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Monthly Archives: October 2015

Osberton Young Horse Championships

We set off for the long drive to Osberton with just the one horse, LVS Stonehavens Quebec.  The weather forecast was good, the horse was in super condition and we were stocked up with wine.  This was all the makings of a great event!

It took a while for the sunshine to break through the heavy mist, but when it did we were blessed with some fabulous Autumn weather.

LVS Stonehavens Quebec settled very quickly, and you wouldn’t believe that this was her first stay away from home.  She came out of her stable as if she was at any other show and felt really relaxed.  The Novice level dressage test that the 5 year olds had to perform required a lot of balance, something that young horses are generally still developing.  The arena was surrounded with trade stands, there were several National flags proudly flying and the fair weather had encouraged plenty of spectators.  All of this created many possible distractions for any competition horse, let alone young and inexperienced ones.

My horse entered the ring as if she had been competing in this environment forever, and I couldn’t fault her focus.  From the moment we entered the arena she put every bit of energy in to performing at her very best.  She listened to me with great focus, and gave me a lovely forward feeling throughout.  Our only blot on the test sheet was our final halt.  I feel that she had given me her all, and as we halted she slumped sideways to gain her balance.  This I can forgive her for, she had put all of her effort in to her performance and just ran out of energy.  She is only 5.

This positioned us in the top 5 after day one which we were absolutely thrilled with.

Day two started very misty again but this didn’t stop the show jumping going ahead.  The course was up to height, and was held in a sloping arena, which always adds a challenge in itself.

We warmed up well, and I new if I trusted my horse, she would be careful and give me her all.  It’s so easy to let the extra pressure of a championship to effect how you ride.  You can often try and be too cautious and not ride with the same conviction which can result in mistakes.

LVS Stonehavens Quebec did not want to touch a pole.  She jumped round effortlessly for a super clear round.  I was acting relaxed but if I’m honest, this was a huge relief.  One pole down in this phase, and that’s your chances of a rosette gone.

Onwards to the cross country lying in 5th place, it was all to play for.

I thought the cross country was a bit too easy.  I know the horses are young, but all had won qualifiers and most had already competed at Novice level prior to the championships.  I feel that the course could have provided a few more questions, not to scare the horses but to challenge control and accuracy.  Maybe some combinations  on curving lines?  This would at least create an opportunity for a run out if the riders did not prepare the horses well enough.  After all, eventing should be about all 3 disciplines.

The horses were set off in reverse order of position.  This meant we were going at the end of the class which gave us a bit of time to enjoy watching the show.  I think it’s a great idea to run the competition this way as it creates a bit more excitement when the top placed horses go out on the course, especially for the public who are watching.

We had a super ride around the course, and on perfect going we cantered around well with in the time.

I don’t think we could quite believe it.  I travelled to Ireland this time last year with LVS Stonehavens Quebec’s owner, Jess Crocker and we bought her to produce so Jess could enjoy the journey of an event horse from the beginning.  The horse had raw potential, but had no balance, no steering and no experience.  One year on, and what a difference!

We popped the horse in her stable with plenty of carrots and the first bottle of Prosecco was opened.  Then the second, then the third!  I’m so glad they don’t breathalyse you before the prize giving!!

It’s always great to be involved in a mounted prize giving, and when the National anthem plays it’s a very proud moment.  Whether it be for a big 3 day event or a young horse championship, it’s all relevant, and you feel great achievement.  I enjoyed the lap of honour, and was sooo looking forward to the celebrations ahead.

BEDE organised a great event, it was great fun with a super atmosphere, and we were over the moon with the result.  Happy Days!!

Bricky horse trials

This year, Bricky was bathed in sunshine and it was great to be able to enjoy the fantastic views surrounding the show ground.

As always, Michael had presented beautifully presented cross country courses across the levels, asking several technical questions throughout.  You can always count on your trip to Bricky being an educational one for either horse or rider.

My first ride of the day was Bloomfield Tiger Two.  We were full of confidence following his win the week before, and Tiger was certainly out to impress the dressage judges.  He performed an accurate test, producing a lovely picture throughout gaining him a super score of 26.5.

The show jumping is situated on a sloping area of the show ground, which can have a big influence on how the young horses perform.  The horses have to learn to open up their stride and use their power when jumping up the slope, then collect and balance themselves to control their momentum when travelling down hill.

Tiger jumped very well, coping well with the turns and undulations.  We had the final fence down, which I think could have been rider error.  I turned quite tight to the final fence and didn’t really respect it enough.  It was a case of maybe thinking we were home and dry with a clear a bit too early, grrr.

I set off on the cross country attacking the course from the beginning.  As with last week, Tiger was thriving with this positive attitude and he gave me a brilliant round.  He flew around inside the time and we were rewarded with 2nd place.

Another brilliant result on the bounce!!

The Night Traveller was first to go in his section.  He produced a consistent, accurate test which we were very pleased with.  I think the dressage judges were maybe being a bit cautious with their marks as we were first in, but never the less, we had a very competitive score.

You can not fault this guy in the show jumping.  He delivered another super clear round, making it all look so effortless.

The Novice course had an extremely busy section in the middle, and towards the end of the track you had to travel down a steep slope, and then you had to travel immediately back up it.  I thought this would make it very hard to achieve the time, especially as I’m always very cautious galloping down hill so to avoid injuring the horses.

We set off in a good rhythm and The Night Traveller was very enthusiastic, not wasting any time getting away from the fences well.  He skipped through the combinations and seemed to be having the time of his life.  I came through the hedge line and seen what can only be described as a ‘long shot’ to a decent log pile.  The Night Traveller is not the biggest horse but he spread his wings and stretched across the fence with confidence.  He gave me 100% and finished with a solid clear.

He was rewarded with 4th place.  Another rosette for this chap to add to his trophy cabinet.

All in all, an enjoyable show with some more super results!

Pontispool horse trials

With a wet couple of weeks leading up to Pontispool, the ground was just perfect.  The first day of the show gifted us with beautiful sunshine, which gave us fantastic conditions to enjoy the event.  With Pontispool’s addition of an owners  hospitality tent, it meant that those who are closely involved in the sport, and give so much to support riders, could relax, enjoy light refreshments while perfectly situated to watch the show jumping in the main arena below them.  I know this went down really well with our owners, and it gave everybody an ideal meeting point to catch up.  I’d like to say a huge thank you to Pontispool for providing such a great facility.

My first horse of the day was a last minute favour for Alanna Day.  She asked if I could give her inexperienced horse Mulhalls Magic a confidence giving round in the BE90.  It’s not something that I regularly do, but the horse had a great temperament and it was nice to help Alanna out.


He put in a solid performance in the dressage for a score of 32, then jumped a faultless double clear to leave all involved with big smiles.  I had to ride him HC as I’m unable to competitively ride at BE90, however this result would given him a good placing otherwise.

Look out for me on this horse again, I think we are attempting a BE100 at Aldon next month.  Lets see if we can bring home a rosette there.

Mid morning, Team Bragg’s horse lorry rolled in at Pontispool, and the serious competition started.  I had three horses competing across the BE100 sections.

LVS Stonehavens Quebec was having her final run in preparation for the 5 year old championships held at Osberton next month.  This was intended to be an easy competition so to boost her confidence.

After a nice dressage test we moved on to the show jumping where I was trialling a different bit.  Although I had plenty of control, she seemed to be sitting herself behind the contact which was effecting her judgement of the fences.  She jumped almost too casually which resulted in her having two fences down.  This was a preparation show, so it was a good opportunity to try new things, but it is always a reminder that you shouldn’t change tack without thought, and don’t do it if the result really matters.  Taking the positives from this, we shall be wearing her usual jump bridle at the championships!!

She went cross country fantastically.  She is so enthusiastic is loving everything about it.  We did have a slight ‘hold your breath’ moment, where she took off a stride early when jumping out of the water up a double of steps.  She showed her athleticism, popping up the second step with ease, even after jumping herself into a bit of difficulty.  I think the lesson learnt was, it’s good to be bold, but you also need to assess the question carefully!

Bloomfield Tiger Two, our other 5 year old performed a foot perfect dressage test to lead the section on an incredible score of 14.

This always puts a little more pressure on, but it is such a nice position to be in.  He delivered a brilliant clear round show jumping, which was rewarded with a huge cheer from ‘The Ladies Club’ who were conveniently parked in the hospitality tent next to the show jumping.  Their day was getting better and better, and they were enjoying it in style.

Tiger has suffered with the odd loss of concentration cross country, especially when I’ve been trying to go steady and school him around.  Today the ground was perfect and being in the lead gave me the incentive to ride him more competitively.

We set off from the start with intent, and Tiger seemed to be relishing in the challenge.  The more I asked, the more he delivered.  He seemed to be growing in confidence with this more attacking style.

He gave me a fabulous ride for a quick clear inside the time to secure the WIN!

The Night Traveller also posted a leading dressage score for his section, despite the fact I was a little late in remembering my halt in the middle of the test.  Oops, pilot error!

Again, he produced a quality clear in the show jumping to put us in pole position going in to the cross country.

The Night Traveller is pretty experienced at this level and flew around the cross country enjoying every second.  It’s so nice to have a group of horses that you feel are taking you on a trip around the course rather than you having to work hard to encourage them.

This ended the day on a high with the another WIN!!

What a great day at the office!


The final day started with grey skies.  Duke of Axbridge kicked of the day with a good dressage test, but didn’t perform so well in the show jumping and had a couple down.  We weren’t sure if he was a little tired from his run at Gatcombe the previous week.

He started the cross country well, and all seemed to be going ok until the drop in to the water.  We jumped the approach fence well and met the jump in to the water on a balanced four strides.  He took off in front and decided, once he’d seen the drop the other side in to the water that he may have second thoughts. Mmmmm, not great! This left us straddled across the roll top looking down in to the water.  At this point I thought it was best I bailed out before gravity took over and sent us for a dunking.  I slipped off the side, and without me on him, Duke scrambled back on to dry land.  Although the fence judge asked, “Would you like to continue Mr Bragg”, I politely declined, and strolled back to the lorry park! Best save yourself for another day.

Spypark Ferro XS produced a very encouraging dressage test.  He did have a couple of mistakes, but the quality of work was fantastic.  I’m sure we have only touched on his potential.  As a big horse he is taking time to mature, but he is showing glimpses of pure class!

He started his show jump round very composed.  All was going well until the treble combination.  The first distance was a little long, and as I encouraged him to try a bit harder, he panicked and rushed his jump, causing him to tap the back rail.  This rattled him a little for the next couple of efforts resulting in him making a similar mistake.  He finished the round well, but had 8 faults.  This was only a green mistake, and I’m sure with a bit more experience these things will disappear.

He was exceptionally keen across country, and although we planned to have a steady schooling round, he had other ideas.  It was great to have him taking me to the fences, and in a good way, it was nice that I had to convince him to go steadier.  He jumped around for a good clear

We did our dressage on Storm Blue, which went well, but with the weather not being great, and our day not going particularly well, we decided to save ourselves for the next event and call it a day.

Pontispool  laid on a super event and created an amazing atmosphere across the two days.  The courses were fantastically built, the ground was near on perfect, and the hospitality for riders and owners was very well received.

We would like to say a Huge thank you to the whole team at Pontispool.  Great Job!!