Saturday, 18 September 2010

Harvest Home

Harvest in the 21st century lasts all of two days at Kinneston and today it is the turn of the oats, 60 acres of which will disappear in a few hours. The horses are all progressing steadily and we are on target to have our first runners in the middle of next month.  
P1020813 Meanwhile our neighbours the Grahams have put about 1500 lambs onto the grass; either homebred on the Lomond Hills or bought in from the Highlands they will be finished here, this has a number of ancilliary benefits for the ground - as the autumn rains arrive the sheep level the areas where we gallop without compacting the ground in the way that a roller would; they also add vital nutrients to the soil and create a lovely even sward,  additionally you should never have ragwort where you have had sheep. By late October most will have moved on, just at the same time as the rains have softened up the ground to make it perfect for galloping…
I took these photographs whilst waiting for 3rd lot to come home, also surveying the scene was the Kinneston “matriarch” Harrietfield; she has produced 9 good foals and Mrs A advises that she has been retired, she's done them all very well and I mustn't be greedy...
Third lot today were Mrs Gammell's lively pair, Isla Pearl Fisher and Isla Patriot.  They are both prone to becoming a little excitable when out with a bigger bunch of horses so they came down together for about 3 miles of steady cantering on the stubbles.  At the same time another pair of siblings, Skipping Chapel and "Tara", both due to go point-to-pointing and at an earlier stage of their training, went for a long walk on the hilly side of the road. 

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

September Storm

Well, the Indian Summer dramatically gave way to an autumnal storm and last week's blissful conditions were a distant memory.  This large beech tree snapped 10ft from the school whilst the horses were cooling off after 2nd lot; it provided an interesting example of the horses' natural instincts as none of the riders could work out why they all started panicking and a couple of seconds later - crash! 
The sun is shining again now though and there are few things better than early mornings out with a bunch of National Hunt horses as they are prepared for their winter campaign, watching them progress week by week is exciting and rewarding.  Without wishing to tempt fate we have had a smooth start to the season and I couldn't be happier about where we are with the horses.  We will have 12 to run under rules, 3 handicap chasers in the form of Native Coll, Seeking Power and Isla Pearl Fisher and 9 youngsters - none of whom have jumped an obstacle in public, some have had a run or two in bumpers, they are all very unexposed and hopefully progressive.  All of these horses are now half fit and the stronger ones are just starting serious work with a view to them being ready to run in mid October, I know that I have never had such a nice bunch of horses so the pressure will be on me to translate this into success on the course.  I'm fine with that, I just don't want any excuses in the form of weather etc.  We also have six point-to-pointers who have just come in and are starting on the horsewalker, plenty of success required there as well.
So, we've assembled an exciting bunch of horses, we have an excellent team of staff and really good support from outside - what's the target - 70 runners - 20% first two (10 winners please!) and 50% first four.........
 And by the way, would the Chinese people who leave such interesting comments on this blog please introduce themselves as I'm quite mystified!