Well it's been a hectic few weeks to say the least. We has a visit to Bolesworth International and whilst it's an incredible show and venue, it was challenging with the terrible weather. 
I couldn't even get the horses to the stables, so decided it was best that they stay on the lorry to get plaited and tacked up . We couldn't have an arena walk as the show jumping was running late so Del (Hawtins Delicato) and Barney (Nip Tuck) were going to have to be really brave. It was the first experience of an international for Del and his first time doing the music but he coped so well with bridges and moats and crowds of people and we were all really proud of him!  Barney showed how grown up he is now and took it in his stride and had a great run through of his music which he doesn't get to practise often. I am sure Bolesworth will continue to go from strength to strength and the staff were great throughout but it really was tricky with the horses back stage. 

Then it was on to the Hartpury Festival of Dressage. Sometimes it's a blessing to have such a great show on the doorstep but on the other hand it means that we have a lot of horses that can go! We had 12 horses entered , some doing semi finals, some doing the PSG for the first time and Barney and Blueberry having their final run before Rio ! It was a big team effort getting them all backward and forwards. I stayed in the lorry at the show so I could be with Barney and Blueberry as it was international they had to be there under FEI rules. Everything went really well and all the horses performed beautifully which makes the long days worthwhile. To see how far these horses have come makes me hugely emotional and watching them perform makes every day worth it. 

And now I have to seriously think about packing for Rio! The team trunks have arrived. The feed, hay and supplements are at the warehouse being packed . I have to think of everything that the horses are going to need for 3 weeks away! I feel some lists coming on and I love a list! I've been lucky to get 2 huge bags of team clothes which are really colourful which we collected on a Team GB kitting out day at the NEC in Birmingham this week! I can't believe how time is flying but will keep you posted on it all before we go! Alan



June 7th 2016 - Alan Davies

So summer has landed. Everyone is enjoying the weather and the horses can now go out into the fields far more, although, of course, that brings its own set of challenges as the horse flies have descended on us. Luckily we have amazing sponsors and Bucas supply us with zebra coloured fly rugs which are fantastic for keeping the flies at bay and Nettex supply lashings of fly spray. It’s just another of the lots of small details we have to be on top of with a yard full of top horses, but they love being outside in the sun and so it’s a small price to pay to see them all so happy.

We are busy as usual in the yard and the build up to Rio continues, ordering feed and checking the restrictions on equipment. There will be nothing wooden allowed to be packed so I'm not going to be able to take my wooden wall box which holds all my essential grooming kit and no grooming brushes with wooden backs so I am going to have to collect a new grooming kit! My kit is probably the most important thing I take with me to any show, so I’ll be thinking hard about what to get to make sure I can give the horses the best possible care while we are out there. Along with all the normal stable duties we have had several film shoots for various TV channels, which everyone has got used to now, including the horses. I think some of them quite enjoy it, actually! Of course, no mention is needed on the continuing Uthopia saga as it's been widely publicised. Luckily, dear Uti has no idea what is going on and is just being the gorgeous boy that he is. 

On a personal note, my Dutch-bred brood mare, who lives in Devon with some friends, has had a divine filly by Uthopia, I've managed to travel down and see her a couple of times and she is beautiful, so I am very excited about her. And my gorgeous little ponies, who live in Newbury with my very good friends Jacky and Clifford Percy, are doing really well. Bubbles, my 2 year old, is having a holiday with several friends and my mare Cassie, who was Supreme Champion at a show recently, is currently visiting another champion Shetland to hopefully produce another show winner for me! 

Hope you are all enjoying the good weather as much as we are. I’ll be in touch with more news soon… Alan


May 20th 2016 - Alan Davies

So, Olympic year is well and truly upon us!  With just months to go, we have already had plenty of planning meetings about how to get feed and hay to Rio, and how the horses will travel. Meanwhile, we have to make sure the Grand Prix horses are all fit and well, and that requires a careful balance of training and fitness work, all scheduled around the competitions they will be appearing at. It’s important to get just the right balance between keeping a horse fit and not overworking him or her, and a lot of thought goes into it.

Carl and Charlotte both have reserve horses too, so we have to make sure they are on top form as well, just in case any thing goes wrong with their first choice mounts. You won’t be surprised to hear that all this keeps me quite busy, but there’s another thing I have to keep on top of: all of our young horses! 

Carl and Charlotte both take a huge amount of satisfaction from producing young horses from scratch and at the moment we have a lovely bunch of youngsters. Although there is a lot of training put in at home, we need to take them out to test how the training is going and to get them some more experience. Obviously, it’s also a goal to ensure that they qualify for all the various regional competitions and championships. 

Recently, I've been out to quite a few local shows with a lorry load of five and six year olds! We have some great venues near Carl’s yard, which means we can ride the older horses then load up the lorry and go off for the day with the babies. It can be hard work, trying to tack up on the lorry and dealing with young horses that aren’t keen to get on and aren't used to standing on a lorry. And then they have to leave their friends or they get left without their friend; it can be quite a juggling act keeping everyone calm and happy! 

I even find myself having to read tests, as usually Charlotte has several different tests to ride and she is busy trying to steer a green baby; even a rider as good as Charlotte sometimes needs a bit of help with where she's going!  It makes for some very busy days, but we do have a lot of fun and it is so good for the horses. In only a few weeks, Brioso has grown up so much and it’s been a real pleasure to watch her come into her own a bit. Carl owns her and she's taken time to mature: she's only done a handful of small shows but she’s already learned so much and at just her third show she won the six year old class with a really good mark. Suddenly she started to look so grown up in the ring and you could really tell that she’s beginning to enjoy herself out there. 

So as you can see things are always busy here and there is always a new challenge! I look forward to sharing more of what I’m up to here on Piaffe Presents and I hope you’ve enjoyed my first column.