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Bicton BE

Posted: 26 Apr 2015 - Comments (0)
Yesterday was Bobby’s 3rd BE event at the relatively local Bicton Horse Trials. One of the few events we can travel to and from in a day, the 4am alarm call was not such fun. Sadly having felt fine the day before until mid afternoon I developed a flu like bug where I hurt all over, felt sick and headachy. I was in bed by 8pm and luckily although I felt rubbish on the day I was a bit better for the competition (see getting the excuses in early!).

Bicton produced courses that were definitely top end of the difficulty scale both show jumping and cross country and was a good step up on what we have done previously. Dressage currently involves over an hours warming up to allow the Duracell Bunny to settle and even after this length of time the test was a little tight and tense, hopefully the more he relaxes and the more he does the easier he may get. He again showed his prowess at this phase as despite the huge room for improvement we finished this phase in 5th place on a score of 32.
Show jumping was on the lovely all weather arena and was a decent course with some technical elements. Bobby went very green and certainly gave some fences some air, we are really struggling currently for that happy balance of flowing forward confidently but not quickly. We messed up the final line having the planks down but 4 faults was an improvement on previous BE events.
Love this picture (taken by Nick Perry) So onto cross country and another change of bit trying a tom thumb for the first time to stop him running off and give me some control. The course asked questions early (see course pics) even the first fence (pictured) caused a number of stops with horses spooking at the bright white lettering. A turn to a narrow train at 4 was my main concern and a corner in the woods.

Warming up he felt good but he always starts a bit green so I was very aware that I needed to keep him on his game for the spooky first fence. Luckily everything was very efficient so we had no waiting around and were soon leaving the start box, I had my leg on and him straight into the bridle but still 5 strides out he saw the spooky jump and spun right. (See video). So annoying to have 20 penalties before we had even jumped a fence, managed to get him straightened and rather hopped over from trot. Gave him a smack a we landed to remind him we had a job to do and focus and he went on to jump 2 well. The drop and turn to train we lost some energy out the side door and again gave it a clout. However I have to say from this point forward he really took the rein and moved on far better. The biting seemed a big improvement. A double of rabbit hutches he jumped well (see video) as he did the steps down to skinny and the plain ones at the back of the course. There was a roll top on a mound and he jumped this to the bottom of the mound which gave us a feeling of never coming down. The corner he kept straight and was bold through the water.
So the initial 20 penalties were very annoying but another event under our belts and one he will have learnt a huge amount from. Having had quite a busy month he is now going to have a few weeks easy with a little time off and some relaxing hacking so hopefully he can just chill and relax. We will be taking him to the 3 day show jumping show at Bicton in 3 weeks to brush up on our jumping and the following weekend another BE90 at the new Millfield event. Big thank you to Jane, Nick, Gwendra, Margaret and Mum for their help and support yesterday, great whilst feeling rough to have Bobby in such good hands.

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24th April

Posted: 24 Apr 2015 - Comments (0)
Bicton tomorrow and a 4am alarm call. Economising and as it is relatively close (2.5hrs each way) I haven’t booked a stable however I am not looking forward to the early alarm call.

Bicton should be a great event, it is their first international and the organising team are going all out to make it special. Nice also being relatively local and hopefully lots of familiar faces.

I have to say preparation has not been going well, since he has started his eventing career Bobby has turned into the ultimate Duracell Bunny with no off switch. If I can’t settle him at home I am not sure what chance I have at a busy event. I am not sure I have found the best bit for him jumping and all 3 three phases seem a bit manic. The frustrating thing is he is so capable but then that is also the light at the end of the tunnel as one day when I settle him and strengthen him enough to sit on his hind quarters he will be fabulous. I just hope that light at the end of the tunnel is getting closer!

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22nd April

Posted: 22 Apr 2015 - Comments (0)
Some very exciting news on the show jumping front. British Showjumping run a number of leagues including a bronze league for horses jumping 90-110cm. Currently in the lead in the South West league is Posy. League Table. The league runs until September so it is very early days but if we can stay in the top 15 we will qualify for a semi final with the top 7 from there qualifying for the Horse of the Year show. Got to be worth a go although I understand it gets very competitive and maybe too competitive for a 5 year old but you never know.

Meanwhile I have just about finished the recovery stage after Bovington, i.e. the washing is done, the tack is cleaned and the lorry unpacked now it is time to repack ready for Bicton on Saturday. Looks like an early start with a 4am alarm!

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A busy Weekend - BS & BE

Posted: 20 Apr 2015 - Comments (0)

Show Jumping Colraine

We started off the weekend with a quick trip to Colraine. Usually we would concentrate on one thing at a time and try not to pack too much in (it is a hobby after all). However with Posy’s prolific start to her BS career she had already accrued 3 double clears at British Novice and we only had this show when we were around to achieve the 4th and qualify for the 2nd round before the qualification period closed at the end of the month. I was fairly sure as it was the first time we had gone with the sole aim of a double clear that our 100% perfect record of double clears was bound to be broken!

I should never have doubted her, she popped round very easily not even breathing on a pole.
So clever girl 4 BS shows and 6 classes all double clear and qualifications now in the bag for the British Novice second round and the 95cm amateur second round (Bobby watch and learn!). Having made all the effort to qualify our second round is at West Wilts so 4 hours drive away and maybe a bit much for this year we will see.

Bovington BE

So Posy was chucked in the field and Bobby replaced her on the lorry for a trip to Dorset. We hadn’t been to Bovington before and I always enjoy seeing new events. We stopped on route for a session with our trainer Zoe just trying to get him to listen and sit on his hind leg jumping. Arrived at our stabling a stones throw from the event (thanks to Michelle Wylde for putting us up) and Bobby was very chilled at this stage. So chilled he had a very comfy night and a very green face the next morning that took about 3 washes to get back to even slightly grey.

We arrived at the event in time to walk the course which I thought was quite straightforward and check out the dressage and show jumping. As Bobby was so hyped at the last event allowed an hour for warming up which was fine until I got him out the lorry to find he had trodden on his shoe and it was loose. A hasty trip to find the farrier where he stood quivering while a few nails were put in to shore the shoe up. Warm up time was rapidly reduced to 40 minutes which was spent doing smaller and bigger circles, transitions, leg yielding and anything possible to keep his mind on me. We didn’t have the best start as on entering the field and checking in with the stewards a noise made him jump sideways nearly wiping out 3 stewards in one go. (I found a far away corner to work in).

We were called forward 5 minutes early and whilst I needed all the time I could have I also wanted time to work around the arena whilst the judge was writing her comments from the last test. In comparison to the week before he kept the lid on his tenseness. The test was tense but far more recognisable and correct, I was very pleased with a 32.8 and as only one combination went sub 30 and I know there is loads of improvement to come. I think he has the potential to be very competitive in this phase.
A quick change and onto show jumping. The outside grass warm up was pretty firm so mindful of his legs I just jumped a few fences in the small surfaced warm up. The course was in a nice all weather arena and was a decent height for the level. The round started really well with him jumping much better but sadly coming to the last line we couldn’t maintain the power in the canter and he slightly flattened going in and then instead of sitting him up and back I let him roll on in the related distance making up too much ground and having the second element down too - very frustrating.
So a change into cross country colours and up to XC start. I wanted to slightly up the pace from Howick but I was also very aware that at this point in time I have not got proper brakes. His default position is to run onto his head and pull the rein forward so the focus was very much on keeping his head up and not let him dive down. Not always as easy as it sounds and certainly by the end of the course my arms were aching and I was puffing rather more than I would like.

We went out of the start box well but he propped at 1 and 2. Again it is very difficult when they are at the stage of pulling you in only to get there and say help, you have to be quick with the support and leg. 3 and 4 were easier before 5 and 6 which were large skinny turning questions. He was bold over these and the turn sat him up and allowed me to ride forward. The roll top to ditch was fine and then we went down a hill where he really dropped on his head so we had a bit of a pulling match. Popped the house at the bottom and the next few fine. At 12 was quite a narrow corner off a right turn, I did wonder if he would prop at this and kept my whip in the right hand and gave him a tap on the shoulder to remain straight. 13 was nearly our waterloo as it was a blue clearly spooky fence that when we got there he decided it was clearly horse eating and required jumping like a 5 foot oxer - I went a further 3 feet higher in the air but luckily at the bottom landed with him. The water was next and he jumped the fence before boldly before trotting through and popping out. The last 2 were straightforward fences which he popped sweetly.

A clip of us setting out and returning
We ended with 0.4 of a time fault but the time was particularly lenient so we were still quite slow. Without the show jumps down we would of been placed and we did finish 25 marks better than Howick.

A nice friendly event where they had made a good effort with the ground and it really wasn’t bad considering how dry it had been. An event that I would go back to if the need arose but perhaps one that lacked that bit of character or special something that makes it a destination event.

All in all a very positive day, I guess honestly I am a little frustrated with speed at which we are progressing, he is very talented but needs more time than I had hoped to establish some of the basics needed even at this level. Never mind he will be worth it in the end.

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16th April

Posted: 16 Apr 2015 - Comments (0)
Managed to go splat again seem to be making an unfortunate habit of it of late! One of those things whilst hacking Posy. A dog threw itself against a gate from nowhere causing her to spin, I nearly stayed there but ended up off. Interestingly I had a neck strap on but have no sort of reaction that means I try and grab it, I guess this needed training from an early age and I have only been a late convert to fitting one. Whilst I more or less landed on my feet I then tried to hold on and she pulled me over and along on my knees before I let go. Lesson learnt, not a wise idea and the end of my best Lidl’s jods and one sore and now swollen knee! Anyway both horses have since had a lesson. Bobby had a dressage session with Robert Pickles where we worked on the engagement in the canter and not allowing him to plough on his head. We did a lot of work leg yielding from the outside track slightly inside in canter. This is great for getting the hind leg engaged. We then progressed to some counter canter, on completion of the canter exercise we quickly trotted then walked and halted to get him coming back and listening and not allowing him to plough forwards. Robert really emphasised the importance of transitions.

A quick clip showing some of the canter leg yield. (Yes it was that foggy)!
Meanwhile Posy had a session with Caroline on gymnastic and XC based exercises. She was ace she really looks for a fence and works things out quickly. We did some turning exercises a simulated coffin and a narrow corner off a dodgy stride and she ate it all up. So now preparing for Bobby’s next BE at Bovington this weekend. Think the ground may be a bit firm but at least the show jumping is on a surface. We compete on Sunday with times in the middle of the day which is always nice - not too long to wait and able to get away in good time.

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14th April

Posted: 14 Apr 2015 - Comments (0)
Very pleased that Posy is progressing at home. The flatwork is improving all the time as I find her buttons and she gets stronger. No rush with her but hopeful she can show herself off well in some BYEH classes later in the year.

A little clip from today

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