February has been such a busy month for me this year. With the event season just around the corner and dissertation hand in looming ever closer. So, what better idea than to have another horse come over to Hartpury for a few weeks?! This decision wasn’t entirely intentional and came about after my younger brother Ben inconsiderately managed to break his hand whilst playing rugby, rendering him totally useless and of course unable to ride. So, Ben was all plastered up and shortly afterwards his lovely big horse Barney made the trip to Hartpury for me to keep him ticking over in the run up to the event season.
Naturally, I saw this as a fantastic opportunity and was straight onto the local hunt, the Ledbury, to find out when their next meet was. I hunted Barney over Christmas and he proved to be an excellent hunter so I was very keen to get out for a spot of hedge hopping to take my mind off my dissertation. Conveniently, the meet was hacking distance away from the Hartpury yard and we had an absolutely lovely day out. Of course, it wasn’t all fun and games and we got some really good schooling sessions in too during the two weeks that Barney was here.
All too soon however, Ben was on the mend and also on the way to pick Barney up to go to Somerford for PC winter camp. Apparently he went very well so clearly the hunting did him some good…haha, I must take him again!
As she was making the journey anyway and Hartpury didn’t need the extra stable back, my Mum suggested bringing Rosie (my 3 rising 4 year old who I very lightly backed over Christmas) over just for the week to see a few things and have a play. Of course, I jumped at the opportunity and have just come to the end of a week of playing with baby ponies – one of my favourite things to do! It’s so rewarding watching (and feeling) them learn and she has come on so much this week. From a completely overwhelmed, slightly wild baby to an actually quite smart, grown up horse! She has even had her first jump, which at the beginning of the week I would not have expected in the slightest. She is now going home to have a few weeks to chill and think about what she’s learnt before I get to go home at Easter, crack on with her education and take her to some pony club rallies etc!
Harry on the other hand is a fresh as anything at the moment and so ready to start eventing again. I am loving riding him because he is so full of energy. A stark difference to when he was feeling under the weather at the end of last year. This week I had an academy lesson where we were lucky enough to have John Leddingham come in to teach us and Harry had a great time storming around and jumping brilliantly around a decent track despite his enthusiasm. I can’t wait to get going again with him and I have entered my first event of the season, the CIC* at Aldon.
Until then I am cracking on with my dissertation for which the deadline is getting nearer and nearer. I am not stressing as of yet but we shall see what happens after my data collection this weekend!
We’ve literally just learned that we’ve been selected on to the training squad for team GB’s European 2* Championships in July! Wooohooo – thrilled is an understatement!
We headed to the selection camp during Storm Doris, it really was the worst conditions we’ve ever had to drive and ride in. We were first up at 9.30am so we had an early start and headed down the drive at 6.45am to get to Aston le Walls in plenty of time. The weather forecast was terrible, and for once, typically, they were spot on – conditions were worse than terrible. After a stressful journey, we arrived at 8.45am and I met the selectors.
Due to the conditions, timings were all over the place, and to be fair, the team of selectors had their work cut out just keep things going at all! We had a session on the flat where we were asked to perform our normal warm-up routine for a 2* competition with the selectors watching and providing feedback. We were then put into a group of four to perform some of the team test movements, which wasn’t fun – particularly as it was virtually impossible to hear the instructions from the trainer as the winds by this time were gale force! I was so pleased with Ash, he tried so hard and loved the team test environment. We then had a jump, but as conditions were so bad we were only able to have a short session. We received great feedback on the day, which was great to hear as we head into a new season.
There’s still plenty to do, as we have more training camps to attend and the squad is reduced down from 16 to 12 in May, with eight riders being selected to travel to Belgium later in July. So we will be training harder than ever, and our season performance will be crucial, if everything goes to plan I believe we can do it!
Now, this winter the galloping greys have been battling mud fever – it’s been terrible this year with both Ash and Heidi suffering particularly badly to the extent they have had to be treated with steroids and antibiotics. We feel like we have literally tried everything and still it gets them! Sadly for the first time, we have had to say no turnout for a while until we get on top of it. So, if anyone has got any miracle cures, the horses will be thrilled to get back to normality!
Finally, we are sending healing wishes to Ben, who is Morka’s owner, after he was badly injured in a car accident during storm Doris. Fight hard Ben, we want to see you cheering your lovely horse on at Chatsworth this year.
Dream big, kick on and stay safe!
February – Regionals month!
The month started well with another mention and a lovely photo in the Horse & Hound from our win at Snowball Farm in January. It made us smile and combined with our score at Merrist Wood left us in a positive mood about the impending Regional Championships!
Or so we thought…… as a last run we decided to head down to Sparsholt for one straight test and a music run-through, the first of the new floorplan in front of a judge!
I think we will just conclude that Sparsholt is not the venue for us. The wildlife in the form of sheep and cows is clearly too traumatic for a black pony who can’t remember he lives next to them at home, lol!
After an interesting warm up I managed to nurse him round the Elementary, most of which didn’t feel too bad just a bit tense! We won the silver section and came 5th overall but it was certainly not his best performance.
Indoors to the music test….. I’ve never ever retired before this day, but I did. He was so tense and worried I felt like I was giving a ‘freestyle’ test a new meaning!. After reminding myself I only compete for fun I decided I wasn’t exactly enjoying it, and didn’t want to finish on a bad note. The kind judge let me trot him around the arena and once the pressure was taken off he did take a breath and start to listen. Perhaps not the ideal situation going to the regionals without ever having ridden our test in front of a judge, but hey there wasn’t much we could do!
There wasn’t much time to think about it as less than a week later, after a few last minute hints and tips from the lovely Sarah Ansty, and we were at Merrist Wood.
The first of our two days at the Winter Regional Championships was for the Freestyle to Music class. Thankfully it was less ‘freestyle’ than the week before and I was over the moon to finish 4th in a really classy field on 71.2%. Especially as we had a technical malfunction and the music turned off half way through, panic! I had to pick him back up mid test once they restarted the music and carry on…. not the best time to experience that for the first time!
We were very lucky that a friend let us stay at her yard for the night to save so much travelling and hopefully conserve some of Stanleys energy before the next morning when we were back for the straight Elementary test.
On Saturday morning not even the snow could stop us. I enjoyed every minute of the test we produced – he was forwards, obedient and smiled throughout. After the music test both the judge and my wonderful trainer both told me to be brave, ‘go for gold’, ask for more and show off my lovely boy. Well we tried our best and again finished 4th on 69.8%. What a boy I have. He has finished in the top 10 at every championship we have been too, bar the first one at prelim when he was 11th! He’s super special and always makes all our hard work pay off.
Since then he has had a few quiet weeks to give his muscles and brain a rest and I have been sat here with myfFingers, toes and everything crossed that perhaps my freestyle score might be good enough for a wild card at the Winter Championships.
If you have been at the Regionals I hope it has been equally as successful and if your event season is about to begin; Good Luck, Smile and ENJOY.
Hannah & Stanley xx
Another Bloodhounds meet, this one just 10 minutes down the road. Yet again, we jumped more than we had previously. Lots of traditional hunt jumps which included some we hadn’t been brave enough to jump during hunt rides earlier in the season.
I attended a side saddle rally on jumping, were we watched side saddle riders of various experiences, learning and showing us how to jump side saddle properly. As soon as I got home I set up my limited jumps the same way they had in our school. We have done a fair amount of jumping over the last couple of years, but it’s always good to learn.
Tilly is now registered with British Eventing so we could take part in one of their arena events. We were first to go and unfortunately had a pole down, so no placing this time, but we look forward to competing arena eventing with BE next winter.
During a dry sunny day, we took the opportunity to get some jumping practice in, and get some photos of me in my side saddle habit.
We went out and did our first clear round show jumping side saddle. It was not the smoothest of rounds as it was a bit tight for a side saddle course, but we got around clear and got a lovely purple rosette for our efforts. We also had a side saddle jumping lesson the following week.
We faired a lot better than others during the recent storm, just loosing part of the front of the roof of Tillys stable.
Tilly and I met some of the other ladies we will be doing some side saddle historical displays with this summer. We are at some amazing locations, so are really looking forward to them. Here are some photos from our get together.
Practising our brush fence jumping side saddle:-
Then we finished the month the same way we started, an outing with the Farmers Bloodhounds. This is the last meet I can get to with them this season. We didn’t jump much as Tilly decided the ground was just not to her liking, although did take me over a decent size jump right at the end that I was sure she would refuse as soon as she got close and realised how big it was, but the ground must have met her standards as she flew over it beautifully. A great way to end the season with them.
Well it’s almost four weeks now since Frankie was born, he’s doing really well, and we have a good bed time routine – like my horses it’s great to have a routine! He’s growing out of his clothes too quickly!
Now for the horses, we are two weeks away from our foal count down. Our broodmare is in foal to Governor, we have high hopes, as I’m hoping to have a black healthy colt! That would be a dream come true.
I’m back teaching now, and even got a trainee riding a few of the quieter horses, to help get them fit. I have been out and about steady away lunging, with help from my sister. My scar is healing well, but I’m very stiff and aching. Boo it’s just time, I think in a week maybe I can get on an easy horse.
This month we headed to a very strong regional championship, at Addington Manor Equestrian centre. We took our five year old Welsh D stallion for the novice freestyle championship. He was a real star, took it all in his stride, and got some super comments from two judges about his music, but the third judge didn’t think it suited so well, which was a shame. He got 8th place out of 30 competitors. If the third judge had enjoyed his music I actually think we would have qualified for Hartpury! But we are still very chuffed with him. He’s still young, so what an exciting 2017 we will have.
All the best, Sarah and the QD Horses.
Robbie and I went to an eventer trial at Burnham Market at the weekend. It was the first time back working on grass for him this year and I thought he may be a little fresh. He behaved impeccably well for me – we were a little rusty in the showjumping and had a pole but he was great around the xc! Jumping clear and like he had been out competing all winter! My next plan is to find a practice event somewhere to get Alice up and running at a competition again.
Storm Doris caused chaos at the yard last week, ripping off tiles from the stable roof and taking down trees – one being straight through our electric cables, which was rather scary!!! The horses had a duvet day that day!
Again, a lot of my time this month has been taken with teaching. The Sunday before last was my first day of 2017 that I hadn’t taught a lesson! We ran a yard day for the pony clubbers in half term week and one of the girls I regularly teach took advantage of the week off school and bought her pony over for a week’s training with me. She’s now ended up staying on as a new livery and has based both of her ponies with us.
All our horses have just recently changed onto a new wood pellet bedding. Which so far, I’m finding a lot quicker to muck out – meaning more time for riding and other yard jobs! With the days starting to pull out now, we’re spending less time with the arena floodlights on and all the horses are looking forward to spending more time out at grass and getting on to their summer grazing paddocks. They all still come in at night however, and although we cut out their winter lunch time feeds, we’ll still be feeding Speedi-Beet both morning and evening!
Attached is a photo of Robbie the day before his eventer trial having had his first bath of the year after rolling in all the mud!!
Catch up in March,
So a great day for our first show of the outdoor season 2017. We gained a super double clear in the 1m Open class at Felbridge. Unfortunately she has a swollen fetlock at the moment so things have grounded to a halt. But she is getting better fingers crossed so we should be getting back into the swing of things and back out competing.