Somehow the seemingly never-ending winter has come to an end, and we’re all now enjoying some much needed sun! All of the horses are looking and feeling incredible, and have certainly been enjoying the novelty of being turned out in dry fields, with the sun on their backs; now I just can’t wait for them all to finish malting!
It’s been all go at Alex Holman Eventing, not only preparing the event horses for their first few runs, but having lots of other clients to fit in as well, meaning that I’ve been teaching & riding up to 8 horses a day, as well as juggling all the driving & yard work with mine – no rest for the wicked! - Luckily I have had a little help from my new freelance supergroom, Shania.
We had a pretty busy winter, with lots of dressage and show jumping outings, and all horses have come out of the winter having made huge progress, as well as claiming rosettes at every possible outing! Even my rising 5yo, Billy (Rathnageera Aussie) added to the prizes, managing to come 2nd in his first 2 dressage tests - always an exciting moment! All of them have jumped some super show jumping rounds too, with Hugo (Hocus Pocus) being the star of the show on this part, as he didn’t have a single fence down all winter. 100% clear rounds is a statistic that is welcome to continue to apply as he progresses up the eventing levels…!
I usually aim to go XC schooling twice before the first event, as I feel that not only is it is important for us to simply see some solid fences, but also to get out on grass for the ‘real deal’ to see how they feel, and to fully move our riding from SJ mode into XC mode. Usually it is too wet to go anywhere that offers a good enough range of fences to feel fully prepared, meaning a trip to a XC surface as well; however this year we just went for 1 pre-season XC school, as wonderful new schooling facility ‘Oxstalls Cross Country’ provided perfect fences & ground, and all of the horses were super! Thanks to Rock Solid’s owner, Jane, I even received some pre-season training from Lucinda Green (6x Badminton winner) which was certainly very interesting.
So far we’ve managed to get to 3 out of our planned 5 events in March, as one weekend was wiped out by the weather – wind and rain scuppering Swalcliffe & Pontispool for us – but it wouldn’t be March eventing without a few cancelled events! Luckily the horses are none the worse for missing those runs, and have more than made up for it at their other events:
Moreton BE100 – Hugo (Hocus Pocus) – Hugo kicked off my season in great fashion, pulling out a personal best with me in the dressage (30.8) followed by an easy double clear to finish just outside the placings.
Tweseldown BE100 – Gerry (Carrick Diamond Bard) – Gerry finished his first 100 in style, with a double clear inside the time landing him 7th spot!
Gatcombe Novice – Rock Solid & Gerry – despite an early start for the first dressage at 8am, Rock Solid did a nice test, then jumped his best ever SJ round with me & cruised around the XC just adding a few time faults. Gerry then slightly stole the show by finishing up 8th in his very competitive section, after a stunning dressage test scoring 25, meaning that I got to attend the prizegiving with HRH Princess Anne!
It’s so rewarding that all the work I’ve put in over the winter has been worth it, as all of the horses tried super hard to get those first few results nailed, and I feel that my partnership has really developed with each horse.
Now we look towards April, where I am running the same 3 horses across the Novice classes at Portman, Weston Park, Bicton & Withington, hopefully leading up to our first international event of the year at Chatsworth with Rock Solid! I hope that Billy will be making his eventing debut at some point in May.
Fingers crossed for an exciting year, Alex.