New horse, new territory… our first event of the season!
So, what’s new from Episode 1… well, quite a bit really!
Pea has been with us for 26 weeks now. Bang on 6 months today. The last time we chatted she she had had her checks done and had started all of the basic training and fittening with the hope that she would be up to eventing at some point this year.
Well, a lot can happen in a few months! Pea has taken back to ridden work so well and I cannot believe how much progress she has made. I feel really proud looking back at just how wibbly and inverted she was to ride only a few weeks ago.
He flatwork and suppling work remains a priority for us, as this is the area that will benefit her the most in terms of building the right muscles to become stronger. It is also the area that she finds the hardest and the least enjoyable, so I have to keep changing up what we do to make it more fun.
She is doing two schooling sessions per week and these are either on the lunge or ridden. They usually start by lots of stretching and bending, then move on to basic transitions, then direct transitions (e.g. Walk to Canter or Halt to trot and vice versa). This helps her rotate the pelvis and work rounder over her back which she needs to build those muscles. I will then do 5-10 minutes of lateral work, spiraling in and out of 10-20m circles and shoulder in in walk and trot, always dishing out tons of praise. Every other session I add poles and raised poles in too just for a bit of variety and add some lift to her paces.
She has responded so well to this program, with 2 hacking days, a jumping day (once a fortnight) and 1 or 2 days off.
It hasn’t all been plain sailing though! Our first lesson off the yard with incredibly stressful on the travelling front, so was the second trip to be honest! She is AMAZING when we get there, but her erratic weaving in the box makes the pit of my stomach do somersaults. She is just not settled.
Enter DAISY… yes, we got her a friend! Daisy is a 12hh pony that when her and Pea are in the van together, all is well in the world. However, separating them at the other end… not great AT ALL! So I am still on plan C of the 467 step plan Pea has mapped out for us and would welcome any suggestions here! (I have tried a mirror, a calmer, a teddy, partition in and out – it is a separation thing).
Regardless of our travelling woes, Pea was entered for her first BE80 at Epworth Equestrian last weekend and to save this post being exceptionally long, here is her our FIRST EVENT REPORT. If you don’t have time for this, just know that all my hard work paid off and we very narrowly missed out on a placing and more proudly, we had a 33 dressage which I was VERY happy with indeed.
We have also shuffled her feeding around a little bit and there is a post detailing both horses new feeding regimes HERE.
All in all, I am absolutely astounded as to how amazing this horse is. Every single day she makes me smile and I cannot wait to spend the rest of our lives together making even more fun and happy memories.
It’s 2019 and there are nearly double that number of horse feed options available to horse owners… I’m glad it’s not 4019!
Disclaimer – I am not sponsored by a feed company, I am not a moron and I am aware of the difference between quality products and good marketing.
Basic Pony Club knowledge enlists the help of the 10 Golden Rules of feeding, you can even get a sodding badge in feeding for just knowing the basics – why are there SO many horse owners that don’t get this or equally, have so little common sense?
I thought I’d go someway to outline what horses need, give you a run down of what my horses get fed and hopefully provide something useful for you to share with your mate Mildred who doesn’t know her arse from her arsenic!
Basic rule NUMBER 1
Feed according to the WORK LOAD/HORSE TYPE/MENTAL STABILITY of your equine friend
Stop getting misled by the internet and trends in marketing. Yes, keep abreast of what’s available but stick with what you know (and if you don’t know, ASK a professional – see rule 2!).
Example; Jonny has a pony, it is an idle little sh*t and royally takes the p*ss out of Jonny. Because Jonny is also lazy and doesn’t like kicking, he feeds his pony a bowl of Racehorse cubes, barley and Redcell before each ride. Jonny is destined for impending accidents, Jonny’s pony has more energy than it needs, is on the verge of colic and will probably jump out of the field (or worse) when Jonny isn’t looking.
I know, I know… it’s so basic but if you are just hacking once a week and your horse is of a good weight, does it need regular buckets full of hard feed? Probably not.
Start with the most basic ration available, keep things SIMPLE – I would recommend an unmolassed chaff and a decent, all round vitamin and mineral supplement or balancer. I used to use Equivite for this, it was excellent so it probably doesn’t exist anymore!
Basic Rule NUMBER 2
If in doubt, ASK!
This might seem really obvious but… Nearly all of the big feed companies (Dengie, Dodson and Horrell, Spillers, Baileys, Saracen, Allen and Page, Topspec, Blue Chip, etc.) all have feeding helplines. NUTRITIONISTS ARE NOT SALES PEOPLE. They won’t just try and ply you with their own feed if they don’t think it would suit your horse.
Ring them, try it out. Don’t just take my word for it. These people are nutritionists, they have studied for years and have a very good knowledge of what will work for you. Your horse is their priority. Your questions will never be daft.
Basic Rule NUMBER 3
Stop using it if you don’t know what it’s for!
If you feed a supplement that you’re not sure is making a difference, it probably isn’t (other than to your purse). For years I fed stuff that I wasn’t sure of, I’m guilty too! I fed ‘Be Nicer to your rider’ powders, ‘stop pacing the fence’ liquids and syringed in more ‘please don’t kill me at a show’ tubes than I care to remember. If it isn’t making a difference STOP BUYING IT IMMEDIATELY and spend your money on a book on equine anatomy and digestion.
Yes, I am very cynical about this subject but I’ve seen SO many people asking what to feed their retired, overweight welsh section D, that I thought I ought to address it! I too have fallen foul of marketing fads in the past, so I feel very well placed to share this information.
For reference, I have 2 horses (mostly full TBs) Pat is VERY hot headed, Pea is the polar opposite. Pat reacts to ANYTHING in his diet, Pea could eat blue Smarties everyday for a week and still fall asleep on the job. – I feed them EXACTLY the same feed stuffs but in different rations.
I use Alfa A Oil as a staple and have done for years – Pat gets half a scoop, Pea gets a heaped one. I add the Dodson and Horrell Balancer (calming one, they’re all of a similar price but this one you can order on Amazon and get it delivered a few days later FOR FREE!!!). And to keep the weight on and a shine on their coats, I add a mug of Marriage’s or Charnwood cooked linseed meal (‘micronised linseed’ for anyone born pre 1990 – God help you if you ask for this in a shop these days) twice a day to Pea and half a mug to Pat.
On the supplement front, I useEquine America Cortaflex with Superfenn. It is the best joint supplement I have found after trying a few over the last few years. And to Pats feed I add their Super So Kalm Powder – this is a story for a whole other post… (Nutshell; I tried MANY – wasted hundreds ££ – this is working for Pat, perhaps a placebo to his stupid owner, but it’s helping and definitely worth the £29!)
For being so blunt and non-conformist, I have indeed wangled a discount code for you all too – use EAWIMPY on www.equine-america.co.uk
My horses event at a low level 2-3 times a month (worked 4-5 times a week) on chaff and balancer, I’m not saying all horses could, but mine do and have more than enough to give in terms of energy. They also live outside 24/7 with access to as much hay as they could eat. Basic is sometimes best, it certainly is for us.
And, one last thing before you go, I highly recommend going back for another look at those Golden rules, I re-learn something each time I bring this up and I think that’s the main point – you will never know everything there is to know – that’s your horses job!
Day two of our first events of 2019 and it was Pea who was today’s star of the show in the BE80.
For anyone that doesn’t know, little Pea is a thoroughbred mare who I had on loan back in 2013-14 from a very good friend.
She restored so much of my fragile confidence back then and when the opportunity came to have her back and keep her forever last September, of course I took it! Since 2014 Pea hadn’t really done much, so dragging her out of early retirement and giving her a fun job is my main priority!
Since September I have worked really hard to get her happy, flexible and willing to round on the flat… something she hasn’t ever found terribly natural. Jumping and running, they are her favourites!
So this morning, I woke without a single dash of nerves. An event day without toilet trips, without tears and without dread was seriously, seriously wonderful. Regardless of the outcome (which definitely didn’t matter) I just wanted to make sure she had fun!
With little Daisy, our new companion pony, in tow, we set off at 8.35AM in time for our 11am dressage. Pea is a weaver and weaves terribly in my lorry, but with Daisy there it’s hasn’t even occurred to her to do it even for a second! RESULT No.1!!
However, on arrival having to leave Daisy on the van and take Pea away for the dressage was about the time Auntie Smurph and I thought we might like to go home!!! Pea was calling, napping, you name it… it was terribly stressful! I walked Pea away leaving poor Smurph with the braying Daisy and consulted a friend further down the lorry park as to what I should do.
She gave me a mounting block and told me to get on with it! Result No.2!
Alone, I walked to the dressage warm up… I trotted most of the pathway because Pea was napping so badly I was a bit afraid of her bolting back to the van in search of a small pony lesbian romance!
Alas, we made it! Our warm up was horrific. I couldn’t even trot a circle without her veering, bolting or busting out the queen camel dance moves… I was not holding out much hope for a sub 40 test!
In the arena (when I finally made it there) she was awesome… I rode accurately and with an open hand and she gave me her all for a very surprising 33!!!
Back at the lorry park, I tied up at my friend Katherine’s lorry so we didn’t upset the pony or Pea and this worked so well! Everyone was calm and settled and Pea was very happy munching her haynet alone… result No.3!
After an hour and a half, we tacked up for showjumping and after a few practice fences, we ambled in… no pressure, I pootled around the course having a wonderful time with my horse without any pressure to perform. I know I could have collected her up and gone for the clear round but I didn’t and we came out beaming with two silly rolled poles where I just didn’t ask too much.
I was delighted how she took it all in her stride in a big dressed arena with so many fillers and banners and so much going on, I could give a fat rats ass about those poles… she was simply wonderful to be on top of today!
And there it was, cross country… the bit I usually dread. Except, I was not full of dread today. I was calm, happy and looking forward to seeing what my little horse had to offer. And by Jove she didn’t disappoint!
After popping a few practice jumps we headed for the box, not of doom, but of joy… the start box of joy!
5,4,3,2,1… she sailed out and over the first fence not a bother but we were still ambling! I picked up the pace and she soared fence 2, the house and 3, the bird house so well I couldn’t believe it! Down to 4, the shavings trailer that Pat had a stop at yesterday… And there is was… it happened again!
Only this time, my horse saved me.
I chased her in a bit and got a bit foetal up her neck out of nerves, she tried to chip in a stride that didn’t quite fit. She stopped, decided that might not be the required outcome and bloody went over it anyway!
She lurched over and got to the other side as though I was the one who had lost my marbles! Leave her to it Vic who doofus… she would jump the moon if I asked her to, and I’d do well to remember this more often.
Unscathed and over 5 a double with a skinny on a curve, she answered in fine style and galloped away over the big trailer at 6 and hopped up the step and brush at 7!
Galloping down to the pipes at 8 and round the back of the woods came 9, 10 (a double if dressed skinnies) and 11… she was bloody flying! To 12, the water ? which she doesn’t much like.
Not today my friends, straight in and jumped out without question to a chair at 13, down to the home straight taking each fence in her stride, she soared the last, the big carrot box and I screamed with delight for us both.
She gave me the most wonderful ride, I’ve missed that huge Peewee heart and her steely courage. She is just as determined as I am and together we are seriously bold. I cannot tell you what it means to have this little horse back by my side, she is my soulmate and I cannot wait for what the future holds for us. We finished in 14th place and would have been top three if I hadn’t have been in a busman’s holiday in the showjumping!!
Massive thanks to Auntie Smurph for her help and support today and to my lovely friend Robyn who was also there holding our hands and cheering us on. I don’t think I’ve laughed so hard at an event as I did today and I seriously cannot wait for the next one.
Thank you for all of your wonderful support as always and I look forward to (hopefully) getting off the waitlist for Oasby next weekend too!
Daddy Carrot was playing football today so we don’t have that many pics… but there will be tons of video on Instagram to follow!
…all I wanted to do was smile and bring my horse home safe.
As you may have noticed I’ve now got two horses to compete, XC train, jump and school, and I have been working really hard riding at least 10 times a week to get them ready.
I woke up today for my first event more prepared than ever before and that really helped my nerves by at least 50% less terrified than usual!
We were on at midday, first to go in the BE90 with Pat which meant a not too antisocial set off at 9.30am. I was very nearly ON TIME! Plaited and on the road by 9.35am feeling pretty queezy, I did have to ban poor Daddy Carrot from shovelling last nights pizza into his face on route for fear of me dry heaving the whole 50 minutes to Epworth!
We arrived, got checked in and got stuck into a cheeky Bucks Fizz to settle the nerves. I will just add at this point that because I have changed Pat’s feed and calmer I was not one little bit worried about getting on him today!! This is a total game changer for us and I cannot thank the wonderful Dodson & Horrell and amazing Equine America enough for their advice, it’s all working so so well and has truly changed my riding life.
I got on and headed for the dressage. Then it happened…
The moment I have waited for for many years….
Ben Hobday wished me good luck on the way to the dressage!! I felt 12 years old and grinning like never before, strutted all the way to the centre line!
In the dressage warm up I felt so happy I could have burst! I wasn’t frightened, I wasn’t clinging on, I was HAPPY… truly happy for the first time in this situation. I can’t tell you all what this means to me to be able to write this.
In the ring, my new found confidence made me ride for the marks we deserved and he pulled it out of the bag for a mega 27 this sat us in the top 3.
Back to the box and a swift change for jumping, I was first in and had the painful wait for the course change over and disjointed warm up but never fear… because my amazing friend (bit ambitious there Vic ?), Ben came to the rescue yet again… he gee’d me up and even offered to go first but I was right there, warmed up and ready so I declined his kindness and rode for my life!!
It all f*cking came together… when does it ever do this?! It did today, he flew everything, I kept the canter forward, I looked for my lines and we WENT BLOODY CLEAR!!!! I don’t think I could have smiled more if I’d wanted to! My new Bff (?) Ben, also did a clear round! Double result!
Nerves hit me hard then. But XC changes made, we headed to the warm up. At this point I think my new BFF (did I mention this was Ben Hobday?) was turning into some kind of Wimpy guardian angel because he walked with me for several laps of the warm up whilst tactically diverting my impending tears…
i casually trotted off, jumped a few and we were in the start box of doom being counted down…
5,4,3,2,1…. out of the box just and a short stint to the first fence, a half roll top came and went like it was nothing, to number 2, a wooden house which he also seemed to just take in his stride… was this actually happening?! Was he finally growing a pair after 7 years…?
Don’t be stupid! A sticky jump at three, the rather plain looking bird house did not bode well for the spooky shavings bale trailer at 4.
It happened, fence 4… he grabbed the anchor and royal chucked it down, ground to a stop and kissed the f*cking jump!! REFUSAL. Blast! That was it, placing over, potential win; gone.
But, I wasn’t there for that. Yes it’s nice to get placed but that’s always secondary. I was there to help my horse, I was there to show him it’s ok, to add another layer of bricks to our confidence wall and that’s exactly what I did. I gathered him up, held his hand and coaxed him over on the second attempt.
Fence 5, a double with skinny sharks teeth… not a problem for him, he popped both very nicely. 6 was a set of rails that saw him grow in confidence again, but backing off at the chair at 7, I had to work hard to get him over to the safe side!
8 was a double of hedges which were also not that pretty to watch, he was just sticky, but he trusted me and went and that’s all Icould ask for. 9 was a big table which he jumped so well that it took my breath away! Huge pat and a yippeeeee and we were at the water… he popped the jump before it, splashed in and popped the jump out so so well I was bursting with pride again!!
Galloping down to 11, the pipes, he absolutely flew it and bounded down to the tractor at 12. Surprisingly, he absolutely pulled me into that! But backed off 13, a simple roll top and leapt the coffin much bigger than my unfit person was expecting!
Over 14 and down to two skinnies at 15… I thought they might cause us a bit of bother and he made me feel a fool, he..
An insight into what cover I have and why I think it’s important.
Now, you might be thinking… “that bloody Wimpy’s sponsored by KBIS, course she’s going to be banging on about insurance!” or thoughts to that effect! But alas my friends, I have been insured with KBIS for over 10 years, with 5 different horses and always because of the same reasons, so hear me out, just for a cotton picking little minute!
Scenario Number 1:
You spend 5 years saving up all your money, buy a horse, get it home and it breaks a leg in the field the next day and requires euthanasia.
You probably haven’t had time to fall in love yet, but you have lost every single penny that you spent on that poor dead pony and you have no way of getting the money together for another 5 years. WITHOUT THE RIGHT INSURANCE. As heartless as that might sound, it’s real life. You probably wont have had months of saving for the ‘what if’s’ in your pony bank account and you’ll have all of the costs of disposal and vet bills to pay as well.
Scenario Number 2:
You have your beloved Mildred for 10 years and out of the blue, she colics. Requiring £4,500 worth of treatment and you have only got 3 months wages in reserve.
What on earth do I do? I don’t have rich friends, I’m not eligible for a bank loan and I don’t own anything of that kind of value to sell. My vet isn’t going to set up a payment plan and I have no way of saving Mildred’s life, she would have to be put to sleep and I would never forgive myself as long as I live WITHOUT THE RIGHT INSURANCE.
The reality for me is, I can afford Pat and Pea’s insurance each month but, I realistically can’t afford colic surgery or similar.
My focus is vet fee cover, I have them under insured for their value because in my opinion, no amount of money would EVER come close to replacing them and at KBIS you are able to under insure by up to 50% of the current market value (although you do have to let them know your horses actual value). This keeps monthly costs down if the recouping the money you paid for the horse isn’t why you are insuring them.
My horses are not investments and I don’t need to secure that capital I invested in them. This figure would not bring them back, it’s not why I have insurance. I get that some horses are, and that’s okay too.
But, I have insurance to save their lives, to prolong the time we get to spend together, because that is the stuff money can’t buy.
KBIS – They get me.
I toyed with changing suppliers of insurance when I got Pea. I shopped around for some miraculous ‘multi-horse discount’. But, I’ll tell you now… no-one got me like KBIS. They understood why I didn’ t care about his value, they understood because; THEY ARE HORSE PEOPLE. They didn’t try and up sell to me like a couple of other companies, they just knew what I wanted it for and didn’t push.
I don’t regret shopping around, in fact; I’m glad I did. It made me realise that I have the best for us, that the choices I made were the right ones and that after 10 years of always dealing with my queries and claims efficiently, I will be loyal to KBIS for as long as I have horses.
If anyone wants any more details about KBIS head to their website or give them a call, if you have any queries about my experience with them, please don’t hesitate to get in touch, pop a message below… whatever you like. I will always be very transparent. I will also bring you some more information about their Catastrophe Cover, which is also a remarkable policy, in another installment next month.
Love every second with your horses, they are truly remarkable, you never know when those days might run out.
The most heartfelt update from our amazing polo queen, Susan…
I can’t believe that it’s now almost a year since I became part of Team Wimpy. 2018 was one of those rare, enchanted years when everything just seemed to work out. (If this sounds smug, please believe me when I tell you that I’d had a couple of the suckiest years you can possibly imagine prior to this). But with all the things that happened, all the achievements that built up – it’s made me unsure, even two months in, what I want from 2019.
A Moment of reflection
I don’t have the big ground breaking goals that I had last year. When I got word that I was in Team Wimpy, I had already come a long way from the lowest point of my struggle with confidence. But I never really dreamed of how far I would still come. I played the grass polo season. I played in a competitive league in the arena, I played a proper, big tournament and didn’t embarrass myself or let down Pataca. I laughed when I was ridden off so hard I nearly flew off my pony or when my backhand swing unseated me. I passed the Rules Test and got an official HPA handicap. I went on fast hacks both in groups and on my own, I rode bareback, I learned to take out sets. I learned to do polo pony flying changes hahaa, where you jump from one pony to the other between chukkas. But now its almost like ‘where do I go from here?’
Ever fragile confidence…
I fear that I stop progressing or that I go backwards. A few times this year I’ve almost gotten cocky that I wasn’t nervous anymore. I’d think who even WAS that ridiculous girl who was in tears at the thought of trotting around an indoor arena, who made excuses not to have to ride? But then WHAM!, something random would happen to knock that confidence and suddenly all the old doubt in myself would flood back in and the crippling nerves would take over. I think that’s the big thing. I know that my riding is unrecognisable to how it was just two years ago, but I also know that it’s still all quite fragile. More fragile than I sometimes remember myself.
Baby steps remember!
I know that to improve at polo I should start riding different ponies. I should play in a polo saddle not my trusty GP that I’ve just taken the knee rolls out of. But I don’t think I feel ready yet. I’m so happy on Pataca, I love and trust her so much that I’m scared of stepping out of that comfort zone. I’ve always felt that my confidence grew because I was able to build on lots of small good experiences and I’m terrified that it would only take a few bad ones to set me back again.
So there lies the big question for what’s ahead this year. Do I push on as hard as I can or do I just cut myself some slack, enjoy my pony and have a year of celebrating what I’ve built without worrying about progress? It feels like its dangerous to say that. I have never really pushed myself so hard as I did on the initial learning curve for polo. I thought I just wasn’t cut out for it so many times and yet something made me keep trying and not give up. Is it lack of ambition to sit back on my heels? If I take my foot off the accelerator now will I end up never putting it back on? Would there be anything WRONG with never putting it back on and just enjoying my pony and club chukkas and not really caring about whether I play tournaments or whether I ever go up in handicap?
Sorry! So many questions on this rather rambling update. I wanted to try to be honest and I think that Team Wimpy isn’t just about celebrating the successes, its about having support when you do wobble a bit, or when you aren’t quite sure what the next step should be. For me I’m just thrilled to be continuing for another year. There’ve been so many times that I’ve not really wanted to do something I was scared of doing, but I SO wanted to be able to come home and go on our FB group and tell the girls that I’d done it.
Pataca and I are playing for The Westfield Wizards in our polo club’s Frostbite League, so my short term goal is to be an asset to the team and win at least one of our matches! I could gush about my pony for thousands of words, but nothing could ever fully describe what she has given me this year, she truly is a horse of a lifetime. And to be honest, if I did nothing more than hack about the countryside on her, I think I’d still be a happy girl. Hope your 2019s are all off to a good start!
So, my amazing team of seven riders is about to grow… I am so happy with the girls and how well they have gelled and supported one another, I am looking to add 3 more Team Wimpy Riders to the team for 2019, making a team of 10! More on that this week….
We are kicking off this year with and update from our beautiful Becki and Buckster!
New year, New goals…
2019 has now started and I have some pretty big goals, it’s already been off to a great start!
Buck and I went to our first competition of 2019 when we went to the BE arena eventing at Weston lawns, it wasn’t our best day and it certainly goes to show that things don’t always go right!
I was very nervous and had a complete wobble before getting on, it felt very much like when I first started eventing, with the overwhelming fear and constant churning stomach resulting in another almost sick moment.
I wasn’t really paying attention into the first jump (too busy waving at Caroline in the judges box and let Buck get too quick, resulting in me checking him too late.
We had a bit of a miscommunication over which stride to go on and he just got too close to the fence and couldn’t take off … This resulted in a refusal (our first ever competitive refusal) that was totally my fault and I take full responsibility.
After that though we had a cracking round and even with the refusal time added on we were still inside the optimum time! Plus, the joker fence was 1m so we managed our first 1m jump together!!!
When I watched the video back I was actually really impressed with our round and to be honest, I think the stop did me good! It will teach me in future to pay more attention and to remember all our training around rhythm and balance.
I have taken my other horse, Vera to Eland again for their clear round arena eventing, she was a very good girlie apart from some very odd napping at the start when she didn’t want to go away from the collecting ring.
Apart from that she was ace, it was a very tight course so I had to put a couple of circles in to settle her. It did meant that I could set her up nicely for the jumps as she’s still very inexperienced – I didn’t want to knock her confidence!
The most exciting achievement of 2019 so far though happened just the other day, when we got our results for the HayGrazer E-Rider your horse live championships.
I had entered the prelim and novice on Buck and this was our first time trying online dressage.
I filmed both tests a day after our dressage lesson so everything was still fresh in our minds. However, both of us had worked so hard the day before we both tired very easily and after the prelim I really didn’t feel up to doing the novice, but as we had hired a school to do it, we had to crack on.
Watching the videos back I was happy but felt I could have done better, especially after watching the quality of everyone’s entries – there are some seriously amazing tests on there!
I spent all of yesterday refreshing the page as the results were due to be released at any time. By the time I got home and put the telly on I was so tired I forgot to keep checking so imagine my surprise when my friend messaged me saying I’d only gone and won the prelim with an insane 73.46% AND come 3rd in the novice with 68.33%
I’m still in shock now and was totally blown away as I never expected that, this is only the 4th time I’ve ridden a novice test and to know it is all judged by bd judges has really set a good bench mark for when we do our first bd competition at the end of the month!!
So excited to get my sheets back and see the judges comments! Let’s just hope that 2019 continues in this direction!
It just shows hard work does pay off! I honestly believe if you want something you need to throw yourself into it fully, heart and soul and train like you’ve never won!
I pour every thing into my training and competing and it’s especially hard as I don’t have any facilities plus work full time! Honestly, guys if I can do this anyone can!!
Keep training, keep fighting and never give up!! Get out there and make those dreams come true!
With the 2019 season looming, I am reflecting on some of the things I get asked the most often. Number one has to be; How do I cope with Pat being so SPOOKY? And the answer is, I have struggled with it for many years, seven in fact! But I have learnt a few things that help and a lot of things that definitely don’t help!
If like me, you have a horse that just simply won’t take your word for it that jumping fillers and XC fences WILL NOT KILL THEM… you might find this useful, even if it’s just knowing that you’re not battling alone.
FIRST THING’S FIRST
DO NOT GET CROSS. I know it’s frustrating, I know you want to scream ‘Trust me you pillock’ right into his ear hole whilst beating 10 bells of Sunday out of his backside… but please understand that this will ALWAYS MAKE THINGS WORSE.
If you have a horse that is genuinely afraid, hitting him, getting stressed and cross and tensing every inch of your body will NOT help one bit. The best thing to do is get off. If you can’t deal with things calmly and methodically, GET OFF.
BE SUPER POSITIVE
Remember that old saying; “throw your heart over the fence and your horse will follow”? In my experience of bringing on young horses and spending the last 7 years with Lord Spookington, if I commit to a line, a fence, a decision, a pace, a turn or a transition (and I mean REALLY commit), we will get there. It might not be pretty and it might take a lot of encouragement, but I have never had a refusal at a fence that I have ridden for with 100% unwavering confidence. If you are unsure in your decisions on a spooky horse, this will result in a lack of trust.
Lower the fence height, to poles on the ground if you have to, just so you are 100% confident and committed. And remember, don’t ever feel embarrassed to take it down a level if you do have a wobble… you’ll both be better off.
DON’T PUT IT OFF
If you have areas that are particularly challenging, things that your horse finds more scary than others, don’t avoid them; do them MORE. I have found that the more we get out and see the better he is. I never feel confident jumping corners or fillers so I practice them as often as I can. I HATE dressed fences on the cross country, so guess what I have on order for the field…? Yep, 4 plastic flower boxes and several old banners!
De-sensitising and making less of an ordeal of these things will definitely help you out for shows and competition environments.
CREDIT WHERE CREDIT’S DUE
If you ask a him a question that is answered with the required response… PRAISE your horse. Make sure he knows that was what you wanted, take the pressure off and pat him. Building trust with tons of positive bricks will soon mean you have a faultless and solid wall built up from all those good times.
Get some help. If you are struggling, never be afraid to ask. No-one ever has all of the answers, we all have different experiences and different tools in our bags. It’s ok to ask for help, wanting to better yourself for the sake of your horse’s happiness is commendable, don’t feel like you have failed. You haven’t – quite the opposite.
Frickley Park BE 90 Cross Country with Rider commentary!!! - YouTube
Feeling under pressure to transform yourself this January… read on my friends, read on.
Here’s the thing with January, it’s the start of a NEW YEAR and apparently, according to millions of Facebook posts, the chance to create a ‘New You’. Well, how about this: what if the old you was already doing a good job? What if last years you was already good enough? And just for a small second, think about how your old you might feel when it gets lost in all this new you bullsh*it…
I’m all for creating goals and making plans to achieve them but don’t think that just because you missed the deadline of Jan 1st, that you have to wait 11 and a half months to try again!
Guess what… Every day is a NEW day right? If you are set on some miraculous reinvention, why wait… why not do it RIGHT NOW?
Turning Dreams into Reality
Now, I have things I absolutely have to achieve this month, like paying my tax bill and getting more work hours signed. But there are also things I have tasked myself with to build the steps that lead to my end goals for the year.
My lorry is currently off the road because I haven’t been able to afford the MOT and associated work for it to pass. In order to get out competing and progressing with the horses, this really is a huge deal breaker for me. OPERATION ‘Make more money’, is in full swing.
Along side the first point, I am saving money by selling all the random stuff I don’t need that lurks around my house and yard. I have given up smoking and only drinking on Friday nights, unless we are gifted wine of course (I know, shock horror). I am no longer getting my nails done once a month, I am looking into AdSense for my social platforms and website, and I am looking for more work opportunities too.
I am riding EVERYDAY. I worked out that I spend a lot of money on shoeing and keeping two horses (albeit in a field at home) and avoid riding most days.. WTAF am I doing?! So, with that in mind… everyday that I am physically able (we don’t have floodlights or a menage), I am riding!
I’ve also vowed to jump once a week, just in the field while I save some money. And in these sessions I have also vowed to jump at least 2 things that scare the pants off me! So far I have managed to jump both horses over a huge 1.10m Oxer and I’ll tell you something, I’d do it again, now I know it wasn’t so bad!! I’d call that progress!
So I am rambling a little but, my point is this;
STOP with the re-invention. Yes, make tweaks, adjust things, make plans and have dreams, but remember… do not wish you were someone else. You are already incredible, you might just need to do some stuff that reminds you just how incredible you really are!!
Happy New Year and I look forward to catching up with you all soon!
I was absolutely delighted to attend the 4th leg of the Ros Canter and Caroline Moore, 4 years to 4* tour at Vale View Equestrian last night. I have taken away so much from just 3 hours of learning and I hope you find it useful too.
Credit : Rupert Gibson Photography
Caroline Moore, British Eventing National Coach to our GB Junior Squad and co-owner of the world’s leading event horse Allstar B, gave me a behind the scenes insight into some of the exercises used to train a horse up the levels.
I won’t spoil it for you all because Horse&Country TV will be airing the footage on 18th December, but I will tell you about my 3 favourite exercises from the evening and the top 3 nuggets I am taking away from it.
A bit about the set up
The arena looked something like this:
Let’s get one thing STRAIGHT
So, there are 2 oxers and 3 skinny brush fences set alternately on a straight line. This is a test of accuracy, balance and straightness. The horses they used for this were incredible young horses but I cant wait to have a go. TOP TIP: Walk your horse through the skinny wings without a pole or brush so they get used to having a small gap to fit through.
Caroline talks us through this exercise here:
This was probably my favourite exercise of the evening. Yes I loved seeing Ros and her accuracy over the huge shoulder brush corner BUT…. where I am at right now, this exercise will help BOTH my horses and me to focus and re-group.
3 sets of 3 raised trotting poles on 2 turns (see arena diagram). So simple but I couldn’t believe how much of a difference it made to both horses in the arena. Trot over 3, turn, trot over 3, turn, trot over the final 3. This will help focus attention of both horse AND rider, balancing the horse for the turn will teach collection and engagement, and the lift they need for raised poles will certainly build great muscle tone and also encourage an active hind leg. I LOVE this and I cant wait to have a go!
Watch the exercise as Caroline tells us about her magic list…
My next favourite was a VERY simple figure of eight teaching the horse to respond to your weight balance and land on the correct canter lead.
We received a physics lesson from the ever knowledgeable Caroline where she explained how your weight can directly impact which leading leg your horse lands on after a jump and this exercise is excellent for that. TOP TIP: The jumps can be tiny for this but remember, Eyes UP!
Just turning your head and weight, looking and bending the horse in direction you want to travel will have a direct impact on the leg they land on after the fence.
See Ros and Heidi having a go:
My TOP 3 Nuggets
Nugget 1: Ros has changed so much about her riding in the last few years and she put a lot of emphasis on not riding with too short reins and getting out of balance up the horses neck… I do this A LOT and I’m going to practice lengthening the rein and being more in balance.
Nugget 2: There were some great tips for SPOOKY horses last night and I definitely need to get on top of this. Ros talked a lot about firm and fair training and I am going to insist a bit more often that Pat pays attention to ME not the slightly off brown leaf on the fence 200m away.
Nugget 3: Learning to love going fast to a fence… I’ve got much better at this but practicing galloping in the field and going quicker than I’d like to a jump would stand me in really good stead for XC riding. Not in a hurry to tackle that MASSIVE shoulder brush corner though!
I really cannot tell you how great it was at this demo. They are full to bursting with knowledge, the pair of them. I am almost certainly going to book in for a lesson with Caroline, she has such a huge toolbox of skills and I really look forward to improving my horses using her training methods at home too.
Massive thank you to Caroline, Ros and Heidi and also to Jump 4 Joy, Stierna and to Justine at Smiley PR for allowing me to cover this event. I can’t wait to get practicing now!!!
CREDITS: Header Image by Rupert Gibson Photography