Welcome to my horsey ramblings!

I’ve been thinking for a little while about starting a blog based on my obsession with my 3 boys (4 if you count the husband!). It came about when I figured that I was probably boring my ‘friends’ on facebook, most of which aren’t horsey, with my constant posts about the horses so I set up an Instagram page so I could post all my ‘interesting’ pics and vids without boring anyone. Only I then realised that I had too much to say on each thing I posted and no one wants to read an essay with each photo so I thought, hey why not set up a blog. According to my father, all I talk about and think about is horses so writing about it shouldn’t be much different!

I do actually think about other things other than horses, so my father isn’t completely correct. These include, but are not limited to: food, sleep, online equestrian shopping, biscuits, TV shows (TBBT/GoT/MiC to name a few), Yorkshire Tea, exclamation marks!!

Most of this blog will be my inane chattering about what the husband and I have been up to with the horses- training, competing, cock-ups (these will be in abundance!), reviews on products i brands I love (check the menu list for details) and i’ll share any training ideas that I use and work.

Check out the menu tabs for a nosey about me, the ‘three horses and 1 husband’ and reviews. 

Thanks for reading and feel free to leave a comment, share advice, tips etc. IMG_2548.JPG

Lessons to be learnt.Β 

Last weekend we competed in the area 5 HT at Solihull riding club. I was feeling up for it despite the boiling hot weather and my times being slap bang in the middle of the day! 


Chino was feeling good whilst warming up, reactive to the leg and feeling quite supple. He’s still quite stiff on the left rein but he’s improved in the last 2 weeks with the massages and schooling so I was feeling hopeful about the dressage. 

That was until about 1 minute in when I heard the bell…wtf was my immediate thought followed by ‘you blithering idiot you’ve gone wrong!’ Turns out I cantered instead of looped and to make matters worse, it was a brilliant transition which we didn’t quite replicate again!! With the mistake rectified and firmly shoved to the back of my mind we completed the test with no other mistakes…well so I thought until husband informed me I walked at H instead of C! Oh bugger…what had got into me! I went back to the box feeing positive despite my two mistakes- it was the best he’d gone and I was feeling hopeful for a good score and I’d just have to accept the low mark for my mistake at A and the 2 penalties. 

As I had quite a wait for the the SJ I walked the xc course which held no concerns for me with Chino and knew he’d fly round it. Once back I tacked up and went to warmup for the sj. It was in there that he decided that then was a great time to pull out his dressage moves wowing me with some nice medium trot paces- why couldn’t he do that kinda thing in the dressage ring!?! 

He was feeling rather excited to be jumping- think we both feel dressage is just something we’ll have to put up with in the eventing world! Once in the ring and after his mild meltdown at the brush fence on the sideline (?!) off we flew until fence three where I failed to balance him around the corner and he thought there was something far more important in the warmup ring so the front pole fell! After that however, we jumped clear. I think jumping him bigger recently has made him try a little harder so he actually jumped them rather than making out they were too big as he used to do! 

With 4 faults in the bag I knew we’d have to go clear inside the time in the xc, which for Chino means over the too fast time but as I had my new watch I felt confident that we’d nail it. 

I’d planned roughly where half way was and aimed to be there at 2mins 15. He started off a bit sticky and spooky but he kept up a good pace and we were dead on time when we reached half way so I continued at the same pace for the second half. I did feel like I was having to hold him up quite a bit but I figured that as we kept going too fast then we should be fine. That was until 4 jumps from home I realised I had 30 seconds left!!! shit shit shit!! So Chino got his wish and was let loose!!! Omg what an absolute beast he was! In and out the water with barely a splash, didn’t break stride down the drop, galloped to the penultimate fence taking a stride out and then it was a race to the finish with me doing an AP Mcoy and the commentator saying I must be short of time!! Husband said afterwards that he thought I was going to do another round the way I came through the finish!! Lolz!! 

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We crossed the line and we had been 4-5 seconds over! God knows how many penalties we would have racked up if I’d have continued at my sedentary pace.

By the end of the day we were both sweaty and knacketed but I couldn’t have asked any more from my gorgeous boy- He gave his all on the hottest day ever!! Before leaving, Husband collected the dressage sheet which put me in a foul mood on seeing the score- 39! A 39 for what I felt was our best test yet. Yes I had got two penalties added so I suppose it was a 37 but we got the same score for our canter as we did at Aston where we hadn’t even managed to keep the canter for the full circle or on the correct leg and yet this time we transitioned brilliantly and maintained it so how that was the same mark I don’t know. I  feel there were some pretty picky marks such as the trot to halt on the centre line was what I would class as very good for a 90 level and yet the comment was – nice and square but wide at the back with a releativly low score!! Come on- trot to halt with all 4 legs square deserves a decent mark! I even smiled all the way which is a first although husband said he thought I was trying to hold in a fart! I did receive the best mark for my riding though which was nice to know I’m doing something right! It just goes to show though how dressage judges can differ so much and how they all look for different things but is really disheartening when you put in so much work to receive the same marks as a poor test as it leaves you wondering what more can you do! And because I was in a strop I then decided I didn’t want pizza from the yummy pizza stand!! Idiot!

I checked the results later and we had in fact come 14th so another top half finish which is good given the many mistakes I had made. A revision of the marks later on in the week meant I finally came 11th, 1 position from qualifying for the national Horse Trials!!! Arghhh! Next year will be our year although by then I’d hope to be doing 100 so perhaps not!! 

So what have I leant: 

  1. Dont forget your test! 
  2. Balance your horse before the corner in the showjumping not out of it when it’s too late. 
  3. Set my stop watch to the lower time limit as it’s easier to slow him down than speed him up. 
  4. Don’t get upset by dressage judges all marking differently despite it being infuriating! 
  5. Always say yes to pizza….Always!! 

Next weekend husband rides Chino in his second BE 90 at Offchurch and the dressage looks an easy one compared to the others so he’s hoping for a good score- as long as he doesn’t beat my lowest!! 

Toodle pip 😘 

Gotta take the rough with the smooth!

I fell off the horse! I can’t even say I got thrown off because I didn’t! I suppose technically I got catapulted up and forward but the long and short of it is ‘I fell off!’

I decided to go to Onley on the Sunday and pop round the 90 and 1m after the success over the last couple of weeks and better my performance from last time. (Page- Practice will lead to perfect…hopefully!)

We warmed up the best we ever have- he was listening to the leg and jumped the jumps practice fences without being a weirdo about them so I was really hopeful for a good round and if I dare admit it, I was hoping for a top 6 finish. 

Well that all went to s**t when we stepped into the ring and Snortty McSnortyson decided that it was a horror house and proceeded to prance and snort about the place. Yes it was windy and there was some pretty awful noises from the wind whipping about but why he thought he had to act like Louie Spence I do not know!! 

Given his ott reactions to the wind it wasn’t a bad round. We had one fence down due to getting in too close and one stop. I’m confused even now as to why the fence was so spooky for so many horses as it was a plain fence with no fillers or anything but the noise he made at it would have made you think there was a troll under it!! 

Having gone round the course once I expected the next round to be a flyer and with only a handful of people in it I was yet again expecting a decent result. 

How stupid that thought was now I look back! In the half hour break between classes Chino had obviously decided that the wind was certainly out to get him and proceeded to spook at anything and everything including the trailer and lorry ramps on the way back to our car after the round! 

Anyhow, we started off fence one not concentrating so the back rail came down, got too close to fence 2 so had that down as well. Fence three popped lovely and reached fence 4,where we had previously stopped, in the perfect stride however that troll must have popped up as he slammed the breaks on and then decided to jump it from a stand still landing in the jump which was an oxer. I hope no one remembers him doing the exact same thing last time we were there!! So by this point I’ve been flung up in the air as I didn’t expect it, land on his neck superman style, Chino continues moving forward and I decide that trying to hold on as I usually do isn’t the best option for not getting injured so I let go and hit the deck! Gutted! 


I was due a fall mind so I can’t complain too much. I’ve watched the video numerous times and I can usually see where I went wrong but I can’t see it this time. I had leg on, was sat up and didn’t jump ahead of him and I still can’t see what caused it so putting it down to the wind…and the trolls!! 

I surprisingly didn’t hurt myself which I think is the first fall where I’ve jumped up and felt fine. However, two days later and I’m limping about with a sore hip which was not even the side I fell on so I guess old age is catching up with me! 

Hoping this weekend isn’t a repeat when we compete at Solihull for the area 5 HT! 

Toodle pip 😘

Hard work pays off!

This weekend I completed by second ode with Chino at Aston Le Walls in the 90. I was looking forward to it and felt that we were fully prepared unlike our last one! 

It was a rather unorthodox arrival as we had to take him straight to the on duty farrier to replace the shoe he had pulled off  yet again! He manages to do something dickheadish 2-3 days before a competition so I’m starting to think he does it on purpose. 

Shoe back on and off we toddle to the dressage warm up which was rammed and resembled the bumper cars ride (or dodgems as they are now referred to!) at the fair. We managed to get loads of transitions in to our warmup mainly due to unplanned emergency stops to avoid getting run down! I hate warm up rings with a passion! 

The dressage test was the same as we had completed 2 or 3 weeks ago at Moreton Morrel where we had received a 44 score! 😳. I was hoping for a better score than that  and amazingly we did! We achieved our lowest score to date with a 35.8!! Now I know it’s not super great but given the left rein canter was a complete mess followed by some pretty shocking cornering in trot, I was over the moon. We even scored a 7.5 for our halt at the end which we had practiced for a while schooling session earlier in the week!


 Received some lovely feedback as well which is really encouraging and set me up for the rest of the day. 


After a little break for a sausage sarnie I went and tacked back up for the showjumping. It was a nice flowing course and my main focus was just to keep the rhythm and not play about with him before the jumps. The warm up ring was a thing of beauty with 6 practice fences and a tonne of space so I was a happy little bunny and feeling very relaxed. This obviously made a huge difference to my mind set as I went in and jumped a clear round! Our first one ever!! Clearly the practice last week at Lyneham paid off. I came out the ring looking like a Cheshire Cat…or perhaps the joker from batman given my smiling face is pretty scary!! 


The final bit up next and I can’t believe I’m saying it but the favourite bit of eventing! Just last year I used to feel petrified doing xc. The thought of galloping across the country and jumping solid fences would make me run for the adult nappies!! Yet now I’m all ‘bring it on!’ In fact, I brought it on a bit too much as we ended up getting 0.4 too fast time penalties! I don’t have a watch so I went out with the intention of sticking at the same pace as our last event where I nailed the time. Unfortunately I got a carried away and on one stretch I pushed him on a bit much. As I came out of the penultimate jump I heard on the tannoy something about 4 minutes so assumed it must have been me so I sat back and slowly made our way to the last fence. I was slightly gutted to find out from the husband after jumping a perfect clear round around our most testing track yet, that we were 1 second too fast!! Arghhh. 


I checked the results later that afternoon to find that we had finished in 16th place in a huge section of 40!! I was ecstatic and I really feel that our hard work is starting to show. I stupidly then compared my score with other sections and found that had I been in 1 of the other 4 sections I would have finished higher up the table and in fact placed in 3 of them! So annoying but that’s the nature of the game and if I want to challenge for top ten places then I need to get our dressage scores down. 

I’ve now got two weeks until Area 5 HT at Solihul so schooling will be all focussed around suppleness and getting him off my leg on the left rein as well as strengthening his canter so we don’t lose it again. I may pop over to Onley on a Sunday to do a couple of sj classes just to keep up the momentum we now have and hopefully improve on our last visit. 

If anyone has any schooling tips for suppleness and how to get him to relax through his back please let me know as he’s getting a bit bored of circles and transitions! 

Until next time,

Toodle pip 😘

Archie

As Archie is still a baby (he officially turned 2 a week ago!), I don’t write much about him. He is however, getting trained regularly in ground manners and will be attending his first show this coming weekend for an in hand youngstock showing class. This should be hilarious on a number of counts firstly the fact I’ve got to dress like a middle aged women…beige trousers…really!!! Someone at work just suggested M&S and I scoffed at them! The second hilarity will probably come when I have to trot him up for the judge! I can barely keep up with his normal trot let alone when we step it up for the showy part! In practice I’ve been wearing my running trainers and I can just barely keep my legs in front of me so how I’ll cope wearing my paddock boots with restrictivr front zip is anyone’s guess. And I’m not going to worry about the biting and pawing he does when he gets bored- which is after about 10seconds. How you train this out of a horse I do not know as he does it for attention but to reprimand him would be to give him what he wants but to ignore him looks like he has no manners. any ideas would be greatly appreciated! That said my nearly 6 yr old has stopped all of this so perhaps he’ll grow out of it. 

Talking about growing…he’s standing at 16.1ish already at only 2! Everyone keeps saying how big he is for his age so I’m hoping to god he’s a quick grower and will reach full height soon! 

Anywho, I didn’t think we would actually get to the show as he was very poorly last Wednesday with colic. He started in the morning at about half tenish just as I was about to head home.  He was pawing at the ground and I assumed he was just being his  usual self but he was really going for it like I do when the Bourbon biscuits are opened! He was sweating profusely and so I pulled him out the stable and sponged him off only for him to try and roll. 

I immediately get on the phone and call the vet out but within 30 minutes he’s collapsed on the floor flat out. There’s nothing worse than knowing they’re in pain but being unable to do anything about it. πŸ˜₯

Anywho, the vet came and pumped him with drugs in the hope he’d perk up within 30 mins but nothing! He remained on the floor having the occasional spasm. She checked for any blockages or twists but nothing could be felt, he had three lots of blood taken and then a drip was put into him at which point he decided that was a good time to sit up and roll over bending the canular he had sewn into his neck so we had to redo that. My arms then got a workout holding the bag of fluid up…I was going to start whinging about my arms aching but thought it prob not the best time when my horse was lying flat out in pain on the ground! 

After nearly 2 hours he then stood up with a little convincing so she was able to sedate and tube him to check for any problems in his airways. This proved to be somewhat difficult as she says he has tiny nostrils so the tube wouldn’t go down easily! Thank god something about him is small although now I know he’s fine I think his pain threshold is smaller than his bloody nostrils!! 

The vet was wonderful but was really at a loss as to why he was in so much pain and wasn’t responding to the meds, all his vitals were ok, nothing obvious, and the other vet she called couldn’t offer any ideas either so my dad is called and we load him up on the trailer to take him to the vets for a colic work up. 

The journey should have taken about an hour as it was a different vet we had to go to however, google maps decided it would take us on a detour taking us 20 minutes past where we needed to be to a random village near Cheltenham!! How that happened I’ll never know but we eventually got there in one piece and we settled him into his stable. 

After numerous tests all results came back normal although his worn count was high! I panicked thinking oh my god there’re going to think I don’t look after my horses etc etc but I was assured that even the best yards have horses with worm problems. He had been wormed consistently since we had him but it would appear we need to change the wormer for him as it’s not working despite it being fine for the other two. 

He had a lovely 2 night stay at the vets prompting me to think he thought it was a ‘Buy one get one free’ deal after Ara spent some time there the week before!! The vets still find it a mystery as to why his colic was so bad with the only possible thought is that he’s a bit of a drama queen! Oh joy of joys, like having one isn’t bad enough with Ara, I’ve now got another one! 

What it did make me realise though is that I need to get my arse in gear and get worm counts down each year or however often they are needed. I had intended to take samples in from the other two when I collected Arch’ and had bagged it up in the classy Tesco bags I keep laying around for such jobs and hung it above the wheel barrow so it was in eyesight! I mean how the hell did I forget it when I’d walked face first into the shit bags twice but I did! 

The Vet’s coming out on Wednesday to remove staples from Aras leg so ill try and bag up some more for them to take and test perhaps in some Sainsbury’s bags this time just to mix it up a bit- plus bright orange may stick out more! 

So Archie is back, box rested for a little while which is handy with Ara being on box rest as well. Fingers crossed nothing happens to Chino and he needs to be in otherwise we’re totalled fooked given we currently only have 2 stables. The other is on the list (see earlier posts for ‘the list!!!’) ready to be built.

I’ll continue practicing on in hand leading and standing this week and report back on how it went after next weekend. 

For now, 

Toodle pip 😘

If at first you don’t succeed…

Try try again is exactly what we did this weekend with our showjumping. We whisked off to Lyneham Heath for a spot of showjumping practice on their grass sj course. 

This facility must be my favourite equestrian facility going. They have everything you could wish for – an amazing all weather arena which is huge, all weather xc loop, 3/4 fields of xc jumps which and then grass dressage and sj  not only that, when you finish you can buy cake from the shepherds hut! I mean how much better does it get…oh and it’s super easy to book unlike another well known facility on my doorstep which is on a par facility wise but you can never get hold of anyone or get a reply to book so Lyneham gets my vote every time. 

The weather held out for us despite the threatening looking clouds above us. Chino warmed up well if not a little snorty looking at everything including dark patches of grass (!) and was forward going which I prefer- I hate having to kick him along constantly.

Husband set the jumps to 90/95 and altered some of the widths of the oxers. There was plenty to look at, I don’t think there was a single plain fence and his first attempt at a triple bar, a treble and a Liverpool with water in thanks to earlier rain! 

Despite having jumped a couple of warm up fences he clearly wasn’t awake as we started the course and had fence 1 and 2 down! Good job it was only practice!

The 1 stride double was a sight to behold where he managed to fit in 2 strides and jump clear and this coming from a big striding horse! How he didn’t even touch them I’ll never know. 

He didn’t even look at the water tray and popped the triple bar easily. The treble was a little scary for him but with so many poles and fillers in a row it’s no wonder he backed off a little however he still popped them all so an honest little pony! 


After a second time round husband popped them up to 1m/1.05 which surprised me given that he had said not to jump higher than 90’s jut last week!!! 

We jumped 3 rounds (with breathers in between!!) and despite having a couple of poles each round he did super well. We really are getting the hang of each other now and I trust him to actually jump unlike my other daft beast! He had a bold jump over them all and only had problems when I didn’t really set him up correctly. 

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Watching back on the videos I can clearly see we need to work on our balance in canter around corners as that’s affecting us when there’s a jump off a corner. I also need to start thinking immediately on landing in order to be ready for the next jump. Often I give it 2 -3 strides before I start to think in which we’re then half way to another jump or less with related distances and it’s too late to do anything about it. 

After last weeks disastrous attempt sj at Onley I was really pleased how this session went and it was great to see the improvements. 

Next weekend I’m competing in the 90Ode at Aston Le Walls so I’ll be working on my dressage during the week and keeping  Chino sweet so he doesn’t get bored of it by Sunday! Might have to practice the transitions in test order on a hack so he doesn’t realise what he’s doing! 

On another note, Archie turned 2 yesterday! Woohoo only 1 more year to go before he turns into a proper big boy. 


Aras leg is on the mend as well thankfully. The vet came out last Friday and changed the dressing and was happy with how it looked so after another dressing change tomorrow he should be able to get the staples out at the beginning of next week. All the hawthorns appear to be out now as well although he’s now covered in lumps and bumps from bites so I need to get some fly repellent tomorrow- I use Leovet Power Phraser gel and spray. 

It’s the best around and I’ve tried soooo many! It does stink but works a treat and lasts all day which is great for my wimpy/sensitive Ara and Archie who appears to be allergic to bites. 

Sunday Schooling

Today Chino and I did some schooling in prep for next weeks HT at Aston le Walls. He’s not great on the left rein and our transitions need some jazzing up so I planned out a little exercise seen above which would incorporate all elements we need to work out whilst keeping his brain engaged. 

He really took to it well and was so much more active compared to if I just went in the school. Perhaps it was because I had something physical to aim at so it kept me on the ball as well. 

I used the large blue barrels as opposed to cones as I was able to see clearer the distances away when circling around them and I can’t cheat and cut corners by going over them as both Chino and I tend to do when I’m not riding strongly enough. 

Having the square of poles in the middle meant that changes of rein were ridden straight and made us both think about the next movement. 

It was also quite handy for transitions especially trot to halt and made me think about riding the transition before entering the square in order to make the halt inside which is where I went wrong a few times by only asking once inside at which point we were too late. 

The picture above shows the various different combinations of things I tried today all of which he did really well and he was evenetually working without leaning on my inside leg on the left rein. 

What I also like about this exercise was the simplicity of setting it up- no pacing out of distances neeed and minimal equipment. 

Try it out and if you have any other combinations that I could use using this set up then let me know! 

Toodle pip 😘

Practice will lead to perfect…hopefully!

Having taken Chino off the husbands hands (he didn’t have much choice!), I hadn’t done much show jumping with him so, as competing for the riding club at Rockingham was off, we decided to head to Onley. 

I entered in the 90 and 1m which was rather ambitious as I’d not done a 1m on him before but it’s a long day to go for one class. 

He’d only been ridden once in the week so he was such a moron in the warm up spooking at corners, shadows and everything else in between! He popped the warm up fences lovely and we went in near the end. 

As we headed up to the top of the arena he started napping which is very odd for him. He had had a mini nap earlier but we put it down to the white wall banner so not sure what got in his head but a sharp smack behind the saddle and we were on our way. 

Fence 1- wrong stride, awkward leap, cleared it.                                                         Fence 2 – wrong stride, awkward leap, cleared it again! 

By fence three we got our act together! 

The jump off section was from fence 7-12 so I pushed him on as it wasn’t a tight turning course but our luck ran out and fence 9 came down as we got too close to it which put us on the wrong strides for 10&11 which were all related distances. I don’t think quickly enough after I’ve landed so in hindsight I should have sat up and steadied him so he wasn’t long and flat but I didn’t!! 

Fence 12 was a disaster as the husband is always telling me just sit and wait, let him do the work don’t push!! Well turns out that advice didn’t apply to that fence and no sooner had we taken off Chino decided that it would be easier to land in the middle of the fence and step through the fallen poles!! Next time I’ll push him in! How embarrassing to have 4 down in a row!!! 

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With that put behind us I went into the 1m with a clear plan of how to improve it! That plan hadn’t included shitting myself though when I saw the size of fences!! 1.05m sounds small especially when you teach PE and remind yourselves that the kids jump that in HJ!! Husband tells me to stop being stupid and that I wanted to do it!! Helpful!! 

In we trot and set off and surprisingly it goes super well, hiting the fences on the correct strides and fly around…until fence 7! Still not sure why but that came down and then I came round too sharp to a full up oxer which he wasn’t balanced for so I decided to pull up and take the 4 rather than ploughing through it like earlier. Clear the second attempt and steady to 9 which we cleared but then two strides after landing I slow him up thinking about the previous round. Why I do not know as the previous fence we jumped fine so I should have just kept him at the same pace. Problem was we then didn’t have enough power and at 1.05 (Jump off height) it was a close eyes moment. Back pole came down and consequently the next fence down as we clambered over it landing in trot. Last fence resulted in a bizarre cat leap style jump which came down as well so we royally screwed up the round with 20 faults!! 

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Despite the huge amount of faults I was chuffed to bits with the boy especially as that’s the biggest track he’s jumped and prob only the 4th time we’ve been over sj’s. 

That happiness soon changed though when dad came back to the trailer smirking! I mean why do that?! What was he expecting? Me to laugh at it?! Parents!!!…I’m 30ish(!) years old and still act like a stroppy teenager!

Anyway, husband said I shouldn’t be doing any more 1m’s until I can go clear at 90 but I think he can shove that idea where the sun doesn’t shine tbh! We got the same faults at 90 and we have to progress at some point- he’s been jumping 90 for over 9 months so I think he’s ready. If I applied the same logic to last year when husband rode him then he’d still be doing 70’s! 

Clearing 1m perfectly

I’ll take him sj schooling this weekend more for me than Chino and we’ll see if we can make any improvements to where we’re going wrong. 

For now… toodle pip 😘