The start of April was still very wet everywhere to create even more events to be cancelled and straining our ability to get our horses out and fit. Talent is aiming towards Badminton in May and we’ve not been able to do much fitness work with him on the gallops. With that being said we decided to help keep his fitness up by taking Talent to the water treadmill for a few days to go on twice a day. Water treadmills are fantastic for overall fitness work, it works all of their muscles all over.
The horses had their monthly visit from Tim Jarman our fantastic physiotherapist. Tim comes to the yard once a month, more if we need an extra horse doing, to give all of our lucky ponies a good once over, helping any aches and pains they have. All horses competing are athletes so they should be treated like athletes, we try and give them all they can to ensure they perform to their very best, and Tim most definitely helps the horses towards that goal.
Next up was Belton Horse Trials, we took Talent in the CIC3*, Altaskin Jack in the CIC2* and Bally Louis in the Novice. Talent did a nice test in the CIC3*, with very little event preparation for this horse, we were very pleased with him. He really needs a few runs especially to settle him in from the winter and gain his focus on the job. He went onto do a foot perfect show jumping round… just like Talent does and onto a lovely cross country round… just a few time penalties to add as Talent was far too excited to be running cross country, James struggled to find the brakes so played it safe.
Altaskin Jack was a superstar, with a rather harshly marked dressage, he came back out to do a fantastic double clear to finish 12th. Jack is a brilliant up and coming horse on our yard and will be aimed towards Bramham CIC3*.
Next up was Kelsall Hill with Talent and Rapide Gii in the AI.
Kelsall was used to establish some brakes with Talent before his Badminton run. He was a very good boy, however still slightly excited. Rapide Gii had a good run out too.
Then it was onto Badminton!!!
The run up to Badminton was not as smooth as one would hope. With the few runs on the British Eventing calendar and our five prep runs turning into two, we were a little apprehensive driving onto Badminton. Another huge factor was not having James’ father and mother along with us, both are owners of Talent and have been a huge part of James’ career. A fortnight before Badminton, James’ father, John, became ill and put into an induced coma so all of the team and family were in shock and greatly worried about John. John finally woke up a week later a couple of days before Badminton. With John recuperating in hospital we were all bombarding him with news and updates. He is on the mend and will be home soon!
On the Tuesday we were on route to Badminton… four hours later Talent, James and I had arrived and entered the Port Culis yard. We love this yard as it is away from all of the hustle and bustle of such a huge event, Talent relaxes more and enjoys a quieter environment.
On the Wednesday we had the trot up at 4.30pm. Talent and James enjoyed a hack around Badminton, getting Talent settled in and seeing what it was all about. We definitely believe Talent knew exactly where he was and was thrilled to be back!
Trot up was passed and it was onto ‘dreaded dressage day’. We were number 50, so it was nice that we had an early morning Friday dressage. We thought it would be nice and quiet early morning on Friday and that Talent may have settled into his work more… maybe not. With his huge character and enthusiastic approach to his work, Talent performed a slightly tense test. However I believe the horse was marked hugely unfair as if a horse does all of his movements correct it shouldn’t be as unrewarding. The judging was a bit up and down also. One judge gave Talent an 8 for a very good change and the other a 4.
However the horrible bit over and done with onto some fun… THE CROSS COUNTRY! Saturday came a lot quicker than expected and it felt like they were in the start box as soon as we had arrived! Off they went. Talent set off with his cheeky face eager to get to each fence, pulling James the whole way!! James and Talent had completed their first CCI4* cross country track!! They sailed over the finish line full of running and looking both very pleased with themselves!
Lucie had a rather tricky job getting him back to the stable yard. He was so excited and full of adrenaline that Rob, our ever faithful right hand man had to take over and Lucie took the buggy!
Lucie and Rob then had their jobs to do in preparing and rejuvenating Talent for the next day of competition and Mr C (Lucie’s father) provided the awesome pizzas and did lots of the heavy lifting and getting drenched washing off! However their job was rather easy as Talent true to form was so full of energy and felt so well. The final trot up was passed and onto the show jumping.
Talent and James warmed up well after a tough cross country course on a very hot day and tacky ground. Watching the pair warm up all of my nerves went away. But they were next up and the nerves came back, seeing them enter the main arena on the final day gave me such butterflies I couldn’t stand to watch!!
Talent as always, with James as his pilot, did a foot perfect clear round and the pair are proud owners of their Badminton completion rosette and plaque. Finishing on a double clear was such an exciting time to be a part of Team Sommerville especially when James and his parents have owned the horse since he was four years old. A lovely surprise also was James winning the best owner rider combination. A fantastic finish to an amazing week.
Until next time make sure you KEEP FEEDING FIBRE-BEET!!