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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.

28th August - Progress!

It appears I am well ahead of schedule in my recovery. I have gone beyond what my doctors and physio’s expect me to be doing, but I have tried to take a sensible graduated approach gradually increasing the movement and amount I do with the arm. I use pain as an indication that I am doing too much and if it hurts at all I back off. Saying that it is not been hurting at all and I know from my x ray last week it was shown to be healing really well. I put this down to a lot of things, being a good healer, lots of fresh air (being a smoker or in smoking environment is a definite no no), plenty of calcium tablets (the only thing I am taking) and probably most of all the ArcEquine which does seem to have speeded my recovery up hugely. (What is ArcEquine - Click here)

So on Tuesday ((Just 2 weeks and 6 days after my operation) I climbed back aboard and rode Dribble and Sarnie out hacking. The arm felt totally fine (the hip was rather sore but will worry about that another day). The girls were very sensible despite in Dribble’s case having a total of 4 weeks off and Sarnie not being ridden for that long although she had some lunging. I am aware at this time to fall off would not be advisable so for the next 10 days will just be hacking the two girls and will continue to lunge Bobby who can be slightly more sharp to ride. Saturday week we go on holiday for a week taking in a day at Burghley and a day at Blenheim, on my return I intend to be riding all 3, advertising Dribble, getting Bobby fit and doing things and enjoying some jumping with Sarnie. That will be 6 weeks and a good time to be a bit more normal.

So far so good!

25th August

So far so good on the recovery front. The arm seems to be working well and I am able to do most things now like mucking out and looking after the horses. Hopeful it won’t be long before I start doing a little hacking too. Sarnie and Bobby I have been lunging a little, sometimes using poles to make them work a bit more and add a little bit of variety into the work. Typically advanced eventer Sarnie had the screaming hab dabs about a pole on the ground which was surely going to eat her!

This weekend I also spend some time tidying Dribble up so I could get a nice photo of her stood up. She will be advertised as soon as she is back in work and I wanted to be prepared with video and pictures all ready to go. Typically I couldn’t get a good picture with either her legs in the wrong place, head looking away, shadows wrong or fading into the background. This was the best of a bad bunch one hind leg too far out behind and some shadows on her neck but it will give anyone interested an idea of stamp and conformation.

21st August

Great news from the hospital yesterday. I saw the consultant for my 2 week check up and he was really pleased with how it is looking and healing. He basically said that I could resume more normal activities in a couple of weeks. Really pleased and have to believe that the ArcEquine has made a  difference as originally told I would be in a sling for 8 weeks (that only lasted 12 days) and to be back to more normal in 4 weeks is pretty good.

So will keep using ArcEquine and not push tings too quickly but gradually get the arm stronger and more mobile. Had the firs hospital physio session today which was a bit depressing, hey follow the same recovery plan whether I be a weak 90 year old or a fit good healer. On the current plan the level of strength and movement I have now should not be encouraged until week 8! I don’t want to push beyond what is sensible but am trying judge from my pain levels how easily I can progress.

18th August - Planning ahead

Starting  with the bad news Sarnie was scanned and is not in foal. So having had 4 tries and spent around 2.5k on vets and stallion fee I have nothing to show for it. Whilst I never imagined she would be easy I didn’t imagine us getting to the end of the year and no pregnancy, it is a huge disappointment. She is not going to be easy whatever we do and I may have to face it that she won’t get in foal although I intend to give it one more go next year. We are planning on sending her to stud, this will probably mean a change in husband and although AI may still be used I hope with stallions around then maybe her hormones will get going a bit better. Next year after the problems we have had there may need to be a financial and time limit. I think at the moment she is looking quite well? She is being lunged a few times a week to keep her ticking over until I am back riding.

So time to think ahead and make short and medium term plans with the long term goal of taking a horse back to intermediate /2* level and beyond again. Dribble is not going to be that horse for me, she is a super easy riding club horse, hunter or grass roots eventer but not my future superstar. So once I am riding again she will be advertised and hopefully sold before the winter, this is a sad decision as she is so easy and such lovely person to have around. This will give me a chance to focus on Bobby who I do think has the potential to do what I want we just need to get him focusing on his job and get him understanding the basics.

This winter I have also decided I will do some jumping with Sarnie.It will do me good after a year that hasn’t gone as planned to have some fun and go out on a horse I know and jump some tracks on something experienced, hopefully just get me back in the swing again. Obviously in early spring Sarnie will head to stud and I would really like to find something I can take out and event straight away that has maybe done a bit or even a show jumper that will event. Trouble is I still want something with the potential to go up the levels so whether my budget will match my aspiration I somehow doubt! However sooner or later I need some good luck somewhere - perhaps someone will send me an established eventer to ride (watches the pig fly past the window)!

Certainly next season I want to be doing more eventing!

16th August

Sorry for the silence it has taken me longer than I expected to get over this operation. Lets just say I have had over week with very little appetite (anyone that know me will know this is serious), feeling sick and and lethargic. The last couple of days I have felt more or less back to normal (whatever normal is) and fast accelerating to the bored cabin fever stage!

Fortunately I am continuing to work from home.  Although I can probably only do 60% of my normal job from home this is far better than being signed off sick and keeps my mind occupied. I also have a few other projects on the go including building a website for another rider.

Injury wise I am off all medications now and relatively pain free. I am using my Arc Equine daily to help pain control and promote healing. I will know more on Wednesday when I have my first post operative x ray so fingers firmly crossed there.

Meanwhile we have taken the opportunity to book a week away self catering with the dogs in Oxfordshire. Same week as Blenheim so looking forward to a couple of days there, an event I hear is lovely and never been too. Perhaps Bobby can take me back again in a few years time - a lot resting on his little shoulders!

Will update you re plans for the horses on my next blog.

9th August

I am home again and on the road to recovery. Being honest the operation and recovery has been far worse than I expected or that I have experienced before but at least I am now going in the right direction.

I went in at 7.30am on Wednesday and had to wait until just before 2pm to be taken to theatre. As people returned from operations and were offered toast my nil by mouth became more and more of an issue! Anyway the operation took two surgeons 4 hours to complete and I was not wheeled back in to ward until 8pm (lost my appetite by then). The operation was difficult as the bone was in 4 pieces and I am told was like doing a jigsaw where the pieces didn't fit! They are happy with the fixing and I evidently have a long plate in place.

I have been very groggy for 24 hours since the operation and extremely sore. My neck can't turn and is a bit askew (I look more stupid than usual) just where it is sore from the incision, wearing a sling hurts but sadly the current prognosis is 8 weeks in a sling and 14 weeks to return fully back to normal.

It has been a rough couple of days but starting to turn the corner and feel less dreadful. Using my ArcEquine constantly to help the healing and hoping the doctors will look at what the x rays are telling them as well as how I am feeling to judge my recovery time and not stick to protocol! I clearly want to be back doing things as quickly as possible but not at the risk of making anything worse.

I will keep you updated.

5 August

We have progress at last, maybe with a little bit of help from social media! I did use Twitter at the weekend to state my disappointment that things were taking so long at the Royal Cornwall Hospital, this was retweeted and commented on including by an NHS clinical auditor saying how poor this was. Anyway yesterday morning I had a courtesy call first thing to say they would be discussing my case later and were hoping to fit me in on Wednesday, very sorry for the delay. I had a call at 6pm last night to say I needed to report at 7.30am on Wednesday.

Really pleased I can get the operation done and start the recovery, however, an operation is never something to look forward to so I will be glad when Wednesday is over. I will probably be in overnight although in some cases people can escape on the same day.  

3 August

Still not heard from the hospital so I will be proactive in getting things moving tomorrow! Sarnie meanwhile had her final AI of the season on Friday so please can everyone keep fingers and toes crossed for her scan in 2 weeks. For a number of various reasons we are not holding out high hopes so looks like she may come back and do a bit of show jumping this winter before we consider sending her to stud in the Spring to see if the presence of a stallion may get things moving.

The horses enjoyed a visit from my sponsor Tamar Smith (Equine Sports Massage) this week, pictured is Dribble who spent the whole time making the cutest satisfied faces and was certainly very clear when Tamar got the spot!

I know how much a sports massage can benefit me and relieve those knotted muscles and it is much the same for the horses. Clearly this time I couldn’t ride them and feel the difference but the way Dribble bounced off down the field I think she felt the effect.

Anyway I look forward tomorrow to reporting progress on my operation date (wishful thinking maybe?!)

1 August

I went to the fracture clinic yesterday and finally had a chance to see the damage! Although the picture below is not the crispest you can clearly see where the collar bone is pointing in two different directions and there is a fragment of bone floating around in the middle. The doctor felt it was likely I would need surgery as it is not going to mend on its own.

I have now been put onto the trauma operating list and am waiting for that department to get in touch I had hoped it would be today but sadly no contact from them. The worrying thing is as I am not blocking a bed in hospital I don’t appear to be a priority and surgery could be a week or two (maybe more). I am getting very worried if this is the case as not only does it hurt but it will take longer to mend the longer they wait and every day and week I wait is prolonging my recovery. If I have heard nothing by Monday lunchtime I will be agitating!

I am using my Arc Equine almost constantly and although clearly it can’t help realign bones it has helped reduce the swelling and bruising and hopefully once the operation has been done it will speed up the healing.

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.

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