Sponsored riders December update

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Our Christmas holidays have flashed by and already its almost time to get back to work again! It’s gone awfully quickly to say the least! Christmas gymkhana with the pony clubbers was a blast, the weather held out for us and much like last year, I got to join in on the fun and make up the numbers on one of the teams again. Since then, the riding school ponies have had a relaxing couple of weeks off. We really got into the festive spirit this year and put “Christmas trees” up outside of the stables as well as in the house. We cheat a little and decorate snippings of the conifer trees that we then cable tie together … once it’s got all the tinsel and baubles on it doesn’t look too much different to a real Christmas tree and it stops Mum complaining that the needles have dropped everywhere and made a mess! Once Christmas is over, I usually nab the tree back to stand in a pot next to a cross country fence. Many of the pony clubbers had photos taken next to the trees with their favourite pony dressed in their tinsel covered bridles. We had Christmassy tunes playing down the yard whilst doing jobs and this year the ponies all got spoilt with new rubber feed skips to enjoy their Speedi-Beet out of, as well as extra carrots, apples and treats. On Christmas morning one of our liveries bought their whole family down to the yard early to help us do the mucking out in record time – it was a lovely surprise and so thoughtful!!

My competition horses have started to do a bit more this month. We picked back up with more schooling, some pole work exercises and I’ve now just set up the show jumps in the arena this week. Because I’ve kept them slowly ticking over anyway, they haven’t completely lost all fitness and it makes life easier for me to bring them back up again. With the days being shorter through the winter I do struggle to fit all my riding in on my own, so some of the horses will have a lunge session some days. Whilst we’re not out competing and we’re at home on the surface, I have their shoes taken off to save a few pennies. They’ll go back on again in January ready for some road work.
Wishing everyone reading best wishes for 2017! Today, (New Years day) has seen miserable weather here – so most of my day has been spent catching up on tack cleaning!
Happy New Year! Let’s hope it’s a great one!
Coral x
Myself and Spirit are now at Brendon Stud in Sussex. I have been settling in working and riding for such an amazing place. Hoping lots of great times ahead in the new job opportunity.
I also spent a week up in London for Olympia International Horse Show as arena crew and have a great time, also having the chance to watch Valegro’s last performance and meet him (he’s so cool ). But once I got back from Olympia I had a little jump on Spirit and she was amazing. We were putting our jump off turns in practice and we were flying.
Before I went to Liverpool I had family down for Christmas but still managed to fit in a Christmas Day ride. Then had a great New year at Liverpool. When I got back from Liverpool I went straight back to ride Spirit and she was feeling better than ever, so much so I was struggling to contain her . Got some lovely moves out of her. Can’t believe how much our flat work has improved since moving to Brendon Stud.
Tilly and I got our brave pants on and took part in a 90cm arena eventing event.  We had a pole down in the show jumping and time penalties, but we completed it.  The course included a brush top jump which was much closer to 1m, but bless her, Tilly still jumped straight over it, which was more than could be said for the spider jump, which we jumped from a virtual standstill as Tilly decided she needed a better look at it first.

The following week we entered the 80cm and were both glad to be back in our comfort zone.  Tilly and I flew around, just getting 1 time penalty as it was indoors and much harder to get the time.  Christmas dressing up was encouraged, so we happily obliged. I was dressed as Mrs Claus, and Tilly had antlers and bells on her bridle, flashing lights on her breastplate, a bow in her tail and tinsel in her mane.  We won the prize for best fancy dress courtesy of Onley vets who were sponsoring the show.  We came 6th in the class.

Practising at home in our fancy dress to make sure it was all safe and secure:-
Our arena eventing round:-
Lovely to be back out with the bloodhounds, where we actually jumped a small wall, a first for us.
Boxing day saw us out with the hunt, but as its one of the biggest meets of the year, we went out side saddle and were the only side saddle rider.  We got a lovely response from both people on foot and other riders.
This year has been one of such highs and equally as devastating lows for all of us here. I have been incredibly lucky to have a hobby that has allowed me to focus my mind and escape from the reality of the world. Stanley has been my rock and has consistently produced the most amazing results all year which has kept me smiling when I didn’t think possible. We have had mentions in Horse & Hound, British Dressage, Absolute Horse and on numerous websites this year – it is surreal!
December was the month, apart from the incredible week at the Winter Championships, that has made me most proud. All the early mornings, late nights and riding in the dark paid off. I made a promise to Mum that I would ride a Medium by the end of 2016, and we did. In fact, we didn’t just ride through it, we got two scores I never thought possible and two red rosettes – even winning the second class overall (https://youtu.be/H6xDzIaQ8kc). It was an emotional day but also one that brought lots of smiles. I went and celebrated our successful day at my work Christmas party, which was brilliant but I am pretty sure Stanley felt better than me the next day! A call from a journalist from Horse & Hound for an interview was fantastic and luckily the lovely article they published to finish an amazing equestrian year sounded far more literate than i’m sure I did on the phone.

After his hard work this year we decided to give him a few easy weeks. Hacking out, playing in the school on the days the road was too icy and generally enjoying himself. British Horse Feeds published an article that I wrote back in the autumn (http://britishhorsefeeds.com/Training_tips_with_hannah_bown) on flying changes so I had a read and we had a look if we remembered how to do them; we did, not all pretty but Stanley was very pleased with himself! I however did not have a break; the more Stanley improves the more I realise that my stomach muscles and core stability are seriously lacking. So back to the gym for some intense training with my fabulous Biomechanics Coach Emma from Biospheric Performance. I can’t recommend this training enough if anyone needs help improving their posture and strength. I am able to perform so much better; I am straighter, lighter and more co-ordinated in the saddle and I feel I am able to ride him so much better and he is loving it. We focused largely on my stomach muscles this month. Ouch. It hasn’t been easy, I’ve spent a few days walking around doubled over; but as they say ‘no pain, no gain’ at least I know I have worked hard!
Thank you British Horse Feeds for all your support this year. For producing a feed that has transformed my weedy black pony, allowed him to develop muscle, gain and maintain his weight and look a million dollars even in the depths of winter. The results we have achieved this year speak for themselves and definitely wouldn’t have been possible before we found Fibre-Beet, a feed that he absolutely thrives on. We have many new goals and new aims for 2017 I am really excited to see where we are and what we are doing at this time next year.
Dream big guys, you never know what’s round the corner.
Hannah & Stanley x

Well as we all know, I am pregnant, so it’s been a steady month, regarding the horses,  but we have had to visitors to QD horses, we looked after Tiffany and Dotty for a client while they went away for Christmas. It was lovely to see Tiffany as she’s a 2 year old we bred.
Over Christmas my family have had flu, so I had to stay away from them, due to pregnacy, but we have had Chloe helping us from Shanghai, she’s been riding a few, with my sister. Which was nice to watch them both.
My 2 youngsters which are now both 3 years were turned away, Golly and Jerry, it won’t be long now till they come in for sales preparation or even keep them to produce.
Just before Christmas, we met up with Ben who’s riding Jack our welsh section D stallion while I am off riding. Had a lovely meal in leeds at Bibis, and chatted about the success of Jack, as he’s done so well against all the big dressage horses, to qualify for novice music regionals. Very excited to see them in the new year.
Am currently 37 weeks pregnant now and feeling like it’s about to drop, Nursery is just about ready. Really excited, along with the Family, think the horses will be excited too to get riding again shortly after hopefully.
Hope your all keeping warm, and would like to wish everyone A Happy New Year !!!
All the best Sarah & QD horses
November and December are always quiet months for our horses.  Whilst we do tailor holidays according to the individual, even those in work are just mainly hacked and ticked over.  Ash had a well deserved six weeks in the field.  He’s worked hard this year and really deserved his break to enable his body to rebuild and his mind to relax.  For me it’s vitally important to give their bodies and mind a complete rest after a long season competing.  
We are utilising the off season to work on building core strength for Heidi.  She’s very tall and still growing, so at times, as she’s a little longer in the back than is ideal, she’s been very weak in this area.  We’ve been doing lots of hill work to build her strength behind and she’s being doing lots of exercises in the school, including raised poles and lunging using a Pessoa.  
We have been busy preparing an outline plan for the season ahead – I love it, it’s really exciting planning what lovely places we might visit!  We really are so lucky to have access to some of the most beautiful private estates in the country.
I’ve used the quieter time to catch up on some jobs and to complete my books for the dreaded tax return.  I’m not great at the paperwork side of things so the whole process is completely painful for me!  But, we received some fabulous news in early December which has helped to keep the winter blues at bay – Ash and I have been long-listed to represent team GBR at the European 2* Championships in Belgium next summer!  Wow, wow, wow!!!  Thrilled is a understatement to be honest, and whilst we’ve still got a way to go to make the team, I’m so proud to have made this far. The 20 selected combinations head to a training camp mid-February where we will all be put through our paces in front of the selectors – how exciting!
And just to keep us grounded, our lorry is still not repaired, so anyone out there fancying being a transport sponsor, please do get in touch!  
Kick on, and stay safe!
Hope everyone has had a lovely time over the festive period! We have certainly been very busy at home over the last few weeks. Christmas seems to have gone so fast this year with everything we have packed into the holiday!

Aside from travelling all over the country visiting various friends and family, we have been busy with the horses too! Harry has enjoyed being back at home and out in the field with Rosie. So much so that’s he is full of energy and being very naughty! Very different to last month when he was still feeling under the weather following a virus. Oh well, I’m glad that he’s back on form even if it does mean I have to hold on a bit tighter for the first five minutes whilst he gets the leaps and bucks out of the way!

We haven’t done an awful lot of training over the holidays due to being so busy. However, I managed to sneak in to one of the Midlands U18 training days with Lisa and Sam which was brilliant to get Harry out and we had a fab day with Harry feeling rather exuberant!

We also managed to fit in a lesson with Caroline and it was brilliant to blow some of the cobwebs away after a bit of time off. We were both a bit slow and rusty so more work needed to sharpen us both up before the start of the season!

Despite an unusually busy Christmas for us I still managed to fit in a day’s hunting on boxing day! It’s something I haven’t done in a long time as I have never quite dared to take Harry. However, Barney (my brother’s event horse) took to it like a duck to water on his first ever time out. We had a lovely day jumping walls and ditches and seeing loads of people who I haven’t seen since I used to go hunting regularly on my pony!

Another great thing about having such a long holiday is that I’ve managed to crack on with Rosie. Having sat on her a couple of times before going back in September I was keen to do a little but more with her over Christmas. Well, she is an absolute angel and is really cool about everything I have asked of her so far! She even went for her first ever hack at the weekend and was better behaved than my Mum’s semi-retired 26-year-old event horse! Unfortunately I am going to run out of time again before I’ve had chance to take her out anywhere, but it won’t do her any harm to have another little break until I’m back home for Easter.

Really looking forward to going back to Hartpurynow and start planning for the season!
Happy new year!!