Good dressage lesson last night with Stef Eardley. I asked her to sit on Posy and have a feel as I have never found her contact easy. She just walked her in a 10m circle and analysed what her body and contact was doing (all wobbly). She had a very simple ethos in that if the contact was not as you wanted it or being fought you opened the hands and offered a steady but firm contact and as soon as they gave you just softened in a normal hand position making a reward for the right feeling. The leg straightens them round the circle so with posy even on a left circle it is outside leg to inside hand to straighten her. They should then smoothly change from circling one way to circling another. After 5 minutes playing with 10m circles in walk on both reins I hoped back on to a much improved contact. We agreed the outline was a bit babyish but for a minute that is where she needs to be. I certainly had the best contact in walk trot and canter that I have had to date.
This is a little clip of the canter and whilst not the best work you can see (with Stef’s voice in background) how we were trying to progress.
So onto today and we went show jumping at our local centre Colraine. The main aim
was to get a double clear in the British Novice and hence complete 4 for next years
second round. She jumped a nice first round and here she is in the jump off jumping
another clear -
Despite not hurrying we came second which means some prize money and a few more points. We are hoping to stay in the top 15 of the bronze league so we can have a crack at the HOYS qualifier later in the year. I believe it is the end of June that is the cut off point.
The Discovery was a fair track and the weather was quite miserable by this point (hence the change to waterproofs). Jumped another clear round although we did have one lucky rub.
I was really pleased with her in the jump off although again the rider spoilt any
chance of a result. We were drawn second and the person before me had done a reasonably
quick clear. I intended to have a bit of fun and have a slight go against the clock,
came into the first too causally and had it down then turned far too early to the
double and had to circle. After that she jumped fabulously and made some good turns
and angles. The really annoying thing was without my missed turn we would have been
second as only one double clear -
Really pleased with the progress we are making. There is another day jumping at Colraine tomorrow so going back for a 95 and 105 (our biggest class to date). Then a few days off for the girl and no jumping next weekend. Very hard to balance not doing too much with giving a good education, I do feel at this stage the ground is very important as don’t want to jar her up but the surfaces are good and she is clearly enjoying things!
I don’t think I have mentioned Sarnie for a bit (trying to forget all the problems
she is causing!). As you are aware we didn’t get her in foal last year so this year
we decided to try a totally natural route, this came to a sticky end when she tried
to kill the stallion (or at least made her opinion v clear). We decided to have one
last go and use the stallion to help her come into season then do the deed by AI,
literally take the donation from Nippy and put it straight into Sarnie. So guess
what she is now not coming into season -
Bobby meanwhile is having a few quiet weeks whilst he is having some acupuncture to help his nose rubbing. As the summer has advanced this is bothering him more again and I would love to find a way to ease the irritation. It is not stopping him perform but we are not at the worst time of the year yet and acupuncture has been quite successful in similar cases. He seems quite reactive and has been very good to do, having around 10 needles in at any one time.
Posy I am trying to focus on improving the flatwork and having a better contact. Although it has improved greatly she is still quite one sided and doesn’t give a great feel in the hand. I have a few dressage lessons booked with different trainers so will be interesting to see how they want us to move forward, I am at the stage I need some fresh ideas.
18th May -
We have just returned from a busy but enjoyable 3 days at Bicton with both Posy and
Bobby. I guess on reflection it was a really good few days to progress our show jumping
and get some quality rounds together. However me being me only one frilly in 10 classes
is a poor return, however competitive the classes were and well the horses went -
Drove up on Thursday and settled both in, although Bobby has had a few trips away this was Posy’s first trip with me and she really was very easy and settled. Friday was our first day jumping and Posy jumped a nice double clear in the British Novice, we weren’t placed but trying to get my 4 double clears for next year before our points run out.
We then entered in the 4 /5 year old handicap. It was not against the clock and a double clear was placed equal first and qualified for a final at their September show in the main ring.
We jumped a lovely round until I forgot where I was going and then remembered the planks a tad too late had to angle them causing her to tap them behind. I don’t mind mistakes but get very annoyed when they are careless jockey mistakes!
Talking of jockey mistakes poor Bobby had a lot to put up with and the end result
was a dressing down from the judges!! He only did the British Novice on the first
day and I was half way round when I noticed another horse in the ring, now I realise
you can let other horses in early but up until this point they hadn’t been doing
so. I then heard a buzzer and stopped thinking I had been eliminated -
Next day with Bobby in the British Novice the judges were having problems with their radios. The bell went and then I started and then the bell seemed to constantly go. After yesterday’s experience I kept on going (had they announced over the loudspeaker I was eliminated I would have stopped). Anyway turns out I had heard a bell again from another arena and was eliminated, the constant ringing was them trying to eliminate me. We finished the round (4 faults) before I was summonsed to the judges for a dressing down. Luckily they put me in the idiot / simple category and after much apologising and a dressing down I left determined to make sure I heard the correct bell!!
Posy came out and jumped another double clear in the British Novice again unplaced before we had another crack at the young horse class. This time I remembered the way and we managed another double clear and qualification for the September final as well as a frilly for equal first and a share of the prize money (£10).
Bobby jumped a good round in the 95cm and we were clear until the final fence of the first section which we just got a bit long to. As it was a two phase we stopped quickly as the last thing I wanted was to annoy the judges again!!
Sunday we were in a different ring ( a grass ring) which meant the lovely job of studs! It was good though for both horses to see another set of show jumps and jump in a different area. Both horses seemed to enjoy there stay and certainly Bobby was very chilled. (See right)
Sunday was my chance to get the final double clear Posy needed at British Novice and typically we were just a bit causal over the second fence and tipped it, this was rather annoying but in this case just one of those things.
Bobby jumped another good round and his style is improving all the time, he just got a bit stronger in a grass arena and we had 4 faults again. Overall though I am very pleased how he is coming on and he just needs more time and miles and one day he will totally fly.
Bobby British Novice
So the final round of the weekend was Posy in the Discovery. It was a decent track and as most of the classes single phase with the jump off in the second part. I think it was one of her best rounds, the canter was purposeful and we did a few tighter turns and angles nothing stupid, our time though would have been placed. The final related distance I kicked on when I should have sat up and held for 6 strides rather than flatten on 5 and half so my last competitive jump was another sack the jockey moment.
Overall I am really pleased with both horses who are now having a few days off. Lucky
them they don’t have to catch up with washing, cleaning tack and lorry as well as
the mountain of work that a few days off has generated -
Thanks to Nick Perry for the fabulous photos.
So packing for a different kind of trip away, 3 days show jumping at Bicton Arena. In an effort to really polish my show jumping skills I am hoping that 3 days with two horses jumping could finally get my eye in (or maybe not).
This is going to be Bobby’s last competition for a few weeks and we have sadly withdrawn from Millfield BE the following week. His nose rubbing that caused us such bother last summer is returning and making the poor boy quite uncomfortable at times. I have turned to an alternative therapy to try and help the problem and he is having acupuncture. The vet that is carrying out the procedure will be treating the affected nerves next week and wants him to have a few quiet weeks so we can assess the effectiveness or otherwise of the treatment. Fingers firmly crossed please.
So we head to Bicton tomorrow to get the horses settled and then have classes Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Posy is entered in the British Novice classes and some 5 year old classes that are a 1m, Bobby is entered in British Novice and we will add classes depending on how he is going.
I hope to add some updates on Facebook and Twitter but not sure if I will have the signal to add anything here until we get back. You never know next week it may be Shoestring Showjumping!! (Not likely)
This weekend was quite successful which was much needed. Been going through a phase of severe beating myself up and deciding I am useless. At least this weekend showed that the horses can cope despite my inadequacies!!
We headed to Tall Trees show jumping with Bobby and Posy. Bobby has had a very quiet few weeks mainly chilling and hacking in an effort to take the pressure off and try and chill him out. I also tried him in a new bit for show jumping, a tom thumb which can be quite severe but in his case allowed me to sit him up and then ride forward.
He was just entered in the British Novice and I have to say jumped the best he ever has with me and did two superb rounds for a double clear and 4th.
Jump off round
Really delighted and hope we can maintain that standard of jumping.
Posy meanwhile jumped an easy double clear in the same class and was a few seconds faster for 3rd place.
She was also entered in the Discovery which was a decent enough track for a 5 year old. She jumped another good round and was double clear for another 3rd in a 7 horse jump off. I even did a few turns just to test out the jump off ability for the future.
Discovery first round and jump off
So a pretty good day, 3 double clears and 3 frilly’s. Hopefully this will set us up nicely for a few days away at Bicton BS show where we are hoping to polish our show jumping even further.
Lets start by backtracking to last weekend and reporting on Posy’s first rail down BS with me! We did our first outdoor show on grass at St Leonard's. In the British Novice she nearly had me off before we started by spinning round at some horse eating poles that were at the side of the ring. Later in the round as we approached the poles from the other direction she dropped her front legs on the planks for our first fault BS together.
Luckily we redeemed ourselves in the Discovery and despite some rain arriving jumped a good double clear for 2nd place.
The jump off
No prize money unfortunately as very small entries but don’t need to try for time at the moment and the jumping is more important.
Apologies for a lack of updates, just seem to have been really busy both at home and work and had a bit of a horrible bug that has been slow to shift. Off to Badminton for the day tomorrow but will catch up with updates and news Friday and Saturday.
There was a fairly last minute decision last night when some late spaces became available at the local Cornwall Trec show for dressage. Posy was thrown in the lorry and as I was unloading her I learnt the test. She was a really good girl and although this is not as natural as the show jumping she came out and went well I was very pleased.
We scored 68% to come 3rd
Hoping this weekend to get out and do some jumping on grass. This is rather weather dependant as need enough rain to take the sting out the ground but it must also remember to stop as don’t want greasy ground!
26th April -
Yesterday was Bobby’s 3rd BE event at the relatively local Bicton Horse Trials. One of the few events we can travel to and from in a day, the 4am alarm call was not such fun. Sadly having felt fine the day before until mid afternoon I developed a flu like bug where I hurt all over, felt sick and headachy. I was in bed by 8pm and luckily although I felt rubbish on the day I was a bit better for the competition (see getting the excuses in early!).
Bicton produced courses that were definitely top end of the difficulty scale both show jumping and cross country and was a good step up on what we have done previously. Dressage currently involves over an hours warming up to allow the Duracell Bunny to settle and even after this length of time the test was a little tight and tense, hopefully the more he relaxes and the more he does the easier he may get. He again showed his prowess at this phase as despite the huge room for improvement we finished this phase in 5th place on a score of 32.
Show jumping was on the lovely all weather arena and was a decent course with some technical elements. Bobby went very green and certainly gave some fences some air, we are really struggling currently for that happy balance of flowing forward confidently but not quickly. We messed up the final line having the planks down but 4 faults was an improvement on previous BE events.
Love this picture (taken by Nick Perry)
So onto cross country and another change of bit trying a tom thumb for the first time to stop him running off and give me some control. The course asked questions early (see course pics) even the first fence (pictured) caused a number of stops with horses spooking at the bright white lettering. A turn to a narrow train at 4 was my main concern and a corner in the woods.
Warming up he felt good but he always starts a bit green so I was very aware that I needed to keep him on his game for the spooky first fence. Luckily everything was very efficient so we had no waiting around and were soon leaving the start box, I had my leg on and him straight into the bridle but still 5 strides out he saw the spooky jump and spun right. (See video). So annoying to have 20 penalties before we had even jumped a fence, managed to get him straightened and rather hopped over from trot. Gave him a smack a we landed to remind him we had a job to do and focus and he went on to jump 2 well. The drop and turn to train we lost some energy out the side door and again gave it a clout. However I have to say from this point forward he really took the rein and moved on far better. The biting seemed a big improvement. A double of rabbit hutches he jumped well (see video) as he did the steps down to skinny and the plain ones at the back of the course. There was a roll top on a mound and he jumped this to the bottom of the mound which gave us a feeling of never coming down. The corner he kept straight and was bold through the water.
So the initial 20 penalties were very annoying but another event under our belts and one he will have learnt a huge amount from. Having had quite a busy month he is now going to have a few weeks easy with a little time off and some relaxing hacking so hopefully he can just chill and relax. We will be taking him to the 3 day show jumping show at Bicton in 3 weeks to brush up on our jumping and the following weekend another BE90 at the new Millfield event.
Big thank you to Jane, Nick, Gwendra, Margaret and Mum for their help and support yesterday, great whilst feeling rough to have Bobby in such good hands.
Bicton tomorrow and a 4am alarm call. Economising and as it is relatively close (2.5hrs each way) I haven’t booked a stable however I am not looking forward to the early alarm call.
Bicton should be a great event, it is their first international and the organising team are going all out to make it special. Nice also being relatively local and hopefully lots of familiar faces.
I have to say preparation has not been going well, since he has started his eventing career Bobby has turned into the ultimate Duracell Bunny with no off switch. If I can’t settle him at home I am not sure what chance I have at a busy event. I am not sure I have found the best bit for him jumping and all 3 three phases seem a bit manic. The frustrating thing is he is so capable but then that is also the light at the end of the tunnel as one day when I settle him and strengthen him enough to sit on his hind quarters he will be fabulous. I just hope that light at the end of the tunnel is getting closer!
Some very exciting news on the show jumping front. British Showjumping run a number
of leagues including a bronze league for horses jumping 90-
Meanwhile I have just about finished the recovery stage after Bovington, i.e. the washing is done, the tack is cleaned and the lorry unpacked now it is time to repack ready for Bicton on Saturday. Looks like an early start with a 4am alarm!
20th April -
Show Jumping Colraine
We started off the weekend with a quick trip to Colraine. Usually we would concentrate on one thing at a time and try not to pack too much in (it is a hobby after all). However with Posy’s prolific start to her BS career she had already accrued 3 double clears at British Novice and we only had this show when we were around to achieve the 4th and qualify for the 2nd round before the qualification period closed at the end of the month. I was fairly sure as it was the first time we had gone with the sole aim of a double clear that our 100% perfect record of double clears was bound to be broken!
I should never have doubted her, she popped round very easily not even breathing on a pole.
So clever girl 4 BS shows and 6 classes all double clear and qualifications now in the bag for the British Novice second round and the 95cm amateur second round (Bobby watch and learn!). Having made all the effort to qualify our second round is at West Wilts so 4 hours drive away and maybe a bit much for this year we will see.
So Posy was chucked in the field and Bobby replaced her on the lorry for a trip to Dorset. We hadn’t been to Bovington before and I always enjoy seeing new events. We stopped on route for a session with our trainer Zoe just trying to get him to listen and sit on his hind leg jumping. Arrived at our stabling a stones throw from the event (thanks to Michelle Wylde for putting us up) and Bobby was very chilled at this stage. So chilled he had a very comfy night and a very green face the next morning that took about 3 washes to get back to even slightly grey.
We arrived at the event in time to walk the course which I thought was quite straightforward and check out the dressage and show jumping. As Bobby was so hyped at the last event allowed an hour for warming up which was fine until I got him out the lorry to find he had trodden on his shoe and it was loose. A hasty trip to find the farrier where he stood quivering while a few nails were put in to shore the shoe up. Warm up time was rapidly reduced to 40 minutes which was spent doing smaller and bigger circles, transitions, leg yielding and anything possible to keep his mind on me. We didn’t have the best start as on entering the field and checking in with the stewards a noise made him jump sideways nearly wiping out 3 stewards in one go. (I found a far away corner to work in).
We were called forward 5 minutes early and whilst I needed all the time I could have I also wanted time to work around the arena whilst the judge was writing her comments from the last test. In comparison to the week before he kept the lid on his tenseness. The test was tense but far more recognisable and correct, I was very pleased with a 32.8 and as only one combination went sub 30 and I know there is loads of improvement to come. I think he has the potential to be very competitive in this phase.
A quick change and onto show jumping. The outside grass warm up was pretty firm so
mindful of his legs I just jumped a few fences in the small surfaced warm up. The
course was in a nice all weather arena and was a decent height for the level. The
round started really well with him jumping much better but sadly coming to the last
line we couldn’t maintain the power in the canter and he slightly flattened going
in and then instead of sitting him up and back I let him roll on in the related distance
making up too much ground and having the second element down too -
So a change into cross country colours and up to XC start. I wanted to slightly up the pace from Howick but I was also very aware that at this point in time I have not got proper brakes. His default position is to run onto his head and pull the rein forward so the focus was very much on keeping his head up and not let him dive down. Not always as easy as it sounds and certainly by the end of the course my arms were aching and I was puffing rather more than I would like.
We went out of the start box well but he propped at 1 and 2. Again it is very difficult
when they are at the stage of pulling you in only to get there and say help, you
have to be quick with the support and leg. 3 and 4 were easier before 5 and 6 which
were large skinny turning questions. He was bold over these and the turn sat him
up and allowed me to ride forward. The roll top to ditch was fine and then we went
down a hill where he really dropped on his head so we had a bit of a pulling match.
Popped the house at the bottom and the next few fine. At 12 was quite a narrow corner
off a right turn, I did wonder if he would prop at this and kept my whip in the right
hand and gave him a tap on the shoulder to remain straight. 13 was nearly our waterloo
as it was a blue clearly spooky fence that when we got there he decided it was clearly
horse eating and required jumping like a 5 foot oxer -
A clip of us setting out and returning
We ended with 0.4 of a time fault but the time was particularly lenient so we were still quite slow. Without the show jumps down we would of been placed and we did finish 25 marks better than Howick.
A nice friendly event where they had made a good effort with the ground and it really wasn’t bad considering how dry it had been. An event that I would go back to if the need arose but perhaps one that lacked that bit of character or special something that makes it a destination event.
All in all a very positive day, I guess honestly I am a little frustrated with speed at which we are progressing, he is very talented but needs more time than I had hoped to establish some of the basics needed even at this level. Never mind he will be worth it in the end.
Managed to go splat again seem to be making an unfortunate habit of it of late! One of those things whilst hacking Posy. A dog threw itself against a gate from nowhere causing her to spin, I nearly stayed there but ended up off. Interestingly I had a neck strap on but have no sort of reaction that means I try and grab it, I guess this needed training from an early age and I have only been a late convert to fitting one. Whilst I more or less landed on my feet I then tried to hold on and she pulled me over and along on my knees before I let go. Lesson learnt, not a wise idea and the end of my best Lidl’s jods and one sore and now swollen knee!
Anyway both horses have since had a lesson. Bobby had a dressage session with Robert Pickles where we worked on the engagement in the canter and not allowing him to plough on his head. We did a lot of work leg yielding from the outside track slightly inside in canter. This is great for getting the hind leg engaged. We then progressed to some counter canter, on completion of the canter exercise we quickly trotted then walked and halted to get him coming back and listening and not allowing him to plough forwards. Robert really emphasised the importance of transitions.
A quick clip showing some of the canter leg yield. (Yes it was that foggy)!
Meanwhile Posy had a session with Caroline on gymnastic and XC based exercises. She was ace she really looks for a fence and works things out quickly. We did some turning exercises a simulated coffin and a narrow corner off a dodgy stride and she ate it all up.
So now preparing for Bobby’s next BE at Bovington this weekend. Think the ground
may be a bit firm but at least the show jumping is on a surface. We compete on Sunday
with times in the middle of the day which is always nice -
Very pleased that Posy is progressing at home. The flatwork is improving all the time as I find her buttons and she gets stronger. No rush with her but hopeful she can show herself off well in some BYEH classes later in the year.
A little clip from today
Yesterday we went show jumping at Tall Trees with both horses (so more saddle juggling). Entries were not huge which was a shame as there were good courses and a lovely arena but made my life difficult with limited time to change tack and warm up horses. At least this time I stayed on!
First up was the British Novice and Posy jumped a nice clear round. We still have long way to go on control and suppleness but get her to the fence and she has plenty of ability and actually I think the way of going between the fences has improved
Whilst I was really pleased with Posy I was soon brought down to earth by Bobby. Our results at the moment just seem to be getting worse and we had 4 down. I think it is all related to the canter I seem to have perhaps shortened it too much and lost the power and quality. I either seemed to have him back behind the bit or running through the hand to the fence.
So putting that disappointment behind me it was back on Posy for the jump off. We were drawn last and there were no clear rounds. She jumped clear for her first win in affiliated jumping.
I withdrew Posy from the 95cm class and just had Bobby in the class. Although the round was not great there was an improvement and we had two down this time.
So not the best preparation for Bovington this weekend but I know the ability is there the key is me finding the ridability in the canter.
Posy was then entered in her first Discovery class. With me being a bit rusty it
looked plenty big enough! Sadly we had a video malfunction which was a shame as it
would have been good to show you what happened at 3! Fence 2 to 3 was a dogleg with
3 coming up quickly on the turn by the judges box, unlike the last class it had bright
rainbow fillers underneath. We turned to 3 and Posy spooked violently sideways taking
us too far off course to jump it, I turned her back towards the fence not with a
hope of jumping it but more to make a point -
We were drawn first in the jump off and once in the ring had to wait for about 5 minutes for the timing to be sorted. I thought she may switch off but luckily she didn’t although perhaps I rode my worst round and saw some funny strides however again she coped and jumped another clear. We have now done 5 BS classes and 5 double clears. To cap it all we were again the only double clear for another win.
So very clever Posy who now also has 61 BS points and and has won £95!
This business of having two horses out and about competing is certainly stretching the old bank balance! Undeterred I am taking both show jumping to Tall Trees tomorrow it would be nice to think they both win some prize money but a tad unrealistic at their stage of education.
There has been disappointing news on the Sarnie front, she has come back from meeting her potential husband having refused point blank to be covered. Her violent resistance means future attempts are not practical. The vet came and scanned her last night and we have decided to have one final try by AI. She will go back to Nippy in a fortnight just to help come back into season once showing in season she will be scanned and hopefully at the optimum time we will do a collection from Nippy and straight away do the AI. This really is the last throw of the dice I can’t afford to keep trying and also if nature really is saying she won’t have a foal then we have to listen. Fingers crossed firmly please. I can’t thank Georgia & Matthew Stokes enough for bending over backwards to give Sarnie every chance and my long suffering vet Joe Ivey who would would like to see a foal from Sarnie as much as I would.
8th April -
Sorry getting a bit out of date! Whilst Bobby had a well deserved day off we took Posy to Colraine show jumping. Just entered the British Novice and was quite glad that was all I entered as seemed quite a decent track. It was run as a single phase so the second half of the course was against the clock and jump off height.
Sadly no video or pictures due to a technical hitch! Posy was a little green over the first couple of fences but soon got into a rhythm and popped round clear. We took it very steadily so had a slow double clear. However these were a rarity and there were only 2 of us that managed a clean sheet. So we came second and returned home with a slight profit (£8 on entry). So an excellent start to Posy’s jumping career with 3 classes jumped 3 double clears, two 2nds and a 3rd!
6th April -
It has seemed a long time coming and certainly been a few hiccups on the way but
we finally got to our first BE event with Bobby. It was a day of firsts -
Show jumping warm up was very sticky and actually ideal to canter Bobby around on and get him working and concentrating. It didn’t quite work as he still went in the ring and just ran through my hand a couple of times, once into the double and once to the final fence. Once I get him listening and the bitting sorted he should find this phase easier.
Cross country was great asking a variety of questions in both types of fence and combinations. Considering his total lack of experience and knowing we were on a non competitive score I took him very steadily across country trying to give him an educational and positive experience. He was ace always looking for the next fence, focusing on the question and really the only issue was that if I had let the handbrake off at all I think brakes would have failed.
There is a nice bit of video showing the rail ditch combination and the roll top to brush.
A very nice clear but about 20 time which isn’t an issue at the moment the speed is there just need it with control!
I would highly recommend Howick, great event, well organised and very friendly. They did well to run considering the rain before hand and the tractor drivers were fabulous as nearly everyone needed towing in and out.
Following this event we have squeezed an extra in before our next planned one at Bicton in 3 weeks and entered Bovington in 2 weeks. He thrives on work and I think 3 in short succession will do him good and then move him up to BE100 in May.
Some more lovely pictures thanks to Nick Perry for the brilliant shots.
Suddenly we are very close to Bobby’s first event and the weather is looking hopeful. Are we ready? Well if you asked me a week ago I would say yes but after my tumble at the weekend it does put some doubt in your mind! On a practical review he has never done dressage on grass, show jumped on grass or done a competitive cross country round leave alone a one day event. However he is more than capable at each element the big question is how he copes with the atmosphere, people and things going on.