Scorching Sunshine, Royal Ascot
This must be the sunniest summer in Britain to date! Whilst it really is so lovely to have some warm weather, I cannot help but secretly pray for some rain to help soften the ground a little bit. We have started keeping the horses in during the day and turning them out overnight when the temperature is a bit cooler and the killer horse flies tend to calm down. The fly masks and fly rugs have come out along with a drown-able amount of fly spray, not to forget a bit of sun cream for those pink noses. My parents would also be the first to admit the weather has done wonders for me as I am admittedly not a morning person but the fear of the heat has been a blessing in disguise for getting me up and riding really early! Lots of cold showers, hoof moisturiser and an extra-close eye on the horses’ drinking, it is hard to believe we are in England and not Spain at the moment.
June has been a busy month but a quiet one for the horses. I celebrated my birthday with a trip to Polo in the Park which was brilliant fun. I also felt very lucky to have many of my international riding friends fly over from Ireland, Estonia, Poland, Switzerland, Sweden, Holland, in fact all over Europe, for Royal Ascot. To many peoples’ surprise I have never been to Ascot before and it was extra special to go with such a great group of friends. I cannot say I placed any bets but it was a brilliant day, we watched some fabulous races and of course it was all accompanied by some truly British Pimms! I spend every weekend usually training and competing the horses, poo-picking and mucking out, so it was really nice to have some time to have fun and dress up (even if I did have complete horse withdrawal by the end of it)!
Gorgeous George didn’t have any competitions planned this month so he has been enjoying lots of lovely summer hacks. My dressage trainer Dianne Breeze also came over to give us some much needed advice, truly whipping us into shape and as always giving me an invaluable amount to work on! Whilst we were both aching the next day, she really is our fairy godmother. Having Shearwater’s support makes these training opportunities possible this year and I am so grateful it makes the world of difference! July is destined to be a very busy month for George as we look forward to the Pony Club Area Dressage, our 2nd round show to qualify for Olympia and the SEIB Trailblazers Championship Finals 2018 at Stoneleigh Park. Just writing that list makes me feel a bit tired but it really is very exciting! For a 21-year-old, even in this heatwave, he continues to frolic around and love life. He is feeling great at the moment so we have all fingers and toes crossed for some ribbons next month!
I always aim to have a mid-season break but admittedly this one arrived a little earlier than I had expected for Gus. For those who have been following us we had an unfortunate accident with Gus in May at Rockingham Horse Trials and I am pleased to say he recovered from that. However, he has been intermittently lame since, showing up more significantly the more work he did. Having had him for 6 years now we really do know him inside out and knew that something wasn’t right. He is a very honest horse but he just hasn’t been his consistent self so we took him to the vet for a proper MOT. The good news is that we have found the root cause of the problem, the bad news is this does mean a slightly slow recovery process. He has quite flat front feet and X-rays have shown that his low heels have become progressively worse putting uncomfortable pressure on the tendons of his feet. Being the trier that he is he has clearly been pushing through it for a while but the hard ground has finally highlighted the issue to us properly. Nevertheless, the vet has been really positive and Gus is now going through some remedial shoeing which I am relieved to say has immediately made a big difference. We expected it would take him some time to adjust to these ‘high heels’ but so far so good! If Gus’ improvement continues in the same direction, we have the all clear to take him to compete at the Pony Club Area Dressage on 7th July. He has another 2-3 weeks of no jumping, light schooling and hacking but then we hope to get back on track with our eventing by the end of August. Everything crossed he will soon be feeling fabulous and finish on a high! I now truly appreciate how patience is a virtue when it comes to the road to recovery with injured horses but no doubt it will be worth the wait.
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