Good first few early season runs

We’ve had a positive start to the season with solid first events and both improving for their second event.  Ali started her season at Gatcombe in the Open Novice with the main aim for the start of her season to ensure she felt confident going cross country again.  At Gatcombe, she did a solid dressage test with a little mistake (plus one from me…) and scored 33 then did a good clear show jumping despite me over checking at times!  See a video of our SJ round here.

She felt fantastic XC, if not a little too keen but I was just thrilled she was enjoying herself so much to jump a brilliant clear.   Slightly more brakes needed for next time to go a bit faster for less time faults but excited to have a double clear under our belts at our first event!  See a video of us over the first 3 fences here.

Merlin did his first event at Goring Heath in the BE 100 Plus.  He did a good dressage although after being quite excited working in then went a little too relaxed in the ring but scored a good 28.5!  Onto show jumping – he jumped really well but got a bit, shall we say  “stuck” in one corner causing us to pick up 4 penalties and quite few time faults.  He did however redeem himself, skipping round the XC making everything feel very easy!  See some clips of his XC here.  

Onto Sapey this week for both of them.  As this is one of over more local events, I managed to pop over to walk the XC the evening before as we had rather early and fairly close times with them both doing the Novice.  Merlin did a lovely test and felt much softer and forward scoring 28.3 to lie 5th after dressage.  See a video of his test here.  We did a quick swap onto Ali for her dressage – she just about managed to contain her hormones to score 29.8!  Onto the SJ with Ali first up – now hormones do not affect her show jumping!! – she jumped a beautiful clear round, soft and forwards all the way giving everything plenty of room with no silly over checking from me!  See the video of her round here.

I wanted to ensure Merlin was well in front of my leg before I went into show jumping with him so I could keep him flowing forward all the way.  He was a little cheeky in the warm up, testing the boundaries (and depositing my bottom on the floor at one point…)  but we worked through it and he jumped a good clear!  See his round here.

Merlin went XC next for his first Novice XC of the season and there were plenty of questions, the ground was a bit variable too so I didn’t set out too fast.  He felt brilliant and coped brilliantly with the first tricky combination of a roll top to angled ditch to offset hedge.

He jumped well over the corner combination, through the water and the woods.  At the 3rd last – a log down a hill back up to a skinny brush – he left a leg at the log, it was fairly small and I think I was concentrating on the line to the brush and didn’t quite tell him to “jump” enough.  This caused us to go slightly off course having to loop back to get to the brush, we stayed clear but picked up a few more time faults than we would have otherwise!  See clips of his round here.  We were delighted with how he jumped XC, his double clear and even more so that he picked up 8th as well!!

Ali then flew round XC feeling fantastic again, I just need to rediscover my speedy pants!! – 4.4 time faults meant we finished 2nd…  See clips of her round here.  I was still thrilled – 2 double clears and both placed, what a day!!

Looking smart in my new Lintbells Equine XC top from Hardy Etc. Clothing!

 

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New season training in full swing!

Firstly I shall endeavour to blog more regularly this year!  With an injury (to myself) quite early in the season, I slightly lost enthusiasm with Ali and I loosing our mojo despite the other 2 going well and Merlin stepping up to Novice and winning too!!

All the horses are going well and feeling good, if not a little spritely at times in this cold weather!  We have been to a few training competitions and I have some training planned with all of them too.  Flicka, who we unfortunately are going to sell (can’t keep them all…)  has really strengthened up over the winter and Mum has been enjoying some dressage lessons with Adam Kemp on her.  As she has strengthened her jumping has improved lots too – although she is only 15.2hh, she is a full warmblood so it has taken her a little longer to mature.  We took her to Allens Hill a couple of weeks ago for the Eventing Training – she did a good dressage test with just one mistake and then jumped a brilliant double clear in the Show Jumping/simulated cross country at 1m.  We were thrilled as she hadn’t be out to jump since the end of the last jumping season.  See a video of her in action here.

Flicka schooling at home

Flicka schooling at home

I have been having some great dressage lessons on Ali with Islay Auty, she is improving all the time mainly working on collection and quality in all the paces and flying changes.  She qualified for British Dressage Regionals at Advanced Medium (silver) but we don’t feel she is quite ready to be competitive so will carry on training for now, especially as we are focusing on her eventing as well again now.  She is jumping better than ever and as keen as ever!!  See a video of her round at Allens Hill 1.20m here.  I am excited to have got a place on one of the Mark Todd Bridging the Gap 2-day training courses with Gill Watson and Lizzel Winter at the end of February – really looking forward to having their input in stepping up to 3*/advanced level again with her!

A frosty Ali after schooling early one chilly morning!

A frosty Ali after schooling early one chilly morning!

Merlin has come back into work now after spending some time over Christmas back home with his owner Sue and is feeling good, he too has strengthened up and looks fantastic.  We are trying jumping him in a pelham, which he seems to like, making a lovely shape over a fence in this bit and feeling very happy!  He had is first outing last week jumping a good clear round the 1m in his new bit!  He has had a lesson with Islay too and we are working on impulsion in the trot and canter as well as improving the lengthening in these paces.  See a couple of clips of his lesson here.  Not long now until we get the out cross country schooling again too!

Merlin flying at his first jumping outing of the year! Happy boy :)

Merlin flying at his first jumping outing of the year! Happy boy 🙂

Mum and I had a good day at the International Eventing Forum at Hartpury on Monday, as always with many useful tips and exercises to try at home.  Tomorrow, we are off to Allens Hill for some more Eventing Training weather dependant (surely it won’t snow…)

Thank you to Lintbells Equine for their continued support with Yumove Active Joint and Yumega Skin and Coat.  Now with Mum due a second hip replacement, she is also trying out their human joint supplement iMove!  Check out all their products (including for dogs and cats too) at http://www.lintbells.com

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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…..

 

Early Season Event Reports: Gatcombe, Goring & Weston

We have had a fairly lucky early season compared to some, managing to get to and run at events with all this rain!!   Unfortunately Sapey was unable to run this week though so Ali has completed Open Intermediate classes at Gatcombe and Weston Park and Merlin and Flicka in the BE100 at Goring Heath.

Gatcombe

Ali managed to stay sensible for her dressage, which was the new Intermediate test for this season including shoulder in and half pass.  She performed well despite the XC having just started behind with the commentary and whistles blowing!  We just lost rhythm a few times where the ground was changeable but scored a very respectable 30.5 in a competitve section (our first time at Open Intermediate – meaning any horse could be in our section!)  See a video of our test here.

Ali gat dr

Onto the show jumping and Ali was very keen!!  She jumped really well despite being a bit of a handful, I managed to keep the energy under control except in the treble where she made up a bit too much ground to tip the last part for 4 faults.  See a video of our round here.

Ali SJ gat

Gat SJ1

The enthusiasm continued on to the cross country…  and a little bit of a difficulty getting into the start box – thank you to one of the lovely starters for the lead!  She felt brilliant having only been XC schooling once due to the weather and time, however just misread the corners at 7, glancing off the first one for an annoying 20 penalties in an otherwise lovely round.  I built and practised the corners at home, which she still didn’t understand at first – odd for her as she is usually so brilliant at things like that!  Good first run though and lucky to get it in before the rain the following day!

Goring Heath

Merlin and Flicka had their first BE100 run at Goring Heath, which got gradually stickier with mud during the day but held up for them both to complete.  Merlin performed a solid but slightly underpowered test for 30.3 and was very keen to get back to the lorry for the next bits!!

Merlin Dr

Merlin

Flicka felt much stronger and more balanced than last year and despite a couple of minor wobbles was good to score 31.8

Flicka dressage

Flicka

Merlin jumped a clear round show jumping although lost his improving technique somewhat in the sticky mud and we have been working on a more forward active canter without getting too long, which he will need when he steps up to Novice.  See a video of his round here.  Flicka felt fabulous and was really pinging even on the difficult ground but unfortunately we missed our stride at the double, which she did well to jump the second part of but then clipped the last behind too – a bit disappointing given how well she had jumped up until that point to come away with 8 faults.  See her round here.

Flicka SJ

Flicka Show Jumping

Onto XC and Merlin first – he started off a little sticky, just not quite jumping out of the forward stride I wanted but got better and better the further round we got and came home clear easily inside the time to finish on his dressage score for 4th place!  See clips of his round here.

Merlin making the "wave" fence out of the water look tiny!

Merlin making the “wave” fence out of the water look tiny!

Flicka found it a bit tricky as the ground conditions had got really sticky by the time she went XC but just kept confident and jumping, every time we jumped a fence on better ground she flew!  I was thrilled that she was also clear and made it inside the time.  See clips of her round here.

Weston Park

We were unsure if Weston would continue to run all week due to all the rain but the organisers did a great job even moving the show jumping so we had fresh ground.  Unfortunately to OIU21 was cancelled the day before but this meant we had a cross country course that had not been ridden on.  The dressage arenas had just been moved across slightly though so we had to do movement like half pass through a strip of mud where the long side of the arena had been the day before – not ideal!  Ali was good considering but looked like she was going on tip toes saying Yuck!  She did well to score 33.  They were working on the show jumping putting sand/gravel down in front of the fences – Ali jumped brilliantly and tried so hard.  I was frustrated to have just the first down and looking back think my canter was slightly underpowered to  it so she got stuck in the mud!  Watch our round here.

Weston SJ1

Weston SJ

We didn’t go XC until lunchtime so watched a couple before we went and the ground looking to be drying in the sun and wind.  There were 3 water jumps in the first 9 fences so I wasn’t sure what she would think of that, especially jumping into a stream at fence 6!! (See course photos here)  She started well but we had a hairy moment into the first water when she stood off rather a long way from the first part causing me to loose my knitting sitting back away from her!!  She was fabulous though and popped in well and then was flying, no need to have worried at 6 into the stream!  Feeling good I kicked on a bit more and answered all the questions easily coming home with just 4.8 time faults – the fastest round of the morning Intermediate sections.  To top it off we finished 2nd in an Open Intermediate taking her to 78 BE points – wow!  You can see a video of various competitors round the intermediate track here (by Harveywetdog) – we are the last horse on the video (just after minute 17) seen jumping the last 3 fences.

So a pretty successful start to the season overall, now it just needs to stop raining!!

Thank you to my sponsors Lintbells Equine providing Ali with Yumove Active Joint and Flicka with Yumega Skin and Coat.  For more information on their products, visit their website!

 

Exciting new sponsorship with Lintbells Equine

I am delighted to announce a new sponsorship partnership with Lintbells Equine, a UK based company providing equine supplements.  In my work as a vet, I have had good responses from my canine and feline patients using the equivalent Lintbells pet products.  Yumove Advance for dogs is the only joint supplement to be clinically proven to work in 6 weeks through research at the Royal Vet College and I have seen brilliant results especially in those who are starting to get stiffer.  Cats also benefit from this product, which means they too can stay more active for longer without the need for anti-inflammatory drugs.  For skin problems and support, I have used lots of Yumega Plus, which has helped many itchy dogs especially those prone to allergic responses to become more comfortable and improves skin and coat quality.  Also the probiotics in the YumPro range have proved useful in gut problems too.

yumove yumega

So I am excited to get started using two of the Lintbells Equine Products:

Yumove Horse Active Joint for 9 year old Ali, who is being aimed at Advanced and 3 Star level this season.  This product is specifically designed to support the joints during the stresses undergone by performance horses.  It should help to keep Ali supple and aid recovery on our quest for competing successfully at the top level eventing!

Thanks to Spidge Event Photography

Thanks to Spidge Event Photography

Yumega Skin and Coat for 6 year old Flicka, who has suffered with mild sweet itch that we have managed well with rugs but means she is inclined to get dry scurfy skin especially around the mane and tail therefore not always looking as shiny and smart as we’d like.  Yumega will help to soothe, calm and support the skin as well as containing antioxidants to support skin defences.

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I look forward to working with Lintbells and giving you all feedback on these products, which I already find excellent for my smaller patients!  As well, of course, as keeping you updated with our progress this season now that our first event is entered!!

If you would like more information on Lintbells products visit their websites:

www.lintbells.com

www.lintbellsequine.com

Please do also follow them on Facebook: Pet Health page and Equine Page and Twitter: @LintbellsPet and @lintbellsequine for updates!

Showing her brilliant technique show jumping!

 

Pre-season Training in full swing!

With the nights beginning to draw out and the season getting closer, despite the challenging weather, it’s all systems go here!!  Ali went to her first competition of the season a couple of weeks ago jumping double clear in the 1.15m and 1.20m at Hartpury British Show jumping, which I was thrilled with.

ali bs hartpury

She will be out next weekend doing some British Dressage at Medium and Advanced Medium level – I want to get lots of practice doing the more advanced movements so that she stays relaxed in the ring through the half pass and flying changes (and for me too!)

This weekend we went to the Eventing Training at Allens Hill, where they run British Eventing dressage tests then a round of show jumps followed by simulated cross country.  Sue Bown’s 8yo Merlin was having his first outing of the year plus it was a step up for him – the first time doing a Novice BE dressage test and jumping 1.10m in competition!  The Novice test (I realised once I had entered) contained rein back, which I hadn’t taught him at the beginning of the week!  As well as medium work in trot and canter, and counter canter.  Despite a very cold gusty wind, he did everything where he needed to including stepping backwards softly in rein back, which I was really pleased about considering our short learning time!  Lots to brush up before the season starts.  He jumped really well and coped easily with the step up in height.  I was especially pleased how good a rhythm he kept and how well he stayed on his lines to the narrower fences.  To see a video of his round click here.

Ali went along too but was extremely full of herself and unfortunately rather tense in the dressage but we made it through!  This was the case again for show jumping – reminding me once again that she is a mare…  Looking forward to a day at the International Eventing Forum tomorrow and lessons with Nick Gauntlett again on Wednesday 🙂

Our first trip to Brooksby with the young horses

Brooksby was the last event of the season for 5yo Flicka and Sue Bown’s 7yo  Merlin, which we managed to fit in between Blenheim and Osberton (with Ali).  The journey was better than expected for more of a “cross country” route than I normally aim for and it was easy to find.  Show jumping was on a surface and cross country round varying terrain and at times a little twisty so a good different test for both horses.

Merlin excelled in all 3 phases.  His dressage was the best he had done all season (even though not his best mark) – he felt much stronger and more easily in self carriage.  He scored 26.8 for second place after the dressage.

Merlin during his test

Merlin during his test

The outdoor arena was quite tight to work in for show jumping so they had us in the indoor school, where Merlin was really well behaved as we’ve not really jumped indoors much.  Then I managed to pop a fence in the outdoor just before we entered the arena – he was brilliant and really listened and tried for a clear round!  All to play for and I was determined to go for the time but still needed to ensure my control for some of the turns and a few skinny questions.  The jump after the step out of the water was on a curve and quite narrow and seemed to be causing a few problems as I listened over the commentary.  See course photos here.  Merlin performed everything asked of him and is really getting the idea and jumping out of his stride on the straight forward fences so we don’t have to waste time.  A clear and well inside the time meant he finished on his dressage score for his first affiliated WIN – so thrilled for his owner Sue, who has let me compete him this year.

Sue and I at prize giving in the dark!

Sue and I at prize giving in the dark!

Flicka was also doing the BE100 after having her back sorted and feeling loads better and moving much more freely again.  She did a good test although was quite harshly marked to score 32.8

Flicka working in for the dressage

Flicka working in for the dressage

Unfortunately she was a little careless in the show jumping rolling 2 poles so we’ll be out doing lots of show jumping this winter as she is still rather inexperienced and if we want to step up to novice next year will need to get out and jump more courses!  She was also totally brilliant XC though and coped really well with the bounce of steps up, something she had never seen even schooling before and also the water, which I felt was quite a question for her with a step both in and out.  She felt really confident too and enjoyed herself a lot!  She finished in 9th so good day all round and brilliant way for them to finish the season 🙂