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

Susan Chappelhow-Lacey – Winter preparation

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It is always difficult when you have plans to ride but the ponies have other ideas. When the rain is pouring, the field is flooding and my mud monsters are diving in the puddles, it is hard to find the motivation. Maybe you could call this water therapy?

My plans for winter 2018 into 2019 didn’t go quite to plan. In October I slipped a disc which put an end to the British Dressage Native Championships and the competitions I had planned to keep him ticking over throughout the winter. Instead Gromit had a wonderful time in the field and was lunged a couple of times a week.

Since Christmas, I have upped the lunging; this is my saving grace as I have a homemade lunge pen from Harris fencing and reclaimed Astroturf.  As a full-time mummy to three children, four years and under, I struggle to ride unless I hire an arena, which is a minimum of a three hour round trip. Juggling these trips in between child care, calf feeding and the rest of life, it can be quite a challenge.

We ventured out to our first unaffiliated competition a few days ago to jump a lovely double clear in the 85cm class, even with our very round tummy. Both Gromit and I seem to be holding onto our installation very well regardless of the workload.

On Sunday 27 January we decided to support Cumbria Horse Trials and participate in one of their Timber Trials, it was the first time we had seen cross country fences this year! Gromit produced a wonderful double clear in a beautiful rhythm, although a little slow.

I had aimed to compete in either the BE Epworth or Oasby (1) at the beginning of March, but I feel that is not going to happen. I don’t think he will be fit enough by then and fitness equals safety in my eyes. The new plan is to aim for either Northallerton (1) or Dalkeith (1) in April. Gromit doesn’t need the jump experience, but he does need a few runs under his belt to help with his fitness levels. April will also see the start of the Royal International Horse Show Working Hunter qualifiers which we are looking forward to tackling.

People often ask me what is the one product I couldn’t do without when looking after horses. My one product isn’t in fact a product, it is the fantastic family and friends I have. I would not have achieved my goals without their help. My secret weapon is Trudi, she always helps me at shows, be it babysitting or grooming or both. Trudi has helped me for over 15 years, so we don’t even need to talk we just know what each other is thinking, which works wonderfully.

Thankfully, the rain has stopped so this is where I leave you and run outside quickly to work the horses before it starts again!