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Weather affecting enthusiasm

Posted: 19 Sep 2018 - Comments (0)
I am sure we can all relate to it, looking forward to a competition and making plans yet the images never portray wind and rain! Been looking forward to a trip to Chard for the 3 day BS show this weekend. It should be a good show but the weather is planning to spoil things slightly with weather warnings for tomorrow and Sunday mainly with high winds which should make driving the lorry interesting. I have also been keeping an eye on Saturday's weather with the mind that if it was a reasonable day putting a late entry in for Bricky which still has entries open. and is relatively close to Chard.

Keeping options open for now and looking forward to having fun with the girls whatever the weather throws at us.

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Weekend of dressage!

Posted: 18 Sep 2018 - Comments (0)
Very much a dressage focused weekend and so pleased with both my girls. On Saturday we were Guinea pigs for Stef Eardley do a demo on lateral work. Ellie was very pleased to show off her moves to an appreciative audience. Loved the way Stef had the a small group so they could get really involved in the school and seeing up close the good and bad points. A couple of videos here (worth having sound on)

Shoulder In -
Leg Yield -
On Sunday Fliss had a lesson and was hugely improved, the frame is more elevated and although at times a little tight she is making huge strides in the right direction. We were able to work on her lateral work and start to develop her simple changes. Quite keen to register her BD when funds allow.

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Jump training

Posted: 15 Sep 2018 - Comments (0)
Took both girls for a lesson with David Reddan at Okehampton yesterday. Fliss was first on and I am still adapting to riding her in her new bit with her improved way of going. Can't believe how much difference this has made to her. While we are both adjusting to the changes we have stepped back slightly and keeping the jumps a little smaller. We worked on keeping her balanced yet travelling and taking the rein to her jumps. Over single fences this was much easier although once you incorporated a course particularly in a fairly small arena she struggled more to keep her balance. As we are schooling we used some circles to sit her up and balance her. I think you can see some good improvements here.
We kept the session quite short as pointless making her tired when she will struggle to keep the frame.

Ellie came out and we spoke again about pushing on a bit with her. We started by working on a related distance and she popped through it a few times with a 1.20 fence which she flew over.
We then went onto jump the same course that Fliss did albeit considerably bigger finishing up with the jumps at a good 1.10. Can't believe how well she jumped it and pinged round.

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Saddle checks

Posted: 11 Sep 2018 - Comments (0)
I'm a bit behind but last week both girls had their saddles checked and adjusted. One of the many things I ensure are regularly assessed to hopefully squeeze that extra bit of performance from them and more importantly ensure their comfort and welfare. I was very lucky that Elly from Optimum Performance Saddles was down at a friends yard where I could take both girls (Thanks Vanessa for hosting). I had hour appointments with both girls and even then we over ran with multiple checks, riding and small alterations.

Ellie was first up, her saddle was inherited from Posy, being the 'project pony' she never got one of her own. The really good news was when her template was taken again it showed that she had really evened up and had equal muscle on both sides. Sadly the fit on the saddle was not perfect and we talked seriously about whether it was time to find her a saddle of her own. However she will be difficult as ideally the size saddle she needs won't take my length of leg. We played around with the flocking (well Elly did) and also changed the pad. We went from a gel pad to a memory foam pad and this really helped, the fact that you can pull up in the gullet means it can allow more freedom than the gel pad which lies flat. I know there is an old argument that if the saddle fits you shouldn't need a pad but my saddles are fitted so they can have a pad as this helps with concussion particularly if you land in the saddle a little bit heavily.

It is always interesting how subtle changes can make such a difference immediately Ellie was able to move a little better through her shoulders. So for the meantime she keeps the saddle she has but possibly in the spring we will visit Elly at her base in Exeter and try a few different saddles to see if we can find something that suits her better. (Budget allowing)

Fliss's saddle was more straightforward as it had been fitted for her a year ago and this was the second check. We found the flocking had settled and was a bit flat but Fliss had changed shape very little since her last check 6 months ago. She has however changed her way of going and it was good to be able to discuss the position she put me in and how we could adjust the saddle to help her come up a little more in front. The flocking was changed slightly before riding again and feeling subtle changes in my position and her way of going. Elly has an excellent eye from the ground and can see how much both horse and rider biomechanics influence and in turn are influenced by the saddle fit. I would certainly highly recommend her for anyone looking for a saddle or wanting saddles checked and assessed in the South West.

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The Project Pony - Big decisions

Posted: 4 Sep 2018 - Comments (6)
It is sometimes good to reflect how far we have come. I bought Ellie 2 and a half years ago unseen from my good friends at Avonmill Equestrian in Scotland. I would never normally buy without trying but I know Joanne at Avonmill well and totally trusted everything she said. Ellie was not expensive even taking into account bringing her down from Scotland and what turned up as expected was a lovely pattern of a pony albeit very green. A great fun character, slightly cheeky but always trying hard to please. I had been looking for a horse to bring on but there was nothing around that was sensibly priced and suitable so Ellie as a 14.2 pony was a stop gap to bring on and produce and sell in a couple of months (something went wrong there then)! Ellie learnt quickly although the first time I jumped her I wondered what we had done as she crabbed sideways through the jumps leaving little in tact. At home she was the easiest nicest ride every good on the roads, forward going and bright but never a buck, rear or spin. She quickly developed in a favourite and her willingness to learn and try endeared her greatly. She did a couple of BEs coming 4th at Treborough in the 80 and having a good solid run at Bricky in her first 90.

Things then took a sinister turn and she became unwell losing coordination and we eventually diagnosed a neurological problem. My vets were not that positive regarding her prognosis and we were referred to Dicky Hepburn at B&W vets. After extensive tests including a CT scan the problem was located in her neck where the neck joins the chest (C7-T1). A cist was causing the symptoms and she was injected to dissolve the cist. A month later we returned with trepidation to determine the likelihood of recovery the news was the best. She would make a total recovery and should not be limited by problem. Indeed the worst case scenario was that she may need injections every 2 years but if she was symptom free for 2 years the recovery was total. It has now been 2 years and she is fitter, stronger and better than ever so a huge thanks to Rosevean and B&W vets for their key role in getting Ellie well again.

2017 was not a great year for me, a real confidence crisis was brewing and I wasn’t enjoying the horses as much. On the positive front Ellie was rehabilitated slowly and carefully and was back in full work 4 months after treatment. It probably wasn’t the best competition year Ellie progressed BE through 90 to 100 but had no placings that year and I wasn’t riding brilliantly. However throughout the time she was always the one I enjoyed riding most and I felt happiest on.

2018 has been a revelation with Ellie she really has moved onto the next level and made a big progression. She has been placed 4 out of 5 BE events winning both 100s at Treborough, regularly scoring 70%+ at affiliated dressage and jumping double clears 90-1.05 BS jumping. She was reserve champion in the working hunter at Stithians and really has been a rosette machine this year. So my project pony is now worth a fair bit of money and time has come to boost the Shoestring funds. A well respected trainer asked for details and videos after seeing her in action and it really hit home it was time to move her on.

It led to some serious soul searching. It is not cheap to run and train 2 horses and I really need the capital behind me that Ellie’s sale would bring. Equally it is a hobby that I put a lot of hours into to enjoy, my confidence is still fragile and Ellie has been the pony that has been instrumental in helping me this year. She is so easy at home, on the lorry and at shows as well as having an amazing character that makes me laugh and smile.

The video and details never went to the trainer and whilst I probably will have to move her on in a few years for now she is not for sale and staying with me at Shoestring HQ! We are still progressing together and having fun, I think she is happy with me and although I feel guilty of depriving her of a lightweight child she can wait a little longer for that fun!

Meanwhile I now have to work out how to raise some additional shoestring funds to keep the girls on the road. Watch out for an online sale coming soon! That probably sounds grander than it is but I have a couple of saddles that are no longer used and a few other bits and pieces that hopefully can help towards some running costs. Equally if there is that magic sponsor out their that want to get involved do get in touch.

Comments (6)

Brilliant news

Great decision I’ve never had so much fun as I’ve had on my 14.2. Much more fun than the bigger ones ??

Good decision, I have a young 14.2hh I keep thinking I must sell, but I am having so much fun, after reading your blog I might just keep him.

Oh god i was so dreading you saying she had to go! So pleased you are keeping her as you obviously fit each other! Her size i suppose might matter at Advance level but will you want to go to that level? She is all heart, talent and kindness, why would you sell a horse like her that others spend a lifetime looking for. Keep her. There was a post on facebook recently from a chp looking to sponsor someone just like you. I will look for it. X

Found post as per above comment. Mark Piddington is looking for recommendations. 2 September at 21:09 I’m looking to buy shares in an event horse for next season, ideally would like something already competing at novice level with the ability to go further... if anybody knows of anything suitable please get in touch, thanks

I am so pleased to hear you are retaining your special Pocket Rocket! She is the epitome of the phrase ‘size doesn’t matter’ and I thoroughly enjoy reading about your adventures. Go Ellie!!

Jumping fun

Posted: 2 Sep 2018 - Comments (0)
We took both girls to Tall Trees for their BS show today. Lovely venue shame there were not a few more entries but although it meant we were a little pushed on time we were able to grab some prizes!

Fliss jumped the slightly smaller classes the 95 and 1m while we try and experiment with bits. I rode her today in the running gag and I think you will see a big improvement in her frame and that it helps me keep her off her head a little more. I thought before trying it that it would be too strong for her but in fact she takes the rein more forward in it.

We had a green rail in the 95 where I turned her in the air and she dropped her back feet slightly but never the less we were 2nd.
The 1 meter class she actually won despite a frustrating lazy rail at the first fence. Then again it woke us both up and we didn't touch another after that.
Very pleased with progress and feel we are going the right way however much it is still a work in progress.

Ellie jumped the meter class and had a couple of rails, one her fault and one mine but often takes her a round or so to get back on it after we have been cross country. Well she was certainly on it by the next round probably her biggest track to date a decent 1.05. She ate it up and jumped a wonderful double clear for a well deserved 3rd place.
Over the moon yet again with how she has progressed this year she really is a superstar.

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