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Hectic times!

Posted: 13 Sep 2017 - Comments (0)
Time is no longer my friend and leisure time is a thing of the past. Well I guess playing with horses should be called leisure time so maybe that is not exactly true. What's a typical day look like for me?

Usually up at 5.30 and at the yard by 6.15 where Ellie is brought in, some poo picking done (light will soon stop this) and on occasions when my work pattern or weather forecast dictate I ride. Then to work and start between 7 and 8 working through to between 3 and 4 or later if things are busy. My job combines a number of roles within Cornwall Council's Public Protection service, I currently work as a health and safety inspector and support the services commercial work.

After work it is straight back to the yard and do Ellie and then onto where Fliss is to ride, muck out and poo pick, usually home by 7.30 to eat walk the dogs and then 4 or 5 days a week the gym to do my physio exercises and some cardiovascular work, and on days off I'm updating the website and course pictures. Bed by 10 and ready to start again.

Luckily I have never been keen on a social life but really not sure how people with a family and a job manage.

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West Wilts BE100

Posted: 9 Sep 2017 - Comments (0)
Following a good first run at 100 at Treborough we were looking forward to West Wilts. The course was certainly very different and reinforced my thoughts of how big Treborough had been, this certainly didn't give me the same height concerns. There were however many more technical questions with angles, a wavey line of houses and some decent spreads on a tight turn.

We were very fortunate with the weather the forecast was initially very wet but we had little more than damp and drizzle for our early start. There was a spell of rain after we finished then it cheered up in the afternoon.

Dressage was the same test as Treborough and I thought it improved again with some nice work and better transitions, it was disapointing then to be far nearer the bottom than the top with a 33.5. Reviewing the test it was accurate and obedient but did lack any real sparkle, there were some very smart combinations (proper horses) in our section, the leader won on 18.8!

Show jumping was on the lovely arena. This is the 3rd West Wilts event we competed in this season and last and to date the show jumping track for each has been near identical! At least I don't forget it.

I was disappointed with our show jumping efforts. Poor Ellie hasn't got a great record in her BE show jumping but the majority of the mistakes are mine. It's the old chestnut of wanting to do well and go clear that it matters too much and I don't relax and ride properly. You will see here I asked for 2 duff strides that just were not there resulting in 2 poles. These SJ mistakes are meaning we are not competitive despite good dressage scores. I can only keep working on it and hope over the winter I can learn to ride her better!

Cross Country we very much went for an educational round, I knew we were well out of the placings and felt no need to be pushing for a quick time particularly as she is still green at this level.

The first 5 fences were very straightforward then we ran through the water to a blue roll top before turning to the first question a step onto a bank 2 strides off and down the slope to a fence, this she jumped really well boldly and cleanly. We then had a combination of 3 houses in amongst the Novice, 90 and 80 questions so a lot to look at. It was a wiggly line and we got the first 2 elements spot on but she never locked on at c and arrived at the bottom rather surprised but produced a magnificent cat leap to get to the other side. Fence 9 and 10 were related and looking at the results caused the most problems a hedge that had to be angled if you were to get to the rails at 10 off 4 strides. We jumped the hedge well and were a little off the rail on 4 strides but she really locked on when it was just as easy to run out and flew the rail.

12 was a decent corner off a turning line, it looked ok but I am well aware with past horses I have had 2 problems at this corner so it was relief when 5 strides out there was a great stride and Ellie locked on to the fence flying it. A combination of spreads followed on a tight turn which we really attacked and actually made the distance short. A step up to a roll top and then we had some straightforward fence to finish. We were 50 seconds over the time but over the moon with another super clear round. Hopefully we can soon get all the phases right on the same day.

The season now drawing to a close but another 3 BE100 runs planned with Bricky, Calmsden and Aldon all in our sights.

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On the road again

Posted: 6 Sep 2017 - Comments (0)
Life has certainly been all go since Fliss arrived! A new horse at a different yard, the physio program and my sport psychology really has left me with little time.

So tomorrow we head off for West Wilts, we need to be there in relatively good time to walk the course and get ready as I have a 8am start on Friday and I am finished by 9.30. The forecast sadly is not great but with early times I will have the best use of the ground my worst fear is always the overnight cancellation as nothing worse than 9 hours driving there and back for no competition.

Looking forward to our second 100 run after she did so well at Treborough, will be a very different course not as open but equally challenging in a different way. I will let you know how it goes.

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Posted: 3 Sep 2017 - Comments (0)
Fliss has been with me 10 days now and so far so good. We have been focusing on the hacking and just getting to know each other. She is clearly going to be a sensitive soul as we have already had a rug rub, bit rub and girth rash to contend with!

She can be quietly a bit of a worrier but is so sweet and genuine and has not put a hoof out of place yet. Just a brief bit of video of a little trot work in the school tonight.

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Settling In

Posted: 28 Aug 2017 - Comments (0)
Fliss is settling in well and starting to chill out. Perhaps I should say at this point she is not at the yard I rent with Ellie but a few miles away at my friend Vanessa's. As Fliss is so green Vanessa kindly offered to put me up for a bit during the getting to know you process, this gives me access to quiet hacking, friends to ride with and a school. This has made life much easier for us although the logistics of keeping horses in two yards is quite interesting particularly when they share a saddle and I need to remember to take certain bits of kit to and from!

Fliss will be generally hacking with a bit of light school work to allow her to start to muscle up and fill out a bit. She only came into the country from Ireland 6 weeks ago and then had another long trip to Cornwall so now is not the time to put the pressure on in any way.

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Treborough BE100

Posted: 27 Aug 2017 - Comments (0)
With Fliss's arrival Ellie's debut at BE100 rather went off the radar! We choose Treborough as it is a nice straightforward course however on arrival the size of it did send a shiver down my spine. It was consistently at maximum dimensions and at this point I thought about turning round and coming home! I may have jumped advanced in the past but I can assure you this seemed pretty big for a little pony.

Anyway I had better not ignore the other phases although these had a more relaxed feel knowing what was coming! It was BE test 102 and nice in the change of level to have some different tests to ride. Ellie is far less over bent now and her shape is generally better. We arrived at warm up to find they were short of horses, as Ellie was feeling quite relaxed we had walk, trot and canter each way and went in. She produced a nice test, accurate and obedient with a better frame, however, at the moment she still tightens in the transitions but it is moving in the right direction. I was very pleased with a score of 31.8 which was 7th after dressage.

Having been jumping some single phase Discovery classes the SJ was in our comfort zone although this is still the area I struggle most to ride her, it is balancing the power and stride needed in a pony canter and I still haven't got the balance quite right.

I started off with not enough power in the canter and got away with it until the double at 5 where I couldn't find a stride and instead of kicking on hooked and hooked until I had nothing, we rather crashed through the first element and took the pole on the second element as well, after that I kicked on but then saw some hairy long strides. By the double at the final fence we had got it back and jumped that nicely. So 2 down and very frustrating as my mistakes again.

So time to panic re cross country, it wasn't just me regular 100 competitors all felt it was big. Don't get me wrong it was a lovely course, well built but and presented but it was maximum height. My nerves were not settled following a good warm up I went to the start box and was held as the competitor in front of me had a nasty fall and was being treated by the paramedics. The wait in the end was about 15 minutes.

I went out determined to ride forward and not get into holding her up too much, they were too big and wide to approach with the hand break on. The brush at one we had a bit of a long stride then we had some good jumps over 2, 3 and 4 before going into the wooded section at the bottom where there was some big rails on the turn round a corner and the land sloped away to a decent drop. Jumped the rails well and then Ellie launched off the drop and there didn't seem much in front of me but we landed together and carried on over some more rails, a table, house and brush before an intense section. First off was a full heigh substantial corner, it was kind in that it wasn't wide but it was big. We saw a perfect shot and had a lovely jump but it did seem a long way down. Next was probably the most technical fence a jump onto the bank, 3 strides off and 2 strides to a decent narrow ish brush. She did this really well and then we were turning for the water which had a roll top in front of and then a small step in, Ellie rather fell in over the step but there was no hesitation. We saw a lovely stride to the steeplechase fence and then a decent brush to ditch combo where she made the 2 stride feel short. We continued up the hill (Treborough is a real fitness test) over probably the two smallest fences on the course before turning to some big wide efforts, I remembered to keep the revs up. and she jumped these really well. A flower box to finish and we were home also only 14 seconds over the time which didn't seem too bad.

We finished on a very respectable 45.3 in our first BE100 and Ellie showed that this will certainly be well within her comfort zone. I was over the moon with her and how far we have come together, I think I can say that XC round is our best round to date.

A few days off for Ellie now to rest on her laurels and give Fliss some attention. Ellie goes to West Wilts in 2 weeks and then Bricky to consolidate her BE100 form.

The xc video isn't the best but gives you a little taste of how well she went.

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