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Flatwork Exercise

Posted: 19 February 2019 - Comments (0)

Following a couple of lessons with Caroline Moore and watching a recent Horse and Country programme she featured in I was inspired to set up a simple flatwork exercise in my rapidly drying field today. The following diagram should give you an idea sorry if the text isn't clear but I big thank you to the team at E-venting for letting me use it.

This seems a relatively simple exercise yet is deceptively difficult. To get the balance on the tight turn and then achieve the straightness away is a brilliant exercise, it is more difficult in a field as there is nothing to hold you in. My original set up can be seen left. I found this difficult with Fliss even in trot and had to enlarge the space as well as move the poles back to give me more room to turn. Even then she found it hard and I tended to do 2 or 3 turns before riding out of the area. A really good exercise and I could feel her starting to engage more in the turn and stay straighter away. However it is definitely one to stay up for a week or two and have a bit more practice at. Will be interesting what Ellie makes of it later in the week.

If you are able to set it up I would highly recommend.


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Finally doing something - Dressage lesson

Posted: 17 February 2019 - Comments (2)

It seems a while since there has been much to report and indeed with more set backs this week I wondered if I would be able to get going this weekend. Who would have believed a short run on Wednesday would have been so sore? However this weekend although still a little sore I have been able to do more riding wise, indeed a little pop with Fliss yesterday followed by a dressage lesson today felt long overdue. Clearly for Fliss too who is feeling fresh and well and in need of some decent work!

I though after some schooling yesterday and a little jumping she may be quite tired today but anything but she is clearly ready to start eventing soon! It was great to see sponsor Stef again after a few months where we have missed each other. Really pleased that she could see a big improvement in Fliss and her way of going. However with Fliss fresh it was the simple things we worked on today, discipline for her and correct position and core strength for me. We started by changing the gears within the pace and getting her to respect the half halt, she always seems to be in a rush to get places. For me it was sitting up and tucking my tail in, Stef asked me to imagine I was coming into a fence with a big drop on landing.

We then worked on trot and canter transitions, literally every 1/3 or 1/2 the circle and particularly not allowing her to run into the trot, it was important here that I didn't collapse with my body. The clip gives you an idea of the work we were doing.


Hope you can see a big improvement.


Comments (2)

Massive improvement, you really inspire me. As you work so hard & deserve all the success you get. Also you ride a pony which awesome, ponies rock.

Sonia on 18 February 2019 at 10:40 AM

Thank Sonia so pleased with progress.

Sarah-Jane Brown on 18 February 2019 at 4:42 PM

Attracting Sponsors

Posted: 16 February 2019 - Comments (0)

I am often asked for tips on obtaining sponsorship. Whilst I am no expert I can give some useful tips.

Generally for an amateur like myself the likelihood of finding a financial sponsor is very slim (unless a family member). Most support will come in the form of products or discounted products. Providing these are things you use this can make quite a big saving.

I read posts online and have been approached for advice by people who may be very successful in what they do and have approached companies asking for support yet are continually turned down. There is a couple of reasons for this! Firstly money is tight and many companies don't have any budget for sponsors but more importantly it is often the way the approach is made. Too often it is listing the success or ambitions of the rider and what they need but forgets the key point. What can you do for the sponsor!

What can you offer?

If you are looking for a sponsor you need to sell your services to the potential sponsor. What can you offer in return their support? Unless you are competing on the world stage you are unlikely to get rewarded for just being successful. So what can you offer :-

  • Social Media - Have you good website / social media links / presence that can help market the company and spread the word about their products. Don't under estimate this the power of social media. (Offer statistics or followers / website hits.)
  • Advertising space - i.e. wearing of branded clothing, saddle cloths, rugs and lorry / trailer. Be careful here, there are rules with regard to having advertising on a lorry / trailer that can bring you into commercial transport rules. Also BE have rules that anyone advertising on saddle cloths must be members of BE
  • Photo Opportunities - A chance to get professional images of products / services.
  • Blogs / Written Updates - Regular updates for sponsors newsletters or website.
  • Leafleting - Putting leaflets on lorries or giving to people at events
  • Product Testing - Testing and feedback of services or products for companies
  • Ambassador - Be an ambassador for your sponsor. This means if you are sponsored by a clothing sponsor then you take every opportunity to wear it, be photographed in it and promote it. You can talk knowledgeably about your sponsor and their products.

For me I don't sell success. I don't promise so many red rosettes or competing at high profile events. I sell the journey, the fact that people follow me through the highs and lows and that whatever happens whether I or my horses are injured there will be a continual output of interesting content. I never want to go to an event and find hard ground yet feel I must run the horse because my sponsor expects it. Saying that the fact I do go out and compete and get myself seen attracts my followers so there does need to be a balance.

Find your Unique Selling Point

A lot of people can offer all or much of the above so what can make you stand out? You need to find a USP (Unique Selling Point) For me I have several that I promote to sponsors but everyone needs to identify and push their own. Mine is the traffic I generate through my social media and website for my course pictures, the fact that I have won awards that recognises my high calibre social media skills and the fact that I am an amateur with limited facilities living in a remote area for the sport so can show hard work and dedication.

For someone else it may be the type of horse they ride i.e. Retrained racehorses or a certain type of native pony. It could be they or their horse has recovered from a serious injury, whatever it is make sure it is interesting and makes you stand out.

Who to approach

I learnt early on when approaching sponsors it is no good using a blanket approach. Target your efforts at companies and products you really want to be sponsored by. This makes it far easier to be a great ambassador and really enthusiastic about the company or product. A local company may take more interest in a local rider so look at what is on your doorstep.

Be sure that you are happy with what you get from your sponsor. I approached one company I was really keen on and they offered me sponsorship. In return for writing regular blogs, using my social media links and a few other things they offered me a 5% discount. This would have worked out as a maximum value of £20 a year for me and I turned them down. I did also consider the promotion it would have given me but in the end decided it wasn't worth the time and commitment I would have given it.

Remember if you are lucky enough to have more than one sponsor you need to ensure they compliment each other and so not clash in services or products they offer.

How to make that initial approach?

Be innovate make yourself noticed! One year I sent out a CD with a Shoestring Label on and a presentation that automatically ran when it was put in the computer. The presentation had about 10 slides and a bit of video giving a brief overview of me and what I could do for my sponsor. I had a huge amount of feedback from this and even those that had no sponsorship budget were impressed and I felt at least it put me on their radar. Now vlogs and videos that show your personality are all the rage, if you can be original and do it well then thats a great way of getting the message across.

If you are writing then try and find out specific names and tailor it to the company you are approaching. If you already use their products say so and why you find them good. Also are there specific ways you can help a particular company? I try to keep any initial approach fairly brief and refer them for more information to my website / social media which they can follow up if interested.

Be professional make sure any correspondence has been proof read and contains no spelling mistakes and good grammar. Where possible include accurate statistics on number of followers, website hits and interactions.

Building the relationship

Once you have successfully secured a sponsor then build on this. Make sure you keep them up to date with your activities and feedback on the services / products you have been using. Where possible try and show how you have become invaluable to their marketing and have been show casing their products. Make sure you deliver any promises and keep in touch, quite often more mutually beneficial opportunities can arise.

The picture here showcases 3 sponsors, SuperXcountry, Horsequest Advantage and Woof Wear, it was great for promoting them, using in blogs and letting them use for their social media.

Be Genuine

It is a pet hate of mine that sponsored riders are not always genuine and this comes across, I have turned a number off on social media. For example one season such and such a saddle is the best thing ever, the service is great, it makes a huge difference in the horses way of going etc etc. The next season we hear exactly the same only it's a different make. Over the years I have turned down a number of sponsorship opportunities as I don't truly love the brand or company and therefore it is fair on them, myself or shoestring followers to promote it.

It is popular now for companies to run competitions on Facebook / Websites / Twitter to give sponsorship opportunities. By doing this the company is getting publicity during the process itself as well as hopefully selection of riders applying for the sponsorship / product support. Therefore it is a good idea to keep an eye on websites and social media for such opportunities. When they arise read very carefully what they are looking for. Some focus on success, others on what you can offer them and some for commitment and over coming adversity. Make sure you tailor your response to their requirements, take your time making any submission and ensure it is properly proof read for mistakes. A good first impression is key!

I hope the above helps - Good luck

If anyone is interested in sponsoring me please see my sponsorship page on what I can offer - link here


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Slow progress

Posted: 7 February 2019 - Comments (0)

The hospital said nothing was broken so why do I still feel rough and in a lot of pain! I guess it was a fair blow but I like to get on with things, I have kept working and although walking Ellie still feel quite uncomfortable to ride. Sometimes though it is the little things that show you are improving like I can now turn over in bed and have a small cough with a major spasm so hoping I can get back to doing things soon.

Worrying news today about the Equine Influenza, luckily not in my area currently and with my current health I can watch and wait until the picture is clearer before taking the horses out. Luckily with this period of quieter work I decided to have their flu jabs done early a week ago so they should be getting the maximum protection possible. First big competition is the Horsequest Arena Eventing Championships at Aston in 5 weeks so hopefully time for things to settle.


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Special pony (again)

Posted: 3 February 2019 - Comments (0)

There are so many reasons that Ellie is special and has stayed so long. Yes she is talented but equally on weekends like this she is worth her weight in gold :)

I am still v sore following the fall last weekend, a mere sneeze and the pain in my side is stratospheric! Saying that things are improving slowly and I was determined to get back on this weekend and at least walk Ellie out.

Bless her she stood like a rock as I clambered on (consider she is fit and not been ridden for a week), and then plodded quietly round the block whilst I worked out what was and wasn't comfortable. She stood equally still as I worked out how to get off! Certainly going to be some quiet hacking before I can do much more but at least this way our combined bellies won't expand too much more. Fliss on the other hand will benefit from 10 days off as hopefully can ride in a few more days.

Ellie really is a pony in a million!


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Injuries and snow

Posted: 31 January 2019 - Comments (0)

I have been pretty sore since Sunday's mishap. Around the rib area is extremely painful and keeps going into spasms. No chance of riding at the moment but at least with the horrible weather it is not a bad time to choose to be off games. Not been feeling particularly well either not sure if my body is just focusing on healing the broken bits or it is the shock. The good news is I saw my physio today and he was quite positive that over the next week I will
see some significant improvement, hope so as not finding things easy. I am managing to care for the girls at least, although have had to have words with Ellie regarding the speed of marching in.

Ellie had some fun tonight as Cornwall was affected by some unexpected snow. We were forecast to miss the worst yet we had a really heavy flurry turning everything white and bringing the road network to a halt. Ellie is out by night and it has to be really bad for her to have a night in, so she was popped out in the snow where she loved showing off her moves.


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