon we went back to the hall at Vechta for the Schockemöhle stallion show. It was run like clockwork and the stallion handlers were second to none. There was an amazing collection of jumping and dressage stallions, both new and well known, and we got to see the likes of Sandro Hit and Sir Donnerhall, as well as some younger stallions. We saw Don Frederic, who Mum’s mare Ruby is in foal to this year, and we also saw the three-year-old Danciano for the first time, everyone fell in love. Unfortunately we didn’t get to see Totilas, but we saw plenty of other amazing stallions.
In the evening we went out to dinner for my Mum’s birthday where again there was plenty of alcohol consumed, concluding with James and I doing these funky German shots that I couldn’t quite work out. The cake went down well, which I was very relieved about, and the restaurant even managed to improvise some tea lights as candles! I was gutted to see Monday morning as we had had such a fab time, but Nicky managed to organise for us to go to Schockemöhle’s stallion station to meet the stallions in their stables. Danciano was gorgeous and so cuddly and we also got to meet Don Frederic and Furstenball. Mum has decided on her horse 'husbands' for this year, Danciano and Furstenball. We made it home in one piece and had an absolutely amazing trip, I would definitely go again."
"January is always a bit all over the place with all of the celebrations from the previous year still going on, and the weather normally has a bit of a part to play as well!
We had a lovely evening at the British Breeder’s awards dinner at the Grange City Hotel in London, despite it being rather chilly and there being the threat of snow. Thankfully, the snow held off so we didn’t have to panic about getting there and back, but I did get a few comments about me having my legs out, a bit different from wearing breeches!
We had a lovely chat with Alice (Collins, who used to work for H&C and now works for Horse & Hound) about all of my exciting young horses before dinner. We sat on a table with Bev Brown, whose daughter Sam went to the Europeans when I went and who had won an award for a pony they bred, and also Tank’s (Headmore Wimoweh, who had won the award) Dad’s owner. It was lovely to meet Deborah and hear a bit more about Woiwode and we had a very enjoyable evening. Mum and I managed to go and collect Tank’s award together (despite having a discussion about who was going up on to the stage before deciding we would both go) without falling over and making a fool of ourselves. It was a shame that Tank’s owner, Joanne Graham Whelan, wasn’t able to make it and she us collect his award, but she has now seen it as a picture went on Facebook so she could see it.
The weather did wreak havoc for one week however, and it just happened to be the week that we were hoping to take Del (Headmore Delegate) to Addington for the High Profile show. Unfortunately, they ended up having to cancel the show, which was a shame as Del has really improved over the winter and I was hoping to get a good score, but we will now have to wait a bit longer for that.
We also had to rearrange the weekend that Charlotte (Dujardin) was due to come down due to the snow, but luckily we just had to put it back a week. We had an amazing weekend which included Char, Kate (my sister), Amy (my best friend) and I going up to London to see Shrek the musical. It was my birthday present to Amy and, despite spending an hour changing the tickets due to the snow, we had a fantastic time. Luckily I didn’t have to use the double Olympic gold medallist card when changing the tickets, it was enough that Kate is a vet and Amy is a vet nurse and they struggle to get time off easily. The musical was marvellous, they had done a really good job of it and there was plenty of adult humour, despite children also being able to enjoy it, which is fab for us four as we are really just big kids at heart!
Hopefully we are now over the worst of the weather and can crack on with a bit more competing now, but we still managed to have a lot of fun in amongst all of the hard work and snow last month!"