Friday, 26 May 2017

Post event blues and stressage

Since we got back from Badminton life has all been a bit of an anti-climax. I let Isla run the place for a few days before informing her that actually I was in charge. Mum has been busy at work then a bit under the weather so I have mostly been eating and chasing girls (they love it really). Last week mum said it was time to do some work again as a) my feet looked scruffy b) I may have forgotten how to do dressage (hey, it takes constant training to remain that fit and supple) and c) the invisible monsters in hedgerows had reappeared (not sure what this has to do with me having a rest).

The result was lots of school work, a bit of cursing and both of us sweating buckets.

On Saturday it became apparent what this was in aid of, the horsebox came out, I legged it but mum was insistent so it was grooming and plaiting and off to a party.

Area Festivals

We turned up at a new venue and the beautiful sunshine quickly gave way to rain which aptly reflected my mood. Turns out it wasn't easy eventing dressage with the promise of jumping it was the real thing, posh trotting against posh horses. I wasn't very impressed, my shoulder was a bit stiff and I did not want to tuck my nose in or "lighten my forehand". After 40 minutes solid work we reached a compromise and managed a pretty respectable 65.63% to come 10th in the Novice Silver section and qualify for the second rounds in the autumn. I even got to do a lap of honor which was fun though mum was a bit suspicious that after 3 hours stood on the horsebox I no longer had a stiff shoulder....busted!

The next day we were at it again, at least polo lady was there this time. I had to admit I wasn't stiff so offered to behave in the warm up, that was difficult to keep up as mum made it harder and harder doing fancy tricks and quick changes between short bouncy paces and big posh ones, wow that's hard work!
Into the arena and it was all a bit quick and complicated, I think I just about managed to keep up and mum was really pleased with me that I tried hard and was brave enough to try some medium trot. The judges loved my medium canter which we'd been practicing in our last lesson but apparently going backwards on the bit in a straight line still isn't any good if you don't move your legs in the right order and since when was I supposed to go sideways in the arena, I've always got told off for that before?!?
We came 9th and got another frilly but just missed out on qualifying as only got 61.76% and we needed 62. Apparently polos are not related to marks luckily and I got lots for trying hard.

Piece of advise to all ponies out there, DO NOT go badly after a week off then well after schooling 3 days in a row! Mum has now come to the conclusion that giving me a quiet June so she can concentrate on "the wedding" and princess Isla is not necessarily going to be the best idea so we're back to ride and lead hacks which are seriously dull as we have to avoid main roads and do what Isla says.

Monday, 8 May 2017


Wow has it really been over three weeks without telling you about me! The last couple of weeks in April were a bit of a blur, we took Isla on our last training hack which may have been a bit silly, turns out all this work has been paying off, I can keep up with her now and our jockeys were not best pleased by us racing over hills and rocks (at least that's what they tried to tell us but the big grins told a different story). Fitness work done with it was time to hit the school, I still had a few things to say about "upping my game" on the flat but the jumping exercises were fun and by our last lessons with both trainers we were starting to get the hang of it all. We ran through the tests at Tim's and picked up some tips on making it look more professional and went and jumped a course with Nic at Speetley.
Monday morning came around a lot quicker then was really necessary and I did not want to get out of bed, the presence of my show head-collar did not help.
After a lot of grooming I got loaded into a very full looking horsebox and we set off to somewhere called Badminton for the Mitsubishi Motors Cup BE90 Championships.
When we got there I got put in a stable that had grass on the floor, happy days! Unfortunately mum didn't reappear for over an hour by which time there was no grass and I was a bit cross. We went for a hack with Paige which was quite fun, especially as lots of other horses appeared to be doing stressage in the field.
On Tuesday we did Dressage, I felt great and mum managed not to interfere to much, everyone seemed very happy with the result. We finished the dressage in 62nd place, which sounded a bit naff until someone explained there were 107 of the best grassroots horses in the country here!

Back to my stable for some well earned polos and a rest, that was a bit of an easy day wasn't it? Must be something else happening tomorrow.

Wednesday morning was rather windy and everyone was very excited about something. I have to admit I was a bit naughty for auntie Paige when she took me for a walk so I got put back in my stable fairly promptly. Mum was a total spoilsport, she wouldn't even let me assault the polo lady for sweets whilst I was being plaited and groomed. When she got on we went for a wander round which was rather exciting, we watched two other ponies remove their jockeys before they even made it to the warm up and one jump out the arena, what fun! Apparently I wasn't allowed to watch anyone else after that in case I got ideas so we had to go and do some boring schooling. When it was our turn to go in the warm up I was sooo excited, there were loads of people around so I showed off my best leaps in the air and pinged over whatever jumps got in my way, mum even took her spurs off but auntie Paige looked a bit white for some reason. Into the ring and there were so many people there to see me it was great. Unfortunately mum and I couldn't quite agree on an appropriate pace and a couple of poles may have ended up on the floor but we got round and I didn't spook at all the people or flappy flags or the horse that came in when I was half way round, I think I was quite a good boy really.

The cross country warm up was a bit scary but now I knew what was going on I was pretty relaxed, I love cross country these days so we just warmed up and off we went. The course started off nice and bold, I could gallop and see where I was going, mum said I needed to look at number four but I had already looked and knew what I was doing. There's some cool footage of number five here Fence 5 Slo Mo thanks to Nic Barker. Things started to get a bit more interesting at Fence 8, mum insisted I slowed down to look what I was doing and initially I thought she was just being boring but I soon learnt as we went around that it wasn't always obvious and I needed to check out what was going on when she told me to as there were some very different jumps to what we have done before.

Having got the hang of looking where I was going it was great, there were plenty of interesting questions but nothing we couldn't handle, I got to do some galloping and even managed to take a stride out at the table to catch mum out, I am such a clever boy! When we got to something called the lake there were soo many people there to watch me, I showed them my posh trotting
We had to slow down towards the end as the beeping thing on mum's hand kept going off at the wrong time so by the end I wasn't even out of puff. It was all such fun I wanted to do it all again. Unfortunately mum gave me to Paige to take me off on my own as I wanted to go back into the big park to meet all my adoring fans...apparently that wasn't allowed but some of them came back to the box to see me and give me sweets. We came 50th in the end which was in the top half of some seriously classy combinations, apparently we would have come 12th without the poles on the floor and got an extra rosette but I think that would be greedy, surely one is enough?
I spent the rest of the week chilling in my stable, I made some new friends called Clippy from World Horse Welfare and Mangoberry from Willberry Wonder Pony, watched lots of planes take off and ate my way through 3 bales of hay. Now I am home and chilling with the mares, Isla thinks she is back in charge but that's fine, she can think what she wants, I am the super star I always thought I might be!

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Isla at Norton Disney

So the princess got to have an outing at the weekend without me, humph! She was bathed which appeared to displease her.

Washed again, and plaited by auntie Paige for a change. Then off they went and left me behind for the day!

They went to Norton Disney to do the Blankney Hunt Pony Club 80cm one day event. The girls kept it together well after the dressage judge rather rudely decided to take his tea break early so they ended up going in ten minutes late. There were some nice moments with a few 7s and even a 6 for her free walk but an unlucky mistake in the second canter and tense medium walk brought her marks down a bit. 39.4 not bad at all by Isla's standards. 

Warmed up for the showjumping well, made a mess of the first fence then went really well until 7 which somehow Isla ended up in the middle of, originally we thought she'd tried to stop but having watched the video we think the sun popped through the clouds and reflected off the pole or something because she appears to just not see it properly, sorry Isla, falsely accused! They did well to pick up and kick on to the next decent oxer and finish the rest of the course clear.

Bit of a wait for the cross country but again Paige did really well in the warm up, even managed on her own. They were certainly concentrating hard on learning the course!

Unfortunately the camera decided not to save most of the round but it was very smooth and professional, nice even rhythm and just missed the odd stride when they both started eyeing up 100cm fences instead of concentrating. Unfortunately 30 seconds under the optimum so another 6 penalties but would have upset their round to try and go any slower.

Very proud of the girls for their joint effort and lack of hysterics, keep it up!

Saturday, 15 April 2017

Eland Lodge 14.4.17

Bloody hell, my little legs don't know what's hit them.
Since my last update we've been out poncing around at Brackenhurst College. We did two elementary tests for the first time getting 63.59% in E43 and 63.04% in E50 which apparently with our results from the autumn qualifies us for the Petplan Area Festivals after the big party at the Mitsubishi Motors Cup (Badminton) in a couple of weeks. We also got two blue rosettes to add to our collection.
Then we've been out hacking AGAIN, my feet are starting to look a little less rotten but have been a little bit sore with all the spring grass so we're onto our summer paddock and even more minerals.
Mum and Tim have been getting a bit stricter about my flatwork too, apparently sticking my nose out and dropping my shoulders is not allowed and I should know better, so I lifted my shoulders up, tucked my nose in and waved my front feet in the air, apparently that isn't right either!
Mum continued the new stricter dressage rules into our event yesterday, she made me work harder and I got a bit cross but the judge seemed to like it - 68% definitely an improvement on our last few outings, just lost a few marks as mum got confused by the arena not being quite square and couldn't get her shapes right. Even more pleasing the judge liked my trot which is the bit I've been struggling with so hopefully we're getting there.

Straight onto the showjumping and they were a touch smaller then the last two times out, jumped round clear, easy peasy, even got the correct 2 strides in the double which felt great!

There was quite a wait for the xc to get started, I did some walking around but also did some bouncing to show the little grey pony how to do it properly. We warmed up then stood talking to the steward, mum said I was naughty at the start (no idea what she's talking about) so they sent an extra steward to walk me down which was very nice of them. Anyway I was perfect until they got into the count down when I couldn't contain myself any more so stood right up on my back legs and jumped out of the front of the box at warp speed. The first few were great, had a little look at the new water but just one trot stride into it, cleared the new ditch and brush by miles which was a mistake as the landing was very hard. After that mum started slowing me down, apparently I was too fast which is a first. That made us miss a few strides but mostly is was great fun, I even cantered through the second water and got the right striding in all the combinations. The end came far too soon and I didn't want to stop, this is definitely a first, maybe all that hacking is starting to pay off.
Mum took me home and went back to collect my rosette - 5th place in the end, not bad but apparently still need to work on my dressage if I'm not going to disgrace myself at Badminton....stuff that I'm sleepy!

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Training for mind, body and feet

With one month to go to the big competition mum is on some sort of mission to get us into shape, whilst the pilates mat doesn't appear to have made it out of the cupboard yet we have been racking up the miles and hitting the school like never before.

Tim rode me a couple of weeks ago as mum and I had reached a slightly frustrating plateau on the flat. I wasn't naughty but I decided to be very loyal and not go any better for him then mum....that was a bad plan, over an hour and several changes of tactics later and he just kept making it harder and harder when I wouldn't give in. Humph! Anyway I've been really good for mum since and Tim was really impressed at the progress we'd made in our next lesson so I got to finish a bit early but not until after I mastered something called simple changes - nothing simple about them if you ask me!

Mum is still rather paranoid about my feet, she's currently cleaning them twice a day and having, she hopes, finally got on top of the thrush she's now determined to grow out the worst of the damage before anyone sees them. She's taking this to a whole new level, the extra food to help them grow is great but we've done over 25 miles in the last 7 days to try and keep me trim and strengthen my footsies. On the plus side it means some different scenery and cantering along the high peak trail is getting easy peasy even if those damn hills don't get any less steep.

Then Nic has been as well and practiced our jumping again, the main lesson is mum needs to make up he mind and sort my canter as soon as we land, not 2 strides later. We were struggling with doubles last time but so much better today. It is very confusing jumping at home, I have to think really quickly in the small arena and they keep changing the order the jumps are in which is most unreasonable.

After all that I think I need a rest, good job it's physio tomorrow then mum's back at work for a couple of days. Here's a little picture of me exploring the new feed room to finish off.

Monday, 27 March 2017

Barefootin' it

Mum has been trying to work out the best way to tackle the questions that arise from my feet at pretty much every outing, luckily auntie Nic has done it for her! You can buy her new book Performance Hoof Performance Horse in various ways via amazon or her blog.

Do it now, cause barefeet give you wings!

Whilst we're on the topic don't forget to watch Healthy Hooves if you haven't already - starring yours truly.

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Lincolnshire Horse Trials

Last Friday we went eventing AGAIN, 3 events in 4 weeks is a bit unreasonable if you ask me. Anyway early start and off we went, dressage was in gale force winds, I did a bit of jumping about but actually felt better then I have done recently, even managed some posh trotting between chasing that pretty bay thoroughbred and escaping from the plastic bags in the hedge. Showed the judge my jumping ability over the patch of sand and had a bit of trouble with the immobility bit of the halt (I was getting blown over), mum said actually the bits in between weren't bad but 37.5 certainly wasn't my best mark ever....oops.

Straight onto showjumping and mum started without spurs as she wasn't sure she could hold me with them. Then she put them on and missed into the oxer, saved her ass by going for the long one then made sure to tell her off by bucking round the warm up for a bit. Anyway, we went into the ring and they were huge, with flowers, in the wind. I sucked it up and jumped the first well, cantered so boldly down to the second we got there before mum had finished counting strides, that confused her so she froze and I went through it. Three was scary, it had blue flags on it so I cleared it by a foot just in case. four was easier but forgot to pick my back feet up so that came down too, oh dear. By the time we missed into the double I thought I better start leaving them up so I tried really hard and cleared it, sorted myself out at the scary number 6 by shortening two strides out so we ended up right then cleared the last 3 really well.

Over to the cross country, I was very excited, had 6 pees and 2 poos in the warm up just to make sure I was ready to gallop, managed to behave going to the start box and we were off.
One - easy peasy, Two I wasn't very sure about the white jump wings, only saw the brush at the last minute which was pretty big so had to go through the top and scratched my toes a bit. Three ok, got a bit close and decent size but made it. Then we had to canter through a farmyard and along a wooded track...hmm, perhaps some trotting is required. 4,5 and 6 were a bit hairy, in the woods and not much time to see them. Got back into our rhythm out the woods and flew the trekenher with the scary yellow flowers, into the angled double fine, didn't quite understand the table on the curving line out so I chipped in a cheeky stride...remind me not to do that over maximum dimension tables, had to stretch for it. There were a couple more big fences that jumped well then the water, jumped straight in but didn't realise I was supposed to turn left over the skinny brush so had to jump it from trot and scratched my toes again. Back into gallop, mum messed up the angle of the double a bit but I sorted it out then there was a big brush, no way was I scratching my feet again so I cleared it, nearly lost mum out the back door!

Rest of the course went fairly well, mum missed a few but I'd worked out that the long one is generally the better bet so flew them. Not only were we clear, I was 5 seconds under the time - first time I'd even got the time at this level then 5 seconds under despite a look at the farm yard and water, this galloping lark is fun!

No rosette with a finishing score of 45.5 but everyone was really proud of me for jumping the big jumps, going the straight routes and going past all the scary flowers.