Thursday, 23 February 2017

Galloping back..

So it has been a while since my last blog post but it is time to come galloping back. After a few years of injury and too much going on at work that left little time for riding or blogging it is great to be back out competing on the horses and to be expecting the birth of two foals on our farm in Fife in Scotland in just a few weeks from now.
During this time away, one of my work projects has been to help launch EQy magazine which has been a very exciting step for me. EQy is Scotland's only dedicated equestrian magazine - it is published annually and comes free with the July issue of Scottish Field magazine.

EQy magazine - THE magazine for Scotland's equestrians

We are currently putting together the 2017 issue and also working hard to build up the website to contain more articles, photos and blogs including my own and some from guest writers.

Back to my own horses though, I have six at the moment, including the handsome bay chap that appears on the beach cover above. That is Fast Ed my warmblood 8-yr-old who was a complete superstar during a photo shoot we did on St Andrews' West Sands with Game of Thrones actor Clive Russell. He is riding Tom, who belongs to one of my livery clients. We needed two quiet sensible horses that day and Fast Ed and Tom behaved like old pros. I never quite know what some of my horses are going to be asked to do in the name of my job at EQy, which keeps me and them on our hooves.

The day of the photoshoot, luckily the sun was shining, it had been freezing the day before

I even dragged my long-suffering husband into a photo shoot for the last issue - he posed as a dodgy dealer for a tongue-in-cheek piece on the perils of buying a horse from an unreputable source.

My poor, long-suffering husband nearly choked trying to puff a cigarette hard enough to look shifty

Not only did the poor chap not shave for several days to make sure he had that slightly unkempt look, he also nearly expired when the photographer asked him in the name of the perfect shot, to puff vigorously on a stream of cigarettes so that the smoke looked just right in the finished image. He was a bit green by the time we finished but we got the great shot pictured above.

Three of the horses in the photo above are my own and, far from being dodgy-uns, as the photo would have you believe, they include my two super broodmares, Amelie (far right) and Scarlett (second from the left). Amelie is a homebred mare who some of you will know about from older blog posts. A lovely scopey mare by Secundus she is due to foal at the beginning of May to the Brendon Stud's Grand Prix jumping stallion Caretino Glory. Scarlett is another ex jumping mare of mine with good old Irish and warmblood lines in her breeding and she is also due to foal in May, this time to Balcormo Stud's Corraghoe Storm.

Amelie in action. Photo Adrian Sinclair Photography

It is a few years now since I have bred horses here at Airdits so I am really looking forward to foaling time with all the expectation that comes with it. The two stallions were carefully chosen to suit the two mares but now it is just a case of wait and see. Both mares are blooming and looking every inch expectant mothers. By the time the foals arrive hopefully this winter weather will have disappeared and the grass will be green and growing.

The fun video below show the fabulous Scarlett in a training session - you can see why I am excited about her foal

Meanwhile, I am fully recovered from an ankle operation just ten weeks ago in which a ground breaking new technique called the #internalbrace invented and developed by Scottish surgeon Professor Gordon Mackay was used to fix my ruptured ligaments. I ruptured pretty much all of them in my left ankle which would normally have left me hobbling about in a cast for about 12 weeks (very frustrating if you have 6 horses, a full-time job and a livery yard to run as well). However, Professor Mackay operated and used internal bracing to fix the damaged ligaments which meant that not only was I back on a horse within 6 weeks but amazingly, in just under 10 weeks, I was back out at my first small showjumping competition at the weekend. As none of my horses are fit I begged and borrowed a horse from a friend without having to steal it.

Borrowing the fabulous Ard Pharoah to get out jumping last weekend. Image Adrian Sinclair Photography

In our next issue of EQy we will be covering the even more remarkable story of Nikki Corstorphine, a horse rider and groom who was left with a truly horrendous knee injury after a fall left her lower leg detached below the knee, with all her ligaments ruptured. Traditional surgical techniques would have left her struggling to walk again with little possibility of ever riding again. Nikki however, also underwent internal brace surgery with Professor Mackay, we will tell you her amazing story of recovery as she looks towards the day she can get back in the saddle again.

If you have enjoyed reading this come back every week as I will be blogging about life with my horses and how they fit in around my family and work on EQy. I would love to have your comments.

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Summer horses

As I am grounded at the moment - no riding for at least 6 more weeks have been pottering about with my camera  - here's some photos of some of the horses here at Airdits Farm enjoying a ray of sunshine at 5.30 one summers morning last week.

Amelie is recovering well from her hock operation and enjoying the company of my new mare, Flicker.
Jerry watching the sun come up.
Ams and Flicker.
It's good to see the early morning sun.
Tammy - you got any grub on you then?
20-years old and looking fantastic, shire TB x - Reuben
Gorgeous Garth - star of many a blog post.
Wa'sat over there?
Dougie and the rest of the boys.

Cornflakes is back at Airdits...

Let me clear something up right  away - in case you think I have food on my mind and am referring to a bowl of yellow crispy things that you eat with milk, I am not. Instead I am talking about a fantastic big horse that I bred. An Irish Draught x WB he was born here five years ago. He went as three year old to a great friend of mine who hoped to bring him on to event. For various reasons the dream didn't work out so I was thrilled when I was given the opportunity to buy him back.

Cornflakes as a shaggy yearling - a boy with a fabulous, easy going temperament

I have admired him from afar a few times now and to have him back at home for a while is going to be great. He has of course grown in the time he has been away and has matured into a really handsome, big horse. His slight Roman nose is made attractive by his white markings and he really does stand out in a crowd.
Then and as a strapping three-yr-old, still with lots of growing to do.

Once my shoulder is fixed (I will blog about that later) I aim to do a bit of everything with him, bit of show jumping, bit of dressage, take a turn cross countrying and possibly some cubbing with the local hunt come Autumn time. First I will give him a few weeks in the field. 1 - because I can't ride at the moment but also because I think he will benefit from a little time relaxing.
So to my husband's alarm my horse numbers are creeping up again - Me? I couldn't be happier!

Back home this week as a 16.3 5-yr-old

 Here is a fun video of Cornflakes meeting up again with old friends Jerry and Garth - not horses were hurt in the making of this film! :)

Monday, 28 May 2012

Trotting on...

I have to confess it's much harder to keep blogging when the weather is better and the nights are light so it's long past due for a catch up. There's so much to say I am not sure where to start. Amelie has been into the Clyde Vet Group and had both hocks operated on. The op was done keyhole and Andy McDiarmid was very pleased with the result. When she came home the only sign that anything had been done were two small stitches in one and three in the other hock.
The hocks were to be pressure bandaged for a week - I am lucky one of my livery clients is a nurse so I called on her expertise to make sure the huge bandages were done properly. Am's wasn't a good box rest patient and after a further week in at home started box walking so badly that I made the decision to put her out into a very small penned off bit in a small paddock. As the weather has been unseasonably hot she couldn't really be bothered trying to kick her way out so she has just been peacefully munching in a confined space - which I reckon is better than plodding around in endless small circles.
The vet is hopeful that she should come through this sound and go on to lead a good working life. I can't wait until her further six weeks off are over and I can start to gently bring her back to fitness again.

Losing Tara
Tara my gorgeous chestnut mare has unfortunately been put down. Her shivering in the end caused problems when she was ridden and after many, many sleepless nights trying to think of another job for her I just couldn't. She had unfortunately been previously difficult to get in foal, and, for me, her physical problems made her a less than ideal broodmare prospect anyway. It was a really difficult decision to come to. However I couldn't even pass her onto a friend to ride for fun and, as she easily became unsettled if her particular friends were away, she wasn't a good candidate for retiring to the field. It was a complete privilege to own and ride such an amazing mare and I learnt a huge amount from her and about her condition and I take some small comfort in knowing that she was happy in her year here on the farm. I will miss her hugely.

The stunning Tara whom it was a complete joy to own and ride.
Garth is in fine form
Garth, my grey jumping horse is in fabulous form. I have finally kicked off with some shows and he has surprised me by being incredibly rideable and behaving himself immaculately. Usually when he competes after a break he can be a bit of a strong old bugger, but something seems to have clicked and he jumped a lovely double clear in a 1.05m and then just had one down in a 1.15 at his first show. At his second show which was the super Fife Show near Cupar we were on grass - now usually he finds it irresistible to get strong and onwards in a big grass field, however he was brilliant and jumped a double clear in a 1.05m for second place. We had to give the 1.10m a miss as my youngest son Chris was getting judged in the 'best decorated gingerbread man competition'. I rushed down to find he had won first prize - what a proud mum.

Julie took her lovely horse Jerry to Fife to take part in his first ever RoR class and they had a great time to finish in third place. I think when Jerry first got there and heard the tannoy he thought he was back at the races, Julie did a great job and manged to keep him calm and focused and he looked beautiful in the ring. She was thrilled with the way he handled it all and I am sure they will be back for more.



This weekend we are off to West Fife show where we are going to give the 1.10 and 1.20m open a go. So here's hoping Garth still his new sensible head on when his hooves hit the green grass!

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

More ups than doons.....

Well I didn't get to my show jumping clinic and show, Garth was still just a little footsore after being shod left him a little sore on the sole. However as is usual with sod's law, he is now sound as a pound two days after the event and ain't that just horses for ya'. Ah well we still have a whole summer ahead of us and hopefully it will go more smoothly.
When my trainer and friend Ernest Dillon was up here in Scotland for his clinic he showed me some fantastic photos of Coco, a mare I bred out of my good show jumping mare Modetia. He bought Coco off me as an unbroken four-year-old last summer and she is now popping her first small jumps with him. Ernest has two of my home breds and it gives me a massive thrill to hear that they are all well and coming on in leaps and bounds.

Coco out of my lovely mare Modetia, tackling her first ever jumps with Ernest.

She seems to have inherited her dam's scope, boldness and good looks!
After the wintry weather that Scotland has just plunged back into, the better weather can't come soon enough. The horses are all starting to look match fit including Tara who is now ready to take to some lessons and shows to see how she copes with a bit of travelling again. She is much fitter now and I am really looking forward to tackling our first dressage outing together in. She is also learning to jump at the moment. It is just like sitting on a green four-year-old when it comes to this but she is very careful and makes a super shape over a fence, so we will give it a go and see how she comes on, I popped a few small fences with her last year so we will add in some more stuff this spring and build up to a wee course. There is no pressure though and if it is not her thing then so be it. She has also been for her first ever fast gallop up our new grass gallop here. I have no idea if she has ever done anything like this before but she certainly enjoyed it.

Tara is looking pretty fit now - doesn't want to waste good eating time posing for the camera though!
Amelie has had some treatment to a hock at the Clyde Vet Group which has made a massive difference to her way of going - so their diagnosis has been spot on. I am to ride her away for a few weeks to see if the treatment stays working, if it doesn't there are plenty of options to try so I am relatively happy that we are on the right road with her now. She is now moving freely with none of the tension that had crept in and she is most definitely the happy horse she was, once again.

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Humans and their horses revving up now spring has sprung!

Just time for a quick update - Garth and I are really looking forward to our two day Ernest Dillon jumping clinic on Friday and Saturday. It has been a bit on and off for us as he was a bit footy after being shod last week, however he has had a pad put under his shoe now and the way he was leaping around like a mad March hare in the field this morning, makes me think it may do the trick, so hopefully he will be sound to jump. Then hopefully we will head off to our first BS show of the year on Sunday, to say that I am looking forward to it would be a huge understatement. I will let you know how we get on.

Garth letting Omagh and Jerry know that his buck is back! Foot is feeling better then :)
We have also been busy on the farm, harrowing and rolling the fields, basically repairing the winter ones and getting the fresh fields ready for the horses to move into. Nigel was driving me mad calling me in the tractor and telling me I was going to fast, too slow, too squint so I put my headphones on and ignored all instructions.

Getting ready for a light spot of harrowing - I like to think I fool everyone into looking like I know what I am doing.
 Only a few fields left to do now so should get them all finished by next week. Some of the livery's have helped me make a little cross country course around our top field where we also have a grass gallop. That has already proved fun for anyone that wants to jump it and we will hopefully add a few more fences over the next couple of months till there is a proper wee course up there.

Pam's turn to have a bash with the hammer - making the first of our small X-country course.
Jackie and Jenny Lammie started off by keeping just one Shetland pony with me a few years ago, as their first foray into becoming equestrians. Now this has multiplied into keeping two Welsh Cobs for driving and another Shetland pony (popped out as an unexpected foal from the original Shetland). Jackie and Callan took to driving like ducks to water and are currently getting fit for the 2012 season. What makes me chuckle is that the family cars now live an outdoor life as the garage is full of driving carts. I am hoping Jackie will have time to give me a driving lesson one night next week as I would love to give it a go. He was out last night giving Callan a workout in the evening sunshine and I thought they looked very striking.

Jackie and Callan. Hopefully Callan will cope with a novice like me having a go next week!

Friday, 9 March 2012

Gearing up for the season ahead...

Had a great jumping lesson on Garth at Balcormo last weekend with Sandra Low Mitchell. He is still looking hairy and needs a clip but the belly is shrinking (wish mine was) and he is feeling fitter and I think we will head out to a show soon.
We did some grid work in the lesson; once upon a time he would have rushed down the line of fences making me feel like I was in a wind tunnel but he now takes his time, measures his strides and backs off off to give himself plenty of space to clear everything neatly. It was a joy to ride him down the line a few times and I was really enjoying myself.
Next we moved onto an small double on the other side of the school, concentrating on not letting him cut the corner to this we popped it a couple of times then Sandra started putting it up. Garth felt fantastic and we ended up popping out over a 1.40m oxer which is probably the nearest I will ever get to flying without paying Ryanair !
I have to take my sons to various dates in their hectic social diaries this Saturday then I have to drop Amelie off at the vets near Lanark this Sunday as she is having a scan. Next weekend though I am definitely going to find a show to take Garth to.

Garth popped this 1.40m oxer for fun - the closest I will come to flying without involving Ryanair!

Lots in the diary..
At the end of March, after three days of my next magazine deadline, I am really looking forward to a three day jumping clinic at Howe Country Centre with my other regular trainer, Ernest Dillon. Sadly I can only do two days due to my a dayjob appointment, but I am sure that my clever horse will catch up pretty quickly when we come in on day two.
Then on the Sunday after the clinic I am going to head to Gleneagles to jump there. They haven't held a BS show there for a few years now. I used to love jumping here in the winter on both Cavalla and Modetia so I am really looking forward to taking Garth - I think he will love the big indoor arena there.

As I mentioned Ams is off for a scan - the vets at The Clyde Vet Hospital found that she was moving stiffly and is very mildly lame so I am hoping the scan shows any hot spot and that we can sort out whatever is bothering her so she will be comfortable to begin her jumping career proper.

Amoureva by Amoureux.
New arrival...
We have a gorgeous new arrival on the yard - Amoureva, known as Ziva, is a beautiful rising-three-year-old by Amoureux. She belongs to Ferne who is hoping to break her and bring her on over the next few years to event. She is going to be a big, beautiful horse, she is very gangly at the moment but what a mover. She has a very sensible head on her shoulders, loves people and attention and has settled in brilliantly. I am looking forward to seeing her grow into herself - she is going to be a stunning horse.