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Tam’s Blog – June 10th

Now spring is well underway, we’ve been stepping up our activities.  Beau is doing fine but I’m worn out!

Mollichaff HoofKind CompleteHe’s looking great on Mollichaff Hoofkind Complete, which he seems to really enjoy, as does Simon’s horse, Parker.  Beau squeals like a little piggy at feeding time so I know he’s enjoying it!  We changed from using hay to using HorseHage for travelling, and he is doing really well on that too – hay was making him snotty after being in the truck and that problem has now gone.  We also changed his bit which has been really good for him.  A good friend was selling a Neue Schule Verbindend dressage legal bit and I thought it was worth a try.  He has lost his stiffness on the left side and is not resisting this one at all.  I suspect that because the Myler is independently jointed, my lazy left arm was not moving with my right, therefore blocking him and causing stiffness on that rein.

Tam & Beau

Camp

May 20th to 22nd was Cherwell Valley RC senior camp at Bury Farm Equestrian Village.  It was brilliant!

We had decided to stick to two sessions per day because Beau is 19 now and having made it this far with clean legs I don’t want to be the cause of any injury by asking him to overdo it.

We started with a flat lesson from the ever-patient Matt Cox, where, in the heat of the international indoor arena, Beau and I learned to canter leg yield so that we can ride better corners.

Matt Cox Lesson

Then Simon took over the ride for a session over ground poles with our CVRC Chairman, Amanda.  That was a cracking session!  Last time Simon and Beau attempted polework, Beau took charge and did everything at canter (very stompily!).  This time, after having worked on some of the control and balance techniques he’s been learning, it was Simon, rather than Beau, that decided when to walk and when to trot.  I was so proud!

We tucked the ponies in and tucked ourselves into wine and spag bol to build up energy for the following day.  After hardly any sleep because of the rain on my friend’s (extremely comfy) camper van, Saturday dawned with sunshine and no wind – marvellous.

Simon started the day with a jumping session with Jonathan Canty, who was chuffed to bits with Simon’s progress and that he was no longer getting carted at the mere sight of a pole.  At one point the old boy did let himself down and decide it was all too slow and steady but Simon wouldn’t let him take control so all was fine .  One rider in the session commented – “Oh, so he’s not completely the perfect horse then!”

Poles

My afternoon session was another go at side-saddle with Ginny Oakley teaching and providing saddles (and ladylike-ness), which was one of the highlights of my camp – Beau was legendary.  And to make it even better, my quadrille team-mate, Batman-Nanna came to play too. It was her and her horse’s first time wonky and they were both amazing.  She won’t mind me sharing that she suffers from hip pain so wasn’t sure she’d be able to do it at all, but was off like a professional once the saddle was fitted.  Beau and I have had three or four sessions before this, so I decided we ought to build on what we’d done before and off we trotted.  Whilst Ginny wasn’t looking, I tapped him into a canter, and we even did (half of a) flying change across the arena!  Awesome.  I find it quite difficult to stay properly balanced but I think because you’re seated so far back on the horse’s back, it helps Beau to balance better onto his engine rather than his shoulders.

We have yet to source a saddle or habit so have yet to tick off the ‘attend a show side saddle’ target … but I’m hopeful of Camelot coming up trumps for me (see previous blog – they have clearly been giving their money to the wrong people all these years.  Hmph!)

Sidesaddle

Sidesaddle

Sidesaddle

Sidesaddle

One of the lovely CVRC members, Rachel, very kindly brought her horse, Indie, along to help out another member whose horse had been un-level during Friday’s session, but by Saturday morning he was fine so I took the ride for another flat session with Matt.  She is the most rhythmical, well-schooled and consistent horse to ride.  Her canter is like sitting on a cloud!  I could not get her to come round in walk but she is practically a machine the rest of the time!  She had her brave boots on too, coming past scary machines and into the big arena whilst the other horses were worrying along behind her. I learned that my instructions could be clearer – it’s a wonder Beau ever knows what I am asking him for!  And after that session my legs were like un-set jelly.  If there is one thing I am grateful for with Beau, it’s that you only need to give him a hint and he does it.  Therefore I totally blame him for my lack of fitness!

IndieOn the Sunday I woke up with my core muscles screaming at me that I’d ridden side-saddle the previous day!  We had a flat, a poles and a cross-country session booked, with the first one at 9am, so Beau was fed and mucked out by 6.30am and then he went back to sleep whilst we sourced coffee and breakfast.

I had chosen to do a flat lesson with Jules La Garde to work on my position and try to stop restricting Beau with my seat.  So I got to ride round in walk, imagining Daryl Dixon’s hands lifting my seat in rhythm with his walk.  She also gave us a marvellous warm up routine which covers off all the bits of the horse from back to front and only takes a few mins.  It was fun .  And funny, because with four riders trying to do 10 metre figures of eight in the same arena it got very confusing.  Just like quadrille!

Beau was such a legend at camp – 99.9% the perfect horse.  In fact he would probably write this blog better than me, though I guess his hooves would make a mess of the keyboard.  We pulled out of cross-country training on the Sunday and Simon did a poles session to give him a break.  He had been so good and we had had such a fab time – and we didn’t want to ruin it!

 

Progress?

It seems to have been get up, go to work, come home, go to bed, get up, go to a competition/camp, go to bed and so on in May and early June.  As I sit here I can’t remember what we have done!  I can tell you that we haven’t hacked enough, I must rectify that and make sure there is a little space in the diary for pressure-free fun for me and for Beau.  He loves hacking.  I think the progress has been building on what we have learned, and building the partnership more with Beau.  I have owned a couple of nutters in the recent past so it is taking me a while to stop expecting him to do what they used to.  We’re getting there though.  (I should hope so, I’ve had him a year now!)

Team Quest

We managed to fit in two Team Quest competitions this month, one at Quainton (where I rode for another CVRC team), and one at Vale View, another relaxed and friendly venue.  Sadly the entries have been low at Vale View so after 11th June they are not planning to run any more TQ .  The good news is that we scored 64.79% at Quainton and 65.5% at Vale View.  HOWEVER…Tory and Beau scored 67.5%.  Going to duct tape her arms and legs next time, then let’s see her beat me on my horse!  It’s only because I went first and got him used to the swags on the arena walls.  Nothing to do with the accidental tempi changes in the second canter.  Nothing at all…

TQ Vale View

I am not sure what is happening with my scores, it all seemed to be going so well but it looks as though I have now peaked and plateaued  and the all-important 80% still eludes us.  I need to go and talk to Beau I think.

Dressage scores tracker

We are mildly hopeful of a place in the regionals at this stage – ie. we’re still hopeful whilst all the proper teams have yet to post full scores.  The top 15 teams qualify and we are sitting 6th.  I am posting the leader board because the only way is probably down and I want a record!

TQ-leaderboard

Veteran Championships

Horse and Hound ran an article publicising the Veteran Horse Society Champs and qualification through BD Quest – so I checked, and Beau and I have qualified!  On 2nd June, his passport went off in the post to be stamped so we can compete at Bury Farm in the finals . I have never qualified for a Championship before, except the CVRC one of course, but this one’s NATIONAL!  Not letting Tory go, because she is a better rider and will beat me.  She needs to get her own horse sound and beat me on her instead.

BRC

The BRC Festival of the Horse was at Aston Le Walls on 4th June.  I had myself down to volunteer but found myself severely double booked with my in-laws golden wedding celebrations!  So my ever heroic little sister and a friend from CVRC stepped in and fence judged instead.  BRC look after their volunteers ever so well and I can recommend volunteering.  Unless you’re on a diet in which case stay away ;) It’s a great way to watch and learn whatever job you’re doing.  I was scores collecting at the Intermediate champs and learned lots about show jumping and also about organisation and team work which is all applicable to real life.  I also learned that day that another team has chosen the same quadrille theme as us (via a roundabout discussion on Facebook) so we have had to change themes!  I think the new one is funnier though – which is what people have come to expect from us, seeing as we go there to have fun, not to do wonderful dressage ;)

Quadrille

There will be plenty of acclimatisation for the quadrille venue which is Bury Farm.  By the time we get to quadrille on 1st October we will have attended camp there in May, and the previous week it’s the Veteran Championships there too!  We have re-written our music (I can’t WAIT to see the judges’ faces!!!) and tweaked the routine to fit.  There are really only so many moves you can come up with for quadrille, so fitting them together is the challenge – to try and tell the story.  Our star rider has her GCSEs this month too, and as she is the only one young enough to remember the test from practice to practice, the main difficulty is trying to do the same thing each time.  The summer season is now well underway, with dressage competitions and endurance for one of our team members, but we’re focused and making time to practice – usually on Friday nights after work/school when we’re all mentally drained and physically ruined from earning enough money to hire the arena to practice in!

Shopping

Horses are expensive.  There is no way to argue that.  We’re OK for saddles (though I am predicting a bank loan if I see the right side-saddle!) but the lorry we have currently has no living, meaning we have to remember to pack a flask, and a tent for away events.  Rockstar Horseboxes is run by a friend of ours so we are commissioning him to put living in.  It’s not cheap for what we need (want) so I can see a severe gin shortage in our house in the coming months and no shopping at all.  Thank goodness Mollichaff gave me all those gorgeous competition clothes!

Old friends for me and new for Beau

However, I did pop down to our local feed store the other day for our Mollichaff Hoofkind supply, and bumped into an old friend who I haven’t seen in a couple of years.  Turns out her daughters are learning to ride so she was there buying kit for them.  We got chatting and I offered her a play on Beau on the Sunday as she is currently horseless.  Luckily because of anniversary celebrations and me being so behind on my jobs at home, Beau had the day off on Saturday.  On the Sunday he had a schooling session with Tracy Schofield (new goal here – she will ride him in an Elementary class) followed immediately by another one with Ruth and then a pony ride for her eldest daughter.  I think Beau had had enough by this point as suddenly everything in the arena became scary!  I am pleased to report that Ruth’s daughter already has a superglue seat . Ruth seemed to enjoy riding the old battle-axe and will be playing out regularly now which is great for me working full time with a long commute, and great for Beau keeping his joints moving, and great for Ruth to keep her seat in for the summer.

Ruth

Fame and fortune

Well, imagine my surprise this month to be sent a link to our local paper – the Northampton Chronicle – and to see Beau and me staring out from the page.  That’s it, I thought, we’ve made it.  The following week, I was informed there was an article about us in the local village news booklet!  We really have made it now ;)

Read the Article

Beau remains unaffected

Goals: updated for May:

  • Dressage:  The main focus is now to get 70% in a prelim test unaffiliated.  Hard!
  • Team Quest:  This goal now has to be updated to be to qualify for the regionals.  *bites fingernails*
  • Side saddle: I just want to get better – maybe enter a show if I can find a suitable saddle and habit to hire.  Especially now we have cantered properly on both reins!  Ginny says we wouldn’t disgrace ourselves in a novice class – I just need to find one..
  • Quadrille: To play out at Bury Farm again in 2016 for Cherwell Valley RC.  It would be awesome to qualify but Quadrille is such immense fun it doesn’t matter if we don’t.  So excited to see the judges’ faces when our entrance music comes on!
  • Jumping: To jump a whole course in canter.  No progress, didn’t even jump at camp!
  • New goal – to get into Horse and Hound (for the right reasons) which is the only way I can top the Village News

Tam and Beau x