The following weekend was another busy one, we were competing in the 80cm Arena Eventing with Lands Eventing on the Saturday. After a lovely clear round, Tilly and I finished fourth.
Some photos of Tilly’s reaction to some wild Fallow Deer appearing in the next field.
We finished the month off with a Prelim dressage test where we managed a very respectable third, despite Tilly being distracted by a group of horses trotting up the road as we went into our free walk, resulting in her head shooting up and her ears pinging forward!
I also enjoyed some much-needed family time with my dad and sister, sunning myself on a tropical island and drinking cocktails! It has to be said that returning to England to find in freezing cold and dark at four o’clock was a bit of a shock! The summer wardrobe (which I had refused to put away before the holiday), has been banished and I’ve unearthed my fleeces and scarves for the next few months.
After Stanley’s rather exciting behaviour at Sparsholt I decided we needed to go and have another run through of our music, despite having a few weeks off. Unfortunately, the only competition was just a few days after we got back from holiday, which wasn’t ideal, but we just treated it as a training exercise to make sure Stanley hadn’t taken to spooking regularly. Luckily, he was well-behaved in the arena, although a little fresh, and I enjoyed listening to my new music again! Maybe a little too much, as I got a little hurried which meant he lost some of his elasticity and suppleness. We still finished on 69.8% (oh so close to that elusive 70%!!), and were placed third.
Back to the drawing board for me to make a pre-regional plan, which will include lots of lessons (which we desperately need), and perhaps next month’s update may include a report of the first ever medium test for both of us!
We hope everyone has a lovely Christmas and that you get everything you want. Stanley definitely has some more matching accessories on his list!
Hannah & Stanley
So, today is my birthday and I’m sitting down writing my November blog while eating a big fat slice of chocolate cake, yum! My pressie from Mum and Dad today was just what every girl with ponies needs, a super-cool new bright orange wheelbarrow!
It’s been a little quieter for me this month – the competition horses have had some time off to chill after a busy eventing season. I’ve being doing a few light and easy schooling sessions with them but nothing too demanding at the moment. This has given me some time to get a small amount of my never-ending job list ticked off, such as clipping and hoovering cobwebs out of the stables. We try to monitor our paddocks and save them for summer grazing, so the horses have had a fair few walker days recently. We’re just about ready to pick back up again and start to do a bit more ridden work again.
In the meantime, I’ve kept working away with Darcy who is now six, but finally growing up and coming good! I took her around the new xc course at home earlier this month while the weather was still fine, which was her first real xc schooling session. We’ve popped over a few odd solid fences but I was only expecting her to jump around the smaller course we have. She really impressed me by flying over the 90cm fences, including her first small steps up and down, and loved it!
Darcy is a funny character, she’s very strong willed and stubborn so it’s taken a fair while (and an awful lot of patience!) to get her brain on my side! She is sometimes too clever for her own good – typical mare! If you’ve followed my blogs for some time now, you’ll remember that she hadn’t had any handling at all until I got her as a three-year-old, so missed out on a lot in her early life. I would say we have a strong bond now and she’ll quite often do things for me, but give other people a hard time about it! I’ve never been in a rush with her and decided to keep plodding along at her pace and to see what comes of it. I haven’t got high expectations of her, although I would love to get her out eventing – which is slowly starting to look more likely! She finds her flatwork quite easy when she puts her mind to it, although she enjoys her jumping the most. I’m not sure what she will think about the water when it comes to taking her xc elsewhere, but it should be interesting!
We’ve taken on a couple of new liveries at the yard this month, which is a new side-line for us and I have been extra busy with teaching recently too. We ran an “I’m a Pony Clubber, Get Me Outa Here” day for the children this month, which went down with a scream! Lots of messy games and lots of fun had. We’re just in the process of organising our annual Christmas Gymkhana. We’ve also been ripping our tack room to pieces and having some re-organisation, there’s always something happening here!
Catch up in December!
It’s all been fun and games over at Hartpury this month! Harry is back from his recovery holiday following a virus and nasty secondary infection. Despite fooling us all by being fairly quiet for the first few days he is starting to feel much more like his normal self, which is great news! I’m taking things very steady, and have just been hacking and doing some easy schooling over the past few weeks to get back into the swing of things. We’d been warned not to rush things by the vet, as sometimes horses take a long time to recover from viruses, so I’m keeping things nice and easy for him at the moment. Harry is finding it all a little boring though and occasionally adds in his own bit of flair to these hacks or schooling sessions – usually in the form of a leap or a buck, or both! Luckily I’ve always got my trusty neck strap to hand!
We’re just starting to introduce some poles and I’m planning to have a jump with Hartpury Academy Director, Lizzel Winter, next week before he goes home for Christmas. Then the plan is to do a bit of showjumping and dressage over the holidays and get the ball rolling towards pre-season prep again. It all comes around so fast!
Somehow I have managed to choose my modules this year so that the majority of them fall into next semester! The result of which is that I have no exams this term, and a Christmas free of revision – yay! Or not… as I have one section of my AH test still to revise for. Plus, the downside is that I’m going to have a jam-packed semester to look forward to next year.
I am really looking forward to getting home for Christmas though and doing a bit more with Rosie. She is apparently desperate to continue with her education and has been causing havoc at home by being a little madam!
Still a couple of weeks to go though and Harry is stuck here for a little while longer. I’m not sure how he’s going to cope with saying goodbye to his absolute best friend Ernie (in photo) who he practically lives with here! They even share the same stable occasionally!
Happy Christmas everyone,
Finishing the season with a serious flourish!
What a difference a fortnight makes! After our tumble and disappointment at Osberton, we focused on rebuilding confidence. It was a fairly soft parting of company, but Ash is very sensitive so I wanted to ensure he felt comfortable in our partnership again. I was so grateful to the team at Aldon for getting me into the 2*.
It’s a long way from Leicestershire to Yeovil, but worth the trip as it’s a lovely event. We’d decided to get up early to hopefully get ahead of the rushing commuter traffic, so Ash was loaded, ramp closed and we headed down the drive at 4am. We had a dream journey, and four hours later we pulled off the M5. But as we came down the slip road, T who was driving, tried to change gear and realised we had no clutch!
A total nightmare – we were stranded on the M5 slip road, with cars and wagons screeching to avoid us – even with the use of a warning triangle! Thank goodness we had breakdown cover. SEIB our insurance brokers, were just fantastic: They organised a transport company to take Ash to the event, so he could go into a stable after being on the lorry for nearly five and half hours; and they got the lorry towed to the event site too. Finally we all arrived at Aldon, but it was hardly the start we wanted!
Time for a cuppa and a nice biscuit, courtesy of Izzy who had packed us off with a beautiful hamper, and then to get focused on the competition. Our dressage test was early the following morning, which enabled Ash to have a few hours to relax in the stable before having a leg stretch and a quick run through the test. He went really nicely, I was so pleased, but he’s a real professional when staying away from home, settling into the new surroundings and a new routine.
Competition day arrived, with T polishing and making Ash sparkle for the final time this season. We warmed up well, and then it was our turn to enter the arena. We strutted our stuff, toes pointed and we side-stepped our way through our test. I felt we had great connection, with an uphill frame and expressive paces, (despite a large spook at the judge in the next arena opening all her car doors during our test!), Ash managed to hold it together and performed well. I was thrilled with him, and we took second place overnight with 44.5!
Both of our jumping phases were taking place the following day, so I managed to walk the xc twice on the Saturday. The course is great for spectators as most of it can be viewed from one position. It was big and bold from moment you left the start box, and I did have a few head scratch moments at the tricky corner combination early on course and the triple brush combination which came up later. I was very mindful that I was riding into the unknown this time really, as Ash and I had never parted company before, and was a little unsure if that would affect him. I knew I’d have to be reactive, ride the first few fences positively, then hopefully settle him into a nice rhythm.
The show jumping course walked well, it was a long course and poles were coming down easily. The collecting ring was a little manic, making it difficult to get a fence and the ideal warm-up we needed. But fortunately, Ash jumped his socks off for a beautiful clear, meaning we were going into the xc phase in second place in a CIC2*! I really felt the pressure, especially as we fell last time out, but after a positive team talk we finalised our plan to focus on rebuilding Ash’s confidence for the future. He’s a great horse, and if we get things right, I have no doubt we are going to be at the very top of the sport.
Ash jumped the first fence huge, and at the second, he chipped in an extra stride, which was a little scary, and I realised he’d gone very green. I gave him a reassuring pat following the next few fences, with each fence rebuilding his confidence until we settled into a nice forward rhythm. We nailed the tricky corner combination, the drop hollow, water and triple bush, and I knew we were back firing on all cylinders. We crossed the finish line clear and, according to my watch, bang on the optimum time. To say we were thrilled is an understatement! Ash really showed his class, having started nervously, but he trusted me and dug deep to find his confidence – a world class horse! The icing on the cake was finishing in second place to Louise Harwood and her 3* horse!
The result means that Ash upgrades to Advance, at just seven-years-old. He’s been eventing for three seasons, but in reality he’s only done two and a half seasons, as this is his first full season going from Novice to Advance in points. He’s completed 22 events in his career so far and had some fabulous results, but we’ve done everything at his pace. I’m very conscious that with a horse of his talent, it would be easy to rush up the levels but my whole ethos is ‘future in mind’. Horses take years to produce properly and can be broken in minutes, both physically and mentally. Thankfully the home team of T and Izzy are of the same mind, so we are all on the same page when planning training and competition strategies for our horses.
Sadly our lorry remains broken, but fortunately we were still on a high after our great result while getting a lift home from our friend Laurence Hunt. It took T over nine hours to get back with the lorry on the back of a tow truck… I think we might need to find a lorry sponsor!
So, our season has come to an end with a massive flourish. It’s been a really up and down year – more about that next time, as well as some exciting news we’ve found out today!
Kick-on and stay safe!
This month has been a bit of a quiet month for me and Spirit as I have had a new job opportunity and Spirit has been moved to a new yard!
We did manage to squeeze in a competition in the last week of November at Felbridge Showground. Unfortunately we had an unlucky pole near the end of the course and I could feel Spirit had started to run out of steam.
I also managed to fit in a training session with Melissa Beer which was great and I got some good tips on how to get Spirit moving better. Other than that this month has been about the move and getting Spirit settled in her new home, moving all her bits and bobs and some training at home.