Wednesday, 19 December 2012

How Carraig Dubh came to Team Upton

My dream since last summer was to get a string of quality horses at different levels. Gradually over the last 6 months I have been lucky enough to have amassed some incredible horse power, all youngsters but really talented. My last dream was to get a horse at a more advanced level to give me experience, but I never actually thought it would happen.

At the beginning of November my Mum was in the middle of a conference in London, when she got a text from Tina Cook saying "Call me when Harriet is not around, I have an idea I want to talk to you about". Well you can imagine, Mum was really intrigued but stuck in the conference, so she text back and said she would speak later. When Mum was able to talk she called Tina, who was rehearsing with Children in Need at the time, so she could not speak! So Mum had to wait a whole day and also not say anything to me. I think you could say she found that rather hard.

Eventually when they were both free and I was not around, Tina was able to discuss her little idea! She told Mum about a 12 year old horse Carraig Dubh (Danny) owned by The Lawsons that she had produced and really put her heart and soul into. This special horse had made Sam Albert's Olympic dream come true after her horse had sadly gone lame. After competing and completing at the Olympics for Jamaica, Sam had then taken the very big decision to retire and they were looking for a new home /rider for Danny. BUT  Tina stressed that Danny was a quirky ride and not for everyone. What did Mum think?

Mum was rightfully cautious 'quirky' rang alarm bells, as well as 6 horses and only 5 stables! Anyway they talked it through and Mum said she would talk it through with me. Obviously my response was never in doubt and the following day Tina arranged for Sam Albert to speak to Mum.

'Quirky' was mentioned again in the phone call between Sam and Mum, but they arranged a day for us to go to meet Sam and Danny in Newbury the following week at Sam's yard. Mum spent the whole time pointing out the downsides to me so that I did not get my hopes up.

When we arrived at the yard, Sam took us to Danny's stable and we could not believe that this docile, cuddly pony was an Olympic Eventing horse. He is just incredibly affectionate and so quiet. Sam rode him first but it was definitely me on trial and not Danny on trial. So I had everything to prove. I wasn't nervous and as soon as I got on him I felt I had ridden him all my life. We did a bit on the flat and then some show jumping, within 10 mins Sam had put the jumps up to 1m 20. Considering I am only riding youngsters at the moment this felt enormous. Then she made me open him up to see if I could control him when he got a bit unruly. Did he get unruly? well no, he was an angel. So then she suggested we went on her xc course, he just popped round in a perfect rhythm.1st trial passed. Phew!

Sam fed back to Tina and The Lawsons and then for one reason or another it was not possible to ride Danny for a couple more weeks. We were supposed to be going to Mark Todds new place to test Danny round his XC course but the weather let us down. Then Sam phoned and suggested instead of us keep going to Newbury why didn't we take him on a trial and then Tina would be able to assess us together.

The day we picked him up was heart wrenching for Sam, he is the kind of horse that makes you very emotional. (What am I talking about, we are like that about all our horses)! Anyway Sam bid him a tearful farewell and we brought Danny back home. On our way back we stopped off at Tweseldown to test him round the XC course. He was perfect. When we got home he just fitted into the yard like he had always been there, no fuss whatsoever.

That week we went to Royal Leisure, where I found out how big his jump was and how he can twist! I was jumped out the saddle a bit but nothing that made me think I would fall off him. Then we went to Tina, she did test us and she couldn't wait to sit on him, but we passed the 2nd test, Tina was really happy!

So Tina and Sam talked to the Lawsons, Mum then had a long conversation with Shaun Lawson and the decision was made. I have a lot to learn on him. He can be very strong and I am quite small! I am building up my muscles. We are really not going to truly know until the competition season as he is a different horse when his blood is up. But I have the winter to train on him and Tina to train and advise me. The temptation with a horse like Danny is to be very competitive, this is not the point of Danny. Danny is here to give me experience and for me to be able to pass that experience on to my very talented youngsters. If we make teams then we make them, but we are not trying for them and no one is putting any pressure on me or Danny to do so.


Photo above by MDR Photo:

Below Danny at the Olympics with Samantha Albert

Samantha Albert and Carraig Dubh - Olympics Day 4 - Equestrian

Monday, 3 December 2012

Jon Pitt's= The best!!!

I had another absolutely cracking session with Jon Pitt on Hector boy.

We went right back to basics on flatwork which was exactly what I needed, riding different horses, my riding has to change and adapt to each horse. Jon helped me to sit and really feel what was happening underneath me. This has helped me recently when riding new horses, I start by riding them in a good walk rhythm and just feeling how they move underneath me.

I have always gone by natural feel but now Jon has explained it to me as a pattern, you have to think about the pattern your pelvis goes through when riding a horse and the shape it makes or a letter in this is case and if you think about it, your pelvis rocks and goes forward and backward making a V shape.

In this session we also did some jumping, we talked about when my position was at its strongest point, the position of my shoulders the way I can get maximum leverage on my elbows to be able to control the horse and controlling with my seat.

This session with Jon, has given me a lot to think about when riding my other ponies at home!!

The following week I was lucky enough to see Jon again (not being sarcastic, honest!) but this time it was filming for Jon's brand spanking new website. We were doing bite sized segments trying to show how not to do something and then how to ride it perfectly. I was able to demonstrate how not to do something perfectly! It was one cold cold cold day but it a very funny one at that, after having to do lots of retakes because  we were laughing soo much , I honestly think it was because we were so cold we were going a little insane.

Anyway it was great fun and Hector was an awesome natural born filmstar!!!!

Tuesday, 20 November 2012


The beginning of the story of Boo....

Boo was born in 2008, at Bourne Hill, her daddy is Dramatic who was the 2008 world dressage champion and her mummy Toscana, a mare with jumping lines.

Last week Fiona Bigwwod and Anders Dahl very generously offered Boo to me. So Lisa and I went to pick her up from Cass' at Hickstead where she had been educated for a month. She stayed a week at Fiona and Ander's so that I could ride her a little and get the feel of her. I had a sit on her and WOW well she can move. She is so genuine and lovely and just needs some one on one with someone! So I agreed to take the challenge.

She came to us on Saturday and she has proven no challenge as of yet. She is so quiet, loves a cuddle, only likes her field for a couple of hours and after that she just stands there waiting to come in. She adores her stable and has made friends very quickly with the other horses.

Sunday mum gave her a light lunge and she was a superstar, mum even got her to walk and trot over a single pole. This is something that had been tried previously but she gave it 5ft of air but she seemed so relaxed. Mum knew she would be ok.

On Monday  and Tuesday I lunged her and I got my Monty Roberts on, I did some join up, I had her following me around the lunge pen  without anything attached to her and she followed me over a few poles and through some barrels, we even reversed through the barrels she was such a good girl.

Just waiting for the wind to die down before I get on her, but the ground work is doing her good, I feel that I am really gaining her trust.

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Motivational backside kicking from Jon Pitt!

Last week I had a one-to-one with Jon Pitt or as I like to call it a motivational backside kicking! Jon as most of you will know by now is a Performance Coach. He has worked with some of the world top athletes equestrian and non-equestrian..... Ah well when he works with me I bring him back down to earth with a bump!

I try to see him on a once a month basis and mainly I am on a horse. We have done many different things in our session depending on my need at the time it has varied from video analysis on the flat, technique in the the different disciplines to a confidence giving session. This week (thank goodness because it was raining hard and very cold) we sat in Matt and Kate's cosy kitchen at LMEQ, with hot mugs of tea, we analysed the season just gone, put in place plans for next season, discussed winter training and also management of my back issues.

This was just what I needed. The season had ended and although it wasn't obvious I realised afterwards I had been on the edge of a dip. This session made me look at the achievements of the previous season, the reasons why it had not gone to plan at times and areas that I can improve on my riding. Its made me excited for next season and I can see the benefits of having multiple horses at the same level. They will all roughly be at 100 and aiming for Novice next season. I would still love an advanced horse to help teach me the ropes at that level so that I can pass that experience on to my youngsters when they move up but oh well, who knows what is round the corner. Each horse will have its own individual development plan and so will I. Jon and Sue Chinn my Osteopath are working together to help me sort out my back properly and we also looked at the business side of what I am doing and Jon gave Mum and I some ideas for that too.

All the horses are going to continue to train through the winter, only Yara is resting as she is recovering from a strike injury to her tendon. (Thankfully through a boot so not as bad as it could have been). We believe in keeping a certain level of fitness in the horses rather than turning away completely. Scientific studies have shown that the horses are better mentally and physically if they are kept in low level work throughout the winter.

My motivation is high, I am busy doing my homework that Jon set me.

I do love a plan and now I have plan A, B, C, D, E, F, G.............

Watch this space. Next session in November will be on showjumping, we will be doing some video analysis so that should be exciting.

In the mean time here are a few pictures taken by MDR Photo on one of my previous sessions with Jon

Monday, 22 October 2012

National Schools Championships 2012 - The End

Mum "We are NEVER doing this again"
Me " I have left school  so no need to worry we won't anyway, but I swear you say that every year Mum"!
NSEA championships is the only competition that I have known Mum make wine the priority when packing!

The lead up to these championships had not gone well. I qualified Mulligan who ended up going back to the Dunsdons, Yara then took his place and then she got a strike injury to her tendon. So Hector had to step up to the plate having never done a novice test until the week before and Gail Stephens kindly lent me Beanie to do the jumping. Thankfully I hadn't had time to qualify for the JWS too!

Saturday morning dawned and our early start was delayed by a few hours because I was ill and Mum wanted me to rest. We decided to withdraw from the individual dressage warm up at lunchtime to give us more time to get there and me some rest time. Not sure I have ever withdrawn from a comp due to illness. It was obviously "Man Flu".

We arrived at Addington at 2pm. Although we had hook up we were parked roughly 50 feet away from it and told we had brought a really short lead. We hadn't and we have never had an issue before. It took them 6 hours to put us in a parking spot with hook up! Mum kept smiling at security in the vain hope it would make a difference and they would get us a spot sooner. Really on reflection if she had lost her temper and been generally irritating like some of the Mums there I think it would have had better effect. However in the process of building good relationships and trying to get them on side she learnt how to make toffee vodka and they all decided that we should have a party in the lorry. Mum had to back track very fast!

In the meantime we were told our stable numbers, only to find that there were already horses in them. Back we went to the stable manager who assured us they were our stables and there shouldn't be horses in them. We tracked down the owners of the horses who then moved them. Took our horses off the lorry, went to our stables and someone else I put their horse in there. There were 2 empty next to them so we put ours in there only to be told we were not allowed to do that! Anyway Hector took a huge dislike to the temporary stables, no way a horse of his class should be made to go in one of those! He reared up constantly and tried to get over the door, so out he came. Hector was totally wired, he has never been to a competition this big with so many people and I am sure the busy environment probably reminded him of when he was put in the sales in Ireland or something. The only way to calm him down was to get on him, which I did and he behaved perfectly. I think it just gave him some reassurance. Luckily Sarah Millard (Hector's owner) had her daughter Lila's pony in the main stable area so we did a swap. This was much more to his lordships liking and he decided he would calm down and stay put in that stable!

Meanwhile I was feeling worse by the minute and Mum pulled me out of the jumping that afternoon too! I rode Beanie quietly round instead and just had a little jump.

After putting the horses to bed Mum cooked us Salmon in Watercress Sauce, new potatoes and veg in the lorry and then we consumed a bar of Cadburys Oreo Dairy Milk between us and watched a DVD, (we know how to live) then Rupert Batting popped over for a gossip and we finally went to bed about midnight.

On Sunday dosed up with Day Nurse Mum and I got up at 6am to feed and muck out the horses by 7.30am I was on Hector warming up his muscles for the day ahead. We had a strict schedule of grooming, plaiting and tacking up. Eating went out the window for the day but we made up for it at the end of the day! Michael Rogers from turned up to take photos even though he only just got back from New York. We were so glad to see him too, he really helped Mum out as she was literally on her knees by lunchtime and had hurt her back. There was so much to carry to and fro. Michael became photographer/pack horse!

It was not Farlington's day with the teams. In the Intermediate and Open SJ we finished as a team on 12 penalty points which was not enough to take us though. Everybody rode really well it was just bad luck. Then came the dressage - Hector rose to the occasion. This horse has only done 7 dressage tests in his life, he has only just developed his core strength and this was his 2nd ever Novice test. he was up against some of the top junior dressage horses in the country and he ended up coming 2nd in his section missing 1st by less than 1%/ Awesome, awesome horse. Everyone fell in love with him and I just felt so honoured to be riding him. I have Fiona Bigwood to thank for helping me over the last couple of weeks, I could not have done it without her awesome training.

How we packed up and got ready to go home I don't know it passed in a blur, I tried to stay awake on the journey home to help Mum, well that lasted about an hour, then I crashed. Finally after dropping Beanie off and sorting horses we stepped into the house at 11pm. Thank goodness we didn't make it through to the sj finals I think it would have been about 2am in the morning if we had.

And that is the end of the NSEA champs for me! Farlington has some fantastic riders, we have won and been placed in nearly every championships as a team. The highlight of all the years I have been doing them was when Sunny and I were Jumping with Style Champions at the age of 11 and Hectors 2nd place in his section this weekend has to be one of those moments I will also never forget, just because of his back story and the run up to the championships. Overall we have had fun, they usually provide Mum, Dad and I with lots of laughs particularly the pushy, stressy Mums, we usually end up feeling very sorry for the children..... until we see them having tantrums!

I have now lost my voice completely, I made it into work this morning but spent the afternoon in bed. That might be where I stay for the next couple of days.

I'll let you know how the toffee vodka turns out!!!

Friday, 19 October 2012

The day Eventing Magazine called......

Earlier on this month I was contacted by Julia Cons from Eventing Magazine, she was writing a feature on sponsorship and wanted to talk to me about how I obtained sponsorship as an up and coming rider. I was honoured to be asked and thrilled that the fact that I was sponsored had caught her eye because that meant both me and my sponsors were doing the right things. Of course knowing me and my ability to chat I gave Julia an abundance of information, far too much to write in an article but should she ever choose to write a book, she will have plenty of material! I just want to mention in addition to MDR photo and Timothy Foxx. I am also sponsored by Andrew Reilly, Master Saddler and supported by Littleton Manor Equestrian and Grant Laing Farrier. So here is the feature from the November issue....

Add caption

Monday, 8 October 2012

Last event of the season :(

Last event of the season and I couldn't have asked for a better last one.

I love Hector!

It has been a very up and down this season with Hector, we started the season well with a really good 2nd at Iping in the 80, then a couple of weeks later he got an injury that meant he was out for a month and a half. Nightmare!

But never the less he came back stronger and just in time to finish the season and did he finish well, like I always say, hard work pays off and I have Tina Cook also to thank for all her help training Hector and I ready for Pulborough..


Pulborough was awesome.

I came 11th even though it is not 1st this does not bother me, in eventing when competing youngsters I believe its personal goals! And Hector gave me one of the best personal goals ever he was, trusting, calm and just beautiful!

Dressage: I took advantage of the long walk to the dressage and let him trot and canter with his head up so that he relaxed and it did him the world of good. He was so relaxed and listening to me every step of the way, this is one huge, huge improvement> He went into the arena with such charisma he just felt great, there were a few mistakes like when I was doing canter to trot transitions going down hill and the halt but for his 3rd event ever he was wonderful.

Showjumping: Normally his worst phase but he was also great, he had a little paddy in the warm up when he was spooking at other horses but after a little perseverance he became settled and he jumped a super round. He had one pole, the last fence. The cause of this was him throwing his head up before the fence and running through the bridle, then flattening over the fence, he used to do this at every fence on the course. He gives me such a awesome feeling over the fence. Oh and Pulborough's new surface is LUSH!!!!

Cross Country: He was unbelievable!!! I could not have faulted him, he just ate up the course! AWESOME, awesome, awesome

This was a wonderful end to the season, not just because Hector superb, all my owners came to watch me this included Yara's owner David, Estella and Arabella:s owner Jill and Hector|:s owner Sarah, 2 of our very good friends came along too Lisa Sparrowhawk and Emily Bennet. We know that Micheal and Lisa Rogers my sponsors were definitely there in spirit, though we miissed them terribly! Everyone was very helpful and as usual extremely supportive. Thank you all.

This Season has been a roller coaster, I have had some wonderful times and some difficult times but it has all come together at the end of the season with some gorgeous and very very talented horses and I love them all! I cant wait for next season to get them all out competing.

My Team my wonderful team! The Upton team is unbeatable, I have such support and I needed that this season more then ever, I feel so lucky to have such lovely owners, sponsors and family

I would like to Thank

My owners: Grant Laing, Jill Chaytor, David Foy and Sarah Millard for allowing me to ride their very very very lovely horses

My supporters: Micheal and Lisa Rogers (MDR photo), Andrew Reilly (saddler), Rosalie Gregory (timomthy Foxx), Grant Laing (farrier and uncle) Matt Tarrant and Kate Lucas (LMEQ)and Jon Pitt (performance coach) I wouldn't be able to do what I do without your help and support it means the world!

My trainers: Tina Cook, Ken Spencer, Mel Breen, Fiona Bigwood and Emma Harrison, thank you, you guys help me in so many ways and make me be the best I can thank you.

Last but not least...

My Family: All I can do is apologise Mum and Dad for the early mornings, long journeys, the money, the stress and the list goes on but thank you for not disowning me and putting up with me and my determination!

Once again thank you all for bearing with me and believing in me when I was having my learning curves!! I cant thank you guys enough. BRING ON NEXT SEASON!!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Big catch up

So sorry I have not updated my blog for a few weeks, we have had computer issues but a new router has sorted it! No more excuses.

Its been a busy month. We said goodbye to my Brother Ross who left to go and work in Oxford as a Clinical Cardiac Scientist, I shall miss his taxi service and his made up dinners that is for sure! On a positive note I no longer get science lectures at the dinner table, I get his bedroom and we get to visit Oxford a lot, so not all bad! (Not so sure Mum sees it like that)!

I am still working at Fiona Bigwoods and Anders Dahll's yard and love it, I wish I could work more hours there but I wouldn't have time to ride all my horses at home. They have very kindly given me a horse called Pamela to produce as an Eventer (well that's what i'm planning, she's got a cracking jump). Pamela is 3 years old and the daughter of Anders' very gorgeous Dramatic. Pamela has a few opinions and is a bit of a diva - we get on splendidly! Yesterday I was asked to ride 3 other horses for them too, I am wondering if this means less mucking out.....

Tomorrow after work I am off to ride a little 13.2 pony and will probably be riding him for his owner a couple of times a week, to help out with his education! I am slightly worried that I will squash him!

I have also been doing more teaching, which I love and hope to develop more in future.

Short update on horses:

Unfortunately Yara has sustained a blunt trauma injury to her Superficial Flexor Tendon. We have been working on engagement of hind quarters and it seems she really does bring her hind leg through now! A bit too much. We think she struck it through the boot and that saved it from being a much worse injury.
She had PRP treatment last week and I have started walking her up and down the drive. We will be doing that for the next 6 weeks until her scan.

She has been a little superstar. Took her to Berkshire College in the BE 90 and she came 7th , then we went to Felbridge Combined Training and got placed there too with a clear sj. She is coming on leaps and bounds, she is now popping round 1m courses at home.

Due at his second event at the weekend, placed at Felbridge the other weekend. Hector and I have been training with Mel Breen and Tina Cook he jumped 1.10m in a grid of 4 jumps on grass today, so pleased with him. He still gets tense when we take him out but he is getting better and better and you can see he is pure class. At home is so relaxed now, if I ever lose Mum you can be sure she will be found in Hector's stable chatting away and having a cuddle, she absolutely loves him!

Gorgeous Arabella came to us two weeks ago, she is 4 and Estella's daughter. She is such a promising horse. We are continuing to train with Ken Spencer who has had her for a nearly a year so knows her really well. Because I helped back Arabella and helped with her early education we have a real bond.

Pearl has been helping ex riders get back to riding again, she is so good out hacking and to see their faces when they come back (and Pearls) is lovely.  I will hunt her and do some dressage on her until we find her a special home.

Well that is it, as you can see I have about 8 horses to ride at the moment. I am off to the National Schools Championships in a couple of weeks, unfortunately not with Yara as I should be but Hector is stepping in for the dressage and Beanie will be doing the showjumping.

Am I missing school? NO! Do I regret not going to college? ABSOLUTELY NOT! I am working harder than I ever have. My day starts at 7 and often does not finish before 8 and I rarely get a day off but I love it!!!!

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Goring Heath Report

Well yet again I can report a good weekend, that's two in a row and I am really feeling like my mojo is back.

The 3.30am start wasn't too bad in the end, well not for me. I wasn't driving and I slept all the way there and all the way back, Mum might tell a different story! We still weren't the earliest there, 3 others got there before us. Sat Nav took us straight through the centre of Reading, Mum said thank goodness it was 5.30 in the morning and it wasn't during the day, she would have hated driving the lorry through the centre of Reading. At least we knew which way NOT to go home.......oh but wait guess what on the way home we missed the turning and ended up going back through ...... the centre of Reading in the middle of the afternoon. Few cars and pedestrians wiped out but we came out relatively unscathed!

Anyway on to the report. When we arrived we got straight on to walking the cross country. Its always quite big at Goring but usually rides well. Then as we were there early I got to walk the show jumping, which was well dressed and up to height.

Michael Rogers from met us there at 8am and took some fantastic photos all day. David and Will also met us there. We have such a slick operation now. David sorts the horses out with Mum, Will makes the coffee and tidies up after us, (he is great at packing the lorry back up too). Michael holds the horses, I could go on but you get the idea. In between rides we sit around and eat, drink, laugh. I just feel so lucky to have such wonderful support and they help to make the day so enjoyable. Funniest thing that happened that day was when Mum tried to pass the lunch out of the lorry window and it all fell on top of Micheal's head, it literally rained olives, bread rolls, ham and pasties!! That had us chuckling for ages.

My first ride was on Beanie. She was fresh and not helped by the fact the we were right next to the show jumping. I would say she wasn't always attentive. But Beanie has such lovely paces and through the tense moments there were also some lovely moments and we ended up on a respectable 35.

On to the show jumping and Beanie was such a good girl. This was probably one of the biggest and most technical courses she has done in a while, but she stepped up to the plate and was amazing. We went straight on to the cross country, a slight sticky moment on the jump coming out of the woods where Beanie forgot she needed to pick up both front legs but other than that, this was a course made for her with lots of galloping and we made perfect time.

Beanie's showjumping video

I have only ridden her twice in recent months but we do just click and I find her so easy to ride. She is also one of the best mannered horses I think I have ever come across so easy to do in every respect.
Final result: 35 + double clear = 10th place

Next came Yara

We thought the dressage was really good, she was really attentive and is really developing her core strength but the dressage judge just didn't like her. She gave me an 8 for my riding and overall we got a 34.5. She is a correct mover but not flashy and I think we will always have this problem.

Next came the showjumping, could I make this two clears today and three in succession. She warmed up well, we went into the ring. You really had to ride for every stride of the show jumping but I just knew she was going to clear. Again we were able to go straight on to the cross country and again she was awesome, she wasn't green in the slightest, took me to every jump and we made the time for the first time too. I think riding Beanie first really helped me get the time on Yara as I got a feel for the speed.
Final result 34.5 + double clear = 6th Place

Yara's showjumping video

After both rides we finished an hour early, such was the efficiency of the stewards. Sadly not so when it came to prize giving and at 3pm we were told it would be another hour. Mum thought she might fall asleep if we waited any longer so we left and sent out apologies for not attending. The lovely Katie Waples picked up my rosettes for me the next day.

Not sure how I managed it but I still managed to go out that evening to a Young Farmers do and dance all night! Sunday has been a quiet day.........

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Brain training and jump training finally comes together at Firle!

This summer has not been without its challenges, the experience with Mulligan made me doubt myself and that unfortunately started to manifest in my head, show jumping Yara had become an issue. Pony Club Areas and Borde Hill unaffiliated saw 12 penalties on each SJ round. This was, I convinced myself all my fault. On the other hand my dressage was just going from strength to strength. Time to tell Fiona Bigwood that I was going to become a dressage rider full time!

Mum was at her wits end, her normal motivational speeches were falling on deaf ears and I was not in a happy place. Time to bring in the big guns!

First up Tina Cook a long heart to heart with Tina made me realise that this happens at every level, I am not alone and that I can do this. She promised to help me every step of the way and that gave me the confidence to start believing in myself again.

Then came Jon Pitts, Jon is a Performance Coach at the highest level across a lot of disciplines in sport, I didn't do a lot of riding that evening but after 45 minute talking with him, Yara and I went and did a foot perfect SJ round then another half hour talk and we did another foot perfect SJ round. He showed me that I can do it, but when it goes wrong is when I over analyse and think too much about the round.

Then came Michael Rogers my amazingly supportive sponsor, Mum showed me an email he wrote to her which made me realise how lucky I am to have a sponsor that even when everything is going wrong is there for me and supports me.

Then David, Yara's owner who told me I had transformed his horse and that the blip was only a blip and that he believed in me and Jill Chator Estella's owner who gave me a kick up the backside and told me she wanted to see the old Harriet back.

Finally Emma Harrision SJ coach. We were introduced to Emma by Sarah Millard (Hector's owner)  who thought she and I would work well together. Building on the confidence and support that I had got from my whole team, she knew the buttons to press, she has a fantastic eye, after 2 sessions my confidence soared and Yara was not touching a thing. She also made me see that although obviously I do make mistakes, most of them this time were actually Yara and her 6 year old issues!

Looking back this blog might make me seem high maintenance, but this has never happened to me before. I have always had ultimate belief in what I wanted to do and, well my Mum and Dad particularly taught me that you can achieve anything you set your mind too. But you cannot do this on your own and it does take a whole team and everyone has such an important part. No one in my team puts any pressure on me, I put plenty enough on myself!

The result at Firle was a reflection of this incredible team, Yara and I got a double clear and ended up coming 2nd in what was a very challenging SJ and XC where clear rounds in both proved to be very elusive. Funny but when I went into that show jumping, I knew it would be clear and in addition we have dealt with the cross country water issues. I am realistic, we could go backwards again, Yara is only 6 after all but I am confident that she will get there.

Thank you team!!!

This is me going over the last show jumping fence at Firle, I think you can see how happy I am!

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Chuffed at Chilham

OK for those of you that follow my blog you will know how challenged Mum and I are when it comes to directions. This time not only did we have a 7.5 tonne, 8 metre lorry but we had Jill Chator following us in the car and trailer. Yes we got lost, in the country lanes of Kent, actually so lost we had to phone Ross at home to navigate us to our destination. This is not the first time he has had to do this!

On the shopping list this week, a sat nav!


A 3 hour journey that should have been 1.45 hours is not ideal with two baby horses not used to travelling, neither is turning up with 15 minutes to go before the 4 year old dressage test. However Arabella showed everyone that she has a cool head and did a very relaxed dressage test and ended up with the 2nd best dressage in the section.

Also not ideal because of our original late arrival was the very short space of time I had to run round the XC course, which resulted in me being late for my time on show jumping and as I was one of the last to go there was no leeway. So popped a couple of fences in the warm up, then watched the horse before me go round (I did not know my course) and off we went. No time to take in the flags flapping around the arena, she did however notice the very silly boy who decided to roll under the fence as we were going past, good job otherwise she would have stepped on him! Anyway she had a beautiful, rhythmical round, just clipped the last fence as it was downhill and she lost a bit of concentration with the loud speaker beside it. We were so so pleased though.

Straight on to the cross country, now we expected some issues on this very demanding course as she is so inexperienced. When Ken took her to Tweseldown she went into reverse at the water but as she had not presented at the fence there were no penalties. Anyway this time there was a jump before the water, a tough question for a 4 year old, however she jumped it and before she knew it she was in the water, then she realised and froze! It didn't matter even though we got penalties, she still came 7th and the feeling she gave me across the rest of the course was just awesome. Jill was so so pleased.

I cannot put into words how much I love this horse, she has taken the very best of Estella's qualities. I adore riding her, yes she can be challenging, I have ridden her since the moment she was first backed and she has bucked and bronked and reared with me, but I don't mind we have such a special bond. I have handed her back to Ken to take to Firle and I will continue her dressage and jumping until I am lucky enough to event her again hopefully next year.


First ever event for little Glimpse, our little retrained racehorse and she was much admired too. She did a good dressage test, I didn't put any pressure on her and let her go round in a very relaxed manner. She didn't think the white boards were jumps this time and remained focused for the test. There was room to make the test more flamboyant but Saturday and her first event was not the day to do that.

This time we went straight to the SJ and asked to go early. Oh my goodness that pony was amazing, she has such a jump. With all the flags around the arena, not a flicker. She has hardly ever jumped on grass before either and we got a clear!! Then came the cross country, she just took it on, beautiful rhythm. Such a little step back at the water - honestly who made that rule! Gained us 20 penalities which felt unfair to her for what was a stunning round. She stood so quietly on the lorry all day and was an absolute super star, I think she might have a bit of a future ahead.