A British Eventing update from Sonya Cunningham

We caught up with our equestrian expert, Sonya Cunningham, who has been very busy this season with her competition yard, Rockrose Equestrian, as well as with her own team of horses.

What have you been up to this season?

This month has been a brilliant time at Rockrose. It’s the height of the event season and the time we usually try and step up a level with the horses who feel ready for it. The diminutive Dryfe Royal Cavalier completed his first 3* international at Hopetoun House Horse Trials (a lifetime ambition for me) and his younger stable mate Opposition Eclipse pulled out the stops for her first 2*.

Our bright young rising star, Rockrose Destination, attempted his first ever event competing HC (hors concours – meaning we entered for experience rather than competing) in the 80cm at Warwick Hall and impressed with his unbelievably cool, calm attitude. It’s been a while since I’ve had a total baby at an event and it was a healthy reminder of just how much water has to pass under the bridge before you have the trusting relationship you need with an event horses for them to respond with courage and confidence to the questions we ask of them out there. This one is a definite keeper though!

Back on the farm, hay making is underway with all the associated anxiety that brings. There are 50 or so hungry little mouths to feed all winter long and the quality has to be right! (My husband James can’t bear me during haymaking season!)

Training wise I’ve also started a 10 week equestrian pilates course with Angie Blackwell at Equicore to help refine my balance and position. I think I’m really beginning to feel the benefit of that already (especially on the young horses) and have even started to do my office work whilst balancing on a ball much to the amusement of my colleagues!

What is being planned for next month?

Next month we shall be “weighed and measured”. Its championship time! Dryfe Royal Cavalier will head to Gatcombe for the British Intermediate Championships whilst Opposition Eclipse will contest the Scottish Novice Championships at Hendersyde. I came frustratingly close last year to winning that one but toppled a pole during my nemesis showjumping phase…Let’s see what we can do this year.

Tilly (Opposition Eclipse) is a careful jumper but we would need our best dressage performance to date to have a chance!

What kit have you been using?

As it was Rockrose Destination’s special day, he has been given the new Masta Cooler as his special competition outfit – and very smart it was too! The weather was weird. Wet but quite warm and it worked well both for travelling where he arrived comfortable and dry after a 3hr journey and post wash down after cross country.

The Musto Canter jacket came into its own half way round walking the xc when the heavens opened. I can definitely say it is properly waterproof, though as it is a warm jacket it comes into its own when you are on the horse and not jogging round the XC on your own feet! Its smart and practical and Sam my groom already has her eye on it.

We also bought 2 new Masta lightweight turnout rugs and I have been really impressed with them. Forward cut necks mean really low wither pressure (a pet hate of mine!) and they are tough lightweight and really water proof. Really hard type to find for slimmer built event horses. I know where I am going for this winter’s heavy weight replacements…

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