At the end of the 2015 season, all of the horses had a month off to wind down and be horses. We got them back in at the beginning of December, except for Strike Smartly (Paddy), who went to stay with Amy Woodhead, for some dressage boarding school/fine tuning!

Paddy scores well in the dressage most of the time, but with the standards getting continually better, and the bar being raised ever higher, we are always looking to find that edge that makes the difference between winning and losing! Amy will help me with test riding, and finding areas in the test where we can squeeze out some more marks, and improve the quality of our work. Paddy will be back next week, which should give me plenty of time to go galloping and jumping. He is 9 this year, and will be starting his advanced career. He won the BE 2* points series last season which was very exciting, culminating in a big cheque, and a big trophy for his owners, Fred and Penny Barker.

We will start the season with the OI at Gatcombe, followed by advanced runs at Weston Park and Belton. The aim for the spring will be the CIC3* at Tattersalls, Ireland. If all goes well, the end of season goal will be Blenheim CCI3*. Paddy’s sidekick, Ballinteskin Cooper, will be heading out on his 2* career. He is 7 this season, so will set off Intermediate at Gatcombe, Weston, Belton, with the the spring goal being the 7 year old 1* at Tattersalls. If all is going to plan, we will find some CIC 2*’s, possibly Barbury and Bicton to qualify for the 7 year old championships at le Lion d’Angers, France.

In the meantime, the horses are training hard on the flat. We have jumping lessons with Roz Morgan booked for this month. Show dates are in the diary, with venues such as Hartpury, Addington and Summerhouse to get the horses some more ring experience, with loud music, flower pots and twinkly lights before the season kicks off. I have had my young horses out hunting this winter. It is a great way to get horses using their brains, and developing confidence across country. We have some big ditch and hedge country, as well as some tricky rails. The ground can get pretty wet, but as long as they can gallop through it, they cope very well, and it gets them used to those days out eventing when the heavens open! We intend to cope better than the other riders with that eventuality!

We received a wonderful Equiform delivery the other day. We have supplements for healthy horses from the inside out, supple joints, glossy coats and good hooves, as well as fabulous external products for healthy skin. I am immensely grateful for Equiforms longstanding support of my team! Their generosity helps me get that ever import edge in competitions. Thank you!