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West Wilts BE100

Posted: 10 Jun 2018 - Comments (0)
We stepped back up to 100 at a warm and humid West Wilts this weekend. It is usually a 4 and half hour journey but delays on the M5 meant we were a good 6 hours travelling to the event. Luckily we had later times on the Saturday so we weren't pushed for preparation time.

West Wilts although perhaps lacking a little character as a show centre event is one of those that we keep returning to, it has nice level dressage arenas, a lovely all weather show jumping and well prepared XC tracks. The 100 when I walked it this year I thought was a particularly kind track, neither technical nor too big but it still caused enough problems to prove it wasn't too far from the mark. Our section was heavily loaded with professionals and I enjoy the challenge of competing against and alongside the top riders including this years Badminton winner.

West Wilts has nice on site stabling which is always a luxury, while some horses can get tense as the show jumping can be heard behind the stables and the cross country commentary is also audible Ellie fortunately doesn't fret. In fact her normal morning routine of breakfast, 20 minutes of haylage and then a sleep cannot be moved for any event!

We did eventually get her up for plaiting and down to the dressage arenas for a lunchtime test. I kept warm up to a minimum as it was pretty warm and Ellie is not a great fan of the heat. She did a nice accurate and obedient test and I was slightly disappointed with a mark of 32.3 but having watched the test back I think it was about right. She has just dropped a little bit on her forehand and her neck and frame needs to be a little longer for better marks. Something very much to work on before our next event. Be interested to see the comments from the judge but will have to await the sheet being posted out as we left before it was available.

A couple of hours break before show jumping and Ellie was made to promise she wouldn't be going back to bed again. The 100 track was a decent course and always seems to take a bit of jumping at West Wilts, I don't think their light poles help much! Warm up is always quite tight and my usual regime of trotting a few fences just wasn't possible.

Once in the ring we focused on a forward but not flat canter and she jumped a super round, sadly I spent a little too long setting her up and using the arena which meant a very frustrating 2 time faults however no poles down which is always the first priority. Very pleased this is 3 out of 3 clear rounds this season BE.
Cross country I was being very careful not to dismiss the course as there was little to worry me on the track however complacency can easily creep in and this is when mistakes happen. My main objective was to try and keep her flowing and jumping out of her rhythm rather than get drawn into show jumping the fences. The ground was firm enough but not slippery so to reduce any concussion I didn't use studs.

Ellie was super, very confident and generally we achieved our aim of jumping the course out of our stride and not taking too many pulls. There wasn't a moments concern on course and we even managed to finish bang on the optimum time.
The 2 time faults show jumping turned out to be very costly as we finished 12th without them we would have been 7th. However couldn't be more pleased with Ellie who tried so hard in all phases. This is comfortably our best finish score at BE100 and she has shown she can be very competitive in such good company.

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Personal Achievement

Posted: 6 Jun 2018 - Comments (0)
Huge personal achievement for me today. I’ve never been a runner and when I smashed my hip I could barely walk and it was a couple of years until I could run a yard. During the last couple of years I’ve taken my fitness a lot more seriously and with some great help at my local gym BORNE FIT and a fab physio Oliver Hughes got fitter and stronger. This in turn has hugely helped my riding in terms of overall fitness and core strength.

Today I ticked a big box and ran my first ever 5k race for life. I managed to do it in a pretty respectable time (let’s face it my competitiveness means I had to do it as fast as possible) of 26.55!!!! My goal was to do a sub 30 and this was by far the quickest I have managed. To be fair I did pick this race as it was along the seafront at Penzance and totally flat. My training runs have generally been around the 4k mark and I certainly felt the last kilometre. Lovely to have many people in Penzance out supporting.

Now aiming for a muddy 5k in September where I will also be raising money in memory of friends lost to cancer.

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Perhaps I got in wrong?

Posted: 2 Jun 2018 - Comments (0)
I wrote in my last blog about doubts that Fliss would be a cross country horse and maybe show jumping more her forte? I took her last night for her first experience schooling on grass. We have had a few sessions over the winter on surfaces and you may remember me having to paddle in the water at Pontispool with her when she decided against getting her feet wet! I do believe that building her confidence show jumping and also hacking and finding every puddle going has helped without needing to put the pressure on too early.

Sarah Thorne was in Cornwall teaching and I took the opportunity of a lesson at Chyverton. Sarah is a great teacher very positive and a great sense of humour. It is very easy to go schooling and end up babying the horse a little bit too much so meant I had someone there to push me on if needed.

What can I say Fliss has matured so much and was incredible. She jumped everything in front of her including some decent ditches, skinnies, half coffin and she went in the water first time albeit with the other horse in front. She then went straight back in and showed off some very flash trot work!

The video gives you a little idea of the progression of our session. As you will see we had the old problem of the neck getting a bit round and short, towards the end of the session I was trying to ride her on a longer rein to stop this happening, it did help but isn't as easy as it sounds.
Big thanks to Sarah for her help. Sarah felt Fliss is more than ready to go and pop round the 80 at Treborough in a few weeks which is very encouraging. I may just hold off a little while longer for her BE debut but it is certainly not looking too far away,

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Time to put the Eventing back in Shoestring

Posted: 31 May 2018 - Comments (0)
It has been a quiet year to date on the eventing front and I can't deny I have enjoyed the successes at dressage and show jumping. However there has been a shift in focus this week to the eventing. We fortunately avoided a huge West Wilts ballot and are entered in the BE100 next Saturday (9th). Tonight it was time to give Ellie some cross country schooling at the local Chyverton cross country course. Ideally it lacks the combinations and questions at the 100 level but what I really wanted to practice was flowing to my fences and hooking less. This we achieved pretty well, focusing on a slightly longer rein, keeping balanced but giving Ellie the job of sorting the strides out. Ideal for bringing her fitness on too. A good roll when she got home was much needed looks like she is taking up 'Equine Pilates'!

Tomorrow I go back to Chyverton for a lesson with BE trainer Sarah Thorne who is teaching in Cornwall this weekend. This will be Fliss's first session on grass cross country, she has done some basics on the surface so it will be good to progress. I admit I have doubts about whether she will be an eventer, she is very careful and may be suited more to show jumping but we will take it carefully and play by ear. I will try and remember to pack the camera tomorrow to record the session.

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Ellie's turn to shine

Posted: 29 May 2018 - Comments (0)
Well what can I say but sorry for the repetitiveness but I am enjoying it! We had another successful day show jumping this time with wonder pony Ellie. It was the 3rd day of the Cornish Show Jumping Clubs show at Callestick on grass and after 2 days Fliss educating it was Ellie's turn.

I think Ellie is determined not to be outshone by Fliss and currently doing her level best to ensure she stays top of the rankings! She couldn't quite match Fliss's results but came pretty close on a day the jumping was a lot more competitive.

She won the British Novice with a good quickish clear, we had luck with one pole rolled in the cups but stayed up.
In the Discovery another double clear over quite a twisty track and quick enough for 3rd place.
Trying to work out what the catalyst is for the huge performance improvement in this phase. Putting it down to 3 factors:- 1. The training I had with Austin and the improved warm up which involves doing a lot of jumping from trot and really getting her using herself. 2. A different martingale I think the old one was to tight and restricting her I have also removed the breastplate to prevent another possible restriction. 3. The Fliss effect of needing to keep up and not be outshone and equally for me riding 2 at this level is helping me ride better.

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BS Cornish Show Jumping Club

Posted: 27 May 2018 - Comments (0)
There has been a 3 day jumping show at Callestick just up the road from us and Fliss's debut competing on grass. I was a bit worried if wide open spaces would wind her up but as usual I underestimated her brilliant temperament. Yesterday we got there in good time and wandered round to let her see the sights. The ground was surprisingly good despite little rain. We jumped the British Novice and she was just a little unbalanced and on her head meaning we had a couple of poles. However knowing Fliss she would learn from this.
As soon as she arrived home she had a huge wee, she won't go out nor in the lorry and I wonder if some of the changing legs was a bit of discomfort.

Today we went back to jump again. After overnight rain the ground was near perfect and this time we managed a double clear. At times we needed a bit more power and impulsion but when we got in wrong she managed to sort it out. There were not huge numbers jumping but never the less we were the only double clear meaning we won the British Novice.
I then entered a fairly meaty Discovery which again caused poles to fly. Fliss was a star and jumped a super confident round for another double clear this time putting her into second place. She also got to enjoy 2 laps of honour and more to the point won £50 which more than covered our costs for the 2 days
Fliss will not jump the 3rd day but Ellie will have her turn.

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