Triumphs and Tough Decisions for Toots


Toots Bartlett reflects on the highs and hurdles of the 2023 eventing season, with decisions to make about her talented horses’ futures

Toots on Freestyle R, who is to move to pure dressage – she has made the tough decision to sell him

And just like that the 2023 eventing season is over! Perhaps a stranger season then most with the weather effecting a huge part of the spring campaign, but we managed to have a successful last few events.
After a bad fall at Cornbury horse trails we had a few weeks off before Cor Y Taran finished his season with a win at Swalcliffe in Oxfordshire. He went on to jump clear at his first CCI3-S at Bicton last weekend. He’s an incredibly exciting horse! Being only seven and with very little time and experience behind him he coped amazingly in all three phases, and he made the tough cross country course with its long hills and sticky, muddy ground feel very easy. He will now have a very deserved month off out in the field (where he will be joined by my lovely four-year old) for a holiday, allowing tired muscles time to repair and relax. My plan for next year is to get Cor Y Taran to Blenheim for the 8/9yo CCI4 Championship next Autumn – I will make a proper winter plan with both my trainers on how and what we need to do to achieve this goal.

Tough business decisions
Freestyle R has taken a new path recently and we are exploring the route of pure dressage with him – an area he has always specialised and excelled in. I’m having an interesting time learning pure dressage movements such as multiple changes and pirouette work. He achieved a very exciting 70 per cent at an Advanced Medium recently, givingh him the win. He is now training towards Prix St George and he is such a quick learner. Sadly Freestyle is going onto the market – although I am loving learning new tricks on him my focus will always be eventing, and I know he will give someone a huge amount of pleasure and success in pure dressage. Horses like Freestyle – safe, sound, kind, rideable and with a balance of mind and action – are incredibly rare and although I know he can fly in a new career and partnership it will break my heart to say goodbye. I feel this is the first proper ‘business’ decision I have had to make as I try and establish myself and it has not been an easy one!
Charlie has won 11 out of 11 of his recent competitions, whether dressage or combined training, and this little horse has so much talent and scope. He is a stunning horse to look at and is jaw-droppingly beautiful under saddle. He belongs to my sister and he too needs to move on to a new partnership to allow me to bring in some youngsters to produce to event.
It is very hard producing such lovely animals to then sell them, but as I grow older and understand more about building a business, it has slowly become a sad inevitablity.
As the 2023 event season draws to its close I have more time on my hands for more freelance riding. If you have any horses you would like schooled/ jumped or merely exercised please do get in touch. I have had many seasons schooling hunters and improving them as well as youngsters.


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