Captain Wins Another 90

Fab day at Ascot Under Wychwood Eventing. Captain was an absolute star and won the 90 doing a double clear finishing on his dressage score of 29. He was awesome XC the first time he has felt like a XC machine.

Dynamo was entered for his first 80, a big step up for him as he’s only done one ODE which was 70. I don’t know how he coped so well as although the sun shone for his SJ an awful hurricane hail storm arrived for his dressage and XC. Despite the rain causing him to hold his head a bit on a tilt he scored a 36 dressage, even the judge conmented on how well he behaved. XC another storm arrived as we set out, by the time I got to fence 4, a double of houses, the Christmas trees dressing the jump had become seemingly alive as the wind whisked into them. Dynamo took one look at them and 4 strides away he darted sideways causing me to miss my line. He did similar at then next fence and then got the hang of going XC in a hurricane and went clear round the rest, which included water, bank and a ditch.

Dynamo feels like a real eventer in the making such a good boy, I don’t fancy riding many 4 year olds round an event in those conditions.

Feet not touching the floor

Last few weeks have whizzed by, I know what people mean when they say they have been so busy their feet have hardly touched the floor, we have packed so many things in.

Captains been getting busy sharpening up his dressage moves and also I have began to jump him a little bigger ready for his 1.05 SJ at the young horse champs in October. He was 3rd at an ODE last week at Rectory Farm, giving me a super ride XC he is so good in all 3 phases. I was going to sell him to fund a newer lorry but have changed my mind, a new lorry won’t make the horses go any better and so the old lorry can carry on a few more years!!!

So instead we have bought a new horse called Herbie (photo below) who will be arriving in October, very excited about him as he is 5 so I should be able to really crack on with him next season. Sometimes doing baby horses all the time is tedious, I just never seem to be jumping more than 90 cm and I am itching to move up the levels.

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The new stables were completed in the last few days, we have been painting the exterior wooden walls to make them all look old and weathered, it was fun balancing 20 feet up on the scaffolding slapping preservative on everywhere until I realised I had dripped it onto the scaffolding, making an oily slippery death trap of the planks I was standing on YIKES!!!

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Finding enough ancient tiles for the roof and also bricks to compete the walls has taken a while and we are just a few hundred bricks short now. Ant is on eBay every night sourcing them, we have been to Malvern, Pershore, Worcester, Hereford plus loads of other places collecting reclaimed bricks and tiles, they need to be over 100 years old to look the part and it’s not been easy finding enough of them at the right price. Thank you to everyone who have helped us by lending us trailers and flat bed lorries to make collecting them easier. On one trip to the centre of Hereford I had to transfer by hand 400 tiles from the back of someone’s garden and across a busy back street onto the trailer where Ant was waiting to pack them. Had a few near misses with speeding cars, very hard to be nifty carrying heavy tiles, but at least it was keeping me fit and we have saved 1,000’s of pounds. We found 40 ridge tiles on eBay which match the ancient barn which was already here, they cost us just £1.26 for all 40, plus a bit of petrol of course to go and collect them, eBay is brilliant for bargains.

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I went to Burghley Horse Trials last weekend to groom for the lovely Louise Harwood, a fantastic day as always, Louise finished 20th with an amazing clear XC. I was lucky enough to walk the course with her on her final walk round which was an enormous privillage and very educational for me.

The next few weeks are just as busy, Captain and Dynamo have a few events to go to and next years 4 year olds are starting to prepare for their first shows. Teaching is still busy at the moment, hopefully it will all start to quieten down as the season starts to get nearer to its end, then I will need to start long reining the 2 year olds.

Not had much time for gardening, so it’s a good job I made time earlier in the year and I am enjoying the results now. I grew quite a few things from seed including these Sunflowers, love their cheery faces.

 

Loving my Youngsters at Hartpury

In order to fund buying a newer lorry I currently have a few lovely young horses for sale, please see the My Horses page for more info.

Hartpury was a day out we have been looking forward to for ages, taking two of my youngsters to do the Dubarry Burghley Young Event Horse class at The Hartpury International Horse Trials. We chose to take Dynamo and Captain, the jumping arena was surrounded by trade stands and the jumps & the dressage arena were decorated with flowers and fir trees, it was like competing in an International Championship Arena. Such a good experience for the baby horses.

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It poured with rain all morning, which is not too nice but again very good experience for them. They both went even better than I had dreamt, both did a lovely dressage test and both jumped a super clear round, they were on springs with their knees and hocks tucked up tightly to clear every single pole. Captain was as careful as a cat sorting out his feet when I missed my stride, Dynamo jumped superbly despite spooking at Jess my sponsor who was busy taking photos!!

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The higher marks in these classes are awarded to the top level riders, its judged on looks and future potential rather than marked on actual performance on the day, so the judges prefer to give higher marks to horses ridden by Olympic riders even when they have poles down. But we held our own against the best riders in the world and we weren’t far behind them finishing in the top 20 out of the 60 entries.

When we arrived home it was a quick turn around to take Renkum I Love Rock N Roll to Andrew Williams to prepare for sale. Buddy is a very talented young horse, I don’t think I have had anything that jumps quite as impressively as him before, he’s so careful and makes an amazing shape. Andrew has already texted to say that they love him and how amazing his jump is. Sad to sell him but my horse lorry is getting old so I have a few of my very nice young horses for sale to help fund buying a newer lorry. Buddy photo below.

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An Average sort of a days Eventing

Offchuch in Warwickshire was this weekends Eventing outing. As we have had quite a good amount of rain we entered Captain in the 80 so he could have an easy run after his two BE 90 outings. Also on board the lorry was Dynamo going to attempt his first one day event.

Captain led the dressage and went clear XC, time faults XC prevented him from winning the class but another run from which he gained experience, he is now cantering into the water jump really boldly.

Dynamo was very relaxed which surprised me as he has quite a bit of throughbred blood and being chestnut is definitely more hot than my laid back warmbloods. He did a superb dressage test to be in 4th place, followed by a very confident, careful and rhythmic SJ round, photos below or there’s a video on utube which can be seen here.

Cross Country he set off much bolder than I ever dreamt he would and never looked left or right the entire way round, he just locked on to his fences and jumped them and then looking keenly for the next jump. We had a 20 penalties from taking longer than 3 seconds to get into the water, he still has to sniff it first and then he made everyone laugh by tip toeing in and then stopping to play a hooves splashing game!!!

So no prizes won, it’s always nice to win prizes, but some really good miles put on the clock towards the horses education.

Several of my clients had success, Nikki Cox was placed 4th, Tracy Haines and Katie Baker both jumped a fab clear, Tom Woodward 4th on his new horse. Amber Knott was riding her new horse in its first ODE & finished in an impressive 6th place. Well done everyone.

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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.