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.

Thursday, 2 August 2012

High points of Somerley - dressage and cream cakes!

Early start to Somerley. I fell asleep on the journey there, Mum navigated most of the way herself. I woke up  in time to spot Macdonalds, we took a quick detour and got breakfast, I took over navigating, that was my first mistake, its not that easy to turn an 8 metre, 7.5 tonne lorry around TWICE! Thankfully when we eventually got there David and Will were already there and had gone to the Secretary and to get my numbers.

Yara had a 33 dressage, harshly marked for what we all thought was her best test! We got 4 in the showjumping with masses of time penalties. It was a huge arena and we have been practicing this really slow canter to get her to lift, which she did when she didn't lose concentration with the crowd. Then cross country,  she was a bit sticky round it but managed to get over everything, then she caught a leg and stumbled on to one knee, we nearly parted company but not quite, got back into our stride again and then had a refusal at the second to last jump, it was the jump before the water AGAIN! Knickers!!

Mull had a 28.5 dressage in the Novice, with a stunning medium trot that nobody thought him capable of. The organiser got out of her car and thanked me for coming to the event and told Mum and David that it was such a pleasure to watch a horse being ridden so well and use itself properly. Which made all that work so worth while(But that was just a brief moment)! Because then came the SJ. Warm up went well. We went into the ring, reared, backed off of the first jump but got him over, he really did not want to jump, a few jumps later, I ended up on the jump looking up at Mull and then was dragged round the ring for a bit! We retired. I took him out to the warm up and jumped him again, he jumped brilliantly and then he bolted off through the carpark, when I finally managed to stop him he reared up again a few times. What a monkey!

So after finishing the horses the only thing to do was to sit down with David, Will and Mum, have a cup of tea and a big cream cake! Mum made me watch the video, last week even though he was naughty I knew I hadn't ridden him as well as could but this week I was really happy with my riding and after Mum and Will showed me the evidence I felt that I had ridden him to the best of my ability. So after much deliberating Mum rang Alice, we think he is has become such a big and powerful horse and I am quite small on him that he is taking advantage but of course it could be something else. We asked her to take him back and see if she could ride him for a couple of weeks and maybe take him to Aston next week. Alice was so supportive and said that she would do whatever we wanted. So Mull has gone home for now...... Its hard not to feel like I have failed him but he goes back with brilliant flat work, he now does ditches and water, if Alice can sort the show jumping he will be unbeatable.

Meanwhile Yara has been doing a lot of water jumps this week and I have strict instructions from my Osteopath to stop falling off and undoing all her good work.