Christmas has been a bit of a whirlwind! I decided to have a lesson the night I broke up from work so give myself a kick up the backside. The dark nights had really got to me and I was finding it difficult to find any motivation to ride. My instructor, Paul Langford, did exactly that and Merlin was amazing. We worked on collection and then asking for medium after and he was pinging. He’s really starting to grow into himself. Unfortunately he then got kicked in the field on Christmas Eve and had a leg like an elephant. I managed to nurse him through till the 27th and then had to admit defeat and ring the vet.

Kate came out and gave him some antibiotics and anti-inflammatories and told me to walk him every day until it went down. One step forward, five steps back!!

He was back in work by New Year and I’ve had a couple more lessons, one with Will Murray (jumping) and another flat with Paul. The dreaded jumping lessons… I was terrified before going round as Will had dragged the massive squidgy water tray out which I hate, but after a pep talk from my friend, we went for it. Merlin is a total star – he didn’t even look at the tray and I came out beaming! The flat lesson was equally as fab, with Merlin behaving like a total pro throughout.

We competed on Sunday, doing two prelim tests. He was like a bull in the warm-up but produced two of his best ever tests to come 2nd and 1st!! His first ever red frilly and some amazing comments from the judges about how he is one to watch for the future. I’ve also been riding another horse for a girl on the yard who produced two very accomplished tests for 1st and 2nd so it was a super day all round!

Our plans for this year are to move up to novice unaffiliated (first one in two weeks!!), qualify for the Area Festivals at Prelim and Novice and qualify for the Regionals at Prelim and Freestyle. I also want to do a little bit of showing to give him experience of different things, hopefully we’ll be able to do some ridden and working hunter classes and some coloured classes. Although the main aim is for him to stay sound… we aren’t having much luck on that front at the moment!