Hi Livi here,
Albi and I had a lovely trip to the CDIP in Diepenbeek in Belgium, we learnt so much it was a great trip. Having worried how Albi would handle the travelling I contacted my friends, the superstar Paralympian Sophie Wells and junior rider Maddy Whelan for some tips and advice. Albi loved their tip of having apple bobbing sessions as we travelled which meant he drank well. This was such a relief as at times we found ourselves travelling in temperatures over 30 degrees!
Our trainer Andrew Fletcher advised us before we left, that with International travel you never really know what you have until you do your first International trip: Some horses come out tired post travel, some come out more than a little fired up. Suffice to say Albi was the latter, he felt so well he even tried to gallop off mid-trot up twice. The Pony Team test it was not our finest hour, Albi was bitten by a horse fly and so understandably wasn't a happy boy throughout the test, however we still gained some really great scores for some of the movements and hence managed to come away with a plus 65% result. On return to England it became clear that Albi was not comfortable under saddle, his muscle shape had been changing and so his owner's saddle was no longer fitting him brilliantly, as a result we very sadly had to withdraw him from the CDIP at Hickstead, as his welfare was always my top priority and he was clearly uncomfortable. I am so lucky that Tricia always ensures that Leo's saddle fit is regularly checked, and having seen at first hand what can happen if this is not the case I can now fully understand how important this check up is! Albi has now returned home to his lovely owners, the Smockum Owen family so he can spend time with Molly ahead of his going up for sale, he's such a lovely pony he's going to be much missed by us all.
Leo's return to work post his operation is going really well, he's trying very hard and we have been following the 'back into work' plan laid down by Newmarket carefully, and as such he has been slowly building up his trot work, and I am very excited to report that he is now allowed to do some lateral work as part of his training.
Last weekend we went to a really brilliant at the Dressage Under 21's training camp , where we had lessons with Olivia Oakley and we focused on his balance and rhythm in his suspension throughout the trot work. I was so pleased with how hard he tried, particularly as it was also his first time in months doing lateral work. Leo loved being back travelling and going away, and spent his time as per usual, being very excited, sleeping or eating in no particular order!
As winter squad training approaches we have made the difficult decision not to view with Leo this year for the official Pony Prime squad. The selectors viewing takes place in mid September, and he will not be back at full PFEI work until late October according to our training program, so we discussed with the selectors how we do not want to rush him and that we would prefer to wait until he is back in full work later in the year. Luckily the selectors know Leo and his talent and his abilities well, and they have been so supportive in letting us give him the time that he needs and so they are prepared to wait and see him just as soon as we feel he is ready. Therefore for the next couple of months we will be focusing on continuing his training a little closer to home, working with our trainers Andrew Fletcher and Darryl Thickitt, coupled with some lower level dressage competitions so that he can get himself back in the swing of the white boards whilst still remaining within his training plan. We will hopefully be getting to go to a few training camps too - the Dressage Under 21's Christmas show being a particular favourite of ours.Whether Leo is looking forward to me dressing him up in fancy dress and tinsel remains to be seen... Pictures will of course follow.
Bye for now, Livi