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15 January

With winter kicking in it was time for foal rugs. They had a couple of nights in over the worst of the weather as it coincided with a little castration op for Tommy and they were introduced to rugs without much trouble.

Ellie is being assessed Monday week and then if all ok at that stage she can be brought back into work gently. My fitness and weight loss regime to compliment this is also going well with 8lbs off and for the first time since I smashed my hip I have been able to comfortably run a mile in the gym.

I think the most frustrating thing is that Posy has still not sold. I have to accept it is a difficult time of year and in some cases her BE record is putting people off. However she is a talented mare but just not my ride. The continuation of paying livery for her in a sales yard is causing quite a dent in my pocket. I am keen to look for something else for the season but can’t even look until the Posy situation is resolved.

7 January

As part of Ellie's continued rehabilitation I was fortunate to be able to call on the fabulous services of sponsor Morwenna Foster- Equine sports massage therapist. Ellie's veterinary report actually highlighted the need to loosen her muscles to ensure tightness in the neck did not slow recovery.

Meanwhile Sarnie and the foals are doing well although weaning approaches in the next month or so. I keep trying to get some nice pictures of Kensa for popping on here however, as soon as the camera is whipped out all I have is a nose on the screen. As you can imagine this is not helpful, for the moment you will have to make do with a picture when I had her distracted with tea!

Kensa is allowed to share Sarnie’s bucket, but foster son or not Tommy as non flesh and blood is not!

Still struggling with boring weekends, tomorrow I have the excitement of taking the lorry out for a drive to ensure nothing seizes up or stops working due to lack of use. Then it is being tested anyway so fingers crossed that goes smoothly.

Posy is going really well in the sale yard but as yet no one has quite liked her enough to make the purchase which is so frustrating.

2 January 2017

Happy New Year to all. Also an opportunity to say a big thank you to the support the Shoestring community gives me.

It is a tricky new year for me, usually a time to set goals and plan for the year ahead but currently so much is up in the air, Posy is for sale and Ellie is recovering from her neurological problem. There is still no guarantee that Ellie will come back into work although signs are now far more hopeful than they were. So I haven’t ridden for 6 weeks and the pounds have piled on, I’m the heaviest I have been for a while and that clearly won’t help Elli’s recovery. So my first goal is to get in shape, eat sensibly and I have already started the gym, Mum kindly bought me some perosnnal training vouchers for Christmas so hopefully I’m well on the way to a new me!

Horse wise though eventing isn’t looking promising, certainly unlikely I will be riding anything at the start of the season. However I now have the bones of a new website in place which is exciting. Hopefully the look and feel will be much the same but it should be slicker and less glitchy. Goal number 2 is to get it running before the season starts. (That makes it sound like it is all my own work, this time it is in the hands of an expert!)

With this in mind if anyone has any course pictures that are not on the site please do email or message me with the pictures / links so I can have as comprehensive database as possible.

Lottery win seems needed now more than ever to get things back on an even keel!

28 December - Supplement Solutions strategic worming programme

As the year draws to a close it is time for a big thank you to supplement solutions who made me their worming ambassador in 2016.

This involved taking part in their strategic worming programme for the year with both Ellie and Posy. Now I am someone who had every 3 months wormed my horses hopefully with the right type and in Spring and Summer have also treated for tape worms. I am your typical lazy horse owner with limited time who takes the easiest course of action.

So I was intrigued by the worming programme which involved testing using salvia and dung at the appropriate times of the year to ensure they were wormed correctly. Now heading back to the lazy bit it is great to be told what is happening when and the strategic worming programme does that for you. I was told what needed doing when and sent the kits. The tests were easy to perform and the paperwork simple to complete, the results came quickly and interestingly it seems I have been over worming my horses as in contrast to my previous regime I found that at times they did not need worming, hence I treated according to need not just because it was the time of year.

If you are interested in the Startegic Worming Programme it is £100 for the year to include all the tests, advice, wormers and postage which I will certainly be using again and would recommend to those other lazy people like me that need the security of having everything put in front of you at the right times and then where appropriate given the right wormers.  Strategic Worming Programme link

23 December - Ellie Update

The news on Ellie is more positive than I feared although we are not out the woods yet. I went up to B&W vets on Tuesday and met specialist Dicky Hepburn who was lovely and took time to explain everything carefully.

Although to me she wasn't showing neurological symptoms he could see from her just walking a number of subtle tell tale signs of a problem. She was x rayed which showed the likely problem was in her neck between C6 and C7 vertebra. We were at this stage from the x rays able to rule out that she was a wobbler. We discussed further diagnostics and treatment options and decided in order to get the fullest possible picture we would leave her at B&W for a myelogram. A myelogram involves injecting a contrast agent, which is a solution that shows up on radiographs, into the spinal canal to reveal any compressive lesions of the spinal cord that could be affecting the horse's neurologic function. Under a general anaesthetic, they manipulate the neck to show at what points it pinches the cord.

At this point, I must say a huge thank you to sponsors Equicover Ltd who have shown their usual efficiency from receiving the claim and processing it in 5 working days to giving B&W a speedy decision to go ahead with the procedure.

The procedure showed there were two points that the spinal cord was being pinched. Between C6 -C7 and C7 - T1 (where neck goes into chest). The good news is that it is likely to be treatable with a steroid injection which was done yesterday. We will know in 4/5 months if this has been successful, if so she may need injections every couple of years or potentially it may be a total cure.

Performance wise Dicky was able to reassure me that two horses that medalled or were in medal contention at the Olympics had similar treatments and that it will not impair performance.

I picked her up on today surprisingly having a good journey there and back despite the Christmas exodus! She has a range of clipped patches and they do seem to have been brutal on the amount of mane they chopped off at the top! However been delighted with the professionalism and service from B&W.

Ellie is now tucked up in her stable (see left) and has a week of strict box rest before she returns to normal turnout. I can start long and low work in 2 weeks i.e. lunging. This will be difficult as I have no school at the yard or within walking distance so need to decide if I move her short term, travel her to a school or just give her longer in the field before commencing ridden work. All are viable options having discussed our circumstances with Dicky just want to make sure I give her the best chance of a full recovery.

Just for 24hrs she can’t eat at ground level so rather than buy a bucket to attach to the door I took the cheaper option of holding her food for her to eat. Her Mummy clearly told her to chew each mouthful multiple times as I stood there for what seemed like forever. She then spoilt my efforts by nuzzling around the stable for any crumbs dropped!

15 December

I have survived this week, why survived? It was my birthday and I hate birthdays even more so since I turned 40 two years ago! All I want to do is quietly forget it. I am a bit of a bah humbug about Christmas too but had to make a bit of an attempt last week as I was asked to judge at the pony club Christmas show.

Pictured here with the fancy dress winner you will see they even made me wear antlers!

Counting down to next week and Ellie’s tip to the vets. Seems strange not riding and certainly the longest ever I haven’t other than due to injury. If it has to happen it is a good time of the year with dark evenings.

The foals continue to entertain and amuse me. They are growing quickly and coping fine with the living out and haven’t found a need to resort to rugs yet. Sarnie of course is in a thick Rambo as she is both special and delicate!

9 December

I always promised Shoestring would follow the highs and lows of amateur eventing and certainly just now is one of the biggest lows. Sorry for not updating before now but the enthusiasm has rather left me and certainly I have been rather burying my head in the sand. I haven’t really felt like updating the blog but with some firm news now is the time.

Sadly Ellie has been diagnosed with a neurological disorder. A neurological disorder is a disorder affecting the brain, nerves or spinal cord and the prognosis is often poor. Over the last 3 or 4 weeks symptoms have developed from a slight lack of co ordination behind to her almost drunk and staggering. Quite interestingly she can vary between the drunk staggering and perfectly normal, the first time my vet came out he could find nothing wrong. However since we have been to my practice for neurological tests and they have confirmed it is neurological. At this point in time this is as much as we know, we don;t know where the problem is or what has caused it, she has had no accidents.

We have now been referred to one of the Country’s leading specialists (Dicky Hepburn) in Gloucestershire at B&W vets. However even the specialist said diagnosing the cause in a horse of Ellie’s age can be challenging. Looking on the positive occasionally there is something they can do to cure the problem (remove a cist may be an example) but realistically the outcome is often poor. Not only am I selfishly upset but she is one of the loveliest, most genuine horses I have had who I genuinely believe could have made a top class eventing pony.

Please can everyone keep fingers firmly crossed for the 20th December. This depressing news has also coincided with another big decision. However talented Posy is I have come to the conclusion we have never really clicked and it is time to move her on. I just lack the facilities and time to bring the best out of her and we have never really built up a ridden bond. Due my lack of facilities and the reluctance of people to travel to Cornwall she has gone to a friend to sell on. So no riding and nothing currently to look forward.  

3 December

Apologies on the lack of updates everything is a bit in the doldrums really however more on that next week. The website is playing up again and I am desperately looking at options to get it functional again. Sadly having built this from scratch with limited knowledge moving it to a new platform, upgrading and giving it the functionality I crave is proving way beyond my budget. Need to work out what the best option is as there will be a cost involved and need to make sure it is the right one! I want to have something in place before March and ideally January so service can resume as normal but not sure how realistic it is very frustrating.

Meanwhile with the dark evenings and lack of exercise I have now joined a local gym. This is a big sacrifice to me as I don’t enjoy the gym, can’t relate to a lot of the people that go and would rather do just about anything else. However I can’t run (due to hip), don’t fancy cycling in the dark so my options were distinctly limited. Managed 3 visits this week so hopefully can keep it up for the benefit of my fitness.

Website permitting hopefully a proper update next week. If we do have anyone reading this who knows website design to a professional level and can give me some advice I would love to hear from you.

17 November

It has been lovely watching the foals develop and play, endless poo picking has given me plenty of time to observe! It is amazing how much education they just get in the field. At the moment they are beside the road that has tractors, waste lorries, fast cars and all types of traffic to observe. Sarnie takes no notice and neither do they. Last weekend they experienced shooting in a neighbouring field and later in the day a motor hand glider was circling low over the field.  Good education although they are certainly not boring - Kensa was doing barrel racing practice around Sarnie which I didn’t catch on video and generally having fun.

12 November

It was great to finally get out and competing after what seems a big break. We have not done much jumping so I did wonder if we had dropped in slightly at the deep end with an Arena Eventing competition at Colraine. I needn’t have worried whilst there was signs of rustiness it wasn’t too bad!

First up was dressage test BE106 as Ellie is hopefully doing her first BD dressage next weekend I was hoping we could pull something reasonable out the bag. We did slightly lose our bend at times and she dropped behind the vertical occasionally but produced a very nice test of 28.5 which was actually the best mark of the day.

The jumping section was outdoors which was great unusually you did the rustic section first then the SJ bit. We were rusty and a couple of poles flew mainly my fault well one was totally and the other she could have helped me out more! However as the round went on it got better and better!

So all in all v pleased with progress poles dropped us to 5th but a good outing.

6 November

Apologies for the lack of updates but maybe a reflection of the Shoestring lifestyle! I have today completed the door to door canvassing to follow up electoral registration forms so that should help Shoestring funds and I will now have some time back!

The girls have been ticking over and both clipped in the last week. Sarnie and the foals are still real time wasters. I have been asked a couple of times why Sarnie has two foals!

For the last 18 months Sarnie and  her friend Batty have lived together both having foals by My Eclispse. They had a very special and close bond and I am sure Batty’s steady presence helped Sarnie finally get in foal. Batty had Tommy about a month before Sarnie was due, Sarnie was allowed to be Auntie and then later on both mares lived together very happily with their respective foals. Very sadly when Tommy was 3 months old Batty died in the field leaving Tommy an orphan. Thankfully Sarnie came up trumps and fostered Tommy, she doesn’t let him drink but he is definitely part of the family group and Sarnie has a headache keeping them both in check. Saying that Tommy like his mother has a fabulous easy going temperament which is a good influence on Kensa.

I have just gone over to the very dark side and registered myself and Ellie for BD so there will be dressage and show jumping reports this winter!

23 October

I think it is the case of the winter blues! God knows what I will be like when the weather is really wet and cold as to date it has been quite kind (Bovington excepted). Struggling to identify my goals and get motivated for the winter and next year. Probably not being helped by being so busy and struggling to fit horses in. Work is flat out and demanding and to add to that I am also doing another temporary job chasing people electoral registration forms which involves door to door visits. Always useful for a bit extra income but other things do slide! Fabulous as it is to have Sarnie and the babies home I now spend just under an hour a day poo picking. To add to that I have been feeling a bit off with a persistent cold and cough - mum has muttered about being run down but sure that is not the case.

At least this week we have a few things to look forward to, we have a lesson with Fred on Tuesday and BD Combined training qualifier at Colraine on Saturday.

17 October

I will be totally honest Bovington wouldn’t be my most favourite event, perhaps just lacks a bit of character of some events. However felt it would be a great final run for Ellie to finish the season.

We travelled up on Saturday and walked the course in some horrid rain. The course was as expected (see course pics) and well within Ellie’s capabilities, quite a bit softer than Bricky. We headed off to our lovely stabling with Michelle Wylde and plaited Ellie as it was an early start.

I was awoken at about 4 by heavy rain hitting the lorry and it just didn’t let up. I couldn’t sleep convinced that sadly no event could survive the rain. I was moving the phone around as signal was iffy and indeed as the alarm went off at 6.15 a message did get through to say it was cancelled - so frustrating but appreciated the organisers speedy notification. Sadly at this point all signal disappeared on the phone and I had to get up and wander off in the rain to find a signal so I could text Nick and Jane who were coming to support. I then spent a fruitless half an hour searching the Internet for something else Ellie could do!

One very confused pony, as on a beautiful sunny day the plaits came out and we trekked home again just in time to catch up with several hours poo picking!

Rather a damp squib end to the season for maybe what has been perhaps not the greatest of eventing years by the high standards I judge things!

14 October

Time is flying can’t believe we are half way through October. I’m feeling knackered a work related trip to London leaving a 4am and retuning at 11pm seems to have knocked the stuffing out of me.  Def getting too old, mind you my stubborn refusal to pay for the tube and walking 11 miles probably didn’t help!

This weekend we have the last BE of the year with a run in the 90 at Bovington with Ellie. Not a favourite event of mine as I always get lost trying to find it!!

Good news I hope to have a website rejig in the next couple of months. The content and layout will remain the same but it will move to a different online platform meaning I can update it remotely and hopefully eliminate all the glitches and crashes that have meant updates have been less frequent.

4 October

Kensa’s cheeky character is really coming to the fore, I guess I would expect nothing else with her mother being Sarnie.

With best buddy and half brother Tommy

2 October

This week has flown by although not much to report. Posy has finished her eventing season, she did quite a lot this year so just being allowed a easier time with some light work, hacking and the odd bit of show jumping. She will get a few weeks / month off at some point but trying to fit it in with the darker evening and more horrid weather. Ellie is still very pleased with herself after Bricky and is sure she can fly round Badminton next year (high aspirations, zero realism!!) Today we had a chance to take her cross country schooling at Porth Valley thanks to Cornwall Trec. Porth Valley is great for schooling with an excellent range of fences, plenty of ditches, water and steps. Ellie was ace and is so bold.

26 September - Ellie does Bricky BE90

It was one of those days that doesn’t look the best on paper but I was enormously pleased with how we got on. Ellie has not got huge mileage under her belt and still only done the one event and a couple of cross country schools. Therefore to take her to Bricky which is felt to be one of the higher end 90’s as a first one was maybe asking a lot.

We travelled up the day before and walked the course, I did joke to Mum that until after XC it should be nil by mouth for me as I had forgotten how far it was (maximum length) with some good hills. The course was lovely but a variety of questions both technical and bold. We got to stabling only to find we had a flat tyre on the back outside of the lorry. Have to say NFU who provides breakdown were superb and sorted out a tyre fitter to us in an hour. We always carry a spare but even better the puncture was found and a repair could be made.

So back to Bricky for an eye wateringly early dressage of 8.06. She was a bit green in the test and lost balance a couple of times but I was pleased with the test and rather surprised with a score of 36.3. However at the end of the day we were 11th after dressage and I guess that is about where I would expect.

Quickly onto show jumping where the course caused some problems, I think the undulating ground does show up if they are not balanced. I was really pleased with how Ellie tried and her jumping is improving all the time. She just had a pole behind at 3 when we were a bit far off but otherwise jumped a very competent round.

So by 9.30 we were on cross country course. I started kindly with 3 simple small fences before a decent brush log at 4.

A decent solid fence under the trees followed and we had a good stride and popped that well before the fences in the ‘arena’. Bricky put the trade stands around some feature fences giving it an arena feel. For the 90 it was a simple log on a related to a hanging log, Ellie rather confidently took a stride out at the second part before popping through a double of logs, over a ditch, double of logs and through the water. We then had a brush log to a gate, jumped the first well but just ran through the bridle and clouted the gate hard. Made sure I had her back for the next which was a trcky brush sited on a mound, Ellie satback and made a lovely jump. Through the angled rail and onto a huge hedge (well huge for 90 when you are on a pony!!)

As you can see she made it feel very easy! Unfortunately we then made a mistake, I had seen a forward stride to the hedge and kicked on, the next fence was a small log at the top of a very steep hill. She set her jaw again and if she carried on that pace down the hill I feared I would fly over her neck! I really had to sit her back but I failed to take into the account we suddenly went away from the lorries again and off on a different track than expected, I probably also failed to keep my leg on and shoulders up she suddenly saw the log when it was too late to jump it and we had a very frustrating 20 penalties. Represented popped down and finished the course in style.

An annoying mistake but it didn’t hide she actually made a tough 90 feel very easy. We have been sadly balloted from Calmsden so our last run will be another 90 at Bovington to finish the season.


21 September

Someone is growing up quickly and seems to have her mothers cheeky character. You can also see she has a love of the camera too. She was micro chipped today and drawn so will soon have her passport.

Sarnie has not gone back into foal this year but hopefully next year she may go back in again. She really is a fabulous mum.

18 September - BS Tall Trees

This weekend we headed to Tall Trees for a British Show jumping competition. Posy had the majority of the week off whilst Ellie had been doing some grid work to help her development.

Tall Trees is one of our local venues (albeit nearly an hour and a half away) and has great courses and arena and some bright fillers and jumps.

Nice to get Ellie to a new location although a bit of a pain currently have horses in the first and last senior class of the day.

I thought the British Novice was a decent track with some interesting lines. We were not helped by a relatively short warm up as the traffic had delayed us and we were running late.

I think Ellie improves every time out, she still doesn’t always find it easy to shorten to a fence and hollows but more and more of the time we are getting better strides and shapes.

So a pole down over a decent track and I was very pleased.

Posy had a bit of a wait for the Newcomers which was useful time for stuffing her face with haylage! Classes at Tall Trees run A7 which means there is a seperate jump off which is nice for a change but does mean more rounds. She jumped a good clear in the Newcomers and then in the jump off I saw a real misser meaning we sent a pole flying.

We then had brave pants on and jumped the 1.15 class. Warming up she was backing off slightly I think from hitting the pole so hard in the jump off. However we went into the ring and jumped a good clear over a very decent track.

Good job you don’t walk a jump off as I suspect I would have been rather green. She jumped a super round to complete double clear and 4th place.

I really do think Posy’s show jumping is looking particularly good at the moment and hoping we can find a nice Foxhunter to jump soon.

15 September - Onto Bicton

With Blenheim complete (see below) we headed to Bicton for the 3 day show jumping show where we met up with Ellie who had been kindly transported up by Zoe. Clearly with the travel involved in going to Blenheim it would for Posy mean a quieter show and we only entered a class each day.

Day 1 and we were up early as Ellie was entered to do the 80cm training round in the grass arena. It is a good job she is an easy pony as the previous 4 days with the build up and Blenheim I had not had a chance to ride her! As always she was a pleasure although clearly 80cm was beneath her as she went in the ring and proceeded to get cockier and cockier!

Actually the video didn’t look as bad as it felt. So it was decision time, did I put her in the British Novice? The British Novice was in the all weather arena and a decent track also as it was single phase it meant that the second part was 95-1m quite a step up from what she had been jumping. I had my usual indecisive pondering's before being brave convincing myself I could give up half way round if it all went belly up!!

She is so bold and went into the ring still thinking she could jump the moon with her eyes shut!! She had a little of a shock and 4 poles went flying in the first half of the round and I was wondering if we should continue as we started the bigger section. However the poles had caused her to think and she allowed me to put my leg on and ride her forward more and we jumped the bigger section clear.

I was over the moon and Ellie went back to her stable to reflect on the morning! Posy I entered in the 1m derby as a bit of an easy fun class that shouldn’t be too taxing. She generally loves these classes and is very bold over the Derby fences.

She jumped a super round unfortunately I missed her at one of the last fences and she did back off the devils dyke and have a pole going in.


Day 2 was one more to forget not due to the horses that both went well but rather the torrential rain that soaked me through!

Knowing how wet it was and that Ellie was jumping on grass we put our number down first in the British Novice. I have to say she coped brilliantly and ignored the lashing rain, and even better made just the one mistake for 4 faults which was great progress.

Posy was also in the first class of the day the 1.05 open. My objective was not to be competitive but to try and jump a nice established round. I have to admit I couldn’t resist some shorter turns but these were balanced and within the rhythm. We did a super double clear and were just one place outside the placing's.

Day 3 thankfully reverted to the usual Bicton weather of sunshine! Ellie did another British Novice and again had 4 faults which like the previous day was going into a double. I think she just can’t quite focus yet and is almost trying to jump the second element before she has jumped the first.

Finally Posy finished the weekend with a Newcomers class. I thought it was one of the biggest Newcomers we have jumped to date and although we did have a mistake at the 3rd she just ate it up and made if feel very easy, Foxhunter soon I think.

So a great few days away and really pleased how well both girls went.

13 September - Blenheim and Bicton

What a few days away a great time was had even if it lacked any frillies. We set off on Wednesday with both girls dropping Ellie off with my friend Zoe before heading to Oxfordshire for an overnight stay prior to competing in the Blenheim 100 Riding Club challenge. It was good fun when everything is often individual orientated being part of a team representing Threewaters Riding Club.

We arrived at Blenheim in the team convoy, the arrival ended up going through the main Palace entrance rather than the horsebox entrance so we saw some spectacular areas of the park before exiting at a different point and re entering where we should have gone in the first place. I will point out I was not at the front!

I love Blenheim and it was great to have a chance to wander round and also catch up with my fab sponsors Equicover who also presented me with some fabulous branded clothing and hats.

Had to remember the purpose of the trip and we walked the course which consisted of 8 show jumps followed by 8 xc fences and a show jump to finish. There course was quite twisty an there was a couple of tricky lines on the cross country section. The ring was in quite an atmospheric area with trade stands, people and plenty to see around the ring.

I was 2nd to go for the team and it was great to see our first member Emma jumping a super clear round.  

We went in and managed to get a good look around the ring before the bell went. We jumped the show jumping section clear and moved onto the cross country section which she attacked boldly. As time was a factor I kept my line tight and allowed her to move on in the cross country section. She jumped the offset brushes brilliantly but then the problem line caught out, the pheasant feeder to the skinny on the turn. She just never focused on the skinny and was looking everywhere else, sadly just a genuine baby mistake but one we were far from alone with. She jumped the next skinny combination brilliantly. Sadly with Vanessa also jumping clear it was an expensive and frustrating mistake.

A great experience though and generally very pleased with Posy. We left mid afternoon and headed to Bicton for stage 2 of our trip. That will be tomorrows update.

4 September

Both girls have had the week off, Posy has been working quite hard and I wanted her to have a break before another busy week and I thought Ellie needed time to compute how good she had been. Both girls were hacked out today and will school tomorrow.

An exciting week ahead as on Wednesday we head to Blenheim (competing Thursday) as a member of the Threewaters Riding Club team in the Arena Eventing. Blenheim is such a lovely event and it will be great experience for Posy to compete in such a busy atmosphere.

From there we head back to Bicton for the last 3 day BS show of the year. Posy will be competed lightly as the travelling as well as Blenheim it is not fair to have a full on show. However Ellie has been registered BS abd I am hoping to do some classes with her. There is certainly a 80cm class and a 85cm Derby. I have also entered a couple of British Novices but will decide on the day if she is ready, with all classes being single phase part of the course will be around a meter and that may be a bit much for now.

29 August

In typical Shoestring fashion Treborough brought highs and lows! The first time for many years that I had competed 2 on the same day and after last weekends rather poor showing from me I was determined to improve. The timings were written out as well as a few of the key phrases from Fred’s lesson in the week to remember. The times worked out well and luckily with Mum and no.1 supporters Nick and Jane helping the day ran smoothly.

Arrived early and walked the courses which I thought were both relatively straightforward and ideal for Ellie’s first run. The weather was certainly mixed and Posy got the worst of it particularly in the dressage and XC (hence no video). Posy did dressage first and produces a nice test but not spectacular for a 32.8, we are fairly consistent in this phase but it would be nice to progress the scores a little.

It was time for Ellie to then do her test and she was trail blazer in the BE80. Her first test on grass and her first time at such a busy event. I rode her carefully as tension with her means she comes behind the vertical and tucks her nose in. She tried really hard I was very pleased with her.

She really does look the part!

So it was then Posy’s turn to complete both jumping phases. I had a clear plan after our lacklustre showing at Bicton in this phase. Really got her jumping in the warm up using a lot more leg to the fence. We were first to go in the 100 so had the best of the ground which was cutting up a bit. To my mind she jumped her best 100 eventing round to date.

So a quick change and we proceeded to cross country where it was pouring down again. Took it a little steady in the wet but and really pleased as she did her first competitive drop into water. Came through the finish just 2 seconds over and pleased with another double clear. For the first time ever I heard and has been eliminated for missing fence 17!!! Clearly my technique for walking two courses at once had failed and I deprived her of a double clear and probably 10th place. Funnily enough I wasn’t as gutted as the weekend before as at least I was happier with the way I had ridden!


So no time to brood as Posy was washed off and Ellie prepared for show jumping. I honestly didn’t know what to expect as the ring was busy and I wondered if she would lose focus. Bless her the round wasn’t the best technically but she got her legs out the way and tried really hard for a clear round.

So then for Ellie it was XC time I was fairly happy if she jumped the first 2 which seemed the biggest we would be fine. Well she wobbled a bit at times and I kept her relatively steady as she still believes she can do everything at racehorse speed but she was very honest and just kept jumping giving me a fabulous ride.

It turned out she had the second best dressage of the day and without time faults she would have won! She was still a very respectable 4th so I was over the moon. The dressage judge also cheered me up by in Ellie’s test giving me an 8.5 for my riding.

So now aiming Ellie at some 90’s to finish the season meanwhile Posy is heading to Blenheim with Threewaters Riding Club to contest the 100 eventers challenge.

26 August

Had an awesome few days training with Fred Scala during his Cornwall clinic. Both horses worked really well and improved no end. I have to say the star was Ellie who went from a 70 cm pony to one jumping 1m plus fences!

Main focus with her was

Posy we today did some more technical lines which she really enjoyed, I have to ride her very differently to Ellie.

Packing for Treborough now!

24th August

Just off for two days training with Fred Scala at a clinic I have arranged in Cornwall before another hectic weekend eventing where Ellie is also making her debut. I have cheered up after last weekends less than perfect event and trying to move my focus from negatives to positives in things that I can work on.

Amazing today I have had the day off to catch up on jobs. Spent a few hours at the yard poo picking, taking water out and packing the lorry. Put my tracking app on my phone that told me I had covered over 3 miles! That must be an extra cream cake or two allowed!!

21st August

I think I will describe Bicton BE100 as character building! If I had been writing this yesterday it may have been less polite and more depressed in outlook but I’m trying to turn it around!

As you probably read Bicton  was a late entry due to the wonderful work they had done on the ground meaning for August there was the best possible ground conditions. However paying my entry, start fee, new gloves (when I forgot to take mine) and diesel you are looking at well over £200 to have in my eyes a disappointing day made it seem all rather pointless!!

Actually it didn’t start badly with Posy producing one of her best dressage tests to date with a 30.8 in BE107.

Show jumping was up to height for the level but well within our capabilities.  She warmed up sweetly but without any real sparkle and reflecting back I needed to get her off my leg and into my hand better. We went into show jumping and were a bit backward meaning we were off our fences and had the back rail going into a double down. Too be honest 4 faults is no major disater although the level she is show jumping at we are not getting enough clear rounds eventing. What really frustrated me was my perceived poor riding, the fact that I hadn’t done anything about getting her in front my leg and just ridden the round poorly. I’m ashamed to admit I had a bit of a meltdown / tantrum along the lines of if I can’t ride better than that then I had better not bother.

The video doesn’t look quite as bad as it felt.

Having had the tantrum and then a cry I pulled myself back together to go cross country. I worked in the warm up on getting her far more in front my leg and listening to my aids.

Just as we were walking to the start box the heavens opened and it poured with rain. You can see on the pictures and videos it really came down, she jumped the first few well with the first real and probably main question coming at 7 with a narrow up to height rail down the hill to a log droop and another narrow rail she popped these really well, over the fly fence and too the first water with a 90 degree turn to a skinny out, the water naturally slowed her so a good turn. The rain was still belting down, we continued over a double of roll tops and had a super jump over the hedge with a shallow ditch in front we then came to the new half coffin with a decent rail going in followed on two strides with a decent ditch, really pleased managed to sit her back and show jump the rail neatly and kick on over the ditch which did slightly surprise her.

We were on the run home by this point and next was a slightly innocuous blue oval jump on a slight hillock, when walking the course that morning I had seen two horses really clout it so sat up and made sure she had her hocks underneath her. The rain was at its worst and this was almost pushing her sideways, sat her back and had a bit of a backward stride did the worst thing and did nothing instead of keeping my leg on she saw it at the last moment and stopped. Entirely blame myself for not getting her attention in the weather and riding positively, came back and popped it fine second time. Through the final water and finished full of running. Typically 5 minutes later the rain stopped too!

A few clips from going out too wet to video coming home!

I guess nothing major but feel I let Posy down by not riding better or meeting the standards that I set myself. With a day to reflect on it trying to focus less on how inadequate I am and more on what I can do to improve the thing that didn’t work well. As I said at the beginning character building I suppose!! Apologies to the support crew yesterday.

17th August

Originally a quiet weekend was planned this weekend but there has been a sudden change of plan. I had decided to miss Bicton in favour of taking both to Treborough however the efforts Bicton are making on the ground including watering has tempted me to make a late entry. For me the most important factor in choosing an event is ground and Bicton’s efforts (coupled with some forecast rain) are truly appreciated. So Saturday we head to Bicton for the BE100 and even have lovely middle of the day times.

15th August

The focus has slightly shifted in the last week to pushing on with Ellie a little as she is entered in her first BE at Treborough in 2 weeks time. A nice gentle introduction at BE80 level so thought we had better get in gear.

Popped up to Zoe’s for the weekend and schooled Posy, Ellie had a schooling session on Saturday and Sunday we nipped down the road to St Leonards for their club show jumping.

Only her second competitive show and she was 5th in the 70 and had a couple of poles in the 80. She still at the stage that she knows it all and charges off at times but she is listening more and more now.

In fact tonight I took her cross country schooling and she remained settled to the fences throughout at least the first half of the session and jumped everything confidently. Really feel ready for our first BE80 now and be great to get her out and doing something.

Not sure I have bitten off more than I can chew by entering both horses on the same day!

10th August - Finally a name

Finally we have come up with a name for Sarnie’s foal! Mum had the inspiration and she is to be called Kensa which is Cornish for first.

She is certainly growing up well and looking great with Sarnie being a great Mum. I think Sarnie may be doing her a bit well as she has lost a bit of weight so getting a good bit of feed now.

I also had a great surprise in the post this week from my lovely sponsors Super X Country.

A very smart show shirt and a personalised hat bag. I am so lucky with my sponsors and would ask followers to check out Super X country’s website for their full range of products.

8th August - Bicton BS show

Best laid plans and all that never easy returning from a horse trials and then trying to get everything ready for a 3 day BS show in 4 days. To then try and incorporate a yard move into the equation it has certainly left me slightly frazzled. We moved on Monday only about 3 miles away from the current yard but by the time hay bars, mats, feed and tack were loaded it took all day to move and much of it is still dumped in piles. Have found a lovely private yard although a few minor concerns including lorry access (I have scraped it 3 times now) and a busy road that I have to hack out onto for riding. I’m sure things will settle down.

So actually didn’t even manage to ride Posy between Wilton and Bicton although didn’t seem to do any harm! We arrived in time on the Thursday to give her some work and settle both in. On the first day we had a couple of classes entered but it was Ellie that was on first doing a schooling round in the Webb arena which was really educational.

Really pleased with how she is progressing although have to say the next day she clearly knew it all and tried to race round at 100 miles an hour!!

Posy jumped the 1.05 Derby that caused chaos particularly the dyke that stopped a lot of good horses. I was really pleased how honest and bold Posy was but equally I was frustrated to have two easy fences down when we could have had a chance of a good place (there were only 4 clears). I have been riding her in a Beris Pelham but she seems to have lost respect for this so a change was needed.

I reverted to her cross country bit for her next class that day - the running gag with two reins. Those that know me well can tell you I sometimes struggle enough with one and certainly long term I do not want to mess around with two reins. However short term this may just be the answer. Indeed she jumped a super Newcomers round, I missed the first jump off turn but after that did a couple of good turns and a great angle to come 8th in a very large class.

Day 2 was equally busy with Ellie repeating her schooling round albeit in a rather cocky manner and Posy entered in two classes a 1.05 on the grass and another Newcomers.

The 1.05 was a very competitive class and I was delighted with a 6th place. I was lucky and Posy helped me out enormously as she slipped going into the penultimate fence and lost her stride but pulled all her legs out the way for the clear.

The Newcomers later in the day we tipped the first fence although I didn’t realise it had gone so had a go in the jump off and caught a rail angling a turn.

The final day Ellie had off and Posy just entered the one Newcomers class. I wanted to finish on a good note and just jumped a sensible round with no jump off turns aiming to finish on a good double clear. Very pleased that this was just what we achieved!

Another really enjoyable show, I have spent a fair time at Bicton this year both at BE and BS and enjoyed it every time. Always so well organised and such great facilities. Already planning the September BS show.

2nd  August - Wilton Horse Trials

Wilton was well worth the 4 and a half hour drive as it is one of my favourite events, so pleased they have added a BE100 track. The effort that had gone into the going and new course was really appreciated.

The other advantage of Wilton is the close proximity to Fred Scala who has been helping with our training. We stayed with him on Saturday night and he helped me on the Sunday.

Dressage we produced a nice accurate test and more relaxed thanks to Fred’s help. I was slightly disappointed with a score of 34 but actually it was a harshly marked section and there was only one score that broke the 30 barrier. We were certainly in the top half of a strong section.

Realistically Posy still has more strengthening and development so this is still very much a work in progress.

There was a 3 hour gap until show jumping so a good time to walk the course. It was a nice course the only fence that really worried me was a double of angled brushes at 9 ( a fence they use at the Badminton Grass Routes), it would be very easy to have a run out. The water was also quite bright with a mermaid going in.

Show jumping seemed quite tiny but the course was technical with some tight turns and undulating ground. I was frustrated to clip the planks in the 3 stride related. I suspect if I looked at the video (only there was a failure to press record) I may have got a bit forward and not sat up enough.

So onto cross country and although we were running after 5 I was actually quite pleased for once as the day had been pretty warm. Posy was also not too impressed to see the big hill in front of her. Set off and rather propped at fence 1 but then got going and had a good jump at 2 before labouring up the hill (Posy thought it was a bit like hard work).

The first combination at  4 was straightforward and she had a good jump over the hay cart and another couple of plain fences before the angled brushes. I had discussed the line with Fred and had intended to ride for 3 strides however despite keeping very straight we popped another stride in. We kept control heading down the hill and actually had our worst jump over a simple fence before the water. This comes back to poor course walking where I had walked by as course was open rather than checked the line too the fence. On approach realised my line was poor had a awkward jump this was ok at 100 height but would have caused problems had it been bigger.

She backed off the mermaid to the water but I sat up and kept my leg on and she popped the mermaid and through the water. A few plain fences and I had time to check my watch as people were getting too fast penalties. Whilst I was unlikely to do that I was able to take it relatively steady coming home to finish 3 seconds under the time.

I’m not sure who the commentator was but appreciate the plugs he gave Shoestring Eventing and the course pictures, mum said he was very enthusiastic and complimentary.

Video shows the first couple of fences the water and the penultimate fence.

Delighted that we had our second consecutive placing with 10th place. The show jump was expensive and cost us 3rd place. Really enjoyable event.

29th July

Typical me even the little mishap reported in my last blog and it turns out I have a chipped bone on my knuckle although no breaks in my wrist. I have used Arc Equine solidly and have to say wrist is vastly improved and the finger is less swollen and stiff. Have a appointment at the hand clinic on Tuesday so will see what they say. Luckily as the middle finger not effecting riding at all and preparations under way for Wilton. Have to say have my least favourite times with XC at 17.10. By the time we pack up will be at least 11pm we are home.

Monday is yard moving day, I have fortunately found a lovely yard not too much further away the main concern is the tight lorry access, I have already caught the gatepost once dropping some mats over. Think the girls will like it though.

27th July

Interesting day with typical ups and downs. I have been suffering most of this summer with a really bad back, probably related to my various injuries particularly my hip. Today I saw a physio who had been recommended to me and specialises in sports injuries. Following an assessment and treatment he has made quite a difference to my back. He is confident the problems are predominately muscular and as such will be sortable hopefully over the next few months.

Having left the physio it was time to test out my back. Posy did a little canter work tonight in preparation for Wilton on Sunday and was feeling fab. I hopped off to shut the gate and the silly girl wouldn’t stand for me to get on again. (I can’t mount from the ground and need a steady horse near a hedge or fence). Ended up walking a good way home before I found another hedge on the opposite side, this time she stood against it and got my foot in the stirrup, at this point a blade of grass must have moved and she shot round 180 degrees with me promptly in comedy fashion plopping over the other side of her straight on the tarmac! Posy to add insult to injury trotted home without me, thank god not meeting another car and arriving safely! So now have a wrenched finger, sprained wrist and sore hip (good one) but the backs definitely a bit better!!

Horses why do we bother? I must also point out that this horse that lost me (I don’t count it as falling off) over a small movement in the hedge is the same one that in another comedy moment didn't bat an eyelid when mid canter work a fox literally fell out the hedge and then got stuck jumping back in. Anyway we had some mounting practice when I eventually arrived back at the yard - having assured the household that were having the BBQ and seen the unaccompanied horse toddling home alone that I was ok just pride dented (again)!

Ellie luckily is halo shining and has been doing some athletic jumping exercises this week and really progressing well. Hoping to get my backside in gear and enter a BE event at the end of next month.

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 tight in the neck meaning her paces were more choppy than usual. In retrospect 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 fantastic.

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!

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