I took my young dressage stallion Adonnis to the UK Stallion Expo at The College EC, Keysoe for the weekend of 13th/14th February 2010. In preparation for the Expo I started a diary……
5 days left and I feel terribly disorganised – I know what music we are using, I have a vague floorplan in my head, but we haven’t got the music properly sorted yet, and I haven’t ridden to the canter music – I really hope it kind of fits! Adonnis is feeling great at the moment – he basically had a couple of weeks off with the snow and has come back feeling really strong, soft and loose, and his last outing to Patchetts was a huge success: we won on 71.66% - our PB to date! I got our times tonight, and so have a clearer idea of what is going on. I am getting really excited! I have done quite a lot of research into Adonnis’ bloodlines in the run up to this event, going into more detail than I ever have before and have found out lots of interesting information about his ‘ancestors’!
…… and that was as far as I got with the diary, as things got busy, so the rest of my experiences are as I remember them, rather than a blow by blow account of proceedings!
On the Friday I was supposed to be having a lesson with Emile Faurie, which was cancelled because he had to go to Germany. Disappointing, but a blessing in disguise really, as I was fairly disorganised, and was thankful to have the extra time to try out the music! I also had an appointment with our saddle-fitter, Berry, who was complimentary as always about ‘the boy’ and thrilled with how his saddle was still fitting him perfectly, despite him putting on even more muscle! I finally left the yard at about 5pm – in hindsight this perhaps wasn’t the best move, as it meant I hit the M25 at rush-hour on a Friday night – whoops! I also made the mistake of listening to TomTom, which meant that my journey that should have taken about 1 ½ hrs took well over 2!
When I arrived, I was shown where my stable was, given my wristbands, and invited to ride in the arena if I wanted to. For reasons best known to myself, I neglected to take a wheelbarrow with me, opting instead for a large skip bucket – great, except for the fact that I then had to lug several bales of shavings from my lorry to the stable block – a mistake that I won’t be repeating in future! I let Adonnis settle in to his new surroundings for a while, and was joined by my friend Sophie, who came to help me for the weekend. We then tacked up and I took him to have a ride in the arena, so it wouldn’t be too much of a shock to see the tradestands in the morning. The arena was decorated with flowers and banners, and although he had a little look at them, I was pleasantly surprised with how Adonnis coped with these very ‘strange’ circumstances – if in future he tries to tell me that the haylage wrapper flapping next to the arena at home is quite terrifying, I shall remind him of his former bravery in far scarier surroundings! After a quick trot and canter round we put him back to bed, and settled in for the night ready for an early start.
Saturday, 7.30am and Adonnis is rudely awoken by the arrival of Sophie and myself,
furnished with tack – work before breakfast! The horror! After another uneventful whizz round the arena he was allowed to have his already well-earned meal, although not in peace because the plaiting and faffing had begun! By about 9.30am he was clean and ready, Keith (yard owner and trainer) came up to do the trot up. After some confusion about how we were to get into the arena, leading to some beautiful, white socks now being covered in a film of muddy puddle water, Keith did his bit - I should probably add at this juncture that the last time Adonnis was trotted up was probably for his grading, so I must congratulate Keith on his handling in a testosterone-charged atmosphere! There wasn’t much time between the trot up and ridden section for the young dressage horses, so we had to rush back to the stable, whip his tack on, cover his white bandages with black ones so they didn’t get filthy on the way up, then have a quick warm-up before going into the arena.
My floorplan that we had worked on all week went out the window as not everyone had done music, so nobody was riding to their own music! Instead, I just went in and showed him off in his basic paces with a little bit of sideways to boot. I was so pleased with how well he behaved and coped with lots of people watching him, and we got lots of nice, positive comments from spectators too.
The rest of the day was spent with me going backwards and forwards between the arena and the stables, just to check he was ok – not sure why I was doing that as you could have been forgiven for thinking that he lived there, he was so relaxed! I didn’t really get to see many other stallions in action, which was a shame, but I was impressed with the ones that I did see!
Day 2 followed the same programme as Day 1, the only difference for myself being that Keith had to cry off, as a member of staff had phoned in sick, so I had to trot Adonnis up myself – I am now painfully aware that I really need to get fit!
All in all, we had a positive experience, and it was valuable exposure to different surroundings for my young horse. We were also among the ‘lucky few’ to have footage shown on the Horse and Country TV programme, and it was great to be able to see the stallions that I had missed on the internet too. I am now really looking forward to the PSHP Stallion Parade at Hartpury on 21st March – hope to see you there!