I can't believe we are already in the latter half of May and the last time I managed to publish a blog was the beginning of February! This year has been manic leading to the conclusion that there needs to be more hours in the day, or more days in the week (or both) so it becomes possible to fit everything in and still sleep!
Since my last blog we have had a successful start to the event season with Oscar stepping up to his new title of 'event horse' jumping double clear round Swallcliffe 90 and confidently completing his first BE100 at Munstead the week afterwards. Unfortunately since then we haven't had the best luck with events being cancelled during April and my exams starting at the beginning of May. I had aimed to be at Tweseldown last weekend with Oscar but unfortunately two days before the start of my finals I had a fall with Coco at Withington and ended up with a broken collarbone! Three weeks later and I am well on the mend and about to start riding again, however not ready to be eventing just yet!! Oscar is currently being kept fit by Mum whilst Jenny has very kindly stepped in as co-jockey to keep him jumping and competing. They have had successful outings to both Felbridge and Parwood over the last couple of weeks with Oscar showing his true versatility and suitability as an amateurs horse. He is so genuine and happy to help you out if you don't quite get it right! He is advertised at the moment and I really can't believe he hasn't been snatched up as he is worth his weight in gold with the temperament and ability that he has - wish we could win the lottery and keep him as a family horse as he really is good for everyone!!
Coco started off his season in fine style at Aldon Intermediate, an over exuberant dressage followed by an unlucky 8 faults showjumping and an awesome clear cross country in cruise control! However, following that everything we entered was cancelled or we couldn't risk the ground when it did run as he is too special! So after a bit of show jumping (including jumping our first 1.35m Open together) we headed to Withington Advanced. I was so proud of him in the dressage, he stayed calm and relaxed and we did an accurate test, even managing our flying changes which I was delighted with. I was disappointed in the mark we got of 41 as it was not a reflection of how hard he tried. Onto the show jumping and he wasn't enjoying the hectic warm up so I decided not to keep jumping him and just go in, if he felt unsure or not himself then I was going to pull him up. I needn't have worried as he went in and tried his heart out. It was a technical course with some very clever lines, he had an unlucky pole early on and then we had a flier to the fence before the combination meaning we came in a little quick so he rolled the back rail of the middle element, but he was great. On to the cross country and it was a tough track but I knew we could do it. Out of the start box and over the first 9 really well, making nothing of the first two combinations. Fence 10 was a wide table on an attacking 4 stride curve to a wide corner at 10b followed by another positive curving 4 strides to another corner at 11, this was the only fence I was really worried about and knew if he jumped that we would be fine! Well you would have thought it was grid work in the school as he said 'this is easy mum' as he flew all three elements! He continued to make nothing of the course, just popping any big, wide fence like it was a novice track all with his ears pricked. Unfortunately two fences from home we had a nasty fall which he did not deserve. We jumped into the water well and there was a curving line to a double of skinnies coming out which were built on a very long two strides. He didn't lock onto the first one early enough and as a result was unbalanced as he jumped it, I committed to the two strides but he was too far off the 2nd part, instead of him just nipping past it, he is so genuine he tried his best to fit in a third stride and jump it but caught a knee and twisted. This caused me to lose my balance and although he got his front feet down, I had pulled my right rein and the camber of the ground caused him to come down. I was trapped underneath him briefly and he knew it so lay completely still to allow me to get out. Luckily (or maybe not!) it happened at mums feet and she was the first one to us so she pulled me out whilst the vets attended Coco. They kept him down till the screens went up but I have never been so relieved to see him up and ok. He was a little stiff for a few days afterwards but is now fine and feeling very jolly.
Unfortunately I hit the ground shoulder first and although my Point 2 did an amazing job of protecting me when he rolled over me, my collar bone absorbed the impact from my shoulder and therefore it broke! Once Coco had been checked over by the vet, mum took him home and I waited in the ambulance at the event for Rob (my boyfriend) to come and rescue me and take me to A&E. I was very grateful as it meant that mum could get Coco home and comfortable which was my main priority. So after a trip to John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford and several hours waiting I was sent home with a broken collar bone! Since then I have had the arcequine on nearly 24/7 and I have been lasering it too. It is feeling really good and after just one week I no longer had any pain. The first week it was sore and very difficult to concentrate on both my exams and the revision, so I am hoping it wont have affected my grades too much!
So three weeks later and 6 exams down I have finished my Geography degree at Royal Holloway and I am off for a follow up x-ray to see whether I am going to be allowed to get back on and riding! Although I will be back on this week and am entered up for BCA on Oscar, Nunney IN on Coco and also the Hickstead Derby meeting with Coco so I am keeping positive! The aim is to get to Barbury CIC2* and then Aston Advanced so I can prove how lucky I am to have such a fantastic horse and that we are capable!
Coco has been down at Equine Aqua Training keeping fit on the treadmill so he will be ready to crack on as soon as I am back on board!
I can't thank everyone enough for their kind words, advice and help over the past few weeks. There are too many to mention everyone but huge thanks to Mum (as ever) who has had to fit in twice as much to an already busy schedule, and Jenny who has been coming back from London to keep Oscar going. To Oscar's owner Peter Greenaway who has been so understanding whilst I have been injured. Also to Nathalie George and Laura Wijsmuller who have enabled me to sit my exams by driving me into uni and picking me up when I needed it, I can;t thank you enough! Finally to my long-suffering boyfriend who has had to put up with me being fairly horrible and sulking whilst I couldn't ride and even came home to see me this weekend to celebrate finishing my exams despite the fact his don't start until next week!
The horses are looking fantastic and this is where I am so lucky to have the support team behind me. With the spring grass having come through, Oscar is on less topnosh as it is no longer needed, whilst Coco has been on increased levels of Linseed to help his recovery.
Lily started off the year in fine style, and was back jumping better than ever, she was placed in a tough 1.05m at Addington and jumped double clear in the newcomers. She also qualified for the JAS final where she finished 5th having only been out twice prior to the final. Unfortunately she is now injured (again!) and what is most frustrating is we think she did it being silly in the field (again). So she is currently turned out without her shoes on with a little friend for company to give her a chance to recover and I will aim to get her back fit for the autumn with the aim to show jump her and have some fun through the winter - watch this space!
Now I have finished uni I have a lot more time on my hands so hoping to start doing lots of teaching over the summer. If anyone needs their horses exercising I will be back riding properly at the beginning of June and happy to help out schooling/jumping or even just keeping them exercised. If you know of anyone looking for a rider in Surrey then please put them in touch!!
Until next time!
So it is now February 2016.. I can’t believe how quickly time has gone, although probably something to do with the fact I spent a week in Austria skiing and I currently have three gorgeous ponies who are on mega form in anticipation for the eventing season.
I managed to fit a quick trip to Merrist Wood eventers challenge with Oscar on the 2nd of January. Although it wasn’t overly up to height, it was a really useful outing. The courses were technical enough with lots of skinnies and an angled double of skinny brushes which were causing trouble. IN the 90cm he rolled poles on two of the skinnies where I was making sure he understood the question, however I needn’t have worried as he is one of the straightest and most genuine horses I have ridden. In the 1m he had fences 2 and 3 down (they were the same as the class before and I don’t think he realised they had gone up!) however, he then realised and jumped the most awesome clear round, including several skinnies in the cross country section. You can see the video by CLICKING HERE.
I then had a fabulous week skiing in Austria with lovely company and we even had a decent amount of snow (it all seems so long ago now). Huge thank you to Mum and Jenny Wijsmuller for looking after and exercising the horses whilst I was away, not only did they get soaked all week, but I then had three horses ready to crack on the day I got back. I think they took it too literally though as Lily was wild and Mum and I had to swap horses half way round the hack (luckily Oscar is so chilled that he was oblivious to Lily’s antics!!).
The 15th January saw Coco head to Felbridge Combined Training for his first proper outing since Aldon in October, a rather overenthusiastic dressage test lead to a generous score of 34, followed by a totally overexcited SJ round for one down wasn’t a bad start and he felt fantastic. The 18th of January and Lily got to have her first jump since June 2015. She was hilarious, but felt so good to be back jumping and definitely better for her enforced holiday. It was also exciting to find out that the photoshoot for Horse and Rider that I did back in August last year was printed in this month’s magazine.
The horses continued to play around jumping at home and all felt on top form so last Thursday we headed back to Felbridge with Oscar in the BE100 (his first proper 1m) and Coco in the Intermediate. Oscar was very excited to be back out and therefore his test was a little tense for 34. He then went a little green in the jumping where it was a bit bigger, so I let him take his time and turned a couple of circles. He then went back in and jumped a lovely round for one down, I am so impressed with how hard he tries, it is such a pleasure to ride a horse with an attitude as ‘can-do’ as his. Then it was Coco’s turn and he was much more settled in the dressage and did what I thought was a lovely test (unfortunately I went on my own, so no video footage) but the judge seemed to disagree giving him a 41. Which I thought was very harsh considering he has done much worse tests and never got above 40 before! He then flew round the jumping for a really unlucky 4 faults coming out of the combination.
This weekend was where it got really exciting, I had Lily and Oscar at LMEQ BE100 Arena Eventing on Saturday and Coco at Wellington JAS on Sunday. LMEQ was a feat of organisation on all parts, huge thanks to Sophie for giving me brilliant times allowing me to jump both horses within 10 minutes of each other at the start of the class. Then to Mum for taking the horses home for me and sorting it all out whilst I jumped in the car and dashed across Reigate to play hockey (it was worth it though, we won 10-0 and I scored…)
Anyway, I got side tracked! Lily was up first and her first competition since June. She was wild and I was convinced I was going to get bucked off! However, she settled down and jumped round nicely (if a little speedy) for 4 faults, making it feel tiny! Oscar was up next and I didn’t know what to expect as the course was up to height and technical (not ideal for his 2nd ever 1m course). However he exceeded all expectations, making a couple of green mistakes early on in the show jumping for 8 faults and then settling into it and jumping round the rest of the course clear. With only 4 double clears all day I was delighted – he really is going to make someone a lovely horse. He is completely genuine and just keeps trying.
Sunday was Coco’s turn! He was entered for the Open, and had a silly pole in the show jumping section where he wasn’t quite concentrating, and then I turned quite short to the bounce on the cross country and he had the out down. However, it was a smooth round good enough for a style score of 7 and we were one of just two combinations to finish inside the tight optimum time, as a result it was good enough for 4th place and a qualification for the final. You can see the round by CLICKING HERE.
The horses are all looking fantastic and feeling even better. They are still on their winter feeding regimes and I am delighted to announce that Simple System are going to continue their support for the 2016 season, and I honestly believe I wouldn’t have the horses on the form they are on, without all the help from the company alongside Mum keeping them in one piece physically. It is all about having a good support team in order to get results and I am very lucky to have a phenomenal support team.
Oh and somewhere within all this I completed and handed in my 10,000 word dissertation on the impacts of grazing ponies on biodiversity – pleased to have that out of the way and now just 6 exams and 4 deadlines stand between me and freedom!!!
Click Here to see the plan of events over the next month
A few pictures below from various goings on over the past month..
That is all for now
I couldn't head into 2016 without one final blog.. One for the road if you will!
'Success is simple. Do what's right, the right way, at the right time.'
So apparently it is as simple as that, and I think it is easy to forget that inevitably it is the most straightforward things that make the biggest difference and that simplicity is not just directed at the riding side, but also the care and management of the horses and life in general. I believe that less is more, and that is why I am so grateful of the support from Simple System who allow me to feed the best, and most natural diet to aid my horses performance. I love the fact I can micromanage each horses diet, with the feed-line on hand if I need some advice. It is also why I am such a huge fan of the Micklem Bridles - which all my horses do everything in. I think they look really smart and the horses are always very happy in them - I haven't yet found a horse I have ridden who doesn't improve for wearing it. I am also hugely appreciative to William Micklem for the advice he has given me, despite having never met me - it was fantastic to know that someone as knowledgable as him thought I was doing the right things. I did finally get to meet him at the Pony Club A Test reunion this year which was lovely.
It has been fairly quiet recently, with Coco having some post-season down time, just hacking and the odd bit of stretching work in the school, trying to strengthen him up and keep him fit ready to come out fighting in 2016 - I have big plans for us both, and it all starts with keeping him happy, fit and healthy. He will be 17 next year so I want to make sure I am helping him physically as much as I can.
Oscar has been for a few outings, he went to Aston arena eventing where he did the most beautiful test followed by a great double clear - he deserved the win but unfortunately the judge didn't like his test and he finished 5th. Since then he jumped double clear in the 90cm at Parwood just before Christmas and after having the first fence down he jumped an awesome double clear (it was single phase) in the 90cm at Felbridge on Sunday. He has come on so much and I can't wait to take the eventing world by storm in 2016.
Meanwhile, positive news on the Lily front who is now sound and building up to being back in full work - I am hoping to start jumping her once I get back from skiing next week - I can't wait to have my mega mare back and firing on all cylinders, especially on the back of her success in the 2015 Novice South East Eventers League rankings.
2016 is going to be an exciting year for me, three lovely horses to event and as long as I manage to pass my exams I will be graduating from uni and entering the big wide world (of no longer being a student) but of course this means more time than ever to play ponies, and I will be making the most of it!
So this blog is short and sweet.. Not much else for me to say but Happy New Year from the whole team here at Georgie Wood Eventing.
Make sure you set yourself some goals, write them down, put them in a safe place and then read them back this time next year to see whether you have achieved them..
Georgie and the team x
So my 9th BE season is complete and it has to be my most successful season ever. I had 3 rides over the course of the season, although they hardly overlapped! My season started with a bang on Lily the mega mare, who has had some unbelievable results this year! Including the two JAS competitions she started the year with and discounting the elimination at Hambleden, her results are as follows: 2,1,2,1,5,6,5,1 which really isn't bad going. Unfortunately half way through the season she picked up an injury and has been off since then. What is even more exciting is that despite missing half the season, she has managed to win the Novice rankings of the 2015 South East Eventers League and I am so excited to go to the ball on the 21st November! You can see her season highlights video by Clicking Here.
As May started to come around the excitement was building to get Coco back out for his first event since he picked up an injury in early May last year. A winters rehab on the roads was hopefully about to pay off but it was also rather nerve wracking as didn't want to get my hopes up in case something went wrong before then. My best case scenario was to get him to Barbury CIC2* in July and we actually managed it!! He jumped double clear at Rockingham ON before heading to Nunney intermediate where he had a couple of (jockey error!) rails in the show jumping but ate up the cross country which was a tough track. We were actually going to get to Barbury and I couldn't wait. I just enjoyed every minute and although I ran very slowly cross country I was delighted with him. He then didn't run at Bicton or Wellington despite driving there, but it was very wet and muddy and wasn't worth the risk. Eventually we managed a run at Pontispool where he did a fab dressage for 30 and a super double clear before finishing the season with an awesome run at Aldon - so just as we got going it was the end of the season. However I have got my sights set on stepping up to Advanced and possibly having a crack at CIC3* next year (eeeek!) You can see Coco's highlights by Clicking Here.
I was then lucky enough to get the ride on the lovely Oscar who had been a dressage horse for most of his life until he came to us at the beginning of August. I think it has been a shock to his system but he has become more and more settled over the past few months and I think is really beginning to enjoy his new career. Just 2 months into retraining him, we headed to Littleton for the BE90 and I immediately regretted my decision that he was not going to do the 80cm. It was seriously decent with lots of questions. But despite having only done one cross country round ever, after a little spook and stop at the second, he got going and made it feel really quite easy. He is so straight and I am looking forwards to a winters hard work before getting him out to some early events in the spring before he is advertised around easter time. He is a lovely horse and I have no doubt he could be a serious Badminton Grassroots contender.
So some statistics:
Events Completed: 12
Double Clears: 8
Top 10 Placings: 6
(Of which were wins): 2
Average BE Dressage Score: 30.9
So, we haven't really got to that many events this year, but quality over quantity and I think the results show this. I am very lucky to have a fantastic group of horses and amazing support behind me.
My first thank you has to go to Simple System who have been tremendous supporters of me and my horses over the years. Not only do I massively believe in their products but you only have to look at how well my horses look to know that it does a good job. The advice that the company provide, not just to me but to all customers, is invaluable and I know if I am not quite happy with a small area of the horses condition, I can speak to them and get sensible and effective advice. Thank you so much and here is to a winters training to build on this season and make next season even better!!
Secondly, I have to thank the owners who have trusted me with their very special horses. Firstly my aunt and uncle Liz and Kari who own Coco, without their support and belief we wouldn't have been able to get Coco back out and running like we have done this year, it is not always easy spending a lot of time with family and we have had our fair share of family arguments this year (and that is when you only see them on special occasions, not everyday!!!) but I can't thank them enough, and I really do mean it. Peter Greenaway was also kind enough to send me Oscar to take eventing and I am delighted to have had the oppurtunity to produce such a lovely horse. We still have lots to work on, but I can't believe how far he has come in just 3 short months!!
To my boyfriend who has managed to cope with another seasons eventing without complaining (too much) about the fact I am never around, I get up early, I go and see the horses over him etc etc.. Although his spectating this year has been far more successful than last, (the first event he came to last year I fell off in the showjumping, this year I won!) I don't think there would be many people who would put up with me, but he has somehow managed so far.
Finally, my parents; to dad for embracing the madness that takes over the house and just letting it happen! And to Mum who I could not do any of this without, I wouldn't have the time to juggle university, horses, hockey and the occasional social life I have. She is completely insane, but I guess you would have to be to do what she does - she seems to be superhuman and get ten times the amount done in a day that anyone else can and with half as much sleep. I have the best mum in the world - thank you!
Meanwhile I have started my final year of uni (which is slightly scary!) and have just completed my 1st deadline. 1 down, 8 to go! I can't believe how quickly time has gone over the past few years. And I was remembering earlier that Mum, Jenny and I drove across the Severn Bridge to go and collect Ozzie 8 years ago today! He gave me 8 of the most awesome years including jumping me round my first of many Novices and taking me to Weston Junior 1* twice and my first international competition. Can't believe he is 18 now and still as crazy as ever. A few pictures which highlight my year are below. I can't wait for 2016!!
That's all for now..
I was lucky enough to attend a fantastic and inspirational talk at University on Monday called 'Dream Big and Get It Done' by Ben Coomber. It started off with a slide which said 'If your dreams don't scare you, they are not big enough'. I thought this was a fantastic way to get people thinking and it was then followed up by a talk on how to be more awesome. It was really inspiring and made me re-evaluate what my dreams really were and what I really want to do.
Bizarrely, the first thing it made me do was come home and have a massive tidy up of my room as it was a total mess and I realised it was not helpful to a constructive working environment (I think mum is wishing I had that reaction to things more often, as in actually tidy up!!). So with a now (mostly) tidy room and a plan of action, I am ready to take on my final year of University alongside competing my amazing horses!
It has been extremely busy since I last wrote as I am Vice Captain of the Uni riding team and we have had team tryouts and various organisational things going on alongside my lectures starting up and beginning to sort out my dissertation, plus having my three horses to ride, going to the gym twice a week, and playing hockey twice a week.. I like to keep busy!
Oscar has had an intensive boot camp and is now officially an event horse. On the 25th of September we headed round to Littleton to pop round the show jumps and get him out somewhere different. He jumped round an 80cm course easily so we put a few fences up and squared up a couple of the oxers, which made him think and he made a few mistakes but improved massively as a result, you can see some of the pictures below. We were then back at Littleton on the Saturday morning to have a play on the Cross Country course, he was so much more grown up than the last time we took him and finished up jumping the two big trakenehs and the blue wagon really neatly and he was so up for it. We decided not to run Coco at South of England on the Sunday and therefore Oscar got dragged out again, this time to go on hound exercise with the bloodhounds. He was fantastically behaved, waited when he needed to wait, galloped when he needed to gallop and walked on a long rein inbetween. He also jumped really well, so if he doesn't make an eventer, he will be an awesome hunter!
My week then got more exciting as I got to start riding Lily for the first time since the end of June. She was very happy to be back out, and although walking 20minutes on the road is fairly boring, she is just happy to be doing something again, so she will build up slowly over the winter with the aim of getting her back out eventing in the spring.
The following weekend I took Oscar to Munstead Hunter Trial to do the 80cm pairs with Nathalie George so he got the idea and then the 90cm on his own as a practice. Mum woke up really ill on the Sunday morning so I headed off on my own, knowing that I knew lots of people there if anything was to go wrong. Oscar was such a pleasure to handle and get ready and I did it all on my own. He was fab round the pairs, very bold and rolling on behind Nats and Bobby. He then had a little snooze in the lorry before the 90. He shot out the start box and over the first before realising he was on his own and didn't have a friend coming with him. However, I kept asking the questions and he kept answering and I was delighted to come home clear with him growing in confidence the whole way round. You can see the picture below.
Our next outing was with the two bay boys to Coombelands BS. Coco was jumping in the Foxhunter and the 1.25m open and Oscar was jumping the British Novice on a ticket. Coco felt awesome and was unlucky to pick up an early 4 faults in both rounds, but luckily as it was single phase, he got to jump the jump off and just cruised round. You can see the rounds by CLICKING HERE. He will be having a crack at the 1.25m and 1.30m next time! I assumed Oscar would go a bit green and spooky, so I was being ultra positive, however he was so bold and I slightly over rode him, ending up with 3 down, which wasn't a true reflection of his round. But you can see it for yourself by CLICKING HERE.
This weekend was Oscar's eventing debut at the inaugural Littleton Manor Horse Trials. Firstly I must say it was a fantastically set up event and they coped amazingly with the few teething problems they have. However, I know that it is only going to get better and better as time goes on. I thoroughly enjoyed the weekend I spent there! It was fairly bizarre hacking to an event, plaited up and in my competition kit - I did get a few slightly odd looks. Oscar found the dressage warm up rather to exciting to cope with and we did lots of leaping around. But, he settled down and although he was a little tense during the test, he tried really hard to keep his concentration on me and not everything else that was going on. He did a nice test and was rewarded with a mark of 30.8. We then hacked home as we had a decent gap before our show jumping. So after retacking up and hacking back over, we were ready to jump.. He warmed up well and I went in feeling cautiously optimistic. He jumped a lovely round, just slightly losing attention at an upright where you ran quite close to the banners round the edge, but he felt really classy. A quick kit change and we were off to the cross country. It was a tough course, causing plenty of trouble and I had realised at this point I may have just bitten off a bit more than I could chew.. But some positive words with Chris Kirby at the start, something along the lines of:
Chris: 'You are going to come back, aren't you'
Me: 'Yup, the horses is being left here if not!'
He jumped out the startbox and was a bit wobbly but popped the first, however I could feel him becoming a bit overwhelmed as he left his friends and headed towards the unknown. The second fence was really spooky as it had Haygain hay soakers in it, and I think he decided they were going to open up and steam him. However with Chris' words in my head and all the determination I could find, we turned round for another go.. He jumped it and never looked back after that. He was a bit green and wobbly but he kept going and kept answering the questions which I am delighted about. He never through in the towel, despite being rather shell shocked over the whole thing, and grew in confidence. You can see the video by CLICKING HERE. It was lovely to have Oscar's owner up to stay for the weekend to watch and help us out. I am really excited about Oscar's future as he will make a fantastic event horse once he has got a bit more experience! He is so straight, genuine and bold.. Just need some more match practice now!
He is off to Tweseldown Hunter Trial on Sunday to do the 90cm and consolidate last weekend before him and Coco are going to Coombelands BS again on Wednesday and then our last event of the season next weekend at Aldon with Coco for the CIC2*. I am so excited and then we will settle down for a winter of training and come out even better next spring!!
That's all for now
When I left off, we were supposed to be heading to Bicton with Coco for the CIC2*. We left at 6am on the Saturday morning to avoid the summer holiday traffic that heads along the A303 and past stonehenge. Made good time and arrived to give Coco a hand graze and some chill out time in his stable before plaiting up and getting ready for our 4.30pm test. At about 3.45 the heavens opened alongside a huge thunderstorm, which thankfully stopped just before I was due to get on, however it was still rather damp. Coco warmed up brilliantly but got quite tense in the atmosphere of the main arena as they were introducing each competitor over the tannoy.. A great experience but Coco found it very exciting, especially with the cross country running along the top of the bank outside the arena. However, he produced some lovely work for a score of 51.9, so getting close to the 40s now. It was a shame we had a couple of big mistakes as it would have been easily in the 40s without them! In the evening we went to The Eventing Family party. It was an incredible evening and clear that so much hard work and generosity had gone in to the evening. A highly entertaining slave auction and brilliant band made for a thoroughly enjoyable time. Unfortunately the rain had not stopped, and if anything was getting heavier. When we went to bed about midnight, the whole lorry park was starting to flood and we knew that we were unlikely to run. Woke up Sunday morning and it was still raining. They had moved the show jumping onto the surface and removed a few of the cross country fences. We decided against jumping him as we had nothing to gain from it, and all at Bicton had done an amazing job of keeping the show on the road, but with him only having run three times on perfect going since he has been back, it wasn't worth the risk. It was a lovely event and we will definitely be back!
Next up was Oscars first proper outing with us. We went to Felbridge for a spot of clear round jumping, and knowing that Felbridge have lots of bright arena decorations, we made sure we had used blue blocks and artificial flowers to replicate it before we went! In the 70cm he found it all a bit small and his legs got in a bit of a pickle a couple of times for 3 down. However, I was thrilled with his attitude as he kept going forwards and wasn't at all spooky which I thought he might be. When the fences went up to 80cm I think he decided that they were worth jumping and jumped a beautiful clear round! He was really thinking and tried so hard. You can see the video by Clicking Here.
After not getting to run at Bicton, we put a late entry in to Wellington on the Monday for the Intermediate to try and get a run! However it continued to rain and the Monday morning, despite it still raining and being late to go, I made mum get up and we headed off to Wellington. Each junction of the motorway we passed, it got wetter, and mum was growing increasingly tempted to turn round and go home. I persuaded her not to, however on the premise that if they were towing people in, we would turn round and go home. As we turned and starting driving in, I could see people being towed, so mum stopped and I ran up to the secretaries to withdraw, buying us a bacon roll and a hot chocolate as a consolation prize. Meanwhile, mum was trying to find something to do instead. We decided to reroute to Tweseldown to give him a bit of fitness work round the racecourse and pop a few fences as we weren't far away. A quick phone call and we were on our way. So we cross country schooled in our white numnah, cream jodhs and Coco was plaited - as I refused to let them go to waste!! However, he was very happy and it was lovely to have a bit of a blast on fantastic going. Anyone who hasn't been to Tweseldown since the new owners have taken over - it is well worth the visit. Loads of fantastic new fences going in and brilliantly friendly too! You can see him enjoying himself by Clicking Here.
Our next outing was to Hickstead showjumping with Coco for the All England Jumping Champs. The Thursday we had entered a 1.10m and a 1.20m, mum wasn't around but Nathalie very kindly agreed to come and keep me company and lend a hand with warm up fences etc. It was lovely that Liz managed to get down to watch both days as well. He was absolutely flying on the Thursday and jumped beautifully in both classes. He was very unlucky to just roll one pole in the jump off of both classes, if he had been clear he would have been very well placed. The Friday, having jumped two long course on the Thursday, he wasn't quite as bouncy as the day before, and I slightly underpowered him in the 1.20m for 8 faults in the first phase, however he actually jumped well. We were supposed to be jumping the 1.30m but decided that was silly when he was a little tired, so we swapped to the 1.20m in a different ring. I rode him with a bit more power and he flew round, but unfortunately knocked the planks down (which were the last fence of the first phase). Still really pleased as every time I go to Hickstead I learn even more! Some lovely pictures from the two days are below.
Next it was Oscars turn to go cross country schooling again. This time we hacked round the corner to Littleton. Oscar loves ditches and steps and jumped the jumps with a ditch underneath better than a straightforwards roll top!! However I was delighted as he grew in confidence the more he did and walked straight into the water after a tiny hesitation - I think he is beginning to think we are less weird and getting used to the whole 'eventing' thing!! You can see him enjoying himself by Clicking Here.
We had a trip up to Blair to watch the Europeans last weekend and it was fantastic. I would love to go and compete there in the future as it was a fantastic event. Ian Stark had built a brilliantly clever course which rode really well, it was a shame about the rain, but it did add another dimension. Michael Jung is an absolute machine and the Germans seem fairly uncatchable at the moment, with 5/6 of their representatives jumping incredible double clears.. we have all got a bit of catching up to do I feel.
Finally, this weekend, Coco got his chance to go eventing and complete all three phases and he did not disappoint! We headed to Pontispool for the Intermediate yesterday and he was so pleased to be back out. We drove down on Sunday lunchtime and stabled overnight as I had asked for early times and we had a 7.48 dressage. But that quite suits him as he has time to settle in. He performed a really, lovely relaxed test for a well deserved 30.7 - I know need to add the wow factor without tension creeping in, but we are getting there! He was 11th out of 35 after the dressage and he followed it up with an awesome double clear. The showjumping caused its fair share of trouble, but our practice at Hickstead paid off and he cruised round. The cross country was tough, with a bridge over the ditch at 3, and a big drop in to water at fence 5. There were very few let up fences and lots of questions and having not run for nearly 3 months I wasn't sure how switched on he would be, so my plan was to go out and attack it. Well I don't know why I doubted him, I have never ridden a horse which looks for the flags the way he does and regardless of what I do, as long as I keep steering in the direction of the fence, he will just keep jumping. He is a truly special horse and as long as I can keep him in one piece through the winter, I can't wait to get him out and have a crack at an Advanced and maybe even a 3* next year (I musn't get ahead of myself though!). We finished with 21.2 time as I didn't push for the clock due to not having run for a while. However, really pleased with how he went. See the video by Clicking Here.
We also had a minor flag incident which you may spot in the video above - but here it is in its own glory!! Tail-Flag Incident, Click Here
We are supposed to be running at South of England Intermediate next weekend, but it was more of a back up if we weren't able to run yesterday, so I will see how he is this week and what the weather is like before we make a decision. Then Oscar will have his time to shine, we are heading to Felbridge BS on the 3rd of October followed by Munstead for the hunter trial on the 4th of October in preparation for his BE debut at Littleton Manor on the 11th of October. I can't wait to get him out and about as he has come on so much in the short space of time I have had him!
So it appears over a month has flown by and I have failed to write a blog update! Since I left off I have had great fun with Coco as well as being brought back to reality jumping young horses round the 70 and 80cm at Coombelands, with poor Lily still being on the sick list!
So I guess I will start at the beginning with Coco at Barbury. I love Barbury (along with everyone else in the eventing community) and it was lovely to know so many people who were also competing there. Jenny Wijsmuller came and helped groom/watch which was fantastic as despite living so close to each other, we never manage to actually see each other! We were parked next to the Waites’ who own the water treadmill (Equine Aqua Training) where Coco did a lot of his rehab and Tonya and Chloe who looked after him had come to watch so it was great that they got to see him looking so well! I can't recommend them highly enough as it is a lovely friendly but professional set up and we were so confident in leaving Coco with them. We had dressage on the Thursday afternoon, but I had run a 10k run on the Wednesday night so was a little tight but delighted with how well he went, with some fantastic moments, a couple of significant mistakes left us on a score of 55.6, which I was a little disappointed with, but the mistakes were costly. The cross country was not the most difficult track as far as Barbury goes but the skinny before the owl hole at fence 5 was worrying me as with him only having had two runs I wasn’t sure how switched on he would be at that stage. We had the day off on Friday which was lovely (and lucky as I was so stiff from running on the Wednesday I could barely walk) so we had an enjoyable day watching CIC3* dressage and having another wander round the course. We were early on for our jumping on the Saturday and the course was very cleverly built with few clears. I was delighted with how Coco jumped and he finished on 8 faults which in the grand scheme of things was a good result! A quick change round and it was time for cross country, there was a bit of a wait at the start due to a fall and fence repair needed and Coco was a little excited. However he got out on course and switched on cruise control.. My only job was to steer as he was a total machine we just had one sticky moment when he over jumped into the second water and nearly came down, but luckily managed to stay on his feet and I stayed out of his way and on board. We went slowly as I wasn’t sure how good his fitness was, so picked up 25.6 time faults but I was delighted with him. See the video edit by Clicking Here.
I was then very lucky to go for a short holiday in Spain with my boyfriend (managed to find a suitable week where the horses were not coming first!!) we had a lovely time and it was great to have a few days r&r, especially after we have been so busy!
On the 25th of July, Mum had organised for a group of us to go up to Syon Park for the London leg of the Global Champions Tour. It is always fascinating to go and watch as they make 1.60m look so easy and it certainly gets your eye up a bit! It was also massively sociable with a lovely group of us from the yard – thanks Mum for your epic organisational skills as always!
On the Sunday was Arnie’s competition debut – at 9 years old and 7 years after Liz bought him he was eventually going to do something useful! Those of you who don’t know Arnie, he was bought by my aunt, Liz, as a 2 year old to keep my pony company in the field. Unfortunately he then contracted Grass Sickness but very mild so managed to pull through. However it then caused soundness issues amongst other things until we realised that the problem was that he is allergic to grass(!!!!), yes a horse that is allergic to grass. Luckily, the fantastic Simple System Feeds have a range of Lucerne based forage that we were able to use as a substitute to hay and he is able to go out in the field in a grazing muzzle so is actually very manageable. But anyway – his first party was Prelim 12 at Felbridge and I must admit he excelled himself! He was totally unfazed despite having never been in an indoor school and never seen dressage boards! Yet he took it all in his stride and was rewarded with 62.6% and 6th out of 14 which wasn’t bad and just over 2% away from the 2nd! He will be advertised at the end of the summer as he is a cracking little pony and will give someone a lot of enjoyment as he is totally wasted with us!
Coco then had a few days jumping at the Royal International. On the Tuesday he jumped in the 1.10m and the Foxhunter. He jumped really well in both classes, just rolling a pole in the jump off of both but thrilled with how well he went. On the Thursday he jumped in the same classes and got a bit tense in the Foxhunter for 4 faults but then jumped a fab round in the 1.10m for a double clear (unfortunately I was just too slow for a placing!). The Saturday we were back again for the 1.20m Open which was a really decent track. I was on at 7.30am and jumped first at 8am as Mum had my Grandads 80th Birthday party to get to, followed by my cousins wedding – but she did manage it! Again, Coco jumped fantastically and rolled an unlucky pole in the jump off – but he was so neat and I had so much fun jumping all week! See a few clips of him jumping by Clicking Here
On the Friday of Hickstead my trainer Ernest Dillon had asked me if I wanted to be a guinea pig for an article in Horse and Rider. The original plan was to take Lily, but unfortunately with her not sound I couldn’t take her. Luckily I had several lovely offers from various people and ended up taking Lise Naughton’s horse, Shadow. He was a superstar and scrubbed up very well proving the perfect candidate for showing how using poles can improve the horses way of going – so look out for us in a forthcoming Horse and Rider Magazine. See some lovely pictures that Lise taught in the album at the bottom.
Last weekend was another very exciting one – Arnie went to another party, but this time a jumping show at Coombelands. He found the big arena a little overwhelming so I decided against jumping him – but he popped a few fences in the warm up very sweetly. I also took Luarn Waller’s Frank for his first ever show and he didn’t disappoint. A lovely double clear in the 70cm for 2nd place in a class that caused a lot of problems. He then cruised round the 80cm with a full up 90cm jump off but had 2 down in the jump off where he was getting tired. He is seriously exciting for the future as he was so chilled for his second ever outing (even when his bridle was taken off in the warm up to give him a treat, lucky he is good!). See Frank being super cool by Clicking Here.
On the Sunday it got even more exciting as we added a new four legged member to the team in the form of a lovely 9 year old gelding by Proset called ‘Greenlanes Prospero’ or Oscar to his friends. He is owned by Peter Greenaway of Greenlanes Stud and I have got him to produce for eventing with a view to sell! He has settled in quickly and is a pleasure to have around. A week’s bootcamp and he has had a few little jumps and is learning where his feet are too – which is always helpful! See the pictures below!
However there has been a bit of disappointment with Lily not being sound, so we got her referred to Liphook for lameness investigations last week. After a lot of x-rays and MRI’s she was diagnosed with a minor strain to the lateral collateral ligament in the foot. Normally this sort of injury is difficult to deal with as they are not easy to heal, however hers is only a slight thickening so the vets are hopeful that it should heal well. So she will have a bit of time off before beginning rehab work. No more eventing 2015 for her but what a season she has had – I love her so much and my main goal is to make her comfortable again and we will go from there. She has had two wins, a second, two 5ths and a 6th and has jumped 6/7 double clears!
So whilst she is on limited turn out and in a lot, her feed and hay is being supplemented by LucieBrix to keep her occupied. Meanwhile, with Coco getting fitter and working harder, he is now on Red Grass Nuts as well as Greengold, Topnosh and Lucie Pellets to give him energy and maintain condition. Both horses are also fed Linseed on top of their balancers in order to give them that bit of support.
Coco had an outing to Felbridge Intermediate Combined Training on Wednesday where he performed a beautiful test for 31.6, I am trying to create a bit more energy so that we get the wow factor rather than keeping it safe and steady to see if we can start collecting some higher marks. He then jumped a great round over a decent track for 4 faults. He won his class (although he was the only one in it) however if our results had been combined with the Novice (who had the same judge), he would have won by miles as the best dressage score was 37 and no one jumped clear! Another video edit by Clicking here (a little wobbly at times as my cousing videoing was being chased by a wasp!!)
Yesterday we headed back to Felbridge for the Foxhunter. My Grandad is currently over from Australia and has always supported me from across the world, yesterday he saw me compete for the first time and although we had two poles down – Coco jumped brilliantly and pinged the 1.30m fences in the jump off like they were nothing! Lots of love for my super special boy! Final Video by Clicking Here.
So as I said - the season is flying past and Coco is at Bicton next weekend and then a couple of days at Hickstead show jumping on the 3rd and 4th of September, followed by the unafilliated dressage championships at both Novice and Elementary on the 5th of September at Hickstead!
So that is my essay done for now.. And I promise next time it won't be quite so long!!!
So when I left off I knew I was going to have a bust couple of weeks, but I never anticipated it to be as busy as it has been. Not saying I am complaining as I would only be bored otherwise.
We took Coco to Coombelands show jumping and had him entered in the 1.15m and the Foxhunter. He was enthusiastic (understatement of the century!) and went round rather fast, just about managing to leave most of the fences up! He finished on 8 faults which was fine, but I had a chat with mum as before his injury he was jumping double clear at Foxhunter and I felt really confident, so we tried to work out what I was doing differently. This is where I am so lucky to have knowledgeable back up, as we bounced a few ideas back and forth and I was able to try something a bit different. The conclusion was that I needed to ride him much more quietly and softly to give him time to see the fence and make a correct jump without tension creeping in. So into the Foxhunter and I sat overly quiet to the first, resulting in it coming down, however I settled him and kept him quiet and he jumped much better other than snatching at the first part of the double due to losing balance round the corner. So not the greatest result on paper but very constructive going forwards.
Our next outing was Felbridge Combined Training where I took both Lily and Coco on my own and met Jenny Wijsmuller there, who was kind enough to come and give me a hand. Lily was up first in the Novice and warmed up beautifully but she was slightly overcooked by the time I went in and I was a little disappointed with the mark considering she did a nice test. However she pinged round the jumping just picking up 4 faults due to a touch of over enthusiasm, but felt on good form so I was pleased. It caused enough trouble as she still finished 4th. Coco was doing the Intermediate and he did a really lovely test for 32. He warmed up brilliantly and jumped well in there having an unlucky rub at fence two for 4 faults. I slightly panicked off the corner to the last line and therefore unbalanced him onto his forehand so he finished on 8 faults which wasn't a true reflection of his round!
This is where the week of madness began. It started with Lily at Farley Hall Novice, and I was in the amateur section, very kindly sponsored by fellow amateur Louise Weir. I had asked for early times and definitely got them, as I was first to trot down the centre line in my arena, having left home at 3.30am! I was really pleased with how Lily went, the test was accurate and pleasant but slightly lacking the 'look at me' factor needed for some higher marks. We were awarded a fair score of 32 for 6th after dressage. The show jumping was very cleverly built with some testing lines, but Lily pinged round giving the fences plenty of room for a clear. I was a little nervous about the cross country as a bit like Hambleden, there were lots of questions without a let up fence in between. However, I knew Lily was more than capable and I rode like my life depended on it. I definitely respond to being under pressure and Lily flew as a result. She had a look at the two big ditches, but she was super straight and switched on. We picked up 4 time faults, which I wasn't bothered by as my aim was a confidence giving clear, and although she had a couple of moments where she was unsure, she dug deep and kept trying for me - which was fantastic. The course caused plenty of problems and her finishing score of 36 was good enough for 5th place. Massive thank you to Harriet Upton, who very kindly collected my prize as we had to dash home to get Coco ready for his turn for eventing fun on the Sunday. See Lily at Farley by clicking here.
So the Sunday we were off to Nunney with Coco for the Intermediate, and a positive lie in, having to leave home at 5.30! We got there and we gave Coco a leg stretch and some grass. Or Coco gave Mum a leg stretch. He marched her up to the top of the hill in the box park and stood and took in all the goings on, sussing where the cross country was before spotting the showjumping and being content that all was well before munching on the lovely grass! The course had plenty of questions and I knew we needed to be on the ball, which is easier said than done when the last event I did bigger than Novice was early May 2014! And since then I have only done 5 Novices (including Farley the day before)! I gave him plenty of warm up, with a large proportion in walk to get ready for the dressage. I was really pleased with his test, he stayed relaxed and switched on and aside from a little jog in his walk the test was mistake free, but a little safe which earnt us a mark of 34.8 which was fair. We had a long gap before the show jumping and the course was tough. There were 11 fences including a double and a combination with a triple bar in and two uprights out, so plenty of room to make mistakes. Coco jumped brilliantly, and unfortunately I took one too many checks in to the first fence to pick up a silly four faults before we had even started (and making the course a very long way round!) however I needn't have worried as he popped round, just rubbing the upright out of the three stride distance down the hill. Again, 8 faults not a true reflection and we are both still getting our eye back in! Cross country he was absolutely insanely amazing! He knows his job so well and just ate up the course (despite me seeing some interesting strides to the wider fences)! I ran him slowly as I didn't need to push him and so we picked up 24 time faults. Despite this we still finished 12th due to the amount of trouble it caused. A great run to have before Barbury next weekend! See the video of Coco by Clicking Here
The Monday evening and Tuesday day time I was lucky to be able to attend the Pony Club A Test Reunion. It was great to finally catch up with William Micklem in person after all the amazing support he has given me over the past few years. He gave an inspirational after dinner speech and really motivated me to keep working. The Tuesday was a lecture demo at Addington Manor with Richard Davidson and John Ledingham. They were both fantastic and I came away feeling refreshed with the way the sport and the training of our horses is evolving as well as some great exercises to use with my horses and when teaching others. I feel very lucky to have come through such an amazing organisation with so many fantastic and inspiring people. I got back in time to ride quickly before heading off for a summer league hockey match witch was very enjoyable and we won which is even better.
Wednesday I managed to ride 5 horses as well as going to Berkshire to try a very lovely horse on behalf of a friend. I then had to get my two ready for Hickstead jumping as we were leaving early Thursday. Another 5am alarm and we had managed to get to Hickstead and jump 2 classes on Lily and one on Coco by 9.30 - which I feel is effecient and impressive! They both jumped well, but we had a touch of 4faultitis with Lily having a fence in the jump off of the 1.00m when flying round and then I managed to have the same fence down on both of them in the first phase of the 1.10m Amatuer - very frustrating! Mum and I then had some lovely food from The Spade and Spoon - a catering outlet who did amazing bacon rolls, homemade tomato ketchup and delicious Sussex Apple Juice. Check out their website by clicking here and finding out where you may be able to taste their delicious menu. A bit of retail therapy and it was time to head home as I still had 3 horses to ride. I gave Lise Naughton's 'Shadow' and Catherine Heilbron's 'Woody' a little jump and hacked out Luarn's 'Frank'. They were all very happy and I am thrilled with how they are going.
Friday was more leisurely as we only took Coco for the 1.10m Amatuer. He jumped amazingly round a track that wouldn't naturally suit him and was unlucky to roll a poll in the jump off where I just didn't quite keep the balance round a tight corner.
Saturday was another busy day as Coco was jumping at Hickstead in the 1.15m derby first thing and then back home to swap horses and take Lily to Rackham eventing in the BE100plus. Coco loved the Derby and thought it was amazing fun, and I must admit I rather enjoyed it too. We got to do a proper bank with a rail at the bottom and an open water amongst other classic derby style fences. He had three down but out of 16 fences and again wasn't a true reflection (I know it must sound like I am making excuses but there is so much that is good about the rounds he is jumping!!). To see some clips of both horses at Hickstead Click Here.
Finally, on the 5th day of competing at 6 shows in 8 days we loaded up Lily and headed to Rackham. We wanted to give her an easy run after Farley, so she could go into her summer mini break on a positive and easy run. She was last to go in the section and was quite jolly in the dressage warm up, but Mum said she was looking good so I went in. I used her enthusiasm to really show off her paces and she performed a fantastic test, just breaking in her last counter canter but she was really good. She was given 30.8 which was fair given the mistake and turned out to be third equal after dressage. The show jumping was built by Brian Lear, who we bought Lily from and it is always lovely to take Lily over to say hi! The course was causing a fair few problems but wasn't a worry for the mega mare that is Lily, she pinged round, showing off and generally making it feel easy peasy! Turns out there was only 3 clears in my section out of 21! I headed onto the cross country with the aim of enjoying it and giving her a fun round. She was awesome and popped round making it feel easy for a clear inside the time. It was then read out that she had gone into the lead with just one left to go. We walked over to the secretary to find out she had indeed won! See the video by Clicking Here. So from 7 runs this season her results are as follows: 2nd, 1st, 5th, 6th, 5th and 1st (we just ignore the elimination at Hambledon in the middle!!). Oh and to finish off the day, I then went out for a friends birthday in the evening, getting in at 1.30!
So that is my busy couple of weeks.. Sorry for the essay!
We are off to Pyecombe show jumping with Coco this weekend as a prep for Barbury next week (eeeek) meanwhile Lily is having a couple of weeks quiet hacking before having a week off whilst I am fitting in a holiday with the boyfriend the week after Barbury. So it is all go..
Until next time
Since I last wrote it has all been rather exciting here with Coco having a fantastic first run back after injury and has come out of it in one piece and raring to go for the next one. Meanwhile Lily has been keeping her fantastic form both on the eventing circuit and out show jumping - so exciting!
On the 20th May we headed to Coombelands to see what it was like now it has the fantastic new all weather warm up. I think it may be my favourite BS venue, a lovely spacious warm-up, well built courses and fantastically organised with gaps left early on the board where numbers were put down in order to give two horse riders a chance to warm up both horses sufficiently. I had both horses in the Newcomers and Lily was up first. She jumped a fantastic round until a large rustic in the jump off which she took a distinct dislike to two strides out, a brief reminder that 1. it wasn't scary and 2. even if it was scary she was still capable of jumping it and she popped it and then flew down the last line as if to say 'well you didn't tell me I had to jump it!' cheeky mare, but she was on fab form. Coco also jumped really well and was unlucky to have the first fence in the jump off where I was a little enthusiastic at the fence before and we ended up with a rather long and flat canter. You can see both their rounds by clicking here!
Next up was Coco's turn to go eventing at last! It had been a long wait and I was so excited I nearly forgot my boots.. Luckily Mum remembered and after a short detour via home we were on our way. We got there and it was raining but thankfully it cleared up quickly and after giving Coco a leg stretch, Mum and I headed off to walk the course. The ground was perfect and the course was just how I expected it to be, a nice balance between big and bold and cleverly placed combinations. Soon it was dressage time and Coco was rather over excited in the warm up, but I kept riding him forwards in to the bridle and hoped he would settle. By the time we went in, he was still a little tense but tried very hard when he got in there and aside from jogging in his walk and a brief canter during one of our trot circles it was an obedient test, albeit a little tense. A score of 34 was a fair representation of the work he had produced. The show jumping was decent with a couple of tricky lines and causing plenty of problems (which wasn't helped by the sheep being loaded into a lorry right next to the warm up, although Coco seemed to like his new fuzzy little friends!). He jumped a fantastic round, which felt easy and confident and what was even better is that he left all the poles up! He was one of 17 clears out of 34 starters in the Open Novice! We had a couple of false starts getting to the cross country, first I forgot my number, and then there was a really horrible horse fall at the first with the air ambulance coming in and all sorts. The commentators and volunteers where fantastic at keeping everyone informed and within 45 minutes of the accident occuring, the cross country was back running again! Coco was so excited and leapt out of the start box but settled quickly and gave me the most phenomenal ride, he has not forgotten a thing. I rather hacked round and Coco was very cross that we were going so slowly but a double clear and a decent dressage for his first run back was a fantastic result in my eyes. You can see the video by clicking here.
The following weekend was Lily's turn once more and we were off to Borde Hill for another confidence giving run in the BE100open. Borde Hill is such a lovely local event and so much effort is made with the course year on year with regular changes to the course. We were early on the Sunday but had invited Carol (who helps us out with our horses 7 days a week and only ever has Christmas and Boxing day off) as we thought it would be nice for her to see us in action so to speak. Unfortunately it poured with rain for the duration but as she said, she would have been getting wet anyway! Lily did a nice enough test, not her best by any means, but it was smooth and accurate receiving a mark of 31.5 which I would say generally would be fair, however there were people with 22 dressages and she was 15th after dressage and I don't believe she should have been that far behind so many horses - but that is judging! Onto the show jumping and as always, the ring at Borde Hill was tricky and with the rain coming down, it made it even more interesting. However Lily switched on four wheel drive and popped round making it feel so easy! Bryan Lear (who we bought Lily from) was there course building and it was great that he saw her jump and was able to give me a couple of tips to carry forwards! The time cross country was really tight and I knew to be in with a chance of a placing, I would need to kick on. The ground was a little slippery but not deep or sticky so I was happy to push on as much as conditions allow. She ate up the ground and flew round clear with 11.2 time faults which was one of the faster times in the early sections. A double clear was good enough for Lily to finish in 6th place - so another fantastic result and brings her eventing tally this year to a win, a second, a 5th and a 6th out of 5 runs (if you include arena eventing and JAS she has had two wins, three seconds, a third, a 4th, a 5th and a 6th out of 10 competitions - little miss consistent!
Last week I had two days at Camp with the University Riding girls. It was brilliantly organised thanks to everyones hard work (particularly Morganne who organised the whole thing) and I had a thoroughly enjoyable time getting to ride a 13'2" which was such good fun! Mum came down and gave us a talk on what she does and how it helps the ponies which everyone found really interesting and we also got to use the little ponies to do on foot jumping and obstacle courses! It was a fantastic couple of days with a great bunch of people!
On Friday I headed down to Eaglesfield in Kent for lessons on Lily and Coco with Ernest Dillon. Lily was up first and on fantastic form (I think Ernest is secretly wishing I become a show jumper with her as she is super talented!) She popped a 1.15m track like it was nothing. Coco was a little bit enthusiastic to be out and was definitely slightly feeling the fact he had galloped round the field all morning. However, Ernest thought he was looking fantastic and once he had settled down a little bit, he popped round a 1.20m course like it was nothing.
Saturday we were meant to be taking Lily and Coco to Felbridge, however Liz and Kari (my aunt and uncle) had spare owners badges going for Epsom Derby Day as the horse they have a share in was running in the race after the Derby. I told mum she had to go, and I would go show jumping on my own, she wasn't happy with me taking two horses on my own so I just took Coco to jump the Foxhunter (and dragged the boyfriend along for company/ to video). Coco jumped really really well and made it feel easy but unfortunately had the first fence down (he wasn't expecting it to be 1.20m having not jumped that big in the ring for over a year) and the last fence down where I was thinking about turning away from the first fence in the jump off so he just touched the back rail. However 8 faults was not accurate of how he jumped. You can see the video by clicking here. Big thank you to Rob for coming and videoing (and feeding Coco polos - the most important job!). I was also very pleased I made mum go to Epsom as Blue Surf (the horse that Liz and Kari have a share in) won the Investec Handicap at 20/1 - truly a once in a lifetime opportunity.
Finally on Sunday it was time for two more lessons with Ernest, this time at Littleton on Catherine Heilbron's 'Woody' and Luarn Wallers's 'Frank'. Woody was up first and he has come on so much since the last time I rode him a few months ago. He is much straighter and balanced and starting to take the contact forwards and down. He is a cracking little pony and popped round a course making it feel easy (especially when I had the canter powerful enough!) Next up was Frank who is the complete opposite to Woody, starting with the fact he is about 3 hands taller than little Woody! It was great to get Ernest's input on his training and we went right back to basics, spending the whole lesson in trot to get him to think for himself. He was very tense to start with but by the end he was starting to relax and jump much better as a result. I am so lucky to have such a fantastic trainer as it really made me think about how to get the best out of young horses and the importance of giving them time to grow up (especially when they are as big as Frank is). We worked on more trot jumping with Frank today and he has come on leaps and bounds as he is a very bright horse and therefore learns quickly. You can see a video of my Ernest lessons on Lily and Coco along with some clips of Woody by clicking here.
I am also very lucky to be riding a lovely Irish horse for Lise Naughton whilst she is off games with an injury, he is a lovely young horse but still a little green. I took him round to Littleton on Tuesday to have a little play and he has a lovely jump on him, so I am hoping to find some local jumping to take him out to.
I can't thank Luarn, Catherine and Lise enough for trusting me to ride their horses and allowing me to get invaluable experience as a result. I am very lucky to be in the position I am in and am going to ensure I keep working hard to give all the horses I ride the best chance of reaching their potential.
This weekend we are off to Coombleands show jumping on Sunday followed by Felbridge combined training on Thursday with both horses. Then the following weekend, Lily is off to Farley for the Novice on the Saturday and then Coco is going to Nunney Intermediate on the Sunday. We are then jumping at Hickstead Thursday, Friday, Saturday before Lily will have a bit of a mini break and Coco is on the final push to Barbury 2* (eeeeeek)! We will see how Coco runs at Nunney but I may think about starting to add some of the Simple System Red Bag Grass Nuts to his feed now he is back competing as it just gives him that bit of spark in the jumping phases which I think makes a massive difference!
The next blog will be after Hickstead - so hopefully will have lots of good news to report back!!
So I left the last blog on a complete high, and even a month on, I still can't quite believe Lily and I managed to win a Novice!! I saw the words above 'live what you love' and thought that it couldn't be more apt. After finishing my University second year exams, I have the whole summer of playing ponies to look forwards to, and I have some lovely ponies to play with!
We took Lily and Coco to Hickstead dressage for two Novice tests each. Lily was up first and did a really lovely test which the judge agreed with giving her 70% which was good enough to take second! As a result we withdrew her from the second test as she tried her hardest and she is not the most willing when it comes to dressage so there was little point in asking any more of her! Then it was Coco's turn, he had not been out competing in nearly a year and he was so chilled (I don't think he quite realised what he was being allowed to do!). He did two lovely tests but they were calm and relaxed, I didn't have him really working from behind into the contact as I did not want to put too much pressure on him at his first event back! He got just over 66% in both tests for a 4th and a 5th, so a perfect first outing! You can see a picture of Coco below.
On the Sunday we took both horses to Felbridge for a bit of BSJA. Coco's first jumping show back and again he was amazingly calm - he is such a pro! He just popped round the 1.05m to get back into the swing of things. but jumped a lovely, relaxed double clear. Lily was just having a pop round the Newcomers and was unlucky to just roll a pole, but she jumped well so I was pleased with her. You can see their rounds by Clicking Here
Our next outing was Hambleden with Lily, where again she was a total superstar (just need to sack the jockey). She performed another relaxed and accurate test, so I was a little disappointed with 30.3 as I felt it was better than South of England however it was 5th after dressage so probably about right, see the video by Clicking Here. She then jumped a confident show jumping round for an unlucky 4 faults, but I was pleased as she was really jumping. Cross country she set off flying (as you can see from the video link, below). Going into the second water, I failed to set her up for the skinny and she never saw it until to late, gave myself a kick and represented her to it which she then flew! She jumped the next couple of fences well, but the number of questions one after the other made her really mentally tired, and when I didn't quite set her up for a log with a big drop behind it coming home she couldn't quite work out the question and we were eliminated. I am gutted as Lily never said no, she was just tired and had tried her hardest. On the positive side she wasn't throwing in the towel by any means so we dropped her to the 100open at Chilham the following weekend to consolidate. The video from Hambledon can be seen by Clicking Here
On Saturday the 2nd of May we headed back to Hickstead dressage with Coco, this time for a couple of Elementary tests. I asked for much more connection and had him really working over his back. He performed two fantastic tests, although he did have a mini meltdown in the canter of one of them, I think through excitement and proceeded to leap through the air! However it was still good enough for 69.4% and to win the class. The second test was mistake free and this was rewarded with a mark of 70.74% for 2nd place, so a very successful outing. You can see the pictures from this below.
Sunday the 3rd of May was Lilys turn to go eventing, this time at Chilham. We had ridiculously early times and were there to walk the course at 6.30am! The weather was appalling for all three phases and although not ideal, it was a great test for Lily as before when it was wet she used to really lose confidence. Her dressage was not as good as it has been, but she was still obedient and listening for a score of 29.8. She then went on to jump a faultless double clear with cruise control on! She finds BE100 rather small. But it was great to have her confident and happy after our little blip. We added a couple of time faults cross country to finish 5th. You can see the video by Clicking Here.
On Monday the 4th it was Coco's turn to party again! This time back to Felbridge to pop round the Newcomers. Mum (aka supergroom and lorry driver extraordinare) wasn't around so my cousin Katie and Liv who keeps her pony at my yard came to groom for me! Coco was really excited to be out - I think it is finally dawning on him that he actually is being allowed to compete again! He jumped a really fantastic round and was so unlucky to just role the last fence in the jump off, but he is jumping better than I have ever had him jumping. See his round by Clicking Here.
Next stop was a trip to watch at Badminton, and talk about inspiring me to want to get there!! I had my last exam Friday morning and headed straight there in time to watch the last session of dressage which was fantastic. Cross country day came round and I have to say it was one of the best, the course had problems spread around and there were no really horrible falls which is what the crowd wants to see. The time was tight enough that it created a competition and it set up an extremely exciting top 20 show jumping! I was so nervous on behalf of William - he has nerves of steel! But Nicholson the iron man definitely let the pressure get to him. I actually really felt for him as he is clearly so desperate to win Badminton. However what a win for William and Chilli! I also felt sorry for Oli Townened as I am not always a fan of his but he rode the most fantastic cross country round on the Saturday and he said himself that Armada's show jumping was 'mostly impossible'. He couldn't have ridden any better all weekend. I was really pleased for Pippa Funnell, Bettina Hoy and Ingrid Klimke too - who all had fantastic weekends! The other thing we came across at Badminton was a new piece of technology called Thermavet. It is an app and a case you can buy for your phone (currently only works with Iphone 5/5s, but android version is being released this summer). It is a thermal imaging camera allowing you to take images on a regular basis which is much more useful then having your horse thermal imaged once as you get to know what is normal and therefore can use it more effectively. We have been so impressed with it so far! To find out more look at their website: http://therma-vet.com
Finally, yesterday we headed to Parwood for some more BSJA. Coco popped round the Newcomers, again jumping really well but just rubbed the second last in the jump off for 4 faults. He then got to go cross country schooling in preparation for Rockingham Open Novice (sshh don't tell him as I don't think he will contain his excitement!). He was mega as always and hasn't lost his cross country know how in the year he has been off. See his video by Clicking Here. Lily also jumped in the Newcomers, flying round double clear for 3rd so I thought I would get brave and enter the Foxhunter! I was rather nervous but I didn't need to be because she took me round like she had been jumping them for years and was really unlucky to roll the out of the double for four faults. You can see her rounds by Clicking Here.
With Coco doing more now, we have increased his linseed intake to support his system and give him the best chance in his recovery. Touch wood, so far, so good!
Our next outing is Rockingham with Coco (eeeeek!) and then Lily is going to Borde Hill the following weekend before a break from eventing until the 20th and 21st of June where Lily is going to Farley Novice on the Satruday and Coco to Nunney Intermediate on the Sunday all being well!
Sorry for the essay - I seem to have done rather a lot more than I thought I had!!