Back home from our last event of the season. Sad that it’s all over for the year now but Dwinababes will now chill and hack for a while before we start preparing for next year.
What a day! I know I was ‘just’ doing Novice after our fun times at Intermediate and Advanced but I went today with the aim to go double clear and if possible get inside the time xc (for a change 😂).
It was a really early start - up at 3.45am - and on the road by 4.30 as I decided I would plait when we arrived. Accompanied by the Chief Eventador (who is getting very excited over her new sister arriving soon 🧡) we arrived in time although too early for the coffee stand 🙈. Anyway off we went to dressage and we got a 32 😄😄. Dweens was glad to be back at the Lorry and eating hay as it was FREEZING!! Headed off to walk the xc and it looked good, lots of skinny jumps but as always a lovely course. Eventador checked the water jump depth then got very cold and was shivering! 😕 poor Labradog (now snuggling up to me at home all toasty and warm I’m happy to add 😍).
Sj was indoors this time, warm up outdoors which is different from the event earlier in the year. The SJ was bright and lots to see in the ring but nothing to Dwinababes who jumped round for an easy clear ✅
After thawing in the Lorry with the heater on I headed over to XC wearing so many layers (my Apt Cavalier Ltd performance top, teamed with the short sleeved base layer, plus my cycling sleeves to keep the wind out!) to keep warm (which worked perfectly!).
Off on the course and I made sure we ‘kicked on’ round the course. I was worried we’d have a silly run out or something as I wanted a nice finish to the season but I’m pleased to report we flew round INSIDE THE TIME!! (First time this year!!) so finished on our dressage score! Had we been competitive in the section and not HC we would have won it!!! 😄😄😄👏👏👏
Finally home from Allerton Horse Trials with the wonderful Dwinababes. 🧡
Lots to learn and plenty of mistakes but we have just completed our first Advanced!!!
My ramblings, thoughts, positives etc from the weekend. Apologies for the long post!
The most important thing to me is that Dweens is happy. And I won’t truly be happy with our weekend until mon/tues when I can assess her and see that she is all ok and has no tweaks or niggles from the weekend. She is incredibly important to me and her being fit, sound and happy makes all our outings end on a positive one even if they don’t go to plan. I’m an optimistic person and will always find positives! My horse being happy is most definitely the main one! 😍Edited to add that she is feeling fab and recovered brill from her weekend ☺️
Headed down to Allerton on sat only to meet a road closure and detour taking us 5 hours instead of four to get down to the stabling. Weatherby racecourse is lovely although Dweens didn’t like the shredded paper bedding so much!
Dropped her off and drove over to Allerton to walk the course.
In a random ‘I’m 40yo, Dwina is going well this season and you never know what’s around the corner’ type of moment I actually checked to see if I was eligible to ride in the advanced 🙈 errrr when did that ever become a possibility.... 🙈 so it turns out I am. And with that in mind I thought I might just walk the Advanced and see what it looked like...
Not going to lie. Some of these fences were huge! But most looked perfectly jumpable so I went and asked if I could move sections which was confirmed and immediately I felt slightly sick!! 🤢 Back to the stables to learn my dressage test and a restless night riding it (and the xc) in my head!
Getting up this morning I was slightly disappointed that Dwina hadn’t found the stabling and paper to be satisfactory. She hasn’t done the usual rolling or laid down to sleep so cue a bit of inner worry that I was now doing too much (those pesky mind games you play on yourself!! 😬). She seemed happy enough though despite my worry so plaited, loaded up and headed over to the showfield.
Went for my number and saw the intermediate showjumping. Thought ‘hmmm that looks decent, oh wait, it’s going to be bigger for mine, oh crap crappity’. And then quickly walked away .......then checked the rule book and repeatedly told myself it would only be one hole higher...
Dressage first. Was lovely to ride in a long arena. It’s definitely easier for us. Considering we can’t do flying changes I was pretty happy that we got 46.5. Obviously plenty to improve on but I’m definitely much better at riding through some tension and allowing us to pull some better marks later on rather than carrying it through the whole test 😄😄 oh and I didn’t go wrong! 🤣
After dressage we had time to walk the xc again. Usually the fences look smaller but they didn’t! Some are just fecking massive! And to top it off the SJ was fairly meaty too!! Despite me telling myself it would be fine😆
I’m slightly disappointed with the SJ. We had two fences down that I definitely deserved as I got us a bit deep and then two that we really didn’t but left us with 16 faults - but the positives - we pinged the biggest fences (1.30m square parallel!) on the course and Dwina felt awesome 😄
On to XC. Well the usual misser I seem to get at the first fence still happened! Even when they are bigger I still manage to f**k up the first fence! So onto 2 and a much better stride. Pleased to say that we nailed all combinations. I wasn’t so keen on the skinny boxes at 4A and B that were a curving four strides but we got it spot on and she was amazing. Same for the two stride rails at 5 and all other combinations were met really well 😄. Dweens got a bit sticky at the fences through the tracks outside the walled garden but kept jumping when asked. I did land at the drop at fence 12b and didn’t present to fence 13 to give me time to collect knitting (a 2m drop is quite big!🙈) this section of fences really slowed the pace and I just didn’t ride away like I ought to (something to work on!). Jumped everything really well until we got to the saw bench. I think Dweens couldn’t work out what the massive wheel was and scooted off to the right. As I need to be fitter to ride Dwina at this level (another take home from this!) I just let it happen! Totally let her down and should have been on it to give her the reassurance she needed 😕. Re presented and she pinged it. Continued on and a few fences later was caught up by a rider. The route ran along the side of the pond and I veered off to allow them to pass but they vanished in a different direction! So I continued to the next fence and as I came over the brow of the hill they were just in front of me! A safe enough distance so I continued along. I should have taken note that if a rider is catching me up I must be going slow! (Numpty jockey!) anyway popped the last few and finished! We had completed an advanced!!! I’m so proud of Dwina for being so amazing, slightly disappointed in myself for letting her down but also pleased that we did this together. 😍
I won’t be doing another advanced for a while! Will stick to Intermediate and aim for 2* next season all being well.
Heartbroken to write this post, but this morning I found Classy had died in the early hours.
I feel so privileged to have been given the opportunity to ride him and will be forever grateful to Olivia for choosing me to be his person for the last few years of his life.
The bestest horse anyone could have wished for. He gave me more than I ever expected and I’m so sad he won’t get to flick his toes as the 2* guinea pig at Blair this year (he would have loved being back at Blair!) but he went feeling good,happy and very much loved. His recent outing at the Royal Highland in the side saddle at 23yo just showed how he could turn his hoof to anything and was an absolute gentleman.
I get to keep him forever in my heart and he can watch over the others in his resting place.
RIP legend of a horse Classy Bear with the most amazing ears
Don't forget to select HD when watching for the best quality
Video taken by An Eventful Life <3
So after starting the season with a not-so-good time at Floors in the CIC1* where I withdrew after SJ, I have had a couple of runs at Intermediate-Novice to give myself a step up but without the scary Intermediate fences. We've had two runs so far, and to keep going while things were good I entered the Intermediate at Aske (eek!)
Little did I know that Aske is supposed to be a beefy Intermediate, but we were accepted into section A and were on early as requested (to avoid the heat!)
I pootled down the three hours south to stable overnight on Friday and then up at 4am Saturday to dash round the XC before we started.
Hmm, it was beefy, and technical. The first 5 fences were nice and inviting :D
6ab was a rail, four forward strides to a gappy corner with a fall away on landing. It was huge and I didn't like it! 🤢
7 to 8 was a parallel of bee hives left hand turn down hill to a narrower bee hive
9ab roll top with brush skinnies on a related line 3-4 strides
10, 11ab was a parallel four strides to a two stride double of offset hedges...
12 was a table, sweep left about 10 strides to a cover at 13a, right turn four strides to a table 13B
14 was the trakhner
15/16 were removed due to the ground
17 ditch palisade
18 corner straight
19abc skinny brush into water then step up and bounce over a log
Right turn to 20 a carved fish trakhner
homeward straight over a table, house and brush fence to finish.
So I felt sort of ok, but sort of not after walking it, the corner was massive and gappy and I didn't like the striding and also haven't jumped a step up to bounce before!
I need gin….. to the lorry park and find my little 7.5t in amongst the mahoosive trucks parked around me. I think there were more pop-outs than not and the neighbouring truck had driven 5 hours (!) from the Cotswolds to get there!
So I headed off for dressage, meh, its a working progress. 40 dressage, sitting trot looking better but I need to fix my whimsical contact and stop throwing the reins at her. BD this winter I think!!
We weren’t last but a few places up from last. I have a tendency to freeze in the arena and ride like a lemon so its all working progress!
SJ - Very few clear rounds although it was a lovely course and the course builder had made good use of the undulating ground. Didn’t spend too long warming up as the ground was hard so over a couple of decent uprights and a parallel and we were in. We lost a bit of height coming out the treble for the last part down and then I let her bowl on down to a four stride related distance and we got deep to the next fence. Pleased we never got time faults though as so many did! Video here: https://youtu.be/UNC6yPYortc
Back to XC!
I was 7th to go in my section and there were 4 sections of Intermediates (loads!!). Walking to XC I heard two people retire at 6B, one fall and at least one have a run out... it did not bode well! I arrived in the warm up to see one horse finishing absolutely white with sweat, and just one rider in front of me. Two fences jumped in the warm up, and walked over to the start box. I decided to ditch the watch, I am a slow XC rider and usually pick up time faults, but for our first run I felt the time wasn’t important I just wanted to get round.
Annnnnd breathe….. walking over to the start box I suddenly felt nervous, mostly for fence 6, and told myself to kick on out the box and get in a good rhythm over the first few fences which should set me up for the rest.
Setting off out the start box, I tried to kick on and saw some good strides to the first 3 fences, then a veeeeery dodgy stride to fence 4 (apologies to the jump judge as I shouted WOAH on take off it was not pretty!), not a bad stride to 5 and then a quick decision as we came down the hill to turn to fence 6 that I would go on a short 5 stride A to B so cue a lot of setting up, a bouncy canter, good stride in and popped over part a and then one, two, three, four, five........PINGED over part B!! rock on we had done it and we were away, boy it was a big fence!
And now very quickly onto the rest. Dwina was brill but backed off several fences and I really had to stay committed. Although I was positive and asked her to jump I was also a bit less forward as I didn’t have much chance to pick up the pace I’d lost but she jumped when I asked and kept on looking for the next fence so we kept on going! Round over the last couple of fences and I'm so so pleased that we finished full of running and CLEAR!!! What a girl my Dwinababes is! She was sweaty but no white lathery foam and she got her breath back very quickly. We picked up a bucket load of time and just pipped out of the placings to finish 11th!
Super thrilled, things to work on in all phases but the Brave pants well and truly ready to go for the next one so I have now entered Burgham Intermediate – fingers crossed it’s a bit kinder!
So this Royal Highland Show, not only did we have sheepies there (check out our Bryland Hebrideans Facebook page) but I also decided to finally tick off Sideyways at the RHS off my bucket list.
You may not know but in 2014 I had entered the side saddle with my friends lovely pony Fresco, with a loaned saddle from Shirley Justice Vose we had been to two local shows, finishing in the top two in every class and even coming home with silverware! Fresco was super awesome and we had high hopes that we would have a blast at the RHS. Sadly the day before when travelling back after sheep showing we had a car accident and instead of sideways on a horse I was sideyways in hospital vomiting and waiting for spinal surgery!
Roll on a few years and the opportunity never really presented itself until this year when the lovely Careth loaned me her side saddle for Classy. Off we pootled to a local show to practice and he won veteran horse champion!
Bathed, clipped, preened and fluffed within an inch of our lives we headed off to the RHS at 5am for our classes. The only time I ever look elegant is riding sideways and Classy was just perfect (in my opinion). We finished both classes in 7th place, which wasn't at the top, nor was it at the bottom so thats good enough for me with a 23yo superstar!
We may do it next year depending, but now our sights are set on a wee trip up to Blair for their veteran classes and another sideyways class - he will be kept well away from the XC however as he LOVES Blair and it will send him crazy!!
Follow, follow, follow, follow the orangey road!
Ok folks so here's the thing. We all have long term ambitions and short term goals and I'd like to take this opportunity to let you know my ambitions. The ones I've had and the ones I now have. I'd love it if you could follow me journey along the way.
When I started eventing ten years ago I really wanted to compete at a three day event. I considered the pre novice ones but never got the chance to do them - work/life/money got in the way - and my ultimate ambition was to one day, compete at Blair in the CCI1*. Thanks to the amazing Classy I was able to achieve this and had such an amazing time. In the run up to this I also competed at Intermediate too - a level which always used to give me the heebie jeebies (look at the height of the fences!) but Classy showed me that it was actually the level that I really enjoyed being at and, as such, has opened my eyes to new goals!
Now semi retired it would be wrong of me to ask for any more of him and at the perfect time, I spotted the advert for the lovely Dwina. Went to meet her and even managed to convince John I'd like to buy her! So last season has been about getting to know her and building a partnership that I hope we will have for a few years. And perhaps she and I might be able to work towards my new ambition...
It's a big one for me.
I'm aiming for the European CIC2* Eventing teams! Yes I know it's a massive ambition and I only really realised it was something I could aim for after watching a very talented rider recently be selected! I'm super chuffed for them and I wondered what I'd need to do to be considered....and so my new ambition was born!
Basically I need to step up with Dweens to Intermediate and 2* this year and hopefully if I can demonstrate consistency then I can put my name forward at the end of the year. Obviously all being well and we are both sound and fit it would be an absolute dream to be in the running for this.
There are several huge goals to hit before then though! The main ones are that I need to be consistently achieving a 70% dressage score at Intermediate and 2* and I need to be regularly inside the time or near to it XC. Both of which will be challenging but I will work hard at hitting them and maybe, if all the luck, gods, moons and stars are aligned we might just be able to put our hat in the ring and make it.
Who knows. Please follow my journey and we will see! Its exciting to have a goal, even if we don't get there I am sure the journey will be fun and enjoyable anyway and you just never know....
If you are interested in being more involved in my journey, please do get in touch. I have some wonderful supporters, and can promise fun times. You don't have to like orange, but it helps!
I have been on the lookout for an excellent pair of cold boots for ages now. Studies show that cold running water, or ice are the best ways to reduce the temperature of the horses legs, so I've been looking for an excellent pair of something that will work well when at an event post cross country.
I have tried everything! A hose of water is impossible out in a field in the middle of nowhere and I've tried boots that you dunk in water, bandages that you freeze and other things designed to work. Sadly none have been really what I wanted, due to being awkward, time consuming or just basically not working! It's been frustrating......Until I tried Cryochaps!
That's it I'm now sorted!! These boots are absolutely perfect! They are so easy to apply and use. They stay cold at events and the best bit....THEY WORK!! Thank heavens!!
I pop them in the freezer and on the morning of an event I pop them in a cold box where they stay until I need them. They stay cold all day and are very quick to use.
To look at they have a gel pad, and attached to this is a soft material section that has straps and Velcro. They will wrap around any size of leg, they are long enough to cover the WHOLE length of the leg! And they fit all my horses really well, not only providing cold therapy but compression too. I love them!
So we are midway through the season and I thought it might be a good time to post an update on my season plans.
Classy bear is loving his short holiday. He still looks amazing but we are giving him a bit of time to let his check ligament sort itself out. He will then return to doing dressage and a bit of Trec.
Evie is currently growing up nicely in the field with Classy. Hopefully he is passing his tales of eventing onto her and getting her excited about her future career! Evie will be started again in September to work over the winter and come out next year. :)
Jack has returned to us. He is retired and living out with Classy and Evie - although I think The Bay Team have decided there is no room for a grey so he is currently on the edge of their gang!
Dwinababes has now been to four events with me in the three months I've owned her. We completed three double clear and placed in the top 6 in two of them.
Our next event is Burgham International where I have entered the CIC1*. I'm really looking forward to it and can't wait to don my tailcoat again! Just need to improve my sitting trot to be able to do her justice!
All being well I hope we can do the Intermediate Novice at Hendersyde then pack the lorry for a week holiday to Blair International Horse Trials for the CCI1*! Cannot wait to have another run at Blair. It was the most amazing experience last year I look forward to having another go this year with Miss Dweens :)
as well as eventing, Dweens and I have a few other outings planned - Trec, gallops and other trips with fitness and Blair prep in mind. I hope we are both ready for those hills of Blair Atholl!
Anyway that's really it! I'll keep you all posted along the way. Please do follow us along the way!
So the schedule for Blair International Horse Trials is now out and entries open in the next couple of weeks (yay!)
Blair is one of my all time favourite venues. When the weather is good its a magical place to be, but not so much when it bad, however its still pretty special even when its lashing with rain!
For me, the planning for Blair has already begun, we are now 8 weeks away so fitness prep has been increased with the plan to head to the gallops a few times before we head north to the Atholl estate.
Since Dwina arrived my season has been planned around getting her to Blair as a short term goal and to have given us the best chance to complete and hopefully with a good competent score.
Blair has always been an ambition of mine since taking up Eventing and I was so lucky to compete there last year with the amazing Classy Bear. We finished 37th out of 67 competitors and although that doesn't sound amazing, it was a fantastic achievement and experience for me. I'm not going to lie, I'd be daft if I didn't want to better my score for 2017 with Dwina and so my plans are set to try and make this possible.
Firstly we are reviewing bitting. Dwina doesn't particularly like having a bit, and after winning the awesome Neue Schule #NSNextTopJockey sponsorship I have been working with them to find the right one for her. Firstly it was important to make sure that she doesn't have any discomfort so she received a light sedation and full examination to see if there are signs of abnormalities. She has great teeth and only a slight point at the front premolar (I don't think this was causing any issues) and no redness of gums or signs of ulcers anywhere. She does have an unerupted canine on one side and although we can't feel any wolf teeth, we will now be doing a quick radiograph to see if there is anything underlying. I'm sure there won't be anything wrong, but it is worth getting her jaw x-rayed just in case.
At the moment I compete Dwina in the dressage phase in a Neue Schule trans angled lozenge fulmar. She seems to like this bit although not as much as the turtle top which is fantastic.
For showjumping and cross country I currently jump in a hackmore with TurtleTop snaffle. She has previously been competed in a hackamore and snaffle so I felt I wanted to keep it the same until we had got to know each other more. After our last run XC I must say I need more brakes!! So I will now discuss with Neue Schule and take advice from their bitting expert so we can work together and find out what is the best for her. As you can imagine it is absolutely fantastic to be able to get this advice and assistance. This service is available for anyone to use, simply complete an advice request on the NSbits.com website and they will be in touch.
I will keep you posted on our progress. Our next eventing outing is to Burgham International, where we have entered the short format (CIC) 1* so I will need to dig out my tailcoat! (Why did I say dig out, like its been stuffed in the back of a cupboad!! As its such a beautiful jacket its currently hanging up, in a cover, keeping it pristine!!). I do also need to practice my sitting trot as she is so bouncy so have several lessons planned so I can be suitably shouted at!
In between eventing, I am also taking part in an endurance ride to allow me to work on Dwinas fitness and stamina. The ride is 20km long and there should be a few places to have some good canter work included. This is the first endurance ride I have entered and I can't see its something I will do frequently, however it is a chance to see new sights, work on fitness, and have a vet assessment. Oh and have a bit of a laugh along the way!
As Classy is currently off games, I am also taking Dwina along to the summer Trec competition being held locally in a few weeks time. Its another opportunity to work on fitness and stamina (and our map reading) as well as have a go with Dwina as she may be the horse I am riding at the GB championships at the end of the year!
A few trips to the gallops in between and I hope that, by Blair, we are suitably fit enough for those hills!
Alongside Dwina's fitness is my own. unfortunately for various reasons I haven't been able to keep up with my usual Metafit, but that now has to start again as I can feel that my fitness levels have dropped. Its very easy as a rider to think that riding fitness just comes from being in the saddle and a bit of mucking out, but its never quite enough. I struggle to maintain cardiovascular fitness so need to add this into my week and metafit has been a fantastic class to work on this. Half an hour a week has made a huge difference to me so its now planned to start again (urgh!). I can't say its easy or enjoyable but its essential and must be done (unfortunately!).
And then there is the plan for packing, how much stuff to take, and what items do we need for the week we are camping. The gazebo needs to be checked, and the list of items is being compiled! its not so bad as I use a checklist app on my phone and have various different checklists created so now have a new 'three day event' one!
Oh and then there is the trot up outfit.......
Anyway, catch up soon with an update on our progress, keep fingers crossed for us!
Happy orangefoxyness to all.