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Icing Legs

Posted: 19 Jun 2019 - Comments (0)

I have just done a little video explaining how I ice legs post cross country.

There are many studies showing the importance of cooling legs after strenuous exercise to reduce any inflammation and long term to help prevent or reduce injuries. Hence I thought it would be useful to share this video.

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Chard BS show

Posted: 18 Jun 2019 - Comments (0)

Back from a very enjoyable Chard show. Lovely to see and ride on their fabulous new arena, each time I go it is great to see huge improvements yet they maintain the friendliness and efficiency. Day 1 We had a fabulous 1st day with 4 classes jumped, 4 double clears, 3 rosettes and 2 money prizes! Ellie did a super double clear in the Discovery for 3rd place and thus winning herself out of that class going forward. We then went in a very competitive 1.05 amateur class and had another double clear for 6th place. Video 1.05

Fliss meanwhile was in the 1.10 Amateur and the Newcomers. Chuffed with a nice double clear in the amateur for 4th and a steady double clear in the Newcomers to be out of the placings. Video 1.10 amateur

Day 2 The second day was certainly the most disappointing of the 3. Saying that Ellie jumped a super round in the 1.05 in a very quick time but pushing against the clock we clipped a rail. I wasn't too disappointed although a little miffed to see later what I thought was a very quick round wasn't quick enough to be placed even if we had left the poles up! I had entered her in the Newcomers in the main ring which was a big track. I warmed up but felt she was just a bit tired after a busy few days and being the first away show for a bit, so I decided to put her away and leave her for another day. Fliss was entered in the Newcomers and if I had my brave pants on the Foxhunter. Unfortunately we had a really poor warm up. The warm arena is a good size and surface but we just hit a time when it got very busy, there were a couple of difficult horses and they crashed through the warm up fences. Fliss is a bit of a worrier and just got rather unsettled. We went in the ring and were just a bit forward and on her forehand having 2 poles. I can't remember the last time she had 2 poles in a round. Certainly wasn't the day to be doing our biggest course to date in the Foxhunter. When the jumping had finished for the day I got her out again and worked her quietly in the warm up popping the fences at a small height and getting her listening and focusing again. Although next day I felt she may be a bit too quiet actually I think I got her spot on. Day 3 On the last day both girls were entered in the Discovery second round. A competitive class with 50 entries and contested over 3 rounds. The first round was a technical and up to height 1.05. Fliss was drawn early and jumped a nice clear although I just needed to move her forward a bit more. Ellie was drawn last but one and I was over the moon when she produced a super clear. Ellie

The class halved after the first round with faults well spread out around the course. On completion the tack and boots were checked, Fliss was fine with this, Ellie on the other hand was so pleased with herself she promptly tried very hard to mangle the steward! It was rather a rush as Ellie was at the end of the class and Fliss 4th to go in the next round. Sadly no videos of this as we were hurtling around changing over. Fliss jumped another super clear and but Ellie went out in this round. 18 made it through to the final round and being drawn so early I decided to go for a quick but not stupid quick round. This round was about 1.20 so not to be taken lightly. The key turn was from the first back to an upright and sadly this caught us out we just didn't quite keep enough canter on the turn and tipped it off behind. She jumped the rest of the round super and I was delighted to squeak in with a 10th place frilly. Fliss 3rd round

So all in all an educational 3 days, some great jumping and fabulous to have some good placings.

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Back to the dark side

Posted: 12 Jun 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 Chard's 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.

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West Wilts Novice

Posted: 10 Jun 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.

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It is not always easy

Posted: 4 Jun 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.

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Heartwarming to hear. Gives me confidence to stay where I am and manage to do what I can with what I’ve got! X

Caroline Moore lesson and Bicton schooling

Posted: 2 Jun 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.

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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

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