Petplan Equine Ambassador Katie Preston will be heading to the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials with her Thoroughbred gelding Templar Justice (TJ) for the first time this May. The dynamic duo competed at both Burghley and Luhmühlen last year. Katie balances her Badminton preparations and riding her two other horses, Templar Juno (Juno) and Dreams Come True (Tia) with her full-time job as a Veterinary Surgeon at Milbourn Equine Vets. Katie talks about her road to Badminton.
“I don’t think I have a typical week if I am honest,” laughs Katie. “Depending on my workload my routine can change but generally we school twice and hack twice a week and jump once a week, allowing TJ to have either one or two days off depending on how work is going. More recently we have been going to the gallops once a week, to get his fitness levels up. The plan is also to get TJ out galloping on grass rather than just on a surface, for extra fitness before the main event. Many riders preparing for a competition on this scale will probably gallop every four days but I am lucky with TJ, due to his breeding, his fitness is easy and stays at a good standard throughout the season.”
“Due to my busy schedule, I have to fit in lessons with Francis Whittington where I can, normally after work. Leanne Wall also trains me and TJ for dressage, we fit this in before work at about 7am. I have been taking TJ to jumping clinics with Nick Turner as this allows us to practice our course jumping, putting together everything we have worked on during training. TJ loves his jumping and is a total cross-country machine, so I try not to bore him with too much jumping practice, and he has only been cross country schooling once. When I ride at home, I jump a few skinnies and corners in the school just to keep his eye in. I try to get out to dressage and showjumping competitions before a big event like Badminton and have managed a few which is great practice for us both. At home I try to work on his rideability and suppleness plus his flying changes, which he finds difficult.”
“I have been focusing on my own fitness as well as TJ’s. I played hockey throughout the winter for Marden Russets Hockey Club and excitingly we won our league securing promotion for next season. I hadn’t played in a few years, not since I left university, but have really enjoyed it and has certainly helped with my preparations for Badminton as I didn’t feel that unfit when the season started. I have also enlisted the help of personal trainer Rebecca Duggleby, who focuses on rider fitness, straightness and core strength. I have a session with her once a week and I have found it has made a real difference to my strength in the saddle.”
“We have had a really good start to the season, TJ had an easy run at Tweseldown BE where he was seventh in the Advanced Intermediate Class. We are also entered for Belton International in the CCI**** short format (CCI4*-S) and we may run at Burnham Market International if the ground is good, then that will be it. I don’t want to over-do it before he runs at Badminton, he knows his job so it’s just a case of feeling prepared whilst keeping him fresh and well!”
“I really cannot wait for Badminton, I am just looking forward to the whole event but especially the cross country. It is TJ’s strongest phase and if we, as eventers, didn’t love cross country we wouldn’t be mad enough to do it.”
“My Mum is just brilliant and comes with me to all my competitions and will be at Badminton as my number one supporter and top chauffeur (as I can’t drive my new lorry yet!). My good friend, Edie has groomed for TJ and I at all the big events including Burghley and am very glad she will also be there at Badminton to look after the main man as will my friend and work colleague Harriet. Loads of friends, clients and family are heading to Gloucestershire to support us, including my Dad who lives in India and my non-horsey brother. My Auntie who missed my run at Burghley due to my cousin’s wedding will also be there to cheer us on. TJ’s physio will also be on hand to make sure he is supple and feeling as well as possible to tackle the tough challenges he will face.”
“My plans for the rest of the season will depend on how well he comes away from Badminton, but if he is feeling good then we will aim to return to Burghley. For now, roll on the beginning of May!”