I always know that we are half way through the season when the grass is sky high, the list of jobs is two pages long and Mr Pickles is no where to be seen - you guessed it he is in Germany at his favourite event Luhmuhlen!
On his return he was presented with his list of duties which he is steadily working his way through and I was presented with a bottle of some ghastly German spirit which is apparently the best thing ever and a jar of rollmops; god he knows how to spoil me!
We have had some good outings with the horses and the star of the show is still Mr Percy pig aka Knights Escapade. He finished second in his first BE100 at Shelford Manor and then third in the same class at Ascott under Wychwood. He is on great form albeit a small blip at Stonar (I will forgive him as he is still very green) and we are very much looking forwards to our next outing at Upton House which I understand David Evans and his Team have given a makeover. What is also exciting is that Red Horse Rug Clean, my fabulous sponsors, are sponsoring a section or two and their prizes are pretty special if you are lucky enough to be in one of their sections.
Tully (Tullyoran Field of Dreams) is also going from strength to strength and finished in the top ten in her last two outings. She is such a classy horse and one I am hugely excited about for the future - She is just my type, quick, nimble and sharp with heaps of talent.
Albert (Airtime) is very excited about his run coming up at Barbury (as am I). We haven't had the best of seasons for one reason or another so it will be great to get going and as usual I am aiming high and going for the win!!!!
I have a new ride this season in the form of Ron (Goosesberry Hill Castle), he is a lovely Irish horse who belongs to a good friend of mine Jenny Webb. He is here to see if eventing is his thing so I am very excited about doing his first event at Stafford later this month.
Apple (Ciderpress) is back on form and we are off this morning for a spot of show jumping before she starts competing at Stafford. I am itching to get going with her as she really is such a special horse and is gaining in strength and fitness all of the time.
We have made the tough decision to retire Comet (Shannondale Comet) from eventing and focus on his dressage which he is so good at. We have had a lot of deliberation about it but feel he is not going to progress up the grades and therefore would be better doing a job that he is really good at and can excel. So we are off to Dressage this Friday for his debut this year. He has done quite a lot of affiliated in the past and was really good at it so hopefully we will have some fun times ahead.
Baby Dennis (Future Divine Illusion) is starting what I call 'proper work' now and is doing his first dressage competition on Friday. I think he will be a little green but he is ready to start going out and about and seeing a few things. We are off xc schooling with him tomorrow and a few others so it feels like the next chapter has started for Dennis. Sue Dawson who owns him came for her first ride on him last week which was really nice to see.
Hannah and Michael Henderson have made a very exciting purchase in the form of Miss Coco Chanel who is a four year old by Vancouver and has just arrived from the Emerald Isle. We had a very fun trip shopping for her and ended up seeing some really nice horses as well as have a few hilarious moments along the way. In the end though, Coco Chanel was the clear winner, however, we did pickup a couple of nice projects also. A lovely horse for Hannah to ride and also one that we felt we couldn't leave without - you could say it was a successful trip. Coco will hopefully be attending a couple of BYEH classes this year if we can get her ready in time!
Tina and Ian of Red Horse Rug Clean & Central Clipper care fame, who sponsor Team Pickles have also some new arrivals in the form of Fizz who is a beautiful three year old who we are just starting to break in and then we have a lovely four year old in the form named Wow Factor (love the name) who again will be broken this year. We also have a couple of very cute yearlings so watch this space.
So as you can see we have a lot going on here at the yard and as Mary is back from her jolly hols it is just as well!
Our latest recruit Alex Haynes has joined the team so we are now firing on all cylinders which will give us the boost for the second half of the season.
It is with great sadness however, that our muck out superstar Matt has gone on to other employment. He will be missed here especially as he was such a life saver for us through the winter - good luck Matt!
Also, a big well done to the Warwickshire Pony Club open team who qualified for the Championships last weekend! All the team road super and well deserved there ticket to the champs!
So there you go some very interesting news and times ahead, off to Allenshill now for a spot of Sj practise.
Promise I won't leave it so long next time!
Well peeps it is with great delight I am writing to tell you about our amazing result at Barbury Castle Horse Trials last weekend. Not wanting to bragg but........Airtime was at his very best and made the 2* track feel easy and we just had the best weekend ever! We had Thursday dressage so went down early Thursday morning to prepare and also had the lovely Tully (Tullyoran Field of Dreams) on the lorry to do the BYEH 5yo section.
Albert (Airtime) was on mega form and produced what I thought was his best test to date – (regardless of the score), but I was secretly confident that he would score well as it all felt right and in the right place!
The scores on Thursday were a little slow to come out and it was only when I received a text message from Chloe (Airtimes owner who couldn’t be there) to say well done that I knew we had done well, scoring 43.1 – our best result ever!
Dearest Albert lead the dressage all the way through Thursday and well into Friday where he was just pipped by Chris King and Billy Bounce by 0.3 of a mark. To finish Friday in second place out of over 90 starters was in my eyes a bloody good effort. Whatever happened next I was definitely going to enjoy the moment seeing as Albert has only had two Novice runs this year – which was perhaps not the most ideal prep!
Tully was a little star in the BYEH, scoring the best jumping mark of the day out of 52 starters and her dressage score was up there as well. Sadly the judges didn’t love her gallop as much as I do and she was pulled in 7th after this phase. I don't really know what the judges are looking for in these classes, as you can get top marks one week and be bottom of the pile the next however, I do think they are great to get young horses out and about, espcially when they have Tully's personallity and need to learn that not every outing will end in cross country. I think three qualified for Burghley so it was pretty tight and in my eyes she was fantastic and behaved impeccably throughout.
As a interlude to Barbury, we went to Allenshill in Friday for a day of dressage with Comet (Shannondale Comet), Baby Dennis (Future Divine Illusion) doing his first ever test, Pants who have for schooling and Tiffany riding the lovely Harry. All the horses went really well and Comet managed to score over 65% (and win) in both of his Elementary tests which I was chuffed to pieces with as this was his debute in his new career as a dressage pony.
Dennis did his first ever tests and was a Baby Dennis's first outing and was a little green (understandably) but a really good boy. He is going to be something special so watch this space!
Pants was his usual awesome self and produced two really consistent test to win both classes and Tiff has done a great job with Harry horse and is getting a better partnership together every time they go out.
So back to Barbury it was on Saturday with high expectations on my part – I had decided I was going for the win and nothing (well maybe Chris King) was going to stop me.
On walking the cross country course I decided it was all very jumpable as long as Albert was on good form and the Show Jumping didn’t look too big either (a bonus for us) so yes, I was certain it was going to be a good day!
Albert warmed up really well for the show jumping and felt as good as ever so I went in knowing that as long as I rode well a clear round was possible and guess what, yup he pulled it off, he was never going to touch a rail and jumped the best round of his life (with me). When I compare it to a year ago at Barbury, where he felt green and slightly under confident, he was a different horse and it was a very special moment to come out of the show jumping ring knowing we had blitzed it.
Rebecca and Chloe Herbert were there to support, as were Mr Pickles, my beautiful mother and sister Suzie. It was one of those moments that you just wish you could re-create again and again as to go into xc in pole position was something that doesn’t happen every day. Suzie also did a fab job of stepping in for normal Team photographer for Max Ross, so thanks for doing a fab job.
I was a little nervous in the XC warm up although not about the jumps but more about the desire to go clear and inside the time. I had decided before I set out to take one long route as Albert hasn’t seen many double of corners for a while I was not going to risk a run out. So we set off with jelly legs but with a steely determination that we were going for the win. It was the best round of my life, Albert was flying and made it all feel easy, he never backed off a single fence and felt scopey and honest all the way through. He is such a quick horse that the long route payed off and we came home two seconds inside the time – you could say it was bloody well judged but I think a little bit of luck in these situations is just what one needs sometimes!
So we spent the best part of 2 hours in the lead and watching Billy Bounce jump a clear SJ round was nail biting stuff - I knew that he would be also going for the win. We watched him fly round the xc beautifully and fly over the finish line with a good 11 secs to spare.
The Team at the yard had told me not to bother coming home unless I won so it really was a tough phone conversation to tell them I had only come second in a really strong 2* section, however, luckily, they were really understanding and said they would let me off just this once – pheweee!
So there you go, our best result to date on the back of the least preparation and with my family and the Herberts there to support it really was one of the best days so far – you could say a career highlight.
The Team back at HQ were tweeting all day which was so lovely and I really couldn’t have done it without them. Albert looked awesome and I knew they were all behind me which really does make all the difference.
I have received so many lovely text messages and facebook posts about our fab result so thank you everyone who is involved with Team Pickles - vets, physios, farriers, sponsors, and of course Alberts owners the Herberts who have been part of the team for a long time now and are such big supporters of me and Albert it was our best result to date and one we won't forget!
I am very excited to say that I have a new ride in the form of Rebels Hero (Hugo) who belongs to Hannah Okines. Hannah worked for me for a very long time and has decided that Hugo deserves a chance at the big time and has very kindly added him to my string. To say I am excited is an understatement and we are having our debut at Upton House this week in the BE100. Hugo originally came from Equestrian Direct and is a very exciting prospect for the future.
Coco (Miss Coco Chanel) is winging her way to Team Pickles soon and again the excitement is high. She has nearly finished her quarantine with her owners Hannah and Michael Henderson and I am literally counting down the days.
Ron (Gooseberry Hill Castle), Apple (Ciderpress) and Rosie (Whole Lotta Rosie) are out next week at Stafford which will be a very exciting day for all of them as it has been a while since they have been out and about.
Rosie, was our Mascot at Barbury and I will give her the credit for the 2nd place to her as she kept Albert calm and focused all day long and was the perfect pony to give him the winning edge. That and the Butet saddle that my fab sponsors Red Horse Rug Clean sent my way last month. It really is a lovely saddle and one that I shall cherish along with my Albion that my lovely owners Kate and Mel Willis bought earlier this year. Without such a great support team this sport is impossible so to everyone who is helping me along the way to achieving my goals a huge – THANK YOU.
Till next time,