It been a rollercoaster ride but we're back on track...
Since my last blog we have very much had the rollercoaster ride typical to the amateur eventer, or maybe just typical to anyone with horses. Ellie has returned to full work fit and well and we have progressed back to eventing fitness. Our first event was Millfield I knew that with the dry weather there was a risk that conditions may not be to my liking but I was hoping the ground was acceptable. The team were working hard on the course and although it was firm with the continued work I felt at 90 level it was acceptable to run.
However I was swayed when I walked the show jumping, the ring was on what they use as a rounders pitch and the grass cut very short, they had spiked but the ground here was pretty firm and you would need studs to stop slipping adding concussion. The warm up (although seen before they had worked on it) was a bit rough and very hard. Sadly there was no significant rain forecast that night and I decided for Ellie having had time off and being her first run we would save her for another day. Really disappointing and must emphasis this is no reflection on the event who worked very hard or anybody that did run. In fact with a lot of rain Saturday night I understand the going on Sunday was pretty near perfect. For once the blow was softened by finding something else to do nearby. So we headed off to Chard Equestrian for their BS show. This was Ellie's first competitive jumping show since last October and it was great to be out again. In the British Novice we just had a pole in the jump off section and in the 95cm open she jumped a super double clear to win her first BS points. Was so pleased with this result don't get me wrong it is still a bit all or nothing i.e. long strides or bounce up and down then pop but we are moving in the right direction.
I am aware that I am very risk adverse and sometimes a bit too much maybe but when you only have one or two horses you can get over protective. Luckily 2 weeks later we made it to our first event at Pontispool. In the dressage we had one of our best ever marks of 24.3 in a generously marked section, we then proceeded to be clear showjumping leaving us comfortably in the top 10 before cross country. Ellie gave me a super round cross country over a testing track albeit a little green at times. I am not sure exactly what happened but at 3/4 way round we approached the hay cart, we just lost our stride and she chipped in and left a leg meaning she landed on her nose and only just stayed upright catapulting me out the saddle. There are some spectacular pro pictures of the sequence if you want to look them up on Jayphotos site by my name in the BE90 section of Pontispool.
Ellie rather than waiting to see if mother was ok disappeared back to the lorries so we had no alternative but to retire. Luckily I was able to get a lift back from the organiser to find Ellie. I am sore but my Kan Teq back protector is invaluable at times like this it offers superb protection. Ellie has a slightly bruised knee but is trotting up sound, we are sharing the Arc Equine to help our respective aches and pains.
So some cross country schooling is planned this weekend before we head to West Wilts for our next event.
Hoping I will have some more positive news to share next time. However talking of good news I have sold Posy which I had been hoping to do for a few months now. This means it is horse hunting time where I spend hours pouring over adverts, pictures and videos and when I do go and see something usually find I missed that it only had 3 legs or I wasn't told some vital bit of information or sometimes however nice a horse is it just isn't my cup of tea - I can be fussy!
I do have a smart one growing up in the field and Kensa is a year old this week, in the last few months she has changed from a foal to looking like a little horse. She still has plenty of character and cheek though and poor Tommy doesn't get much peace and quiet. Seems a long time to wait though! The two yearlings are really appreciating grazing the field that I fertilised in early April. Have to say the grass seems very good and thick which is ideal for the youngsters. I managed to finish the other fields only last weekend, must admit doing by hand I was aching a bit the next day!
On the Shoestring front my website and social media have just had some great stats for May.
Website Page views: 125,000
Unique visitors: 12,100
24 Venues covered
80 sets of pictures
1935 photos uploaded
Facebook 8,370 likes with post reach of 30,000
Very excited that an amateur website and associated social media is pulling in so many people.
Withdrawals, withdrawals, withdrawals!
The event season is here, but sadly for us out of the five events that we've been entered into I've only competed in two! Lander competed in our first event of the season in the BE Novice at Tweseldown, but since then we've struggled to get out!
Four days before 5yo Simba's BE90 class at Munstead he hit his leg on the corner of the arena during a fantastic dressage session; three stitches later we were advised to put him onto 2 weeks of box rest – meaning our first withdrawal.
Five days before Lander's second event at South of England I very stupidly and randomly fell over in the stables, giving myself a terrible black eye and cut which meant that I couldn't see for four days! Meaning our second withdrawal.
Finally Simba had his first outing of the season, and only his third ever event, in the BE90 at Horseheath. A fantastic dressage test in a harshly marked section for 30.3 put us into 3rd place after this phase; he then jumped a beautiful clear showjumping to move us up to 2nd place. As the ground was extremely hard and he's still only young I took it easy x country, gaining many time penalties. But he gave me a super confident clear; so I'm now extremely excited for his first BE 100 class in a few weeks' time at Tweseldown!
We then took Lander to GB junior training, and he was an absolute star! He really impressed the trainers all day in both the dressage and the track jumping, and consequently we've been put forward for the trip to Millstreet Horse trails in Ireland to compete in the CCI J* later on in the season, the objective being to give international experience to 16 year olds. And he wore his SureGrow sponsored numnahs all day!
But disaster strikes again! Just over a week before Lander's second event of the season at Chilham he walked out of his stable lame. The next day when our physio came out for her monthly visit to see all of the horses he was sound again; but a few days before the event he went hopping lame. Meaning our third withdrawal! Our vets and farrier thought that he may have an abscess, but they're back out on Monday for further investigation.
On a better note, the fields our starting to look fantastic! A couple of months ago all of the gateways were muddy, with absolutely no grass; and the fields themselves were looking rather bare and the grass was very sparse. But now thanks to SureGrow Fast Grass and Paddock Grass Seed Mix the fields are looking brilliant and positively green; and even though there has been hardly any rain in our area the grass growth has been fantastic! We are hoping to extend our land and grazing into another field which lies alongside our own, which would complete the square of land that our house and stables are built on, so this is also extremely exciting. All of us at home find the field maintenance quite therapeutic, and with the arrival of a new sit-on mower it's easier than ever! We have set up a time lapse camera in one of our fields to watch the grass growth over a period of a few months, and soon that video will be ready to view.
Badminton Horse Trials 2017
It was definitely an emotional one with Andrew Nicholson taking his first Badminton victory on board the 17 year old Nereo, having completed the event a record breaking 37 times.
The pair were sitting in third position going into the final phase but when Michael Jung and La Biosthetique-Sam FBW knocked a pole and leaders Ingrid Klimke and Horseware Hale Bob OLD had three poles down the victory went to Andrew.
Suregrow sponsored riders were also out in force at Badminton Horse Trials. Nicola Wilson and Annie Clover unfortunately retired around a very tough x-country track. Oliver Towned completed on both his horses ODT Ghareeb and Samuel Thomas II to finish in the top 25 (16th and 25th respectively).
Nicola Wilson gets off to a flying start
The season is well underway now and what a fantastic start Nicola has had, especially with the young horses which is so encouraging for the future. There's also been a new addition to the yard, Tipple!
The team have had 6 wins and 10 top 10 placings from five events with these exciting young horses.
The advanced horses Annie Clover and Bulana should have made their first CIC3* outing at Burgham International but unfortunately the weather played its part and the event was cancelled which was so disappointing as both horses produced fantastic dressage tests and were in strong positions.
Burnham Market International CIC3* was the next stop for both Annie and Bulana and they both gave Nicola great rides. 3rd and 6th respectively after dressage and two clear show jumping rounds put them in a great position going into the cross country phase. Annie went clear with just a few time penalties to finish 4th overall.
Preparations are now in full swing with Annie for Badminton in two weeks time. The team at home are fully focused on getting her ready for this fabulous event, fingers and toes crossed that preparations pay off.
We would like to wish Nicola and Annie good luck at Badminton Horse Trials, exciting times!
Positive vet reports, mixed up diaries and a spot of volunteering...
Sorry my blog is a little late this month but I wanted to let you know the good news regarding Ellie. As you may have read in November she was diagnosed with a neurological problem and the prognosis was guarded. She was treated by B&W vets, who mylogrammed her and then treated a compression in the neck with injections. We followed the rehab to the letter and last week she was examined again and presented no symptoms and was perfect on all the neurological tests. The vet could therefore confidently say that this would not affect her or limit her competitive career and we can crack on. Therefore hopefully future blogs may be filled with some competition action.
On the negative Posy who I am trying to sell has still not found the right home and I'm rather pulling my hair out. It is the first time I have sent a horse away to be sold (people don't like travelling to Cornwall) and although the yard are doing a great job the costs are mounting. Maybe good news on my next blog.
So what now for Ellie? She is in full work and just before this problem raised its head I had registered her for British Dressage so last Sunday we did our first BD competition together.Maybe we were a tad ambitious trying our first novices! It seems a travesty that I'm not eligible for any qualification classes at Prelim because of the level I reached with Sarnie who was the most uncooperative dressage horse ever!
We went to St Leonards which is a lovely friendly well organised yet low-key venue. We were entered in novice 24 and 34 quite similar short arena tests. I knew we would struggle a little and we did. At the moment she can get very tight in her frame and draw her head behind the verticle, whilst we had some nice work we also had elements spoilt by this, With time and strength this will improve dramatically I'm sure. Even then we scored 64% and 65% meaning she gained 5 dressage points and some mid class placings (4th and 5th)
This weekend we are off to Bicton International Horse Trials where I am volunteering for 3 days. Should be a great competition as some top riders entered and the parkland, facilities and organisation is second to none. Ellie is coming too which means I can work her in the warm up arenas before or after competition. My role for the weekend will be updating the live scoring which should be great fun, hope I can keep up!
I am aiming for Ellie's first BE to be mid May at Millfield, we didn't have a great time there with Posy last year, I came off after catching my foot in some brush at the edge of a fence. As lovely as Millfield is it doesn't have the happiest memories, better make some good ones this year. I will certainly be appreciating getting Ellie out and about again.
In March we also had the Shoestring holiday when horses are abandoned and we explore a different part of the country. This time it was Shropshire which was lovely. We couldn't though make it totally non horsey and on the way back I arranged a yard visit at National hunt trainer Oliver Sherwood.
We arrived the night before in Lambourn with accommodation booked we first sussed out where his yard was as the visit involved a 7.15 start. As I was checking the paperwork I suddenly realised that I had booked the Friday not the Saturday as I had thought and hence missed the tour. I was fairly upset at the wasted money and spoilt present! I posted on Facebook regarding my stupidity and as well as sympathy a couple of friends tagged and contacted Oliver and he rang me saying that we could join a tour the next day.
The whole experience was fascinating and certainly a few interesting observations. The horses were a lot more lightweight than I was expecting very few looking liked the old-fashioned chaser that I would describe as rangey but with a bit of substance. Interestingly Oliver agreed that the horses have changed and with it they seem to be more prone to injury. All the horses are stabled on straw (good quality) but he feels that lessens the liklihood of ulcers and that is key to their well being. I was also surprised to see after exercise the horses turned out in groups of 5 or 6, I have to admit with animals of that value I would worry regarding injury but again as herd animals he very much wants them to be happy.
We watched two lots on the gallops on what was a work day. At this time of the season the horses are all fit so ticking over with two 5 furlong work sessions up a steep all weather gallop. Interestingly I asked what different levels of work he would give a horse aimed at the Grand National (a 4 mile race) in comparison to a much shorter race, evidently the work is pretty similar and they don't work them differently. I was surprised to learn that Lambourn as what I thought was the home of jump racing now trains probably more flat race horses.
Back at home the great British weather is playing havoc with my plans again. I had intended to fertilise my fields by now but much of March was just too wet, we then had a week off and on my return I managed to do an acre (by hand) and we had a nice amount of rain to wash it in. Since then it has been bone dry so waiting for a little rain in the forecast before I finish the job.
Triumphs, Storms & Blow Outs!
The horses and I have been extremely busy this February preparing for the eventing season ahead, we started the month off at Bury Farm at the BE JAS qualifiers with both Simba and Lander. To be honest I hoped that Lander would qualify but he literally did it in style, coming 2nd in BE Novice and then taking the win in the BE Novice Open! He is just feeling fantastic at the moment, and I am really looking forward to his first event at Tweseldown (1). We took rising 5-year-old Simba along to just gain a different experience for him, and bless him he also went and qualified in one of his classes, and had a fantastic round in his first ever BE 100! Which really wasn’t expected!
As my half term loomed both boys had their first XC training session of the year: Adam and I took Lander to Ely Eventing Centre and you wouldn’t have thought that it had been six months since this little horse saw a XC jump! We then threw Simba totally in at the deep end and he took part in his first ever SE u18 XC clinic with other horses (yes Simba other horses!) and jumping 1 meter fences. Apart from deciding he had a new best friend and being completely over excited by the group of youngsters going bananas in the field next to us he was a totally cool dude. It occurred to me that he hadn't seen a XC jump since his 4yo class August last year but far from being spooky he just didn't look at a thing and the confidence this baby has gained over winter is incredible. I am seriously excited about his future in the sport.
Lander was up next at SE u18 training for the potential CCIJ* squad for Frickley; run as combined training event. Lander was just a star as usual, gaining 74% in the dressage test. My de-brief with the judge after was very encouraging giving me tips to further improve on his score, as she was very happy with how he was going, and had no real complaints! He then jumped a really smooth clear round showjumping. We had to run as we were due at Hartpury for the JAS Championships the next day and wanted to get home as quickly as possible to give Lander the maximum rest possible.
Unbelievably, half way round the M25, and in the middle lane, we had a blow out! I have never heard anything like it. Although I am sure that mum never wants to experience this again, Surrey Police, the Highways Authority, Call Assist Recovery were all brilliant and after 4 hours we finally got to move on again after the tyre was replaced and before the M25 could have been closed to take a slightly agitated Lander off of the lorry.
We got home at 10.30pm and Lander was rudely awoken at 6.30 the next morning to go back out, this time with Simba on board too, to Hartpury for the JAS Championships. Neither of them let me down, they didn't touch a pole all day and both boys gained 12th places in their first classes with a few time faults in each case. Lander then upped his game and flew around the Novice course inside the, taking 7th place in a hotly contested class. I was so happy with both of my boys, they never let me down and always give me their all. It’s safe to say that all of us had a very well deserved rest the next couple of days.
Unfortunately, storm Doris got the better of my first Junior Training day, which consequently had to be abandoned. But it’s not much time to go now, the season’s nearly underway.. and we are all very excited!
A Mare and two foals, let me explain...
The first month has flown by and the support I am receiving from SureGrow is so appreciated when I look at the state my fields are getting in. In particular the paddock that I have Sarnie and the two foals in is looking poached, needing a rest, a harrow and roll as well as some Suregrow to support the grass.
A mare and 2 foals let me explain - Sarnie my horse of a lifetime retired a couple of years ago having taken me as an amateur to advanced level and placings at Intermediate and 2*. She is KWPN with great dutch bloodlines and her mother was recognised as one of the top broodmares in Holland after breeding 5 international horses. A Sarnie baby was always on the cards yet despite multiple attempts in 2014 we could not get her in foal, in 2015 we tried again naturally but she wouldn't let the stallion near her.
Our last throw of the dice was to send her to a local stud that stood MY ECLIPSE (TB) (son of SHAAB). There Sarnie was turned out with another eventing broodmare Batty, they alternately bullied each other and fell out before becoming inseparable mates. Sarnie learnt to chill and it was this change in her that finally on the last try meant Sarnie was expecting. I credit Batty with settling her down resulting in her getting in foal.
Batty and Sarnie were just the best mates, Sarnie was 9 months pregnant when Batty had a bad abscess and had to be kept in. Although we felt that she would be better off out she came in uphill over a 5 bar gate to get back to her mate. After this we let her stay in with her. Batty foaled a month ahead of Sarnie yet they stayed together and Sarnie was allowed to look after the foal. One day we even thought Sarnie had foaled early as Batty's foal was settled beside Sarnie.
Sarnie had a good foaling and we hit a slight hitch when she went back out with Batty, she decided Batty could look after her foal too!! They then lived in adjacent fields, always beside each other with the hedge separating them while Sarnie got the hang of her responsibilities. After a month they were put back together and resumed the same close relationship.
Very sadly with Batty's foal 3 months old Batty died suddenly in the field leaving Tommy orphaned. Both for a foal losing his mother and Sarnie losing her soul mate times were tough. At least they all knew what had happened, she died overnight so they spent some time understanding the situation.
Tommy was too young ideally to be weaned but thankfully Sarnie stepped up to the plate and looked after Batty's foal. Whilst she never fed him (he was old enough to eat solids) she adopted him in all other ways ensuring he was with her and shouting for him if he strayed too far or they were moving fields. I think the two foals test Sarnie's patience on many occasions and she certainly gets a headache keeping them both in order. However she owes Batty so much for her gorgeous foal (Kensa the chestnut), I am so proud of her that she has adopted Tommy and ensuring he gets the best start in life. In the next week we will be weaning so I will update you next time.
Ellie is progressing well in her return to work plan and so far the vets are happy. She has had a neurological problem but we are hoping the treatment has been effective. Maybe in the next blog there may even be a low key competition report. She is certainly feeling very well to the extent we parted company this week when a cat spooked her.
Very excited to have received my delivery so Suregrow fertiliser and CSM ready to spread in March, the fields certainly need a little support after taking rather a hammering from baby feet.
If you want to keep regularly up to date with our activates check out my website at www.shoestringeventing.co.uk
Suregrow Eventing Bursary 2017 - Introduction to Emily Cariad Nicol Eventing
As promised, here's an introduction to Emily Cariad Nicol Eventing, one of two lucky recipients of the Suregrow Fertiliser Eventing Bursary for 2017.
My name is Emily Cariad Nicol and I am a 15 year old event rider based at home in Kent.
I have been riding since I was just 4 years old and very quickly I became obsessed with the late great eventing mare Headley Britannia. By the time she had won her third 4* at Rolex Kentucky I was 8 years old and had made the decision that I wanted to be an event rider. I never waivered from this goal and everything I have done since that age was with one aim in mind – to affiliate with British Eventing the moment I was allowed to, start my eventing career properly and to get a place on a GB team.
Originally my aim was to gain a place on the Pony Team however a growth spurt quickly put paid to that and I found myself having to start again in my second season with a new bigger partner. He hasn't let me down, we have represented the South East for the last two years running, once at 100u18 level and last year at CCIJ* level. I am hoping that this year I can once again represent the South East and I am also looking to compete in a CCI* abroad this season in order to gain the relevant experience I will need for GB squading by 2019.
I am very very lucky. I had an amazing opportunity to buy a Headley Britannia foal early in 2013 and surpassing all my dreams her twin brother arrived with us later the same year. Little did I know all those years ago I would become part of the Headley Britannia story. In 2014 my parents re-located to the countryside in order to buy a property that dad could build me my own yard on to house the horses I was collecting! Even better my trainer of 7 years and my absolute partner in crime, Adam Heitman, has also been based with us now for over a year and I train alongside him every day. As I am sitting my GCSE's this year Adam is invaluable, I just couldn’t do it without him.
As dad takes the paddock maintenance very seriously and has been using Suregrow Fertiliser products for the last two years to ensure my horses have the best grazing. At least I can finally pay him back a little with my association with Suregrow Fertiliser this year.
Annaghmore Boomlander (Lander), age 9 – When it became obvious that I was rapidly outgrowing my brave little pony we went over to Ireland to find a horse that I could hopefully aim for Juniors. Our remit was to find a 'been there done that school master'. Instead we found Lander – a rather green 5 year old – but the minute we saw him we knew we wanted him. He has been an absolute pleasure to train, he is a true gentleman and every time you think you have reached his limit he digs in further and offers me more. He has taken me from BE90 to Novice in just 3 seasons, and in spectacular fashion. Last season at only his second ever Novice we gained 2nd place! We were offered a provisional place on the CCIJ* squad for South East England and then had to gain the relevant FEI qualification to compete at this level. We dashed around the countryside trying to cope with the weather and all the cancellations but we did it with just days to spare. And so at 15 years old I was the youngest member (and Lander the youngest horse) on the CCIJ* team last year. This year we have been accepted onto the GB junior training programme and I now have 3 years to achieve my ambition of GB Junior squading with this rather special little horse.
Britannia's Pride (Simba) rising 5 – Everybody absolutely loves Simba and doesn't he just know it. At still not even 5 years of age he is the most trainable obedient horse I think I have ever come across, it helps that he really is gorgeous to look at as well! We bought Simba as a yearling as we already had his twin sister. What a massive opportunity that was for me, I rode them as 3 year olds at Your Horse Live alongside Jason Webb who started them both. Simba was impeccably behaved and has been ever since. He is the most laid back youngster ever! Last year I competed him in two BE 4yo classes and he went easily clear cross country in both. I have taken him to JAS classes this year so he can just gain experience prior to the season and bless him he has already qualified for the championships in one of his classes! I am so excited about Simba's future, he will compete in BE 5yo classes this year and I have no doubt he will do really well in these.
Britannia's Jubilee (Nala), rising 5 – Simba's rather naughty biological twin sister, she is smaller than her brother and apparently a lot like her mum 'Brit'. We have owned her since she was a foal and were really excited about her future eventing prospects as she has always been so incredibly brave and inquisitive. Unfortunately after she was started it slowly became clear that Nala had some health issues that have kept us from progressing any further with her. She is now at home being expertly looked after by our farrier and physio every month. This year we will put her into foal and carry on the Headley Britannia line, hopefully next year we may be able to bring her slowly back into work.
We will be keeping you updated with Emily and Sarah's equestrian activities throughout the year, as well as their 'paddock progress'.
February 3, 2017 |