This month starts with the biggest side saddle show of the year, the Side Saddle Nationals. This is held at Addington Manor Equestrian Centre and attracts competitors from around the world. Tilly gets to stay in a nice indoor stable, while I am relegated to a camp bed in the back of my horse trailer.
On the Friday we just had one class, the Riding Club Horse. With very limited space to warm Tilly up in and no where to jump, we were just not relaxed and warmed up properly, resulting in knocking two of the three jumps down and just not settling for the flatwork, as she found it all too exciting.
Saturday is the main showing day. It started off with the Novice Equitation test where, although rather enthusiastic at times, we still managed to come sixth. We then moved onto the Equitation Jumping which we won, with both judges giving us 9’s for one of the jumps!! These two classes combined, give you points for the Equitation Championship, which as we won the jumping on a very good score, put us as Adult Novice Reserve Rider.
Our last class of the day was a fun class, the Versatile Horse/Pony, or Handy Pony. As well as having various obstacles to negotiate, it is also timed, and as we managed to drop the rope gate, costing us valuable time, we finished in third. Here’s our video – click here
Sunday is the last day and we were entered in two classes. First of all, we did the team relay for our Area, jumping the bigger jumps than we had the day before. With lots of encouragement from team mates, we all got around safely. We got a lovely plate trophy and case of wine for our Area.
My last class, was another fun class known as the Champagne Challenge. The winner is the person who has the most water left in their glass, after we have all walked, trotted and cantered around the arena. Last year we got second, this year we only went and won it! We have a lovely Champagne bucket trophy, a bottle and glasses to drink it with.
The following Tuesday, was grade test day. We took our Grades 1 and 2 Side Saddle riding, and Horse Care and Saddlery tests, and I’m delighted to say that we passed. Tilly was also lent to a foreign rider to do her higher level riding tests and jumps on, then in the afternoon, I was a guinea pig rider for a lady taking her instructor exams.
It’s been a very busy month for side saddle as we also attended the HOPE Show at Onley, where we came second in the Side Saddle Equitation, first in Best Side Saddle Horse/Pony and reserve Side Saddle Champion, qualifying us for the Best of the Best Show in the evening.
The month ended with a very busy bank holiday weekend. The Saturday found us side saddle at Leicester County Show, where we took part in a side saddle demo in the main ring in the morning then a side saddle equitation class in the afternoon. In a very large and high quality class, we found ourselves in third place.
As soon as our class was finished we then headed off to Claydon House in Buckinghamshire for the Sealed Knots’ biggest English Civil War display and Battle of the year on the Sunday and Monday. Considering it was a year since Tilly had done one of the big battle re-enactments, I was a little worried about how she would behave on the battlefield, but she was absolutely fantastic. So much so, that we ended up carrying our regiments cornet (flag) on the second day.
We were also able to collect our A3 print of the amazing Cavalry Charge with Tilly in the middle. I also took the opportunity to buy some of the cards with the same print on the front.
Photos by Emma Gann Photography
I’ve been stealing some rides on one of the riding school horses recently, Quindora. She is secretly quite a talented little horse and I’d love to one day take her to an event! I think she should ride a nice test and jumps well. Because her main job is working in the riding school, I don’t usually get to do much with her and we had only ever taken her around the xc at home until this month – I wasn’t sure how Dora would be with jumping in and out of water and we have a slight ditch issue that we need to conquer before we can go eventing! I was really pleased with how she went out schooling, and we managed to get over the ditch! Yay!
Since then, we’ve added a smaller ditch to our xc at home to practice over. The ditch we have is a little wide for the horses that lack confidence and I think it’s really important not to over-face them when introducing them to xc… I really needed something smaller that they can just step over!
I also took Dora to our local Riding Club show for some showjumping practice. It was our first competition together. Although the show was unfortunately poorly supported, and it was raining, we had lots of fun nevertheless. Dora won both the 80cm and 90cm class and came 2nd in the 1m.
We’ve also had interviews this week for applicants who are 16-18 years old and are looking to complete a Work Based Diploma in Horse Care at our yard with a company called Poultec Training. As it stands at the moment, we have three girls who are starting with us in September. I’m looking forward to welcoming them to Team Roman Bank and to get working with them! I’m also excited to be back working with Poultec – the ladies that come to assess are the same ladies who assessed me for my NVQ’s which I took around 10 years ago now! It will be lovely to see them both regularly again and it’s such a great opportunity for students that need to stay in further education but would rather get more hands on experience in a working environment than go to college!
As always, there’s lots of other stuff going on at the yard too – the block work for the next two new stables has been finished today, we’ve marked out ready for the new hay barn to start going in and Mum and I have been moving and fencing yet more paddocks now that the grass has finally come through after the crazy heat wave we had! It’s safe to say, we have been keeping busy!
Catch up next month,
Whilst we were away at the event Spirit loved her Fibre-Beet which kept her hydrated and full of energy for the multiple rounds that we had to jump.
This month has been very good but also very tragic. Firstly my sponsored horse, Pikkert, qualified in the Advanced Medium freestyle at Manor Grange for the regionals next year, I’m really pleased, lots to work on but getting better each time out.
This month we also headed down to Bury Farm for the National Freestyle Music Championships with Dr Roden’s Rocky Clover. On the first day we competed in the warm up classes winning the Novice and third in the Elementary class, so I was very pleased with him. The following day we were fifth in a very strong class of professionals, which was our championship class. It was so hard to qualify for this event and he did a lovely floor plan even one handed which impressed the judges.
So… what was the tragic accident?? Well whilst me and my sister were at Bury Farm my mum had my little boy, Frankie, and they were coming back from a theme park. Sadly a coach was going too fast and not looking ahead and went into the back of the car… I don’t know how, but they are so lucky to be alive! The car was a total mess. My mum and Frankie went to hospital, I was away at the show and just felt so ill that I wasn’t there with them, but I tried to keep my head focused once I knew they were going to be ok.
Next month we are heading to Holland for a holiday and foal auctions, hopefully this is what my family and I need after a big shock, and so shaken up…
Hope to chat to you all next month about our trip.
Take care, Sarah and QD Horses x
After our whirlwind July I was expecting August to be a fair amount quieter with just the Regional Championships to contend with… best laid plans and all that!
Off we trucked to Bury Farm for a long, long day at the Summer Regionals. Unfortunately it wasn’t our best test, however, there were many good points to take away. He came out all guns blazing and really took me round the arena, some of the work was the best he’s done with good power and connection however he isn’t strong enough to keep this through the test and meant that parts of it faded a little and he lost suppleness as this engagement came and went. This wasn’t helped by the fact he was trying so hard to please that each movement took a little more explaining as he was offering me everything he could remember. Luckily we controlled his legs and they all did the correct things at the correct time!
Also it’s probably a good time to mention it was very much a ‘sack the jockey day’… going the wrong way is pretty costly at Regionals when you have three judges! Still I was thrilled to sneak a top 10 placing on not our best performance and in a huge class.
We were then back home to have a break – or so we thought! A few days hacking and a lesson with Sara Jane to create a new (pretty challenging!) floor plan for the Medium and we were ready to down tools, put our feet up and enjoy the sun! However…
Day 1 – This reminded me that horses are the greatest levellers! The subjectivity of the sport is exciting and infuriating all at the same time. Stanley did a lovely test, yes there were mistakes, of course I was expecting them but being Advance Medium and with no real expectations I think I took the pressure off and it created a much nicer picture compared to the Regionals. It’s fair to say that we well and truly divided the judges. Two of them had us in 2nd and 3rd place and the other pretty much last! We finished 5th but with less than a % between 2nd and 6th it was all to play for on Day 2.
Day 2 – I was not on until 18:00 so it was a long day preparing. Luckily it was also the Music Championships the same weekend so we got to sit inside out of the rain and watch some fabulous freestyle tests including fellow BHF rider Sarah and Rocky Clover – unfortunately I never did find Sarah to introduce myself in person!
It was then all focus on our own performance. The hardest Advance Medium we have ridden, never having run through the test before, flying changes straight down the centre line – what could go wrong! Well seemingly not much when your superstar trainer (fresh from winning the PSG Music Championships!) is there to help you warm up. ”Will you please bend his body”… a moment of enlightenment. Wow, perhaps this is this key that I’ve been forgetting the last couple of times out. With more push and cadence he struggles and becomes a little rigid, this one comment was like a revolution! Bend – tick. And we were ready to go.
I could not have been prouder with the test he produced. We got all four true changes and perfectly square halts with some fabulous work in between! Whatever the score, we decided at this stage in his training we couldn’t have asked more. We were running in reverse order of results from the day before so we knew there were some good competitors coming after us. We got our score of 66.57%, I was really pleased but knew it was not huge and that it could be beaten. However, it appeared that high scores were not on the judges’ agenda and we finished 12.5 marks ahead of anyone who beat us the day before! The two scores were combined and the highest average score was to be the winner. A long wait and a fair few attempts at mental arithmetic and our fate was put on the score board…
Bronze League Advance Medium Champions! Shocked was an understatement! To us, this was another dream come true, another huge step on his journey after surgery. And we got a sash – our first British Dressage sash! Woohoo!
Thank you to the team that keeps us on the road and performing at our best and a huge thank you to British Horse Feeds for their continued support. He never ever turns his nose up at his Fibre-Beet and it allows us to ensure he is not only well fed but also hydrated, especially at the stay away shows. He really is a very happy horse and that shows every time we are out competing.
Never stop dreaming, great things happen when you least expect them!
Hannah & Stanley x
Always the bridesmaid… That’s how our season has gone with our super five-year-old, Mindy (It’s Morka). We’ve managed to get placed in nearly all the Burghley Young Event Horse qualifiers we’ve entered, with really good jumping and dressage scores, then some wildly different scores for type, quality and conformation. The very last chance to qualify was at Hartpury International Horse Trials. We headed there feeling optimistic as she’d been going so well.
The competition was held in the main International Arena – complete with dressage judges’ fancy huts, flowers, flags and trade stands. The weather was rather blustery making the conditions a little challenging but Mindy was just awesome. She behaved like the total professional she now has become and performed a lovely test and classy clear show jumping round. We went to the final gallop in third… a qualifying spot… and that’s where we finished up. BUT as third equal and this meant the qualifying spot went to the horse with the higher jumping mark and Kitty King’s horse scored 1 point higher… we missed out again! Always the bridesmaid!
So, whilst we’re obviously really disappointed not to qualify, she’s gained a vast amount of experience being exposed to large scale international events. This has brought her on vastly and proved that she’s got what it takes mentally to perform at the highest level.
So putting that disappointment behind us, we headed to Bold Heath for the 5 Year Old’s with Mindy and Pluto (Kilbeg Diamond Guy) for the BE100. We’d put in lots xc schooling practice with Mindy, taking advantage of the rain when it came, so we were confident of a good run. The course walked very straightforward, apart from the large steps up a bank, then a steep run down to an eyelash brush, which I felt was a strong question that young ones might struggle to read.
Both horses performed nice tests, and fabulous double clears. I felt Mindy wasn’t quite as with me as I’d have liked in the dressage, which kept us out of the qualifying spots sadly, but I was really pleased with both them – Pluto finishing in 9th place.
We headed to Solihull the following week with both for their BE100. The course asked plenty of questions, particularly an arrowhead combination and a triple brush placed off a very tight turn through a gap in the hedge line. Mindy marred a really super xc round with a silly 20 penalties… after reading and answering all the tricky questions, we had a really unexpected stop at what walked as a fairly innocuous table (but which proved influential) towards the end of the course. We had early times with 4am alarm call eek! We were one of the first out on course, so returned a tad disappointed really as I felt I perhaps trusted her to jump it as it walked straightforward, but in retrospect I should have ridden stronger. During the morning, it transpired that this fence caused a lot of trouble and I learnt a valuable lesson… dragons can lurk absolutely anywhere on course!
We’ve had some really super horses from various disciplines in over the summer to bring on and school etc. One of these is the lovely British bred, Ez, who’s destined for the showing ring as a show horse, and ultimately a working hunter. He arrived having been long lined with tack on and only sat on briefly. He’s been a total pleasure to produce on and as a very big young horse, he’s found balance tricky but he’s been so willing to learn and tries so hard to please. As with all of our young horses, we believe in short training sessions as they get tired both physically and mentally very quickly. Feeding Fibre-Beet and good quality haylage throughout his stay has helped keep him in fab condition and we think he’s destined for big things next year. The picture is of the Big Ez, what a cracker!
For the first time, I’m actively seeking to take on a couple of rides for the 2019 season. We’ve got a fantastic setup now, with great facilities so feel the time is right to split my time and become a professional event rider too… Well that’s the dream and winter project.
Kick on, and stay safe!