Monday, 19 August 2013

The return of Carraig Dubh......

The day had finally dawned and Danny was ready to return to competition. He had been thoroughly checked by the vet, we had been to Tina Cooks and been put through our paces to test his leg, he had been galloped, built up his lateral work and jumped on hard ground but we had not done any cross country. He didn't need to, he knows his job and we didn't want to run him necessarily. For those of you who don't know, Danny was injured and shattered his splint bone at Tweseldown, after his best ever dressage of 26.5 and just a pole in the sj we were one of the leaders going into the cross country which is where our world fell apart. So you can probably guess we were all slightly on edge for his first event since May. After a busy weekend of eventing at Aston Le Walls and a lot of driving Mum was very pleased to hand over the steering wheel to Gary Stevens who came along to drive and help for the day.

My day started by sleeping through the alarm which was set for 4am and then I got a fright when Mum woke me up at 4.30am. We still managed to do the other horses and leave on time by 5.30. The journey involved only one slight detour with road closures and then a lot of laughing between Gary and Mum at my expense over Lollypop Ladies. I live in the country OK! I have never seen one in real life! Apparently they do exist and not just in films, though Gary and Mum wanted to know which film exactly I had seen one in!!!

We arrived in Wiltshire in plenty of time and as it turns out Gary is the fastest studder upper there is! So I had loads of time to warm up. Danny felt good. I expected some bucking and bronking and general excitement of being out again but he acted like the true professional. I haven't actually had any flat work lessons on him since end of April so I was jolly pleased when the dressage judge marked us at at a fabulous 27, the second best dressage mark he has ever got.

Having plenty of time(3 hours) between dressage and showjumping we had breakfast and then walked the cross country course. Although it was quite hard it had a lot of ground cover and we were happy to run him. The course was up to height with a few combinations but nothing that concerned me.

Just before we were due to go to showjumping we bumped into Christopher Berry who had recently moved from our village to Wiltshire, it was so good to see him and yes Christopher I do still want your horse!

Showjumping was a little bit of a bun fight in the warm up, it was good to have Gary there as his discipline is showjumping and he will jolly well tell me if he thinks I am riding badly! He is also great to have in the warm up. I actually think we hit every stride but my god was Danny strong, I did struggle with brakes! But he jumped everything with loads to spare and we jumped a clear.

We went straight down to cross country. I was expecting Danny to be strong at the start but he was a bit hesitant. I think he lost a bit of confidence after Tweseldown but after fence 5 and he knew it wasn't going to hurt and he got into his stride. I never rode him for the time so we got oodles of time penalties. It was always going to be quiet run. He didn't puff a bit and his legs were stone cold and sound. So so pleased. We finished on a double clear.

Sooooo.......... bring on Wellington. Our first Intermediate together. Ok so he is a pro, but this is my first ever Intermediate and I cannot wait!

Friday, 16 August 2013

Aston Le Walls big thumbs up from Team Upton

4am alarm call was a bit of a tough one after the week I had had and I didn't finish with the horses till 8pm the night before, having started at 6.30am. Catherine arrived at 4.45am and we had all three of the horses loaded by 5,15am. Mum and I went in the lorry, Dad and Catherine followed with the trailer. Exactly 2 hours and 40 mins later we were at Aston Le Walls, we couldn't have asked for a better drive.

We love Aston the ground is always fantastic, the jumps are different and well dressed and the event is always run so efficiently, I even like the fact they put the dressage tests in the programme and on top of all of that the start fee for the 90 and 100 classes was only £10.

Lisa, Judd, Mum, Dad and Milly
Michael from and Lisa and Judd the puppy came to support us and take photos, poor Michael, everything ran early and he was constantly running to get to the dressage, sj or xc with very little time!


Well she was a little exuberant and I did struggle to keep that contained in her dressage so the beautiful 24 of last week ended up a 34 but still very good for a 5 year old in her second 100. She then went on to do a beautiful double clear. Her showjumping was awesome, she wasn't about to touch a thing. She was a bit green cross country but it was big and had some technical elements with lots to see so who can blame her, she still jumped everything even though it may have taken a bit of riding! Absolutely thrilled.


Handsome Hector was truly awesome and absolutely on his game today. He pulled off the dressage test of his life a fantastic 28, he was so much mor relaxed and let me put my leg on without shooting off and then did a stonking double clear, he was very confident across the country. I was so proud of him, he has really put me through my paces at times but the feeling of achievement today was all worth it. I really do think he has turned a corner. He ended up third and we had Piggy French, Francis Whittington and Jock Paget in our section.

Boo's dressage was a 33.5 much better than last week and a bit more contained, she broke her rhythm a bit but didn't buck or bronk. Her showjumping is becoming much more controlled and she is starting to listen to me which considering she is 17.1 and I am 5ft 4, I really need her doing everything on my terms! She did have a pole but it was more the fact that she spooked at the people watching. Cross country was such a big ask, she has never done anything like this before and there was a huge gap between the 80 at Chilham last week and the 90 at Aston, it was full up with drops, a sunken road and a corner. It was the corner we had the run out at, I think I could have pushed her over it but I didn't want to risk destroying her confidence and ultimately her trust in me. She completed which, when we walked it we had serious doubts about so, so pleased with her.

To see all the album from Aston Le Walls please visit my website

Thank you Michael Rogers for wonderful pictures and all your support.

Friday, 9 August 2013

Head down and working one's a*** off!

I am so sorry I have not written as much as I usually do currently all 6 horses are in work ( we have had 7 for last 2 weeks),  5 in competition (mixture of SJ, dressage and eventing) I am working towards my Pony Club B+ test, I am currently doing my UKCC level 1 coaching and I am learning / revising for my driving tests. As well as having a regular 6 clients to teach and another 5 horses to school. Social life / days off not really an option.

However after my session with Frances Goodman last week from Imagine Success I have had a little help with time management so fingers crossed I have now got my life under control!

So where are we at, well as you know we have have a bit of a disastrous start to the season with injuries and illness but all horses are better and in work, they are all competing apart from Danny and he restarts his season next week at West Wilts in the Open Novice and if that goes ok will be heading to Wellington to do the Open Intermediate U21.

Chilham Castle last weekend was a weekend of firsts: First 100 + for Hector and first placing of the season for him. First ever event for Boo. First 100 for Arabella and first place!


Well after her awful illness, secondary infection of Peritonitis and prolonged stay in Arundel Equine Hospital this is an incredible story. It took her a while to get back to herself again but once on the road to recovery she came on in leaps and bounds (literally). She and I have been working quietly at home on her flat work, we had help with a lesson from Fiona Bigwood which helped me focus our training and to be honest I have had some incredible work from her but I didnt' expect it to come out at an event just yet! Chilham Castle was her first ever 100 class. Well she was certainly full of herself. 5 years old, 16'3 and and in season, to say she was a handful was a understatement! But when it mattered she got her brain in gear and pulled out an incredible 24 dressage (and there is still so much more to come there), clear SJ and clear XC with 2.4 time penalties. I never pushed her round for the time as she is young, just kept her in a rhythm. Incredibly she won her class. Such a great feeling when everything comes together and so so pleased for her owner Jill Chator.


Although Boo is the same age as Arabella she was started a year later in November, she is the dressage horse given to me by Fiona Bigwood that I am turning into an Eventer. Well we have been out and about doing some show jumping and gaining experience, she has been cross country hated ditches and drops in the beginning but we got there and she seems to have conquered that fear. So we took the plunge and put Boo into Chilham Castle for her first ever event. Erm dressage well lets put it this way, even to get to the arena was a challenge, she was so full of herself she found the tannoy very distracting, Arabella in season very distracting. The fact that I managed to stay on this very opinionated 17'1 warmblood, on the way to the warm up was a bit of a miracle. Anyway we managed to stay in the arena for the test, no we didn't do our best work and we came away with a dressage score of 41. (I have kept that one quiet from Fiona). Then all of a sudden she settled, was as quiet as a lamb as if she had been an event horse all her life and went and did a double clear in the sj and xc. In the end she was the better behaved of the two of them! I was absolutely thrilled she came 13th.


So we decided to take Hector up half a level to the 100 + to see how he would cope with the dressage and SJ, as it turned out he coped brilliantly. The novice dressage has a lot more movements and much more lateral work which he is used to doing at home and he seemed to be much more focused, the 1.10 metre showjumping was much better as he likes the challenge of the bigger jumps and although he had one down (the smallest on the course) he jumped beautifully. He then went on to do a beautiful clear XC, he took me to every jump and then finished by getting his first placing of the season. I was so so pleased with him. I think he he is nearly ready to do his first Novice.....


Jo is our schooling livery, he came to us a bit of an arrogant  14 year old chestnut, who refused to go in an outline and was crashing through jumps, his owners were unhappy about how he had been looked after and schooled in his previous place and he has turned into a the most gorgeous little horse that tries his heart out for you.  He now does a cracking dressage test and has been clear  SJ every time he has been out. He has been placed in some unaffiliated dressage and showjumping and is just about to do some eventing with Eliza his owner. I have been competing him SJ on a ticket and will be competing him in a few more competitions.


Jake is 22 and my Mum's horse, he is our horse of a life time and has come out of retirement. Mum has donned her dressage gear and taken him out to a couple of dressage competitions and in a couple of weeks he will be schooling Marcus Gorman (point to point jockey) round his first event in 30 years. The dressage lessons have been hilarious! No one tell Marcus but he is really quite good, Mum is worried he is going to get a better dressage score than her!

Mum and I before heading out to compete in different competitions on the same day