I've had a fantastic couple of months away from the intense eventing competition schedule, which has allowed me to enjoy one of my passions: finding new, exciting young prospects.
Enjoying a pint with Dave
Recently Katie Walker, Dave Leinhauser and I had a wonderful couple of days in England scouring the country for horses.
Brian HyslopWe were lucky enough to be guided by our new team Chef de Equipe, Brian Hyslop, who was in charge of the heavy social schedule that consisted of dinner parties, fox hunting and many team meetings at the pubs we passed by. We were also very fortunate that Rachael Wakefield from Uptown Eventing lined up around 35 top class young event horses for us to try.
Katie Walker sizing up one of the enormous hedge jumps in the Quorn Hunt field
One of the highlights of our four-day trip was the opportunity to hunt with the very prestigious Quorn Hunt. Dave and I borrowed horses from Irish eventing Olympian Mark Kyle.
Hunting with Mark KyleWe hunted huge hedge fences, trappy iron gates and ditches that sent shivers down my spine over some of the most beautiful country in Leicestershire County for over four hours. I was very impressed not only by the superb country we rode, but the quality of the horses seen in the hunt.
Finally our horse shopping ventures were a success! Upgrade is a stunning five year old gelding that really stood out from the rest of the bunch. He is seven-eighths English Thoroughbred and one-eighth Irish Sport Horse. He is a very elegant mover which I think the dressage judges will be impressed with. His jump has good technique and scope to spare. All in all, Dave, Katie and I felt this horse showed the potential of a future four-star champion.
I am very fortunate for Katie and Cuyler Walker to purchase this exciting horse. He will fly to America just before the new year and join the other Walker event horse, Brewster. I hope to start eventing him sometime in February. It would also be a real thrill if I could move him up to Preliminary at the Plantation Field Horse Trials in the fall, as the Walkers are the landowners and event organizers of this great event.