The weather forced a change in the yard schedule, says Toots Bartlett, but it was an opportunity to discover how the horses might cope outside the UK
Wooza! What a heatwave! July consisted of many (many…) early starts and late finishes in order to work around the heat. With temperatures rising as high as 38º on the yard, my team and I began our days at 5am in order to be on the first horse by 5.30am. This meant we were usually able to have the whole yard ridden by 11am and out of the sun before the days reached peak temperatures. With very limited shade in our fields we felt it kinder for the horses to remain in the cooler barn, and we attached fans to all of their stables to help. Electrolytes were added to all the horses feeds to help maintain hydration, even if they were on a light exercise day. Whilst making sure we were safe and sensible, we did utilise the heatwave whilst maintaining the horses’ fitness plan, to see how they coped and performed in extreme heat. This was a really good gauge for us to know how they would react when competing abroad. Top tip – for any horses that might not be keen to drink a lot in the heat, cutting up apples and carrot and placing them in the water is a great way to encourage hydration. We also monitored each horses temperature throughout the week.
Only a few events for team TB during July. A trip to Cheshire to the beautiful Somerford Park resulted in Freestyle R producing another double clear at 3* with a fabulous dressage of 26, giving him another chance of an International win. However, the ground was still extremely hard and he is such an exciting prospect now that he is producing such consistent top quality results, I chose to save him for another day and not run to time cross country.
Our New Zealand horse Equador MW had his first event in the 2* and gave me a brilliant clear cross country. He then followed it up by jumping double clear round our first Intermediate together, to finish eighth at Upton House. Lastly, Six year old Cor Y Taran has made the step up to Novice level and in style!
Lippy the clever giant
We have a fabulous four year old in for schooling livery; already standing at 18hh, Lippy is a big friendly giant. He has an exceptional brain and loves to learn. I find it incredibly rewarding riding the younger horses. Small things like doing a whole schooling session without them picking up the wrong canter leads feels like such a big accomplishment, it leaves me with a big smile on my face for the rest of the day!
In other news …
We had a lovely girl from the high school join our team for two days work experience, which is a great way to gain an insight into how each yard is run and just how much work goes on behind the scenes.
In very exciting news (to me!) team TB welcomed a rather special new addition. With the growing number of horses it was time to upgrade the lorry to a 26 ton beast – something I never thought we would have! It is slightly intimidating at the moment, and it will definitely make the narrow lanes of Dorset look even smaller. But I am so excited and so grateful. I am sure I will eventually adapt to sitting so high up! As I write this we are on our way up north to Northumberland to Burgham International horse trials, where we have two horses in the 3* and one in the Novice. Fingers crossed they might have had some more rain then the south!
(Update from Toots on the Burgham results: ‘It wasn’t the best weekend – Equador MW jumped double clear round the 3* showjumping, but I had a fall on Freestyle R early on the cross country course which cost us a third place in the 3*. It was another great run for Taran in the Novice, but no placing!’)