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Computer problems so sorry if updates not as frequent as usual

25th July

A busy few days with 3 competitions in 3 days. It started on Friday with some evening dressage which was ideal for Ellie. We entered the Prelim and had a go at her first Novice test. Typically I only read the test on the day and realised it was one of the more tricky novice tests!

She has been going really well at home, very relaxed and a lovely outline. Typically with a bit going on she got quite hurried and very tight in the neck meaning her paces were more choppy than usual. I should have probably warmed her up a little longer. We were 2nd in Prelim 14 and then Ellie although tense made a really good stab at Novice 30.

 Score of 67% may have been slightly generous but I was really pleased with how hard she tried. She was 2nd in the class which may sound impressive but I ought to admit there was only 2 of us in it!

Ellie took a back seat (working on the relaxed outline) while Posy took her turn at competing with a two day show jumping show at our local venue Colraine. It didn’t start off in the best manner as in the 1.05 (which I felt we could have been quite competitive in) we had the first fence down! I guess I was just a bit causal although it is unlike her to knock it in front, I have to say after that she really jumped and the rest of the round was fab.

The Newcomers was far better round and it is nice I am finally feeling confident at this level.

I still struggle a little with her running through my hand and not respecting a half halt. In the jump off we just made up too much ground to fence 2 and had it down. However considering it was a meaty jump off I wasn’t too disappointed.

Sunday we were able to jump another Newcomers and she jumped her best round of the weekend. Typically unrecorded as I shot up to the arena before Mum was there and ready. A super clear and I started to feel a bit brave in the jump off until in trying to take a clever line to the first I clipped it behind. Actually seeing the jump off rounds I wouldn’t have stood a chance as the £100 first price meant it was very competitive!

I actually walked the Foxhunter and didn’t feel we were too far away from being ready to jump that which is great progress. Despite the lack of any frilly’s really pleased with how she was jumping.

Ellie felt she definitely had the bragging rights as she won two rosettes to Posy’s none and didn’t seem to understand that the standard and levels were not comparable.

20th July

One of the great things about Shoestring Eventing is the people that get in touch either to just say how much they enjoy the blogs or appreciate the course photos. This week I had a lovely surprise when Sarah Lee got in contact. Sarah is an artist and also a Shoestring follower. She was having a doodle one lunchtime and came up with the fantastic logo you can see on the left. It combines my cross country colours with a great representation of Shoestring Eventing (I may be able to describe it better if I was arty but I’m not!).

The great thing is that the logo should transpose onto clothing so if I’m feeling vain enough in the future maybe I can get a Shoestring Eventing range made up :) That maybe for a time that the financial shoestring is not kicking in as badly as this month!

19th July - Non Dauntsey BE report!!

Today we should have been competing at Dauntsey BE100. Dauntsey is one of my favourite events with bold forward thinking courses and would have been a great education for Posy. Sadly events conspired against us or maybe I was just being a wimp - you decide!

We travelled up yesterday just over 4 hours and had a good journey keeping moving the whole way. We arrived at stabling and Posy was already sweating despite the fan being on and the windows open. I washed her off although not helped initially that I didn’t realise it was a hot horse wash and it rather defeated the object of the exercise! She was cooled off but it was very hot and the forecast for competition day was temperatures on the 30’s. I also read reports that Dauntsey’s ground was pretty hard.

We headed off to the event about 8pm to have a look. I walked the course with Smartie and even at that time it was stifling hot. The show jumping ground was really good and the cross country wasn’t bad however there were a few stretches where it was pretty firm. By fence 2 my fit lurcher (Smartie) was throwing himself in the long grass to cool and wasn’t really happy until we reached the water at half way where he could lie down and cool off! If the dog was finding it that bad at 8pm what would the following day be like?

Considering all the factors put together I decided to withdraw and head home early. Maybe I’m being soft but the heat takes a lot out of them and then to have to travel home 4 hours it is a lot to ask, the heat today was extreme, the ground also would only dry further so I wasn’t going to risk the combination of factors. Added to that I have 3 dogs that need to be kept cool as well as humans, so we headed back to Cornwall at 7am this morning.

Looking at the results and listening to reports most horses and riders have coped fine today but despite the over £200 pounds lost in entry and diesel I really don’t regret putting everyone's comfort first.

Anyway for anyone missing a quick video clip we had a lesson with Ellie from Stef Eardley on Sunday who absolutely adored my pony. We worked on introducing some medium and teaching her to stretch and take the rein in walk and trot. Sadly the video ran out of battery before we got going but a quick clip warming up.

14th July - Fred Scala clinic

When you find an instructor you click with yet he is 4 hours drive away there is a problem. One solution I found for this particular inconvenience has been to organise a clinic in Cornwall so Fred came down to me. I organised a two day clinic at two venues to make it worth his while and it also meant I could have a session each day. I tell you something this organising clinics is not as easy as it looks!!

So yesterday I shared a lesson with Posy and had a individual slot with Ellie. The principle is the same in all Fred’s sessions and he uses the scales of training as a basis so rhythm and suppleness before contact. Warm up is moving the horse off and away from the inside leg whilst keeping the rhythm and increasing the suppleness and swing. It is only when this is established that you start to work them into the contact. With Posy particularly we worked on not holding her up in the contact but getting her to carry herself, show her where I wanted her then she had to carry the frame. The main thing with this was to ensure there was plenty of leg to ensure the engine was firing through.

The fillers at Knightswood where the first session took place were certainly bright but Posy jumped well. Again the focus was on rhythm, suppleness and engine. I found that Posy was leaning on my hand and as usual I was ineffectually half halting and part of the time just pulling. Fred made me use a lot more leg to really get her off the hand which I hadn’t been effectively using.

This was a clip of us jumping.

So Ellie went through much the same process in warming up and jumping. Was really pleased that Fred liked her a lot and agreed with me that she has the potential to be an FEI pony. For Ellie rhythm was the key as she has had the habit of getting a bit quick. We built the jumping up just starting over a pole on the ground and keeping the rhythm and straightness too and from the pole.

We finished up with a little course again

So pleased with both girls but instead of heading home we headed up the county to stay with a friend so we could have another session the next day.

Both horses came out even better. Ellie laps up learning and is the sort of swot that was probably revising the night before. Once warmed up we used a simple pole exercise and then a pole on take off and landing (9ft each side) to help her develop the jump. We then went on to jump the biggest jumps we have jumped together and she really went very well.

Posy also came out better the next day but I still struggle sometimes with the contact. It was great to see Fred hop on and really get the engine going and a lighter contact. When I sat back on the canter was the best I have felt it. Posy’s face was a picture when he finished as she realised it was clearly someone she couldn’t get one over on!

Jumping wise she really pinged, the main thing for me to focus on is being quicker after my fence to balance her and soften / supple her into the contact. In doing this it must be from leg not hand. Lots to work on.

So now to start organising next months clinic so we can keep the good work up.

As we had the day off we popped down to see Sarnie and her (unnamed) baby. Pleased to say both are looking fabulous. I don’t think I have posted a picture on here for a while.

12th July - Bicton BE100

Bicton is always a lovely event whether it is show jumping or eventing and one that has generally been lucky for me. After our fairly poor last couple of runs I was looking for a dramatic change of fortune. Things seemed to be getting worse not better when on Friday my back went into spasms of pain again, even pain killer which I usually avoid like the plague didn’t help much. So the early start on Sunday did not find me very enthused. I was packing the lorry and always take Arc Equine to travel Posy home in as a maintenance type thing. Suddenly occurred me that perhaps I should try it on the way up and see if it had any effect on my back. I have to say that for my daily hip pain it has never been a huge help hence wasn’t my first thought. I creaked into the drivers seat and couldn’t even reach up to pull down the sun visor! During the course of the 2 and a bit hour journey my back gradually improved to the extent when I arrived it was barely painful. I managed to firmly attach to my leg and proceeded to walk the course and tack up with it on, by the time I hopped on my back was normal again for me. Thanks Arc Equine!!

Dressage we are struggling a bit at the moment to get any real self carriage and she just leans. However it was one of her better tests with the exception of her showing off her flying changes in the left canter which surprisingly didn’t impress the judge!  I was really pleased with a 31 that left us about middle in a strong section.

I had a feeling it wouldn’t be a dressage competition and for once I was right. Show jumping caused a lot of problems with clear rounds relatively rare and the course actually stopping a few horses. I felt with our experience we should be ok but even for us Posy had the odd spook. I also need to revisit bitting as although it doesn’t look too bad I had very little control in the pace or level of collection coming to a fence.

So although room for improvement it was clear and on the day that was what mattered we can work on the other bits.

The lack of listening to me did leave me in a dilemma as the show jumping bit would usually be what I used cross country however with some downhill sections including to a couple of big brushes I didn’t feel confident using it. In the week I had cantered her in a Cheltenham gag with 2 reins but that is a bit different to jumping in it! I bit the bullet and decided to try, a brave decision for someone that sometimes struggles to hold one rein properly! I got down to the warm up and tested it out and found her more responsive although I did have to ask the kind steward to rescue my stick as in the effort to keep hold of my reins the whip got dropped!

So we set off cross country and looking at the video she was still a bit strung out at times as I tried to gather the knitting and make sure the reins were correctly held and tensioned. However I did have that bit of control I needed when going downhill. This actually allowed me to be a bit quicker, mind you things were not helped by a quick detour at 3 when I took the wrong track and had to cut back and angle fence 3 slightly. I probably lost 5 seconds.

We went into the woods and came down the hill to two big brushes (see video) which she powered over and then turned to the first water and double of skinnies which she jumped well.

She just kept going and really focused on her fences. The corner came off a tight left turn and even though we didn’t have a perfect stride she kept straight and true. The final water caused no issues although I did have a bit of a miss at the last fence. We finished 2 seconds inside the time and were one of only two combinations in our section to finish on our dressage score.

We were delighted to find we had been placed 3rd with both our best finish score and placing to date. Still lots to work on and in no hurry to advance a level until we have a few things established but a definite step in the right direction.

Huge thanks to Bicton for such a well organised event with super courses and Protexin for their super prizes.

8 July

I have been flat out this week searching for a new yard and also organising a Fred Scala clinic in Cornwall next week. The horses have been ticking over although poor Ellie has taken a back seat which I guess does her no harm. Posy is this weekend off to Bicton for the BE100 on Sunday which we are looking forward to and we have a bit of run of events this month. We do Dauntsey a week on Monday and Wilton in the final weekend of the month.

No success on the yard search yet which is frustrating and quite a worry!

3 July

Still busy yard searching so if anyone is knows anything near the A30 between Chiverton and Camborne let me know.

In the meantime Posy had some BE training at Launceston on Monday with Tim Cheffings training. She was really good the session was only spoilt by the removal of a shoe at the end! We did a variety of combinations and she really has matured.

Sadly with the clinic finishing at 830 and the A30 being closed I never made it to bed until midnight! Was it worth it? Guess so!

So forward on a week and today I did some work in the school with Posy focusing on some athletic exercises and then practising some corners after our issue at West Wilts. A good session and no hesitation on the corners!

30 June

Sorry update even later than expected as been a bit at 6s and 7s! Was told on Monday that the stables I have been renting at the yard will no longer be available and had notice to leave in a month. You can imagine the panic I am in. Not easy to find a yard within the geographical distance I need with room for a lorry. Keep your fingers crossed!

So looking back had a super time at Bicton with the girls even if the weather did try and spoil the first day!

Day 1 we had two classes entered in the lovely grass main arena. I have to say when I walked the first class the Newcomers having not jumped that height for a month I was rather nervous as it looked big. Matters were not helped when the rain started! There was a decent treble and the course caused problems.

It wasn’t our best round and a little green in places but she tried her heart out for me.

The weather really came in after that and the ring cut up. It was perfectly jumpable but as we are on the limit of our experience currently I pulled out the jump off. I was really looking forward also to the 1 meter derby later in the day but although it had dried up the ground was quite tacky and I decided to pull out of that as well. Do sometimes wonder if I am a bit soft but at the end of the day she is precious.

What we did manage to do though was take Ellie out XC schooling. This was clearly quite a step up from her first baby schooling session. She was generally fabulous except she got keener and keener and tried to get faster and faster!

The next day was spend doing an 18 inch upright and teaching her to canter to and from it in the same rhythm. Finally the day after she settled back down. Super pleased how she is coming on.

Day 2 for Posy involved two classes and probably first off was her best round of the week a super double clear in the two phase Newcomers (jump off started after fence 8) where we finished 8th in a class of over 60.

We then progressed to our first 1.15 class where we made 2 mistakes probably not helped by me knowing we were stepping up a class and therefore so keen to ride better I got worse!!

The final day we jumped another Newcomers class. This time it was jumped the old fashioned way with a separate jump off. There was actually not many clears considering the size of the class as the water trays and wavy planks stopped a few horses. Posy was a little behind the leg but despite this jumped a good clear.

The jump off was decent and I had some sharper spurs on, just lost some balance on the turn to the double and took the front rail (it was the bogey fence) but she jumped the rest great.

Posy’s day wasn’t over as seemed a shame not to use the excellent cross country schooling facilities whilst I was there. Didn’t overdo things after a busy few days but focused on the water where we built up to jumping her in the Novice ways which is great progress for a horse that has taken her time to get used to water!

A lovely few days away and both girls learnt a lot.

23 June

Just heading off to Bicton for 3 days of jumping with both girls. Also have a BE clinic at Launceston with Tim Cheffings on Monday so don’t expect any updates on here until probably midweek.

I will try and post on Facebook but signal is patchy!

21 June

As regular readers know this year I have been selected as a worming ambassador for supplement solutions. This allowed me to have two horses on their annual strategic worming programme. Link

Last week we had a worm kit arrive for both horses and I took some poo samples and sent them back for analysis. A few facts :-  

- Link to worm count kits: http://www.supplementsolutions.co.uk/parasites-wormers/horse-wormers/worm-counts-and-tests/westgate-laboratories-worm-count-kits-equine.html

- Throughout the grazing season horses should be tested for roundworm using a faecal egg count – Supplement Solutions works in partnership with Westgate Laboratories who are renowned for their fast and effective service getting results back to customers.

- Worm counts are a useful tool from Spring-Autumn to detect a roundworm burden and any results over a medium count (200epg) needs treating.

- In most cases you will be able to alleviate the need to worm your horse across the grazing season, cutting down the amount of chemicals going into your horse and back out into the field.

- If a horse’s count shows they need treating a targeted dose of the correct wormer is an effective way to deal with the burden.

- Buying a worm count kit from an official stockist like Supplement Solutions means you receive helpful follow up advice from our award winning SQP Hannah who is on hand to answer any queries that you may have about worming!

So great news both horses had identical results,  Posy and Ellie  - <50epg no eggs seen. No worming needed whereas normally I would have wormed them now. All that poo picking is having an effect.

19 June

Yesterday Ellie had her first taste of cross country schooling and she was fantastic. Don’t get me wrong it was only tiny but her attitude was great and she was so bold. We had a couple of baby moments at a skinny and a decent step down but everything else she just took in her stride. In time her problem is most likely to be she is too bold!

The video takes you through most of the session

Out of sight of the camera we also did a couple of decent ditches and water including popping and out a step. Our only near miss was at a fence in the woods when Ellie jumped big and left and landed us in some deep undergrowth, luckily we both remained together and in tact!

17 June

With Posy having the limelight Ellie has been ticking over slowly. However this week thing have picked up and I am delighted with her progress. On Wednesday we went to the local Cornwall Trec group evening dressage and did two prelim tests. I was really pleased with her in both tests although tension slightly showed each time in her final halt with a bit of fidgeting.

She was second in both tests with 70% or just over so not to be sniffed at. Video is the second test Prelim 14.

So instead of resting on her laurels the next evening we headed to Gwennap Riding club show jumping. We only did the baby class but I was delighted that she was able to canter to her fences, listened to me and popped a sweet clear round. The 3rd place rosette was also a bonus.

So I did give her tonight off but tomorrow we have a cross country clinic with Threewaters Riding Club over Knightswood baby cross country course. Be very interesting to see what she makes of it. Watch this space.

14 June - West Wilts BE

After our double splat at Millfield we were looking for a big improvement at West Wilts and whilst it was much better there is still lots to work on.

We went up via a visit to the equine dentist Bob Livock who gave Posy’s teeth the once over. Really can’t recommend him enough, his years of experience and the fact he is a rider himself means his results are second to none.

So arrived at West Wilts at mid day on the Saturday giving us plenty of time to let Posy have a mooch around, a bite of grass and a snooze before a quiet schooling session to tune her up (that was the idea anyway!) We are fortunate that West Wilts is very close to our number 1 Shoestring Supporters Nick and Jane Perry so that evening we were cooked a lovely meal.

Sunday itself was leisurely as we didn’t do dressage until just before 1 so plenty of time to walk the course. West Wilts courses are always beautifully presented and on the softer side for the level. This was no different a nice course but no real concerns.

Dressage was a reasonable test and in comparison to some other tests I saw I was slightly disappointed with the mark of 33.

Two hours to wait for show jumping and the course was causing a fair few problems. Luckily Fred Scala was there and gave me some help warming up and made sure I was riding properly. A nice competent clear round followed.

A quick change and onto cross country. Had been finding Posy a little stuffy and I have been a bit wary of kicking her too hard since my unplanned dismount warming up at Millfield. Fred soon sorted us out and said that being in front the leg was just as important as coming back to me, he got me riding her properly and we had her really going super in the warm up.

We set out really well. Mum who was videoing was so impressed she forgot to press record so I can’t show you the evidence!

Jumped the first 3 well and then the drop pictured before heading to the water where she really kept up the revs travelling through. A brush on the mound she jumped really well as she did the following two combinations.

Fence 11 was a corner no more difficult than she has already jumped. There were a few people watching and walking the course she seemed to take her eye off the fence and came out the side. So annoyed looking back did I have her together enough or had I let her get a bit long and not into the bridle, was my line as good as it should be. Had to take the alternative which was really frustrating and then completed the course in good style.


I won’t lie I was very disappointed with the cross country penalties but in a lot of ways it’s better to have these blips and rectify them than find them at a higher level. Fred has sent me home with some exercises to work on and a promise of a visit to Cornwall soon. I have also booked some cross country schooling as I am a bit short in this area. I will also be working on some technical exercises in the arena so hopefully we can put any issues to bed. We are not eventing now for 4 weeks so should give me plenty of time.

Onward and upward!

8 June - New arrival

I am delighted to announce that early on Monday morning Sarnie safely gave birth to a chestnut filly. Over the moon that both mother and daughter are well and everything went smoothly. Huge thanks goes to Mel Hennah who was there to ensure all was well and kept me updated.

If we could have chosen we would have loved a filly although not sure where the chestnut bit came from! No name yet any ideas welcome. Sarnie is besotted with her but in a real motherly way and not over protective. I think she learnt a lot from baby sitting Batty’s foal.

I think you may find an overload of foal pictures now. So pleased Mel persuaded me to have a last try putting Sarnie in foal last year and also huge thanks to my ever patient vet Joe Ivey who went above and beyond the call of duty helping me get Sarnie to this stage.

6 June

A good weekend albeit with no competitions. Posy is still being allowed a quieter time after a busy Bicton although on Saturday we had a lesson with Stef Eardley. This maybe wasn’t as relaxed as Posy would like as I was told I was being too soft on her.

She keeps taking the rein and pulling it forwards. We spent a lot of time halting and reining back a step before trotting on, so in a form using an exaggerated half halt so that she actually started to respect the more subtle half halt.

We then did an exercise using a square, at each corner stopping and doing a ¼ turn on the forehand to get hind legs crossing. We then built this up and trotted the straight bits before coming back and eventually really collected the trot on the corner and got her stepping over and round in the trot. A fair way to go but gave us some tools to use and things to work on.

Ellie had the more fun part of the weekend with a jumping session. We still spent a lot of time trotting small jumps and little grids teaching her to listen and focus. We finished off by doing some small jumps in canter. Amazing how rewarding producing horses can be as finished popping a small jump and then she came back and listened to me as we cantered away. Now just need to progress this to several jumps!

This week we are preparing for our next BE at West Wilts on Sunday.

3 June - Waiting

Sarnie’s due date for baby S is tomorrow so very excited yet nervous! I have abdicated responsibility and she is with Mel Hennah at Trenarth stud. She is looking fabulously well but we think she is likely to go a little over her due date. I hope she doesn’t keep us waiting too long!

  Batty who she has been out with for a year now foaled a few weeks ago. Sarnie is at least getting the idea of having a little one around and sharing some baby sitting duties. She seems really good with him and Batty is a very relaxed mother - really hope Sarnie is learning the ropes!

Popped down and saw her last night and once the apple was eaten she had no interest in me whatsoever!

Posy has had the week off although will be in for a shock tomorrow as I have a dressage lesson booked with Stef Eardley. Be interesting to see how she thinks she has progressed as been over 6 months since she saw her last.

1 June - Bicton Round-up

Finally surfacing after 5 days at Bicton for their big show jumping show. I will try not to bore you with an in depth detail of each day as one days show jumping can be much like another!

Perhaps it would be a great start by saying what a excellent venue Bicton is and how well organised all their events are. They have 3 fabulous show jumping rings, the main grass arena, a large all weather and another big grass arena as well as an unaffiliated ring. All the arenas and warm ups are watered to ensure the best possible going. The tracks to and from the arenas and around the stables are damped down throughout the day to prevent dust.

There are several blocks of permanent stables and then temporary stabling in huge numbers. Plenty of water points for filling water with a great pressure meaning buckets can fill quickly - amazing how small things make such a difference! There is even a wash down area (pictured).

Stabling managers are efficient and helpful, a bolt on my stable door was not fitting well, was fixed within an hour of reporting. The shavings (same price as I pay at home) were delivered within minutes of ordering! The entries and secretaries work well and again are both efficient and helpful.

The courses are well built, all the riders are treated well whether in the small classes or the main ring important classes. Classes at all levels can have 100 plus entries.  The venue itself is picturesque with the rolling cross country course surrounding the rings, there is plenty of entertainment both in terms of jumping to view and bar and music. I probably don’t realise how lucky I am having this on the doorstep, I spoke to several riders and traders who counted it amongst their favourite shows.

Anyway moving back to Posy it was a very successful show for us and that is unusual for me to say so when I won no frillies or prize money. We have been hovering around establishing ourselves at Newcomers but kept having some blips. At the last Bicton show we had a real set back in the grass arena where we just didn’t have it quite together. This time we seemed to crack it and jumped the Newcomers every day.

With the show running over 5 days I only did 2 classes on the first day and each subsequent day I did just the single class.  The first day we were in the grass Newbury ring where we had struggled with Newcomers last year. We started with a double clear in the 1.05

I then debated wimping out of the Newcomers and jumping a meter class in the other arena later. I was told not to be so wet and hence put on the brave pants and jumped a nice Newcomers round just getting a bit close to the double for a pole.

That pretty much established a pattern for the rest of the week. I won’t go into great detail but share the videos if you want a look.

Day 2 - Newcomers - All Weather arena (4 faults)

Day 3 - Newcomers - Grass Arena - 4 faults (Missed my change)

Day 4 - Newcomers - All weather arena - Clear (best round)

Day 5 - Newcomers - All Weather - 4 faults (major rider miss, rider grumpy!)

So all in all I was delighted with Posy and I actually was tempted to jump a 1.15 as well. However I was mindful not to do too much with her and probably it is best left for another show when hopefully we are going as well.

I did allow her a little fun and we did give her a pipe opener up one of Bicton’s lovely hills to give both a bit of variety and make sure she is fit and ready for West Wilts in a couple of weeks time.

Posy will have the rest of this week off as I think 5 days at a show is quite a lot but I wanted to make the most of the lovely courses, great surfaces and by being on site that extra element of travelling was eliminated.

Posy did get a bit spoilt as I paid for the hire of the Cyclo-ssage rug a couple of times so she had a massage and was able to keep all the muscles loose. I would love to buy her one but sadly the 3.5k price tag means we may have to wait for the lottery win!!

It wasn’t just about Posy as Ellie joined me on the trip. She is no where near the jumping standard yet but it was great for her to work in the busy show environment and we did have a pop round the clear round on one day. Pleased to say she took no notice of fillers or the general goings on at the show!

So pleased with how she is progressing and really excited about her future whether that is with me or someone else.  Her size is bothering me less and less and really she is just a proper horse in a ponies body!

Had hoped we could get her out cross country schooling but sadly the course was being prepared for a competition so was closed. However I get the impression she will be very bold.

So a great few days and I highly recommend the jumping shows at Bicton to anyone that wants a visit.

24 May

Packing for 5 days away at Bicton for there big show jumping show. Posy is on probation after her misdemeanour at Millfield and Ellie is coming to learn about the joys of a big show and may pop a clear round. Also hoping both can get out on the cross country. The website will go quiet as poor signal at Bicton but will try and get the odd update on Facebook.

Both girls had a pop at the weekend. With Posy it was a case of getting her to listen to me after her last jumping being cross country. A few times just sitting her back and halting after the fence started to get the idea across.

Ellie jumped really well, focusing with her at the moment on taking time to jump and use herself rather than feel the need to rush to the other side. As you can see from the picture she started to really focus and listen. The main thing with her is not to rush anything she learns so quickly but I could quite easily undo all the good work by rushing things. Will do her good to chill at Bicton and relax in the busy atmosphere.

20 May

It has been a flat out week this week with horses on the back burner. I spent Tuesday in London feeling like a fish out of water as I had a meeting at DEFRA for work. I took the opportunity in a few spare hours to have a look round some of the famous London museums. I admit be being under whelmed a reflection on my lack of interest in anything cultural rather than the museums themselves. It is perhaps a little sad that outside horses I find very little that actually interests me!

Wednesday I represented work at an inquest related to an accident I investigated. Quite intense and not the easiest day, really brings home the consequences of health and safety failings.

I have been pretty stiff after my falls on Sunday and I am struggling quite a bit at the moment anyway with back and hip pain from old injuries. Unfortunately there doesn’t seem a magic cure.

Posy has had a few days off and Ellie has been ticking over. Had hoped to do some show jumping this weekend but the weather forecast is not good. Perhaps a quiet weekend would be no bad thing!

16 May - Millfield BE

My first visit to Millfield and what a lovely grass roots event. Everything was beautifully manicured with dressage on the sports pitches and everything was really well thought out, stewards and volunteers were in huge numbers and very helpful.

I was feeling quite confident after our excellent run at Bicton (remember pride comes before a fall!!) And the courses at Millfield did seem a step down from those at Bicton.

Following our lesson with Andrew Lovell I tried Posy in a grackle noseband and this did seem to help certainly she warmed up for dressage really well.  A gentle walk round and then we were on. As is usual I cantered round the arena whilst I waited for judge to ring her bell, I cantered round and round and round…………………..  It seemed to take ages before we had the bell to start we came back to trot and Posy said she had held a good frame for long enough and dropped back on her head. The test wasn’t bad but just needed her to sit a bit more and I had lost that shape by over doing things outside the arena! I guess you live and learn. At the end of the day a 34 was no disaster however with how she was working outside it could have been better!

So a quick change and onto show jumping. Show jumping looked quite small but actually there were very few clear rounds as the undulations on the ring made it tricky to ride. She warmed up really well with our improved canter and was fabulous to and over the fences. In the ring I was very frustrated that my mistake cost us a bad pole! 1 - 3 were on a curving line down the ring and then we turned back for 4 the first double, I didn;t get a clean change after 3 and faffed around with that rather than focusing on the canter and my line to the double, I then had a nothing stride with a nothing canter and we crashed through the first part. After that jumped a nice clear so very frustrating.

So cross country and I was looking forward to our round. Millfield lacks a huge space for cross country which means you turn back on yourself quite a bit and cross close to the track in the opposite direction which can upset the concentration. Well the drama started in the warm up, I had a good canter on each rein and popped a fence, she was a little behind my leg so gave her a sharp leg aid to get her in front my leg, next moment I was on the floor! It has been a long time since she has done that! Air jacket inflated so Michelin man impression as I was splat on the floor! Posy was looking like butter wouldn’t melt. Air jacket discarded and cross country jump used for clambering back up! Carefully had another canter and popped a few warm up fences before I headed for the start.

Jumped the first 3 nicely and then into the woods and out over the ditch and rail. A big improvement on Smarties attempt at crossing the ditch earlier when he had jumped in the stinky muddy bit at the bottom! Up the mound and had a look at the feature fence but popped it nicely. Over the drop and rail and then into the country over some straightforward fences. At 13 (pictured) it was a double of brushes. Not quite sure what happened whether I had a poor line or whether she just spooked slightly on take off she went slightly right which meant my foot brushed the high area of brush, this has happened before particularly at higher levels where the jumpable gap is smaller however on this occasion the brush caught hold of my foot and pushed it back and me off! Typically between the fences was a path which they had gravelled over - where did I land? Yes in the gravel I have the most lovely gravel burn across my hip and bum! Thankfully my jods are fine but my hat is a write off.

The jump judge initially told me I couldn’t carry on but once she had checked in with control we were allowed to continue. It took a couple of fences to get going again and I think I was a tad shaken up at hitting the deck twice in 10 minutes! We finished nicely though over the water and final fence.  I was met by the doctor who passed me fit.

So I haven’t even looked at the scores but can imagine we were last in our section, very unfortunate but that is the typical ups and downs of eventing! Onward and upward.

Writing this the day after and can confirm some stiffness and colourful bruises!!

13 May

Can’t believe how satisfying Ellie is to work with she progresses so quickly! Yesterday we had a dressage lesson with Andrew Lovell and she moved forward again. Andrew was very complimentary about her and we worked on her relaxing in the neck and carrying herself. This was using a wider hand to give a better contact and focusing on my balance.

The night before she also proved her jumping ability as I found her on the other side of the 5 bar gate. She gave me a fright as she wasn’t where I expected but I admit to being quietly impressed with the jumping ability!

9 May

Yesterday we took Posy to the local show centre Colraine to keep our eye in show jumping. As the entry fees are high (£20 a class) just stuck to one class and did the 1m open which is always built at the upper end. Posy’s improvement was maintained and she jumped another super round, double clear but unplaced.

We have worked hard this winter but can’t believe how her way of going has suddenly so dramatically improved. It no longer feels so hit and miss much more in control and easier to a fence. All systems go now for Millfield next week.

7 May _ Ellie’s first dressage

Ellie had her first competitive outing with me today and her first ever dressage competition. She was a star behaving all day and trying so hard. The show was at Knightswood and run by Threewaters Riding Club, an ideal first outing.

The first test was prelim 2 a new test for me to ride and one I struggled to get my head round, probably more an issues with the over loaded (aging) brain rather than the test! We made to navigational errors and actually she made a really good attempt finishing 4th with 64%. She got a bit quick and tense after the canters and stepped back in her final halt but otherwise was pretty good.

She had an hour to reflect before we did prelim 14. This time I could ride her a little bit more but she just came slightly tight in her frame. However the test was good enough for a win in quite a low scoring class with 65%.

Delighted with our first outing even if Posy was a bit miffed when ‘her’ lorry went out without her!

6 May

Had a day off today and made the trip to Badminton. The 4:45 start is now catching up on me! It really is the best place to have a look at new products and get the widest range of equestrian goods to see and try. I came away with some new stirrups which I will tell you more about when I have tried them, picked up a lovely Kate Negus bridle for Posy and mum kindly treated me to a new hacking jacket.

I did manage to catch a bit of dressage including Emily King’s lovely test. Also good to meet up with some Shoestring supporters and thank them for their help with course pictures.

Tomorrow Ellie makes her competition debut with some dressage at the local riding club competition! More updates shortly I am sure!!

2nd May

It is 10 days since I introduced you to Ellie. She has been given time to settle and as she isn’t very fit she has been doing some gentle hacking and occasional short schooling session. I have also put myself on a strict diet to help ensure I am not squashing her too much! Touch wood she has been a really good girl. Today we felt it was time for a low key outing so toddled off to a friends to school her. We weren’t perhaps expecting a 2 hour journey as the notorious tourist bank holiday traffic was grid locked. Whilst the driver was getting grumpier Ellie could be seen on the camera snoozing!

Even in the short time she has been with me her flat work has come on no end. Her jumping is very green, she has a tendency to tilt her head and run at the fences so we are quietly popping everything from trot at the moment.

The video gives you an idea of how smart she will be.

She will be kept quietly ticking over and hopefully aim at a dressage show next weekend to get her out and about. I think she will be a lot of fun.

1st May - Cornish Show Jumping Club BS

Yesterday did not start well. It was our first BS grass show of the year at the spectacular Gwelevelan just beside the North Cliffs of Cornwall with stunning sea views. (See left)

I tapped her stud holes and have recently lost my favourite orange tee tap so as an interim had bought a cheap metal one. Well I did expect it to last more than 2 uses before it sheared off in her foot! Luckily there was enough still protruding to allow me to find a pair of pliers and extract it back out!  The whole process took about 30 minutes leaving me running late, however I needn’t have worried as there was a huge entry in the early unaffiliated classes so I actually had a couple of hours to kick my heels when we arrived. Posy at least appreciated the time to have a munch and check out the opposition!

The meter class was a single phase format. Luckily after a few hours at the event Posy was very chilled despite the wide open space. The ground and ring was super and it was a nice course. As our last competitive outing was cross country I was careful to sit her back and get her really listening. I had the night before popped her over a very simple grid of bounce to spread with v poles just to get her back in the show jumping grove.

She jumped a nice controlled round, we did have a lucky tap at the final fence but we got away with it!

It was a strong open section and we were placed 3rd but couldn’t ask for more, her frame is so much better although I let her get a bit long over final few.

So brave pants were on and we also entered the Newcomers, walking it I felt it looked quite jumpable. This was probably her best round of the day she didn’t breath on a pole really helped me out in the double of uprights when we were a bit quick and  she shortened up for me. Had a good spook at the final fence a water tray but kept those feet well clear of the poles.

It was a competitive class with 8 or 9 good combinations jumping off. Whilst the first round did not frighten me too much by the time the course builder had popped it all up 2 holes the jump off looked enormous! I think it probably is the biggest track we have jumped to date. She jumped a super round with one mistake, the water tray was the second fence and I saw a forward slightly angled stride and she just looking in the tray and dropped her hind legs. She jumped the rest superbly and gave me a great feel, even better we still came 5th

So two frilly’s, lovely weather and Posy went beautifully I couldn’t ask for more. (Picture thanks to Lisa Wood Photography)


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