Just a quick update although the eagle eyed amongst you may have noticed, you can now make comments directly on blog posts. Happy as always to receive any comments or feedback and pleased to offer another way of doing this.
I want to take the time to tell you a bit about the people that support Shoestring Eventing, not just how we work together but also a bit of behind the scenes and the people involved.I want to start with Horsequest Advantage who launched last year and I am delighted to be part of their A team of riders. Horsequest Advantage is a members only equestrian club offering large discounts on selected equestrian products and services, fabulous competitions (see picture), tickets to top equine events and unique experiences. Membership is good value at £3.50 a month with currently a free one month trial. The good thing is you can cancel at any time so if it is not for you there is no tie in.As well as enjoying being part of the team I have taken advantage of some of their great discounts. I bought Ellie a Fal Pro rug with a 20% discount which resulted in a £30 saving. I have also purchased electrolytes which had 40% off, a show shirt to name a few as well as used the 12% discount with the sister Horsequest sales site. There is a good variety of discounts available with frequent changes and updates. I am very fortunate as an A team member I don't pay a subscription but if I had over the last year I would have saved probably 3x as much as the subscription cost. So let me tell you a bit about the lovely team that runs the scheme. Between the Advantage team there are more dogs than humans! They involve a selection of Labradors in every colour, 3 Lurchers, a Patterdale terrier, an Australian terrier from Bondi beach and even a Chihuahua called Roy. They are a horsey bunch too! Alison Roeves the director of Advantage used to breed Welsh section B's and riding ponies, she was also a Dartmoor pony judge. Fee has two horses, Eddie and Dave! They hunt as much as they possibly can. Lisa is an Eventing enthusiast who can be seen travelling from one event to the next over the season and Beth has always had thoroughbreds and will always have a soft spot for them. Since launching in May the team have have packed and handed out over 2000 goody bags to new members at shows. Members have claimed free tickets to over 10 of the top equestrian events in the UK including Badminton, Burghley, Gatcombe, HOYS, Olympia and Your Horse Live to name a few. There have been over 46 competition winners. Prizes included an Equi-Trek trailer, £500 cash X 2, a years supply of feed and a beautiful Stevenson Brothers Rocking Horse!Horsequest Advantage sponsored a team in the Cotswold Team Chase - HorseQuest Hedge Hoppers. Fee from the Advantage team took part while the rest covered their eyes. We are striving to make 2018 even better for Advantage members. We have a HUGE tradestand at Badminton Horse Trials this year and will aim to spoil our members at the event, yes there will be a bar! We also have a lakeside pavilion there where lucky members can watch riders splash through the water on cross country day whilst enjoying lunch and a glass of fizz! So for anyone who hasn't had a chance to become a member please do give it a try. Don't forget you can sign up free for a month and cancel at anytime.Have a look at the website HERE which lists current offers, giveaways and competitions.
Yesterday we were booked into a clinic with Andrew Lovell at Pontispool, a big step up for Fliss in her cross country training and although green at times she learnt loads. The facilities at Pontispool are brilliant with the full range of cross country questions in the arena.We met skinnies, a corner, steps, ditches and water. She soon started to take charge cross country and knew it all very quickly (or so she thought!). I was particularly pleased to jump a small triple brush which she understood straight away. Fliss has huge power and scope and as long as I remember to take it steady using trot if necessary she has the time to work things out. It is when we get too quick and cocky that things go wrong as can be seen the first time we did the corner.Things were great, that was until we came to go in the water. Ever since I have had her she is sure crocodiles inhabit the waters of the South West, although with this recent wet weather she has become more accustomed to splashing through a variety of water so I wasn't expecting a huge issue. Well clearly the dark Pontispool water was infested and on no account was she stepping into the water even with leads from the other clinic horses. Eventually and not wanting to waste everyone's time there was only one solution - to get off and lead her in. Now please remember this was a cold day, the water was very cold and I had short boots and chaps on. My boots are waterproof to the ankles which meant once in and filled the water stayed in the boots. Luckily Fliss quickly decided that if I was in the water it clearly was safe and followed me in for a walk around. Two minutes of the cold water was all I could cope with so sharply exited and found a suitable jump to mount from and hopped back on. This time she happily went in and out the water so hopefully a lesson learned. Much as I would have liked to tackle the problem from on board on this occasion without making a battle she learnt what was needed and hopefully gained confidence. The trust she had in me on the ground will hopefully transfer to me when mounted.Anyway a bit of video of the schooling, there is none of me getting wet so I added the pictures for your enjoyment here.
My New Year blog (link here) detailing my confidence struggles received huge feedback via messages and Facebook, what perhaps struck me most was how many of us are affected by these issues. For those of you not on Facebook or that don't follow my page (why not) we now have a post every Thursday to share positives from the previous week. Call it group therapy!So how am I getting on? Things are slightly improved I am getting more confident doing things with the horses and going places, I have schooled Fliss on my own several times. This weekend I am taking Fliss for an Arena XC lesson and even semi looking forward to it. Equally though I am a long way from where I want to be, I still find myself getting tense and imagining problems riding, causing me to tense and perch. Only this weekend I had a major set back bringing Fliss back to a walk as I didn't want to canter as I thought there was something that might upset her and totally mucked up jumping Ellie as I couldn't find a stride for looking too hard and panicking. I have had great support from friends and enjoyed some things such a beach rides but on my own the demons still keep messing with my head!I am reading a few self help books (I think I understand where things are going wrong just struggling to get tools to correct it), also trying some homeopathic and natural solutions. I do think think the weather doesn't help the situation so hoping things get easier as spring approaches.
I was grateful that we had two dressage lessons booked indoors on Saturday as the weather was yet again rubbish. Threewaters Riding Club had organised an Andrew Lovell dressage clinic which gave us a great opportunity to work on the girls flatwork.As always we started the lesson discussing progress, any changes (the new bits) and what I wanted to achieve. With Fliss it was a general overall improvement and we worked on getting her straighter in the shoulder and used sitting trot to enhance the seat aid and get her working correctly from behind and helping to lift the front end. She certainly likes the new bit and the work improved immensely. The clip below is actually flat work taken from the following day when we continued Andrew's work in a friends school and I think she went really well. Also looking at the video I have realised that I need to stop saying she has to strengthen and make up, while of course there is always an ongoing need to develop the correct muscle she has suddenly filled out and looking much stronger.
The new bits came yesterday so today was first chance to have a play at home. I had the afternoon off so time to ride both to the school. A friend came over and helped with Fliss and we did some pole work, Fliss's outline has definitely lengthened in the new bit and I have more of a contact which is great. Her canter continue to improve and working with some scattered poles gave us something to focus on rather than drifting around the school. So very pleased with the difference it has made.Ellie on the other hand was frustrating! The weather was cold and windy and she is feeling fresh. I left the poles out for her to work over quietly but she was on her toes and in an opinionated mood. She was trying to take charge and it became a bit of a battle. She then found with a lower (correctly) fitted bit she could evade by popping her tongue over the bit. In the end we both ended up frustrated and with light fading I called it a day and headed for home. Much as it is great to work through these issues sometimes it is best to just walk away and come back fresh with plenty of time and plenty of patience another day!