Sarah-Jane Brown August Blog

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Where has the time flown we are already in Autumn fast approaching winter. It has been a funny old season with such a wet winter and then a hot dry summer. Huge thanks to Suregrow for their support as I still have grass for the girls and in fact quite proud of my grassland management. I poo pick daily in the summer, remove any offending thistles and docks as well as use Suregrow fertiliser and CSM. The grass is looking great and both the worm counts have been 0 at the last test. One of the cogs in ensuring they both perform well.

We have had a very busy month and lots of placings at all affiliated disciplines as well as some great training including a couple of great sessions with Caroline Moore.

Ever wonder if something is a silly idea? Was driving 3.5hrs each way for a couple of lessons going to be worth it. The Caroline Moore was at Millfield School, luckily the evening before I worked out not the same location as the horse trials otherwise could have been very confused.

Fliss was on first and the lesson focused on technical exercises towards xc using a variety of material and skinny fences. This is very new to Fliss and she coped really well soon getting the idea of skinnies. The video gives a good reflection of the exercises we worked through. Loved the imaginative use of dressage boards far better than doing flat work in!

The main points for me to take away from Fliss's session were:-

x - Try her in a different bridle, Micklems hold the bit low in the mouth and not ideal for horses that don't take the bit

x - Don't tip forward (might of heard that before)

x - Keep eyes up and ahead

x - Ride more forward

Ellie's session was slightly more advanced, it was great as Caroline adjusted the exercises to the group she had and what they wanted to achieve. Ellie was on fire, really pinging and picking up the difficult technical exercises really easily.


I have to admit the improvement Ellie has shown this year has taken me by surprise having thought maybe we had reached our level I think we can progress again to the next level in all disciplines.

The main point from Caroline for me with Ellie is to be bolder and more forward in the way of going.

For Fliss from here it was onto West Wilts BE for her first BE90 and second BE run. We were delighted with another double clear although rather slow cross country. She has got into the habit of working with her head down and that isn’t to ride and she can see a fence quite late. Whilst I am great believer that correct riding and schooling should always be the main way of improving the way of going I have had a play with tack and bits too. Bridle wise as suggested by Caroline Moore I have put her back in a conventional cavesson bridle, removed the martingale but am using an old fashioned running gag which is helping to bring her up off her head. This weekend we jumped her at Tall Trees in the BS and there was quite an improvement in her way of going. I doubt she will event again this year as we establish her way of going.

Ellie had her first BE run for a couple of months returning to Treborough where she won last time out.

Treborough has always been a lucky event for us but I never thought after our win there at the last BE event we could repeat the feat. I think I have said before it is the most fabulous venue on Exmoor with views to the sea and the ground is always very good and copes with any weather.

Ellie was pleased to be out eventing again and her dressage was a little tighter than I would have liked as she was eagerly anticipating the fun bits! I rode the test in more of a safe manner focusing on being v accurate. Luckily the judge liked it and we scored a 27 which was second best of the day in our arena. 

Treborough had live scoring and it is brilliant how quick it is. I'm not sure sometimes if it is a blessing or a curse as I went into show jumping knowing I was provisionally in the lead albeit others had show jumped and some even XC'ed but if I kept a clean sheet I would win.

Show jumping was a nice friendly track but Ellie was slightly causal, I guess we have jumped some bigger tracks recently and she definitely jumps best when challenged. Saying that she jumped a neat enough round but just dropped a hind toe on fence 6 for faults which was frustrating. 

This dropped us to provisional 5th but as we advanced towards XC and others had time faults or jumping penalties we moved back up to 2nd with the leader also to go XC. The track was very similar to the course at the last event so no major concerns but equally need to be very aware not to make any silly mistakes. Also knew I needed to keep her moving to ensure we made the time. 

She was amazing absolutely eating up the course and making it feel very straightforward. She is very balanced and surefooted meaning we can make up time down slopes or on turns and comes quickly back to hand when needed. She opened out nicely over the first 3 and then as we went down the track to fence 4 she was most put out that I steered her round the novice fence and not over it! She was quickly through the quarry and onto the middle element of the course where the camera picks us up. The corner is made more difficult by a dip in the ground 3 strides away but she hardly noticed this and kept on a great stride flying it. The drop to the brush she flew as she did the rails to water. We popped the last and I knew we were inside the time so dropped reins and patted her coming back to trot just inside the finish. Actually we only ended up 1 second inside the time so maybe shouldn't have been quite as causal!

The horse that had been leading had time faults so we had repeated the feat and won again, you can imagine how over the moon I was with Ellie. However on checking my scores I saw I had dropped to 19th with 10 jumping penalties given to me. 

I went to the secretaries and queried this penalty. I was given it for trotting over the finish. A rule has been introduced since the allowing of stop watches at lower levels to prevent competitors going round at break neck speed and then using the watch to slow down over the finish or final fences. The rule is you shouldn't deliberately slow down for this purpose. I asked to speak to the BE steward and explained that I had simply relaxed on finishing and as I was only a second inside the time it wasn't to avoid being too fast. I was given an opportunity to explain what had happened and the steward spoke to the start team and the scorers and it was decided that as it wasn't deliberate the penalties could be removed. Huge relief and big lesson learned that I need to keep travelling through the finish whatever the circumstances.

So we had our second win in the two Treborough events and so proud of Ellie. She was barely blowing or sweating when finished so certainly very fit. Hopefully have the opportunity to get another 2 or 3 runs in before the end of the season. 

August was a really busy month so to catch up with our other highlights check out my blog at


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September 7, 2018  |   Share: