It’s now the middle of March and I’ve been home for a week from the Vilamoura Atlantic Tour after 4 weeks of competition during my first leg. I brought the young horses home and I’m about to head back out for the second leg of the tour.
We left back in mid Feb (Valentine’s Day) but before leaving I gave a lovely bouquet of flowers to my wife! I took 6 horses with me, 3 young horses; 5yo grey stallion, Heathrow; 6yo bay mare Alicerova; 6yo Luke 10.
In the competitions the young horses tend to jump Tuesdays to Thursdays and the older horses Thursdays through to Sundays. The older horses were Darya I Nur, a 9yo black mare, 10yo gelding Smirnov and VDL Cassius, 11yo mare. She came to me a year ago and has come on so quickly, going from 1.30m to jumping in World Ranking Classes. I find that I build great relationships with my mares as well as the geldings and stallions – I haven’t found mares to be difficult – they just like to be asked nicely!
It took 3 days to reach the Vilamoura Equestrian Centre in Portugal with 2 evening stop overs. Without exception, all the horses handled the travelling really well and full credit goes to the nutritional support of Saracen Horse Feeds. The Spring Tour is a great learning experience for the young horses, getting them up to speed in good weather rather than cold wet UK weather. We can try out different things as they can compete for a 3 days each week getting lots of experience seeing what works and doesn’t!
It helps to build up their strength and stamina and I was very pleased with the young horses’ performances, Alicerova was placed in the 6yr old Grand Prix and Heathrow jumped a clear round in the 5 year olds.
The older horses were very consistent. Darya I Nur WON the CSI3* 1.45m Longines Ranking. Smirnov jumped 2 great rounds in the 3* Grand Prix and was placed 5th in the World Ranking Class. VDL Cassius was placed in the 1.40m.
So now the young horses are home I have been spending time with them individually, making sure they are happy, fit and healthy getting them into a daily routine. The older horses, along with my groom, Kelly stayed at the Vilamoura Equestrian Centre and I will join them in the next few days and spend another couple of weeks out there. While I have been back here they have been enjoying the great facilities, including an equine spa and a beautiful nature trail to go hacking along!
I am hoping that my 2 top horses, Darya I Nur and Smirnov will make it onto a Nations Cup Team this year – so wish me luck as I head back down to the Sunshine!