The team went to Chard mid-August for a 3 day show. Day one Lambo jumped the 6-year-old Grand Prix at 1.20m in the first round – it was a step up for him, but I felt he was ready. I changed his bit to only have one rein the week before, so this was a new feeling for both of us! It did lead to a mis-communication in the collecting ring, which lead to me testing out the landing on the surface at Chard (I can confirm it is very soft!). However he wasn’t phased and went in to jump one of only a handful of clear rounds. Unfortunately, it wasn’t our class and we had the first fence in the jump off trying to pull off a turn back to fence two! He made up for it by jumping double clear and coming 2nd in the Newcomers on the 2nd day, then didn’t jump the on the last day due to a rub from his overreach boots- he is a sensitive boy!
Baby Scrappy jumped super all show, coming 3rd and jumping double clear on the first day in the discovery, getting her last double clear in discovery for next year’s seconds rounds on the second day and winning her class, then just knocking one fence in the 5-year-old Grand Prix on the last day.
Connie was the star of the show for not touching a fence all three days! Jumping her last double clear in foxhunter for next year, coming 5th in the 1.20m open on the first day, jumping double clear coming 4th in the foxhunter on day 2, and finishing in the 1.30/1.40m open jumping a lovely double clear. She also went to Rectory Farm last week for a jump before her 2nd round this week and jumped a lovely double clear coming 4th in the 1.30/1.40m open qualifying for next years Scope Championship.
We went to Wales and West to contest the 2nd round Newcomers, but unfortunately just had one silly fence! Lambo also went here and jumped double clear coming 5th in the newcomers on the first day and qualifying for next years 2nd rounds and then the fastest time, but a silly fence in the first phase on day 2!
I am taking Gibbs out to his first arena hire and then will plan some shows in with him. He is progressing well and his attention span is improving, although not consistently yet! He has lost some of the weight he was carrying and is looking really well. Scrappy is planned to go to Rectory Farm next week, then we have Bury Farm planned for mid-September with a few local day shows in between.
June has been a busy month for the team, although Lambo has a had an easier end to the month!
It started with a 3 day stay away show at Chard Equestrian in Somerset where I took Lambo and Connie. Lambo jumped double clear on the first and last day only having the final fence on day 2 which was my fault! He picked up two 3rd placings and given the 100’s of entries in the classes and that he has just stepped up to Newcomers (1.10m in first round 1.20 in jump off) I was over the moon with him. Connie jumped more double clears and picked up a 4th in the Newcomers on day two – she managed to cut her leg in the stable on day 1, but thankfully nothing serious so was able to carry on! Finishing with our best round to this date in the Foxhunter on the last day, jumping a lovely double clear and picking up a lower placing. I was really happy with her progress and excited for the start of our 2nd rounds.
Mid June the Chiropractor visited all and he was amazed to see how well they all three horses are. He did mention I need to add some more bulk to Connie, so after emailing Dengie’s Performance Horse Nutritionist, Claire Akers I have added some Meadow Grass with Herbs & Oil to both Connie and Lambo’s rations.
I then took Scrappy on her own to Rectory Farm for a little jump round, where she stepped up to the Discovery jumping a super double clear coming 2nd! She is turning into a real speed demon!
Next I took Connie to Wellington for a jump around the Newcomers before her first 2nd round, she jumped a beautiful double clear coming 4th, only half a second slower than the winner! It would appear half a second was sent to haunt me this week as Connie jumped a beautiful clear round in the Newcomers 2nd round on the following day, but I was half a second over the time allowed, meaning we incurred 1 time fault!
At the weekend just gone I held my first clinic at Blackwater Equestrian which went really well and I plan to run another at the end of July. Then on Sunday I had my first open day with Connie’s syndicate at the yard and did a little demo of both Connie and Scrappy. Lambo came up with splints on both his front legs hence why he has had an easy finish to this month. We believe they were caused by kicking the door, typical boy! I haven’t treated them as I am in no rush for them to settle, he is getting some R&R and iced legs daily instead. I am hoping to bring him back in to work this week and have him ready for the summer tour at Bicton which starts next week. Although he hasn’t been unsound, I do have the future in mind for him so just want to make sure we let them settle first.
Our plans moving forward are to head to Bicton next week for a week and a half where Lambo and Scrappy are in their relative ages classes and Connie is contesting HOYS in the Newcomers second round and Grade C. Then Connie will also go to Hartpury to contest the Grade C for HOYS at the end of the month.
The last month has been something of a whirlwind. The culmination of a busy spring for our super team of horses saw the three babies all jump clear around a very challenging Keysoe.
Fadeline placed 10th at her first 3* at Tweseldown. Another tough Eric Winter course which “Fern” flew around.
Super double clears at Houghton for Calcourt Quantum in the 3* and Dassett Showman in the 2*
It’s very rare that 3/3 phases at an event let alone an international go according to plan so for all 3 to ace their FEI shows was a real boost.
We waved sad goodbyes to Hilton Cooley and 5yo Margo Landolt and wish them huge success and happiness in their new homes.
An eagerly anticipated week off for me included a trip to Mull, Jura and Islay. Home via my father in laws birthday and a day at Royal Ascot! So very spoiling indeed!
Back to real life with Robert Snaddon lessons on Tuesday, then 5 babies in the UA Cotswold Cup at Gt Tew tomorrow and on to Farley next week with the “grown ups”.
Finn, Hannah, Justine, Suzie, Mum and Muzi have done an impeccable job on the horses in my absence and we are all excited to see what the summer holds.
It has been a difficult year for so many people who have been deeply affected by the COVID pandemic. Job wise as an Environmental Health professional I have been heavily involved ensuring businesses are compliant with COVID regulations by helping and supporting them to get it right, as well as taking appropriate enforcement action for those that blatantly ignore the rules. I am now a webinar expert having co-written and delivered 50 in the last year around COVID topics.
Horse wise we did virtually nothing last year, the highlight was our Dengie training day in January and then we never got to BE event. We did a little show jumping and dressage, but nothing that significant. Sadly my little pocket rocket Ellie developed a bone cyst in her pedal bone, which later in the year required an operation. This was not immediately successful and as I write this she is being dropped off to stud and we will see how she is in 18months. Certainly the way she is moving round the field is encouraging.
I only have Fliss up and riding currently, although I hope to have my 5-year-old homebred back in work soon. Poor Fliss feels therefore she is overworked, saying that she is looking rather well and certainly thriving on her Dengie diet.
In April it was great to finally get out and we started with some dressage. She has improved hugely over the winter and I was looking forward to showing this off. We went to Bicton Arena where the competition was fierce and sadly brought up the rear in one class and were lower middling in the other. Aren’t horses great levellers? She went just a bit tight and tense on me and was sure there was some jumping somewhere! Two days later we were out again at Tall Trees and a much improved performance gave us a double dressage win!
We jumped at Pendarves for a BS show and had double clears and placings in the 1.10 and 1.15. Then the following week after missing the entire 2020 season we finally got out eventing. With the firm ground I was pleased we had chosen Bicton who make such great efforts to get the ground as good as possible for the competitors. We dropped down to BE100 open and this time she did a nice test for a 30. Show jumping wasn’t an issue and we were clear, although a big spook at 2 could have been costly. Cross country was a decent test for the level and ideal for us before we stepped back up to Novice. She flew round for 0.4 of penalty to finish 6th so a really good start.
Aston was the first Novice since 2019, the day before we had a quick tune up with Owen Moore and arrived at Aston raring to go. I walked the course and it was actually less technical than the 100 at Bicton, although asked some questions, particularly the big jump in the water.
Dressage was on the surface and I thought her test was nice enough and was disappointed to be well down with a mark of 35.3. Watching the test back it was deserved, she just dropped behind the bridle making her very tight in front and her paces were a bit choppy in consequence. I know we can work on this I just have to find the key to relax her and let her lengthen her frame.
Show jumping was unusually for Aston on grass, the ring was quite undulating with the going a bit sticky. Even though Fliss is such a good show jumper, I was a bit worried about this phase as some were having cricket scores with the going and she hasn’t jumped in ground quite like it. I shouldn’t have worried she coped fine and jumped a super clear round.
Cross country I was determined to implement some of the gems I picked up from Sarah Thorne at Rosamund Green a few weeks ago and really went out to get her in front my leg and taking on the fences and moving away. Yes I still added the odd stride where maybe I didn’t need to, but it was far better and Fliss loved the more forward way of going. This perhaps showed with her coming back inside the time to add nothing to her dressage score. You will see her on the video going through the first water, the second she jumped in well and just slightly stumbled on landing, but picked up and jumped the brush well out. She gave me a super ride from start to finish.
We finished on our dressage score for 8th place.
Fliss now has an unbelievable record, which I am careful not to get too hung up about, she has done 10 BE in total including 5 novices and been double clear in every one. Whether or not we extend the streak, to do the first 10 double clear is some feat!
It’s so exciting to be able to finally plan, and I’m hoping that we can go to Hartpury 2 star this year eventing, as well as mix in some show jumping. I’m also looking forward to having Kensa to work with and hope she has some of her mothers talent (Sarnita took me to Advanced).
We have been so incredibly lucky to be included on the Elite Pathway events. This is the third in the series and I am delighted with the improvement in both these two horses.
Calcourt Quantum is a new ride for me while Alice Pearson is on maternity leave! We are beginning to gel as a partnership and we look forward to Weston Park.
Fadeline is new at this intermediate level and we have relished the opportunity for three steady runs in relatively quick succession.
Both their dressage scores have steadily improved with each outing, at Aston they both showjumped well for four faults each and completed the day with really happy smooth confident cross country rounds without breaking any land speed records!
Fern will look to aim for a three star short later this spring and Mickey hope to run advanced mid May all being well.
It’s hard to comprehend being out and about again so I am making sure I enjoy each and every step of the 2021 season as it unfolds and not risk disappointment by planning too far ahead of myself!
So with only a few weeks to go until we are allowed out of “lockdown” with the horses we can all start to get a little bit excited, especially as we no longer have snow and ice!
As soon as March 29th hits I have sessions with Chris Bartle and Susie Gibson booked in to get the horses primed for a start to the season in the middle of April! Unfortunately my plan of going to Bramham with Candy hasn’t worked out due to them cancelling the event, so plan B is to aim for a 4 star in July/ August and finish the year off at Blenheim!
Popeye will aim for a 2 star mid-season and we will then decide if he’s ready to move up a level. Snip and Nomore will aim for a 2 star by the end of the year hopefully. Callie will make his British Eventing debut in May / June and Heidi will aim to do a few of the 4-year-old Nexgen and BYEH classes if they run this year.
I also have BD regionals to aim for with Candy and Snip in June (which should have been in January). Despite the uncertainty over events running or not, we still have lots to look forward to and work towards! I can’t wait to get back out Eventing! I have to say the horses are all look amazing at the minute, especially Candy who is always hard to keep weight on – I think the lack of Eventing last year actually did her a favour in some ways! The Dengie diet of Alfa-A Oil or Healthy Tummy, with Performance+ Balancer has been great over the winter!
I can’t wait to be able to blog again, with actual updates from real shows!
The ponies have been back in work since the beginning of December after their break out in the field. For the first few weeks they were just hacking out, gradually building up the distance and the trot work. Then from the beginning of January I started to introduce some light schooling sessions a few times a week and then a little bit of pole work and jumping. Both ponies are now quite fit and will be more than ready for the event season when it does get started!
As sadly there have been no competitions, I thought I would tell you how I have been spending lockdown #3, fitting in doing the ponies with online school lessons and what a typical day looks like for me.
My alarm goes off at 6.15am and I am usually out on the yard by 6.30am. I’m very lucky that I am able to keep my ponies at home – they are literally outside the back door!! The first job is to do feeds, there are 8 feeds to make-up in total – my 2 ponies, my mums 2 horses, a broodmare and 3 youngsters. They are all fed Dengie diets. Annie, the broodmare, and the 3 youngsters have Alfa-A Original, Alfa-Beet and Performance + Balancer. The 2 good-doers on the yard, Bracken and Jonny, have Dengie Hi Fi Molasses Free with Performance+ Balancer. Smartie tends to drop weight quite easily so he is fed Dengie Alfa-A Molasses Free with Alfa-Beet and Performance+ Balancer, and Cougar, our oldest horse at 23 years, loves Dengie Performance Fibre with Alfa-Beet and Performance+ Balancer. They also all have some salt added to their feeds, the horses get 1 tablespoon per day and the ponies get 1 dessert spoon per day.
Once they have all had their breakfasts, they get a small haynet of haylage whilst they are mucked out. My mum and I share the mucking out between us and then when it’s done we go for a run with our dog.
After running I have my breakfast and then get ready to start online lessons at 8.45am. My mum then goes back out to the yard and gives the horses their morning haynets and turns out some of the horses. During the winter the youngsters stay in a big barn and the other horses and ponies get turned out for a few hours each day either in the morning or afternoon depending on when they are going to be ridden. I then usually try and ride one of the ponies at lunchtime, either a schooling sessions or a 45 minute hack. At lunchtime I also skip out and do lunch haynets before having my lunch ready to start afternoon lessons.
My school day finishes at 3.20pm and I then ride the other pony that didn’t get ridden at lunchtime. We then do evening feeds between 5.30 and 6pm before mucking out and topping up hay. Most of them get ad-lib hay except for Bracken and Jonny who have to have theirs rationed and soaked to reduce the sugar levels! The others all have steamed hay. I like to give the yard a good sweep and tidy-up before I finish so I’m usually back inside by 7pm. My mum will then go back out later before she goes to bed to do late checks and top them all up with more hay.
Recently we have had some really cold freezing weather so we have also been offering the horses warm water several times a day to make sure they don’t get dehydrated. Some of them really love it, especially the youngsters who get very excited when they see the yellow water bucket. For the ones who are less keen we put an apple in the water to encourage them to play with the water. Adding salt to their feeds also encourages them to drink.
I am now very much looking forward to some dry and warmer weather, so that the ponies and horses can all go out more. I am also very excited for the start of Eventing!! Hopefully next time I blog I will have some events to report on and things will be starting to get back to normal.
I thought I would take the opportunity to look back as well as forward to the year ahead. I certainly don’t think 2020 was anything like I imagined this time last year. The biggie has been COVID-19 which has affected us all in many ways and obviously curtailed what we have been able to do with the horses. For me it meant no eventing, with being based in West Cornwall the uncertainty of what would happen, the travel, the limited training opportunities and the need to stay away frequently, alongside the pressure of the job made eventing for me impractical.
My job has changed both in role and intensity, my normal role was a Health and Safety Inspector dealing with accidents, workplace inspections and safety concerns. A job I was confident in and fitted nicely around the equine plans. I am now helping lead a team tackling the COVID-19 response in the Council. This involves primarily working with businesses to advise on what COVID-19 safety measures they should be undertaking, responding to complaints and ensuring, where practical and needed, we enforce on those businesses not complying with the rules in terms of COVID-19 secure measures or being open when they shouldn’t be.
The horses for the little they have done have gone well. In 2020 British Showjumping, Fliss jumped 12 classes and had 9 double clears and 9 placings, including a super double clear in the Foxhunter at Pendarves. For Ellie it was a different story, only jumping 3 classes, but winning her last one before injury came to the fore.
We have also really moved to the dark side and not only registered for British Dressage, but had a dabble with Dressage to Music qualifying for the national BRC dressage championships and not disgracing ourselves at Elementary level. Fliss also gained 14 points in 3 classes and a huge 72% in her music at the close of the year. Certainly for the moment it looks like dressage will be the most accessible to continue with under the tighter COVID-19 restrictions in the short term.
There has been some great training. I was lucky at the beginning of the year to have some great sessions with Hannah Esberger-Hancock and Lucy Jackson at Vale View, through becoming a Dengie Ambassador; that was an inspiring start to the year (that never was). I have continued to travel to Owen Moore at Lyneham Heath who has really helped us develop and continue my regular flatwork training with sponsor Stef Eardley, who had some good news of her own this year when she became the new Para Podium Potential Pathway Mentor Coach for British Equestrian.
Sadly Ellie developed a strange intermittent lameness – one day she was fine (usually the day the vet came) and a few days later crippled. We eventually diagnosed a bone cyst which needed an operation to place a screw in the foot that took place in October. We have worked hard to bring her back into work, but sadly things have just not settled down and the decision has been made to give her 18 months off and review again. This does give her an opportunity for a change of career and in April she will be off to stud, where she is being loaned to a friend to have a foal. Much as I would like to breed one myself, I don’t have the time or facilities to do it myself.
Ellie has always been special to me, my 14.2hh pocket rocket that has helped me through a confidence crisis and been a real over achiever. The first time I jumped her and she crabbed sideways through a few fences I wondered what I had bought. Yet she has won two BE100s, jumped clear round adult Newcomers and won points at Elementary. I do hope she can come back to work and maybe teach a deserving child the ropes.
My only homebred to date Kensa was 4 in 2020 and huge thanks to Mel Hennah for doing a super job backing her. She was still quite weak, so has been turned away until 2021 when hopefully she will come back into work and start her ridden career for proper.
The other huge change has been a change in location. We have always struggled with the travel element of the horse sport, being based only 25 miles from Lands End. While we explored some big ideas of relocating to Scotland, instead we made a slightly smaller hop from one end of the County to another. We are now based on the Devon/Cornwall border 50 miles closer to most places. At the moment we are in temporary accommodation and I have the unknown luxury of having the horses outside the door, not only that but I have the use of a school which is an amazing facility that I have not had access to before on-site. We are currently waiting for the proposed purchase of a property at Lawhitton (nr Launceston) to complete and move in, hopefully in another month.
So time to look ahead, I have already mentioned that Kensa will be joining me in the Spring/Summer. Realistically I feel COVID-19 will be around for the first part of this year and guidance is still not to travel out of your area. Training to get ready for the season will be difficult, so we will probably tick over with dressage and show jumping once lockdown is lifted and wait for the way ahead to become a little clearer. As horses are not my living it is easier for me to make this decision and I am very aware of the implications of spreading such a nasty virus. When so many people are struggling and lives have been lost it seems selfish to be so frustrated that we can’t do more, particularly with Fliss missing a couple of what should be her peak years, and I am nearer 50 than 40.
Fingers crossed the COVID-19 vaccinations kick in quickly, people generally remember the ‘Hands, Face, Space’ message and that we can get back to doing what we love best soon.
Huge thanks to all my sponsors and supporters, I feel I haven’t really given them the exposure and time I would have liked this year and really appreciate them continuing to work with me going forwards.
Wow what a year 2020 was – I thought I would round up the events of this difficult and frustrating year. However, through it all my horses haven’t failed to make me smile, what would we do without them?
Last year started with a bang with me discovering that I had been awarded the amazing bursary with Dengie. What a dream it was to go up to ValeView for the amazing training day with Hannah and Lucy.
Moving on to post lockdown…I had a great time in August passing my Pony Club B test, thorough knowledge of feeding helped here, thanks Dengie! B+ here we come.
Next we had an amazing run at Borde Hill where we flew round the course making it feel a piece of cake; for a double clear inside the time in the BE90.
A week later, it was the NSEA Eventers Challenge Championship; CiCi jumped a fantastic round to help the team come 5th.
Later on that day we had our first 105cm Show Jumping class where CiCi blew me away, exceeding all my expectations only to have an unfortunate 4 faults round a tricky course. Our team finished on 4 faults but WON, qualifying for the Winter Championships – they were unfortunately cancelled.
On to September, Hunter trial season. It was great fun doing the pairs with my friend on her other horse Rosie, o weekend at East Byshee and the next at Rackham, second both weekends. I also had CiCi at Rackham for our first 100 cross country and she jumped round clear, but were having so much fun we forgot it was optimum time so we were a tad fast.
Later on in September was our last BE run of the season at Munstead for our first BE100. She was amazing and produced a sweet test followed by a double clear inside the time, I was so proud of her.
Finally October, which brought my birthday, I was very lucky to sneak in a fab beach ride with some friends before lockdown arrived. We had the most amazing time, the beach is definitely one of my favourite places to ride.
Then lockdown hit, CiCi had her winter break a little early, and thanks to Dengie’s feed teams help, we dropped her feed quantity and changed her to Dengie Healthy Tummy and Alfa-Beet whilst she wasn’t working.
During Cici’s break, I had the pleasure of taking one of Kings Hill Equestrians young horses to a Pony Club rally, which was a great experience. Then due to a friend self isolating, I had the pleasure of riding her lovely horse Roy, who taught me loads as he is the polar opposite of CiCi to ride.
In December, I finally ticked something off my bucket list… Side Saddle. Wow what a completely different experience and how difficult!
CiCi has maintained her condition this winter thanks to her Dengie diet. What an amazing year it’s been.
If you sit and watch the trot up at Burghley or Badminton, it is quite clear that event horses come in all shapes and sizes. The perfect event horse is an amalgamation of many things, with the common denominator being that they all have the heart of a lion. We speak to Samantha Hobbs (CCI4* Event Rider) and ask her what she looks for when buying a young horse to event.
People’s preferences are personal, but if given the brief to go and find a young horse that I would be excited to produce for the upper levels, temperament and trainability would be top of my list. The horse has got to have something in them which makes them want to be a doer.
I prefer a horse with a good amount of TB in their breeding, for stamina and speed and it makes them light enough in their confirmation to help with soundness. Mixed with some proper jumping blood; a horse with plenty of scope will get himself out of trouble far easier than one that is lacking!
I love getting a just backed horse (as long as they’ve been backed properly) I don’t want to be a crash test dummy anymore and the guys that break in well are truly fantastic horse people. The horse is then happy and accepting of a rider, but are ultimately a blank canvas. It is far harder to retrain a horse when they’ve been taught incorrectly and for me, there is no greater feeling than producing a horse yourself. The satisfaction of building a proper bond with a horse and producing them right from the start means you are involved in every bit of their journey.
The super young horse in the photo below (owned by Mrs Sheenagh Mudford) was broken in at the start of his 4th year and produced to sell at an Irish auction. We loved his free, easy movement and seemingly relaxed outlook on life. He is light on his feet and has a desire to jump. We were aware that his education may have been slightly fast tracked to prepare him for the auction and therefore we have taken time to go back to basics.
At the moment, his week is varied and not too intense – he is only 4 after all! He will hack a couple of times, have a lunge and do some gymnastic work in the school. Most days he will do some pole work of some kind, either at the end of a hack or end of a lunge/schooling session. I really feel it helps to improve hoof/brain co-ordination and help develop his core. He will often do 2 days of work, followed by a day off or some walking in-hand in a rope training aid to help with correct posture incorporating poles.
I’m very fortunate to be based at a wonderful yard with hundreds of acres of off-road hacking, there are lots of hills and basic XC jumps. Toby will hack out a few times a week – mostly walking up and down the undulations, interspersed with short stints of trot. When the ground dries out a bit, I will start playing over small logs and up and down the steps – all in a relaxed, no pressure way. I want him to enjoy his work.
Just before Christmas I hired an arena which was unfamiliar to him and helped me assess where he is in his education, how much he is affected by being somewhere different and what I need to do with him at the start of this year. He had a couple of weeks off over Christmas and into the New Year. I’m a great believer in doing blocks of work and then giving them a mini break- a great opportunity for them to begin to understand what is being asked of them, chance to work it out and then get confident doing it, followed by a chance to rest their minds as well as their bodies.
The aim for this horse this year will be to successfully contest the Burghley Young Event Horse classes/NextGen series and the British Eventing 5yo classes. To prepare for this there will be Show Jumping and XC schooling outings, followed by unaffiliated Dressage and Show Jumping competitions to get him used to working alongside other horses in a collecting ring whilst still remaining focused on the job in hand. The BYEH classes act as a great combined training events – a fantastic stepping stone to contesting their first events late spring/early summer.
Different horses need different amounts of preparation and exposure, but one thing I insist on for all of my horses is plenty of time out in the field and a good, balanced diet. The Dengie Nutrition team have been fantastic in helping me compile the perfect rations for the different horses on my yard, which have kept them looking and feeling fantastic.
This lad enjoys a diet of Dengie Alfa-A Oil, Alfa-Beet and Performance+ Balancer, split over 3 feeds throughout the day. It provides him with high quality fibre to help promote top line and slow-release energy – enough for the job in hand with no unrequired extra moves!
As well as talent, good training and remaining injury free, a lot of luck is needed to succeed in the wonderful sport of Eventing, but giving your young horse a solid all-round education and a balanced, quality diet is a great place to start.
For further information or friendly feeding advice, contact the Dengie Nutrition Team on 01621 841188 or click here to complete our Feed Advice Form.