Things are pretty chaotic at the moment in Clevedon. There is just so much to do to before AJ (Bates Antonello) and I to make the plane next Wednesday. Work, packing,TV3, vaccinations for AJ, flight arrangements. Nothing is easy with AJ ,and Tony from IRT has been great catering for our needs, even to the point of no concrete stables on route!
If AJ is upset or rattled, his reaction is to kick out, and we had a couple of stressful incidents at the recent New Zealand Horse of the Year Show where a pony got cast behind him, he panicked and in the end, there wasn't much left of his stable. He was so scared, that Mum and I had to stay up all night with him. The other one was where a couple of kids let two ponies out of their yards in the middle of the night and were galloping around the grounds, in front of AJ's stable. Luckily friends were coming back then and managed to get a halter on AJ (not an easy task when he is in a state), and stood with him while the ponies were caught before coming to get me. Horse of the Year is a wonderful show but very full on! I was lucky to have my trainer Andreas Mueller over from Germany. This was really good for us – having Andreas work me in, watch the test and see what happens to both of us from the work in arena to the competition arena.
It was the first time he's been to a competition with us so very valuable in trying to get those extra marks in the ring. I was pretty happy with the Grand Prix at HOY but made a couple of expensive mistakes, and without those we would have had a 70% test with the international judges, which is our target.
I have been inundated with lovely messages, cards, presents and very generous donations towards my trip. People are so incredibly generous and supportive. It’s all very humbling indeed. My good friends Resa van der Ven and Cate Wilson along with my No. 1 supporter Jenny (my mother) have been amazing, running passports here and there, and even making sure I eat something! Incredible donations have been made to the "Louisa Hill Olympic Fund" facebook page that friends set up, and this weekend there will be an online auction. I am so grateful to everyone who has had an input into this journey of ours!
Things move to the next level on Wednesday April 4, when we fly to the UK where we will overnight before hopefully starting our overland trip to Munich where Andreas is based. This truck trip will be about 12 hours so I will be very happy when all that travel is over and we arrive at what will be home for the next little while. So much travel means it will be a good couple of weeks of light work for AJ, before increasing the intensity of training.
Gradually it's starting to seem a reality. Five years ago when I started training with Andreas, he rode AJ and said, "this is your horse for London". We all took that with a grain of salt knowing what a long road it is to train a horse to Grand Prix level, and all the things that can go wrong on the way but now... it is really going to happen!
As we look ahead, we are hoping for a trouble free lead up to London with good quality training which will see AJ get stronger and more established so we can achieve our personal best in London. I hope to produce the quality test that I know the horse is capable of.