Over the last four months, we have focused on a tailored training and management programme for each of the horses, and as a result they have all restarted in competition stronger, more relaxed and mentally happier than before.
The horses I ride started lockdown at our stables in the UK – exploring the 60 acres of grassland and tracks we are so lucky to have there. It was great for their brains and their bodies, and as their training progressed, it was clear that they had all benefitted from their enforced break.
At the end of June, I re-located to The Netherlands with a team of eight horses- to be based with Aniek Poels at her impressive stables in Swolgen. We have a fantastic grass arena here and I got the chance to jump all of the horses on grass with my trainer Sean Crooks, before we returned to competition. They were feeling better than ever and I was looking forward to getting back to business.
As the situation with COVID-19 progressed, it became clear in the spring that competitions were going to recommence in central Europe sooner than at home, and we needed to be prepared to participate in July. We set our sights on Peelbergen national show as the first show back since lockdown – which was made even better by being just 15 minutes down the road from our new base out here in the Netherlands.
We used the national show at this wonderful competition centre as a warm up for the horses and I could not have been happier with the way they all came out of lockdown, having benefitted from their enforced break.
We then moved on to a Sentower Park in Belgium for the CSI2* show. Like Peelbergen, the show was run under COVID-19 guidelines, and it was clear that everyone was happy to be back out competing – especially the horses. All of the horses I ride jumped some fantastic rounds, picking up plenty of clear rounds and placings.
So who is the current star of the show? It is hard to single out any one horse, however the amazing eight year old stallion ELTON VAN HET EXELHOF Z (Elvis Ter Putte x Cassini) went into lockdown as a potential star, still with teenage problems in regards to a lack of belief in himself and nervousness in competition which resulted in silly mistakes. As we went back to the competition arena in the Netherlands, we worried that he would have taken a step backwards from the time at home, but in fact it proved quite the opposite: he has come out a shining star ready for the top sport as you will see from the videos below.
The horses returned from their trip last week for a rest before they head back to Peelbergen CSI2* this week, and Riesenbeck CSI2* in August.
As always, thanks go to our team of supporters, investors, owners, hardworking staff and generous sponsors, without whom none of this would be possible – and of course everyone behind the scenes of the shows who has made this much-awaited return to competition possible. I’m very grateful to be back doing what I love – and with a fantastic team of horses!