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Another weekend away

Posted: 21 June 2018 - Comments (0)

The busy few weeks are catching up on me. Work has been manically busy as well meaning no rest-bite and very little spare time! I have to admit to feeling a bit washed out and in need of a period of hibernation, however, plenty of time for that in the future when I am old and past it!

This weekend we head for Treborough one of my favourite events, although perhaps least favourite to drive too as there are narrow hilly roads to the beautiful Exmoor event which are not best suited for a lorry. Considering the recent dry weather the moorland peaty ground will give some of the best ground conditions possible at this time of year and should ensure we get a run.

Ellie is entered in the 100 on Saturday, as we have nice times (dressage 12.08) we are going up most of the way on the day. We are lucky to have friends in Cornwall near Launceston which is an hour on from home and should cut the journey to a couple of hours and save us some stabling fees.

We did the 100 last year as Ellie's first and although the course is not technical it was very big so I think not walking it the night before and being scared silly probably is for the best. Will let you know how we get on.

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Chard and Pontispool

Posted: 19 June 2018 - Comments (0)

After our rosette filled trip to Chard last month there were less frilly's this time but a really educational show and some great progression from both girls.

The double clears this time were in short supply as I went for competitive jump offs and we had a case of 4 fault itis. However she did get her final Discovery double clear so has qualified for next years second round. Day 1 we would have been 2nd in the British Novice but I missed her on an angled rail, we then had 4 faults in the Discovery. Day 2 a similar story with a quick jump off but just put a toe on the 2nd element of the double, such small margins between success or a pole on the floor. A slower round in the Discovery and we had our final double clear for next year.

On the final day we entered the British Novice 2nd round. It was a full up and technical track which also had Ellie's first treble combination. She jumped a super round but I let her down fiddling into the treble and missing her to the first element for 4 faults. I was quite disappointed with my riding, although overall pleased with how she is jumping and the huge improvement we have made this year. I think it is time to step her up a bit and maybe do some 1.05 classes.

British Novice 2nd Round

Fliss actually only jumped the first 2 days as we had other plans on day 3! Her athleticism and scope does make it easier to compensate for any jockey mistake. She can still be green and I struggle with her head position which either wants to be too low or tucked in like a tortoise meaning she is not always the easiest to the fence.

On day 1 we had double clears in the British Novice and Discovery albeit slowly so well away from the prizes. On day 2 I jumped another double clear in the Discovery and was tempted to try a Newcomers but in the end decided against it. This turned out to be fortuitous as another opportunity presented itself later. The last class was a team class where teams from the different areas competed against each other over 4 heights and two rounds. There weren't that many riders from Cornwall and a bit of a scratch team was pulled together with us taking responsibility for the 1m rounds.

Fliss showed her fab temperament being paraded with me carrying a Cornish flag fluttering. I didn't think riding for a team would bother me but my riding went to pot slightly and poor Fliss had to climb out of some awful strides but bless her she tried and we jumped the first round clear. In fact 3 of the team were clear so we were equal leaders after the first round and more pressure on the 2nd round. We were meant to be a scratch team with no hope!

We were the 3rd team member to ride in the next round and our rider before had had a pole. So no flexibility if we wanted to stay in the lead. Dear Fliss jumped her 5th clear round out of 5! She has also completed her qualifications for next years British Novice and Discovery second rounds.

The last member also jumped clear (I wasn't watching at this point) for a team win! The team have now qualified for the National Show Jumping Championships at Stoneleigh.

For Fliss there were no classes on the final day and once Ellie had jumped we loaded and left Chard. Fliss clearly thought she had got away with an easy day. I hadn't given away that she was off cross country schooling at Pontispool. I knew the ground would be hard so the focus was less on jumping much but seeing what she made of the 3 water jumps there after her winter issues with water.

The course was busy with various clinics, lessons and private hires. I popped a few easy fences and took her to the most open water. She trotted down hesitated and then stepped straight in to big pats. Lots of in and out at various paces and she was very happy splashing through. We then went to the far water where we waited and watched while a clinic finished working through the combinations around the water. Again she went straight in and out and even finished happily jumping fences just before the water. Strangely though she kept deciding to jump out of the water!

The final water she trotted straight in again so we do seem to have made huge progress on this issue and very hopeful that moving forward it won't be a big issue.

Excited enough by progress that I have now registered Fliss for BE!

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Studs - Do we sometimes use too much?

Posted: 12 June 2018 - Comments (3)

I have to say I was fairly disappointed at West Wilts to see the size of some studs being used by a variety of riders. The ground was firm although dry so not greasy. I saw riders with quite large studs in both front and back feet which considering the ground conditions would have significantly increased the concussion on the horses legs. For me Ellie is trained on grass at home and is conditioned to being ridden without studs and balancing herself. Considering the course (there were no sharp turns or particularly tricky combinations) and the ground conditions I didn't use studs for any phase of the event. Show jumping was on a surface, had it been on grass this would probably have been the phase I would have most likely have considered using studs.

Please don't think I am against studs I use them when conditions dictate and accept that some horses need help more than others however I do feel that there is a tendency to use overly large studs and this may have a detrimental effect on horses limbs. I do think riders learning to ride in a balance is also key when considering grip competing. The picture on the left was a lost shoe at Tattersalls a few years ago that had come off a pony on a day the ground was quite firm, I am not sure that many people would think the size of these studs acceptable.

For those that haven't seen it there was a really interesting talk at the International Eventing Forum in 2016 with a top farrier, vet and trainer. There is a report here This again advocates minimising the use and size of studs and talks of welfare implications. So is it an education issue for some people who think bigger studs are better?

For me if I am studding unless the ground is really terrible (in which case I consider running at all) I tend to use the studs on the right, the little pimple ones in front and the small pointy one behind. (These are both available from Supastuds.) Currently I use 2 in each shoe but more evidence is coming particularly in the hind shoe that one may allow the foot to pivot bette, I will be chatting with my farrier and may consider reducing it to just one in the hind feet.

So I guess thought for the day is if you are studding consider all the factors and use as little as possible.

Comments (3)

Totally agree .. I only use one stud in the hinds after reading the article that my farrier shared on FB

Nicola Bywood on 12 June 2018 at 10:38 AM

Very interesting. I’d be interested in a blog about the use of bandages- when to use them and the different types and use of padding etc

Sarah on 12 June 2018 at 10:39 AM

I only use the same as you, but only one in each shoe.

kate Ingram on 13 June 2018 at 7:45 AM

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West Wilts BE100

Posted: 10 June 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 June 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 June 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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