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Monthly Archives: July 2015

Bicton Horse Trials

It was a quick turn around after Barbury on the Friday for Bicton on the Saturday.  We returned from Barbury and all of the horses that were heading to Bicton were bathed, plaited and ready to go.  The lorry was emptied and repacked ready for action and another very early start.

I’ve got to say a big thank you to all of our team, they are extremely organised and always have the horses turned out to such high standards.  It’s really appreciated guys!

Our very own Bloomfield Tiger Two kicked off the day, and he was well supported by many of the members of ‘The Ladies Club’ once again.  Tiger is a true gentleman, he ambles down to the dressage, receives his pats and polo’s from everyone then switches straight on to work.  He has such an adorable temperament you can’t help but love him.

He performed a brilliant test, gaining the best marks he possibly could at this stage.  If he continues with this attitude, he can only get better and better as he matures and gets stronger.  We were well rewarded with a 27.8.

The show jumping had two doubles and several tricky lines.  It was going to be a test for the young horses, but is always helped that you are jumping off of a fantastic surface that gives the horses confidence.

All of The Ladies Club were lined up on the bank, and I’m sure they were willing him to do well so much that if they could, they would all get in the arena and carry Tiger around over the fences.  Tiger didn’t disappoint, and jumped a much improved round.  He made one mistake, rolling the front rail of an oxer, but overall he jumped a lot better.

Tiger set off out of the start box with sheer determination.  I’m sure someone had been telling him stories of Badminton, he was off like a shot and I felt like a bit of a passenger just steering him in the right direction.  After the first water complex, he seemed to really settle and relax, and cruised around the rest of the course.  He is coming on in leaps and bounds and is definitely the yards new ‘Pocket Rocket’.

Sadly the one rail was a bit costly but we were still rewarded with en eighth placed rosette.

Our second 5 year old was Eventing World Wide’s LVS Stonehavens Quebec (Darcy).  My only mare on the yard, and the least troublesome horse you could ever come across.  She takes everything in life well within her stride and never seems to get phased by anything.

She’s a big moving mare and always turns heads when she’s trotting around.  She performed an accurate test for a super 27.3.  The remarks were that she tends to sometimes work with her poll a little low, but she still has so much growing to do.  I think when she’s fully mature, her work will be more uphill, and then she will really wow the judges, but we must remember she is only five.

Darcy cantered into the jumping arena as if she’d been doing this for years.  The bell goes and off we go with no hesitation or spooking.  She popped round for a beautiful clear, and hardly broke into a sweat.  I wonder if she was human whether she’d be sat on a beach with a surf board next to her just watching the world go by without a worry to speak of.

The cross country was much the same as the jumping, she casually cruised around giving me a smooth ride for a lovely clear.  The only thing holing this horse back is her age, she has such a great attitude for eventing I’m very excited for the future.

A great double clear, and well deserved 3rd place!

Spypark Ferro was last to go in the BE100 plus.  This was his first attempt at a Novice test, and it was safe to say, he handled it well.  Standing at 17.2′ the dressage arena seems ever so small at the moment.  He has huge movement, and when I kicked on into medium canter I wondered if I may end up in the next field, but he controlled his balance well and produced a wonderful test.  We were well rewarded with a score of 24.  What a super start!

Maintaining a powerful canter in self carriage has taken time with Spypark Ferro, mainly because he is so big, and has huge amounts of energy.  I feel this is really improving, and is making it far easier to ride him around the show jumping.  He is naturally a careful horse, and always tries his heart out.  As with the other young horses, being patient is the key to this horses success, he has all the ability, but needs time to mature.

He jumped a brilliant round, but had one rail down as he came across a related distance.  He got a bit cocky, and made the distance up very easily.  I think he was expecting me to help him out and hold him off of the front rail, but this is the age to let them learn and I left him alone which resulted in him hitting it with his front legs.  He jumped the next fence giving it plenty of room, I think the lesson went well!

We decided that it was unnecessary to run him cross country as the ground was a bit firm and he didn’t need any more experience around BE100 courses.  He will have a good cross country schooling session before he has his first Novice event at Wilton.

This was a very promising performance!!

Barbury Horse Trials

It’s always a pleasure attending Barbury.  It showcases the cross country in an amphitheatre fashion, and always produces a fantastic atmosphere.

The cross country is always testing, with big, bold fences requiring confident jumping horses.  The terrain adds an extra dimension as you travel back and forth across a bowl shaped field, where you are asked to jump many fences on undulating ground.  It always makes for an exciting ride, and if the horses hit a good rhythm, they tend to really enjoy themselves.

I started the day with The Night Traveller (Hugo), who was competing in the Novice class.  The Novice dressage arenas are situated away from the main showground where it is nice and quiet.  It is difficult for them to find flat ground here amongst the rolling countryside but they always do their best.  The arenas are placed in a long strip in a valley between two crop fields, and are snuggly fitted between an avenue of trees.  This in itself can be a new experience for the novice horses having features so close to them while they are performing their tests, so this event can be very educating for the future.

Hugo, as always produced an accurate test.  He is a real pro in this phase and always stays very rideable, allowing me to create a consistent balanced picture throughout.

The show jumping went well.  He jumped very smoothly, just being caught out by the last element of the treble combination.  The distances were on the longer side, and Hugo produced a lovely round and careful jump over the oxer as the second element which left him a bit far off the last upright.  This was very unfortunate as the rest of the round was faultless.

We set off for the cross country, and although Hugo was jumping well, he didn’t seem to want to gallop and stretch as he usually does.  We’d had him treated by our physio the week before where he had pulled a muscle through his back, but we thought it was mended.  I didn’t feel he was comfortable, and with this in back of my mind, I thought it better to pull him up.  Barbury is not a course to be tackling with a horse that’s not 100%.  We had Hugo seen again just following the event, and he was sore along his back again.  It was a good decision to save him for another day, a bit of rest and he’ll be back to full strength.

 

Midnight Ash was contesting the retraining of racehorse Intermediate Novice class.  This is open to any grade thoroughbred that has race history, so there were some pretty experienced horses that Ash had to compete against.

He tried his very best in the dressage, with this being his first test at this level.  Having the trees so close to arena slightly unnerved him, especially when a branch stroked his quarters as we were doing shoulder in.  We ended up with a score of 38, which wasn’t going to trouble the leaders, but left us in a respectable position.

Ash gave me a nice ride around the show jumping.  We had the planks down which were jumped down hill after a turn back.  I needed to ride the canter a little stronger through the turn to give him more power, he jumped a bit flat and pushed the plank off.  A little rider error, oops.

This would definitely have been the toughest cross country test that Ash had encountered in his short eventing career so far, but I thought that the forward thinking track would suit his way of going.  Ash, as with most thoroughbreds has a huge, easy gallop, and a flowing course like Barbury’s should make for an enjoyable ride.

We set of, and immediately we settled into a super rhythm.  Ash was eating up the ground, and made mince meat of the fences.  The main water jump was silver birch rails, one stride to a decent drop into the water, then six strides up a slope out of the water to a skinny triple brush.  Ash popped through this as if we were schooling, and with every question that came up along the course he jumped with true confidence and maturity.  This was by far the best feel I’ve had from him, and shows me that the bigger more open events will be just what he needs in the future.

I was very proud of him, and he was rewarded with a top ten placing!

Barbury was the return of one of my top horses.  Redpath Ransom (Reeko) was having his first run this season following some annoying little injuries.  I was very excited to have him back out, and I was getting the feeling when I sat on him, SO WAS HE!

His dressage test was going really well, until we had to canter back to the track to perform some counter canter.  This was Reeko’s opportunity to show off all of our recent training on perfecting his flying changes.  However beautiful they were, we definitely didn’t require them today!  He seemed to thoroughly enjoy his dressage test, even if it didn’t quite resemble the same test everyone else was doing.  I was really pleased with his trot and walk work, and it was nice to sit on him feeling back to his powerful self.

At Intermediate Novice, the jumping phases should be a formality, and Reeko wasn’t going to let it be anything other.  He showed his class in the show jumping, effortlessly popping around the track as we were at home warming up for a faultless clear.

With this being Reeko’s first run for some time, I set off in a steady rhythm.  He set himself into cruise control and it was as if he hadn’t had a break at all.  We did have a very exuberant jump into the main water, but with his experience and strength, he recovered instantly and popped out over the skinny brush as if meant to do it that way.  It was enjoyable from the moment we left the start box to the moment we crossed the finish.

I’ve missed riding him, and feel privileged to be back competing him.  Bring on the Autumn Internationals, we are back!

 

Chepstow Horse Trials

Situated at Chepstow racecourse, the access to this event is great.  As soon as you’ve crossed the Severn Bridge you’ve practically arrived.  The event was much the same as last year except the relocation of the show jumping.  Last year it was exceptionally wet, and the jumping arena got very deep so I’m assuming this brought on this move.

Although the limited space that is available for the cross country, the course runs across the main area several times, and has plenty of questions throughout of which I think the water fence was the strongest.  in both the BE100 and the Novice classes, you had to approach the water up a mound and jump a hanging log on top with ground falling away behind it into the water itself.  This required the rider to choose the correct pace and get the horse in a good balance so that they could allow the horse the use of its neck up the slope and time to assess the question.  Approached too fast the riders will pull and restrict the horse too close to the jump which will not allow the horses chance to see the fence and ground falling away behind into the water before they should commit to taking off.  This will result in the horse being surprised at point of take off, and possibly cause a stop or very awkward jump.

I had three horses competing, two in the BE100, and one in the Novice.

I started with Storm Blue in the BE100.  I will apologise for my quick complaint, but when arriving at the dressage warm up I found once again we were expected to trot around on very rough hard ground.  This is probably where horses will be asked to do most of their work at an event, and it is often some of the worse prepared ground on the event site.  I would really hope that dressage and show jumping warm up areas could be spiked to at least provide some give.  It’s bad enough when the going can not offer anything back to the horse, but when it actually punishes them, you have to ask yourself, Is this really encouraging them to perform at their best?  Rant over!

Storm blue didn’t particularly appreciate the ground, but he didn’t complain or let me down, and professionally delivered an accurate test.

I only jump three warm up fences so as to save him for the course.  Blue has done a lot of show jumping throughout the last year and this showed.  He easily cantered around for a clinical clear round.

After having a small blip at our last event at Treborough, I was eager to prove how good this horse is across the country, and he did just that.  With so many gears available, he covers the ground with ease, and he has scope to burn.  I had a foot perfect round for a beautiful double clear.  Sooo looking forward to getting a bit more experience behind this horse and getting him up the grades.

 

Bloomfield Tiger Two was next up, and once again, several of his support crew had turned up from, The Ladies Club.  With Tigers cute looks and this gang of women supporting him he can’t but succeed.

At only 5 years old, he has a super temperament.  He strolls over to the dressage, gets patted and fussed, then drops straight into his work, and trots through his dressage test.  What more could you ask for from a young horse.

Tiger has such an amazing jump, but I feel his lack of competition experience has caused to make green errors in this phase.  He started his round really nicely, but when the terrain slightly alters it effects his jump.  I’m sure this is just balance and strength, and a bit of patience will see this horse get the clear rounds he deserves instead of those annoying odd rails.

Tiger seemed to be settling into the cross country until we approached fence 6, which was a corner positioned beneath a tree on the turn.  As we turned he half locked on to a jump that was in a different class, as I pulled him around away from that, I think he assumed we were cantering through these jumps and didn’t expect to be faced with his fence against the tree, and we had a glance off.  He jumped it well on his second attempt and continued around the course, growing in confidence as he went.  I was very pleased with how he tackled the water jump, and must put his mistake down to experience.

Midnight Ash was contesting in the Novice class.  He once again performed a dressage test to the best of his abilities.  He does struggle in this phase, not through want of trying, but his super temperament and hard work must be paying off, as he was rewarded with a 29.5.  His P.B. in this phase.

Ash’s jumping is always consistent, and we’ve been doing a lot of jumping outside of eventing to prepare for his step up to Intermediate soon.  This proved dividend, and he jumped an impressive clear, giving everything a mile.

The cross country seemed to be causing quite a few problems.  A step up to an acutely angled skinny brush on an awkward line seemed to be the biggest culprit.  I set off nice and steady, getting the first couple of fences out of the way, and let Ash slowly build up his rhythm.  He gave me an amazing ride, proving that thoroughbred’s are the best cross country horses.  He runs at Barbury next, and I think with a bit more space, and some well built fences, he’s going to really enjoy himself.

We were rewarded with a fantastic 3rd place for this classy double clear.  Well done Ash!

Treborough Horse Trials

This was our first trip to treborough.  We had heard it was situated high on top of a hill, and WOW, our source was not wrong.  The Sat Nav says you’re only a few miles a way, but the poor lorry couldn’t go any faster than 10 mph up the never ending climb on to the Exmoor hills.  We may have to nick name this event, Everest!!

We were blessed with super weather, and while walking the cross country course it was well worth taking in the view across the valley towards the sea.

The cross country course was full of questions.  The course felt quite long when I walked it, but not because of the distance, but more because how busy it was with twist and turns.  There were some awkward fences that needed jumping, accompanied by the good old ditch and palisade flyer fence which called for brave and forward thinking horses.

As with a lot of the events hosting the lower level competitions, I was disappointed with the ground, not just on the cross country, but also in the show jumping.  The show jump warm ups are often neglected, yet this is where you will probably do most of your preparation work.  It would be nice to see that they may have spiked this area to help take the sting out of the ground.

I had a full day with four horses competing.  Three in the BE100, and one in the Novice.

LVS Stonehaven Quebec started the show for us, and showed huge improvement in her dressage from her last event.  She was consistent in the contact, and handle the slight slope in the arena well.  She performed a lovely test for a score of 27.

The jumping arena had a gentle gradient running across it which was catching out several combinations.  Unfortunately, I think this also tripped us up.  Fence 9 was positioned just as the ground started to run downwards.  This caused the horses to try and put their back feet down a bit quicker and not quite finish their jump off.  We were caught out here and Darcy’s back feet just rolled the pole for 4 faults.

We headed into the cross country lying in a good position, but trying not to pressurise Darcy, as she’s only 5yrs, we travelled around for a few time penalties.  These were very costly as the result went, but I was over the moon with her performance, and she’d had another great experience to take forward for the rest of the season.

Storm Blue was competing in his second event this year.  He was extremely focussed in the dressage, and performed a very attentive and accurate test for a score of 28.3.

Blue showed his jumping experience, and breezed around the show jumping making it feel effortless for a super clear.

We set off on the cross country with a really good chance of winning and sadly, I think this effected how I rode him.  I set off a bit quick, considering it was only his second run and we paid the price shortly after.  Fence 7 and 8 was a hanging log, three strides on a downwards slope to a step down into the water.  We approached this at a confident speed, and when Blue saw the water behind, he took a moment of hesitation.  This hesitation cost us 20 penalties which marred what was a super round.  I feel if I’d given him a bit more time to assess the question, he would have jumped through more smoothly.  HINDSIGHT!!

I was really pleased with the horse, and I’m sure he has a win in him very soon, and will be making the step up to Novice in the not so distant future.  Watch this guy, he could be a special one.

Spypark Ferro was making his return after a 6 week break and was feeling fresh and eager to go.  He warmed up beautifully for the dressage but as we went across to his arena in the corner of the field we were mobbed by horse flies.  This made him a little sensitive, and although he performed a great test, I feel it could have been better if he could have solely concentrate on me, instead of being eaten alive.  Never the less, he stayed as focussed as possible and did his job.

Our show jumping round felt like a confident schooling round that you would have at home.  We unfortunately got caught out at the same fence as Darcy had, for exactly the same reason for 4 faults, but I was pleased with the rhythm and his effort.

Spypark ferro has established himself at this level, and took the cross country in his stride.  He jumped exceptionally well and didn’t take a second look at anything and cruised around well with in the time.

We were rewarded with a 3rd place for our efforts!

The Night Traveller (Hugo) was out again, and performed a clinical dressage test for another great score of 25.

Although the ground was hard, Hugo jumped a careful clear, giving everything plenty of room.

Lying in a good position, we set off with intent to make the time.  Hugo is a careful horse, and always jumps everything with plenty to spare.  It was quickly clear to me that he didn’t feel great galloping on the hard ground.  I slowed the pace half way around but I think the jumping on the hard ground had upset his rhythm.  We had an uncharacteristic stop at a simple galloping fence, on his second approach, at a steady pace, he was happy to jump, and we steadily continued home.  I think the hard ground had taken its toll on him.

Hugo, and a couple of the others, were a bit sore through their chests and shoulders from the concussion and jarring from jumping on the hard ground.  We quickly had them treated by our physio, which seems to have alleviated a lot of the tightness, but this is a reminder that horses are not machines, and there are a lot of considerations that should be taken into account when choosing how to run our horses, on certain ground conditions!

 

Nunney Horse Trials

Once again, Nunney horse trials was blessed with glorious weather.  The organisers had made a great job of creating some atmosphere around the main arena, and the dressage arenas again were situated out the back, in nice flat and quiet fields.

The cross country course was up to height, but inviting.  The road crossings are always interesting, especially with the young horses, as to how they cope with their balance negotiating the undulations of the ground.

We had our two five year old horses contesting in the 5yr old BE 100 section.  This was their first BE100, so we were in unknown territory.  Hopefully all our preparation would pay off, and we would pay off.

We kicked off the day with Bloomfield Tiger Two.  He is now supported by ‘The Ladies Club’ syndicate, and this was the first event where all of the members would see him in action.  I was all ready to start my dressage, but was stalling waiting for all of these ladies to arrive.  I daren’t ask whether it was their driving, or the extra time to put on their make up, but they all filtered in just in time!

Tiger performed a relaxed and accurate test which is all I want from him at this stage.  This resulted with a respectable score of 31.  A good start to the day!

We were show jumping over a very colourful course fences which looked very impressive in the sunshine.  Whether this was good for the young horses, we were yet to find out, but it was probably going to be entertaining for the viewing public.

Tiger entered the arena like a pro, and jumped around well.  I over rode him into the final combination, which rushed his jump, and unfortunately cost us four faults, but I was really pleased with him.

Tiger can be quite sharp on the cross country, and this was a step up in expectation.  I set off meaning business, and attacked the course from fence one.  This seemed to pay off, and Tiger really got stuck in and jumped a super clear inside the time.

I returned to the lorry to 10 smiling ladies!  Phew!!

LVS Stonehavens Quebec (Darcy), although a little unsettled in the dressage, her class shone through, and she glided around the dressage arena impressing the judge for a super score of 29.

Darcy is usually a great jumper, but seemed a little flat in the heat, and had two poles down.  I’m not sure if I did a little too much preparation work in the week, which may have left her a little tired.  It’s always a learning curve with young horses.

She cruised around the cross country, taking everything in her stride.  It’s surprising how confident she is already considering how little experience she has.  It’s so enjoyable to ride such a forward thinking, brave horse.  This is very exciting for the future!

 

The Night Traveller had to wait until the end of the day to compete in the late Novice section.  This was his first run after a short break following his spring campaign.  He came out, all be it a little fresh, and performed his usual accurate and effortless test in the dressage.  He is so rideable in this phase, and is really reliable.  We were nicely positioned in second place following this phase.

He had a spook going into the treble combination of the show jumping, where the sun was reflecting off of the front rail of the first element.  He jumped very high and didn’t quite stretch enough for the back rail which unfortunately tipped out of the cups.  It was shame, as he had jumped a fantastic round apart from this.  He certainly didn’t want to touch another fence, and gave the last jump a foot to spare!

With this being his first run back our plan was to canter around the cross country in a nice rhythm aiming for a smooth and confident round.  This is exactly what we achieved, so a great result, and a super way to finish the day.

 

Pontispool horse trials

This was our first outing of the season where we were to endure plenty of wind and rain.  The 1st of June felt more like the 1st November before the winter kicks in!  It was definitely not an event for the fair weather rider.

Pontispool had once again presented a well built cross country course across all of the levels.  They have many features across the estate, which they utilise really well making it very interesting riding.  There were jumping efforts both entering, and exiting the water complexes, and would require a confident horse and accurate riding to get through them smoothly.  Everyone loves watching at the water jump, and I think these would provide a few sticky rides that would entertain the spectators.

My first ride of the weekend was our very own, Bloomfield Tiger Two.  After his first competition at Millfield, we felt he needed to compete fairly soon so to establish what was expected of him in his new sport.

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This started off really well with a huge improvement in the dressage.  Tiger was really relaxed, and stayed focused throughout, allowing us to perform a smooth and accurate test.  He was well rewarded with a score of 28.3 which it was safe to say, we were very pleased with.

Show jumping was going well, but being last to go in our class, the arena party were a bit eager to alter the course and started changing the fences as we were half way through our round.  This included a gentleman in a bright yellow jacket walking across the back of a fence as we were approaching it.  He was half an advert for road safety, he was dressed in bright clothing so was easy to see, but he definitely forget to look left and right before crossing to avoid traffic!  This was a shame for us, as Tiger got a little unnerved by this and lost his concentration.  He began to be more concerned about the people rattling about with the other fences around him than the ones he was  jumping, you can’t blame him I suppose.  This resulted in him having a couple down, but I was pleased with how he began his round which is promising for his next events.

The cross country on the whole went well.  He jumped with more confidence, and tackled the water fences well.  I had one blip, where he had a spook while approaching a fence, and unfortunately, I had fractured my hand only the day before, and I was unable to organise my reins quickly enough to compensate.  Once I’d got myself sorted we were back on track, and he flew home.

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Kelsons Limited Edition put in a very consistent performance.  His dressage was good and had a super show jumping round.  He did unfortunately lower one rail, but only through over jumping with exuberance, so we can forgive him that.

Once again, he cruised around the cross country effortlessly.  He coped really well with all of the combinations and popped around the course in a beautiful rhythm.  Another solid result!!

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Duke of Axbridge made a minor misjudgement in the show jumping.  I think he misread the final upright which was a rustic fence with no ground line.  He half thought about putting in an extra stride, which left us in a bit of disarray.  On second presentation, he popped over it effortlessly, but unfortunately this spoilt what was up to then a fab round.

With the weather really deteriorating, we decided to canter round the cross country in a safe rhythm, ignoring the time.  This plan paid off, as we had a super clear!  The course took many victims, and even with our time penalties we still had a placing.  This proves this horses reliability at Intermediate level.

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Storm Blue was doing his first horse trial event of the season.  He’s had a successful stint show jumping, but we feel he will be a great junior event horse when he has a bit more experience, so his eventing career begins.

With the wind howling, and the intermittent heavy rain showers, it probably wasn’t the best conditions for his first dressage test, but Blue stayed focussed and posted a very respectable 29.3.  Not bad for his debut.

We shot straight down to the show jumping, where he jumped a great round.  I rode into the first fence sooo relaxed, he jumped about four foot high, but clipped the back rail of the oxer on the way down.  This woke us up, and we jumped cleanly around the rest of the course.

This proves, theres a fine line between confidence, and complacency.  Blame the rider, oops!

Cross country was a training exercise, and its safe to say, it went well.  He popped around like a pro.  We were very happy!