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A few weeks ago we were at Nunney International Horse Trials – a beautiful setting in Somerset, and one of our most local competitions. Team Bragg was out in full force, with many of our owners able to attend the event.
Nunney did a magnificent job with the course surfaces considering we’d not had any rain for such a long time (not complaining by the way, as the snow is still a recent memory!) When the ground is firm you have to be sensible how competitively you intend on running your horses cross-country; pick the right moments to gallop for the time (maybe if you’re trying to qualify for a competition) or choose to save your horse’s legs for another day (maybe he has flat feet and feels the hard ground, etc.). Remember, you can only win on a sound horse.
All the horses jumped well and all of the owners were smiling at the end of the day. I did run a couple a bit more carefully due to the ground conditions, and of the nine entered, eight ran; we pulled Ardeo Premier due to the ground being a touch hard as he’s one of the babies with a big exuberant jump. Quindiva had a nice steady schooling round in the Novice section.
Cobalt De Dugny, one of the youngsters, a lovely grey, was going round in the 100; he dithered a bit going into the water. We had to jump over a fair sized brush into it. When young careful horses see brush fences they tend to want to throw a big jump to clear the brush instead of travelling through it. Cobalt saw the water behind the fence and hesitated as he was unsure where his feet were going to land. He’s a young and inexperienced horse but very capable, and it’s important at this stage for them to learn to go forward and through the flags. Whilst our entry into the pond wasn’t the smoothest, with a little encouragement he jumped through and out over the skinny well. He will log this in his memory and hopefully negotiate this type of question with more confidence in the future.
Shannondale Mari completed her first event with us in the 5yr old class at Nunney. She performed a lovely test and finished double clear on her dressage score for 6th place. She did a fab job considering we only went XC schooling a few days before. She a brave little firecracker and will be one to keep an eye on!
Then we had team training with Barry, Percy, Alcatraz and Zagreb to help prepare for the Summer Internationals. We left the yard at 4.30am for Aston-Le-Walls, and didn’t get home until 7.30pm – but it was worth it; all of the boys had great lessons and gained some additional experience away from home.
Following some feedback I thought it might be useful for you to get a little insight into how our yard works, from what information we provide our wonderful owners to who keeps the yard running like a smoothly oiled machine. I’ll probably add to this over the coming months.
Part of the service we provide to all of our owners, as you would expect, is to provide them with a full ‘post-match’ report for each horse after an event if they can’t be there, in order to let them know how their horses have done. We send emails and text updates and will ring them up after an event. Behind the scenes every owner will get the full rundown on each of their horses, with as much information as possible. We continually review our plans and try to make decisions for future events together.
Dr Sarah Hughes currently resides in the USA so keeping in touch like this about her horses’ progress is very important. Courtesy of Sarah we have been blessed with the company of the fabulous, Frog and Field photography to take photos and ‘behind the scenes’ film of course-walks and of her horses; they effectively act as her ‘eyes’ on the ground in the UK. They spent a week with us at Tattersalls, which was loads of fun and as you can see from the pictures on social media, they did a great job. Of course, lots of our other owners and supporters will take photos and share them, and all of this is fantastic for our team profile, and raises our presence on social media.
Heather is our Head Groom. Although she only started with us in October, in those eight months (through all the snow and ice) she has proved that she’s worth her weight in gold. She is the most laid back, loveliest person you could meet. The horses adore her and she is like my right arm. Her day probably starts at 5am, and doesn’t end until gone 7pm, and she is on the go for pretty much all of that time.
Becky Stokes has worked for us for nearly three years – she’s incredibly hard working, reliable, and helps out with the riding. She has her own business and is a qualified BHSAI and has Stage 4 riding and horse care qualifications. When she’s not working with us, she looks after horses at different yards and teaches for the local Pony Club. She also competes her own two horses.
We’re having lots of fantastic moments this year – from Chris Gould’s recent acquisition, Masterclass Ramiro (aka Ronaldo, aka Ronnie), joining us as a project to bring out next year, with all the breeding and raw ingredients making him a thrilling prospect, to the recent win on Chris Gould and Roseanne Cutsforth’s Dancing Ghareeb at Chepstow and Matt Stanford and Emma Floyd’s, Cooga Hat Trick booking his place at Gatcombe Festival in the Novice champs. There’s also the excitement of being long-listed for WEG in Tryon, North Carolina with Zagreb, but there’s a long way between then and now, but it is rather wonderful to be considered.