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15th October

Posted: 15 Oct 2015 - Comments (0)
This is my last blog update for 10 days as I leave for a week in Lake District tomorrow so there will be no more updates until I return.

This is also the saddest blog update I have written as yesterday my equine mentor and the lady I called ‘god’ Caroline Creighton passed away after losing her brave fight with cancer.

British Eventing: In Memoriam - here

Caroline has taught and helped me for over 20 years and I would never have achieved what I did without her help and guidance. She has developed my riding and each and every of my horses so that I have achieved far more than I ever dreamed.

She has spent endless hours on the phone, helping me with horses and looking after me when I went up a level, did our first 3 day and during our jaunts abroad.

She was someone who always had time to help, I could ring her at 6 in the morning (when I thought Sarnie had done a tendon) or from an event and ask how to ride a combination. Her training and her eye was legendary she instantly understood horses and riders of all levels and could get the best out of them. If she told you to do something there was instant belief that you could do it.

She will be enormously missed by by so many people in eventing for me personally things won’t be the same without her.

My thoughts are with her mother and all at Warren Farm.

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12th October

Posted: 12 Oct 2015 - Comments (0)
Catching up on those jobs that never get done whilst Posy is on holiday. Pulling hawthorn sapplings in the field, tidying and washing rugs, cleaning tack and packing away eventing gear (well cross colours are washed and repacked for next time!) Also preparing for a weeks holiday (true Shoestring style) with a weeks self catering in Cumbria. Dogs are looking forward to lots of walking and I have fingers crossed the weather stays settled as evidently the wettest place in the country!

Bobby is ticking over and will be advertised when I get back from holiday.

With regards to issue regarding the copyright below I am negotiating with Getty but to date they are not shifting in their stance which is rather depressing.

Fingers crossed tomorrow please Sarnie is being blood tested to ensure she is still in foal. She is looking fat enough but as she is barely 4 months pregnant then she technically shouldn’t be showing her pregnancy, so is probably just fat.

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Good and bad news

Posted: 8 Oct 2015 - Comments (0)
So good news or bad first? Lets start with the positive and welcome a new member of the team and Shoestring supporter Mowenna Foster from Roseland Pets and Equine. I have been very lucky to have had Tamar Smith giving my horses much needed massages but as Tamar is otherwise engaged (patter of tiny feet) Mowenna will be helping me by giving the horses a massage. As well as equine massage Mowenna is a qualified vet nurse and offers a number of other services for your pets. Check out her website here.

Posy and Bobby both enjoyed a massage last week. Posy particularly enjoyed herself although spent the whole session determined to return the favour and groom me, her teeth in this process were not welcome!

Massage is another key element in keeping the horses in tip top shape and ensuring they have the best possible chance of doing their job well.

On the bad news I have been caught by a copyright infringement. Please let this be a warning! As someone who considers themselves very careful over copyright and always asks permission to use and publish photos, only uses event photos that are paid for and with permission I have been caught out on my website using a copyright image and face a bill of £342!!!

No excuses as I shouldn't of done it even unintentionally. It is in a historic blog post of 2012 where I spoke about my hip fracture that had been the previous year. I did a quick google image search and found an image similar to my fracture with no copyright marks and used it. I guess in the last 3 years we have all become more aware of copyright and I wouldn't do it now but back then I never thought it came up on a free search and had no copyright on it. It has been identified by a computer bot and Getty have sent me a rather threatening email demanding £342 for its use.

So please think before you post any image you don't know the origin of or have permission to use. I thought I was controlling my digital media sensibly yet I have got caught out big time with a bill I can't afford. I will tonight be going through my whole Shoestring Eventing site and checking over 100 pages to ensure there are no other images that may bring me into breach.

I must admit it has made me think all about Shoestring Eventing itself and whether it is worth it. There are certainly disadvantages to making everything so public and trying to keep up with its demands! However it has also brought me a lot of friends and supporters so lesson learnt and I will plough on. However please share as there are many people with small websites that may not be aware of consequences of thoughtless actions.

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Bovington Horse Trials

Posted: 4 Oct 2015 - Comments (0)
So we arrived at Bovington in good time with plenty of time to walk the course and settle Posy in. Although I don’t find Bovington the most inspiring place to compete it is well run, has good courses and is an ideal place to step up a level hence this run being Posy’s first BE100. The course was unchanged from the Spring event so held no surprises but certainly asked a few questions for a horse making its debut at this level.

Whilst 4 events in 4 weekends has done Posy the power of good, however I am not sure I would recommend it. Combined with a busy and stressful time at work I admit to being knackered. Whilst Posy is now on holiday I am catching up with everything that didn’t get done over the last few weeks. Anyway enough of me whining!

We headed up to Zoe’s on Thursday for an overnight stop so we could have a quick jump in the morning. It was a chilly morning and Posy was being a bit stodgy, however I clearly gave her a bit of a heavy handed boot as next minute I was on the floor and she was trotting back down the school without me. I got back on and apologised (always ask a mare!) And the rest of the session was good, she jumped really well. We then headed on to Chard to see Nathaniel Underwood (Master Saddler) and have my saddle checked and adjusted. Amazing the amount of muscle she has put on since she had the new saddle nearly 12 weeks ago.

We had lovely times starting at 10.30 and all finished by 12. Dressage was not the best test we have done, she was wanting to drop on her forehand and I was having to ride her quite strongly to counteract this. We also had a wrong strike off! However I was still rather disappointed to be in the bottom ¼ with a 37.5 score. Then again I know with a winter behind us to get the hind end stronger there will be a lot of improvement to come.

Show jumping was perhaps the biggest let down as it is a phase we can do so well. To be fair the arena had been newly laid and it had got rather deep in places meaning it wasn’t the easiest surface to jump off. I just held a little bit too much to the second fence and we caught it behind then turning to 3 I am not sure what happened but she came up a stride early sending me into orbit and landing in a heap partly round her neck.

From this point on she jumped really well but 2 fences down was very frustrating!

So a quick change and onto cross country where my biting issues became apparent again! She just leant on my hand and took little notice of any gentle half halts or even pulling desperately. While she doesn’t take off fast it is a little disconcerting for all slowing aids to be ignored. With this in mind and knowing we were out of the reckoning for any prizes we had a very steady round. The biggest problem came at no.3 (see video) where the water in the trees caught her by surprise meaning she came to a halt but just maintained enough forward momentum to remain clear.

There was a double of brush palisade at 5 on the turn which she jumped brilliantly as she did the roll top to the ditch. The combination at 8 (pictured) nearly caught us out. There was a house then over a mound and a sharp turn to a narrow roll top. I hooked her back coming down the hill but then she backed off the house meaning I had to move her forward where upon she snatched the reins out my hand and tanked off over the fence, I was by now leaning back and steering buckle end at the roll top, she had every opportunity to run out but stayed straight and jumped it well. A decent step to house followed and then a corner which she jumped well. Coming home over the water she was far more confident (see video) but kept me on my toes even over the last when she jinxed sideways!

So we didn’t trouble the leaders but finished with a good solid run and a great foundation to start next year.

Posy is now having at least 3 weeks off and some quiet hacking after that to allow her hopefully to chill a bit and reflect on all she has learnt. However we also have a winter of hard work ahead to help develop the promise she is clearly showing.

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Bricky Horse Trials

Posted: 28 Sep 2015 - Comments (0)
The whirlwind continued with our 3rd run in as many weeks with another BE90 outing before our final run next week at BE100. We travelled a day early and stopped with friend and trainer Zoe who instead of letting us rest on our laurels, identified shortcomings and helped us work on their improvement. Primarily at the moment she can still run on her forehand and not take the weight back on her hocks, after a fence she needs to learn to take the weight back. We did lots of sharp transitions and practiced jumping in the field and halting following the fence. With time she started to land a bit more on her hocks and listening. It is clearly a work in progress and something to focus on during winter but also gave us a bit more control for the following day at Bricky.

Bricky is a lovely event with spectacular views over the Dorset countryside. For some reason it is 9 years since we last went and I certainly hope it won’t be that long again. They are unique in that they offer special BE100+ courses and Intermediate Novice courses as well as the traditional courses you would usually expect to see. The BE90 was nearly maximum length with 25 jumping efforts and a huge range of types of fences made more difficult by the undulations. With the recent weather the ground was perfect.

In case you haven’t noticed I am bit strange. Having had a successful weekend the previous weekend at Pontispool I was putting more pressure on myself to do well and really suffering with nerves. Mum gave me the pep talk and copious amounts of rescue remedy and Posy just got on with it!

Dressage was definitely our best test to date. She warmed up beautifully and the biased supporters felt she really stood out. I wasn’t quite able to maintain the same fluency in the arena but it was still pretty good. The test was in the long arena which was nice for a change and the extra room was great. I was very pleased with a score of 27.5 which put us 4th after dressage.
Show jumping caused more faults than usual probably due to the undulations in the ring. I am not sure Posy was really trying but she did at least listen a bit more and had no issues jumping a clear round.
So onto cross country and again it was another step up from previous weeks with boldness and technical questions as well as undulations to contend with. Due to the undulations and turns time was very difficult to get and indeed only 2 in my section made the time, I wanted to go a little quicker whilst making sure she still had the time to work out what she needed to do.

She set out far more confidently and is really starting to know her job. She had a look at the white rails (pictured) on 3 but after that barely looked at anything. The combination in front of the trade stands she breezed through and stayed balanced on the 180 degree turn out into the country. The step to log she was very straight and then the log to ditch and further log she did very neatly (on video). The waters she actually cantered through which is huge progress and I really believe water won’t be the problem I originally foresaw.

We came back over a brush to gate and then jumped a brush fence on top of a hillock, just slightly lost our balance going up the to the fence resulting in our only slightly awkward jump. (See video) Then onto some angle rails which she found easy and I had to be careful not to make up too much ground. The next fence was a huge hedge, the rail was 90 height but there was plenty of brush on top and it was positioned off a turn under the trees, she did slightly back off but kept my leg on and powered over it. We then proceeded away from the lorry park and down into the valley over 3 straightforward fences and home full of running. Always amazed how fit she is seeing I have never done any specific fitness work. We had 5.2 time penalties which with such a tight time was pretty good, we were actually 7th quickest in our section yet at no time did I go quicker than her stage of education dictates
Time was important again and some faster rounds meant we were 4th 1.5 marks off the winner. Great to be so close again but unlike last week where I felt sure we could have found a few seconds somewhere this time we couldn’t sensibly have gone any quicker.

The bag you can see me receiving in the prize giving was full of Dorset food goodies which went down very well. Can highly recommend Bricky.

Really delighted with how well she went and how she is progressing. Looking forward to the BE100 at Bovington next weekend to finish the season and give her a well earned rest.

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25th September

Posted: 25 Sep 2015 - Comments (0)
Off we go again, our entry has been accepted for Bricky and whilst Posy is coping well with the weekly turn around I am not sure the same can be said for me! Hence a quick update between loads of washing and packing the lorry as well as catching up on the backlog of course pictures.

Expect a full report next week.

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