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....

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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!!!!