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New Beginnings - Changes for #TeamACE

A lot has changed over the past couple of months. It's with a heavy heart that I tell you of my really difficult decision to give up the ride on the amazing Zantino - he lived so far away that the travel was exhausting; I was struggling to keep it up, and despite having great scores that put us in real contention, it wasn't fair to ask him to travel to the BD Youth competitions that I want to do. What I can say however is that Zante will forever have a place in my heart, and I am so grateful to Jane for being so generous giving me the chance to learn and ride him, he truly is a fantastic horse. But fear not, my dear #TeamACE readers, it is not all doom and gloom, I have lots of exciting things to tell you and some introductions to make. Many of you have met the pretty Barbie Pony already if you follow my social media accounts and Pony Magazine vlogs. Not too long ago I was given the opportunity to ride Solaris Dzandarinna (aka Sol) who is stabled just five minutes from home. She's a small 15'2hh palomino warmblood with buckets of attitude. She was bought as a foal by her lovely owner Paula but never made the expected height and after being backed she was lightly competed in jumping before she was turned out in a field and lived a life of very early retirement, or so she thought! I am lucky enough to be the one that is bringing her back into work, but not as a showjumper. Whilst she is capable over a fence she does lack confidence, so after seeing her potential on the flat I will be trying her 'hoof' at dressage, meaning lots of schooling and strength work. I still jump her often to give her a mental break, but I'm so excited to see what she'll be capable of.

Sol might be just about the grumpiest mare I've ever met, but she's MY grumpy mare, and nothing makes me laugh more, she seems to be so happy to have a job. We've clicked so well since meeting, and already we've made leaps and bounds as a team. She scored a smashing 67% and qualifying for Trailblazers 2nd rounds at her first ever dressage test and first time off the yard in years, so I am proud of how she's doing.

Next to join #TeamACE is a new Trakehner Princess. I fell prey to a moment of weakness, well a good few months of weakness I suppose (saving up takes longer than expected, who knew?). A beautiful, black mare, looking for a home appeared in my timeline. I'd known of her since we brought Kat home and always thought she looked pretty special - I couldn't resist in any way, even her name Golden Girl is perfect. Stable named Ella, she was lightly backed when she was younger and then when her owner became pregnant shortly after she was put in foal and had the most beautiful colt. Now, a couple years down the line, Ella lives with Sol and I'm re-backing her as a project. This is my first experience with anything like this but under the watchful (and experienced) eye of mum we are ready to get cracking. She is your typical stressy Trakehner at times, but she's such a sweet heart and is in her winter woollies so she looks very like a very adorable Teddy Bear at the moment. She enjoys being groomed and having attention and I'm sure she'd happily come into the house and sit on the sofa to watch a Disney film with me. I'm taking it slowly as she needs to build muscle having lived out, so far I've been lunging quietly and sat on her to walk around, I've managed to trot her just for a few minutes but I'd rather go slowly and can I just say the minute I get into the saddle on this horse the air feels electric- she won't be easy, but I just know it'll be worth it!

The final addition to the #TeamACE extending fleet of horses was completely unexpected but such a delight. At the yard we are moving Katrina to I was told of a beautiful horse by the name of Van Halen who needed a rider. Known as Halen (they missed a trick not calling him Eddie as a stable name am I right?) he was schooled to Advanced Medium before his lovely owner Helen semi-retired him a couple of years ago. A friend said he'd be perfect for me and as soon as I set eyes on him I was besotted. I got on to try him and it was so funny, I found far more buttons than I'm used to and had some interesting flying changes to begin with but I just felt happy on him, like going home. I would have been crazy not to take him on, it's an incredible opportunity. The other horses I'm riding are very green and it's my job to bring them on, however if you don't ride something educated you're gonna slip up; Halen is perfect to teach me how things should feel for when I'm teaching the others. He's also one of the most stunning horses I've ever laid eyes on, when I think of what a dressage horse should look like my mind would drift to him.

Now, Halen is a big fan of mugging you which is kinda cute, but not entirely vegetarian either as I soon discovered. He loves cuddles and riding him feels better and better every time as we slowly get to know each other. I'm really excited to see how we'll do as a partnership. Unfortunately, he came into my life just a couple of weeks too late for me to be squadded and try for the regional BD Youth teams for this year, but at least we have time to get to know each other and hopefully be strong contenders for next year. With this formidable team of super, special horses I've certainly got my work cut out for me, and the minute Katrina is ok to be ridden she'll be back out on the scene too hopefully, after all she is the original princess! I am so, so lucky to have been given the opportunities I have, and every day is a great day because I know I’m dedicated to working hard towards something different with each horse, spicing up every moment. Thank you to everyone who has and is supporting me and recognising that this isn't just a game to me, horse riding is something I love with every fibre of my being and now I have the tools to do even more. It's pretty clear to me that from now on there will never be a dull second in the #TeamACE household. Alanna xoxox

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