Following our two year sponsorship with Petplan Equine in 2015 and 2016, and developing into an Ambassador in 2017, I am very happy to be continuing my position as a Petplan Equine Ambassador for 2018.
This is a huge honour, and it is fantastic to be representing Petplan Equine, as a rider and ambassador for responsibe ownership.
For more information and to follow our competition updates and results keep intouch with our petplan page at https://www.petplanequine.co.uk/ambassadors/rachaelbarker/
I will also post updates on this website, facebook and twitter!
Follow our facebook page https://www.facebook.com/Rachael-Jayne-Barker-Petplan-Equine-Ambassador-885061211576449/ for daily happenings and updates on the horses!
Thank you Petplan Equine for this great opportunity!
Petplan Equine has been a leading horse and rider insurance provider since 1988. They are known for their professionalism and specialist knowledge of equine insurance and aim to offer their customers straightforward cover that they can rely on.
Petplan Equine offers a variety of flexible horse insurance and rider insurance policies which cater for all levels of experience, from the happy hacker to a polo champion. Petplan Equine paid out over £12,800,000 for claims in 2015 and they can pay vets directly following all approved claims.
The team at Petplan Equine are all equestrian enthusiasts: they understand their customers, their challenges and the emotions associated with horse ownership so customers can be sure that they are talking to a horse insurance provider that speaks their language.
For further information, please visit www.petplanequine.co.uk. Or call 0330 102 1701 quoting ‘Riders’ to receive one month free.
After the National Side Saddle Championships things generally slow down competitively for me and my boys. The autumn/winter season starts to kick in, the nights draw darker and lunging for exercise becomes more of a priority than schooling. But before full ‘winter blues’ kick in, here’s what the boys and I have been up to!
My ‘special’ (for many reasons) horse has been making the most of the softer ground! Trotting around the field like a two year old, playing and generally feeling very well. We’ve been hacking out regularly, just walking, unless we go down to the river where we have a play in the river and a trot back. I find doing some big circles in the water really frees him up and makes his back work. The aim is to get him to a couple of intro walk and trot tests this winter, on a surface, just to keep him feeling happy and entertained!
In September we did some product testing, with a photoshoot with the lovely Ruth Downing. It was so much fun and great to be able to use Sleet, he loves posing for photos!
In the beginning of September I decided to take Tristan to the last local show in our area. As usual there were copious amounts of bubbles and bathing and whitening and cleaning involved, but as always, he looked fab!
We were loaded up, ready to rock but disaster struck! A flat tyre on the truck! I had pulled out of the yard and picked up a huge nail in my tyre! After having a tantrum at my friend who was with me, I got my practical head on and called ‘equestridad’, Ray, to the rescue, closely followed by my good friend Micky. Between them and with some challenges, they managed to get the tyre swapped to my spare and we managed to make it to the show, if a little late!
We had already missed the youngstock class, which was the one I was most bothered about as it is his last year in the baby class! But we still entered the coloured, cob and open pony. I couldn’t believe we came away with two 1st and a 2nd place. The judge loved him and we decided to stay for the In-Hand championship. It just got better! Tristan managed to take In-Hand Champion! Winner Winner!! I was so proud! He was such a good boy all day despite the dramas earlier on.
Although we’d done so well and the judge asked us to stay for the Overall Supreme, there were still a lot of classes to run, so we opted to leave and go home.
Since then I have continued to work on his backing and starting and although if left too long he can be cheeky on the lunge; he’s going fantastically! Unfortunately I haven’t had a saddle small enough for him, so I have started him bareback and he has been great! But we can only do so much, so I’ve bitten the bullet and ordered him his very own small saddle so we can move forwards with his ridden work without me getting a greasy bum!
In October we also celebrated Tristan’s birthday! He is now four! It is so hard to think he was such a little fluff ball a few years ago!
Lordie’s been doing his usual amount of lunge work to keep him muscled and we’ve even been popping a few fences at home on the lunge! We had intended to go showing in September with him, but typically for Lordie, he heard the word ‘work’ and threw a spanner in the equation by getting a fat leg! Lots of cold hosing later and he was fine.
In the beginning of October we made it out to a local dressage competition. Lots of preparation had gone in as we were attempting prelim again. He was a very good boy and managed a reasonable score of 64.9% to take 2nd! He warmed up well and picked up canter correctly on both reins. He did trip and stumble in one transition (as the surface wasn’t great) but he was correct so I can forgive that.
The following week we attempted showing again. It was on a surface, so no risk of slipping as he’s barefoot and a nice quiet venue. Unfortunately, the judge was somewhat baffling in her choice of placings with the clear winner in the Hunter class finishing in 3rd (we were 4th). Safe to say we will not be showing there again, or riding under that particular judge.
Since the Nationals, I’ve only managed to get over to see Marcus once! He’s been busy with his mum getting lots of dressage rosettes. So I went over for a quick hack and to give him a well-earned treatment session.
Over the winter, Amanda and I aim to meet in the middle and hire an arena so we get some practice in for next season.
But wait… what’s this… - ‘Goodmans Gift’. Yes! We have a newbie!! Welcome to the team ‘Goodmans Gift’, stable name Blee.
As always, life with horses is busy! Not only managing and working them, but working hard to allow me to afford them! In between work, training in new skills (saddle fitting) and general life, we’ve actually squeezed quite a lot in!
Sleet is currently enjoying his semi-retired life! As the ground is hard and I don’t have a surface to work him on, he has done very little this last few weeks. I have found however Sleet and Lordie are a great ride and lead combo! Sleet quite happily trundles next to the ginger one! This actually works better than you’d think. Not only do I get to do something with both horses, but it means I can keep Sleet mobile and his back and joint moving without excess pressure of having to lunge, or have riders weight on him. Other than that he’s been on a few walks down to the river, and eaten lots of grass!
June didn’t start well for the little man. I noticed that his one remaining eye was looking a bit suspicious, so we called the vet (unfortunately it would be a Saturday afternoon!). After a huge argument, as he’s been anti-vet since they removed his other eye, we finally got him sedated so they could examine properly. The boy had ulcers in his eye. This meant more time in, various medications, and lots of stress for me!
Although Tristan’s a pro when it comes to eye medications now, its always a huge concern when there is anything even slightly an issue with his eye. After a few vet visits to check the progress, they finally said it was healed and he was okay to go ‘back to normal’.
At the end of July I took Tristan out to the local show for a ‘party’. He was such a good boy. After hours of scrubbing he looked stunning as always, and came home with 1st place in the youngstock class, 1st traditional/native and 3rd coloured.
While the weather was nice ‘Mr pink nose’ was smothered in various lotions (sun cream and sudocrem) again! At the beginning of June I took him for a jumping clinic in Leicester. Although we got off to a good start with the pole work, as soon as they turned into actual fences, his typical lack of respect for a pole appeared. He just takes pole after pole out, not caring for the consequences. We tried all sorts, and in the end just ended up jumping solid stuff, as that’s the only way he’ll pick his feet up! At least he was well behaved and mannerly!
The 15th of June was his birthday so I bought him a new fly hat. It lasted a day!!
Mid July I took Lordie to a new venue for him, Vale View. We had entered the Intro and Prelim with the hope of just getting a relaxed day out. That slightly went to pot! After an unsettled test in the big new scary arena we were untacking when we heard screams! The horse in the 3.5ton box next to us has gone straight over the chest partition (which was fixed) and got half stuck in the back of the box! As myself and a friend Charlie settled the horse and did all we could to keep him calm, someone called the emergency services and we waited. Meanwhile Lordie stood there completely unfazed by all of it! When the emergency services arrived, we returned to tack up and ride out for the second test, in which he went much better! We managed 60.87% for our intro, and 63.65% for our Prelim, qualifying him for trailblazers 2nd rounds.
Lordie also went to the local show with Tristan at the end of July and did some inhand with Charlie (as I couldn’t run both), managing 1st in the TB class, 2nd in the very large open class, and 2nd in the hunters.
Marcus (Kingsclough Masquerade)
Our first show since the Area12 Summer Show was Derby County. After the spur mark issue at the summer show I had bought a dummy spur for riding side saddle. This made me more confident in my riding, and I think it showed in the results.
Marcus was great on the slightly slippy ground and with the addition of some rear studs he went a lot better. We were pulled 2nd in the Open Equitation, won best horse/pony, and then went and took Reserve Champion! I was so pleased!
The National Side Saddle Championships was the first weekend in August and was hugely anticipated! After weeks of evening training sessions with Amanda and Marcus it had finally come round! After lots of packing, bathing and prep we set off on Thursday evening.
Friday was Dressage and ‘newcomers’. Amanda had decided to ride this year and I’m so glad she did. Although she had never competed side saddle before she decided to throw herself in at the deep end and do Novice freestyle to music, and the newcomers Equitation. After lots of prep and a nice warm up, they managed a fantastic 4th in the dressage and 5th in the newcomers! We were so pleased! Friday evening was spent tack cleaning in preparation for my Equitation on Saturday (as you are given a mark for your turnout and they are seriously picky!) and then we had an early night.
Saturday was extremely stressful for me. It’s always the day everyone worries about, as all the Equitation Championships are running. The judges are critical to the point of unbelief sometimes, but that is essentially what we are there for!
Marcus was readied and warmed up, and then I got dressed; everything has to be perfect, not a hair out of place, stock pin level and tied immaculately, and every part of you and your horse has to be dirt free!
After snapping at a few people for distracting me while I was trying to run through my test in my head, it was suddenly our time. I went in hoping to do better than last year, and we certainly did! Marcus went wonderfully, and although I felt it wasn’t the best we’ve ever gone, the judges disagreed! I suppose it always feel worse to the rider when your concentrating so much and not really paying attention to the ‘outside world’! After a long wait, the results came out and we were in 2nd place! I was absolutely over the moon!!
Our jumping was going towards our Championship place, so although I wanted to have some fun and enjoy it, I also knew my position and riding would count and be marked. Marcus loves his jumping, and from the pictures taken, the 76cm limit for our class clearly wasn’t big enough for him! He jumped his heart out and with a great clear round we managed 6th place. Over all, this left us in 4th place in the Novice rider of the year Championship! A huge step up from last year and all I could have wished for!
Sunday was the Classical Ladies Final. After qualifying earlier in the year we knew what was expected. The breakdown works as 25% turnout, 25% conformation, 25% manners and way of going, and 25% rider. It was always a tough class, with huge entries. Out of 25 entrants, 16 showed, two left during the ‘go round’, and although I thought Marcus went well, we were pulled last! I was to say the least, rather upset!
After waiting nearly two hours for everyone above me to do their individual show, my groom came in to help me back on (in long waiting classes you are allowed to dismount). What did I have to lose; nothing, there had been some errors in some shows and some crookedness in both horses and riders, so I went out with determination and the knowledge Marcus is a dressage horse and a ‘hunter’.
After standing for the judge I started my show piece starting with a relaxed working trot. As I came to the second long diagonal, I sat deep, pushed and asked for more and Marcus understood me, throwing out a fantastic medium trot with ease! After collecting back up for the corner, we showed canter on both reins and then I asked for a hunters extension up the long side. Marcus did not let me down, everything we worked on last year for the HOYS classes came forward and he lowered and went. I couldn’t have asked for more, I just hoped it had been worth it.
After a tense few minutes of ‘judge chat’, they started to call from 10th place, we weren’t there, or 9th, or 8th, and I started to switch off, but suddenly we were called, and it was 6th! I couldn’t believe it! From 14th to 6th in class of that calibre was amazing!! Obviously we did something right!
It took three grooms, a show stopping show piece (which was commented on by many in and outside the ring afterwards) and a lot of emotion! Nationals 2017 was a great weekend, and after all the cleaning, preening and exhaustion, we are already planning next year!
Daisy (Lindhurst Limited Edition)
In late June I was offered a ride on a friend’s Irish Draft Sports Horse mare. I was asked if I would take her to Ashby and do the workers. I don’t do much jumping these days (as Sleets ‘retired’ and Lordie is clueless!), so I ‘jumped’ at the chance to get in the air!
After a couple of rides out and about to practice, we ventured to Ashby on a very early start! The warm up was great; she was a very good girl, on what I deemed to be reasonably hard ground. After walking the course, myself and the owner both agreed the fences seemed over height (supposedly 1m), and after a discussion, we decided that considering the ground too, if Daisy struggled, I would pull up.
Well, we struggled, and in no way could I blame her. The mare tried her heart out at every fence, but after taking four out of five fences down and refusing at the next, I withdrew. In my honest opinion the horse and her confidence are worth far more. We popped a smaller fence back in the warm up just to make sure she was okay, and then called it a day. Not one person in our class went clear, and every competitor agreed, the fences were over height, such a shame.
As the weather starts to change and the side saddle season finishes for another year, I’ve already started planning for the future. In the past two weeks Tristan has begun the backing process, although this won’t be rushed due to his ‘disability’. And I’m hoping to get him cut in the winter (to avoid flies and risk of infection), so he can start his ridden show career in 2018.
Lordie will be asked to do more in the dressage world, and will be aimed at some higher level showing classes (hopefully ROR) if we can get a suitable saddle to his shark fin withers.
Sleet will hopefully return to doing some walk and trot tests over winter on a surface, and get his grass belly gone! In all honesty, I just want to keep him mobile and happy and make sure we head the right direction to soundness before summer 2018 when the hard ground returns.
Marcus has lots to do over the next few months, having various dressage outings with his mum Amanda!
Its been a while since my last update, and im very sorry! Juggling horses, work and more work is always hectic, but somehow its seems to be working!
Since our last blog we’ve been on a role! (Im trying not to jinks things here!)
Tristan set us off in 2017 with a great start in the ribbons, and our luck (mixed with hard work and training) seems to have continued!
On the 2nd of April it was out first side saddle show if the year, the Area12 spring show, held at Wellow Equestrian. We made good time on the trip up, and had a good warm up for the intermediate equitation. Marcus (Kingsclough Masquerade) was his usual fantastic self, and gave a great ride, winning us the class! I was so pleased! We were of to a god start!
Our next class was the Open equitation. The standard of riding in this class is much higher, the judges are very ‘picky’, so to speak, and although Marcus was great, we couldn’t stay at the top, but did manage 3rd in a very strong class!
We then decided to have go at the Classical ladies, which we had previously qualified for on 2017, but later in the year. Marcus was mannerly, gave a great ride, and we won! Qualifying us already for the National Classical Ladies final at Addington! I was so happy!!
It was a great day all round, and so nice to be back out with Amanda and David, and of course the lovely Marcus!
On the 9th Sleet had a trip out to Hargate. The intention was to take Lordie for his first outing of the year, but a bite to his cheek that had swollen, neaning he had gotten out of work! Sleet gladly took his place, getting very exited about being made to look pretty, and even more happy when the trailer came out!
It was only a walk trot test for him (which is his current limit anyway), and after getting some funny looks for my warm up technique (basically let him pleb round on a long rein in walk and trot for 15 mins, and occasionally throw in some leg yield), he performed a very obedient and relaxed test to get 66.95% in his smart new Petplan Equine kit and sparkly browband!
Comments were, as always, need to soften across the back, work through from behind more. Which is all very true, but for an older boy with kissing spine and arthritis in his hocks, you just have to take it on the chin and know your does the very best he can! And that's why I love him!!
At the very end of April we took Lord Gale (Lordie) out to Hargate equestrian for their dressage sash show. We planned to do the Intro, and his first public prelim test! This then gave me something to aim for, as his walk and trot work had become reasonably established in comparison to last year, but canter could still be alittle ‘ropey’ under pressure!
We arrived, worked in nicely, and braved our first test! Unfortunately I had no ‘caller’ this time round, as my usual help was elsewhere, so Id had to learn to tests (which for anyone who knows me… knows I have sat nav issues at the best of times!), but I successfully navigated my way around the arena, with a horse that was cool calm and collected.
To my amazement we came 2nd, with just over 71%! (the winner was 72% so we were so close!)
Our next test was the Prelim, the big stress! Our first public canter in the dressage arena, and we managed it! Once again Lordie managed to please, with a lovely test and manged both canters on the correct leg, and reasonably balanced!! I was so pleased! We wernt placed, I think we were about 6th, but I wasn’t bothered, because he did everything I asked of him! Big pat for the gingerbred!
On the 7th of May it was Sleets birthday! He was whopping 17 years old! Hes currently been unsound again, with his arthritis, and suspected arthritic changes in his knee, so at the minute hes on gentle walk work to keep him mobile and entertained. I cannot believe when I think back to getting him, just how far we’ve come together, and how much hes done for me. He really is my horse of a life time!
On the 11th it was my dog, Tintins ‘gotchaday’, and his nominated birthday. I collected him 1 year ago from the dogs trust in Loughborough, and I hes changed so much. Hes a quirky little monster, but we adore him!
On the 14th we ventured back to Hargate with Lordie. There was dressage and showjumping on, so we decided to have a little play at both this time. The dressage was, in my opinion, not as great as earlier in the month. He was very twitchy in his head, and not really paying attention, which gave an unsettled test and ride. Some how, we still managed to come 2nd in the intro and 2nd in the prelim though, so it muct have not looked as bad as it felt!
After the dressage we changed tack, and headed over to the jumping. I have to admit, the only jumping Lordie has done since last august was a few fences on the lunge the week before, but we thought it might give him something to think about and a challenge. I entered the 65cms, and went for a school and trot round. He was surprisingly calm, and just pootled round in trot, happily popping everything! Our nice little clear actually left us in 4th place! We even got a rosette! Seen as we were on a role we entered the 75s. Again I aimed for a nice little school round and it payed off. Although we had a couple of careless poles down due to his untidy technique, he was mannerly and listened, and made and effort for me, so I was very pleased with how he went. A good day all round.
On the 20th it was double trouble. There was a local show on, and nothing much else, so I decided to rope in a few friends for help, and take both Lordie and Tristan out. My friend, Francesca Burchill ran Tristan in the inhand, and I rode Lordie.
Lordie hadn’t been to a ‘showing show’, since ‘parting company’ with Frankie the previous year, so I was slightly apprehensive. I gave him some Global herbs instacalm, in his breakfast just to try and help, and they seemed to do the trick. There was one moment when as I entered the ring the tannoy went off as we were directly under it, and he lept out of his skin, but thankfully it wasn’t too bad, and then he settled again. He was mannerly, rode well, and we had a great day out! Lordie took 1st in the Open horse/pony, turned out as an ROR, and then 1st in the hunter class, obviously with a browband change as turned out as a hunter! Seen as we’d been placed well, we stayed for the ridden championship, and to my amazement, we actually won Ridden champion!
Tristan has a reasonable day, taking 2 3rds and 4th in his classes (youngstock, coloured and cob), but was obviously not to the judges liking! You cant win them all! But his behavior was great, he didn’t put a foot wrong all day, and even stood patiently on the box while I was riding with out a fuss! Not bad for a 3yr old entire!
Our most recent outing has been side saddle. The Area 12 summer show, held at Pleasly Vale with the kind permission of Donita Welch.
I had been up to see Marcus on the Friday, to give him a treatment session and make sure he was in top shape. Sundays classes started at 10am, so it wasn’t too early, and his first class was the style and appearance with his owner Amanda. He was a very good but, unfortunately was only pulled 3rd.
Our first class side saddle was the Intermediate Equitation. Marcus was not quite himself, and seemed very behind the leg. He was very mannerly and did everything I asked, but was just not as forward as id have liked. Unfortunately I’ve also developed the extremely bad habit of turning my toe out! After our individual show, we had the turnout section, and the judge pointed out that I had managed to mark him with my spur. I was mortified!
Results were however great, and we were pulled second, giving us 4 points, and qualifying us for the equitation champs at the nationals!! That’s qualification after just two outings this season!! I was pleased!
Our second class was the Concours directly after the equitation. I was regrettably still in my bowler hat (as topper is incorrect turnout for intermediate), and id have liked to have been in my topper. Marcus was again behind the leg and I struggled lightly to motivate him, although we did a lovely simple show piece, and I was happy, the spur mark had unfortuantly dropped us down the line with no placing.
I was so upset I had managed to mark him, and after an emotional wobble, we decided to withdraw from the open equitaion. Not only is having a spur mark classed as a welfare issue in the judges eyes, I also don’t want to do that (obviously it was unintentionally) to any horse, and Marcus’ welfare is far more important to me than any ribbon!
He has his banana for being a good boy, we had a relax for an hor and watched some classes and then packed up to go home. It was a lesson learnt!
Im so pleased we have qualified for Nationals, in both the Equitation and the Classical ladies (at the spring show), and I will be working hard to correct my lower leg and up my game!
It’s a great honour, and im very excited, to be back with Petplan Equine as an Ambassador for 2017.
Earlier in the year all the successful applicants were invited down to the Unicorn Centre, to meet and work with the team on media training and do some publicity shots. It was great to meet everyone new, and catch up with the returning sponsored riders who have also moved onto the ambassador program.
This time of year with the horses I always seem to hit the ‘winter blues’. The weather is miserable, riding becomes minimal, and the urge to get out competing kicks in, when you know your horses just aren’t ready! Well this year was no different.
After Lordies ‘mystery illness and anaemia last year he has still been coming back into work slowly, with occasional work depending mainly on the weather and ground conditions (as I have no arena).
Sleet has been hit badly by the cold and wintery conditions, with his arthritis making him very stiff, therefore minimising the amount of conditioning work I can ask of him, to help his kissing spine syndrome.
So as I started to look at schedules, and work out my options, a local level open show popped up, that had in-hand classes, Tristan was up!
As I made the decision to get the little man out and about, I realised we’re leaving winter, he’s predominantly white, and loves mud! Bathing Tristan is like a military operation. I like to get bathed as quickly as possible, and then wrap them up warm. With him, it’s a case of get him clean, move him away from any wet (as his tail and feathers drag) and then get him wrapped up! Luckily enough I managed to enlist the help of my lovely nephew Jamie!
After several kettle runs, and lots of bubbles ‘My little wingman’ was sparkling! Until he span round and dragged his tail in the wet! AGRRR! Sometimes I could murder him! After wrapping him up as much as possible I then had to go to work, dreading what I would come back to in the morning!
On the day, myself and ‘Equestridad’ Ray, picked up another pair of hands in the form of my niece Heather this time, and went to assess the damage! The wraps, full body lycra suit, and rug hand held out! The was clean! (ish!) With a couple of poo patches to his hocks it wasn’t the end of the world, and we boxed up late morning for a 12.30pm class start.
On arrival Tristan was super excited, did a few screams, and attracted a lot of attention to himself! I had a few people come over and ask how he was so white, what did I use and do I have any tips, they also commented on how lovely he looked, which is always great to hear. One remark did make me laugh though, when a lady walked past and said “ a lot of efforts gone into that pony”.. if only she knew the half of it!
We entered 3 classes, the coloured, the cob and the youngstock, and to my surprise we won them all!
As the youngstock was the last class, and the championship was immediately after, we went in. I wasn’t expecting to placed, but it’s a good experience for him, and with a wide variety going forwards, including an Arab stallion, hunter, and some flashy welshies, I was shocked to come Reserve Champion!!
My little wingman was a super coblet!
As the side saddle season draws closer I’ve been struggling to get over to Amandas and work with Marcus. Hours at work have been unforgiving lately, and the weather hasn’t helped. But one moderately dry Sunday I had the opportunity to visit so jumped at the chance! We hi-vized up (obviously!) and took Marcus and Chaz, Amandas other horse, for a happy hack. It was so great to be back out on him and to see Amanda.
In the next few weeks it will be our first side saddle show, and more preparation will be done with Marcus to make sure we’re ready.
Sleet will soon start work again as the weather and ground improves, and Lordie has already been boxed up and visited the local indoor to start some more serious schooling ready for his first dressage competition in a few weeks!
It feels like things are finally starting to improve, and the horses should all be back fighting fit within weeks! Fingers crossed!
October - December 2016
With the changing of the seasons the boys have now all come in at night, which the two thoroughbreds are very happy about, Tristan on the other hand couldn’t care less as long as he gets fed!
October and November have been good for Sleet, we made a quick decision as he was feeling great to enter an Intro dressage test in early October, and we came second with 63.69%! I then took advantage of the school and the fact that there were fences up in the warm up and had a little play over some tiny fences as a treat for him!
His ears pricked and he got all excited, and I think I laughed and smiled whist riding for the first time in a while!
While we were on a roll I entered our next competition, but it wasn’t to be… the Land Rover decided to die, and we never made it.
Sleet’s had his first haircut of the year and has also been seen by over 2,200 people on Facebook with our ‘Be seen not squished’ video! I’ve always been a fan of high viz and when out on a trundle with him I decided to demonstrate just how much! Poor Sleet!
In early November we went back to dressage and even though the weather was miserable and rainy, we managed to win our Intro and get 4th in the prelim!
October 18th was Tristan’s third birthday! I cannot believe I’ve had this little ‘market monster’ for 3 years! From the horrid little 9.3hh worm and lice infested, coughing, runny eyes and nose squirt, to the stocky 12hh stunning boy he now is! It really has been a rough road, and with the loss his eye this year due to uveitis and glaucoma, he really has shown his determination to survive!
Towards the end of the year I will hopefully get him out to some indoor shows, and see what a few judges think to his ‘Pirate Pete’ look. As he’s now three, I hope to start working him gently too, with some long line and walking out in hand. When it comes to starting his ridden career I am in no rush, he’s a young boy still and with his sight being impaired I want him completely comfortable with everything before moving onto the next stage.
In the meantime he is happy, and loves to scratch!
October didn’t start too well for the big ginger boy; he came in one day with a slightly warm hind leg, so I automatically went for cold hosing as my first port of call, and box rest to risk any possible damage. After we got this under control I then turned him back out and he came in with a fat knee from fighting over the fence with the neighbours ponies! Typical! So back to cold hosing, a few phone calls to the vets and another round of rest for the big lad.
Strangely he never really seemed to cheer up; he was very quiet and not really very interested in anything. At first we assumed it was because he was out of work, and was also like this the same time last year (almost like SAD), so left him a few days. He didn’t seem to improve and began urinating more frequently but of little volume, we called the vet. After a general check over it was decided to do bloods and urine tests, which came back positive showing an infection and secondary anaemia.
reatment consisted of antibiotics and blood tonic for the anaemia. After two weeks of this we had another set of tests and he was still suffering. The vets thought it could be something related to his liver and kidneys so had him in for scans. Thankfully there was nothing untoward and he was upped onto a stronger antibiotic. Although he’s now sporting the most bizarre winter clip around, he is back to health. We don’t know what caused it, or why, but after a few months off following his string of ‘events’ Lordie can now come back into work and try and rebuild ready for the spring!
As the side saddle season is over, Marcus has not been ridden by myself. He has however been super busy at all the dressage championships he has qualified for over the year! With several wins under his belt he even made it into Horse and Hound! Well done Amanda and Marcus!
We hope to get started again in the New Year, and aim again for National qualification as well as equitation championships!
If like me you don’t have the luxury of a school/flood lights, try and make the most of what you do have, you may be better working your horse first while its light and then muck out after if you have lights in your stable.
A lightweight turnout over your heavy in bad weather means you’re only lifting a light rug off to dry if it gets soaked! It’s also easier to hang to dry than something than weighs more than you when it is wet!
Stable bandages or leg wraps can be a great bonus in winter. Yes, they may take a few minutes in the evening, but they keep your horse’s legs from filling and are a great extra for keeping them warm on cold nights. The best bonus is also the extra protection they provide on nights such as bonfire and new years, where fireworks can upset your horse and injuries may occur!
July - September 2016
The past few months have been very busy, with show season in full swing, as well as trying to fit in some other events in between side saddle, it feels like we’ve not stopped!
Following his rehab, then colic/peritonitis case, Sleet has been struggling with his soundness again. With some gentle work, and a few vet visits, it was decided to treat him again with Equidronate and medicate the hocks once more. This helped him hugely, and enabled me to work him that little bit more, so that once again we could build top line and help his back.
Although he’s not been out competing, he is now sound and happy, and we will hopefully be back out over winter to do some low level dressage.
Following the removal of his left eye due to Uveitis, Tristan suffered an ulcer in his right eye early in July. A trip to the vets and some medication meant it was under control quickly and there was no risk of any lasting damage.
On the 1st August we went to Broomfield College to compete in the ‘In the spotlight’ show. It was his first one since having his eye out, and I chose it carefully, as it was indoors so we could stay out of the sun!
After the mammoth task of getting the little monster clean, he looked fantastic, and was such a well behaved boy. Our first class was a learning curve though, as previously when running him out I would stand off and let him go, but he just had no idea and was very insecure, so I hooked my finger under his noseband and he was much happier to trot out.
The surprising thing was that the judge didn’t even notice he was missing an eye!! We went the whole day, not actively trying to hide it, but not showing it. We were placed in the cob and youngstock classes and won the coloured class! We even had a cheeky photo in the disabled spot! He is blind after all!
Lordie has been improving daily, his schooling and ground work is getting much stronger along with his muscle tone and attitude!
On the 21st August we went to Eland lodge for the Elympics one day event. It was teams of four and we were given Estonia to represent. Lordie was his usual surprising self. We never really know what to expect with him, previously he has been unsettled in the dressage and better with his jumping, but this time, he pulled it out of the bag to do what in my opinion, was his best test to date! We even managed to canter correctly on both reins to get 31.25%! His show jumping was an unfortunate two fences down, not even really registering the first fence as he was too busy looking around. The cross country, previously his best phase, was well, a bit of a disaster! He managed two strides out the start box, threw a major strop, and stood up! To the disbelief of the stewards I managed to stay on, have a ‘discussion’ with him about it and get the first fence unharmed! From that point onwards he was slightly reluctant over fences two and three, but then flew the rest like a lunatic! We’ve come to the conclusion he has ‘start box syndrome’. Quite common in ex racers, who have only ever started off in groups or run in strings, he just finds it slightly stressful to be alone in that type of situation.
Over the next few months the plan is to quietly practice, build a start box at home and see what happens, while also aiming to work on his groundwork, in case a career change to dressage is required!
Lordie also went to the ‘In the spotlight’ show, and was very well behaved. It was his first indoor event; we only entered the inhand, but was placed in both the open horse and sports horse class.
What can I say about this boy other than he’s been very busy! On the 24th July we took part in a side saddle demonstration at Gartmore riding school, in aid of the Free Spirit Horse Memorial. Marcus was fantastic, we showed off all three paces, and even jumped! While this was happening, Charlie Parkin was explaining the history of side saddle and what we wear. Kirsty Heathcote rode Rhapsody in Blue (Destiny) and Amanda Chatfield who owns Marcus rode Kirsty’s other horse Galloglass! It was a great afternoon, with lots of spectators and raised over £1,000!
The first weekend of August was the Side Saddle National Championships. This is always a great show whether you’re competing or spectating (of which there is no such thing, you will generally end up grooming for someone!). Marcus is used to staying away from home so it was no issue for him, and settled well. Our first class was the novice equitation test. He was very good apart from one blip in the left canter. From there it was straight into the turnout section. This is always a tough one as the judges are so critical, even to the point of telling you if your tie pin isn’t straight or you have hair out of place! There’s no margin for error or untidiness. Fortunately I had Charlie and Amanda on my side who are both amazing at turnout, and a gorgeous new hunt stock from ‘The Old Hunting Habit Company’, which was then tied for me by the lovely Amy Bryan-Dowell herself! It was perfect. I’ve still never been able to tie it as well to date.
The Saturday afternoon was our equitation jumping. Marcus warmed up well, and gave me a great trip round. I was very happy. The equitation results weren’t as great as I’d liked, but over all, I was pleased with Marcus and pleased with our performance.
This left us in 9th place in the Novice rider of the year championship.
On the Sunday we were booked into the HOYS Ladies qualifier, after the go round we weren’t pulled, so decided to withdraw and save him for the Classical Ladies championship. This went much better, and in a huge class of nearly 30 entries, all having qualified around the country, we were pulled 10th! Marcus went sweetly and mannerly and was a joy to ride.
The rest of the season has been filled with HOYS qualifiers. A huge amount of early starts and late finishes! The first was Stoneleigh International. This was a great day, the ride judge loved him and we got moved from our original pull of 7th, to 3rd! It’s such a shame we missed out on our ticket, but with a move like that, it was certainly a great day!
Our next trip was Monmouthshire show, in what felt like the middle of nowhere! It was torrential rain and dull, and Marcus struggled with the slippy ground. The judge was very much into the lighter show horses and unfortunately we did not get a pull. Next was Morton in the Marsh. What started a dry and bright day turned wet and miserable. Marcus was great considering the conditions, and although he went impeccably for the ride, the judge only placed him 9th in the end.
Our last chance was Addington, at the BSHA Hunter championships. With a 4am start, and knowing we got home at midnight last year I was set for along day. It was not to be. There were two or three naughty horses in the ring, and one that didn’t gallop when asked, but Marcus still went like the mannerly hunter he is, and gave the ride judge a good trip round. Again, a lot of the flashy show horses were pulled for the top 9.
It is disappointing to know that we tried so hard to get to HOYS, and Marcus was so good, for both myself and the ride judges 99% of the time, but we just couldn’t manage it. As the class is now open to all types (hacks, riding horses and cobs) instead of being a ladies hunter class anymore, it seems the heavy hunter types just cannot compete with the lighter flashier show horses. The reign of the producer is also string, and sometimes causes questions to be asked by a lot of competitors, as to whether it is even worth entering anymore.
For us, we won’t be campaigning for HOYS next year. The alterations to the class have meant that Marcus is no longer the ‘type’ the judges are favouring, and along with many other side saddlers (following discussions at great length), we just don’t think it worth while to spend the money there. Our efforts will be focused back on the equitation and pure side saddle classes, with the hope of competing at the National show in 2017!
I would just like to say thank you to Amanda and David Chatfield, who have not only allowed me to ride and compete the amazing Marcus, and campaign for HOYS 2016, but who have also taken us to every single competition, no matter how early the start or how late the finish! You are both complete wonders and fabulous people!
April - June 2016
The past few months I have been trying to continue with ‘normal life’, although things are completely different now. All three of my boys have been through injury or illness during April may and June, and just to add injury to injury, so have I!
On the 9th of June, whilst working another horse, it chose to rear and flip on me. Completely unprovoked and unpredictable. I had ridden the horse three times the week prior, but that day it decided no. I have genuinely never experienced a fall like it, I’ve ridden ‘rearers’ before (Lordie occasionally has a moment too), but nothing like this. It went from standing, to being on me within seconds. I was in so much pain, and genuinely thought I had smashed my pelvis into tiny pieces!
A huge thank you to the ambulance crew, doctors and all the professionals involved in helping me as well as to my ‘horsey neighbours’, friends and family, for being there faster than the speed of light to help! I’m still a little sore but im back on board, and moving forwards!
Now for the horses…
The past three months have been a very mixed bag for Marcus and our side saddle outings. We thought we’d cracked it with a ‘new’ saddle, but at the spring show on the 4th May, we had an issue with the saddle tipping back and to the right, making it very difficult to sit straight on, and causing a compete lack of circulation to my right bum cheek and thigh. We were placed 4th in the intermediate and 4th in the Open equitation, and overall I was very pleased with Marcus himself, he is always a lovely ride.
On the 11th of May we went to a side saddle fitting session at the lovely Emma ‘Queenie’ Browns. She is renowned for her side saddle riding, and had saddle fitter Roger Whitehead out. He talked to us about why our saddle was tipping, and made some fit suggestions, including a new point strap on the right shoulder.
The 14th of May was Newark and Nottinghamshire County show, and unfortunately we hadn’t had back the ‘new’ saddle from Roger (as he was working on it), so we used the old saddle. It was a lovely day, which was a change for Newark weather, and we managed a respectable 4th in a big and strong open class.
The 30th of May was the Area 12 summer show, traditionally hosted by Donita Welch, held at Pleasley Vale. Amanda rode first in the open style and appearance class (which can be ridden astride or aside), and won!
We had the ‘new saddle’ back now, and it was lovely to ride on, level and comfortable and for the first time in long time I felt I was straight, not riding uphill, and had a queen big enough to keep me from twisting! We then entered the Intermediate, and took 3rd, and the Open and took 4th place. We then decided to try the classical ladies class, and came 3rd and gained a qualification for the Classical ladies championship held at the Nationals 2016. I was happy with the placings, as there were some expert riders in my classes, but most of all I was happy with Marcus and how we went together; having a saddle that’s right makes such a difference.
The Derbyshire festival was on the 12th of June, we had an extremely early start to get there for 9am, and the weather was torrential! It was literally raining that hard you couldn’t see the other side of the arena! Luckily it had slowed to a ‘down pour’ by the time I had to be on board. In the warm up, Marcus wasn’t 100% happy, and although I had my suspicions it was because of a new saddle pad, the warm up was in the cross country field at Somerford Park, and the tanoys and umbrellas were unnerving him as well. We went into the HOYS qualifying class, and it was ‘interesting’ to say the least. Marcus was very unhappy, and I struggled to hold him and use my seat following my fall. We were down the line in the placings on the first pull. As the judge began to ride various people began to leave, which was strange. After a quick discussion with Amanda we decided to excuse ourselves and leave. Marcus wasn’t happy with something, and to allow a ride judge to take him on like that would have been irresponsible, and bad for his reputation.
Our second class was the Classical ladies, and we were 4th. Following the HOYS, we changed his pad back to the one we had previously used, and he seemed so much happier, back to the usual well mannered Marcus.
After everything we’ve been through with Sleet’s rehabilitation from kissing spine, and him having that strange issue on the 24/03/16, I didn’t think it could get any worse for him. I was wrong.
After the all clear form his bloods that following Friday (25/03/16), Sleet had some down time, just chilling in the field and being a horse.
On the 8th of April I was travelling back by train from a few days away in London when I had a phone call. It was my dad and Charlie, who were looking after the boys while I was gone. They explained Sleet was very quiet, wasn’t eating his feed and was showing some strange behaviour. They had called the vet. At this point I was still two hours away from home, so was understandably stressed at not being there. The vet came out and diagnosed mild colic, and treated accordingly. I had another call saying he was much better and not to worry.
As soon as the train got in I rushed straight to the yard. Dad and Charlie had stayed until I arrived. Sleet was still quiet, but was happily lying down, resting, just quiet. I decided to stay the night and went home to get some bits, including a big coat!
When I got back I sat with Sleet for a while in his box, as I was there he seemed to become more and more unsettled, up down rolling and starting to become uncomfortable. I called the vet back and told her everything and she came back out. By this time he was extremely uncomfortable and rolling. In the end the vet had to sedate him slightly to assess him properly. Things weren’t improving, and his colic was getting more sever, so the call was made to ship him to Liverpool.
We left the yard at 12.30am and arrived at Liverpool at just before 3am. The staff were immediately on hand to take control and Sleet was whisked into a set of stocks and seen to immediately!
The morning after (as I wasn’t allowed to stay), I received a call from Liverpool. Sleet was stable, and a thickening of the gut lining, that had developed an abscess, which was leaking out into the abdominal cavity and caused peritonitis. He was at Liverpool a just over a week, and I went to see him every other day.
Once he was back at home, the vets here took over, and he had further abdominal scans to check the abscess was gone and all was settled. Sleet was given the all clear on the 28th April! Since then I have returned him to work slowly, working on long lines and lunge work and ridden once or twice a week. Hopefully this will be the last time I have to ‘start again’ with him!
On the 7th of May it was his 16th birthday, and I hope we have many more years to come!
Due to me not riding much during March, Lordie hasn’t done much with me until recently. Although I was working him at home, I didn’t feel up to going out and competing him. Then one day, I got myself together and thought its now or never, and decided to enter him into his first one day event!
It was time to get training! On the 15th May we went to the local show to practice our ‘stressage’. Prelim 4, with a score of 60.45% we actually won!
The ODE came round very quickly on the 22nd May. The venue was Eland Lodge, an amazing friendly and well run event. I’ve been competing there for just over 10 years now with Sleet, and it continues to always be a good day out!
On arrival I went and declared, and then prepped for the dressage, We had a quick warm up, as I knew we had the whole day ahead and he would tire quickly with it being his first one.
We managed to score a 33 in the dressage! Which considering our right canter was brief and actually was left canter, I was impressed! The walk and trot work was lovely and sweet though, and we had no dramatics. So far so good…
Show jumping was a trot round. Although he is perfectly capable of bombing round over huge fences on a pointing track, I need him to learn to ‘show jump’. With a decision already made to trot it meant he could make a better shape over the fence, actually bascule, and lift his feet rather then throw them forwards (we’d been working on this at home too). Unfortunately, although I was really happy with his behaviour and effort, he had two poles down.
After a quick change we headed for the cross country. He had never schooled round this track, so he was going blind. Lordie was hesitant at first and very unsettled around the start box, which wasn’t helped by two stops on the course just as we were about to set off, but when the count down came he went. About three strides out from fence one he started to wobble, I had to really kick on to get him to go, but he stopped. At the second attempt we jumped. Heading up the second he started to wobble again, but this time much further out. We had a second stop and then jumped it, and continued on to fence three, which he cleared no issues. Following that he sailed round the cross country, didn’t fault at a thing.
In hindsight, I came to conclusion that the fences may not have even been a problem, but the fact the first two fences were running down towards all the marquees, people, whistles and noise. Fence three was right next to them so he could see them clearly at this point, and then the rest was just cruising. It seems quite logical I suppose, but you never know. He certainly was stopping and backing off way before the actual fences, and completely changed straight after we had gone past! Over all it was an experience for him, and we finished about 8th in our section.
As we walked back across the lorry park, post cross country, Lordie somehow managed to pick up a plaiting needle in his foot! I couldn’t believe it! Straight in at a 90% angle to the floor, narrowly missing any major structures. After pulling it out with, we pulled the shoe off at home and poulticed it religiously for three days, fortunately nothing too nasty occurred, and he came sound reasonably quickly.
On the 26th June, we ventured back out to Eland Lodge, for the Elympics dressage.
(Eland first ran there Elympics 4 years ago, and Sleet and I won the show jumping 75s!)
The test was Intro B. He was being silly from the off, with a napping incident leaving the lorry park, and then a spin and bronch at a pony in the warm up and at a child running up and down in the gallery. His test was average in my opinion, inconsistent and very unbalanced. He just wasn’t settled. Surprisingly we managed 63%, and 3rd place!
‘My Little Wing Man’ has been through a lot lately. Tristan has suffered with Uveitis for some time now, and you may have seen in previous posts it is very hard to manage. In the week commencing 24th May, his left eye became very affected, white and began to show a strange protrusion from the bottom of the eye itself. I called the vets and sent them a picture, and the vet who has been dealing with him long term called for me to take him straight in.
After several tests and an ultrasound on the eye it was determined the uveitis had developed into glaucoma. The eye had no sight as the retina had completely detached now (in previous scans it was partially detached), and was starting to shrink in size. It was concluded that, although he suffers from uveitis in the right eye too, the best plan would be to remove the eye completely. On the 27th May he went in for removal. A lovely surgeon performed the operation, and my vet kept me informed of everything going on! He came home the following day with some bright blue stitches.
After ten days box rest and pain killers, Tristan went back for his stitches taking out. The eye had healed well, and everything was as it should be. Tristan is now back out, playing and causing trouble like normal. He doesn’t actually appear to be any different; as he had no vision in the eye anyway it appears he doesn’t even miss it!
On the 2nd May, I (for some reason) thought it would be a good idea to take the whole yard to ‘The Ikeston and district riding club’.
After lots of bathing, plaiting and trying to keep Tristan clean we set up camp, gazebo and all! The weather was miserable, wet and windy but we had a hilarious day!
Tristan was in the blues all day, with second in Youngstock, coloured and cob. Lordie was 4th in the open ridden and ridden Thoroughbred, and 2nd in in-hand thoroughbred. The biggest surprise was Sleet! He wasn’t ridden due to him being poorly earlier in the month, but I wanted to take him to try and cheer him up, and let him have some fun, and well… he was certainly did! He was so bouncy verging on plain naughty! He really did enjoy his little outing, with 2nd in the veteran but unfortunately only 5th in the thoroughbred class.
January and February were the usual winter months for us here. Winter weather combined with early darkness meant the boys weren’t doing as much as I would have liked, but were all ticking over nicely, as the nights got better the boys all started doing more.
When March hit this year, so did the worst time of my life so far. Tragically, I lost my partner, the amazing William Wilkinson, to a motorbike accident.
His death caused a huge amount of pain, and a sense of loss I had never felt before. And in all honesty, the horses were the last thing on my mind.
I would like to thank everyone, including the Petplan team, for the support and kindness I received.
My family and friends took care of the horses while I couldn’t, and offered stability and security to myself and them when I had none.
A few weeks on, I am now back, in some kind of routine with the boys, and we are talking things one day at a time.
Sleet has been maintained with lunge and long line work, with the odd trip to the local arena for some ridden work when I had time in the day. He was coming on nicely, and eventually, we entered our ‘return to work test’.
This test would essentially be the make or break moment for him. If he could cope with the work load, and test, I could continue his progression.
On the 31st of January we headed out for out test! Sleet sported a blingy new browband (if you cant beat ‘em join ‘em) and was very excited to be going out! After a lovely warm up, lots of lateral work, and walking to soften him up, out time came.
‘Enter at A – and head tilt!!’ Every time!! There was nothing wrong with this horse other than his ability to irritate me with his habits! We did a reasonable test, with a score of 60% and third place! But more importantly I was happy with him in the pouring down rain and wind!
Recently (March) Sleet came in very pottery in front, and was pointing his off fore, so, I pulled his shoe off and poulticed it on the advice of my farrier. 2 days, and a few bandage changes later, nothing had come of it. I turned him out in a little pen for the day and when I returned in the evening I was faced with this… (please be warned it may be uncomfortable for some people to watch)…
What on earth was he doing! I called the vet immediately, explained what he was doing, the whole situation (then had abit of a meltdown) and demanded someone came out asap! (Then videoed what he was doing. I find this very helpful as sometimes by the time a vet arrives they arnt doing it anymore!)
Within 20 minutes the lovely Heather (who had featured in our ‘Horse magazine’ article with us) turned up. She was none the wiser regards to the foot, like me, no heat, digital pulse, swelling lumps bumps anything! Was pottery all round on trot up still, and very sensitive in the back. We discussed the possibility of ‘tying up’ which he has a track record for, and several bloods were taken to test various things.
On the Friday Heather called. All Sleets bloods came back normal! Nothing! Not a dot of anything abnormal! So we made an appointment for him to go in and be assessed in relation to back pain and his Kissing Spine.
His KS vet, assessed him, and we discussed treatment. He then had a round of shockwave therapy, was advised to have two weeks off, and has to go back for another session, which will be next week now.
Lordie has been coming on well, with another walk and trot test under his belt, and a score of 65.21% and a 2nd place (He also sported some bling too!) He’s lost that fatty ginger look now, and is becoming fitter and muscled because of his work. Im just happy you can’t see his ribs anymore bless him! His test is viewable at:
Lordie has also been cross country schooling, which was a nice distraction for me for a day, and I put a video together of it all which can be seen here…
My Little Wing Man.
Tristan, the little coloured monster, has also started his education! Although he’s only two and half, being entire, he is starting to test the water, and try being that little bit cheeky when its not wanted! So, to give him something to think about I have started long lining him.
To say he wasn’t bothered is an understatement. He has always had a good relationship with me, I’ve taken him on walks up the road, done ride and lead with Sleet, and he’s very relaxed in his attitude to new things.
He did however not quite understand ‘walk on’, which meant I ended up poking his backside! His first session was filmed by a friend, and you can watch the ‘excitement’ here:
On the down side, Tristans eyes have not improved, despite our best efforts with the amazing vet Kirstie Pickles. He now has detached retina in both eyes, and, it’s unclear what he actually can and cant see!
We have done tests over poles and various footings, and so far, he proves to be very confusing, ‘seeing’ things intermittently. He never seems to bump into or walk into anything though, so at the moment im not hugely concerned about his welfare in terms of safety.
For anyone unsure about how his eyes look there are plenty of pictures I keep updated on the facebook page
The lovely Marcus has been very busy with his owner Amanda, being very successful in the dressage arena. Qualifying in the prelim for the Petplan festival, then actually knocking herself out by qualifying in the novice to music!
Other than that things have been quiet as she showing season hasn’t yet begun.
To make sure were ‘super ready’ though, we attended a HOYS clinic run by the lovely Shelley Perham, and Roger Philpot, down at the Unicorn Equestrian centre at Stow. It was a long trip down, and due to my personal circumstances I was feeling exhausted, but it was definitely worth it.
Shelley put us through our paces, literally! We focused not only an Marcus and his way of going, but also on my riding.
Side saddle I have always aimed, and been taught ‘equitation perfection’, for this day that went ‘out the window’ so to speak! My riding equitation style was essentially putting the hand brake on Marcus, and not allowing him to lift through the shoulder. And I found myself constantly chasing the trot, as I felt I wasn’t travelling enough. Shelly assured me I don’t need to do this, I don’t need to push him any more, and lose out natural rhythm.
We also worked on the gallop, Marcus’ least impressive pace. He always struggles to stretch and go forwards enough. We worked on my position affecting this, lifting him in the shoulder, and then opening that shoulder out forwards in the gallop!
After several attempts, I was pooped!! At one point I nearly cam out the side door too as I can honestly admit I wasn’t strong enough in my core to support what we doing!
If I learnt one thing that day, its that I need to spend more time on my gym ball at home!
Lucinda Green Master Class
When I originally booked to go to Lucinda Greens lesson I was so excited! Sleet was a cross country machine, but I was looking for fine tuning to move up the levels. Unfortunately he was diagnosed with Kissing spine, so, after contacting Petplan to cancel, we had a discussion about my new horse Lordie, and decided it would be a great experience for him!
From that point on the butterflies started! I had only owned him since August, he had been poor, and was a work in progress. I did know though, that he has previously hunted, and point to pointed, so at least I knew he could jump!
At home I had done some coloured fences with him, the odd little course, but knowing Lucindas reputation, and her ability, I was sure we would be in safe hands!
On the morning of the clinic, it was raining, and I don’t just mean a little shower, it seems torrential! None the less, my lovely father and I set off to Attington, fully prepared with a change of clothes and waterproofs!
On arrival I was met by a member of the Pepplan team, as Lucinda was, and had been, teaching all day in the rain. I was in the baby/novice group with three other riders. I opened up the box, let him have a break and a chill, and then began to get ready!
Lordie seemed fine, me on the other hand, well… I was a nervous wreck! I had no idea how he was going to react! The first few minutes when we hit the course were ‘interesting’. Lordie became very unsettled, started dancing around, and generally being a lemon about it all! So we had a little trot round, and tried to calm him down. After a few minutes of watching us all, Lucinda brought us all over and had a chat. We discussed briefly our horses, age experience etc, and also ours. Then head off up the field to find out first fence!
Due to all the rain the ground was very wet, Lucinda asked us to trot up and down some little hills that were there, and then just trot and pop a log that was right on the top. I would never have though a log on the top of a hill would be a first fence, but she explained it gives them the opportunity to balance uphill and see it, and then they have to balance to go back down, so eliminates rushing!
Following on from this we started to string a few fences together! We were on a roll! My confidence on my ‘unknown quantity’ horse was raising!
We then did some walk work over a small ditch. I had always thought to keep the head up when it came to ditched, so as not to ‘drop into them’, but Lucinda explained when I tried to pull Lordie up, he needed to see it, he needed to be able to assess and judge what he was going over.
After working over a few more fences (and nearly parting company with Lordie at one point) we moved on to string to little fences together. I followed a woman with a bay, and then we headed to a drop down, at this point she shouted for me to carry on and hers would followed, so I was brave, kicked on, and Lordie went! Whoooo! Hers followed, all good! It was from this point I went back to repeat the drop, and my fear of heights kicked in! I made the mistake of looking down! Uh oh!
Lucinda had seen this, and basically took me in hand and told me what for! She was great but explained everything I was doing, or wasn’t and what was causing the problem! It was not the horse! It was me! She worked through it with me, spending the time on what I was doing and talking me through everything! I was just what I needed, a firm but fair hand to encourage me, and my inexperienced horse, in the right direction. Luckily my dad caught the whole thing on film for me! I can watch it back and see exactly what she meant, what I was doing, and how to solve the problem.
Here are both the good start, and then Lucinda working on my drop down with us!
After a breather (for me) we moved on, we did some work through the water, and then focused on a few little logs and a ditch. Lucinda was teaching us to think about what we doing and asking of the horses. So understanding the water was deeper than usual, and that we would get on any course, but knowing It was good experience for them.
Having the two logs run onto the ditch encourages the horses to think forwards, and she was constantly encouraging us to relax the hand and think about the amount we were using!
We played around with various different fences, combinations, hills, drops and waters!
Over all I was massively impressed with our day. Lordie behaved brilliantly once he had a task to do, and It really made me think about my riding, being on a horse other than my normal xc machine! I really liked the fact that being in the ‘novice group’ all our horses were young/inexperienced, and Lucinda explained that working in trot gives them time to think and learn from every fence, not just learn to canter and rush at everything. There was such a wealth of knowledge to take on board!
Lucinda was so great! After the lesson we all had a chat about goals, what to aim for, and how we thought everything had gone, and she gave me a few minutes after to give me some tips on retraining him, which I as so grateful for!
I cant wait to go on another session, definitely worth the soaking!
To find out more about the Lucinda Green clinics visit www.petplanequine.co.uk/masterclass
November and December are never great ‘horsey months’. The weather is miserable and the nights get dark and cold very quickly! This year has been no different! There hasn’t been much in the way of competition with the horses, as side saddle and showing is very seasonal. But there have been some entertaining days with all the boys!
The 9th of November was a great day for Sleet! We had another trip back to the vets, for assessment after his treatment and then his rehab work! He was given the go ahead to come back into ridden work! YYEYYEEY! I was sooooo happy! It was a great moment for us, and although progress would be small (20 to 30mins twice a week) it felt like huge achievement!
The vet dealing with our case gave us four weeks, to work towards a prelim level dressage test, with the goal of seeing if he would cope with the workload, and take it from there! As the month progressed we did the continued ground work, long lined, lunged, but were also able to take hacks up to the school to do some ‘proper work’! He seemed very happy to be back being challenged and doing a small amount of lateral work!
Unfortunately, when December hit it became harder and harder to get the work into him. Working for a parcel delivery company during December, means your going to get more busy as Christmas hits, so being asked to work overtime was a given, and when it comes to horses, we all know they don’t pay for themselves at a grassroot level!
In the end his work program became twice a week, lunge and hack out maybe, so I made the tough decision to push back our forecast dressage date to January. It would not be a true judgement of him ‘coping with the work’, if he wasn’t actually working to a reasonable level.
For now our new dressage date will be the end of January, and now Christmas is over we are back on the work program!
Sleets rehab diary is still active, and can be found on
..,but my personal favorite has to be this!
Lordie began November on a good note, with a trip out to Hargate on the 8th. Performing in another reasonable dressage test, with another mid 60s percentage. He’s becoming a lot more relaxed, but needs to be more consistent in his work, but that will come with time and muscle.
Lordies test can be seen here...
On the 22nd of November we went all the way to Attington, Oxfordshire for a lesson with Lucinda Green! This was originally supposed to be on Sleet, but due to his condition, I took Lordie instead. It was nerve wracking to be taking a horse it barely jumped, and only over coloured poles, to a lesson with someone of such experience. But I knew he’d hunted, and pointed in the past, so must have jumped natural fences.
After an excitable started, and a lot of going sideways (unintentionally!) he settled, and actually surprised me! He barely put a foot wrong, unless I was the issue, and did everything I asked of him in the end!
My fear of heights had a huge role to play in an issue we had at a drop down. Its always been something that has held me back xc, but Lucinda was great, gave me a huge kick up the backside, and made me see, that actually messing about with it was only going to make it worse!
The rest of November and December have been quiet for Lordie, as again, workload and dark nights have dictated how much I can do with him. But now we are pushing forward to get him fitter and more relaxed in his work, and continue his education to become a budding riding horse/event horse, and side saddle stunner!
Little Tristan is still battling his Uveitis. But do not be fooled! This does not deter him from being the cutest little monster ever!! His weekly visits to the vets have become a highlight for some of the staff there! And some of the vet nurses have even offered to take him home!
On the visit before Christmas we had to go in for our check up, (and Sleet needed his vacs) so I took them together! It was actually the 18th Dec, national Christmas jumper day, but sadly the boys didn’t have jumpers, so they said they wanted to dress up instead!! It went down a treat at the vets, and they even made it onto their facebook page!
Other than that the little boy has been tormenting the big lads, trying to make friends with my dad by following him around like a big puppy, and breaking out of his stable one night, and scaring the poop out of me when I go back in the morning! Naughty pony!
The lovely Marcus, owned by Amanda Chatfield, has been very busy with numerous dressage competitions. We intended on taking part in the Christmas fancy dress dressage at Rodbaston, at the end of December, competing side saddle against astride riders.
Our practice video can be seen here!
He was abit grumpy, but I think that was mainly my fault as I wasn’t feeling to well. And please, don’t laugh at my commentary!
Unfortunately, I ended up in hospital on the day of the competition, and had to bow out. I was obviously unhappy with not being able to compete, but my health, both short term and long term, need looking after if we are going to continue our HOYS campaign in 2016!
Media wise over the pasty few months, Sleet has featured in Horse Magazine. A nice 2 page spread, on how the smallest of external injuries, can actually be a quite nasty one! This was a great article to be involved with, and although it’s a tough story to tell, as at one point it may not have had a great outcome, he came back fighting as always!
My trip to Olympia in December was definitely a highlight for me of 2015! Not just because I managed to navigate myself around London, but the entire experience of meeting the rest of the sponsored riders, working with everyone on media training and moving forwards for 2016, followed by actual Olympia was amazing and overwhelming!
So the past few months have been very up and down for me and the boys. The showing/side saddle season has come to an end, and Sleet has been diagnosed with something I never would have
We started out with a great trip to Burley on the 5th Sept! Lots of walking was involved obviously, as I dragged my father round the cross country course, but I think he soon came to realise the joys of watching these talented riders leap over some extremely substantial fences! We paid a visit to the lovely Andy at the S.Milner and son saddlery stand (nice to see your trusted saddle fitter!) and then moseyed round the Land Rover stand dreaming of upgrading good old ‘Thomas’! It was a great day, I didn’t spend too much, and saw some great riders in action!
On the 9th of Sept we attended the BSHA Hunter championships at Addington. After an extremely early start (4am), we made it to the venue with plenty of time, and were ready and looking good for our first class. Kingsclough Masquerade was an angel, went beautifully for myself, and the judge, and we were placed in both the Hoys Ladies class, and the Great Scott Hunter of the year. The only downside was you had to wait until the evening performance around 9pm to get your placing! Amanda and David were happy to stay, and we set up camp for the rest of the day. When it came to our evening performance, Marcus was great! He was a bit strong, but he was only enjoying himself in the atmosphere! In the end we came 7th in the Hoys and 6th in the Great Scott hunter of the year! I finally made it home at 12.45am! A huge thanks to owner Amanda Chatfield, and husband David for your continued support!
September also saw our article for the Petplan magazine ‘Paces’ be published. It was great to read the finished article and see it in actual print! I have a nice box of them, and proudly handed them out to friends and family. The article covers the session Russell Guire of Centuar Biomechanics did with myself and Sleet. We worked on a trot up evaluating his movement, and then ridden evaluating us as a pair. Russell was great to work with, and Sleet was the most amazing I’ve ever known him!! He stood with sticky dots on for hours while the photographers took seemingly endless amounts of photos. The backdrop was blowing in the wind and the flash was going off randomly! Just reminded me seeing the article how awesome my boy is!
On September 13th we made our first competitive venture out on Lord Gale. We went to Hargate Equestrian and did the walk and trot dressage test. After arriving, and realising I had forgotten my neck strap (just in case) a lovely lady named Gill from Hargate lent us one from the yard. I jumped on board, and warmed up. We only had one mardy (when Aunty Charlie went to get a coffee), and I made the decision to go HC so I could leave his overreach boots on. The problem with Lordie is he has such a huge over track he collides with himself regularly, so I took the option of having him out and getting the experience for him, but saving his legs and going HC. He was great in his test, only one big wibble in the HC corner, but got a great 62%! Not a bad first test!
Sleet had great fun on the 20th Sept competing in the ODE at eland lodge. It was a team event, so with my merry band of friends Caroline Gent riding Bob, Jenna Southgate on The golden Lad, and Grace Slater with Power Ranger, we called ourselves the Risley Rebels!
Sleet went brilliantly as always with a 37 dressage (reasonable for him on the relatively hard ground), then flew the show jumping and cross country as always! He was truly a great ride and attacked everything on the xc course in his usual ‘leave me alone I know what im doing mum’ manner! As a team, we weren’t lucky enough to get placed, but all enjoyed the day and had some giggles and a certain team member ‘parting company’ with her steed in the dressage! (She was fine, no injuries to either rider or horse)! Unfortunately I got no pictures of us competing as I was groomless.
On the 26th I had a lesson booked with Rick Orton at Diamond Equestrian, Sleet strangely still seemed a little stiff after the ODE, so I took Lordie instead. He was very well behaved, and even managed to not break out in a horrid sweat on arrival.
During the week commencing 28th Sept I still wasn’t convinced about Sleet soundness. He had competed like star in the ode, but seemed to be unlevel behind for some reason, if only very slight. I had been long lining him gently for 20 mins twice a week to keep him mobile (as hes an older boy), but still had suspicions. So I called the vet for a lameness evaluation. To me he was unlevel on the right hind, and becoming sore through the back, mainly in the lumbar region.
The vet came, and assessed, trotted up, trotted up again, lunged on soft and on the hard, and then decided that he was possibly slightly lame on the right! I knew my horse wasn’t right so pushed for a full work up at the vets. On the 7th he went in…
This was possibly the most heart breaking and upsetting day I’ve ever had with this horse. Sleet is my horse of a lifetime, he’s given me 110% in everything I’ve asked of him, and after ten years together I owe him everything. I sat in the car and waited for him, even though the vets said he would be there all day and I could leave him with them, I chose to stay; If he’s there I’m there. After a few hours the vets called me in. Sleet was sedated, and looking very sorry for himself. We went through his xrays and scans, and the vet explained that my boy had arthritic changes in both hocks (which I had suspected anyway), but it didn’t explain the back pain, so they scanned and xrayed his back. His spinal xrays showed the presence of ‘Kissing spine syndrome’ (DSPI – dorsal spinous process impingement). He has one pair contacting, so it could have been a lot worse, but to me, it was devastating news.
After discussing a treatment plan with the vets, I brought the boy home for a week of rest, and began to tell my parents and family, who have always had a huge involvement with Sleet, what the verdict was.
On the 11th of October, a few days later, Lordie went out to do some more dressage. This time it was Eland lodge, and another walk and trot test. We rode competitively this time, and although he had a small stress in the warm up (mainly at seeing himself in the mirrors), we achieved a good score of 64.1% with some nice comments. An improvement on our first test and placing of 5th!!
On the 14th October Sleet went back to the vets for his treatment. The hock joints were medicated, and he had a round of Equidronate. With medicating the hocks the hope is he will work slightly better from behind, and begin to redevelop the muscle along the topline. This should support the spine, and therefore aid in separating the contacting processes without the need for surgery. A rehab program was discussed with vets of long line, lunge, pole and water work, and with my knowledge of rehabilitation (from the ‘day job’) we were hopeful!
A rehab diary for sleet is currently underway, and will be available for reading at http://www.optimalequine.co.uk/about-us/sleets-rehabilitation/
On the 17th of October we went back to Diamond for another session with Rick Orton. Much improvement on the last one, and even managed to canter left without too many issues! Hes getting there!
On the 18th of October I went over to Amandas to ride Marcus. She had invited me over to go for a jolly around Cannock Chase. Id never been before, and with all the recent horsey related stress I’d been under, a good hack out was a blessing! We arrived with both boys (Marcus and Chaz, Amandas other Irish draft) and met with her friend Julie there. If you want to do lots of hills, canters and roaming around asking ‘where are we now?’ this is the place for you! It’s the largest park/nature reservy place ive ever ridden around and im sure we only did one tiny corner in 2 hours! Great fun! Marcus was such a good boy and really cheered me up!
Since then I’ve not been out much. I have been working the boys from home, Sleet on his rehab, and Lordie working towards changing his career! All of them are now clipped, including little Tristan, as he was getting very sweaty with all his playing in his big woolly coat!
For more pics, videos and general yard antics with the boys visit www.facebook.com/Rachael-Jayne-Barker-Petplan-Equine-sponsored-rider, our petplan blog is also available at http://www.optimalequine.co.uk/about-us/sponsorship
So... With it being my busiest time of year, and being flat out with horses and work, ive not had much time to write to you all lately! My sincerest apologies!
On the 4th of July Tristan attended his first Chaps show, and after several baths (due him being a poop machine and managing to skillfully cover himself every time) we made it into the ring! I tried him in the evealuation class, as he is still an entire, and everyone seems to love him, so wanted to know the opinion of the people who would know the most... was he any good as a stallion? In their opinion... NO! Hes neither a traditional as hes not heavy enough, nor a native apparently. So with an opinion on his 'breeding potential', we competed in the remainder of our classes. Placed 5th in both, i was very happy with him! He was impeccably behaved (and stayed clean), and lots of people commented on how lovely he is! Always a lovely thing to happen.
He was then next out at the Arches show at the Onley showground. With another bath, and early start, we headed off to the unknown! I had never been to an Arches show, and have to say, it was lovely. The people were helpful and the judges were fantastic! They gave good honest feedback and someting for you to take home and work on, which with a youngster is always encouraging! The judge our first ring loved him, placing him 1st and 2nd in our classes. In the next ring we took 2nd, against a rather large traditional. The feedback was great and the judge suggested that rather show him as a very small traditional, take his mane off (and some tail) and show him as a native. He explained taht he moves far to elegantly to be a traditional, and that he would love to see him shown more true to type. So 2 days later.... the mane came off!! I cried for about an hour, but we'll see how it goes, I suppose it will always grow back! EEK!
On the 22nd of July, we held and participated in a great Side saddle demo for the South Staffs Pony Club!
There were 4 of us riding, including myself on Sleet, and Marcus, ridden by his owner Amanda Chatfield. The demo went brilliantly, showing a range of horses, classes and fun! Including us jumping!! Sleet was perfectly well behaved and it was great practice for the National champs in two weeks time! We even hald a small 'master class' were 3 pony club riders had the opportunity to 'have a ago'!
The 29th was a day off work, and a jolly out for my dad and I! We went off down to Hickstead, to visit the petplan team, and have a relaxing day pony watching and shopping! Have to admit the drive was a long one, but well worth it! Thanks to the lovely guys on the Petplan stand for welcoming me so warmly!
The side saddle nationals! Well... what was last year a brilliant experiance, Sleet behaved amazingly and we got fantastic results, this year turned into a nightmare! From the word go Sleet seemed very unsettled, didnt eat his tea or breakfast and generally seemed grumpy. I had travelled down on he friday to keep him rested for saturdays classes. When it came to it, my equitation was a hash! He refused to allow me to carry my cane, which essentially is my right leg, so i struggled to work him correctly. He hollowed, and restisted against me, adnd to be honest I was devestated. But I suppose they are animals with minds of their own, and if they dont want to cooperate, well, they wont! The jumping phase of the day was fine! Little sod! Flew round (at 90mph as usual) but didnt touch a pole and had a great round! Hes just so jeckle and hyde about things! Later in teh day we took part int he restricted novice class, which was much more of a showing class, and he was reasonably well behaved and did a decent show piece. We wernt placed, but I was impressed with his behaviour in comparison to the mornings efforts! All in all, it was long and stressful weekend!
Our next outing is the Equestrian life champs, followed by Stonleigh International with Marcus in another HOYS class! Fingers crossed he goes well! x
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I really cannot believe how mad the last two months have been! I’ve been here there and everywhere competing with all 3 boys! As well as being out training and meeting some amazing professionals, so... I’ll start at the beginning!
The 10th of May was Sleets first hunter trials of the year, and seen as he'd just turned 15 years old I think he was having a midlife crisis! He set off out the start box like a horse possessed! The boy absolutely flew round, and we finished clear (as usual) to sit in 8th place out a section of about 30 runners! He really loves his XC!
The 24th May was the area 12 summer show, at Plesley Vale. Hosted by Donita Welch. Traditionally the weather is always good (apart from one year the marquee nearly blew away!) and thankfully it was again fantastic! The day didn’t start too great for Kingsclough Masquerade (Marcus), as he was abit twitchy for his owner Amanda Chatfield in the style and appearance. Once the side saddle was I took him for a wee, as he can be abit grumpy if he hasn’t gone! And after that he was happy as larry! We did some great classes, coming 1st in the intermediate equitation, 3rd in the open equitation, and then decided to do our first classical ladies and came 3rd in that! Very successful! Later in the day I then stole Kirsty Heathcotes ride 'Destiny' to compete in the champagne challenge. It was the most hilarious class i've ever taken part in! Here was me thinking it would be graceful and everyone would stick to the usual ring etiquette, but nooooooooo, free for all and bonkers springs to mind! As long as you’re in the correct pace it doesn’t matter where you go! So I played it safe and stuck to the edge, as that’s where destiny seemed happy, and we came a comical 2nd!! To be honest id class that a win myself, as the 1st place went to Kirsty on her own horse Galloglass, 4 times winner for the past 4 years!
On the 29th of May Sleet and I were a feature on the land lodge website. It began as a joke with the photographer, saying that with all the photos I have, I could probably make up the entire xc track fence for fence! And I was gutted! Just one fence off! But none the less, it made a quirky story and I will endeavour to get that last shot!
My Little Wing Man (Tristan) went out to play on June 7th. He was such a little dude! Although abit naughty when on his own in the trailer (his boyhood is starting to show) he was otherwise fantastically behaved! He was very good in the ring, coming 4th in the youngstock, 2nd in the cob class, and a fantastic 1st in the coloured class, which was the biggest class of the day! He’s growing up fast!
On the 14th of June we attempted our first HOYS ladies side saddle class with Kingsclough Masquerade. It was a very early start and a decent drive to Somerford Park, Cheshire. Marcus was a little lazy in the ring I have to admit, but his behaviour as always was impeccable, and obedient for the judge ride. Unfortunately we were pulled 8th out of 9. So not a great day results wise, but couldn’t fault the horse!
On the 25th of June Petplan organised for me to go down to Centaur Biomechanics, with Russell Guire, in Warwickshire. After having a few issues with Sleet the week prior, I was unsure if I would be taking Sleet or accepting Amandas offer to take Marcus. I was able to take my boy Sleet! It was most well behaved, well mannered, tolerant, and obedient I have ever known him! He put up with flashing lights, screens, being manoeuvred into allsorts of stances and that was just for the photographers! The actual biomechanics evaluation was easy in comparison! Russell Guire was amazing! I’ve followed his work for a while, and he really is a master mind in forward thinking for rider and horse performance improvement! It was such an honour to have him take the time to work with us!! MASSIVE THANK YOU TO RUSSELL AND PETPLAN EQUINE!
Still on the high from meeting Russell Guire and Sleet being so well behaved, I attended Derby County show, with Kingsclough Masquerade, for the Ladies Hoys class. Marcus has already been ridden by owner Amanda Chatfield in the Irish draft performance class, winning and doing his owner very proud, so I had a tough act to follow! In a very quick tack change we went in with all the positivity I could muster! On a good go round (although a little flat) we were given the grace of only having to perform on the right rein, which was a god send for us all in the heat, and for a slowly tiring Marcus. The ride judge was very pleased, I think; as Marcus gave a sweet and very obedient ride, and it was commented on by several people how well he went. The conformation judge also took a shine to him, and was chatting away merrily to me for what seemed like a lifetime before I had to do my very ungraceful run in side saddle habit! Unfortunately not pulled 1st, but a damn good 2nd!! I was ecstatic!! This was a huge and amazing feeling being pulled 2nd in a strong class against some lovely horses and riders!! 2ND in a HOYS qualifier! That’s it! We are determined now!!
SO.... what will the next few weeks bring...????
The past few weeks has been a mixed bag competion wise.
April 12th was a visit to Riply Riders, a local level riding club show. I decided to take both boys, which in heinsight was a mistake, as the day was spent inflicting the entire ripley area to the sounds of my screaming tantruming horse! The 15 year old suprisingly! Tristan the little 2 year old was mildly bothered, but nowhere near as bad as the 'responsible adult' out of the two! Placings consisted of 1st in the Thoroughbred, 2nd in the veteran with Sleet, and low placings for Tristan in the youngstock and coloured. He was obviously not to the judges taste. I have to admit, considering the ridiculous weather conditions, and having to actually strip down to my soggy pants in the trailer due to the pouring rain, I was still supported well by the usual Beechcroft team! Bless them!
April 29th was the area12 Spring side saddle show. Another brilliantly run sideways event, this time held at Draycott House, Draycott, Derby. The ground was lovely, and the weather was, apart from one tiny unnoticable shower, perfect! Amanda Chatfield had once again allowed me to steal her lovely Marcus, Kingsclough Masquerade, and although he had been out BE eventing the previous day with his usual rider Chloe Dyche, came out as enthusiastic and ready to go as ever! We did well, with 1st in the Intermediate Equitation, and a 4th in the Open. Although to some this may sound disapointing, the competition for the open class was tough, as not only are there riders like myself who have only been competing a few years sideways, but very well known, respected, and highly regarded riders within our area, who are also classed and proven to be some of the top riders in the country aside! The championship was won by Hazel Allin, and reserve went to her daughter Lauren Allin.
Last weekend saw a new and different venue for us. I decided to take part in the combined training event at Brooksby melton college, leicstershire. Seen as there were plenty of plenty of classes, I made the decision to do one side saddle, and one astride. So entries went in and we were off!
Typically, for me, even though I left in plenty of time, I was late, leaving myself only 20 minutes on arrival to get dressed, tacked up and to the school for a warm up before my test! Thankfully I had trusty groom Charlie Parkin on hand, who is a pro at side saddle specifics and sorted the boy out while I go myself dressed! A quick warm up and saddle adjustment, and we were in.
He was, as usual, the perfect gentleman, trundles around in his relaxed manner (when hes by himself) and performed a lovely, apart from one wobble at E, satisfactory test! With mainly 7s, we achieved a score of 64.6%, which is good in a class against astride riders and out first time sideways since he nationals in 2014!
The jumping was much more to the boys liking. A few warm up fences, quick glance at the course so I knew where I was going and we went for it. As Sleet does, he sees the fence and just says' let me get on with it'. Ordinarliy when jumping i do try and hold him that little more, but for sidesaddle, Its actually alot more comfortable and secure to let them run on that bit more and jump slightly flatter. Which works well for him! Considering again it was our first time jumping since the nationals we went a speedy clear round, and with our combined scores were placed a very respectable 5th overall!
Our side saddle dressage video can be found at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YdH8DP2_AKw
Stress over we then had a good couple of hours to kill before we went atride, so went for a wander around to check out the facilities. The only downside to Brooksby Melton was the lack of buger van/food. To me, an avid baconaholic, a good bacon cob at any event is a must!
The Team from Beechcroft Stables (our home) turned up for support, and we set out to prep fr the second class. By now the heat was raising and the indoor school where the dressage was held was stuufy and horrid! There was even a point during my test I genuinely thought I was going to have to stop and be ill! Thankfully I wasnt, and managed a good score of 62.1%, with the comment of 'your super boy needs more lift through his shoulders'. This I know, and is work in progress!
Jumping for the second class, was er... interesting! With the stupid speed the boy insists on going, I lost my bearing and ended up riding and error of course, and pooing things up for us! Lesson learnt! Sorry!
All in all the day was good. Although we had a slight 'satnav' issue at the end, his sidesaddle work was lovely and he was very relaxed all day. I had a super team to support us, and top groom to help me through the heat!
Over the past few weeks I have been very excited to be Sponsored by Petplan Equine. And the past two weeks have seen my fisrt competitions since being sponsored.
Firstly on the 15th March I attended the Long eaton riding club show, just down the road from home, with 'My little wing man', stable name Tristan. This was his first show out of the year, and although a hairy dirty little monkey ordinarily, he does clean up quite well! As a traditional, a mini one at 11hh, he has a whole world of hair I am just not used to (always having had sport horses!). So after a nice warm bath on the saturday I took him down to play at the show! We entered youngstock, in which we were placed 3rd, coloureds where we were 4th, but my most impressive was actually a pul at 6th in a 13 strong class for the cob class. He was one of only two traditionals pulled (the other was a very nice traditional stallion pulled 2nd), so i was extremely happy wth him! The only downside was in our lap of honour he got abit excited, slightly ahead of me, and kicked out sideways with his hind, leaving me with a tasty bruise! ouch!
The 28th of March saw a fantastic day for me side saddle wise! After posting in our area12 ssa group I was available for rides that weekend I was offered the magnificant Marcus, Kingsclough Masquerade, by the lovely Amanda Chatfield. Marcus is a fantastic horse, ridden and schooled not only by Amanda herself but also competed by Chloe Amanda Dyche, at BE events. I jumped at the chance!
We arranged to meet on the wednesday prior to the show, for me to have a sit on Marcus, and following my idiocy of getting my times mixed up, along with a half hour traffic jam on the a38, it literally was a 'sit on'! I rode for about 15 mins, walked and a few trots and said 'yeah we'll be fine!'
Come show day Amanda and Chloe also competed. Amanda coming 1st in the style and appearance, and Chloe being placed 1st and 2nd in the Novice equitations classes. I then took up the ride, and enjoyed every second! We were pulled 2nd in the Intermediate, and 2nd on the Open Equitation (after sewing my button back on during the break!) We also won both 'Best turnout' rosettes, thanks to Amanda and Chloes preperation. We then decided to stay in for the championship at the end of the day, and to our amazement were pulled Champion!! I was so happy and pleased! What a fantastic first time out!
Amanda has kindly offered me Marcus for the spring show in april... so watch this space!
Id like to thank Amanda Chatfield and Chloe Dyche for the loan, preperation, and great team spirit! And also the menbers of area 12 for another lovely show, held at Cavendish Bridge EC.
Rachael Jayne Barker
Tel 07792 255007
Appointments can be made to suit your schedule. Please contact Rachael to discuss your requirements.
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