Had a really good lesson with Rob Stevens yesterday when he was down in Cornwall. As regular readers will know last month I had my first session with him and although it was really positive I can’t actually say I learnt loads. As I suspected this first lesson was used by Rob to assess us and what needed working on. This time we had some great exercises at working on weaknesses.
We started offon the flat doing some basic leg yields and particularly off the right leg work on the quarters leading to really supple up what can be a bit of a lazy hind leg this way. We then did a series of walk to canter transition to both get the hind legs working and her in front of the leg. We also did the transitions thinking a quarters in position again to really get her hind legs active.
We then started working on the changes and used a pole and a figure of eight exercise to change over the pole. From left to right we were getting good changes but from right to left they were not as easy.
To help really get a clean change from right to left Rob raised the pole and used a pole of the ground to encourage the change. This was fine til I missed my line going the other way and got rather unseated!.
We then did some similar exercises to last time building up a grid of 4 uprights on a short stride to encourage athleticness. We finished with a fairly decent grid!
Finally we did a double of spreads again starting at a reasonable height but building up to a decent 1.25 / 1.30 fence. What the video doesn’t show is the width of these fences which Rob had pulled out really wide to make her use herself
So some good exercises to work on at home and really pleased how Pip is going.
Winter certainly seems easier when the weather is dry and the mud is in abeyance. Also finding it easier with just the one stabled and in work. On the other hand I am very much missing having another to ride and produce. I have been looking around and sadly my small budget doesn’t match my Ferrari tastes! They say it is a buyers market at the moment but I am not sure that is the case, nice horses rightly are still fetching good money and those in my price bracket often have quirks or faults I can’t compromise on. I do find it frustrating when sellers don’t respond to calls or emails even if just a quick note to say it is sold.
Talking of frustrating much as I love Pip she does have some annoying habits. Don’t tell Sarnie but this winter she has nicked her stable (well Sarnie is not using it) and it has a hay bar fitted. I neatly every morning fill it with yummy haylage and within 5 minutes of her coming in this is the situation.
She takes great pleasure in burying her nose down as far as possible and with a deft sideways toss throw as much out as possible. I probably should give up and just leave it on the floor but it is the principle of it!
Thankfully she does at least eat most of it although occasionally it is wasted through being pooped and peed on!
It would be nice if just occasionally I felt one of them appreciated my efforts and their comforts but then they are horses!!
As always a really good lesson with Caroline. I had a choice of doing some exercises on my position or getting some jumping done and have to admit chose the easy of option of jumping!
We discussed the BS last weekend and what went right and wrong. Caroline wanted us to focus on riding square turns to give us more room in an indoor environment. As soon as we started doing this the canter became quite static and lost power so we spent a while on a big square really focusing on keep the engine through the turn and not allowing the canter to idle. You can see once we started jumping how well she was doing and that I had plenty of engine.
So now to go home and work on keeping the engine in the square turns. Caroline was at pains to point out that this doesn’t mean when I jump that I only use square turns but when there is less room or the situation warrants we must be able to execute in a forward manner.
Life is ticking on at the moment, it is a time of year that doesn’t excite me with not much competition to look forward to, still the worst of the winter to come and for me the uncertainty that my pending operation brings. The operation will be approximately 16 weeks from seeing the consultant, that frustratingly brings me bang into the start of the season. I have been in touch with my consultants secretary and we have agreed once I have my pre op assessment (mid December) I can go on the cancellation list. This means if someone drops out I can step in at short notice. The sooner I can get it done the better as I am starting to really struggle riding and in particular when using the dressage saddle. This has at least given me the excuse to work in the jumping saddle!
Have a lesson with Caroline Creighton tomorrow which is always very positive. The camera is charging so expect a report as soon as I can.
I am working hard at the moment trying to gain additional sponsorship. I was disappointed not to be shortlisted in the Shearwater / Horse and Hound sponsorship package. If you look on the Equilibrium page my no.1 supporter Jane Perry has nominated me for their November rising star so keep your fingers crossed for that. Considering we are multiple award winning for the social media and have a huge number of interactive followers I probably should work harder at gaining sponsors however the one thing I don’t like doing is asking people for things (however much I can do in return). I really do need to get more proactive on this front. If anyone is interested in working with Shoestring Eventing or knows a company that might benefit do get in touch.
Finally for now my favourite girl Sarnie made me laugh tonight. She is making great progress with a whole round haylage bale she has in her field. However the best bit is clearly in the middle!!!
25th November -
At the ERA (Event Riders Association) ball on Saturday we were announced winner of the ERA / Shearwater award for “the rider who has used Social Media best this year” Sadly I was not able to make it to collect the award in person but was over the moon to win the award particularly when you consider we are against professionals.
As always a big thank you to everyone who gets involved with Shoestring Eventing and makes it so successful.
24th November -
Seeing the last competitive outing was the beginning of October it has been a while! Jumped the Newcomers and Foxhunter. Was really pleased with the first round of the Newcomers we kept a forward rhythm and didn’t touch a pole. There were 9 in the jump off and I intended to give it a shot against the clock. However this changed when I was drawn penultimate and there was no clear rounds before me. I took it steady particularly to the bogey at 2, came to the final line on a clear but sadly she clipped two down behind to be out the places.
The Foxhunter seemed to go up a fair bit and looked big enough to me (take that as enormous but pretending it wasn’t). This round wasn’t as good maybe I tightened up a bit and she needed to be in front my leg a bit more. However only one fence down and one circle when she just started to take charge a bit.
All in all a pretty good outing, everything progressing in the right direction and great to put our training to the test.
Both Mum and I had a day off work today for the big task of clipping Pip. The poor girl is terrified of the clippers and needs a pretty heavy sedation to allow it at all. She was bathed yesterday so clean and ready today. Always end up leaving clipping as late as possible in the hope of just having to do it the once.
Anyway it was great to see Joe from Rosevean and while we were clipping and he was waiting to see when she needed topping up it was great to pick his brains regarding breeding from Sarnie, what we need to do and when. The practice is having a breeding evening in January so we can go and really get all the latest information. I will try and do a report on here.
Anyway Pip is now looking like a proper horse again and we are hoping to go show jumping on Sunday and get our competition heads on again.
Just a quick picture of my favourite horse and isn’t she looking well?
Still surviving the elements. Must get going properly on the search for her husband!
17th November -
I was very lucky at short notice to be able to arrange a Rob Stevens lesson. Rob is based in Gloucestershire, has ridden at the top level and has a great name as a trainer. He comes down fairly regularly to near St Ives. First time I have met Rob and I took to him immediately,very down to earth and enthusiastic trainer.
We worked on a number of exercises firstly a grid of 4 uprights on quite a short striding to really make her adjust and use her shoulders. You can see the progression in the video from a small cross pole to a decent finishing grid.
The main points Rob picked up here was that I was letting my shoulders come too far forward so I need to allow the horse to come up to me. The other thing with an exercise like this itis up to the horse to do the adjustment not me, let her make the mistakes in training.
We moved onto a combination so Rob could see us canter to a fence. Again we started small and built up to a fair size.
Again I needed to keep my shoulders up more.
We finished with an exercise jumping the two fences as uprights on angles. This gave quite a tight turn that needed to be balanced and gave us an opportunity to work on our changes.
A really good session, very pleased with Pip and delighted how much Rob liked her.
12th November -
I saw the consultant about my hip yesterday and although the news was mixed I at
least know the way the treatment will be progressing. I felt a bit uneasy after filling
in the questionnaire asking how well I could walk, put on socks, go up and down stairs
It is possible this may not help and arthritis has set in the joint from the impact of the break or the subsequent impingement. If I continue to get pain then they will assess and they may need to do a full hip replacement. As they say lets take it one stage at a time.
My horse hunting on Sunday was very enjoyable and it was interesting trying a horse that was a lot narrower sit on, I was in a lot less pain. Sadly lovely that the horse was my gut instinct was it wasn’t quite right for me, shame as its temperament was fabulous a big must at the moment.
Have been struggling a bit this week, the issues with my hip are starting to seriously affect my riding. Not only is my hip painful particularly when working in the dressage saddle it also weak which means I am far more insecure than I was. Even the odd spook from Pip can cause me to lose my seat. What is really bothering me additionally is where I am trying to protect my hip my back has stiffened up to the extent there is no flexibility to absorb the movement. Even canter is difficult unless I get my bum out the saddle. At this point in time I am unable to effectively school on the flat. I come away from the school feeling like bursting into tears which is not the most positive frame of mind!
Anyway stupidly or not I am trying to put it to the back of my mind and off to see another horse tomorrow which could be lovely and is young enough to have some time off and wait for me if needs be. Monday is the big day for me as I am off to see the hip specialist, I hope I can get a good understanding of where we go from here and hopefully what he can do to make things better. I will work hard to ensure it happens so fingers firmly crossed!
5th November -
Firstly a huge thank you to everyone that took part in the Shoestring survey I had a massive 400 responses, I will publish the results later in the month.
Sadly the weather put paid to my Lynn Bevan lesson so I was very lucky and managed to secure a lesson with Caroline Creighton. Working with Caroline in the winter is great, it really gives me a chance to pinpoint problems and work at correcting them. Therefore although the purpose of the session is to improve our jumping performance we didn’t actually jump a fence.
After warming up we started by using a few raised poles in a curve with me having short stirrups. Once Pip was travelling over these nicely I was asked to get out of the saddle keep my shoulders up and keep my knee loose. By keeping my knee loose I could not grip with it and therefore had to use a good lower leg to support my position. It was key to keep my shoulders back.
This clip shows the poles we used and the position required although not how I struggled when trying to go over them out the saddle!
We started using transitions to make sure Pip was in front my leg and check I was preparing the transitions properly. What soon became apparent was that particularly on the right canter strike off I was dropping my shoulder forward to the right which clearly wasn’t helping with
balance. The video clearly shows this and that I was able to start correcting it by having an awareness and focusing on looking up and ahead.
We finished by working on Pips straightness and also not allowing the canter to idle. A number of short poles were place around the arena to canter over. By using short poles you have to be more accurate (the saw is coming out to a few poles I have!) Pip very easily comes behind the leg and into quite a poncy canter (technical term) and we struggle with time faults. The canter therefore needs to be more forward including through any transitions or corrections. By having a more positive canter she was straighter and I confidently felt a large fence could of been erected and we would have been in a brilliant canter to jump it.
So a really good lesson and lots to work on. However as I write this 2 days later I am still extremely stiff!
Just had to share this picture of Sarnie last week at the yard watching herself on the telly! We had a shoeing demonstration for local farriers and vets at our yard, Sarnie and Pip were the guinea pigs.
Pip meanwhile is back in work albeit quite light work. Amazing in just the three weeks she has had off how much weight she has put on! It is not helped as her coat is now growing and so we have the fluffy look. Clipping is delayed as long as possible due to Pip’s extreme fear of the clippers and the expense of getting the vet to sedate. The less clips the better.
I am looking forward this weekend to a lesson with Lynn Bevan. An international show jumper and respected accredited trainer I am hoping to gain a few pointers to really get this phase nailed over the winter so as a minimum we feel confident jumping the heights and more for intermediate. Hoping the weather doesn’t spoil it too much as it is outside, the forecast is not looking too promising.
Anyway will make up for my exciting next 2 days away, no not horse hunting but giving a presentation at the National Radon conference. Certainly my life offers extremes!!! Wish me luck.
27th October -
I was very excited about a quick trip to Ireland in search of a new Shoestring horse. Luckily I had the guidance and help of an experienced sales goer as my friend Gwendra Pearce came too. Amazed how reasonable the trip was with flight from Bristol £45 return, car hire £45 and B&B for 2 nights 60 Euros.
Sadly for me the sales were a bit of a let down, maybe the wrong sale time of year, there is a big 10 day sale in September and an elite event horse sale in November so perhaps this sale attracts less quality .
I have been asked why we went to Ireland when there is plenty of nice horse in this country but there are a couple of reasons. One is finding a huge choice in one place and the other is the greater likelihood of a bargain. With Sarnie retired and the last two horses that I sold Mary and Impy making a loss my reserves are severely depleted and I was more likely to get a sensibly priced or even bargain horse.
Sadly this sale didn’t have a huge amount of quality particularly on the first two days. The 4 year old day was better and there was some thought about bidding on a nice chestnut but in the end decided against it. I guess better to come back empty handed than with something unsuitable. Now need to find a plan b as really would like something else to play with this winter.
Tomorrow it is a 3:30am start for the drive to Bristol Airport, flight to Dublin and drive down to Gorsebridge sales.
Have spent a lot of the last week researching the lots, looking at videos, getting an idea of breeding and marking a list of possibles I want to look at. Also great that any horses that have competed at affiliated level show jumping or cross country have their full records online. I don’t think until you see them in the flesh and check their vets certificate I am really going to have any idea if anything would suit me. I am ideally looking for a 4 or 5 year old, with a nice jump and the potential to go on and event. Temperament is very important as needs to be fairly straightforward.
I look forward to reporting back.
As you may have all seen there is an opportunity to fill in a brief survey at the top of page. It will only take 2 minutes and is anonymous. I hope it will give me a true feedback of how my website / social media is doing and what I can do to improve things. It also matters very much to me how many of you respond as this is a good indication of how many interactive followers I have, so even if you think you have not got much to offer please do complete it.
Already it seems that more training reports would be popular (might mean I need to have more training!) and some basic guides about how we do things such as fitness, day to day routines etc so I will work on this over the winter
I will probably close the survey at the end of the month and I will publish the results in November.
It seems very strange at the moment, a whole week of no riding! Pip is currently going through the stage of having needed a few days proper rest and relaxation she now feels up to careering round the field and turning the nice green grass into mud!
Sarnie meanwhile is still out and looking a tad porky, amazing a horse that has never been fat is looking so well on nothing but a diet of grass! I will try and keep her out as long as possible but we haven’t the grass to winter her out all year.
I have been catching up on all those jobs that never get properly done. Cleaning all the tack including spare, washing all the rugs, numnahs and boots, clearing out the lorry, oiling the studs so they are not rusty next year and just general tidying and spring cleaning.
Next week I am off to Gorsebridge Horse Sales with a good friend. Hoping to find another member of the shoestring team to bring on and have some fun with. Going with a very open mind, having gone through the catelogue there are a lot of horses that sound nice but in the flesh they may only have 3 legs! Need to get the balance between getting something sensible and not going too far the other way and get a riding school donkey!
9th October -
It seems strange to be talking about the final event of the season but our season has now finished and not quite in the style I had hoped. Maybe that is a reflection on the year where we have had mixed fortunes but undeniably made huge steps forward.
Dauntsey is always a bit of a holiday too. I look after the health and safety for the event as well as help in other ways. This year that involved a day spent at one of the hubs of any event cross country control. This is the place where all emergencies are coordinated and the central point for all cross country communications as well as the commentary point and provisional results. There were a few unusual incidents this year including the course stopped when the refreshments wagon got stuck exiting the water crossing and also another incident at the water jump (part of the River Avon) when a canoeist had to be stopped and then sent on his way between horses!
Anyway back to Pip’s last run. The intermediate track was new and it included some of the biggest fences I had jumped with bold rails and hedges a real feature. However it was not overly technical with a double of corners and a bounce being the only real accuracy questions. The weather threatened to ruin things with heavy rain on the Thursday and some heavy drizzle Friday morning but the ground stood up really well.
Dressage was the easiest of the intermediate tests 115. Despite feeling our dressage has gone off the boil in the later part of the season she produced one of her best tests to score a 33.2 which put us in the top 1/3. The judge even commented ‘Lovely Partnership’ which was nice. No video I am afraid as we had a camera problem on the day and it only worked for show jumping!
Show jumping was a decent enough track particularly as the ground although not terrible was cutting
up a little bit. I honestly think we did one of our best rounds to date. I can ride her too a fence and trust her so much better now and she made some great shapes over some of the fences, unfortunately we got rather unbalanced to the double at 8 and then went to it unbalanced and flat having both elements down which was frustrating as was the additional 2 time faults.
So onto cross country and I was looking forward to riding the course. We set out well over the first two fences and then fence 3 a step to a roll top she just went slightly backward on me as she did the rail over the ditch under the trees at 4. I was aware 5 may need careful riding as it was a rail with a bit of a drop on landing, we were slightly off as we approached and she just hesitated a split second and then unfortunately slipped meaning she was in no position to take off, very frustrating. Turned round and represented and popped through fine as the mistake had been made I took the foot off the gas and worked on having an enjoyable and fun round. My god she jumped and made the huge the fences feel easy as she did the technical questions like the corners and bounce. I think it must be one of the first time I came back with a grin on my face despite the 20 penalties (and no I was decidedly unhappy about those). On reflection I think the very tough track at Gatcombe had just knocked her confidence slightly but she was certainly back in the grove by the end.
Pip is now enjoying a few weeks rest.
|Archive Equine Blog|
|Course Pictures A-F|
|Course Pictures G-M|
|Course Pictures N-S|
|Course Pictures T-Z|