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Barely ticking over

Posted: 27 Feb 2020 - Comments (0)

I realise the blogs are a little sparse but it seems I have little to report. The weather continues to be miserable making most outings virtually impossible and I am struggling to school much. I am making every effort to keep fitness up and ride them 4 or 5 times a week. My first event is in 3 weeks although in all realism if this weather continues I would have a doubt it runs.

It is so frustrating although many others are in the same boat, it is particularly difficult for me though with no school at home meaning that since my bursary day nearly six weeks ago they will have been lucky to have been schooled or competed 10 times. The weather forecast is still not showing any major improvement with more storms forecast for the weekend. I guess I need to count blessing in at least we are not flooded.

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Posted: 22 Feb 2020 - Comments (1)

I have been struggling a bit with motivation these last few weeks. I think like most people the weather has been rather catching up on us and there is only so much wind and rain that can be endured with sanity still in tact. With no school and the lorry off the road for part of it I am only hacking which while retaining fitness doesn't seem to be allowing much progress. This week has been flat out stupid busy at work and now gone down with a lurgy which isn't helping the mood!

Both girls had their jabs yesterday so a quiet weekend but after a night out I think Ellie was taking the quiet day a bit literally! (Watch to the end with the sound on!)

Hoping to feel better soon and find that motivation, the first BE event is only 4 weeks today.

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It is hard to keep motivated in this weather but I'm thinking the weather must change for the better any day now :D

Rider Fitness

Posted: 17 Feb 2020 - Comments (0)

After my horse fitness blog for sponsors Activate your back this week they published my rider fitness tips:-

“Having talked about fitness of the horse last week it is time to move onto something we often forget, the rider. If we want the best performance from our horses then we need to be a balanced rider with sufficient fitness for the activities we are competing in. At the end of a cross country round you want to be fit enough to help the horse jump the last fences and not gasping for breath.

So there are two types of fitness for me, the cardiovascular and strength and suppleness. To a certain extent regular riding and yard chores do give a basic level of fitness but equally, particularly if horses is not your full time occupation and you have an office job, some supplementary work is really beneficial.

For me I have injuries that impact on my fitness. I have had operations and plates and pins in my hip and ankle which has also caused back problems. Much as I resent the focus needed on my health and fitness if I want results it is important I focus on this. I see a physio regularly and also have had huge benefit from Bowen treatments from sponsor Jayne Townsend.

As a younger rider I did no additional fitness work. Now at 45 I find it an essential element of my training. There is a little I can do with the horses so for example I might do trot work out hacking in a two point position to strengthen my lower leg. I also have a gym membership now. This isn’t essential but I struggle to motivate myself for fitness work and if I am paying for a subscription I feel I must get value from it usually in the shape of a couple of cross training classes a week. I do Pilates once a week and occasionally have a run (I hate running).

I really struggle with motivation and commitment as I don’t enjoy these activities but equally I know they help my riding and at the moment I am riding as well as I ever have.

What has been a huge help recently is the introduction to the Activate Your Seat programme. For me, with my body that has suffered injuries and is not as symmetrical as it should be, this has been so beneficial to my straightness and balance in the saddle. The full programme takes 20 minutes and I usually have the bungi in the car so I can do it literally anywhere; home, yard or show. Sometimes I just run through the exercises once as a warm up before riding. Like everything 20 minutes sounds like it should fit into the day easily but sometimes it is a struggle, however even 1 or 2 sets of exercises is better than none. I try and use the bungi 3 times a week and usually pack for an event or show.

It is has been great to be able to move onto the recently launched level 2 video. Generally I focus on three rounds of level 1 and one round of level 2. This compliments my body and areas I want to work on most. I have already recommended this programme to several friends who have used and loved it, so if you want a simple addition to your exercise regime I would really recommend giving this a try.”

🌟 Thanks Sarah-Jane, some great tips to help keep us all motivated 🌟

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Posted: 13 Feb 2020 - Comments (0)

I fully accept it is winter but surely just a small break would be in order rather than moving from one storm to the next. We were due to practice some dressage this weekend and that has been cancelled in light of the fast approaching Storm Dennis. Really feel a months hibernation is in order. Had the girls shod this week and had stud holes as only 6 weeks to the first event, seems a long way away currently can only hope this weather eases soon or there will be a mass of cancellations early in the season.

Hope everyone has a safe and careful weekend, looks like even Ellie may have a night in!

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Horse Fitness

Posted: 10 Feb 2020 - Comments (0)

I thought I would share a blog I have written and been published by sponsor - Activate your seat

Tonight we hear from the ever hard working and dedicated Sarah-Jane from Shoestring Eventing on how she juggles a full time job, a very rural location and still manages to keep two horses fit to event successfully 🤩

"I have two horses working at BE100 and Novice level which I fit in riding around a full time job. They don't get a complete winter break as it is not practical for me as I don't have the time to do the long slow building up needed on the return to work. They are let down but ticked over through the worst winter months.

I keep my horses at a small rented yard with no school, I have a field I can work in but generally this is too wet through the winter. This means that they are predominately hacked and usually only schooled at a weekend when I can box somewhere to do more work. It doesn't do them any harm to have an easier time in winter and hacking is certainly great for an event horse. Mine also get 8-12 hours turnout all winter and sometimes do there own fitness work ploughing up the fields.

I very much follow the modern school of thought that cross training is good for the horses so to be ridden on a variety of terrains, surfaces and gradients really helps them gain all round muscle and fitness. In winter both of mine get ridden 2/3 days for usually about 45 minutes in the week with a longer hack, schooling or competition at the weekend. This helps maintain a very good baseline of fitness which I feel I can easily pick up with lighter evenings and drier weather (hopefully) as the event season approaches. My hacking is probably 2/3 roads and I am a stickler for just walking on the roads except if I have a really good hill and I regularly trot up a hill which is about half a mile and really helps the basic fitness. I usually try and do the hill work in my two point position to strengthen the legs grabbing the neck strap should my balance fail me.

I'm not a great one for doing a huge amount of fast work, maybe the need to box up and drive 45 minutes each way to the nearest public space is a factor! Equally though I rarely (unless the horse is slightly heavier or struggles with fitness) do any fast work with the horses until they reach novice level. Hacking and good schooling sessions with athletic exercises really does bring the fitness on and should be plenty for most horses.

For horses at Novice level and above I do introduce fast work. Fliss will start the season towards the end of March and I don't aim to be going flat out to go inside the time at the first event. She will probably get about 3 pieces of fast work both to teach her to carry herself at the faster speed and to help her lung fitness. Where possible I will always use places with good slopes as this again is good to teach them balance up and down and the hills improve fitness far more than flat ground will.

Usually I have a tracker on which helps me work out the pace and distance I have worked at. I personally usually canter for a period of time rather than using interval training and will build this up gradually assessing how they are feeling on the first piece of work. I would ideally do fast work at 5 day intervals although this often doesn't work out with work commitments so 5-7 days is ideal for me. An event would replace any fast work."

👏👏 Really great advice for all of us who struggle with work commitments and lack of facilities, thanks Sarah-Jane 😊

For anyone interested there have been a number of articles published by different eventers on this subject to see these check out the "Activate your seat" Facebook page.

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Chard Show Jumping

Posted: 9 Feb 2020 - Comments (2)

We were entered for a 3 day show at Chard this weekend although day 3 was lost to the storms. First show jumping show of the season and certainly Friday we felt a little rusty. Ellie had a pole aiming for a fast time in the meter class but we still managed 5th place, Fliss jumped a reasonable round in the Newcomers but had a rail in the jump off section and then we had a circle as she just set her jaw a bit and became quite dead in the hand. Struggling to find the right bit for her currently she has a small mouth and is quite sensitive yet she can lean on the bit and just become a bit unresponsive. On Friday I was trying quite a thin loose ring snaffle which may be the answer for dressage but certainly wasn't enough for jumping.

Saturday was an improved day, Ellie jumped a super round in the 1.05 but just rubbed a rail going quickly against the clock. To be honest if I am jumping I want to competitive unless I am stepping up a level and once they have a bit of experience it is fun to have a try against the clock.

Ellies round

Fliss jumped the 1.05 as I wanted to do a couple of rounds to help the fitness. I used a ported myler bit this time and although it may not be the final answer it was definitely an improvement and this showed in our results. We jumped a nice double clear in the 1.05, fairly quick but frustratingly 9th when money went to 8th in a large class.

The Newcomers had a lot of entries and seemed pretty big. I always struggle a bit at Chard and don't always feel as competitive as I would like in competitive classes but it seemed to come together and I managed to keep her forward round the corners and made some good turns for a good quick clear. Delighted to finish 4th.

Shame we lost the last day to the weather but really pleased with how they have started the season.

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Where is Fliss’ grackle bridle from? Thanks very much.

The bridle is made by Henry James.

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