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28 July - In the wars again!

Things had been looking up with the great news about Equicover supporting us and the horses working well. Sunday we took two show jumping, Dribble and for the first time in over a year Sarnie.  The day started really well with Dribble winning the 80 cm with a cracking double clear. Really pleased with how the rhythm has improved and that she is listening to me.

We jumped the 90cm as well which was a decent track and as in the 80cm she was jumping well clean and clear. We were at fences 6-8  a related distance and jumped the first two elements nicely but I just misjudged the striding to the 3 element and we ended up on a very poor stride she took off but got the pole caught causing her to stumble and plummeting me straight into the ground head and shoulder first. Now luckily the head was tough enough to take it (protected by my rather lovely and now defunct Gatehouse hat) but my collar bone wasn’t. I knew straight away it was broken.

So Dribble was loaded up and taken home with Sarnie. Poor Sarnie thought life had reached the lowest of the low just being brought out to baby sit a pipsqueak.  Big thanks to my friend Vanessa who came over and drove the lorry home. So it was off to A&E for me and as you can imagine on a weekend in peak holiday season it was packed.  I was assessed and x rayed within an hour but it was about 5 hours later I left the unit.

Worst possible news there were 3 breaks and the bone has displaced and is in danger of coming through the skin. It will not heal naturally but needs an operation to pin and plate it.

Cornwall is currently full to the brim with peak holiday visitors, therefore all the fracture clinics are full. Despite knowing I need an operation the next step is an appointment at the fracture clinic, I have to wait for this for 8 days as clinics are full, I have rung every morning to see if any cancellations but no. I then made a fuss with the patient liaison service who have basically squeezed me into a waiting appointment on Thursday.

Once I see the fracture clinic I then have to wait for an operation slot (not sure how long this will take) remember I am in a lot of pain and at risk of the bone breaking out. Also no healing can take place with bones so far apart. I also have a responsible job that I need to return to as soon as I can, every day and week I wait extends the time I will be away from my job which is to help safeguard the health and safety of people in Cornwall.

To be fair I am fit and strong and can cope albeit very frustrated. However this is happening across the board and I am sure many people more vulnerable than me are affected. A friend of mine (pensioner) who badly broke her shoulder last year was forgotten and it took nearly 3 weeks to do her operation. I am not sure what the answers are but certainly more resources are needed in the peak summer time as it is not just the NHS but this has a knock on to people being able to work and other resource implications.

Now to win the lottery so I can go private.

So sadly for a bit there will be more medical updates than competition reports!

25th July - Welcoming Equicover as a new sponsor.

I am delighted to announce a new sponsor to the Shoestring team. Equicover insurance will be sponsoring us for the remainder of 2014 with plans also for 2015. This is a company I know very well having insured with them since 2010 (previously Amtrust Equine). I have find them to be very competitive on policies and when things go wrong easy to deal with, my claims have been paid out within days of receiving them. I am very excited to be working with them.

If anyone is looking for insurance for horses or trailers do check out their website where you can get a quote online. http://www.equicover.co.uk/

23rd July

Frustrating times! Really wanting to push on with Bobby and had planned to go to Colraine tonight to practice a show jumping course and then do a low key competition on Sunday. Sadly he is having the odd cough, we have dropped his work off and I am just walking him out. The vet was on the yard today (more about that shortly) and had a quick look and is pretty confident there is nothing to worry about, just a time issue and probably due to his recent move of yards and lack of real immunity you find in young horses.

Sarnie meanwhile is still refusing to get in foal or currently even come into season. My vet has been scanning her every 2 days for the last 2 weeks and to date despite the fact she should have been in season 10 days ago there is no sign of anything happening. So disappointing each time she is scanned the hopes are up that we will progress yet to date nothing. I am sure she is trying to single handedly bankrupt me! Anyway now she has been in work 5 weeks and with Bobby taking a back seat I am threatening taking her jumping on Sunday! Might blow a few cobwebs away!

20th July - Launceston Horse Trials

Fantastic to be out eventing again, only our second event this season and that huge rarity an event in Cornwall. Launceston Horse Trials is situated just on the Devon / Cornwall border off the main trunk road. The course pictures are all online and it was a great really educational course for Dribble.

The dressage I was pleased with but when comparing our score to others I had seen go I was actually disappointed with  the 34.5 we scored.

Our dressage has really progressed although I acknowledge there is lots of improvement still to come.

Show jumping was perhaps the main disappointment of the day. She is jumping in such a better rhythm and control now, so to have 3 poles was frustrating. Two I can put down to me riding a bit too carefully, the second fence was very bright and she did a typical young horse thing of really picking up in front and forgetting the hind legs. To be fair the ring was undulating and the course didn’t help the real babies. She has plenty of jump so clear rounds will soon be coming.

So onto cross country and I was delighted with how she has improved and started to look for her fences, she is still green and wobbly at times but is honest and straight to the fence.

1 - 4 were quite straightforward although lots to look at and plenty of people. 6 was the first combination, a hay rack to a narrow roll top which she was very straight to. We then turned away from home over a train carriage and through a gate to a decent size hedgehog. She was quite wary of this and trotted but had plenty of pop to do it from trot. Through the first water and over a sail boat, followed by a hay rack and wood pile before the red telephone. It looked strange to me but she made nothing of it. Then through the water over a step and to a narrow rail. A spread with some brush made her really get in the air (pictured), clearly you cannot contemplate touching the brush!

We then had a combination of a palisade to a small corner, she slightly propped in the middle but kept very straight and popped out nicely. Finished with a big bold jump over the final roll top.

She is still at the stage of her career that I don’t want to rush her so we had plenty of time penalties but really not concerned by this.

So another really pleasing outing and she is progressing very nicely considering she is still 5. Her behaviour at the event was as always excellent. Debating currently whether the time is right to sell her, much as I love her I feel she is going to be a very competitive grass roots horse for someone and sadly that is a competition I am not eligible to qualify for.

19th July - Animal Kingdom Organic Horse Supplements

Really pleased to have been asked to try some supplements from a relatively new company in the UK market - Animal Kingdom Organic Horse Supplements. See their website here

Animal Kingdom Organics has released a range of nine different organic supplements which are designed to meet the changing needs of the horse throughout its life. They are the only organic equine supplements in the UK specifically designed to support horse’s at each life stage and they are scientifically formulated according to its size, weight and work regime.

So my supplements arrived last weekend. We have currently put Dribble and Bobby on the ‘Winners Mix’. To copy the blurb the winners mix is

“Suitable for competition use, this FEI and USEF compliant blend of organic nutrients supports horses and ponies that are ridden on a daily basis to a heavy work regime. The supplement contains a number of nutrients to help reduce pain and inflammation, assist in the elimination of waste products, stimulate circulation and support joint flexion. Key ingredients MSM, glucosamine and chondroitin sulphate help guard against degenerative joint disease; whilst nettle leaf, dandelion root and milk thistle support the removal of inflammatory toxins.”

Bobby and Dribble are both eating it without a problem which is great as Bobby particularly is quite fussy.

Sarnie will also be trying a supplement just waiting to see how our final attempt at getting her in foal goes. If successful she will go on “Preggers”if unsuccessful she will go on ‘Fluidity’ which should help her creaky joints.

There is always debate with supplements whether they work or not and it can be hard to tell on the younger fitter horses. However, personally I believe everything we can do to support their health we should do and supplements such are these are important in maintaining peak condition.

17th July

Well we are back from a fabulous time at boot camp. So glad I went and the progression in both horses was brilliant, Caroline Creighton really is a maestro at seeing what is needed and communicating the best way to achieve it. Great for me too to have some regular instruction as well as the opportunity to ride some different horses. I rode a total of 5 and 6 horses on the last two days and I must admit today my hip and back are both complaining bitterly!

Probably easiest to take each horse in turn and explain what we did through the sessions.

Dribble clearly despite being the younger of the two is the more established. For her it was more a question of consolidating the work we have and improving her tempo to a fence. The first day we spent in the school doing a variety of exercises some very simple, like popping a small fence turning, coming to halt turning around and popping back over the fence. Also incorporating a simple fence on a circle to get her jumping out of a rhythm. We moved onto some turns and found that by thinking of slight outside bend she connected to the bridle a bit better.

Day 2 saw us move outside to the jumping field to develop further what we were working on in the school. We repeated many of the exercises slowly introducing riding the course in a better balance. Was really pleased with the way she progressed. I think the main learning point for me was that when I wanted to move her forward to a jump I was crouching forward and instead I needed to sit up and allow her forwards with my hands.

The final day saw us focusing more on the cross country. Working on a good forward tempo to a fence and not trying to over set her up instead allowing her to work things out for her self.  Can’t believe how much she has come on cross country and she really is far more mature now. Maybe feels so good as now Bobby is so green?

Certainly Dribble has made huge strides forward over the 3 days, she also spent a fair time in bed so was clearly very chilled on a busy yard.

I have put together a 5 minute video showing the story of her 3 days and some of the things we did.

For Bobby it was more a fact finding mission finding out more about him as well as making a short and medium term plan (long  term involved winning advanced events - aim high!)

I have to admit there was a point in the first session that plans involved not keeping him for long! The video later doesn’t really show how difficult he was initially as the shock meant the video person (aka mum) pressed stop instead of record several times. Don’t get me wrong he is athletic, has a great jump but outside he would just see a jump launch and go, usually to then be brought back under control a field later! He needed more time to work out what he was doing as was shown by a very sharp run out when I cantered at a spooky filler (see video I did well to stay on). So a quick change of plan and we started trotting into the fences, this gave him time to think and work out what he was doing. As he started to settle we did canter into a few again. By the end of the session I was quite happy that I had not made the biggest mistake ever! A good tip from Caroline was to start to teach him a bit with the voice so he understands a simple click to go forward and a whoa to steady him, this can be very effective for these sensitive sharp horses.

Day 2 was cross country day for Bobby and an important day as both Caroline and I feared he may be a bit too gung ho and launch himself off drops and over fences without thinking and looking, essential thing for an event horse. Again we kept everything steady in trot and allowed him time to look and see what he was doing.

I needn’t of worried he was green but bold and sensible particularly with the drops where he even popped into the water. He happily also did some ditches, a variety of logs and roll tops. The only problem came at a very simple fence when his eye was caught by people leaning against a log and watching him, he never even saw the fence he was meant to be jumping. Certainly needs to see a bit of life before he could cope with jump judges and spectators!

The final day saw us back in the outside jumping arena consolidating the first days work. Again jumping from trot (never found a horse as easy jumping decent fences from trot) popping fences and keeping him steady. He threw some really special jumps and I finished the session feeling very positive about him.

Again a 5 minute video taking you through the 3 days

So with Bobby we will be taking things slowly for now but getting him out and about jumping (maybe from trot) seeing different places and things keeping the brain working. Hopefully he will do a few BE events in the Autumn to get the idea before we aim to hit the ground running next year.

12 July

Just ridden all 3 and packing to head up to Hatherleigh for boot camp! Staying until Wednesday with the two grey’s and hopefully can get in some good training. Updates on our return.

9 July

It has been a low key week yet equally it has felt flat out. I am finding working full time and keeping 3 going hard work. Fortunately Jasper’s owner has made a speedy recovery from her eye operation and I don’t need to ride him regularly although I may still do some jumping competitions. Roxy is aimed at Bicton next and then hopefully will get some consistent runs in through the Autumn.

Had my first fall off Bobby today, I now understand how cyclist Chris Frome feels as I have a lovely graze on my backside! It was just one of those things, a large dog rushed out of a gateway as I reached it, any of mine would have reacted the same but ouch onto gravel at speed, thankfully not from too great a height. Managed to hang on as I didn’t want him going home alone!

Had the vet out to scan Sarnie today before we make a last attempt at AI this year. Despite being due in season on Friday the scan shows she is no where near at the moment so she will be scanned every few days to monitor progress. My vet wants to let her continue totally naturally this time with no drugs to affect her season. I am continuing to ride her and get her fitter but I have to admit she is slightly stiff, I have my fingers very firmly crossed that we can get a pregnancy. If not I will have to have a careful think about what is best for her future i.e. field ornament or how I can make her more comfortable so she can really enjoy life.

With my social media presence I from time to time get asked to comment on news stories and this week I spoke to Horse and Hound regarding the new National Restricted Novice Championships.  (Link to details here) This is a class introduced in by BE aimed at grassroot amateur riders with a championship at Festival of British Eventing at Gatcombe. On a personal note I was disappointed that the eligibility criteria did nothing to recognise an amateur rider and excluded people that have competed Intermediate in the last 5 years and Advanced in the last 10 years. It is great to have a championship at this level but it would be nice to make it a true amateur class and I think the Intermediate exclusion is v harsh. At the very least it should be not to have won points at intermediate (which admittedly wouldn’t help me). Guess I need to continue focusing hard on producing something to qualify for Gatcombe at the traditional Championship level, not got that close yet but can keep trying! Anyway watch out for the piece in H&H next week and a possible quote!

Very excited and looking forward to a few days away next week. Sadly I wasn’t needed to help at Dauntsey this year so a change in plans and heading on Saturday for 4 days at Warren Farm (Home of Lucy Wiegersma) with both both grey horses for some training with Caroline Creighton. Hoping to have a couple of lessons with each. So there will be lots of videos, lesson reports and updates when I get back. Bit of a busman's holiday as expect I will be mucking out and riding a few extra!.

5 July

Today was a good opportunity to get Bobby out to a competition. Nice to start with a low key dressage show at Colraine, whilst he is far from ready to dazzle with a test great opportunity to get him out and see how he behaves.  I have to say at home he is very bright, always on a mission wanting to go everywhere at 100 miles an hour and I did wonder how he would settle at a competition.

Colraine was very quiet today but he stood on the lorry like a pro, had a wander round in hand before letting me warm him up in the outside arena. Outside with a bit more room he gave me some lovely work. The test was indoors which may have been a first for him, I am not sure! He certainly had eyes everywhere and once in the arena took a while to realise he needed to stay inside the boards and they were not an obstacle to negotiate! The test was reasonable, of course it needed more bend, accuracy and a longer more consistent outline but he tried hard and I was delighted.

We scored 62% and ended bottom half of middle. The judge made a comment about a big horse, not quite sure how she worked that out but guess he doesn’t look as tiny as he is.

Next weekend we are looking forward to a few days away with my trainer Caroline Creighton.

Tomorrow we have Dr Dave Siemens visiting to give their backs a once over an important part of keeping them in peak condition. Particularly important for my horses as with my back and hip problems I am not always the straightest.

2 July

All systems go at the moment. Finding it a culture shock to have 3 on the go as well as riding Jasper occasionally. I think the biggest time problem is that two of them are grey and have a magnetic attraction to poo. Having been brought up to ensure any such stain is washed off immediately and therefore doesn’t stain I am constantly washing them both. The tax man is promising me a small refund so I am seriously thinking of investing in a hot water wash.

Really pleased with how Sarnie has come back into work, she appears to be moving very well and enjoying life. I have been using the ArcEquine on her daily so hopefully this is helping her. Next week the vet is going to have another look at whether to have a last try this season getting her in foal, I will be almost disappointed if she does as I am enjoying having her to ride at the moment. However realistically this would still be the best option so fingers crossed.

Bobby has settled in nicely, he is just hacking at the moment with a bit of gentle schooling thrown in. He needs a bit of time to strengthen up as he lacks muscle, also he just needs a ‘chill pill’! He enjoys life and wants to do everything at 100 miles an hour and just needs to learn to relax. He is making his competition debut with me on Saturday at Colraine just doing an easy prelim test. This is more to get him out and about than be competitive.

Dribble is fine after the weekend and has had a few days off to relax. She will be doing some gentle work before picking up again and aiming at our next event the BE90 at Launceston on the 20 July.

29 June  

Horses always seem to throw up the unexpected. Please count this as a Shoestring warts and all report! Today we should have been at Chepstow Horse Trials contesting the BE90, I already had the course pictures and thought the course looked lovely.  The weather was very stormy yesterday with flash floods and through social media I understood Chepstow hadn’t had the best of it and show jumping was cutting up. I was fairly happy though that conditions would be good for today.

We set off mid afternoon and were having a really good journey. We were just approaching Taunton and could see the cloud coming in and it went very dark. A horrendous storm hit us, huge droplets of rain, immediately the roads were flooded and it sounded like the roof of lorry was coming in. At least with the higher driving position and at a steady speed we were safe on the road although cars were still sploshing (technical term) by. As the weather had been hot the horse windows were open and the horizontal rain was coming through the window at Dribble and the noise was deafening. Poor Dribble didn’t know what was happening and got increasingly distressed, we stopped and tried to settle her but cars were still wooshing by and the storm didn’t clear quickly, we clearly couldn’t unload her on the motorway.

Sadly I couldn’t settle her even as the storm went off, she had sweat pouring off and her breathing was heavy. We made the decision there was no point in taking her on as the whole thing would have taken too much out of her. I carry  basic medication with me and gave her a few mils of sedalin just to really relax her and waited in the service station for half an hour. This did the trick nicely and she settled and travelled home happily. Hopefully just a blip but so frustrating. A few short journeys to make sure she is happy before another long one.

So very disappointing and frustrating but that is horses!

However on a brighter note it has given me a chance today to ride Bobby and Sarnie. Bobby is just being chilled at the moment and allowed time to settle meanwhile Sarnie was allowed her first jump since she came back into work I think she quite enjoyed it!

That certainly put a smile back on my face!

28 June

So this weekend we are off to Chepstow with Dribble, sadly Roxy was balloted. Hoping the thunderstorms don’t put a dampner on  the event. Will update via Facebook and Twitter as usual and report hopefully Monday when I get back.

26 June

As we were trucking up to Treborough at the weekend a little grey person was heading for Cornwall. Bobby as he will be known (posh name Creevagh Bobby) arrived on Saturday and has settled straight in.

I hacked him out Monday and Tuesday and yesterday decided he could go to my booked Robert Pickles lesson and make sure we got off on the right foot.

The good news is Robert loved him and though he was very athletic with good paces. As dressage is the area that concerns me most for Bobby this was a great start. He settled worked well and had a good attitude. Yes at the moment the contact is a little in consistent because he has not got the strength to hold himself but he just needs a lot of basic work.

We worked in bursts making sure every 5 minutes to give him a walk breather and stretch so muscles didn’t get sore. Also at the moment Robert wants his canter work done with me out the saddle so his back can get stronger.

A little clip

So for the moment a few quiet weeks to give him time to settle and strengthen.

23 June  - Treborough Horse Trials

Finally made it to my first BE this year and it was slightly in at the deep end with two first timers in the BE90. Have to say most lovely venue overlooking the coast towards Wales and at least the event itself was subject to a pleasant breeze, the ground also had a springy grass cover despite being quite dry. On the slight down side (not the events fault) it wasn’t the nicest drive to get to and the stabling was in a bit of a dust bowl, the horses, humans, lorry and all the gear soon had a good layer of dust everywhere!

The course was nice for a first time (see course pictures) with a good variety of questions including water, steps, corner combination and half coffin. My times certainly meant that I was on the go all morning with Dribble first to go at 830am.


Dribble did quite a baby dressage in my opinion lost some straightness but was fairly accurate transitions wise and her outline is starting to look much improved. A score of 30.5 was a lot better than I expected.

I think the show jumping was what was concerning me most. As is typical with young horses she had learnt a new trick, the last week she had been really fighting me to the fences and running through the hand. It is difficult not to fight them and get a balanced round. The SJ was up to height and as big a course as she has done although it was a straightforward course in a nice flat ring.

I should have more faith, she actually jumped a very decent round just getting a bit close to two uprights at the end of the course and making a green mistake.

So a quick change and onto cross country. She certainly gave me a green ride and was a little bit wavery and unsure but she grew in confidence. You can see on the first video going out I had to ride her strongly but by the time we headed for home she was really flying.

Heading out

Heading home

As you can see in the video we took it steady as needs to learn what the job entails before we can let the handbrake off even slightly!

So delighted with her finished on 30.5 dressage 8 SJ and 10.8 time Xc couldn’t have asked for more.


Roxy although two years older is equally inexperienced in fact as well as her first one day event it was her first ever XC round!

I was pleased with her dressage she tried hard and did an accurate and obedient test which was rewarded with a 26.5.

Show jumping she is very neat and careful not breathing on a pole for a lovely clear.

So onto cross country and whilst I didn’t want to hurry Roxy round I did up the tempo slightly from Dribble as she was on such a good score. She was green going out over the first half a dozen but very genuine and honest however by the time she turned for home she really had the idea!

1.2 time penalties didn’t turn out to be a factor and the little star finished 3rd in her first event. Delighted for her owners who produced her so well and ran around after us all day. Roxy will now be heading for Dauntsey.  If anyone is looking for a fantastic grass routes horse get in touch and I will pass you onto her owners.

20 June

Sadly I will be away when Farro arrives tomorrow I am very lucky to have some trusted friends to settle him in. We are off to our first BE of the season (better late than never) with Dribble and Roxy. Very exciting to be back out competing again seems strange this time last year we were in the middle of a very busy season with Pip and on the eve of one of the best rides she gave me cross country when she ate up the difficult Salperton Intermediate course.

For both girls this weekend it will be their first BE events, both will need some experience before they can really become competitive at this level. It is lovely to go to a new BE event for us as we have not visited Treborough before an event is on the edge of Exmoor so should be lovely. Hope I haven’t bitten off more than I can chew starting off with two babies as my hip has been sore this week, guess it is just a few extra painkillers needed!

Will be reporting back on Monday, although more instant updates can be seen on Facebook and Twitter.

18 June

Meet Ferro who will be arriving at the weekend to join the Shoestring Team. He has big boots (Pip’s) to fill which may be a struggle as he is basically an overgrown pony! You may remember my horse wish list a mare, 4 to 5 years, preferably not grey - guess what I have bought a grey 7 year old 15.2 boy. Oh well!! I was impressed by his quality and athleticism as well as the quick brain.  He was bred in Ireland and is by Creevagh Ferro with the dam being Connie /TB.

He is still quite green and needs time to muscle up a bit but he really is very scopey and has a lot of jump. He has not done any competitions so will be a real blank canvass. For a little person he has a big stride and won’t have any trouble with distances or covering the ground.

A quick clip from when I tried him

So very excited and also at the nervous stage wondering if I have done the right thing! I think so but time will tell. Mind you the thought of looking after two grey horses is totally terrifying me!

15th June

It has been a busy weekend with a lesson yesterday and competition today. The weekend has been overshadowed by the news from Germany and Nunney of two rider deaths and thoughts go to connections and everyone involved at the events.

The lesson focused on trying to get a bigger canter to help her make the distances better and focused on me having a softer arm and wrist therefore allowing her to go forward into the fences in a canter that almost to be honest felt a bit much.

Luckily I had a another chance to practice this when I was given the chance to ride a couple of other horses on the yard. Mind you the mucking out of 9 before I left this morning was less fun!

So onto today the 3 phase competition at Winkleigh with each phase being judged separately. We entered each phase as if a one day at 90 level as practice for next week.

The dressage (her first test on grass) is much improved. She still can be a little tight in the neck but did a lovely test which the judge wrote ' was a pleasure to watch’. She scored 74% with all 7 and 8s to win the class

The show jumping for my liking is still too hit and miss. She runs a bit through the hand and then my relaxed arm and wrist goes out the window and we have awkward strides. Considering the ring is so undulating actually 4 faults wasn’t bad.

Cross country although 90cm was more testing than the BE equivalent as the combinations asked more questions. You can see in the clip below a house to the water quickly followed by an angled log and owlhole asked a few questions.

Dribble still needs experience and miles on the clock cross country. At the moment she is doing all the difficult stuff well but having wobbly moments at isolated fences in the middle of fields (monsters lurk you know). The corner was not a problem but he bright flowers beside it were terrifying! She is certainly ready to continue her education in the BE arena although I would expect that we will need a few events before I can start to focus on being competitive.

13th June

Survived Friday 13th but having been born on such a day I should have immunity to it! Took Jasper Cross Country schooling last night at Chyverton, he was a good boy happily going through water, up and down banks and over ditches. He is very careful and doesn’t like to touch anything, this meant he gave some fences a fair bit of air!

Busy weekend planned for Dribble. I am taking her for a lesson with Caroline Creighton tomorrow then stopping there for the night before going to have a final tune up at Winkleigh before our first BE event at Treborough next weekend.

Really pleased with how she is coming on and getting stronger but guess you never feel quite ready and I think there are a few areas that still need quite a bit of polish before next weekend.

On the potential new horse front the vetting will be taking place Monday or Tuesday next week. I am very lucky Liz Brown from Lamborne Equine vets can travel up and do him for me. Always great to be able to use an experienced vet as well as one that knows you and you can discuss things easily with. Fingers firmly crossed please!

11th June - Looks like life may be very busy soon!!

Having just had Dribble to blog about and ride life could soon become very hectic! To start with I have been asked to ride two horses for different friends.

Meet Roxy (aka Raindancer Roxanne)

Roxy is 16.1, 7 years old and belongs to my friend Helen Askey. She is a cracking 7 year old mare who Helen has had since she was two. I have taken her cross country schooling and to the local express eventing competition and she is careful and bold. She has not evented before, she is entered for the BE90 at Treborough with Dribble, however, sadly though she has been balloted from the BE90 at Chepstow.

Roxy is for sale so our relationship may be quite short lived. (I will either do such a bad job I will be jocked off or hopefully everyone will see what a lovely mare she is and she will be snapped up). If anyone wants further details get in touch and I will put you in contact with Helen.

Meet Jasper (aka Spot on Time)

Jasper is 16.2 and 7 years old. He belongs to my friend Jane Morris. Jane bought him to do dressage with but as you can see above he also has a very good pop. The video shows us in our first competition together last weekend jumping double clear in the 80cm at Colraine.  Jane unfortunately is having quite a serious operation on her eye which means she will not be able to ride for a while, she has asked me to help exercise him and compete him while she recovers. He may do some BE later in the season. He gives a great feeling over a fence but like Roxy is still quite green.

I look forward to updating you with their progress.

Possible new one?

On Monday we did an epic 700 mile tour round the country taking in Shropshire and Leicestershire and saw two cracking horses. Very different types but both had the potential to be lovely competition horses. I am not going to tempt fate and tell you too much about the one I have agreed to buy as it is subject to vet. However one of my worst nightmares may soon come true and I may be the owner of two grey horses!!


So that still leaves another one to mention. This one should be well known to my regular followers as next week Sarnie will be having some shoes on and I will be riding her primarily to see how she is feeling. It appears she may never get in foal or certainly be difficult and she needs to be more than a field ornament I have decided it would be worth seeing how she is feeling. She has had a year off after not feeling great last year and we have a few tools to try to see if we can help whatever may be troubling her (if it still is). She has been using the Arc Equine machine for the last two weeks and will continue to use it as she starts work. Dave the chiropractor can see if his slightly different approach helps her, I have also been discussing the possibility of acupuncture. It is not my intention to bring her back to event (maybe an odd unaffiliated event) but it would be great if she could do some show jumping and we can have a bit of fun together. However if she feels like she did when I retired her last year then she will be back out as a field ornament.

Looks like there will be plenty to talk about on here if I ever get time to update it.

8th June - XC schooling Porth Valley

Had a really positive session at Porth Valley with Emily Vincent, I felt Dribble really stepped up to the next level starting to look for her fences, she did her first corner, jumped into water for the first time and was confidently doing some skinnies.

Sadly not all caught on video as there were some hefty showers but the video will give you the idea of how she is coming on.

Really pleased with how she is progressing.

4th June

Trying to be a bit more focused with Dribble’s training at the moment, we have less than 3 weeks to her first BE.

For me one of the priorities is her fitness, I am not a great one for getting them too fit for BE90 but Dribble does puff quite easily and I certainly need to improve in this area. At the moment I am making sure ever 3-4 days she does fitness work. This may be done within planned competitions, training or a hack that involves locating every steep in the area and trotting up them steadily (the only time I will trot on the roads). Also the kind local farmer that lets me use some of his grass fields has started cutting them so I will give her a couple of bits of steady canter work up the hill in there when the hay is off. At the end of the day she probably won’t be ready physically or mentally to whizz round her first BE90 inside the time but a steady round or two in the early stages can be far better education.

I am not over doing the jumping at home. At the moment her canter needs to be stronger and more able to carry herself so this is as important as jumping and will improve the jumping. The fitness work will also help this. I make sure the flat sessions involve lots of transitions and short bursts of canter so she has to use herself and gently get stronger. Also if I have time some canter poles really help her. Jumping wise away from the competitions I won’t jump more than once a week.

She gets a day or two off each week to ensure she has time to physically recover and mentally assimilate the knowledge I hope her brain is taking in. I am hoping towards the end of July to give her a week or 10 days totally off again so she has some chill time.

We have some XC schooling planned this weekend (weather permitting) and hopefully a competition the following weekend. Then it is Treborough time!

2nd June

As Shoestring Eventing passes 5 years old we have had a new record month. Last month we had 35,500 visitors and 660,000 hits. Figures if I may say so myself are pretty impressive.

Meanwhile following complaints from Dribble that being the only ridden horse I have started seriously looking for my next superstar. I am fairly open minded but have the following wish list

Unfortunately most of pips money has been eaten by debts, Sarnie baby attempts and car so no huge budget. 5 figures out the question so don't show me horse to drool over that I cannot afford. The better value the better! If anyone know of anything do get in touch carnarthen@btinternet.com

1st June

Today I was meant to be having a lesson with Caroline Creigton which would have been great to assess where we were with Dribble. Sadly Caroline had to cancel so we rerouted a few miles up the road to Winkleigh where a SJ and XC was being held. I have been keen to get Dribble out onto the XC course for real and this seemed the perfect opportunity.

We entered the 80cm class as I wanted to give her a chance to learn the ropes without it asking silly questions at this stage. The course was ideal a variety of fences including a step, ditch, water and a few combinations.

She show jumped really well just a mis-understanding at the double but otherwise a much better rhythm. We went straight out onto cross country which slightly non plussed her so had to be ridden strongly over 1. Our only problem came early at 3 a line of fences for the different courses the bigger classes had some white on the fences which clearly gave an optical illusion of monsters. We saw at least 5 other horses take great fright and Dribble was unsure from quite a way a way! We crept up gave her pat let her have a look and turned round and popped our log. From that point on she jumped really well and soon got the idea. The video shows the SJ first two and last 4 including the water.

So a really educational day and the run will help bring her fitness on as this is an area that we really need to work on before our first BE at Treborough in 3 weeks. Thanks to Nick Perry again for the lovely pictures.

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