Whilst we were in lockdown, I continued to strengthen Basil up out hacking, in the school and over jumps so when lockdown started easing he was ready to go out and start to experience the world!
As he strengthened up at home he started to find the ‘fun’ of hacking by showing off his athleticism. I love when they start to develop their own cheeky characters under saddle as I think it shows their confidence under saddle really developing. He’s such a kind soul he never does anything naughty he just likes to occasionally prance about and check that you are definitely focusing! He also continued to develop his funny character in the stable as we learnt that he is definitely not a morning person, after chasing you around the stable whilst mucking out he proceeds to have a daily nap at around 8:30am. After his nap he is a lot more friendly!
As soon as lockdown eased we started taking him to different arenas to school and jump. It took a while for him to realise that he didn’t need to jump onto and off of the lorry and that he could in fact put his hooves on the ramp. He really showed his grown-up attitude in new places, jumping everything and anything that was asked of him and this continued into his first XC school where he really blew me away. He took on all the jumps like a pro, from skinnies to hedges to roll tops. With my young horses, I always lunge them over ditches, into the water, and up and down steps before riding them so the horses have a chance to figure out what to do with their legs without any rider interference. He very quickly figured this out and as soon as I got on he was popping over ditches, up and down steps and having a lot of fun cantering through the water. He is one of the bravest horses I have ever ridden!
As his education continued we decided to start to take him out to some shows. He has been to a couple of BS shows doing the 80m Clear Rounds and also the British Novice. At first, he didn’t quite grasp having to stay in the arena but quickly got the hang of it. Where the jumps are a little small he sometimes doesn’t fully focus and can have a pole down however he is getting better with every outing.
At the end of May I was heading to Houghton International with my top horse in the 3*L so decided to take a few others with me for some of their additional classes. Basil was put on the lorry for the long 5 hour drive up to Norfolk for his first-ever stay away show. Despite the long drive and staying in a tented stable he was full of energy by the time it came to his first competition of the week which was the Nexgen 4yo qualifiers. Having worked him quite hard in the morning he went in the ring and acted like a complete pro. There were flags, banners, marquees, loudspeakers, a crowd and he didn’t even bat an eyelid. He did a great job and managed to finish 4th, just missing out on a qualifying spot by 1 placing. The next day he was a lot quieter and jumped a lovely round in an unaffiliated 90cm competition, and the following day was doing a great job in the arena eventing until he, unfortunately, lost a shoe and so we didn’t complete the course. On the final day my working pupil took him on a hack around the estate to let him relax.
I think educating them about stay away shows this early on is so beneficial for them in later life as it helps them understand that it is just a part of their routine and a different location or stable doesn’t mean they have to worry or stress. He learnt a huge amount from the week and I think he has come back and done a lot of thinking!
On Friday the 18th, we headed to Field House for another Nexgen 4yo qualifier. It was a big class but he really stepped up, took it all in and showed his quality. He came away in the top spot, securing his place at Hickstead for the final in September! We are hugely proud of him and are so excited for his future.
The plan is now to keep him hacking and continuing to develop his jump gently over the summer. He has a few more young horse classes lined up to keep his brain in gear too.
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