November was all about being relocated back South near to Carl Hester’s to have some continuous training. A friend of mine and co-owner of one of Carl’s horses very kindly offered me stables at her yard, for what ended up being 5 weeks away from home. The journey down was far from smooth, due to me luckily spotting a split in a front tyre while stopped for fuel. Thankfully this meant that I narrowly avoiding having a blow out. After a prolonged wait for recovery it ended up being more sensible to return home and try again the next day rather than a longer journey and arriving late at a strange yard.
I took Colin (Corchapin) and Freddie (Vivaldi V) down with me. Colin got the short straw as he was the focus for the training while Freddie continues his rehab work. The same day that we arrived we were joined by another horse who I went to ride for my time down here. Dahling (Bibi) is a 7 year old mare by Lingh and is owned by Olwen Mayes who lives in Buckinghamshire. Olwen has done much of the riding and training of Bibi herself but a very busy life has meant it is time for her to look for a rider to continue the training.
I soon back and forth a lot…travelling between the two yards most days to help with the riding of Carl’s horses, have training and then go back to ride who was left where I was stabling! All has gone well and Colin has really progressed during his time down here. He is much stronger and more confident in his advanced work and the goal of PSG next year actually seems very realistic :-).
Bibi and I have had to get to know each other very quickly with challenges of heading out to compete thrown in along the way! We went to Summerhouse EC just 10 days after she arrived to try and complete her Winter Regional qualification at Medium. Olwen had already successfully qualified her at Advanced Medium. We scored two 70+%’s, won both tests and qualified, so I was very happy to have had a good start to our competitive career together.
So at the end of November I had one week to go in Gloucestershire before heading home and I am pleased to say that Bibi will be joining me up there. It will be great to have another competing alongside Colin at the same level. Thank you to Carl for a great five weeks. Was incredible!
Colin had a few weeks of easy time and hacking following the National Championships – he isn’t the best when it comes to time off as he starts getting into mischief and has too much excess energy which he tends to let fly in the field!
At the start of October I had to go for a HorseScotland assessment. I was pleased with how Colin went and hopefully we will get funding again for the next two years. Shortly afterwards we had the Scottish Championships; it was good to be able to do a competition so soon after the Nationals to put any nerves that may have stayed with him from all the excitement to rest. I also wanted to try and finish my Winter Regional qualifying which he did in great style getting 76.83% in the Advanced Medium. In both Championships he felt really on form, in the Scottish Medium Open he had 76.22% and in the Scottish Advanced Medium Open, 74.67% and won both Championships. It felt very fitting that for his final halt in his last test of 2014 he scored a magic ’10’ – its been an amazing year with him and I can’t thank him enough for all he has given me. The remainder of October has been about trying to get ready for leaving at the start of November for a five week stint of training with Carl down in Gloucestershire. In and around trying to pack, I have been very busy teaching and have had a few horses in for short term training. I have been very fortunate to have been offered a base with Anna Seifert Cohn at Redmarley which is not very far from Carl’s and will travel in to have lessons each week. I will be taking Freddie, who is continuing his recuperation down with Colin and we will be joined by another horse when we arrive – but more about her in November!
I took Colin to SNEC at the start of the month to have a pre National warmup and remind him that tests don’t always involve flying changes! He did the Medium HC and had 76.9% and then received 74.1% in the Advanced Medium…so making a good start to his Winter qualifying at Advanced Medium.
Colin and I then travelled down to Carl’s for a pre-Nationals checkup a few days before the Championships. Carl was pleased with what he saw, but I have to admit to being a bit jittery when, after 30 minutes, Carl said that would do Colin – just to stretch him and take him round the field. I guess my head was thinking it’s the National Championships, we have to work, work, work to make things just right!
Colin and I arrived at Stoneleigh on Thursday. He settled in amazingly well, just sauntered into his stable and had his lunch. A huge difference to four years ago, when going into the stable was scary enough and then he spent most of his time impersonating a meercat! I had a lovely treat on the Thursday from one of my sponsors. Laura Cutter from Equilibrium who invited me to join her for the sponsors lunch; the food was lovely and it was great to have an informal catch up with Laura.
Colin had a day of acclimatising and work on the Friday, before his classes over the weekend. Mum and Mary (Colin’s co-owner) travelled down on the Friday and it was great to have them there to support us. His class on the Saturday was the Medium Open. He was drawn near the end of the class and I have to say, by then, the nerves had set in! Carl tends to leave me to work in by myself as that is what I am used to, but he did appear to watch my test. Colin was fabulous and really tried his hardest. We just tried to make the most of every movement and make each mark count and the outcome couldn’t have been better – he won 72.22%!!
Next day, it was the Advanced Medium and I really didn’t know what to expect, as Colin is still relatively inexperienced at this level. The working-in didn’t quite go as I hoped…after having had flying changes banned for the three days previous; when I did ask, the first one didn’t happen. Then the second had a big overreaction. I decided that the best decision was to stop trying and go and improve the other work as I was going to have a meltdown! Thankfully everything started to come together just in time and we went into the test – minus having practised any more changes! Colin was amazing and all the changes were lovely! I was overwhelmed by what he had achieved and as I turned down the final centre line I found myself in tears. I was just so proud of him! He finished 5th with 70.08%, the result I could only have dreamed of for what was only his 5th Advanced Medium test!
I would like to say a big thanks to all that helped in our preparation and to my sponsors – we couldn’t do it without you all! Some exciting news for me but maybe not the horses, is that for November we are all going down to be based near to Carl, so that we can concentrate on training. Exciting times ahead!!
Colin had a great result at the Regional Championships held at The Cabin E.C. at the start of August. We travelled up on the Friday and did a Medium test as a warm up. I did the test HC as he is virtually out of Medium points now and he went very well and scored 76.89%. The next day were the Regional Championship classes. I really couldn’t have asked much more of him as he remained relaxed but with energy throughout and won the Medium with 73.06% and the Advanced Medium with 70.26%. I was especially pleased with him in the Advanced Medium as this was only his third test at the level and he can get a bit exuberant over the flying changes! Can’t wait to be heading to Stoneleigh again come September! I took Colin to Morris at the end of the month to do an Advanced Medium Freestyle qualifier. I decided to use the music that I had used for his elementary this year so it required a few stressful sessions to create a brand new floor plan! Thankfully I managed and he won the qualifier with 78.5%.
We have had a number of boarders in this month as their owners have been away on holidays not that I think the horses would look on their stay here as a holiday however! Haha
July was a non-competing month for me. A lot of teaching was packed in with clinics up in Inverness and Aberdeen as well as many coming to our yard.
Colin and I finally managed a trip down to see Carl for a couple of days training – our first in 7 months! I had a great time and Carl let me ride a couple of his advanced horses. With Freddie having been off this season it was great to do the movements to test standard again and not be in teaching mode as I am with Colin. Colin’s lessons went very well and the World Class officials came to watch the first lesson and talk through our training plans and aims for the next few months. A few minor tweaks were made to Colin’s frame and connection and I now feel well prepared for the Regional Championships at the start of next month.
June has passed by in such a flash…lots of good things have happened though! First of all we had the great news that Donnabel (Freddie, Humphrey and Henry’s mum) has been scanned in foal to San Amour. We are very excited about this news and the arrival of another ‘babybel’ at the start of April 2015!
I decided to give Colin a little breather from Advanced Medium and concentrate on getting his Medium qualification for the Winter Regionals and also remind him that he doesn’t do flying changes in every test he does! We went to SNEC first where he won and got his first 7 points towards his qualification. We then headed to The Cabin Equestrian Centre to see what it was like prior to heading up there for the Regional Championships, as I had never competed there before. Colin did two tests here completing qualification with another 14 points. I was really pleased with him and he gained very good marks and comments including a magic ’10’ in one of his tests!
I made another trip to Inverness to teach followed by heading to Aberdeen later in the month – it was really nice to meet a few new people and also catch up with my regulars and see their continuing development.
I am very pleased to announce that my sponsorship list is growing! Equilibrium has taken me under their wing and I am proud to join their team. I have been using the Equilibrium Massage Pad and Mitt for some time now and have found them to really help the wellbeing of the horses and their ability to perform. Now looking forward to using their boots, bandages and other lovely products!
Final month of qualifying and the pressure is on to get Regional qualification for the Summer season…especially if you have only just started at a new level – poor Colin! First weekend of May and straight back out to SNEC for another Advanced Medium….big smiles with another great test scoring 73.9% and gaining qualification for Advanced Medium at the Regional Championships! So time to concentrate on training now and aim to get back out competing again in June.
Another BIG thrill is being able to announce a new sponsor! Roeckl who produce lovely riding gloves have agreed to support me over the coming year. They have always been my competition glove of choice but it will be great to be able to ride in them at home as well as away now!
I had a lovely invitation to the launch of Carl Hester’s autobiography ‘Making it Happen’, which was held at Badminton Horse Trials on the Friday evening. I had a great time, met up with lots of old friends and even managed to get Carl to sign my copy and leave me a very inspiring message inside. It is so nice reading the book and reliving so many memories…and Carl’s kind words about my time spent with him make it special.
Colin, Mum and I travelled down to Bury Farm a week after Badminton. After the Winter Championships we made a video and submitted it to the World Class Equine Pathway Programme selection panel and from that made it through to the selection days at Bury Farm. We had two days of viewings and nerves certainly got to Colin the first day…luckily we had a second day on which he impressed and we have just heard that he has been selected to join the World Class Equine Pathway Programme. I am thrilled and thanks all of those who have been connected in our journey. I can’t wait to learn and develop with Colin and fulfil the potential that has been spotted in us!!
Colin and I had a fantastic time at the Winter Championships at Hartpury. I was so proud of him – he won one championship, was runner up in another and also 4th in his final class…all with fabulous marks. The last couple of years that he has competed at the Winter Championships he has been very worried and I’ve never felt we have performed at our best but this year was a completely different story! I came out of every test absolutely thrilled with how he went and it actually felt that he enjoyed the whole experience. Our win came in his first class, the GFS Elementary Open Freestyle, with a brilliant score of 77.88%. The judges all agreed in their markings and had him to win. Unfortunately for us that didn’t happen in the Spillers Medium Open Freestyle! Two of the judges had us to win the class but sadly the third judge felt my music was ‘too powerful’ for Colin and placed us 12th – this meant we were pipped into 2nd place with a score of 74.28%…you win some you lose some!!! His final class was the Albion Medium Open, he yet again gave his all and managed to improve on both his score and placing from the Summer Championships last year…we finished 4th with a score of 71.04%. A week later Colin and I made our Advanced Medium debut at SNEC. I threw him in at the deep end by doing Adv,Med.98 – he was sooo good!! All changes were correct, if a title exuberant and scored 73.8%!!
Clive Halsall was up judging at Morris EC and then stayed on to do training on the Monday. I took Colin over as it was a good chance to get a FEI judges opinion of him. Clive has judged us at the last two Summer Championships and was impressed with the development in his paces since he last saw him. Colin went really well, it was great to get beyond the 8mins of the test time that I normally get in the arena at Morris. We worked on his changes, canter pirouettes and some half steps.
I had a really busy and good days worth of BD Regional Training here this month. 10 people came for training and the weather stayed nice which was a huge bonus!
March got off to a quick start with the Regional Championships the first weekend. Colin and Calisto both competed, with Calisto in the Novice Open and Freestyle and Colin in the Elementary and Medium Freestyle and the Medium Open. Calisto did well and was 2nd in both classes, qualifying in the Freestyle at Hartpury. Sophie, his owner has other commitments the week of the Championships and has decided that he will stay at home this time. No such luck for Colin! He won his three classes and now heads to Hartpury in 10 days!
I felt he wasn’t at his best in the trot work during his Regional tests and so I’ve spent much of March working to improve it. A few weeks after the Regionals I took him back to Morris EC to ‘test’ how things were going and I was very pleased with the progress. Just a few more alterations plus a little confidence and I am hopeful we will be ready to show our best at the Winter Championships.
Once again luck wasn’t on our side in reaching Carl for training in March. It was a lovely day this time and Colin and I set sail only to break down at Gretna! A collapsed wheel bearing :-(…Colin and I later returned home via horse transporter and the lorry via a tow truck.
Teaching has been really busy over the last few months. With clinics as far apart as Aberdeen and Fraserburgh in the north and Castle Douglas downing the Borders. I am certainly covering a large number of miles and I’ve just had a booking for another clinic for April up in Inverness! The stables have also been brimming with horses in for training and to prepare for Hartpury.
I am looking forwards and feeling positive about the Winter Championships but as ever you never know what’ll happen on the day 🙂
My big plans for February were to get on Dudley and get down to Carl’s with Colin for a few days training. I successfully completed one!
Mission Dudley continue on from the January lunging with help form James Stewart who came to do the ground work for me as I was being thrown on board. Both James and Dudley were great, we took things slowly the first few weeks so that Dudley was at ease with everything but once it came to D-day of being let loose he was fantastic. Mum is now left with the responsibility of babysitting us while I ride but I hope that she will soon be relieved of these duties!
Unfortunately the weather stopped me from getting down to Carl for training. Gales on the day I was to travel down eventually closed the M6 and turned a number of lorries over on the motorway so I was glad to have made the sensible decision not to try and brave it.
Colin and I went to Morris EC for a pre-Regional warmup competition so we could practice of our freestyle tests. He won the Medium Open with a good mark from the Dutch FEI judge that was over and secured his Summer Regional qualification at Medium. He also won both of his freestyle tests. He has new music for his Elementary freestyle and this was our first proper run through. I really like the music we have chosen and think it really suits his personality, he is using ‘Feeling Groovy’, ‘Bright Eyes’ and ‘Blue Jeans’. The music I am using for his Medium test is the music that Freddie used at Novice, it is classically based with power and energy.
Calisto arrived back mid month for his two week Regional preparation – seems ages since he was last here!
The last couple of months have passed in a blur – shorter days, busy stables and lots of teaching meant each daymerged into the next!
During December we weaned Henry. He was very brave and both he and Donnabel quickly settled and accepted that it was time to move on. A few weeks after weaning Henry was gelded. All went well and we hope that when spring comes he and Humphrey will spend the summer out in the field together.
Colin has had a visit to the Vet College to have a tooth removed and his sinus drained. Back in August he had a sinus infection which was kept under control with antibiotics. When it didn’t clear up we investigated further and it was discovered that he had three abscesses within the nasal cavity, sinus and tooth area which resulted in the tooth being removed and him having to have a head drain for five days. All is well now and he is back to himself. We took him to Morris EC (Rowallan) in January to remind him what the white boards were about! We were a little rusty but still gained 14 points towards his medium qualification. Shortly after I took him down to Carl’s for a couple days training. He was very fresh and desperate to show off his flying changes! A good amount of homework was set and we are busy putting things into practice.
Dudley has started lunging and is settling back into work – if things continue well I’ll be back in the saddle soon!