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28th April - Worming update

As Supplement Solutions ‘Strategic Worming Ambassador” for 2016 we have just completed Posy's first worm counts. Firstly we did :-

- A faecal egg count to test for the presence of roundworms. - Relatively easy to conduct, simply place the poo in the pot and send it off in the pre-paid envelope.

- Once the kit arrives at Westgate Labs the sample is centrifuged to spin out more worm eggs from the faeces. Two slides are then run under the microscope and an average count made of the two.

Posy’s results are as follows:

Posy - <50epg no eggs seen

This is classed as a low count and means that treatment is not necessary for roundworm. A count of 200epg (medium count) or more needs to be treated. Testing is recommended every 6-8 weeks throughout the grazing season and Posy’s next test will be at the beginning of June.

So usually I would of as standard wormed her at this point so less chemicals in the system however the EquiSal Tapeworm Test had quite a different result it is :-

- A saliva test to detect the tapeworm antibodies in a horse’s saliva.

- Simple to conduct with a cotton bud wand that you swab in the horse’s mouth. The only thing that you need to remember is that your horse shouldn’t have eaten or exercised for at least 30 minutes before testing. This ensures that the sample is not too dilute and an accurate reading can be achieved.

- Once the kit arrives at Austin Davis Biologics Ltd the sample is measured using three laboratory tests (called ELISAs) and then an algorithm is applied to attain a saliva score.

The results can come back as follows:

Posy’s results are:

Posy 19/4/16 Moderate/High Yes 18.40

This is classed as a moderate/high tapeworm diagnosis and requires treatment. A diagnosis of borderline or above requires treatment. Testing for tapeworm is recommend every 6 months, ideally in Spring and then again in the Autumn.

Based on Posy’s results from the two worm count kits Hannah, our SQP, prescribed Equitape. Equitape is a praziquantel wormer that will treat tapeworm. There was no need for Posy to have a combination wormer as she had a clear roundworm count.

The samples was easy to take and swab easy to do with clear instructions.

For more info on Supplement Solutions Strategic wormers, range of worm tests and wormers see


Meanwhile for Ellie:

It is good practice to worm a new horse before they graze with your existing horses and a combination wormer such as Equimax or Eqvalan Duo ensures that horses are treated for both roundworm and tapeworm before being introduced to the field. Hannah prescribed Equimax for Ellie. Ellie will then fit in with the programme and have a faecal egg count conducted in early June with Posy

25th April - Bicton Horse Trials

Really had a lovely time at Bicton which is a favourite event as lovely parkland, great course and so friendly. Add to that the bonus that it is local (Ish) and we don’t need to go the day before!

Wanted to consolidate our positive outing at Larkhill and the cross country was definitely a step up again. Whilst none of the fences worried me the undulations and downhill runs really were likely to show up Posy’s weak areas.

We were lucky to have that great combination of super ground and lovely weather. Dressage was the new 106 test which had the dreaded 15 meter circles. I don’t what it is but I have a complete mental block with regard to the size of these and never quite get them right. Luckily this time I either managed or the judge wasn’t too fussy! I thought Posy did a test nearly as good as she can do for this stage in her education and we scored a 31.3.

Show jumping was on Bicton’s lovely arena and I was feeling the pressure to convert our good show jumping form into a clear round. She was a little strong warming up and did take charge a couple of times in the ring. She also went a little green over the first 2 fences. Saying all that I am probably being fussy as she didn’t breath on a pole and jumped a very competent clear round.

So a quick change and onto cross country, tried to move really positively out from the start and jumped the first 3 fences well.

The first combination came at 4 when there was a house on a turn to another narrow house. She locked on both elements and there was no hesitation. Then started a long downhill stretch where as expected she was a little heavy and I struggled to sit her as I wanted. There was a nice spread on the way down but as we reached the bottom a narrow yellow roll top built on a  mound needed respect particularly as shortly after there was a sharp right hand turn to the first water. She wasn’t easy to sit back but whilst it wasn’t pretty I did get her back enough for the roll top and she jumped it well.

The turn was sharp to the fence before the water but we made it, she hesitated and slowed entering the water which lost a few seconds but the main thing is she never stopped moving forward. We were away up the hill which was a pleasant relief before we dropped back through the woods to a hay cart.

The next fence was what probably worried me most an up to height narrow hanging log on 5 strides to a drop with a log on the edge and another 5 strides to another narrow hanging log, this was all on a fairly decent downhill slope. Luckily the turn to the first part got her sitting and she jumped it well, however it wasn’t helpful for her to jump up, out and over the small log drop meaning I had to slip the reins and just kick on at the final element. She stayed true to the fence and jumped it well, continuing then to take off down the hill!

Luckily a few straightforward fences on the flat allowed us to get things back together! A double of roll tops with almost a sunken road in the middle was flown through and then we pushed on up the hill to the angled houses. Had a lovely stride here, it was quite a decent angle for 100! Then a lovely jump over the corner and we turned back to the final water. I rode strongly over the first part and into the water meaning we took rather a flyer out!

We also took rather a flyer at  the last!

We finished with 4 time penalties and finished on a score 35.3 her best in her 3 BE100 runs to finish a very credible 9th place. Kindly thanks to sponsorship from West of England Stabling we got a double clear rosette as well as our 9th place. Couldn’t be more pleased.

23rd April - An introduction

I have a little introduction to make as finally another Shoestring Equine joins the team.


This is Ellie she has come from my friends at Avonmill Equestrian in Scotland who originally sourced my lovely girl Pip (Venette). Ellie is TB x Connie, 6 years old, very green and low mileage not having done a huge amount of work since being backed.

It probably demonstrates my faith in Avonmill that I bought her unseen and she arrived on Wednesday.

I am hoping to produce her for an eventing or show jumping career, it is likely that she will be sold on as I probably should mention she is just 14.2!

Too be honest I can’t find what I want horse wise at a price I can afford so I thought it was about time for a bit of fun. I can event Ellie or even show jump her but if a junior loves her then I will have played my part in producing her for a career.

So this was my first ride on her on Thursday

18th April - BS Colraine

Yesterday went show jumping at Colraine. In my opinion jumped one of our best rounds in a very up to height 1m class. Things are really starting to come together.

We were unplaced but that wasn’t important as I was so pleased how she went. Now gearing up for the BE100 at Bicton next Sunday.

Today (well after work) has been spent trying to make a 2 minute video as an application for the Blue Chip All Star Academy, nothing worse than talking at a camera particularly when the prop Posy was more interested in putting me off. There will be a lot of applicants but sounds fun so fingers crossed.

If I have any success I will of course let you know.

15th April

May be news of a new four legged friend soon so fingers crossed again please. Posy would certainly like someone to share the workload.

10th April - Larkhill

Finally yesterday we got our first run of the season and for once the weather gods were on our side! We travelled up on Friday and took the opportunity of getting a few things sorted on route. We dropped in at Nathaniel Underwood’s (Master Saddler) to get my saddle checked. It needed a slight adjustment which had an immediate effect. I only wish perhaps when Sarnie was running I had learnt what a difference a great saddler can make to performance. Poor Posy thought that was her outing for the day but instead of returning home we continued on and took another quick detour for a lesson with Fred Scala to tune up on what we had learnt at bootcamp a few weeks ago.

We continued on much the same theme getting her to use herself behind on the flat and power through. Jumping wise focusing on the canter and the quality to the fence with me sitting square and looking for my fence. (So simple really!!)

With Larkhill so close to Fred’s base I was really pleased he was going to pop over on the day and help us with the warms ups.

We then had the last short hop of the journey to our stabling. We were all ready for feet up by this point. Luckily with plenty of time between dressage and jumping there was no need to walk any courses the night before.

I woke up in the night and could hear the rain. Visions of the abandonment at Howick sprung to mind and when the alarm woke me at 6.30 the first check was to the phone. No messages so stables cleaned, horse polished and off to Larkhill we went.

For anyone that has never been the event is held in the middle of the plains probably a good mile off the road. If your horse gets loose there is the potential for it to go many miles before it is found, there is also the added fun of on occasions soldiers or tanks manoeuvring past the dressage arenas!

We arrived and I took Posy in hand for a mooch and wandered up to the dressage arenas. At this point the famous Larkhill microclimate was offering unusual weather (warm and sunny!). The ground was amazing, nice bit of give but not cutting up at all. In fact so good that for dressage I didn’t bother with studs.

The sections at Larkhill were jam packed with top riders and many lovely horses. The 3 tests that went in front of us would have been well placed at Elementary level and Posy comparatively is still quite novice in her outline which the judge commented on. We warmed up with Fred’s help and did a lot of stretching and getting her to carry herself through transitions. The work is looking far more long term and correct for her development rather than the habit I had got into of holding her up throughout the work.

I was pleased with the score of 33 but in the very competitive section we were comfortably bottom half.

We had over 3 hours to wait until show jumping and actually to be a bit more as the arena ran quite late. Had a walk round the course with Fred and thought it asked a good variety of questions (see course pictures) with some accuracy combinations, turning questions, sunken road and steps. Remembering this is only her 2nd run at 100 level.

Sadly the weather changed and we had some persistent rain and it became cold. The ground did start to cut up a little show jumping although it still held remarkably well. The course change happened about 20 horses before me so most jumps had been moved onto fresh ground. Luckily by the time I got on again it had stopped raining.

Warmed up again with Fred focusing on the quality and the straightness of the canter. It is easy enough when you are in a nice flat arena (or maybe not) but stick me on a slope like at Larkhill and I was having quite a few issues seeing any sort of stride down the hill. We worked through it and certainly it got a lot better.

The round was a long way from perfect but I think it is improving particularly considering the ring is one of the slopiest around. Few horses found it easy and we (well I) made one mistake. Didn’t get a change after 6 and instead of quickly correcting carried on unbalanced turned down the hill and tipped it behind. Came out very frustrated with myself.

A quick change and cross country time. Worked in the warm up on really getting her forward and then coming back (coming back never been a strong point). Fred was keen that I really got her moving forward cross country.

Started steadily but positively over the first couple before turning down the hill to a combination of two offset hay houses which had caused a bit of difficulty earlier in the day. Didn’t sit her up as much as I would like but kept a great line and sailed easily through, saw a nice stride over the narrow brush up the hill before we came to the the next question a sunken road at 6. There was a lot to look at with different elements for different sections and she propped slightly to the drop fiddled through and then popped out adding a stride to the brush out. Lovely jump over the spread at 7 before heading down the hill and over the brush to drop. Jumped down off this very well and left me struggling to sit her up for step up to roll top, the change to an uphill slope did the trick but we kept the power to pop up nicely and turn to the brush at c. The steeplechase fence up the hill she powered over and then set up for the corner to box which she made feel very easy. Then down the hill to the water, really kept leg wrapped on as per instructions got close to a but popped nicely ad then carried on through the water and over the skinny. Couple of lovely jumps over the next few simple fences and really moving on by now. Final combination pictured below was a turning combination which she locked on and understood, still plenty of running to power on up the hill and take a long stride to the last fence. Certainly no need to worry about her fitness.


In a very competitive section we finished on a respectable score of 42.6 which left us middling. Very pleased with how things went and showing huge promise for the future.

Thanks as always to Nick and Jane Perry for the support, grooming duties and photos. Also huge thank you to Fred Scala for coming and giving me a hand.

7th April

Fingers crossed it is 3rd time lucky as we head off to Larkhill tomorrow. A busy day with a saddle check at Nathaniel Underwood’s and then a lesson with Fred Scala before we get to our stabling. Hoping for friendlier weather!

3 April - Howick Update

My Howick experience can be summerised as follows!

Whilst the above is a bit tongue in cheek it was rather a wash out of a weekend. Nothing worse than arriving at an event to find it cancelled. Every sympathy to the organisers who with the weather could have done little else. Also how fabulous of the organisers to donate all the unwanted food to the Salvation Army in Bristol, great to know something good came out of all their efforts.

Whilst I am delighted for Goring it was a little galling to hear they had perfect ground and the warmest day of the year so far. Hoping that some more of that weather can be reserved for Larkhill next week and we finally get our season going!

31 March

Packing underway for an early start to Howick tomorrow in order to miss returning holiday traffic. Looks like it will be early starts 2 days on the trot with an 8.36 dressage and finished shortly after 10 on Saturday! Shouldn’t be too late back, luckily we are stabling almost in sight of the event.

Been some disappointing news this week I had hoped their may be a new equine on the way but sadly a relatively minor issue but one that could have effected the horses future value meant it wasn’t to be. So its back to the drawing board.

Will report when I get back, forecast at least looks good so hopefully dried up a bit. At least with the early times we will have the best of the going.

28 March - 3 day boot camp - Fred Scala

Just returned home from a very successful few days in Sailsbury having some training with Fred Scala. I bought Posy from Fred in February last year and hoped he might be just the person to take us on that next step. Fred for anyone who doesn’t know has represented Ireland at Young Rider level, won Tattersalls CCI** and show jumped successfully. He has a nice quiet teaching style but is very effective at assessing both horse and rider.

Friday was a beautiful day (sadly the only one of the weekend!) We had a good journey up, luckily all the traffic jams were heading into Cornwall and we were fortunate to be heading in the right direction! It still took over 4 hours to get to Fred’s but I guess living where I do I accept anywhere is a long way. Posy was very pleased with her lovely stable and deep shaving bed which was soon christened with a good roll.

On the Friday we had a flatwork session. We worked very much on getting Posy to develop strength and really use her hind end. Fred described the exercise as sweeping using a fairly small circle keeping hold of the outside rein to stop the shoulder falling out and using the inside leg to push the quarters out so that they were stepping over. Once she had given the step over you then ride forward into the outside contact which with the hind leg being engaged really allowed her to step through. Neither of us found it easy and we started gently in walk before progressing through the paces. However the more she understood it and engaged the greater her paces became. You can just see from the picture how she was really working through.

The video will give you an idea of what we were trying to do. Fred emphasised it was important not to do it for too long and that the hand (particularly the inside) should be very soft, the exercise will in time allow her to work with more lift.

So a good foundation was built. The next day was wet and miserable but we did want to try and get some cross country schooling in. Many courses were closed and likely to stay closed but luckily Fred managed to book a session at Rollerston. I will admit this wasn’t the cross country schooling session I have most enjoyed! It was windy and pelting down. No video as would have killed the camera. Actually it did Posy good to work in that weather and certainly meant the course was quiet! The ground was standing up really well and the course had a nice variety of fences. Warmed up and popped a few simple fences and was faced with the usual problem of Posy sitting on my hand and pulling me forward. The idea always had been for Fred to have a sit on and have a feel. From what I could see through the rain Posy looked awesome with him on board! I think it was a combination of Fred’s great core strength and his skill and he soon had her off the hand and powering over the fences looking very impressive. He also progressed to jumping her into the water over the log drop in.

I jumped back on and had two minutes of what Fred had sorted out before she realised it was me again and leant back down. Strangely it seems one of the major issues is that I wasn’t using enough leg into the fence and rather bracing than riding her up into the bridle. Also I was generally being too nice rather than setting the clear boundaries. I had a jump into the water and down some steps to a skinny which she gave me a super feel. So a very positive session albeit a tad wet!

The final day was spent back at Fred’s working on the show jumping and predominately the canter to and from the fence. We started off using the same exercise as the Friday on the flat. We then progressed through going over a pole on the ground to jumping a small course as per the video.

The main focus was on good square turns, having a short rein and good upper body and approaching the pole / jumps straight by ensuring she was off my inside leg yet using my outside leg to make sure she came round the turns. You can see from the balance and engagement in the canter how well she was going. I would honestly say that was the best I have had her.

We finished off the session with some more water practice. Fred has a lovely ford he has access to just outside the yard. Great for some splashing and confidence building.

So a really great 3 days where I think we have both learnt lots. I would highly recommend Fred as a trainer and indeed I am hoping that I can arrange some clinics with him in Cornwall. This is purely selfish as I want to carry on the good work we have started over these 3 days.

Now keeping fingers crossed that Howick is not washed away in this weekends torrential weather and that we get to go eventing again next weekend.

23 March

The BE season is now in full swing which means that the course pictures are now in full swing. Fabulous to be still getting everyone’s support to cover a wide range of venues and courses.

Lovely to see the back of the mud as the fields have finally dried out and now are rolled and harrowed. Sadly the rain is due back for Easter weekend but at least there has been a break and surely we are now over the worst.

Hoping to go away for some training this weekend as seems we have not really done much since our aborted run at Moreton. Only 10 days now until our next run at Howick followed a week later by Larkhill and then another 2 weeks and Bicton. I think that will suit Posy as she could do with a few runs close together to really get her in the swing and best to do it now hopefully before the ground goes too firm.


20 March

It has been a bit of a slow week horse wise with Posy having quite a quiet time to make sure she has fully recovered from her colic. Thankfully she seems in fine form and has no lasting effects. It has knocked plans a bit though as originally I was planning a weekend away this weekend with some XC schooling and show jumping on the cards. Hopefully the weather will hold so we can arrange something next weekend. We did have a jump today, working on the quality of the canter. We have come so far over the winter yet I am still struggling with keeping her off my hand and in front of the leg. More time and more strength and one day we will get there.

Horse hunting has been frustrating as I do find some horses with bigger movement or a wider sit on I just can’t ride as my hip is too uncomfortable. This has led to me turning down a couple of suitable horses. There may be light at the end of the tunnel or maybe not - watch this space!

Meanwhile the broodmares are enjoying being back out again. They are fast losing their fluffy coats and I take up a curry comb most nights while they are eating to remove the excess hair, typically it seems the majority sticks to me! Only 5 weeks now until Sarnie’s companion Batty foals so they will be going back to Mel at the stud in good time as I don’t fancy the responsibility of maternity duties!

13 March

It has been another hectic week. The new job I started in February needs a lot more time than my old job and is more office based meaning by the time I get home having done the horses I am fairly washed out. Thursday I had a big day at work with a project I had been working on reaching its conclusion. Up early to get the horses done to find poor Posy suffering a colic attack. Like most horse owners this is something I find very frightening and immediately fear the worst. Although symptoms were relatively mild it is not something to trifle with and the vet was contacted immediately. It turned out she had a compaction colic and needed tubing, this was not a straightforward process as she was difficult to allow it to be done and needed sedating and even then the tube was not easy to get down. Fortunately the tubing did the trick and she was soon looking brighter and starting to dung. I then had the job of trying to get clean and presentable for work washing off blood (she had a nose bleed from tubing) and grime.

Fortunately work went well and Posy made a speedy recovery. She has had a few days off, not sure what drugs she had but she spent the next few days showing she was feeling well with a variety of field antics.  Have ridden her quietly this weekend as instructed by my vet and all seems ok. Wondering what caused it, the only thing different was the day before there had been a terrible storm and she didn’t go out in the field, however she had been ridden. Touch wood that episode is behind us.

Today after coming in 7 weeks ago the broodmares were turned out again. They have been out for an hour or two most days but we have been waiting for the land to dry out a bit and the weather improve before they were turned out 24/7 again. Sarnie’s condition has improved greatly although she is still not looking that pregnant (due 4 June). Batty her companion on the other hand is looking ready to burst but she is only 6 weeks off foaling.

For the moment they will have rugs changed morning and night as the weather is so warm by day and cold at night. I reckon this at least is easier than twice daily muck outs!

6 March - Moreton Horse Trials

Yesterday was the first BE event of the season and sadly it was a huge anti climax. We arrived on the Friday night and it was clear the ground was still pretty wet, we squelched walking over the grass, overnight there was more rain. The event were perfectly correct to go ahead as it wasn’t dangerous and the vast majority of the competitors appreciated the run but for ~Posy she has never much liked the mud!

We were 25th to go in our section and by the time we got to dressage it was sticky in the small warm up and the arenas were horrid as well. Posy hated it, the cold and abundance of fresh horses did also mean that she was a tad explosive as well. All in all a very long way from our best test and we scored a very deserved 39. Actually in places such as the transition to canter and circle I thought the marking was generous. We had a 4.5 for this movement despite the buck, spin and tantrum!

The show jumping was on a lovely arena and a super course. She made it feel very easy but I was annoyed that we clipped the last fence, probably had let her get just a little long.

The cross country course was very nice but in places it was very holding. Considering that she was not enjoying the ground it seemed wise to wait for another day to go XC, lets face it we were hardly competitive and she is just too nice to either be upset by the ground or to hurt pulling herself out of it. Anyway plenty to work on and hopefully in another 4 weeks things may have dried up a little!

Posy anyway was quite chilled at the end of the day and fit and happy to look forward to the rest of the season. Howick, Larkhill and Bicton planned for April.

2 March

It suddenly feels like we are in proper countdown mode with our first BE of the season at Moreton just 3 days away! I still can’t quite believe that it will stay dry enough to run, but Moreton sound very positive so I must presume it will.

I am definitely a bit unprepared particularly as it is only Posy’s second BE100 event. That said she has come on hugely over the winter and is much stronger now. The area I am still struggling with and would have liked a chance to play on grass is biting and control to stop the leaning. I think Moreton will very much have to be seen as a schooling event with another 4 weeks then to iron out the kinks before Howick.

The lorry is nearly packed and I have been checking the things are fully stocked and ready to go. Stud box, first aid, odds and ends and plaiting gear has all been replenished. The main thing to remember though could be the neck strap! Not sure it is a great time for the lorry heater to have a temper tantrum though!  

Times have just been published and we have lovely times starting at 11.30 and finishing just after 1. We are also stabling on site which does make things easier.

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