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A day in my life at Haras Du Ry

By Jacqui Ridley
What exactly is an ordinary day like for me as a rider at Haras Du Ry, Amy Graham’s world class equestrian training stable in Normandy? 
To say life is busy is a total understatement but each day has its own challenges, both in and out of the saddle.  I’m now really settling into a routine, getting to know the horses well, and riding so much. With WEG only just around the corner the pace of life at HDR has really hotted up! Incidentally Haras Du Ry still has some accommodation available for WEG- and it would be great to have more visitors here from Down Under!
Stables at Haras Du Ry
Two weeks ago Amy was competing at the Longines Athina Onassis CSI5* in Saint Tropez and whilst busy jumping two fabulous clear rounds and beating the likes of Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum, Ben Maher and Jos Lansink I was left at the helm.
 Amy Graham at the Longines Athina Onassis CSI 5 Star
So thoughts for my latest blog was… a typical day in my life…let the day begin!
7:30am: Arrive at the stables. Some preliminary discussions and planning with stable staff before my rides: 14 horses to be worked, one veterinarian visit, 2 tonnes of feed delivered, 3 grooms to work with, 15 boxes to be cleaned and 1 adorable puppy to puppy-sit. 
8:30am: Up and in the saddle… First horse, Gordon VD Riloo (my favorite!) … I know that riding him first is a little like eating dessert before veggies but that’s kind of my style. So after an enjoyable 45 minutes in the saddle working on some laterals, half pass in the trot and canter and some transitions from canter pirouettes to medium canters to strengthen his hind end I am well and truly warmed up for a big day’s riding ahead!
 Gordon VD Riloo
9:15am: The next ride, Bacardi, is a super cute 8 year old gelding currently jumping 1.35m international 1* and 2* classes. He has wonderful dressage training and happily works with 4 time changes and canter half pass. The wonderful HDR grooms already have him prepared so it’s straight up and onto horse number two!
 Bacardi © Jacqui Ridley
10:00am: Time to throw back a quick coffee and onto number 3: Cupido! He’s a big Canterano gelding with a really scopey jump. He is 7 years old and has jumped some decent 1.40m indoor classes.  Nicu, one of the grooms, prepares another horse for lunging in the indoor school.  By now the boxes are nearly finished and the vet is on his way for a general check up visit. 
Cupido © Jacqui Ridley 
10:50am: Horse number 4 for me to ride is Darla, a cute little mare out of Baloubet du Rouet.  Darla has a very expressive jump that needs to be toned down a bit!  So today I will work with her on a lot of jumping grids and placement pole exercises to help her soften and use her body more economically!
Darla © Jacqui Ridley 
11:20am: Number 5 is the gorgeous Albert! He is Amy’s second-string horse and is currently jumping some impressive 1.45m tracks, recently competing at the Caen WEG Test Event CSI2*. Whilst Amy is in Saint Tropez need to keep him working and help build his muscles and strengthen him so he is also a prime candidate for the canter pirouette and lengthen canter work. Amy has been working with Katie Prudent (Reed Kessler’s former coach) and she has said that both the collected and extend work is very beneficial as it really builds and strengthens the horses especially in the hind (power) end. 
View from on top of Albert S © Jacqui Ridley 
12:30pm: Vet visit complete, horses checked, dog vaccinated and veterinary supplies stocked up…. now it’s time for lunch for both the horses and people.  Horses are always first on the lunch list, then stables are swept and tidied after the morning session.  There’s time for me to pop back to my on site accommodation, have a bite of lunch, check emails and keep up with my washing and house chores!
2:00pm: The early afternoon is a perfect time to take some horses for a hack out on the roads around Haras Du Ry.  The weather is perfect and the hedgerows and gardens around the village are looking their best. For the horses a hack around the lanes makes a welcome break from working in the arena. 
 Hacking out © Jacqui Ridley
2:45pm: Back home for ride number 7, Brazil.  Brazil is a super flashy 7 year old by Canturano. Although he is a lovely ride Brazil likes his sleep so it’s never a good idea to put him down to be ridden before lunch! On the plus side he is known for loving his cuddles- such a sook!
 Brazil © Jacqui Ridley
3:30pm: Horse number 8 is ready for lunging and Miss Blesse gets a good workout with the side reins or pessoa. 
Miss Blesse © Jacqui Ridley
4:00pm: Ride number 9 is Stassino, a 5 year old baby…. I say baby but he is at least 17 hh and probably the biggest horse in the stables! But Stassino is definitely a gentle giant and if anything can be a touch lazy. Time to call on that second coffee I had at lunch time to give me the energy I need to work him over some small jumps. Our goal today is to work on his rideability between fences. 
4:40pm: Number 10 for me today is a lovely little mare that’s new to the stables. She is a little green on the flat so I give her a steady ride working on flexing and bending and improving her acceptance of lateral leg aids.
By this stage Ursi (the puppy) has called it a day and I catch him napping in the tack room.
Ursi the puppy © Jacqui Ridley
5:30pm: Now just the final jobs for the day: 14 horses legs bandaged for the night, 10 bridles and 4 saddles and girths cleaned, 4 wash bays and 2 stables blocks swept. Apart from final feeds and checks that’s it! As the sun goes down at Haras Du Ry it’s always good to see the stables full of contented, worked horses munching happily!  
Sunset over the arena at Haras Du Ry © Jacqui Ridley
So here’s my day in numbers including some interesting data from my phone app:
  • 10 hrs 40 mins 51 seconds – time taken for a day’s work* at HDR
  • 14 – boxes cleaned
  • 12 – total horses worked
  • 10 horses ridden
  • 2 horses lunged
  • All horses given time on the walker and or in the fields
  • 3 - fantastic grooms I’m lucky enough to work with
  • 58.84 km – kilometers ridden
  • 11.4 km/hr – max speed!
  • 146 bpm – max heart rate (most likely whilst jumping Brazil)
  • 2975 – calories burnt
  • 2.5 - croissants necessary to make up for calories burnt!!**
* I say work … but to my way of thinking it’s definitely more play  than work at Haras Du Ry!
** This is not a healthy or suggested diet for athletes!
Workout times © Jacqui Ridley
Distance © Jacqui Ridley
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