Laura Keeley – my equestrian life

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Since I last wrote, there have been lots of new things happening here.
IMG 4260 300x173 - Laura Keeley – my equestrian lifeLike Katy Hurst, I have been invited for the initial training and assessment for the CIC** European Event Team. This is quite daunting for me – I look at people like Katy, and think “Why do they want to see little old me?” But then I think that there must be something they like, because I’ve only completed one Intermediate! I’ve been invited with Lusty, although I did apply for Heffa (Peter Piper) too, on a completely long shot. They’ve not said “Yes” to Heffa, although they’ve not said “No” either! They have said that they’ll keep an eye on how he progresses.

I also have two fantastic new sponsors for 2012 – I never dreamt that I’d end up with such a strong team of continuous supporters, let alone new additions. Pink Equine selected me as their representative in eventing after running a competition with over 150 applicants. There were some very strong contenders, and I was up against two 3-star riders in the final six, as well as a couple of strong amateur riders. I was thrilled that Pink Equine selected me and I look forward to establishing a good rapport with them. This season, the boys will be sporting Pink Equine bridles, boots, girths, and bling , so if you want to come and see the quality for yourself, feel free! Equibright bedding is the second company to come on board, after looking for riders to support and take the brand to a wider market. They contacted me about something completely unrelated and it’s ended up turning into a new partnership! They’ve also taken on show jumper Stacey Nichols ( and northern eventer Emma Coverdale ( both of whom are absolutely lovely. It’s a unique bedding and is self-replenishing, meaning that a 20kg bag goes further than you’d think. I’ve found it’s keeping the beds really clean and doesn’t seem to move around as much as other bedding. Inspired Marketing is looking after this fab company, so if you want more information, email Jane. Don’t forget to quote LKEquestrian for a discount!

We had our first run of the season at Tweseldown on Thursday and it wasn’t what I was hoping for. Don’t say you only hear the good stories! We travelled with the lovely Gaby Cooke ( who was running her Burghley horse in the OI and 2* horse in the same section as Lusty. We had a VERY early start – the alarm went off at 3.40a.m.! The dressage went really well; Gaby gave me some pointers in the warm-up. It was so kind of her, as she was warming-up her own horse at the same time! Lusty did what I would call a ‘nice’ test, nothing overly impressive, a little inaccurate, but somehow we scored 33.2. This is his best-ever mark at that level, so I’m thrilled. There was so much room for improvement too. Show jumping is Lusty’s weak link and Tweseldown has a big spooky arena. Whether I wasn’t riding well and was ‘ring-rusty’ or he wasn’t focussed enough, I don’t know. It was probably the former. We had three down, an uncontrolled moment resulting in a circle and 13 time. As BDWP doesn’t split time and poles, it looks horrendous as the total was 29 penalties! What he did jump, he jumped well, so there’s hope yet. As we went to get ready for XC, I realised I’d somehow lost my XC bit. Lusty is very difficult to bit at the best of times, so major panic ensued. I traipsed around the trade stands and lorries (including William Fox-Pitt’s lorry!) trying to find something useable and the best we found was a Rugby Pelham. Thanks SO much to Ginny Howe for lending it to me! Unfortunately, it didn’t do anything for Lusty. I may as well have had a piece of string. Embarrassingly, we jumped Fence 1 beautifully, then ran straight past the turning for Fence 2. I decided to pull up at this point. Even pulling up was a struggle. I was gutted – I was really looking forward to the course and getting stuck into it.

Gaby was really helpful in discussing bitting, as she still thinks that Lusty isn’t bitted ‘right’ for showjumping. I’ve had a good chat with the bitting adviser at The Horse Bit Shop and have a couple of bits coming on trial hire. We are going to take Lusty to BSJA at Easton College to see how they work in a competitive environment. Next stop for us is Great Witchingham Intermediate, so I will have enough bits in the lorry to stop a tank! The lovely, lovely Francis Whittington gave me some fab advice at Tweseldown and I am hopefully going to him for a couple of days’ intensive training.

We are debating Burnham Market CIC**. It totally and utterly depends on Great Witchingham and Easton College. I’m not too worried about the XC, but more worried about the show jumping. I’m going to be advised by my gut instinct, my horse, our runs, and my trainers. I’m very lucky to have good supporters who will advise me (with no ulterior motives). Lionel Dunning has been paramount in developing my showjumping, and Hilary Westropp really put my flatwork back together after a disastrous 2010. Without their advice I wouldn’t be riding as well now and I owe them a huge amount. A friend of mine, Nikki Turner, is also very kind at donating her time to help me on the flat, and again, has been really influential and supportive. I’m finding it difficult being away from home and not having that support, but Nik is always on Facebook or the phone!

Hopefully we’re on track for the rest of the season, once our teething problems are out of the way.
Team LK x
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