The Road to Badminton Blog 2014 – Getting the Season Underway

The 2014 season has sprung into life, almost as if it never stopped!  I have to be honest and say that I haven’t been this excited about the year ahead before.  Bring on a good Badminton next month and who knows, possibly the World Equestrian Games later in the season…

Wesko feels great.  We have had three starts this year so far- Isleham Open Intermediate, Aldon Open Intermediate then Belton CIC Three Star.  He’s been double clear at all three.  He’s so full of confidence this year that nothing was really getting his attention at the first two OI’s, so Belton couldn’t come soon enough.  Some big testing questions with good going were just what the doctor ordered.  Dash soaked up the track with ease, feeling very sharp indeed.  Unfortunately the same couldn’t be said for our dressage!  He has always been a very consistent performer in this phase, so it came as quite a shock that after a lovely final preparation for our test, that he went in to the competition arena and flipped out (we scored a 56 where a low 40 was the target)!  Belton is quite well known for this; with so many ultra fit horses looking towards bigger competitions round the corner.  By all accounts a great sharpen up.

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Tim & Dash performing their dressage test at Belton Horse Trials 2014

Belton’s display of wellbeing to one side, Dash’s fitness program is a big focus of mine.  Unlike my other Badminton hopeful, Ringwood Skyboy who finished last year at his first four star at Pau, this is Dash’s first.  I really want him performing ‘within himself’, as I know that he’s at his very best when he’s enjoying himself, so fitness is key.  Ben and Lucy Sangster own Manton Estate, which is a racing establishment just outside of Marlborough.  Lucy and Ben are great supporters of Jonelle and myself, being involved in a number of our horses, including ‘The Wesko Syndicate”.   This also means we are incredibly lucky to have access to Manton’s gallops for all our horses year round.  This includes numerous all weather tracks, but with a little charm and bribery the four star horses can work out on the famous grass gallops at Manton.  In my opinion this is the optimum fitness and conditioning option- lucky boys! The video below shows Dash working up these gallops earlier this month.

For Dash, the next three weeks will consist of mainly training and fitness work, with a dressage competition or two and the first two phases at Withington Horse Trials possibly. For me, I need to step up my personal fitness work, keep honing my skills at competitions and at home, plus no falling off roofs, down stairs or off dodgy horses!

T

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