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Tuesday 4th May - Wednesday 5th May, 2021 #SSCup

Guest blog – three week count down

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Small animal vet Nikki Holehouse gives us the latest on how her preparations are going:


So, time is flying by.  Only three weeks to go until the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Grassroots Championships!

Monty is looking fabulously orange now his summer coat is coming through and is gleaming with health.  I have started to write lists of what to pack and am wondering quite where we’re going to put it all in the lorry with three of us and the dog.


Big Atmosphere and Dressage Preparation
Since my blog entry last week we made a weekend trip to the British Dressage Winter Championships at Hartpury College in Gloucestershire.  As we drove along the M4 we imagined what we would feel like in three and a half weeks once we were finally on our way to Badminton – rather excited doesn’t quite describe it!  Getting our minds back on the job in hand I remembered to turn off the M4 and navigate to Hartpury.  We had qualified for the Prelim Championships by winning the Southern Regional Final and also the Novice Area Festival Finals.  I’m guessing I was the only one there thinking it was good preparation for the Grassroots Championships with such a big atmosphere and so many goings on around the arena.  My wonderful trainer, Sara-Jane Lanning was there competing and fortunately free to help us warm up.

I was over the moon with the tests Monty produced.  He can get a bit shell-shocked at big competitions but he felt super confident.  He is not a big moving dressage horse but he makes up for it with his obedience and accuracy and his wonderful try-hard nature.  He ended up fifth in the first round of the Area Festival Finals, only half a mark behind third so easily got through to second rounds in the afternoon in front of a new set of judges.  It was very close and sadly he just missed out on a top ten finish.  Possibly he was a little tired by that point as I wouldn’t normally ask him to do three tests in one day but I think our eventing fitness was very beneficial as he felt like he gave it his all in every test.  He did win a special award for being the highest place Veteran in the class.  I forget he is now 15!

Back home and super focused on Badminton
We had another lesson with Chris Burton today and after a quick warm up in the school we headed out to the jumping field to try and improve our jumping on grass.  Monty is rather more onward-bound in a big grassy field so it was good to get Chris’ thoughts on how I should change my riding to cope with this.  Best news of the day was Chris offering to help us warm-up at Badminton.  It will be great to have his expertise in how to get Monty jumping at his best when my nerves have turned me into a wibbling mess!

Heading to Hambleden
This Friday we head to Hambleden for what is definitely going to be our most challenging BE100 to date.  I have walked the course in previous years and I know it will test us both but I feel we’re ready to make that step up and it will be an excellent pre-Badminton run – whilst secretly hoping for another Mitsubishi Motors Grassroots Regional Final qualification as well.  We haven’t quite made it to Grassroots 2014 but I’ve already got my sights set on 2015!

It’s certainly all systems go
I am now busy planning the final two week countdown to our trip to Badminton in terms of making sure we fit in the final training we need without overdoing it.  My local training venue have just put out a 20x60m grass dressage arena so I am definitely booking in a couple of sessions so we can have a run through of the Grassroots Championships test, plus more show jumping practice with Chris.
Remember to follow me on Twitter (@NHeventing) for all the latest snippets on the orange horse and our journey to Badminton.