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We started the season at Aldon where we took six horses. They were all delighted to be out but with the bitterly cold weather they also had the wind under their tails that meant they were quite excited.
Aldon is always a good starting point as the ground and the courses are excellent. It was great to get cracking again. Six cross country rounds blew away the winter cobwebs, although by the time Iíd finished on the last horse, I was cold to the core and ready to go home.
It was a good gauge of how the winter training has gone, as you never really know until you get them out, and I am pleased. Spring can be difficult as the weather is so changeable. When its warm the horses relax, but when these chill winds blow, it puts them on edge and they can become quite tense especially as they are all so well in themselves.
My two top horses Zagreb and Redpath Ransom had their first runs in the OI after missing last season with injury before Burnham Market where they ran in the CIC3*.
Redpath Ransom was a little distracted in the dressage, had one down showjumping and then went clear across country. Zagreb did a really good dressage and a double clear. I didnít want to go particularly fast on either of them, given its only their second event. They now go to Ballindenisk to do the CCI3* and we leave on Wednesday sailing from Pembroke to Rosslare. The dressage is on Friday and Saturday, cross country is on Sunday and showjumping on Monday.
To build up their fitness weíve been using Phillip Hobbsí gallops at Minehead and weíve also been to Kevin Bishopís all-weather on the Quantocks. Itís steep which means Iíve been able to build them up with out working them fast which can increase the risk of tendon injury.
I feel I have them both as fit as I can. They are in super condition and they are jumping well. Iím hoping I will get a rosette!
I took Zagreb there two years ago for the two star and he was second. If he does as well in the three star I will be delighted.
After Ballindenisk the plan is to give them a bit of a break, go to Pontispool where we might just do the dressage and showjumping, and then on to Equi-Trek Bramham for the CCI3*. I need to get FEI points, as the goal is the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials in 2017.
At Portman we had six horses including Storm Blue who did his first event of the season. He was very full of himself and struggled to concentrate. He had more of a three day dressage score which wasn't the best of starts! Heís now permanently living out which has settled him down a lot. He has so much ability and jumps like a stag but he just gets very tense. I think a lot of him, and it will all come together soon.
The other novice horse Spypark Ferro XS did a double clear and won his novice section. He did a lovely test and I was really pleased with him. Weíll aim for some novice regional finals with him and try and qualify for Festival of British Eventing at Gatcombe in August.
The younger horses found it difficult jumping out of the ground in the showjumping but they went across country really well. Iím focusing on making sure all the building blocks are in place rather than putting them under a lot of pressure at this stage.
With the showjumping I need them to go in and learn to jump themselves, rather than me holding them together. You canít support them all the time and it will pay dividends in the long run.
After Ballindenisk we go straight to Withington with a couple of novices, then Broadway with a lorry load, Millfield, Mount Ballen and then Pontispool where I think the whole team will have an outing.