Wednesday, 11 February 2015

A belated Happy New Year!

I thought I was getting better at this blogging caper, but it appears I have taken 4 months to get around to writing again. Oops!

The end of last year was busy for us with competition & juggling family commitments. Snip & I competed at TTT dressage in mid November. Whilst we didn't cover ourselves with glory on this occasion, we did do 2 pleasing tests. Funnily enough, I placed higher in what I thought was the poorer test. The mystique of dressage continues for me...!

A high spot of our eventing calendar was Bulla Horse Trials in November. Snip was an absolute superstar & performed a beautiful dressage test & made very light work of the jumping phases. He won! It was a pleasing win for us as he finished on his dressage score, something we achieved on nearly all occasions in our spring horse trials.
Good boy Snippy! 
In juggling motherhood with eventing & having less riding time, I did make the decision to compete Snip a level lower than we did in 2012 ( so back at Pre Novice EA & L1 HRCAV rather than going out at 1* straight away). However, I still made goals to do our best & aim for a finish as close as to our dressage score as possible. I am particularly pleased that in the 6 events completed, only once did we incur SJ faults. I do hope in time, we will be able to work our way up to 1* again. At 14, Snip feels really fit & well, the only issue is me - getting enough time in the saddle. In the interim, dressage seems like an easier sport to pursue with young family; less fitness work required and not whole weekends away like eventing. I do really enjoy dressage training, but will always be an eventer at heart!  ;)

Henry also competed at Bulla. He's had hardly any HT starts for the past 2 years & cross country has been a bit of a bugbear - in reality, he's still inexperienced. It was therefore really pleasing to get him around clear, albeit with some time faults. It was a sticky round with some awkward moments & took all of my effort to make it happen. Hen then squandered what might have been a top 10 finish by stopping twice in the showjumping! Not really sure what that was about, but as always, there is something to work on! Henry did redeem himself a month later by competing with one of my students at a local dressage & showjumping day. They won their dressage test & placed 4th in the jumping, at what was only their 7th ride together. It made me very happy to see someone enjoying time with Henry. I am lucky to be able to share my horses with some wonderful young riders.

Since then, we've had a relaxed Christmas break with lots of family time. We recently enjoyed a family holiday on the North Island of New Zealand. We travelled from Bay of Islands to Wellington over 9 days and had a relaxing time (even with a toddler in tow!).
The thermal wonders of Rotorua
So 2015 is well & truly here with lots of exciting things in store. The first of which is a clinic with my childhood idol - Lucinda Green! I know that would be met with blank looks from those not in eventing circles, but the woman is a genius. Winner of the prestigious Badminton Horse Trials on 6 occasions, former World Champion & Olympic medallist. I look forward to learning more from her.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Spring Eventing Update

Avenel @ Greenvale in the extreme wind! Photo credit: Geoff McLean
I have managed to get out to three EA horse trials since August. The first of which was Friends of Werribee at the end of July. I had entered both Snip and Henry, but I became so ill with a flu-like virus on the Thursday night beforehand, that I decided I couldn't possibly survive the logistics of an event (on my own) with 2 horses. Henry's dressage was on the Friday afternoon too, so I decided to scrap the plan of going down Friday and give myself an extra day to recover, get packed and just ride Snip. His dressage wasn't until Saturday afternoon, which made for a much more relaxed weekend.

Even with one horse though, it was a battle! I had a cotton wool head and could barely remember my dressage test, so it wasn't all that flash. Because it was our first comp back since May, I put no pressure on myself whatsoever and that approach worked. We finished on our dressage score to move from 21st to 8th overall in our section! Out of 95 Pre Novice starters, Snip was one of 14 clear SJ rounds (just four in my section), so our work in improving our showjumping skills has been paying off. :)  Here is some footage of our Werribee XC round. Not too bad, although we did have a bit of a 'miss' at a fence in the middle.

After FOW HT, we spent three days at an enjoyable showjumping clinic at Pyramid Hill with Guy Creighton. The first day was spent doing grids, the second day exercises on turns and the final day, on riding courses. The constant theme throughout was getting our lower leg position rock solid. After three days riding two horses, it helped me consolidate that (even if I did need a good soak in the bath after!). I was fortunate also to win a 'lucky rider prize' of a bag of feed, thanks to Granny Reilly's feeds.

Henry being a star! Photo: Andrea Otto

Avenel HT at its new home of Greenvale was next. Unfortunately, it turned into a 2 phase competition due to extreme winds on the Sunday. Henry got to do dressage and SJ...wasn't a great test, but he was clear SJ. He didn't get to start XC because they cancelled the rest of the event due to the extreme (and dangerous) weather conditions. Snip didn't get to showjump as they couldn't keep the jumps up! I was happy with his test (was 12th I think, after a lovely flowing and relaxed test) and we were clear under time XC in the most crazy weather, moving up to 7th. Once again, I have footage of our cross country round in insane conditions!

Last weekend we did Candlebark HT and it was a similar theme. Not great dressage (but not "bad" - just not as soft through the back as I would have liked) but clear in the jumping phases to finish 7th overall again. We have been consistent! The flatwork has been a bit rubbish as I haven't had the time to put the hard work in - Snip's been lucky to get 4 rides a week. Even with reduced work, he still holds fitness and goes out and performs so well. I am very lucky! Henry didn't get to start at Candlebark as he was on a waitlist. I reckon he has perfected the art of getting out of events, as he's just about missed everything thus far!

Snip with his rosette at Candlebark

I have Bulla ARC HT and HRCAV Top Teams dressage in November, then that's it for me comp wise in 2014. I wanted to do Lakes and Craters 3DE, but family commitments mean that this year I will have to give it a  miss. Time to work a bit more on the dressage side of things (it will be no stirrup November for me!).

In other news, Ted (Koyuna Enchanted) is soon to be broken in and I have another horse...but that's a story for another time. ;)

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

It's been a long time!

Yes, I know. It's been a long time between blogs. For quite a long time, my sleep deprived baby brain just couldn't get into the creative groove (I struggled to even read a book!) so my poor blog has been rather neglected.

Ok, so the last 12 months. Let's start at the beginning...a very good place to start. I'll try to make this quite a pictorial blog, it might save me several thousand words.

About 13 months ago, we welcomed Hamish into our lives. He started off as a wee little thing and like all new parents, for a while we wondered where the instruction manual was located! I know it sounds cliched, but it is really hard now to remember life without him! He is now a gorgeous 1 year old and enjoying doing all the things busy 1-year-olds do.

The gorgeous Hame (not that I am biased, eh?)

On the horse front. I was back riding within weeks of having Hamish, attending an ARC rally 7 weeks post baby. I decided to not worry about competing initially - just getting back in the saddle was enough to start with. I was also without a horse float for several months, having sold my float earlier in the year, so that curbed my competitive aspirations somewhat. I played spectator  when possible however, getting out to watch Snip compete whilst he was out on lease. In January, I finally picked up my shiny new wheels and was back on the road.

The pretty new float

In December, Snip came home. The original plan was for him to be sold - which very nearly happened . To cut a long, boring story short, several circumstances changed and he's still here. Obviously the Universe had another plan - which now many months on, with the power of hindsight, I can say was extremely fortunate for me!

In April this year, I resumed competition with Snip. Our first competition was Westcoast Horse Trials at Lara. Although Snip had plenty of mileage in more recent times, I was a bit rusty, so wasn't sure how our return to competition would go. As it turned out, it went very well and we finished 2nd in the Level 1 class after dressage, and stayed there overall after good cross country and showjumping performances

Before dressage at Westcoast

From there it was onto Dunolly HAC's inaugural Horse Trials at the start of May. This time, I was very ambitious and decided to compete both Snip and Henry (what was I thinking?!!). Despite it being a logistical nightmare, we survived. Snip did a lovely dressage test to lead the Level 1 and Henry was lying 5th in the Level 3. After a clear XC round and reasonable jumping round, Snip took out the L1 section (yay!). Henry jumped clear SJ, but a few problems XC left him 13th in his section. We have a few kinks to iron out on the cross country side of things with Henry, but he is still relatively inexperienced in this area - having considerable time off eventing in recent years (and always seeming to find a way to miss an event if he can wing it!).

Henry made a local paper!

Snip on XC - Photo credit Kathryn Toomey
Snip with his spoils. Many thanks to Freemantle Stockfeeds and DHAC for the lovely prizes!

We backed this up with BDFEG's dressage and Combined Training comp the following weekend  - with Snip winning both his dressage tests & CT and Henry placing 2nd in his first Level 2 CT.

Henry at BDFEG CT day

Over the winter we all had a break from competition, with the short days and my return to work part time limiting time to train. We have been busy with property improvements though and I'm pleased to say our houseyard fence is finished. Timing is perfect, given Hamish is not *yet* walking.

Spiffy new fence completed! (Thanks Dad and Mark!)

Since Spring has rolled around, it's been all systems go. I've been to Friends of Werribee HT, a Guy Creighton SJ clinic and most recently Avenel HT - reports to come. In time, I also hope the creative and analytical parts of my brain return so I can share with you some of my insights into juggling motherhood with horses (why has no one written a book on this?), reviews of the latest equestrian books and other such things. Stay tuned!

Friday, 3 May 2013

Horsey Happenings....a much belated edition!

I do apologise for the rather long gap in my blogging. It's fair to say I have had a lot on my plate... and have been a little secretive! I have had all sorts of questions asked of me lately - namely a) why I am not eventing this season b) why Snip is out on lease and c) why the heck do I look a wee bit fat? :-P Henry was indeed onto something in his detective work (see his last blog entry below!). I'm sure it won't take many of you long to join the dots if you haven't already...

There's no hiding the fact I'm now 23 weeks pregnant! Mark and I are eagerly awaiting the arrival of our first child, due late August. I look at the months ahead...May, June, July...August! Eeek, that is going to come around fast! All is going well and now I am past the "ill" stage, I am feeling great!

So aside from 'baking' a new little person, what have I been up to? Over the warmer months I didn't feel overly well, but since we've hit autumn, Henry and I have had a fun time and even tried our hand at dressage. It's not quite the same as being out eventing, but it's been nice to get out and socialise. We recently went to the Avoca ARC dressage day and he went beautifully for me. My main concern was just getting through the day, but he exceeded all expectations and won both Level 3 tests, taking home the L3 Jackpot!

Henry being a VERY good boy! Riding a test with "Junior" aboard

Most of my horsey time recently has been spent coaching, assisting many young (and not so young) riders on the way to their goals. I have also been judging dressage and even got to judge at the recent Midland PCAV Zone Flat and Musical Ride team qualifiers. What great fun!

Snip (aka I'm a Nuisance) has been having a wonderful time with Harriet. They have had a great season so far, recently placing 5th in the Junior Pre Novice at Camperdown. They also placed 2nd at Bacchus Marsh PC HT and 4th at Riddell's Creek PC HT in Grade 1, with fabulous XC rounds! In doing so, they have qualified for PCAV State Horse Trials Championships in Deniliquin this weekend. We wish them the very best of luck - I know they have worked very hard and will give it all they've got.

Harriet and Snip going great guns at Camperdown

From here, I believe Harriet is aiming to compete 1* later in the season, so she will continue to lease Snip until the end of the year. With my change of circumstances, I have sadly decided he will be offered for sale at the conclusion of the lease. Horses like Snip are hard to come by and I am so glad to have had him in my life - he has given me so many opportunities. Alas, it is the start of a new chapter for me, which will mean a lot less time for the competition aspect of riding whilst I focus on my family. Alex (who is now 4 1/2) will also be going to his "Aunty Bert" soon for the next stage of his education, as it is not really the right time for me to be working a green broken horse!

Although things are changing, it is not all sad news. I am excited to announce that I have bought a promising youngster from the well regarded Koyuna Stud. "Ted" aka Koyuna Enchanted is a lovely 2yo - I'm hoping timing wise he'll work out nicely for me to be broken in once I am back in the swing of things post-baby.

The new kid on the block

In the meantime, I'll be plodding around with my darling Henry and travelling around the traps to do more lessons and judging. Resting and doing nothing is not my strong point, but this winter I promise I will try!

Til next time,

Thursday, 14 March 2013

At Home with Henry

Hi Everyone!

I know it's been a long time between blogs but I don't actually think that's my fault. I blame my two-legged mother for not helping me access the keyboard. She's rarely home, and when she is, she plonks herself in front of the air conditioner and generally is really lazy. How do I know this? I have friend Bones is in the paddock right next to the house and has a good view through the living room window and can see just how much of a couch potato our mother has become....tut, tut! He even calls out to her to entice her outside, but it seems to fall on deaf ears?

I don't really have any exciting tales of competitions to entertain you with, but I have been up to lots. Over the summer, I have had a new friend, Jenna, come and ride me. Jenna is pretty ace. Not only does she seem to like jumping too, but she always brings me carrots when she visits! We did lots of lessons together, including some cross country. It was great fun. 

I have also had a range of other people come to ride me. Apparently I am becoming a "school pony" whatever that means (the same thing that Ellie does, I think, but I get the bigger two-leggeds, not the kids). I don't mind, everyone who visits seems to understand my need to be groomed (ahh, those itchy spots!) and they provide me with lots of carrots, so I just go with the flow. 

I'm not sure what's up with my mother though. Just after Christmas, she complained about feeling sick, then over January she went all funny about doing stuff in the she doesn't ride me over jumps, just sedately rides me around. She was picking on me for getting a bit too fat over summer, but truth be known, I could say the same about her. I'm not sure if it is just me, but I reckon she's starting to develop a bit of a Cob-eqsue figure. I'll be keeping an eye on her. Maybe she should be the one doing laps of the round yard on the lunge instead of me?

Speaking of rumours, I have also heard that Alex is going away on a holiday soon to live with his Aunty for a while. Another sign of our mother's laziness! First Snip disappeared and now Alex...although, I have been reassured I get to stay. Something is definitely time I report I hope to have some answers. 

Over and out 'til next time, 

(Detective) Henry x