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26th October

A successful and enjoyable weekend to report, seems they have been rare in 2014 in fact my frilly board (which only contains the current years frilly's) has nearly doubled!

Yesterday Sarnie did her first affiliated BS show for 15 months. Show jumping has always been her specialist subject and despite feeling at times a little dead to the leg she still made it feel very easy. We travelled to Bicton Arena which although not close (2hrs) is one of my favourite venues with a huge outdoor arena. We entered the 1m and 1.10 opens which were both very competitive classes.

The 1m was a Single Phase which means the jump off starts after fence 6 and in all it is quite a long round. We went near the end of the class where she produced a lovely double clear with some good turns that put us into 2nd place and the money (£2 profit on our entry fee)!

The Newcomers with me having not jumped any bigger courses for a while was starting to look a decent size. I did my usual trick of deciding I must get the right spot and hence buried her in the bottom of some of the bigger fences. I then tried a totally new trick and going into the second double I totally dropped the rein in one hand and let in dangle. Sarnie just thought it proved the point that she could manage without me!

So a clear in the first round and a very competitive jump off. Sadly we missed our turn totally after 5 and hence took a long route. We made the rosettes but not the money to come 5th.

So a great return to affiliated jumping. I intend to mainly keep Sarnie at these heights, she has proved to me she can do bigger but now it is great for keeping my eye in and enjoying ourselves.

A big thank you to Nick Perry for taking some great photos all of which can be found on my Facebook page but a couple of the best below, including my new coach (or at least that was what Smartie though) giving some advice!!

So onto today and I thought that as Dribble is still with me it was about time to get her out and see if my assertion that her dressage was greatly improved was reflected in the results. We entered Prelim 15 and Novice 22 (her first novice) at Chenhale Equestrian a venue quite local to us.

In the first test she did a super accurate test in the long arena and scored nearly 72% for a PB. She won that test by just over 1%. In the Novice test she tried very hard, her medium trot was not there today but otherwise she coped brilliantly with counter canter, medium canter and smaller circles scoring mainly 7 and 8s to win comfortably by nearly 10% on a score of 72%! So very pleased with her and great when the judge writes a comment “A pleasure to watch”

I am tempted to do some affiliated with her as she is more than ready but I think maybe for the market I am looking to sell her to (riding club / grass roots) then points may put people off. Guess it won’t hurt to do some prelim tests and maybe some Novice in the training section so that we can see what her potential scores are without actually gaining any points.

Of course in the perfect world I really want her sold and struggle to understand why someone hasn’t bitten my hand off for her, everyone loves and admires her wherever we go. Hopefully the right person will come along soon. Next weekend she be clipped which will make her look even smarter.

21st October

The Dribble sale continues to be a frustration, we have now had a few viewers and they all like her but just not quite enough. We had someone last week who left having discussed potential vetting and prices and I never heard another thing. There is someone else who would like her but the funding is not as available as hoped and I am waiting on a second viewing from someone else. Just hard to move forward with things so up in the air.

I am over the moon with how Dribble is coming on her flat work is now getting very established and we have basic sideways, counter canter and even a little medium trot. She is getting plenty of work at the moment not that she needs it for sanity (she is the same from 1 day or 10 days off) but during the time she was off while my collar bone mended she rather fattened up and lets just say it is not that easy to get it off again!

Bobby has not improved with his nose rubbing and we are now 10 days away from a trip to Bristol with him. I so hope we can have some answers but I suspect it may be more ifs and maybes. Sarnie has been clipped for a second time and is convinced that she should now be spending her time in tucked up in the stable with a mountain of food. Sadly for her she is still abandoned to the field. Hoping to take her show jumping this weekend to Bicton if the weather is kind.

16th  October

Things are bit in limbo at the moment, have a few viewings arranged for Dribble so waiting to see if anything comes of those, Bobby has got a date for his referral at Bristol on the 3 November so really not doing much with either at home. Sarnie now is at a stage she doesn’t need a lot of work just exercised a few times a week and have a jump when suitable shows come up. I feel a bit lost without any real goals or targets.

I have been keeping my eyes open for another horse although realistically Dribble really needs to move on to make room. Thought I had found two very promising prospects but sadly someone got there before I did. Shame as they had come highly recommended by someone with a good eye and that had ridden them. I think this time of year with winter coming there is more value to be had. I have a good idea of what I want but not sure if what I want and my budget will meet!

I guess I am looking for a sane young horse that has ideally done a little bit of something like a few BS classes and XC schooled with the potential to go up the grades eventing. Keep your eys open please.

11th  October  - Port Eliot BE

We went with the intention of having a fun day and that was what we did, luckily the horrendous stormy showers were mainly in the morning so although the ground was slightly squidgy (technical term) it stood up well.

Firstly I have to say what a lovely event Port Eliot is and hopefully will continue to be. Fantastic parkland with a good variety of fences and terrain. The show jumping arena was in front the house and it was a friendly well run event. The only thing that did worry me when walking the course was that I had understood the terrain was undulating, I would describe it more as hilly and with Sarnie not super fit I was a tad concerned.

Dressage as often in the case with Sarnie the less said the better! She had no enthusiasm for it whatsoever and the test involved me frantically digging her in the ribs trying to get her moving forward. Someone had clearly either blinded the judge or paid him on my behalf as we got what seemed a very generous 32.

So to quickly gloss over dressage and onto the show jumping. The course didn’t seem to be huge but with the slightly soft ground it did need jumping. This without doubt is Sarnie’s strong phase and she did make it feel quite easy.

We trekked back up the hill to the lorry and changed before returning to cross country warm up where we rather suspiciously jumped the warm up log as there was a lot of mud which was clearly frightening! We set off slightly gently for two reasons, firstly I wasn’t sure quite how fit she was and secondly she didn’t see the point in going any faster. We only had a few mildy dodgy moments as we were both rusty. She jumped the first 5 nicely and then as we approached the owl hole at 6 she was reading the sponsors banner at the side rather than looking at where she was meant to be going. Luckily at the last moment she did look at what she was doing and  jumped through the hole. We then went through a bit of woods at which point she thought it was time for a rest, I put my leg on and then she rather launched down the drop with me at buckle end, there was a skinny 4 strides later but being the old pro despite no contact she stayed straight and jumped the skinny. Through the next woods and water and up the hill I by this time realised she was fitter than I was, Sarnie still had ears pricked and as long as I let lope along at her pace she was fine. The last combination was a palisade and turn to a corner, we were slightly loosing traction on the corner and slipping but luckily we made it to the corner and popped it nicely.

Only a little bit of video setting out and coming back.

Jumping the last

Sadly the amount of time penalties put us out of frilly range finishing 12th. To add to her 90 BE points Sarnie did win her first 2 foundation points for the double clear! Not sure she needs to put that on her CV.

Objective achieved though we had an enjoyable day, all Sarnies pictures show her with her ears forward so she enjoyed it too. This was probably a one off, I doubt she will event at any level again but I am looking forward to doing a bit of show jumping this winter before we try and put her in foal again next year.

Thanks as ever to Nick and Jane Perry for photos and help.


th October

Thankfully looks like Port Eliot will survive the weather tomorrow although whether we get a drenching when we are there is another question! Sarnie had the horror of a dressage lesson on Wednesday with Robert in which we tried to perfect some of the elements for a BE100 test namely in front the leg, bend and obedience -  there was progress particularly with Robert following her with a lunge whip!

It has been difficult to judge her preparation as I don’t want to bore her but at the same time I need to be sure she is fit enough. My preparation has centred on fitness work with plenty of hills when the ground was hard and enough jumping only for her to be muscularly fit as lets face it she shouldn’t need the practice at this height.

Want to treat tomorrow as fun as I doubt her dressage will be good enough to be competitive. Really leisurely times with dressage not until 3.15 and finished at 4.45. Sarnie will stay out tonight as I don’t want her changing routine she is still out 24/7 and the only difference to last year is a dipper of hard food daily!

Looking forward to writing a report of the weekend.

5th October - Sarnie goes XC schooling and clearing up some misconceptions!

Sarnie is my horse of a lifetime and has taught me so much however, if I asked you what your impression was of how she would be to ride my guess is most people would be wrong! She is the most lazy horse at home, behind the leg worse than anything else I have ridden, is difficult to get working through properly and bend in the direction we are going. Jumping she need a session of sharpening up and really getting in front my leg, you often see me with quite a long rein but if it I get too much contact we just go nowhere. Even when competing at her peak if I had taken my leg off cross country we would have petered out to a halt - she has never enjoyed galloping. She is impossible to ride out with others unless I will let her do her best trekking pony impression and stick her nose up the tail of the horse in front.

Having slightly run her down she is still a wonderful horse just not always one who is the most fun at home! Anyway today with Port Elliot in mind next week I took her XC schooling, sadly as there were no crowds to play too we didn’t expend too much energy but she made everything feel v easy. However I was certainly rusty and couldn’t see a decent xc stride to save my life!

Can we all start doing a sun dance now as the forecast is rain all week and I really won’t be very happy if Port Eliot now gets rained off!

1st October

Rain is forecast so I have bitten the bullet and entered Sarnie for Cornwall’s new BE event at Port Eliot on the 11 October. They have a open BE100 class so hopefully we can go and have a fun spin round. Considering her likely version of a BE100 dressage test and the fact the class looks quite strong not expecting a top finish but a fun day would be great. Looks like it will be leisurely times which will be nice and a relatively close event albeit probably take about 90 minutes to get there.

Dribble is going really well, ticking her over while I am hoping to sell her. Actually been a bit frustrating as I think she is competitively priced and a lovely horse but had very little interest. Only one viewer whom she went very well for but wasn’t quite what the lady wanted.

Bobby meanwhile is ticking over still itching nose and we are looking now at a referral to Bristol for further investigations.

25th September -Caroline Creighton lesson

Although this lesson had originally been booked for Bobby it seemed a shame to waste it so I took Sarnie. We had a short session on our own and when asked what we wanted to focus on my reply was ‘fun’! We worked through the exercises that were in the school including a related distance to a bounce. Some dog legs, skinnies and an interesting turning line of 3 with a corner in the middle. Sarnie had a great time and we both had fun although you could tell it had been a year or more since we had done exercises like this as we had a little misunderstanding at the corner! Anyway all on the video.

Caroline was amazed how Sarnie was looking and felt she had more topline and muscle than when she saw her last. Also felt she was jumping and moving better than ever. (Not quite sure about the looks like a Show Hunter comment - did she mean fat!?) Looking forward to a few competitions now, will definitely give her a run in the BE100 Open at Port Eliot if it rains so could everyone do a rain dance please (just make sure it stops again!)

22nd September

This year seems to have an unfair number of downs with not enough positives to compensate! Another problem has been looming and I have finally had to face facts that it is a serious one.  

About a month after Bobby arrived with me he developed a mildly itchy nose needing to give it a good rub when he has finished a session of work. He would rub it on the wall and the floor to relieve the itch. Over the past couple of months this reaction has worsened whilst being lunged he will on occasion run his nose through the sand and now I am riding him again once mildly warm he is trying to rub every 4 or 5 steps pulling his head to his leg. Even hacking is difficult and any proper work is impossible. It is mildly apparent in the stable but definitely worse for being slightly warm.

I spoke with the vet at an early stage and he was initially treated with steroids as if to control an allergy but this made little difference. We have given him a full physical, close check of skin, full examination of mouth and blood tests. Nothing is showing up. This sort of condition is difficult to diagnose, even if we manage that it may not be possible to treat. It seems to me it is the membranes of his nose that are sensitive, a nose net or Vaseline to protect the nose from pollen irritates him 10 times worse. The weather seems to make little difference, I have changed the feed and haylage so an allergy is probably not the cause. The vets have talked about trigeminal neuralgia which is what can cause head shaking and is nerve pain in the head, this is a possibility but not certainty. Basically we are at a loss as to what is causing it and how we can help him. If he continues to get worse the prognosis has to be poor.

I am currently giving him a little time whilst trying some holistic / alternative treatments. The next step after that (with agreement from Equicover) would be referral to a specialist unit at Bristol University. If anyone has come across anything like this or has any idea get in touch.

21st September - Tall Trees Show Jumping

It was great to get out again after 8 weeks recovering from my collar bone break even better on my favourite horse (I have no apology for having favourites!) Sarnie. Her first outing in 15 months. Whilst it was only an unaffiliated show it was at Tall Trees in their lovely big outdoor arena with properly built BS courses.

Much as it is nice to have her out my usual frustrations surfaced when she warmed up refusing to connect from leg to hand or go in front of my leg. However once in the arena she knew her job and for the day only touched one pole and that was in no danger of rolling! She rather toyed with the fences and managed to jump them easily from whatever stride I managed to get her there on!!  

We won both classes (I will admit these classes didn’t have great entries) and two magnificent rosettes, I will definitely be returning and hopefully to the BS shows as I think Sarnie will be more than capable of having some fun jumping this winter.

I am also toying with entering her in the BE100 open in 3 weeks at Port Elliot one of the few Cornish events. I think she might enjoy a burn round the cross country and taking the you know what in the dressage!! Am hoping entries remain open as I am not entering before I am sure that we will have a bit of rain to ease the ground.

So madam was clipped today and started doing a little bit of hill work to bring her fitness on. She did think clipping might mean a stable but sadly she was chucked back out in the field!

18th September

So about time I rounded up what is happening with all the horses.

Sarnie is the positive news story of the moment albeit from her refusing to get in foal! She is going really well at the moment, moving well and looking good as you will see from the video clip showing her working at home.

I gave her a jump yesterday and it left us both with a big grin on our face. Hoping to take her to do some unaffiliated jumping this weekend and if all goes well she will be registered again.

Dribble has today been advertised on Horsequest. I am really fond of her and will be very sorry to see her go but she is more of a grass roots horse or PC / RC horse than an eventer that will take me back up the levels and that is what I want to do. (Ad Ref 105503)

Bobby has had a bit of a virus so having a little time off to recover. Very frustrating as I want to be doing things with him particularly before winter really sets in.

Roxy meanwhile who I rode for her owner at Treborough where we were 3rd looks like she has found a new home which is both great news for Helen and a little disappointing for me. Shame we didn’t get to do a few more events but my accident was rather bad timing.  

15th September

Now back from holiday so normal service can be resumed with regular updates. I couldn’t have a holiday without some equine interest and a medical issue cropping up!

On the Sunday we visited Burghley which was 2 hours from where we were staying. Great to have an opportunity to walk he course and actually get up close to the fences. Writing as someone that is unlikely to ever jump it I thought it was quite a bit easier than Badminton. Yes it was big and bold with some very testing combinations but Badminton had in places looked impossible this far less so! Sadly we couldn’t watch the show jumping with the dogs in tow but enjoyed browsing the tradestands and watching a little on the big screen.

A few non horsey days followed (well we did go and watch the racehorses at Lambourn) before on the Thursday we headed to Blenheim. Enjoyed this event more perhaps because being a Thursday it was quieter and not as crowded allowing easier browsing. Also we bought members tickets which allowed us to sit in the garden area with the dogs and watch the dressage.  

The cross country walked, there were some impressive fences. Seems hard to believe at one point we were aiming Sarnie to come here. It is quite interesting it is a course made predominately from mobile fences, at the end of the event it is all cleared away and only the odd ditch and pond left behind!

The tradestands were great and actually spent some money replacing the hat I landed on when I broke my collar bone, some new chaps and some saddle soap.

I also enjoyed all the other activities with eventers challengers, displays and talks. I listened to a very good talk from Blenheim course builder Eric Winter who had quite a few interesting points.

Perhaps one of the best things from my Blenheim visit was a chance to catch up with my sponsors Penny and Kiren from Equicover Insurance. Penny did rather lead me astray as we visited the Brightwells Elite Event Horse Auction horses. I rather fell in love with a little Dutch mare with a fantastic temperament and lovely jump. However lusting was about my limit as the next day it sold for 14k.

The following day we had a sporting encounter of a different kind as we were stopped by the police to allow the ‘Tour of Britain through.  I don’t think I realised quite how fast they went or to that matter quite how many out riders they need! There were over 50 powerful bikes clearing the route ahead including about 20 police bikes!

Finally I couldn’t manage even a holiday without a trip to hospital! To be fair I had done the injury a week before when Sarnie had pulled the reins through my hand bending my middle finger back. The joint was swollen and a bit sore but after recent experiences I wasn’t intending on getting it checked out nor did I really think I needed to. However the swelling never went down and the finger wouldn’t quite straighten. So on the Friday a trip was made to John Radcliffe hospital in Oxford. Very impressed albeit I was visiting at a quiet time but I was in and out within an hour having had x rays which showed it wasn’t broken. I was then given an  appointment with a hand specialist the following day. The specialist did quite a few tests and still can’t decide if it is badly sprained or I have taken the tendon off the top of the knuckle. Currently I have a make shift splint on that finger (being the middle one I can drive and ride) and I see the consultant at Treliske Hospital tomorrow to review. In fact I need my own space at the hospital as I have hand specialist tomorrow, hip specialist on Friday and in 2 weeks the collar bone man!!

6th September

Good week for Shoestring Eventing in equestrian magazines, I was quoted in a Horse and Hound article on the debate between hard hats and top hats. Also had this lovely 2 page feature in Ridgeway Rider Magazine.

3rd September

Recovery still going well although finding it boring not to be able to do too much exciting yet. Looking forward to a week away next week visiting both Blenheim and Burghley for a day while staying near Wantage in Oxfordshire. Be great to walk the courses, watch he horses and have a look around the trade stands.

Hope when we get back to start jumping Sarnie and get Bobby going as well as hopefully sell Dribble. Hate selling horses, always a difficult process making sure that the horse suits the purchaser and I am sure I put many people off even coming to look by being too honest on the phone and exaggerating any slight negative - I would never make a salesman! Once a sale has been agreed you then have the dreaded vetting with vets seemingly more and more frightened of passing a horse!

Despite the lack of excitement on the blog side we still achieved 31,500 visitors to the site last month which is amazing.

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