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!

Sunday, 23 October 2016


I've received a request for Emy's story so here it is.

Hello I'm Emy, or Northern Mazurka to give me my full title, I am 26 years old, 15hh and like Mango thought to originate from Ireland. I came into this family via the yard of a dealer who had fallen ill, we'd all been left to fend for ourselves before being distributed around various yards for selling. I was quite traumatised by all this and I'm ashamed to say I was a "bit of a handful" once I had some good food in me. After a while though I reached an understanding with my young jockey and together we had all sorts of fun for a few years. I was quite a handy show-jumper winning a few classes BSJA and jumped consistent double clears eventing at what was then called Pre-Novice (BE100), so long as there were no evil horse eating ditches (or mum fired me at them so fast I was in the air before I noticed them). Dressage wasn't really my thing but a spot of hunting always went down well.

Unfortunately after a few years I started having problems with my back legs and after best part of a year trying different vets and treatments a lady in Newmarket said my suspensory ligaments had gone and I was no good for riding or breeding, as I was only 12 years old at this point my future hung in the balance somewhat. Lucky for me my jockey's dad has a bit of a soft spot for me and took marvellous care of me for many years until it was decided I'd be happier living with other horses and moved in with my old friend Isla and the little upstart Mango. My new home is much better for me, my legs are much less stiff and my feet stay in trim on the track, even my lungs seem to work better here, if only my friends would stop taking advantage of my mellowing with age to push me out the shelter, I'd have kicked them into next week for that stunt a few years ago. So that's my story, my job these days is to look after Mango when Isla is out of sight and keep the grass in trim, think I can manage that alright.

Norton Disney

Good Morning

It's a lovely morning here so thought I'd catch up with the weeks events whilst watching the girls sunbathing.

Things went downhill after our jumping session last Sunday, we all got pinned down and yucky paste shoved down our throats, apparently having zero egg counts all year isn't enough to get us out of this ritual torture, we've had bot eggs on our legs all summer and mum's a bit concerned about tapeworms with the girls both losing weight (maybe I should stop hogging the hay).

Monday didn't get much better, I got dragged in and groomed before the clippers came out, this took ages whilst mum fiddled around trying to work out why they were pulling at my hair but eventually got them working so now I'm naked and mum's orange. Apparently this process will be a lot easier once we get some stables built and can get out of the wind. This was followed by lots of banging and crashing from the shed while she tried to identify a suitable rug for me, apparently my usual one rubs my mane which cannot be allowed to happen this winter (bla bla badminton bla bla) so I'm in Emy's old one for now, seriously think it's about time I had my own rug rather then hand me downs from granny! The up side of this is Emy's in Islas pink rug which sooo doesn't suit her so we all get to have a good laugh. Oh yeah, I may have escaped into the garden after the clipping session.

Later on Monday we went for a dressage lesson with Tim and I was surprisingly good for saying I was newly naked, we did lots of going sideways (on purpose) and counter canter which I'm really good at but my trot work wasn't quite as good as it has been the last week or so however hard we tried, I just wasn't really feeling it you know? We did schooling at home on Thursday as well which was similar, not bad at all just not quite as good as it was last week, I've got a bit of an upset tummy the last few days so think I'm just a bit under the weather, probably that nasty wormer.

Tuesday and Friday we went hacking, just the boring there and back ride past the barky dogs as we had Isla with us (mum says we both need to do more roadwork to tidy our feet up so it's two for one hacking). We had a couple of nice breaks to chat to the neighbours and minimal spooking although we did cooperate to drag mum up one of the hills in canter, spoilsport quickly brought us back to walk though as apparently Isla's supposed to be taking it easy.

Yesterday we went to Norton Disney for the last event of the season. It was a bit of an odd day, no early start and I actually got to go back out after breakfast and have a roll. This did mean I saw the ramp go down on the box so decided to have a quick game of chase around the field when it was time to be caught but eventually I did my best innocent "oh, you wanted to catch me" face and came willingly. Dressage went pretty well, came together just before we went in but lost my mojo in the arena, it's scary in there and I needed to go toilet, still got a pretty impressive 30.5 which I think is our best from that judge, plenty of 7.5s and an 8. 

Quick rest then show-jumping, mum was having one of those days where she needs her eyes testing, she tried to blame my lack of umph but really she just couldn't see a stride for toffee (and as she's trying to lose weight again she'd do pretty much anything for sugar right now, she's even steeling my polos). Luckily I was in a generous mood so we still went clear and I got lots of pats and polos for helping out. Talking of which polo lady's found my blog and decided it's even more important she provides a constant supply - happy days!

There was a long cold wait for the cross country then when we finally got on with it I was feeling a bit rough again so I stopped at the first warm up fence. This didn't go down well but after another trip to the toilet I felt a lot better and warmed up well. I was a bit quiet again at the start so no leaping around this time and didn't really like the first fence but once I realised what we were doing I got into my stride and started to enjoy myself. I have to admit when we first started doing cross country I found it a bit scary but I love it now, it's so cool just galloping around and it doesn't really matter if it goes wrong, you just climb over them and you still get a pat. The first half of the course was going so well mum said we had to slow down which meant we got a bit confused about where to take off a few times but we made it round clear and I enjoyed myself so much I didn't want to stop at the end to chat to the nice lady in the caravan (apparently slowing down towards the end is a bit naughty), so I practised standing on my back legs for a change.

We just managed not to get penalties for going to fast (who'd have thought it from a pony that couldn't gallop a couple of years ago, must thank Isla for the lessons). We finished on our dressage score of 30.5 but in a very competitive section to earn 8th place and a frilly.

Having a few days off with extra hay and tummy supplement so should be back to my usual cheeky self soon. Hope you're all enjoying what's left of the sunshine. Mango x

Sunday, 16 October 2016

New toys

Isla has been a little bit lame the last few days and she was supposed to be going to Chatsworth today to play with the bloodhounds. Yesterday we went for a hack so mum could decide if she was well enough to go, mum rode Isla so I got to take auntie Paige. I was mostly good but feeling a bit fresh so we practised some posh trot up the hills which was cool. I can't remember seeing anything very terrifying which makes a pleasant change, maybe hacking can be fun? Mum decided whilst Isla was much better she couldn't be sure it wasn't something that would get worse if she went out galloping so she got a sick note for the weekend, lucky mare.

This turned out to be bad for me as instead of a nice day off I was needed as a distraction. Thankfully the promised clipping session got postponed again as it took all day to further fortify the dogs yard against the naughty Charlie dog who's been working on his escape tactics again. Then auntie Paige arrived for the second day in a row and caught me instead of Isla, hmm, what's going on here then?

Turns out we were just going up to the school to practice with the new jumps, it's the first time we've been allowed to jump in the new school so actually it was quite fun. I even managed to get mum to lose her stirrups and nearly flattened Paige whilst pretending to spook at Alfie and Keela who came to play, well, that'll teach the humans to chat when they should be concentrating.

After we'd played in the school we went into the field to try the corner which has a bit harder as the sun was very low behind it. Mum was really pleased when we tried it the second way as despite an extra stride I did it right and didn't even try to run out, she says she'll have to come up with some more interesting exercises to try next time, when will I learn?

Friday, 14 October 2016

Field House BD 13th October

Hello again,

I've been having a lovely week off since all the excitement of the weekend, mum's been at work so I've done nothing but stuff my face and keep the girls in line. Even better we've gone up to winter rations of hay so there's all you can eat in the shelter without having to walk anywhere, there's even enough to pull out of the hay racks and use as a toilet/bed, happy days!

It's now official that we're going to Badminton and the new jumps that polo lady ordered at Burghley arrived so apparently we're going to spend the winter practising our jumping and trying to make a mini-Badminton course round the field. There's also talk of increasing my hacking, seriously, I'm really fit (if a little round) why would I need to trot up more hills?!? What they don't know is the fitter they get me the more extravagantly I can leap in the air, revenge will be sweet.

Then it all went wrong this morning, I got tricked into the shelter with a bucket of grub then bang, the rails went up and I was stuck. I tried to run away from my show head-collar with no success, it was plaiting time AGAIN. I did a lot of jumping around and even stood on the step/grooming kit/cat to try and avoid it but in the end the cross ties came out and I had to give in. In my defence Isla jumped on the physio yesterday and has developed a limp when she's supposed to be playing with hounds at the weekend and ripped another of Emy's rugs so I'm still not the worst behaved pony round here.

Turns out we were going to do dressage, I was a bit quiet to start with so she tried to wind me up a bit, ha, basic mistake, take that fence rail. Actually apart from a little napping at the entrance to the arena and not being very enthusiastic I was quite a good boy, I even managed some medium trot so I got a pat mid test which was nice. Back on the box and mum disappeared for a few minutes then reappeared with lots of polos, 71.21% almost a personal best!

We warmed up for the second test but didn't do too much as I was feeling much more awake and showed off all my best moves, we even did a bit of rein back because we'd not done it in ages and apparently had to do it for the test. The downside of being more forward is it's much harder to keep your head still and I got in a bit of a muddle with my medium trot but all in all mum was very happy so big pats all round and more polos before finally getting out of the rain and into my rug. I only got 65.89% this time but beat all the fancy looking horses who'd beaten me in the first class so think we still did better, just judges marking differently and a harder test I think. Both the judges said nice things about me and mum agreed with all their comments if not all their marks, bit of a pain the worse mark was for the second test as it was a qualifier so now I'll have to do an extra show before the end of November. Anyway mum says I'm really clever and I got lots of polos so all's good.

Now I'm back in the field stuffing my face again, ooh, and it's been raining all day so skiing down the hill provides a little entertainment in case anyone gets bored. Silly mares wont go down the hill when it's wet so all the more grass for me.

Sunday, 9 October 2016

Weston Park

Hello everyone,

For those that don't know me I'm Mango. Mum's been saying I should write a blog for a while so I had a chat to some of my friends at the Rockley Reunion a couple of weeks ago and they all agreed because, well, who doesn't want to know all about me?

Lets start with a little about me. I am just about 15 hands on my tip toes, nine years old and a chestnut gelding (really? thought I was a stallion?). Apparently my parentage is entirely guesswork, my history is a bit of a mystery as well, I have some vague memories of someone mistaking me for something called a "trotter" and attaching a pony eating machine behind me, I survived but have a few scars to show the ladies, all in all it didn't help my orange personality nervous disposition.
I live with my girlfriends Emy and Isla in Derbyshire, I wasn't sure about our new home to start with, there's no cosy stables like at our last home and the girls seemed to spend more time eating weird stuff out of the fence then grass or hay but then I discovered blackberries, maybe they're onto something?

When I'm not causing havoc running my kingdom at home I compete British Dressage at Novice and British Evening at BE90.
I guess the other thing you should know about me is I keep my feet as nature intended them, naked and un-manicured. More on that another day but anyone with OCD should probably not look down when they're talking to me.

Moving on to yesterdays news.
We went to Weston Park to compete in a 90 regional final. I hate those words, all they mean is it doesn't matter how hard I try mum's going to ride like a sack of potatoes and be grumpy all the way home, we've done a few regionals now and they never go that well. Honestly, it's either the judges fault for needing glasses, my fault for saving her from being savaged by a runaway picnic blanket or even most recently the fault of the 'flu, somehow it's never quite her fault... but today was different. She sneakily caught me with a bucket of warm food in the middle of the night, plaited me with a torch stuck on her head then washed me in the dark. It was about at this point she started getting grumpy, honestly, what is her problem with me dancing around on the end of the rope when she's running late before finally settling with my feet on the hose? Why does she complain that I look like a hippo whenever we've got an early start, she leaves me out on a hill all night, if I didn't camouflage myself I'd get eaten by lions! After a little bit of bad language we set off like we were at Silverstone (whatever, I had a new haynet).
We got there and met with the polo lady (mum's mum) and chief pony holder (mum's dad) before going for a nice stroll through the park to the stressage area. I decided to be a good boy in the warm up, I just had a couple of little bucks to remind mum that "tickling" me with the whip is not a good way to get me to notice that she's kicking me but otherwise I showed off all my fancy moves, aunty Sue was there too so we had a nice little rest catch up. The arena was, as usual, a bit intimidating and I struggled to adequately present my stunning personality to the judge but mum seemed pleased so I got a polo and a walk back to the lorry park with a lovely young skewbald friend to protect me from the evil conkers. Usually I have to be led back after the dressage as I like to remind mum she left the capriole out of the test but apparently my acrobatics at reunion did something to mum's ankle and there was no way she was walking all that way, no idea what she was muttering about.

After a quick bite of some very juicy grass we moved on to the jumping, this has been going badly this year so mum seemed particularly determined about this phase, she insisted I practice responding to her leg (again I expressed my opinion by waving both back feet in the air but this didn't really help). Overall she was a bit less potato like then normal, she found my "big boy" canter, mostly put me in the right place to take off and got out of the way and thanked me when I had to step in and sort it out for her. So I decided to play along and she tried really hard to get it all right and guess what, we jumped clear! Cue lots of presents from polo lady.

By the time we went cross country I was really hot, I'm sporting this seasons latest fluffy hairstyle and whilst it makes everyone coo and give me polos it's not all that practical for galloping. I did a few leaps in the air to see if it was any cooler at altitude then the man started counting backwards and we were off. The first two where easy, I bravely went past the scary gingerbread men and conkers but the light was a bit strange at number three so I resorted to feeling my way over it, then thought I better do the same at number four just in case, mum got a bit cross about this, especially as landed in trot and told me to get on with it and grow up, five and six I cleared but got a bit close after scaring myself, managed to find my cross country gear and the next few went great, gallop, jump, gallop, jump, easy peasy, oh s**t what's that?!? Why does mum always sigh when I try to stop dead in the middle of the course? After a very quick check that the 80 fence wasn't going to unexpectedly move and kill someone we carried on and apart from a minor hiccup at 19 (honestly whatever she says I did not try to stop/runout/climb it) we went clear again.

Mum was really pleased with me, she said I couldn't have done better and we'd just have to wait to see what the judge thought and how everyone else did. Turns out she was a little disappointed with my dressage score of 32 but I did get an 8 and at the end of the day 68% isn't bad. After a very nervous wait we came 6th, with 30 starters and the top 20% to qualify for Badminton she's as sure as she can be that we're finally going! I have no idea what Badminton is but mum and polo lady seem very excited about it, apparently I have to stay somewhere new, a bit like going to reunion which I love so should be cool. Wonder if a superstar like me can bring his girlfriend for moral support to look pretty in the photos?