Our fantastic LegUpForTalent sponsored rider, Sophie Spiteri, has been quite busy over these last few weeks training with her horses and taking them to a few outings.

"Well the boys are going well at the moment so I thought it was about time I sent an update over to Hilton herbs HQ:

Last month I went to spend some time with 4* event rider Louise Harwood at her home in Hereford. I took Silmi and Gully along and spent three days being drilled by Louise and it was such a valuable three days!  I came away walking like John Wayne but having learned more than I had ever imagined in just a short time.  With Silmi the focus was on getting him to settle nicely into the contact, and with Gully, the focus was on working in a more collected outline to build strength across his back and neck. Both horses did me proud and I came away feeling positive.

The following weekend, it was time to put everything into practise so I took both boys out to an arena event at Beacons Equestrian in Ammanford. Silmi won the class, closely followed by Gully in 2nd place, so I couldn’t have asked for anything more! This just goes to show that setting aside time for training pays dividends! It’s not always easy for me to train my horses in the middle of a cattle farm in rural west Wales, but I’m very lucky to have access to our 500 acres of farmland for fitness work, but having no arena can mean my flatwork can sometimes get left behind.  The lessons with Louise showed me how important flatwork is for the jumping, and the results speak for themselves.

The following week, we took Silmi out to the last one-day event of the season in Cardiff. We hadn’t managed to do much cross-country practise due to really wet weather and poor ground conditions, so I wasn’t holding out much hope for a placing.  He did a cracking test for 36 penalties, had one pole down in the show jumping and then dug deep to find his ‘inner bog pony’ and aced the cross country in very wet and slippery conditions. Out of a class of 40 we came home with an 8th placing and I was thrilled to bits with him. This time last year, he was still on the racetrack and had no idea what a coloured show jump was, let alone a dressage arena!

Since then, Silmi has been out and about doing various local show jumping and dressage competitions and he is currently leading the winter show jumping leagues in both Aberystwyth and Bailey Farm winter series. Let’s hope he can stay on top throughout the season!  He even won his first dressage test last weekend,  so I hope by the start of next season we can piece it all together and have a successful event season!

Gully has been selected for riding club area dressage trials this weekend, where he will do his 2nd ever Novice dressage test. I hope to improve on last weekend’s score and be a supportive team member to everyone else at the trials. His feet are looking better than ever, with the help of Hoof and Health, and my farrier can’t get over how much they have changed over the last 18 months. I have recently started him on the Multiflex Gold as being 18hh and almost 850kg must take its toll on his joints, and I sometimes find his legs can ‘puff’ up if he’s been standing in. He’s only been on the Multiflex Gold about two weeks but I am yet to see his legs swell up since he has been on it.

I also have a ‘new kid on the block’ who goes by the name of Frankie. He came to me via a friend who had been sent him to re-train from Ed Walker. His racing name is Mikey Ready and is only 3 years old. He has had four racing starts on the flat and is by the world’s highest rated stallion, Frankel. He is one of the first crop of Frankel’s foals and didn’t have the size or scope to follow in his father’s footsteps. He is currently about 15.1hh and has a very small frame but I hope that with some time off over the winter, he will grow and mature into a smart little event horse. Having seen him move in the field, if he doesn’t make an event horse, he certainly has scope to become a dressage horse and there are no plans to sell him for the time being!  He will mature over winter with a couple of in-hand shows but it will mainly be learning about being a horse and enjoying life on a Welsh cattle farm! I took him to a little in-hand show over the weekend where he came 2nd in the purebred class to a horse I had retrained from racing last year and I’m looking forward to getting him out and about next season. Watch this space! "