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27th July

Posted: 27 Jul 2016 - Comments (0)
Interesting day with typical ups and downs. I have been suffering most of this summer with a really bad back, probably related to my various injuries particularly my hip. Today I saw a physio who had been recommended to me and specialises in sports injuries. Following an assessment and treatment he has made quite a difference to my back. He is confident the problems are predominately muscular and as such will be sortable hopefully over the next few months.

Having left the physio it was time to test out my back. Posy did a little canter work tonight in preparation for Wilton on Sunday and was feeling fab. I hopped off to shut the gate and the silly girl wouldn’t stand for me to get on again. (I can’t mount from the ground and need a steady horse near a hedge or fence). Ended up walking a good way home before I found another hedge on the opposite side, this time she stood against it and got my foot in the stirrup, at this point a blade of grass must have moved and she shot round 180 degrees with me promptly in comedy fashion plopping over the other side of her straight on the tarmac! Posy to add insult to injury trotted home without me, thank god not meeting another car and arriving safely! So now have a wrenched finger, sprained wrist and sore hip (good one) but the backs definitely a bit better!!

Horses why do we bother? I must also point out that this horse that lost me (I don’t count it as falling off) over a small movement in the hedge is the same one that in another comedy moment didn't bat an eyelid when mid canter work a fox literally fell out the hedge and then got stuck jumping back in. Anyway we had some mounting practice when I eventually arrived back at the yard - having assured the household that were having the BBQ and seen the unaccompanied horse toddling home alone that I was ok just pride dented (again)!

Ellie luckily is halo shining and has been doing some athletic jumping exercises this week and really progressing well. Hoping to get my backside in gear and enter a BE event at the end of next month.

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25th July

Posted: 25 Jul 2016 - Comments (0)
A busy few days with 3 competitions in 3 days. It started on Friday with some evening dressage which was ideal for Ellie. We entered the Prelim and had a go at her first Novice test. Typically I only read the test on the day and realised it was one of the more tricky novice tests!

She has been going really well at home, very relaxed and a lovely outline. Typically with a bit going on she got quite hurried and tight in the neck meaning her paces were more choppy than usual. In retrospect I should have probably warmed her up a little longer. We were 2nd in Prelim 14 and then Ellie although tense made a really good stab at Novice 30.
Score of 67% may have been slightly generous but I was really pleased with how hard she tried. She was 2nd in the class which may sound impressive but I ought to admit there was only 2 of us in it!

Ellie took a back seat (working on the relaxed outline) while Posy took her turn at competing with a two day show jumping show at our local venue Colraine. It didn’t start off in the best manner as in the 1.05 (which I felt we could have been quite competitive in) we had the first fence down! I guess I was just a bit causal although it is unlike her to knock it in front, I have to say after that she really jumped and the rest of the round was fantastic.

The Newcomers was far better round and it is nice I am finally feeling confident at this level.
I still struggle a little with her running through my hand and not respecting a half halt. In the jump off we just made up too much ground to fence 2 and had it down. However considering it was a meaty jump off I wasn’t too disappointed.
Sunday we were able to jump another Newcomers and she jumped her best round of the weekend. Typically unrecorded as I shot up to the arena before Mum was there and ready. A super clear and I started to feel a bit brave in the jump off until in trying to take a clever line to the first I clipped it behind. Actually seeing the jump off rounds I wouldn’t have stood a chance as the £100 first price meant it was very competitive!
I actually walked the Foxhunter and didn’t feel we were too far away from being ready to jump that which is great progress. Despite the lack of any frilly’s really pleased with how she was jumping. Ellie felt she definitely had the bragging rights as she won two rosettes to Posy’s none and didn’t seem to understand that the standard and levels were not comparable.

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20th July

Posted: 20 Jul 2016 - Comments (0)
One of the great things about Shoestring Eventing is the people that get in touch either to just say how much they enjoy the blogs or appreciate the course photos. This week I had a lovely surprise when Sarah Lee got in contact. Sarah is an artist and also a Shoestring follower. She was having a doodle one lunchtime and came up with the fantastic logo you can see on the left. It combines my cross country colours with a great representation of Shoestring Eventing (I may be able to describe it better if I was arty but I’m not!).

The great thing is that the logo should transpose onto clothing so if I’m feeling vain enough in the future maybe I can get a Shoestring Eventing range made up :) That maybe for a time that the financial shoestring is not kicking in as badly as this month!

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Non Dauntsey BE report!!

Posted: 19 Jul 2016 - Comments (0)
Today we should have been competing at Dauntsey BE100. Dauntsey is one of my favourite events with bold forward thinking courses and would have been a great education for Posy. Sadly events conspired against us or maybe I was just being a wimp - you decide!

We travelled up yesterday just over 4 hours and had a good journey keeping moving the whole way. We arrived at stabling and Posy was already sweating despite the fan being on and the windows open. I washed her off although not helped initially that I didn’t realise it was a hot horse wash and it rather defeated the object of the exercise! She was cooled off but it was very hot and the forecast for competition day was temperatures on the 30’s. I also read reports that Dauntsey’s ground was pretty hard.

We headed off to the event about 8pm to have a look. I walked the course with Smartie and even at that time it was stifling hot. The show jumping ground was really good and the cross country wasn’t bad however there were a few stretches where it was pretty firm. By fence 2 my fit lurcher (Smartie) was throwing himself in the long grass to cool and wasn’t really happy until we reached the water at half way where he could lie down and cool off! If the dog was finding it that bad at 8pm what would the following day be like?

Considering all the factors put together I decided to withdraw and head home early. Maybe I’m being soft but the heat takes a lot out of them and then to have to travel home 4 hours it is a lot to ask, the heat today was extreme, the ground also would only dry further so I wasn’t going to risk the combination of factors. Added to that I have 3 dogs that need to be kept cool as well as humans, so we headed back to Cornwall at 7am this morning.

Looking at the results and listening to reports most horses and riders have coped fine today but despite the over £200 pounds lost in entry and diesel I really don’t regret putting everyone's comfort first.

Anyway for anyone missing a quick video clip we had a lesson with Ellie from Stef Eardley on Sunday who absolutely adored my pony. We worked on introducing some medium and teaching her to stretch and take the rein in walk and trot. Sadly the video ran out of battery before we got going but a quick clip warming up.

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Fred Scala Clinic

Posted: 14 Jul 2016 - Comments (0)
When you find an instructor you click with yet he is 4 hours drive away there is a problem. One solution I found for this particular inconvenience has been to organise a clinic in Cornwall so Fred came down to me. I organised a two day clinic at two venues to make it worth his while and it also meant I could have a session each day. I tell you something this organising clinics is not as easy as it looks!!

So yesterday I shared a lesson with Posy and had a individual slot with Ellie. The principle is the same in all Fred’s sessions and he uses the scales of training as a basis so rhythm and suppleness before contact. Warm up is moving the horse off and away from the inside leg whilst keeping the rhythm and increasing the suppleness and swing. It is only when this is established that you start to work them into the contact. With Posy particularly we worked on not holding her up in the contact but getting her to carry herself, show her where I wanted her then she had to carry the frame. The main thing with this was to ensure there was plenty of leg to ensure the engine was firing through.

The fillers at Knightswood where the first session took place were certainly bright but Posy jumped well. Again the focus was on rhythm, suppleness and engine. I found that Posy was leaning on my hand and as usual I was ineffectually half halting and part of the time just pulling. Fred made me use a lot more leg to really get her off the hand which I hadn’t been effectively using.

This was a clip of us jumping.
So Ellie went through much the same process in warming up and jumping. Was really pleased that Fred liked her a lot and agreed with me that she has the potential to be an FEI pony. For Ellie rhythm was the key as she has had the habit of getting a bit quick. We built the jumping up just starting over a pole on the ground and keeping the rhythm and straightness too and from the pole.

We finished up with a little course again
So pleased with both girls but instead of heading home we headed up the county to stay with a friend so we could have another session the next day.

Both horses came out even better. Ellie laps up learning and is the sort of swot that was probably revising the night before. Once warmed up we used a simple pole exercise and then a pole on take off and landing (9ft each side) to help her develop the jump. We then went on to jump the biggest jumps we have jumped together and she really went very well.
Posy also came out better the next day but I still struggle sometimes with the contact. It was great to see Fred hop on and really get the engine going and a lighter contact. When I sat back on the canter was the best I have felt it. Posy’s face was a picture when he finished as she realised it was clearly someone she couldn’t get one over on!

Jumping wise she really pinged, the main thing for me to focus on is being quicker after my fence to balance her and soften / supple her into the contact. In doing this it must be from leg not hand. Lots to work on.
So now to start organising next month's clinic so we can keep the good work up.

As we had the day off we popped down to see Sarnie and her (unnamed) baby. Pleased to say both are looking fabulous. I don’t think I have posted a picture on here for a while.

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Bicton BE100

Posted: 12 Jul 2016 - Comments (0)
Bicton is always a lovely event whether it is show jumping or eventing and one that has generally been lucky for me. After our fairly poor last couple of runs I was looking for a dramatic change of fortune. Things seemed to be getting worse not better when on Friday my back went into spasms of pain again, even pain killer which I usually avoid like the plague didn’t help much. So the early start on Sunday did not find me very enthused. I was packing the lorry and always take Arc Equine to travel Posy home in as a maintenance type thing. Suddenly occurred me that perhaps I should try it on the way up and see if it had any effect on my back. I have to say that for my daily hip pain it has never been a huge help hence wasn’t my first thought. I creaked into the drivers seat and couldn’t even reach up to pull down the sun visor! During the course of the 2 and a bit hour journey my back gradually improved to the extent when I arrived it was barely painful. I managed to firmly attach to my leg and proceeded to walk the course and tack up with it on, by the time I hopped on my back was normal again for me. Thanks Arc Equine!!

Dressage we are struggling a bit at the moment to get any real self carriage and she just leans. However it was one of her better tests with the exception of her showing off her flying changes in the left canter which surprisingly didn’t impress the judge! I was really pleased with a 31 that left us about middle in a strong section.

I had a feeling it wouldn’t be a dressage competition and for once I was right. Show jumping caused a lot of problems with clear rounds relatively rare and the course actually stopping a few horses. I felt with our experience we should be ok but even for us Posy had the odd spook. I also need to revisit bitting as although it doesn’t look too bad I had very little control in the pace or level of collection coming to a fence.
So although room for improvement it was clear and on the day that was what mattered we can work on the other bits.

The lack of listening to me did leave me in a dilemma as the show jumping bit would usually be what I used cross country however with some downhill sections including to a couple of big brushes I didn’t feel confident using it. In the week I had cantered her in a Cheltenham gag with 2 reins but that is a bit different to jumping in it! I bit the bullet and decided to try, a brave decision for someone that sometimes struggles to hold one rein properly! I got down to the warm up and tested it out and found her more responsive although I did have to ask the kind steward to rescue my stick as in the effort to keep hold of my reins the whip got dropped!

So we set off cross country and looking at the video she was still a bit strung out at times as I tried to gather the knitting and make sure the reins were correctly held and tensioned. However I did have that bit of control I needed when going downhill. This actually allowed me to be a bit quicker, mind you things were not helped by a quick detour at 3 when I took the wrong track and had to cut back and angle fence 3 slightly. I probably lost 5 seconds.

We went into the woods and came down the hill to two big brushes (see video) which she powered over and then turned to the first water and double of skinnies which she jumped well.

She just kept going and really focused on her fences. The corner came off a tight left turn and even though we didn’t have a perfect stride she kept straight and true. The final water caused no issues although I did have a bit of a miss at the last fence. We finished 2 seconds inside the time and were one of only two combinations in our section to finish on our dressage score.
We were delighted to find we had been placed 3rd with both our best finish score and placing to date. Still lots to work on and in no hurry to advance a level until we have a few things established but a definite step in the right direction.

Huge thanks to Bicton for such a well organised event with super courses and Protexin for their super prizes.

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