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28th February - She’s arrived!

Yesterday we collected Posy from Exeter after her journey over from Ireland. She was last off the lorry having been on the lorry which had dropped others off in Warwickshire and Dorset. I don’t think she was that impressed to find having got off one lorry she had to get on the next one, saying that she loaded willingly enough.

Once home she seemed to appreciate the deep shavings bed which resulted in much rolling followed by admiration of the beautiful grey face! However by today she had fallen out with the grey face and was positive it was out to get her. There was much swearing and bearing of teeth resulting in poor Bobby being ousted from his stable so they could do a swap as the mirror was clearly upsetting her. Bobby anyway appreciated the big shavings bed and didn’t care as long as the food followed him. She seems a real people person loving some affection.

She wasn’t totally convinced about being turned out and spent most of the time by the gate asking to come in again. Very ungrateful when that field and a meagre ration of grass has been saved for her!

I have had two shortish rides and both times she was great. A short session in the school (see video) and a hack. In the school she was fab very balanced for her age and looked and felt great. Hacking she is still v green and coming from a very quiet part of Ireland there was quite a few new sights and sounds to get used to. We went through the village and eyes were out on stalks particularly at all the gardens (If you have been to Ireland you may notice they don’t generally go in for gardens!).

So will carry on introducing her to life with us and keep everyone updated but so far definitely so good.

26th February

Well Posy has finally started her journey to me. She has left her current yard and is heading to Dublin to meet the ferry. We don’t however know yet whether the ferries will take horses today as conditions are a bit breezy, fingers crossed please.

We have been working on our preparation with Bobby for the Riding Club combined training qualifier this weekend. I had a run through the test yesterday and he is still struggling with how quickly the movements come up, we start off well then get quicker and quicker as the test goes on. Our run through finished with me cantering up the centre line sideways in the wrong direction and halting in a rather crooked manner facing the wrong way! (Think I missed out a medium trot hence facing the wrong way). I rather think it was divine intervention that the competition has been postponed due to the bad forecast.  Shame though. Can’t really work out a plan b yet until I know when Posy arrives. We are meeting the transporters at Exeter so that will be a 4 hour round trip sometime in the next few days.

23rd February

Had one of those days where I really felt how much progress we have made with Bobby. Rode and schooled tonight in some very blustery weather (missed the sleet and hail). Although he is bright he has settled unbelievably from the super sharp ball of energy that first arrived and actually puts his mind to working properly.

Schooling wise he tries hard, currently we are trying to master some novice dressage movements for the weekend as we are doing Novice 27 at the riding club combined training qualifiers. He is struggling with elements and I am not sure he is quite ready to put it together but he is trying so hard. We were doing some counter canter tonight and one time we had a really balanced canter and transition and he suddenly went into a different gear with a huge bouncy trot and then after about 3 strides couldn’t hold it and ran onto his nose, but if that is taste of what is to come it is very exciting.

I am always careful when I work him to do plenty of trot between canter transitions to stop him anticipating and we always finish sessions with a good 5 minutes stretching in the trot and then we have a 10 minute walk home. I think this has helped him relax in his work.

Posy news is currently she is hoping to leave Ireland on Wednesday - we will see!

22nd February

Currently hibernating as the wind is howling and the rain is hammering down, Bobby is having a rare duvet day! Poor Bobby thinks he is overworked as this is his first day off since we got back from Ireland, he is hoping the new girl comes soon to share the workload. Sadly I suspect with the current weather the wait may continue a while longer, she was meant to be starting her journey today.

Had a really good jumping lesson with Bobby yesterday working on riding a course and getting the canter between the fences. The canter has improved hugely but now rather than working on keeping the canter we have progressed to needing to keep the bounce and rideability in the canter.

You can see in this clip of us riding a course that as we went on further the canter got less and less bouncy which meant by the end we made a mistake.

We then worked on jumping a couple of fences and getting the canter back in between and bouncing. It is not easy as I slightly lose my position on landing where he throws his jump and then the canter just gets a bit flat. You can see in the last clip things did improve although that was one of the few good shots I got to the double.

Really pleased with the progress and just at that stage where we need to get plenty of jumping under our belts.

19th February

Been a little bit of a frustrating week. The new girl Posy is still over the water in Ireland waiting for transport to come over. Feels like being in a housing chain with everything happening as quickly as the slowest person. In order for the transport to be affordable there will be a lorry load of horses and we were waiting on vettings being completed etc. Then once we thought things were ready to roll the weather has turned and the forecast currently is delaying any livestock sailings. Latest I heard was that they are hoping to leave Ireland on Sunday.

Bobby meanwhile seems to have since his successful jumping outing found another gear in his flatwork. Whilst the steps are quite impressive he is not currently strong enough to hold himself so the resulting work is plunging forward on his head! Luckily I had a lesson with Robert Pickles on Tuesday and disappointing that it was not to be able to move forward it was quite helpful to have someone experienced on the ground when we needed help. He made us literally try and tootle along in the trot and let him find his balance, use a lot of trot walk trot transitions and do some walk pirouettes and shoulder in at walk to get him listening. Too be honest it didn’t seem we made much progress at the time but we came out the following day and had some much better work.

15th February

So no rest for the wicked! Bobby after a few days off was told he needed to be on top of his game as there was soon to be competition! On Friday we had a good lesson with Caroline and yesterday we headed to Tall Trees for their show jumping. Bobby having completed a few cross country sessions was quite keen and running through the bridle in our lesson, so for the show jumping I changed his bit from the loose ring snaffle to a Universal bit that just gives a bit more control. I am not a great one for changing bits always worried I am likely to over bit and having had Sarnie who ran her entire career in a snaffle it is not something I have much practice at!

The change of bit made a huge difference and enabled me to control the forward energy without stifling it. Occasionally his canter is still not strong enough to hold the shorted canter and he trots but as long as I don’t panic he is very capable of jumping out of it.

We did the 80cm class and he jumped a hugely improved round and was clear. In the jump off sadly I saw one of my non existent wing and prayer strides that resulted in a pole but we still finished 4th. I plucked up courage and entered on a ticket Bobby’s first affiliated class the British Novice. Certainly didn’t expect what happened a double clear that would have put us second if weren’t on a ticket! A little green at times but tried hard and the fences were nothing to him.

So really pleased with him.

Today almost seemed Spring was in the air. Like to give the horse variety in their work and today we went out for a couple of hours hacking. Up and down hill, stony and wet paths as well as a variety of natural hazards! Great education and really helps fitness and getting them used to different surfaces and going.

14th February

I am back and nearly recovered from a successful Irish trip. It has been very full on although we did have a frustrating 3 hour delay at Brstol for our flight over as fog was affecting the airport. This rather set us behind on day one. I don’t think it is fair to go into details of the people and horses we saw, suffice to say we looked at about 25-30 horses over the 3 days and I probably rode about 8 of them. Very quickly if I didn’t like something or if it didn’t suit moved onto the next one. As it was we ran out of time to see a few that were penciled in.

In the end there were actually 3 I would have happily bought. A beautiful just backed 4 year old who moved and jumped amazingly. A real blood type and about 15.3. In the end felt it was just a bit too baby for what I want now although if ~~I hadn’t found anything more suitable I would probably have taken a punt. On the opposite end of the scale I really liked a bay 7 year old gelding that had a bit of experience but had been in a professionals yard for a few years and I just wondered how well he would adapt to an amateur.

So the chosen one was a 5 year old grey (I did not want another grey) mare 16.1 believed to be by the show jumping stallion Douglas.

She has a lovely straightforward nature and has been produced by an amateur as a 4 year old having done a few training shows, hunter trials and hunting. She was bought by a professional in October and that is where I saw her with Fred Scala who has made the whole buying process very easy. She is very athletic with a good jump and just had the right amount of education for a 5 year old. She was vetted on Friday and passed with flying colours so will hopefully be joining me this week. Really excited about her and hopefully she and Bobby can campaign at similar levels this year.

9th February

It is 8pm and off to bed as leaving home tomorrow at 3.45 to drive to Bristol and fly to Dublin for a few days horse hunting. Fingers crossed please.

Quick clip of Bobby from the BE cross country clinic on Sunday, he was really good and coming on in leaps and bounds.

Sorry for the short update - night!

7th February

Been busy planning a trip to Ireland next week to view some horses. Been a frustrating hunt to date so thought it was time for a change of scenery and at least the ability to see quite a few on one trip. Hoping that there will be 20-25 to see which all roughly match my criteria.

Good idea as it sounds at the time all the organisation needed as well as fitting everything else in has been a bit of a struggle. However flights, car, B&B as well as a good few horse to see is now organised!

2nd February

Had an ace session yesterday at Pontispool Arena XC. A clinic with Caroline using the huge variety of fences, it really demonstrated how much he has progressed since our last visit. This time also we could add the water into our schooling as it wasn’t frozen. We did a variety of exercises and his confidence continued to build. He only had one naughty which was the ditch we jumped last time now with a rail over the top, however as soon as he had a lead he hopped over confidently.

The brush type fences that in the past he has not understood he was sailing over and we were seeing some good controlled strides to our fences.

Below is a clip which I think shows how far he has progressed starting with a fairly technical line and going on to jump a couple of decent fences out of a good rhythm.

Near the end of the session we attempted Bobby’s first proper triple brush. Considering that the simulated version has caused us some problems and even resulted in me having a splat we did build it up carefully with poles to help start us off.

So all in all delighted and gone away knowing I now need to be a bit more positive in my riding of him and not quite so defensive.

Thanks to Nick Perry for the photos again.

31st January

Survived the weather and ridden both horses today in high winds. Does make me think that much as I would love an indoor school (or even a school at home) I bet horses that do have to work and hack in these conditions are more prepared for the likes of Larkhill on a windy, cold and blustery day!

Hoping tomorrow to head up to Pontispool for a clinic on their all weather cross country arena, weather was looking very dodgy earlier in the week but now seems like we may get be able to travel safely. Report I am sure tomorrow or Monday.

29th January - Dressage Lesson

On Monday I had a lesson with Robert Pickles which was really interesting and very encouraging. He saw Bobby just after I had him but hasn’t seen him since. He loved Bobby and said he could have a career in pure dressage which is very encouraging as I thought that would be his weak phase. We worked on improving his strength doing some bringing in of the circle and then leg yielding out. Some trot walk trot transitions and some almost trot transition where  I go to bring him back to walk but don’t quite get there before riding him away.

The clip below shows a little of leg yielding the circle out and into canter and then some counter canter which we have just started.

So plenty to work on although the weather this week has rather curtailed me completing much in the way of homework. Been glad to just potter out and back quietly! Mind you it is a great indication of how he has settled down now as hacking on a bright sunny day was difficult when I had him and I wouldn’t have contemplated it in this wind and cold.

25th January

Apologies for the lack of updates but this week has been hectic. I have spent 2 days in Bristol (I could not commute in and out of a city, it took over an hour to travel the final 5 miles!) I had to give a presentation at a Zoo Licensing seminar for zoo inspectors on health and safety and other legislation affecting zoos. Yesterday I gave another presentation (thankfully I took the right one) on fitness of horse and rider to my local riding club Cornwall Trec. Both presentations seemed to go down well and nobody fell asleep or heckled so can’t have been too boring.

I have also been busy with the horses. Bobby had another lesson with Caroline at Resparveth on Friday. Working on similar exercises to previous lessons, his canter has improved hugely but can still get long.  After each exercise we halted him, reined back a few steps and proceeded in canter in order to finish on a balanced canter with the hocks underneath him. Although this was untidy to start with as the lesson went on it really helped him.

You can see in this clip how much his canter has improved, a tight turn back such as this he would have been unable to do a few weeks ago.

He jumped the angled rails exercise well

We finished off with Caroline building the skinny that caused me to come off last time. We did build it up very gradually but he finished by jumping it very confidently and no stops or run outs in the process.

Dressage Competition

Yesterday we took Bobby to Colraine for an unaffilaited dressage competition. I had hoped to do a Prelim and try a Novice but on riding it through earlier in the week I found although he could cope with majority of the movements he couldn’t manage them all together so we stuck to the two Prelim classes. I did wonder how well he would go considering the jump lesson the night before and was convinced that at the end we may halt rein back and proceed in canter.

Actually the first test was really good soft and fairly obedient. Both tests showed we need more engagement for better transitions.

Prelim 1

I was really pleased with a mark of 70.2% for 3rd place.

The Prelim 13 test to my mind wasn’t as good he was a bit more running into my hand and tighter in the frame but it can't have looked too bad as we had the same mark for 4th place in quite a strong class. Can’t fault his effort, the judge liked him and he had a 8 for his paces.

Sarnie’s turn

So Bobby was allowed a quiet day today with his feet up (before a Robert Pickles lesson tomorrow). It was time to bring Sarnie out for some fun. Lately she has been a bit flat and not enjoying her jumping so after a long chat with my vet we took the decision to try injecting her hocks as she does have slight arthritic changes in them. I am pleased to say that since doing this she is moving far better and jumping off her hocks again. It is great for me when having a really novice horse to have the ‘old girl’ back and enabling me to jump some bigger courses competitively.

Today we took her to Colraine to have a jump unaffiliated in the 1m. She certainly had more about her and jumped a good clear in the first round.

The jump off we were quite rusty and took some long lines and had a fence down however it was rather nice to still come away with a 2nd placed frilly.

So I think that is the big update complete and hopefully a slightly quieter week ahead.

18th January

Took Bobby to Tall Trees yesterday. We had been planning to jump competitively there this weekend but I have been struggling a little getting him to a jump correctly and to me our show jumping has become a bit hit and miss. This wasn’t helped when we had a jump at home and he was just running into the bottom of the fence and cat leaping. I can get quite sensitive about my ability to ride (or lack of it) and by this point I was convinced I was in the process of ruining him! So we stepped back and booked the school at the completion of the competition so I could have a lesson with Zoe Gwennap.

It was an enjoyable day as we got up to the venue at lunchtime and I helped move the courses between classes and pick up poles.

I started to warm Bobby up outside as the last class finished and typically this coincided with a heavy hail storm. So whilst I started the lesson rather wet and damp I can say he behaved and we had a good practice of riding in all conditions!

Once inside we focused on me riding him slightly stronger to keep him between leg and hand and also riding squares rather than circles so we didn’t lose him through the shoulder. We started working on a single fence  with a pole 3 strides away and 3 strides after which ensured I reached a good spot at the fence and then remembered to ride properly away from it. I all too easily on jumping a fence will forget about getting the canter back together and sitting him up for what is coming next. Once I started sitting up and landing and collecting him whilst maintaining the energy with my leg we had a very different outcome.

We gradually introduced the course into our work and with frequent reminders to actually ride and not just be a passenger we actually finished off by jumping a very confident and tidy round.

So hopefully back on the right track again.

14 January - Sarnie’s breeding plans

I think we have finally settled on plan z! Clearly she won’t be easy to get in foal and a natural element may help things along. I am loath to send her miles away and lose control over how things progress and also how quickly the costs mount up. I have therefore decided to send her locally to a fabulous stallion but what maybe people wouldn’t imagine would be my first choice.

Meet Nippy (aka SOS Kantje’s Unicolor)

I have known Nippy since my friend Georgia first had him and his temperament is second to none. He is equally at home at opening meet or hunting whilst accompanying a lead rein rider, he has a lovely jump, won working hunter pony classes but he has made his name as a dressage pony. With his young talented jockey Poppy Padley he has been selected for the past two years to represent BYRDS Southwest Team at the Home Internationals and Inter Regionals. We won’t tell Sarnie about his dressage prowess!

Sarnie will be able to stable next to him which will hopefully get her hormones working and be naturally covered. Whilst a pony stallion was clearly not my first choice the match could actually produce something really nice even if it may end up palomino!

Nippy is graded with Sports Pony Studbook Society and has won awards for his offspring. You can read more about his performance, breeding and history here http://www.sportpony.org.uk/sos-kantjes-unicolor.shtml

Sarnie will probably go and meet him in March and we will play things by ear and keep our fingers very firmly crossed. I am really happy with my choice and excited by what we may produce if she gets in foal.

12 January

Not enjoying the current weather and looks like there is worse to come. I have been put on stand by to assist Cornwall Council’s emergency management team if it is needed this week.

Thankfully it has coincided with a quiet time for Bobby as he had his flu jab at the end of the week as well as a visit from Dr Dave Siemens my chiropractor.

Last weekend we went off horse viewing and managed 8 hours driving, 550 miles and two viewing's in one day. We saw one very nice horse but not quite for me and one slightly disappointing horse - the search continues.

Decisions meanwhile have been made about a different husband for Sarnie this year with the view to increasing her chance of getting in foal. All will be revealed soon. She is ticking over work wise and still living out although I do wake up in the night worrying about her when I hear the wind whistling and rain hammering down.

8th January 2015

Had a lovely lesson last night at Colraine again continuing to work on cross country style questions. Sorry very little video as the group of horses waiting generally obscured the camera.

We did a variety of exercises including some low bounces, angles and skinnies. Funnily enough was really pleased with him thinking how much more mature he had become and grown up. Well you know what they say about pride before a fall?

He seems to struggle to understand the narrow fence with the crossed rail in front. After I had brushed myself down and remounted (I was a tad sore and bruised) we added a guide rail each side and he popped it quietly and confidently. I have to admit today I have very sore shins of all things, must of been the way I landed on the fence. I guess it is all character building!

4th January 2015 - Tall Trees Show Jumping

Another outing for Bobby and his second show jumping show this time at Tall Trees. I had gone intending to do the 70 and 80 but when we got there the courses looked quite friendly and not over big so entered the 80 and 90.

No video from the  80 but he went green on me again dropping back to trot and popping. Although his canter is still much better he struggles to maintain it in times of pressure i.e. when he has lots of other things to think about. We only had 4 faults and I jumped that round again HC for a clear.

In the 90 I tried to ride him a lot more connected and the round was much better. Just struggled with a dog leg and then had a circle to regain balance. However for his first 90 I was really pleased with him.

He is coming on nicely and ~I can see an improvement every time we go out.

2nd January 2015

Happy New year

I have set some goals for the year ahead. I have often been reluctant to set goals as so much can change or go wrong but then again if you don't have something to aim at you can drift!

So for me my goals are:-

1. To be more positive

2. To find and produce another horse for BE

3. Produce Bobby and start his BE career with the aim of having him being confident at Novice level by the end of the season.

4. To stay in one piece!

5. To have fun and try not to take things too seriously

At the moment Bobby wise I am hoping he will start his BE career with the BE90 at Howick in the first weekend of April. There is very little suitable in March for him and we will probably try and do a few unaffiliated hunter trials or ODE’s at venues such as Bicton or Pontispool. I have also just booked another couple of clinics in February. On the 1st we will be doing another session on the Arena XC at Pontispool with Caroline Creighton then a week later we have booked in for the BE organised XC training at Lower Tokenbury in Cornwall again with Caroline Creighton. Exciting times for Bobby.

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