Gatcombe Park

We had the best day at Gatcombe Park, Captain was on such good form after another win at Sapey a couple of weeks ago.

We had a spook at the water for 20 penalties but he went carefully in the second time. There was a big log to jump on the way in which was quite a lot to expect at only his second Novice.

He went round ears pricked the whole way round, it was a dream come true to compete at Gatcombe once more. Thanks to Nikki for her help and moral support and for the fab videos.

Hartpury Petplan Area Dressage Festival & The Divine Equestrian Midway Champs

No idea what I was thinking when I entered 4 days of dressage at Hartpury.

But with 2 championships being held on our doorstep at Hartpury and Captain had qualified for both the Midway Champs and the British Dressage Area Festival, it seemed sensible to go and get some dressage Championship practise in.

It was a long hot 4 days, but Captain was an absolute star. The midway champs involved riding 2 tests in each class over 2 days and the scores were then added up to decide the Champion. Captain came 8th in the Elementary that was pretty exciting . Then for the Novice which had such a huge entry of over 50 horses, it had to be split so to decide the Championship we had to do an extra test, the top 5 riders from the 2 sections had to do a ride off test. We rode in reverse order the best going last, building to an exciting finale. I was in 4th place, the commentary revved it up as we went into the arena to perform out test “Next to go here is Stella Bunn on Renkum Capitano lying in an impressive 4th place” hearing that set my nerves jangling. I made one massive error of test! The other riders were also effected by the atmosphere and some horses were fading in the bank holiday record breaking heat. Unbelievably Captain moved up to 3rd place. We had to do a Champions mounted prize giving and won £80. Amazing, Captain really is just the best boy ever.

Sunday we were back for the British Dressage Pet Plan Area Festival, just one test to ride this time, Captain went beautifully and went into 3rd place. We then had an agonising 4 hour wait for the rest of the riders to go, but no one moved us off our 3rd spot and so we were treated to another Championship mounted prize giving, plus he’s qualified for the finals later this year.

We Won at Homme House !

Entered this event with no idea how I would feel when faced with Cross Country jumps again. The event was 8 weeks to the day from my freak accident, I am still healing. So I dropped the horses down a level and entered the 90 Open class.

The sun shone all day, the ground was lovely and being our most local event, its near Ledbury, it meant I had masses of support from many understanding, amazing friends, all wishing me good luck throughout the day. Even as I edged into the start box, with less than a minute to spare before the 10 second countdown, a friendly face popped out of the Commentators Box to say good luck, thanks Bea x

Both horses did a good dressage and went clear Show Jumping and Cross country inside the time. Brave boys and they really looked after me too.

As soon as I finished I had some other voluntary work to do. Putley Pony Club give up their time to work at the event and as a treat for helping they have a course walk with one of the riders, Louise Harwood had agreed to do it this year but she was badly injured after a fall at Gatcombe so I offered to take her place.

I was out walking the course with the lovely young riders from Putley Pony Club when I came across my freind Ingrid Peck who was fence judging, she gave me a huge hug, and said “well done on your win” I didn’t even know that I won as I had rushed off to get the course walk organised.

What an amazing day, I had won on Renkum Capitano, the same horse who had fallen in the freak accident.

Fab times from Disaster

So we have turned around the disaster of my fall into one of the best summers ever. We had an amazing last minute holiday in The Gower Peninsular, our first holiday for over 20 years. We stayed at a beautiful 5* self catering cottage called Slade Barn, the dogs were able to come too. We had the most incredible week walking and exploring the stunning Welsh coast, eating delicious food and enjoying fabulous weather.

On our return I didn’t feel quite up to XC riding right away so have registered Captain for British Dressage, in his first week we have won 5 classes and qualified for an Area Festival. Love Capitano as despite his cheeky moments, he tries so hard to please.

So that’s 2 things we would never have done if I hadn’t had a fall, which shows every cloud has a silver lining.

We have also been out show jumping a couple of times and have now entered some Eventing in a few weeks.

Oh and almost forgot we have a new team member meet Hitchhiker, a feral kitten who hitched a ride under a car from a local farm and then fell off, landing on the main road. He’s not feral anymore he’s very friendly now.

To A Collie – My favourite poem

Well here I am – before me on the window seat my collie.

That streak of black and white perfection, sleek both in movement and as now in watchful repose.

Aware of each and every whim of mine and ready to indulge them -while I sit he sits – apparently asleep, but should I move – an ear will lift, an eyelid flicker, a muscle tense.

When walking love that faithful head and lolling tongue, those adoring eyes lifted to my face. Ready always to walk where I would walk and just as willing to turn for home when my feet tire. My collie a wonderful mix of bristling perfection and tickled sloppy ecstacy.

A faithful friend, a fearful adversary.

Whether I wish to play or sit and shed a tear a reflection of my every mood, a obedient soul who knows just when with certainty the right times to be naughty

An ardent lover of those I love and yet just lacking that same awareness of their moves my collie. This give and take machine who gives his all and takes only as much as he is given nevermore, a two-way love affair – An unspoken loyalty between he and I.

A lifelong conversation of looks and love, no one can take from me the absolute elation of a life shared by a collie.

Author Unknown

The Air Ambulance Arrived at My House

With West Wilts getting closer which was to be Captains second Novice run I wanted to practise a few tricky XC lines.

We were out in the field jumping a big step down on a curve to some oil drums stood on end and all was progressing really well.

But suddenly we popped down one of the smaller steps and bang without any warning of a fall, I went face first into some dirt that hadn’t grassed over.

Those of you who have fallen from horses will know you always get a split second warning as you are going down, this didn’t happen it was just bang.

I lay there for a few seconds thought ouch & saw Captain cantering to the gate, thank fully he looked sound and not injured. I tried to get up, my back, legs and arms all felt ok and all working, but whoosh my head said you get up and you are going to pass out.

I was on my own and Ant wasn’t due home until 5 pm, it was currently around lunchtime. I felt for my phone, phew it was still in my pocket of my jodhpurs, thank goodness I swapped it over when I took my coat off a few minutes ago.

I pressed the emergency button “no service” and then tried 999 “no service” I tried again and again “no service” “no service” quite a lot of blood was dripping from my face on to the dirt, a huge splodge of dark red blood landed on my phone.

Dam you first aid trainers you told me phones would always dial the emergency number even with no service!!

Captain was still stood by the gate chatting to Nikki’s horse Biscuit. I tried to get up again, I was almost sick, dam. So next I wriggled a short way further up the bank to try and get a signal, still nothing.

I typed a text, copied and pasted it and sent it to a few people who might be local who could send for help. A couple of the texts looked like they had sent. Suddenly the phone had a weak service signal I pressed 999 and got an answer, next problem was making myself understood, my face was so sore I couldn’t speak properly & I couldn’t remember my postcode, but it didn’t matter as the good signal soon ended and the call cut off and the lady was gone.

I kept trying to recover the call and then I heard someone running. Some feet appeared, I couldn’t lift my head up to see who it was, they spoke and I realised it was our 18 year old niece Lizzy. Her Mum Janet had received one of my texts and as she wasn’t home she texted Lizzy to get down here urgently.

Lizzy was amazing she rang the emergency services and put Captain away, plus she was wearing orange which made waving the Air Ambulance down into the correct place an easier task, they apparently had been sent following my aborted call. Next the Land Ambulance arrived along with a much needed hug from a distraught Hugo my loyal collie who had been sat in the field when I fell, but had ran home when he saw the loose horse. I was checked over and stretchered off to Hospital with Hugo wanting to come too.

An hour later Ant arrived at Hospital, just as I was being cleaned up and checked over. The doctor found some neck pain, I did tell her that was normal, but she still wanted a CT scan done to check and plus to see if my nose or face had anything broken.

9 hours later CT scan done nothing broken and we left the amazing team at Worcester Hospital with stitches expertly put in by a lovely lady from the head, face and neck team, she was also a dentist so checked my teeth were ok too. Stitches going in were painful, I had some above my top lip and on my nose too.

I am recovering well, been a bit stiff & sore and I had an amazing headache for 2 whole days. I looked like I had Botox, maybe I have discovered a cheaper alternative 😂!!

The reason why the fall had no warning was because Captain got his foot or shoe caught in his martingale, poor lad, we went down so fast. He had fallen face first too, luckily he is such a sharp horse that he didn’t roll on me, he was up very quickly, he has a tiny cut on his nose and like me, he looked a bit shaken for a day or two.

Thank you to Lizzy, Janet, Gill and Jo for coming to my aid at the time of the accident and to all the visitors and lovely messages wishing me well, plus all the offers of help with the horses, special thanks to Tracy for dashing down to get cold horses in when the heavens opened on Friday, Thanks to everyone who sent flowers and gifts and for the soft food sent round, eating hasn’t been easy but the soft food sent helped loads, It’s 5 days since the accident and I can still only drink from a straw which has made me realise that despite the single use plastic crisis, straws are essential for some, I am washing and reusing mine though. Am having to cut my food up into mini canapé size pieces and it’s amused me that the one bizarre food I could eat was French Fries crips as snapped in half they posted in nicely and then I could suck on them!!

I am still sore but have been back on board Captain today, he was fab. He can be a little nervous to mount and he’s quite a sharp cheeky horse, but despite our recent traumatic day he looked after me today like I was a china doll. He also quickly learnt that “Ud” means “Good” as I am still talking like a ventriloquists dummy!!

Captain and his first Newcomers

We travelled the 3 hours to Pontispool in Somerset last weekend for another Novice with Captain, he was in 6th place after dressage and despite the SJ causing chaos for many he jumped well and we moved up to 5th after one rail in the Show Jumping. However we decided to not run XC, the ground was firm and the course well up to higher end of Novice which he wasn’t quite ready for, plus despite the good results i wasn’t happy with how I rode the Show Jumping.

Driving home I was busy planing a training schedule to improve this phase. I felt I needed to get him more in front of the leg and off my aids, I felt I was protecting him far too much and now I wanted to allow him to think for himself more.

A week of schooling and experimenting and off to Summerhouse we went.

Captain was amazing the improvement was incredible he pinged round his first 1.10 Newcomers track easily double clear for 6th place and the highest placed Newcomer horse. What a fantastic day and what a brilliant little horse he is.

The Amazing Renkum Capitano

Well I can’t quite believe what happened today!

A trip to one of my favourite events Llanymynech on the Welsh Border near Welshpool. Love it up there, the long drive up the A49 and the event setting are both stunning.

My cheeky chappie Captain was doing his first Novice and Ruby the 100.

Ruby was really fab and nipped round for 4th place having done a superb dressage test. She was brilliant XC and SJ really well too. I was annoyed with myself in the SJ as for some reason I chose to give her a huge kick into a little upright and she had it down. Maybe I was over confident as the day before we had jumped double clear in a 1.05 and a Newcomers, in comparison the 100 SJ did look tiny.

Captains Novice track looked huge, I haven’t done a Novice since 2014 and this seemed bigger and a lot more technical than I remembered.

Captain did a super test, he’s so much easier to ride with more to do. Then he popped clear round the SJ, it was his first ever 1.15 track. “Oh no” I thought as I heard the clear round announced ” I can’t use the excuse of, oh he had 4 poles down we best not run XC as he’s not ready!”

He warmed up for XC really well and we set off hoping to get round and not minding a few 20 pens somewhere or other.

He was green at the first water although I asked him to wait, to go slowly, to look and learn and I went the long route at the huge skinny brush box to a step to a large corner. Even chatted to the fence judge explaining he was a baby horse.

Eventually we were approaching the last and to my amazement we were clear, he was one of only 4 double clears and he won his first proper British Eventing point.

On cloud nine and love Captain x

On top of all that excitement Louise Harwood took our talented 5 year old Baloutero in his first 100 and they only stormed round double clear finishing in second place.

Crazily Hectic Week

Such a mad week I will break it down in brief day by day

Tuesday – Up at 6 am to be at Badminton in time to coach Victoria Gregg (aka Plum) for her dressage in the Championship Grassroots Competition. Tracy Haines came along for the morning out. Plum did a good test although frustrating as her lovely big grey got a bit tense losing him those higher marks. we then walked the grassroots courses, it was testing with plenty of skinniest and tough lines. Tuesday afternoon involved going to Hereford to collect Bertie our 5 year old who was in the young Event Horse Class at Badminton the next day.

Wednesday – Back to Badminton, Plum went first SJ and XC and jumped a super double clear, I am very proud to have coached her to this level. Our young event horse went super up with the winners after dressage and bizarrely lost marks on his jumping, he is one of the biggest BS winners in the area for his age so we think maybe he was jumping too big and careful. See photo from the Badminton Horse Trails website gallery below.

Then for the excitement of the Badminton 5* trot up & vet inspection, with Louise Harwood and Allison Haines – Balladeer Miller Man. Miller was immaculately turned out by Amber Skelton all I had to do was add a few of the smaller plaits and also help grab a very excited Miller as he left the excitement of the trot up. As you can see from the photo Louise wasn’t really dressed to be holding onto a giant grey horse who when the crown cheered and clapped decided to entertain them by doing a kite impersonation!

Thursday – Moreton Morrell, we took Captain and Chief, both horses did a good dressage Chief the best on 31, and both had a rail down in the SJ. They both went clear XC with Chief being the star of the day finishing in 8th place and winning a rosette which we didn’t have time to collect. It was Chiefs first 100 so a really good day for him especially as he made it feel very easy. Chief pictured below.

Friday – 4 am start and back to Badminton to help get Miller ready for dressage, I helped Amber wash a giant yellow stain from his hind quarters and put in the impossible 3 tiny plaits again and then I had a struggle with tapping the studs (holes had burned over) which wasn’t easy as Miller was having a massage at the same time we were getting him ready. Amber Skelton had him beautifully turned out, but due to the studs we didn’t quite have him ready on time, 5 mins late. You have heard of Bride Zilla? Well we had Badminton Zilla ! This was our rider arriving to get on and she was a little stressed that her team of 3 couldn’t get one horse ready on time, luckily Adam Kemp her dressage trainer soon calmed her down and she was soon back in the smiles zone. Miller warmed up lovely and calmly for his test. He went into the arena and disaster struck, he had spotted himself on the big TV screen, his head went up like a Llarma making for a rather tense test. Louise did well at times to keep him in the arena.

Saturday XC day – A very exciting day, the course had ridden well with minor problems at some of the midway complexes, it seemed that once you reached the lake then riders could get home, fingers all crossed.

Miller was wound up he didn’t fancy going back near the big screen and I had to help, see photo below of a very anxious Miller head very high with me running along side with a hand on his neck, encouraging him towards the start box, he started and went clear, foot perfect and made it all look very easy indeed. He took a stride out at Huntsmans and looked awesome, very much like another Murphy Himself. Ali and Ian were thrilled. What an amazing achievement for them to have sourced him as a 4 year from Ireland and then watch him develop with Louise Harwood into a Badminton horse, proof that dreams do come true.

Storm Hannah at Bradwall

Expensive Combined Training today. We almost turned around to go home on the way to Bradwall as the lorry twice got hit by falling branches dropping out of the trees due to the high winds. The cross course looked superb, beautifully decorated with spring flowers, but the rain was very heavy all day and we had late XC times at 5 pm., Captain and Ruby both did a super dressage 31 and 26 despite the weather conditions, it was so bad this was the first time I have done dressage in a rain coat, Ruby & Captain also coped brilliantly with the judges windscreen wipers going back and forth!!!

Both horses were in the last ten to SJ and the ground had deteriorated in front of the fences, neither horse has jumped out of ground like this before and consequently lack of experience showed with Ruby having 4 rails although one my fault as the judges for some odd reason rang the bell just as I came into fence 2, thinking there was a problem I went to pull up, then as nothing came over the tannoy, I kicked on and had the rail, cantering past the judges I shouted “can I carry on?” no reply, so I jumped the next a bit wildly and had that too! Captain had 3 rails he seemed to tire as he went on.

So that was decision re the XC made we withdrew and home we went , once we had been towed off by the tractor. I guess the horses might have learnt lots by going XC in the mud but maybe it was best to save that education on a day when they aren’t drawn almost last to go.

Better home safe and sound, lorry and my lovely horses all in one piece.

I hate withdrawing always makes me feel a bit of a whimp, but with two young horses it seemed a sensible decision. Although I did spend the long journey home half wishing I had ran them!!

We have just heard early Sunday morning they cancelled the second day of competition so my decision now seems a very wise one!

Below movies and photos are my horses very muddy SJ boots, Ruby’s lovely dressage test which put her in second place, she would have won if we had pulled off a double clear. Also Captains SJ round.