Sarah-Jane Brown July Blog

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Another month has flown by and it has been a struggle with the dry hot weather. Big thanks to Suregrow as currently I still have grass for mine although even this has stopped growing, as I am writing this it is raining so fingers crossed for it to green up and grow again.

The weather has had a big impact on the eventing with the exception of one run I have pretty much stopped eventing and changed my allegiance to show jumping on surfaces. Actually the amount of effort events are going to is making some reasonable ground to run on but that doesn’t help the training at home so I haven’t done any cross country schooling or much fitness work. So until there is a significant change in weather I have severely limited my eventing entries. The one exception this month was a run at Bicton Horse Trials where Fliss did her first BE80.

I will start by reflecting on how far we have come together to get to our first BE.

In the winter my confidence was shattered. Yes I had jumped Advanced in the past but I didn't even want to canter Fliss. I spent more time crying than anything else and certainly had very little enjoyment in riding. I had supportive people around me and was honest about my struggles. Fliss was an angel very patient but as a green horse did need riding.

I took her to her first XC schooling at Pontispool in the arena in the winter and she refused point blank to get her feet wet or to follow another horse in. Eventually I managed to lead her in (in short boots and it was icy cold). We ignored XC and got our confidence together show jumping.

Finally I felt ready to tackle our first BE event. Huge thanks to the team at Bicton for producing a great event with the best ground possible considering the weather. The track was top end for the level (BE80) and certainly needed riding.

Dressage warm up was kept to 15 minutes as it was very hot and she was going sweetly until a grey pony starting working nearby, no idea why but she took fright, her head up in the air and really spooked. Luckily she settled to go in the arena and produced a nice test for her stage of training. A bit wobbly at times but great to have a judge that rewarded the good bits so marks ranged from 5.5 to 8. Very pleased that one 8 was for my riding. 

We were one of only two combinations to break the 30 mark with a 29.8 to leave us 2nd after dressage.

Show jumping was small for Fliss but I was very pleased with how she jumped so sensibly, neither treating them as insignificant nor over jumping. She didn't touch a pole and achieved a great clear round.


Cross country was a decent track for the level with lots of questions particularly for a horse that was yet to have any sort of round cross country. 1 and 2 were decent size and she backed off and needed strong riding, however once away she really focused on the job in hand and took her fences on. The water was at 7 and although she backed off for half a stride she trotted straight in and was away. The rest of the course she jumped sensibly with a big grin on her face, we took it steadily due to ground, heat and experience and clocked up 7.2 time penalties. This was still good enough to finish 3rd which I was over the moon with. 


Ellie meanwhile also had a success this month and even had her picture in Horse and Hound (26 July). Much as my focus is always on eventing my only mentions in Horse and Hound have been for non eventing pursuits and this time it was showing.  Touch wood there seems nothing that Ellie can’t turn her hoof to. This year she has had wins at affiliated dressage, show jumping and eventing. 

So it was time to try something new - showing! To be totally honest I have never been a big showing fan but always fancied trying Ellie in a Working Hunter Pony class. Now there has always been a major hurdle in this plan these classes are restricted to younger riders making me ineligible. However Cornwall’s biggest one day show Stithians had the class as open so we popped an entry in. The class was for 143-153 ponies as Ellie is in the lower range I didn’t expect her to be too competitive. 

It was about a week before panic set in and I realised we not only didn’t know what we were doing but didn’t have any correct gear either!! A close contact jumping saddle would not show her confirmation off that well, a Micklem bridle is evidently not correct and evidently white show jumping boots would be a no no. I don’t have a shirt and tie nor correct showing stick. 

Well the day before was spent teaching me and Ellie on the art of standing a horse up correctly and doing a good trot up. We also borrowed a cavasson bridle and some black boots. 

The course was 90cm with a variety of different rustic questions. It was quite spooky and caused a few horses stops. 11 fences on a sloping ring meant it couldn’t be taken lightly. 

I warmed Ellie up who immediately in a different bridle popped her tongue over the bit - hopped off and popped the bit up higher than I normally would have and luckily she didn’t repeat the trick. 

She jumped a super round and wasn’t affected by the spooky jumps. I think about half of the 14 jumped clear and were called back in for the showing bit. 

We were then called in in any order. Annoyingly I ended up at the end and was first to be called forward so I didn’t get to see anyone else’s show and learn what to do! Also after all my practice the previous day we walked up and trotted back under saddle for the judge so there was no stripping and running out needed. 

She did a nice show and we waited in line. Wasn’t the most settled line as a traction engine drove past the ring making a big racket. Ellie’s eyes were out on stalks but she did contain herself. 

The judge added the scores and we were delighted to be pulled in 2nd. Really pleased particularly as she is a little small for this class and not quite true to the type they are looking for. 

We went back in for the championship of the 3 Working Hunter Pony classes where we walked trotted and galloped for the judge. Have to say she gave a great gallop (best bit for Ellie) which the judge complimented us on. We ended up reserve champion which was amazing. 

A really fun day and nice to do something different. Ellie loved the experience of the crowds looking at her and being able to show off. Busy and buzzy atmosphere which didn’t faze her and can only stand her in good stead for some bigger horse trials in the future.4.jpg

We have finished the month off with a three day show at Dorset Showground show jumping. It was spoilt by the heat but horses and humans survived.

Ellie had an annoying 4 faultitis until the last class of the weekend where in a 1.05 pick your own line I really challenged her with some technical lines and angles over one of the biggest tracks she has jumped. This is obviously the way forward as she really focused and jumped amazingly to come 2nd in a very competitive class.

Fliss was a bit up and down or perhaps my riding was. She jumped a couple of super double clears in the Discovery classes but then I entered a Newcomers and the poles flew as I rode like a tentative lemon. So glad she came out the final day jumping really well, with 3rd place in the Discovery so no long term damage.

Looking ahead if the weather is kind Fliss is entered in the 90 at West Wilts which is the middle of August.  Both are booked in for lessons with Caroline Moore at Millfield which should be really interesting. Expect to hear all about it next time.


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August 3, 2018  |   Share: