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Monthly Archives: May 2016

Portman Horse Trials

Portman is a regular fixture for us.  It’s a super event to bring out the young horses for their first runs.  The cross country course is inviting and flows nicely which allows the horses to settle as they progress throughout.

On the first day we took two horses to compete in the Novice sections.

Storm Blue was having his first outing of the season and from the moment he got off the lorry he was full of exuberance.  I did struggle to contain this enthusiasm, and as we were finding cantering way more exciting than trotting our dressage score consequently suffered, BADLY!

He was much the same in the show jumping, he was full of jump but paid little attention to technique.  As frustrating as it is when a horse gets overcome with adrenalin I think it is good for them to carry on and complete the event, and hopefully get it out of their system.

He redeemed himself a little and flew around the cross country like a pro.  Today would be put down as experience and we will be looking forward to the next show.

Spypark Ferro XS was also full of life, but on the flip side to Blue, he remained quite rideable and produced a fantastic dressage test for an impressive score of 26.

He jumped a super clear in the show jumping.  He has strengthened up through the winter and this was proving dividend in his performance.  He is becoming a powerful and exciting mount for the future.

It was much the same for the cross country.  We had a fluent, foot perfect round to secure the yards first win of the season.

On the second day we were contesting the BE100.  We had two 5 year olds having their first outings of the season.

Bonmahon Blue Mist produced a relaxed and accurate test for an amazing score of 24.5.  He is such an exciting horse, he has good paces and masses of scope and although he has a sharp temperament, he offers me his full attention when I’m riding him.  It may take him a while to mature, but he is one that we will produce quietly with his future in mind.

He did get a little distracted and spooky in the show jumping.  This coupled with the ground becoming very tacky and holding he unfortunately rolled two poles.

He excels in the cross country.  With his forward thinking attitude and bravery he jumps everything out of his stride and he gave me a fab ride for a nice clear.  A good start!

Twice Knightly was my second 5 year old.  He is a new horse to the yard, and is a homebred by a new owner to Team Bragg, Jessica Coleson.  This event was maybe a little early for him as he only came in the middle of January and had little jumping experience, but we thought that the experience would do him good.

It was a lot for him to take in and he was a bit green throughout the whole day.  His dressage went ok for his first time on grass, and although we know he can do better I don’t think we were too disappointed.

I think his eyes were going to pop out of his head as we entered the show jumping and at that point I knew it was going to be an entertaining round.  We had a few wiggly approaches and we knocked a few rails, BUT, we got around and were moving on the cross country.

We had a steady trip around but we were clear.  He grew in confidence the further we progressed and I feel the whole experience will put him in good stead for the next event.

Bloomfield Tiger Two was back to form in the dressage and gave me a beautiful ride for another great score of 25.5.  He also struggled to jump out of the holding ground in the show jumping and had two poles down.

He was super around the cross country with a smooth clear round.  The rails unfortunately cost him a win, but I’m sure this will come together and he will be rewarded soon.

My final ride of the show was INAWORLDOFMYOWN.  I tweaked a few things in our training after his first run at Aldon and his improvement in the dressage was outstanding.  He produced his best ever score by far for a 26.8.

He had an unlucky pole in the show jumping to add 4 faults, but gave me a great ride cross country to finish 7th overall.  A great result for only our second competition together.

All in all, Portman was a good show for us.  Most of the horses on the yard have now got their seasons under way, and all have gone cross country well.  We achieved our first win, which is always nice as it tends to start the ball rolling for hopefully many more.

We now look forward to a trip to Ireland next with the Advanced horses for the CCI3*

Burnham Market

We made the journey from the South West to East Anglia for our first time at Burnham Market.  Simmone and I decided that because we were only going with the two horses, Zagreb and Redpath Ransom, that we would take the children and manage the grooming ourselves.  It would be a nice spring break during the girls Easter holidays.

We arrived late afternoon and set the children to work.  The stable area was set up, horses put to bed and dinner was on in no time.  Dream ‘Team Bragg’.


The ground was great and the course looked really well built.  I was looking forward to the weekend, and contesting my first 3* for a while.

Redpath Ransom got quite tense in his dressage, and made a few mistakes which cost us dearly in our mark.  Although this was very frustrating, as he warmed up really well, it was clear that I need to go home and work on my entry and centre line.  If I could enter and halt more relaxed then this would give us a much better start.

I was very pleased with Zagreb, he produced a super test.  Although a few things need polishing up, for our 2nd test of the season he was listening, and moving with great expression.


The show jumping time was catching a lot of people out.  You needed to take efficient lines and keep a good rhythm to achieve it, but remain in balance to try and jump clear around an up to height course.

Redpath Ransom was first in and he started the course well,  jumping with good power and concentration.  He got a little excitable towards the end of the track approaching the combination, he jumped in very big and got a little close to the second element causing him to have this down.  I needed to take a check after this, rebalance, then he jumped the final fences well.  We did incur one time penalty, I think due to this break in rhythm along with our one pole, but I was over the moon with his effort back at this level.

Zagreb showed his class and skipped around the track for a super clear.  He shortened when I needed him to, and kept a good rhythm throughout.  Now I was getting more excited to have these big boys back in action.

The cross country going was near on perfect.  The track was full of questions from start to finish.  My plan was to pick up a nice rhythm, but not to harass the horses for the time.  This event was our final preparation run before we go to Ireland for a CCI3* so it was essential to keep their confidence up and have them enjoy the experience.

Redpath Ransom was eager to get going.  He is such a bold horse, and he was eating up the track.  He was operating perfectly, and he was making the course feel easy.  HAbout three quarters of the way around we jumped a double of corners very well, these were causing a few issues, but not for us.  Shortly after, we approached the second water.  This comprised of a large roll top which jumped you into the water.  There was a decent drop the other side, then two strides to a narrom role top, then three strides up a slope out of the water over an angled roll top.

Redpath Ransom jumped the first roll top extremely boldly, with the drop on the other side it landed us a bit further out than we’d hoped.  This made the distance to the narrow roll top quite short and as he took off he clipped his left knee.  This twisted him in the air, and for a moment I thought we may be getting wet, hence the picture that starred in the Horse and Hound.  He is such a powerful horse with immense core strength.  One moment I was watching the water approaching, next he was taking me out of the complex and was jumping the roll top out.  What a genuine horse!!


He jumped home well, and was full of gallop as I opened him up at the end of the course.  We were clear!

Having had a good ride around already I left the start box full of confidence.  Zagreb relaxed into a good rhythm and it felt like we back home training as he negotiated the course.  He didn’t put a foot wrong throughout.  He was also full of running at the end of the course and we cruised through the finish with plenty of petrol in the tank.

It felt great to have these two fantastic horses back, and to competing at a more serious level again.  We shall leave for Ballindenisk, Ireland in a couple of weeks knowing the horses are fit and in great form for the long format 3*.

It was definitely worth the drive, and definitely a show we shall return to in the future.


Aldon Horse Trials

We were all excited about our first event of the season and I was looking forward to blowing out a few cobwebs from the winter and getting my first lot of cross country runs under my belt.  It was forecast as a dry weekend with cold temperatures, and they weren’t wrong.  The mist was holding across the show ground and it was chilling to the bone.  This did add to the horses freshness along with their own enthusiasm to get going!

The first day I had three horses competing in the BE100.  Ours and Ladies Clubs rising 6yr old Bloomfield Tiger Two, Sarah Boon’s Spypark Ferro XS and a new ride for me this season, Mike and Naomi Roe’s INAWORLDOFMYOWN.

Warming up was entertaining!!  The horses were all feeling well, and didn’t hold back in expressing their excitement.

When I recovered some control and steering I was ready to go.

All of the horses produced nice tests with just a few moments of distraction.  I try not to dominate them too much at their first show as I feel you don’t want to turn their enthusiasm and excitement in to tension and make an issue for the rest of the season.  A little less pressure here allows them to relax by themselves and offer their concentration to you rather than fighting for it.

The jumping was a little the same.  There were a few spooks and moments of exuberance, but all horses gave me a good feel.

I’m never in a rush around their first cross country rounds.  As with the other disciplines, I don’t want to put any pressure on the horses, I want them to settle in to a rhythm and have time to focus on the fences and me so we can produce a smooth round.  This brings the horses in tune with me riding them and they build up more trust and confidence.  This allows me to ride them faster in the future without them feeling harassed and hopefully be more competitive.

Spypark Ferro XS finished just outside the placings, as did INAWORLDOFMYOWN.  Bloomfield Tiger Two crept into 10th place with a steady double clear.  I was happy with the horses and felt it was a positive run for the forthcoming season.

I had another new ride on the Saturday with Swang Crackers, another horse of Mike and Naomi Roe’s.  She was very eager in the dressage but didn’t do anything wrong.  Again, this was her first run so we weren’t expecting a ‘Valegro’ performance.

She is a fairly experienced horse and she jumped a solid double clear over the Open Novice track.  I went steady across the country so I could get a feel for how she likes to go.  There are a few things that I learnt and will take back to work on at home.  It’s all about building a partnership with new horses, and this is something that will come in the future if given time.

The final day was very exciting for me.  My advanced horses, Zagreb and Redpath Ransom didn’t compete last season due to injury and this was their first outing for what has seemed an eternity.

They were both very fresh, but knuckled down well to the job and produced nice dressage tests.

Even with all their experience, with their adrenaline pumping you would have thought it was one of their first ever shows.  They show jumped around, snorting and squealing, one minute shocked to see an arena attendant, then excited to jump through a combination.  They had the time of their lives while I just tried to steer and stay on!  They weren’t our best rounds, but it was lovely to feel the horses enthusiasm and enjoyment for their job.

I cruised around the cross country very steadily.  It felt amazing to be sat on such experienced horses and they made it feel so easy.  I had two foot perfect rounds and this was just what I wanted for both of them on their first show back.  Bring on the rest of the season!!

A huge thank you to all involved at Aldon horse trials.  The courses and the ground was super, and it ran extremely smoothly.  It was great to catch up with many people, from stewards to fence judges after the winter break.

I’m very much looking forward to the next event!