I was invited to participate in the 2018 Home Coaches Day, held at The Unicorn Trust, Stow on the Wold where, with Cosmo du Figuier (Cosmos), we were part of a session with Jenny Hall MRCVS and Vere Phillips that discussed what to look for when purchasing an event horse with the potential to go to top level; when to compromise; and when not to not take a risk. The session looked at the vendor’s and purchaser’s views as well as the vet’s views. It was a good experience for young Cosmos as he had to contend with a lot of people in a small space and I learnt a lot from Jenny’s vet’s perspective and from Vere on not only the suitability of a horse but also how even though at first glance a horse may not have the ‘wow’ factor, with the correct training you can develop such a horse to compete at top level.
I also found the session taken by Chris Bartle FBHS, World Class High Performance Coach, fascinating where, with two groups of riders, he used his philosophy that has proven successful at all levels – concentrating on the riders’ position, balance and in particular their eye level which was always to look towards the next fence or line of fences they were jumping.
We always feel it is very important to have a tailored nutrition plan for every horse that is dependent on work load and the stage they are at in their eventing career. Therefore, we were able to benefit from the advice of Laura Hoey, feed nutritionist from Red Mills, who are continuing to support myself and the horses for another year and who I am so lucky to have behind me.
This is also the time of the year of lots of admin work, to ensure that we are up and running for the start of the event season. MOT test for the lorry, renewal of registrations with British Eventing for myself and horses and – the exciting part – making entries for the upcoming spring season. For Team Bacon, we will start at Oasby with Well Foxed and Cooley Enno in the intermediate. The main spring aim is Belton International in April where Jack will contest the CIC*** with Well Foxed and Cooley Enno in the CIC**.
I had my first show jumping outing of the year at Addington which was so beneficial as it enabled us to dust off a few cobwebs not only for the horses but also the rider! Following on from my trip to Addington, I was lucky enough to take Well Foxed and Last Touch (Jack) for a lesson with show jumping coach Ros Morgan at Wickstead Farm Equestrian Centre. With Well Foxed, we worked on improving his canter into a much more three beat off the ground pace. Being a Thoroughbred, he has a naturally flatter, more open canter which is an asset for the cross country phase but not ideal for the show jumping ring.
With Jack, who tends to get a bit buzzy in the show jumping, we worked on a number of tactics to try to give me a ‘toolkit’ that I can work with to try and keep him more rideable and therefore give him the chance for him to perform at his best.
The two new recruits to Team Bacon that were introduced in the February issue of South East Rider – Bridge of Diamonds and Snap – have settled in very well to their work routine and continue to make pleasing progress, so hopefully it won’t be too long before they are making their British Eventing debuts – exciting times ahead.