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Alex Bragg's Latest Blog

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.

Alex Bragg's Latest Blog

I’m writing this off the back of a very exciting win at Rockingham in Leicestershire at the weekend. I got the first and second placingswith Barrichello (Barry) and Shannondale Percy (Percy) and ended up with identical scores for both horses, which was pretty incredible. Barry got first place with a score of 28.30 penalties – dressage score of 24.3, and 4 show jumping faults. Whilst Percy got second place, ALSO with 28.30, but a dressage score of 27.5 and 0.8 time faults cross-country. It made getting up in the middle of the night and leaving the yard at 1.45am all worthwhile, and the journey home was a pleasure after that success.

It feels like the season has now well and truly started. We’ve got a very exciting summer and autumn of eventing ahead.

Obviously this weekend we have Pontispool, which is going to be very exciting – I’m taking five horses on Saturday and five on Sunday – which will be my 100 and Novice horses. I’ve also got three in the regional Gatcombe final. Ellouise - aka Junior Bragg (the first!) will then be competing on the Monday. She competed at Millfield last weekend, and had a super dressage test and cross-country round and just missed coming into the combination quite right in the show jumping to have a pole down, but she thoroughly enjoyed it and had a really nice time. I found it really nerve wracking as a spectator, and it was good to put myself in the shoes of everyone who watches me from the side lines in order to get a bit of empathy for how they feel – especially Simmone.

After Pontispool, the big lorry will be at home all packed and ready to leave on Monday night for Tattersall’s in Ireland – I’m taking three over there (in fact writing this has reminded me I better book the ferry!) Cooga Hat Trick will be doing the 6 & 7 year olds CCI*, ShannondalePercy the CCI**, and Barrichello the CCI***. Pontispool acts as the final preparation run for Tattersall’s – and it feels so good to be hitting form at the right time for the International competitions.

When you’re riding that many horses, and find yourself walking the course at 6am, it’s really reassuring to know you have a truly great team behind you. I might be the guy at the head of the team, but it’s all the other guys making the cogs turn smoothly to ensure all the horses are immaculately turned out and I’m wearing the right things on the right horse with the right number at the right time!

Following the tragic events at Badminton, I’ve said a lot about my old pal, Reeko aka Redpath Ransom, who devastatingly had to be put down due to irreparable injuries to his suspensory ligament on his right front leg. The way I look at it is that I am really grateful for everything that horse has done for me. What I’m most proud of from what happened is that all of the owners and everyone within Team Bragg rallied round and supported each other and Simmone and me.

Zagreb and Redpath Ransom came up through the grades together, and we built the entire yard around them. They created the whole ethos around the team spirit here. When tragedy strikeslike that it makes you realise how special thefeeling is here in our own particular extended eventing family; how everyone here cares about each and everyone, and cares about the yard. I’m very proud that those horses have created thatfeeling – and fittingly that’s Reeko’s legacy. Of course, I cherish the memories of the amazing round at Aachen we had, but more that he was a really integral part of setting up our yard.

People have shared videos and photos of his last day when we were going around Badminton and those shared moments have been magic. He went out in the best way possible – the way he skipped through the lake, and the cheers from the crowds, he was living it and loving it right up to his last moments. When we were in the start box, I had supporters cheering and giving me high fives; we were both so relaxed – with him and me together as a partnership and a team. We shared some really amazing and great moments.

Sadly, they’re the highs and lows of eventing. It makes you really appreciate the good times. It takes good people to ride the rollercoaster with you – one minute you’re up high, and the next so low down. Cherish every moment. Reflect and reassess and do it together. As they say ‘Team work makes the dream work’.

With that we’re all really looking forward to Pontispool this weekend, because their particular special team always put a great course together. I shall need plenty of Jelly Babies to keep my energy levels up! I hope to see you there, cheering me on.

Delighted to be supporting Devon Air Ambulance

Pontispool are delighted to be supporting Devon Air Ambulance at our forthcoming BE Horse Trials on Saturday 26 May 2018. All monies collected on the gate will be donated. Please give generously to such a worthwhile cause.

Last year Devon Air Ambulance celebrated its 25th anniversary, as well as flying their 25,000th lifesaving mission.They are now flying up to 17 hours a day, including into the hours of darkness.

2018 looks like it’s going to be equally busy, with a further extension of flying hours planned to 2am.

Did you know?

Devon has two Air Ambulances; one in Exeter and the other in North Devon

Last year it cost £6.4 million to keep both aircraft flying

Every single penny needed is raised or donated by the community, businesses and friends of Devon

If you would like to make an even bigger difference you can get involved by:

Holding a fundraising or sponsored event

Make a donation

Leave us a gift in your Will

Become a volunteer

Donate unwanted items to our charity shops

Find out more about us via our website or social media

If you would like to find out more please do get in touch with a member of our fundraising team on 01392 466666, email [email protected] or contact us via our website at

Alex Bragg's Latest Blog

With hardly any competitions to go to in the build-up to this season (22 BE events were cancelled due to snow or waterlogged ground between late-February and the end of April) finally, last weekend, the weather came good and managed to provide a full weekend of eventing. ‘Team Bragg’ took eleven horses to Bicton International Horse Trials, so it was a bit of a full-on whirlwind of prepping and changing horses, and it’s times like these when you’re thankful for having a fantastic support team behind you. Things progressively improved as the weekend went on, after a very hot and intense Friday it cooled down a few degrees for the rest of the event and I found my rhythm again.

It was a great kick-start to the season proper for the team and me. Due to the bitty, stop-start nature to the season so far, it has been very difficult to get into the swing of things – for all of us - but Bicton allowed me to get into my riding flow again and by close of play I felt like I did at the end of last season once more, which was a pleasing position to get into. By Sunday I felt like I was back in the zone and I’d got my mojo back.

Touch wood, my preparation for Badminton is going to plan. I’m taking two horses, Zagreb – who did fantastically well there last year until a slight injury ruled him out of the final phase - and Redpath Ransom. Zagreb has been drawn 5th to go, Redpath 82nd - if you ride more than one horse they give you one in the first quarter of the day, and one in the last. So we’re five from the start, five from the end. Thanks to the recent dry weather I’ve been able to start training on grass and have jumped all of the horses on grass at home. Zagreb, who’s only been run once so far this season, is going cross-country schooling at Pontispool this afternoon. He’s feeling good and is on track – I don’t want to say more than that, as I don’t want to jinx us before the day. I’ll be taking Redpath Ransom along too to go through the water several times. Then later on today we have the BBC coming to the yard for a couple of hours to do a pre-Badminton profile, which is rather exciting.

Now is all about priming the horses; when you’re a week to ten days away from the event the bulk of the preparation work is done. They’re as fit as they can be after the patchy start to the season. Their bodies are as supple as they can be. Their minds are in a really good place. I know the horses inside and out. I know that this horse will need to do a couple of runs through his dressage test, and the other one needs to practise jumping water trays. It’s all about last minute tweaks.

For Zagreb for instance it’s more important in the last week of preparation to get his body in the best shape rather than needing a run out. They are either a Badminton horse or they’re not; there’s no point working them really hard in the run-up to one of the biggest contests in the world and taking them there sore. Their bodies need to feel fresh. We’re turning them out a lot so they’re nice and calm and totally chilled.

When you’re this close to Badminton, you’re just a hair’s breadth away. It’s an anxious time and you just want to get there so you can get on with the job in hand.

For the horse inspection (aka fashion parade!) on the Wednesday, Timothy Fox has once again provided a beautiful new waistcoat, jacket, and tie – they’re such a lovely company and will help me look a bit dapper. Mackenzie & George have supplied me with some belts and Simmone will also probably be wearing some of their accessories – they do fabulous hats. I’m going to wear my usual boots in order to mix it up a bit and put the Bragg stamp on!

As far as preparation goes then, the horses are as ready as they’ll ever be, the lorry will be loaded up with all our kit in the next few days, I’ve got my fancy outfit picked out for the trot up and my all important supplies of Jelly Babies are topped up along with plenty of water.

We have a massive crew of Team Bragg supporters coming up to cheer us on (and if you’re going to Badminton and see me go round, please give me a cheer!)

Alex Bragg's Latest Blog

Having a busy yard full of horses, in order for everything to run smoothly we have a very regimented routine, as you might expect. I’m a creature of habit; I’ll start every day with a bowl of Alpen. The girls all start on the yard at 7am, with the horses’ morning feeds, mucking out, and then tacking up. I give the girls a list of instructions for the week – as in which horses I want to ride in what order, and they work through the list. I’ll get down there to start riding at 8am and keep riding until we’re done.

In the case of all our local events, Aldon, Bicton and Pontispool, I aim to take ten to twelve horses. There’s a three day turnaround – and each day is rapid to say the least. Come the Monday after each competition I’m wiped out, wondering where my mind’s gone, but you just climb aboard the next horse and carry on with your weekly routine.

To the average rider, it will sound physically exhausting but professional riders are used to it. We need to keep as fit and supple as our horses, and with the daily routine you maintain a good level of fitness just by riding. If your fitness is off, your balance can be off, which is no good at all in this sport!

I regularly see a physiotherapist who has taught me the importance of lots of stretching. My physio’ works with the horses as well as me. As I’m in the World Class programme our physio’ is the UK Sport Physio’ – so she’s the best in the country and has given me lots of tension bands to stretch into. This helps to sustain suppleness and symmetry – to help keep and maintain your balance.

I also have an inversion table, which helps me by hanging upside down on it, which stretches and relaxes me. I also build my core strength by doing sit-ups on it. I tend to try and multitask – amazing for a man, I know - and will be doing stretches whilst I’m brushing my teeth in the morning, and anytime I’m not on a horse. I would notice if I didn’t do it.

You can feel yourself not being so manoeuvrable on your horse if you have any stiffness or tension in your body. Whilst I may not run up the gallops any more after the horses I do find that course-walking also helps to keep you fit.

I’m very aware of the importance of rehydrating – I find that on competition days there are lots of bottles of water left everywhere for me to help me keep sipping away. The girls and my wife, Simmone are very good at reminding me and making sure I do keep taking on water. Another thing I have a good supply of on competition day is Jelly Babies – they really help keep the energy levels up, plus I find them quite addictive – maybe @MaynardsBassett would like to sponsor me?! #jellybabies

Alex Bragg's Latest Blog

Training for all the event horses is properly firing up. Last week we took six out onto the gallops on Monday and another load out the next day. They’re all ticking over nicely, and we can start looking forward with some excitement to the season ahead – especially now that pesky snow is out the way (fingers crossed!)

We have fourteen event horses to compete and they’re all getting primed and ready to rock and roll. In the future it’s possible that I will have lots more five and six-year-olds and the yard might also grow as the season goes on – but in order for smooth running and a good transitionary period to integrate new horses into the routine it’s best to do it a few horses at a time.

The first event we’re aiming at is Aldon (18-20 March) – we’re there for all three days and we’ll be taking nine or ten horses. To the non-professional event yard it may seem a bit daunting but when you have that many horses competing, you make sure you plan everything to the ninth degree – from running order, to the time to get on each horse, to the right dress – whether dressage tails or cross country colours or whatever. It’s pretty intense. To be honest it’s easier at the higher level, perhaps with the better regiment of organisation at the events. It can be harder at the smaller competitions.

The excellent training facilities at Pontispool are only forty-five minutes away from our yard in the lorry. We’ve utilised the Arena XC course several times through the winter months, which has been splendid for our fitness levels.

The gallops there are first-class; they’re circular and you can go round and get a nice rhythm going, which is obviously essential when you’re training. For part of the year I also use Phillip Hobbs’ gallops, as Phillip has more hill climbs, so you can get a proper ‘pipe opener’ run before a big event.

My good friends, Ces & Lucy at Pontispool, came to our charity ball recently and loved it. They have kindly given me a new ride, Ginge, an ex-racehorse who is with us training to be an eventer. He will be going from BE100 and hopefully step up to Novice this season. Ces & Lucy are excited at the prospect of having an eventer; Ces (Richard Mitford-Slade) got his trainer’s license for racehorses this season and has already had some thrilling wins. I think for eventers to get racing people interested in the sport is a good way to join up the different equestrian disciplines. It’s occasionally rumoured in the racing world and eventing world everyone thinks the other lot are snooty – but neither set of people are! We’re just a bunch of people with the same, but different, interests at heart – horses and sport, with our own distinct disciplines and we can all get along very nicely.

We are incredibly fortunate to have the support of Pontispool and their super facilities, and now an event horse to bring on too. Exciting times.

Alex Bragg's Latest Blog

2017 was a great year for Team Bragg Eventing – although not without the inevitable ups and downs you get in this amazing sport that I love so much.

After the absolutely thrilling highs of the first couple of days at our first Badminton where Zagreb and I were lying in eighth position overnight after the cross-country, we then had the crashing disappointment of being sent to the holding box in the trot up on the Sunday morning and then withdrawn because of a bump to his stifle. That’s the rub of the green though, and we went home obviously disappointed, but glad that our boy was in one piece and had learnt valuable lessons for the next time we happen to be in that gorgeous corner of Gloucestershire.

In July, we had some great fun and even WON the Lavazza Prize for the Combined Jumping, Eventing and Driving Competition aka the ‘Ride and drive course’ in the main arena at the World Equestrian Festival at Aachen in Germany. First the riders jumped a course appropriate to their discipline before they left their horses and ran to the four-horse carriages to take them full speed for another round in the arena.

The atmosphere in the stadium was electrifying – basically we were in an arena the same size as a football stadium with 40,000 people screaming and cheering us on. It was quite nerve-wracking if I’m totally honest, and to settle the nerves I tend to start joking around, so I was giving a few fist pumps to get the crowd cheering some more, then the nerves went and I was having a blast as was Redpath Ransom.

I like to have a little bit of a spark and sense of humour around everything I do – it is a serious business, but you need to be able to laugh about things and enjoy life. I think our sport, when you’re not on a horse, can sometimes be a little monotone and boring, maybe not so much boring, but serious – after all it is one of the most dangerous sports you can do. Formula One motor racing drivers have cars built around them for protection. Event riders are just perched there on their horses with trust and skill holding them together – living on the edge with the adrenalin buzz feeding through your veins, that’s why we do it and love it so much. That buzz is addictive.

My ultimate aim for 2018 is to get to the World Equestrian Games at Tryon in North Carolina, USA in September (11-23). Whilst I would really love to go, Badminton is – and has to be - my first goal of the season. Every eventing season, like so many things, is like a big jigsaw puzzle – you have to get the first part in place if you want to have a chance of completing the puzzle. In fact, my main aim is to win as many competitions as I can, because I’m not at ALL competitive! Obviously it’s not that simple, but yes, Badminton is my first big goal and it will be very competitive, which suits me.

This year we will be aiming to do as well or better and then see what happens with the selection for WEG.

Once the season finished in October all the horses had a good long break from work, and have now systematically come off their breaks in December and January so that they’re now all back in work. They’re doing a few dressage and show jumping competitions as gentle warm-ups, and of course I love that we have the perfect facilities at Pontispool to use for all our cross-country schooling needs. We’ll also be concentrating soon on more fitness work so will be using the gallops for real from mid-February to get fit for Badminton.

I’ll give you another update towards the end of February to let you know how our preparation is going. In the meantime, let’s hope this rain eases off sometime soon.

Prizes for our Unaffiliated Horse Trials in March

We are delighted to announce that Treehouse Sporting Colours, Connolly's Red Mills and NAF are all kindly supporting our Unaffiliated Horse Trials on 24th March 2018. They will be providing prizes from 1st to 3rd for all sections.

Body protectors, air jackets, cross country colours, horse racing silks, riding hats.

A personal and bespoke service specialising in equestrian safety wear, racing and cross country colours.

Treehouse are equestrian enthusiasts, the team offer an expert, qualified and personal service to all.

[email protected]

Phone: +44 (0)1299 851625

Top event riders, trainers and breeders choose Connolly's RED MILLS.

Connolly’s RED MILLS is quite literally the feed of champions.Their horse feed formulations provide all the nutrition high performance animals demand, using the finest of fresh, natural ingredients to support digestion, wellbeing and performance.

You can be confident you are feeding a fully balanced diet, perfectly tailored by our expert nutritionists, to deliver all your horse's dietary needs.They work closely with vets and research departments of leading universities to bring the latest nutritional technology to their products, and to you.

[email protected]

Adam Johnson, Equine Sales Rep - South West of England Email: [email protected]

Telephone: 07860 771 063


NAF are passionate about both horses and the products they manufacture to keep them healthy, happy and performing at their very best. They offer an extensive range of products; from joints, breathing, hooves, digestion and calming supplements, to silky mane & tail detanglers, super shampoos and luxury leather care.

[email protected]

Helpline: 0800 373 106

NAF Kindly Supporting Eventer Challenges and ODE

We are very pleased to announce that NAF are kindly supporting our Eventer Challenges on 14th January and 24th February as well as our Unaffiliated ODE on 24th March 2018. They will be providing prizes for all classes.

NAF are passionate about both horses and the products they manufacture to keep them healthy, happy and performing at their very best. They offer an extensive range of products; from joints, breathing, hooves, digestion and calming supplements, to silky mane & tail detanglers, super shampoos and luxury leather care.

Please visit their website for information on their products or contact the helpline on 0800 373 106.

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