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Ticking over

Posted: 7 April 2019 - Comments (0)

Ellie is still off games and Fliss has had a quiet week after working hard at the weekend and having had a busy month. I need to be careful with just one to ride she gets the down time she needs! Mind you maybe I have overdone things as she was fresh this weekend! I'm not sure how the dressage at Bovington will be.

She had Monday - Wednesday off, hacked Thursday and Friday with a little schooling in the field when we got back practising wet conditions! Yesterday I used a friends school and tried to do flat work but Fliss thought this needed livening up a bit. Sunday's if we are not competing I always try and do a longer ride using roads that may be too busy in the week. Wish I hadn't bothered today as it seemed all the idiot drivers were out in force speeding closely by. I always go out in hi viz but sometimes the ignorance of some drivers makes me shudder, I keep threatening to get a camera but never quite found the funds. My mood was improved by a great bunch of sensible cyclists who warned me in plenty of time of their approach and let me get out there way before going on there way.

So 5 days left before our first BE, a little nervous a little excited. I am very excited for Fliss's future and that puts pressure on me for a good performance (the pressure is placed by myself). She is running at Bovington in her first 100 after a run at 80 and 90 last year. Have to admit Bovington is not my favourite event, probably mainly because I always get lost trying to find it! However it is always kind for the level and should set us up nicely for a sterner test the week after at Bicton. Once we have run those two events I will have a better idea about planning our season.

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Posted: 4 April 2019 - Comments (2)

Efficiency is a rare word for me but I am quite proud of my latest project. Last couple of evenings I have plotted out a season's calendar with all the BE events that are within reach for us, all the local BS shows, any known clinics and other relevant dates. It just means I have an easy reference of what is happening when and makes it far easy to plan the season.

Saying that with Ellie currently off I currently only have firm plans for the next month and then we can review after our first couple of BE runs.

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What software are you using?

Gemma on 6 April 2019 at 9:49 AM

I bought a cheap App for the Apple Mac called 6 month planner which gave a nice simple display and v easy to use.

Sarah-Jane on 6 April 2019 at 11:11 AM

Chard and Pontispool

Posted: 1 April 2019 - Comments (0)

So a very productive few days away at Chard with some XC schooling added on for Fliss. Perhaps before I go on I might give some explanation over an obvious absence. Sadly Ellie isn't quite right at the moment and we are working to get to the bottom of the problem. Whilst I am quite happy to be very honest about this, at the moment I don't know what the precise nature of the problem and I don't want to speculate or do anything that may prejudice any likely insurance claim. Sadly though I think any plans in the next few months may be on hold. I promise I will update when I can but suffice to say Ellie is feeling very well in herself and mightily upset at being left at home while Fliss has had all the fun! I was quite tearful when driving away with Fliss Ellie was whinnying at the gate!

Chard has to be one of the nicest show jumping venues and it is always exciting to see new developments on each visit. Very excited that another new arena will be in action later in the year. The courses at Chard are always top end for the level and I was delighted how well Fliss is coping and making the levels feel comfortable. Sadly whilst jumping clear rounds seems achievable I am struggling to be fast enough for the frilly's at the bigger levels.

I am not going to bore you with endless videos particularly as on the first day with huge entries they didn't have time to change the course. We jumped a speedy double clear in the 1.05 but finished 9th with placings to 7th. The Newcomers she jumped another nice double clear.

On the second day we had a mishap, we had jumped another good double clear in the 1.05 and I was intending to be a bit braver in the Newcomers going for time. I had popped her back in the stable for 20 minutes tied up and when I went back to get on she had rubbed her bridle and broken her grackle which she had been going so well in. I only had a drop with me which she doesn't like as much. It is amazing what a difference a noseband can make and with the change of tack the buttons just felt in a bit of a different place meaning she wasn't quite flowing forward as much and we had a frustrating rail over the water tray when I was a bit backward.

Ultimately I can't be more delighted just to have one rail down all weekend. After a very long time away from jumping a bigger classes I actually feel we can jump a Foxhunter quite soon.

So I kindly gave Fliss the 3rd day off show jumping! Instead we headed to Pontispool for the first XC schooling of the season on grass. Can't believe how much she has come on. We jumped a variety of 100 and Novice fences and had her jumping confidently into water. We had a green moment when she didn't lock onto a triple brush (see video) but jumped genuinely on a represent. Good reminder to me she still lacks a lot of mileage cross country. We are now less than two weeks away from our first event of the year (Bovington).

Very proud of how Fliss is progressing.

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All go

Posted: 26 March 2019 - Comments (0)

Busy few days ahead! Not often work and pleasure mix but delighted to have been invited to be part of the British Horse Society - Safety Advisory Committee so heading up to Stoneleigh on Thursday for the first meeting. Really excited to be part of this.

Friday we head to the fabulous Chard Equestrian for the show jumping show and will be jumping on Friday and Saturday, Sunday we will be leaving the show jumping behind and heading to Pontispool for the first XC schooling of the season on grass.

Back to work Monday for a rest! Watch this space for updates on my return in the meantime check out my Facebook page for any news.

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Posted: 24 March 2019 - Comments (0)

I have blogged now for over 10 years and occasionally get asked for tips on what makes a good blog. I may not be the right person to offer this as lets face it social media and blogging are always changing and developing. People now are vlogging a lot (video blogs) but what do you do if like me you haven’t got the face or enthusiasm for vlogging?

The most important thing if you are going to blog keep it regular. I have one of the longest running equestrian blogs and thats partly due to the fact I tend to average 3 blog posts a week and have kept it up year in year out. This ranges in content from short updates, event reports, training information to occasionally opinion pieces. People know if they click on my blog once in a week there will be new content. Blogging is a commitment and blogs can take between 15 and 2 hrs to complete depending on the complexity, the research needed and material that needs preparing and attaching.

My blog is on my website but nowadays a lot regularly blog through social media and this seems to work pretty well too.

For me the next most important area is honesty! It is no good just blogging the successes and the good times, I won this and that soon becomes quite boring and isn’t a realistic reflection on equestrian life. I try very much to reflect the ups and downs not just the good bits. My blogging about a serious injury to my advanced event mare and my recent confidence issues had some of my highest page views and really got people interacting with Shoestring. I think leading on from this interaction is very important. I link many of my blog posts to social media, so I may share some pictures on social media but link to the blog post for full details to keep the blogs alive and unique.

Returning to the honesty though it is equally impossible to be totally open and honest. I realise that rather contradicts what I have said above but when it affects other people you need to think twice. So some examples if you are having issues with a horse and it is owned by someone else they are not going to appreciate these issues being blogged about online. Even something simple as years ago I blogged about a new horse that I had bought for a project to sell on. When I did sell it the owner didn’t get on and demanded I have it back, she maintained that as I had bought it as a project (quoted from my blog) I was doing it to make money and therefore a dealer. Whether this would have stood up in court I’m unsure but I didn’t have the money or will to test it out! So think about what you say online particularly if it involves other people. I try to avoid being too controversial, with sponsors supporting me I can’t afford to alienate people.

Clearly basic grammar, spelling and general readability is important. As more naturally a mathematics person I don’t always find this easy and generally I get someone (usually Mum) to proof read my posts, they still are not perfect but should not spoil the readers enjoyment.

A few key further points:-

x - Keep blogs concise
x - Humour really helps the readability
x - Try and be original
x - Be honest don’t gloss reality
x - Use plenty of supporting material (video and pictures). Make sure the content is yours to share and not copyright

At the end of the day regular blogging is a big commitment and not for everyone. You are better never to do it than trail off after a month or two.

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Top tip - Shoes

Posted: 21 March 2019 - Comments (0)

So a top tip for the season is if you get a set of shoes changed (with appropriate stud holes) get them saved and keep them in the lorry. Then if you lose a shoe at an event it is easy to get a replacement on and ready to go. I usually tap the stud holes and wrap them in wd40 sprayed cloth and keep them in the lorry. If you shoes are always past it when changed consider if it is worth getting a spare set made up.

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