Tuesday, 29 November 2016

The NOT so Glamorous side of dressage...

   Rain, rain, and more rain... but it didn't dampen our mood competing at Bury Farm in search of those last points for British Dressage Regional qualification.

   We are happy to say the points were plenty with Jo Brett's wonderful Cooter scoring 68% in novice 22 and 71% in novice 38! Cooter scored very well in his transitions and canter work.

  Angela Coakley's Hero proved his stamina and bravery out in the pouring rain contesting medium 61. Luckily his Irish roots meant he wasn't adverse to a bit (or a lot!) of rain and he did a super test.
A few accuracy marks lost but we will blame that on the rain.... could have done with a riding hat with goggles and wind screen wipers!
Check out our video from the day to get an idea of the weather...The Not so glam side of dressage

Saturday, 26 November 2016

A Day of Firsts....

Myself, stand in groom Kate,  and Affinity Bay embarked on a road trip to compete in the Small Tour League competition held in Solihull, Birmingham.

It was a day full of firsts...
It was the first time Kate had groomed for me, my first time driving Finn, first time competing in the Small Tour League and we finished in First place! It was a really great day!

The journey went to plan- Finn didn't have any complaints about my driving and we had a civilised time with plenty of coffee (thanks Kate!). We arrived at Solihull with time for Finn to settle in and enjoy a relaxing massage in his Equilibrium massage pad.

In the Small Tour League you can compete at PSG or Inter I level. Affinity Bay was entered in the Inter I- you do a straight dressage test in round one then onto the Kur afterwards. This was the first time I had done two tests in one day since Finn was competing at Advanced Medium level!

Finn was lying in second place after the first round. He scored a respectable 67% but had a mistake in one canter pirouette and anticipation led to another mistake in the three time changes. The rest of the test was fluent and harmonious with some good marks, especially in the trot work.

Finn produced a stunning freestyle test- he was a dream to ride and I couldn't believe how "on" the music we were. Having only ridden the test once (which was when I did the choreography!) I was chuffed at how well it went! It was also Finn's first time running through the test as when I practiced it I had ear phones in as he can get rather excited when there is music playing!!

He scored 71% and went into the lead not only in the Kur but that also meant he was placed first in the overall competition!

We are over the moon to have qualified for the final in December!

Thanks go to Kate for being a top groom, Judy FW for the fab music, my trainers Ian Woodhead and Judy Harvey, Sponsors Equilibrium Products, Lisa Sparrow Hawk Performance Coach, Eqco Design, Calm Leisure and Blue Chip Feeds.

Check out our video from the day a Day of Firsts

Monday, 7 November 2016

It was a real shock...

 Affinity Bay has qualified for the  Nationals in April next year in the Petplan Inter I championships!

Finn won the Inter I finals at Houghton Hall after completing only his third ever Inter I test. The test showed a lot of power and promise.  We were thrilled to take top position. In the recent months Finn's performance has increased thanks to his new Blue Chip Calm feed balancer. We increase the portion in lead up to the event and I have found a real difference in his general attitude at away shows, he is more relaxed and easier to handle. Thanks Blue Chip- Its definitely  making a difference!

We had two horses competing at Vale View High Profile Show. I had been there once before for BEF Excel Talent Programme training but I had never competed there.
The show was efficient and very well run ...  One thing Vale View couldn't control was the howling wind... which was a real wake up call when doing early arena walks!! 
The horses were a little unsettled at the start of their night away thanks to high winds and noisy generators...a Munch Block from Equilibrium Products Quickly settled them down and gave then something to do.
(Watch our latest Advert promoting Vitamunch and the benefits of using them when clipping) 

Day one Merri warmed up beautifully but unfortunately got very tense in the arena... so day two we made sure we did the arena walk and she felt a lot happier about the spooky arena.
Her test was fluent, harmonious and expressive. The half passes in trot were real highlights for me and we scored 67% to finished 7th.

Finn also produced a blip free test and finished 6th- clever horses!

With Autumn in full swing and Winter drawing in we have the perfect opportunity to increase training as the competition season gets quieter.

This month I have been lucky enough to train with Stephen Clarke, Judy Harvey, Ian Woodhead and started to train in hand work with Diane Thurman Baker.

It hasn't all been training though...

At the end of October I was invited to the British Show Jumping Awards Ball with Blue Chip Feed- We had a great evening and got to brush shoulders with the BS stars and Olympians... I even got a #SKELFIE (a selfie with Nick Skelton). 
Some things just have to be done....

Saturday, 1 October 2016

Summer Fun....

Aramis. T gave me  fantastic ride at the Bury Farm Regionals. We scored 71.67% in a very hot Inter I class to finish second overall to the very talented fellow Blue Chip rider Natalie Kayal and DHI Homerun. 
Blue Chip Rider top 2!

 I was over the moon with Merri's performance, the trot work was expressive, powerful and harmonious and the canter pirouettes were a highlight for me in the canter.

BD Nationals

 We were lucky enough to receive a Wildcard to the British Dressage National Championships in September where Merri put in another cracking performance. Unfortunately there were a few blips which were down to some tension but I was very pleased regardless.  We scored a respectable 66% which had so much potential. Merri was a total pleasure at the show and our partnership is growing in strength.

BD Nationals 2016- what a good girl!

Affinity Bay has been coming along in his training. Judy Harvey and Ian Woodhead have really been helping me develope his ability to collect further and we have been doing some exciting work towards piaffe and passage.
He made his Inter I debut and his most recent score is 67% to win a PYO FEI at Bury Farm much to my delight! 

Not to be out done by the advanced horses.... Galanci RS made her debut in straight BD Novice classes and scored a whopping 78% & 71% to win both her classes! Exciting future ahead of the lovely Tilly!
Our latest project 3yo Ivanne by Eastwood (Ampere) x Goodtimes has also been making progress.... She has been backed now and putting on lots of condition with turnout and a daily dose of Blue Chip Balancer. She seems to have a good nature and is picking things up very quickly... her life has really turned around. Not long ago she was feral in a field in Holland!

Monday, 4 July 2016

Premier League Competitions....

June has been a competition filled month....

The real highlights have to be Wellington and Hickstead Premier League competitions.
Slowly sinking....
Wellington was situated first, at the start of June, on the busy competition calendar. The weather was almost sunny and the venue was efficient as always. The same can't be said for the weather at Hickstead.... We were towed into the gates in deep mud and a few days later towed back out in even thicker mud in more treacherous conditions. The team at Hickstead did an incredible job in the face of adversity ....our show kit is still recovering from all the rain and mud!

Tilly was the first to compete at Wellington Premier League and she set the bar very high for the other horses. At the tender age of five Tilly is showing real promise. She has a very trainable attitude and so far nothing has phased her in or outside of the ring. She warmed up beautifully and shortly went in to perform the National Five year old test. Unfortunately she was a little flat and was lacking energy (the journey had taken it out of her) but she absolutely tried her hardest for me regardless which is something you cannot train into a horse so we are very lucky. She did us proud and finished third which means we have qualified for the Hickstead National Young horse Final at the end of July! Exiting times! The next competition in Tilly's diary is Hartpury Premier League at the start of July. She is competing in the Shearwater Young Horse semi Final which will be an extremely hot class.

Affinity Bay had a good couple of days at Wellington. His first test was very expressive but rather tense and the second day he was brilliant. He produced a consistent PSG test with some exciting marks from Jenny Loriston-Clarke. Unfortunately one judge had us 20 marks behind the others so we didn't finish in the ribbons.

Hickstead was a valuable show for Finn, we finished 9th in a hot Prix St George class. He scored 65.96% and behaved impeccably. There was a big atmosphere and Finn concentrated and listened to me throughout the test. I have noticed a huge improvement in his training and focus at competitions since feeding Blue Chip Calm Balancer. He used to get exceedingly nervous before entering the ring (he would have sneezing fits etc) and would then drop behind me my on our first center line.
I am now finding he is staying more confident and enjoying his time in the ring rather than stressing.
I am very grateful for Blue Chip's support and think all of the horses are in peak condition at the moment thanks to the Pro and Calm Balancer (which they are all fed).

Merri was a star at Wellington and Hickstead. We broke the illusive 70% barrier at Wellington in the Inter I to finish 5th in a competitive class. I was absolutely over the moon with her test and the mark it scored. Our highlights were the trot half pass and two time changes... although there were  7.5's and 8's scattered through-out our sheets!

Merri didn't let Hickstead phase her either- We didn't have the best start in the PSG as we think Merri accidentally got her tongue over the bit but she went on to do some super canter work after sorting the bits out naturally in the walk. Our second test was the Inter I were we placed 6th on a score of 68%. The sheets were all positive and I was especially pleased to receive an '8' for the canter half pass zig zag over the center line as this was one of the movements I found trickiest when I first started Inter I.

Both Merri and Finn have a quieter competition period through July so we are cracking on with Piaffe and Passage training.... Merri is very talented at the passage and Finn has shown a natural ability for Piaffe... if I could make a hybrid mixing both horses talents we would be doing Under 25 Grand Prix in no time.....

Looking forward to seeing their progress over the coming months as they get stronger and hopefully we will be one step closer to achieving our Grand Prix goals....

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Keysoe Premier League....

   Keysoe Premier League was a good show for all the horses. Affinity Bay was placed 11th on the second day. The first day his canter was brilliant but trot lacked expression and the second day the trot had more than enough expression but the canter was rather exuberant that led to some costly errors.

   Merri had a great test on the second day- she was really with me in all the work, unfortunately we had one misunderstanding in the extended trot but it didn't effect the rest of the test.
I was thrilled to score 7's from all of the judges in the canter pirouettes.
Below is a link to the test....

   Galanci RS made her debut at the Premier League in the 5yo Young Horse class.
She was incredible and really rose to the occasion.
She finished an incredible 2nd Place and qualified straight through to the semi finals!!

    I had the opportunity to go training at Hughes Dressage before the Premier League. We had a great day and learnt lots. Below is a training video....


   Todd had his first trip to Windmill Farm at the start of April. He was very well behaved and wasn't spooky at all. He produced his most relaxed tests to win both Prelims on 67 and 69%.

   Dante went to Addington (our second ever show together) and was extremely good. He navigated a busy warm up and spooky arenas like a pro. He score 66.9% with some green blips but over all he is showing so much promise for the future.

Monday, 28 March 2016

Competitions and Training...

Merri competed at Bury farm in the Inter I test. It was our second ever Inter I together and I was over the moon with Merri's performance. She produced a harmonious test with highlights in her trot half pass and temp changes. There were still some parts to work on but it was probably our best test to date. Merri won the class on 68%.
Merri's 68% Inter I test- 1st

The same day I had a new ride Camiro II owned by Sharon Higgs entered in the Prelim and Novice classes. Aero won the Prelim on 74% and then came 3rd in his fist ever Novice on 67%. He gave me a great ride and there is so much more to come.

Todd recently had a lesson with Ian Woodhead. We were working on simple changes as developing the half halt further. Todd worked really well.

I have also been training with Judy Harvey with Merri and Tilly. Merri was working on half steps and consolidating some canter pirouette work.

Tilly (Galanci RS) a new 5yo owned by Judy Firmston- Williams had a shorter lesson as we are still building her fitness. She was really well behaved and very relaxed.

Affinity Bay was very lucky to have a lesson with Stephen Clarke. He worked brilliantly and Stephen encouraged our progress towards the Inter I tests.