Wow, Tilly and I have now done our first big ‘staying away from home’ show and we had an amazing time at the Side Saddle National Championships.
Tilly had the luxury of an indoor stable with rubber mats, and a water tap nearby, while I had a camp bed set up in my horse trailer.
The first day we took part in the Newcomers Equitation, and were delighted to come 10th in a very large class. We were having a few issues with our saddle, so I got a saddler to have a quick look at it for me. It was decided that I had better not jump in it, until it had had some work done on it, so I had to withdraw from my jumping class.
We came second in Versatile Horse, which was basically a bit of a handy pony course, were we all had fun and supported each other.
Our last class of the show was the Champagne Challenge. I managed to lose most of the contents of my glass as soon as we went into trot. There is definitely a technique for holding your glass and keeping the liquid in, and my friends and I look forward to having another go next year.
We were also asked by a friend who was hosting an RDA lunch, if we could do a short side saddle demo for them this month. It was local to us, so we rode there. As I was riding on a very busy main road, I did make sure we were wearing hi-viz.
As I had been finding Tilly rather strong when riding in company this year, I have recently started going out with a local Bloodhound Hunt on their hunt rides before the season starts. The first time we really struggled with control as Tilly was trying to race everyone, but each time we have been out since, Tilly has got better and better and no longer has to race. As we go into winter and the ground is no longer so hard, we can then take part in the jumping, instead of going around the fences as we do now.
Finally, we are starting to get back into a more ‘normal’ routine! My shoulder is starting to feel better, although I have to have it heavily strapped up when riding… yes riding! Hoorah! Madly, it’s less painful riding than putting my shirt on!
Knowing how sensitive Ash is, I was desperate to get back on and start to rebuild his confidence in our partnership. The last time I rode him we had an absolutely crunching fall, hurting us both! Over the next few days I focused on restoring his confidence in me, it’s the most important thing for me to regain his trust.
We managed to get an entry into our first CIC2* and I was incredibly excited to be stepping up a level! Somerford Park is one of the highlights of my eventing season as it’s such a fabulous facility. As we drove through the gates, I was obviously a little nervous… we were lacking a bit of match practice and we were stepping up a level too! I had every confidence in our ability, we had been working hard at home all season, but this was the real deal! After a detour to get an emergency repair done to the lorry, we arrived later than planned and in the dark – a massive thanks to Simon at Albatross Horseboxes who dropped everything to help us out and thankfully we could now see as we had lights!
We unloaded and the horses settled quickly, perhaps an advantage of arriving late! With the weather forecast less than ideal, and my enforced grounding we were definitely facing a challenge! Thankfully the rain stayed away for our test. Ash warmed up nicely, and I felt confident we could perform a good test. Our time had come and we were called into the arena… Ash spooked and jibbed around the outside of the arena – the dragons were back, and not just in the judge’s booths! I halted, gave him a reassuring pat and set off again… My dragon fighting obviously worked! We entered the arena and picked up fabulous soft rhythm, and produced some really pleasing work… a little tense in the walk piri, and a very costly break in the counter canter, BUT a dragon free zone! I was delighted. A score of 53.1 which left us in the top half of the leader board, despite our very costly mistakes.
The cross country walked well, with a couple of really tricky questions, which I like! One came fairly early on, a double of hedges on a curving line to a skinny brush – it was little bit of a head scratcher as depending on your line, your striding was going to change. There was also a large table coming up quickly off a long run downhill, then it was a sharp left hand turn to a big corner. I went into the start box feeling a little nervous, but confident in our ability to come home clear… And we did!
Ash gave me a fabulous ride, confident and classy. We knew we had time faults, but as we were a little short of match practice, and I was heavily strapped up too, I decided to ride without my watch and just go out to ride a good forward ‘Intermediate’ rhythm. So with all this in mind, I was utterly delighted with my 6.4 time faults leaving us 19th out of 75 starters with a very, very classy double clear!
So, it’s coming to the final flurry for our season and we head to Allerton Park for the Intermediate and then to Osberton for the Young Horse Championships, God willing of course!
So until next time…
Kick on and stay safe!
Well, I thought we were just getting going again after a funny start to the season and some fantastic runs and placings. However, Hartpury, our first three-day-event of the year really wasn’t going to happen from the get go! Harry was questionably sound at the first trot up following a kick from my naughty three-year-old, Rosie. It was just behind the shoulder and having been fine at home he seemed to have stiffened up during the three-hour journey and was held by the vets. The holding box vet was reasonably happy with the explanation and I was passed upon re-inspection. The only downside was having the FEI vet watching my warm up and test and having to ride in a jump saddle as the dressage went right over the area of the kick. This meant it wasn’t our best effort in the dressage arena and we were awarded a very average mark.
Thankfully Harry seemed to be absolutely fine in the XC warm up, none the worst for his kick earlier in the week and he set off extremely well on the course. Jumping everything well… right up until to a huge parallel of rails with a ditch out of the wood. I saw a spectator at the string appearing to gesture to me and I thought she was telling me to stop! It all happened so fast and I quickly realised that the fence judges weren’t stopping me at all and the fence was right in front of me and poor Harry had nowhere to go but in the ditch. Unscathed, we retired and walked home with Harry wondering why he couldn’t carry on!
Oh well onwards and upwards!
Following Hartpury, we managed a late entry into Keysoe Intermediate, hoping to have an easy ride to check whether our incident at Hartpury had done any lasting damage!! Harry was awesome and absolutely cruised round the XC to finish seventh!
We are now heading to Gatcombe CIC2* and then to Osberton CCI2* to finish the season!!
August brought a few more firsts for us, it started with doing our first Elementary Freestyle test. Having not ridden to music since our amazing time at the Winter Championships I was slightly apprehensive, especially as we had some new canter music which required my simple changes to be in exactly the right place or it sounds out of time! It was also quite emotional as dressage to music was mums favourite and I remember so clearly her beaming smile at Hartpury, I managed to hold back the tears but I was pretty choked up by the end.
We had only been through the test once so I was really pleased that he did a lovely fluent test with lots of 7’s and 7.5 and only a couple of lower marks for things like right leg yield where he tripped and stumbled. We did however get some super lovely comments from the judge, who thinks he has lots of potential but is just inexperienced and weak at this level. We finished with 70.2% and third place in some really competitive company and we left with very big smiles!
After this we did more hacking and enjoyed the lovely countryside in the sun. When we went in the school we started to focus more on collection, especially in the canter doing lots of forwards and back to avoid him becoming tense and stuck. He was doing some really lovely work and I was really looking forward to my lesson with Sara Jane to show her how far he had come. He had had a very easy week leading up to this due to my shifts and to say he was fresh is an understatement! We had to laugh at him or we probably would have cried, he careered around doing whatever he wanted in the pouring rain! Delightful! Saying that… the power he gave me when his brain was engaged… WOW! If I can harness all of that and turn it into real dressage moves, then I will be a very happy mummy!
Thank goodness the naughty horse made up for his behaviour after this and his halo was placed back between his ears. We have been doing lots of collected canter, counter canter and simple changes to improve his ability to sit and have power into an uphill frame. This is helping towards his flying changes which he is really starting to understand now.
We also had a professional photo shoot… what an experience! I hate the camera but Tammy Lovell made me feel so relaxed and it was so much fun, a real laugh and now I have some beautiful photos to treasure forever.
Someone did however tell him that we had a competition planned and he didn’t want to go play coming in from the field in the morning looking like he’d done a round of boxing with a big swollen eye! Luckily it went straight back to normal by the evening so who knows what he had been doing! I was very lucky and was able to go and write for the classes I should have been riding in, this is invaluable and I learn so much from watching and listening for what the judge is looking for.
Another lesson this week saw us run through E59 which we haven’t done before, I was very pleased with how it went for our first run through and am looking forward to going out at the weekend and seeing what the judge thinks.
September brings lots of exciting things, some more competitions, lessons and we have entered the Area Festivals so are going to go camping for a night and stable over. This also coincides with my birthday so let’s hope he gives me a nice present!
We hope you all had a good month and enjoy the few remaining evenings being able to ride before darkness sets in!
Hannah & Stanley
Alice Springs has stepped up a level this month! We really enjoyed competing at a new venue on the BE calendar, HorseHeath. Alice felt so ready to go pre-novice and posted a respectable 33.8 dressage. We had one pole in the showjumping phase and went clear XC within the time to finish 15th. The venue was lovely and mum was able to film us all the way around the XC course.
I have a slightly quirky warm-up routine with Alice and I like to lead her down to the collecting rings rather than ride her down. She likes to get on and get cracking with her work and it makes things easier for me if I can get legged up and ride a few circles to settle her, rather than battle to hold her down the horse walk when she’s excitable to get going! Therefore, I was a little concerned that the XC warm-up was a short walk away from the start box. We managed to jog down the horse walk with some added shoulder-in along the way – so that went much better than I had thought it would have too!
Last weekend I was supposed to be taking Thursday to Keysoe for the BE90 Open. Unfortunately, whilst I was teaching on Monday evening Thursday got impatient knowing that it was almost her tea time and she was still turned out in the field. On Tuesday morning she was slightly lame on her right hind leg from running around the field and although after a couple of days rest she was back sound again, I decided it would be best to swap horses and take Alice to the event instead. It was frustrating as I was so looking forward to taking Thursday, but probably a very sensible decision.
Alice had lost a shoe but luckily our super farrier managed to squeeze her in on Saturday afternoon so that we had four shoes on to compete on the Sunday. Although I felt really unprepared Alice scored her personal best ever dressage score of 30.5 which I was just delighted with! We then went on to have two rather unlucky poles in the showjumping and got totally drenched in the rain but went clear XC to finish 10th. I now plan to try to fit in some jumping lessons for Alice with Tiny and possibly squeeze in another BE100 before the end of the season with her too.
In other news, we have been running Pony Club camps and activity days this month – which were all great fun! More UKCC training was involved as well and we got our hot horse shower up and running so the ponies have been spoilt with that, and they smell and look lush after their warm baths!
We’ve had one of our older Pony Club members spend a few days with us on work experience this month too, it was lovely having an extra pair of hands on the yard! So a big thank you to Nat if you are reading this blog!
We’ve finished building the new rug room too which is now beautifully organised with washed and bagged rugs lined up on shelves in size, type and even colour order!
Catch up in September,
This month me and Spirit went to the Pony Club School teams at Hickstead. Spirit and I went clear round in the outer ring which went towards our team qualifying for the International Arena. Unfortunately, we then had a pole down so no individual placings but our team finished sixth out of 21 teams.
Spirit had been very jealous the previous week of me and Summer meeting Batch and Pwoducer from Wocket Woy. She went one step better at Hickstead… Batch rode her and she was the star of one of their video. Overall a great day with some great people and a great laugh!
A few days later we went to Brendon Stud to jump the 1.10m and 1.20m but we didn’t have the best day. We did however discover some underlying issues that are now being sorted so we took that as a learning curve.
We have also been to the KW Academy and had a much better. She had so much more movement throughout and was a lot more forward after her acupuncture.
Now we are just preparing for Hickstead where we will be doing the 1.10m amateur classes again.
This month we have sold QD Keepsake, one of our homebred youngsters also known as Tiffany to everyone at home, to the Harker family. She has just passed her vetting and will leave the yard in October. We are very excited about this youngster as she has super movement and high quality breeding, she’s by Foundation from Paul Schockemoehle’s yard. She is out of a showjumping mare by Veron, which came from the VDL stud in Holland.
Also this month we have had our Welsh section D stallion, Jack, home from Doncaster Wildlife Park, as his rider Ben has gone on holiday so Jack came home for a holiday too! We have also had Equivisions designing us some music for his freestyle, which Ben will hopefully aim him at next month. He has also had treatment from Anoush at Equine Performance Therapy who came to give him a massage and also he’s had his wolf teeth out… which were huge!
I have been busy helping my clients and sister Julia at various shows. Julia rode Rocky in the open coloured class at Tockwith and finished second. I’ve also been training young Connie Tasker, she’s only seven-years-old. She has been doing really well winning her dressage and a one-day event, and I’m very proud of their achievements.
It’s now that time of year in Holland when there are lots of auctions on, especially foals! One highlight for us was that a Governor foal was sold for €31,000, and the mare of this foal was closely related to our mare Cappuccino, who is in foal to Governor for 2017!! So that’s great to see.
Next month I will be chatting about our trip to Holland where we are visiting two foal auctions, some private breeders and some friends. There may be a bit of horse shopping too?! But will it be horse clothing or NEW HORSES?? We shall see, follow my next blog to find out what happens!
From Sarah & QD horses