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!!!!