If I could summarise the past three months with a song I’d be going for something by Wet Wet Wet, or ‘Why does it always rain on me’ by Travis!! It’s been a difficult winter for any livestock owners, and the land is still feeling the effects, but (yes there’s a ‘but’) it looks like spring is finally in the air.
Eventers have a long off-season, mainly due to the aforementioned weather conditions, so apart from a couple of early cancellation we’re optimistic that the calendar won’t suffer too much. The horses have been back in work since the end of November, and that intervening time period has been of real value to the horses.
Pre-Christmas mainly consists of hacking, gentle hillwork and roadwork to ease them back into the swing of things. Then January and February are vital months which I use to really tackle any weakness in a horse’s armour. For my two up and coming international horses, Imperial Sky (Toby) and Horseware Lukeswell (Bart), we’ve been focusing on different areas.
Toby has been out for jumping training pretty much every week since the New Year. He’s still a spooky horse and regular trips to new venues are great for his mind. During the season, you can overload a young horse by having them out too much and they can get physically exhausted, so this has been the perfect time for regular excursions.
Bart has always been a physically weaker horse than the others. Sitting on him as a four year old you really noticed how narrow he was and what little neck we had to work with. So every winter is about building topline. Being a nervous horse the weight drops off him when he starts going out to events so this quieter time is ideal to achieve maximum muscle building.
We’ve seen gradual progression each winter, but over these past few months this horse has absolutely thrived and could nearly be described as a tank! He’s a year older and I’m always improving my skills in the saddle which helps, but I have to highlight his diet as a major factor in this recent dramatic improvement.
For the past couple of seasons, Bart has been on Horse Care 10 cubes because he’s quite sharp but still needs all the condition he can get. The switch to this feed was a massive help and we started to get a much a better handle on his topline without affecting the temperament.
This winter we introduced Grocare Balancer into the diet as well as the Horsecare 10 and I’m genuinely shocked by how noticeable the result has been. The upshot of a physically stronger horse is that his movement and power have also dramatically increased, mainly because he is now able to properly carry himself.
So it has been a productive winter, and not just for Bart, they’re all in super form as we head into our first event this weekend. Horseware Bushman (George) remains the headline act of the yard and he’ll target his fourth Badminton this spring. He’ll also take in the Nations Cup at Ballindenisk next month so I hope to see many of you out in force cheering on the team on home soil.
2014 promises to be another exciting year, not least of all because Sparks and I are expecting our second child! Let the chaos ensue…..
- Eventing Training
- Sam Watson