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. 

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!!! 

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!! 

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 😘

Worst nightmare x2!

Saturday contained the worst experiences in my horsey exsistence! We rock up on Saturday evening to feed the 3 boys and we can only see two of them in the field. I jump over the gate thinking that Ara would be at the top or behind the tree but he was not to be found. The field is pretty secure with thick/high hedges all around and fencing so for him to have escaped didn’t enter my head. If it had been Chino or Archie then I would immediately jump to that conclusion as they are both idiots and would happily jump out if needed as they have done in the past, but Ara…no way on this world as he’s a big wimp and he would have completed the risk assessment in his head and ruled it out even if his life depended on it! 

Now, I do not deal well when things go Pete tong and I proceeded to wander around the field looking like a drunked and wailing like a cat! All that was left of him was his welly boot with the poultice inside (get to that bit later!). My worst nightmare was coming true…someone had stolen him!!! Looking back on it, it was a sightly exaggerated thought- why the hell would anyone steal Ara and not the other two, of tans the padlock was still around he gate!!!! I have far to wild of an imaginataion! 

Then the husband shouted ‘got him!’ before proceeding to shout at me to hurry up and get a head collar! ALLRIGHT ARSEHOLE, I’m in a state of shock here! One look at him and I freaked out. He was covered formhead to tail all down his left side in scratches, cuts, lumps, you name it he had it! 

The worst of it was when I ran my hands down his legs, pulled my hand away and it was covered in blood! Sweet mother of god, wtf had he done! On closer inspection he had a huge gash on his Pastern/fetlock joint which continued to drip blood after being hosed and a pretty deep cut on the front of his cannon bone. 

The lumps turned out to be hawthorns stuck in him after husband found the place he’d escaped from. 

To this day I don’t know how or what causes him to go though, over the fence and hedge and I don’t suppose I’ll ever know but it makes no sense especially when looking from the other side. He clearly landed in the hedge to have all the thorns but he must have also gone head first at some point as his muzzle was bleeding and swollen and his bottom teeth were bloody. On the landing side there’s ask is ditch so I’m guessing the scrapped legs have come from scrambling about trying to get up and out of it. 

The vet came out, took one look at the fetlock cut and asked if we had transport to get him in to the vets. She was hugely concerned that he had cut through the tendon sheath especially as he wasn’t bearing any weight in it. 

My poor psycho boy just stood there wanting constant reassurance and head cuddles and me stood there wanting he same from the husband, minus the head cuddles! Needless to say, only one of us got what we wanted! 

Once at the vets we settled him in his stable and the vet explained they’d do some tests and let us know in an hour or so and if he had damaged it then he would need an operation…worst nightmare number 2!! 

About 2 hours after dropping him off we got the news that he hadn’t damaged anything!! Hallelujah! BUT…as he wasn’t bearing weight on it they wanted to keep him in to find out what was wrong. Hmmmm, well I suppose at least he doesn’t need an operation so that’s one good thing. 

Next morning we get a call to say he’s walking and trotting up sound, eating everything in sight and he’ll be good to come home the next day! YIPPEE! 

I was so pleased to see him when I went to collect him despite the fact he completey blanked me and let out a huge whinny whilst looking at my husband and dad waiting outside! Cheers Mate, you weren’t saying that on Saturday though were you you big wimp! They managed to get a few of the hawthorns thorns out but there’s still so many stuck in him and we just can’t get them out with tweezers or anything! Vet doesn’t seem I think it’ll be a problem as he’s had antibiotics etc but I’ll double check tomorrow when she comes to change his leg dressing. 

He’s currently got staples in his leg which can come out in 2 weeks time and he’s on box rest which is proving to me hard work but on the plus side, he does get to stay away from from bully boy Chino so not all bad. 

Now before all that kicked off, as mentioned in previous post, Ara had been lame for a few days on his back off side leg. Luckily the farrier was coming out to do their feet and shoes so he checked aras foot and started scraping away the hoof and then poof, abscess revealed! On looking closer at his foot you could see a slight mark on his coronet band where he had obviously banged it (we’re thinking it may have been at the gallops the week before). Our farrier explained that what happens is a bruise develops from the bang inside the hoof which has the. worked its way straight down and fluid has built up hence why he was lame. You learn something new everyday and I’ll keep an eye out for this in future. As soon as the pressure was released he was sound on it but we poulticed it up to draw anymore infection out. 

So that  was Saturday!!! My god I don’t want a repeat of that in a hurry! 

Sunday was an afternoon of competing but I’ve written enough for now, I need a cuppa tea ☕️! 

Toodle pip 😘

It never rains but it pours!

British weather!! We all know it sucks but my god it’s doing its best to wreck havoc on getting the horses fit for competition. 

I’m happy hacking out for months at the beginning of the year when the fields are too soggy and i need to build their basic fitness but once April hits you’d think I’d be able to get in the fields and work on everything else but no, this weather has other plans for, well, my plans! 

First we have no rain for pushing 8-10 weeks apart from the odd drizzle which amounts to less than the amount of tea I drink in a day! The ground is so hard that no riding can take place and we have our first victim in the form of chino and a popped splint. I’m pretty sure it’s his own fault for acting like a dick head in the fields and racing around and I can’t keep him in the stable as he jumps out! Yes, he literally jumps over the door, how I do not know, or goes bat shit crazy if the top door is shut so we have no choice but to put him in the field! 

So the rain came last week and I was as happy as a kid in a sweet shop! Telling everyone at work to stop moaning about it raining and actually enjoyed being out in it. That was until it continued to rain for days… and days…and days…non stop! So much so that the fields are now too wet to ride in, one field is flooded and I’ve now got injured horse number two, Ara, from what I can only assume is jarring himself when running about in the field! 

To make matters worse, Chino insists on showing everyone that’s he’s the boss and chasing the other two around if they’re eating the patch of grass that he wants and so Ara isn’t getting rest and keeps running away from the grumpy arse for fear of getting another giant bite on his bum- which incidently is covered in them already thanks to Chino. 

So no riding for me again today with Ara out and Chino with two pulled shoes!!!! Oh and also no Rockingham Horse Trials at the weekend as the riding club can’t pull together a team so thats us not able to go either which I was rather looking forward to but hey ho we’ll go SJ at Onley instead all being well and horses are sound!! 

Toodle pip 😘

Family fun at the gallops

For the first time in years (I’m thinking it’ll be near to 20 yrs), I spent time with my Uncle and Aunt over the weekend. I’ve never had a large family around me for reasons I won’t go into but it was so nice to spend time with close relatives who also have a love of horses! 

My Uncle (dads brother) was a stable lad for 40+ years and so we took the two boys to the gallops so he could have a ride. He’s knocking on the door of 65 I think and hadn’t been on a horse for 7 years but when he got up on Ara my ex racehorse, he looked like he’d never been out the saddle. He looked so relaxed and natural and when I watched him go round he was so stylish. 

We started on the circular gallops which is 6 furlongs long, setting off at steady gallop with me following behind on Chino. For anyone thinking of having a go on the gallops- keep your mouth closed if you are behind another horse unless you want a taste of sand, dust, shit and anything else that gets kicked up by the lead horse!! 

After a 5 min breather we set off for another circuit. This time I had to hold Chino up as he was pulling and wanting to lead however, I got around the last bend and he surged forward so I let him have his head and started a race!! We rocketed down the final long side with me thinking I was riding the final furlong of the Cheltenham Gold Cup!! I could see Ara and my Uncle in the corner of my right eye but Chino got his nose to the ‘made up’ finish line first before I then Shat myself at the sharp left bend we started to race around!! Brakes…where are my bloody Brakes!!! Ara took some zig zagging to pull up and I was trying to dodge his arse end and pull Chino up whilst also laughing at how rediculus i was!! 

On the walk back to the trailer my Uncle said he couldn’t work out what was wrong with Ara on the final lap- ‘I got him nice and relaxed and he was running smoothly and on the last bend he just took hold of the reins and started pulling…then I saw you fly past you mad woman!!’ 

Once back at the trailer we switched horses and headed for the bottom of the hill gallops me now on Ara and Uncle on Chino!  I was told not to leave him behind as we set off up the 5.5 furlong gallop although trying to tell Ara to stay was easier said than done! As we hit the hill there was unfortunately no holding Ara and off he went leaving poor Chino boy behind. About half way up Ara then ran out of steam and I pretty much had to carry him then rest of the way. After what felt like 10minutes, Chino and Uncle arrived at the finish with Chino puffing and panting like a 50 a day smoker!

All the way back down both Ara and Chino provided the sound effects by farting every three steps and I just sat there thinking, please don’t think it’s me farting!! 

Both horses loaded up and home we went only to arrive back at the field to Archie the escape artist in the cordoned off section of the field!! God only knows how long he’d been in there! 

Sunday, the day of (no) rest and our plans to hack the two boys out changed when bringing them in from the field only to discover Chino had lost a back shoe so off I toddle with Ara on my own. 

I think I burnt more calories on that hack than I would doing an hour of dressage schooling! He jig jogged literally all the way round the 8 miles- thank god I don’t have a weak bladder otherwise there’s no doubt I would have had a soggy saddle within the first mile!! 

So now this week I’m prepping for next Sunday’s competition with the riding club at Rockingham International Horse Trials. Exciting!!! Both the husband and I are in the team although I think I may have pushed myself a little by saying yes to the 1m class having never done a 1m competition before! Yes I’ve done it at home but I’ve not much jumping experience with Chino so perhaps I’ve been a little over zealous with my confidence! Ah well, no better place to push myself than at an event open to hundreds of spectators!! I’m a bloody idiot!!! 🤣

I’m sure they’ll be lots to write about after next weekend so for now, 

Toodle pip 😘

Eventing – a game of three parts!

This weekend Chino and I completed our first ode in the 90 unaffiliated at MM. As he’d been off most of the week with a leg issue I was dreading the dressage given we hadn’t practiced it other than for a lesson on the Saturday. The lesson left me feeling more anxious as he just wasn’t playing ball and wanted to play giraffe instead! 

We rock up on Sunday and get him all tacked up and looking wonderful which is a good thing as I’ve got the worlds worst  headache and so I look like someone’s pissed on my cornflakes so at least one of us looks the part! On a side note I had purchased myself a lovely tweed jacket especially for eventing occasions and was so looking forward to wearing it, until the thermometer hit the high 20’s and I was ready to go all hulk and rip it right off! 

Warming up wasn’t a pleasurable experience, we couldnt get the canter right, he still insisted on being a giraffe and I was getting more het up with each circle! Anyway, in we go and it’s all going well until the left lead canter where we continue round on the wrong leg at which point I’m ready for throwing a proper kid tantrum! The test continues with our circles becoming squares and imaginary letters being our transition points and then the final canter comes and we only go and get the wrong bloody lead again. Back to trot to start it again and this time it’s all good apart from the manic smile I did have had been replaced by something you would run from on a dark night! I now look like someone’s force feeding me the pissed on cornflakes from earlier! 

Get back to husband and I’m close to tears, (so very emotional I am!) and he asks me why I brought him back to trot!! Apparently the canters were both on the correct legs and I’d got myself in a nuclear mood for nothing! The husband didn’t leave it there though…! Now what man in his right mind pokes the bear when the bear is angry? Well my man it would appear! ‘Just forget about it’ ‘it doesn’t matter how it went it’s all fun’ ‘we need to work on your reactions’ ‘your in a right mood!’ YOUR IN A RIGHT MOOD! Did you honestly just say that to me! Oh well now you’ve told me that, that makes me feel a whole lot better, thanks hubby for pointing it out you friggin lunatic!! 

In hindsight, his comments were fully justified and I do need to stop worrying about things when it goes wrong as there’s not much you can do about it then is there. Not that I’m going to tell him that I think that, nor am I apologising for being a cow to him when he provoked me! 

After a quick tack addition and more tablets I toodle off to the showjumping where Chino appears to now have woken up and is raring to go. The sj was not the best round in terms of style as I’m still very much getting to grips with his way of jumping but we only have the one pole down so by the time I’m out the ring the red mist has lifted, as has the drilling in my head and I’m feeling a little better and ready to take on the xc. 

I used to hate xc, the feeling of galloping around undulating ground and charging over the fences in an uncollected manner just filled me with dread. After watching me on Sunday you wouldn’t know it!! Literally the best experience I think I’ve had on Chino. Given he’s not really known for his speed he flew round being only 1 of 4 with no xct penalties! He loved it and when I asked for more he gave it, pricking his ears further forward and rocketing on. We crossed the finish line with me replicating the grand national finish (a little over excited I think I was), only to realise that I had to find the brakes pretty sharpish otherwise we’d be dodging the lorries in the car park. 

Husband was thrilled although I think he was secretly happier that I no longer looked like a bulldog chewing a wasp as opposed to me nailing the xc! 

With Chino cooled off and back in the trailer we head down for a cuppa tea and for a piece of cake I’d eyed up within the first 5 mins off arriving that day! My dads arrived by this point and checks the results of the dressage. 43!!!! Now I no it wasn’t the best but 43 seriously. I’m pretty sure they were marking my attitude which could well be the reason for such a stinker of a mark. My dad then rounds off the day of stupid male comments by saying ‘ah you could have done with getting ten less!’ No shit Sherlock!! I was drinking tea at this point and munching down on carrot cake so the bitch face didn’t really make an appearance as it had with hubby earlier but it was close to surfacing! 

Anywho, Monday afternoon arrives and the results appear on Facebook and I’ve only gone and come 10th! I moved from second to last up to 10th purely down to the xc! I couldn’t bloody believe it and had to keep checking they’re done it correctly. 

It made me realise that eventing really is a game of 3 phases and it’s not over until it’s over. Yes the dressage plays a huge part in the game and I really do need to sort it out if we’ve any hope of progressing however, I’ve learnt that there’s no point in letting my emotions get the better of me half way through a test or the day. I should have known that really after watching Badminton the same weekend and seeing how influential the xc was to the leader board. 

So for now I’m gonna get my dressage head on and really work at it. I’ve entered another ode at the beginning of June and luckily it’s the same test so at least I can work on the bad parts and nail them next time.

And after writing this and seeing how much I’ve written, I realise what a lot of jibber jabbering I must do at home about horses and how much my poor husband and father have to put up with!!! 

For now, toodle pip 😘