Captain is a Star again

We were already entered for Stafford when Captain won at Chepstow. We decided that afterthe surprising result at Chepstow a clear XC would be nice. So we decided to run at Stafford, although would withdraw if the ground was unsuitable. Stafford has a spring event often held in the wet, which makes a nightmare for organisers to get the ground back good in just a few months, after a severe galloping over by 900 horses.

We arrived and found not only had they done wonders spiking and airiating the ground they had also had much more rain that we have had. The ground was very good indeed.

Captain had a mild spook at the flowers in the dressage, resulting in me backing off him a bit, although I didn’t ride him as well as at Chepstow he was still foot perfect for 8th place and a score of 28.

This was followed by a careful clear SJ with a major spook at the butterfly jump not like him to spook at jumps, he was feeling well.

I walked the XC, it was bigger than Chepstow, plus there were more jumping efforts and it was much more technical, 2 fences on turns to skinnies, a double of skinnies in front of a step down, a decent corner and a wide roll top in front of a sunken road with step in and out. Plus the water with a fence before and after, although the fence before, wasn’t pointing directly into the water, which I hoped would reduce the spook factor.

Captain jumped really well, spooky at times but he’s so brave and careful. He jumped a super clear and finished in 4th place. The track caused problems for many top riders, so I am feeling very proud of my little horse. This makes him currently the UKs top 4 year old based on foundation points won, plus he’s won another qualification for the British Young Horse Championships. Special boy.

 

A Few Fantastic Days

We had the most lovely outing to do dressage at Summerhouse with Captain and Dynamo. The arenas were decorated as if for a championship show, flowers and little trees everywhere. Both horses behaved beautifully. Dynamo scored 73% to finish in 3rd place in prelim 7 and Captain 72% to finish in 2nd place in prelim 19. Captain pictured below.

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Then a week later the event I have been training towards for over 15 months. We bought Captain in March 2016 with the 4 year old class at Chepstow in mind.

I would be lying if I said I wasn’t stressed about the day. Captain pulled off the dressage test of his life, scoring 21 to take the lead in front of several much better riders than me!

I couldn’t have asked for a better round show jumping, he pinged round clear, so careful and so bold meaning he stayed well in the lead. Could we win it I wondered.

Then XC he was again bold, careful and was pretty amazing, he spooked badly at the water jump gaining us an unwanted 20 penalty points, we couldn’t win now.

But then while we were washing him off at the lorry a drama unfolded. Ant and my sponsor Jess both reported back that they hadn’t seen a 4 year old jump clear XC yet.

I checked the scores and they were right, it meant I was currently in 3rd place despite the bad penalty points I had gained. 4* rider Vicky Tuffs still had two horses to ride Xc and they were lying in 2nd and 1st place. Suddenly Ant shouted Vicky’s stopped at the water, sure enough her youngster had done exactly what every other 4 year old had done and spooked at the water. This moved Captain and I into second place, unbelievable.

We waited for a Vicky’s next horse, then more drama, she fell on the flat after fence 2 , her horse was loose galloping about. A fall on the flat doesn’t give penalty points so all she had to do was remount and continue and go clear to win it. The horse was caught and away they went, she was clear until the water and her second horse also spooked giving her 20 penalties and this meant we had won !!

Hugs all round for Captain what a superstar horse, he has now qualified for the British Eventing Young Horse Championships.

Still can’t believe it!!!

Thanks to Jess Photography for her ongoing support, Nikki Cox for being a fab groom and Tracey Haines for coming to support us, you all made this rather surprising but very pleasing day extra special.

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Tom Searle

Between my last event and the next one, I had the devastating news that my dear friend, fellow coach and event rider had sadly died.

Tom was a friend who Ant and I have known for many years, we had much in common, both having none horsey parents and both learnt to ride jumping gorse bushes and having to ride what we were given rather than being bought easy schoolmasters.

He was an outstanding coach and rider, much better than me on both counts, he once won young instructor of the year and was incredibly talented. I will miss his valuable knowledgable and common sense advice and also his brilliant humour, we shared the ups and downs of our equine life, mostly by texting each other at the end of a long day, we had an agreement that what was said in text, stayed in text. I will miss sharing how amazing or how rubbish our horses were going, sharing our clients successes and dramas , picking each other brains on how to improve a horse or clients skills (although I think I picked his brains more than he mine!) and laughing at Ants jokes, he loved Ants humour. Toms death is such a sad loss to this world, photo Tom riding his lovely intermediate horse Logan.

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It felt surreal to be going Eventing the weekend after this awful news but I found it was best to keep busy. I just prayed 4 year old Dippy was going to look after me as I was feeling so very sad. Dippy somehow pulling off a 24 dressage, one pole SJ and a clear SJ to finish in 3rd place, XC video here. Four days later I took him to the Ledbury Pony Club dressage champs at Gadbury and he won the prelim class on 75% even beating a horse who had been to the Badminton Grassroots Champs this year, luckily my sponsor Jess Staines was there to take some super photos of him wearing his sash.

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Dynamo one of my other 4 year olds now has an extra special sentiment to me as it was Tom who came with me to Ireland to buy him last October. Dynamo is a lovely horse to ride but riding him is tinged with sadness as every time he goes nicely, I want to text Tom to tell him how well the little chestnut horse we chose is going…..

Dippy Does his first grown up ODE

A busy week for us all, the yard is being finished along with our car port building , so we have had 2 lots of builders here all week. I have also been doing lots of gardening, so rewarding when everything starts to flower. I keep admiring everyone else’s gardens as I ride past their houses and I can’t wait to have a nice garden to look at of my own.

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I collected Miranda from Julie Houldey where she has been away being broken in. Dynamo is also back in work, all seems to have happened at once, and looking at Captains holiday plan he only has 10 days left of his month holiday if he is to be ready to go Eventing in early July.

Dippy went to the lovely Sapey to do his first proper one day event, so with the XC going across open fields and all being timed etc. The event was short on fence judges so I sent out a few emails and Facebook shares. Many thanks to Don and Sue, Nikki and Sean, and Sally and Becky who all came along to fence judge. Hope you all enjoyed your day and the wine Sapey was giving out afterwards.

Dippy did a super test for 29, he still needs to soften and open out his neck but he kept a lovely balanced rhythm throughout. He then jumped clear SJ and clear XC with just  5 times faults.

Katie Baker whom I coach finished 2nd, Tracy and Blue were ecstatic to complete a super round with a rider sat nav issue when she chose to jump a 90 cm fence, 2 levels above the one required, and no she didn’t get extra points sadly that’s an elimination. But still excellent experience for horse and rider, and he who doesn’t make mistakes is doing nothing challenging.

Video of Dippy here.  On the Xc he sets off all crooked and green and by the end a bold XC horse appears!

Dippy has a Busy Week

IMG_1050The Sunday of Badminton Horse Trials saw Ant and I heading off to Solihull to do a didi one day event with Dippy. I watched the Badminton trot up in between plaiting and stopped the lorry in a lay by on route to watch Louise and Potts Show Jump online on Ants phone.

Solihulls event was an express one, times were given for dressage and then we had to SJ and XC within the next hour. What a fab idea, we had to SJ in our XC stuff and then we were funnelled into the XC warm up, 2 jumps over the logs and off we went.

Dippy finished on his dressage of 30 with a nice double clear. My client Tracy Haines on her lovely young horse Blue, did a spectacular dressage of 23 to finish 4th. A really lovely day and it was a sunny one. See Dippy SJ here.

Later that week Dippy did dressage at Gadbury, scoring 77% to win the class, he is improving daily and try’s so hard.

Then 2 days later he took Mindys place at Broadway (as I have sold her) and schooled round the 80 XC. I missed a few fences out though as I didn’t dare jump the down hill fences without shoes. We had rain this week for the first time for weeks and it had made the grass a bit slick to jump downhill. However he did jump the water, the ditch/half coffin and the steps, pretty boldly for a baby too. Photo is from the water see the mini clip of him splashing through his favourite jump here.IMG_4123

Badminton Grooms Eye View

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Photos above include Potts tiny plaits, Clare Balding, Michael Jung on his way out of the yard, Mark Todd clinging to back of our golf buggy plus other behind the scenes stuff.

Wednesday to Saturday of Badminton is one of my busiest weeks of the year. This year I was very excited once again to be able to groom for Louise Harwood and also I had Mindy advertised for sale and also I had Dippy entered for a one day event at Solihull on the Sunday. Basically I wanted to be in two places at once! At home to ride etc and at Badminton to live the dream of being groom at the largest and most famous Horse Trials in the world!

I was up at 4.30 am every morning to ride mine and then off to Badminton to be groom. I had the best time, looking after Louise’s two 4* horses is always an utter privillage, Jackie and Louise (Wiggy) are always so grateful. I was sharing the work with Megan Parry and also Jackie was doing lots of stable duties too. We were also treated to a course walk with Louise while Jackie stayed at the stables to start plaiting for the first trot up. Louise was amusing out walking the course, it was her first view of the course and her squeals of “this is huge” and “I hate fences like this one” were very amusing. Oliver Townsend was close by when we were walking fences 5 “keep her away from me” he joked. Luckily we overtook Oliver while he was having selfies with a group of starry eyed teenage girls who later came past us in tears, of joy I think!!

The course looked more jumpable as we went on, although it was a very different Badminton to what we had ever seen before, 4* rider Bryony Wilson walked the course to offer advice to Wiggy, it was really interesting litstening to them discussing lines and how best to ride each fence.

After the walk Megan and I went back to help Jackie finish plaiting and cleaning the horses and then we helped present both horses to the vets, they both passed the trot up easily.

Dressage on Thursday and Friday went well, both horses could have scored better but they were both in a competive place.

Cross Country morning dawned and the mood in the stables was unusually quiet, riders were concerned the course was tough, too twisty, not gallopy enough and too many angled fences. It was in many places very much a Show Jumping track.

Whitson looked amazing over many of the fences but jumped greenly at others and so he eventually was retired in front of Badminton house. We all dashed back to the stables to help wash him off. It’s quite a long way through all the packed crowds, luckily my friend Tina Price who had been looking after Potts while we were away, had everything in hand and was helping Louise with Whitson, thanks Tina you were a star.

Once we had washed him off and settled him down, we went to watch XC in the riders canteen, the track was causing trouble with less completions than normal and it seemed much less clears. There was a horrible accident when a horse got loose after a fall and galloped back into the main entrance to the stable yard breaking its shoulder as it slipped over. Emily Gilruth who was parked next to us was airlifted off to hospital with a serious head injury after falling at fence 3.

Late afternoon Louise and Mr Potts set off on XC, just one run out and otherwise clear, we were so relieved to see them galloping through the finish, Potts was awesome.

Louise would have liked to have been more competitive, but several long routes and a broken frangible pin added greatly to her penalty points, us grooms were just glad to have horse and rider home together and in one piece.

Lots of fun and happy memories of the week, I left Saturday night to get ready for my event in the Sunday. Wishing the whole team good luck for Potts Show Jumping on Sunday I left Potts, Whitson and Louise all in the safe and very capable hands of Jackie, Meg and Louise’s niece Amber.

New Sponsor Announced & Badminton BYEH

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Delighted, excited and hugely proud to announce a new sponsor for my horses for 2017 as Jess-Photography.

The lovely Jess is a very talented photographer, take a look at her website here.,

Jess’ services include mini home shoots of family, pets etc.  She is also a much sought after photographer for Weddings and Sporting Events. Her work is absolutely stunning, Jess was selected to be one of the photographers invited on the team for Badminton Horse Trials this year.

Jess came along to Badminton to take a few shots of Captain in his young horse class, see photos above.

Once again it was so exciting to have a young horse competing at Badminton, to add to the excitement we were wearing new sponsors kit too. Captain performed a super dressage test and a clear jumping round, so we were thrilled with him, he behaved so well too. We were confused by the low marks he was awarded but looking at the photos he wasn’t making the best shape and at 15.3 he is a bit small for the ideal top level event horse. He is well over due a holiday and is now turned out for a well earned break.

The Unbelievable Dippy

This boy is rather special. IMG_0872

Dezina Double Dip is just amazing, all my other horses that have gone to Lincombe to do Arena Eventing started with a 60 cm class. Ultra confident Dippy gets thrown in the deep end with a 70 cm and not only that it’s an ODE with dressage and more fences to jump than the others have had to deal with. There were no green moments at all, 3rd after dressage he just popped round double clear and was the the second fastest round XC of the day to finish 2nd. If the cross country time had been counted as per Riding Club Eventing rules which they were running under he would have won.

At only 4 years old he is now one to keep a close eye on for the future. He gained quite a fan club at Lincombe, it seems everyone else agrees with me that Dippy has the R factor!!

Waiting for more photos but results are shown below also see his day on video by clicking on each discipline below

Dressage Show Jumping Cross Country

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Brilliant Evening At Gadbury

The very lovely Renkum Capitano won his dressage test with 78% at Gadbury this evening, he beat several very good local combinations including an established eventing combination who are qualified for Badminton’s Mitsubishi Cup next week. A huge confidence boost for us both as he has a tendency to go timid once in the test arena. So pleased with him, he is improving so fast. His test can be viewed here.

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Dippy came along too and did his first test on grass, he was a bit wobbly and unplaced, but behaved beautifully for 63%. Dippys test is here.

Photo of Dippy kindly provided by Jess-Photography

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Sapey Eventing with Mindy

Below Mindy Show Jumps at Sapey with her eyes closed!!

_J1_0079I have been very busy over the Easter holidays, it’s a juggling act, coaching, competing and getting horses prepared for forthcoming events. I chose Sapey for Mindys first BE90 as it is usually a very nice first 90 cm. Well I was wrong, I walked the course and thought “Wow if I get Mindy round here I have a brave horse” she was first to go in the dressage and that went very well, SJ she was amazing just one pole see it here..

XC we got round unbelievably well with just one 20 penalties, there were only 10 XC clears in her section out of the 30 who started. She was pretty green but just kept on jumping, I took her slowly letting her learn quietly and rode wide lines to everything to let her see what she had to do clearly. She has always flown straight over ditches but this Sapey one was big, she peeped in the vastly wide, deep and dark ditch, which was the middle part of the coffin, then jumped it. She wasn’t sure about the water it was away from the lorries and had the trade stands by it, so lots to look at. The first element was close to the water, then a splash in and a step out with a spooky boat 2 strides from the step but she bravely jumped through. I was thrilled with her at the hanging logs in and out of the dark woods which had a muddy steep dip in the ground in between and also she jumped the wide box skinny exceptionally well, she was slow and hesitant at the steep sloping ground after the fence into the quarry but jumped the fence in and step out very well indeed.

Her next run is an 80 and then will look for another 90 now she has proved she can do the height with no problem.

Clip of her XC including the ditch can be seen here.