“Balancing running a business with keeping an event horse fit is challenging”

We catch up with Sarah Johnstone and Woody, who are well and truly into their eventing season!

Phew! What a busy few weeks I’ve had. 
 
Balancing running a business with keeping an event horse fit is challenging. I often find myself feeling guilty for leaving my laptop to go and spend an evening with Woody. However, whenever this happens, I remind myself that life’s not all about work, it’s there to be enjoyed. Work is simply a means to pay for the things we love, which in my case is an expensive, time-consuming hobby!    
 
Alas, sacrifices do have to be made. Floors Castle International is one of my all-time favourite events; the scenery is absolutely stunning and it’s our local event just 20 minutes down the road. The dressage arenas are set at the back of the castle and there is a relaxing 10-minute hack to get there. The show jumping arena and the warm-up arena are both massive and set below the sponsors’ marquee with an unbelievable view of the castle. The cross country course is the perfect opportunity for stunning photographs and the course is always flat but challenging, so suits Super Cob perfectly. It was here we did our very first BE90 back in 2015 where we cruised into third place, so it has always been a somewhat lucky event for me. 
 
It’s also got a fantastic shopping village, so for the last two years I’ve had to put the business first and leave the horses at home. So many people who popped into the stand said: “Would you not rather be riding?” and OF COURSE I would rather be riding, but I do love doing tradestands because it means that I am still in the thick of the action. You get to see a very different side to the events as the organisers always come around to chat and you get to de-brief with competitors who come shopping after their rounds. 
 
The tradestands highlight how fabulous British Eventing really is as there were people from all walks of life coming in through the gates, from ultimate horsey families to city slickers. It was also apparent that locals really loved the event and looked forward to it every year. We even spoke to a couple with the most gorgeous little West Highland Terrier who lived in the castle gatehouse and have volunteered for more than 20 years, so it was lovely to hear their story. 
 
In other news, Woody has been going brilliantly. His jumping is getting better and better as he reminds me just how much scope he has. However, as his fitness and enthusiasm are on the up, his concentration in the dressage is wearing thin. We had a successful day at Warwick Hall BE100 with a brilliant double clear, but we achieved our worst dressage score to date, sitting on a 39. 
 
There may have been a few influential factors in this score, the first being that our lorry broke down on the way to the stables in the morning, so we had to catch a lift with someone else and he’s not used to travelling with a friend, the second being that a fly flew in my eye as we were trotting around the edge of the arena (true story). However, I won’t make excuses. My mission is to improve our dressage before my next vlog– lots of flatwork and a couple of lessons from Ian Stark should sort us right out.