Well would you believe it.
After pulling off a double clear at Aston Le Walls and a 5th place, we only had 2 events left of our season. With dad heading in for major heart surgery next week, we finished off at the end of September rather than competing into October like we usually do.
First up was Solihull unaffiliated. Its been an odd year this year with BE for us, normally we can manage to find an event within 1 hr 30 pretty much every 2 weeks but there seems to have been a major clashing of events and then big gaps until another thats not a big journey for us, so I've ended up doing quite a few unaffiliated ones to fill in the gaps.
Solihull is a nice event which is within an hour of us and we headed there on the 14th September. Fifi was really great all day, despite being so dopey chilled that she nearly fell flat on her face whenever we fetched her off the lorry! She did a nice test for 31.5, although I know where I could have made my marks up so its great that she is getting those sort of marks with the ability to improve further. She then did a great and storming double clear inside the time, one of only 4 horses to do so in the section. This resulted in Fifi topping the leaderboard!! Her first eventing win and after a tough season regaining her confidence and sorting the problems with her feet, I feel like she really deserved it.
After this we were back out again on the 29th September for what would be our last run at Brooksby BE. She again did a nice test but room for improvement to score a fair mark of 32, putting her 3rd after dressage in her section. She then did yet another double clear a brilliant 1 second inside the time. The moment we crossed the finish line the tannoy announced we had gone into the lead in our section... and we stayed there! Another win!! If I'm honest it still hasn't sunk in and its given us both a huge boost and I already can't wait to see what next season holds. Dropping her back a level has been the best move I could have made and at Brooksby she was going off all sorts of strides and didn't question anything once, ears pricked the whole way.
Hopefully we can step back up straight away next year with our regained confidence and getting established at PN would be the aim by the end of the season but we will definitely take our time. I'm confident that if we can keep everything in place she has got a great future ahead and I don't feel there is any need to rush her.
I'd like to take the chance to thank our sponsors including MDR Photo, Chestnut Horse Feeds, Cool Horse Socks, Shearwater Insurance and Capital Equine Feeds (in no particular order) for their continued support again this year, it is so appreciated!
Fifi is also a magazine cover star! This gorgeous photo of her, taken by MDR Photo, has been used on the current cover of nationwide Equi-Ads magazine. It was a great surprise and thanks so much to Jenny Gray-Wallis for sending me the picture and some copies of the magazine!
As well as the eventing, I've also been to a dressage competition and took Bandi along too! Unfortunately he had been kicked in the field the day before and although he wasnt lame, he was a touch short behind so wasnt trotting through as much as he could be he still managed to get 6th in both his tests! It was so good to have him out again, I feel very lucky to be able to do so and I think he enjoyed himself too. Can't wait to take him out again! Fifi was absolutely fantastic in bothe her tests and was narrowly pipped into 2nd in both, the second test came down to the collective marks and we were only one mark lower than the winner. She was brilliant though so I'm thrilled.
And on top of the outings and rosette collecting, we have also moved base with the horses. Unfortunately the turnout is restricted at Paul and Kenneths and Bandi needs to be kept as active as possible with his bad hocks and navicular so we sadly moved from there at the end of July. We have been on another yard since but on Sunday 6th we made the move again to a perfect yard just outside of Lutterworth owned by Marie Osbourne, after she kindly offered me a couple of stables. There are just us and super sports massage and physiotherapist Sarah Powell on the yard and the horses and I have already settled straight in and feel like we belong there. We are all in it for fun so hopefully there will be plenty of fun ahead!
You can spot us that little bit more on the cross country now, thanks to my new base layer, provided by Capital Equine Feeds and made by Super X Country. Those who follow me on twitter will have seen me say Vive La Foof in reference to Fifi, as originally started by my good friend Sarah Carless! Cue Super X Country's baselayers and some nifty printing skills and voila! Well, I couldnt resist... Last but not least, you may have noticed I have added new page on to the website called 'Helmet Ears Demo'. I'm helping to organise a demonstration which will be taught by 4* Sarah Stretton, the rider who has helped me so much with mine and Fifi's confidence. There is going to be a showjumping group and a cross country group with guinea pig riders of all levels, so there should be something for everyone there. Sarah will be working on common problems that riders face as well as what you can expect when moving up a level. As well as Sarah, we have Chestnut Horse Feeds coming to give a talk on nutrition and their range of feeds. Chestnut is what I feed all of my horses on and its the best things I have ever used.
Chestnut have also contributed to a prize draw we will be holding on the night, which will be for those who have purchased advance tickets. Our other great contributors so far include MDR Photo and Helmet Ears, so some lucky ticket holders will be going away with more than a fun and informative evening behind them.
For more information on the evening please visit the Demo page on here or visit the facebook page www.facebook.com/HelmetEarsDemo. Tickets can be booked online on this website.
Hope to see you there!
Has it really been THAT long since I waffled on in a blog?? Oh dear. For those of you who havent seen my Shearwater blogs, I'll fill you in on everything. So here goes!
Kicking off in fine style, we won ourselves a 9th place rosette at Moreton Morrell BE with a 31.5 (yes a 31.5!) dressage, a pole in the showjumping and 0.8 seconds over the time but clear XC. What a fab start, aside from the wet breeches, falling out of the lorry flat on my face, missing a movement in my dressage test because I was blown away with how well Fifi was going that it wiped all sense form my tiny brain & the pole which was lowered because I couldn't see a stride to an upright so fired her at it. Oh and not forgetting a minor disagreement on brakes between myself and Fifi at fence 5. She won, and I got a split lip and blood smeared down my face and stock by the time we crossed the finish line.
Note to self: sometimes Fifi does know best.
And not forgetting the fact I ended up warming in a horse for Rodney Powell, never thought I'd be doing that when I woke up at stupid AM!!
Next we went to Shelford where the dressage wasnt quite so pleasing for a 36.5, again an argument on brakes in the SJ to lower a pole (groan). She redeemed herself on the XC and flew it with a few time penalties as I took it steady assuming we wouldn't be placed, but she was a lot more rideable than at Moreton Morrell.
Then we had a bash at our first BE100 level at Solihull unaffiliated on the date of the riding club qualifiers. She was brilliant in the dressage with a mark of 36.5, yes not the most amazing mark but she was very good to ride and tried hard so I was very pleased. The showjumping was held on grass, not what I was expecting and the reason I had entered Solihull was that its normally held on the surface but not that day. We had 5 minute heavy showers regularly all morning so it made the ground slippy on top but still hard about 1/2" down so I was restricted on what studs I could use. She jumped really well untill the last where I was desperately trying to see a stride to a very big oxer off a tight turn. She slipped on the turn and we ended up sliding to a halt. I could have kicked myself as I should have just left her be and let her try and work it out but sure enough when we represented she cleared it by miles! Then onto the XC and obviously the ground was the same, hard and slippy on top so I was just going to take my time and see what we could do. She actually was fantastic. She found a fifth leg at a couple and jumped the stuff I was worried about, really easily. A big hedge, the very narrow corner out of the water, the trakhener and the ditch pallisade, no problem. Sadly we slipped to the B part of some offset pheasant feeders and she just couldnt make it but jumped it fine the second time. Then 2 from home was an awfully skinny fence after a step, down a steep bank and up a steep bank combination with only 2/3 strides to present at the fence. We had a couple of green stops but I did feel like they were genuinely green and not done out of naughtiness so I was over the moon with her.
After this we were entered for Aston unaffiliated and then the new Prestwold event in Leicestershire. After some amazing jump sessions and me feeling ready to go and do some serious business, Fifi went lame. She happened to go lame while my physio was there so thankfully we could investigate from that point of view but we couldn't see anything definite, other than a tight Latissimus Dorsi but Emma did feel that that was secondary and not the main problem. A call to super farrier James and he very kindly came out to us on his way home (he knows how nuerotic I am and just wanted to shut me up I think). He found her positive to hoof testers in both front feet so shod her and put gel pads in.and told me to try and have some patience over the weekend and if she wasn't right to call the vet then. Thankfully she was ok but this did mean we missed Aston and Prestwold, such a shame as she was going SO well!
Aston kindly let me transfer my entry to the following UA event they were running and we ran last Sunday.
She was Fab! A harsh mark of 35.5 in the dressage, although she was damn lazy and not properly in front of the leg so I can't exactly complain. But she did follow it up with and great double clear 3 seconds inside the time for 5th place! We were leading for about 2 hours and as annoying as it was to be pushed down right at the end, I'm absolutely ecstatic with a 5th place.
On the same day that Fifi went on 3 legs, Bandi was seen by Emma so I could see how he is coping as he is now back in work. Emma was so pleased and couldn't believe the difference in him and she couldnt find much wrong with him at all, there were just a couple of very small tight spots and that was it! He's never been in such good shape since I've owned him so it's a big achievement. He has now been entered for some dressage on the 18th, I'm so so so excited to have him out at a party again and I'm sure he will be excited too. We are going to take it slowly but see how he copes doing some dressage and some very small jumping classes. I did plan to take him hunting but I think it's asking for trouble to be doing lots of trotting on the roads.
I think thats about it on the update front, but just to say I am over the moon with my Harry Dabbs saddle. Its changed the horses so much and its so secure to ride in. My only regret is that I didn't have it sooner. So if you are on the lookout for a new saddle, I urge you to try a Harry Dabbs, and you can of course go through Fred and Rowena Cook at Equine Training and Management to get a hefty discount on it, like I did.
I've updated my results & entries page and added some photos to the 2013 albums so feel free to take a look!
Don't forget you can Like the Team BSF facebook page for more regular updates and follow me on Twitter at @BSFeventing where I waffle on daily.
The things with horses, is that you get total highs, and just to keep that balance, you get total lows too.
I have had the lovely people from Harry Dabbs saddlemakers to come and fit saddles, and with an immense amount of luck, I appear to have two very different horses, who take the same saddle size, excellent! They both feel completely different in it and I'm over the moon. I've gone for an Avant DJ with a Paris panel, not what I had planned at all as I was after a monoflap as I'm so short I feel I need to be as close contact to the horses as possible. But Harry Dabbs left me with this one to use until they could arrange for a monoflap that would fit mine so I could try it, not the easiest thing to do when the saddles are bespoke! But when I first came to jump in this one, Fifi was completely different, used her back, everything was easy and she was full of confidence. I've since been out showjumping and xc schooling in it, and well "If it ain't broke, don't fix it". So I've gone ahead and paid for this one as I know Fifi goes well in it. I love it. We will in time be getting a dressage saddle from Harry Dabbs too. I cant recommend the saddles enough, and the service has been fantastic.
She's been fantastic since having Emma treat her back and give me different muscle building techniques and using our Equiami lunging aid to really strengthen her back muscle. We've been out showjumping at Weston Lawns, just lowering a pole in the jump off of each class, one which was definitely my fault for going for the time. She's been fantastic out cross country schooling too, everything feels so easy on her. I'm getting very excited to get out eventing now!!
And then of course, the lows..
I'm gutted to have to say that Bandi is now retired from eventing.
Although we never got to have our top hat and tails moment, I had one hell of a good time with him. I don't think many horses who don't have eventing experience themselves, would take an inexperienced amateur from BE90 to BE Novice within 4 months, and then have a CIC* qualification a month later. He's got the heart of a lion.
He went lame in front the day after our saddle fitting. I called the vet straight away and we arranged to take him in the next day. Sure enough, he was still lame and I had my suspicions, but we trotted him up, did flexion tests and x rays, and the navicular has changed slightly since the x rays we took last march, so a good indictaor of a years progression. Although by no means the worse navicular our vet has seen, Bandi does not have a high pain threshold! There is a very small hook of bone on his coffin joint which could be causing the problem too. Throw a flexor tendong tear possibilty into the mix and we've got quite a question on our hands. The only way to confirm a flexor tendon tear is by MRI, at £1500 a time, which would have to come out of my pocket after the insurance company managed to get out of any contribution last year, and then sticking a front legs exclusion onto his policy (not Shearwater I might add!). A tear is also not fixable, so I'd have been paying for an MRI scan which would not aid me in fixing it in any way.
There is the choice of nerve blocking more entensively to see exactly which joint is causing him discomfort and then putting steroids in, but I just feel that he has had enough poking and prodding and a ridiculous amount of needles in the last year and maybe the boy needs a break. I can't even begin to describe the empty feeling when making a decision like that. This is about 3 weeks on and I still feel it. My eventing isn't for profit or fame and glory its about doing what I love with my horses that I adore, so it's hard to accept when its the end. But the flip side of the coin - I've still got him, and he's going nowhere! And I've still got all our wonderful photos from Michael (MDR Photo) at various competition photoshoots to remind us what we got up to. He's having some time off to let the inflamation go down and then he will be brought back into work very slowly and we'll just see what he's capable of. Hopefully some dressage and maybe some jumping but we'll cross that bridge when we come to it.
And of course I've still got Fifi to keep bringing on, we'll just have to see how we get on. We are entered for Moreton Morrell BE90 in May and I have our season planned up until July / August, get us back in that start box!!
Bandi has had a minor setback after being kicked in the school (if it’s not one thing, it’s another!) so after 2 weeks box rest he was bought slowly back in to work and *touch wood* all is going well, bar a minor episode of a rotated pelvis after some acrobatics in the field that he still isn't quite strong enough for. Other than that he’s doing very well, he’s had another couple of physio sessions with Emma Overend and we are allowed to start saddle shopping! Progress! I’ve learned so much in the process of his rehab, all about just what can affect them in different ways. He’s a tough ccokie! Fifi has been and done some jumping and some dressage, coming 7th in a prelim and then upping her game to come 2nd in the Novice by only 0.3% to a Donnerhall horse who was very nice, I feel so proud of her! She also came 4th in her first 95cm class which had a jump off section of 1m05, the biggest she’s done in terms of a course. Shes trying her little socks off. She’s had a session with Bandi’s physiotherapist who unfortunately has told me her jump saddle doesnt fit her and has actually caused a lot of different muscles to build incorrectly, so a new saddle is on the cards for her too. Talk about expensive ponies! Let’s just hope they make up for it. Keeping me occupied on top of Bandi and Fifi was a nice little black mare that I was riding for Paul. It was only until she was sold unfortunately as she is one cracker of a horse. Her name is Lola and she’s a 2005 black mare. She’s also been out dressaging and we came 5th and 7th and she came 2nd to Fifi’s 4th place out jumping depite us having only jumped once home before I took her out. She’s so lovely and I'm sure she's destined for great things!
I've been having a ridiculous amount of help from Emma and Fred and Rowena Cook with both horses. I speak to Fred and Ro several times a week and they are so helpful and are there every step of the way with Bandi and Fifi. They've also bought over their Activo-med rug made by FMBs Therapy systems and used it on Bandi. Its similar to the Equissage except its in a rug form so gets to more specific areas and also pulses magnotherapy into the horse. Its one hell of a bit of kit and I think after saddles it will be on the shopping list! Im sure Fred and Ro can tell you more about what it does than I'll be able to so please contact them with ny questions. Fred and Ro are helping me look into saddles too, they have recommended Harry Dabbs saddles so we're going to have a look at those. I like the fact that they are totally bespoke so they'll be ideal for Bandi and Fifi with their odd shaped backs. I'll keep you posted with photos and info as we get measured and fitted for saddles.
It appears we are not missing much by not being entered for any events yet, the weather already having an impact and leading to cancellations. At this point I'm really hoping it's not a repeat of 2012 that we're going to have.
We keeping occupied with some dressage until we get our jump saddles and we'll be making a trip to Fred and Rowena's at the end of the month to give the horses some work and a loose jump, I'm really looking forward to letting Fifi see what she's really capable of. Of course there will be plenty of video action of that...
Im sat here, blog finished, and ready to publish. My phone has just rung and it's the call I've been wishing will never happen. I'm lucky enough to be based with Kenneth Clawson and Paul Davies with my horses. Kenneth has just lost his battle with Leukaemia. There are no words to say so I'll simply say rest in peace Kenneth, I feel privilaged to have known you.
So we were entered for some dressage at the end of November, to include Fifi's first Elementary test and an RoR qualifier. But as with a washout 2012, it rained, and rained... and rained. The arena was flooded and so early on the Sunday morning, the competition was cancelled. Quite gutting really but I'd rather they cancelled it than for Fifi to have had to do her first elementary test in a dodgy arena. So we'll wait untill next year now for the move up another level!
Please excuse the not so great quality of these images but they are screenshots from some mobile video footage. This is Fifi at our first lesson with Lee Pearson, a name familiar because of the endless medals he has won in the olympics. He was a very good teacher, who really liked Fifi and he said he thinks there is much more to come from both of us and that I ride her well. What a huge compliment.
I took a lot from the lesson, I have essentially been being too nice to Fifi and not taking up enough contact, Lee said to remember every horse is different and some prefer a lot more contact, it doesn't necessaily mean I'm pulling her, just that she wants more support from me. Sure enough when I took more of a hold she stayed rounder, and wasn't searching for the contact. Although this did mean she had to work harder and so we had a minor tantrum but she soon got over that. By the end of the lesson I had an uphill connected horse and everything had a lot more energy and purpose. I've been keeping it up since and Fifi's balance is improving already. Lee also said if I wanted to, I'm welcome to take both Fifi and Bandi to stay at his yard for some more training, and obviously I said I'd love to, so that will be something I do next spring when Bandi is back up and running.
And so on to Bandi. You can see in the picture that he is progressing already!
He has had more hock x rays which show improvement from his last lot of injections, as the bone is fusing. He was a bit stiff on hind flexion tests and Mel (our vet) gave him some more injections in both hocks. He will return to the vet in sometime around March next year.
In the meantime I have purchased and Equiami lunging aid, recommended to me by Fred and Rowena Cook. Fred and Rowena can tell you a lot more about it than I can but basically I used to use a pessoa, which Bandi wold not lunge in. He would lock up and be tense it in and sit behind the contact, and cantering was out of the question, he didn't like the restriction and would just buck and buck, once bucking so hard he kicked his back shoe off. The equiami works on the principle that it is all one loop, and so is self balancing, and it eliminates the tug and pull action of the pessoa. One factor which I love the most about it is that as it is self balancing, you don't have to get both sides perfectly level like you would in the pessoa, you can just adjust one side and it levels itself out, so no more endless faffing with the ropes! Perfect! I bought the set complete with the equiami roller and cavesson, the roller is super soft and comfy for the horse and the cavesson is brilliant. It doesn't slip at all and it is very lightweight, something which has stopped us using cavessons in the past is that they are so heavy which maks the twist with contact on the lunge line, but not with this one, I'm so pleased with it.
Bandi and Fifi have both been lunged with it and they were both so relaxed. Fifi was settled and stretched down well in it. Bandi has had the biggest transformation in his lunging, no tension, no stress, he reaches down for the contact and stretches his back and hamstrings brilliantly, even in canter! It's helping a lot with Bandi's rehab and its worth every penny.
Bandi has got a new supporter who has declared "lets fix Bandi". Bandi has been given a Seabuckthorn supplement which ingredients include vitamins, flavanoids and omegas. The hope is that this helps with Bandi's all round condition and muscle development and his joints. I'll keep you posted as we go along with it. There is also talk of Bandi having a little assistance from a machine which was primarily developed by NASA. I can't say too much on it yet but as soon as I can you'll be the first to know!
For regular updates please like my facebook page Team BSF Eventing where I also do giveaways and competitions for Addicare products!
I realise that in my last blog I very rudely skimmed over Bandi's run at Aston! Well he loved it, he was very excited in the dressage and so we got a tense 37 and followed it up with a great double clear inside the time. Here's a video of him, look out for the "let me go NOW" moment in the start box!
Today we met the lovely Emma Overend who has given us a lot to work on with Bandi, I really feel like I know what I'm doing going forward with him, and she's said he's far from a hopeless case, and she can't see a reason why he won't be ready to go next season, provided I put the work in everyday with his stretches, massages and lots of lunging. A massive thank you to Rowena Cook who has given me lots of tips on the best way to get him working certain parts on the lunge with our new Equiami training aid.
Emma is a McTimoney Spinal Therapist, Sports Massage Therapist and an Equine Touch Practitioner, so with an astounding amount of knowledge I'm really glad she's helping me get Bandi straight. Her website is www.equinetouchcourses.co.uk. She has unfortunately said that my jumping saddle doesn't fit him at all, and you can actually feel the muscle has knots throughout his back and I will be needing a new saddle for him. So I'll be plugging away at work more than ever!
I'll upload some photos of Bandi this weekend and will update every week with the latest information and photos, hopefully we'll be able to see him really change over the next few weeks and months!
Feeling very positive and very excited for next season!
2012, the season that never really was.
Although to be honest the bits of the season I did have, have been brilliant. Fifi has been so fantastic I feel like I'm bursting with pride. She ended her season at the regional finals which she had qualified for, at Brooksby. She did a good test, show jumped very excitedly to roll a pole and absolutely stormed the XC for another clear on her record. We weren't placed because as expected, the standard was very high and we are still working at tweaking and fine tuning but I'm so proud of her none the less. The fact that we even qualified shows how far we have come together. From the fat and hairy 2 year old, to the weedy 4 year old out of training to the sleek muscle machine she now is as an 8 year old, she's been everything I ever hoped for, and everything I said she had the potential to be. I am really disappointed that we never got to upgrade to BE100 thanks to Eland and then Stafford being cancelled due to the rain's input, which completely messed up my plans but she is definitely ready to move up early on next season, I plan to do 2 BE90s to get her in the swing then hopefully nicely up to Pre Novice.
In December I am going to focus on her showjumping and get us jumping some 1m10 courses at home and out jumping some 1m and 1m05 BSJA through the winter. It doesn't feel like that long ago she went to her first show jumping clear round doing the 1'6!
Fifi at 2 years old when we met. This is the fat hairy thing in the field that I saw potential in.
Fifi while in training as a 4 year old.
Fifi not long after I first bought her in the winter of her being 4/5 years old.
Fifi at Brooksby this year. She's taken her time but she's grown into her body now and looks fantastic.
Bandi was entered for Brooksby too on the Saturday in the BE100 but the week running up to it I just wasn't completely happy with him, but couldn't pinpoint it. Then the day before I was in two minds whether or not to run him and was angling towards withdrawing him when our vet and friend John Coope came onto the yard to do some vaccinations, needlessly to say I told him I was worried and he said he'd take a look. Having known John for years since working at Louella I knew he'd tell me exactly what he thought and we trotted him up, did flexion tests, and lunged him and John's opinion was the same as mine in that Bandi's legs are doing well but something isn't right. John said not to run him and get his back looked at as it looked to be something up top. Sure enough it was, as I had Tomma out who was concerned that his spine had flared up again and his pelvis had rotated. So Bandi's had a break and is just back hacking for now.
After tearing my hair out and trying to decide what is best for him as we keep facing the same problems somethng cropped up on twitter in a conversation- Veterinary Thermal Imaging.
We had thermal imaging on an old horse of ours and it was quite helpful in letting us know what strains he was feeling. I decided to give it a go with Bandi and I'm really glad I did! Below are just some of the images, Bandi had a full body scan which included everything from head and teeth, to feet, to a saddle check, and everything inbetween. If anyone would like to see the whole thing just send me an email and you're welcome to see them.
I'd really reccomend it, I now know which areas we need to be looking at in particular. The VTI works on comparing differences between the same parts of the body on both sides of the horse, the differences show you the problems. VTI are really helpful and explain what they are doing as they go along, what they are looking for and have been really helpful wth any questions I have had. A really good company to deal with. You can contact them at http://www.veterinary-thermal-imaging.com/ to arrange a scan.
I already knew we had a hock issue, with him having his injections, and he is now on a joint supplement so I would be inerested to see what difference it makes and have another thermal scan next year to compare. It also shows up a right knee issue, which could possibly be from him loading the leg wrong before James has done his remedial work this year and it maybe just needs to settle. As you will see his spine is of concern.
The lovely Rowena Cook has been a great help again and has put me in touch with a new chiropractor and physiotherapist who specialises in spinal treatment who will incorporate muscle treatment as well as his bones. She is also going to devise me a strict rehab plan for Bandi and has given me a lot of fresh hope. I will of course be keeping you updated with this blog, photos and video footage.
I'm going to give Bandi evey chance I can!
Here's a few of my favourite photos from this year so far...
Last but certainly not least I'd like to say the biggest thank you possible to my sponsors and supporters. I'm really grateful for your input into what I do again this year.
Theses are companies that I am proud to represent and work with, and companies which I believe in 100%. Please visit their sites to see what they can do for you! I'd lie to take this chance to welcome Cool Horse Socks to the team, we have used their socks for 3 years or so now and they ar a company local to us being only 15 minutes away so I'm extra proud to support them and have them support me. Most of the funky socks you see in my pictures both recent and old on this site are Cool Horse Socks, they keep me warm out hunting and cool in summer eventing, you can't beat them!
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MDR Photo also have 30% off all photo orders until 30th November and gift vouchers are also available, perfect for Christmas!
Click on the logos to be directed to the relevant sites...
Where on earth has the season gone?!
This year has been a total washout, literally, and I feel like we've not really got all that started but here we are facing our last few events.
Bandi joined Fifi at Onley for some dressage in a class of 20 and Fifi pipped him to 3rd place with him finishing in 4th. I was really pleased with them, and I can really feel the difference in Bandi since the work on his feet and legs this year. The thing which knocked him down the placings was an overexcited head between knees and backside in air moment in our first canter! Glad to see he's enjoying his work!
I've been doing a lot more training and Fifi's dressage has stepped up a gear, which has meant we have the odd battle as I ask more from her, but in the long term our marks are going to be even better.
We finally got out eventing after our cancellations and Fifi ran at Milton keynes in the BE90. She did a nice test for 34.5 and I was really pleased with her, she is much rounder in her outline and we have a lot more connectivity, we just need to tweek the transitons for the higher marks.
She showjumped well even having slipped badly in the warmup coming into a fence and panicing herself. She had fence 3 down but jumped well and tried very hard. The time also proved tight as I became one of the many riders leaving the arena with time faults to add an extra 2 penalties onto my score. Then onto the fun part and Fifi showed just how honest she is by taking strides out and chipping one in when necessary and coming home with another clear XC on her record, and inside the time too!
Our pole meant we dropped down the leaderboard but I'm so pleased with her, she's becoming such a good horse and I feel like we are making a lot of progress with each training session and each run.
Next up for her is the regionals at Brooksby, hopefully we can get some show jumping in before then too to try and help us ge the all important clear!
After our good dressage outing and some fab jumping sessions at home I have entered Bandi at Aston le Walls for the BE90 on the 1st September, all being well he'll then go onto the PN at Moreton Morrell at the end of September.
It's great having both horses back up and running, just a shame we lost a huge chunk of the season to the weather as I dont think I will have ample opportunity to move Fifi up to PN now in 2012, we'll just have to wait and see what 2013 gives us.
It's safe to say our Shearwater training bursary has completely turned us around, even from our photos you can see my riding is much stronger and more balanced and the horses are so much easier to ride and correct on the flat and in the jumping.
Let's just hope our next few runs help us show it off!
After Shelford, Fifi came home for a weeks break and we were entered for Eland Lodge on the 1st of July.
Unfortunately the rain kept coming and coming and Eland was abandoned. I was so disappointed as she felt so good jumping at home and I was really confident for the run but ultimately the organisers had no choice really, as they showed us in their photos posted onto facebook, some of the ground was complately washed away, fences that were nowhere near water were submerged and the ground was horrendous. So instead off we went to Onley for some showjumping. I was right to think Fifi was going great and ready to run as she jumped her best ever round - balanced, controlled and even better, double clear. She came 5th out of around 40 starters even though we didnt go for the time at all, very pleased!
After Eland we were entered for a run tomorrow in Stafford BE90 (originally planned to be the BE100 but the cancellation of Eland changed that). Stafford have also had to cancel due to the weather so we made a quick entry for some dressage on Wednesday evening at Onley. Fifi was so in season she was actually ready for covering and was not at all up for doing dressage! She was reluctant to stay round and to go forward off my leg but thanks to our Shearwater funded training I've learned a few tricks to get her to listen a bit more and she got 65% and 70.4%!! She's qualified for Royal London in the dressage now as well as the showjumping.
Next up for Fifi is hopefully Shelford Manor BE90 on the 16th August with some dressage beforehand on the 4th August.
Joining Fifi at the dressage will be a certain big dark bay who has got the all clear from the vets to get back out there strutting his stuff! They are really pleased with Bandi's improvement and he has had some injections in his hocks to help with some slight arthritis that investigations flagged up but after a couple of days box rest then some days of turnout he is back being ridden again and feels great. I'm so excited to get him back out eventing!
I've discovered that Fifi is a lot more hormonal that I had realised, not nastiness in anyway, she just feels like she can't be bothered at times and after working it out, it is at its worst just after she has been in season. I'm not actually one for giving them a supplement for every little thing but if I use something and do notice a remarkable difference then I will continue with it. After asking for suggestions on Facebook, Griselda from NAF came to the rescue (yet again!) and offered us some Oestress to try along with occasional use of the EnerG when she is lacking some 'get up and go'.
She's now been on it for a month but I noticed a difference in her after a week, she isn't stressy when we make a mistake and she has more life in herself at those hormonal times. Over last weekend I used the EnerG for the first time, as Fifi really didn't seem on form at all and I did at one point decide to withdraw her from Shelford Manor BE. The EnerG perked Fifi up and the next day she was a different horse, thankfully! So if you have a hormonal mare I really, really recommend both the products!
First up since the last blog, we were at Aston le Walls for the unaffiliated BE90 level on the 13th May. Fifi did a nice test, she is becoming much more rideable but we just slightly muddled one canter transition and lifted the head in the other canter transition but all her work was very nice and correct and I was disappointed in our 37.5 mark as I felt this was a bit harsh. She showjumped very well, it flowed and she was taking me into the fences without being strong. The last fence was a double and it had their bright green plastic brush fillers underneath it and a couple of strides out she poked her nose to have a look and didn't quite pick her feet up in time so rolled a pole but got up over the second part well. The XC was up to height and included some big brushes and a big corner too but she flew round it inside the time and I felt we'd had a really good run.
I've had some more training with Donn and he actually said "Oh my God" at our last lesson as we worked in because he couldn't believe the difference! He's told us to go and register with BD and try and qualify for the regionals too, never thought someone would say that to us at the end of last year, when Fifi was dead to the leg and would not do lateral work!
On Monday we went to Shelford Manor BE, Fifi had perked up enough after using the EnerG that I was happy to run her. We were on late again and our test wasn't until 4.12pm. The sun was blazing and the flies were out in force and were annoying Fifi while we warmed up so we kept applying fly spray before we went into the arena.
As we went down the centre line she was twitching her head, I felt really sorry for her actually but she did a fantastic test, and I came out over the moon. The score came back as 34.5, I was honestly expecting under a 30!
But on closer inspection the whole section was marked harshly and we were actually in second place behind a 32.5.
Quite why mum decided to tell me this as I was warming up for showjumping I'll never know. She even felt the need to say "The pressure's on for a clear show jumping now!" Oh right, thanks for that!
Fifi obliged by jumping her socks off, I dont think she's ever tried so hard to be honest. We came out with nothing to add to our dressage score, not one pole! I honestly could have burst into tears afterwards, that clear has been a long time coming!
And so straight back to the lorry and change for XC, I ran through each fence in my head, I wasn't about to let an error of course stop us getting a placing. The course was nice and ground not too hard, but there were some tough fences, some of which were shared with the BE100 course. I popped a few fences in the warm up and we were called over and for once I didn't feel nervous, hoping this wasnt a false sense of security we kicked out of the start box and went out like we meant it. Fifi flew round and gave me a great ride, there were some decent fences in the wood, you went down and up a dip and over a big narrow log, to the right over a skinny brush, a few strides on to a rail and straight down a step before coming out of the wood and she flew them all, not one problem! We made it back with just a few seconds to spare. I pulled up after XC and literally 20 seconds after, she wasn't blowing! Nothing quite like a little thorougbred for fitness!
The placings came through really quickly, we'd finished in 2nd, our first placing at BE90. On collecting our rosette we were told this meant we'd also qualified for the regional finals too, what a brilliant day!
Here's some fab photos of Fifi at Aston by MDR Photo
If you own an ex racehorse but sometimes feel you need a little guidance, there is a book for you. Written by the wonderful Fred and Rowena Cook and called 'Re-educating Racehorses - A life after racing', it talks you through what to consider when getting a racehorse, the stresses and injuries in racing, what to do in those first few days, teaching the horse good ground manners, jumping and shows pictures of ex racehorses in their training later on in life so as to show just what can be achieved by these horses that many people write off as good for nothing and in some cases wild and unmanageable. As horses including Fifi are showing, a horse that has raced is very able to go on and have another career and do it well. Fifi is very honest, has fantastic manners and is perfectly manageable at an event with horses galloping past and with the tannoys blaring away. At most events when she is stood on the lorry and we are in the living section we have to have the connecting door open so we know she is still there as she is that quiet! She has honestly never been a problem with buzzy atmospheres or anything. I still come across people now who have a bad attitude towards ex racehorses and they say that they are all 'nuts'. Well this book will show you otherwise. Absolutely worth investing in.
Click on the image for more information.
Last week Fifi's sire Nomadic Way was sadly put to sleep at 26 years old after really showing his age. He was a lovely horse and he will be sadly missed by all. He won over £300,000 in his career and has produced a great amount of winners on the track since standing at stud with Louella. I just hope Fifi can now do him proud on the event cicuit.