Category Archives: Sponsored Riders

Will Furlong on a high after debut at the Event Rider Masters

We’re now over half way through the season and the first event at Poplar Park back in March seems like a lifetime ago!

As I write this we are midway across the English Channel, travelling back to the UK having been competing at Haras de Jardy which is just outside of Paris. I live at home on the South Coast of England which makes competing in Europe really accessible and sometimes easier than going around the M25!

Although I have been to Haras de Jardy several times, I was making my debut in the new Event Rider Masters series which is a very exciting proposition for the sport and the French made us feel very welcome. Livingstone soaked up the atmosphere with a PB at 3* scoring 38 which was good enough for 7th amongst multiple Olympic combinations – including Michael Jung! The SJ time was super tight and I felt like I was rushing him a little, resulting in a couple of poles but the track was very technical so I wasn’t overly disappointed, I just need to get out to do a bit of pure show jumping against the clock!

I was a little apprehensive about the XC as it had just about everything that ‘Henry’ (Livingstone) hated; right handed corners, skinny arrowheads etc… As we weren’t super competitive after the show jumping I took him steady to keep him confident – he felt great and we are now ready to crack on into the Autumn!

It’s been a great first half of the season for Collien P 2. She followed up a great result at Houghton – 4th in the CIC3* Nations Cup – by winning the CCI3*u25 at Bramham and taking the u25 British National Championship! It was our first time at this level so although I was hoping to be competitive, I certainly wasn’t expecting to win… I was a little disappointed with her dressage if I’m perfectly honest. We scored 49 which was by no means disastrous but she got a little tense in the main arena and consequently made a couple of silly mistakes. Cross country was a different story though… ‘Tinks’ was absolutely awesome and came home just 2 seconds over the time (I think 3rd or 4th fastest all day) to move up from 7th to being in the lead with a healthy cushion to the rest of the field. She has a rather abnormal show jumping technique and can get quite flat after having galloped the day before so I knew the penalties in hand would be needed! I wasn’t wrong either, we managed to keep hold of top spot… but only just! A couple of fences down and a time penalty meant that it was a little close for comfort but hey ho we manage to get the job done. We now only (!) need another clear at CCI3* level to get qualified for 4* and hopefully after doing the Guinea Pig test at Badminton we can go back to do the real thing!! I’m still looking for some syndicate members to buy into Tinks so that I can keep the ride on her – so if you know anyone interested please get in touch!

The young horses have been going well and 5yo Akina Z won her qualifier at Rackham to gain her qualification for the Young Horse Championships at Osberton at the end of the year. I’ve been doing a bit more teaching recently to keep the business side of things going as I’m sure you are all probably aware – having horses is not cheap!


To keep up to date head over to my Facebook page ‘Will Furlong Eventing’ for more regular updates and posts.

Enjoy the Summer!


We catch up with Will Furlong, after becoming champion at Bramham!

Congratulations on your success at Bramham International Horse Trials! After such a busy weekend becoming the champion of the u25’s CCI3*, what are your plans for the next few days?


I have 6 competitive horses at the moment so will be cracking on with them. We left for Bramham last Tuesday so as we are out competing this weekend, it’s straight back to work with trips to the beach – with the horses! XC schooling and galloping.



During the cross-country phase, you experienced a ‘sticky’ moment at the water, what were your thoughts at that time?

“Holey Moley”,

We were both locked onto the final element, the Duck, so it was just a question of sitting tight and making it happen. Sometimes it’s not all about looking pretty but being effective. Collien ‘Tinks’ dug deep, found a 5th leg from somewhere and off we went.


It must have been a nerve-racking weekend, especially overnight going into the show jumping. Do you have anything special that you wear or do for good luck before you ride?

I’m not a nervous rider but obviously being in the lead at your first CCI3* is a pretty big deal but I had a great support team at Bramham and we managed to keep to our normal routine.  Tinks came out very fresh and flew through the Trot Up which is always a big relief.

I’m quite superstitious and will always touch each top pole on the jumps as I walk the course, once we start warming up I am able to block everything else out.


What is Collien P 2’s favourite phase? Is it also your favourite?


We both love Cross Country. Being a perfectionist I do really enjoy schooling and working the horses on the flat but nothing beats the adrenaline rush you experience galloping around the most amazing parkland.


We know that this is a relatively new relationship. When you first met Collien P 2 about a year ago, was there an instant bond?

I had only had her 2 weeks before we competed at Houghton CCI1* in 2016, so we had very limited time to get to know each other.  In fact, the Cross Country warm up at Houghton was only the second time we’d jumped rustic fences.  She instantly felt brave and bold. She has a fairly unique jumping technic but an amazing brain and always tries her hardest, so rather than change her, I’ve adapted my style slightly to work with her and it seems to be going in the right direction.


Has she got any interesting quirks and what is her stable name?

She’s called Tinkabell or Tinks at home as she’s sweet but also very sassy! She’s not overly keen on you putting rugs on but for everything else she’s as good as gold.


Is there any particular support that Tinks needs nutritionally?   

She isn’t blessed with great feet so she has Hardy Hoof and of course Replenish during the season.


Which Feedmark supplements do you feed to Tinks, and how do they benefit her?

She loves food but as a fit competition horse we give her support with ExtraFlex HA with Rosehips to help with the vergers of competing and the associated fitness that goes with it.

She can also get a little anxious particularly in the dressage if there’s a lot of atmosphere – like at Bramham. So she is routinely on Precision and Focus to provide her with all the necessary proteins, minerals and vitamins without creating too much ‘jollyness’!


What are your best moments as a combination, presumably this weekend may be one of those top moments!?

I would say winning the U25 at Bramham is my biggest achievement and certainly our best moment, just ahead of my Individual and Team Gold at the Young Rider Europeans on Livingstone in 2015. I’ve not ridden a 4* horse but after riding around Ian Starks Course at Bramham I feel Tinks could just be the one!


Together, you look like the perfect partnership, what does the future hold for you as a combination?

Tinks will have a few weeks enjoying the grass but we’ll start planning her autumn campaign, hopefully to include another CCI3* that would see us 4* qualified for 2018. After doing the Badminton Guinea Pig test this year; it would be really amazing to go back to do the real thing in the near future.

May the Luck Continue!

We have been having the most wonderful time here at Castle Hill Stables, with all the horses running their absolute socks off over the last fortnight. In our last 15 runners, only two have finished out of the top 4, and they have all tried their hearts out, allowing us to reach the ‘hot list’ of trainers all this week.

The Doorman was given a couple of days in the field to relax after his wonderful victory at Carlisle, before proceeding to take off with Alice on his return to the gallops. Clearly in good order, the decision was made to take him to Sedgefield (left) to see if he could double up in the Novice hurdle there five days later. His travel companion, Cup Final, was also trying for back for back wins in Novice Chases, but ended up running a very gallant race to take 2nd over a trip that would be well short of his ideal conditions. However, he learned plenty more about jumping bigger obstacles, and there is definitely more to come in this sphere from him.

Back to the Door, after giving all of us and his wonder jockey Richie McLernon a heart attack at the first when he decided to plough through it (luckily his size meant this was not much of an issue!), he was flawless after that, taking up the running at the second last to cruise to another victory by 2 and a half lengths. He was extremely pleased with himself after this, and delighted that it meant more field time! Sadly, all good things must come to an end, and he ran a good 3rd at Hexham last night under a lot of weight to end his winning streak, but was certainly not disgraced. He will have a nice little break now to freshen him up, and a chase campaign may well await him later in the summer – if Alice lets him, he currently seems to be covered in cotton wool!

Call The Cops, Dursey Sound and Hawkhurst have also been picking up prize money over the jumps in the last couple of weeks, and all are progressing nicely and appreciating the better ground.

We then moved back onto the flat at Newcastle, where Rey Loopy (right) was heading back to a nice straight course after looking a little lost last time out around Kempton’s bends – he is, after all, 17hh of lanky three year old legs so we can’t really blame him! He was looking superb in the run up to the race, and his front end had finally caught up with his massive back end, so we were all hopeful of a nice showing from a horse we have always had faith in. A huge, backwards type, his owners have shown great patience with him, and boy did he reward them! Tucked in behind a wall, everyone was hopping around praying for a gap, and when it came a furlong out boy did he fly! Paul Mulrennan cruised up looking supremely confident, and they demolished the field by 3 1/2 eased down lengths. We were over the moon to give the wonderful Daniel Shapiro and David Clifford a first win in their Porima colours, and I think the celebrations could be heard the other side of Newcastle! It was also a first ever win for the Wood family who are in him, so big smiles all round! He has been given a rather hefty 11lb rise, but I would like to think their is still a fair amount of improvement to come from him. He may run at Musselburgh on Friday, but that will be ground dependent.

Once we had all come back down to earth, Daniel and David’s colours were given another airing when worn by Time For Treacle (left, with a very happy Andy!) at Leicester a couple of nights later. She is also owned by John Milner, Marcus Rees and Bob Michealson. Very disappointing on her first outing, when hanging violently left and basically not joining the race even a tiny bit, we weren’t sure what to expect here and she was very much written off by the commentators beforehand, who were very rude about this sweet little filly! Robbie Fitzpatrick, who rides out a lot here, and knows her well, was in the saddle, and he gave her an absolute peach – she jumped well and stayed straight as a die, staying on really well to take 3rd and earning herself an apology from the TV pundits! We were over the moon with her, and on that evidence she should be very capable of picking up a race this year.

Moon Over Rio and Megan Nicholls were up next, and boy did they try their hearts out! Megan gave her a lovely ride, tracking the favourite the whole way round, who was only rated 33lbs higher than our little filly after all… Anyway, our little mare certainly gave him something to think about, mounting a huge challenge in the final furlong to just miss out on the winner’s spot and take 2nd. It was a lovely run from her for the Blue Lion Syndicate, and hopefully we will find her a winnable opportunity soon.

So, as you can see, it’s been pretty good all round here and spirits are high, with a celebratory BBQ in the offering tomorrow night for the hard working staff who have been flat out recently! May the luck continue, and hopefully I will have more good news for you next week!

Until next time,


Annie and Fantom Meet Her Majesty The Queen!

Well, I was right; plans did change!

After Hardy’s ride in Dorset I was so pleased with Dilmun’s fitness that I was happy to continue his preparation for Windsor.  However, on increasing the canter work both in terms of distance and speed, it became apparent that Dilmun was simply not ‘up for it’.  He has never particularly enjoyed monotonous canter work as he has quite a low boredom threshold and this year he was almost resentful of being asked to canter either round and round the cross country course or up and down the beach.  I feel that, even if we had some gallops in Cornwall, he would not enjoy them after the first session.

In the meantime, Fantom’s canter work had been increased to match Dilmun’s and was going really well.  A comparison of heart rates after the same piece of canter work showed Fantom’s recovery rate to be much quicker and his attitude spoke volumes – spooking at jumps, bunny hops and so on.  It was an easy decision to make a substitution and enter Fantom instead of Dilmun to compete at Windsor.

Poor little Chiara had a minor accident, slipping on some concrete and cutting her hock.  Although nothing serious, this wound has taken a long time to heal being almost on the point of the hock but it is now nearly healed over and work has recommenced.  Her next outing will be a 40 kms local ride where I intend to up the speed a little to prepare her for her first 1* in early July.

Dilmun has not been forgotten; indeed he would never let himself be forgotten!  He did another 40 kms ride locally a week ago to consolidate the fitness he had and with the intention of pushing a little faster.  Because it was a competition, he loved it storming around at a much faster speed and finishing with a pulse of 37 beats per minute and proving that his fitness had much improved.  He too will go to a local ride in about three weeks’ time with a view to doing a longer distance to prepare him for 80 kms races later in the season.

Back to Fantom and, wow what a horse!  We duly went off to Royal Windsor to compete in the CEI 1*.  There was a good International entry and we were really looking forward to it.  As we were required by the squad to complete an 80 kms race prior to selection, this was perfect.  However, it meant riding carefully, not too fast and no risky racing finishes.

I had decided previously to ride at around 18 kph at a fairly even pace in order to put in a good solid performance.  The ride went totally to plan completing at just over 18 kph with the fastest presentation times of the day and, to top it off, we came 3rd!

Now for the really good bit: the following day the first five competitors from each class travelled in convoy to the main Royal Windsor showground where we were escorted into the main arena and our prizes were presented to us by HM the Queen and the King of Bahrain!  Fantom, who accompanied me in hand, had been a little fidgety waiting to go into the arena but as soon as he saw the Queen he stood stock still, ears pricked: I was so proud of him.  It was a very emotional occasion but a moment that I will hold dear all my life.

I have had so much support to get to this from my crew: husband Robert, Jo and Andrew Chisholm and crew for the day, Jenny and Bob.  Also Feedmark, my wonderful sponsor, who provided all the amazing supplements to keep Fantom performing to his very best ability and, of course, I owe it all to the amazing horse Fantom is.

Now, back to Cornwall and to the daily task of preparing for the next competition.  Fantom is at rest for a few weeks and Dilmun and Chiara are coming back into full work.  The ancient Wizard is now on holiday for the summer which he seems happy enough about.

Dance updates us on the world of racing.

The beginning of last week saw a huge flurry of activity here at Castle Hill, with the arrival of the Middleham Open Day. We were also very lucky to be entertained over the weekend by a visit from Lynn and Gary from Trojan Horse, as well as Hazel and John Palmer from the Ontoawinner family, which was a huge amount of fun! Poor old Hazel and John then had to go watch Vaux (Henry) run at Redcar on Monday, the same day as the Open Day, where Henry’s tremendous run of bad luck continued when he was almost bought down by a faller during the race. He did very well to keep his feet, and all credit must go to Graham Lee for keeping him safe, and both did very well to run on to finish mid-division. This lad must be due a mountain of good luck soon!

Back to the Open Day, Racing Welfare should be very proud of the show they put on. The yards were rammed, and our very own bar, selling Middleham Beer, was extremely popular! Us horses all behaved beautifully, and I was naturally the receiver of a lot of visitors and compliments! We were also very proud of all our lads, and were sent many compliments after the event on their insightful chats with the guests. Particular thanks must go to Stuart, Chris and Mr Mole (left, Stuart and Mole), who had quite the crowd around them all day! After the stables closed, the local pony club came in and the lads took part in a hugely competitive competition involving running, riding and gymkhana. Whilst we didn’t win, despite my awesome coaching, Madi, Tabs and Stuart did us proud and the whole event was an enormous amount of fun.

It has also been a grand week for Cup Final, who travelled down to Southwell on Friday for his Chase debut, after listening to plenty of advice from yours truly! In an expert piece of placing from Ben (also known as blind luck…), Cup had the perfect race to start in, having only one runner to go against. I think I need one of those! He jumped brilliantly after taking a bit of a leap at the open ditch, and the faster they went the better he got, before giving us all a heart attack round the home bend when he started to come heavily off the bridle. A 3 miler, the 2 miles was a little sharp for him, but his class won out in the end, and after jumping the last in front, he was well on top coming past the finishing post to give himself the perfect start over the bigger obstacles. Richie McLernon was, as ever, superb, and it was fantastic to get another win on the board for JP McManus. It was also a relief for Sam McCullagh (right, with Cup) to finally lead up his first winner, and June was very pleased with her charge who she rides every day at home!

Our other runners have been mixed, with a bit of frustration occurring on some days this week! The ground was too firm for me at Sedgefield, so I looked after myself and came home safely in a perfectly respectful 4th place. You aren’t in this game as long as I have been without knowing when to push and when not too, believe me!! Giant (Giant Redwood) made a silly novicey error and came down on his first run over hurdles, which was irritating as he is a quite brilliant jumper at home. However, I am sure he will learn from it and engage the landing gear next time! Wibble (Man Of La Mancha) jumped his jockey out the saddle on Sunday at Wetherby, before proceeding to pop over a chase fence – clearly he thinks hurdles are beneath him! George (Epeius) ran a decent race first time back on the grass at Thirsk, with everything happening a bit quickly for him in the early stages back on fast ground over 6 furlongs, but stayed on well to take 5th.

Until next time,


First competitions of the season.

Well, our first squad assessment with horses has now been and gone.  It was, as usual, a considerable drive away for us which I guess is the penalty for living in such a wonderful and usually quiet part of the World.  This was in Milton Keynes at a riding stables and livery yard where I could stable Fantom overnight.  It was a slightly anxious drive up there as our old Shogun was beginning to tire of pulling our massive Equi-trek and started making rather unpleasant smells.  However we made it without incident and settled Fantom into his stable and went to find our hotel in Milton Keynes.

The following day was the assessment in the indoor school.  As most of the horses weren’t yet in work or had just come back into work, this was mostly in hand with a short ridden assessment just in walk and trot.  Fantom’s behaviour in hand left something to be desired.  Since his 3* qualifier last year he has been a little ‘difficult’ to handle at times: strutting around, galloping here and there in his field and inclined to leap and push when being brought in from the field.  He did, I’m afraid, demonstrate a little of this when being led up and down for the squad management team.  Since then we have been trotting up and down the road in hand, changing the side to lead him from.

Meanwhile Chiara’s final preparations for the first ride of the season were completed and consisted of some pole work in the school to gain her attention and some long slow work around the lanes.  The first ride was local to us, only half an hour away so without getting up too early, we could arrive early at the venue.  This was at the Royal Cornwall Showground, the site of Chiara’s first ever competition last year.  Last year we had problems with keeping her calm for the vetting inside the big livestock shed and her pulses were quite high.  This year, however, she stood quietly for almost the full minute of pulse taking both at the beginning and the end.  She has since then been on Steady Up Advance which seems to have made a difference.

The ride went smoothly with Chiara relaxing into a regular, rhythmic canter on the forest tracks and settling into a fairly reasonable trot where canter wasn’t possible.  All in all, a huge improvement was seen since last year and she finished the day with a grade 1.

Next up was Dilmun.  He has been prepared for his first competition of the season by beach work, lunging, even some detested schooling and trotting over poles.   Yesterday we went up to Dorset to do the Hardy’s ride.  I entered for the 43 kms distance as I felt that was the minimum we needed to do to assess whether Dilmun will be ready in 5 weeks to compete at Royal Windsor.

We were so lucky with the weather, a bright sunny day with a slight breeze.  There was no mud which pleased both of us and, although we had to take care on some stony stretches, the going was generally perfect with seemingly endless stretches of grass to canter over.  Both Dilmun and I loved it and he felt as fresh at the finish as he was at the start.  I am now happy to enter him for Windsor although there is plenty of work to be done before then.

My own fitness at last has taken a turn for the better and my efforts are beginning to pay off.  I am doing plenty of Pilates exercises, paying attention to my legs and core and have started jogging again.

Plans for the next couple of months are still a little fluid with Dilmun planned to go to Windsor for the 1*, Fantom to Euston Park also for a 1* and Chiara’s first FEI competition at King’s Forest.  However, this could all change as this year everything has to revolve around Fantom and his chances of team selection.

The season has started!

It’s been a long time in coming, but the 2017 endurance season has officially started. I can’t tell you how good it felt to finish an 80km ride with Elayla; no matter how many amazing horses I ride, there is no better feeling to riding your own.


I think Tilford took us all by surprise this year; the persistent rain meant that the going became very difficult in places and we had to make the speed up where the ground allowed. Despite this we had great fun, and it was the perfect ride to start Layla’s season and to finish with a grade one was the icing on the cake.


The first ride of the year can also be a bit nerve-wracking because horses can change over the winter and it’s the first true test of any minor adjustments you have made over the off season. For us the biggest change was Layla’s feeding regime and I’m really pleased to say she has thrived on it, and I can only thank the team’ at Baileys and Feedmark for ensuring she has the best diet for her job. I’m really impressed with the Stamina and Endurance supplement, it is the first time I have fed it to any of my horses and it definitely ‘does what it says on the tin’ – providing slow release energy and proteins for optimum performance, and also aiding the horses’ main systems to ensure they are in the best condition.


The recovery of horses post ride, is just as important as their care pre ride and because Tilford was more difficult than I had first thought, I booked Layla in for a last minute massage two days after the ride. This was the perfect way to help her muscles recover, by ensuring she didn’t suffer from any particular muscle tightness. She also enjoyed some time out in the field, which is a great way of keeping her mind going whilst she’s not in work and also to keep her moving.


Layla has since come back into work and is looking onwards and upwards to our next competition at Kings Forest in April. Her 2017 season will be tailored towards her condition and performance for the World Endurance Championships for young riders in Verona, Italy in September. This ride will be different to anything we currently have in the UK, due to the nature of the hard, stony tracks and cobbled roads, and so its paramount that I condition the mares’ body to be able to cope with the demands of the going and the concussion that her legs will receive.

Victory for Gorgeous George!

Good evening!

I hope you all hugely enjoyed watching the Cheltenham Festival, what a feast for the eyes it proved to be! I very unfortunately didn’t manage to get my tips up last week, but naturally knew that Buveur D’Air, Special Tiara, Nichols Canyon and Sizing John were the way forward! There is nothing more endlessly thrilling than watching those wonderful battles up that hill, and it was fantastic to see our owner JP McManus have such a brilliant week with his horses, who were in sparkling form. Giant Redwood was particularly awestruck by the performance of Premier Bond, who shares his MPR colours, who defied his inexperience to run a fantastic third in the Kim Muir and looks a real horse to watch out for in the future – Giant now has his game face on and is determined to get to the Festival next year! He has a long way to go, but at this stage (not yet run due to waiting for decent ground) the dream is still very much alive!
Whilst the cheers were ringing around Cheltenham, our own team were making a hell of a noise up at Newcastle racecourse on Wednesday night, where Percy (Prancing Oscar) (left) and George (Epeius) did well not to break the lorry under their combined weight on the way there! First up was Percy, one of the most handsome (according to the fillies) colts around, who was going for his second start in a mile maiden. Looking at the runners, we would have been very happy with 3rd or 4th, as he is a big clown who is still growing into himself, so we were absolutely over the moon with him when he ran on well into 2nd. Though well beaten by an experienced winner, the rest of the field was well strung out behind him and the experience will have done him loads of good. Hopefully, he is a horse who will have a nice future for us and his MPR owners, though I am ordering a DNA test as he is supposedly by sprint sire of forward two year old’s Sir Prancealot, yet a step up in trip may be in order for this quite backwards three year old.

The last race of the day saw Gorgeous George (right) stepping up to the plate, and he looked as typically stunning as ever. We have worked on him hard over the winter after all his near misses last year, finding lots of little niggles that may have been holding him back, so we were hopeful of a good run as we now felt we were on top of them. He nearly had Graham Lee over his head on the way to the  start, which we took as a good sign! He travelled nicely throughout the 6 furlong sprint, and a furlong out I was worrying we might be filling 2nd or 3rd spot yet again! Luckily, Graham is the master of his trade and knew all was well, unleashing him in the last half furlong to run out a cosy winner by 1/2 length. I cannot tell you how much this victory meant to us all – he is a horse that Ben has always liked and it has been quite frustrating for us and his owners Trojan Horse so far, with all of us scratching our heads a little as to how he hadn’t won yet. However, I must thank Lynn and Gary for their faith and patience with us, and we were over the moon to be able to provide them with a first winner in their colours. Hopefully, George has a bit more to offer this season and will keep us all crying for the right reasons!

With any luck Newcastle will continue to be a happy hunting ground for us as we head back there on Friday night, possibly with Loopy (Rey Loopy) and Percy in tow. Loopy is very fresh and well at home, and we are hopeful he will put in a nice show in the 7 furlong handicap, having hopefully learned plenty from his last experience there when he finished a green 4th a couple of weeks ago, only just getting rolling at the end. Percy may go for a mile maiden, but we will monitor how he is this week, though he was giving his rider plenty of jip this morning so looks fresh and well after his run!

Saturday may see our newest arrival, Cup Final, heading to Kelso. We were delighted to be sent this really classy horse, who runs in the JP colours, and he has settled in nicely at home. We don’t know an awful lot about him yet, other than he finds the work easy, so will be looking forward to learning a bit more at the weekend. Door (The Doorman) will be joining him, and hopefully we will do a George and change the seconds into a first, as will Hawk (Hawkhurst), who we hope is steadily improving.

We were really sad this week to say goodbye to Nicola, who has been a hugely important part of the team here for the last year or so. Unfortunately, we were rather keeping her from her family, with racing hours and young children not being very compatible, so it was with a huge amount of reluctance we agreed to let her return to them! At least George, who she has always looked after and cherished, rewarded her with a win before she left, and I am sure she will still be up to visit plenty! We had a good joint leaving do/celebrating George party on Saturday night, and the whole team definitely enjoyed the evening, though possibly the Sunday morning less so! Silly me forgot the camera, but here is a gratuitous photo of the whole team on parade (left), ironically excluding Nicola to whom I apologise! The horses have someone new to get used to now, as we were very pleased to welcome Chris to the yard a couple of weeks ago, and he is already proving a great asset.

Until next time






The First Outing of the Endurance Season 2017.

The horses’ work is continuing to be full on with Dilmun and Fantom having now completed four weeks’ steady walking work building up to 1.5 hours per day, Chiara alternating between schooling, lunging and groundwork sessions and faster training sessions and Wizard ticking over being ridden approximately three times a week.

There is, however, light at the end of the tunnel as ‘the boys’ move into the next phase.  They are still being exercised by riding and leading for the most part but now I will introduce short spells of trot work and mini schooling sessions.  It is, however, important to not trot for more than five minutes on the road in a session to avoid unnecessary and unproductive concussion but rather to introduce the trotting on more giving surfaces.

Chiara’s schooling in walk and trot, transitions, leg yielding and turns on and around the forehand appears to have improved immensely and is almost established.  Reining back on command is also coming on well and should be good enough to try on gate opening which, after all, is the main reason for teaching it.  Longer training sessions are, however, still a little problematical as once Chi has been somewhere she reckons she knows it and the next time she needs to go as fast as possible, throwing caution to the wind.  There is not an infinite amount of variety in our routes so some kind of compromise must be reached.

The first outing of the endurance season was all for Wizard; the much-promised pleasure ride around the beautiful Colquite estate and along the Camel trail.  This was only about half an hour away as we are so lucky in Cornwall to have such a variety of different types of ride.  This one is mostly woodland, tracks and a little farmland.  Although at this time of year it was pretty muddy, Wizard didn’t mind this one bit and tackled the whole thing with his customary enthusiasm.  I hope I will be able to get him to another one later in the year but with the packed programme involving the other three, I can’t promise him that.

To do my bit to assist my horses by making sure I am riding straight and in balance, I booked myself a session on a mechanical horse with a lesson by Felicity Mann BHSI who also practices the Alexander Technique.  Although I had an hour and a half drive to Felicity’s immaculate yard, it was well worth it with slight but important adjustments being made to my position whilst riding ‘Eric’ the mechanical horse, in all three paces.  I now feel much more confident of my ability to remain in a central position and to make any small adjustments needed to ensure that I am as ‘in tune’ with the horses as possible.

A couple of weeks ago we had our first International squad session.  This was a get together without the horses where we listened to our Chef and the Management Team and gleaned much information on training methods, prohibited substances, for both horse and humans; shoeing and physio as well as exercises to improve rider fitness.

All four of my horses look so well at the moment and are clearly feeling extremely full of joie de vivre.  Thanks in part must go to Feedmark for the wonderful supplements.  Dilmun and Chiara are on Hardy Hoof as they are prone to soft feet, especially with all the mud at the moment.  Their feet are now rock hard and they seem able to just float over the stony tracks much of their work is done on.  I am thinking that maybe Fantom, although usually with iron hard hooves, could probably do with some as the mud has definitely made his soles softer and his frogs more prone to thrush.  Dilmun and Wizard, as they spend a lot of time inside, have Clarity to help keep their airways clear and this is working so well for them, not a cough or sniffle between them.

This weekend Fantom and I are off to our first squad assessment; all the way to Milton Keynes.  Fingers crossed everything goes well!

Find Out How Will Furlong is Preparing for the New Eventing Season.

2017 is alive and kicking! 2016 proved to be an extremely successful year for me and my team;
with another 3 international wins at Houghton, Hartpury and Aldon, alongside many national wins as well. I’m very excited to have been re-selected onto the World Class Podium Potential Programme – which will hopefully put me on the right track to help achieve my dreams of representing and winning medals for Team GB on the senior stage. As always with horses, things weren’t plain sailing! We had the disappointment of the YR Europeans with Livingstone II picking up a foot abscess after dressage amongst other little annoyances. Horses are great levellers – which apparently is why it’s such a special sport.

All the horses have wintered really well and have been looking amazing despite the pretty miserable recent weather. I’m not really a huge fan of ‘holidays’ for horses, so they have been kept ticking over gently whilst doing their strengthening work walking through the water at the beach. It’s important they get their ‘down-time’ in order to refresh but equally with spending all that time, effort and money into getting them into shape, it seems rather a waste to completely let them all down. They all feel great for it and we had two winners at our first outing of 2017 at Felbridge Combined Training. Annmichelle Norris’ Adele 97 has developed a huge amount over the winter with help from my physio Steph Brighton and has come out on winning form, whilst Collien P 2 has kept up her impressive form from last year! There will be many more training outings before we start on the second weekend of March at Poplar Park. It’s my first year out of Young Riders and in the ‘big-wide world’ of seniors and I’m very excited for that challenge. Many people in the past have said how hard the transition is but I believe that it’s my responsibility to try and stand out from the crowd and be noticed. Obviously I’m not aiming for Senior Europeans this year but I’m hoping to be selected to represent Great Britain within a Nations Cup squad. This will be a good stepping stone along the way to hopefully be in the selection process come Tokyo 2020. It seems an awful long away now, but it’ll come around much faster than we all think!