Long time, no blog…

Firstly sorry, I have been terrible this year for updating!!  The eventing season has whizzed by and despite a few early highs it has not been the best.  So here you go, a quick update of what’s been going on!!

A big highlight was Ali and I completing the biggest course either of us have ever jumped in the Advanced at Withington. We made a couple of mistakes XC with both horse and rider being inexperienced at this level (blind leading the blind…) but completed on a high – she just made it feel so easy and confident!

Flying the Advanced rails at Withington in May

Flying the Advanced rails at Withington in May

My eventing goals for her this year since then have not gone as planned, although she was show jumping brilliantly we lost confidence XC after I had an injury falling from another horse.  I think a change of stirrups also made a difference for the worse and I didn’t realise until too late how big an impact they had made on my balance (until I finally clocked why I kept falling off, which I usually don’t… back in the good old fashioned ones now!!)  So we have been concentrating on her dressage and have recently been scoring in the high 60s at Advanced Medium level British Dressage and I’m hoping we can qualify for Regionals at the level.  We have been having lots of fun learning tempi changes and the beginnings of canter pirouettes together too (I say together as I have never done these movements either!)

Ali scoring 68.78% in Advanced Medium 92 at Burrows Court ~ 20th August 2016

Ali scoring 68.78% in Advanced Medium 92 at Burrows Court ~ 20th August 2016

Sue Bown’s Merlin has made the step up to Novice level successfully with 2 placings and 2 British Eventing points already as well as winning Whitfield BE100 and Berrierwood BE100open!  I am thrilled with the way he is improving all the time, in all 3 phases and feeling stronger especially most recently in the dressage scoring mid twenties at his last two Novice outings and feeling fantastic!  He is a big boy and is really maturing this year so should only get better and better…  We’ve had a couple of mistakes at the last few events but I have to get used to riding him now he is feeling so different, and possibly not take it for granted that he’ll know what to do as even though he feels good he is still green at this level and there is still lots for him to see.

Merlin XC

Merlin making nothing of this Novice oxer at Eland Lodge… problem with being big is you make the fences look small!!

Flicka has had a few outings this season eventing but we have been working on her show jumping and a recent change of bit seems to have helped me to keep the good quality canter that we need for a clear round.  She jumped a fab round in the 100+ at Homme recently.  Her dressage is gradually improving as she gets stronger and more able to carry herself, she has a fantastic medium trot coming through now too!!  She was in the placings earlier this season at Broadway BE100 after whizzing round the XC inside the time.

flicka sjs

Just a few events left and it feels a bit weird not to be going to Osberton, which we have been to for the last few years.  I can’t say I’m not disappointed to have missed out on the bigger events this year or achieved what I was aiming for with Ali, however she is going better than ever on the flat and show jumping well.  Hopefully after this break and lots of schooling her confidence will return and she will enjoy the XC again like she always has!   I look forward to doing some higher level dressage on her too (learning piaffe and passage would be awesome!) I’m also excited to step Merlin up to do some internationals next year.  We have a 3yo part bred Andalusian to back this Autumn and with it being so difficult to fit in everything (especially alongside the little matter of being a full time vet….) Flicka will be for sale.

Looking smart and staying dry in my great coat from sponsors Lintbells Equine

Looking smart and staying dry in my great coat from sponsors Lintbells Equine

Finally thank you to my sponsors Lintbells Equine, who have provided the horses with Yumove Active Joint and Yumega Skin and Coat this year helping keeping them on the road!

Onwards and upwards…..

 

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Ali ~ Barbury CIC** and BD Medium Regionals

Quick report from last weekend plus dressage today… sorry, bit behind on event reports as so busy!!

Overall after a good build up we had a slightly disappointing event but most definitely made up for by Ali being so awesome cross country!  Also on the plus side I know exactly what and where things went wrong ~ she scored 50.9 in the dressage, very average for what she can do but I think it all stemmed from me not getting her properly in front of the leg in the warm up as she was being so relaxed!  So when slightly tense in the arena she totally ignored me… however, dressage we have certainly put right and made up for today at the British Dressage Regional Medium Restricted Championships at Somerford Park ~ she scored a fantastic 69.05% to finish in 2nd and qualify for Nationals! Video of this to follow.

Working in medium trot today at the British Dressage Regionals

Working in medium trot today at the British Dressage Regionals

Show jumping at Barbury was a bit of a write off too and on watching this back I think the large slope on top of which we had to jump some fences really bothered her so she was tense and short in her stride and this affected her jump too.  I’ve managed to have a lesson with Nick this week though and she was brilliant so hopefully all back on track and she’ll be fine again in a “normal” arena.

Working round at Barbury - having a stretch!

Working round at Barbury – having a stretch!

XC she was just amazing, compared to Nunney I really put my foot down and answered every question!  See course photos here.  The course is so good for viewing at Barbury too that Dad did a fabulous job and got almost the whole course on video – see here!

Next weekend we have our (and my) first Advanced at Aston Le Walls so fingers crossed!!

Fantastic Weekend of British Dressage & British Showjumping

Ali was a busy girl this weekend with British Dressage on Saturday and British Showjumping on Sunday – getting lots of practice in for the upcoming eventing season!  We went to the Cotswold RDA centre on Cheltenham Racecourse for the first time for British Dressage, where the outdoor warm up arena was just about defrosted enough on another very chilly morning.  The indoor arena was quite small (both tests were 40x20m arena tests) and was very spooky, with lots of paintings, a gallery, fake horse….!  I was really pleased with Ali as although she was rather tense and spooky in the first of our tests, medium 63, she still listened and stayed rideable and fairly soft but was just not quite secure in the contact for the whole test.  She scored a good 68.45% to win the class 🙂

Next we did medium 71, which for some reason I had wrongly learnt the “simple changes” in canter (canter-walk-canter) across the diagonal as transitions through trot, which lost us a few marks.  Overall though Ali was much more secure in the contact and consistent but I need to take care that her quarters don’t lead in the half passes in my effort to keep enough bend – I think I need to try and buy some mirrors for the end of the arena so that I can check my positioning more easily when schooling by myself!  She still scored a respectable 66.61% and I was very happy with how she had settled in the scary arena!  This meant 9 points from the day, however unfortunately neither of the tests were “qualifiers” so I need a few more points from a qualifier class to get to the summer regional championships.

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On Sunday afternoon we jumped in the 1.15m and 1.2om classes at Solihull BS.  They had lots of entries in the early classes so we didn’t jump until after 4pm.  When I mounted the snow started coming down quite heavily and even settled for a few minutes (causing small panic from Mum!!) – thank goodness we were indoors although it was still rather cold!  Tim Stockdale was there with a few horses and it was brilliant to be able to watch him working in – I found it particularly useful the way he stayed to an outside track but would come in and out bending the horses body and neck both ways in all 3 paces especially as it can be so difficult to do turns and circles when SJ warm up arenas are busy.  It worked really well to keep Ali’s neck and sides soft at the beginning as well as if she got a bit speedy after a warm up jump.

She jumped fantastically and I think felt the best she ever has – not just over the fences but staying soft, rideable and with me not tensing in her back between the fences too.  She jumped double clear in the 1.15m and just had one pole in the 1.2om when I majorly over checked out of the corner to a big upright instead of riding on and trusting her to clear it (like I would have done with a spread).  I did have another chance to practice with a similar turn albeit on the other rein to the last fence.

I’m thrilled with the way she felt and massive confidence boost.  Videos of our rounds unfortunately just on phone as  we forgot the camcorder: 1.15m here and 1.20m here!  🙂

British Dressage Allens Hill

We took Ali to Allens Hill on Saturday for 2 Medium tests – we are working on getting her to “sit” at the same time as using her shoulder and become more expressive in her movemet.  I felt this had really improved her connection and softness in her back, which can be difficult to keep at times if she becomes tense at all.  Having been working on this I think I slightly lost the forwardness, which I had earlier in the year during the tests on Saturday – getting it all at the same time is the challenge!! We are getting there and it will be fabulous when we’re there 🙂

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She still scored quite well gaining a total of 6 points towards the 10 required for regional qualification with 64.77% and 65.61%.  I was pleased with how much more relaxed and rideable she stayed compared with last time we rode a test.


We jumped at home today as were a bit late to get to Solihull BS as planned – I popped a short course up in the small arena at home and she jumped fabulously ~ even when we didn’t get the best stride she jumped well and didn’t get tense on landing.  So pleased with her!  Hope we can replicate it in competition!!

 

British Dressage Petplan Medium Area Festival and other winter season fun!

Well winter has well and truly landed… what a disgusting morning!!!

I have had a few days off this week after Mum had an operation on Tuesday,  which is a great break to ride more and get some clipping etc. done – even though I probably work almost as hard as when I’m at work it is welcome not to be rushing to ride in the dark before or after work!

Last Saturday we went to Moreton Morrell after realising Ali was qualified for the Petplan Area Festival at Medium level, even though she had only done 2 medium level tests!  She had been going well at home with her lateral work improving all the time but being in a small indoor I knew she may be rather tense.  She worked in well and felt relaxed.  Even though she did get a little tense she still allowed me to ride her and stayed soft so I was able to keep a good bend in the half pass.  I was thrilled with our score of 68.48% especially when there is still so much improvement to come (and despite me going wrong after concentrating on good transitions while going over the patch of light by the exit door and forgetting to go up the centre line, doh! – see video!!)  CLICK HERE FOR VIDEO of the test.

We were only third to go in the class and unfortunately were pipped into 2nd place by the second last person to go, a little frustrating as only first qualifies for championships!  I feel it can be a disadvantage to go earlier in a class as the judges often seem less brave with the marks.  We were still pleased with the way she went though.  I will now work towards Advanced Medium at home by starting some flying changes, which are required for Advanced eventing tests.

petplan rosette

On the Sunday I was lucky to take Merlin showjumping due to his owner being injured, he is great to ride and learns so quickly.  We were all very happy with him popping round for a lovely clear and also standing well while waiting around.  I also enjoyed helping Natalia, who rides my old Pony Club pony and did a fantastic round in the 80cm for 5th place!

merlin jumping

 

On call this weekend, so hope to fit in riding and all animals in the area stay healthy!!

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

 

 

Showjumping training and planning our season!

I managed to finish work on time today to take Donovan and Ali to Hillview Arena for show jumping training with Nick Gauntlett.  Both horses performed brilliantly, feeling really confident and I felt so much better in my riding too, staying soft and managing not to interfere, letting them get on with it and jump!

Ali jumping today

Ali jumping today

 

For Ali this was supposed to be our pre-Aston Le Walls Novice jumping session, which was meant to be running on Monday but I found out once we’d finished jumping this has been postponed until the following Monday.  So I was on the phone straight away to swap my days off, which luckily I was able to do!! Blooming weather!

I am lucky to have found some new gallops only 10mins lorry ride from home, which have a fantastic surface and are really well maintained so this will come in really useful while the ground is not good enough to be doing our fast work on grass.  Contact David Dennis for hire – click here for his website.

I had a feeling that Aston may not run this weekend with all the recent rain so had entered British Dressage at Hartpury for this Saturday, so they will both get an outing.  We are doing the medium tests to practice some lateral movements in competition, which are included in British Eventing from Intermediate tests  upwards.  They are then both entered for Gatcombe, Ali in the Intermediate Novice and Donovan, the Open Novice.  I have been going through the events that both of them will be doing as long as all goes to plan – it can be tricky juggling competing around weekends on call and events that are close enough and have the correct classes for us!