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2018

  

June - December

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  May 

A fun start to the month, going XC schooling with my mum's horse Truffles! She's never actually been XC before ever but I was teaching a lesson and thought - why walk when you can ride?! Truffles was so much fun and loved it!

 

New girl G has been going well. It will be a long long journey with her as we have lots of retraining to do but she tries hard. For a glimpse go check out my youtube channel! She is trying to trust me and relax and is starting to learn to be calm and slow down. She's going to be so mega it's so exciting!

 

Thrilled to get to a competition finally! Ruin was the chosen subject! Surprisingly good day which we were not expecting as when I woke up it was torrential rain!! But Ruin was a superstar n coped so well with all the heavy rain n the standing water in the test arena! He did a really nice test, we decided to do a little elementary as we just wanted him to go to a party after a quiet few months n have a fun time. Which he did! Big class with lots of great combinations so really thrilled to come 3rd overall n 2nd in his section with 68%. Lots of little unbalanced moments (we're blaming the puddles) but really pleased that our homework is paying off as he becomes more established with the advanced work and this was reflected with more expression in his trot. Exciting summer ahead for this dude!

 

 

 

April

It's been an interesting month. No competitions or lessons at both Bertie and Ruin had knocks or sprains requiring some quiet time! Must mention my pupil Jamie who went to the Trailblazers 2nd Rounds with her horse Frankie and won with 70% and 85%, qualifying for the Championships!

So somehow...I seem to have acquired another horse...! I already own multiple horses, everyday I ride multiple horses, I didn't want another horse n I definitely didn't need another horse... However sometimes you are drawn to one n it seems you're destined to have them!! After seeing a video of this girl (completely unintentionally) it had 'me' written all over it n when you read the advert with 'very forward', 'real handful', 'needs professional', 'wild'...well unfortunately that's pretty much right up my alley. She wasn't expensive due to the above so went to see her, loved her, had her vetted n she arrived on thursday!!

So everyone meet Grace, a KWPN mare, who has show jumped to date but it literally blows her brain so having a career change to dressage. Rode her for the first time yesterday n let's just say I can understand why the vet that vetted her kept questioning my safety with her n 'did I know what I was buying'...I questioned myself after getting off her yesterday 'what have I done' as I spent the entire session with one arm glued to the neckstrap!! But she's super intelligent n was already so much better today. She's going to be my biggest test to date but I think she's going to be fab so I can't wait to see what the future holds!


 

March


After the snow put paid to the first planned Regionals at Summerhouse, it was postponed a week and we finally got there with Sarah's & my Bertie for the Medium Freestyle. He was ace! Felt gorgeous in the warm up n then did a lovely test - he was definitely (for Bertie) the most chilled and relaxed he's ever been. The handbrake wasn't required! A little disappointed with the score but we still had inevitable spooks and a few very expensive errors, e.g. 4s for jogging in the collected walk n leaping in the final halt. But thrilled to finish 7th in a big class. A top 10 result in your horse's first Regional Championships - what more can you ask for.

 

 

March has been a quiet month as all our focus was on the Regionals and then we had snow and I got the flu! So mostly trying to survive and just training at home. The horses re continuing to go well and Ruin's enjoyed some jumping at home when our outings have been cancelled. Here he is showing first how to do it, and then how to jump like Superman!!

 

 

February


The month started with an outing for Ruin to Summerhouse for his second BD show. Did a little elementary n he was a good boy! Very flat today for some reason, apparent within minutes of getting on him so didn't do too much in the warm up. He did his best in the test but it was super messy n inaccurate as his fuel tank was most definitely empty!! Quite pleased to still manage 65% n not come last ?? Ruin's still very new to this competing malarky n I always say to my pupils that it takes a handful of outings to work out the best 'tactics' for your horse - how much warm up is best, what kind of warm up, workload leading up to the show, best preparation the day before, etc...it's all trial n error! I'm very much figuring out what works best for Ruin, but today wasn't a bad outing because he didn't do anything wrong n I've learned more about him which should help for next time

Next was Bertie's turn and we had a typical 'Bertie day' at Hartpury! Two Mediums; first test wasn't great, Bertie was a weird mixture of relaxed but spooky so our marks were widespread including a 3! Second test was a big improvement so while it wasn't perfect it was much more consistent. So we got the lowest score in the first test with 60% then came 1st in the second test! As I say; a typical competition with Bertie! ??

This is a busy month for Bertie! Summerhouse have an arena hire organised most days in their indoor arena to mimic the regional show in March - white boards, flowers and judges tables! I've booked several for Bertie to prepare him for the regionals next month! Poor Bertie is quite the scaredy-cat n this morning walked in with his eyes on stalks! But he tried hard n by the end of the 30 mins we did manage to get around the arena!!

 

My second blog for Genius Equestrian with our January fun n drama!https://www.geniusequestrian.com/advanced-dressage-rider-holly-norris-road-ruin-chapter-2/ 

Had a few jump sessions with the horses as usual, for fitness and variety. Pity Ruin doesn't get more of a buzz from jumping as he does a good job!

Next was another show for Bertie at Summerhouse. It was an interesting day! Started with riding 2 horses, teaching, vet app, physio visit, lunged horse then off to compete Bertie! ?? Thank god for Emma, Lisa, Jamie & mum! The competition itself was an bizarre affair...Bertie was the hottest to ride he has ever been (which is saying something!) n I had a real struggle controlling his exuberance n I don't think I really managed to let the handbrake off at any point.  But, despite a pretty horrible test, he managed 66% and 2nd!! Preparing for the second test didn't go quite to plan...the classes were running behind so by this point I'd been on Bertie for over 1 1/2 hours which is not ideal at the best of times. Unfortunately this did not 'work' for Bertie n there's no other way to describe it - he was furious!! I mean seriously pissed off! We navigated around the second test but it was littered with mistakes n so I retired at the end with some nice trot n a pat.

Not great but it is important to remind yourself that the horse isn't doing this to spite you!! Although it can feel like it.  Bertie is naturally quite 'on edge' and occasionally we don't get the right 'ingredients' on the day to keep things relaxed and happy. Each time we learn something though and what to avoid in the future. Still positives to take from today though - definitely braver! & some of his extended trots were mega - I mean could you get your leg any higher Bertie?! 


January


Great start to the year! Ruin did his first affiliated dressage competition, only his third test n did an Elementary at Summerhouse. Clever boy, rather fresh in the warm up!! But did a lovely test, not perfect but really pleased with him. So chuffed he won with a smidge under 70%! Such a superstar. The Judge was very complimentary n particularly loved his canter (no surprise)!


 

Next was Bertie's turn and we had an interesting outing to Hartpury for his first show of the year. He LOVES competing n gets super excited so we expected it might go to his head a bit...n it did!! Beautiful in the warm-ups but very tense in the tests; he's always found their big indoor scary n today was no exception. Big steps in the right direction as we didn't have any big spooks n leaps etc but lots of tension that led to rather messy tests with little errors, including an un-required flying change in the second test! Very pleasantly surprised with the scores - a very understanding judge who made really kind comments about Bertie's ability but lack of 'mental relaxation' n my 'tactful riding'!! Now to get him regularly competing n back in to the swing of things.

 

Took Ruin for a lesson with Gareth and he was awesome. So pleased, it's really coming together now n means this summer will be very exciting! Ruin has a busy schedule now as we've also added in water treadmill sessions at Summerhouse Equestrian Centre. My amazing physio Hannah Complin from Vet Physio UK suggested Ruin would benefit from some sessions - so some sessions Ruin will have! He was really good n seemed to enjoy it! This will be a fortnightly thing for him and I look forward to seeing the effects! Look at my youtube channel to see him in action.

I was thrilled to be asked to write a monthly dressage blog for Genius Equestrian n here's the first one, enjoy! http://www.geniusequestrian.com/holly-norris-hmn-sporthorses/

So we braved the cold n winds today for a Summerhouse competition for Bertie, hoping he would have his brave boy pants on! After an interesting (aka spooky) warm up he was ace in the first test; super brave with all the shadows n mostly mistake-free, bar a tiny flying change he slipped in (cheeky!). Thrilled to come 2nd in a big class with a lot of classy horses.

A few hours wait before the next class so untacked him n popped him back on the lorry while I found some lunch. Grabbed him out n started the whole process again, however we have learned something new about Bertie...he does not think this is ok!! Once he is untacked n munching back on the box then he is done thank you very much, none of this riding again!! So I had a very grumpy horse in the warmup, made the best of it then went in for the test, joking with some of the other competitors (who had noticed how angry Bertie looked!) that he would make me pay for it in the test... Well I didn't realise I would be so right! First mistake was mine when I entered in trot not canter… the rest however were Bertie's - throwing in flying changes left, right n centre!! Lovely tidy flying changes but NOT REQUIRED AT MEDIUM BERTIE!! I knew they were coming but there was no way I could stop him, he knew he was not meant to do them but it was clearly payback time… So obviously very expensive. Fortunately the rest of his work was quality enough that he still managed early 60s n 5th out of 10!

So pleased with how much braver Bertie was today, big improvement from Hartpury a few weeks ago. I think he might be telling us he wants to do a test with flying changes though?!

 

December


A quiet December after a few competitions were cancelled due to snow! So one show with Bertie at Summerhouse. I was super proud of him - it was blowing a gale n that's his absolute worst nightmare but he was really brave. First test was a little more exciting with a few bounces over shadows n unfortunately he jogged through all the walk work. Won the class but that wasn't hard considering I was the only person to turn up!! (says a lot about the weather!) Second test was an improvement n felt much more relaxed n rhythmical, several of us in this one so pleased to come 2nd with 68+% from Lady Inchcape. Really chuffed - Bertie's really trying hard at the scariest venue (in his eyes) n the progress each time he goes there is huge.


Now 2017 is nearly over - what a year it has been!

Some big changes which, as hoped, turned out to be extremely positive n I couldn't be happier! I've been really pleased with the progress all the horses have made, in particular Bertie n Ruin which I have to mention as there are enough lows in this sport you have to celebrate the highs! Did 3 big Championships with Bertie n he came 1st twice and 2nd in the other with my best score to date - 78%!! Not to be outdone Ruin made his dressage competition debut, bringing back a 75% Novice win! So chuffed with both of them n we have some really exciting things planned for them for 2018…literally cannot wait! Must also mention our homebred Rocky, who began his partnership with Emma who keeps her horses at my yard, culminating with a win at their last show with over 76%! Last but definitely not least, to complete our yard's successful 2017, Jamie n Frankie began their dressage campaign earning several wins with mid-70% scores, as well as coming 2nd showjumping at the Riding Club National Championships!!
Huge congrats to all my pupils who have done me proud this year, time n time again, genuinely too many to mention. Lots of plans for 2018 we are already working toward, which I'm so looking forward to - it's one of my favourite parts of my job!
I basically have the best bunch of horses, owners, sponsors, supporters and friends…big thanks and love to all of you, I'm so lucky.

 

November


November started with taking Bertie to the British Dressage GBPRE Championships at Keysoe. Exciting warm up but when he settled he went beautifully so was feeling positive. Qualified at two levels; first test...bit of a disaster! Very spooky n lots of bounces n sideways n wiggles n jumps n just awful to be honest, felt very disappointed n deflated. Changed warm up for the second test n really pleased. Test itself...a bit better but very messy n lots of spooking n a few unscheduled flying changes. Despite feeling better our second score was lower n we finished 7th, however amazingly in the first class we came 2nd!! Lovely comments from the Judges n a fun lap of honour where Bertie got rather exciting n wanted to seriously strut his stuff!!!

So a mixed day, frustrating on many levels, spent the past month on spook busting with outings to scary venues n intense training, so very disappointing when it goes out the window. All character building as they say though!! Have to keep the faith that one day we shall show what we are capable of when it counts.

 

 

Next up, Emma took my homebred boy Rocky dressaging n they won with over 76+%!! I couldn't make it as I was really ill, gutted to miss it, but they nailed it n did an amazing job, super proud of them both. Emma has taken over the ride of Rocky n is doing such a great job with him, they make a great partnership, the future looks bright!

 

 

 

October


October was a bit of a change to September which lots of outings and competitions! First was a fun outing with my & Sarah's Bertie to Hartpury today! The aim purely to have less tension n a more relaxed, calm n less spooky Bertie in the scary arena! An 'interesting' warm up which started well then he had a serious knob moment n we did a lot of reversing n bouncing n both Sarah n Emma had to come in to the arena to try n help!! Fortunately he put that behind him n did two really nice tests, much braver than last time n got better as they went on. Really thrilled, feel we're getting somewhere - the physical work is never the problem, it's his mental demons n vivid imagination that are the issue!! So we were particularly chuffed to come 2nd in both big classes. 


 

The next weekend was the next challenge for Bertie, leading to another emotionally traumatic day with Bertie, as they often are! A trip to Summerhouse for spook busting practice. Much braver in the warmup despite being hot hot hot, but the first Medium was an absolute disaster with a few unscheduled reinbacks n extra moves...the Judge's comments pretty much summed it up..."Very nervous today, but well done for nursing him through whole test"! Fortunately the second test was much improved, thank god, n our score went up almost 10% as a result! Still a lot of tension but really pleased with the progress n brought back a nice blue rosette. We will get there!


 

It was Ruin's turn next for a bit of fun - some XC schooling with Jamie and Frankie. Lovely place and a lovely day, Ruin enjoyed himself and particularly loved the water! Good for the horses to have variety and some fun!   

 

September

A quiet month for us as I had a much needed holiday - my first one in 10 years! Went to visit friends and family in the US and had a fantastic time. Emma kept the yard running in my absence and the horses enjoyed a quieter time with lots of hacking.

Several clients had a very successful September, a few of whom I have to mention! Eleanor did her first dressage freestyle class and won it with 73.61%! Jamie and Frankie went to the Riding Club National Championships and did amazingly well to come 2nd!! So so proud, they work so hard and fully deserve their success.

 August

Ruin's turn to compete as we went for his second dressage competition, this time a Novice. After a lovely warm up he went a bit babyish in the test n wiggled around all over the place! Felt very messy n pretty awful but fortunately, n rather amazingly, the judge didn't agree n we won with over 75%!!

 

Next I competed Bertie at the two day Midway Championships at Hartpury. Aim was for more exposure for Bertie n increase his bravery in scary arenas n big atmospheres! The straight Mediums weren't so fabulous...his first time in Hartpury's outdoor which was clearly very alarming n the whole test was incredibly tense n 'looky' from start to finish. It really was awful. I'm not going to conceal the fact that we came last, and I mean last - 29th out of 29! Frustrating but had to remind myself that that was the whole purpose of the Championships! The second Medium on saturday was in the international indoor n was a big improvement; still a lot of tension at the start but got better n better so was really pleased with him. A step in the right direction! One day we'll be able to show what he can really do!!

However, the friday afternoon was the Music Championships n Bertie put on his dancing shoes n did a lovely clean test to WIN with 71% and become MEDIUM MUSIC CHAMPIONS!! Only Bertie could come last in the morning then win a few hours later!! A long wait for the prize giving but so exciting to win our first sash and rug and do the winner's lap of honour. Still buzzing!

Thanks so much to my awesome trainers Gareth Hughes n Richard Davison, and to my super support crew. So very lucky

 

I can't finish without a little mention for a couple of my clients (and friends) who had such a successful final weekend of August, very proud of them all

 

July

Great start to July, taking Ruin to his first ever dressage competition!! He was such a good boy, super chilled with only a few little 'exuberant' canter transitions (including one in the test that didn't go down too well!) but didn't put a foot wrong n did a really sweet little prelim. Such a big class running over 2 hours so really pleased to come 2nd! Clever boy!

 


Next was Bertie's turn and at Summerhouse. Took him for familiarisation there the day before the show for their arena hire using our new techniques n he was definitely braver this time. Back the next day for the BD show. Used the calmer syringes Gareth recommended n it made such a difference! Still a bit spooky but felt so much more ridable n relaxed. Really pleased, he won his section n with a 7% score increase from last time!

Second test...not so much!! Calmer syringes had definitely worn off n Bertie was in full ferrari mode n I had a very difficult time trying to contain him n get some leg on him to do the lateral work without zooming sideways. However was managing to hold it together until the final centreline where Bertie literally boiled over!! Was SUPPOSED to canter on to the centre line, straight back to trot, trot to X then halt n salute...however I could not get Bertie to stop cantering n we bounced our way down toward X when we promptly reared n ran backwards 100mph toward A before leaping forwards n canter bouncing down the centreline (STILL trying to trot!!) n turned left (signalling I was retiring) n continued trying to stop cantering n get trot so I could stop n leave the arena!! Finished with a few minutes in the warm-up to get Bertie settled and end on a better note. So more lessons learned on our exposure n spook-busting mission!! However watching some of the video the good bits are looking awesome so we're definitely on the right track.

The next day was Jamie on the yard's turn, taking her girl Frankie to Summerhouse for their third dressage competition - winning a huge class with 73.9%!! So thrilled and proud of how far this combination have come! They then topped this off by representing FFRC at Leyland Court with style jumping and managed to come home with no less than 6 red 1st rosettes!! Superstars

 

The final weekend of July was busy and exciting, taking part in the GBPRE Championships at Hartpury. It's a huge 5 day show with a real festival feel. I competed Bertie on the thursday in the BD as a warm-up for Saturday's extravaganza. Good job too...it was a shambles!! Bertie is of course scared of everything n was very spooky, of everything but one marker in particular was terrifying! We started on an 8 for our entry then finished with 7.5 for our final halt, but the in-between was littered with 4s n even a 3! Quite pleased with 62% n 3rd!! Judge's comment "Super smart with lots of talent but..." sums it up... 

 

 

Next was the saturday night...and WOW what a night at the gala evening!

Began with a disastrous warm-up where Bertie was scared of his own shadow...literally!! We had a longer warm-up than planned as things were running late so we were both exhausted n slightly traumatised! After the slightly disastrous test on thursday it's safe to say we had zero expectations but amazingly Bertie put on his brave pants n we managed a (quite) smooth freestyle with only a few mistakes (cantered in his medium trot, which is of course his party trick!) n kept in time with our music...

However unbelievably we WON with over 78%!!! It was the Medium-Inter1 class so there were some very classy combinations n smart tests. Completely stunned n elated to say the least!! These highs make the blood, sweat n tears worth it! A very late night by the time we got home n took ages to get to sleep I was still buzzing! What a superstar.

Also so thrilled to get a 9 for our music - I do it all myself n spend ages fitting it to my floorplan using the music's 'accents' so it's not just background music. I think I'll keep that test sheet!! So chuffed! Thanks so much to all my friends n clients that came to support me - completely overwhelmed! Really appreciate it. Special thanks to my superhero mum who spent hours sewing n making our costumes, couldn't do it without you.

 


 

 

 

June


A great day start to June! I'm used to going to competitions with my pupils n friends as the trainer; to help them warm-up n give them support n confidence, it can make such a difference n it's something I love to do. However today was a little different as it was my horse!! Emma, who has her horse at my yard n trains with me, competed my homebred Rocky for me n did so well, he hasn't competed for two years as a 6yo due to ongoing injury problems n Emma has only actually ridden him 3 times this year!! But kindly agreed to take him out for a party...n what a party he had. They had a few 'looky' moments n wobbles at the start as Rocky's so 'ring rusty' n was an eventer not a dressage horse! But Emma gave him a great ride n he visibly grew in confidence as the test went on n came 2nd in a big class with 69.8%!


We have an exciting addition to the yard; Emma has bought a new youngster so we welcome Sidney! He's such a sweetie n seems to have settled really well already.

Another proud trainer moment; Jamie n Frankie did their second dressage competition n not only did she win with over 71% but she also got a 9!!

 

After our mini heat wave I took Bertie n Rocky to Summerhouse for their dressage arena hire day; spook-busting for Rocky ahead of his competition on saturday n familiarisation (n spook-busting) for Bertie ahead of competing there the following day. Rocky was initially alarmed with eyes on stalks n snorting but soon settled n did some lovely work, really relaxed n unfazed. Bertie on the other hand was a bit of a nightmare with lots of deep breathing n reversing from start to finish! He has a very vivid imagination!! Aim for the following day was simply to get around and from now on no 'easy' venues for him; just exposure at the 'scary' venues. He will be brave!!


The next day we went to Summerhouse as planned and pleased to say he was much braver n better than expected! Lots of spooks n bounces as we knew there would be but we got through from start to finish without needing to retire n vaguely following the line of the tests! 3rds in both Mediums so we weren't last n got over the 60% threshold so can't complain. Love the judge's comments about 'becoming difficult to ride' n 'moments really good so persevere'!!!

 

Some of our 'moments'...

 

The following day was Emma's turn, taking my boy Rocky to their second dressage competition together. It was very windy n Rocky was super brave!! They did a fab test, couldn't have asked for better, n won it with over 70+%! They both looked amazing, I'm proud as punch, thanks so much Emma for competing him for me, it's fair to say he had a ball! 

 

The month finished in style - our yard is bringing home all the red rosettes at the moment!! Big well done to Jamie n Frankie at Berkeley Show coming 3rd in the 80cm n winning the 90cm with the only clear. They have not been outside the top 3 for the last few months now in all 3 eventing phases which is very exciting! Bring on July!

May

A fun start to May, competing Bertie at Hunters Equestrian. Hunters seems to bring out the ferrari in Bertie!! Calm-ish warm up but electric in the tests; had to be my most tactful as every move was getting an electric-shock type response! Got several flying changes, in both tests...shame it's only Medium! Amusingly they were on centre lines which is somewhere I have never done them?! After bringing him back to walk after one of the flying changes he decided to reverse down the centre-line in protest! So while we had 7.5s we also had 3s...hence not our greatest scores but a low scoring class so did get a red rosette.


Now I don't normally post about my pupils' successes as it's their achievement and not about me…but have to make an exception! Jamie has only had Frankie about 9 months n neither have ever done a pure dressage competition before, it hasn't necessarily come easily to Frankie as she has to contain her enthusiasm n huge springy paces! But Jamie has worked so hard n been so patient n was truly rewarded at their first dressage competition - coming 2nd with 70.4%!! Despite missing out a 20m circle stretch (because we didn't realise there was one!) which is expensive, especially when only a whisker behind the winner (0.8%)! However that is irrelevant, Jamie rode with a maturity beyond her years n I couldn't be more pleased with both of them - proud as punch!

 

 

Had a good lesson on Bertie with Richard Davison; he was much more relaxed having been there already. Lots of really useful exercises, as always it's about giving Bertie something to focus on so he's not thinking up his own tricks, i.e. adding in unplanned flying changes! Setting him up for everything while not letting him take over but waiting for me is always a struggle but lots of little things to work on, I love having some homework. Good preparation for our next outing; our first freestyles of the year and also his first Elementary FSM and first Medium FSM! Pleased with the Elementary music, it all went to plan n we hit the music at the right moments...phew! A little tension here n there but overall felt nice n came 2nd with just under 70%. Medium music was a little bit more hit n miss!! Actually only finished it a few days ago so haven't been able to practice it much, which showed...we missed the music cues a few times, but overall it went ok. My floorplan is really difficult n the music really suits Bertie with lots of 'phrases' that match the movements, so it was frustrating not to be rewarded for that. Typical Bertie was even spookier in the second test so a really messed up simple change (aka spook) by a marker n subsequent carefully ridden movements to avoid any extra n not-planned moves!Considering, pleased with 66+% n 3rd.

 


April

April started with a bang with a busy few days for Bertie...lesson with Richard Davison one day then with our regular trainer Gareth Hughes the next! Both very different sessions but Bertie was a superstar in both as always, apart from his normal spooky jumpy moments that he just can't help! Exciting things to come this summer. 


The first outing of the month was a bit of an unexpected one! Was supposed to be taking Ruin jumping at Leyland Court but he pulled a shoe off the night before and nobody was able to pop over tp put it back on - not surprising on a sunday morning! Frustrating as I had pre-entered but the wonderful Jamie n Lisa at the yard offered me their awesome mare Frankie to jump instead so wouldn't lose the entry! Well she was ace n despite being a massive class n lots of zippy ponies we won!! What a superstar, I've only jumped her once when we tried her to buy 6 months ago! So much love for her n lots of thanks to Lisa n Jamie, I don't know who had more fun - me or Frankie!! There's a great video on my youtube channel.

 

 

The following week we took Mr Bertie to Burrows for his second show of the year! Aim of the day - calm n quiet tests!! He was a bit hot to trot but managed to achieve our objective in the Elementary for 2nd with 72+%!! Couldn't quite keep it up in the Medium n some of the canter work got a little exciting but still progress n he won (his section n overall) with 67+%! Plus won some money, which always helps. Really pleased; all a step in the right direction, particularly considering this was only his second Medium n only his second year competing - in fact it's not even a year that he's been a competition pony! Clever boy, when he manages to contain his excitement n gives me the 20% LESS like I ask for (not everything needs 150% Bertie!) we'll be on to a winner, pun intended.

HUGE thanks have to go to Lisa n Jamie for doing the yard in my absence, all a bit last minute as my times were later than I'd expected. It's quite a mammoth operation n they selflessly help me out, much appreciated. Also big thanks to Emma for being top groom n even helping me finish up when we got home afterwards!! Bertie isn't the easiest to groom for...patience? What's that?! Standing still for boots to be put on/off? Why stand still when we can reverse n go sideways?! Emma must have the patience of a saint!! How lucky am I to have a gorgeous yard, lovely horses n amazing people on my yard who are worth their weight in gold.


Next was Ruin's turn and we had a great day taking him to his first ever XC experience, schooling at Ace Cross Country - what a truly ace place!! Ruin as normal manages to complete surprise us...utterly chilled n relaxed, as if he's been doing this his whole life!! Basically he was a dude; jumped everything including steps, ditch, water etc as well as some really funky coloured jumps - didn't bat an eyelid! Has he read the eventing manual?! Super chuffed with him. There's a great video on my youtube page - the slowest you'll see me go XC!! This dry weather is fab, except it makes for very hard ground everywhere. 

 

After a youngster's first XC experience I like to do another schooling session a week later to consolidate what they've learned, cue XC schooling at Leyland Court. He was super chilled which was lovely to see n jumped everything easily without a spook or silliness. Loved the water n had a great play in it. Not so keen on the ditch though!! Took me completely by surprise as he's such an unfazed chap n he'd flown the one at Ace several times both ways n that was a bigger ditch!! Funnily enough it's amazing how he's prepared to jump a ditch if he's following the new love of his life Frankie though! Then popped over on his own. Lots of ditch work to do though, fortunately I have my own fab ditch at home that I can play over n if necessary do every day until he's happy n confident.

So it all finished well I hear you say? Well no...walking Ruin up the lorry ramp to come home he swung his head to keep an eye on his new girlfriend n his leather headcollar promptly broke (a mixed blessing these leather headcollars...), leapt off the ramp n took off around the carpark galloping, strutting his stuff, screaming his head off for his lover Frankie!! Fortunately when he paused shrieking n charging about long enough to see where Frankie actually was he ran over to her so we could grab him, cobble together his headcollar n load him to come home. Fun times!!


 

Great day competing me n Sarah Varney-Wiseman's Bertie! So much more chilled this time, really starting to get in to the swing of competing again. Did lots of work in the warm up to keep him feeling 'rideable'. First test, the elementary, was good but we had lots of little spooks where he decided the sun shining on the letters around the arena were very scary! So lacking a bit of fluency but he tried hard n came 2nd with 68+%  Then some more work in the warm up to settle him in time for the Medium, where he did a fab test with some really awesome bits to come 2nd again with 69+% - his highest score at this level n only his 3rd attempt. He definitely goes better with the more advanced work n felt really rideable so I could ride him forward through the test rather than keeping the handbreak on!! We're so pleased with him, what a special boy, he's such a superstar.

 

 

April finished with some changes, the biggest being that I will no longer be riding for Ruth and Greg. It's been a really difficult decision as I have really enjoyed riding their horses n adore their little Breeze in particular, as I think everyone knows! Lots of fond memories over the last 6 years, such as turning the enormous Star into a very amenable gentle giant after a history of ditching riders n being expelled from yards n, after a few uncertain years when he broke his neck n had long rehab, he has really progressed to being a lovely light ride back out competing with good scores n placings n no bucks in sight. However my highlight has been re-backing Breeze at 4 n training her to now working at PSG with awesome flying changes n a collection of red rosettes most horses would envy (I've kept most of them!) However I have to look ahead n what works for me n I am so fortunate to have so many people supporting me n wanting to invest in my future so this will give me much more time to focus on the lovely other horses I ride n my wonderful clients. I wish them all the best, here are just a few of my fav pics from Breeze n Star's Horse n Hound mentions, Bella featuring in the Glos Gazette n some competition n schooling pics


 

 

 

  

March

A great start to March, taking Bertie to his first party (competition) of the year. I say party because that is exactly how Bertie felt!! He was VERY excited to be out n loved every second of it. Some really mega moments but lots of little blips n obvious half halts. Pleased to still score a solid 65% in the Elementary n 3rd in our section then 64% in his first ever Medium test n 2nd! Lots of "plenty of energy", "tension" & "explosive" comments!! Now to plan more comps to get him settled. He has such a great attitude though - can't fault his enthusiasm, he's just a bit too keen to give everything 150%!!


 

Bless Bertie...despite my endless work telling him to do his small big trot because he isn't strong enough to maintain his his big big trot, however Bertie was determined to do his Valegro trot that he threw his legs out as far as he could then literally fell down!! Well Bertie I have been saying that...maybe next time you'll listen!! Not likely…!

 

Next it was Ruin's turn, competing at Summerhouse - his first proper experience at a 'big' show! The warmup was SERIOUSLY MANIC n a real eye-opener for him - he's never seen so many horses!! - but he was an absolute dude; we passaged around as he was bricking it a bit inside but he held it together n coped like a real champ! Lots of waiting around but finally went in where he jumped like a pro n we got a lovely double clear - what more can you ask for! Clever boy, will step up the height a little next time as he's growing in confidence n experience



And of course it wouldn't be a typical show for me without a near death experience as my horse attempts to nose-dive!! 


Good first show of the year for Ruth & Greg's little Breezicles at Burrows. Did a couple of Elementaries; a nice steady 'clear round' in the first test for 70% n 3rd, then took some risks n went for power in the second test!! Didn't completely come off; a few great moments but several little errors too so a lower score but still placed well. Clever girl, will go back to Medium in her next show

 

February


February has been one busy month! Started with a couple of the youngsters having their first pair of hind shoes put on and they look super smart, lucky ponies - proper grown-ups now! Big thanks to my awesome farrier Joel Roberts who puts up with my weirdos (including me). Then almost all of the yard had the dentist yesterday, who comes to us every 6 months to do the horses - yesterday 8 were done! A busy day but very productive and great to know they are in the best of hands with the amazing Pete Ravenhill, who again puts up with me as well as some 'unique' dental work for my atypical horses!! 


The following week we had an exciting day…we took Ruin for his first ever competition, only his second outing ever n first time jumping away from home! We aimed high...doing the 1'6 and 1'9...however apart from sitting on the last fence in the clear round he jumped two double clears n did a pretty good jump off for a big leggy chap to come 5th among zippy ponies n get two roseys! A big learning curve; started by dragging me around the car park n refusing to stop pawing, to hanging out by the collecting ring n munching his haynet by the lorry! What a dude, he loved it.

 

Next was Bertie's turn with a fab lesson with Gareth, he's really coming along! We're consolidating his medium-level work n flying changes, there's lots to be excited about for the summer! Can't wait to get out competing him soon.

 

 

That weekend we took Ruin to Summerhouse for their dressage arena schooling day; his first time there n first time meeting scary dressage boards n decorative flowers! Of course typical Ruin - he couldn't have cared less!! He's so unfazed about everything! He was really good, didn't put a foot wrong n did some lovely schooling. All part of exposing him to new places n experiences, he's learning each time.

 

 

One week later n another day of learning for Ruin! This time at Summerhouse's eventer challenge course hire. The first time he's seen anything like it! He was a bit freaked out when we first went in but settled while warming up n then jumped everything without batting an eyelid like a pro!!! Such a clever boy.



 

 

January

Things have been pretty quiet in January; no competitions, just focusing on picking everyone up after a quieter time over christmas and lots of training ahead of the coming season! The horses are all going well and the youngsters and improving daily. 

Bertie has been getting to grips with his newly learned flying changes! As with most things Bertie has found flying changes very exciting n getting them more 'grounded' has been the aim of the game! His uphill exuberance will be useful but not just yet... I always love to think outside the box n the last week decided to just do some flying changes every time I wanted to change the rein while doing poles/jumping - after each change when he got excited n desperate to do another we'd take him over the poles/jump to take his mind elsewhere. Sounds simple enough but that, combined with a few little tweaks to my preparation n aids for him, seem to have worked! So chuffed n still buzzing. Gold star for Mr Bertie! 

Ruin's schooling is also going well in preparation of making his BD debut in a few months. In addition I have spent time working on his jumping over the winter - without a horse to event this year I've told Ruin that might be his job!! He's quite an idle character with long legs that he's yet to completely master! So I'm using polework and jumping to encourage to think forwards and be self-motivated, and be quick and snappy with his legs. It's very much a work-in-progress but he's really coming along. He loves the challenge and is starting to get the idea that the aim is to leave the jumps up!! As you can see he makes a great shape over a fence with a naturally good forearm action, plus he's very brave and isn't scared of fillers. Who says dressage horses can't jump?! He may be an eventer yet! Check out my HMN Sporthorses youtube channel for some videos of him in action.


 



 

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