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Monthly diary — May

Lucinda Green

Following Bill's improved performance at Aldon, my concern about his breathing had lessened but I asked wind specialist Geoff Lane to give him one more check. "He's fine," he advised. "Just buy yourself some ear plugs and get on with it!" At Belton Intermediate such advice worked - Bill was the only horse in his section inside the time, coming a thrilling second.

Our start was hardly auspicious though, with Bill stopping in front of the first fence, then the fourth and eighth. After a reminder, he flew – and only through his clever footwork was I kept out of an ambulance at the final fence. Then, 20 minutes later, Bill was hopping lame in walk.

A brilliant bit of vet detective work found that January's hunting blackthorn (See January Diary), has triggered a knee bone splint. An anti-inflammatory jab later, he was sound and his programme continued.

Next I headed to Vairano, Italy, with the Austrian team. One of them won the 2* and they did themselves proud in the 3*, given how little opportunity they have to practice – only in the showjumping did their lack of match practice show.

Then it was Badminton, and wow, what a show. The course basically remained the same but reversed. It caused more problems than anticipated, often due to horses being tired.

Are the horses fit enough and is the emphasis correct on the various phases? The huge influence of showjumping and dressage was especially clear at Badminton, while the cross-country element is being eroded, with ever-shortening courses.

The heart of our all-round challenging sport is the cross-country. Whether designers or riders, we need to step up to that requirement as well as master the art of fitness again.

Lucinda Green Signature