Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Honoured by The Herbal Horse

We've had a really fantastic couple of weeks here which was topped by gaining sponsorship from The Herbal Horse - I was truly honoured and humbled to read some of your lovely comments and it was amazing to see so many of you that are inspired by Buddy's journey and I did shed a tear or two whilst reading them. Thank you for your amazing support and obviously a huge thank you has to go to The Herbal Horse for choosing us when there were some amazing combinations shortlisted.
As a result of this amazing opportunity we have been using their 'Farriers Mix' and the 'Sports Horse Mix'. I will do full reviews on both but I am delighted to report that so far, with horrifically toxic grass, our capability has not decreased and has remained stable. I am still supplementing magnesium and salt at the same levels I have always done at this time of year but I am really pleased with the short term results. The proof will, of course, be in the long term usage and to see if there is any change in the new growth but Buddy is pretty good at showing changes quickly so I'm reasonably confident that this will continue.
We haven't done any competing since our BD solo debut as I've been very busy with work but we have been training hard. I am enjoying my dressage more than I have ever done and I am starting to get to the stage where my brain is aching as much as Buddy's at the end of each lesson - sideways stuff is really hard!! Our next outing is scheduled for 2nd May - BD at Fairoak again and I am hoping to get my last AF  sheet. We will be aiming for Bury Farm in August to give us some practise at a big atmosphere before TQ regionals and even possibly Nationals (crosses fingers tightly). Then our next one will be 10th May - its another TQ competition and it feels like a lifetime ago since 56%-gate. I am looking forward to strutting our stuff again.
In other exciting news, our new jump saddle has been built - and it should be back with me in the next couple of days as it needed some more flock. I love it, Buddy loves it so fingers crossed Warren sees a benefit in my position!!! Again, we've had brilliant service from the Northumbria Equine team so I will do a separate post once I have more pictures.

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Brilliant BD Bonanza

So after the disasterous outing at BCA I was half excited and half terrified for our solo BD debut at Fairoak. I really needed a confidence boost as the flip flopping between personal best and personal worst scores when the tests themselves didn't feel horrendously different was making me doubt myself a little bit. 

Fairoak is just around the corner from the yard and I always feel very lazy loading Buddy up when it's a 15 minute amble but I won't hack without hi-viz and as I had no hands on site its the only way! Buddy started his warm up paying far more attention to the horses in the field next door so I spent the majority of my time in walk, leg yielding then straightening into shoulder in which really helps get his attention and evens up the contact. Once he was soft we went into trot and worked on making sure he wasn't bulging out of the shoulder and stayed connected. Quick canter and it was time to go in. 

First test was P13 and I was really pleased with him. Not as forward as I would have liked and we were a fraction late into our canters but other than that I was happy and came out with a smile on my face. There was only 15 minutes between the two tests so I stayed on him and went back into the warm up just making sure he stayed supple in the walk. 

Second test was P17 and is a long arena test - I was slightly concerned that I would forget where I was going as I'm not totally au fait with the long arena letters! I had a moment of panic as I was coming down the centre line as I wasn't sure whether to go left or right and where I was changing the rein!! Luckily I chose right and my change of rein was a bit wobbly but I was satisfied with the rest of the test. Our canter-trot transitions need to be sharpened in a test but I've focused on keeping him forwards in the canter to stop the changing but that's got better with every test so I'm hoping we will be able to improve that soon.

I was really happy with both tests but whilst walking to collect my scores I had serious butterflies as I wasn't sure whether it was as good as I'd hoped. I needn't have worried! P13 we had 66.48% and were 3rd then P15 we got 65%. Totally agree with all the comments and just need to work on those to improve. 

So a very successful outing! As both tests were summer qualifiers we have got 4 points towards regionals but I'm not sure I've got enough time to get the sheets to get the 20 points needed (only scores over 66% count) so I'll give it a go but I'm thinking that I'll focus on area festivals instead as I only need one more sheet (over 62%) to qualify for that. Then I can get my winter regionals qualification for prelim and aim to get novice sheets for novice. We are turning into proper dressage divas!!

Then, to top off the weekend, I found out that we have been shortlisted as UK finalists for the Herbal Horse sponsorship. This company has had huge success and won a BETA innovation award with their calm mix and I am trialling their farriers mix and sports horse mix so blog posts will follow with reviews on those shortly. To win we need as many comments on their facebook post voting for us - we're doing well so far but would like to nail it! The link to vote is here: 

Thursday, 2 April 2015

Blinged Up Bullet Dodgers rule!

After our triumphant start to Team Quest things started to get a bit more serious! High on the back of a win we started looking at getting to regionals - we didn't care if it was a fluke ;o)

Team Photo!
Our second competition came off the back of a really busy week for me (although I'm not sure I have anything bar busy weeks at the moment) and didn't quite as expected. I'd had an amazing lesson the day before and Buddy had worked really hard and felt super so I was hopeful for amazing things. Buddy came off the lorry breathing fire, he was hot as hell, I was concerned whether I'd be able to get on without any drama! But I needn't of worried - he held onto himself for me to get on and then we jogged off to the warm up. He eventually softened and relaxed and I was getting my lesson feeling. I had a big grin.
Looking handsome at Wellington
We went into the arena and he died on me a bit but still managed to spook and spin at the judge when she opened her car door to ask my number! The trot work felt amazing, he died in the canter on both reins (he just wasn't off my leg enough) and the walk was a bit lethargic but I thought the trot work would have made up for it and we'd be ok with a mid 60's test. After the team had all ridden we went back and checked our scores - Lucy was on an amazing 77%, Emily on 73% (again) and I was on.. 61%. I was gutted. As the girls had such amazing scores we still managed to win but it was bittersweet for me. I sent the video to my YO and instructor who all agreed that the mistakes would have been costly but that it was still a 65-67% test in their opinion.
Next up we were back to Wellington - it was a manic crazy day for me as I'd had a saddle fitting in the morning and despite asking for late times I'd been put pretty much at the start of the class! So poor old donkey was the smartest horse for a saddle fitting ever and was chucked on the lorry an we arrived with 20 mins before our test. He wasn't as soft as I would have liked but in we went for our test anyway! I was pleased with the work, would have liked a bit more from him but we did all the things in the right places so I was pleased when I came out. Back to the scoreboard and we had done well as a team this time! Emily on 71%, Lucy on 66% and I was on 69%. It wasn't quite good enough for the win (we lost out by 0.75) but a fabulous second.

Gloomy at BCA
Then, last weekend we were back to BCA. It was the same test and the same judge so I wasn't expecting greatness but he'd been great in the week leading up to it (I'd actually managed to ride) and we'd had a fabulous lesson on the Thursday prior. He warmed up well and we did a sweet test. Not a record breaker but we did all the things in the right places and I was pleased with him as I don't find it an easy test to ride. I was expecting a 65-67% considering the improvement from the previous occasion. I couldn't have been more wrong!! Worst result I've ever had - 56%. Luckily our team photographer had come along and video'd the test so I can see that he did go well but it's still incredibly disheartening to have such a bad score when it's undeserved. It also meant that we stood very little chance of doing well in the team standings and we were lucky to come 9th - I'd thought we'd not get anything!! We are still 3rd in the Central team rankings though so are still on track for regionals, with the top 15 teams getting a qualifying spot.
I am flip flopping between personal best and personal worst scores doing TQ so it's a bit of a rollercoaster ride but I am loving my dressage at the moment. I am doing my first proper BD this weekend - again it's not been the best week for preparation but it will be interesting to see how we do there... I am very little expectations but it would be nice to get over 60%