Where to begin? I haven’t written in far too long, so I’ll try to catch you all up with our exploits across the pond…..
I guess I last left off with show jumping to go at Luhmuhlen—oops! Let’s give a brief summary since then…
• Missie jumped great at Luhmuhlen and finished on her dressage score. Not too shabby to finish a three-star on a 47. Pity the others did better and that only got us 11th place.
• Ernie had a rail and a very unusual stop. We were all as surprised as each other but not overly concerned as he generally is not one to stop.
• Shanon Kingsley is a rock star and apart from keeping me rolling on the floor with laughter, absolutely loves Ernie and he likes her. She helped me out all weekend and just got the way I do things!!
• General consensus for the weekend of Luhmuhlen was: This is why were spending three and a half months over here.
I travelled back to England from Luhmuhlen in Jules Stillers’ lorry with Ernie and Missie. Sorry Jules, I ate a lot of chips and candy from the cupboard; it was not so well stocked once I had finished. Getting in the lorry cold and wet after a long two weeks of travelling makes Nat a very hungry girl with absolutely no will power.
We finally back got to Maizey Manor, where I was greeted with a huge Welcome Back from Jacks (Jacky Green). It’s been six years since I worked there last and nothing has changed; it was like coming home. Wherever home is for me anyway! The ponies were delighted with the turn-out if not somewhat suspicious of the white tape (electric fencing), and I was especially happy as I could finally turn Ernie out without his cribbing collar on because the top rails and post were all electrified. Awesome!
• Will arrived a week later with Peanut (Reisling de Bussy) and Andy (DHI Colour Candy). They both travelled well. Peanut didn’t lose any of his exuberance on the flight over and was very happy to see humans and other horses.
• After a brief four days to settle in we were off to the London Olympic test event with Andy. We shipped Peanut and Missie out to Aston Farm for Sandy Phillips to work with them and left Ernie at Maizey Manor with strict catching and handling instructions. (He had decided that staying out in the field when Will went to catch him was a much better idea, so it was back to bribery with peppermints when it was time for him to come in. Boy he’s smart!)
• In the brief four days that Will was back in the country, he managed to obtain a car (that resembles a piece of green bubblegum), aptly named Alfie after Will’s obsession with the musical “Wicked,” and a four-horse lorry (aka horse box).
• The Test Event was great. They did an amazing job of fitting everything in Greenwich Park and the facilities and accommodation for the grooms was above par.
• Andy did the best test he could for his current situation; the great thing was the amount of presence he showed in the ring. He was very impressive and with his dressage only just starting to come it was exciting to watch and think of his future!
• On the Olympic test event cross-country, well what can I say, Andy and Will rocked it! Andy’s a funny horse—he doesn’t look all big and fancy standing in his stall, but when he gets out on course he’s amazing. A cross between Scrappy Do (Let me at 'em, let me at 'em) and a true warrior!! He impressed everyone, including Will and myself.
• In show jumping, let's just say the warm-up was great, and then I think someone tried to tell Will the first round was a speed round. Three rails was very disappointing but a very good lesson learnt. Will went into the second round and redeemed himself and finished well with a horse for the future.
Back to Maizey we went, in true British eventing style, with one day before we were off to Barbury Castle Horse Trials. A brief synopsis of this would be what Will and I said at the end of the cross-country, where he and Missie rocked it around a track that was causing a lot of problems. Will – “She was amazing, and THANK GOD this weekend is over!!!” Me – “She looked amazing, and THANK GOD you got one phase right!!!”
I tend to have quite high expectations of Will and am, as I’ve said before, just a “tad” competitive. After a tense and disappointing dressage test and Will, although riding a great round, nearly missing a fence in the show jumping, it was a much needed boost for all of us and a nice way to finish the weekend.
I stayed in England just a couple more days getting everything set up for Will and the students to look after the ponies while I was back in the States. I left with the horsebox ready to go to any event and everything ready for life to carry on without me at Maizey Manor. Ironically, as much as I wanted to come back to the States, I was going to miss the ponies and Will and the crew I was living with in the house.
It is so nice to spend time with Jacky (Green) again. I have to say I learnt more about horse management in the four years I worked for her than I have anywhere else. She is so realistic and all about the horse. Turn-out and keeping it simple is the key. In the time I was there we never had a horse colic nor did we have one tie up (and we did have one mare that, prior to coming to Maizey, had tied up numerous times), and this was all with a number of upper level horses in a lot of work.
So now I’m home at our Gavilan Farm in Hoffman, N.C. I have been meaning to write blogs since I left Luhmuhlen and just haven’t got to it but here it is. Now I’d love to tell you all about the home projects I’ve started on since I got home, the antique painting technique I’m using to refinish my bedroom furniture and the decadent curtains I want to make for my living room… But I won’t! Oh wait, did I just?