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Ellie's turn to shine

Posted: 18 May 2019 - Comments (0)

With Fliss sunning herself in the field and having had a short break it was Ellie's turn to get out today. It nearly didn't happen, Scorrier and Chacewater is perhaps our closest showground but 3/4 hour before we were due to leave I had a panic as I couldn't find the lorry keys! They are usually hung up in the tackroom but no sign, I speedily ransacked the tackroom but to no avail and then started looking in the more unlikely places such as stables, car and around the lorry itself. I remembered opening a locker yesterday to retrieve something but couldn't lay my hands on them. Whilst the disappointment of missing the show could probably have been borne the cost and hassle of getting duplicate keys were sending me into a cold sweat. Mum was dispatched on the 15 minute drive home to check jacket pockets and I continued a fruitless search. I knew they wouldn't be in my jacket pocket so was rather surprised when Mum rang to say she had them! The pony polishing was abandoned and it was booted up and loaded whilst Mum drove back to the yard.

Luckily despite being 30 minutes later than intended the classes were busy and we had plenty of time. Ellie's mood however was not great as in the rush I hadn't put a haynet in! As life revolves around food this wasn't the best start for her. The showground is one of the best grass surfaces and even when everywhere is hard seems to offer a good jumping ring. At home it has been too hard to jump for a week so Ellie has only really had one jump a good 10 days ago.

The Discovery class was up to height and caused a fair share of rails and stops. Ellie was pleased to be out and I was worried I may have forgotten how to ride her after doing so much with Fliss. However we soon picked it up and she gave me a super ride around the Discovery. The jump off didn't really suit her being a more galloping track than a turning one but we made a good turn at the penultimate and finished with a lovely double clear in a good time for 2nd place.

Delighted to have the bestest pocket rocket out again.

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Howick BE - Fliss's first novice!

Posted: 15 May 2019 - Comments (0)

Howick didn't disappoint for our first novice event. Sometimes you just need to work on your gut and although Fliss to date has only had 4 BE runs (1x80, 1x90 and 2x100) I felt she was ready for a Novice run. She has the scope and plenty of show jumping experience, I did research Howick that it was a fair Novice and had not too terrifying water and it seemed to tick the boxes. We travelled up Monday and due to an accident on the M5 had a long 6 hour trip which meant quite a rush when we got to stabling. A course walk, plaiting and polishing were completed in double quick time ready for an early start.

Dressage was 8.12 but to be honest I like to get it over with sooner rather than later. The dressage test was probably the phase that worried me most as perhaps it lacked some attention in the build up. Warming up with the who's who of eventing is always fun and I had to make sure I didn't crash into any of them whilst name spotting! We focused on our own warm up and I don't think Fliss was too overawed anyway. We followed two professional into the arena but Fliss really pulled the stops out and did a great test for her stage of education. Yes the leg yields were slightly unbalanced, she needed more stretch and length in her neck but there were no major mistakes. The judge reflected this with mainly 6's throughout for a 36.3.

The video is at a strange angle as it was as close as Mum could get but will still give you an idea.

Show jumping turned out to be the most influential phase of the day. The course was up to height and on quite a sloping arena, the most influential fence was a treble built going up the hill off a corner and although the distances walked true in retrospect it was built a little on the long side. We were 3rd to jump and this worked in our favour as I didn't realise the carnage the course would cause particularly early in the day. Considering the amount of show jumping Fliss has done she felt a bit green in the ring and if you look at the video you will see how honest she was at the treble. She backed off slightly going in and then struggled for the distances and really could have stopped at the last element instead she used her wings to fly. She coped well otherwise and finished the course well.

Looking at the stats particularly considering the standard of riders competing there were only 35% clear in the show jumping and very proud Fliss was one of them.

So the hour to wait for cross country seemed to drag! The course was pretty nice nothing seemed too huge but there were some real technical questions that I was worried whether she would lock on in time. The ground was firm but with last weeks rain and the grass covering it was pretty acceptable for me who is rather fussy. It was finally time to get on and head for the start, we were 3rd to go again and with a good warm up we were ready to roll.

We set out over the first 3 in a nice rhythm, I wasn't intending aiming for the time but equally wanted a good forward round and not get too defensive. The first combination came at 4 with some offset houses which she just tried to get a bit straight for but still popped through really nicely. Then came the fences that worried me most a decent spread with 5 or 6 strides to an upright rail and turn by the hedge to a triple brush. She jumped the spread well and we sat back and popped the rails, I then made room moving away from the triple to get a good line and plenty of set up room, once locked on we moved forward and over. Some simple fences followed including a lovely jump over a big hay cart before we had a combination with a narrow brush through a gateway, she flew this before arriving at my next concern. A big box brush on 6 curving strides to a decent corner, saw a lovely stride to the first and remembered Caroline Moores advice of using the eye to find the line and we had a lovely forward stride to the corner. We then flew down the hill to the ditch palisade and here she really backed off and had to have a reminder on take off not sure what monsters she saw in the ditch but it wouldn't usually bother her. We then came to the water with a fence a stride back, we got there and she suddenly saw the water and backed right off rather clambering over the first element, she landed and went in ok and out over the c element. Clearly we still have some hesitancy over water that needs work before she is asked bigger questions. She finished the course really well so obviously no confidence lost.

Video is just start and finish

We were only 18 seconds over the time and finished on a very respectable 43.1 which I was delighted with. I certainly think we can see that Fliss is very capable at this level and very exciting to plan for the future.

Thanks to Nick Perry for the photos

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Troon Show

Posted: 12 May 2019 - Comments (0)

On Saturday we went to a local show (Troon) which is held at Pendarves Equestrian to do some BS with Fliss. Looking back at our record this is the first time we have jumped locally since August last year! As we are due to event this week I just jumped the one class the Newcomers / 1.10 open. It turned out to be a very competitive class as there was £120 to the winner and hence a lot of experienced horses out for the money. There was also plenty of atmosphere with plenty of competitors and spectators.

The class was jumped over 2 rounds and with the money on offer was up to height and relatively technical. It also had a treble and a triple bar neither of which Fliss has seen much so was great experience. (The picture is the first part of the triple bar). I was delighted when she jumped a very nice clear round making it feel quite easy.

First round

Jump off

Despite a few sharpish turns and a clear round we were 7th in a very competitive 13 horse jump off and out of the placings. Nevertheless I was delighted with how she jumped some difficult tracks and most of the horses were experienced open horses.

So now thoughts turn to Howick and I may not have mentioned that we have entered the Novice!!! I had a run through of the test today and think dressage may be the most difficult phase as she was struggling with what is a more difficult novice test.

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A non equine update - Rosie

Posted: 9 May 2019 - Comments (0)

I thought I would share a picture of Rosie at dog training which she started this week. She is coming on nicely and has mastered the sit, whatever the command she now sits!! We are neurotic about not losing her or letting her off a lead when out. She is still quite nervous and shy but at times is really starting to show her jolly side. Smartie adores her and they play endlessly however I am sure that Smartie would like an off button as she is your typical Duracell Bunny who is full of energy. She really needs a good free run but at the moment we can't find anywhere secure enough to ensure she remains with us.

She now has a tracker so if she ever did go missing at least we could track where she was and make capturing her a little easier but I would point out this is an insurance only as we are doing everything in our power not to lose her. I think in time she will be very loyal and loving but probably a year or two project to that stage!

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XC schooling - Rosamund Green

Posted: 7 May 2019 - Comments (0)

So Sunday as we were in the area we diverted to the fabulous facility that is Rosamund Green. A course designed for the higher levels with fences from BE100 up in every form you can imagine.

It was a greta chance to school over some Novice combinations and questions and I have to say she ate them all up skinnies, lines and steps she was superb. There were two waters and again she showed how much she had grown up cantering straight through and jumping fences before and after.

Big thanks to Nick Perry for the super pictures.

Really feel despite not a huge number of BE runs she is ready for a Novice BE run.

A video of the schooling

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Dorset Show jumping - Moving upward

Posted: 6 May 2019 - Comments (0)

I enjoy the 3 day shows and it is a great chance to consolidate our show jumping. As it happened we only jumped for 2 days at Dorset but I was over the moon with what we achieved in those 2 days. The great thing about Dorset is not only do they have a super all weather surface but a fabulous well tended enormous grass arena. It meant that we could get some practice on grass as well.

On day 1 I actually wimped out of jumping on grass as Fliss was very fresh and I wanted to start on the surface (what sort of eventer am I?) I was keen to try and be a bit more competitive at this show as I felt she had progressed enough to ask a little more in the jump off. In the Newcomers I did have a go in the jump off but rather flattened her round a corner meaning we had a pole down. Looking back I just needed to ride her more forward into the bridle rather than let her get long.

I was a little disappointed with the pole but then made a very brave decision and entered the Foxhunter. This would be the biggest class I have jumped for 5 years since I had Pip. I was attracted by the fact it was A7 and therefore had a separate jump off meaning that the first round wouldn't be too huge (I hoped). I walked it and it was a proper Foxhunter track, definitely one that it was better not to get too close to some of the fences. Fliss was amazing (a bit too good) and made it feel easy jumping a super easy clear round. I had quietly hoped for an unlucky 4 faults and not have to go into an increased height jump off!

The best thing for me was not to watch the jump off being put up but by this time the course would be a good 1.25 / 1.30. I wasn't getting any ideas of going for a fast jump off and was delighted despite Fliss tiring slightly to jump another clear round.

A big bonus was second place (in a small class) and the Foxhunter frilly for the best Foxhunter horse in the class.

On the second day I was determined to do at least one class on the grass. I couldn't decide whether to be bold and jump the 1.15 on the grass first or take an easier option and jump the 1.05 later in the day. I walked the 1.15 which was single phase meaning some of the second half was 1.20 / 1.25. I have to say it looked big and the ring although large was fairly undulating adding to difficulty. In normal circumstances I may have had better sense however considering just how well she had jumped the day before I entered

A good warm up and with instructions ringing in my ear to keep the canter going forward and up I went in. I needn't have worried she made the course feel very easy. I remember approaching the first fence thinking it was a big track and then trying to change my thought to how lucky I was to ride her.

With the double clear we finished 4th in the class only 0.5 second off the prize money.

I didn't want to keep pushing my luck and finished the day jumping the Newcomers on the arena. The track seemed relatively small after the previous 2 classes. I did decide that it would be a good opportunity to have another go at a quick jump off and this time it came off!

In a class of open horses and Newcomers horses we were 2nd overall and won the best Newcomers frilly!

The following day instead of jumping again we made the decision to take advantage of nearby cross country schooling facilities and divert to Rosamond Green, See my next blog.

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