Monday, 3 October 2011

Moving on....

It's been a while since my last post. I felt so flat after losing my gorgeous mare Modetia that I haven't really felt much like posting, however life, as they say, goes on and so the blog goes on.

Brilliant Blair
I had a fantastic trip to Blair Castle Horse Trials with Garth (Kilmeadan is his jumping name) and the boys. My truck the Green Goddess was loaded fit to burst with horses - mine and Gill's and everything that two small boys and a not so small mum might need for three nights in deepest darkest Perthshire at the end of summer when you don't know if you are going to be bathed in late sunshine or sloshing around in the mud. My husband was muttering darkly when I left, about women who pack as if they are setting off for a month. In the end I was vindicated as it turned out we needed everything from wellies to sunscreen.
Blair is a fantastic event and if you have never been then go - it is well worth it. Set in the stunning estate of Blair Castle at Blair Atholl it is a great mix of top class eventing, showjumping, native ponies and shopping. Eventers have to be really fit as the course is surely the steepest in the UK.

Ears pricked and enjoying himself - Garth in the 1.10 at Blair.

This was the first time that I had jumped Garth on grass for well over a year and I was a little nervous about how he would go. He is a strong horse out in big green spaces so I also packed half of my bit box. In the end he jumped very well. Predictably strong on the first day - by day three he settled and was totally rideable. We were placed a couple of times and the worst we had was four faults. He qualified for the 1.10 final on the last day and just had an unlucky one fence down in that.

Gill keeps a few horses at my yard and at Blair her lovely youngster George, with David Harland riding, belied his years by winning a class and jumping some fantastic rounds - he is a very talented and his laid back temperament left him unfazed by crowds, marquees and the general bustle that you get around the rings here.

The organisers all worked hard to make the event run smoothly and my only grouch is that the collecting rings got like ploughed fields. On the Saturday a make-shift collecting ring for one arena was hastily roped off in the lorry park. While the warm up area for the other arena fared slightly better, neither was ideal and on the Sunday I only jumped one class even though I had entered two, as I felt that my horse had done enough work in that sort of ground. Competing at Blair is expensive and I do wonder if perhaps some sand or something could be spread and left so that the rings don't suffer from the rain as much.
Happy times at Blair

This was the first time that I have gone away to a show and taken the boys with me and it was brilliant having them there. They had a ball and apart from the battery smoking when I tried to hook up the TV (Yes I put the red to the black) all went smoothly and we will definitely do it all again next year. Staying in the truck, rudimentary though it was, was a great laugh and Pam and Julie from the yard were staying on the campsite - Pam was a brilliant chef and there was much hilarity around the BBQ in the evenings and I must thank Julie for doing all my warm-up fences for me over the three days.

Back at the yard..
Back at they yard my youngster Amelie is coming on a treat. I had a very constructive lesson with Ernest Dillon a while back who told me to spend a month just picking up a contact but making sure that I kept my hands very still and quiet and letting her get used to the fact that it was going to be there no matter what. It worked she has stopped fussing with her mouth every few strides now and I can now work her with a longer, softer neck and can even get her to really stretch down so that at last I can either work or relax her topline muscles.

The grain fields around us are now cut - so I have also been really enjoying taking her for a canter around the stubble. She has some stride once you let her move on. Fergus my lazy lurcher gives up trying to keep up and just plants his backside down when he's had enough and waits for us to come around again - I can see why the rabbits around us feel particularly safe!
A great read with some fab photos!
I am going to sneak in here a quick mention Ernest's brilliant new book which is out now - The Complete Showjumper.  I agreed over a few glasses of the red stuff to help with the images and so I spent many hours of summer evenings photoshopping the montage images together for it. Garth and I even make an appearance on one page - see if you can spot us! If you are interested in show jumping it is a brilliant handbook to have, full of practical information and tips. You can get a copy from Amazon or get a signed copy direct from Ernest's website.

Fergus causes chaos...
Talking of Fergus he gave my lovey project horse Tara, the fright of her life a few weeks ago by leaping out in front of her in the school. She hadn't seen him lying lurking in the long grass and to be fair neither had I. Being a hot-headed chestnut mare she needed no excuse and shot off at a rate of knots and unseated me, a couple of big bucks to follow saw me planted in the sand. Ho hum, meanwhile Fergus had calmly laid back down in the long grass waiting for his next opportunity to cause chaos. No harm done and Tara is getting used to him, as all the other horses have. It's funny but once new horses are used to the snowy white blob that bounces around the school with us they are much less spooky in general. Discretion is the better part of valour though and I have ditched my dressage saddle and gone back to riding her in a jumping saddle so that I can get my stirrups up and jam my heels down as there isn't much in front of you when she spooks. She is proving to be a really intelligent little mare and her paces are fabulous. She naturally comes through from behind and pushes from her hindleg, although at the moment that means she then falls on her nose so we are doing lots of work within paces and transitions to enable her to balance through her own exuberance.

Strictly Come dressaging...
I have been nipping down on the odd occasion with Amelie and Garth to do the odd dressage test. Garth has done well in some unaffliliated novice and elementary tests, managing to keep calm and Amelie behaved brilliantly at her first ever show and her first time indoors. Apart from gazing up at the roof like a tourist at the Sistine Chapel she behaved brilliantly. However too many years of jumping have left me with lots of small positional faults so I am looking forward to some lessons with a super trainer Eric MacKechnie, who is coming over to put me through my flatwork paces - he might have his work cut out for him!







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