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Pre Season Preparation

In build up to the fast approaching season we've done plenty of hours on the road as the horses have been away for numerous training trips and shows.  

I had a really interesting few days of dressage training with Pippa Funnell at her yard in Surrey.  Having never worked with her before it was great to get her take on things and whilst it was along the same lines as the other trainers that I work with, it was very useful to have a new perspective.  She was extremely good at articulating subtle points that profoundly affect each horse's way of going. It was also interesting to have the opportunity to sit on some of her horses as well as mine.

We have taken all the horses show jumping on a weekly basis, at Summerhouse, Rectory Farm and Addington, and gradually built up their work so they are now jumping comfortably at the the level above which they will start competing.  After their winter training it's great to get plenty of ring practice in a competition environment, and it's been good to jump some of the bigger classes.


All the horses have had several cross country schools. The younger ones went to Boomerang and then jumped round the course at Larkhill - the first time behind a lead-horse and then on their own - prior to the first events of their careers. The older horses were lucky to time it right and have a school around Rosamund Green Farm near Shepton Mallet in the few days they were open in February when the ground was good enough. The course there is excellent with plenty of technical fences for the more advanced horses to keep learning. 


I've continued to train with Yogi at home both in dressage and show jumping and I also had some great sessions with Laura Tomlinson in January, working specificlly on Away Cruising's flying changes. It's been good to get out to some dressage competitions and feel fully prepared for the season. Away Cruising and Tenareze both led the dressage in their first combined training show in the Advanced and Intermediate respectively. Catherston Defintive is always quite a handful at this time of year - I had to sit tight in his first warm up on grass at Rectory Farm, he produced some of the nicest work he's done before leaving the arena mid test, a first... and hopefully last!


I've made several trips to Dorset to ride some of William Fox-Pitt's horses. I rode for him in 2003-4 before setting up my own yard, so in many ways it has felt like old times! 


Aside from my own training, I've given various clinics and lecture demonstrations around the country over the last couple of months which have been great fun. I also spent an interesting day in Amsterdam as rider representative for the annual conference of 4* course designers and team trainers, discussing the 2015 4* courses and the future direction of course design. Being privvy to those discussions highlights the thought and effort that goes into course design and the difficult balance between testing the best and not making the questions impossible - a real pressure on designers.  

Jess, Tim and the whole team at home have done a great job over the winter, and have all the horses in great shape for the start of the season.  Our thanks as always go to our owners & sponsors who make it all possible. Roll on the season!


Images thanks to Hannah Freeland Photography and Rosie Meade.

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