Text: Caroline Malan

Photography: Denford Studios

Tell us how your Reonet show went?

This show was really a preparation for my horses for the upcoming President’s Cup at Maple Ridge at the end of the month, so it was really more of a training exercise and to get a feel of where the horses are at currently.  I did get a little more competitive than I planned in the 1.40m champs with Lambus and unfortunately clipped a rail in the run off with the fastest time! Ardenn Villers finished with a solid 5th place in the 1.30m championship. All in all I felt very comfortable that they are on track in terms of their training and readiness for the President’s Cup show.

Which of your horses impressed you the most and why?

The two horses I competed this weekend are at different levels and stages of their development in the sport, but both horses felt that they had gone up a gear in maturity each at their own level.  Ardenn Villers, the mare belonging to Jeannette McHardy, jumped in the 1.30m classes.  She had 4 -5 months at the end of last year in this level and after this weekend I am confident that in another 2 -3 months she will be ready to try a 1.35m class. Lambus, who I plan to compete in the President’s Cup, jumped the 1.35m and 1.40m classes this weekend and felt super confident and relaxed so pretty impressed with both of them.

Which horse do you need to work on the most / did not go as well as you would’ve liked?

The mare is younger and a relatively new open horse, so she obviously needs more mileage and training. I have been competing her for just under a year and we are still evolving our relationship.  However, I definitely think she has stepped up and a lot of the things I have been working at with her – straightness, balance and adjustability – are falling into place.

Who is the one horse in your string that never disappoints you – that once again this weekend wasconsistent etc. Tell us about him/ her?

Lambus is my “main man” so I am always a little biased when it comes to him.  We have had a really good partnership for three years now and I believe we really suit each other.  He has a lot of talent and ability but is also quite sharp so I need to manage this carefully. I try to expose him to different things, colours, fillers etc in order to desensitise him a little as he tends to see bright colours and odd shapes quite vividly. I believe that 99% of the time, if we do our homework and preparation diligently then our horses won’t disappoint or let us down, and if not it’s us who lets them down. 

What was your overall impression of the tracks over the three days?

This weekend the grades were each held in both the Peter Minnie arena where Kate Launder built and the Bob Charter where the courses were built by Ryan Sanders, so it was quite interesting competing in two different arenas, on different surfaces and with different course designers over the three days. I felt that both Kate and Ryan built friendly, flowing tracks, encouraging confidence in the horses at the onset of the year.

Your thoughts on the new Bob Charter going?

The committee have done a lot of work to try and improve the surface in the Bob Charter arena and it is definitely a lot more level.  It was very slippery the first two days, but settled more by day three.  I think the grass after the scarifying needs more regrowth in order to afford the horses a little more grip, so hopefully by Easter show it will be there. I would like to thank the committee for their efforts – it is not easy to make all these things perfect on restricted budgets.

What is your next show and on what horses?

The President’s Cup at Maple Ridge is next on the agenda. I will be competing Lambus in the 1.50m classes, and Ardenn Villers in the 1.30m classes. I will also compete Desiree Pienaar’s lovely Le Cadeau in the 1.35m and Emma Bryant’s horse Callaho Contiki in the 1.30m classes. It’s a busy show for me, but one I am looking forward to.

What are your goals for 2019?

For Lambus last year was an introduction to the bigger classes and World Cup Qualifiers so I did not put too much competitive pressure on him. This year I would like to aim for a couple of those titles in earnest.  My goal for the mare is to transition her to the 1.35m level and have a solid foundation with her there by the end of the year.

Nissan Easter Festival is one month away. How are you feeling about that show post this weekends performances?

Really good with both Lambus and Ardenn Villers. Having the opportunity to get them into the Bob Charter pre Nissan Easter Festival was great – that arena can be quite daunting for some horses until they have had a few shows in there.  Lambus felt much more settled and relaxed than he has previously in the Bob Charter.  The mare had only had one round in there last year, and I felt she coped pretty well on the weekend so at least she has had a little taste of it before Easter Festival.