New columnist Toots Bartlett can’t hide her excitement as she leaves home to move into William Fox-Pitt’s yard near Sturminster Newton, buys a horse without seeing him, and looks ahead to a busy 2022 season.
It was definitely time, but the idea of leaving home and finding a base to begin a professional career within the world of Eventing filled me with excitement – and some trepidation. I wasn’t absolutely sure how to even start the process … until I remembered that William Fox- Pitt has encouraged young riders in the past by
allowing them to be based at his beautiful yard in North Dorset.
A few messages with William (and a visit with my father …) and the adventure of moving began.
What an absolutely life-changing opportunity, to be based alongside one of the worlds’ best Eventers, and with such fantastic facilities – I am honestly still pinching myself!
We moved in the middle of November, originally bringing three horses; Carlos 55 (Charlie), Freestyle R (Freebie) and Extasy SR Z (Gatsby) from home, as well as my wonderful groom Joel Harts and his horse The Rag Lad. Although the move was a long process, it didn’t take long for us all to settle in.
The work begins
We spent the winter basically hiding from the weather – made all too easy here with the amazing indoor barn, horse walker and indoor arena. We brought a few of the horses slowly back into work, allowing them to
develop their muscle and strength correctly after a few months off.
The training has now picked up, and we are trying to get the horses out to British Show jumping (BS) and British Dressage (BD). We have regular training with both William Fox-Pitt and Emma Fisher (GB Young Rider Eventing Coach and Chef d’Equipe) on the jumping side, and Lisa White (FEI International Grand Prix dressage rider and trainer) for the flat work.
A new boy
With the excitement of the event season around the corner I received a call about a fabulous six year old about to go up for sale. I had been saving for a house, but when I heard about him I knew if I didn’t grab him someone else would, so I used my house deposit money and bought Cor Y Taran over the phone, without actually seeing him. He’s the first horse I’ve owned by myself, and he’s worth every penny. He is a superstar in the making and I can‘t wait to get him out eventing and to start his career.
The rest of the team
My top horse for this season, Freebie, produced the second best dressage and a double clear at his first event of the season at Tweseldown in March. The remaining four horses all begin their event season in the next two weeks. C Why, my partner for the last three seasons, is returning to me after a period of rehab and I can’t wait to have him back with us. He is an incredible jumper and we have gone from BE100 (competition
level with a maximum height show jumping of 105cm and cross country of 100cm) to 4* and Championship events (CCI4*-L is for experienced riders with Advanced horses competing at the top of the sport, and who may go on to greater International success at CCI5*-L) in a very short period of time. We also have a very exciting new horse joining our lovely team in the next coming weeks so there is a lot to look forward to. 2022 is looking to be a very exciting year ahead, with a fantastic team of horses and some big goals to try and fulfill!
by Toots Bartlett