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Dear Diary

So once again, as so often with my pitiful excuse of a life, I find myself caught between two ladies (well one lady and one female in possession of a colourful vocabulary and a lightening fast set of reflexes). One who thinks I am an equine angel, sent to rebuild her confidence and show her an equestrian experience of unequivocal excellence and the other who if made a half decent offer (and by that I mean half a stick of chewing gum and a small ball of pocket lint) would sell me faster than you can say “bargain basement”. One is a saint-like sharer who any horse can be proud to be associated with; the other is my mother.

You see Aunty Em gets it. She understands that I enjoy freedom of expression, and indeed if my expression on any given day is “feathery giraffe with piles” then I should be allowed to express this through running about with my head in the air. When I get too tired to carry my own head any more, this lovely lady understands it is incumbent upon her as my human hireling to carry it for me.

She gets that corners are optional and that it’s great fun to see if we can actually get her inside stirrup to touch the floor as we hurtle around the school. She is highly intelligent enough to appreciate that my evasive action in the face of dangers such as the rabbit militia and the diving bombing pheasants in the foliage are the only thing saving us from certain death and is, in fact, grateful for my gallantry.

She never once suggests that my mum and dad were not married as she is wrapped around my ears, caught unawares by my selfless heroics (she is in good company – my bestie Mary King also was caught in a similar situation). No mention is made of my walk resembling a sloth on marijuana or that funeral corsages would pass us, nor that my trot is the absolute antithesis and is so large that she runs the ever present risk of giving herself a black eye with her ample airbags.

SHE is understanding that I can’t collect stamps, let alone my canter, and that four strides down the long side is perfectly acceptable and indeed that asking for any more is like painting a smile on the Mona Lisa; i.e. a) it would ruin a master piece and b) it’s never going to happen…

All in all I love my Aunty Em almost as much as lickits. Which is saying something…

And then you have my mother. The one who if she was a horse herself would have been put down some time ago as the market for lame, over-the-hill brood mares, with zero talent and questionable temperament is very limited.

The one who insists that self-carriage is non-negotiable so much so that she caught me by surprise last week by literally chucking the reins at me such that the abrupt loss of the only thing holding us both up nearly put me on my nose in the middle of the school.

The one who questions my ancestry on such a regular basis that the large rat that lives under the haybarn has apparently bought me a family tree for Christmas this year.

The one who despite her portly demeanour has the reactions of a rattlesnake in the matrix and can land a lead rope across my derriere faster than Ed Sheeran can release another hit. Oh, and the one I might possibly have reared up on at the weekend…

Look, it wasn’t my fault. I was quite happily coming in from the field, she was faffing about with the gate tapes and chuntering away about some mindless nonsense that I have to feign interest in, when out of the corner of my eye I saw the pheasant in the foliage heading right at me.

I maintain I didn’t rear; I gesticulated to warn mother of the danger. Unlike you two legged folks I haven’t got hands so thus I had to swiftly drop up onto my back legs in order to free my front feet to point like an air stewardess towards the emergency exits. Or in this case the two-legged flying pie filling.

My actions, rather than being seen as the heroic actions of a horse hell bent on saving his human were met with a plethora of profanities, a smack on the snoozel and half an hour of lamented lunge work. Life is so unfair.

Mind you it is the season for unfair. As always at this time of year I shall be opening the Hovis Hottie Hotline for all attractive mares who suffer the seasonal silliness of owners with a penchant for dress up of the tinsel/antlers/jaunty Christmas hat variety. I will offer a shoulder to cry on, top tips for revenge, avoidance techniques for amateurs and for five lucky ladies the chance to shelter in my stable of sanctuary for the WHOLE Christmas period!! Now there’s a prize, ladies which no money on earth could buy. Ring now on 0800-HELP-ME-HOVIS* and I’ll be there.

*Mares only, contestants must be six years and older, no alternatives prizes offered, see terms and conditions for details.

Laters

Heroic Hovis

For all the latest equestrian news and reports, don’t miss Horse & Hound magazine out every Thursday

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Last weekend I was privileged enough to attend the Saddle Research Trust conference at Nottingham University. The conference brought together some of the best brains in the world when it comes to horse welfare.

I was allowed my ticket in exchange for interviewing lecturers after their talks — how difficult could that be, I thought?! I was firstly scheduled to interview esteemed vet Sue Dyson following her talk on recognition of pain in the ridden horse and Russell Guire of Centaur Biomechanics on his presentation on rider asymmetry. Two incredibly insightful and clever people, plus little old me chatting about their research and findings.

As the time approached, I started to think the answer to my own question (how hard could it be?), was pretty bloody difficult… to say I was nervous at the prospect would be an understatement and I potentially would have been less so if about to ride round Burghley. I wrote endless notes ahead of this interview — a lot more than I ever would in lectures during my university days and had very sweaty palms as we started, but I needn’t have worried — it was great.

There were so many more questions that I wanted to ask, but the time just ran away. Confidence infused and note-less, I was able to follow on and interview professionals such as William Micklem, Anne Bondi, Lucinda Green, Richard Davison (I’m pictured top with Richard and Lucinda) and Professor Renee Van Weeren, to name a few — the list was a long one of spectacularly influential people within our industry and it was an honour to speak with them all. It’s easy to get bogged down in the information, research, statistics and data, but there is one thing in common with all concerned, that welfare of the horse is key.

That evening, president of the Saddle Research Trust, Anne Bondi invited me to be master of ceremony at the gala dinner and the presentation of the SRT awards. Those irritating nerves jumped straight back in and I struggled to eat my delicious supper as the moment approached. Again, as I stepped on to the stage my concerns dissolved and I had a most enjoyable and memorable evening. It was wonderful to be involved in recognition of some truly inspirational people. I’ve never seen Sue Dyson so emotional as she picked up her award for SRT Practitioner or such a charismatic performance in receiving an award as William Micklem for SRT ambassador.

The time ran away with me and my intentions to move on to Caroline Moore and Ros Canter’s celebratory party after the World Equestrian Games sadly didn’t happen and I was in bed at just after 1am. Three-and-a-half-hours later my alarm went off and I was off to Norfolk for 11 hours worth of teaching. I struggled to keep my eyes open on the journey there, but the first lesson was an absolute pleasure and it set me up for a wonderful day helping 35 or so pupils — what a weekend!

Teaching Felicity

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      On top of this I have been busy showjumping and getting the horses fit and ready to start more intense training in preparation for the New Year and eventing season. The conference has given me plenty of inspiration and I’m looking forward to putting some of the things that I’ve learnt in to practice!

      With Olympia coming up, Christmas just round the corner and the tree up I’m starting to feel festive — I hope you are too?!

      Grievesy

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      Hello from Cobbie and I as we embark on an extra ‘C’ before heading off to the south west to do C, D and E — The Cury, Dulverton West and the Eggesford.

      Not too far up the road, The Croome and West Warwickshire were meeting at good friends Ed and Sarah Righton’s farm at Elmley Castle. Ed has been one of the joint masters since 2016. I love the annual breakfast meet at Elmley Castle. It’s such a friendly meet held at the village-run pub the Queen Elizabeth, so when Sarah suggested it, it was a no-brainer — what a way to see Bredon Hill and the views in the early morning! It all seemed a great idea.

      However, Cobbie and I set off in a howling gale for the 6.45am meet. Sarah’s instructions were ringing in my ears: “We are meeting in the field at the farm”. After avoiding fallen trees and branches on the way, we were met by gates that were shut to the farm at Elmley Castle. Had I heard Sarah wrong? Was the meet at their other farm 20 minutes drive away?! Off I went in the continuing windy conditions and reached Hill Court Farm to peace and quiet and no evidence of a meet or hounds. Where were they? Should I just go home? Give up? No! Off I went back to Elmley Castle. Where were they? On getting back to the village with Sarah’s voice ringing in my ear, I took a right, instead of left turn in the village and sure enough there was the field where the meet had been, at the other side of the farm!

      Sarah and Ed Righton

      Half an hour late, I unloaded Cobbie and headed off across the fields to be met by the sound of hounds hunting above me. What a welcome sound! After popping a hunt jump onto the bridle path that heads up Bredon Hill above the village, we eventually met up with Ed at the head of his mounted field. Hounds had by this time lost their trail and Ben Dalton (huntsman since 2014 having come from the Dulverton West) continued drawing up hill through the forestry. Conditions proved very testing for Ben and his pack of hounds, as the wind was still blowing strongly — the trails laid by Sarah proved too tricky to find.

      Trail layer for the morning, Sarah Righton

      Bredon Hill itself is a lovely place. Elmley Castle is at the base of the north side of the hill. From the top, the panoramic views west of the Malvern Hills and the Severn Valley were spectacular (pictured, top).

      The draw for the morning took in parts of ancient woods, newer plantations, old grassland, scrub and patches of bracken and briers, which are part of one of England’s most important wildlife sites. A large section of the north and west side of the hill has been designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest. It is also home to a successful shoot. For hunting, it provides a landscape which hasn’t changed for years — we even crossed the ruins of a medieval castle covered in bracken and briars that was part of the day’s draw.

      Heading home

      After battling the elements with not a lot of results around the rest of the morning’s draw, the decision was made to head off the hill and call it a day. The ‘T-pot’ called!

      Simon French, whipper-in, counts hounds off the hill — all on

      Once everyone had boxed up, a welcome warming cuppa and breakfast of pork pie and doughnuts was dished out around Patty Allen’s quad bike. Patty had been following all morning mounted on her quad, wearing her smart blue Patey hat! Patty is a long-standing master of the Croome and West Warwickshire, having served since 1979.

      Patty Allen MFH mounted astride four wheels instead of four legs!

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      Hello from Cobbie and I. Most recently we headed off north, this time, destination the Brocklesby Hunt in North Lincolnshire.…

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          Refreshments around Patty Allen’s quad

          Cobbie had to wait for his breakfast until he got home — he was not interested in eating it next to the trailer. It’s the only thing that is worrying me about him on out Big Tour — him going off his food. He has always been tricky with eating and drinking too when away from home. Once home though, he had the added incentive of all of his friends wanting his food to make him tuck in!

          Cobbie tucking into his breakfast once home

          Lynne

          For all the latest equestrian news and reports, don’t miss Horse & Hound magazine out every Thursday

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          Dear diary,

          So, it’s fair to say its been back down to earth with a bump. All the highs of Your Horse is Alive and now I’m back in a field with mother working me half to death and moaning that I’m “full of it”. To be fair, so is she most of the time, but I think it might be a different “it”.

          It didn’t help that the other day I had a repeat performance of the elephant man horse and had another massive allergic reaction to something. Cue lumps all over and oozing. Lots and lots of oozing. The boss lady was rather perturbed, Aunty Em horrified and mother positively suicidal. Aunty H suggested that I have Munchhausen’s by proxy, which shows that she’s definitely with me in my view that mother needs psychological help, but all concerned agreed that there was no proxy involved here — pox yes, proxy not so much.

          So, I was allowed off ridden work for a few days, only because the oozing was across my saddle area and I’m of the opinion that frankly mother didn’t want pus on my *cough* second hand *cough* saddle. Now most normal mothers would have given their pus covered ponies some time off right? Time for them and their hives to hang out? No, not my mother. No, she makes me run around in the cold and the rain and then moans when I decide in order to warm up that I ought to ignore any attempt to keep me in the sedate end of my gears and go for full pelt circling, thus meaning mother spins around like a weather vane in a hurricane. I was at one point wondering if I got up enough of a head of steam if I might be transported somewhere else — like the stable of Emily King’s rather fine looking mare with whom I had exchanged hot and heavy glances at YHL. I did at one point shut my eyes and click my heels together a la Dorothy, but sadly upon opening them was still where I had been and now mother was glaring daggers as my back legs had just whistled past her ears like the intercity express to London. I was sadly still in Kansas…

          I was further to blot my copy book only a few days later, when mini-mother wandered into my field looking like Casper the friendly ghost. To my intense alarm, she appeared to have lost her arms and hands and I thus approached with care in case this was not mini-mother but some sort of pod person sent to lure me into a trap probably set by the diving bombing pheasant currently residing in the hedge next to my field. Snorting hard to warn of my manliness, I approached this strange looking creature, who smelt like a small pony type and whose long sleeves were wafting about like tentacles — it went to stroke my nose and so showing my lightening reflexes, I leapt away and ran for safety, frankly leaving mother to fend for herself. Survival of the fittest and all that — and I am the fittest, she’s the fattest. Mother yelling that it was mini-mother wearing mother’s coat (as well as a LOT of expletives) at my rapidly retreating back, did nothing to reassure me and so began a fun chase around the field with mother trying to get my headcollar on when I’m in my full 19hh dragon mode. Mini-mother was clearly unimpressed and had high tailed it back to the car by this point, and so thus didn’t see my epic 0-90 mile an hour sideways leap on my exit from the field as the aforementioned dive bombing pheasant came hurtling out at me like a fighter plane. Forget Hun in the Sun, this is Pheasant in the foliage. Needless to say, by the time we arrived back at the yard, the only thing having prevented mother from actually killing me was a lack of weaponry.

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            I am still in the dog house as I write having clearly not managed to convey enough contriteness to pacify she-who-owns-many-leadropes-and-is-not-afraid-to-use-any-of-them. So much for the spirit of good will to all men. Anyone looking for a new horse for Christmas? Anyone?

            Laters,

            Hovis

            For all the latest equestrian news and reports, don’t miss Horse & Hound magazine out every Thursday

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            Hello from Cobbie and I.

            Most recently we headed off north, this time, destination the Brocklesby Hunt in North Lincolnshire. Of the 20 foxhound packs registered with the MFHA beginning with B, The Brocklesby was always top of my list of ‘to do’s’. This was due to a combination of having spent many happy puppy shows there (my in-laws Dick and Shirley Deakin had lived in a cottage on the Brocklesby estate), and of course present huntsman Gareth Bow had been a popular whipper-in at the Warwickshire.

            Gareth and Thady

            This time we weren’t travelling alone. Mollie (my Huntaway/Labrador cross dog — we have come up with a name — Huntador!) as always was with us. But, additionally Kim (my other half) was tagging along with his mountain bike. During the summer he came on a ride for a visit to the kennels I had organised for the Warwickshire Hunt Riding Club. This was a fabulous visit including a lovely ride around the park, lunch and a tour of the kennels. He wanted a return visit and just like following us on the park ride on his bike, the idea was he could follow out hunting just the same!

            Sunrise over the Lincolnshire Wolds

            After an uneventful journey of 140 miles on a Sunday afternoon, we arrived at the Brocklesby Kennels. Gareth had already prewarned us that he would not be there, but Thady Duff (whipper-in) would be there to unlock the padlock to the gate to the kennels field, which was our resting place for the night. Cobbie couldn’t believe his luck — stopping with hounds at the kennels!

            Cobbie in the kennels field

            Kim, Mollie and I also camped in Cadbury in the kennels field. Again Cobbie was too busy to eat his tea so I left it by Cadbury so he could come back to it overnight. The same couldn’t be said for Kim and I. The barbecue was lit and supper was cooked in the fading light. What a setting to have supper in.

            Supper time for Cobbie and barbecue for Kim and I

            Cobbie proved to be a naughty cob in the morning. In the eight years I’ve owned him, he has never been the easiest to catch. The record being three hours. On our Brocklesby day it took half an hour. It was a good job I had set the alarm early but it still made us late, which then meant everyone was late. Not a good start. It meant the drive to the meet feel a bit like the Wacky Races as we headed of after the hunt lorries!

            The meet was out on the Lincolnshire Wolds on a commercial shoot. The fields on the Wolds are enormous on rolling hills with lots of woods and game strips. Our field master for the day was George Sanderson, a master since 2006. His speech at the meet set the precedence for the day. The morning was run like a military manoeuvre. The field moved ahead of hounds to each cover in turn.

            Gareth had the Brockelsby dog hounds out, which, despite the warm, dry conditions and being on a well keepered shoot, showed the followers what an Old English pack of hounds can do when they find a trail.

            It was also nice to have familiar faces out. Jan Funnell, who had been to the Warwickshire Hunt Riding Club visit to the Brocklesby kennels in the summer, had turned up with local friend Debbie Nickson (both of whom I I pictured with at the top of this blog).

            Daniel Crane and wife Ali, who I’d seen at Daniel’s stand earlier in the year at Lycetts Festival of Hunting were also enjoying an early morning with their local pack.

            Daniel and Ali Crane (Daniel Crane Sporting Art)

            After quite a long morning, we hacked back across the rolling Lincolnshire Wold stubbles to a well-earned cup of tea back at the boxes. Kim, after following all morning on his mountain bike, certainly needed one!

            Kim with Roger Finley

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                To finish the morning off perfectly, Cobbie, Kim and myself went back to the kennels and had the treat of watching hounds being fed. The dog hounds that had been out that morning had plenty of flesh, while the bitches had a mixture of flesh and Red Mills hound feed biscuits — a sign of the times with less stock in the area. Gareth then took us to ‘walk out’ with the bitches through ‘The Wilderness’ and out onto the point-to-point course — what an absolute pleasure. The only one sulking was Cobbie, who was having another session in the kennel field and wasn’t allowed to come with us!

                Girls having a drink back in kennels

                Cobbie and I are staying more local for our next outing, before heading off to the south west. For ‘C’ we are going to have a day with local pack, the Croome and West Warwickshire, before heading off to the most southern most foxhound pack in the UK, the Cury.

                Bye for now,

                Lynne and Cobbie

                For all the latest equestrian news and reports, don’t miss Horse & Hound magazine out every Thursday

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                Well it’s official! Horse & Hound has very kindly asked me to continue writing my online blog for 2019. I am so happy to have been given this opportunity again and I’m very grateful to the H&H team for allowing me to share my experiences and adventures with you guys. I’d better make 2019 an exciting year! I’m not entirely sure the hairy mammoth horse creatures in the field are looking overly convinced by this, as the countdown to the final couple of weeks in the field has commenced. Some will come in earlier than others, but I usually work on the basis that everybody gets a good two month’s holiday.

                This past month has been busy but incredibly rewarding. When you decide to breed horses, I’m always slightly dubious as I got told from a young age that “fools breed horses for wise men to buy”. I suppose if you want a young horse then buying a smart three- or four-year-old, which is still not guaranteed to turn out as you want it to, as a buyer is a little less risky than trying to breed one. But what I eventually learnt is that breeding will always come through.

                We had good mares, who were all proven, and I knew them individually and how they were to ride. This made picking a stallion for them a slightly easier task. It’s something my wife, Victoria, and I have put a lot of time, effort and thought into.

                It was a proud moment for us bringing the youngsters in to back and break for the winter — they all showed ability and are trainable (the video below shows a three-year-old, who is out of a three-star mare I had, who was called Noisette Des Pres). They ticked many boxes that any breeder or buyer would have been happy with, and if I’d have seen them in a sales ring, I’d have bought them. But in many respects, it’s much more rewarding having bred them ourselves. I’m looking forward to doing some young horse classes with them in the future.

                Former British-based eventer Daisy Trayford recently asked me if I would be interested in teaching a clinic at her beautiful place at Nunda in New York. Having never travelled long haul, nor been to the United States, I thought I needed to check this one out under the supervision of my wife before I ended up like Crocodile Dundee in New York. I survived, but there were a few hairy moments, especially when realising pedestrian crossings work differently over there. I will be returning to New York and will be teaching at the Trayford’s ‘Exmoor Eventing’ base in 2019.

                The view from the Empire State Building in New York

                We’ve also celebrated our end of season dinner, which was a great opportunity to say thank you to our owners, sponsors and team. This was also a proud moment for me as it was the day that our donations went to both charities we have been supporting this year, Orchid and Mind — they received £1,561.80 each. But in addition to this, thanks to some amazing prizes that were donated for auction, we managed to top up the total by £3,400. These charities have been a massive help to me and it has given me a great focus this year. The charities we will be supporting in 2019 will be revealed in my next blog.

                We will also have all the event horses back in and at the start of boot camp by the time you read my next blog. Unfortunately for me, I will also be starting boot camp and strapping myself to a treadmill. I hate making plans as horses are always so bloody unpredictable, but in 2019 I hope to share with you my return to four-star (or five-star as it will then be known), international travel, international events and some great projects I’m involved with. The ups and downs of the sport in all honesty and a magical mystery tour with fellow event rider and great friend Matt Heath. I hope it makes for some entertaining, honest and interesting reading!

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                    But for the next couple of weeks, my main role will be the same as most dads’ over Christmas — putting the Christmas decorations and Christmas lights up outside! And after nearly falling off the ladder, pulling a few Mission Impossible style stunts, swinging or hanging past the window, you look in to see your wife and children all warm while decorating the tree and the kids waving at you excitedly. You always feel a sense of manly achievement though when you’ve done it. So much you then call the family outside for the big ‘turning on of the lights’ like it’s Blackpool Illuminations. I had to draw the line at the inflatable Snowman though when William was scared of it!

                    Matt

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                    Winter has definitely arrived, and with it a number of owners have recently asked me: “Why has my horse turned into a monster since the clocks have gone back?”

                    I do a monthly webinar for Your Horsemanship members, and this month’s topic was on how to keep your horse sane and reliable through the winter months. When the clocks go back, it usually means there is less time to ride and less turnout for your horse, and as owners, we need to recognise this and change their feed and routine accordingly, as the majority of problems are caused by horses being over-fed and under-worked. Horses evolved having times of plenty and times of hardship, and they developed strategies such as growing thick, water resistant coats to combat the winter months. With our domesticated horses, we are now so quick to rug them, stable them and increase their feed, because we tend to put our human reactions to the winter on to our horses! Of course, you have to treat all horses as individuals, but unless your horse is kept in work, the majority are perfectly fine with ad-lib roughage and a decent mineral block in their stable or field.

                    Diesel at Your Horse Live

                    I had a great time as always at Your Horse Live. I did a talk on desensitising horses to clippers, which is also a very apt topic of conversation at this time of year. I follow a four-step process to convince your horse that the clippers aren’t going to eat him!

                    1. Show the clippers aren’t a predator by leading your horse behind you with the portable clippers (or an electric toothbrush!) in your hand. This has the effect of making the horse feel like he is moving the clippers away from him, and will create curiosity rather than fear.

                    2. Removal of the fear that they will be pounced on. If you keep your clippers still, your horse may think they are a predator that is about to pounce. Therefore, hold them still, away from your horse, and ask them to step forward towards them.

                    3. Teaching your horse to stand still with the clippers running, with the horse in-hand rather than tied up.

                    4. Making contact with the clippers, firstly with them turned off, then with them turned on, all the while your free hand should also be in contact with the horse (again the horse should be in-hand, rather than tied up).

                    As the event took place over Remembrance Sunday, I thought you’d like to see this stunning clip done by the Clippersharp team.

                    I also did three “spook-busting” demonstrations over the weekend with different horses, including dressage rider, Anna Miller’s stunning Ares. I went through the initial methods you need to adopt in order to control a horse that is spooking, before elaborating on the processes I use to actually fix the problem.

                    There are different forms of spooking, and horses have varying levels of education, so you need to have a number of strategies to deal with each situation.

                    If a horse is young or uneducated, my first aim is to keep the horse’s head going in the direction you want to go in, and not worry about what the rest of their body is doing! If my horse spooks, I use one rein to turn him back, which controls the spook, and then the opposite rein to re-establish them on the original track. These two one-rein turns combine to form an “S” shape. Using the S turns correctly will also encourage your horse to gravitate to the outside track. Over time, your horse will want to stay on the outside track, and therefore will be less likely to spook at something on the outside of an arena, which is where most of the “scary monsters” are lurking!

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                        I finished each of my demonstrations with Diesel, who captured the hearts of the crowd by picking up pairs of Toggi socks and caps in his teeth and delivering them to members of the audience! He was so beautifully behaved, I started to wonder what was wrong with him, as he usually makes me look stupid at least a couple of times over the course of the event. I have my Christmas coffee morning on 14 December, so maybe he’ll take out his revenge on me then… Everyone is welcome to come along to see me working with some special guests, and who knows, you may even get a present from Diesel!

                        Jason

                        For all the latest equestrian news and reports, don’t miss Horse & Hound magazine, out every Thursday

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                        I think there is a myth that professional riders don’t get attached to their horses because they are just a number. I can safely say that this theory is 100% untrue, certainly in my case after the past few weeks! We lost Douglas (pictured at Bramham earlier this year) recently and the experience has hit home to me how much I care about each of the horses that I ride. He was a wonderful horse and has left a huge void in the yard.

                        Keeping myself busy has been an important way of getting on, although it’s amazing how doing most things remind me of him because he was such a fundamental part of my day to day life.

                        We’ve been showjumping, which I love and there are some fantastic venues in the BS (British Showjumping) calendar that we have been to recently. Onley Grounds is turning out to be a fantastic competition centre, not only is the main indoor arena a brilliant size, but the canteen and viewing facilities are great — I’m looking forward to going there more this winter. Splash (Drumbilla Metro) finished second in the Foxhunter last week and the others jumped super rounds putting a smile back on my face — horses are such a great tonic sometimes; the ultimate leveller.

                        I felt very privileged to be invited to a Caroline Moore lecture demo as a guinea pig. I’ve known Caroline for a very long time now and she’s a great mate. It was brilliant fun and she is an asset to have on the floor — her training techniques and ideas always seem to be one step ahead of everyone else and her enthusiasm is infectious, which is what sets her apart as a trainer. It was a super fun and informative evening.

                        Taking part in the British Horse Society’s charity race at Newbury last month has been a highlight of 2018 for me. A Flat race over one mile was a wonderful experience. I enjoyed it so much that I’m wondering why I never became a jockey being the right size and with plenty of enthusiasm, but sadly I think I’m a bit too old and chunky these days! It was such a cool experience going behind the scenes in the weighing and changing rooms and getting a feel of what these amazing athletes experience.

                        On Cockney Boy at Newbury

                        Cockney Boy, my ride was travelling really well in second place up until about three furlongs out, but then ran out of steam which was a shame, but I loved every second — even though I’m not the best loser!

                        Article continues below…

                        You might also be interested in:
                        Simon Grieve’s eventing blog: gearing up for the big one

                        Simon has enjoyed some promising results recently as he prepares his horses for their autumn campaigns

                          My mum and dad came to watch which was amazing, and added to that, my partner James made an appearance too, made it a wonderful day with some of my favourite people! Talking of favourite people, fellow event Louise Harwood enjoyed it too, especially as she beat me, but we are trying to come up with our next challenge, so any suggestions are welcome.

                          Amazingly some of the horses are back in work already after their holidays, so I’ll keep you posted about our fun and games in the next few weeks.

                          Simon

                          For all the latest equestrian news and reports, don’t miss Horse & Hound magazine, out every Thursday

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