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Hot hot hot

Posted: 1 Jul 2018 - Comments (0)
So how is everyone coping with the heat? I know I said in the winter I wouldn't complain however I do find the heat a bit much and hard work. The next week is looking pretty warm, at least we had an hour of rain today not enough to affect the ground but at least enough to water the grass and hopefully green things up a bit.

I have given Ellie the week off as no imminent plans for her, it will do her good to have a few days break. Fliss meanwhile is building up for her first BE at Bicton. On Tuesday I took her to a local course Porth Valley primarily to play in the water, the ground was hard so other than a few pops over a couple of fences we stuck to water training. Really pleased she went straight in again and even ended up popping in off a small step. Fingers crossed for Bicton.

Today we took her show jumping. For some reason my gremlins were back at work again, possibly the heat getting to me I'm not sure, wasn't looking forward to it or feeling confident of riding well. Had hoped to step up and jump the 1.05 today but in the end played safe and also restricted the time in the heat. Jumped the 95cm (single phase) for a nice double clear and 2nd place.
In the Discovery she jumped another super round and literally breathed on a pole for 4 faults, as this is her first competitive pole for 9 rounds I think that is forgivable! Sadly no video but it was a nice rhythmical round over a decent track. Really pleased she coped well in the weather.

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Focus on Fliss

Posted: 26 Jun 2018 - Comments (0)
With the horrid heat and Ellie having been busy for the last few weekends she is now having a well deserved few days off. Fliss meanwhile is building up to her first BE event! Yes she is registered and entered for the BE80 at Bicton. I am very excited about her potential although I am not yet certain we have put the water gremlins to bed so hoping to get out a couple of times before to at least show her some more water jumps.

On Sunday while Ellie was resting on her laurels, Fliss had a lesson with Stef Eardley. I was explaining to Stef my problems with Fliss tucking her nose in so she had a sit on. Always nice when a trainer can get on and feel the issues, although it can be frustrating when they instantly seem to make an improvement! She was very much focused on being black and white in the training and breaking it down into stop, go, move away from the leg left and right. A little clip of Stef riding, you can see already her frame has improved.
When I hopped back on I did manage to maintain the improvement. Fingers crossed I can keep it going and build on it. As usual Stef has given me the tools to improve things so hopefully by the time she is back oin Cornwall next she will see a big difference.

Stef is a big Fliss fan so it was lucky she couldn't squeeze her in the boot of her car!

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Tremendous Treborough

Posted: 24 Jun 2018 - Comments (0)
Well much as I like to build a report up and keep you guessing to the end - guess what? WE WON!!!!!

Ok I will start from the beginning now. Treborough is a lovely event with fabulous views and despite the recent dry spell the ground was pretty amazing. We stayed with friends near Launceston the night before meaning it was only a couple of hours drive to Treborough. Sadly chief photographer and groom (Nick and Jane Perry) couldn't make it so we were going solo.

A quick walk of the course and I thought it was nice, a step up from West Wilts but not as consistently huge as when we came last year. Interestingly show jumping was causing a lot of problems as the time was very tight and actually in the end statistics sowed only 27% went clear jumping and time which is quite unheard of at this level.

Weather was pretty warm so I didn't overdo the warm up for dressage literally a 5 minute stroll to the arenas and 10 minutes work and we were in. Ellie produced a nice accurate and obedient test still dropping occasionally on her forehand but much improved from West Wilts. Huge thanks to my friend Vanessa who came over and helped us on the ground this week.
We didn't know our score when we went to show jumping but we scored 28.5 which was about 6th best in our section. The show jumping course after jumping at Chard seemed relatively tiny however so many were picking up time faults that clear rounds were rare. I know Ellie even on generous timed courses can pick up a time fault and I didn't want to hurry her and have poles instead. I tried to jump economical lines and after fence 4 I did a bit of a jump off turn to save time. It worked and although we rattled the last hard we finished clear jumping and clear time. Lots of pats for the clever pony,
I still at this point didn't know my scores so managed to log into 'Eventing Scores' to see I was leading the section, I knew if I was clear inside the time and I couldn't be beaten! Now this may sound easier that it was! With the best will in the world we have never the quickest combination cross country (I do like to set up for a fence a little much) and the cross country time at Treborough was proving hard to get. With only .2 in hand over 2nd place I couldn't even afford a second over the time. I did work out I had 10 penalties in hand to assure ourselves of a rosette. My competitive instinct kicked in and I tried to ride as I did at West Wilts letting Ellie run and jump.

We went out over the first 3 in a good forward rhythm with not too much interference from me, the step up to skinny at 5 needed a little more control before we were away again. Some simple fences and we came to the corner (see video) she popped that nicely and I managed to make a turn inside the 80 fences to save time to the step and brush, she made the distance here short but jumped brilliantly. The water is unusual at Treborough as the quick way involves a jump down a step, she hesitated but went and we were soon away again up the hill over the roll top and then the camera picks us up again before the influential log ditch log combination which caused some fair problems over the day. Well the only problem we had was the distances seeming short again as flew through. We headed to a double of logs on a right angle and had a slight miss on the first element but again took an economical route and flew the 2nd element, over the coal pallet fence and then to a big penultimate fence, I am afraid I did fiddle a little to this and show jumped it then pushing on for the last to come home a second under the time. We had won!!!
We were the only person to finish inside the time XC in our section, also of the 3 BE100 sections on the Saturday there were only 6 competitors (out of roughly 100 horses) that finished on their dressage score.

We had some lovely prizes and Ellie was rewarded with her favourite treats (stud muffins). So delighted it all came together on the day in all phases and allowed us a win which lets face at BE is something to be savoured and appreciated, it is my 3rd career win in over 20 years of trying!

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Another weekend away

Posted: 21 Jun 2018 - Comments (0)
The busy few weeks are catching up on me. Work has been manically busy as well meaning no rest-bite and very little spare time! I have to admit to feeling a bit washed out and in need of a period of hibernation, however, plenty of time for that in the future when I am old and past it!

This weekend we head for Treborough one of my favourite events, although perhaps least favourite to drive too as there are narrow hilly roads to the beautiful Exmoor event which are not best suited for a lorry. Considering the recent dry weather the moorland peaty ground will give some of the best ground conditions possible at this time of year and should ensure we get a run.

Ellie is entered in the 100 on Saturday, as we have nice times (dressage 12.08) we are going up most of the way on the day. We are lucky to have friends in Cornwall near Launceston which is an hour on from home and should cut the journey to a couple of hours and save us some stabling fees.

We did the 100 last year as Ellie's first and although the course is not technical it was very big so I think not walking it the night before and being scared silly probably is for the best. Will let you know how we get on.

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Chard and Pontispool

Posted: 19 Jun 2018 - Comments (0)
After our rosette filled trip to Chard last month there were less frilly's this time but a really educational show and some great progression from both girls. Ellie The double clears this time were in short supply as I went for competitive jump offs and we had a case of 4 fault itis. However she did get her final Discovery double clear so has qualified for next years second round. Day 1 we would have been 2nd in the British Novice but I missed her on an angled rail, we then had 4 faults in the Discovery. Day 2 a similar story with a quick jump off but just put a toe on the 2nd element of the double, such small margins between success or a pole on the floor. A slower round in the Discovery and we had our final double clear for next year.

On the final day we entered the British Novice 2nd round. It was a full up and technical track which also had Ellie's first treble combination. She jumped a super round but I let her down fiddling into the treble and missing her to the first element for 4 faults. I was quite disappointed with my riding, although overall pleased with how she is jumping and the huge improvement we have made this year. I think it is time to step her up a bit and maybe do some 1.05 classes.

British Novice 2nd Round

Fliss Fliss actually only jumped the first 2 days as we had other plans on day 3! Her athleticism and scope does make it easier to compensate for any jockey mistake. She can still be green and I struggle with her head position which either wants to be too low or tucked in like a tortoise meaning she is not always the easiest to the fence.

On day 1 we had double clears in the British Novice and Discovery albeit slowly so well away from the prizes. On day 2 I jumped another double clear in the Discovery and was tempted to try a Newcomers but in the end decided against it. This turned out to be fortuitous as another opportunity presented itself later. The last class was a team class where teams from the different areas competed against each other over 4 heights and two rounds. There weren't that many riders from Cornwall and a bit of a scratch team was pulled together with us taking responsibility for the 1m rounds.

Fliss showed her fab temperament being paraded with me carrying a Cornish flag fluttering. I didn't think riding for a team would bother me but my riding went to pot slightly and poor Fliss had to climb out of some awful strides but bless her she tried and we jumped the first round clear. In fact 3 of the team were clear so we were equal leaders after the first round and more pressure on the 2nd round. We were meant to be a scratch team with no hope!

We were the 3rd team member to ride in the next round and our rider before had had a pole. So no flexibility if we wanted to stay in the lead. Dear Fliss jumped her 5th clear round out of 5! She has also completed her qualifications for next years British Novice and Discovery second rounds.
The last member also jumped clear (I wasn't watching at this point) for a team win! The team have now qualified for the National Show Jumping Championships at Stoneleigh.

For Fliss there were no classes on the final day and once Ellie had jumped we loaded and left Chard. Fliss clearly thought she had got away with an easy day. I hadn't given away that she was off cross country schooling at Pontispool. I knew the ground would be hard so the focus was less on jumping much but seeing what she made of the 3 water jumps there after her winter issues with water.

The course was busy with various clinics, lessons and private hires. I popped a few easy fences and took her to the most open water. She trotted down hesitated and then stepped straight in to big pats. Lots of in and out at various paces and she was very happy splashing through. We then went to the far water where we waited and watched while a clinic finished working through the combinations around the water. Again she went straight in and out and even finished happily jumping fences just before the water. Strangely though she kept deciding to jump out of the water!

The final water she trotted straight in again so we do seem to have made huge progress on this issue and very hopeful that moving forward it won't be a big issue.
Excited enough by progress that I have now registered Fliss for BE!

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Studs - Do we sometimes use too much?

Posted: 12 Jun 2018 - Comments (3)
I have to say I was fairly disappointed at West Wilts to see the size of some studs being used by a variety of riders. The ground was firm although dry so not greasy. I saw riders with quite large studs in both front and back feet which considering the ground conditions would have significantly increased the concussion on the horses legs. For me Ellie is trained on grass at home and is conditioned to being ridden without studs and balancing herself. Considering the course (there were no sharp turns or particularly tricky combinations) and the ground conditions I didn't use studs for any phase of the event. Show jumping was on a surface, had it been on grass this would probably have been the phase I would have most likely have considered using studs. Please don't think I am against studs I use them when conditions dictate and accept that some horses need help more than others however I do feel that there is a tendency to use overly large studs and this may have a detrimental effect on horses limbs. I do think riders learning to ride in a balance is also key when considering grip competing. The picture on the left was a lost shoe at Tattersalls a few years ago that had come off a pony on a day the ground was quite firm, I am not sure that many people would think the size of these studs acceptable.

For those that haven't seen it there was a really interesting talk at the International Eventing Forum in 2016 with a top farrier, vet and trainer. There is a report here This again advocates minimising the use and size of studs and talks of welfare implications. So is it an education issue for some people who think bigger studs are better?

For me if I am studding unless the ground is really terrible (in which case I consider running at all) I tend to use the studs on the right, the little pimple ones in front and the small pointy one behind. (These are both available from Supastuds.) Currently I use 2 in each shoe but more evidence is coming particularly in the hind shoe that one may allow the foot to pivot bette, I will be chatting with my farrier and may consider reducing it to just one in the hind feet.

So I guess thought for the day is if you are studding consider all the factors and use as little as possible.

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Totally agree .. I only use one stud in the hinds after reading the article that my farrier shared on FB

Very interesting. I’d be interested in a blog about the use of bandages- when to use them and the different types and use of padding etc

I only use the same as you, but only one in each shoe.

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