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18th December

Think I need to adjust Sarnie’s feed . I have been giving her some quite high energy food (D&H Competition Mix) as although she is not in a lot of work she has always lacked a bit of sparkle and living out I don’t need to worry so much about her tying up or problems like that. Well maybe I need to adjust it slightly. I have had a couple of schooling sessions now like today's. She is still dead to the leg, she is not bending around my inside leg but when I go to insist (we are at this point bananaing around the school not using our corners) she will find any excuse (a leaf moving) to leap and plunge - the neck strap is very handy. Sarnie also got her way today as I gave up (can’t teach an old dog new tricks) and I did want to stay in one piece.

It is strange but since she has been on her own she has had more sparkle to ride and been quite chilled about living on her own. However I think some slower release energy food may now be more appropriate. I feed quite a lot of Alpha A for fibre so that in itself doesn’t need much adding. Will see what the feed store have in as I am not particularly brand loyal as the main manufactures seem to all offer good quality feeds at similar prices.

15th December

Well I have done it! Made 40 and still here, actually if my initiation into 40 is anything to go by the signs are not promising as I had a heavy cold all weekend which rather took the gloss off things!

Birthday day did not start with a lie in as we were booked into a dressage clinic with Sarah-Jane Prew a BD judge and trainer. It was a great session helping focus the mind on moving Bobby forward to his next stage of education. She soon identified he was very active behind and couldn’t contain this in front so we started off with lots of half halts and transitions from trot to nearly walk to get him sitting behind.

I have spent a long time out of the saddle in the canter to allow him to move through but it was felt now is the time to sit if only for half a circle as being out the saddle is slightly encouraging him to run. The transitions themselves will be the biggest thing to help his canter.

We finished the session with getting him to stretch in the trot and therefore allowing his back to swing and consequently his paces become more elevated.

Really pleased with how he is coming on and working with me.

Had a lovely evening out with friends in St Ives but I doubt many people on their birthday would be the designated driver but as a teetotal (sadly never liked the stuff) I was quite happy in that job!

Sunday we popped Bobby in the lorry to see my friend Zoe. The first training session we had post this improvement in his rubbing was with Zoe about 5 weeks ago and at that point he couldn’t bend or canter, he has come on so far.

We did some simple grids with some quite wide v poles just to help keep him straight. Then we finished by actually using that canter to canter to a little upright. It doesn’t sound much but huge progress.

Finally pleased as I am with Bobby I have found we have an even better show jumper in the team, his scope is immense and his technique awesome!!

12th December

Tomorrow is a day that has been bothering me for the past couple of years and maybe once it has been reached and passed then I may feel better about. What is this worry? Well it is my birthday, not just any birthday but one of those when two numbers change and I become 40!!!! I know it just a number, I know some people have never reached 40 and I should be very grateful but in my mind particularly in the eventing line it is just a sign I am officially old and quite probably past it. At riding club events I can enter the veteran section and with the creeks, limps and various scars, pins and plates it is not as if I don’t feel my age!

However once tomorrow is out the way (I do have some nice things planned including a dressage clinic with Bobby and meal out with friends) I may realise that nothing has stopped working (well got any worse) and I don’t need the zimmer frame yet. The only way to prove I am not too old is to go out there and show them how it is done (As I have never done that not sure how I will start now but will work on it!).

10th December

Been a busy few days on Sunday we viewed a horse and then carried on up to Buckinghamshire for an overnight stay before visiting my sponsors Equicover. Always great to see behind the scenes and put names to faces. Hope I was able to repay a little of their support by discussing and suggesting ideas to help their social media. A quick horse viewing on the way back and 600 miles covered in 2 days!

Sadly no new horses to report it seems horses at the top of my budget are no where near meeting my criteria. I either need to uncover that hidden gem or win the lottery!

Yesterday I had a lesson with Caroline Creighton at Colraine.  We did a variety of exercises with future cross country questions in mind. Things I thought he would really struggle with he coped well although a funny looking skinny did throw him slightly. Better he makes his mistakes now and we sort them out than in the future. The video takes you through the exercises we did and a gives a few pointers.

His copybook was rather blotted today as his quick whip sideways at (your guess is as good as mine) left me on the floor! No injuries I am pleased to report.

6th  December

Bobby did his first show jumping competition today. Just started gently with a 70cm and a 80cm class. However the courses were quite testing for novice horses with some tricky lines and a treble combination.

In the 70cm he was very green and unsure.

However all legs were pulled out the way at the required time so we went back for the jump off.

An improved round and clear again one of only two double clears for his first jumpy frilly with a second.

The 80cm was a decent enough track and again it was hugely improved. I missed my line to 6 and we circled but otherwise clear and to be honest that was enough anyway for one day.

So really good start and just needs rounds under his belt. A few days off for him now as I head upto Buckinghamshire to catch up with sponsors Equicover.

3rd December

Today has been a sad day, Sarnies field companion was put to sleep. Something we knew was coming but really sad all the same and very difficult to explain to Sarnie where he has gone. Circumstances mean at the moment I have nothing available to keep out with her 24/7 and she has never before accepted being on her own. I brought her in for a while and she was manic in the stable, when I rode her she had a good go at bucking me off which is very unlike her.

I turned her back out lightly sedated to help settle her in a secure field next to where she had been. Well she came straight over the 5 bar gate cleanly and although for a while she galloped around she did amazingly settle. The field has several extra strands of wire around the gate and lover hedges just to make sure she stays in but having checked her frequently she is grazing and came and ate her tea quietly. I am very hopeful that she may stay in the regime, be exercised do some jumping until she goes to stud in March.

If things go in threes then I had mine, I was really looking forward to a Caroline Creighton lesson tonight but sadly that had to be cancelled as Caroline’s car broke down. This was bad enough but as I organise it I had to make sure I got in touch with everyone so no one turned up unnecessarily - I think I succeeded not heard any different yet! Sadly my car then came out in sympathy with an engine warning light and is having a trip to the garage tomorrow - it clearly realised it is Christmas month!

On a brighter note I took this picture of Bobby tonight. There is clearly disadvantages of being a little horse in big horse clothing. Although this 6 foot rug fits his 15.1 frame very well he can rather lose his ears under the hood. Mind you as it is very chilly tonight will help keep them toasty and warm!

30th November - Two riding club outings

So continuing the strategy of getting Bobby out as much as possible he had two outings this weekend. I joined Three Waters Riding Club in order to widen our opportunities to get out and about locally and this weekend attended a jumping clinic on Saturday and a dressage show today. Both were held at close by Chiverton Riding Centre (where I originally learnt to ride).

The jumping clinic was taken by local instructor Melanie Farnworth and it was great to work in a group environment and get him used to working with others, stopping and then doing a bit and watching. He struggled as it is a relatively small school and his canter is still very weak. We did quite a simple exercise using a few uprights and a double in a simple course starting with cross poles and building up to as big as I have jumped him since I tried him (which still isn’t big!).

Really pleased as despite arriving at the fences in an unbalanced manner he is very straightforward, honest and clever.

So today it was a change of discipline although the same venue for the dressage show. I entered two classes the Prelim 7 and Prelim 18. Quite a busy car park and a different place to warm up with a few naughty horses yet his behaviour was exemplary. The first test I was very pleased with and although there was the odd mistake he tried hard, he held his canters and far exceeded my expectations.

He even managed his first ever frilly with 3rd place and a score of 67%.

He was packed away for an hour and then brought out for the second test Prelim 18. This was even better than the last test and only had one major mistake with a break into canter in the last trot. The judge commented what a lovely horse and that with more balance he would soon achieve higher marks.

He scored 67.9% from a different judge so two very consistent tests. He was unplaced in a very strong class but as the winner was on 71% we weren’t actually that far away!

So a very successful weekend, lots of new experiences for Bobby of which he will have benefited enormously. A duvet day for him tomorrow and then a lesson with Caroline Creighton on Wednesday to look forward to.

27th November

I really need an extra few hours in the day. Last Sunday was spent doing a fair bit of travelling viewing 3 horses, one was lovely really nice stamp and felt very happy on him but sadly just lacked a bit of jump. He was only 4 so it may well have developed with correct training but too much of a risk it may not. The other two were not as nice as hoped one jarred my back and the other was not my cup of tea so I didn’t even ride it. So the search goes on although I am enjoying the slightly quieter life at the moment.

Mind you slightly quieter may be a bit optimistic certainly for Bobby. He has a busy December planned (see calendar) with 4 clinics booked and a number of shows. Amazed how he has already changed shape from a pot bellied pony to a smart little horse. Trying to give him regular work, still doing quite a lot of hacking with hill work to get him stronger but where possible combine this with 15 minutes in the school doing some basic circles and transitions. At that stage he is improving fast and really satisfying to work with. He can still be very sharp and my neck strap is my best friend but touch wood he has managed to contain himself from anything too drastic!

23rd November - Fun at Tall Trees

We took both horses to Tall Trees yesterday where they were holding a BS show. It has been a while since we have taken 2 anywhere as the lack of two good sets of travelling gear testified!

The idea was Sarnie was to compete in two classes and if there wasn’t a late finish Bobby could have a ride around and pop a few fences. We booked a stable for Bobby, more for ease than actual necessity but it gave him a good chance to hear everything that was going on without being involved. He settled to eating hay and ignoring the comings and goings of horses.

Sarnie was entered in the 1.05 Amateur class and the 1.10 Open. She jumped better this week than last and jumped a good clear round in the first round. There were 5 competitive combinations in the jump off and all actually jumped clear again. We set the pace with some good turns’ the person after was only 0.1 slower but last to go pipped us by 0.2 seconds, so we were 2nd. Most gorgeous rosette Tall Trees are one of the best for frilly’s! Sorry for the foggy video, I left it in the lorry the night before and I think a bit of damp got in, luckily it cleared later.

In the 1.10 she jumped a good round but we made a mistake going into the double and had a pole.

Very pleased with Sarnie.

She was packed away and as there were not huge numbers I waited until the end to get Bobby out. Shame these shows are not better supported as they are very friendly, great courses and surfaces with gorgeous rosettes. Anyway this time it worked in my favour as we were able to use the indoor school and put the jumps right down so Bobby could have a pop over some fences. We started by working on the canter as this is his weak pace and he is really struggling particularly on the left. Lots of transitions in and out the canter, I seriously can’t get a balanced downwards transition but this will come in time.

We started with a small cross pole and this was his reaction!

Luckily after that he realised it was safe and popped all the fillers and other fence quietly. We mainly popped from trot but a couple of times on the right rein I was able to let the canter flow on and pop another fence.

Really pleased with his behaviour all day and how he is progressing. He has got quite a busy time coming up with clinics, training and low key shows to really get him out and about and seeing a bit of life whilst hopefully progressively educating him.

20th November - Course Pictures

Great statistics from the 2014 Equicover course pictures. We have covered 376 different courses and that is 66% of the courses jumped at BE events this year. Huge thank you to everyone that has contributed by sending in photographs I clearly couldn’t do it without you.  We now hold the biggest database of BE course pictures on the Internet. Also massive thank you to Equicover for sponsoring the course picture pages, it takes a huge amount of time to keep it up to date and their support really makes a difference.

19th November - Caroline Creighton lesson

Bobby had a lesson today with Caroline at Colraine. Annoyingly the video camera had a tantrum so very little illustration of the exercises! We were on a group of 3 novice horses and since he has been clipped he is certainly feeling rather well! In fact we will gloss over the fact he dumped me on Monday when he exploded going into canter in the school (little sod).

We started on the flat just introducing a little lengthening and shortening in the canter. Well lets face it, at the moment Bobby’s canter is certainly his weak phase and to hold the canter on the long side was an achievement even before any lengthening or shortening happened!

We then moved onto an exercise down the centre of the school with 4 jumps. We started working in trot and canter over the poles then gradually built it up so it finished jump (2 strides) jump (1  stride) jump (2 strides) jump. Also incorporated was a small water tray and a scarey filler. He was green but bold and certainly gave a few of them some air. We also did some bounces which after flattening one side at his first attempt he got the idea of and popped cleanly through, this was particularly pleasing as we arrived at them rather unbalanced a few times!

We finished off by doing a spread at an angle across the school. The first time he just ran past having no clue what he was meant to do but on the second go he got the idea and gave it some air! Soon he was happy jumping back and forth at an angle.

So instructions moving forward from Caroline. He needs to learn to pop a fence and that he doesn’t need to use his considerable scope every time. Take him out as much as possible to clinics and shows so things are routine and not so enormously exciting!

15th November

It was great to finally move away from worrying about how much Bobby is rubbing to actually progressing with his work. A good starting point was to take him today to my friend Zoe for a lesson. We aimed to keep things quite low key but actually he was fantastic, reminded me why I loved him so much and what made me buy him! I know there is a lot of work to be done but if we can keep him right the potential is enormous.

Even when I bought him I knew he needed a lot more work on the flat and strength to carry himself. He came out and settled and tried hard, his contact is still not secure and he is stiffer on the left rein. Apologise now for the lack of much video but the weather spent 3/4 of the lesson raining! So first clip is a bit of trot work. We worked on a large circle reducing and increasing the size just trying to get him to use himself more.

The canter is where he struggles most at the moment and that really shows in the lack of strength and ability to hold himself in the downwards transition. It rained hard after this bit of video but we continued to work on asking for bend as we came down to trot and pushing him onto the right rein as we came down to trot. This really improved as time went on, we made sure that each canter was quite short at the moment.

Finally we finished up with popping a few fences. I know he has plenty of ability to jump big fences but for the moment I need to ensure he can come to them in a balanced manner and use them to develop the canter. Hence we trotted into the low fences and let him canter away in as balanced a canter as possible working on then getting a balanced transition back to trot.

So really pleased with the boy and hoping we can move forward in his work, have some fun and get out and do some competitions.

12th November

Loving having only one horse in to do, so much more time to do things properly, the bed gets every pellet of poo picked out, Bobby actually gets brushed before riding and I can keep abreast of the poo picking in the field! In fact I have real mixed feelings about looking for another horse, I am keen to find something to ensure if Bobby relapses I have something to event next Spring but I am equally frightened of the work that 2 in as well as Sarnie, a full time job, little light and winter weather creates. I think in my old age (please don’t mention in a month I will be 40) I am getting lazy.

Bobby is still progressing well and I am enjoying giving him some regular work. We are mainly hacking but I have introduced a little gentle school work a couple of times a week. At the moment it is very basic just trotting in big shapes to get a regular contact and rhythm. His canter has always been weak and having spent so much time not using it he is really struggling to hold this pace so for the moment just doing a simple transition a circle and that is about it, we will build things up gradually. Hope to introduce some poles and jumps soon which will help strengthen the back end. He is still rubbing but only very occasionally now so fingers crossed that continues to improve.

9th November

Today I waved off Dribble to a new home. Funnily enough after I re advertised her 10 days ago I had a huge amount of interest with people wanting to come from Scotland, Kent and Bristol to see her. I linked the advert to Facebook where it was viewed 20,000 times! Strangely with people wanting to come from all corners of the the UK she has literally gone 30 minutes down the road to a lovely lady where I suspect she is going to get very spoilt. She flew through her vetting last Wednesday (always nerve racking) and was collected this morning. Much as I wanted to sell her and don’t have the same mixed feelings as when Pip went I have had a lot of fun with Dribble.  I hope now that I have educated her enough to go onto the next period of her life as a well rounded individual.  

So the hunt starts in earnest for another  member of the shoestring team. Too be honest I am quite happy with the amount of work I have to do with what I have going into winter but looking ahead to next season I could be very short of something to event. Sarnie won’t be eventing and hopefully starting her career as a broodmare, Bobby is a very exciting prospect but there has to be a question mark still if we have this itchy nose issue under control.

So on the search for :-

So not a lot to ask surely? Let me know if you know of anything that matches this wishlist.

So finally on a busy day we took Sarnie to Colriane show jumping. We should have been at Bicton yesterday but the weather put paid to that so headed to Colraine for the 1.10 Open. She warmed up nicely but in the ring was just a bit lacklustre and made a mistake at the double for 4 faults.

Currently not really giving me the feeling of loving her work but will tinker with a few things such as feed and general management to see if we can get her enjoying life a bit more.

8th November

We were supposed to be jumping Sarnie at Bicton today but sadly the weather put paid to that and the show was cancelled. Luckily we have another opportunity tomorrow as there is jumping at Colraine although only one class we can jump.

Bobby meanwhile is at last getting some regular work. At the moment this consists of mainly gentle hacking as he has lost a lot of muscle and strength which need to be built up gradually, luckily we have plenty of hills around which should help.

Sarnie has finally got her own way and is not being made to do much work! She schools or jumps only once a week and the rest of the time she has fun hacks to maintain her fitness but for just show jumping she doesn’t need or want regular drilling and I am trying to get the spark back into her. Frustratingly I am finding her saddle is now a bit tight so I am using what was Pip’s which fits far better but I feel neither as secure in it and it somehow hurts my hip a bit more. Sarnie is still living out clipped but with a top of the range rug to keep her warm and dry. It does mean I have the perfect excuse not to ride in the rain as I can’t rug her up wet!

Will update you tomorrow with how the show jumping goes as well as a Dribble update.

4th November - Bobby’s trip to Bristol Vets

On Monday the alarm sounded at quarter to 4 (yes that was in the morning) and we set off for Langford Equine Hospital at just before 6. We were due to see Veronica Roberts who is a specialist in internal medicine and is researching on and one of the countries leading experts on head shaking. Whilst Bobby has never been head shaking it is thought that this persistent nose rubbing could be caused by the same thing “trigeminal-mediated facial dysesthesia “.

We settled Bobby into the unit on arrival where he soon happily settled and munched hay. We then at 10 had a consultation with the team (throughout the day as well as Veronica there was also her second in command and a number of students). Whilst the students at times slowed things down it was also great to get full explanations of absolutely everything. The consultation reviewed his clinical history after which point I had to ride him in the indoor school and out in the field so they could see the symptoms. On a day that I wanted things to be a bad day he was remarkably good and showed few signs of the nose itching certainly not enough for the next stage which was to nerve block the nerve to make a definite diagnosis.

So we missed out that stage and proceeded to an endoscope examination of his nasal passages, sinuses and guteral pouches. Again it was fascinating to watch the clear images and have everything explained in detail for both my benefit and that of the students. We then did a detailed examination of his mouth and teeth, both procedures showed totally normal insides. By this time it was 12 oclock and the next stage was a CT scan of his head which was booked for 2.30. Veronica spent time going through a recent presentation she did on head shaking, causes, treatments etc. This was fascinating, a little depressing as to date there is no known cure although she has started a very interesting trial that is helping manage cases.

So after a break for lunch Bobby was prepared for his trip to the CT scanner. This was the only procedure I did not witness due to the radiation. He was basically heavily sedated and head placed on a rest with ears taped down so they don’t touch the edge of the machine going through. He was placed on some sort of trolley that rolled his head and top of neck through which took a scan of his whole head and top two vertebrae of the neck. The scan itself took 60 seconds, the preparation in the room took 30 minutes and as he was so good this was evidently quick! The CT scan though was totally normal, no abnormalities shown, so no tumours, abscesses or bone abnormalities.

So all in all Bobby had a day he can’t remember much of and we came away with a plan to move forward. For some reason his symptoms have dramatically decreased, this may be due to his chiropractic treatment, a seasonal change that may have happened anyway or it is a temporary blip and the symptoms will return. For the moment he will be got fitter, worked as normal and if the symptoms return he will be taken back to Bristol possibly for a nerve block and to see if the trial treatment (which hopefully in a few months will be beyond trail stage and a recognised treatment) can help him.

So fingers crossed that the improvement will continue and we can finally get him going and doing some work.

1st November

Sorry things have gone a bit quiet on the blog front but I have had a sick laptop which has been at hospital! I am now typing using a traditional keyboard plugged into the laptop as the keyboard is non functional! I am sure it will mean it can go on for a bit longer!

Two more days and we head to Bristol with Bobby to see if we can get to the bottom of what is causing this persistent nose itch. Interestingly there has been quite a big improvement which I hope we can build upon. On his last visit to the yard chiropractor Dr Dave Siemens www.davidsiemens.com worked on Bobby and then with partner Claire Hunter they did some work on his head to help relieve the problem. As you can see from the picture the treatment was in no way stressful!!  Although we haven’t got a total cure we have had an improvement and a lessening of the symptoms to a more manageable level. At least I know if Bristol vets can’t do anything to help I have a continued way forward which may be able to alleviate and with any luck eliminate the problem. However for the moment I need to ensure that if any proper diagnosis is available I can have it.

Typically as is the way when we have a fairly big trip coming up the lorry decided to throw a spanner in the works and develop a water leak. The good news is it wasn’t any major part just the pipes which is evidently quite common on DAF’s. However how can 4 water pipes cost £230!?!

26th October

A successful and enjoyable weekend to report, seems they have been rare in 2014 in fact my frilly board (which only contains the current years frilly's) has nearly doubled!

Yesterday Sarnie did her first affiliated BS show for 15 months. Show jumping has always been her specialist subject and despite feeling at times a little dead to the leg she still made it feel very easy. We travelled to Bicton Arena which although not close (2hrs) is one of my favourite venues with a huge outdoor arena. We entered the 1m and 1.10 opens which were both very competitive classes.

The 1m was a Single Phase which means the jump off starts after fence 6 and in all it is quite a long round. We went near the end of the class where she produced a lovely double clear with some good turns that put us into 2nd place and the money (£2 profit on our entry fee)!

The Newcomers with me having not jumped any bigger courses for a while was starting to look a decent size. I did my usual trick of deciding I must get the right spot and hence buried her in the bottom of some of the bigger fences. I then tried a totally new trick and going into the second double I totally dropped the rein in one hand and let in dangle. Sarnie just thought it proved the point that she could manage without me!

So a clear in the first round and a very competitive jump off. Sadly we missed our turn totally after 5 and hence took a long route. We made the rosettes but not the money to come 5th.

So a great return to affiliated jumping. I intend to mainly keep Sarnie at these heights, she has proved to me she can do bigger but now it is great for keeping my eye in and enjoying ourselves.

A big thank you to Nick Perry for taking some great photos all of which can be found on my Facebook page but a couple of the best below, including my new coach (or at least that was what Smartie though) giving some advice!!

So onto today and I thought that as Dribble is still with me it was about time to get her out and see if my assertion that her dressage was greatly improved was reflected in the results. We entered Prelim 15 and Novice 22 (her first novice) at Chenhale Equestrian a venue quite local to us.

In the first test she did a super accurate test in the long arena and scored nearly 72% for a PB. She won that test by just over 1%. In the Novice test she tried very hard, her medium trot was not there today but otherwise she coped brilliantly with counter canter, medium canter and smaller circles scoring mainly 7 and 8s to win comfortably by nearly 10% on a score of 72%! So very pleased with her and great when the judge writes a comment “A pleasure to watch”

I am tempted to do some affiliated with her as she is more than ready but I think maybe for the market I am looking to sell her to (riding club / grass roots) then points may put people off. Guess it won’t hurt to do some prelim tests and maybe some Novice in the training section so that we can see what her potential scores are without actually gaining any points.

Of course in the perfect world I really want her sold and struggle to understand why someone hasn’t bitten my hand off for her, everyone loves and admires her wherever we go. Hopefully the right person will come along soon. Next weekend she be clipped which will make her look even smarter.

21st October

The Dribble sale continues to be a frustration, we have now had a few viewers and they all like her but just not quite enough. We had someone last week who left having discussed potential vetting and prices and I never heard another thing. There is someone else who would like her but the funding is not as available as hoped and I am waiting on a second viewing from someone else. Just hard to move forward with things so up in the air.

I am over the moon with how Dribble is coming on her flat work is now getting very established and we have basic sideways, counter canter and even a little medium trot. She is getting plenty of work at the moment not that she needs it for sanity (she is the same from 1 day or 10 days off) but during the time she was off while my collar bone mended she rather fattened up and lets just say it is not that easy to get it off again!

Bobby has not improved with his nose rubbing and we are now 10 days away from a trip to Bristol with him. I so hope we can have some answers but I suspect it may be more ifs and maybes. Sarnie has been clipped for a second time and is convinced that she should now be spending her time in tucked up in the stable with a mountain of food. Sadly for her she is still abandoned to the field. Hoping to take her show jumping this weekend to Bicton if the weather is kind.

16th  October

Things are bit in limbo at the moment, have a few viewings arranged for Dribble so waiting to see if anything comes of those, Bobby has got a date for his referral at Bristol on the 3 November so really not doing much with either at home. Sarnie now is at a stage she doesn’t need a lot of work just exercised a few times a week and have a jump when suitable shows come up. I feel a bit lost without any real goals or targets.

I have been keeping my eyes open for another horse although realistically Dribble really needs to move on to make room. Thought I had found two very promising prospects but sadly someone got there before I did. Shame as they had come highly recommended by someone with a good eye and that had ridden them. I think this time of year with winter coming there is more value to be had. I have a good idea of what I want but not sure if what I want and my budget will meet!

I guess I am looking for a sane young horse that has ideally done a little bit of something like a few BS classes and XC schooled with the potential to go up the grades eventing. Keep your eys open please.

11th  October  - Port Eliot BE

We went with the intention of having a fun day and that was what we did, luckily the horrendous stormy showers were mainly in the morning so although the ground was slightly squidgy (technical term) it stood up well.

Firstly I have to say what a lovely event Port Eliot is and hopefully will continue to be. Fantastic parkland with a good variety of fences and terrain. The show jumping arena was in front the house and it was a friendly well run event. The only thing that did worry me when walking the course was that I had understood the terrain was undulating, I would describe it more as hilly and with Sarnie not super fit I was a tad concerned.

Dressage as often in the case with Sarnie the less said the better! She had no enthusiasm for it whatsoever and the test involved me frantically digging her in the ribs trying to get her moving forward. Someone had clearly either blinded the judge or paid him on my behalf as we got what seemed a very generous 32.

So to quickly gloss over dressage and onto the show jumping. The course didn’t seem to be huge but with the slightly soft ground it did need jumping. This without doubt is Sarnie’s strong phase and she did make it feel quite easy.

We trekked back up the hill to the lorry and changed before returning to cross country warm up where we rather suspiciously jumped the warm up log as there was a lot of mud which was clearly frightening! We set off slightly gently for two reasons, firstly I wasn’t sure quite how fit she was and secondly she didn’t see the point in going any faster. We only had a few mildy dodgy moments as we were both rusty. She jumped the first 5 nicely and then as we approached the owl hole at 6 she was reading the sponsors banner at the side rather than looking at where she was meant to be going. Luckily at the last moment she did look at what she was doing and  jumped through the hole. We then went through a bit of woods at which point she thought it was time for a rest, I put my leg on and then she rather launched down the drop with me at buckle end, there was a skinny 4 strides later but being the old pro despite no contact she stayed straight and jumped the skinny. Through the next woods and water and up the hill I by this time realised she was fitter than I was, Sarnie still had ears pricked and as long as I let lope along at her pace she was fine. The last combination was a palisade and turn to a corner, we were slightly loosing traction on the corner and slipping but luckily we made it to the corner and popped it nicely.

Only a little bit of video setting out and coming back.

Jumping the last

Sadly the amount of time penalties put us out of frilly range finishing 12th. To add to her 90 BE points Sarnie did win her first 2 foundation points for the double clear! Not sure she needs to put that on her CV.

Objective achieved though we had an enjoyable day, all Sarnies pictures show her with her ears forward so she enjoyed it too. This was probably a one off, I doubt she will event at any level again but I am looking forward to doing a bit of show jumping this winter before we try and put her in foal again next year.

Thanks as ever to Nick and Jane Perry for photos and help.


th October

Thankfully looks like Port Eliot will survive the weather tomorrow although whether we get a drenching when we are there is another question! Sarnie had the horror of a dressage lesson on Wednesday with Robert in which we tried to perfect some of the elements for a BE100 test namely in front the leg, bend and obedience -  there was progress particularly with Robert following her with a lunge whip!

It has been difficult to judge her preparation as I don’t want to bore her but at the same time I need to be sure she is fit enough. My preparation has centred on fitness work with plenty of hills when the ground was hard and enough jumping only for her to be muscularly fit as lets face it she shouldn’t need the practice at this height.

Want to treat tomorrow as fun as I doubt her dressage will be good enough to be competitive. Really leisurely times with dressage not until 3.15 and finished at 4.45. Sarnie will stay out tonight as I don’t want her changing routine she is still out 24/7 and the only difference to last year is a dipper of hard food daily!

Looking forward to writing a report of the weekend.

5th October - Sarnie goes XC schooling and clearing up some misconceptions!

Sarnie is my horse of a lifetime and has taught me so much however, if I asked you what your impression was of how she would be to ride my guess is most people would be wrong! She is the most lazy horse at home, behind the leg worse than anything else I have ridden, is difficult to get working through properly and bend in the direction we are going. Jumping she need a session of sharpening up and really getting in front my leg, you often see me with quite a long rein but if it I get too much contact we just go nowhere. Even when competing at her peak if I had taken my leg off cross country we would have petered out to a halt - she has never enjoyed galloping. She is impossible to ride out with others unless I will let her do her best trekking pony impression and stick her nose up the tail of the horse in front.

Having slightly run her down she is still a wonderful horse just not always one who is the most fun at home! Anyway today with Port Elliot in mind next week I took her XC schooling, sadly as there were no crowds to play too we didn’t expend too much energy but she made everything feel v easy. However I was certainly rusty and couldn’t see a decent xc stride to save my life!

Can we all start doing a sun dance now as the forecast is rain all week and I really won’t be very happy if Port Eliot now gets rained off!

1st October

Rain is forecast so I have bitten the bullet and entered Sarnie for Cornwall’s new BE event at Port Eliot on the 11 October. They have a open BE100 class so hopefully we can go and have a fun spin round. Considering her likely version of a BE100 dressage test and the fact the class looks quite strong not expecting a top finish but a fun day would be great. Looks like it will be leisurely times which will be nice and a relatively close event albeit probably take about 90 minutes to get there.

Dribble is going really well, ticking her over while I am hoping to sell her. Actually been a bit frustrating as I think she is competitively priced and a lovely horse but had very little interest. Only one viewer whom she went very well for but wasn’t quite what the lady wanted.

Bobby meanwhile is ticking over still itching nose and we are looking now at a referral to Bristol for further investigations.

25th September -Caroline Creighton lesson

Although this lesson had originally been booked for Bobby it seemed a shame to waste it so I took Sarnie. We had a short session on our own and when asked what we wanted to focus on my reply was ‘fun’! We worked through the exercises that were in the school including a related distance to a bounce. Some dog legs, skinnies and an interesting turning line of 3 with a corner in the middle. Sarnie had a great time and we both had fun although you could tell it had been a year or more since we had done exercises like this as we had a little misunderstanding at the corner! Anyway all on the video.

Caroline was amazed how Sarnie was looking and felt she had more topline and muscle than when she saw her last. Also felt she was jumping and moving better than ever. (Not quite sure about the looks like a Show Hunter comment - did she mean fat!?) Looking forward to a few competitions now, will definitely give her a run in the BE100 Open at Port Eliot if it rains so could everyone do a rain dance please (just make sure it stops again!)

22nd September

This year seems to have an unfair number of downs with not enough positives to compensate! Another problem has been looming and I have finally had to face facts that it is a serious one.  

About a month after Bobby arrived with me he developed a mildly itchy nose needing to give it a good rub when he has finished a session of work. He would rub it on the wall and the floor to relieve the itch. Over the past couple of months this reaction has worsened whilst being lunged he will on occasion run his nose through the sand and now I am riding him again once mildly warm he is trying to rub every 4 or 5 steps pulling his head to his leg. Even hacking is difficult and any proper work is impossible. It is mildly apparent in the stable but definitely worse for being slightly warm.

I spoke with the vet at an early stage and he was initially treated with steroids as if to control an allergy but this made little difference. We have given him a full physical, close check of skin, full examination of mouth and blood tests. Nothing is showing up. This sort of condition is difficult to diagnose, even if we manage that it may not be possible to treat. It seems to me it is the membranes of his nose that are sensitive, a nose net or Vaseline to protect the nose from pollen irritates him 10 times worse. The weather seems to make little difference, I have changed the feed and haylage so an allergy is probably not the cause. The vets have talked about trigeminal neuralgia which is what can cause head shaking and is nerve pain in the head, this is a possibility but not certainty. Basically we are at a loss as to what is causing it and how we can help him. If he continues to get worse the prognosis has to be poor.

I am currently giving him a little time whilst trying some holistic / alternative treatments. The next step after that (with agreement from Equicover) would be referral to a specialist unit at Bristol University. If anyone has come across anything like this or has any idea get in touch.

21st September - Tall Trees Show Jumping

It was great to get out again after 8 weeks recovering from my collar bone break even better on my favourite horse (I have no apology for having favourites!) Sarnie. Her first outing in 15 months. Whilst it was only an unaffiliated show it was at Tall Trees in their lovely big outdoor arena with properly built BS courses.

Much as it is nice to have her out my usual frustrations surfaced when she warmed up refusing to connect from leg to hand or go in front of my leg. However once in the arena she knew her job and for the day only touched one pole and that was in no danger of rolling! She rather toyed with the fences and managed to jump them easily from whatever stride I managed to get her there on!!  

We won both classes (I will admit these classes didn’t have great entries) and two magnificent rosettes, I will definitely be returning and hopefully to the BS shows as I think Sarnie will be more than capable of having some fun jumping this winter.

I am also toying with entering her in the BE100 open in 3 weeks at Port Elliot one of the few Cornish events. I think she might enjoy a burn round the cross country and taking the you know what in the dressage!! Am hoping entries remain open as I am not entering before I am sure that we will have a bit of rain to ease the ground.

So madam was clipped today and started doing a little bit of hill work to bring her fitness on. She did think clipping might mean a stable but sadly she was chucked back out in the field!

18th September

So about time I rounded up what is happening with all the horses.

Sarnie is the positive news story of the moment albeit from her refusing to get in foal! She is going really well at the moment, moving well and looking good as you will see from the video clip showing her working at home.

I gave her a jump yesterday and it left us both with a big grin on our face. Hoping to take her to do some unaffiliated jumping this weekend and if all goes well she will be registered again.

Dribble has today been advertised on Horsequest. I am really fond of her and will be very sorry to see her go but she is more of a grass roots horse or PC / RC horse than an eventer that will take me back up the levels and that is what I want to do. (Ad Ref 105503)

Bobby has had a bit of a virus so having a little time off to recover. Very frustrating as I want to be doing things with him particularly before winter really sets in.

Roxy meanwhile who I rode for her owner at Treborough where we were 3rd looks like she has found a new home which is both great news for Helen and a little disappointing for me. Shame we didn’t get to do a few more events but my accident was rather bad timing.  

15th September

Now back from holiday so normal service can be resumed with regular updates. I couldn’t have a holiday without some equine interest and a medical issue cropping up!

On the Sunday we visited Burghley which was 2 hours from where we were staying. Great to have an opportunity to walk he course and actually get up close to the fences. Writing as someone that is unlikely to ever jump it I thought it was quite a bit easier than Badminton. Yes it was big and bold with some very testing combinations but Badminton had in places looked impossible this far less so! Sadly we couldn’t watch the show jumping with the dogs in tow but enjoyed browsing the tradestands and watching a little on the big screen.

A few non horsey days followed (well we did go and watch the racehorses at Lambourn) before on the Thursday we headed to Blenheim. Enjoyed this event more perhaps because being a Thursday it was quieter and not as crowded allowing easier browsing. Also we bought members tickets which allowed us to sit in the garden area with the dogs and watch the dressage.  

The cross country walked, there were some impressive fences. Seems hard to believe at one point we were aiming Sarnie to come here. It is quite interesting it is a course made predominately from mobile fences, at the end of the event it is all cleared away and only the odd ditch and pond left behind!

The tradestands were great and actually spent some money replacing the hat I landed on when I broke my collar bone, some new chaps and some saddle soap.

I also enjoyed all the other activities with eventers challengers, displays and talks. I listened to a very good talk from Blenheim course builder Eric Winter who had quite a few interesting points.

Perhaps one of the best things from my Blenheim visit was a chance to catch up with my sponsors Penny and Kiren from Equicover Insurance. Penny did rather lead me astray as we visited the Brightwells Elite Event Horse Auction horses. I rather fell in love with a little Dutch mare with a fantastic temperament and lovely jump. However lusting was about my limit as the next day it sold for 14k.

The following day we had a sporting encounter of a different kind as we were stopped by the police to allow the ‘Tour of Britain through.  I don’t think I realised quite how fast they went or to that matter quite how many out riders they need! There were over 50 powerful bikes clearing the route ahead including about 20 police bikes!

Finally I couldn’t manage even a holiday without a trip to hospital! To be fair I had done the injury a week before when Sarnie had pulled the reins through my hand bending my middle finger back. The joint was swollen and a bit sore but after recent experiences I wasn’t intending on getting it checked out nor did I really think I needed to. However the swelling never went down and the finger wouldn’t quite straighten. So on the Friday a trip was made to John Radcliffe hospital in Oxford. Very impressed albeit I was visiting at a quiet time but I was in and out within an hour having had x rays which showed it wasn’t broken. I was then given an  appointment with a hand specialist the following day. The specialist did quite a few tests and still can’t decide if it is badly sprained or I have taken the tendon off the top of the knuckle. Currently I have a make shift splint on that finger (being the middle one I can drive and ride) and I see the consultant at Treliske Hospital tomorrow to review. In fact I need my own space at the hospital as I have hand specialist tomorrow, hip specialist on Friday and in 2 weeks the collar bone man!!

6th September

Good week for Shoestring Eventing in equestrian magazines, I was quoted in a Horse and Hound article on the debate between hard hats and top hats. Also had this lovely 2 page feature in Ridgeway Rider Magazine.

3rd September

Recovery still going well although finding it boring not to be able to do too much exciting yet. Looking forward to a week away next week visiting both Blenheim and Burghley for a day while staying near Wantage in Oxfordshire. Be great to walk the courses, watch he horses and have a look around the trade stands.

Hope when we get back to start jumping Sarnie and get Bobby going as well as hopefully sell Dribble. Hate selling horses, always a difficult process making sure that the horse suits the purchaser and I am sure I put many people off even coming to look by being too honest on the phone and exaggerating any slight negative - I would never make a salesman! Once a sale has been agreed you then have the dreaded vetting with vets seemingly more and more frightened of passing a horse!

Despite the lack of excitement on the blog side we still achieved 31,500 visitors to the site last month which is amazing.

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