Adelaide and I are in the UK and loving it!
When you plan a trip overseas with a horse and you’ve never been before it can be very daunting. I was extremely lucky that I had many people to be able to call and discuss my plans with. Travelling horses around the world is not easy and I made the most of the people that had way more experience than me. The new Australian Chef d Equipe Stuart Tinney and Shane Rose have travelled a lot recently with multiple horses and produced good results.
The main things to take into consideration are the change of seasons and being aware that the horses can hit a flat spot around the 6 -8 week mark. The longer you’re away from home means more things can go wrong. The other biggest change is feed. I researched feed and spoke with my Sponsors at Sydney Equestrian Supplies and Robanks Feeds to guarantee that theses changes would be minimal. I was also grateful that I was able to bring all of Adelaide’s regular supplements on the plane with me. So, the main difference for Adelaide in his feed is, in Australia Adelaide has good quality Lucerne hay and here in the UK he has haylage. Haylage is very interesting and looks like a very boring grass hay. It probably took Adelaide about 48 hours to realise this was his new hay and he’s now loving it.
Normally at home Adelaide is fed his hay on the ground but here due to him being stabled 24/7 he is fed his haylage in a slow feeder hay net. This is generally topped up morning and night. I love the the fact he can munch on his haylage all day long. But the biggest change for Adelaide is the fact he has grass. With NSW and many other places around Australia in drought it was hard to remember what grass looked like. Adelaide looks forward to his hand grazing twice a day with great enthusiasm. He usually has 30 mins morning and night. You just have to watch for the very pesky and biting horse flies but even they don’t seem to deter him for his grass time. These flies can really upset some horses and they will start to run around the fields (paddocks) until you bring them back into the stables. They can be best described as our March flies.
In just a week Adelaide has regained the condition he lost on the plane ride and his coat has a great shine and healthy feel. Adelaide doesn’t really grow a winter coat (must be the Oberon upbringing at the Turners Winton Park in his younger days) but I can tell his summer coat is just around the corner thanks to the extra long daylight hours we are having here in the UK. Obviously, this is another consideration with the change of hemisphere and at least going from an Aussie winter to a UK summer should take less out of Adelaide compared to going from summer into winter as growing a winter coat takes more energy.
Work wise Adelaide had the day off after his arrival. He ate well and was drinking, just not the same amount he would drink at home. In his stable here he has an automatic waterer. I don’t have these at home as I want to know exactly how much each horse drinks every day. So here I’ve added a tub trug with water so he has both options. I can tell he’s drinking his usual amount again by how much wet shavings I’m removing from his stable morning and night, my staff will understand where I’m coming from. Adelaide drinks more water than any other horse I’ve ever owned. Which is great as I’m pretty sure he’s never dehydrated but my shavings bill is always astronomical. Which is not great when you’re paying 7 GBP per bag.
The next few work sessions were really just stretching and suppling work-outs, nothing too strenuous, as I want to keep his muscles moving but not make them any more fatigued than they already are from the flight. It’s been all about getting him used to his new routine and recovering from the travel. Our first official hack out on UK soil was in the 1000 acre woods that backs on to Wiggy & Andrews property. I’d asked if I was ok to go out on my own but Andrew told me I would get lost. So, I was extremely privileged to have Wiggy & Andrews daughter Lily accompany me who just happened to be riding Nereo. I absolutely would have gotten lost had I gone out on my own. I’ll put it down to the jet lag. I was extremely grateful to have a lead through the woods unfortunately Adelaide thought that it meant he had to race the whole time not great when you’re just in a snaffle. Which is a little ironic considering he’s not a TB and he certainly has never raced but then I remembered all those years ago I use to make him chase Delago to try and teach him to gallop.
Adelaide had his first jump session early in the week on the grass jump arena. In hindsight I probably should have put some studs in as there had been some early morning drizzle so it was a little slippery. I think Adelaide had forgotten what it was like to jump on grass. Andrew was concerned that it might be too firm. It possibly was for English standards but it felt pretty bloody good compared to some of the going we compete on in Australia. Adelaide was extremely well behaved and not too spooky. In fact he felt really good and I was just pleased to not be doing dressage. That same afternoon Adelaide had his 2nd Equine Influenza vaccination. The downside of organising a trip like this with very little time has been trying to coordinate his vaccinations between travelling, recovering from travelling and his first competition. To compete at FEI level in the UK and Europe all horses must be fully vaccinated against EI. Once given the first vaccination the second vaccination must be given 21 -28 days apart. The second vaccination must be given 7 days before competition. From then it’s a 6 monthly booster. So, to try and squeeze this all in has taken a bit of planning. The EI vaccination can make some horses react, temperature, reaction at the injection site and generally feel a bit flat. Luckily Adelaide has not had any of these issues but I did give him a few easy days.
After Adelaide’s few easy days we had our first real dressage training session and he felt really good. Considering everything that he has had to endure he felt remarkably supple and soft. The next day we had a proper jump starting in the indoor arena to warm up. The indoor arena has a fantastic surface (Martin Collins) and Adelaide was really pinging. Once he was warmed up we ventured to the rubber outdoor arena where Andrew had set up a few gymnastic exercises. Adelaide was his usual careful and watchful self and very rideable and not spooky. The downside to the black rubber arena is Adelaide now has two black socks. But I will leave that problem to his normal groom Izzy Dunne, a present for her impending arrival in a week or so. Sorry Izzy.
We had another woods hack out yesterday and Adelaide was much better behaved maybe due to the fact this time I put his Pelham bridle on and I’m feeling confident that next time I will be able to go it alone. The woods are extremely pretty although some of the paths are extremely narrow and all look the same, you’ll frequently pass people walking their dogs. I think I’ve seen every shape and size in my few times in the woods. The next few days Adelaide will do dressage and another jumping session. On Sunday Adelaide will have a have a Muscular and Skeletal treatment, this is something Adelaide has done regularly in Australia by Nicola Finn of Musculoskeletal Vets as well as his regular massages by Sandy Stewart. I think it’s extremely important to try and keep as many things as possible the same as it would be as if I was in Australia. As so many other things will be different and new to Adelaide. Monday, Adelaide will have his first gallop on UK soil, the gallops we will be using are near Barbury.
Also next week will see Adelaide have another vaccination this time for Equine Herpes Virus 1 and 4 again this is two vaccinations given 4 – 6 weeks apart. Then followed by a six monthly booster. Adelaide had his first vaccination prior to leaving Australia. Again horses can react to these vaccinations so it’s extremely important to be aware of how they are feeling and not over do it. All these extra things that our Aussie horses have to go through on top of travelling around the world just make it all a bit harder for them.
Our first competition will be at Barbury CIC2* the first weekend in July. So between now and then we will take Adelaide cross country schooling and have another gallop.
I’m extremely grateful for being able to base at the Nicholson’s. It’s always hard to know what to expect and so far it has been well above my expectations. Wiggy and Andrew have been extremely helpful and accommodating. It was great to have dinner with the whole family the other night and realise it’s just like home, a crazy eventer life with family, dogs and horses and maybe the odd inappropriate dinner conversation. When you forget that sometimes children don’t have a filter. It was also great to hear stories of Matthew Bates during his time with Andrew as a working pupil many years ago. There may have even been a story or two about Blair Richardson.
I love my little apartment and feel settled in my new home. Although I miss my family, it’s nice to be able to have some relaxation time and focus on being a rider. Interestingly this is the first time in my whole life that I have ever really lived on my own. I must say I’m enjoying not having to be permanently washing clothes, cooking meals etc running a business. I manage to fill my days writing blogs, looking for a car to buy, sticking to my budget and keeping up to date with what’s going on at home. I may have also just discovered amazon online shopping.
Adelaide feels settled and is very appreciative to have his own stable block all to himself, he really is being treated like a superstar. I love having my own area to work in which allows me to continue my OCD ways. Yes I packed way too much gear. I have access to great arenas and hacking and advice from one of the most experienced eventers in the world. To top it off the beautiful scenery. I’m extremely blessed that so far the English weather has been amazing and I’m very much looking forward to this weeks forecast of 8 days over 25 degrees as I know the bubble of good weather will burst eventually.
Whatever happens over the next few weeks is anyone’s guess but I’m living the dream and enjoying this very special moment in my life. To be able to chase one’s dreams is not always possible and because of the amazing people that make up the Australian Eventing community I’m here and loving it and hopefully everyone back home can feel they are a part of our journey as well.
Just a quick reminder to everyone to check out my online auction that is up on Nominate, there are many great items big and small to suit everyone’s budget. Some exciting news for our online auction, thanks to Kathy O’Hara, Chris Waller Racing and Peter Tighe from Magic Bloodstock Racing we will have on offer a signed poster of Australia’s favourite racehorse Winx.
Winx is considered the “World’s Best horse on Turf” and “World’s Best Mare”.
The online auction closes on the 1st July so make sure you don’t miss out and get your bids in.