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World Class and Pre Season preparation

It’s been back to business with a bang this month with pre-season training in full swing


Jess and I spent a week in Yorkshire​ ​​before Christmas ​with the four most advanced horses training​ with​Chris Bartle. It was great to get back in the zone after the November lull and focus on the ​quality of training in the pre-season ​period.  Chris’s simple system and approach is very logical and all the horses came on in the few days we were there.  We've made similar trips over the past few years and each time I return home with fresh ideas.


Chris unusually ventured south ​in January too so it was great to get a couple of days training with him ​without having to travel the length of the country.


It's ​also ​great to be back on World Class. I previously spent seven years on ​the programme but came off when Wild Lone died.  It's taken a couple of seasons to build up a team of horses to championship level again, so it's great for the horses and for the owners. The support makes a big difference and since we're used to working in an individual training environment it's good fun to be in a team atmosphere and very healthy to feed off ​one another. 

We had a two day training session in January with Angela Tucker and Nick Burton​, which was a great opportunity to have some scrutiny from fresh pairs of eyes. ​In addition to the dressage sessions w​e under​went​ positional analysis, and both riders and horses are assessed by the Equine and Human Sports Science and Medicine teams in order to identify areas for improvement.

A large part of the programme involves working off the horse. ​In early January we had a really useful physical testing day ​where they analysed the strength and mobility of isolated muscle groups, and designed a bespoke physical training programme for each of us.  We also see a nutritionist, doctor, sports psychologist, physio, and have access to experts in lots of other areas.  


​We've been out to weekly dressage competitions - the first trip of the year for each horse is usually damage limitation as they are so pleased to be out again, but they tend to get back to work pretty quickly thereafter. I try to get each horse out to a few dressage competitions before the season starts. 

We go show jumping every week. I like to start each horse off at a lower level, whilst working on the quality of their round. As they move up the levels of classes each time out it's possible to maintain that quality until they are back jumping at their respective level in time for the first events. This approach require a lot of outings but I find it pays dividends and having undergone our usual pre-season routine makes the eventing season far more enjoyable.

We plan to get out cross country schooling in good time, in case we are faced with a sodden or frozen ​stint just before the events start. Should this be the case then all the horses should have had sufficient outings to head straight to their first events without another school.

It takes a few outings for all of us to get back into the groove. The pre-season competitions are great dress-rehearsals to get us all back in the mindset for packing the lorry and early starts again. 


The team at home have done a great job over the winter - disinfecting, painting and sorting all the kit before the horses came back in and had to be transformed from looking like bears! The team all had their holidays too; it's so easy to arrive at the first event totally burnt out before the season starts, but everyone's fresh and morale is high. 


Tenareze with his number 1 fan Jess


Under the watchful eye of Chris Bartle


Enjoying the wonderful facilities at The Unicorn Trust for World Class Training


Away Cruising feeling great at World Class Training


New arrival, Busby, enjoying his new Cavierra bed!


Monbeg Medlar heading for his first dressage competition of the year.


Brookfield Quality flying in front of his owners at Rectory Farm


It's a tough life... Red Kite taking it easy with Megan and Georgia!


Ready for action at World Class Training


Tenareze working at home


All smiles from the team despite snow and freezing temperatures

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