Shearwater rider Sophie Hall - Finally deciding on Freddie
Where has September gone?! I feel like before we knew it the summer had left us and the shops are already (dare I say it) talking about Christmas! September has been a reasonably quiet month for us on the competition front but all systems go at home getting our new baby boy settled into his new home.
After 3 weeks of being ‘the horse with no name’, we have finally decided on Freddie. Our newest arrival seems to have blended into our menagerie better than any of us expected. When we have had 3 horses in the past there was often a ring-leader and always one poor pony that got a little bit left out. However, Freddie, George and Gus are all getting on like a house on fire and I couldn’t have wished for a better dynamic. It has certainly been a long time since I had a 5-year-old on the yard but we have quickly learnt not to leave anything lying around within his reach as he loves to play with anything he can get his cheeky chops on!
I was lucky enough to have a weeks holiday this month to focus on the horses so we decided to make the most of it. My dressage trainer Dianne Breeze popped over to meet Freddie and give us some much needed advice before we took him to his first little pony party. With a hay net to keep him happy he was good as gold to bath and plait up and we took him to a local yard just 20mins away to do a little bit of dressage. We very much went with the intention to simply test what he would be like away from home, warming up with other horses, inside white boards etc. It really wasn’t about the result today. He tried really hard and warmed up beautifully. However, expecting a frisky Freddie I most definitely gave him far too much time to warm up and we went a little bit off the boil by the time we went into our test. A few squeals (from Freddie) and the odd excitable moments did make our test much more entertaining than it was meant to be but we completed in one piece and I was absolutely chuffed. We placed 5th which was just a big bonus with the judges commented “masses of potential” which was so encouraging to hear.
Lots of hacking and quiet time for the next few days before I really decided to throw us both in the deep end and go cross country – the fun stuff! We went to Kelsall Hill for a training session with the brilliant Michael Owen. Having expected to be in the training field we actually went straight out onto the BE course that was still flagged up from the affiliated event the week before. A beautiful course over rolling hills, the fences are always immaculately dressed, it really is one of the best that I would thoroughly recommend to anyone in the Cheshire area. However, with lots of banners, bright coloured fences and every technical question thrown in for all levels, I knew this was going to be quite a shock to little Freddie’s system(!) Nevertheless, he blew us all away and I think was actually less nervous than I was. Every question we asked of him he passed with flying colours. His Irish roots shone through and it was very clear that this brave little horse loves to jump!
Gorgeous Gus gets back Eventing
Aside from our little Freddie we also managed to finally get back to an event this month. It feels like the longest time since Gus and I have evented! With his remedial farriery well underway and seeming very happy in himself we got a last minute entry into Monmouth to test his progress. We had a really lovely day out at a new venue to us, it was incredibly relaxed and the perfect atmosphere for what we needed. He felt brilliant and I can genuinely say I couldn’t have asked for any better from him from start to finish. He produced a lovely obedient dressage test for a score of 29 and followed it up with a double clear, bang on the optimum time to finish 3rd! For me the biggest relief was to feel Gus really enjoying himself again. It would be fair to say that this was not the season we had expected for him, with high hopes of reaching our first international this year, his unexpected injuries have definitely set us back. Nevertheless, we finish the eventing year with a happy and healthy horse which is all that matters.
Next month gorgeous George has his final championship of the year, The British Dressage Nettex Veteran Horse Championships, so stay tuned to see how his season finishes up!
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