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Our sponsored rider Alex Bragg has been showjumping and competing in dressage competitions in readiness for the new season.
Our season starts at Aldon in two week’s time where we have six entered. Preparations have gone very well and the horses are feeling great. I did a bit of dressage the other day at Kings Sedgemoor to get my eye in and see the white boards again!
At home we work in an arena that is fenced on all four sides so it’s good to get the horses out without having that sense of security that the fence can give them.
The horses were all great and we came back with several rosettes.
Some of the younger ones were a little green and wobbly, thinking they were in no-man’s land without the security of a post and rail fence and they drifted about a little bit, but their behavior was fantastic. A level temperament is essential with eventing. You can always work on the quality of a horse's work at home, but they need to remain rideable at a show!
I was impressed with myself that I actually entered a dressage competition. I like dressage, but normally there’s galloping across country afterwards to look forward to. This was a whole day of dressage!!!
We’ve done plenty of show jumping over the winter, competing at places like West Wilts, Hartpury and Summerhouse and we’ve had a great time with all the horses going very well. They’ve all been out and two have qualified for the Blue Chip Championships, although we’re away eventing when that’s on.
The horses I have now are all very good jumpers. I do look for this type of horse now and tend to work on making the dressage better, rather than the other way around. Two thirds of eventing is jumping so it’s essential really.
Zagreb and Redpath Ransom, my two advanced horses, will head to Aldon for the Open Intermediate. Then it's on to Burnham Market for the CIC 3* before we head to Ballindenisk for a CCI3*. I want to crack on with them while the ground is still good.
The track at Ballindenisk is tough enough but its quite flat so it won’t be too arduous on the horses. If they are well and fit afterwards, they will have a break and then a prep run at Pontispool’s May event before we go to Equi-Trek Bramham.
Richie (Bonmahon Blue Mist) who starred in Pontispool’s recent photo series, is coming on really well. He’ll be aimed at the five-year-old classes and will come out in April. He’s a very exciting horse for me so he will be campaigned with the future in mind. We’ll get some mileage under his belt, but we’ll look after him and aim to produce him slowly.
I’ve been over to use Pontispool's arena a few times and it’s been fantastic, especially for the younger horses, getting them jumping the cross country fences on a surface. There’s every type – ditches, water, steps, a trakhener, skinnies and so on and it introduces them to cross country so nicely. They learn to jump really well, take it all in their stride and when they go out in the field it’s one less thing to worry about as they can be a little full of themselves when their feet touch grass for the first time. All you are doing is getting them used to the grass. The jumping is the easy bit! I’ll have ten or eleven horses for the season, it's a real mix from babies up to my advanced horses.
My daughters are great and have been doing a lot with their ponies in and out of the bad weather. I’ve been doing a lot of jumping exercises at home and the kids come out after school and try the exercises with their ponies, making them look a lot easier than I do! We’ll be doing a new series at Pontispool soon showing some of these exercises.