I can’t believe we are at the end of March already! This year is speeding ahead and we are really beginning to prepare for selection for Rio. I have been out doing a few able bodied competitions to give the horses a bit of ring experience just before we did the Para Winter Championships at Vale View last week – and believe me JP certainly needed it as he was so excited!
It’s strange but everyone asks me which is my top horse – who will I be campaigning for Rio – well it's weird but I really don’t know! JP is a superstar and won at London so has lots of experience and has been there seen it and done it! Sooki is less experienced but really has an old head on young shoulders, so it’s so hard to say which will catch the selectors’ eye!
JP had quite an easy 2015 as I really wanted to bring Sooki up to his level and show her the world a bit more. She qualified for the Para Winter Championships which were held at Vale View on 19th & 20th March. As I wasn’t campaigning JP for these championships he didn’t qualify – however the selectors asked me to take him there and ride HC as they want to see both horses competing. He did really well with a win in the Grade 2 and another highest score! Couldn't be more proud of him still so early in the season. We had an interesting freestyle when technology let me down, going from silence to huge bangs, but still managed 74%+ and 5th overall. Our next outing will be to Belgium at the end of April which is another qualifier for Rio.
Sooki went there last year as one of her first international shows and she coped remarkably well. This time she will have JP for company and they will be competing head to head again!
I will have a quiet time during May, with lots of training with Lisa Hopkins who comes to me 2 or 3 times a week. I will do a few able bodied competitions (hopefully get qualified for the BD “able bodied” National Championships) and then the Para National Champs are in June at Wellington. I am hoping that both horses will be qualified and compete there. The final outing for selection will be at Hartpury Festival of Dressage the first week of July so I guess I will know if I make the team mid July.
Both horses are in great shape and their temperaments and diets are both quite different. JP just has to look at a bucket of feed and he expands! He is quite sensitive in his brain so we keep him on Slim-Chaff and Saracen Cooling Pencils. This keeps his weight under control and his brain! However Sooki is still growing as she is only 7 and when we got her she was quite under developed and weedy so she gets Saracen Show Improver, which keeps her condition on through the Equi-Jewel which is included in the formulation but as it’s so low in cereals it keeps her level headed as well. I need both horses to be bright and alert and willing to work – but for obvious reasons need them to keep any exuberance in check!
Well that’s it for now and I hope you follow my bid for 2nd Olympic Gold, I will keep you all updated with news and how the horses are going in the run up to Rio.
Love Natasha Xx