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Computer problems so sorry if updates not as frequent as usual

23 June

Just heading off to Bicton for 3 days of jumping with both girls. Also have a BE clinic at Launceston with Tim Cheffings on Monday so don’t expect any updates on here until probably midweek.

I will try and post on Facebook but signal is patchy!

21 June

As regular readers know this year I have been selected as a worming ambassador for supplement solutions. This allowed me to have two horses on their annual strategic worming programme. Link

Last week we had a worm kit arrive for both horses and I took some poo samples and sent them back for analysis. A few facts :-  

- Link to worm count kits: http://www.supplementsolutions.co.uk/parasites-wormers/horse-wormers/worm-counts-and-tests/westgate-laboratories-worm-count-kits-equine.html

- Throughout the grazing season horses should be tested for roundworm using a faecal egg count – Supplement Solutions works in partnership with Westgate Laboratories who are renowned for their fast and effective service getting results back to customers.

- Worm counts are a useful tool from Spring-Autumn to detect a roundworm burden and any results over a medium count (200epg) needs treating.

- In most cases you will be able to alleviate the need to worm your horse across the grazing season, cutting down the amount of chemicals going into your horse and back out into the field.

- If a horse’s count shows they need treating a targeted dose of the correct wormer is an effective way to deal with the burden.

- Buying a worm count kit from an official stockist like Supplement Solutions means you receive helpful follow up advice from our award winning SQP Hannah who is on hand to answer any queries that you may have about worming!

So great news both horses had identical results,  Posy and Ellie  - <50epg no eggs seen. No worming needed whereas normally I would have wormed them now. All that poo picking is having an effect.

19 June

Yesterday Ellie had her first taste of cross country schooling and she was fantastic. Don’t get me wrong it was only tiny but her attitude was great and she was so bold. We had a couple of baby moments at a skinny and a decent step down but everything else she just took in her stride. In time her problem is most likely to be she is too bold!

The video takes you through most of the session

Out of sight of the camera we also did a couple of decent ditches and water including popping and out a step. Our only near miss was at a fence in the woods when Ellie jumped big and left and landed us in some deep undergrowth, luckily we both remained together and in tact!

17 June

With Posy having the limelight Ellie has been ticking over slowly. However this week thing have picked up and I am delighted with her progress. On Wednesday we went to the local Cornwall Trec group evening dressage and did two prelim tests. I was really pleased with her in both tests although tension slightly showed each time in her final halt with a bit of fidgeting.

She was second in both tests with 70% or just over so not to be sniffed at. Video is the second test Prelim 14.

So instead of resting on her laurels the next evening we headed to Gwennap Riding club show jumping. We only did the baby class but I was delighted that she was able to canter to her fences, listened to me and popped a sweet clear round. The 3rd place rosette was also a bonus.

So I did give her tonight off but tomorrow we have a cross country clinic with Threewaters Riding Club over Knightswood baby cross country course. Be very interesting to see what she makes of it. Watch this space.

14 June - West Wilts BE

After our double splat at Millfield we were looking for a big improvement at West Wilts and whilst it was much better there is still lots to work on.

We went up via a visit to the equine dentist Bob Livock who gave Posy’s teeth the once over. Really can’t recommend him enough, his years of experience and the fact he is a rider himself means his results are second to none.

So arrived at West Wilts at mid day on the Saturday giving us plenty of time to let Posy have a mooch around, a bite of grass and a snooze before a quiet schooling session to tune her up (that was the idea anyway!) We are fortunate that West Wilts is very close to our number 1 Shoestring Supporters Nick and Jane Perry so that evening we were cooked a lovely meal.

Sunday itself was leisurely as we didn’t do dressage until just before 1 so plenty of time to walk the course. West Wilts courses are always beautifully presented and on the softer side for the level. This was no different a nice course but no real concerns.

Dressage was a reasonable test and in comparison to some other tests I saw I was slightly disappointed with the mark of 33.

Two hours to wait for show jumping and the course was causing a fair few problems. Luckily Fred Scala was there and gave me some help warming up and made sure I was riding properly. A nice competent clear round followed.

A quick change and onto cross country. Had been finding Posy a little stuffy and I have been a bit wary of kicking her too hard since my unplanned dismount warming up at Millfield. Fred soon sorted us out and said that being in front the leg was just as important as coming back to me, he got me riding her properly and we had her really going super in the warm up.

We set out really well. Mum who was videoing was so impressed she forgot to press record so I can’t show you the evidence!

Jumped the first 3 well and then the drop pictured before heading to the water where she really kept up the revs travelling through. A brush on the mound she jumped really well as she did the following two combinations.

Fence 11 was a corner no more difficult than she has already jumped. There were a few people watching and walking the course she seemed to take her eye off the fence and came out the side. So annoyed looking back did I have her together enough or had I let her get a bit long and not into the bridle, was my line as good as it should be. Had to take the alternative which was really frustrating and then completed the course in good style.


I won’t lie I was very disappointed with the cross country penalties but in a lot of ways it’s better to have these blips and rectify them than find them at a higher level. Fred has sent me home with some exercises to work on and a promise of a visit to Cornwall soon. I have also booked some cross country schooling as I am a bit short in this area. I will also be working on some technical exercises in the arena so hopefully we can put any issues to bed. We are not eventing now for 4 weeks so should give me plenty of time.

Onward and upward!

8 June - New arrival

I am delighted to announce that early on Monday morning Sarnie safely gave birth to a chestnut filly. Over the moon that both mother and daughter are well and everything went smoothly. Huge thanks goes to Mel Hennah who was there to ensure all was well and kept me updated.

If we could have chosen we would have loved a filly although not sure where the chestnut bit came from! No name yet any ideas welcome. Sarnie is besotted with her but in a real motherly way and not over protective. I think she learnt a lot from baby sitting Batty’s foal.

I think you may find an overload of foal pictures now. So pleased Mel persuaded me to have a last try putting Sarnie in foal last year and also huge thanks to my ever patient vet Joe Ivey who went above and beyond the call of duty helping me get Sarnie to this stage.

6 June

A good weekend albeit with no competitions. Posy is still being allowed a quieter time after a busy Bicton although on Saturday we had a lesson with Stef Eardley. This maybe wasn’t as relaxed as Posy would like as I was told I was being too soft on her.

She keeps taking the rein and pulling it forwards. We spent a lot of time halting and reining back a step before trotting on, so in a form using an exaggerated half halt so that she actually started to respect the more subtle half halt.

We then did an exercise using a square, at each corner stopping and doing a ¼ turn on the forehand to get hind legs crossing. We then built this up and trotted the straight bits before coming back and eventually really collected the trot on the corner and got her stepping over and round in the trot. A fair way to go but gave us some tools to use and things to work on.

Ellie had the more fun part of the weekend with a jumping session. We still spent a lot of time trotting small jumps and little grids teaching her to listen and focus. We finished off by doing some small jumps in canter. Amazing how rewarding producing horses can be as finished popping a small jump and then she came back and listened to me as we cantered away. Now just need to progress this to several jumps!

This week we are preparing for our next BE at West Wilts on Sunday.

3 June - Waiting

Sarnie’s due date for baby S is tomorrow so very excited yet nervous! I have abdicated responsibility and she is with Mel Hennah at Trenarth stud. She is looking fabulously well but we think she is likely to go a little over her due date. I hope she doesn’t keep us waiting too long!

  Batty who she has been out with for a year now foaled a few weeks ago. Sarnie is at least getting the idea of having a little one around and sharing some baby sitting duties. She seems really good with him and Batty is a very relaxed mother - really hope Sarnie is learning the ropes!

Popped down and saw her last night and once the apple was eaten she had no interest in me whatsoever!

Posy has had the week off although will be in for a shock tomorrow as I have a dressage lesson booked with Stef Eardley. Be interesting to see how she thinks she has progressed as been over 6 months since she saw her last.

1 June - Bicton Round-up

Finally surfacing after 5 days at Bicton for their big show jumping show. I will try not to bore you with an in depth detail of each day as one days show jumping can be much like another!

Perhaps it would be a great start by saying what a excellent venue Bicton is and how well organised all their events are. They have 3 fabulous show jumping rings, the main grass arena, a large all weather and another big grass arena as well as an unaffiliated ring. All the arenas and warm ups are watered to ensure the best possible going. The tracks to and from the arenas and around the stables are damped down throughout the day to prevent dust.

There are several blocks of permanent stables and then temporary stabling in huge numbers. Plenty of water points for filling water with a great pressure meaning buckets can fill quickly - amazing how small things make such a difference! There is even a wash down area (pictured).

Stabling managers are efficient and helpful, a bolt on my stable door was not fitting well, was fixed within an hour of reporting. The shavings (same price as I pay at home) were delivered within minutes of ordering! The entries and secretaries work well and again are both efficient and helpful.

The courses are well built, all the riders are treated well whether in the small classes or the main ring important classes. Classes at all levels can have 100 plus entries.  The venue itself is picturesque with the rolling cross country course surrounding the rings, there is plenty of entertainment both in terms of jumping to view and bar and music. I probably don’t realise how lucky I am having this on the doorstep, I spoke to several riders and traders who counted it amongst their favourite shows.

Anyway moving back to Posy it was a very successful show for us and that is unusual for me to say so when I won no frillies or prize money. We have been hovering around establishing ourselves at Newcomers but kept having some blips. At the last Bicton show we had a real set back in the grass arena where we just didn’t have it quite together. This time we seemed to crack it and jumped the Newcomers every day.

With the show running over 5 days I only did 2 classes on the first day and each subsequent day I did just the single class.  The first day we were in the grass Newbury ring where we had struggled with Newcomers last year. We started with a double clear in the 1.05

I then debated wimping out of the Newcomers and jumping a meter class in the other arena later. I was told not to be so wet and hence put on the brave pants and jumped a nice Newcomers round just getting a bit close to the double for a pole.

That pretty much established a pattern for the rest of the week. I won’t go into great detail but share the videos if you want a look.

Day 2 - Newcomers - All Weather arena (4 faults)

Day 3 - Newcomers - Grass Arena - 4 faults (Missed my change)

Day 4 - Newcomers - All weather arena - Clear (best round)

Day 5 - Newcomers - All Weather - 4 faults (major rider miss, rider grumpy!)

So all in all I was delighted with Posy and I actually was tempted to jump a 1.15 as well. However I was mindful not to do too much with her and probably it is best left for another show when hopefully we are going as well.

I did allow her a little fun and we did give her a pipe opener up one of Bicton’s lovely hills to give both a bit of variety and make sure she is fit and ready for West Wilts in a couple of weeks time.

Posy will have the rest of this week off as I think 5 days at a show is quite a lot but I wanted to make the most of the lovely courses, great surfaces and by being on site that extra element of travelling was eliminated.

Posy did get a bit spoilt as I paid for the hire of the Cyclo-ssage rug a couple of times so she had a massage and was able to keep all the muscles loose. I would love to buy her one but sadly the 3.5k price tag means we may have to wait for the lottery win!!

It wasn’t just about Posy as Ellie joined me on the trip. She is no where near the jumping standard yet but it was great for her to work in the busy show environment and we did have a pop round the clear round on one day. Pleased to say she took no notice of fillers or the general goings on at the show!

So pleased with how she is progressing and really excited about her future whether that is with me or someone else.  Her size is bothering me less and less and really she is just a proper horse in a ponies body!

Had hoped we could get her out cross country schooling but sadly the course was being prepared for a competition so was closed. However I get the impression she will be very bold.

So a great few days and I highly recommend the jumping shows at Bicton to anyone that wants a visit.

24 May

Packing for 5 days away at Bicton for there big show jumping show. Posy is on probation after her misdemeanour at Millfield and Ellie is coming to learn about the joys of a big show and may pop a clear round. Also hoping both can get out on the cross country. The website will go quiet as poor signal at Bicton but will try and get the odd update on Facebook.

Both girls had a pop at the weekend. With Posy it was a case of getting her to listen to me after her last jumping being cross country. A few times just sitting her back and halting after the fence started to get the idea across.

Ellie jumped really well, focusing with her at the moment on taking time to jump and use herself rather than feel the need to rush to the other side. As you can see from the picture she started to really focus and listen. The main thing with her is not to rush anything she learns so quickly but I could quite easily undo all the good work by rushing things. Will do her good to chill at Bicton and relax in the busy atmosphere.

20 May

It has been a flat out week this week with horses on the back burner. I spent Tuesday in London feeling like a fish out of water as I had a meeting at DEFRA for work. I took the opportunity in a few spare hours to have a look round some of the famous London museums. I admit be being under whelmed a reflection on my lack of interest in anything cultural rather than the museums themselves. It is perhaps a little sad that outside horses I find very little that actually interests me!

Wednesday I represented work at an inquest related to an accident I investigated. Quite intense and not the easiest day, really brings home the consequences of health and safety failings.

I have been pretty stiff after my falls on Sunday and I am struggling quite a bit at the moment anyway with back and hip pain from old injuries. Unfortunately there doesn’t seem a magic cure.

Posy has had a few days off and Ellie has been ticking over. Had hoped to do some show jumping this weekend but the weather forecast is not good. Perhaps a quiet weekend would be no bad thing!

16 May - Millfield BE

My first visit to Millfield and what a lovely grass roots event. Everything was beautifully manicured with dressage on the sports pitches and everything was really well thought out, stewards and volunteers were in huge numbers and very helpful.

I was feeling quite confident after our excellent run at Bicton (remember pride comes before a fall!!) And the courses at Millfield did seem a step down from those at Bicton.

Following our lesson with Andrew Lovell I tried Posy in a grackle noseband and this did seem to help certainly she warmed up for dressage really well.  A gentle walk round and then we were on. As is usual I cantered round the arena whilst I waited for judge to ring her bell, I cantered round and round and round…………………..  It seemed to take ages before we had the bell to start we came back to trot and Posy said she had held a good frame for long enough and dropped back on her head. The test wasn’t bad but just needed her to sit a bit more and I had lost that shape by over doing things outside the arena! I guess you live and learn. At the end of the day a 34 was no disaster however with how she was working outside it could have been better!

So a quick change and onto show jumping. Show jumping looked quite small but actually there were very few clear rounds as the undulations on the ring made it tricky to ride. She warmed up really well with our improved canter and was fabulous to and over the fences. In the ring I was very frustrated that my mistake cost us a bad pole! 1 - 3 were on a curving line down the ring and then we turned back for 4 the first double, I didn;t get a clean change after 3 and faffed around with that rather than focusing on the canter and my line to the double, I then had a nothing stride with a nothing canter and we crashed through the first part. After that jumped a nice clear so very frustrating.

So cross country and I was looking forward to our round. Millfield lacks a huge space for cross country which means you turn back on yourself quite a bit and cross close to the track in the opposite direction which can upset the concentration. Well the drama started in the warm up, I had a good canter on each rein and popped a fence, she was a little behind my leg so gave her a sharp leg aid to get her in front my leg, next moment I was on the floor! It has been a long time since she has done that! Air jacket inflated so Michelin man impression as I was splat on the floor! Posy was looking like butter wouldn’t melt. Air jacket discarded and cross country jump used for clambering back up! Carefully had another canter and popped a few warm up fences before I headed for the start.

Jumped the first 3 nicely and then into the woods and out over the ditch and rail. A big improvement on Smarties attempt at crossing the ditch earlier when he had jumped in the stinky muddy bit at the bottom! Up the mound and had a look at the feature fence but popped it nicely. Over the drop and rail and then into the country over some straightforward fences. At 13 (pictured) it was a double of brushes. Not quite sure what happened whether I had a poor line or whether she just spooked slightly on take off she went slightly right which meant my foot brushed the high area of brush, this has happened before particularly at higher levels where the jumpable gap is smaller however on this occasion the brush caught hold of my foot and pushed it back and me off! Typically between the fences was a path which they had gravelled over - where did I land? Yes in the gravel I have the most lovely gravel burn across my hip and bum! Thankfully my jods are fine but my hat is a write off.

The jump judge initially told me I couldn’t carry on but once she had checked in with control we were allowed to continue. It took a couple of fences to get going again and I think I was a tad shaken up at hitting the deck twice in 10 minutes! We finished nicely though over the water and final fence.  I was met by the doctor who passed me fit.

So I haven’t even looked at the scores but can imagine we were last in our section, very unfortunate but that is the typical ups and downs of eventing! Onward and upward.

Writing this the day after and can confirm some stiffness and colourful bruises!!

13 May

Can’t believe how satisfying Ellie is to work with she progresses so quickly! Yesterday we had a dressage lesson with Andrew Lovell and she moved forward again. Andrew was very complimentary about her and we worked on her relaxing in the neck and carrying herself. This was using a wider hand to give a better contact and focusing on my balance.

The night before she also proved her jumping ability as I found her on the other side of the 5 bar gate. She gave me a fright as she wasn’t where I expected but I admit to being quietly impressed with the jumping ability!

9 May

Yesterday we took Posy to the local show centre Colraine to keep our eye in show jumping. As the entry fees are high (£20 a class) just stuck to one class and did the 1m open which is always built at the upper end. Posy’s improvement was maintained and she jumped another super round, double clear but unplaced.

We have worked hard this winter but can’t believe how her way of going has suddenly so dramatically improved. It no longer feels so hit and miss much more in control and easier to a fence. All systems go now for Millfield next week.

7 May _ Ellie’s first dressage

Ellie had her first competitive outing with me today and her first ever dressage competition. She was a star behaving all day and trying so hard. The show was at Knightswood and run by Threewaters Riding Club, an ideal first outing.

The first test was prelim 2 a new test for me to ride and one I struggled to get my head round, probably more an issues with the over loaded (aging) brain rather than the test! We made to navigational errors and actually she made a really good attempt finishing 4th with 64%. She got a bit quick and tense after the canters and stepped back in her final halt but otherwise was pretty good.

She had an hour to reflect before we did prelim 14. This time I could ride her a little bit more but she just came slightly tight in her frame. However the test was good enough for a win in quite a low scoring class with 65%.

Delighted with our first outing even if Posy was a bit miffed when ‘her’ lorry went out without her!

6 May

Had a day off today and made the trip to Badminton. The 4:45 start is now catching up on me! It really is the best place to have a look at new products and get the widest range of equestrian goods to see and try. I came away with some new stirrups which I will tell you more about when I have tried them, picked up a lovely Kate Negus bridle for Posy and mum kindly treated me to a new hacking jacket.

I did manage to catch a bit of dressage including Emily King’s lovely test. Also good to meet up with some Shoestring supporters and thank them for their help with course pictures.

Tomorrow Ellie makes her competition debut with some dressage at the local riding club competition! More updates shortly I am sure!!

2nd May

It is 10 days since I introduced you to Ellie. She has been given time to settle and as she isn’t very fit she has been doing some gentle hacking and occasional short schooling session. I have also put myself on a strict diet to help ensure I am not squashing her too much! Touch wood she has been a really good girl. Today we felt it was time for a low key outing so toddled off to a friends to school her. We weren’t perhaps expecting a 2 hour journey as the notorious tourist bank holiday traffic was grid locked. Whilst the driver was getting grumpier Ellie could be seen on the camera snoozing!

Even in the short time she has been with me her flat work has come on no end. Her jumping is very green, she has a tendency to tilt her head and run at the fences so we are quietly popping everything from trot at the moment.

The video gives you an idea of how smart she will be.

She will be kept quietly ticking over and hopefully aim at a dressage show next weekend to get her out and about. I think she will be a lot of fun.

1st May - Cornish Show Jumping Club BS

Yesterday did not start well. It was our first BS grass show of the year at the spectacular Gwelevelan just beside the North Cliffs of Cornwall with stunning sea views. (See left)

I tapped her stud holes and have recently lost my favourite orange tee tap so as an interim had bought a cheap metal one. Well I did expect it to last more than 2 uses before it sheared off in her foot! Luckily there was enough still protruding to allow me to find a pair of pliers and extract it back out!  The whole process took about 30 minutes leaving me running late, however I needn’t have worried as there was a huge entry in the early unaffiliated classes so I actually had a couple of hours to kick my heels when we arrived. Posy at least appreciated the time to have a munch and check out the opposition!

The meter class was a single phase format. Luckily after a few hours at the event Posy was very chilled despite the wide open space. The ground and ring was super and it was a nice course. As our last competitive outing was cross country I was careful to sit her back and get her really listening. I had the night before popped her over a very simple grid of bounce to spread with v poles just to get her back in the show jumping grove.

She jumped a nice controlled round, we did have a lucky tap at the final fence but we got away with it!

It was a strong open section and we were placed 3rd but couldn’t ask for more, her frame is so much better although I let her get a bit long over final few.

So brave pants were on and we also entered the Newcomers, walking it I felt it looked quite jumpable. This was probably her best round of the day she didn’t breath on a pole really helped me out in the double of uprights when we were a bit quick and  she shortened up for me. Had a good spook at the final fence a water tray but kept those feet well clear of the poles.

It was a competitive class with 8 or 9 good combinations jumping off. Whilst the first round did not frighten me too much by the time the course builder had popped it all up 2 holes the jump off looked enormous! I think it probably is the biggest track we have jumped to date. She jumped a super round with one mistake, the water tray was the second fence and I saw a forward slightly angled stride and she just looking in the tray and dropped her hind legs. She jumped the rest superbly and gave me a great feel, even better we still came 5th

So two frilly’s, lovely weather and Posy went beautifully I couldn’t ask for more. (Picture thanks to Lisa Wood Photography)


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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