Wheels falling off, Dancing Queens & Bleeping Bloomin Watches!

When I first started doing eventing, I use to really hate the dressage phase as I was pretty crap at it, but after hundreds of pounds spent on lessons and generally just plugging away at it I can honestly say I really don’t mind it now. I joined BD because it’s easier for me to go in the week to compete, but I have got into it quite a bit now and try to compete regulary at it and be competitive. I received an email from BD to say that I had attained enough scores to enter the Petplan Regionals, so thought that would be a good thing to do and it was a week before my BE100 at West Wilts so that would help me prepare for that. I don’t get the nerves I get when going BE because it doesn’t really matter how I do as it’s just training (that I want to win!) so I’m always slightly more relaxed about it. 


The final centre line, phew!

I only had the one Novice Bronze class to do and I wasn’t on till 3.40 ish, I arrived in plenty of time, to go and watch a few go round and to check what arena we were in. There were plenty of flower pots surrounding the arena, Oh Joy! I thought to myself what ever happened I wasn’t going to let her dictate what she was going to spook at. We’ve been working a lot, at home, on teaching me to be quicker and more consistent with my riding. I was last to go, she had warmed up really well, so we set of doing our lap around the outside of the arena waiting for the bell. On cue she started to bend like a banana every time we trotted past a pot of flowers! When I was down the other end of the arena, to the judge, I growled at her to pack it in, took a deep breath and put her into shoulder in for the next lap so she couldn’t do it. The bell went and we set of down the centre line with conviction. She went really well and only quivered twice down the long sides, which I don’t think the judges could see. 


Looking slightly dwarfed in the prize giving

Apparently the top ten had to come back for mounted prize giving, which was within ten minutes of me finishing my test, I had put her in the lorry and then walked back round to the secretary’s to see how I had done. We had won with a score of 69% I was quite surprised to have won, as the class was a big one. I ran back round to the lorry and chucked Blues tack on, she was not impressed as I’m sure she thought I was doing another test. It felt very odd to be leading everyone into the ring, I’ve never done that before, we got presented with with our Rosette and then did a lap of honour. They blasted out ABBA’s “Dancing Queen” to canter round too, I was chuckling away to myself. My friends that come with me in the lorry know I sometimes have a bit of sing song to ABBA on the way to and from events but I’ve never cantered round the ring to it. 

Five Minutes Of Fame in the Horse & Hound

On the Monday after dressage whilst sitting in the kitchen, having a cuppa with my friend Kate, my phone went it was the H&H asking for some info on Blue. I babbled on about Blue and what I do with her, whilst pointing at my phone and mouthing “Its the H&H” in excitement, to Kate who was staring at me wondering what the hell I was going on about. 

So Ive learnt some more things over the past few weeks mainly you never stop learning with horses, hindsight is a wonderful thing after the event! West Wilts BE100 was my next event and our first step up a level this year. I had late times which I don’t really like as you hang around in the morning waiting to leave, giving you more time to think about it. I arrived at West Wilts in plenty of time to walk the Xc and watch a few dressage tests. The cross country looked within our capabilities but the time looked rather tight, my first minute maker was at fence 5 which was a bit of run. Anyway it was dressage first, she warmed up well and apart from trying to spook on entry to the centre line the test went well, we got a 27, which I was happy with. When I got my sheet at the end of the day I had even got my first 9!!!!! Typically it was for my transition from trot down to walk (Blues favourite pace)!


Show Jumping West Wilts

I was feeling quite nervous about the show jumping, I’m not sure why as we’ve been going ok at it lately. The warm up arena was rammed and If I’m honest I did feel slightly intimidated by all the big horses surrounding me. They all used massive warm up fences and I had to wait for it to empty a bit before I could alter the jumps to get warmed up. We went in and started, she was jumping ok and then I went and lost my stirrup after fence five, I only just got it back three stride before the double and therefore had lost a bit of momentum and took a pole with us. She jumped the rest fine with no time faults. I had bought new stirrup the week before, the same cheese grater ones I have on my dressage saddle, but had forgot that they were slightly longer than my old ones. I needed to put some more holes in my leathers on my jumping saddle, but I couldn’t find my hole punch in my lorry and thought it would be alright just this time! WRONG!

I put our number down for Xc but unfortunately there was a hold on course for sometime, so there was a fair bit of waiting around. I had set my watch and then we were off, now in hindsight I would have started off in a good rhythm slightly faster than normal but just a good rhythm and stick to it, get round and complete. But what I did was try to be competitive and take off at a fast pace trying to make the time! It felt awful and I’m sure Blue was thinking what the hells going on! We were meeting the fences all wrong and then I was kicking the strut out inbetween the fences, my watch was bleeping at me way before my minute makers which was rattling me. We got round to the third last, as I was kicking on towards it I thought I just better take a check as it was a trekhaner and I thought she would probably have a quick look at it before take off, she did take a look as suspected and promptly stuck the brakes on and slid straight into the bottom of the ditch! My watch was going off bleeping like mad and Blue was completely rattled as she’s never stopped cross country before. So I retired and walked back to the lorry cursing myself for being so stupid. The wheels had fell off slightly but we were both ok and I’ve learnt that I need to try to gradually pick up her pace over the next few events but so that we stay in a good rhythm, I also need to forget about being competitive. 


Hollyhatchberry embarrassed at what a plonker I was!

Since West Wilts I’ve done some show jumping and been Xc training and she was fine, even over the trekhaners! So all back to normal. I thought it was best to withdraw from Rackham BE100 and do a bit more training. I’m booked in for some show jump training with Eric Smiley in July and I’m also doing the Hunt Relay with the New Forest Hunt team at Barbury Castle BE, which should be good fun. Barbury and The Festival of Eventing at Gatcombe are events that I really enjoy going to, just to watch and do a tad of shopping. I have also entered Dauntsey BE90 as I don’t think we are ready for Dauntsey BE100 yet, I love it there it’s a proper good cross country. After that the plan is to do another 100 and leave the watch in the lorry! 

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Post Badminton plans, Mud glorious Mud and our new Mascot!

Well everything has got back to normal after a magical week away at Badminton, which seems ages ago now. Blue has had a week off and managed to grow a very sucessful food baby! So I had to get back to work with her and make a plan as to what we do next. Everything this year had been aimed towards to Badminton, so now that it’s over and I didn’t fall off or crash in the show jumping I feel that we could try to move up a level and try some BE100. We will just have to see how it goes and although she made the trip Xc at Badminton feel easy, the extra technical lines and quicker time she will need to do at BE100, may not be so easy to get. If she starts struggling with the time Xc or the Show Jumping we may have to stick at BE90 but we will give it a bash! Firstly though I just needed one more regional final ticket for the BE90, just incase the wheels fall off in the BE100, so I can try and go back to Badminton next year. 


Mount Ballan BE dressage warm up, lovely sea of mud! 

On one of the wettest days of the year so far we headed off to Mount Ballan, I’ve been to Mount Ballan for the past two years and although it is generally wet up to the day, I’ve always managed to stay dry and dodge the rain. However this year it wasn’t going to be the case and it was definitely a day when no hoof oil was required! After walking the course, early in the morning, I thought we might be ok and that the ground was holding up well on the top part of the course. After the first change of wet clothes, I was leaving it to the last minute to get her out of the lorry and get us both wet through again! The dressage arena and warm up resembled a rugby pitch after 10 games of rugby, we were all just ploughing about trying to warm up. She actually goes ok in the mud better than hard ground but this was pretty slippy, the girl before me, in the dressage, had to get the dressage judge to pluck her shoe out of the arena, which was sucked off by the mud! We did a good test in the conditions, I did have a little chuckle to my self half way through the test as it was just ridiculous really trying to stay upright let alone, bend, balance and be supple. It must be awful for the judges to try and mark these tests especially as the day goes on and the ground conditions deteriorate. We slid back to the lorry to get ready for the show jumping, which luckily was on a surface. 



Xc at Mount Ballan 

She jumped a great round show jumping and we heard we had a dressage of 31.3 I didn’t know whether that was good mark in my section or not. The lorry by this stage was filled with wet and really muddy tack and clothes and condensated windows, I was glad to get my jacket off which was stuck to my arms! I got ready quickly for Xc and we headed off to the start. The warm up again was pretty brown so I kept it to a minimum, the parts of the course that you could see from the collecting ring didn’t look as bad as I thought they would, so we set of at our normal pace from the start. I was quite late to go in the section and the course, down the back, showed that a lot of traffic had passed through and made the going really deep and boggy! I pushed on on the bits I could but I wasn’t prepared to gallop through some of stretches of deep mud, she’s too good to damage, She jumped everything but we got 2.8 time faults. This dropped us from second to eighth, slightly frustrating after going through all that, but we were home safe and sound and Blue was all in tact. Unfortunately for the organisers the competition was abandoned at the end of my section, Mother Nature had won the day on this occasion.



After Xc, Definitely no hoof oil required!

After a few days off and a change in the weather to baking hot! We got back to some training on the flat with Nicola Buchanan, we have BD regionals coming up so we need to revist our mediums and have a tweak up. We had a really good lesson and I felt she was going really well by the end of it. Although it was on one of the hottest days of the year, in the afternoon, I resembled a beetroot by the time we finished!

Next was some British Showjumping at West Wilts. Show jumping is the discipline I’ve neglected most, luckily for me Blues very careful and helps me out a lot. I have to make myself go to SJ, I think it’s because it’s just training as I’m very rarely quick enough to be competitive and because we don’t do against the clock in BE it generally more about doing nice rounds than anything else. I’m also used to having times at either BD or BE and find the waiting around to go or sudden influx of late entry’s boring! However today I was on mission to do the British Novice and then the Discovey, so I am up to speed with the BE100 showjumping. We did a good round in the BN and although we could have done with a little bit more impulsion into a few, we made some good turns and managed a win! Part of me wanted to leave it there and go home on a good note but I made myself stay and jump the Discovery, we did another good round but I just rolled one pole. I was really pleased, as that was the first Discovery I’ve done on her, we can now progress on with a bit more confidence that, We Can Do This!!!!



The New Team Mascot Hollyhatchberry, with Blues British Novice Rosette

Pontispool was the next event on our calendar, the Last BE90 before we move up a level. I sat down in the week and gave myself a bit of a talking to to try and get myself back into the right mindset of being competitive and organised at my events. I went over stuff I had learnt with Charlie Unwin and looked back at my notes that I make after I compete or have training, which I have neglected to do off late, I felt well prepared and positive. I arrived early and after sorting Blue out with some breakfast, went and wálked the course on my own, concentrating on my minute markers and fences. When I got back I walked Blue in hand over to the dressage arenas to stretch her legs and see what the ground was like and whether I needed any studs. Blue had a nice pick of grass and a piddle, which was ideal before dressage! I sat in lorry in the quiet and went through my test and then the Xc course again. Tacked up we headed to the dressage, I made sure I was really strict and made her go through the movements we had done in our previous lesson. She was on my side today and was being really responsive and obedient. We did a really good test and although I had to work hard it felt really good and I was really happy we had done our best. 

 Show Jumping at Pontispool BE



I walked the show jumping and watched a few go, the commentator was announcing the dressage mark half way round the course so I needed to find out what mine was before I jumped. We had got 25! That’s more like it, shame she couldn’t have done that for me at Badminton, but we were back in the game! I tried to block the score out of mind going into show jumping but it’s quite difficult when you know you definitely need to get a clear and make it count. We went clear, relief,  our round was ok, not the most stylish but clear none the less. 

Xc at Pontispool BE

Now the fun bit, luckily the weather had cooled down a bit by the time I got to Xc and we had spits of rain, which was nice on my overheating red face! We set of and we’re hitting the minute markers on time, she was not as fluent Jumping the Xc fences as she was at Badminton, I think the going there was so lovely it gives the horses lots of confidence and what with going to mount Ballan in between where the take off and landing were not so nice, she was just a little hesitant at the take offs a few times, but we went clear and in the time to finish on our dressage and Win my section!! Get In!!


Blue and Hollyhatchberry showing off her winning Rosette from Pontispool. 

Quite a few of my friends were also there competing and had also got some really good results, my friend and neighbour Cheryl Chamberlain competed both her chestnut mares for a Win in one section and a top 5 placing. Alisha Coombes who we camped, competed and partied with at Badminton came 5th in the under18 BE100 which is a very competitive class. So a good day was had by all! I had the tunes on going home singing away to myself and I would love to say that the journey home was a good one after a good day but after finishing Xc at 5ish and sorting Blue out, I left later to find the A303 was shut and had to do all the windy back roads to get home. Alan and the boys were waiting and ready to help me when I arrived home at 9.30pm It was a really long day, but a very enjoyable day out eventing!

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Course Walks, Scary Flowers, Prosecco and Goose Bumps!

It’s 5’oclock in the morning and I’m wide awake lying on my blow up bed in the back of my lorry, trying to not wake anyone else up. I don’t think it’s sunk in properly yet what Blue and I have done yesterday. Before we left home I was just so excited and felt so privileged to be even coming to Badminton and taking part in the Mitsubishi Cup, so to have come away with a double clear and ended on my dressage score to be placed 8th out of 110 competitors is so beyond my wildest dream and expectations. 

Presentation from Sheerwater Insurance Services and the EHOA
We also won the highest placed member of Event Horse Owners Association prize for the BE90, Where I got to ride Blue to the mounted prize giving at the front of Badminton house and receive our Silver Salver, Rossette and prize from shearwater Insurance and the EHOA. I can’t thank the EHOA and Sheerwater Insurance enough for making my day feel so special. I kept feeling the urge to pinch myself that this was happening, things like this don’t happen to me! I said to the lady next to me at the Prize Giving, whilst we were sat on our Horses in front of Badminton house, “How lucky are we!”

Presentation from the EHOA and Sheerwater Insurance at Badminton House

The whole experience at the Mitsubishi Cup has been fantastic and I would recommend it to anyone, from the moment you arrive you are greeted at the lorry park by happy helpful people from the stable managers, Event Secretary’s and stewards and it continued on through the dressage, show jumping and Xc, I again can’t thank them enough for giving their time to make my experience and hundreds of other competitors such a good one. 

Lucky Socks with My Mitsubishi Cup Number
We arrived Monday about Lunch time so we could set up camp with our friends Dave & Davina Coombes, who’s daughter Alisha was also competing in the BE90. With the horses all settled in nicely in thier cosy stables we quickly made our way to the secretary’s tent to get our numbers and programme. It’s quite a moment when you see your name and horse details in the official Badminton programme. There was a course walk with Tom McEwen at 3pm so off we headed to the start, We were both really eager to get to the Xc course and see what was ahead of us. Tom was great at showing how to ride the lines and things to watch out for as we made our way round the course. I felt pretty confident that Blue had done enough preparation for the course that was set. 

Tuesday was a beautiful sunny warm day to get the Mitsubishi Cup Final underway, both myself and Alisha were competing on Wednesday, so we had a lovely free day to watch and take everything in. From the stables, we were allowed to ride around the back of the Badminton Estate and give the horses a lovely hack round some beautiful countryside. 


Hacking around Badminton Estate

My friend Laura Vine had come with me for the week, she understands the way I work and knows when to help or just let me get on with it and it was so helpful to have someone with me to bounce things off. After riding we went and walked the course again this time doing my minute markers. In all we walked the Xc four times, with various friends and later Tuesday afternoon with Harry Meade who again was so interesting to listen too.

Dressage day
Wednesday morning was Dressage, it was blowing an absolute hoolie and pretty chilly! Blue is an absolutely fabulous mare but she does like to have a good spook at stuff, with this in mind and knowing that there would be more flower pots than usual around the dressage arena, I took some made up plastic flower pots to put in her stable, with the hope she might become friends with them! She warmed ok and we went in to our test, straight away she went all tense on me, I could feel her quivering every time we went past a flowerpot. I spent the whole test just trying to contain her and kept her next to the boards instead of being able to ride her like normal. I was so disappointed afterward with our performance, after all the work I’ve put into that phase, to not go as good as we can do was really frustrating. But we went the right way and did’nt leave the arena so that was a bonus!

Show Jumping Phase (picture from Claire Lewis)
Next was the Show Jumping which is the phase you can least control, it was a good up to height course, but I knew if I just kept her moving forward was within our capabilities, Laura helped me with the warm up fences and she was jumping fab, so off I went in the arena. Unfortunately the lady before me fell off at the last fence, I just walked round and tried not to watch and focus on what I was going to do. Blue was jumping lovely and bar the approach on one fence, where she was a bit disunited, we met everything as I had hoped. I had planned to put two, in the last fence, being a double which she did lovely for me. Never have I felt so much relieve to come through the finish line as clear. I had a lot of friends watching and heard them all cheer which was so lovely.

Heading for the Xc start! 

After a quick change it was off to the Xc start, I was so looking forward to this part. Into the start box and 5,4,3,2,1 we were off galloping along Badminton hallow turf, Blue felt amazing and was jumping her socks off, nothing was a problem. The feeling of galloping along the straights between the fences, especially on the approach the the lakes is something else and gives me goose bumps thinking about it. We were hitting my minute markers bang on time and with only the corners and last fence to go I knew we would be fine. After jumping the last fence I heard my watch do its Final beep over the finish line and we had hit the time bang on 6.59! 

Xc at the double hedges
I was so happy, a few tears of relief, happiness and overwhelming pride that I had for Blue for doing that for me hit me. To have bred her, produced her and now gone double clear at Badminton is really special, She is my horse of a lifetime. 

WE HAD DONE IT! 

Laura came running back from the coffin where she had gone to watch us and we led Blue back to the lorry going through the whole course and how it went, no sooner we got back to the lorry lots of friends turned up and many bottle of Prosseco were opened and consumed, it was so nice to have so many people with us that knew our journey up to this point. Alisha had also down a fabulous double clear with Delurens Upsey Daisy and came 20th, we were a happy camp! Blue being completely oblivious to what she had just done, just picked at the grass while I took her studs out. I popped into the lorry to put something away, my phone was beeping and pinging like mad, then it rang and it was Cathy Butler from the EHOA to say I had won the highest placed member award and I need to bring Blue to the mounted prize giving. Up till that point I had no idea where I was lying in the leader board, but then it was confirmed I was 8th!!!!! WOW! 

The presentation at Badminton House was a truly special moment that will stay with me for forever. I felt so privileged to be there along with the other riders that had done so well that day. I really can’t thank the Event Horse Owners Association and Sheerwater Insurance Services enough. The familiar voice of Mike Tucker announcing our names was unreal.


After the presentation, we headed back to the lorry,  we sorted Blue out and then sorted the inside of the lorry out which resembled a jumble sale. We quickly made something to eat as we were all starving, I was absolutely exhausted and within an hour us and the Coombes family next door were soundly asleep. Lightweights I know but it had been such an awesome day. We had the EHOA dinner by the lakeside to look forward to on Thursday night and we would carry on our celebrations there. It was a lovely evening with absolutely delicious food and fizz, we all had a great evening. 

I have to thank Alan and my boys, Tristan and Will , who came to support me and helped me so much in the build up to this event. Laura Vine for coming with me, making me laugh when I needed to, looking after Blue and general being a great support. Nicola Buchanan who has improved my dressage no end. Kirstie Johnston and Joe Roome for my show jumping lessons. Ben Mansbridge my farrier for putting sets of shoes on Blue, whilst on his days off, because I needed them done on certain dates.

Now I’m back home to reality,  three loads of washing already done, the lorry has been restored to it’s original state, Homework starts tonight and my neglected house needs a good sort out! But more importantly I need to look up what BE events I can enter to try and qualify to go back to the Mitsubishi Cup next year! 

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Sun Cream & Fly Repelent, Family Entourage & Lucky Socks

Early Sunday morning and we were at Larkhill with the sun out and no wind, which I can tell you is a very rare occurrence at Larkhill. We have gone from wet weather gear and wellies to sun cream and fly repellent in a space of a week!

Last year when we were trying to qualify for the Mitsubishi Cup, sometimes I would come home from competing some days feeling rather disappointed or frustrated that either my competitions or training hadn’t gone to plan. I can remember coming home from dressage one day from West Wilts, where Blue hadn’t gone that well, the traffic on the way home was a nightmare and on nearly reaching our gate I got stuck with a car on our single track road and ripped the bumper of my lorry off! I really wasn’t a happy bunny, when I came in and sat down to have a cup of tea, I opened up Facebook and Hannah Francis’s Willberry blog popped up on my news feed. It was when she was having to decide whether or not to carry on with her Chemotherapy or stop completely knowing the outcome would not be great. I sat there and cried my eyes out and felt completely helpless that there was nothing anyone could do to help Hannah, yet she could write such inspiring blogs of hope and joy of her excitement of being able to sit back on her beautiful horse and ride once more. That gave me a right kick up the backside to enjoy every minute I get with my family and competing Blue. So now when I’m on my way to events feeling nervous or the day hasn’t gone to plan I think about Hannah and how she would love to be going the wrong way in a dressage test or knocking a pole down show jumping and it put things into perspective.

Today was one of those days and on my drive up to Larkhill, early in the morning, I had all sorts of things running through my mind, doubts of our ability, nerves that I needed I run, pressure I had put on myself to go well, I needed a clear round, could I still judge my pace Xc……………….. so I gave myself a talking not to worry, it really didn’t matter and most of all try to enjoy it.
After walking the Xc and show jumping I got Blue ready for dressage, she warmed up really nicely, we started trotting around the outside of the arena where she promptly jumped a clump of mowed grass! I took a deep breathe and tried to ignore her. The horn went and we started the test, beautifully straight down the centre line turned left only to find a monster at H! the rest of the test went really well, apart from my transition to canter between C & H, the monster was still there! I now don’t loose the plot if one mark goes down the drain and really try and concentrate on making the marks up on the other movements she does well. So I came out feeling quite pleased that we would get a reasonable score.

We changed for Show Jumping, warmed up over the practice fences and went in. I normally don’t find my dressage score out till the end as I don’t think it helps me either way. If however they are announcing the scores as you go in for show jumping I go and find out beforehand. It’s not nice hearing your score as you are just going over or heading for the first fence. However being a bit competition rusty and in a bid to get it over and done with I forgot to do this and so whilst heading for the second jump I heard my dressage score of 32.8%! My little chimp in my head was jumping up and down screaming WHAT, it wasn’t that bad, perhaps the whole section was marked high etc etc, so I promptly went and knocked the next fence down! Lesson learnt for next time. 

Larkhill Cross Country

The Xc had been revamped at Larkhill this year and was looking great, around the start box is the only time Blue get a bit keen, we set of and she flew round clear and and bang on time, I do love the cross country. We ended up finishing 8th which wasn’t that bad considering we had a pole show jumping. Job done first BE of the year completed no major dramas and I didn’t fall off.

This week the course pictures for the Mitsubishi Cup were released at http://bit.ly/MMCup17XC they have not been dressed yet and I’m expecting them to look a lot different when we see them in the flesh. So this week me and the boys have made a few of them so Blue and me can practice over them at home. Maybe the Willis Brother will take me on as an apprentice?

My Take On The Double of Hedges

Bank holiday weekend, we had managed to catch up on a lot jobs around the farm so Alan and and the boys decided they would come and watch me at Bovington BE on the Sunday. Last time Alan came and watched me, although two years ago, I got the worst dressage score, had about 24 jumping penaltys and got eliminated XC! So part of me was dreading it but I was also looking forward to having someone with me for a change, I also needed to get over it before Badminton as I have had a lot of friends saying they are coming to watch which is lovely but terrifying at the same time. I decided that I needed to get my lucky socks out again and give them a spin, it seemed to help last year so I needed to get a pair bedded in before badminton, when I will definitely need them.


All Of My Lucky Socks Past & Present!
Again she warmed up lovely and came beautifully down the centre line only to do a massive spook at C, which I can only think was the sun gleaming of the white board! I don’t think I’ll ever really get what goes through her mind. The rest of the test was really good though. Because Blue is quite laid back I don’t think Alan fully believes me when I say she was a bit looky in her tests, but he watched us today and saw her spook for himself, he did say the rest of it looked really good, which from Alan is high praise, trust me. 

Dressage at Bovington

It was quite weird having help at the lorry to hold Blue, change tack and grab things but I could get used to it. Show jumping went well and we went clear, on the way to the show jumping I had asked Alan to go to the secretary’s tent to get my dressage score, but they weren’t up thank the lord, but the commentators we very kindly relaying them when you finished your round anyway. Back to the lorry for another swift change and our favourite bit. 


Show Jumping at Bovington 

Bovington had done a great job in revamping and changing the direction of their course this year and I was really looking forward to it. Blue flew round and got home 4 second under the time for another double clear to leave us 4th on our dressage of 28.5% which I was pleased about and I had gone well with Alan and the boys watching me!

Cross Country phase

One more competition left before badminton and some Xc schooling arranged for later in the month with our friends daughter Alisha Coombes who has also qualified her horse Delhurens Upsey Daisy for the Grassroots final, Alisha is a fanstastic young rider who is forging a great career in eventing and has the talent to one day go round the proper big Badminton course, where I will then be able to say, I know her and have competed with her. We are both looking forward to the whole experience that the Mitsubishi Cup has in store for us.

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Sun Dances, Daylight Saving and Plan B!

Finally my sun dance has paid off, it’s become warmer and the ground has dried out everywhere. With the clocks going forward to give us longer evenings, everything seems a lot easier. However the clocks going forward did give me a very early morning at the weekend! My friend, Laura, and I were of to BD combined training and we needed to leave at 6.45am, to get there in time for our dressage. I set the alarm on my phone but I wasn’t sure if the phone would update itself overnight so I put it forward an hour. When the alarm went off I got up and got dressed and started to head out when my husband said “your going really early it’s only 4am!” I got back into bed fully dressed cursing my phone for updating itself so I was now two hours ahead! 

We arrived and Laura was up first, Blue really enjoyed having a friend on the lorry for a change and fell in love with Laura’s little New Forest gelding Billy,  Laura did a great clear round and a good test for a 4th place. I got Blue ready for the next class, she warmed up really well, she did a great test and was completely on side with me. I think she really liked the lovely surface as opposed to the wet muddy tracks of late. After a quick change of tack we shot round the Show Jumping with a clear and won the class with a score of 77%, I’d gladly take that as my score at Badminton, but I have a feeling it won’t be quite so good! 


Show Jumping in Combined Training. 

After Tweseldown’s muddy conditions and desperately in need off a run, I diverted to a BE90 on the Saturday at Howick. Friday turned out to be quite a busy and stressful type of a day, I had got the lorry ready earlier on in the week but the boys both had half days at school, to break up for Easter, I had a lesson at 1pm, then my eldest son Tristan needed to be back at school for 4.30pm to go on a school ski trip.  I also needed to get Blue Washed, stud holes cleaned and plaited when we got back. Whilst sitting on Tristan’s case trying to get the Zips done up I got a text to say they had abandoned Saturday at Howick! In between loading the suitcase and checking he had everything I pinged an email off to the Howick secretary begging for any spaces on the Sunday if they were going to run at all. The weather was lovely at home but they had had serious amounts of rain, She very kindly managed to get me a withdrawl spot. 

I woke up Saturday full of optimism that we would be getting a run Sunday, now because everything I seem to enter or head for was getting cancelled, I had entered one class of BD combined training on the Sunday at Wellington, as well, just to cover all areas. So at lunchtime I wasn’t sure what test I needed to learn! Then the dreaded text came through and Mother Nature had got the better of us again! So combined training it was again.

Next on the agenda was dressage writing at Portman on the Tuesday, I got up early and rode Blue out on the forest doing a bit of fast work. After arriving in good time, I went and found the dressage steward only to be told the judge had brought her husband and I wasn’t needed, I was quite looking forward to writing and seeing what it like from that end of the arena. So I spent a lovely afternoon watching all the proffesionals do there dressage and show jumping, caught up with friends and walked the cross country and generally had a lazy day, which was really nice for a change. 


Cross country Training 

Wednesday morning I felt I needed to go Xc training after watching everyone the day before, so I popped down the road from us to a little local Xc schooling place and popped her round some fences. We are entered at Larkhill BE this Sunday, which really won’t get abandoned! But I’m feeling a bit anxious about the whole thing really, I feel there’s been such a long build up to getting out on our first run that it probably won’t go to plan. Anyway one things for sure we are going to have a go come what may. 

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Rain, Mud And Tummy Flips! 

So I was hoping to fill this blog with lovely photos of Blue and myself competing at Aston le walls and Tweseldown, but yet again the good old British weather got the better of us. After being balloted out of the BE at Aston I entered their unaffiliated competition on the following Monday. Only for it to be abandoned, the same as Moreton and the actual BE at Aston, so I was never going to get my first run out which ever event I choose. I seem to be spending longer and longer trying to work out what we are entering to keep us on course for Badminton. I’m trying hard to keep it all as normal as possible but doubts as to whether I’m doing enough or not are forever in my thoughts!

My next event was at Tweseldown, I was entered on the Sunday in the BE90 class. On the Thursday afternoon I had got finished early on the farm so thought I would nip up, quickly in the car, to Tweseldown and familiarise myself as to where everything was and walk the course. It was a beautiful day and the courses, for all the levels, looked amazing and were presented beautifully. There were a lot of professionals and Rio Olympic riders there competing and I stood and watched many of our top Eventers warm up and do there rounds. I think eventing must be one of only a few sports in the world where we are lucky enough to get close enough to watch, listen and even compete against the top proffesionals in our sport. Can you imagine being able to play tennis with Andy Murray or drive a car round the track with Lewis Hamilton!

I returned home full of enthusiasm and excitement for the fast approaching Sunday, I loaded the lorry with everything bar the kitchen sink and then double checked again that everything was present and correct! I washed, trimmed and plaited Blue, had I known what the next 24hrs weather had in store for us, I wouldn’t have bothered! I had later times so it was a pleasant alarm Sunday morning and then we headed up the M3 to Tweseldown, the closer I got the faster my windscreen wipers had to go, but the ground at Tweseldown is very sandy and generally has great going so I was still quite positive about our day ahead.

I parked up and walked down to collect my numbers, the rain was pretty heavy and relentless. By the time I got back to lorry I was wet through one coat, anyway I got tacked up, studded up and went to warm up before our dressage slot, hoof oil definitely wasn’t required. She warmed up nicely and we did a good test in very wet and muddy conditions. After tucking her up in the lorry I went to walk the Xc course and the show jumping. By this stage I was having quite a job staying up right in my wellies and doubts started entering my head if this was a good idea. I walked by the show jumping to get to the start of the Cross country and it was getting pretty cut up and slippy. After walking the Xc and doing all my minute markers with the Crosscountry App, I had come to the decision to withdraw and save her legs for another day. Even though we had the 3rd highest dressage score in our section of 30.8% and the fact that I am desperate to get going again sometimes it’s braver to say no than to carry on! 

Previously, at the end of Blues first year of Eventing, I entered Alton BE100 on arrival my lorry was towed in by a tractor. I shouldn’t have even put the ramp down! But I made the mistake of continuing, in bad weather and ground. After getting a good dressage score I thought I better continue, so started to warm up for show jumping when we slipped and ploughed through the practice fence. After that Blue lost her confidence and we got eliminated in the show jumping, it took me some time to get her back to normal, so I now listen to my first instincts however frustrating it is!

Typically the following week we had a lovely week weatherwise, even that golden thing in the sky made an appearance for a couple of days. Some friends said the ground had dried at Tweseldown and that the course had been left open and flagged, so on the Friday I loaded Blue and we set off again up the M3. I tacked up and studded up as if we were doing a normal BE, I warmed up like normal and then walked through the start gates a few times and then set off with my minute markers in mind, at competition speed. We did the same course I would have done on the Sunday, she went like a dream and flew round, I was especially happy with her fitness after the finish, she wasn’t really that sweaty and returned to her normal breathing pretty quickly. Unlike me who had eyes streaming, nose running and a burning face that resembled a beetroot! I must remember my £2.99 clear safety glasses that I wore quite a few times last year whilst competing, I knicked the idea from a good friend of mine who was wearing some at BE one day, if your like me and find your eyes water whilst you travel at speed I can highly recommended wearing these.



This was taken on the official first day of Spring, out on the New Forest!

I have now re-routed to Howick BE to try and get my first BE under my belt, I’m going to do a Sun dance and hope that doesn’t get rained off as well or I will start to panic! I have kept up my flat work training and show jumping in the school and have been doing my fast and hill work out on the forest, which is very wet and muddy! 


A bit of Show jumping practice at home

This week I have been to West Wilts competing in percentage dressage, I thought I would pick the Mitsubishi Cup dressage test BE94 so I could get a feel for it and find out what parts need to be worked on, as you don’t get to do this test any other time. So I entered twice, it went ok, it’s a long way down that centre line in a long arena! I now have plenty to correct and tweak, we picked up a 1st and 2nd place but considering there were only two other competitors in my class it doesn’t really count.

Dressage at West Wilts

My tummy flipped on Monday not only did I have to wave my youngest son, Will, off on a week long school trip to the Isle of Wight, but also the entries opened for the Mitsubishi Cup! On return from dropping Will off I sat down and done my entry, checking I filled it all in correctly, that was it we are entered and going to Badminton!!! I keep reading all the posts and updates on social media and the Mitsubishi Cup web page, which I saw already had who the course walks are with this year, which I will definitely being doing. I’m eagarley awaiting my pack that British Eventing have released for all qualified riders going to the Mitsubishi Cup at Badminton in relation to horse and rider fitness and prepping for the big day!

I have a few busy weeks ahead with combined training this weekend, SJ lesson next week and fingers crossed a BE the following weekend. I’m also doing some dressage writing at the Portman BE, so any of my friends competing, big smiles please down the centre line xx

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Solar Systems, William Fox Pitt & Storm Doris

At last the sun has come out and the daffy are shooting up, the horses have all enjoyed several days out without their rugs on, which turned them into fire breathing snorting dragons! Blue made some shapes out in field I didn’t think she had in her, she also managed various flying changes and managed to lap my husbands horse, who is particulary quick. I will bear this in mind when we next go Cross country, as she likes to just plop along and given the choice would prefer to walk between fences or spook at the fence judges.   

So we have continued with our normal lessons of flatwork and jumping which have all been going along nicely. We have also had our first trip this year to do some cross country training at Tweseldown. The last Xc we had done was towards the end of 2016 at Littleton Horse Trials, in the BE100 when she absolutely flew round and gave me a great feeling, so in my head I was still thinking I was at the same sort of level. When I started to warm up at Tweseldown by cantering round between the fences I realised I was a feeling a bit rusty and some of the fences looked rather daunting! But after popping some smaller roll tops and blowing the cobwebs away we were back to normal and she gave me the same feel. I’m am so lucky that she is so genuine and trustworthy, I’m not the most stylish rider but if I say we are going over the fence she will try her best to get us to the other side, regardless what I look like.

After washing, plaiting and loading up the lorry followed by making a solar system out of an old Nike shoe box and some polystyrene balls with William (my youngest son) for his science homework, I had another glance over my two test I was going to be doing the next day for combined training at Sparsholt college. Changing tack in between doing two tests and two rounds of show jumping, on my own, was like a military manoeuvre! Blue felt great though and produced two fab clear rounds and two dressage scores of 68% which wasn’t too bad. I’ve been struggling with my show jumping lately as getting the longer distances inbetween doubles with Blue is pretty tricky as she has a pony stride and is also quite lazy. It’s something I need to address and as always with eventing once you improve one phase there is always another one that needs your attention, so I was relieved and pleased to have left them all up and kept a good rhythm.

This weekend was a once in a lifetime, kind of thing for me and was really exciting. I got a late minute email to say I had a place on William Fox Pitt Eventing clinic, to have a flat lesson followed by a jumping lesson. I gave Blue a good wash and a tidy up, loaded the lorry with all the gear and we were off bright and early Saturday morning to his yard in Dorset. I arrived and parked up with plenty of time so I could watch the lesson before me. Luckily it was indoors, as it was rather windy courtesy of storm Doris!! I went and got tacked up and walked Blue round their large indoor stable block, where we were met and welcomed into the indoor school.

It seemed slightly weird to be riding round with William Fox Pitt, the legend that I have watched ride round Badminton and also watched compete at the olympics, on the telly, talking to us and watching us warm up. He was lovely and friendly and made us all feel at ease. I was doing my best to get Blue going nicely and warmed up, Blue on the other hand was oblivious to the fact that WFP was watching us and thought that the loud speakers in the corners, the poles along the long side, along with the Jeep banners on the walls should be avoided at all costs! After a little while she settled in and got on with job and did some nice work. We did a lot on transitions up and down, circles and centre lines, which are all pretty important and my level.

In the afternoon I got to spend and hour with Jackie Potts, she took us round the yard and gave us a great talk on how they manage the yard, the horses, what they feed, shoes and studs, recovery after competition and lots of other funny story’s about her career being William’s head girl. She was so lovely to meet and gave us plenty of tips and good advice.

Sunday was another cold and windy day, Blue was not impressed with me in the morning when I put her travel boots on, again, washed her poo stained cheeks and led her to the lorry. I again arrived early so I could watch the class before me jump in the large outdoor arena which had an array of show jumps and Xc fences all placed on difficult lines and dogleg angles. William gave us a little talk on riding Xc and our partnership with the horse and then we started doing a few fences followed by a course of jumps which envolved lots of difficult lines that made you have to really think and react quickly. Blue went well but did feel a little tired, it could have been the cold windy weather, as I know I was in bed pretty early Sunday night, or else I was trying to ride a bit to perfect instead of my normal flapping elbows and pony club kicking that I normally do when required! We had a great day and learn’t some new jump exercises to practice. We also got to have lunch with William and Alice, once I had tucked Blue up in the lorry.

After all that excitement I have our first ODE in a weeks time, which I’m quite nervous and excited about at the same time, to see if we’ve still got it and if not what I need to sort out. It will be good to finally get back in the swing of things.  Our first BE is booked and accepted at Tweseldown in couple of weeks, hopefully the rain will stop and events won’t get cancelled! It won’t be long until the entry’s open for the Mitsubishi Cup, I can’t wait!!!!

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