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The latest news from Shoestring Eventing

It has been a good couple months although maybe not the most exciting blog wise. We have been active on all affiliated fronts and Ellie has been showing great progress, however, frilly wise there seem to have been a few too many just out the placings! For a very competitive person this has been a source of frustration but then again drives us to improve me.

DSC_0058XX.JPGSince our fall at Pontispool we have now established ourselves at BE90 level with some nice clear rounds, the odd pole show jumping has cost us dear though. As Ellie is ony 14.2 I find my position influences her far more than it would on a bigger horse so I have to be careful not to get in front of the movement. Equally I can struggle by overthinking her slightly shorter stride in related distances.

So we have completed West Wilts, Treborough, Bicton and Launcestion with finishing scores ranging from 33.7-43.7 which is pretty pleasing. Currently debating moving up to a 100 level at the end of August.

We have also had the chance to do some affiliated dressage at Tall Trees where working at Novice she produced the best tests to date with two scores of 66% winning her 8 BD points and a 3rd and 4th place. Dressage is certainly not my favourite phase but more a necessary evil that has to be endured! Competitions are only entered when all jumping options have been eliminated! Saying that we do work hard at home and have had some really good lessons with Stef Eardley to help improve things. With Ellie her main problem is that she will often curl behind the vertical particularly when she is tense, Stef gave us some really good tips to help this. I was trying to stop this by giving her the rein whereas a lot of the time she actually needed support from the hand.

Show jumping wise we have progressed to jumping British Novice and Discovery, I can assure you on a 14.2 pony a Discovery jump off 1.05 – 1.10 looks pretty big! She is very scopey though and I just need to learn to adapt to her size and stride.

This last week I organised a Biomechanics clinic with Russel Guire from Centaur Biomechanics who is one of the top people in his field working with the British Equestrian Teams. Considering my past injuries and wonkiness I have always been keen to have a session so the only way to do so was organise a clinic in Cornwall. I had no shortage of people keen to take part.

I watched a few sessions and couldn't help but be extremely impressed how Russel helped a wide variety of riders of different ages and abilities. He started by assessing each rider on a centre line from both directions and then riding a circle in each direction around him while recording the footage on a slow motion camera. When this was done riders came back to the 'office' as pictured to review the footage. Here he could point out any positional issues and discuss reasons it may be happening. He then asked riders to do a centre lie in walk with their eyes closed and it was amazing without the correction ability of the eyes the horses quickly veared in the direction their riders body was taking them.

What impressed me most was not only could he recognise the problems but he could put a plan in with the riders to help correct the issues, this was a variety of exercises or simple corrections that quickly made huge differences in the horses way of going. The feedback from all the riders was very positive.

Typically my session was not as straightforward he quickly identified from the video that one side of my pelvis / hip was doing more work than the other giving almost a rolling motion.

I told him about my old injuries and accidents that mean my hip and ankle are pinned and that also I ride in low grade pain most of the time. This also precludes we from riding some big moving horses. To compensate I ride with quite unlevel stirrups up to 3 holes different.

He also assessed me over a jump and although not as clear the tendency was the same.

In some ways he was complimentary that my riding ability made me cover up the problems very well but I should not be riding with such uneven stirrups and that in itself is causing me problems and is likely to cause more problems. If I had a significant leg length difference then I can ride slightly uneven but mine is not that significant therefore by doing so it may not be helping me physically. However at this time he was unwilling to give me exercises to correct until my physical disability and how much it can be corrected is understood. He has referred me to a physio near Taunton to assess this, the physio in question regularly works with all types of riders including para riders and can assess what can be improved so maybe working with them both we can improve things. It would need a lot of additional strength and conditioning work as well.

I went away feeling slightly deflated on one hand but very positive on another as the possibility is there that I can improve another level. However to do that it sounds like a lot of hard work ahead. My biggest regret is that I didn't meet Russel and the people he has access to 5 or 6 years ago.

Watch this space for progress!

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July 31, 2017  |   Share:

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.

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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.

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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.

image1.jpgWe 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.

April 20, 2017  |   Share:

Valegro's emotional retirement at Olympia 2016

'Truly one in a million', 'He has it all' and 'Genius in an athlete's body' are just a few of the comments describing the one and only Valegro. 

With three gold medals under his belt partnered by Charlotte Dujardin, he has now been officially retired from competition. The sport's most successfull partnership performed at Olympia last night, 14th December 2016.

To see his routine please click here. 

Although Valegro will no longer compete, he will continue to give celebrity appearances and demonstrations. Charlotte is currently campaigning several potential successors for Tokyo 2020, including Mount St John Freestyle. 

To add to an already emotional evening, sponsored rider Carl Hester, Charlotte Dujardin's team-mate, metor and co-owner of Valegro, danced to victory for the second night running in the freestyle aboard Nip Tuck with a score of 84.669%. 

December 15, 2016  |   Share:

Carl Hester to use Suregrow Fertiliser

As one of the most successful dressage riders and trainers in the world, Carl Hester's management of his horses is much admired and amongst the impeccable attention to detail is a fundamental belief in the importance and value of long periods of turnout.

Following a review of his grazing paddocks and a meeting with Suregrow Fertiliser, sponsor of the British Dressage Advanced Medium National Championship, Carl has joined the increasing number of successful riders from all disciplines who are choosing to fertilise their grassland with Suregrow.

He explains: "It's a well-known fact that I believe in turnout for all of my horses and in some cases, living out suits their temperament perfectly. This applies to both my grand prix horses and also the youngsters, who I hope will be the stars of the future.

"We have smaller paddocks for everyday turnout and larger fields for youngsters and those competition horses who live out permanently. By using Suregrow Fertiliser, we will be able to enhance and prolong the growth of good quality grazing in the smaller paddocks, so the horses can enjoy the nutritional benefits of the grass whenever turned out. Whilst they are grazing, they are not 'messing around' and I can see that they clearly feel contented, which is very important to me.

"In the larger fields, where horses live out, it's even more important to ensure the grass quality is as good as it can be, as they are grazing for 24 hours a day."

Suregrow Fertiliser's Jonathan Cox visited Carl's immaculate yard to assess the soil condition and grazing quality before offering a management protocol to suit Carl's regime. "There are 30 acres of grassland and it is generally in good condition", he observed, adding, "The small paddocks used for daily turnout have already benefited from an autumn application of Suregrow, which is helping to improve the thickness of the grass sward, resulting in better quality grazing for longer this season and earlier next spring.

"We are pleased to be working with Carl and his team and looking forward to another visit in the spring to advise on an application rate and timetable for all the land to help ensure the best possible grazing for all of his horses throughout the year."

November 29, 2013  |   Share:

Suregrow Fertiliser renews support for British Dressage National Advanced Medium Championship

Already the choice of international event riders Oliver Townend, Ruth Edge and Caroline Powell, Suregrow Fertiliser is also used by dressage ‘icon’ Richard Davison, who says, “Our horses enjoy their turnout time and by ensuring the grass they graze provides a correct mineral balance, it offers the potential to contribute significantly to their diet and wellbeing, which is very important to me.”

Suregrow is a unique fertiliser specifically for horse and pony paddocks, containing a slower release form of nutrients proven in trials to produce more sustained, better quality grass growth over a longer period and to facilitate uptake of nutrients essential to wellbeing.

Confirming the company’s support of the Suregrow Fertiliser Advanced Medium Championship, Suregrow’s Jonathon Cox said, “More horse owners seeing the benefits of turnout alongside feeding a natural, high forage diet and our support of the British Dressage Advanced Medium Championship will enable us to meet and help dressage riders and trainers looking to improve grazing quality as part of their management of ‘happy equine athletes’. We are pleased to be working with British Dressage and looking forward to the opportunities it offers.

The Suregrow Advanced Medium Championships take place at the British Dressage National Championships, where successful riders from a series of Regional Championships will contest both the Suregrow Open Advanced Medium Championship and the Suregrow Restricted Advanced Medium Championship.

Pictured is the winner of the 2012 Suregrow Fertiliser Advanced Medium Open Championship, Laura Bechtolsheimer (now Tomlinson) with Polar Bear, with Jonathan Cox of Suregrow Fertliser.

 

April 26, 2013  |   Share: