The end of the season allows time for reflection and learning – and a couple of weeks off for the four-legged members of the team, says Toots Bartlett
I am writing with a heavy heart as I hang up my competition boots for 2022, having just completed the last event of my season. It is, however, a great time to look back on the year – to analyse and reflect on the good and the bad from the season. No stand-out results this year as I moved out from Under 21s and the age categories into the professional environment.
However, Freebie and I did lead two big 3* international competitions after dressage. Although we then jumped double clear, we picked up time penalties because of the hard ground. It was a calculated decision – hopefully the right one for the horse’s future, but it was disappointing nevertheless.
I have also been working hard on building my partnership with my incredibly exciting New Zealand boy Equador MW, especially in the cross-country phase. Some consistent and quiet cross-country training has taken place since our last run at Blair Castle, which was rewarded at Osberton with a much more confident run in the CCI3*L.
Cor Y Taran finished another Novice double clear, this time on a 27 Dressage at West Wilts, qualifying him for the Young Horse Championships at Osberton, which was thrilling. Considering he was new to me in the spring and had done very, very little, it is a credit to his talent and his brain that he achieved such a prestigious qualification. He produced a competitive dressage test and a super, confident cross-country round over a very challenging and difficult track in the rain. I was thrilled with him. Sadly he got slightly overwhelmed in the showjumping and had three down, which is unlike him. But there was an enormous atmosphere and, for a young horse, he has achieved so much in a few months. I am super excited about his future.
Taking a break
The incredible excitement of Yasmin Ingham winning the individual Gold Medal at the World Eventing Championships at such a young age (25) has been absolutely inspirational to the whole of British Eventing!
I was on World Class with Yasmin and trained with her and her beautiful horse. Her hugely deserved success has driven my passion to achieve at top level.
My horses will now all have a short, well-deserved holiday of two weeks off in the field, while I have to go to America for a family occasion. I strongly believe in allowing them to have some time off in the fields – a vital part of their season. It allows for any stiffness or muscular soreness to be released. It also allows them to regain a bit of weight after spending the whole year fit, and it gives them time to relax mentally. Finally, it is a reward for them for all the hard work they have given me throughout the year.
While my event season has come to a close, I am very much looking forward to watching the two remaining CCI5* left on the TV – Maryland in the States and Pau over in France – as well as the young horse world championships in a few weeks!