Monday, 30 April 2012

Training with Fiona Bigwood

I love working at Bourne Hill, I worked all afternoon with Lisa, rode Dancer for Liz for some potential buyers and then with Team Bigwood (Viklar, Claire and Liz) looking on my dream of a lesson with Fiona came true.

Since I started working for Fiona and Anders I have been desperate to have a lesson with Fiona. Actually even before I started working there, I was dying to know what Fiona would make of Pearl.
I was also worried, that my riding wouldn't be up to scratch  for Fiona. I was so proud of Pearl she went so well. Yes she had a few moments, but some of the work she did was amazing. I love dressage, I love the technicality of it and I love the feeling when you get a glimmer of how it should be! So much of what I did with Pearl on Friday I can transfer to Yara and Mulligan. Boy did they get some schooling sessions on Saturday!

After my lesson Mum, Fiona and I chatted for ages and the icing on the cake was that Fiona said she would be very happy to continue my lessons. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
Viklar, Claire and Liz in the Gallery!

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Hambledon International

My first competition on Sarah Dunsdon's Mulligan II. He has been with us for two weeks.

As usual the journey there was interesting. It would be great to go somewhere and get there without getting lost. This time we borrowed a friend's sat nav. To start with we didn't have anything to attach it to. Mum had a bright idea of hanging it over a bottle of water. Well you can guess what happened! The bottle shot side to side every time we went around a corner or the road sloped. So then she put it behind the steering wheel, only problem was she couldn't see it properly, not sure how it happened but we ended up on the M3 on our way to Southampton. Hambledon is near Henley on Thames! I then had to take charge, I held the sat nav and directed Mum, we managed to get there but added a good half an hour to our time!

We had time for a quick walk around the XC course and then we were on for dressage. The the heavens absolutely opened. We got properly drenched but Mulligan must have loved it and got into his swing. He got a 29!

The showjumping I wondering how he would be as his record is not brilliant. It was drier and I was luckier than most and it did not rain. Once Mulligan got into his stride we had a cracking round.

It was then on to the cross country. I knew as soon as we started it was going to be good. He went at a good pace, in a good rhythm and flew everything.

Getting out of Hambledon was a different matter, there had been so much rain. We nearly made it, then we needed a tractor to pull us the final couple of feet. We had to leave promptly as I was supposed to be competing on Saturday and asked Lisa Rogers (the wife of Michael Rogers MDR Photo) to keep an eye on the scoreboard. The first we knew of our placing was on the way home when we were stuck in traffic for an hour on the motorway! Mulligan went beyond my dreams and we were terribly lucky to come 3rd.

Picture below taken by Monty White, check out his fantastic blog and the orginal inspiration for my blog.

Monday, 16 April 2012

South of England ODE

What a wonderful day we had. I enjoyed it so much.We took Gail Stephen's Tinkas Whiz Kid (Beanie) and Laraghlee (Yara).

It was as usual an early start but not as bad as it could have been. Dad and I had walked the course the day before so it made it a bit easier on the day. I thought it was quite a stiff 100 course and wondered how Yara would cope with it.

We put Yara on the lorry at 7am and went and picked up Beanie. The girls were really well behaved on the lorry, which was good considering when they first met at Felbridge the other day they took a dislike to each other!

Dressage with Yara
I was so pleased with her, we had our new saddle on which Mum got off ebay for next to nothing and then Saddler Andrew Reilly completely remade and restuffed in 3 hours on our kitchen table last week. It fits her and me like a glove and I can honestly say I have never sat in anything like it.Yara was so relaxed and did some beautiful work. We ended up on a 30.5. 4th best dressage of the section and I think Yara was probably one of the youngest horses in the section.
Judge comments: "Lovely combination, showing fair training. Just needs more oomph in the hind leg sometimes."

Dressage with Beanie
Beanie is not a horse I ride often or even get much practice on. I had ridden her a handful of times this year and taken her xc schooling once.Beanie has a tendency to get tense and lose focus in dressage but she has beautiful paces and has got oodles of ability. I had the opportunity to school her a couple of times in the week and so knew what I had to work on in the test. She warmed up beautifully and actually she was very good in her test, she got slightly tense through one part and lost a bit of focus in another. But we came away with a respectable 34.5. I was really happy and know we can improve on that again.
Judges comments: "Good basic paces, a forward thinking horse. Sometimes shows tendency to resist to hand."

Show Jumping with Yara
I was very pleased with this round - not the 8 jumping penalties. The first jump was my fault the second Yara's. But the shape she is now making over the jumps, she has started tucking up and making a good bascule, which is what we are training her to do and the rhythm flowed. Lots to be pleased with.

Show Jumping with Beanie
Lovely flowing round with Beanie, sometimes she doesn't quite stretch her neck over the jumps but she is an awesome scopey jumper. We just nudged a pole, which just came out of the cup on one side and landed on the pole underneath. It was a bit unlucky.

Cross Country with Yara
As you already know I thought it was a bit stiff for Yara and wondered if we had done the right thing in putting her in for it. She is after all only 6 this year and relatively inexperienced. But she was awesome. She has really started to take me in to the jumps. We had one minor hiccup which was purely a youngness issue. She just did not lock on to the skinny hippo (slightly contradictory in terms) coming out of the water. Mum said the commentator was complimentary about my riding there, we had the right line, its just not something she has done before. But I brought her round again and she sailed over it.

Cross Country with Beanie
Nice clear round. I say "nice" we did have a sticky moment where all the core stability work I have been doing recently paid off. I stayed on, she stayed up and we would like just to put that moment behind us! The rest of the round was lovely. 0.8 time penalties, having not ridden Beanie much I'd rather be slower and school round it sensibly than push her out of a rhythm and put her and me at risk. End result 14th. Not bad for our first event of the season together. (Would have been placed if that show jump hadn't nudged off the cup).

All in all we had a lovely day. I had a huge entourage. Last count 14 people who I shall name. Because their support means so much to me and they helped make the day special.

Team Upton at the South of England were:
Martin Upton (Dad), Justine Upton(Mum), David Foy, Will Marshall, Lisa Sparrowhawk, Michelle Brooks, Michael and Lisa Rogers (MDR Photo), Grandad and Sue, Gail and Georgia Stephens, Sarah and Lila Millard and Meeeeee!

Special thanks to David and Will who we now can't do without!

Photos by MDR Photo are awesome. Michael and Lisa followed me round taking photos and videos all day, the result was probably one of the best mementos of a day you could wish for. See for yourself. Just click on the link below

Friday, 13 April 2012

Tina Cook Lesson

Fab lesson and just what Mulligan and I needed. Tina really helped me to get him listening and off my leg. Tina said that Mulligan and I presented a lovely picture but sometimes he lacked a bit of impulsion round corners. It was a fab lesson and even better as Tina has ridden Mulligan and knows him.

Sunday, 8 April 2012

Triumph and Tragedy at Felbridge


Felbridge Combined Training, a set on Flickr.

Funny old day and bit of a roller coaster of emotions. We went to Felbridge Combined Training with Gail Stephens and Beanie. We took Glimpse and Yara and met David and Will there.

Yara (Laraghlee) absolute superstar 27 dressage and clear show jumping, we won! She felt really good. Bit of a naughty girl on the lorry but there was a lot of waiting around, still I forgive her anything because she tries so hard.

This was Glimpse’s first ever Combined Training and first ever dressage test. Glimpse is our retrained racehorse who is 6 this year. I was so proud of her, she was so quiet and well behaved, she just stood on the lorry and did not get over excited in the warm ups. She really is the easiest horse to take out. She warmed up beautifully and then went in the dressage arena. She’s never seen white dressage boards before and she thought they were jumps, she properly locked on to them! She didn’t quite have the focus but I was so pleased with her she got a 38 dressage. We had a couple of show jumps down, which is unlike her but it’s a big arena with lots of spooky jumps. She was looking at everything around her but she never refused anything and my goodness has she got a lovely future ahead of her.

Do I have to talk about the BE100 with Yara? Excellent dressage when we left we were leading in the dressage not sure what happened to the jumping, we had a few poles but to be honest when you read my last paragraph you will probably understand why.

Just before we were due to go into our jumping tragedy struck, there was a lady riding a very exuberant horse, she did a clear round but just as she finished, the horse staggered sideways and had a heart attack. There were not many people around and Mum and David ran into the ring but by then the horse (Ron) had fallen over and rolled on to his rider, I handed Glimpse to the boy who was stewarding and went in to help. It was obvious he was not going to make it. We made him as comfortable as we could and I stroked his head as he passed away. He didn’t suffer and I understand the rider is going to be ok. It was a horrible experience, everyone at Felbridge acted very quickly. RIP Ron.