Sophie Hall – 2019 let’s go! New Year, New Goals

Team GBR Student Riders

Hi everyone,

I hope everyone had a lovely Christmas and had fun bringing in the New Year with family, friends and of course, most importantly, our four-legged equine friends! Shamefully I did not manage to complete any admirable dry/vegan/health-kick January but I am feeling inspired and motivated to make 2019 a great year with lots of new goals for the boys.

2019 kicked off with the AIEC-SRNC World Finals 2018. Student riding continues to be a huge part of my life and I owe it so much for not only teaching me to get on any horse and get the best out of it that I possibly can but also for giving me the confidence to keep pushing my limits and put my brave pants on! This year I continue to be the Chairman of the squad, selecting and managing the GB team. Having ridden on the 2017 World Finals team it was quite strange not to be riding this year. I would be lying if I didn’t admit I was dying to get on!! Nevertheless, it was great managing the riders and they did a brilliant job. Luck was not on our side and they sadly didn’t bring home the Gold medal but we will come back fighting in 2019! This year the Nations Cup series will take us to the Netherlands, Finland, Romania, Ireland, Switzerland and…..most exciting of all….GREAT BRITAIN!!! God help me I am running a Nations Cup to welcome 15+ countries and their top student riders to the UK to compete over three days this August in what will be a fantastic competition. I have a brilliant team of 12 committee members behind me and we are all working our socks off to make it the best SRNC yet. Everything crossed we can pull it off.

My three boys are now getting into their pre-season training. Gorgeous Gus has been out to two dressage competitions bringing home the win and producing two consistent, relaxed tests. Last year he began some remedial shoeing for his flat feet and we are so delighted with the improvement he is now showing. His suppleness and elevation have come on leaps and bounds and we really have our farrier Jim Blurton to thank for it. One step at a time but here’s hoping he’ll be back at the top of his eventing game this year. Our first competition of the year was made extra special by a very special fan club. Daniel Bates is a young aspiring para-dressage rider who came runner-up in the Shearwater Search for a Star competition. Despite his visual impairment he works tirelessly at his riding and he has been so inspiring to follow. His lovely mum reached out to me as she has been following me and my horses over the past year and asked if they could come and watch us in action. We were competing at Elementary which is the level Daniel is aiming to ride at in order to achieve his dream of riding in the Olympics. Of course we were delighted to have the company and the support and it was really lovely to get to meet a fellow Shearwater rider for the first time! Thank you Dan and Leanne!

Baby Freddie has been primarily focussing on our jump training. He is still very green and excitable for his age so we have been trying to take him schooling with my trainer JP Daker at our local venue every Saturday, with lots of cavaletti and grid exercises to build his strength. His concentration has come on brilliantly already and we are excited to start taking him out to some training shows in February. Freddie is my first young horse to produce and I no doubt am learning just as much from him as he is from me. It is such an exciting journey and we are loving every minute of it.

Finally, gorgeous George turns 22 this year and continues to behave like the youngest on the yard. He has had a very leisurely winter but is now coming back into regular work 3 days a week as we start to plan his year. Freddie and Gus will no doubt be our big focus this season but George feels too good to just leave aside so we will be planning some fun British Dressage outings for him too.

Have a fantastic February everyone!

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