Posted: 12 June 2019 - Comments (0)
Tomorrow we are heading off to Chard for a 3 day jumping show, be lovely to have both girls with me again and hopefully might work off some of Ellie's excess weight, she is on a strict diet and had her haylage changed to hay. Looking forward to seeing Chards new arena which looks fabulous and means they now offer two large all weather surfaces.
Nice range of classes entered including a Discovery second round which will be fun to jump. Will report on our return.
Posted: 10 June 2019 - Comments (0)
Yesterday was Fliss's second BE Novice event at West Wilts. I had sworn not to go to West Wilts this year as it is on the limit of our travel for a novice (4 and a half hours) and is a notoriously unlucky venue for us where we never get placed. Saying all that the SJ is on a lovely surface, the cross country tracks are well maintained and offer a good variety of fences. I also particularly chose it as it has a relatively soft water for the level and this is an area we still need to progress with Fliss.
I already had the course photos and thought the course looked quite soft for the level, on walking it I found the pictures were a tad misleading and in fact it was one of the stronger West Wilts tracks with a tricky combination on the mound at 6 and a couple of other combinations that asked questions. The old butterflies fluttered and self doubts raised their ugly heads! Even the SJ looked a big track and that should be our most comfortable phase.
We had an early start with dressage at 8.06. The test used was 110 which is a more straightforward novice test and I thought Fliss tried hard and offered a consistent obedient test. I still find that in the arena with smaller movements she tightens up in the frame but it is improving all the time. We scored 34.5 which was about middling for the day and a 2 mark improvement on Howick.
It was quick turn around and we were show jumping by 8.45. Luckily by this time I remembered what a superstar I was riding, focused on keeping the canter forward and up and then pointed her at the fences. She was on springs giving them inches and making the whole round feel very smooth.
Cross country was definitely going to be Fliss's most testing to date, a step up from Howick. I was very aware it was important to set momentum and rhythm over the first 4 simple fences before we really got into the meat of the course. She warmed up super but set off out the start box and locked her jaw tilting her head giving me a dead contact. The first two fences were therefore spent softening the jaw and getting her off my leg and into the bridle. Luckily by 3 and 4 she was jumping super. (The hedge is 4 pictured left).
5 was the the water with a blue roll top before and after, really pleased as she just kept her momentum through the the combination and water. 6 was the fence that really most worried me and also a fence that Fliss would never have seen the like of, a steep pull up to a log and then 2 strides to a sloped rails with the ground significantly dropping on landing. You can see in the video we rather fiddled our way through adding a stride and lost some impulsion nevertheless there was never any danger of a fault. I was so pleased to get the fence out the way I promptly set sail up the field when I should have been turning left through the gateway and lost myself 15 seconds of time and half frightened an innocent spectator to death! Once realigned we popped through a meaty wide tree stump to brush nicely (the slightly distant shot on the video).
A nice hedge and then through the coffin, over a big hay cart and then parallel rails before turning to the corner. Fliss is always great with corners and we had a good line but about a stride and a half out I felt her slip right out her shoulder and go to run past right, luckily a slap down the shoulder (always make sure the whip is in the correct hand) and she straightened and made a somewhat awkward jump over the corner. A decent step to skinny and a couple of plain fences again before the camera picks us up coming home over the combination of spread fences with barrels underneath. You will see she jumped this really well despite being on quite a turn, it walked 7 strides and although for fences like this I don't count and rely on my eye it was good to see on the video that we did a nice 7 strides between the elements. She came home full of running and really confident which I was delighted with. We had too many time penalties to trouble the placings although we may have been slightly closer without my detour!
Totally delighted with how she is progressing and now has 6 double clears out of 6. A little bit of show jumping planned next and then some XC training before hopefully both girls will go to Bicton in early July.
Posted: 4 June 2019 - Comments (1)
I always try and be realistic yet positive in my posts and I am really lucky that I currently have two lovely horses that are going well. However, I think it is also good to reflect on what getting to this stage involves and what it does and doesn't need. We all have dream yards, facilities, lorries and staff for when we win the lottery and whilst I accept that some in the equestrian community have more financial backing than others I hope I can show what it is possible to achieve with limited facilities and finance.
I have no facilities at home we live in a rural end terrace property and I rent a small yard with 3 stables approximately 8 miles from home. It is not posh but I have the most lovely yard owner and it is affordable with some good flat fields for grazing and a small field that I can use for schooling. I don't have a sand school and have to box to use one. I was thinking today as I was schooling in the rain how much more my girls learn using a field for their schooling having to cope with the slight slope, the slippery grass and the undulations. Also currently the grass is about a foot deep which makes even pole work difficult! I am fortunate the field drains well in winter and doesn't get too horrendous in the dry, that being said in either of these conditions I limit the fields use and stick to hacking. Hacking is a key part of my training teaching them to go on varying surfaces and slopes, helping both their core strength and agility.
My jumps at home vary from a few poles and wings to a variety of pallets, barrels and anything I can find meaning that when we go out they are used to jumping strange things and very little bothers them having jumped round my DIY jumps.
My horses only have one saddle each but this has been properly fitted (Elly Pitts Optimum Performance Saddles) and the bridles and saddles don't match in colour. We manage fine to do our dressage in a jumping saddle and their bridles are used at home and competition for flat and jumping. Sadly they don't get the latest gear but what they do have is good quality and fits well. I also never skimp on shoeing, veterinary matters and physio as appropriate.
I am very fortunate that Mum shares my passion and we combine our wages to make the eventing and competing possible. Mum is well past retirement age and still working to help fund what is both our hobbies. I have limited some training this year and finding it increasingly hard to fund the training we need and competition fees as we go up the levels, Realistically we may need to sell Ellie in order to keep the show on the road but this is still the last resort.
I hope this isn't coming across as a moan what I am trying to show is that any success is down to hard work and determination not facilities, gear, money or even talent. Also to give you a little taste behind the scenes at the yard. Undoubtedly beautiful facilities help but you can do things with limited facilities and achieve good results often having fitter and stronger horses that are more adaptable to a variety of conditions. You don't need an endless budget to improve and progress.
Heartwarming to hear. Gives me confidence to stay where I am and manage to do what I can with what I’ve got! X
Posted: 2 June 2019 - Comments (1)
I managed to get a late slot to the Caroline Moore training at Millfield this Saturday, sadly there was only one space so Ellie had to stay at home much to her displeasure. As Bicton was open for XC schooling we decided to travel up Friday night stop at Bicton for a quick pop and then go onto stabling near Millfield. Perhaps it is a good refection on how much I rate Caroline's training that the travel alone to and from Millfield is over 3 hours each way so it was useful to add another element to the trip.
We stopped off at Bicton predominately to do some more water practice, I have to say the ground was pretty hard but being Bicton it was well looked after with plenty of grass nevertheless I didn't do a huge amount just popped through both waters building the difficulty up for the second water as per the video.
We stayed in some lovely stabling on Friday booked through a request on my Facebook page, Fliss was certainly in the lap of luxury and would have quite happily stayed for ever. Sadly though I think my shaving fork may be staying forever as I left it behind (I am very fussy about shavings forks and my stable at home doesn't look the same mucked out with a shovel!!).
So we had a 3pm session with Caroline on a very hot day but Fliss was fabulous. The video takes you through the exercises we did but I really felt proud how she has progressed and I think it was a huge compliment for Caroline to ask to be informed if I ever want to sell her. We started with simple walk trot transitions focusing on the forwardness and then went onto an exercise with dressage boards used as trotting poles with a turn to, between and after where the focus was on straightness. Then a canter transition along the short side with a few strides of medium so plenty to focus on. She wanted Fliss to sit back off the boards and really use her hind leg with the legs landing in the middle of the poles giving a passage feeling which she soon got the hang of.
We then progressed to a simple course with 10 meter circles thrown in and onto a slightly bigger course focusing on turn backs and straightness again. This was bread and butter for Fliss but she wanted me to focus on not overfolding with my position which I do know I have a bad habit of doing.
We then moved onto a curving line with a skinny placed in the middle focus was on getting the line right and making room by angling the first part to get a good line for the skinny and the fence after.
We finally finished off working with a double of shoulder brushes and then an angled rail to a shoulder brush and this was our only mistake for the day I got a backward stride to the angled brush and gave her no chance of getting there so we slipped out the side. On a better stride she coped fine so probably no bad thing to keep me awake and riding properly.
Delighted with progress and may even try and make the epic trip up to Leicestershire for some training this winter. If anyone does get a chance for a lesson with Caroline I would highly recommend it.
Thank you for posting that, it was really interesting & you have a super horse. I’m not sure where her clinics get advertised, how did you hear about it please? Thanks Karen
Posted: 30 May 2019 - Comments (0)
I have only just realised that May is Shoestring Eventing's 10th birthday!! When I launched the website back in 2009 I never believed it would grow to nearly a million views a year and such a fun and active social media. A big thank you to everyone that has supported us along the way.
Will there be another 10 years, maybe not who knows? Realistically the website costs to maintain particularly with the huge course pictures database and the time commitment means we may not keep it going for ever but we can certainly have fun while it lasts!
Posted: 27 May 2019 - Comments (0)
The ground has gone frustratingly hard which has rather limited my opportunities with the girls. I had originally intended to jump locally but in the end decided after another bone dry week to give it a miss. Bicton had a 4 day jumping show but funds will only stretch so far and much as I would have loved to have gone sense won out.
I am extremely lucky to have friends near Launceston with a lovely school and jumps who don't mind us rocking up for a few days and making use of the facilities. That is what we did this weekend while they were off at Bicton jumping. It gave me a chance to give the girls some concentrated work for 3 days in the school and a variety of jumping exercises.
Day 1 was mainly flatwork finishing with an old favourite exercise which sounds simple and is deceptively hard work. a 20 meter circle with 4 fences spaced evenly on each quarter. Trying to keep balance an even shape and the same number of strides between each is far harder than is sounds. Both girls tried hard and made a decent attempt.
Day 2 was working on gymnastic jumping and XC lines and skinnies. You will see with some fairly ordinary material and a bit of imagination it was easy to set some very challenging exercises. This was the only day we did any video (least boring), Ellie being the quicker thinking found it very easy Fliss tried v hard but was not quite so naturally quick although coped.
Day 3 focused on pure show jumping. Good quality of canter, approach and jump. Both girls went well. Although I think they may have competition! How about this for technique and scope?