Thursday, 18 August 2011

Shelford Manor BE90

Shelford Manor was mine and Mally's second BE90. It's not an event I have ever had any experience of, but I shall definitely make the effort to return! The ground was just fantastic given the drought we are currently in the midst of, plenty of grass cover and alongside watering and aerovating, I had no worries running Mally on it.
Walking the XC the day before, I thought it was a fairly straightforward course, nice and flat, with a few questions. There was a corner which concerned me slightly as Mally has never met a proper corner before! and a few meatier fences, which I tried hard no to obsess over! My plan of action was to trust her steering and accuracy when it came to questions, and just keep kicking on!

So on to the actual day, I began warming up for Dressage and instantly knew it wouldn't be a good score! We haven't done much proper schooling recently due to lack of time, and she warmed up fighting me every inch of the way! The test itself was certainly not her best and the judge agreed, giving us 43, which put us last!!

Had a short break and caught up with my friend also competing, who warned me it was very easy to miss out No8 in the SJ, as she had just done! So I mooched over with Mally a bit early to watch a few rounds and refresh my memory, only to have the first few miss out No8 or fall off, and completely confuse me!
After making sure I had the right course, I warmed up and Mal was flying, so only popped a few and went it. She jumped a beautiful round, I was so chuffed with how grown up she felt! I even managed to jump ALL the jumps in the right order, although I was so busy congratulating myself for remembering No8 that No 9 snuck up on me and I buried Mal in the bottom of it, so we ended up with just 4 faults - which she didn't deserve!

A quick change and onto the XC, again Mal warmed up fabulously! Practised angling the roll top a few times to make sure she was switched on and we went to the start box.
Mal decided to remind me early on she was a baby, and went green going over the first few, by fence 4 she was getting into the swing of it, and by 6 she was flying! She stormed around after that, jumped the corner brilliantly and flew the drop-sharp left-skinny combination very professionally!
The last fence looked enormous to me, but we got a super stride to it and it felt like she was flying! So finished with big grins on our fences. We must have been motoring as despite a sticky start, we only got 4TPs.
Nomad Horse Washers were sponsoring the BE90 sections, so had provided washers to use free of charge at the finish. They were wonderful, but unfortunately I couldn't persuade anyone to buy me one!

Found out today the we finished 15 out of about 25 starters on a score of 51, so although it's not wonderful, I am over the moon with her.

Eland Lodge Unaff ODE a week on Sunday is our next venture, then we may attempt one more BE90 before the end of the season, and then Mally gets a well earned rest before starting her other job of being a hunter gets under way!

Monday, 1 August 2011

Stafford BE90

My aim for the last couple of years has been to do a BE90. I knew Mal was more than capable but thought she wouldn't be ready until next year, but mal being Mal was more than ready this year. SO I decided to give Stafford (2) BE90 a go as it is a gorgeous course and a favourite of mine for a while.
Walking it, I was pleased to have chosen it, gorgeous ground and a beautifully presented course. Thought it would require a bold horse, but Mally is so confident normally I wasn't bothered. A few turns to skinnies that concerned me as I steering is still a work in progress!

Due to being 'local' and entering as soon as entries opened, I was up at 3am (!!!!!) Friday morning, a time I have only seen from the other side, when stumbling into bed. Mally was less than pleased to be dragged out of bed and then have her hair fiddled with, she and I are very similar in a lot of ways.

Arrived in plenty of time, and started working Mally in for Dressage. Recently I've been riding her in spurs to get her used to them for the jumping parts, but decided to leave them off for Dressage and she can over-react to them slightly. Think it paid off as she was fairly accepting of my leg and we definitely had less tail swishing than normal, perhaps she has realised there are worse things to be kicked by than my leg.
I decided to canter her around whilst waiting for the judge to beep, as this normally makes her settle in trot better. I rode her in the outline she does the majority of her work in, a bit longer and lower than the rest of the horses there, but it kept her far more relaxed and I was happy with the test. A few bit that could have been better, I need to ask for downward transitions better and ride my canter transition in the correct corner

Was really pleased with a 39, improved on her previous performances but I know it can be better.

On to Show Jumping, and with KC's 'look at your fences, allow the line to become natural' and 'scoop her up with your legs' ringing in my ears I proceeded to ride like a muppet in the warm up
Into the ring and she was brilliant, I really felt like we got it right. There were a couple of sticky bits where she had to help me out, but because I hadn't killed her canter she could and we jumped clear.

To say I was chuffed is a slight under statement!

Got changed and went down to the XC, and made my first mistake, put my stirrups up a hole when they were already at XC length. Ignored how short they felt and carried on.

Mally flew the first fence, googled at the flowers on the second fence but jumped it, round the corner and up the mound to the skinny-ish log and was really pleased with how she jumped it! Galloped at some people, but they got out the way, and over 4, 5 was a big brush and I thought Mal would over-jump it, as she always does with brush!
She did a lovely jump, but took off early and I got mighty left behind! Slipped my reins and then had no control on landing, headed for the crowd and just managed to turn in time!
I think the jump over the brush rattled us both and I got Mal back far too much and then didn't kick on. She would normally ignore me and go anyway, but she went green and stopped. Turned and jumped it fine the second time, but then carried on being green and wobbly, nearly dumped me on the floor (not helped by mega short stirrups!) she shot so quickly to the side, but carried on jumping as long as I kicked on.
Next combination I did exactly the same thing, killed all forward momentum and she stopped. Jumped it fine second time and started to get back into the swing of it.
Fairly stormed around the next few, including two skinnies on a straight line, jumped through what is normally the water (but was empty!) fabulously, through the sunken road perfectly (more on that later!) and finished with her confidence back to normal.

I felt really disappointed in myself, even more so when I was washing her off and my OH which fence it was I had jumped the wrong part of and was therefore Eliminated for! Coming through the sunken road, I was so busy looking at the last fence that I turned and jumped out the PN step, I hadn't even realised to be able to turn back and jump the right bit!

So felt mega pants after that! However I have a list of positives now to stop me for being such a miserable whinge bag...
- I am started to feel like I can actually ride my horse
- The Dressage was a definite improvement
- The Show Jumping was HUGELY improved and was clear!
- Mally will stop if she is wrong. I was worried she was so bold she would always jump and get herself in trouble, but now I know she can stop (these were her first ever stops)
- The green moments were perfectly justified, she is only 5 and only been broken since feb, but she felt like she grew in confidence by the end and she doesn't know we jumped the wrong bit!
- The fences she stopped at she jumped brilliantly the second time, so it didn't rattle her too much and next time I can trust her steering more and kick on.
- First BE90 was technically completed (I rode through the finish flags, even if i did get E'd) so on to the next one where I will jump all the right fences in the right order and I WILL kick!

Recieved my CD of photos from the wonderful Bill Parrott, who always manages to get a snap of the jump you want a picture of! But they are such good quality my computer is taking a lifetime to upload them, so you'll just have to wait!

Help with Schooling Your Horse.

I, like many people, can't afford to have regular lessons, so do the majority of my schooling alone. Usually I warm up, do a few minutes of work, get stuck for ideas and give up having not really acheived a huge amount!

But after finding this blog...

... I have made some breakthroughs in Mally's work! First was my contact issues, I was aware it was a problem, but not sure how to go about tackling it. I saw the article on Lorraine's Blog and became determined to do something about it. After only two sessions Mally is far more consistant in the contact and far less ready to jump into canter as I don't fiddle with my reins every 5 secs!

I highly recommend it as a blog to follow!

Arena Eventing at Vale View

Had entered Vale View's Arena Eventing last week, convinced it was on the Saturday and organised cover for my lessons as such... however half way through the week I realised it was today! So quickly cancelled cover and decided I could compete in the morning and teach my lessons which didn't start until 1pm.

So arrived as early as possible and ran around the course, which hadn't actually been finished! Following my Stafford debacle I wasn't feeling confident about remembering where to go given how twisty it was!!

Warmed up and went in first, got an awful shot at the first, I went long before Mally did and generally rode like a twerp for the SJ, including losing my way after 6 (luckily 7 magically appeared in front of me!) and taking a flyer at 5. Miraculously Mally managed to just have 1 down and we lolloped off around the XC part.

Given how terrified she was at one of the XC fences near the warm up I didn't hold much hope, but she really was a brave Mally Pants! She was ace, so honest, there were so many turns and skinny fences and she never once really gave me cause for concern. First time we've had to jump a fence in water and she didn't bat an eyelid, she also did all the 'harder' options and didn't make me regret it!

Didn't bother waiting to see how we'd done, given we tootled around and had a fence down and there were a number of whizzy ponies warming up, but Mally did manage to come away with some treats and a rather swish new Anky pad in UltraMarine.

And a video (there are more if anyone cares to investigate!)


I had been looking forward to EHOA Camp for a LONG time, when I first got Mally, one of the things I was really looking forward to was having a 'normal' horse and going to lots of training.
So after a fairly sleepless night (far too excited!) I had an early start to set off ready for two days of lessons with JP Sheffield and Kenneth Clawson.

Arrived at 9 and with my first lesson at 10 I had plenty of time to get unpacked and set up, especially as Wonder Mum was on hand to help, for once in my life I was super organised and had everything packed in boxes and I was kipping on an airbed, so had no tent to put up.
Instantly Mally went in the good books, walked straight into the tiny temp stable and set about eating

Got tacked up and set off for our first session with Kenneth, Flatwork and Poles. Moot was a bit of a pleb at first but after a canter she settled down and did some nice work, which is usually the case! Kenneth had us working on riding with elegance, imagining a mirror at every corner and using it to keep ourselves straight, in a rhythm and preparing for the corners. Such a simple exercise and yet it instantly made a huge difference to my riding! Our corners were consistantly rubbish and my riding into downward transitions was awful, but we didn't seem to disgrace ourselves!
Then we progressed to get the canter strides nice and even, so had to get 14 and 16 even strides between K&H or M&F, Mally and I like to ponce about in canter, so we got 16 very easily, but we managed 14 in the end.

Then we had to ride over some poles and stay on the specific colour all the way through, despite Idiot rider getting left and right wrong fairly constantly Mally was a star.

Very pleased with how the first session went, plenty to work on, keeping a good contact and improving transitions being the main things!
Kenneth also made a point of giving me some ideas for teaching my own lesson once he found out I was a Riding Instructor, which was a lovely bonus!

XC with JP followed, with the session focussing on Judging Speed and Water. After getting 2 minutes worth of TP at Draycott, I was interested to see how we got on with judging speed, but we managed to get it fairly well, so I'm even more sure something went wrong with the timings, hey ho!
Mally was ace, no problems what so ever, including little things like being left alone whilst others cantered off, switching off whilst we where standing still and jumping whatever she was told to. Practised getting even strides and discipline, so halting after fences, which Mally was very well behaved about! Got told off once again for having long reins, so something I really need to work on!
Then dinner at JP's, which involved large amounts of wine for a few of us! Being first up for a lesson at 8.30 the rest of my group were sensible and left early, I however was not! I woke up feeling a touch tender, however if you'd asked me on Thursday morning how I felt, I would have said 'Fine' in as cheery voice as possible, I was determined not to let on to all the sensible people just how rough I felt!

Once I got on I felt much better, so set off for SJ Course practise with Kenneth, and once again Mal was a super star! Really felt like I finally understood how to ride her and when I got it right she was fantastic! KC had us jumping a single filler stand on it's own and then on one stride to an upright, then one stride after an upright and finally 3 curving strides after an oxer. Mal can get away from me and run out at times, so I thought we would have problems, but she suddenly decided listening to me was a much better idea than going it alone and she jumped it really well everytime! I was so pleased with her, given I have done no work on skinnies with her, she made it all feel quite easy! We jumped a course and as long as I keep the canter going and don't rush her into a fence when I think I've got it wrong, we're ok!

Our second XC session with JP carried on from the previous one, he got us jumping a few fences strung together and despite an awful line to the last two fences Mally jumped brilliantly! JP told me to stop holding her and kick on a bit more but further out from the fences as it would help her scope no end, and although I knew that's what I needed to do, it wasn't until someone actually said it to me that I did it. It made such a huge difference, so chuffed to bits once more.
We went back to the water and progressed up from a titchy step in, to doing three big steps in. Mal took me by surprise at this point as she has done lots of jumping into water, but suddenly went green and hesitated! Obviously as it was Moot, it didn't last long and she did jump in, and after a few repeats she went in fine!
Onto ditches and again, Mal who has never jumped extravagantly in her entire life, went into orbit over the bloody thing! So we were sent back and forth until she calmed down, which she did.

Verdict was, nice horse get some spurs. Despite always riding my other horse in spurs I've never tried with Mal as she is such a baby, but she can go a bit behind my leg at times and it's normally when I need her to be listening most!

So pleased I went, KC and JP were fantastic and any opportunity I get to have a lesson off either of them in the furture, I will! Mally really made me proud, I got lots of lovely comments about her.
Have also got the entire thing on DVD as Sara from was there for the two days and it's brilliant to be able to go back a remind myself what exactly it was I was supposed to be working on!