Brand Ambassador’s July 2018 Update

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At the end of June, Robbie and I had another crack at a 1* at Great Witchingham – which wasn’t so great for us! On our dressage day the time ran away, and we made it down to the arenas with literally one minute to spare!!! Robbie was quickly vetted, and we rushed straight in to perform our test with no warm up what so ever. Really not ideal at all! I was disappointed with the test but somehow, we managed to score our personal best 1* dressage score!? The vets however, picked up on Robbie’s stiffness issues and wanted to re-inspect him in the morning.

We returned for our jumping phases early Saturday morning and I took Robbie for a good canter round before taking him down to the dressage warm up for our vet inspection. Luckily, it was decided that he was all good to go and we carried on warming up ready to go into the showjumping. Everything was going so well, and Robbie was jumping clear up until we both took a nasty rotational fall at the planks. I’m still not quite sure as to what exactly happened, having watched back on videos it looked as though we were on a good stride. Thankfully we were both ok although stiff and sore. A couple of ladies came over to speak to Fliss (who was grooming for me) to ask if Robbie and I were ok and both said there was a dip in the ground in front of the fence, I’m not sure if this is so, but it would make sense!

After a couple of weeks of rest for Robbie, lots of TLC and a couple of visits from his amazing chiropractor, Sophie Edwards, I was able to get back on board and start some flatwork. Robbie would never be out eventing without Sophie and I can’t thank her enough for all the hard work she has put into him!! I took him out onto the XC field at home the other morning and we went for a good canter round, he felt fine but wasn’t impressed and seemed rather confused that he wasn’t jumping any fences!! I plan to start back popping a jump this week and see how things go from there. I’d like to have him back to an event around the end of August but think it will be wise to have a few confidence runs at a lower level.

In the meantime, I was hoping to take Thursday for some 90’s. We entered for the 90open at Horseheath, which unfortunately got abandoned due to the recent dry spell and hot weather. Such a shame!

Hopefully our luck will improve during August!

Coral x

The month started at Market Bosworth Country Show, which we have just found out was the very last show. We have thoroughly enjoyed competing in the side saddle classes at this show and it will be greatly missed. Huge thanks to all the volunteers involved in the running of the show over the years. We entered 3 side saddle classes and came away with 2 2nds and a 3rd.…

The following week found us back astride and attending unaffiliated dressage. We won our Prelim class on our highest score to date of 78.8% and were 2nd in the Novice with 75%.

Just 2 days later found us in the 17th Century, portraying the cavalry of that era at Kimbolton Country Fair. We did 2 half an hour displays with the foot and spent the rest of the time in the shade of some huge trees, keeping cool.…

We are now on the final countdown to this year’s Side Saddle Nationals at Addington Equestrian Centre. As we are doing some jumping classes, we attended a side saddle jumping day. We had great fun learning with friends and now feel more ready for the Nationals.…

Our last show of the month was another side saddle show at a new location for us. We entered four classes and came away with two 1sts and two 2nds.…

At the beginning of the month we moved Balli to HMSEA in Albourne and she has settled in so well.
On the 16th Katelyn took Rachel’s horse Spirit to Area Showjumping for SDHW Pony Club as an individual in the open section which is 1.10m in the first round. They achieved the treble clear and won. This means they qualified for the National Championship in August. After this Katelyn was then asked if she would like to be a part of an Area 11 team and therefore they will also be competing as a team member along with being an individual.
Then Katelyn helped Kirsty Mepham and Dressage at Hickstead at Hickstead’s Royal International Show this past week, with ticket sales and then helping Kirsty with getting the horses ready for their classes.
Katelyn also took Balli to a training session at Hascombe Farm with SDHW PC and she was amazing taking being in a new place superbly. With Balli being on Fibre Beet she has been coping with this heat a lot better with keeping her hydrated and with enough energy.
For Rachel and Spirit they only had the one competition and that was Hickstead where they did the 1.20m open and got just a pole but was really pleased with the round as she made it look like nothing and this is with the help of her amazing feed she is currently on fibre beet. Which had helped her keep her weight on and given her the most amazing coat!! We have moved yards this month and now in preparation for the next Hickstead with a few shows between.

This July we have been very busy, we started off with a win at Arthington Show with Dr Rodens, Rocky Clover, and then took champion coloured horse, it was a great day out followed by a super picnic.
Mr Pikkert went out dancing to Manor Grange Stud with his freestyle to music to win with over 68%, I was really proud of my test to dance music Dario G. Judge, Andrea Smith, loved both our music and floor plan with some super feedback.
Also this month we said bye to a little ‘Welshie’ we had called Stanley. He’s headed down south to a dressage yard to start his education with his new owner. We wish them lots of luck.
As we say bye to one, another one arrives! My sister, Julia, has been looking for a horse for almost three years and we actually found one at a local show! We approached the owners with wow he’s lovely then asked if he would ever be for sale, and she said it might be a possibility! So two days later we end up trying him and then buy him from them. 
His name is Drover and he’s a coloured cob X Friesian, he’s 8 years old but hasn’t done much at all. My sister and I are now training him up for some dressage and showing. He’s a lovely big lad with a huge neck!
Hope to keep you all posted on our new arrival Drover and how QD Life of Riley gets on in the show ring.
I can’t believe we are in August already… where has this year gone?

Once again the horses have taken a slight back seat as I work to finish my MSc Pharmacology course. I am currently in the thick of my final research project and have been spending an awful lot of time stuck in the labs at NTU recently. Thankfully the end is in sight and I am in the process of writing up my final piece of work and will be finished in September!

The horses are all well and have been enjoying hacking in the evenings when I get back from Uni and the temperature has dropped a little. Otherwise, they are getting increasingly fed up of the heat and the awful flies that come with it. Harry is getting fitter by the day and has his first outing in a while this weekend to a fun training camp. I’m sure he will be very glad to be back out and leaving the ground again!
Rosie has been going well after having had some time off with a bruised sole. She is now entered in two events so I am looking forward to getting her out and about again!
Last but not least is superstar Kenko, who jumped his first novice double clear at Buckminster to pick up his first BE point and top 10 placing! Not bad considering he only began eventing this time last year! Kenko is off to Somerford Park to compete in his first 1* which is very exciting, and I am really looking forward to being back out at an international event. He is feeling great and going very well so fingers crossed it’ll be his time to shine!
Now Harry is back up and running the aim is to let him go out and have some fun over the winter and possibly do some team chasing and a few hound exercises where he can enjoy himself. Although, I’m not sure how enjoyable it will be for me hanging on for dear life!
In the meantime I still have my fingers crossed for some slightly cooler weather so the horses are more comfortable and I can concentrate on writing my dissertation. There just aren’t enough hours in the day!

As I sit here reflecting on the last few weeks, it strikes me that often we’re all so very busy doing the doing, we often forget to take stock of what we’ve achieved. A shoeing customer of mine I visited recently revealed she keeps a diary – I mean a proper diary of thoughts, actions and achievements, not the appointment type! A once professional showjumper running alongside the greats including Ted Edgar, Lionel Dunning, John and Michael Whitaker. She’s since retired but the stories, journeys, encounters and experiences she recounts from her professional jumping days are inspiring. It left me wondering once I’d left if I sometimes need to press the pause button, take time to reflect and enjoy even the smallest (getting the new four year old to walk around the school without trying to deposit me on the floor!) a bit more…

July has been another fun filled month, with lots of trips out. We took a trip to our local agricultural show, Ashby. It takes place literally in the next door field to where we live, so we had a bird’s eye view of their extensive ground preparations for the equestrian rings. They watered the arenas twice every day for the week before the event, meaning the footing was perfect on show day. We took three horses to jump the BS classes – Mindy, Pluto and F. The plan was to jump Mindy in the 90cm Open and the other two in the Newcomers (1.10m)… the plan didn’t work out! We arrived in what we thought was plenty of time, to discover Mindy’s class had finished already! It was only 9.30am! Disappointingly, the showjumping entries were very low. The ring looked fabulous, such a shame for the organisers. Both Pluto and F jumped great rounds in the Newcomers, for a really unlucky pole down each.

Back at the lorry, we had a quick chat and decided to give Mindy her first crack at Newcomers. She’s been out competing over 1m and 1.05m tracks confidently and we felt this was too good an opportunity to miss. Getting horses exposed to a main ring atmosphere is invaluable and by the time we went into the arena, the spectators lined the arena – it was great! She cantered into that ring, and felt fab. We jumped around growing in confidence all the way, and she jumped her white socks off! She had a couple of spooky moments, one resulting in a pole on the floor (I don’t think she liked the song the band were playing just outside the arena!) but I’m just so proud of her performance.

A moment to reflect… At the start of this summer season, we spooked, slithered and ground to halt at anything remotely ‘scary’, so we’ve come a long way in such a short time.

My main man Ash (Ufonzo) finally got a spin around the lovely Frickley Park Horse Trails! We made a very last minute call to the secretary after we’d had a deluge of rain the day before. They were so accommodating; I simply can’t thank them enough. I think Ash was as pleased to be out eventing as I was! He was a little bright in the dressage, but still managed to lead the class by some way! He jumped a lovely clear – despite a very scary moment when he spooked at the second fence… I’m sure he was just checking I was still on my toes!

We headed into the xc phase well in the lead. Now I’m extremely competitive, so having to run around slowly when you’re leading and you know your horse can win hands down was tough, BUT, it’s taken a long time to be able to kick on out of that start box! My horse is just awesome, he jumped around like he’d never had a day from the sport. He is truly class and it was so good to have him back! He finished and washed down well, we were thrilled. I’m not going to lie, it was a heart in mouth moment when we trotted him up the following morning – it’s always a tense moment, but coming back from even the smallest injury, well… you get the idea! He trotted a little stiff but that was to be expected, but all was good! Hurrah! The boy is back… but and there’s a very big BUT… we took him for a sign off scan with our vet, Alex Knott, and thankfully all looks really good but after long discussions with Alex, taking into consideration the current ground conditions and weather forecast we have taken the decision to focus on next year. It’s gutting because I really wanted to have a crack at the 8/9yo 3* at Blenheim but he’s a really talented horse and therefore we have to look at the bigger picture. I’m going have to settle for a winter of dressage and showjumping instead!

A final moment to reflect… It’s all too easy to get bogged down and sometimes overwhelmed by the ‘day to day’ chores, bills to pay, work etc. but always try to remember…

Unless you feel the rain, you don’t get to experience the rainbow!

Kick on and stay safe

Another month and more competition prep… I think soon will be a time for putting our feet up and chilling out!

The end of July was the first rounds of the Area Festivals and August sees us at the Summer Regionals trying to get that all important National Qualification.

In our quest to practice the advance medium test before the festivals we travelled to a couple of new venues. The heat is not Stanley’s favourite but given the excessive summer weather he has actually tried really hard.

At Cherwell he managed to pull off two good tests. Medium 73 we won on a score of 69.26% (God forbid we actually ever make it to 70!). We stepped out of our comfort zone for the Advance Medium and had a go at the festival test. The good bits were super and we nailed those awful pirouettes in both tests – miracles do happen! As the judge said it’s a pity our changes are a work in progress (at least they appeared today even if they were late and rather wobbly to start). We finished the fifth and final one on a 6.5 though! – “As it is expensive where marks are concerned”.
Still, we got some good marks including an 8 from a list 1 judge, so I was very pleased with a score of 65% not too far behind some very smart horses!
After couple of lessons we took a long drive down to Windmill Farm for more ‘new venue spook busting’ and another shot at a couple of Advance Mediums.
For the first time I really felt like he kept his power and connection through all the movements, especially in trot. Yes, he still needs to get stronger and sit and take more weight behind for really big marks but… imagine my surprise when I saw the scoreboard after the AM 85 and we broke that 70% barrier! We still haven’t managed it at Medium. A list 2 judge and on the whole a sheet full of 7 and 7.5s with just the occasional oops moment!
In the AM 91 test he felt tired by the end but still kept more engagement and was really focussed. Again lots of fabulous marks until the end where again we got the comment… “Shame about the lost marks near the end of the test.” However this time it wasn’t due to our interesting changes – they are still interesting but slightly better this time ranging from 4-7! – but more due to the rider on top who had a complete brain fade and ended up freestyling some interesting lines in roughly the right direction! Throwing away precious marks is really frustrating! Still 68.2% meant we left with a big smile on our faces!
No more time for training it was straight on to the Area Festivals and hoping that our changes would come together on the day!

As you can see from the photo someone had an absolute ball! Luckily he saved his party tricks for the prize giving.

I was really pleased with the test. I felt it could have had more forward tendency but the work was smooth and accurate and 4 out of 5 changes were significantly improved! We finished second in the Advance Medium Bronze qualifying for the semi-finals! We are still new at this level and it certainly wasn’t mistake free, but it makes the future even more exciting.

What a month we have had! My horse just tries so hard and I am so lucky to have him looking and feeling on top form. Next stop for us is the regionals… let’s hope we can forget the changes for Medium level and pull out a good test! We will keep you informed next month!

Hannah & Stanley