Two big competitions for Team Bartlett, with lessons learned

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New boy Equador MW showed his Aston Martin tendencies but Freebie slowed to miss out on his second International win, says Toots Bartlett

Double clear for Cor Y Taran in the Novice at West Wilts

Another boiling hot month. The ground was still like concrete and all that was left of the grass had officially gone. We have been feeding hay in the fields all summer.
It’s been a slightly quieter month on the Eventing side. Cor Y Taran jumped double clear round West Wilts Novice, and I hope to take him to Osberton to the Six Year Championships at the end of the year. My top horse C Why won his first outing at British Dressage and had his first event in nearly a year at Aston-le-Walls. He and I were very over-excited, as he demonstrated down the centre line and subsequently bounced his way round all three phases. He is such a thrilling horse to ride, if a little unconventional; he has developed his own fan club whose members adore his signature helicopter tail!
In search of better ground, we decided to make the long journey to Scotland and spent the bank holiday at the incredibly beautiful Blair Castle.
We planned the 14-hour drive carefully, plotting a route with service stations where the lorry could stop so we could check the horses. Every stop we made sure their temperature felt good, offered them water and allowed them the chance to get their heads down to prevent the risk of them getting travel sick.
Half way through the journey, we got both the horses off and allowed them to have a walk and a graze in a safe location. To encourage them to drink we placed apples into their water. They both travelled really well and arrived looking in great shape. We made sure we took their temperatures on arrival, and took them for a long walk and graze before allowing them to rest in their stables.
We subsequently had a week of thrills and spills.

Toots and Cor Y Taran at Blair Castle, where after a brilliant dressage of 29.9 he was lying third in a field of 100

A week at Blair Castle
Both horses are new to me this year and it was a big ask for them in their respective classes. Readers will remember that Equador MW was my Fedex parcel in the spring when he arrived from New Zealand. He was in the CCI3*L, and for where we are in our training I was pleased with a good dressage. We then had a fabulous round cross country until we unfortunately parted company in the second water. There were massive crowds, which he will never have seen in New Zealand and he was a little distracted. I also didn’t put his ears on as it was so hot – to my regret now and definitely a lesson learned! However we are both fine and I’m looking forward to getting him out Eventing soon.
Cor Y Taran is the horse I spontaneously bought from a Facebook message without actually having seen him, and he was in his first international FEI event. After a brilliant dressage of 29.9 he was lying third in a field of 100. The large crowds distracted him for the beginning of his showjumping round, leading to the disappointing and uncharacteristic dropping of some poles. But he settled and finished his round really well. Having learned lots in the showjumping he came out and jumped a beautiful clear cross country inside the time.
Competing in a different section of the CCI 1* was my beautiful partner of the last five years, Troy (Candyman Leanorth), with his new jockey Miai. I produced him myself and he is the horse responsible for my selection to the World Class on Youth Team. He has an enormous place in my heart. Miai has followed my guidance and instructions for him beautifully. I am truly delighted that he showed his incredible talent to win. It was hugely rewarding.
Blair was a magnificent event – beautifully organised, incredible views and a great atmosphere. We also attended a drinks party in the castle and a ceilidh – it has definitely become one of our favourite events and we will be adding it to the yearly schedule despite the journey!

Toots and Joel with Equador MW, just before the first trot up in the CCI3*L at Blair Castle

Lessons for next year
With the ground still so firm, and the end of the event season coming ever closer, we are down to three final events for 2022. I’m really looking forward to training hard and going out to try and smash the last month of the season!
I’ve already begun thinking about next year and I feel I might take a different route next year due to the increasing heat and its natural consequences of harder ground. I think I will try to get the Internationals done in the first few months. Potentially, I could then give the horses a two-week holiday mid-summer and bring them back out in the later part of the season. That way I could prevent them running so much on such hard ground. Also most of the overseas events are becoming dressage and showjumping on an artifical surface.

Job available
This month we have to say a very sad goodbye to my wonderful groom Joel Hart, who is off to university. He has been an enormous asset this season and will be greatly missed. He will thankfully return periodically to support and groom, and we are all very grateful to him for his good humour. I have thoroughly enjoyed working with him.
We are consequently looking for a new groom to join the team – get in touch if you think you have Joel’s exacting standards and professional work ethic.

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