The ups and downs of the last few months have been testing the boundaries of my sanity I have to say. As we all know, along with owning horses, come great highs and even greater lows. 2016 was an incredible year maintaining a place in the top ten in all my CDI shows abroad, achieving second place in Samur and Le Mans. However, the greatest high for me was in December, riding my first Grand Prix with INTO THE BLUE (Dynamo) scoring nearly 70% and winning! I cannot express how amazing this felt. However, my journey to get to the top is mighty tough, but we are doing it - come hell or high water.

Dynamo went through the test with a smile on his face and the same went for me. Only a few years ago, at a Premier League show, we were retiring in a medium for not being able to get past the judges hut, which really puts things in to perspective. Such a monumental achievement for us and I know we both felt that it is what we were meant to be doing.

Unfortunately now for the lows and there are many, however, I’m going to spare you some of the details, so as not to totally get you down! 

My husband Robert lost his best Hunter, FIZZ BOMB following one of his best days ever out with the with the Warwickshire. FIZZ BOMB was a horse of a lifetime for him and there was not a hanging gate, hedge, ditch or a 6ft post and rails he couldn't jump. The horse was a complete and utter star and the yard was a very sad place that day. At 19 years old it is not bad going I know, but still so sad.

Louise Bell 2017

If this wasn't bad enough, two weeks later the legend himself, my outstanding working hunter champion of champions ROCKY, was sadly put to sleep at the amazing age of 29. This is the horse that made me, the horse all other competitors feared. His winning record will never be matched. ROCKY was just the kindest sweetest and “strongest” at times, best friend of a horse. The largest of hearts and the one I would tell all my problems. The Valegro of working hunters although retired many years ago.

ROCKY has gone to join his fellow greats up in heaven. You can imagine the loss and the history we had together, he is still with me in spirit and next to my bed, I have a stunning drawing of him by Will Bryer, Master and Huntsman of the Cattistock. So I still see him every day and I will be forever grateful to him for teaching me all he did. Those rides round Hickstead were just brilliant, we were really the King and Queen of Hickstead! I was lucky to have had such a long time with him. His line lives on as his family members are still going and my young horse this year SKYFALL is actually his niece. So ROCKY will never be forgotten! 

Life, just in general for me and many others has been really quite tough, so I've been digging as deep as possible, moving on to the present and looking to the future.

I’ve just returned from Myerscough Premier League where INTO THE BLUE and I were fifth in the Grand Prix. So very, very excited for the season ahead.

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In between all the drama of life, my pupils are doing amazingly well already and they are doing me proud in both working hunters and dressage so keep it up guys.

I love their success and even though I may not do as much showing at the moment, it's just so wonderful to help others gain that much needed knowledge that I discovered pretty much on my own. Everyone needs help and it's great that people realise this. It’s lovely to be teaching more  dressage clients as it’s wonderful to give people my all round experience and to help with horses that are difficult. How easy it is to help the good ones that want to learn.

I am off to teach in Ireland for a few days in April which will be great. Let's hope the weather is too.

I will be off competing all over the place this summer with the boys. I’m hoping ZACK will continue his acceptance and understanding of collecting rings. He has got a lot better thank goodness, winning both recent times out at Medium and Advanced Medium. I hope he will be Small Tour soon. 

At some point, I’m really hoping to find another young star this year too. I do have a wonderful 2yo old, bred by Alan Davies (Carl’s travelling groom and a really good friend) , by Negro out of a Johnson mare. This is very exciting but at least another year before we start backing him.

As you can see, it's been up and down, but I'm still alive and have a roof over my head! So it's all good! 

If 2017 could please become nearly as good as 2016, we will be on the right track!