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10 years old - Shoestring Eventing

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!

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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?

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Bowen - Jayne Townsend joins the team

Posted: 22 May 2019 - Comments (0)
I am incredibly lucky to have some great support keeping my horses on the road with a great team involving vets, farrier, chiropractor and massage. My horses compete in a demanding sport with a rider that is a tad wonky and it is important their health is kept as tip top as possible. I am delighted to be additionally working with Jayne Townsend who offers Bowen for both horse and rider. I met Jayne when we both represented Threewaters Riding Club at the arena Eventing Championships and we spoke about working together. I was already very aware of the good that Bowen can do as my chiropractors partner Clare is a Bowen practitioner of principally dogs and has demonstrated its merits.

So what is Bowen? It is a hands-on muscle, nerve and connective tissue technique that enables the body to regulate itself, allowing many symptoms that were a result of trauma or injury, to resolve. The treatment involves ‘rolling’ type moves over specific points on soft tissue; including muscles, tendons, ligaments, fascia and lymph nodes. Combinations of Bowen ‘moves’ are interspersed with short breaks, giving the body a chance to process and respond.

Tight, sore muscles and fascia are encouraged to release areas of tension, allowing the skeletal structure to realign. Bowen can be a useful choice of therapy when the horse is suspicious or defensive of bodywork due to the presence of pain or fear. This is because Bowen requires relatively gentle pressure in order to be effective. Invasive adjustments are unnecessary to provoke a powerful response. The treatment can have significant impact on other systems. For instance, Bowen can be useful in lymphatic drainage (e.g. in the case of ‘filled’ legs) and have a detoxifying effect. It is also common to see veins enlarge as the circulatory system is stimulated.

Shoestring and Bowen Hopefully you all know me by now and I only work with people and treatments that I feel will genuinely benefit the horses and or myself. I have been working with Jayne now for a couple of months both being treated myself and having the horses treated. It is a very gentle treatment but very interesting to watch the body react, veins rise and relaxation occur. For me I haven't come away feeling transformed but equally I only noticed recently that I haven't had a physio visit for a few months. Usually every 6 weeks I am chronically stiff and locked up yet that hasn't happened since the Bowen has started and I haven't seen the physio.

The horses have enjoyed it too. Ellie had her first treatment this week and immediately felt looser and freer in her way of going, she is quite a tense tight person so this is perfect for her. Fliss has been loose and free following her treatments and it has coincided with are big steps up in level so part of the jigsaw.

For anyone in Cornwall who is interested in treatments you can find Jayne via her website. She treats people in Falmouth and horses all over Cornwall.

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Stef Eardley Lesson

Posted: 21 May 2019 - Comments (0)
Thanks to my sponsor Interactive Dressage - Stef Eardley for a super lesson with Fliss on Sunday. Worked on the leg yield as we struggled with this movement at Howick. Stef had quite an original way of working on this using white boards to get her straight then go over, then get straight and really control the shoulder. The boards really helped visualise the straightness. It doesn't sound very clear when I explain things but probably best to see it demonstrated.

The video shows the progression of the exercise and I was really pleased how well she coped. Certainly one I will use at home and will help Ellie too.

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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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