PictureElton 4th Int Burgham photo by Dave Cameron
Well it is definitely busy being an Eventer!  The lorry has been up and down to road like mad recently!  With the Event season well underway we have had three trips south of the Border, along with Hunter Trails, Show Jumping, training and trips to the gallops this side of the Border to get to!

Since the last catch up there have been a few Dressage, Arena Events and BS outings.  But the Eventing started at Oasby, with Yorkie in the Intermediate and Harry in the BE100 for his first BE outing.  Harry set the standard for himself nice and high by doing a 32 Dressage, 4 faults SJ and Clear XC and felt really classy, so looking forward to building on that for the rest of the season.  Yorkie was very settled for him at this time of the year and did a very nice test for 33, a relaxed SJ for 4 faults was unlucky but pleased with the improvement.  XC I was trying a new bit, a variation on a snaffle which is a big drop down for him and although it worked quite well he managed to cut his tongue towards the end of the course so, although he did a nice clear there was a lot of blood by the end, tongues have a very good blood supply!  A good check out from the vet who found a puncture wound high up on the underside, and couple of weeks in the hackamore was needed to give it a chance to heal.

Lincoln was next on the calendar and Duck headed there by himself with Yorkie on the sidelines.  This is Duck’s normal first outing and he did a good test 34, still a little tuning up to do to be just right for Badminton. 1 pole SJ and a good clear XC put him in 10th place.

We then had a weekend at home to do some BS, Duck went to the Premier Show at Gleneagles on a ticket to jump in a 1.20 and was a little bit careless for him, having two down.  Harry and Elton then went to SNEC on the Sunday with Harry jumping really well to finish 2nd in the 1.05 Amateur Qualifier and Elton was 3rd in the 1.10.

Last weekend was Burgham Advanced for Duck and Yorkie and a first run in almost exactly a year for Elton in the Intermediate. Elton felt as though he hadn’t been away doing a cracking test for 25 then 1 pole SJ and a really lovely run round the XC to finish 4th (kicking myself now as only 1 mark splitting 1st and 4th should have kicked a little harder) but thrilled to have him back out again and feeling so good.  Duck did a really nice test 33.  He jumped well SJ but is still feeling quite fresh so making up a bit much in the distances so 8 faults for him.  But great XC, a little detour by me when we overshot a gateway and because it was slippy I had to take a little time turning before getting back on the right track left him in 9th.  Yorkie was a bit more on his toes in the Dressage, 37, but show jumped really well, 1 pole Grrrr,  I seem to be on 1 pole itus!  XC he was back in his old bit and was taking his step up a level easily, we had a little moment going into the first water but he got his legs down and jumped out well but then had a miscommunication at a skinny coming up a steep hill under the trees.  He is very genuine on his skinny’s and for some reason just didn’t seem to read it, he made the same mistake twice so  I retired him as he felt confused rather than naughty, better to keep him for another day.  There were about 5 different horses with problems there some with a fair bit of experience.

Sunday was a little closer to home with a Hunter Trail at Foresterseat, for Harry, Oliver and Flo (a fab 14.2 5yr old in for a months Schooling).  The Fog was a little challenging but I did manage to find all the jumps! Harry felt a little green away from the start but he is quite a sharp spooky type and not being able to see was not his idea of perfect!  But he jumped a good round in the open, just taking an easy option into the water.  Oliver was a little tricky to get to the collecting ring as every time we nearly got through the gateway to the collecting ring someone would come out of the porta loo, which would bang and then I would just get him back to the gate and the next person would come out! He was fab when we got to the jumping a little green in the double and then quite sticky at the water, but after the long suffering judge let me persevere a little longer he went in and was very unbothered so a good lesson learned for him.  Flo was a total pro though, nothing phases her, unlike her two friends, she came back with a nice 2nd rosette!

This week has been very full on with XC Schooling really chuffed with Harry and Oliver who have been the main ones out and about, Oliver hasn't looked back when it comes to water so hopefully he knows what he is meant to do now.  They were meant to be going to Gleneagles for a Hunter Trail on Sunday but rain has stopped play so have both been entered for Burgie at the end of the month with Weston the next stop for the big boys next weekend. 

OOOh and Duck is into Badminton, just need to keep everyone in one piece. 

PictureOliver, Harry, Elton and Yorkie @ SNEC
Eeekk.  Not been too good with the up dating.  It hasn’t been that quiet an off season as we have had plenty in work, what with young ones needing to get some mileage on the clock so that they are all set for the season and old ones that don’t like holidays!

We have been out Show Jumping with Elton, Yorkie, Billy and Harry which has resulted in a few pounds back in the bank which is always good with Harry winning a Discovery at SNEC.  I also did a little bit of Shopping before Christmas and came home with Oliver, a 5 yr old by Romany Jo Jo, (very reasonable priced 10% shares available if anyone wants to get involved) he has been fab so far so hopefully the next little super star!

Last weekend was the First of the Arena Events at SNEC, with Oliver, Harry, Elton and Yorkie all jumping well and tuning up nicely!  It was also the first time that new sponsor, Dave Cameron Photography, was out and about with his camera getting some great shots of the boys, very pleased to have him following us this year, I will have to practice smiling for the camera!!!!                   

I then went for a little pre season rider fitness training (Skiing!) for 3 days with my sister and cousin in Switzerland which was great fun and am sure it has strengthened up the thighs nicely! 

February and March are looking very busy with Clinics at Gleneagles on the 12th and 19th Feb and the 16th Feb and 1st March at Edenside.  Along with a British Eventing Talk/Demo, to held here at Craigow on the 7th Feb, on all you need to know to get started in Eventing (how to get horses fit, what you do and don’t need, studs, boot’s, warm up, feed etc) which would be great for anyone just coming back to Eventing or kids wanting to know more about getting going.  If you would like to come along to any of the above please e-mail me and I will forward some more details; the clinics are full or just a few spaces so will keep a wait list. 

PictureRusty 10th in the Adv @ Allerton photo George Hodgson
Rusty and Yorkie both had a trip to Allerton for the Advanced to finish off my BE events for the year.  Yorkie getting his first go at Advanced, which had always been the plan for him, but was thrown up in the air a little bit after Blair.  Luckily he seemed to have been pretty unscathed by our puissane’s jumping and had been his normal brave self down at Edenside show jumping, so we kept him in the Advanced and with Rusty back firing on all cylinders by the time we got back form Burghley, so we entered him up to!

Rusty was making sure that our last run was top notch and did a good test for 31, 4 faults SJ, was unlucky, as he was jumping great. Then a lovely run round the XC, leaving us in 10th so a nice final run, to add to his collection this year.

Yorkie pointed his toes very nicely getting a 32,  a really good first go at this level by him, chuffed jockey and plenty more to come with more work over the winter.  SJ he was a little on the casual side but he was fab XC, we just had a steady round to make sure both of us had a good time after the dramas of last time, now go into the winter knowing we're ready to go next season, with another Advance horse!

The following weekend it was time to dig out  Harry, to give him an intensive weekend of Hunter Trailing, he has been missing out a little bit with me being busy with the big boys, he went to the Fife Foxhounds pick a fence on Saturday and jumped a cracking round to finish 2nd before heading to Kirriemuir on Sunday, he was a little bit green with a few more hills to try and contend with, but still jumping really well so a useful run round and we squeaked into the rosettes in 5th place.

Harry was out again on Sunday this weekend, at Gleneagles.  I got brave and we did the open, he did a nice clear again so that  will have brought him on a lot before next year,  I will hopefully now get some BS over the winter and be all set to really go next yr.

Spike was also out and about as well, we went Autumn Hunting on Saturday morning, it must be about 10 years since I have been out Hunting and Spike was on his very best behavior, so I will hopefully get him out again as I think it will be something that will really suit him.

Few ins and outs this month, William is back which is very nice and is very popular with Spike as he was missing his mini me, to keep him company in the field!   He will have a holiday for a few more weeks before coming back into work.  Rusty has headed back to Grace and was out at Kirrimuir in the Open where they both had a great time (HC but other wise 1st!), very weird not having him at home but it has been a great year with some lovely highs with his OI win at Burgie and 2nd in the Advanced at Eglington.  A very big thank you to Grace for allowing him to have a summer extension so that he could stay till the end of the season, meaning she had to put her return to the saddle back a bit from the  the original May date! 

PicturePhoto by Matt Roberts
The will we wont we be going to Burghley touch and go Saga carried on till the very last minute!  I had to leave getting an appointment with the Neuro Specialist as late as possible in order to have the best chance of being passed, and know myself, that I had coped with jumping and galloping the horses. So my appointment was 8pm on Monday night with planned departure 8.30am Tues morning! 

Having been in contact with the BE medical officer, I was fairly happy that all would be fine.  I held off doing too much after Blair, flat work just with Duck and Rusty till the Friday when I cantered the two boys, then jumped them on Saturday at Edenside. I had a lesson here on Sunday morning on the flat, before making a few XC challenges in the bottom field for them in the afternoon. Another trip to Edenside on Monday to SJ, with both Rusty and Duck jumped fantastically, so all set. 

All that was needed was to get signed back on, this didn’t go quite as smoothly as I had anticipated.   I thought I would hand over the bit of paper, get it signed and skip out, an hour later a bit of tooth sucking form the Doc, a very relieved jockey tried to calmly leave at 9pm.  Luckily he had managed to speak to the BE Medical officer which had helped, as she told him what was and wasn’t needed by BE pheeeeewwww, as lorry was already packed!!

So Duck and Rusty headed to Burghley, as planned.  After a good trip down (8hrs!) a pause to give them a chance to settle in, Grace and I went for a hack to stretch their legs before I did a little stretching with Duck, in the practice arena, he was drawn number 1, so not long to do the last bit of tuning up. 

Wednesday was a scorcher, I rode both boys early on the flat before the briefing then headed off to have a first look at what lay in store for us on Saturday’s XC, the ground was fantastic and the course looked great.  I had made the mistake of looking at it on the Burghley TV course prevue, where it looked on the massive side, having scared myself in the virtual world, I was pleasantly surprised in the real world that it looked big but jumpable!!!! 

So having checked it was jumpable, it was back to the lorry to get ready for the Trot Up, both boys looked fantastic [thanks Ali and Grace] they sailed through no bother.  The only downside was, that as a multiple rider you trot them up one after the other, rather than in number order, neither fancied being parted from their best mate so they made a bit of a scene, not the most grown up look!  Duck then got another trip up to the main arena for the familiarization and Rusty went for a Hack, as Dressage for him was not till Friday.

The one real down side of my number one draw was that being first to go in the Dressage is perhaps not so good for your marks, the Judges have definitely not warmed up by that point and they don’t want to start off on the generous side, incase something better comes along (as if)!  I had asked to ride Rusty first on my entry as less atmosphere early on would have suited him better but sadly they missed that and when I bashed my head I really didn’t think I should start kicking up a fuss about it!  Anyway Duck did a lovely test with clean changes and a good swing and flow throughout, you can always find a few more marks but he really loves the big competitions and is a total pro, so I was really chuffed with him and will just have to live with the stingy Judges that gave him a 53.8, not bad but could easily have been in the 40’s, I think!!. 

It was another baking hot day so after lots of pats for Duck, I went to ride Rusty before we started to melt, he felt a little stuffy coming out of the stables but I thought he was just taking in the atmosphere, but when I went to trot him it was very obvious that he was not right, so a speedy diversion back to the stables and a summoning of the nearest blacksmith.  Although he had a bit of heat in his foot and a pulse we couldn’t locate anything that was sensitive, then on to the Vets, again pulse found but no reaction so an intensive session in the ice bucket, followed by poulticing to see if anything would put him back on track.  Sadly not to be, so GUTTING for everyone, as lameness is one thing that has never been a worry for Rusty, he has had really bad luck when it comes to 4*  and after my concussion we thought we had got all the challenges out the way. Very sadly we couldn’t get to the bottom of that one in time.

One more course walk on Thursday, followed by a trip up to the Celebrity talk area, to chat about the horses, always happy to do that!!!!  Friday was then quite relaxed without Rusty’s test, so we did manage to fit in a bit of retail therapy, and a catch up with Mountain Horse, TopSpec, Equilibrum Products and Equisox. 

Saturday was XC day and I stuck to my normal routine, walking a bit of the XC for a final time, just to go through the lines of the more tricky combinations and really cement them into my mind before a pipe opener for Duck, then getting on again 35 mins before the start.  I was quite happy with having to go first, this was our 3rd trip to Burghley and he has always jumped it really well, the only down side is that you cant get any feed back on how things are going, you are the one providing all of that!

Heading out of the start box was a little imposing as it was packed with people and they were all thrilled to see the course underway, so we got a fantastic cheer as we left, all the way to fence 3.  The first part of the course was quite quick and intense but Duck popped over it all in his normal nonchalant way, and really didn’t give me anything to panic about, the Rolex combination nearing the top of the hill was one of the fences that looked like it could be influential, but he sailed through with no bother. The Dairy mound after that was another big effort after yet more of a climb, I had planned on going straight, but just felt I didn’t want to risk it when a big effort needed at the Cottesmore Leap, so I took the long route out, before we turned and headed down the hill for home to another fantastic reception from the crowd as we finished.  I had an amazing round, he really makes it all feel very easy, we did pick up quite a few time penalties but I was thrilled with him and in the end was very surprised to see only 3 horses making the time, even on the great going.

The big plus of early XC was no hanging around watching others make a mess of it and starting to let nerves creep in, so we had a very nice afternoon watching everyone and then taking the horses for a leg stretch before Duck got a massage and then left in peace to recharge his batteries for Sunday.

We were first on for trot up, which passed without drama, we then were asked to wait as we had a prize to collect, Duck was not so impressed at having to wait, although he should have been because Ali West had come 2nd in the Mountain Horse, Horse Health Care Prize, which goes to the groom of the best turned out and looked after horse. So huge congratulations to Her and Mum for keeping him so white, always a challenge!

We were show jumping in the morning session and again he was playing with the jumps and jumped a really good clear, one of what turned out to be only 5 double clears which is always nice.  One more trip into the arena for the parade before hot footing it back to the lorry to load up and head for home.

Duck is enjoying a holiday, and getting extra cuddles (which he is not impressed with) after being such a star again. Rusty seems to have shaken of his sore foot and is feeling great, so will head to Allerton for a final run with me, which is a very sad, I have been very lucky though to have had a large extension on how long I have had him!!!! 

If you haven't had enough of Burghley stuff yet, you can see our Dressage, Show Jumping and XC on http://burghley.tv/vod2013/


Well we have had a few highs and lows with the horse’s always great levelers, hopefully ready for a few more highs again!

Duck was fantastic again at Hopetoun doing a posh test 48.8 in the CIC *** and then jumped a cracking SJ round in the pouring rain, which had us heading into the XC in 2nd.  We picked up a couple of time pens to finish in 7th , annoyingly the rain started again just as we started which made the ground a little slippy so it was a little bit of a balancing act between being competitive but looking at the bigger picture but very happy as he is feeling top notch. 

Rusty was also in the 3* and I was pleased again with a much improved test the judging was a little indecisive with him, with a 14 mark difference between the two judges leaving him on a 62.  Rain, Umbrellas and Marquees are not Rusty’s favorite but always good to practice, he Show Jumped very well for the first half then had a little rub which had a bit of a knock on effect so not the best score for him but all useful.  XC he was fab till we came in a little bold to the corner complex at the top of the hill and with the 2nd corner only 2 strides from the first just couldn't get back to sort it.  So not the best result on paper but not in too much of a panic, as just one of those things.

Yorkie was also on the lorry for Hopetoun in the Intermediate and went really well again, dressage of 32, it got a little bit more exciting in the SJ when he pulled a shoe off in the collecting ring in the mud, just before going in but just got it on before the end of the class and he just tapped 1 pole.  XC I was trying out a new nose band not sure if it made a massive difference but I had a really good run and finished in 9th.

William was then having a final run with me before moving house, we will be sad to see him go as a real character and Spikes best friend as he is like his mini me, but sure he will have great time making his presence felt at new yard!  He was on his bestist behavior in the Scottish BE 100 Champs at Hendersyde doing a 37.5 dressage whizzing round the XC which had plenty of spooky things on it, but other than a good look at the Elephant he was feeling fab.  He was a little surprised to then have to come back out of the lorry to Show Jump, but did a lovely clear to finish in 6th which was very good in a very smart group of BE100 horses, he did nearly grow to Ducks height in the prize giving at the bagpipe music!

Another one horse trip was had the following weekend to Burgham, with Olivia Morrison’s Flagmount, who comes and stays with me on an off, sometimes by himself and sometimes Olivia coming too for a bit work of experience.  He is very flash and did a smart test in the BE100 getting a 27 then a lovely clear SJ, XC he felt really good just having a cheeky extra look at the skinny before the ditch (pretty punchy for a BE100) but popping through without a second thought the next time.

Cumwhinton was next on the cards and bit of a shocker there was MUD we had to be towed in and out, very 2012!  Spike was in the Novice and again improved his dressage getting a 32.5, a few poles SJ was a shame but tacky ground just catching him out, XC he was polished as always.  Lola (aka Sea Breeze) was also down making her first appearance, she is a fab 5 yr old that came in to do a couple of events and be sold.  She had been thrown in at the deep end and put in the BE100.  She got 34.5 in the dressage scoring a 9 for her free walk then jumped really nicely SJ just touching one pole, we picked up 20pen XC at the corner which was just a green mistake as soon as she realized where she was meant to go she had it sorted, so no rosettes to take home but a good and useful outing.

Next on the calendar was Blair with Yorkie, for the 2*, I also had Duck and Rusty up to keep them working for Burghley, Rusty got to do the 3* Guinea pig test which was very handy and another improvement was made dropping his score down to 57.2 and he also jumped well in the Foxhunter on the Friday, while Duck had fun showing off his moves and bucks in the schooling areas, feeling freeeeeshhhhhh!

Yorkie did a lovely test a couple of very small mistakes but really rideable and soft so I was really pleased with him, 53.9 possibly a little tough with the marking.  The XC looked good for him as fairly big and bold, he was pretty lit up about the thought of XC, so quite strong on the first ¼ but settled well and was going fab till we had a little blip, 4 from home.  There was a brush roll top to a corner on a curving 5 strides, he turned a bit early and locked on to the decoration which was a 6ft ++++++++ hay thresher which he then proceeded to Jump!  Sometimes being very brave can have its downside!  I managed to very inconveniently give myself a fair bump to the head and therefore was given a helicopter ride to Ninewells Hospital for a check up luckily was fully back to normal before getting on board so at least can remember my VIP fight!!!!

So after heading home a little earlier form Blair than planned and a little bit more bashed than ideal we are on to the final preparations for Burghley.  Yorkie seems none the worse for his prang which is great so might try and get another run with him, possible at Allerton.  I need to get a check up to be passed fit to go to Burghley so will do that at 8pm on Monday but as things stand at mo all set!  Ooh the road to 4* is tough!

A fair bit to catch up on again!  With the horses all in work and the competitions in full swing there is not much time to draw breath!  After Burgie it was time to get Duck back out and about and he and Yorkie went to Aske to run in the OI and the Intermediate. Duck was really chuffed to be out and had a very happy time showing off, especially when it came to showing how high he could jump in the SJ collecting ring. Luckily this showing off didn’t lead to a mishap, he did a 30 Dressage followed by a double clear to finish 8th.  Yorkie is really beginning to impress as well with a much more settled attitude to everything a 32 Dressage, 4 faults SJ and good XC for 10th.

That wasn’t the end of the weekends horsy activities as we then dashed home in order to head for Hopetoun (1) with William for the BE100  and Spike and Stan in the Novice.  William did a good test 31.5, had an unlucky SJ pole, he quite likes to make jumping more fun by practicing his counter canter and was obviously not impressed to arrive on the correct lead, to boring!!! But very nice xc from him left him in 3rd.  Spike is really coming together at the moment and did a 35.5 Dressage and double clear for 4th being super straight XC, I am starting to think of where his first Intermediate will be.  Stan was a little green and was therefore jumping a little to exuberantly XC which meant he just lost a little bit of focus on the 3rd element of a combination but just popped round to correct that and so no major drama.

A weekend to catch up with things at home was in order after that, before going on to Eglinton with just about the whole yard. Grace and Mark Moran had just got the keys back to their newly pimped out lorry, so in order to christen it properly they brought Sunday’s horses down for me on Saturday, which was very handy! 

It was a bit of a bumper Eglington, really chuffed with the boys especially the fabby big boys, Duck and Rusty who managed to comprehensively steel the show with a 1st and a 2nd in the ADVANCED!  Duck lead from start to finish with a 28.6 Dressage and a fab double clear meaning he picked up armfuls of silver ware, with some very smart names engraved on them from the past winners, even the Queen’s name is on it!   I was also really thrilled that I won the Polly Phillips Memorial Trophy for the highest placed rider that has not ridden on a British team, a trophy I have been trying to win for quite a while and a trophy that means a lot to all its connections.

Rusty was firing on all cylinders, his dressage was very nice even with some sabotage from the jockey when it came to navigation (luckily it didn’t impact the result or there might have been big trouble!!!!!)  He then jumped a super double clear to cement a fantastic result. Yorkie’s Dressage was very pleasing at 29.1, one pole SJ and a good clear XC left him in 4th, the XC suited him well, he was a little less strong with a good early section allowed him to get into a good rhythm, without me having to make to many adjustments. 

Sunday’s team was Stan and Spike for the Novice, Stan finish in 6th with a 34 test and double clear feeling bold and keen XC, very smart boy.  Spikes Dressage is starting to really come and he finished ahead of Stan for the first time in that phase with a 33.5, he just touched a pole before storming the XC finishing in 10th.  William, in the BE100 was quite hard marked I thought in the dressage 37.5 but jumped very nicely to finish 14th.

Think that is plenty reading for everyone, so will do a second installment for Hopetoun (2), don’t want you feeling like you have ploughed through a novel!!!  

PictureStanway Burgie Novice Winner
Winners!!!!!  A good month with the boys, although fairly hectic.  I had 3 entered for Scotsburn, which went down to 2 when Cracker was sold to a lovely new home, he has already been putting his best hoof forward with a 2nd and 3rd at Dressage at Gleneagles.

William and Spike were the two that did go; William in the BE100 was on good form, doing a nice test followed by a double clear.  A little keen on the downhill’s, he might only be small but when he decides he knows where he is going I just have to hurry up and go too, leaving him in 3rd.  There is always plenty to do on the courses at Scotsburn, so a great learning ground with some skinny’s that looked narrower than the ones on the Advanced at Chatsworth!  I was very pleased with another copy book XC round from Spike a little over enthusiastic in the SJ but good enough for 8th. 

Scotsburn was Saturdays entertainment, Sundays entertainment was a little closer to home and involved a return to Pony Club, to the West Perthshire Pick a Fence to give Stan a first XC run of the season and a little more mileage for Harry.  Stan was feeling extremely pleased to be out and whizzed round for a win.  Harry was a little wobbly to begin with but then got into the swing of it, so a really useful trip out for him.

The next outing just about emptied  the yard as we relocated to Burgie,  we loaded up two lorries in order to take 5 for the BE event on the Sunday and 2 for the Arena event on Saturday as well as Brillo for Mark Moran. 

I took Harry and Stan for the Arena Event.  Harry was fab doing a nice little test then jumping double clear round their SJ and Working Hunter style jumps, very posh pony very excited about this one.  Stan also went well just touching one pole so both got a 5th rosette in there respective classes.  I also, got a catch pony ride on Lucinda Crawford’s Basil, which was fun although I was a little red in the face by the time I had got to the end, need to get running!!!

Sunday kicked off with William in the BE 100, he did a really nice test getting a 30, not quite so perfect in the SJ 8 faults, but fabby XC so 5th for him.   Stan and Spike were both in the Novice, doing nice tests and then Show Jumping clear.  The ground was very hard on the XC so I was just planning a slow’ish run round, Stan had other ideas and was off, jumping a cracking round, feeling really bold which meant that he won his first BE outing of the year, great to have him back.  Spike also went well XC but was a bit more prepared to follow the not too quick instructions, which left him in 3rd.

Rusty and Yorkie were in the OI, they were also making sure the lorry went home with plenty of prizes; they both did very swish tests with Yorkie on 25.9 and Rusty on 26.8.  Yorkie then SJ clear with Rusty just touching a pole leaving them both out in front going into XC. Yorkie was first out and was fairly keen, he then got held at fence 9 which actually helped to settle him down a little so the second half of the course was a little more chilled, we did live a little dangerously at the top corner when he had a bit of a twist over the first one, although I had the handbrake on I think his time pens were effected by his hold on the course. We had been in two minds whether to run Rusty xc, but the others had all handled the ground well so another quiet round was in order, he is a real pro XC so as always made light work of it and romped home the Winner, with Yorkie picking up a well deserved 3rd.  So a fab weekend 2 wins, two 3rds and a 5th and a very chuffed jockey. 

It would also be worth a little check out of my Sponsor’s page as Equilibrum Products have come on board to join TopSpec, Mountain Horse and Robinson Animal Healthcare. I have been using their Tri- Zone boots this season and have been really impressed; I highly recommend them along with all my other Sponsors who all produce great quality products.

Duck is on a well deserved holiday after a fab Badminton début, there was a little too much drama in the build up.  The weather and continual snow was a big challenge but the really big pre Badminton drama was that after Burnham Market we felt Duck was not where we would have expected fitness wise, Loch Leven Vets were called in to give him a check up and they very quickly spotted that he an Atrial Fibrillation (top part of his heart not pumping properly) this meant that he had to go to the Edinburgh Dick Vet for 4 days  to get it sorted, a big worry at the time but a really good outcome and all back to normal.  A very special horse to have jump round a 3*, when he was feeling very below par.

So there was 3 weeks of cramming to try and get everything back up to speed before heading to Badminton on the Wednesday. The lorry got a spring clean from Susie and Duck got a major bath to try and turn him grey. It took about 8.5 hrs to get down, finding the horse box park was a bit of a challenge; luckily we did get straight there, although there was some cross Irish that had spent an hour driving around the lanes which are very small!  

Duck was stabled in the Farm Yard so not in the old internal stables, but he had a room with a view and it was very quiet and relaxed so a good spot.  Thursday morning was a bit of a relaxation day for him so we went for a hack around the park before a short school down by the XC warm up area.  Then back up to the stables to get ready for the trot up. All went smoothly, so it was on to the first course walk, finishing in the near dark, it takes a long time!

I was second last to go on the first day of dressage, I took him up for a school and a stretch in the morning, he got busy with his modeling as the photographers were out in force, I think Duck is quite keen on getting the odd snap of himself!!!!!  I then had a quick look into the trade stands and a catch up with Mountain Horse, before going to get ready for our test.  He was fab felt really confidant and secure doing a really good test,   the judging was on the tough side throughout so no really low scores, we were in 17th place after the first day on a 52.6, nice that all 3 judges were all in agreement with their marks as he can sometimes split opinions.  

A day off on Saturday so a nice hack in the morning before getting down to more course walking, the ground had been on the firm side on my first walk but a little overnight rain and watering by Badminton had got it spot on, we couldn’t have asked for more.  The course looked good with plenty of challenges.  With our interrupted preparations I thought the last 2 mins would be the tough part as they had crammed in a lot of jumping efforts, with the HSBC rails and corners and the Beaufort steps in section you still needed petrol left in the tank. 

Sunday morning is always long!  So I walked the course again to fill in sometime as much as anything and keep myself busy, before taking Duck for a hack and a pipe opener 2 hrs before my start time. There was then time to watch a few of the first riders go before getting ready.  The course looked to be riding well, but there was quite a lot of problems happening at the HSBC complex and after speaking to Caroline Powell about how it had ridden it was decided that the route I had decided on was unnecessarily risky, she very kindly biked out with me to re walk it and I tweaked the line I was planning.

It is always very nice to get on to Duck as it makes you relax, he feels so good and capable, so we headed off down to warm up and then off to the start!  He was AMAZING feeling back to himself jumping for fun and making everything feel easy, he is still very aware of the crowds and was spooking at them all the way down to the lake which wasn’t helping me to get on to the line!  He jumped it with no bother though and headed off in the direction of the farm yard Hay Cart to Corner, wee squiggle in the air there, but never any thing to worry about, before a fab jump through the next water which had looked like it might be difficult to read. Really neatly through the HSBC complex on my adjusted line and straight up the Beaufort Stair case, again making it all feel easy and on for home.  He had plenty in the tank and was pulling away up the hill coming in.  He recovered really well and when the vets were checking him they said he had one of the best heart rates, So Proud of him. 

All good after the XC so he had a check up/Massage as normal from Liegh  about two hrs after finishing then a graze with Dad before being left in peace for the night.  The Trot up was at 8.30 on Monday, so an early start to get him plaited and ready luckily all still looking good.

We were on in the morning session, so not to much hanging about before getting him out and warmed up.  He felt good and jumped a really nice round in a course that had plenty of technical lines with distances.  We added 4 faults to our score when he hit gate in an otherwise fault free round, not quite sure if he ever really clocked it as seemed not to see it. (will have to get out the gate at Edenside again!)  Back in to the arena for the Parade at the end before heading for home.  It was a fab week and so nice to finally get there it is a very long road from 4 yr old to Badminton and great to see so many family and friends there cheering us on.  Long way home again broken up by a quick stop to pick up Stan, who is looking really well so hopefully he will be out and about soon.

No time to relax on getting home as lots of horses to get back on to and Rusty was needing to get the final polish put on him before heading to Chatsworth.   The lorry duly headed back down the road, Rusty just had his Dressage on the Saturday he was really good with a very relaxed test and about a 10 mark improvement on the Belton score.  He was then early Sunday for his SJ and XC.  Luckily no hurricane winds to contend with and he jumped a really good round just spooking away from the marquees to the last, so one pole there.  XC he was his fab self and we had a lovely run round before scampering back up the road. 

Floors was our next outing with William, Spike, Cracker and Yorkie and it was our first BE event in Scotland for 2013!  It was really nice to have a good catch up with everyone and great to get William and Cracker out and about again.  William was in the BE100 and was on his best behavior, doing a nice test and a good round show Jumping just catching the pesky last fence before whizzing round the XC.  Spike did his Dressage for the CIC* on the Saturday so got to go into a big posh arena and show off his moves.  We then headed for home to re load the lorry for a 4am wake up call to get back down in time for Cracker in the Novice, he was very pleased to be out and as always did a very workman like test before a nice double clear, really enjoying the outing.  Spike also jumping a good double clear, round a beefy 1*, I thought it would pretty much be the Novice track and was a little surprised to see a fair few of the Intermediate fences on it, but he rose to the occasion and went really well. 

Yorkie was also on his best behavior doing his best test with me leaving him in 3rd, I rode him in a double bridle for the first time in a test and it will be interesting to see if that is the way forward.  Two poles show jumping but jumping well and then a fab XC much less strong than at Belton, therefore much easier to get to the fences.  The only down side was the jockey was having a bit to much fun and forgot there was a B element at the 3rd last ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, but big improvements so very pleased with him.

Sad start to this week, we had to put T’leaf down, who was my fantastic first horse.   I got him when I was 12 and he was 13, he was 34 so been part of the set up for a long time and has been the nanny for all the young horses along the way, setting them all up and teaching them the ropes. I did my first JRN’s at 13 on him and loads of other fun things. 

Yorkie @ Belton
EEEK not long now till Badminton, Duck is wrapped up in a lot of cotton wool at the moment.  

After Lincoln the snow came back with a vengeance and we were snowed in for the two weeks between it and Burnham Market, which made preparations a little interesting.  It meant that not a circle was turn or a jump jumped between the two competitions but not knowing what the weather would bring for the rest of the season thought we better crack on! 

Spike got us started at Burnham in the Novice, improving in the Dressage and Show Jumping and rock solid XC.  Rusty had a couple of moments in his Dressage test when he hit the reverse button, he did then jump like a buck to get one of his re CIC *** qualifications.   In the Intermediate Yorkie also settled well to make a big improvement to his Dressage mark, Show Jumping also coming, a little less strong XC, so much more consistent from him.  Duck was running in the Advanced doing a very smart test that had him at the business end after the Dressage, steady XC in preparation for the big B.  Elton also did a good test in the Intermediate much better in the SJ with a new kerb chain, unlucky rather than cocky to have a couple of poles he then jumped really well XC finish 8th. 

We headed back down south again for Belton normally one of my favorite events, have to say that this time it wasn't quite up there at the very top!  Yorkie had a very uncharacteristic little blip going into the water but again did a better Dressage test.  Elton did a good test then jumped a really good Clear SJ in the CIC ** he was going fab XC till we had a bit of a crash, poor Elton, there were a couple of other nasty falls at that fence so hopefully we will see something different there next year.  Rusty’s Dressage still had a bit  of tension and there was quite a lot more tension in his SJ, 40mph winds to jump in was not his idea of fun, so we withdrew for another day.

Having been stressie in his last couple of tests we took Rusty up to Gleneagles to do 3 tests, so that he would have a chance to relax in the arena a little bit, we also took Harry, they both got red rosettes which is always nice!

We were back at Gleneagles at the weekend for their Hunter Trail, it was Harry's first XC, little bit wobbly but an exciting one for the future.  William and Cracker also getting there first XC runs of the season, William was feeling a little cheeky and wanted to make sure I didn't get to big for my boots so we had the odd un planned detour on the way round!  Cracker was on his best behavior though finishing 3rd.

Whoooo nearly all caught up!  Just back from Inchcoonans BS today with Harry 3rd in the 90cm, Cracker  2nd in the 1m, Spike just had the first fence in the 1.10, Yorkie had a couple of poles in the 1.15 with Rusty picking up 2nd in that class too.

I will attempt to keep my Eventing page on facebook updated throughout Badminton, but quite often with so many phones in one place they can become temperamental!  

Rusty shows off his moves in the snow
The good news to bring in March is that I have got a fab new sponsor in Robinson Animal Healthcare, http://www.robinsonhealthcare.com  lots of their products you will all be familiar with as they are firm favourites when ever there is a drama such as Animalintex, Equiwrap, Flexoplast, Koolpak Instant Ice Pack and Vetalintex.  Hopefully I wont need to test out any of the products any time soon, but I can say from past experience they are great!

The weather has been truly miserable for March but we did pick the right first Event in Lincoln as it was the only one running in the country last weekend, cant say that it was tropical weather but at least we got to knock off the rust.  I was getting very worried that I wasn’t going to get Elton XC schooling before we left, as the snow had come in again here and we were stuck at home. There was however a small break on the Thursday before leaving on Friday so I scampered up to Bacilton for a quick flip round, which was great and amazingly enough the ground was just about perfect, one water jump was out of action with a large amount of ice but that was all, so it meant that I felt a lot more prepared heading off south.

I had five entered for Lincoln, Spike for the Novice on Saturday, then Elton and Yorkie in the Intermediate, Duck and Rusty in the OI on Sunday.  But with the panic that the weather was going to stop me from XC schooling Elton and the weather forecast down there I decided to swop Elton to the ON on Sat.  Really pleased that I did as by the time he would have been due to run on Sunday the weather and the ground had really deterioted. 

Spike was the first to go and did not a bad test for 36, two poles SJ were a little unlucky but not totally unacceptable in very tacky ground and like all of mine slightly lacking in rounds jumped recently, due to snow stopping us getting the normal preparations in.  He then jumped a super round XC little bit spooky at all the life size freisian cows dotted around the place.  Elton having switched into the ON was next and as always did a nice test 32 little fresh mistakes before the first medium but a good start.  He then was very full of himself SJ and just ran through the bridle, 3 down was not a very popular start with the jockey!   So a little tweak will be made to the brakes and I hope we will see a big difference next time.  XC he was fantastic so no complaints there!

Yorkie had the best of the ground on Sunday with an early start.  I was really pleased with him throughout, his Dressage mark didn’t really reflect the big improvements he has made, he got a 43 due to a blip early on which then clouded the Judges opinion of him and slightly capped his mark, but all his transitions were smooth and correct so I was very pleased.  We just need to make sure we don’t break into canter/ bouncing in the first medium next time!  SJ he had the first fence but then jump a super round, XC no problem.  It was a very speedy turn around to get to Ducks Dressage, but just managed with Ali West lungeing him, he was pretty focused for his first outing, again a couple of little fresh moments that took his mark down a little but that is the whole point of the first run of the season to hopefully get that all out of the system before the big parties.  1 pole SJ was just unlucky and a good XC in a snow storm and pretty terrible ground for him.  Rusty really had to battle the elements with Dressage in the Snow, SJ in some serious mud and the same for the XC with some very heavy rain thrown in too.  He did a good test 30, again one wee fresh blip so I will be working on no little extras from all of them next time!   SJ he jumped fantastically just touching the middle of the treble but really enjoying himself and the same on the XC he loved the mud and although we just had a steady round to make sure we had a good confidence run to start the year and hopefully set us up for a fun season he came back with a 10th rosette. 

Very excitingly Duck is into Badminton, I am trying to keep his training plan on track but we have been in snow since returning from Lincoln which is not helping but at least it is deep enough and now cold enough that I can ride in it, which wasn’t the case at the start of the week.  The FEI’s name still cant be mentioned in this house, as their rule change has meant that Rusty will miss out on Badminton, so frustrated for Grace that her lovely horse will be missing out.

All being well we are off to Burnham Market on Wednesday with the same five, if we can get the lorry out!