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Dear diary,

I need a home. I have decided that it’s high time I moved out and away to pastures new; preferably pastures that I don’t have to share with a cocky cow coloured coblet. I’m serious. I’m done. They have gone too far this time, way too far.

It was bad enough that the miniature mullet-maned menace was put into a sectioned off portion of MY field, eating MY grass and pooing on MY hallowed land. THEN he starts making eyes at all MY ladies — doing the whole “look at my blue eyes and long girlie eyelashes” and whinnying at them like Barry White on helium. Walrus of love? More like the penguin of pathetic-ness.

How can it get worse then this abomination our dearest Hovis, I hear you all sympathetically cry. Well it can readers, it can. Because last Sunday the scruffy short stuff was taken down to the yard, bathed to within an inch of his life using MY special “make your feathers glow so white they can be seen from space” shampoo, scrubbed using MY brushes and chalked up using (you’ve guessed it) MY chalk. Then to add insult to, quite frankly, life-threatening injury, he was loaded onto MY executive transport and taken to a party. And, where was I? In the field. Alone. Looking at piles of his poo.

Before whinny-by-gaslight turned up I was the centre of the equine universe in our household, it was I who was scrubbed within an inch of my life, it was I who was so chalked up it was like the final of Stars In Their Eyes every time I moved and it was I who went to all the parties. Now I am told, we are to share, and I have to play nicely with pocket-sized pain in the posterior. Just so we’re clear, that’s so not going to happen — the first opportunity I get, I’m flicking the furball four counties over. I wouldn’t mind, but the little smug specimen came back with three rosettes and an ego the size of a planet. All he’d had to do for one of them was stand there while mini-mother looked cute; I’d place money the judge was too scared to look under all that hair to actually check whether he was correctly turned out for fear of discovering some long-lost tribe of the Amazon. The only thing thicker than his mane is him. Three rosettes and you’d think he’d solved world hunger; I have been ridden by Geoff Billington and Mary King (SIX times, I hasten to add) and do you catch me going on about it? Nnnoooo.

Mother did try to come and explain herself to me when they got back, but to be honest, I turned my back on her in disgust. Twelve years together and this is the level of traitorous behaviour that I am subjected to. The only thing lower than my opinion of the lot of them, is a snake’s man parts.

Talking of man parts, I saw Cool New Shoes Man on Friday back when the world was still good and I hadn’t been relegated to the B team. I can now report that the hole of Hovis is no more and that my foot is now totally healed up. Back in January I had half my hoof cut off and now you’d never know — and that people, is why I am the Hoverine. CNSM praised my healing powers, my slimline physique, and for his kind words I granted him a lengthy Hovis hug which, bless him, made him turn all red. There was no need to be embarrassed, I tried to assure him, hugging him for longer, but the poor man seemed lost for words.

Mother’s version of events differs, quelle surprise, and seems to revolve around me being a lazy leaning lump who nearly caused her to have to give CNSM mouth to mouth in an attempt to revive him. To be honest, I’m not sure who would be more scarred from that — mother for having to do it, CNSM for having to be on the receiving end or me for having to witness it. Luckily for all of us he is a tad tougher than he looks, so did in fact survive, even if he was breathing heavier than an asthmatic on a fun run. I don’t see the problem personally — I am a mere ¾ tonne of equine muscled magnificence finished off with feathers; if Carlsberg made horses, that’s all I’m saying…

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Anyway, mother tells me that if I continue with my back to work plan and Aunty Em ever figures out how to ride a circle that doesn’t look like an egg, then maybe we could go out to parties all together. Stressage parties. I’m looking forward to that like a horse fly on the hooter…

Life sucks.

Laters,

Hovis

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Anyone that knows me or has read my blogs knows that I’m always 100% honest. My social media isn’t always full of great results but it’s full of real ones and I think that is so important. With social media today, so many people will only show you what they want you to see and that’s usually only the good bits. I personally feel that by being real, I can encourage more people to have a go at showing and let them know that if it doesn’t go well, then they’re not alone.

We took five horses to The Showing Register show last weekend and I had one of the best days out showing that I’ve ever had. Did the horses all go well? No! But I had so many of my friends and family there that it didn’t matter.

Saucy (Broadshard Simplicity) was my first ride of the day and he went beautifully for me in the Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) large riding horse class. I was pulled ninth and moved up to seventh, which I was delighted with. Did I want to win? Of course I did, but I was just pleased to have moved up and that my horse went well. We had another horse in the large riding horses, Archie (Agher Vectra Clover) owned by Sally and Greg Williams (we are pictured top with me on Broadshard Simplicity and Shelley on Archie). They aren’t actually my parents, we just have the same surname. They do however always bring the prosecco! Archie was piloted by my very talented yard manager, Shelley Harrington. As much as I would love to ride two in one class, I’m no liberty rider so I had to pick one. Again, Archie didn’t have the pull we hoped for after last week’s incredible pull of second at Kent County Show, but he also moved up into the ribbons so we were thrilled to both come away with top 10 placings.

Me on Broadshard Simplicity

As we came out of the large riding horses, the championship started as did the Countdown theme tune. We had less than five minutes to get back to the lorry, get Otis (Chriskells Otis) off, tacked up and into the ring. Otis had been worked in before we went into the riding horses, so he headed down and had a quick trot around before going into the small hunter class. In true Otis style, he decided it wasn’t a day for showing and proceeded to act like a circus horse, showing the crowds all his favourite tricks. The photo of his gallop sums up his feelings about showing that day. We very nearly bought a photo of the gallop where you can see me stood in the background, looking furious as Otis launches into the air, because you have to laugh at these things! Of course it’s annoying when you’ve spent all that time and money getting them to the show, but getting annoyed or upset isn’t going to change the results. It should be fun and Otis had a great time! Even Shelley and I did. We had a good laugh in the ring and we got some great photos that we can look back on and laugh. Life is too short to be serious all of the time.

Shelley Harrington on Chriskells Otis – Otis throwing some shapes!

The most disappointing part of the day was missing the in-hand class with my parents’ new three-year-old, ASF About Reward. The classes clashed and as his class went in, I was stood in another ring, waiting for the judge to ride Saucy. It was Vogue’s (ASF About Reward) first show and my parents had driven up from Hampshire to see their new horse strut his stuff, but he still made me feel like I had made lemons into gin that day… maybe that was actually just the gin though. Vogue loaded and unloaded from the lorry several times as we swapped horses around, stood on the lorry all day like a pro and even came off and had a trot around outside the rings. He wasn’t fazed by anything at all so it was easy to brush off the disappointment of missing the class and focus on how amazing he had been at his first ever show. Granted, I doubt I will hear the end of this from my dad as he wasn’t best pleased, but I’m sure he will forgive me when we have our first win together.

ASF About Reward

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We have a busy few weeks coming up with three horses out this weekend and then one day to prepare everything for a week at the Royal International Horse Show. I would love to make the top nine in one of my classes but if I don’t, I’m still going to have a great time. I have plans to meet friends for drinks, do a bit of shopping and I am going to enjoy my week at Hickstead because I have worked hard all year to qualify all these horses. It’s not always the best that win, it’s the ones who take the rough days and refuse to give up that win in the long run. I have previously only ever managed to qualify one horse every year for the Royal International Horse Show, but I worked harder than ever this year and my hard work paid off.

Dan

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If you are one of the lucky ones, during your riding life, you may come across your ‘heart horse’.

What exactly is a heart horse?

A heart horse is the horse you feel you know inside out, and share a mutual love and respect for. A heart horse is the horse that truly understands you. A heart horse is the horse you love and trust unconditionally. The horse you feel understands you like no one else ever could. The ‘being’ that you run to when you are upset, and bury your face in his neck. The horse that loves you back. Your once in a lifetime, one in a million, equine soulmate.

Heart horses may come in every different form imaginable. They could be a five-star eventer, or a 32-year-old miniature Shetland. The form your heart horse may come in is not often what you expect, or what you think you need, but what you TRULY need; whether that is emotionally, or training-wise.

My heart horse? Mine came in the form of Phoebus (pictured throughout). He can be grouchy, bratty, sharp, arrogant, over-confident, and totally randomly despises my poor head girl. He is INCREDIBLY quirky and a very difficult ride. But to me, he is absolutely perfect, quirks, strops, tantrums and all!

Phoebus has this ability to draw out any frustration you may be feeling, and amplify it by infinity! He also has the ability to make me feel on top of the world and burst with pride — all within the same 30 minute ride. He would drive most riders crazy. In fact, a very famous rider had a go on him once, and then handed him back to me within five minutes, refusing to ride him ever again. I have never seen Phoebus puff his chest out more with pride than in this moment.

When I got Phoebus, I wanted a horse to jump big cross-country tracks with and climb the levels of British Eventing. I wanted a horse that was pretty uncomplicated (as I was only about 15/16), and one to have fun with.

After he bolted one too many times with my mum, I was lumped with Phoeb. I think I speak for Phoeb also when I say we pretty much hated each other when we were shoved together.

I had had an absolute saint of a horse before Phoebus, who would help me out over every fence and never stop giving. He would do anything, going above and beyond for absolutely nothing. He wasn’t even a ‘point and kick’ ride, he was more ‘steer vaguely in the direction, let him lock on and just sit there and wait for him to pick the perfect stride and jump it beautifully’ — which he did, every time. This horse was Baloo — perhaps I will write a blog about him in the future, although I could never do him justice! He was beyond words, in every way.

Anyway, back to the point.

After riding Baloo, I was over-confident, cocky, and probably quite arrogant. And do you know what? Phoebus was exactly the same! Phoebus forced me to ride correctly, quietly, and kindly. If I didn’t, I was very quickly deposited on the floor.

It took years to figure each other out, and he still tests me most days; but we managed to climb up to BE intermediate level, and represent the South East in the two-star (new) at the national under-18 championships. Furthermore, we won all the way up to advanced medium BD, qualifying for various championships along the way.

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I seriously would not be the rider that I am today without Phoebus. I would also not be the person I am today without him. He taught me to be resilient, humble (he regularly put us into the lead after dressage and showjumping, only to throw a diva strop on the cross-country, teaching me things can be taken away easily, and not to get cocky), kind, sympathetic, strong-willed, and to always persevere.

But, most of all, he has been my friend, always.

Claire

For all the latest news analysis, competition reports, interviews, features and much more, don’t miss Horse & Hound magazine, on sale every Thursday.

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If you are one of the lucky ones, during your riding life, you may come across your ‘heart horse’.

What exactly is a heart horse?

A heart horse is the horse you feel you know inside out, and share a mutual love and respect for. A heart horse is the horse that truly understands you. A heart horse is the horse you love and trust unconditionally. The horse you feel understands you like no one else ever could. The ‘being’ that you run to when you are upset, and bury your face in his neck. The horse that loves you back. Your once in a lifetime, one in a million, equine soulmate.

Heart horses may come in every different form imaginable. They could be a five-star eventer, or a 32-year-old miniature Shetland. The form your heart horse may come in is not often what you expect, or what you think you need, but what you TRULY need; whether that is emotionally, or training-wise.

My heart horse? Mine came in the form of Phoebus (pictured throughout). He can be grouchy, bratty, sharp, arrogant, over-confident, and totally randomly despises my poor head girl. He is INCREDIBLY quirky and a very difficult ride. But to me, he is absolutely perfect, quirks, strops, tantrums and all!

Phoebus has this ability to draw out any frustration you may be feeling, and amplify it by infinity! He also has the ability to make me feel on top of the world and burst with pride — all within the same 30 minute ride. He would drive most riders crazy. In fact, a very famous rider had a go on him once, and then handed him back to me within five minutes, refusing to ride him ever again. I have never seen Phoebus puff his chest out more with pride than in this moment.

When I got Phoebus, I wanted a horse to jump big cross-country tracks with and climb the levels of British Eventing. I wanted a horse that was pretty uncomplicated (as I was only about 15/16), and one to have fun with.

After he bolted one too many times with my mum, I was lumped with Phoeb. I think I speak for Phoeb also when I say we pretty much hated each other when we were shoved together.

I had had an absolute saint of a horse before Phoebus, who would help me out over every fence and never stop giving. He would do anything, going above and beyond for absolutely nothing. He wasn’t even a ‘point and kick’ ride, he was more ‘steer vaguely in the direction, let him lock on and just sit there and wait for him to pick the perfect stride and jump it beautifully’ — which he did, every time. This horse was Baloo — perhaps I will write a blog about him in the future, although I could never do him justice! He was beyond words, in every way.

Anyway, back to the point.

After riding Baloo, I was over-confident, cocky, and probably quite arrogant. And do you know what? Phoebus was exactly the same! Phoebus forced me to ride correctly, quietly, and kindly. If I didn’t, I was very quickly deposited on the floor.

It took years to figure each other out, and he still tests me most days; but we managed to climb up to BE intermediate level, and represent the South East in the two-star (new) at the national under-18 championships. Furthermore, we won all the way up to advanced medium BD, qualifying for various championships along the way.

Article continues below…

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Credit: EquusPhoto
Claire Drey-Brown’s we need to talk blog: listen to your doctor, and don’t play the hero

Claire explains why she thinks riders need to treat themselves more like their horses when they are injured

Credit: TI Media
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I seriously would not be the rider that I am today without Phoebus. I would also not be the person I am today without him. He taught me to be resilient, humble (he regularly put us into the lead after dressage and showjumping, only to throw a diva strop on the cross-country, teaching me things can be taken away easily, and not to get cocky), kind, sympathetic, strong-willed, and to always persevere.

But, most of all, he has been my friend, always.

Claire

For all the latest news analysis, competition reports, interviews, features and much more, don’t miss Horse & Hound magazine, on sale every Thursday.

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Dear Diary

So, operation fight back #553 is well underway. I have progressed out of my euphemistically titled “bijou outside space” (aka a patch of grass that wouldn’t support an outcast from the rabbit militia for more than half an hour, fenced by electric at a higher voltage than the chair) and back into a proper sized paddock. One which also has an interloper in it, but more on that in a minute…

I’ve progressed from walking about to trot work which I have found VERY exciting. Judging from the amount of “whoa’s” and other less polite adjectives that Aunty Em has been throwing out with more ferocity that a Serena Williams serve, I’m not entirely sure the feeling is mutual. I’m pretty sure a description of “a hormonal raging bull having been fed a diet of blue smarties and Capri Sun for a month” is not supposed to be flattering, but it’s better than pointing out the only thing moving slower than me is a gange smoking sloth. Seriously peoples, women are like so hard to please… I’m also sure Aunty Em never swore the way she can now until she met Mother – the woman is like a hobbling Collins dictionary of expletives.

Whilst we’re on the subject of mother and her less than stellar qualities, I do have to apologise to any of my adoring Hovite Army who may have been subjected to recent facebook pictures of mother’s arse. Admittedly a wide angled lens had to be used, but photographs of a bruised and blackened derriere were plastered across social media with scant regard to the trauma this would cause. I know how hard it will be to erase the image from where it is now burnt into your retinas, but please be brave and try. In the meantime, the helpline has been opened and will remain this way until facebook remove the images under the barrage of complaints…

The mothership remains out of action following her lobotomy or whatever she’s supposed to have had done, so Emily and the boss lady are in soul charge of my care. Mother does hobble down to stand and watch from a distance (apparently she’s contagious and has to stay away from us – either that or she has to be careful of us bumping into her, whichever version you believe). This went down really well tonight (we were coming in due to the storm) when I might have misjudged an open door, fell over my own feet and crashed into the wall. Oh, and rubbed my tail until it resembled an electrocuted afghan. Apparently ignoring mother angrily poking me through the bars like a Gorilla with a twitch and wafting my substantial rear end at the walls of my stable like a Nicki Minaj at a twerking competition causes mother to turn a funny colour and send in Aunty Em with the business end of a brush. Who knew?

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Hovis’ Friday diary: ‘she had little choice but to leg it alongside clinging on to both her underwear and her pride’ Subscribe to Horse & Hound from just £9.99 per month Calls for change in law after dogs chase mare and foal

The black and white bane of my existence was in action tonight in the school having a lesson that seemed to involve him being allowed to leave the ground, which I can’t say I was happy about. The last time I was allowed to jump Donal Trump was just the annoying guy of the American Apprentice and Brexit was the trial name of a breakfast cereal…

The boy blunder did, however, blot his copy book by jettisoning mini-mother out of the front door the day after her seventh birthday. Alas mini-mother is now discovering that while Mother may claim that she and I are the leading lights of her life, she still makes Cruella DeVille look like a vegan animal rights protestor and thus the child was thrown back on the inch high incompetent imbecile without so much as being given time to snort the school sand from her sinuses.

What makes all this worse is that the newly slimmed down pint-sized piebald has been moved into MY field (fenced for his safety) such that we can “get to know each other”. Get to know him? I’m going to flick the furball into the fens. I was supposed to teach mini-mother to ride. It was ME supposed to get to go to pony club camp and do pony club games, not some waist high weirdo with a wild weave. Seriously he has so much mane he looks like Doogle from the magic roundabout after a blow-dry. Why anyone thinks that I’m going to befriend the black and white mini cow in leg warmers I have no idea.

Mother has been heard saying she thinks Stanley will bully me, but that’s probably just the morphine talking – like I’m going to get my ass handed to me by the chubby child. He’d have to stand on a box to even get close…

So, I’m going to plot how to get the hapless hairball out of my field, continue my trot work #fightback and get ready for cantering next week. Any ground tremors felt will not be fracking nor an earthquake but more the waves of excitement as the world watches the return of the Destroyer.

Laters,
Hovis

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After arriving safely back home from Euston Park with the fabulous Fantom, a feeling of deflation set in. It’s not that I assumed we would get our three-star qualification (the endurance gods wouldn’t allow that), more that I felt we had a really good chance and had not made any plans beyond Euston Park.

I now have to re-evaluate and re-make plans for the rest of the season. At first this seems hard as the ultimate plan hasn’t come to fruition, but there are other goals and for me each horse must have a goal, however small it might be. I think endurance riders deal with disappointment in many different ways, mine is to plan ahead and focus on the next goal for each horse, working backwards in detail to arrive in the best possible shape for the desired competition. Sounds a bit like over-thinking doesn’t it? But the strange thing about endurance is that even the setbacks leave you wanting more. It’s a shame about the magpies that appear to have now moved in permanently!

Enough of superstition (I am going to make friends with my magpies); Chiara came back into light work after three weeks of complete rest. I am pleased to say she looks and feels as amazing as always. We have been doing some schooling, which I think she is beginning to find boring as she is behaving very well and her transitions are becoming smoother (downwards as well as upwards!). Training has also commenced with a good canter session around the sand track and some much slower work around the local tracks. I don’t know about anyone else, but I am really suffering with hayfever at the moment and hacking around fields with freshly cut hay is pretty uncomfortable for me. Actually the blue fields (linseed), while picturesque, are the worst!

The blue fields

Chiara has obviously retained her fitness and I am reluctant to do anything much above a walk on the hard ground. Cornwall is usually a rather damp place but at the moment rain is a forgotten feature of the weather.

This weekend, however, I took Chiara to a ride in Dorset, one I hadn’t been to before. Interestingly the ride was named the Piddle Ride, not because it was full of little old ladies with bladder problems, but because it was based in the beautiful Piddle Valley (pictured top). The plan was for Chiara to practise drinking and eating and chilling while travelling and overnighting as well as to do a vetgate practice. I know I was taking a bit of a chance with hard ground but the Dorset rides are usually pretty well covered with vegetation to give a bit of spring.

Travelling was a little better this time and a fair amount of haylage was consumed but Chi completely refused to drink, perhaps because this was only a four-hour journey so half the time of our usual expeditions across the country. I am pleased to say that from the moment we arrived through most of the night (yes I was a bit of an insomniac, checking at regular intervals) Chiara was eating and drinking well.

It was a hot day but luckily the sun wasn’t constantly out so there was some respite and the miles sped past as we flew through the glorious countryside completely on our own (we started first). There were a couple of little challenges on the way in the shape of some over-inquisitive calves hemming us in and evoking a mild panic attack on Chiara’s part, and an especially scary river crossing requiring some determination on my part to get through, spurred on by the knowledge that I would have to wade through leading her if I failed!

Fant at Euston

We came to our vetgate challenge; just my husband and I to get her undressed and pulse to below 65bpm in as quick a time as possible. Well it was hot so it was hard work and we really missed our full crew, but it was a fairly respectable time of just over five minutes which, bearing in mind the geography of the venue wasn’t too bad and more importantly Chiara was fairly relaxed! After completing the second loop we finished and passed the final vetting. To our delight we won a trophy for the fastest presentation time, so all in all it was a pretty successful day.

I should mention that as a 66km ride there are only two loops with a vetgate in-between. At this ride it was refreshing to have the first loop longer than the second one and to cover different parts of the countryside on each loop. This, I know, is logistically more challenging for the ride organiser, but this organising team run a slick operation where everything is possible.

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Back home I am pleased to say that the new loo has been built and is fully functional, no more coffee denial or close encounters with the nettles for me! Of course this is in time for Goonfest and the party goers (hope they don’t mind the odd spider!).

Looking ahead to 2022, it was great to see the number of bids to hold the endurance part of WEG. I suppose it in part shows how popular endurance is as a sport around the world. I still hope that one of the two bids to hold all the disciplines comes off to provide one of the ‘ultimate’ equestrian spectacles.

Annie

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

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It was a boiling hot Saturday afternoon when the Knackered Riders Club set off yet again on another minibreak to our spiritual home of Country Treks in Shropshire (group pictured above). Jonathan is now our designated driver as he is the only one sensible enough to get us there in reasonable time.

My attempt to cover the 100 miles last year took five hours as my old 1980s road map didn’t have the new bypasses and even parts of the motorway network on it. We trundled around the country lanes, seeing different signs for our destination Stottesdon, each strangely saying three and a half miles, and were so frustrated by the time we got there that I promised not to try again.

Me on Layla

Next time we duly set off in Ailsa’s Mini full of hope. This was going to be ok. With her husband’s satnav and a detailed set of instructions, we got there in good time, but had been so busy chatting and being giddy that when we arrived we found she’d forgotten her phone and I’d left my purse behind in my car at home. We obviously managed to overcome the minor hurdles of no money and no means of communication and congratulated ourselves on another great time away. Then, as we were leaving to come home she admitted her eyesight wasn’t too good at night. Darkness was falling and every time anything came towards us, she asked whether we could see what it was. Huge trucks hurtled towards us as she screwed her eyes up desperately trying to focus. Luckily I was in the back and couldn’t see most of the near misses so by the time we got home she too promised not to drive there again.

Ailsa on Lucky

So it fell to Jonathan who has a very smart car indeed. Nothing like my mobile skip which is used to carry two dogs, trays of plants, and muddy boots around the countryside. His is a proper minibreak car, like something out of the Bridget Jones movies. Small, very clean and sporty and, to be honest, a bit low to the ground for my bad back but, once they crane me into the back seat, I’m ok.

We set off on our most recent jaunt, with bags and riding hats packed all around us and more importantly, the clinking of wine bottles stuffed in our riding boots. It’s amazing how a bottle of vino or two helps anaesthetise your aching muscles after a long day in the saddle.

Jonathan on Rolo

It was one of those awfully hot weekends, known as the British summer, when humidity is so high that your clothes stick to you. Jonathan, being a careful type, applied his factor 50 suncream all over his face, which luckily I declined, opting instead for long sleeves and a liberal spray of insect repellent.

We started with a lesson, which was hard work to say the least. How anyone manages those smooth transitions is beyond me. I seemed to be trotting when I should have been walking and by the time I managed to get some speed up I was past the point at which I should have halted. Anyway, my face was red and my jodhpurs were glued to the saddle. I glanced across at Jonathan. Normally we exchange an eyebrows-raised glance at each other, but he was too busy concentrating and his face had turned a ghostly white from the thick covering of sunscreen. I wanted to laugh but stopped myself. At least he was doing the right thing, despite looking like he’d had a fright.

Riding through the trees

A breath of wind got up as we headed out for our ride around Chelmarsh Reservoir the next day. It wasn’t long until the flies arrived, swarms of midges clouded around us as we rode through woods and fields. The horses stamped their feet and swished their tails to no avail. But the worst was yet to come. The dreaded horseflies. I didn’t know they could bite us through our jodhpurs, but by the time we got back, Ailsa and I had enough large lumps on our legs to look like we had measles.

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The Knackered Riders Club: the day I wrecked the garden

Diane takes a trip down memory lane and realises that not a lot has changed when it comes to horses

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No matter what you do, the horseflies just keep coming. Flyspray doesn’t seem to work and over the years I’ve tried different ones as well as home-made recipes with garlic, cold tea and citronella, but nothing repels them. They are truly the rulers of the planet. Indestructible, irrepressible and very annoying.

Oh well, Ailsa’s already booked our next trip and by then the temperature should have dropped. After all, the British summer is usually no more than three fine days and a thunderstorm.

Diane

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

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As I write this, mum and I are trucking home from the Sheepgate premier league show with Apollo and Seramai riding shotgun. It’s baking hot and I’m seriously wishing the lorry had air con! We hosed the horses off before loading them so the wind from the windows could hopefully cool them off a bit.

Sheepgate was a mixed affair. Apollo came third in the Inter II and second in the grand prix, which is amazing! But I prefer winning to coming second, so overall I was disappointed. Getting so tantalisingly close to the top spot is sometimes worse then finishing middle of the pack. Both tests were riddled with small, silly mistakes — we did such as a perfect halt and rein back in the grand prix, followed by a massive spook when the judge moved — typical Apollo! But at 17-years-young he still comes out to every show feeling younger and fitter than the last, allowing me to gain so much experience riding these tests for the future.

Apollo

Princess Seramai, owned by Verity Jenner, showed off her exuberance and joy at being out at her first premier league by performing lovely airs above the ground! While I applaud her enthusiasm, they weren’t 100% necessary and cost us a lot of marks. The feeling she gave me in-between was fantastic though, so the future looks bright for this hot mumma!

A few weeks back I had a glorious photoshoot in the evening sunshine with photographer extraordinaire, Sophie Lefevre. Sophie scaled a major hill (or minor mountain) with Simba and I to get some truly amazing shots overlooking the surrounding countryside. Simba was a total pro, letting me lead him uphill in just a dress and only occasionally stopped for a snack! After Simba’s turn was over, we left Sophie at the top of the hill and hotfooted it home for an outfit change and for me to jump on our resident Lusianto stallion, Universo, to gallop of the hill for some ridden shots. The photos look epic — how Sophie manages to capture them I will never know! Halfway through, she had to capture dogs after Sprout and Tommy broke free from mum walking behind and came charging up the hill to follow me. Check out Sophie’s Facebook page and website to see more of the photos.

On the topic of Simba, let me update you all. Following months of tooth problems, which was of course unavoidable, it really set us back in his training. I still get frustrated when I see videos online of six-year-olds doing advanced medium tests, as I really feel like he is so far behind. But sticking to what I preached about in my previous blog on young horses, I really try to not put a time frame on any of this work. He has so much natural ability, I could ride him all day and his canter is just phenomenal to sit on. We recently took him to his first water treadmill session at New Hatches, which he loved. During his tooth removal, he weighed in at just 400kg. Now a few months later I’m pleased that we’ve got his weight up to 595kg! Slowly building up work and plenty of Baileys feed has done the trick, but he still has a way to go. We had hoped when we got him in early January that we could qualify for the summer novice regionals, but I’m yet to take him out. I am the kind of person who doesn’t like taking them out until I really feel they are ready and I don’t want to compensate his training for the sake of getting him through a test. So for now I will keep him under my training wing and let the others shine in the white boards!

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After a long four-year wait, I was buzzing to have my first sit on Dolce. Having owned him from a few weeks old and spent so long wishing I could ride him while he grew up, it was such a special moment! He is a British-bred Hannoverian by Duke of Capri out of a Pascal mare, so he is related to a few of our other horses. He’s an absolute ‘chunker’, with a good solid leg in each corner. Having been sent away to be professionally backed and then ridden at home for two days by event rider Tom Martin, I pulled on my brave pants and got on. He still lacks adequate brakes and steering, but thanks to our new super manège, they aren’t too much of a concern for me as I feel so safe and secure in the arena. Dolce has such a natural bounce and lift to his paces that I’m really excited for the future with him.

That’s all from me for now as I’m nearly past melting point and we are nearly home.

Until next time, Joanna x

For all the latest news analysis, competition reports, interviews, features and much more, don’t miss Horse & Hound magazine, on sale every Thursday.

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It’s been incredibly busy for us since the end of May. Crossing the Irish Sea was fun as usual on our annual trip to Tattersalls, which has to be right up there as one of my favourite events. The atmosphere is always so welcoming and the facilities are great, which is perfect when you have a young family in tow.

It was the first time we haven’t had anything running at Houghton Hall International Horse Trials the week before Tattersalls for quite a few years, so we thought we’d take advantage of this and leave on the Monday morning, instead of doing the usual drive in the middle of the night. Victoria thought it would also be a good idea to book a cabin on the boat so the kids could rest after the long hike up to Holyhead. But if I’m completely honest, she may as well have bought two tickets to Captain Jack’s soft play area, considering the bunk beds in the cabin turned into a make shift slide and climbing wall.

Unfortunately we had no winners at Tattersalls this time around, but the horses had good, confident runs which left me feeling really positive for the rest of the season. OBOS Colombus surprised me the most, feeling much more rideable and like he’s really starting to understand his job and our partnership together. The Corn Crake finished on a double clear around the CCI3*-L (pictured top competing there last year) and Monbeg Maximus didn’t disappoint in the two-star and finished in the prizes for ninth place.

We had a quick turnaround as soon as we got back in preparation for Bramham and left on Wednesday afternoon with Rapide GII for the CCI4*-S and new ride Comfort for the stallion parade. Niall Fergusson very kindly brought Caunton First Class up to us for the Burghley Young Event Horse qualifier on the Friday afternoon, which she only went on to win despite the testing conditions of torrential downpours that lasted all afternoon. I have to say a huge thank you to Lorna and Sarah at Baileys Horse Feeds who have really helped with the feeding plan of Caunton First Class, which has got her looking in great condition. She’s a fussy eater so we really had to find something suitable for her.

Caunton First Class in her new Bates Victrix saddle winning the Bramham five-year-old Burghley Young Event Horse Class

The rain didn’t stop that night either and continued into the Saturday, leaving the ground on the slippery side, which caused Rapide GII (Pele) to have an uncharacteristic two fences down in the showjumping. As it was obvious luck wasn’t on our side and Pele wasn’t favouring the conditions, it seemed pointless to risk something silly when there is always another day. The most important thing is that the horse remains confident to enable us to build a good partnership together. He’s not going to have my back if I’ve not got his, and some days if they’re not feeling it, you have to respect that when they are usually very good.

Keeping warm at Bramham thanks to Shires Equestrian products performance breeches and team jacket

I’m feeling incredibly lucky to have some super young horses coming through again — it certainly gives you that fire and competitive drive. A couple of years ago I was ready to retire, but there’s nothing more exhilarating than producing a young horse through the levels. I never thought I’d sit on the class of horses like L’Aristo Du Lado or If You Want II again, but it’s now becoming a reality. I’m so very grateful to the people who believe in me and keep supporting me, even when I don’t believe in myself.

Loose schooling at home

Last week we brought the three-year-olds in from the field to start their education under saddle, which I find is always a good time of year to do it. This way they can come in during the day and live out at night. We always start them off with plenty of work on the long lines and laying across them first. I think it’s important that the horse learns to go away from you and walk confidently on the long lines before you do this with a rider on their back. Same goes for jumping them loose too — allow them to find balance and make mistakes on their own and certainly never make a judgement on them within the first two weeks of being in. Young horses need time, and some more than others. They will then have another holiday for the rest of the summer once they’ve learnt to walk, trot and canter with a rider on, before coming back in after Christmas in the New Year as four-year-old.

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It has also just been that very important date in the sporting calendar — the school sports day ‘dad’s race’! Due to the over-competitive nature of this particular race, school decided to change it up a bit and make it the ‘mums and dads’ relay. They even brought out the school nurse for precautionary measures. I am pleased to report our relay team remained victorious. I also learnt according to the wife, that it is okay to shout and cheer on your own child embarrassingly, but not other people’s children that are in the same team. And most importantly to not shout and cheer on my son when running, as he looks over to me instead of concentrating and completely misses at the hurdle.

We have a busy few weeks now getting all the horses running again with three-day events in mind for the back end of the season. I’m also really looking forward to heading to Hickstead at the end of July for the MS Amlin Eventers Grand Prix.

Matt

For all the latest news analysis, competition reports, interviews, features and much more, don’t miss Horse & Hound magazine, on sale every Thursday.

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Dear diary,

I shall start by apologising if any of this doesn’t make sense — the mothership had her back operated on on Monday, and judging by the fact her pupils are large enough to see from the moon, I’m thinking she’s on wwwaaaayyyy better medication than she ever gives me. Selfish wench. Thus, while I may dictate this in perfect Irish English, like the professional what I is, the mind bongles what she will write down…

So, enough about her health dramas, let’s talk about a far more interesting topic — me!

As I told you, on Friday I became one of the first few hundred horses in the UK to have new stem cell treatment for arthritis in my coffin joint on the front foot where I had the mystery mass. I am only the second horse that Herman the German Needle Man has done this on and so he was under masses of pressure, not least because mum has sold her first born into slavery to pay for this, not to mention the news she hasn’t broken to Aunty Emily yet about the new services she has promised the bank manager…

Many people have asked mum why she went down this route instead of the usual steroid route — they have suggested that it’s very new and untried — this is true, but then I am a supporter of the veterinary sciences and am always happy to be a guinea pig.

They have suggested it costs a lot of money and that I’m old — which might be true for 50%, but is blatant ageism on the second count. For the record, if it’s true you’re only as old as the mare you’re snogging then I’m three, which sounded a lot less unsavoury in my head I’ve got to be honest…

They have said it might not work and that it was a waste of money — the truth being it won’t hurt me. Mum’s bank balance yes, but me? No.

Being serious for one moment (only a moment, I promise), but mother sent a lot of time talking to a lot of people about all of this and reached a decision. I don’t respond well to steroids etc so that wasn’t really an option, which only left this or injecting my joint with gel. The gel is still an option if this doesn’t work or give the results we hoped for, but mum needed to know she’d tried this. And as those of you unfortunate enough to have met her will attest — this lady is not for turning. For all she moans, whinges and smacks my bum with a leadrope, I also know I reside firmly at the centre of her universe along with mini-mother, so that’s why we’re here. And if they learn from me having it done and it helps other horses, then so much the better. On a totally unrelated note, mother has been heard enthusiastically encouraging mini-mother to be a vet when she grows up…

Anyway, enough seriousness — let’s talk about mum trying to trot me up instead…

Clearly caught out by Herman’s request to see me run, the mothership had not thought through her wardrobe choice, nor indeed that I am feeling pretty good at the minute. I walked out like a better fed, slightly more ginger-in-the-wrong-light, Kate Moss in legwarmers, dragging mother behind me like a reluctant toddler down the aisles at Chavda with Herman trying to remember to look at my feet and not mother’s escaping air bags. After a brief sashay in walk up and down the drive, the order came to trot and who am I not to obey an order from the man who has fondled more parts of my body than we need ever to talk about in polite company? I sat back on my haunches and launched into the sort of power-house trot that Viagra can only dream of, and promptly flattened mother who had ground to an abrupt halt to rescue her jeans which had taken a sudden downward turn. Apparently, she can’t afford belts now…

Now in my defence, I am blind in my right eye which accounted for the collision, but to be honest I was grateful I am, as I’m pretty sure the entire neighbourhood got an eyeful of her lace knickers as she desperately attempted to stay upright under the onslaught of ¾ of a tonne of equine express engine. Since it was clear I wasn’t stopping for her, jeans half-mast or not, she had little choice but to leg it alongside clinging on to both her underwear and her pride — one with more success than the other…

The upside was that I was a lot more sound than Herman was expecting, which he ascertained in the oh, at least three seconds he focussed on my feet and wasn’t praying to every god there is for mother to remain at least partially clothed…

All of this was good news for me having my treatment, so we went into the barn for phase two of the operations which included him massacring my feathers with a set of clippers and mother getting a grip of herself and her jeans.

What followed was the most serious I have ever seen Herman in all the years I have had a ring side seat to the double act that is him and mother. I was scrubbed within an inch of my life and possibly theirs as well, sent to la-la land and then the stem cells injected into my foot. They are clearly delicate little souls and arrived in their own special container complete with dry ice and disco. Well the dry ice bit anyway — the disco might have been the side effects of the la-la juice…

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Hovis’ Friday diary: mother and I are going to horsepital

Hovis is back, and he is asking for good vibes and comfort carrots

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Three days of box rest followed, which was timed beautifully as it was scorching hot outside, so all my friends were in the barn too and now I’m back out in a little paddock. I’ve got to do 20 minutes walking every day this week, which is falling to the legend that is Aunty Em since she-who-is-a-drug-addict is not allowed to ride for three to four months — although this didn’t stop her charming Aunty Em into springing her from home and bringing her to the yard on Wednesday when she was freed from horsepital to “oversee” operations. And when I say “oversee” I mean “yell a load of instructions to Aunty Em about me carrying my own head” and other such nonsense. The woman sucks the fun out of life like icecream out of a choc-ice…

We shall keep you posted via my Facebook pages, but so far so good, hooves crossed that this works for me and I’m back in action very shortly ready for Your Horse is Alive in November…

Laters,

Hovis

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

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