Featured Rider - James Alliston (GBR)
|Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5|
Part 1My preparations for Rolex are well under way and this year I plan to return with my own Parker and India McEvoy’s Jumbo’s Jake. 2011 was a debut year for both me and my horses at Kentucky and I was pleased with finishing 14th on Parker and 17th on Jumbo’s Jake. I feel like I learned a great deal from the experience and realized what I need to work on to improve my results this year. For instance, I think I underestimated the rolling terrain at the Horse Park and I intend to have Jake slightly fitter this time as barring an unlucky stop near to home he put in a quality all around performance. At the end of 2011 he really hit form with wins at Woodside CIC*** and Galway Downs CCI*** so I am hoping his good results continue through April. As always, many thanks to India McEvoy for allowing me to ride her delightful horse and for all the help she gives at the barn when Vet school allows.
My own horse Parker has always had a bit of a weakness in the dressage but with help from dressage maestro Gerd Reuter, and a lot of practice, I am confident we have really made great strides. This was shown by his improved score of 52 when finishing 3rd at Woodside CIC*** in the fall and I will be hoping for something like that in the first phase in April. His cross-country round from 2011 was a real thrill and was definitely one of the lasting memories from the event. The feeling of crossing the finish line with a nice fast clear was exhilarating and hopefully I will experience it again this year.
The fitness work is a major part of the horse’s preparation for the event and one of my integral tools for getting them primed for the arduous cross-country is the galloping track we have here at my base, Graceland Equestrian Center. It is a two minute path cut into the hillside and the surface is a home-made mixture of shavings tilled into the earth. I have become meticulous in my maintenance of it and spend a lot of evenings on the tractors going up and down it working the footing. It has become a vital instrument in all my horse’s fitness programs and I feel the gradient is just perfect for allowing my horse’s to work hard on good ground without galloping round and around on the flat putting extra miles on their legs.
I know there is still a long way to go until the event but I am already getting excited about the prospects of returning. Last year was such a great time with my family flying over from England and a large group of friends and supporters from California making the trip east. It made it a fun and memorable adventure that we all look forward to repeating. Fingers crossed that the horses stay in good shape and we can make the long drive to the Horse Park again this year. Also, many thanks to my fantastic clients who help me make it possible through their generosity and fundraising and are so understanding in allowing me the time away to pursue my dreams.
Photo Credit: Top Right © Ben Radvanyi.