Saturday, 30 April 2011

Another Brilliant Outing!

Today 'should' have been a day of going in circles and attemptinig our first prelim, however someone didn't book the day off far enough in advance, so had to teach until lunch time. However this proved to be rather fortunate for Mally, as it meant that instead we went to do some more jumping, which is far more exciting!

I can't say I was feeling too enthusiastic about rushing off to Vale View after a morning spent sprinting after small ponies and their even smaller jockeys on a diet of fresh air and revolting flavoured water, but at least the joys of a bay pony meant I only had to show her a brush and throw her on the trailer, so we arrived at Vale View in plenty of time.

I entered the Clear round and the 75cms Trailblazers, so that she could have a look round first and then jump a nice round after... in theory!!

I set about warming up the donkey I had dragged off the trailer, however it would seem that someone had swapped her for a large rubber ball, that bounced her way around the warm up and boinged her way over the practice fences!

Into the Clear round and I needn't have bothered about her looking! What was a very spooky course right from the word go, with giant dice at the first fence, warranted absolutely zero response from the Moot! She jumped the first and second well and then jockey had a slight brain fart and forgot she was riding a green youngster, didn't half-halt or steer and we sailed past number three (with jockey nearly going over alone!), circled round and she popped it lovely. The rest of the course went well, with just the rail going out of a two stride double down, she got close to the first part and then fitted in three strides to get way to close to the second part and take it down.

Loooooooong wait until the 75cms class started, at which point someone thoughtfully returned my donkey, who stood dozing in the sunshine whilst we waited. I was third to go, so popped the practice fence to wake her up (which it did, the leaping, boinging, bucking ball returned!) and we went in. I was slightly apprehensive as she had been doing a rather good impression of a hurdler in the warm up (someone is trying to tell me that little jumps are for babies, and she is nearly 5  you know!), but she went in a was very sweet and rideable. Jumped round lovely with just a rail at fence 2 for 4 faults. Completely my fault, I rode around the corner aware I needed to ride a good line to 3 so she didn't run past it again, didn't ride 2 at all got deep and didn't get out of her way so she could jump, so she had the pole in front.

There were only 4 clears in the entire class, so technically she came joint 5th, at least that's what she's telling all her mates!

Once again I am completely chuffed with her! to have a horse with both an on and off button is fantastic!

Next outing is our very first ODE at Eland Lodge on the 22nd of May, then hopefully we have a place on the EHOA Summer Camp at Rolleston in July, which will be brilliant but also rather nerve wracking!!

Saturday, 23 April 2011

Grown Up Hacking in the Sunshine!

Mally has done lots of hacking since she's been broken in, her general opinion is that hacking is brilliant. She cannot wait to see what's around the next corner, this is regardless of whether she is alone/in company/first/last. All of her hacking has been done on our 'quiet' lane (which is actually rather busy!) so she has seen traffic, but not an awful lot else!

Today she ventured out around the main roads, where there is LOTS to look at! It wasn't until I'd reached the end of the lane I realised she hadn't seen white road markings or drains before, she decided they were scary but not likely to attack, so managed to conquer them! Parked cars, cricket matches, and gardens were all met with the same hesitant braveness!!
Then we got to the pub, bedecked in England flags and a St George's day celebration in full flow! She shut her eyes very tightly and wriggled past them.
Everything was super scary, but not enough to stop Mally in her tracks, trains, buses, bridges, ferocious JRTs and even more ferocious Mastiffs where marched past in her newfound elegant TB walk (although she is saving her camel impression for special occasions!)

Traffic was not an issue at all, despite the fact that most of them seem to view lanes as Sliverstone (and most of them are Vet students, so should blooming well know better!) and horses as chicanes!

So Mally has a super big gold star today, even better we managed to get home just before the thunder and lightning started!

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Sod Dressage, we like JUMPING!

After the sucess of Mally's first outing, I planned a trip to Eland Lodge to do the Clear Round jumping they hold every Wednesday.

Eland Lodge is one of my favourite places, they have a beautiful XC course, a lovely arena, the staff are wonderful and they have a tack shop that could get me in a lot of trouble with the bank!!

The plan was to do a round, she how she felt and go from there. We arrived with plenty of time to spare, meaning I had plenty of time to look at the course and start feeling that perhaps this wasn't such a good idea, the course suddenly looked very bright and had a couple of sheep fillers under the last fence! Mally experience of fillers is rather limited, given we haven't got any, so I have had to be creative and have taken to putting easibed bales under my jumps, on the basis they are rather bright!

Once I got on I started to feel better, Mally was trying very hard not to be her usual gobby self in canter and was positively pinging the warm up fences...

I was first up and started to feel rather weak and pathetic in the heat, so was eternally grateful that I was allowed to compete sans hacking jacket. Mally wandered in as cool as a cucumber, wibbled into the first but jumped it! This pattern was repeated until she got into the swing of it for the last two fences and flew them, so I was chuffed for just 4 faults.

After a quick think, I decided to take her in again and then go home to cool down. This time she knew what was what and flew around, despite some muppetry riding from me! I really need to stop firing her into fences! She did take a flyer at one point, completely unaided by me, but settled into a nice enough rhythm by the end when I started to allow her to come in by herself and just support with my leg.
I was chuffed to get a clear round and went home with the feeling she found it all very easy!

So the plan is to do another dressage on the 30th of April (if I can get time off work!) and then aim for a 70cm one day event at Eland Lodge on the 22nd of May, in the hope we will have had some rain and the ground will be less concrete-like.

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Dressage Debut for the Diva!

Although it didn't quite go to plan!!

Despite my (out of character!) planning and preperation, having everything polished, plaited and packed ready for prompt departure at exactly the planned time, I managed to forget my girth! And whilst Mally is a good girl, I didn't think bareback dressage was a good plan for her first competition!

So a call was made to the ever suffering other half, who arrived in a cloud of dust and burning rubber 20 minutes later! However by this point I was running late, so despatched the Chaffeur and Groom (long-suffering Parents!) to let the steward know I was on my way. They returned to inform me I had been given the wrong time and was due in the ring at that very second!

Luckily after much running around from the lovely steward, they managed to squeeze me in at the original time I was given, so Mally's first outing was back on track!

She warmed up rather quietly after falling asleep waiting for the girth to be delievered, but wasn't fazed by the other horses, the spooky warm up or anything else any other horse would have found daunting! She soon started to wake up and had a few bucks and leaps in protest at not being allowed to canter like the grown up ponies!

When our time arrived, I suddenly realised I was asking a baby pony to leave the sunny warm up ring full of ponies, to go into a dark, empty barn full of potentially horse eating white board, flowers, white markers and mirrors, not to mention the terrifying judges sat behind a table at C...

Mally being Mally, she did it without a second's pause, had a bit of a look about, admired herself in the mirror and settled down to doing a bit of work!

She did a nice test, with the only issues stemming from her age and lack of experience. She works better when I allow her to stretch, but fearing an explosion I rode with the handbrake on, so we had lots of unsettled in the contact moments.

All in all I was chuffed with her, not only in the test, but her attitude throughout, she stood quietly on and off the trailer, didn't bat an eyelid about anything and loaded like a dream!
So it was the icing on the cake when I collected my sheet and discovered she had come 3rd out of 5 with 67%!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Overgrown JA Pony???

Mally certainly loves her jumping! To the point she cannot physically concentrate on anything else!

With our Dressage test rapidly approaching, I thought I'd better do some schooling and maybe ride through my test at least once before the weekend. However Mally had other ideas...

Someone had left a grid up in one side of the school (we have a lovely 60x40, so still lots of room!) and Mally has clearly decided jumping is so much fun, she cannot concentrate on anything else. We had lots of bunny hopping, bucking, walk to canter and 'expressive' flying changes, but she really made it clear what she rather be doing when we attempted a 20m circle in canter and she 'locked on' to the middle fence of the grid!!! Given it had V-poles on the other side, I didn't think it would be a good idea to jump it and just managed to pull her off course!

Silly bloody mare, although it is lovely to have a horse who loves jumping so much!

I had hoped for sunshine on my day off, so I could get her bathed for the weekend (the joys of bays!), however a horrible, grey day put paid to that idea. So I went off to Buckaroo Equine at Vale View Equestrian to pick up a few things ready for the weekend and have now come to the conclusion I shouldn't be allowed within 50 feet of any tack shop!

Mally is now the proud owner of a 5-point breastplate, so we will fit right in when we eventually go eventing, either that or all the gear, no idea! She was also treated to a lovely white Anky pad, as I already have a 'Sangria' version and love it, but it's not a very practical colour for competition!

Madam in her new breastplate (the white ensemble is my attempt at convincing Mally she's a dressage diva, it clearly had no affect!)

Monday, 11 April 2011

Cross Country Schooling at Fields Farm

Today was the day for Mally to learn that going Cross Country involves more than just holes in the ground and water, and she does actually have to jump those terrifying brown logs and hedges someone has carelessly left lying around!

So we tootled off to Fields Farm, Wymeswold ( for a play around some of their baby jumps. Since we have had a mini heatwave recently the ground around here is pretty hard, but since they have all weather take off and landings, I figured that as long as we took it steady, we'd be fine!

Excitement began before we even set foot on the course, with a peacock deciding to introduce itself to Mally!! Mally of course didn't bat an eyelid!

So off out onto the course and after a quick warm up, we went over to the ditches and water to reinforce the lessons learnt last time. After a few seconds hesitating she soon remembered and popped everything sweetly.

Then it was time to begin the serious work! So we started popping some barrels and suddenly Mally realised that it was all about JUMPING, her most favourite things EVER! So we progress to a roll top and a pallisade (which was slightly bigger than I would have liked, but I needn't have worried, she flew it!)
We also did a beehivey-thing and a log, again which she spotted and towed me into!

Then it was back over to the water and ditches to string a few things together and try to make her think a little bit more. She found it all very easy and really proved how confident she felt about ditches and drops!!

All in all a very good session! Plus we managed to just missed the rain!
She really proved how talented horses don't have to be difficult, by quietly standing to be tacked up/un-tacked and walking quietly and sensibly around inbetween jumps, plus she loads and travels like a dream! A welcome change from the sods I have to handle on a regular basis!

So now it a few weeks spent concentrating on flatwork (Mally will be most disappointed!) and then I'm thinking of entering a Hunter Trial on the 1st May, or a ODE on the 22nd May! Although this all depends on how things go in the next few weeks, especially at our Dressage on Sunday!!

Saturday, 9 April 2011

Mally gets set for take off!

Well, Mally's education has progressed at a rate of knots! For a horse that has been under saddle only 2 months, she already feels like a far more advanced horse.

Her canter is gorgeous and I could sit there all day whilst she boings along, her trot leaves a lot to be desired, but that will come with strength and her walk is good but prone to tenseness. We have lessons with Jenny Brown of Elms Farm, Costock and Mally is proving to be a VERY fast learner and lots of willingness to do everything that is asked of her. So as the basics are really coming along, I decided it was time for her to learn to jump!

Jumps have always featured in her education to add a bit of variety, but have so far been tiny raised trot poles, so now it was time to step them up a bit.

Mally thinks jumping is the most fun ever, second only to jumping in canter! She becomes a little rubber ball and pings all over the place looking for her next jump! She does however need to become slightly less cocky, as she find everything farrrrrr too easy and tries to ignore me as much as possible! Whilst I like my horses to think for themselves, she does take it a bit far!
So far she has met doubles, grids, skinnies, angled fences, spreads and fillers with the same 'let's go' attitude!

She also went XC schooling at Aylesford Cross Country Course, mainly for the 'off-road' hacking, but also to see some of the more scary XC questions she will face. Ditches, steps up and down, water and a step into water were all conquered with very little worrying on Mally's part!

So I am VERY pleased with how she is progressing, next week she will go XC schooling again, this time to do some jumps and then she has her very first competition on the 17th! A Walk & Trot Dressage Test at Vale View Equestrian, fingers crossed she copes with it in her usual manner!


So since I have now bored everyone I know with my witterings on, I thought I would expand into the world wide web!

Mally is my 5 year old Irish Sports Horse. She is by Mackney Clover (Clover Hill) and out of Laura Lee (Jamie Boy) and was bred by Padraigh Clarke in Ballinasloe, Ireland. She was then sold to a dealer that supplied the Army as a two year old. Unfortunately (or fortunately!) she didn't make the height required, despite being hung onto for an extra year, just in case, and was shipped over to Vicky Yoxall's yard in Cheshire.
It was there that I met and bought her in Dec 2010, as a 4 year old that had done absolutely nothing but sit in a field and grow! However, her temperament is second to none, and when I set about breaking her in she proved to be an absolute doddle - luckily as I've never broken in a horse before!!

 Below are a couple of pictures from Mally's original advert, it was the knees in the jumping shot that really caught my eye, nice and pingy!

And a more recent shot of her ladyship, trying on her spnagly white boots for the first time!
So this blog will hopefully document Mally and my own attempts at being eventers (well, playing at being eventers, as I doubt my confidence will reach the heady heights of BE Novice!!) and bore a few more people into the process!