Over the past month things have got really busy at Bert Bolton Eventing, I’ve had several new horses arrive, which is always exciting; my apprentice Lillie has started work and is turning out to be as good as I’d hoped she would be – she’s keen and quick to learn and we’re feeling like a proper team already; I’ve been out eventing, show jumping, cross country schooling, training with the Excel Talent Squad and actually had a weekend off as well!
To continue the theme of last month’s column, I’ll introduce one of the other horses that I’ve been competing this season as well as one of the new arrivals:
Davishill aka Kenny is a 6-year-old gelding by Nigrasine, he’s stunning to look at and has enormous potential, but is one to take slowly as he has needed some time to let things settle in his little brain this season, after a busy couple of years as a 4 and 5-year-old.
I am very excited about his long term future, as I believe he could be a horse to go “all the way” once he starts believing in himself, but whilst he excites me and often amazes me with his talent and scope, he also frustrates me regularly – he is definitely not Mr Reliable just yet, but we’re taking it at his pace, so watch this space next season.
Kenny is owned by first-time event horse owners Jo and Alison – they’re old family friends and had their first experience of eventing when they came to watch me at Chatsworth and Bramham last year. Despite not being experienced with horses, or eventing, they loved the atmosphere and wanted to be involved, so when the opportunity to buy Kenny arose, they jumped at the chance.
It’s brilliant to have them at events, they’re enjoying getting to know their horse, are getting more ‘hands on’ and they’re incredibly supportive too. Alison has played a lot of golf and totally understands the frustration and pressure that competitive sport can bring, as well as the euphoric highs of a good day.
The other introduction this month is my latest project, Midnight Thomas, an ex-racehorse, who last raced in March, which I have bought from his breeder after a friend recommended me to him.
Thomas is a compact bright bay gelding who reminds me so much of my other ex-racehorse, the wonderful Rupert (Purple Sands) – he is clever, sharp, funny, talented and just makes me smile whenever I ride him. He and Rupert are stabled next to each other and whilst they’re not identical, they are so similar even I do a double take sometimes when I see a bay TB looking over the door!
Although Thomas had already had some re-schooling he is still very green, I thought it might be interesting to share a little about what I do with him, as I know that ex-racehorses are hugely popular so maybe it’ll be useful to share his progress and what I find works and what doesn’t.
So far we are doing a lot of his basic schooling whilst out hacking, so that he doesn’t get stale in the school and to help keep him relaxed, he’s flexing and leg yielding a lot, learning to work on the bit and in due course he’ll go in the school more often, but at the minute I restrict this to no more than a couple of times a week.
Rupert seems much taller than he did when I first got him, he is strong, supple and has great musculature because he is properly connected over his back – what I’m doing with Thomas, is the beginning of this process to build and strengthen him. It’ll be interesting to look at photos of Thomas over the coming months to see how he changes.
Because he’s seven and only last raced in March he’s fit and strong, so ready to crack on, I took him cross country schooling last week and he thought it was brilliant fun! I wish I’d had someone with me to take photos, he was really cool and it was a great introduction to his new job.
It’s hard to know what to bring to this column, whether to share what I’ve been doing and how I feel about it, or to offer exercises and tips to others, perhaps with some humour and a few nice photos thrown in. Maybe I should be asking what you’d like to read about? In future columns we could feature, for example:
A day in the life of ….. me Schooling exercises with my ex-racer/my 3* horse/something in between Working through challenging schooling issues Event reports and general chit chat