Wednesday, 21 December 2016

I'm a film star!

Just received this cool video from Meadow Productions. They put it on the internet already so I don't have to do battle with our broadband to show you all! They include a video of the training as well to watch back. This is really useful to pick up on any comments missed and replay bits to see what Mark was picking up on. Always interesting to watch yourself on camera, close up and better quality then we usually manage so can really see what is going right or wrong.

Monday, 19 December 2016

Arena Eventing Training

Sunday was an interesting day, first I learnt how to take the new partition bar out of the shelter, got into Isla's side, cornered and kicked her until she got let out and I got left in on my own so I learnt how to take the slip rails off and escape....mother was not impressed! When she finally managed to catch me again from the far end of the field she gave me a quick clean up and put me on the horsebox.
Paige had bought us a lesson with Mark Cramb at Eland Lodge for Christmas. Mum spent the warm up trying to rev me up and find my big canter but once I was in the main arena I was on fire and she quickly lost the spurs. We started with a big cross pole which isn't my favourite type of fence as I'm not really sure what to do with me legs. Mum rode it pretty strongly in case I backed off so we promptly got told off for being a bit over enthusiastic. 
We very quickly moved on to tricky turns, angled fences and awkward lines but the only thing that really phased me was leaving the arena and going between the trees. Apparently the lines would be a bit easier if I didn't land 2 feet to the right of where I take off, mum's threatening more poles in the grids at home to try to discourage this. We got up to 1m and it was easy peasy!
When we got home Paige had a quick play with Isla and looks like they're starting to get their mojo back as well. All in all going hacking again on Monday was totally boring, we're arena eventing superstars don't ya know!

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Overworked pony

Well silly me thought I might get away with some time off whilst the van is at the horsebox hospital, how wrong could I be! Freya turned up bright and early on Tuesday morning and off we went on our own for a ride round the countryside. I'm not quite sure what happens when Freya rides me but somehow I find another gear and I managed to keep trotting most of the way round the long circuit. It's been a bit warm this week and I'm a bit fluffy again so got very sweaty. At least when I'm hairy I'm properly orange.

Managed to wrangle a couple of days off before mum crept upon me on Friday and made me jump grids at home. The bounce grid from last week was still up and quite fun but then mum changed it to 3 bigger jumps with canter poles in the middle, I was sure the first pole was going to eat me so just jumped the first part bigger and bigger to try and make it run away. The pole didn't get scared but mum sure did, she said I was a very good boy in between the swearing. Shame there's no video, think I was jumping the height of the wings by the time we finished!

Saturday we went for an early morning ride with Paige and Isla, we went a different way to normal which was a bit scary, especially when we got chased by a collie who tried to bite Isla. Isla doesn't kick dogs so me and mum had to chase it off then we sped off up the hill to get away from it....which set the cows off so we had a little race. We went across the short canter field towards home, I accelerated so fast I made mum scream which was funny because she still had her mouth open when she turned me in a circle behind Isla (to avoid running a walker down) and got a mouthful of mud. Isla and I decided not to jump the hedge we got turned at from gallop and returned to a bouncy jog for the rest of the "walk" home, not quite sure why all the cars we saw after that pulled over and turned their engines off?

Then yesterday Freya came again, mum said for once neither of us needed hacking so we had a bit of a play in the school. I was much happier about the size of the jumps so did some happy bouncing and bucking. Mum had set up an evil double of angled skinnies which was very confusing but I worked it out eventually, unlike Isla who kept jumping the wrong bit, hee hee, sometimes looking before you leap gives you time to think Isla!

Apparently I should be hacking again today but it's raining and mum has a big day at work tonight so she's retreated to the sofa. I meanwhile am working my way through my own body-weight in hay, apparently dressage horses are allowed to be a bit chubby and I'm not sure endurance or show-jumping are my thing after this week.

Thursday, 8 December 2016

Four Shires Netherton Hall

Isla's been out playing with the Four Shires Bloodhounds again. Thanks to various people for the photos on facebook.


off we go

 Quick breather to look at the view.

Give me my head mum I want to go faster!

that's better

 oh, we've finished, but I'm not tired mum! 

So apparently Isla is going onto reduced oats rations and a new set of brakes is being investigated, on the plus side Derbyshire's walls survived intact this time which is significant progress.

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Hargate BD 30.11.16

Must be the end of the qualifying period for dressage as we were out again today, luckily no washing today as the taps were frozen. This time we went to a new place called Hargate Equestrian, there were lots of arenas and some lovely people. There were some terrifying jumps, flowers and a cat next to the arena but mum told me under no circumstances was I allowed to spook at them so I managed to contain it to the odd sideways look, honestly, how does she know they weren't going to kill us? I decided to be a bit naughtier today to show my displeasure at going out twice in a week but overall Novice 38 went well for 68.39%, first place.
There may have been a slight disagreement over my first medium canter in Elementary 40, what can I say? I was so busy looking at the pony eating jumps I didn't hear mum the first or second time she asked for the transition up then bucked and tried to run off when she booted me in the ribs....oops. Overall though I am getting better at trotting like a posh pony and we got a very respectable 65.96% for 1st Bronze and 2nd overall.
We narrowly missed out on qualification for winter regionals but have two sets of test sheets for Novice Silver festivals and one test short for Elementary bronze, time for a break from dressage I think!

Friday, 25 November 2016

Field House BD 24th November

Sorry for the break, things have been more boring then usual here the last couple of weeks. We did go on a longer hack last weekend which Isla seemed to think was very exciting but mostly we've just been going up and down the road with Isla in tow except Wednesday when I got towed which wasn't much fun.

Yesterday we went to do dressage again, I was not impressed with the late start so took Isla's advice and tried biting to show my displeasure, this didn't go down very well so eventually I had to submit and be washed and plaited. Polo lady turned up and we set off to Field House.
The first test was novice 37, lets just say mum's not keen on that one but it mostly went nicely. My transitions into medium trot were better but I still can't maintain it for the full diagonal and I got a bit cross about the halt and rein back but my general trot work was better and medium canters kept the rhythm and straightness well. Mum was rather disappointed with our score of 63.57%, which was the same as a rather flashy but disobedient and unsettled horse we warmed up with, but all the comments were fair.
We had a bit of a break so I stood around in the school with my rug on seeing how much trouble I could get into, mum was a right spoilsport and said I wasn't allowed to knock the bin over or raid strangers pockets but I did manage to repeatedly rattle the partition to unsettle the competition.
Next we had a go at something called elementary 45, apparently mum hasn't done this before and I definitely haven't so it was a bit different. Some of the other horses in the warm up had an extra bit in their mouths which looks confusing and they were all a lot bigger then me but we were practising complicated stuff so I didn't have too much time to notice.
It started off nice and easy but we were soon into medium trot and some little circles, I was quite grateful to get into canter but was a bit confused by going straight from walk to canter in a test so took a moment to get my legs sorted. The working canter went well and the first medium but coming straight back to collected was a bit challenging so I had to do a trot stride, luckily the judge didn't notice! Then we did loads of collected which was really hard work and difficult to keep your legs in the right order but I did it and god was it a relief to go back to medium at the end of it.
Mum and polo lady were really pleased with how hard I concentrated and tried so I got lots of polos. Again only 63.97% but we came 4th in quite a strong class so not bad at all.
Our internet wont load all the video so there's a few bits here to show our first go at Elementary. Now I'm heading back out to the field for some hard earned grass.

Monday, 14 November 2016


Hi folks

We've been doing lots of jumping this weekend. Mum got the jumps out at home on Saturday.
They were a bit mucky so I helped clean them. I also knocked the top rails off just to make a point.
We went up to the school with Isla but she was feeling a bit stiff after being naughty for the physio so I got to play first while she loosened up. We jumped all the jumps both ways but I was a bit confused by the skinny double, mum insisted I go straight though so I jumped it. Mum was a bit confused about striding, she maintains that 12 yards is a two stride double but I maintain it's three, maybe one day we'll reach an agreement on that. I left them all up and didn't refuse any though so I got put back in the field whilst Isla got subjected to mini jumps whilst mum shouted at Paige about her position, honestly, something about pots and kettles springs to mind.

On Sunday I went to Speetley, it was cold but dry at least. In the 85cm I went clear and fast, it was great fun and I demanded lots of polos, unfortunately no rosette as mum somehow managed to turn before the finish line at the end, oops.
The 95cm was a bit scarier, the second half of the course was jump off height so a bit bigger. Mum seemed determined to get the "correct" number of strides between the jumps which seemed to mean telling me to take off early for the first one of each line, being surprised when I did, loosing her reins, then just clamping her legs on and clicking over the next two, god knows what she was up to, luckily I managed to work it all out for her so I got lots more polos.
I got a bit cross then as she'd promised one more round and home but we had to wait for our rosette (3rd), I was very good in the prize giving but may have done a bit of a donkey impression on the lap of honour as I wanted my tea!
No photographer unfortunately so you'll have to make do with selfies.

Tuesday, 8 November 2016

Four Shires opening meet

Good evening everyone, Isla here.

Managed to find a little moment in my hectic schedule to tell you about my weekend. It all started badly when we got left in the shelter after our breakfast on Saturday morning. One is far too busy for breakfast at the moment as we have only been in the top field a week or two and there are neighbours to re-introduce myself to, views to memorise and hedgerows to investigate, the other two just do not understand how important it all is! Anyway I digress, my staff have been locking me in to try to persuade me to finish my meals so I suspected that was what was going on but then the clippers came out, well, the shetland pony look is a little last season. Turns out I wasn't getting a smart hunter clip but only a blanket clip so I still look a bit fluffy but it's been so cold this week I guess it's a good idea really. Paige took me for a hack in the afternoon, which was more interesting then I would ever admit, new views to look at and some baby cows to meet. I spent the night babysitting Mango and watching the fireworks then it was breakfast time again. This time was even worse, washing and plaiting. Luckily my hunting tack then appeared which just about made up for all the whining about me not standing still.

When we got to the meet it was freezing cold but there were lots of horses and those strange looking hounds that I met a few weeks ago, apparently they are bloodhounds and they chase people rather then trails or foxes. It is quite different to the hunting I have watched before, there's no standing watching them look through the undergrowth for hours (interesting but chilly) but instead we have to have regular stops for the humans to have something called Port and lots of snacks, bit unfair if you ask me!

Eventually we set off walking across the first field, then the hounds set off, wow they go fast. We had to wait for the master as usual (boring) but then we set off after them, there were lots of jumps and to be honest I actually had to try to keep up which makes a pleasant change. Eventually I had to stop to help catch a pony that had managed to lose its rider (honestly, I told him, that doesn't help) but then we popped another little jump to join the hounds who were busy licking some man in shorts - humans and dogs really are disgusting sometimes!

We were out all day with a mixture of trotting along roads, galloping around fields (really need to practice galloping downhill, it's actually quite difficult and eventually I had to admit mother was right about slowing down at the top). I was mostly well behaved but I did have to gently nudge a few slow coaches out of the way. At one point I was just trotting along nicely when a big horse kicked me on the bottom for no reason, that hurt a bit and mum would not let me jump again after that which was a bit unfair, think I need to have words with him next time, everyone knows you keep your feet to yourself when hunting. Unfortunately I saw very little of the hounds, apparently they were puppies and were very fast so kept disappearing whilst I was waiting my turn at the jumps. All in all it was good fun.

I got some tasty grass when we got back then a huge pile of rugs to keep me warm and some drugs to help my bruised bottom so I feel great now. Even better my feet have had a good trim so shouldn't have to do quite so much boring hacking this week. Anyway I have work to do, now I know what makes all that noise up the valley I have to figure out how to get to where the bloodhounds live.

Friday, 4 November 2016

Tracks, Jumps and Dressage

Well I've been a busy boy this week.

We went trick or treating on Halloween, the tricks included a ghost disguised as a pile of slates wrapped in plastic which mum insisted I sniff (much to the concern of the lady trying to walk past) anyway I was right, when I sniffed it it rustled hence proving my point. I saved the day with a spooktacular sideways rear and bolt, cue more eye rolling from mother, honestly she's never grateful! There were some nice treats as well though like a mouthful of blackberries out of the hedge and some pretty scenery to admire, sometimes hacking alone isn't all bad.

Chief pony holder came to visit in his other role of chief groundsman. Apparently my antics the week before had brought forward the plans to clear the rest of cutting, see they just needed a little push in the right direction (that would be the humans and the scaffolding poles that were keeping us out). There was an awful lot of banging, rustling and revving of the tractor but in the end we were allowed in to have a play. Of course the first thing I did was check out whether we could get onto the embankment as well but the pony proofing there looks quite secure.

It was all quite fun until Isla disappeared, I quickly searched both fields and called her then whilst I was busy checking the shelter she appeared out from under the bridge, thank god for that!

Yesterday we went to Field House again to do more dressage, this time polo lady came too - yippee. I wasn't quite ready for the first test (Novice 23) so was lacking a little impulsion - 66.88% was a fair mark. We worked really hard before the second test and I really concentrated and stopped being silly, mum decided to try not dropping her stick as I was being sensible then clean forgot the halt at the beginning AND when she did halt forgot which hand her stick was in! We got 65.71% with the penalties for numptiness, mum was a bit disappointed with the mark but really pleased with me for how hard I tried, lets face it Novice 37 isn't our best test. 
Then it all got a bit confusing, mum went to speak to a nice lady who said we could borrow the jumps as they were out, so quick tack change and we had a play whilst everyone was in the cafe having their lunch. I was a really good boy, I didn't spook and jumped everything, even when mum missed I just took off early - it was actually really fun but my was I hot by the time we'd finished! The nice lady noticed my feet too, she didn't think they looked ugly, she said there's no point having a straight hoof unless the leg's straight, not stupid she was!

Anyway now I'm home, mum's made me go hacking today and I was so tired I didn't even have the energy to keep her safe from the chainsaws or leaves, luckily they didn't spot us. I did however manage to escape back to the field with my tack on so now she's tired too from chasing me.

Friday, 28 October 2016

Princess Isla

Apparently my girlfriend is feeling a bit left out so I guess it's time to introduce Isla, or Silver Arabesque to give her her full title, these days she likes to be known as Princess which to be honest suits her pretty well!

Isla is an 18 year old 15.1hh Irish Sport Horse. She's lived with the family for 12 years having been bought initially for mums little sister. Isla and her first jockey didn't quite see eye to eye on a lot of things, so after mum got bored of breaking up their domestics she started taking Isla with her to vet school each term. They've been together ever since as "no-one else would have her" (I'll leave you to decide if I'm talking about the horse or rider there).

Isla started her career as an event horse in 2005, unfortunately she's never really got the hang of the "submission" and "harmony" bits of dressage but she loves galloping and jumping so she very quickly worked her way up to pre-novice (BE100) and has even had a few goes at Novice courses but mum wasn't much good at showjumping 1.15m. She's won quite a few showjumping classes, especially indoors where the walls help contain her speed a bit, has had a few placings British Eventing and came 3rd at the Pony Club championships in the associates arena event (shall we mention she'd have won it if she slowed down a bit?).

Unfortunately Isla started having problems with her feet when she was eight. She's been diagnosed with various issues at various times related to her front feet, what would traditionally be known as Navicular Syndrome. Being owned by a vet she mostly managed to keep going with the aid of various remedial farriers, drugs and a careful exercise regime. She had a long break whilst mum did her finals which didn't do her much good but when she went to a hunter trial in 2010 she told mum exactly what she thought of being semi-retired by being stupid around the smaller fences at the start and jumping the big ones at the end beautifully.
She came back and did a full season at BE100 in 2011 before breaking again, and again coming back and showing off around a huge unaffiliated course at Eland Lodge, followed by managing a PB finishing score of 36.5 round a tough BE100 at the first Frickley Park BE event.

Early in the 2013 season she went lame again though and this time whilst all the usual tricks improved the lameness every time she got a bit fitter it got worse again. This is where yours truly appeared on the scene. When I met Isla she had just had her shoes taken off to try and transition her to being my companion, she was crippled. Mum was really upset that maybe it wasn't fair to carry on with her but had just come across a place called Rockley Farm who manage to consistently turn these horses around. Isla had just a bit of money left in her "colic fund" so rather then put her down mum used this to send her to stay for a few months. On her last day there she went for a hack and nearly threw mum off she was so full of herself!

Isla being Isla was very keen to get back to it, her feet still weren't quite up to doing lots of miles or uneven surfaces but she made her feelings about further rehab known by escaping the field and loading herself into the horsebox one day so mum relented and re-introduced some fun.

 She was back eventing 4 months after her return from Rockley, she went 70 seconds too fast at her first event back without breaking a sweat and managed several sub 40 finishing scores at BE90 that summer. She came out the following spring and took over a minute off the optimum at the festival of the horse qualifier with the handbrake on and managed to come 2nd at Burghley (Pony Club event).

It's taken a couple of years to get her feet as strong as mine, she has a stiff back and her lungs aren't great but she's had no further problems with her "navicular". She isn't quite crazy enough to keep jumping through the pain these days, some days she says she doesn't want to play so mum has stopped paying lots of money to take her BE and reduced the height of the jumps a bit. She does still like an outing though and has recently acquired a new jockey to traumatise teach the joys of galloping at solid obstacles to (good luck Paige). She's a sensitive princess but she says she isn't quite ready to retire just yet!