Jump Training with Nick Gauntlett

I’ve had a brilliant afternoon with both horses jumping fantastically in their lessons.  We weren’t very lucky with the weather though and got drenched through to the skin!! Donovan felt great throughout and I just need to make sure I keep the revs up, then don’t help him too much and let him get on with the jumping.  Similar message with Ali really despite her being so different to ride, I have to believe in her at the bigger heights even though she is smaller than Donovan (as Nick said… she doesn’t know she’s small!)

Click here to take a look at the photos from today on my facebook page – please give it a like for more regular updates & photos while you’re there!

Also the videos on them on the XC at Gatcombe are now up on my YouTube Channel: Donovan &  Ali


Gatcombe BE report… Donovan’s back!

It was a rather chilly morning as we set off for Gatcombe Park with sleet and hail threatening.  It was to be my first time competing both horses on the same day so we were super organised – 2 number bibs, times all sorted and ice at the ready for after XC.  Ali was first for her intermediate dressage test – she was rather bright with the chilly wind but we held it together quite well with just a couple of mistakes for a solid score of 31.4.

ali gat

And so with the freezing rain starting to come down we rushed off to walk the XC course, the ground was mainly very good apart from a couple of wet spots and it looked to be an inviting course with some questions.

Donovan was very happy to be out and felt like he wanted to head straight over to where he could hear the cross country commentary!  He went beautifully in the dressage though scoring 28.5, which would have been even better if his numpty rider hadn’t gone wrong (how can I remember 2 BD medium tests but not 2 simpler eventing tests??)  It was straight on to show jumping for Donovan but unfortunately they were running rather late so once I was mounted we just kept him moving with an exercise sheet on so he didn’t get too cold.  Despite the wait, he warmed up well and was jumping nicely despite a slightly muddy warm up area.  In the ring he felt great, maybe slightly over jumping some of the time (I think because of the mud) and had an unlucky pole down in the treble, where I needed to keep him together a bit more whilst keeping the revs up!  See a video of his show jumping round here.  Onto his favourite part, the cross country and his first run for 2 years after his injury in 2012.  He got a tad keen in the start box and I only just managed to keep him from going off too soon, once out however he was in a lovely rhythm and felt fab – we skipped round clear inside the time!!  So happy that he enjoyed himself so much and felt so good, plus we got 5th place too 🙂  Click here to see video of Donovan on the cross country.

After getting all of Donovan’s gear off, ice onto his legs and a quick change back to SJ equipment for me it was Ali’s turn to show jump.  I wanted to work her round for a reasonable amount of time following her having been on the lorry for 5hrs!  She came out very fresh still and I did lots of transitions to get her listening to me.  She wasn’t keen on the going in the warm up, which was now mud but was jumping quite well so I decided to go for it.  She jumped the first 3 fences well but then seemed to run on down the hill and I think just went a bit green in the ground at the next spread taking the top poles and landing quite on the forehand.  I then wasn’t quick enough to get the impulsion back to jump the treble so she didn’t make the distance on the spread in the middle.  She went on to jump the rest of the course better.  I was a bit disappointed and unfortunately we didn’t get it on video, which would have useful to watch but I think it was probably a combination of a few things including it being her first time competing SJ on grass this season!!  She was again over excited at the start of cross country (as I remind myself once more I really feed my horses very little for what they are doing… think they’re pleased to be out)!!  We had another brilliant round though with 2.4 time faults.  I must also remember she is only 7 this year!!  Click here to see a video of Ali on the cross country.

Great start to the season so far though and Ali has Goring Heath BE Novice next week for more practice on grass! Will get XC videos up in the next few days and put links on this post to them.

Weekend Fun in the Sun!

I’ve had a lovely weekend in the brilliant sunshine!  My parents were away so a busy weekend with some liveries for me to do as well but what a difference the good weather makes – the horses have been able to go out for long periods and enjoy the sun on their backs too 🙂

Flicka, who will soon be 4 was on best behaviour and really enjoyed jumping a few small fences even taking on her first filler – easy peasy! On the flat, her trot work is lovely – we practiced doing some centre lines and she is nice and straight too.  I did lots of walk-trot transitions and her contact is really consistent, the canter improving all the time.
Ali schooled dressage very well Saturday and I plan to practice on grass a bit this week now it is dry enough, before Gatcombe next weekend.  We then popped a few fences really well, calmly and in a great rhythm.  Today she did some fast work on grass for the first time, which she thought was rather exciting!!

Ali admiring our amazing views from the top of the hill after galloping in the sun

Ali admiring our amazing views from the top of the hill after galloping in the sun

Donovan also went nicely on the flat yesterday – the hanging cheek snaffle still working well and I feel that his activity is really improving and becoming more consistent.  Today he went XC schooling on grass at Hilltop in Ledbury, his first time jumping on grass for 2 years!


He felt really good and the brakes seemed to be working ok, he thoroughly enjoyed himself!  Thanks to Alice who came to help and took some photos and video.




Aston Le Walls Novice

After rescheduling and lots of hard work from all the team at Aston Le Walls, Ali and I were off to our first event of the season on Monday – the unaffiliated Novice.  I had nice middle of the day times, which meant we didn’t have to leave until 8am so after feeding and mucking out, I managed to fit in a quick hack on Donovan before loading up and setting off in the sunshine (oh yes, the sun was shining at home!)

First job on arrival after a quick check of Ali was collecting our number and heading off to walk the course, unfortunately the sun didn’t follow us all the way to Aston and it was rather chilly but most importantly not raining!!  See course photos here.

Ali was bright but fairly relaxed on the walk over to the dressage, which they had on grass in the far field.  As we came into the field past the cross country start though, I spotted a horse fully tacked up but wearing a rug and head collar galloping flat out towards us heading back home from the dressage arenas!!  I held on tight as it came past, not slowing at all straight up the track back towards the show jumping.  Ali span round but I managed to keep her on the spot and turn her back round, at which point she let out a large snort!!  And so we continued onto the dressage warm up….  she was a little more on her toes by this point especially once she noticed that horses were doing cross country the other side of the hedge.  I got her doing lots of trotting, cantering, circling and some leg yield – she settled quite well but wasn’t enjoying the slightly sticky going.  She did a reasonable test first time out on grass, which could have been a bit more relaxed for 33.

Onto the show jumping – she was a little less forward warming up indoors but once we got outside to do our round felt fantastic and jumped a lovely clear – watch a video of our round here.  Ali’s favourite part has always been the cross country and today was no exception, even though it was our first time on grass (our only cross country schooling having been on the all-weather), she was feeling very keen but nicely controllable in the warm up.  I decided I would try using my stop watch for the first time and had duly noted down the time allowed, adding 5 seconds so that I could press it at the beginning of my count down.  She got a little excited coming towards the start box but set off well with a lovely forward jump over the first.  She flew everything and was particularly fantastic through the water, taking on the 2 skinny brushes really confidently and we came home 3 seconds inside the optimum time.

Ali's legs cooling off after her cross country with the Horseware Ice Vibe boots on

Ali’s legs cooling off after her cross country with the Horseware Ice Vibe boots on

A perfect first run, a very happy horse (and rider) plus a 2nd placed finish!

Clever eventers winning British Dressage!

With Aston Le Walls being postponed until next Monday, I was pleased to have entered for British Dressage at Hartpury yesterday.  Both horses were doing Medium tests.  Ali started off doing Medium 61, her first medium test in competition – apart from a little tension in places, a rather abrupt trot-walk transition and a slightly messy walk to canter transition she performed well, including all the lateral work.  I was delighted with her score of 68.28% to win the restricted section!  These tests also allow us to practise some of the lateral movements that are included in the 2* tests in a competition environment.

Donovan did Medium 75 and although I had to work rather hard I managed to keep him much more active and it paid off!!  The judge, who had previously been critical of his way of going was much more positive and despite a couple of mistakes he scored 65.68% also to win his restricted section!  This proved to me that perseverance is key, even if it feels like progress is only slow!!

Todd sunbathing on the ramp yesterday

Todd sunbathing on the ramp yesterday

Today I took them both to the local gallops I am able to hire – both of them were very pleased to be out feeling quite fresh!  Both felt fabulous, although  Donovan is going to need a bit more fittening work than Ali, partly because of his time off and partly due to his slightly chunkier build!

Donovan keen for the off!

Donovan keen for the off!

Ali flying up the hill

Ali flying up the hill

Before taking them I had a ride on our rising 4yo, who is just starting to come back into work properly with Mum having been busy lunging and long-reining her.  She was very well behaved (apart from a slight aversion to one end of the arena half way through the session!) with me getting straight on without any lunge etc. beforehand.  She walked, trotted and cantered well on both reins, trotted over some poles and even took a small cross pole in her stride.  We finished off with a short hack meeting a couple of cars – all taken in her stride.  **watch this space!

Flicka showing off her lovely paces already

Flicka showing off her lovely paces already

Over the poles

Over the poles