Home About Tips, Articles and Training Blogs / Calendar  Dressage Tests Course Pictures Links Contact

29 November - TWRC dressage show

Much as I love the jumping sadly the flatwork equally needs the practice. A good opportunity today with the local riding club dressage show just down the road. I pushed ourselves a little and entered two novice standard tests. The riding club D10 and Novice 30 which I knew would be a little bit of a push for her.

She warmed up well outside but slightly switched off indoors. The medium trot is no where near established but otherwise in the D10 test she made a very good stab.

I was delighted with 71% to win the class. Very fair and accurate comments from the judge recognising she needs to sit a little more to improve her marks.

The novice 30 was a harder test again and Posy tried very hard but just isn’t able yet to produce the work to make us competitive. I added spurs for a little bit more impulsion but instead of impulsion I created some resentment.

We were unplaced in a strong class but I wasn’t upset with a mark of 67% which shows the training is on the right lines. I think I know what needs working on and that will take time and strength which won’t happen overnight. All in all a very positive day.

I did have to laugh though as I felt a bit out of place warming up in jumping boots, riding in a jumping saddle and not really fitting in with the dressage image!

27 November

I am sure soon I will be complaining how cold it is and that it is too icy to get any work done but currently I just want it to stop raining. I don’t know about everyone else but the mud is getting me down. Even Smartie can’t cross the field without cutting it up!

I think the above has affected my enthusiasm for horse hunting. Whilst clearly my budget is limiting the horses that match my criteria there is a part of me that is quite glad with the short evenings and constant rain that we haven’t quickly found something to replace Bobby. However realistically I also know that now is the best time to buy as I am likely to get the best value. To date though I haven’t found something that has inspired me enough to view. There is also a clear relationship with the amount of inspiration needed in relation to the distance to travel. I have seen one I rather like but at 6 hours each way I just don’t like it quite enough! Never mind will continue to scour the sales sites and hopefully that hidden gem will pop up.

Posy meanwhile doesn’t seem too worried about the weather with her servant (me) running around after her making sure she has a clean dry stable, dry rugs and plenty of grub. She even had the pleasure last week of a massage from top sponsor Morwenna from Roseland Pets and Equine. As you can see she rather enjoyed it.

Have been focusing her work at home on improving the canter and in particular the ability to carry herself. At the moment it seems to be me carrying her and can be quite frustrating. Yesterday I used some poles (4 on a 20m circle one on each quarter) which brightened up the work a bit got me riding more accurately and gave her an interest. It is difficult when time is limited and I am on my own to do much in the way of pole exercises particularly when the school is not mine so can’t plan ahead and put exercises out before I ride.

Hacking is doing her the world of good but with light failing so early this is limited at the moment. This weekend we have entered a riding club dressage show on Sunday so be nice to get a good measure of how we are progressing. Have entered her in her first novice tests which will be interesting particularly as we don’t yet have much of a medium trot! We were due a lesson with Stef tomorrow but sadly the weather put the kibosh on that!

22 November

Yesterday we went show jumping at a new venue for Posy - Duchy College. We nearly didn’t go high winds, driving rain and hail as well as a substantial drop in temperature made staying home seem far more attractive. I have to say though the further we drove the more the weather improved and it stayed dry at least.

Posy was feeling bright and a bit hormonal! To be honest she is better when she is on Regumate to control her seasons, usually by now the colder weather stops mares cycling but with it being mild she has continued coming into season. I quickly removed the spurs and warmed up in a quiet time between classes.  

In the Discovery she jumped a good clear round although added an extra stride between 6 and 7 when she backed off the black and white fence.

Sadly at this point the video gave up (Someone forgot to charge it - whoops). So you don’t get the pleasure of the disaster that was the jump off! We had the second fence down behind and then the next fence in front as she just ran onto her forehand a bit. The black and white was off a tight turn back and we were on half a stride, I went for the long one she backed off put down and stopped. At this point she had a pat but on turning round I rode her strongly gave her a tap and we launched literally into orbit over it. Very proud I didn’t come out and have a confidence meltdown as can be my habit!

We were also entered in the 1.05 Amateur class. Decided this would be a good opportunity to put matters right. She jumped a nice first round clear although I had to really ride at the black and white jump which again we gave an extra few feet! In the jump off I rode sensibly kept my lines tight but not really cutting corners and jumped another clear which was good enough for second. All in all an educational day and one that we both came away from having learnt some valuable lessons.

Still struggling on the biting front. Probably 80% of the running forward and down onto the hand is a schooling issue but at the same time be nice to find a bit that could just help her listen so she can start to sit back on her hocks. The myler combination has not been the magic solution I hoped.

Today she has had a nice hack as I do try and keep some variety and think hacking is a key part of any event horses education (even the getting very wet bit!).

16 November

It was good to get out competing again yesterday after a 6 week break. We dropped back a level as it was our first show indoors and the first competition trying the combination bit. We headed to Tall Trees which although an hour and a half away offers good courses and is somewhere I always seem to do quite well (a definite factor).

We did the 95cm amateur class and jumped a nice double clear to finish 2nd. We then jumped the Discovery and produced another double clear for 4th place. (Was really pleased with last turn).

Only one video due to temperamental computer but you would probably be bored with all 4, they are on my Youtube page if you feel like you are missing out - here.

The combination bit certainly gave me more control almost too much in an indoor setting needed to make sure the revs were kept up. Usual issues raised their head of a lack of balance and struggling to land on or change to the correct lead. That is what we have the winter to work on. Can’t complain with no poles down all day.

14th November

Still having computer problems hence the less frequent updates. I am sourcing a new computer but hanging on now to see if any bargains around on Black Friday. The current laptop may be thrown out the window before then so if all goes silent you know why!

Mum’s wrist may need an operation waiting for the consultant to decide this week. Really don’t need her to try and keep up with me on the pins and operation front.

Yesterday had a day away and headed up to the Countryside Raceday at Cheltenham with my good friend Gwendra. Needless to say I didn’t pick a winner but a good day was had by all. Great to get up close to the racing and see the cross country race (no idea how they remember the course). There was also a fun session early on where Charlotte Dujardin gave McCoy a dressage lesson. There was some really good banter between the two and McCoy actually sat amazingly well for someone who found the horse,saddle and position very foreign. Steering was an issue and Charlotte used her horse to keep him going in the right direction it was great fun.

Tomorrow we have our first competition for 6 weeks so feeling a bit rusty. Off to Tall Trees for some show jumping. Hope we remember what to do. Full report (computer allowing) to follow.

7th November

It has certainly been a roller coaster week. On the positive front Sarnie’s blood test was positive so she is still pregnant.

Bobby was viewed last Saturday by a young rider who loved him and he went very sweetly for, he was vetted on Tuesday and left for his new home on Friday. Very mixed feelings as I was very fond of him and if space and finance was not an issue he would have stayed. I certainly shed a tear when he left the yard and you always have that thought of have I done the absolute best for him.

On Thursday Mum managed to slip over on the way to the dustbin of all things and break her wrist. So the boot was on the other foot in A&E for once. Poor Mum is already very frustrated with the limitations and restrictions this imposes. Have immediately started use of the ArcEquine so hopefully this will speed up the heeling.

I gave Posy her first jump today when we had a lesson with Rob Stevens. Mum’s reminder that I had better stay on as we can’t afford two of us injured was promptly ignored as Posy deposited me warming up. She was struggling with sitting a bit more in the canter and I clearly asked just a bit much and next minute I was sitting on the floor.

Rob was very impressed with Posy although as you can see she never quite lost the sparkle!

She found the jumping so easy but as Rob said it is now a question of her sitting in the canter and bringing her front end up.

We finished by working on a simple exercise of changing legs over a small jump which she did well.

A good session even if I am now off for a hot bath for the aching shoulder and hip!

1st November

Apologies if updates are not as frequent as usual I have some laptop issues. My aging laptop now has a keyboard that doesn’t work as well as a mouse pad that is not reliable. I only have one USB port that works which means I have to plug the keyboard in then change to the mouse when needed! It is slow and frustrating, researching the best value for money replacements currently or see if I get the current model refurbished. Annoying when I am told my laptop is ancient yet only 4 years old.

Had a super lesson with Stef Eardley yesterday. Worked mainly on getting Posy in front of the leg and actually going forward off taking the leg off. Quite a difficult one to get the head around but very effective.

Sarnie has been blood tested to check she is still in foal results this week. She looks pregnant but it could be she is just fat!

28th October

Both horses are back in work after their holiday. Bobby only had 10 days off and sadly I have just put his sale ad on Horsequest.

Bobby’s advert - Here

I am very keen to find him a good home so if you are looking or know anyone suitable get in touch.

Meanwhile Posy is also back in work after over 3 weeks off. Just long enough to give her a good break but not too long that she has lost a huge amount of fitness. She has been hacking this week which has actually always been the activity she finds most difficult, she found it hard to adjust to the sights and sounds after a very quiet rural existence in Ireland. She is getting the hang of it now though.

25th October

I’m back! I have to admit I am not really a holiday person but it has been good to escape from my self imposed equine pressures and work which is both very busy and intense at the moment. I am certainly not stepping back gently. Tomorrow I have to go to a Coroners Inquest regarding a work related death I investigated, both horses are coming back into work and Bobby is being advertised, I have also taken on a 3 week part time job chasing 350 addresses to return their electoral register forms. I was hoping this would go into the new computer fund rather than pay off the copyright fine! I have finally resolved that and I did after some negotiation get a 50% reduction. However a £171 fine for using what appeared one free image off google has certainly taught me a very expensive lesson. So if there are less updates on here than usual you may understand why!

Holiday wise I can highly recommend Cumbria to anyone that wants spectacular scenery and great walks. The dogs have had a fabulous time and everywhere is very dog friendly including pubs and cafes. We were very lucky with the weather and the majority of the week was fine which made a huge difference.

It seems a log winter ahead, I need to set some goals and try and get my mojo back, I am very lucky to have a great horse, some fabulous supporters and friends but the loss of Caroline as a friend and mentor is a huge blow.

15th October

This is my last blog update for 10 days as I leave for a week in Lake District tomorrow so there will be no more updates until I return.

This is also the saddest blog update I have written as yesterday my equine mentor and the lady I called ‘god’ Caroline Creighton passed away after losing her brave fight with cancer.

British Eventing: In Memoriam - here

Caroline has taught and helped me for over 20 years and I would never have achieved what I did without her help and guidance. She has developed my riding and each and every of my horses so that I have achieved far more than I ever dreamed.

She has spent endless hours on the phone, helping me with horses and looking after me when I went up a level, did our first 3 day and during our jaunts abroad.

She was someone who always had time to help, I could ring her at 6 in the morning (when I thought Sarnie had done a tendon) or from an event and ask how to ride a combination. Her training and her eye was legendry she instantly understood horses and riders of all levels and could get the best out of them. If she told you to do something there was instant belief that you could do it.

She will be enormously missed by by so many people in eventing for me personally things won’t be the same without her.

My thoughts are with her mother and all at Warren Farm.

12th October

Catching up on those jobs that never get done whilst Posy is on holiday. Pulling hawthorn sapplings in the field, tidying and washing rugs, cleaning tack and packing away eventing gear (well cross colours are washed and repacked for next time!) Also preparing for a weeks holiday (true Shoestring style) with a weeks self catering in Cumbria. Dogs are looking forward to lots of walking and I have fingers crossed the weather stays settled as evidently the wettest place in the country!

Bobby is ticking over and will be advertised when I get back from holiday.

With regards to issue regarding the copyright below I am negotiating with Getty but to date they are not shifting in their stance which is rather depressing.

Fingers crossed tomorrow please Sarnie is being blood tested to ensure she is still in foal. She is looking fat enough but as she is barely 4 months pregnant then she technically shouldn’t be showing her pregnancy, so is probably just fat.

8th October - Good and bad news

So good news or bad first? Lets start with the positive and welcome a new member of the team and Shoestring supporter Mowenna Foster from Roseland Pets and Equine. I have been very lucky to have had Tamar Smith giving my horses much needed massages but as Tamar is otherwise engaged (patter of tiny feet) Mowenna will be helping me by giving the horses a massage. As well as equine massage Mowenna is a qualified vet nurse and offers a number of other services for your pets. Check out her website here  

Posy and Bobby both enjoyed a massage last week. Posy particularly enjoyed herself although spent the whole session determined to return the favour and groom me, her teeth in this process were not welcome!

Massage is another key element in keeping the horses in tip top shape and ensuring they have the best possible chance of doing their job well.

On the bad news I have been caught by a copyright infringement. Please let this be a warning! As someone who considers themselves very careful over copyright and always asks permission to use and publish photos, only uses event photos that are paid for and with permission I have been caught out on my website using a copyright image and face a bill of £342!!!

No excuses as I shouldn't of done it even unintentionally. It is in a historic blog post of 2012 where I spoke about my hip fracture that had been the previous year. I did a quick google image search and found an image similar to my fracture with no copyright marks and used it. I guess in the last 3 years we have all become more aware of copyright and I wouldn't do it now but back then I never thought it came up on a free search and had no copyright on it. It has been identified by a computer bot and Getty have sent me a rather threatening email demanding £342 for its use.

So please think before you post any image you don't know the origin of or have permission to use. I thought I was controlling my digital media sensibly yet I have got caught out big time with a bill I can't afford. I will tonight be going through my whole Shoestring Eventing site and checking over 100 pages to ensure there are no other images that may bring me into breach.

I must admit it has made me think all about Shoestring Eventing itself and whether it is worth it. There are certainly disadvantages to making everything so public and trying to keep up with its demands! However it has also brought me a lot of friends and supporters so lesson learnt and I will plough on. However please share as there are many people with small websites that may not be aware of consequences of thoughtless actions.

4th October - Bovington Horse Trials

Whilst 4 events in 4 weekends has done Posy the power of good, however I am not sure I would recommend it. Combined with a busy and stressful time at work I admit to being knackered. Whilst Posy is now on holiday I am catching up with everything that didn’t get done over the last few weeks. Anyway enough of me whining!

We headed up to Zoe’s on Thursday for an overnight stop so we could have a quick jump in the morning. It was a chilly morning and Posy was being a bit stodgy, however I clearly gave her a bit of a heavy handed boot as next minute I was on the floor and she was trotting back down the school without me. I got back on and apologised (always ask a mare!) And the rest of the session was good, she jumped really well. We then headed on to Chard to see Nathaniel Underwood (Master Saddler) and have my saddle checked and adjusted. Amazing the amount of muscle she has put on since she had the new saddle nearly 12 weeks ago.

So we arrived at Bovington in good time with plenty of time to walk the course and settle Posy in. Although I don’t find Bovington the most inspiring place to compete it is well run, has good courses and is an ideal place to step up a level hence this run being Posy’s first BE100. The course was unchanged from the Spring event so held no surprises but certainly asked a few questions for a horse making its debut at this level.

We had lovely times starting at 10.30 and all finished by 12. Dressage was not the best test we have done, she was wanting to drop on her forehand and I was having to ride her quite strongly to counteract this. We also had a wrong strike off! However I was still rather disappointed to be in the bottom ¼ with a 37.5 score.  Then again I know with a winter behind us to get the hind end stronger there will be a lot of improvement to come.

Show jumping was perhaps the biggest let down as it is a phase we can do so well. To be fair the arena had been newly laid and it had got rather deep in places meaning it wasn’t the easiest surface to jump off. I just held a little bit too much to the second fence and we caught it behind then turning to 3 I am not sure what happened but she came up a stride early sending me into orbit and landing in a heap partly round her neck.

From this point on she jumped really well but 2 fences down was very frustrating!

So a quick change and onto cross country where my biting issues became apparent again! She just leant on my hand and took little notice of any gentle half halts or even pulling desperately. While she doesn’t take off fast it is a little disconcerting for all slowing aids to be ignored. With this in mind and knowing we were out of the reckoning for any prizes we had a very steady round. The biggest problem came at no.3 (see video) where the water in the trees caught her by surprise meaning she came to a halt but just maintained enough forward momentum to remain clear.

There was a double of brush palisade at 5 on the turn which she jumped brilliantly as she did the roll top to the ditch. The combination at 8 (pictured) nearly caught us out. There was a house then over a mound and a sharp turn to a narrow roll top. I hooked her back coming down the hill but then she backed off the house meaning I had to move her forward where upon she snatched the reins out my hand and tanked off over the fence, I was by now leaning back and steering buckle end at the roll top, she had every opportunity to run out but stayed straight and jumped it well. A decent step to house followed and then a corner which she jumped well. Coming home over the water she was far more confident (see video) but kept me on my toes even over the last when she jinxed sideways!

So we didn’t trouble the leaders but finished with a good solid run and a great foundation to start next year.

Posy is now having at least 3 weeks off and some quiet hacking after that to allow her hopefully to chill a bit and reflect on all she has learnt. However we also have a winter of hard work ahead to help develop the promise she is clearly showing.

28th September - Bricky Horse Trials

The whirlwind continued with our 3rd run in as many weeks with another BE90 outing before our final run next week at BE100. We travelled a day early and stopped with friend and trainer Zoe who instead of letting us rest on our laurels, identified shortcomings and helped us work on their improvement. Primarily at the moment she can still run on her forehand and not take the weight back on her hocks,  after a fence she needs to learn to take the weight back. We did lots of sharp transitions and practiced jumping in the field and halting following the fence. With time she started to land a bit more on her hocks and listening. It is clearly a work in progress and something to focus on during winter but also gave us a bit more control for the following day at Bricky.

Bricky is a lovely event with spectacular views over the Dorset countryside. For some reason it is 9 years since we last went and I certainly hope it won’t be that long again. They are unique in that they offer special BE100+ courses and Intermediate Novice courses as well as the traditional courses you would usually expect to see. The BE90 was nearly maximum length with 25 jumping efforts and a huge range of types of fences made more difficult by the undulations. With the recent weather the ground was perfect.

In case you haven’t noticed I am bit strange. Having had a successful weekend the previous weekend at Pontispool I was putting more pressure on myself to do well and really suffering with nerves. Mum gave me the pep talk and copious amounts of rescue remedy and Posy just got on with it!

Dressage was definitely our best test to date. She warmed up beautifully and the biased supporters felt she really stood out. I wasn’t quite able to maintain the same fluency in the arena but it was still pretty good. The test was in the long arena which was nice for a change and the extra room was great. I was very pleased with a score of 27.5 which put us 4th after dressage.

Show jumping caused more faults than usual probably due to the undulations in the ring. I am not sure Posy was really trying but she did at least listen a bit more and had no issues jumping a clear round.

So onto cross country and again it was another step up from previous weeks with boldness and technical questions as well as undulations to contend with. Due to the undulations and turns time was very difficult to get and indeed only 2 in my section made the time, I wanted to go a little quicker whilst making sure she still had the time to work out what she needed to do.

She set out far more confidently and is really starting to know her job. She had a look at the white rails (pictured) on 3 but after that barely looked at anything. The combination in front of the trade stands she breezed through and stayed balanced on the 180 degree turn out into the country. The step to log she was very straight and then the log to ditch and further log she did very neatly (on video). The waters she actually cantered through which is huge progress and I really believe water won’t be the problem I originally foresaw.

We came back over a brush to gate and then jumped a brush fence on top of a hillock, just slightly lost our balance going up the to the fence resulting in our only slightly awkward jump. (See video) Then onto some angle rails which she found easy and I had to be careful not to make up too much ground.  The next fence was a huge hedge, the rail was 90 height but there was plenty of brush on top and it was positioned off a turn under the trees, she did slightly back off but kept my leg on and powered over it. We then proceeded away from the lorry park and down into the valley over 3 straightforward fences and home full of running. Always amazed how fit she is seeing I have never done any specific fitness work. We had 5.2 time penalties which with such a tight time was pretty good, we were actually 7th quickest in our section yet at no time did I go quicker than her stage of education dictates

Time was important again and some faster rounds meant we were 4th 1.5 marks off the winner. Great to be so close again but unlike last week where I felt sure we could have found a few seconds somewhere this time we couldn’t sensibly have gone any quicker.

The bag you can see me receiving in the prize giving was full of Dorset food goodies which went down very well. Can highly recommend Bricky.

Really delighted with how well she went and how she is progressing. Looking forward to the BE100 at Bovington next weekend to finish the season and give her a well earned rest.

25th September

Off we go again, our entry has been accepted for Bricky and whilst Posy is coping well with the weekly turn around I am not sure the same can be said for me! Hence a quick update between loads of washing and packing the lorry as well as catching up on the backlog of course pictures.

Expect a full report next week.

21st September

It was a bit of a roller coaster weekend! Friday we set off to Launceston to stay with friend and trainer Zoe, this serves several purposes mainly to avoid the A30 Saturday bottleneck and to get some crafty practice in under an expert eye. We had quite a laid back session aware that it was a busy weekend but just focused on transitions on the flat and then some straightforward jumping just to realign the radar after last weekends cross country. I have to say she jumped really superbly.

Saturday we planned to jump a class at the local show centre Tall Trees. Usually I wouldn’t compete the day before an event but we had qualified for a 95cm final with some lovely prizes and £75 first prize. We seem to have spent the season either missing show jumping second rounds or finals because she wasn’t quite ready or it didn’t fit in so we decided this was definitely worth a punt. On her usual form we would have to have had a chance of being competitive.

I was giving her a good groom that morning (it is usually just girth and ears then off riding) and I noticed her udder was very swollen, warm and hard. I couldn’t say it wasn’t like it the day before or even when it was last normal. On the positive side she wasn’t too unhappy having it poked and everything else seemed normal.

We went to Tall Trees (a lovely 10 minute drive) and popped Posy in a stable while I spent the morning pole picking and adjusting the courses. Unfortunately the sponsored class (thank you Annette Allen and Redbarn Custom Clothing) didn’t attract great numbers but turned out to be quite competitive. Sadly from our point of view Posy had an off day and had one of the few fences down she has had at this height and we were lucky not to have at least one more. Interestingly she caught them behind which is very unusual and made me wonder if she was a little uncomfortable from her swelling. At this point we were due to leave for Pontispool and thought very seriously about turning back for home. Posy’s welfare is always foremost and also at this stage in her eventing career it is important she enjoys herself. I rang my own vet for some advice and we decided to carry on but if at any point we were concerned then we would bring her straight home.

A good trip to Ponsipool and a nice stay overnight. Walked the course which was clearly a step up from West Wilts (see course pics) the main problem seemed to be some off set brushes at fence 4 which quite a few horses didn’t read very well. Popped the Arc Equine on Posy overnight and kept my fingers crossed for the next day.

Next day she was still swollen but I had the on site vet look at her and he was confident it was nothing to worry about. Temperature, heart and everything else was normal, best thing for it was exercise so we proceeded confidently. Plaiting was interesting (Mum’s job) as she spent the whole session insisting that she rested her head on my shoulder. She is a strange mare very human orientated and often whinnies at me even when I get off. Not decided if it is endearing or just strange!!

Dressage was a much improved test to last time, although watching it back as she was a little lazy I just slightly pushed her out of her rhythm. Very pleased though with a mark of 28.5 to leave us in a very pleasing 3rd after dressage.

Show jumping was quite a technical course although not big and Posy showed little respect for me or the course. She was clearly feeling absolutely fine and coped brilliant at no 5 when when we were totally wrong. It is nice that we can still be clear despite the mistakes!

Cross country was soon upon us and there were not many waiting when we arrived at cross country warm up.  A couple of practice fences and we were ready to go. I set out positively as she is still quite green initially (video shows 1-4)

Fence 4 is sadly obstructed by a telegraph pole on the video and is 2 off set brush fences which was probably the most influential fence on the track. She jumped the first and slightly lost the line but was very honest to the second element. Then came a roll top to a corner which she jumped well and a brush under the trees which was very spooky. The trakanner she backed off so had a smack to keep her in front the leg, the indignity of this meant I then couldn’t get her back to me with a double of white boxes approaching. A slight veer at a thick hedge got her focus back on me and she jumped the boxes  well.  We came to the water which had a small log and then a stride and through the water she was great and only had a slight hesitation, we then proceeded to a hay cart, owl hole and offset double and we were home. A quicker round than West Wilts but we are still at the education stage rather than competitive above all else so picked up 2.4 time penalties. A great finish score of 30.9.

We finished 4th, much as I was over the moon with the performance and the progress I was rather gutted that we were only 0.6 off the winner. An extra 2 seconds faster and we would have won. I know I rode her correctly but I am sure I could have sensibly shaved the seconds somewhere!

We won a lovely Tredstep saddlecloth from Cheffings Equine and another frilly to the collection. A very good day.

17th September

The multiple loads of washing have been done and we are getting ready to head off to Pontispool for Posy’s second BE90. She had a day off on Monday and a nice hack Tuesday before focusing on some flatwork, typically we have taken a step back again and the contact is a bit dead and she is behind my leg. I have this sneaky feeling that it is not helped by the fact I want her to be going very well in order to be competitive however I must put on my long term head and make sure she is educated for the future and I avoid the quick fixes.

13th September - West Wilts BE

We finally made it with Posy to our first BE event. Albeit later in the year than I planned but delighted non the less that I waited as I felt she had the education and maturity to cope.

We set off quite early on the Saturday and were rather smug to avoid the bottleneck of traffic in Cornwall however by the time we were on the M5 it was stop start to Bristol which was rather frustrating and meant we were on the road for nearly 5 hours.

Plenty of time on arrival to give Posy a mooch round in hand and see the sights before settling her in the lovely stable. 3 rolls later she decided the stable was acceptable. Walked the course which was ideal, a variety of questions but all well presented and a super first course for her. My only real concern was the water being early at fence 4 as this can be something that can worry her and I wanted to be sure we were well under way before we reached it.

I rode her for an hour on Saturday and although bright she was beautifully behaved. Sadly I didn’t get a chance to introduce her to a neighbouring friends horse,  he had won his section on a criminal 13.5, she sadly didn't pick up any tips there!

The weather was kind on the Sunday staying dry and even the wind dropped. I took her out for 20 minutes first thing and then she was plaited (mum’s job!) And we had a nice dressage time of 10.50. Warm up was really busy and was more a question of avoiding crashes than beneficial warm up. Just in the last week her contact has gone a little dead and she sits on the hand so she wasn’t as light on the forehand as I wanted. She did a very accurate and obedient test and I was delighted to score 31.8 particularly as this is her first test on grass.

Show jumping was on West Wilts lovely all weather arena. It has been a while since Posy has jumped a 90 course and I have to say she didn’t take a lot of notice of the jockey and in patches just ignored me resulting in her being a little quick and long. Saying that there was never any chance of her touching a fence.

So a quick change and onto cross country. She warmed up confidently and we were soon in the start box. West Wilts hasn’t got the nicest start in that you head towards the dressage and then turn back 180 degrees for fence 1 but she coped with this fine slightly propped at the fence then with a swift pony club kick sailed over.

She was a bit wobbly to start but providing I was positive was happy to take it on and jump, I was gobsmacked that she made as little fuss as she did at the water and then jumped a trickly little brush on a hillock well. Video shows fences 3-6.

She really picked up confidence as she went around. The skinny upright to hedge she backed off not really understanding but was honest and trusting enough to go. I brought her back to trot for the little step up to the log drop off which she did very neatly. She was quite spooky about a brush in the hedgeline and gave it a foot and then we turned to a combination of barrels to rails which she jumped very nicely.

The final 3 fences were straightforward and she really flew home. We had 9 time penalties but we are at the stage her education is more important than the speed in which we can go around the course. Without them she would have been highly placed which was really positive.

Couldn’t have been more pleased we now roll on for another 3 events in 3 weekends finishing with a BE100 at Bovington. Then she may be allowed a holiday.

10th September

A hectic week again amazing how doing a few extra hours at work impacts on horse time! Took Posy cross country schooling on Tuesday to a course she has not been on before and she was ace, very confident and agile jumping everything brilliantly. The only area we still have a issue is water she is nervous of being in water and where her feet are she gives me the impression that something may have happened in the past although once in and through she builds up her confidence. Nothing like a good wet winter to sort this out but in the meantime I need to ride her very positively into water although only at a trot to give her time to take it in. West Wilts water is quite inviting so fingers crossed.

Typically after a weekend of jumping last weekend on Monday she decided that going on the bit was no longer cool and she would just sit on my hand with her nose pocked out! Typical young horse and there was me quite confident that if she didn’t get distracted she could do a nice test.

The weather forecast for West Wilts currently isn’t great with wet and windy in the forecast, hoping that as we get nearer it will improve. You always imagine your first event in ideal conditions and undoubtedly matters will be complicated if the weather is bad. We are stabling on site so hopefully on Saturday she can get herself familiar with the place and what is going on.

So please keep your fingers crossed for nice weather on Sunday and I will report back early next week.


5th September

Had a lovely weekend (if you ignore the Cornish tourist jams). Popped up to Zoe’s on Friday and had a jump Friday and Saturday with Posy. Not full on sessions but just spending time working in the field and refining my eye to a deeper spot show jumping. Really pleased with our progress and finding we are working as a partnership far better.

Today was putting it into practice at Colraine. Took Bobby and Posy for a class each. Really pleased with how Bobby jumped although a rusty mistake from both of us cost a fence.

Posy was in the discovery and it was a nice track. The aim was to get some better strides and not get quite so long. Sadly this failed at fence 3 when we were unbalanced on the corner and took off rather early to 3 meaning we went very high to get the distance! (See pic)

After this the round improved and I felt it was a good round. In the jump off section I did take some tight turns and angled a few fences meaning we were placed 2nd in a reasonable sized class.

So the countdown is now on and only another 7 days to our fist BE event at West Wilts. We have a final cross country school planned this week and then it will be tidying up the flatwork and away we go.

3rd September

10 days to go now until Posy’s first BE event at West Wilts. Very glad I am not too early in my section as dressage starts at 7.30am!

Had some good jump training with Zoe last weekend and I am back for another session this weekend. Working on getting a good canter to the fence and not trying to go off my long eventing strides. I have to say the star show jumper was not Posy but Smartie dog! Interestingly he could do the related distance in the same number of strides as Posy!

This week we took Posy XC schooling again at Chyverton. We were both more confident and although she was still green at times she is coming on in leaps and bounds.

1st September

Had a lovely weekend filled with training which lets face it can often be more fun than competing as the pressure is off and you can appreciate the improvements! On Sunday I had a smashing dressage lesson with Stef Eardley. She was amazed how much Posy has improved since her last visit a month ago. This is something I think may be thanks to the new saddle as things really have looked up since that was fitted.

We worked on a variety of exercises to get her improved dressage marks. We then worked on walk to canter and back to walk. I explained I often struggled with the canter walk transition. Stef had a really good exercise of walking a 10m circle at E or B then cantering on the marker and continuing with a 20 meter circle. As you returned to the marker walking at the same time as starting a 10 meter circle. This really gets the horse to step through and under into the transition and they learn by repetition of the exercise. In the video clip we have already done the exercise on the other rein and she is starting to get the idea.

No rest for the wicked and instead of heading for home we went onto our jumping training Zoe Gwennup for a bit of the fun stuff. (That will be the next update!)

29th August

Took Posy to the Cornish Show Jumping Club’s show at Gwelavelan today. A venue that until now I haven’t been brave enough as it is in a huge field overlooking the North cliffs and quite an exciting place for young horses. It is a reflection of how far we have come together that we had a great time and she didn’t put a foot out of place. I was a bit worried though when I saw the powered hand glider heading in our direction!

The ground was the best I have jumped on all year. We just entered the Discovery and after a couple of not so great rounds and me lacking a bit of confidence I was really pleased with a smooth and easy double clear. Was very tempted with the Newcomers as well as it wasn’t the biggest but felt in the end that we just need to build up our confidence and I mustn’t get into the habit of pushing up particularly when our current aims are eventing at 90 level.

A lovely rosette (5th place) and a bit of prize money made the day even better. Have some training planned with Stef Eardley tomorrow to polish the dressage and Zoe Gwennup on Monday then hoping we can get cross country schooling a couple of times as we are now 2 weeks away from our first BE.  

27th August

Quite a contrast with Posy over the last day or two. Yesterday we went to Cornwall Trec’s evening dressage show. We did Prelim 18 and she produced a nice test for 76.5% and won a competitive class by 3%

Actually having spent so long trying to settle her it almost needed a bit more sparkle so I guess you just can’t win.

This evening I had fun with a friend playing in her school with some simulated xc fences and exercises. I was a little worried when hacking over to receive a text that Vanessa had got carried away designing the exercises!

The school is not huge so kept it small but had a simulated ditch rail, brush fence, skinny and angles. Posy found it very easy, the balance between the fence is not what it should be but the exercises she coped with well.

Trying to plan the weekend but as yet the forecasters can’t decide how much and where it is going to rain. There is a jumping show on grass weather permitting and I also have some training planned.

25th August

Picked Sarnie up from stud tonight and delighted that I was also allowed to borrow her bestest buddy Batty (these two hated each other for the first few weeks).

Sarnie was in her usual diva form rearing in the lorry when she though she was to be separated from her friend but was delighted when she came too.

However now I have two horses to feel responsible for and I am sat here writing this with the rain lashing down wondering if I made a mistake not putting rugs on tonight (it isn’t cold I know and there are good hedges but………….)

Hoping they can stay with me as long as possible and then both go back to Mel at Trenerth Stud for foaling. I have decided that I am not having the responsibility of foaling Sarnie she is just to precious.

Meanwhile with the rain lashing down there is nothing exciting to report on the ridden front. Hoping to do some dressage with Cornwall Trec tomorrow but wonder if the weather may have a say again. Weekend plans are also up in the air until we know what the weather is planning. Need to get some more cross country schooling in too but currently no chance!

22nd August

What a miserable day and weekend of weather! I know some parts of the country are scorching but in Cornwall in is wet and muggy with rain varying from hard to good old Cornish mizzle! In some ways it is not a bad thing to have a quiet weekend for Posy I am aware with Bobby not doing much I must be careful not to over compete her, however balance this with the fact she thrives on work and mental stimulation. I have finally deemed her ready to go to her first BE and entered West Wilts in mid September. Hopefully this can be followed by Pontispool and Bovington before she gets a month off. Hopefully this should set her up nicely to push on as a 6 year old.

19th August

Well the care and attention my horses get has been sadly been lacking this week and it is sack the owner time! Yesterday morning I arrived at the yard (Bobby is out at night and Posy by day) to find Posy wandering round the property! Some idiot (looks the other way) hadn’t shut her door properly the night before, although I think she had probably only discovered her freedom shortly before I got there. No major damage to Posy or the yard thankfully. There is a closed gate so at least she couldn’t leave the property and start heading back to Ireland.

Yesterday we went cross country schooling, only popped studs in behind and was booted and had over reach boots on. Today when I got her in from the field I noticed a front shoe missing, following an hour walking up and down the field it was not to be found! Slowly a suspicion was dawning on me that I may have lost it xc schooling and not noticed, sadly on close inspection of the video this appears to be the case. So some very shoddy stable management which cannot be repeated!

Anyway cross country schooling was very good. We did have some green moments early on and a misunderstanding at a fence that nearly resulted in me hitting the deck (luckily not recorded on camera). I guess it was in the early stage we may have lost a shoe! As we went on confidence grew and she really started to feel very classy.

Hoping to take her back to Chyverton as plenty of fences to progress to and reinforce the positive messages. Just need to get the shoe back on!

17 August - BS Tall Trees

Yesterday we headed to Tall Trees for a BS show. Tall Trees over the years always seems to be a good venue for me. I was still feeling a bit fragile after my confidence crisis last week resulting in over thinking my riding and a lack of confidence in my own ability. Although things were much improved we did have a moment warming up when her babyness and my riding resulted in a pole in the front legs and nearly a crash, however we built things up again and in the ring I was more than happy.

In the Discovery we finished 2nd with a double clear, I missed a turn after the penultimate which cost us a win but for once I was pleased with the performance.

In the 1.05 there was a tricky line to an upright and I just slightly over shortened which resulted in a rail but otherwise the round was good.

Still not quite to the bottom of the bitting issues, tried her in a jointed pelham at Tall Trees which whilst gave me enough in an arena she still wasn’t taking a great deal of notice. Will keep playing and seeing if I can find something she likes.

15 August

Struggling to keep up at the moment so I thought it may be a good time to give some excuses! Work (Health and Safety Enforcement) has been really busy and although I am used to starting at 7 I am also used to finishing at 3 which hasn’t been happening. Summer is always a busy time as Cornwall is packed and the complaints increase but I also am involved in a serious accident investigation which may end up in a prosecution, the investigation is similar to that the police would carry out. I am putting in a fair few extra hours which means I am getting to the horses later and arriving home later. Lacking motivation and time for things I usually enjoy such as updating the website.

Nothing major to report this week Bobby continues to tick over and we are currently trying some patches on him to try and help his nose rubbing. I am not sure how many more miracle cures I can try but you keep thinking there must be something out there to help him in the summer. I am seriously starting to look at selling him up country (where he may not rub) and to someone that would like predominately a hunting horse where I think he would excel galloping and jumping.

Posy had a few days off to get over Bicton and a chiropractic treatment from Dr Dave this week. I have had a play with some bits but it is hard to recreate the show situation in a quiet arena with a few poles. Off to Tall Trees tomorrow and we can see how things go then.

Hoping to do some more xc based schooling in the next few weeks and eyeing starting our BE campaign at either Treborough or West Wilts so watch this space.

11 August - Bicton

Bicton was a bit hit and miss this time, still enjoyed a few days away but came away a bit frustrated as one of those times we took 1 step forward and 3 steps back. I have identified the two biggest issues to address, my confidence in my own ability (or not) and bitting for Posy.

The main aim for the meeting had been to progress to jumping Newcomers consistently remembering we have already done a few before. In retrospect maybe day 1 in the Newbury grass arena which isn’t the easiest was not the best place to start. The courses were nice but well up to height and technical. The 1.05 was a good round but we just lost balance coming to the last off quite a difficult line and had it down.

In retrospect at that point I should probably have stepped back and done something easier, so easy to say with hindsight! I am someone that always wants to progress so we carried on and did the Newcomers which was again technical and bang up to height, the course was good the problem was the way I rode it. Once fences start to get out of my comfort zone (it has been a while since I consistently jumped this height) I can over ride and this is what I did seeing a couple of strides that just were not there and therefore rushing her into the bottom of the fence and taking the pole out, for a careful mare this is not the way to help her progress.

There followed the I can’t ride and I am ruining my horse tantrums. In all fairness I can’t do that too often and had a good talking to from friend and trainer Zoe (I think Mum disowned me at this point!) Seriously it has always been one of the biggest elements of my riding I struggle with - confidence in my own ability. Maybe it is time to look at the sports psychology again.  

So apologised profusely to Posy and vowed to do better the next day! The next day I jumped another 1.05 but this time in the all weather ‘Everys’ arena which has always been a good place for us to jump. I did pull out of the Newcomers though and entered instead a great new class they put on a 90cm Derby.

We jumped double clear in the 1.05 but I was starting to find steering and control an issue. She has been going sweetly in a Kimblewick but this hasn’t been the easiest for turning and she is starting to go back to leaning on the right hand.

Luckily as it was a warm day we had been able to jump early in the 1.05 and then Posy was able to put her feet up until teatime when we had our first go at a Derby. The biggest challenge was remembering the 22 numbered fences course (28 jumping efforts)! It including twice jumping out the ring, a devils dyke, a steep bank slope to a fence and a small jump on and off a bank. Wasn’t quite sure what Posy would make of it.

I needn’t have worried she was ace. A little unsure first time about jumping out the arena but from there on found it very easy. The steep slope back in the arena she happily came down and it was a case of slowing her not kicking her on. She did rather leap suspiciously off the little bank but made nothing of the dyke at the end. Again steering was difficult at times but there was plenty of room and despite being one of the slowest double clears we came 10th!

So the final day we just did one class and having learnt my lesson hoped to finish on a good note jumping the Discovery. The round doesn’t look as bad as it felt but basically she towed me round (maybe after the first day decided listening to mum is over rated) and I had a real job turning her. It is a testament to her jumping we made only one mistake.

So lots to work on with both horse and rider and lessons learnt.

5 August

Just packing ready to head off to Bicton tomorrow for another 3 day show jumping show. It is amazing how much we both come on each time and with the excellent facilities and fabulous organisation it is great fun too. Hoping to try and step up this time and focus on the 1.05 and 1.10 classes but the nice thing is we can easily step back if confidence, weather or any other random circumstance dictates!

Hoping my back and hip stand up to it. Ever since I tumbled off Bobby a month ago it has made everything stiff and painful. Sadly since my hip fracture my back, neck and hip can get quite temperamental, I regularly see a good local osteopath (amazing how if the horse needs treatment I don’t resent paying for that but I do my own) and at last I can turn my head properly and feel reasonably pain free (old and creaky before my time).

Will update on my return.

3 August

Escaped for a weekend of training to friend and trainer Zoe who put Posy and I through our paces. Mainly working on improving the contact which has never been the most even and really riding her forward to the contact. It was useful that as well as working in the school we also did a bit of work in the field and I was delighted how much more balanced Posy was on the undulations.

As the contact improved we were more consistently getting a better and slightly deeper spot to the jumps.

Still a long way to go and have to remember she is still only  5 and much as I want things to improve overnight they won’t! Hoping to jump a few Newcomers at Bicton this weekend but if the weather is unfavourable or we are not quite together then can easily take a step back.

July blog click here

My Blog