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Coming out of hibernation

Posted: 5 Dec 2021 - Comments (0)

Following our last event of the season Fliss had a few weeks of and then a few quiet weeks at home hacking and generally letting down. It has taken about 6 weeks for her to properly chill again.

Our first competition for 2 months was a trip to the wonderful Chard, wonderful in their big arenas, great courses and lovely surfaces but perhaps at this time of year less so for the exposed nature and chill winds. To be fair at least we missed the rain.

Fliss actually was quite calm and she is very established now at 1.10 / 1.15 which we were jumping. Although she felt a bit like she was grabbing the bit at times and ignoring me she probably had good reason and jumped two super double clears coming 2nd in a large 1.10 class and then going one better to win the 1.15.




Really pleased even more so with £100 we won. Have some training planned and possibly one more competition before Christmas.

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Kensa - Hopes and Dreams

Posted: 27 Nov 2021 - Comments (21)

A few people have asked regarding how Kensa is going, I know I haven’t said much but it has been a bit of a difficult time.

For those amongst us without our own facilities breeding isn’t always the most straightforward or cost effective option. However when Sarnita my horse of a lifetime retired at 15 it seemed a fabulous opportunity to keep her line going and hopefully breed my next superstar. 

To start with it wasn’t easy and we failed to get her in foal the first year but the following year we were successful and had the excitement of a little one to come. We were hoping for a little bay filly and although we were in the lap of the gods on the sex we were fairly sure it would be bay as both mum and dad were. A year later out popped the filly we wanted albeit a chestnut filly! Sarnie was a fabulous mother and the baby had the mist fantastic temperament that never changed. Always just wanting gentle fuss and attention. We named her Kensa which is Cornish for for first.

Sarnie stayed at the stud (loaned to them) and has has two more cracking fillies (both bay) which are stunning and I am looking forward to watching them grow up and become stars. 

Following weaning Kensa and her best buddy Tommy grew up together and were your typical cheeky youngsters although she never lost that friendliness. She was slow to mature, consequently she wasn’t broken until 4 where she was easy happily long reining, lunging then trotting round the school and hacking out. She spent that winter out and maturing to get going as a 5 year old in 2021 as she still had making up to do.




This year she was brought back in again in the Spring and restarted before coming up to a yard nearer me to continue her education and for me to start to take over the ride. In all honesty I don’t bounce that well (you may say I never did) so no longer want to do the proper baby bits.  There are lots of hills and I really hoped that would help muscle up as she was still a bit weak. Sadly it started to show that we had some problems and just didn’t really muscle or mature as you would hope. Things came to a head when she had a proper rodeo session after getting on depositing her rider on the road in a fall that we were lucky didn’t cause a nasty injury.

I think it is easy in these circumstances to look at discipline and correcting the bad behaviour but my gut immediately was that she wasn’t the sort of horse that would exhibit this behaviour without a reason and my first port of call was my vet. 

I had a long chat with the vet and also added into the mix that the farrier found her heavy to shoe and she was wearing her shoes unevenly behind. He did an exam and we x rayed her back to look for kissing spines, the relief was huge that actually she had a super back and no problems there. We also at this stage had a look at her hocks and found arthritic changes one side. Although we weren’t convinced it was necessarily the cause of our problems we medicated the joint gave her some time off and then spent time building her up going back to basics to really try and muscle her up long lining over different terrains and gradients as well as lunging. We just couldn’t build her confidence to a level I was happy risking someone getting on her for their sake or the Kensa's, there was something still not right. 

My vet has been brilliant and supportive all the way discussing possibilities, options and potential outcomes. We decided rather than to mess around too long we would take her to B&W vets so they could do a proper work up. They have some brilliant referral vets and they were hugely helpful even if the outcome was not what we hoped. Initially they were able to rule out any neurological reasons for her behaviour but the work up showed her unlevel behind on the hock that had been treated. In the end she stayed for a few days so they had time to look her over properly. Nerve blocks sadly showed she was actually quite lame on both hind legs. one worse than other, various scans and tests revealed that her hind suspensories were damaged both sides one so more than other.

Considering the minimal work she has done and the level of the damage the prognosis was very poor. My own vet and I both believe there may be something else that has caused these problems but considering the current level of damage this alone meant she was never going to cope with work. Sadly for a horse this young to have these problems means she would be unsuitable for breeding.

After much soul searching and discussions with the various vets we decided the kindest thing would be to put her to sleep, this was done a couple of weeks ago. I don’t have the land to keep her as a pet / companion and I couldn’t risk passing her on and someone trying to work her and potentially hurting themselves or the horse having an uncertain future. I know for the last 5 years she has had the best of care and been happy and well looked after.

There has been lots of crying, it seems so unfair that such a lovely girl had this happen to her and so unlucky that my one homebred never made it to a useful job. I would have been proud if she had been a nice hack for someone leave along a good competition horse. I want to thank everyone that has helped me in the journey with Kensa and the lovely 5 years she had. I am just so sorry that it ended like this.

Comments (21)

So sorry to read this - you 100% did everything you possibly could for her and in the end you did the right thing by her xxxx

Heartbreaking stuff Sarah x

Oh gosh I am so, so sorry. It’s heartbreaking when they are so young but you gave her a wonderful life and did the very best for her. It’s desperately sad. Xx

So very very sorry to read this, it's absolutely heartbreaking. But you did absolutely the best for her, the whole way through, and that should be some tiny crumb of comfort.

So very hard. You did the right thing. Only bred one myself and had a similar outcome. Sending best to you.

So very, very sorry. You made such a heartbreaking but utterly responsible decision 💔

I'm so sorry to read this sad blog. Please take comfort in you did the absolute right thing for your beautiful horse. There aren't enough people in the horse world brave and selfless enough to say goodbye. X

I have followed your blog for years and know what a caring owner you are, what a sad outcome for you all but she had the best possible chance with you and a lovely life

Sarah Jane I'm so very sorry to read this. You've all been through such a horrible time. You know you've done all you could for Kensa and it would have been so easy to let her go as a companion, but you would have anyways been worried that someone would try to work her again. You have taken the bravest, hardest decision to do what was best for her, as hard as it obviously was. You gave her the best five years she could have had and I can only imagine the heartbreak and disappointment the last few months have caused. Life is a sometimes so cruel. Xxx

Such a hard and brave decision, but the right one xxxx

So sad, but for the best, even if you had the land to keep her, she was obviously in chronic discomfort so kinder for her. I had the same with my homebred - he had quite bad OCD in both stifles, and despite arthroscopic surgery was never going to be 100%, I did have the land to keep him as a field ornament but made the decision to put him down when he was 8. So I really think you did the best for your girl though feel your pain.

I’m so sorry, it’s heartbreaking 💔

So sad but you made the right decision. Life is not fair and Kensa was lucky to have you. A few years ago we purchased a 6 m o foal after much careful research from a reputable Cornish SH breeder. He was a big colt and grew like a weed after being gelded. He had a natural 24/7 free range life on good grazing with very little supplemented feeding but similar to Kensa started to show signs of intermittent mild lameness in front when we started some light ground work. We turned away and waited for him to strengthen then he went away to be professionally broken. On advise he was x-rayed and found to have severely calcified, deformed knee joints. No wonder he must have been in discomfort. We had no option but to PTS. Not sure the breeder agreed but we could not have a 3 year old horse on strong pain killing medication with a long term poor prognosis. We do not regret the decision but it broke our hearts. Life is tough but as a domestic horse at least we can intervene to take the kindest action xx

I'm so sorry to read this, I know how much you went through. Devastating. Lots of love and hugs x

I’m so sorry S-J it seems so horribly unfair, when such hopes are pinned on the dream of producing a home bred horse. Much love xxx

I lost my most stunning homebred dream horse at 4. We started backing him and it was clear that he wasn’t right. Workup showed a cyst in one stifle and significant ocd in both. We decided to operate but once on the table and the vets went in the the scope it was clear that this was not a good situation. His stifles were like a 20yr old hunter that had worked hard for 15yrs. I made the awful decision to not have him bought around from the anaesthetic. I feel your pain but also send a huge hug for being brave enough to put her pain before your own heartbreak xx .

So sorry to read this, but like so many have said you did everything you could and she had a great life and lots of love. Thinking of you xx

I’m so very sorry to hear this. A very tough but correct decision to make xx

Heartbreaking to read this but a sensible decision taken after exhausting all options xx sending u my love

How heartbreaking 💔 for you. So sorry 😢

I'm so so sorry , to see this but you did everything you possibly could ,and I think you made the right decision ,you loved her enough to let her go rather than a life of pain ,many hugs to u and ur heart 💖 🐎 x

Season Round up

Posted: 7 Nov 2021 - Comments (0)

It has been a bit of a funny year with COVID still very much affecting the early calendar as well as making my job busy and stressful. I work within Cornwall Council’s Environmental Health team and lead the COVID enforcement team.

Horse wise I have only had one to compete this year with Ellie my 14.2 pocket rocket failing to recover from a bone cyst which was operated on and hence having 18 months off having a baby. We will see whether that becomes a permanent or temporary measure in 2022. Meanwhile my homebred 5 year old from my advanced mare Sarnita has also experienced problems and her competition career is over before it started. 

So all the pressure has been on Fliss (Dolmen Du Concorde) to perform and she has really stepped up to the mark in the all the affiliated disciplines. She had a very quiet year last year with no eventing and limited other outings but this year she has been in flying form.

We enjoy and take part in all disciplines (well maybe less so enjoying dressage) and we have had a mix of competitions across the spectrum with a good level of success in each. Even dressage in the 11 classes she has contested she has gained 43 points and 6 wins qualifying for area and regional festivals. At the moment she is not competitive at these higher levels but it is helping a good foundation for the eventing.

Show jumping she has established herself jumping 1.20 classes this year and in her 16 BS classes she has won £478 (much needed) 174 points and 5 wins including a £200 1.20 class. She has only had 5 rails down in these competitions which I think shows just how careful she is and it is great fun to go jumping and be so competitive. 

Eventing is perhaps our passion and it’s been a great season, a few blips we have learnt from a frustrating final event but nevertheless very successful. 

9 BE events
PB Novice finish score on 29.5
4 placings
5 rimes finished on dressage score
No poles SJ
10 points

We started the season at Bicton in the BE100 so get back into the swing of things, it was a tough 100 and ideal to get us back into the groove. A favourite event but the hills undoubtedly makes the XC a tougher test than it can often walk. A 6th place finishing on our dressage score was a great start. We then did our first Novice of the year at Aston, usually these are on the softer side and this was certainly the case with one exception a decent hedge into the water. Some of you may remember that water has rather been our nemesis with in her early career Fliss often taking a huge dislike to getting her feet wet and there have been a number of occasions that she would only follow me in on foot. However well things have improved and you have worked hard on this it can be hard to clear from the mind and I was semi convinced I may head into the water without her. I needn’t of worried as she was awesome and gave me an excellent ride round to finish within in the time and on her dressage score for 8th place.

We then had a blip at Pontispool and her first fault XC. It is widely acknowledged that the Novice track was one of the most difficult seen at that level and more akin to Intermediate. We had an early blip with a run past at the second element in the quarry at 5 but then got ourselves back together to jump round the rest of the track. 

We had a reassuring double clear at Nunney in the pouring rain which reissued my concerns re the ground but meant we racked up the time faults. We then had a couple of cracking results with a 4th place in the Novice at my local event Launceston and even better 3rd at Upton in a section full of pros both times finishing on our dressage score. Excitingly this has given us a couple of qualifications for next season. We can enter 2 regional finals for the Novice Championship at Gatcombe but we also have a direct qualification for the restricted Novice Championships at Gatcombe. This is provided before August next year we don’t come in the top 25% of an Intermediate class which could be possible. 
















Excitingly we then headed to Fliss’s first international and mine in 8 years the 2*Long at Hartpury. My first visit to this event and one I would highly recommend although the result wasn’t quite as I hoped. Our dressage was a chance to get the tail coat out again (it did need letting out) and Fliss tried hard for a mid table score. The cross country was a big tough track and we showed a little bit of greenness at the level. The water at 5 had a huge skinny and she never locked on running past the first time but went on the second attempt. Then a double of corners with a tight turn was the bogey fence and she just fought the contact and never made the turn for a second 20. We then aced the fence that most worried me a big water complex with a decent jump in and finished one of the fittest of the day. I am lucky we use Dartmoor for canter work and really does mean their fitness is tip top. I tried not to be too disappointed with the penalties and being at the foot of those finishing however a super clear on the final day really was a good way to finish.

















A first trip to the lovely Cornbury and again a finish on our dressage score round a decent track was very satisfying. XC video  Our dressage wasn’t quite good enough on the day to win any prizes.

Our  final event of the season was at Weston a Novice Master class, aimed at more amateur riders you qualified by jumping double clears or being in the top 25% of a novice section. Dressage was fresh but not uncompetitive and SJ was very influential and another clear put us in contention of a place in a class off 55. She flew round the XC jumping into 2 waters and finished inside the time. We should have been 10th had I not jumped the wrong penultimate fence when blinded by a low sun. Horrible to have an E on the scoresheet but equally delighted to finish the season with such an excellent run.

Very excited for next season, want to do a couple more international classes early next year before moving on to intermediate level. 

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Lockdown Motivation

Posted: 21 Feb 2021 - Comments (0)

I think I am matching many of us during this lockdown in becoming more and more bleugh and just a general lack of motivation. Apologies for minimal updates but really struggling for enthusiasm, I am lucky Fliss is being kept ticked over and have an access to a school so able to have her ready for when we can resume. I don't think we have progressed over this time but neither have we gone backwards.

Work continues to be busy and enforcing the COVID regulations in businesses always comes with plenty of challenges and a constantly changing environment.

On the house move front we are hoping to have the keys to our new property in the next 2 weeks. I will endeavour to find some more enthusiasm but if you don't already do follow me on Facebook too as I update there more regularly at the moment.

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Ellie update

Posted: 10 Feb 2021 - Comments (0)

Followings Ellie's surgery in October to insert a screw to repair a bone cyst we have reviewed progress this week. I had been feeling pretty positive but we had a set back a couple of weekends ago and the decision has been made to give her some significant time off. Huge thanks to Gordon at West Ridge Equine for all his help and support. We will x ray and assess soundness next year and see where we go from there. So the exciting bit is she will be going down to Mel at Trenerth Equestrianto have a mini Ellie, I am looking forward to becoming an Auntie. Much as I would love to have a foal from her myself I don't have the right combination of facilities, space or finance to make it happen so will be excited to be involved whilst knowing she is in great hands.

Really sad we have reached this decision but very lucky she has an alternative career either shorter or longer term. The vets have assured me that the bone cyst is not in any way hereditary and with her good confirmation, excellent breeding and superb competition record she will make a fabulous broodmare.

For now she is looking feral (in the bad books for knocking me over in the mud) and will be off to stud in the Spring. Going to miss her dreadfully, certainly my pony of a lifetime.

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Lockdown Exercises

Posted: 16 Jan 2021 - Comments (0)

Managed a couple of different jumping exercises with Fliss this week. The first one should be a listening and turning exercise although Fliss was a bit bright and would have benefitted from just popping a but quieter. Using narrow fillers helped the accuracy and I was focusing on keeping my body fairly upright and looking to the fence early.

With a bit more time at the weekend I managed to pop a grid up, just a classic bounce - stride - spread to bounce. I find Fliss can run slightly on landing and this really means she has to sit back on landing and collect herself without my hands doing it. You can see she throws some super jumps over the single fences afterwards. It certainly took a lot longer to build then it did to jump.

I obviously built the grid up starting with just a bounce and then slowly built it up also adjusting the distances slightly. She is certainly feeling super at the moment.

Today to keep the variety and not spend too much time in the school we had a long hack round the quiet lanes getting the road and hillwork in.

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