Tuesday, 14 November 2017

WOW

I have had my beautiful WOW Saddle for a year now and I feel like this would be the perfect time to reflect on how myself and Finn have progressed in this time.


Here's a bit about WOW to start...
The WOW team have a wealth of experience and over the years they have worked with many different horses and riders as well as investing much time into scientifically testing different types of saddles to see how they actually perform on horses. Funnily enough they came up with the brand name 'WOW' as thats what people exclaimed when they rode on their saddles!
It took me and Finn a few weeks to get used to the WOW, its incredible as you are so close to the horse and you can feel a lot more movement than in a traditional flocked saddle. I found that over time we had much softer and subtle aids, produced mainly through movement in my body. It felt like the 'conversation' between us was much clearer even though  I was doing less.





I have noticed many of the people I teach have a WOW and they all say how incredible it is. The important benefits are that they can change the saddle according to the horses development or if they get a new horse the saddle can be re worked to fit an entirely different shape. Wow is a modular saddle, so you can get all the components separately. This also means it is a saddle for life!





Since being ridden in the WOW saddle Affinity Bay has had his most successful season to date.
We had many good results at Premier League competitions, including a third place at Addington Manor Premier League in the Inter I and a WIN at Keysoe Premier League in the Prix St George which qualified us directly for the Summer Nationals. And not forgetting our third place at the British Dressage Petplan Inter I at the start of 2017 in the Inter I class (pictured left).

This was Finn's first year at Inter I and I couldn't be more proud of him, his results and development! We are very privileged to be supported by such a wonderful Company and we love their saddles!

Here's a link to my YouTube video of our fitting in the summer with David from Wow Saddles WOW Fitting



Jumping through hoops... The feeling when you make it!

I started applying for the British Equestrian Federation Young Professionals Programme back in October.

The first step in the process was to create a specialised CV and a 3-5 minute video talking about what you can bring to the programme and a brief history of your career so far...
This process was brilliant, I loved the challenge that presented talking to the camera for five minutes... it was very different to an interview! And it was a lot harder than I initially expected.

After a few weeks I received an email informing me I was successfully through hoop number one!!!
Which meant onto number two... the  Interview Day.

We headed off to West Sussex to International dressage rider Sarah Millis' yard with the wonderful Aramis T (Owned by Judy Firmston-Williams).

The yard was exquisite... Everything was immaculate and the horses were all very happy athletes.

I was lucky enough to have a training session with Sarah as well as watching her in an interactive training session in the afternoon with her own horses. In the middle of the day I had my individual interview.

Three days later I had a fantastic email in my inbox...

I am delighted to say that I was successful!!

This poster was hanging in Sarah's tea room...these ideas are definitely present in her life and yard.


Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Regionals....

I had three Regional tests to complete and i'm lucky enough to already have a spot at the Nationals in September.

Our first Regional test was at Bury Farm with Merri in the Inter I class. We placed a respectable 6th and finished on 66.9%. 

Next onto Keysoe Regionals with both Merri and Finn.
We went up the night before to settle Finn, unfortunately my plan didn't quite work as he became unsettled in the test. He scored 65% and finished 13th, not so bad considering he had three errors.
It was another learning curve for me in his management.

I took the good with the bad- his three time changes showed good quality and the Inter I 'zig zag' was the best he has done in competition. He was feeling very well in himself, perhaps a little bit to well!!

Merri was Miss consistency finished in 7th place with one blip. She gave me a lovely ride even though she was a little influenced by the buzzy atmosphere just by the arena at the score board.

Unfortunatly we didn't gain another qualification to the Nationals but we are ready to get going with moving up the levels now (fingers crossed!).

Here is a short video of our time at Keysoe- A Great Day



Hickstead Premier League

Hickstead is always a wonderful event... 

There is good food, a fun atmosphere and incredible shops!
Not forgetting the nice stables for the horses and beautiful arenas!

Merri was competing in both the Inter I and Prix St George classes.

The Inter I was a really good test- apart from at the start in the first halt... I couldn't quite bring myself to buy a 'halt' photo...

After a costly mark of three for our first movements Merri went on to score mainly 7's and some 8's. She ended up placing 11th in a huge class. Imagine if we had had a clear round!!

The PSG was also a good test and we placed 9th. The weather was extremely challenging over the few days. It was officially the hottest day of the year when we competed in the PSG!
And in the Inter I we had thunder storms.... oh England...


Gorgeous Merri




Sunday, 18 June 2017

Wellington Premier League Show

Wellington was already one of my favourite venues.... and now it has got even better!

Known for its super cafe and well run events Wellington has just installed a huge Olympic size outdoor arena.... and we were lucky enough to be the first to ride on it at the Premier League Event and celebrate the grand opening!

We were living in a beautiful clover field for the weekend!

Affinity Bay (Finn) and Aramis T (Merri) were both competing at the Premier League show in the Prix St George and Inter I classes.

We had beautiful weather and both horses were on good form all weekend.

Ready to go...

On Saturday both Finn and Merri produced accurate harmonious tests. Merri placed 7th with 67.6% and Finn finished on 67.3% in the Inter I class.

Merri strutting her stuff!

Saturday evening provided much entertainment... we saw the 'Official Opening' of the impressive 'Waterloo' arena with performances from Grand Prix rider Paul Hayler and eventer Sam Penn showing us how amazing the space will be for arena eventing as well as dressage...

Watching the PSG Freestyle

After a fun evening we had a civilized 7am start on Sunday before competition started mid morning.

Posing for the camera!

Merri was a star in the Prix St George test. The trot work was fab, better than Saturday's, unfortunately we had a blip in the canter pirouettes which are double marks. We finished on 66%.

Merri was quite happy with her weekend away


Finn was better than Saturday's performance as well finishing in 7th place in the Inter I on 67.3%

Watch some moments for both horses tests HERE

gorgeous boy Finn
Both horses headed home Sunday night for a day off on Monday and a relaxed hack on Tuesday before we start preparation for Hickstead in a few weeks...


Friday, 26 May 2017

VIP Treatment...


Front row seats in the members area!

May brings around one of my absolute favourite shows.... Royal Windsor Horse Show, and Addington Premier League of course! I was lucky enough to spend a few afternoons watching dressage and show jumping in the members enclosure at Windsor...what a treat!

The Legend Nick Skelton and the incredible Big Star retiring at Windsor
The above photo is of Nick Skelton and Big Star's retirement ceremony. What an Incredible partnership... they have done so much for the British Show Jumping scene. I am sure they will be sorely missed and the up and coming Show Jumper's certainly have some big shoes to fill!

It was lovely to spend some time spectating at Windsor amidst a busy competition week. Before going to compete at Addington on the weekend I was 'groom' for my lovely mother at Wellington Area Festival.
Hero was a star, unfortunately they had a sat nav error. A fun day out :)

The day after Wellington we were back on the road, on our way to Aston Le Walls, this time with Bonar (my brother) and his horse Drum Beat.

"It's an exhausting life on the road" Puppy Penny onto show number two of the week!

Bonar and Drum had a great time contesting their first British Eventing Novice competition. They finished the day with a fantastic confident clear round a tough XC track! 

Concentration Faces!

We then headed home to re pack the lorry. Out of the tack lockers came all the muddy eventing gear and in when the white boots and bling! Onto Addington Premier League...

Aramis T (Merri) and Affinity Bay (Finn) both competed on the Saturday of Addington Premier League Show, Merri was beautifully behaved with two top ten placings in the Inter I and PSG scoring 68% and 67%. In both of our tests we had a few small miscommunications which effected our overall balance in the movements but Merri showed her class throughout the tests and found all the technical work easy.

What it's like to sit on the gorgeous Merri

  Finn's Inter I test showed much improvement from the last time we competed. His pirouettes where more balanced and the two and three time changes were relaxed. There is still more to come in the trot as he gets stronger but over all the test showed relaxed fluent work. I was very happy to see a '9' on our sheets for the final halt of the test from one judge- This meant a lot to me as we have really been working on them and it's something that hasn't been good in the past!


Addington was very well run, there were a huge amount of entries!! Well done Addington on hosting a great show and I love the new surface in arena one!

With Maria Eilberg having a podium moment



Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Roller Coaster Weekend...in dressage terms..

Keysoe Premier League.
Affinity Bay (Finn) was competing on Saturday and Sunday in a total of two classes and Aramis T (Merri)was competing on Sunday for one class.

We arrived saturday with Finn and settled him into his new stable. 
His warm up was promising and I felt confident going into the Inter I test, however Keysoe was very busy and Finn found it very difficult to concentrate. Before I knew it we were freestyling- airs above the ground and legs flailing everywhere....! Doing his best impression of the karate kid! 
I couldn't be angry as inbetween those moments he tried to stay focused... alas!

After we put Finn to bed Mum and I went to watch the Grand Prix Freestyle which cheered me up. I went to bed thinking 'tomorrow is another day'...
 
Sunday was brilliant- he was with me in the work and showed the Judges what he can do when he is not distracted.
All of the judges marked Finn with consistent 7's with highlights in the walk pirouettes (8's) and some of the changes. 
He WON the class on 68.64% which is my first ever Premier League Win and its Finn's best score at a Premier League competition to date.

I haven't told Finn yet but this Win means we have directly qualified  for the Summer Nationals.


Concentration faces


I was so thrilled with him... the highs and lows of horses!
 From his lowest test mark to date on Saturday to his best on Sunday. I have made a big 'note to self' of all the things that worked to get him into the zone on sunday.
 So proud of him. Can't wait for the Nationals.


Aramis T competed Sunday afternoon- It was actually her first show of the year and she was SO relaxed and well behaved. Her canter pirouettes were very good and there was expression in the trot with relaxation and harmony. We had a few wobbly moments but over all I was thrilled with her performance. We were a bit disappointed with her mark of 66% as she can get +70% scores but unfortunately sometimes that is how dressage goes... I was pleased with her and we placed 8th overall at our first show of the year!

Merri sporting her competition curls!

Thank You Keysoe for a great show!
  Now we are heading to Addington High profile Show in a couple of weeks with some local shows between now and then.

Only a Jack Russel puppy would decide sitting on your shoulder is a good idea....