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Our First Blog From Our Mollichaff-Sponsored Rider, Tam Thompson

Earlier this year we ran a national competition to search for an amateur rider who we thought deserved some support from our Mollichaff brand in the form of a training bursary, rider clothing, rug and saddlecloth and, of course, some Mollichaff. We also wanted someone who is happy to promote the brand and provide us with regular blogs and photographs of his/her progress throughout the year. After much deliberation, we finally chose our winner – Tam Thompson from Northamptonshire – and so it gives us great pleasure to introduce you to Tam and her horse, Beau, and welcome them to Team HorseHage for one year:

Team Quest

About us: On 24th February it was announced that I was the very lucky winner of the Mollichaff sponsorship opportunity! I have been so incredibly fortunate and I hope I can share some good progress with everyone this year as a result.  I am the most average rider – and I can prove that.  I always come halfway up (or down) the leader board in competitions.  Hopefully this blog will inspire other ‘average riders’ into getting out there and having a go.  It doesn’t stop us!  Beau is 19, has been everywhere and done everything at PC/RC level and is now having an easier, but hopefully interesting, time now with me in his ‘retirement’.  We have tried lots of things together and have discovered that our (my) favourite is quadrille.  Beau’s very favourite thing is jumping – my brave boots need some work in this area!

Goals:  For 2016 I have some ambitions which, with the help of Mollichaff, I’d like to ‘tick off’:

Dressage:  Beat my PB of 65.0% and get 70% in a prelim test unaffiliated.

Team Quest:  Compete in Team Quest for the first time, and improve my initial scores by the end of the season.

Sidesaddle: I just want to get better – maybe enter a show if I can find a suitable saddle and habit to hire.

Quadrille: To play out at Bury Farm again in 2016 for Cherwell Valley RC.  Quadrille is immense fun!

Jumping: To jump a whole course of fences with no fuss and no tears, and no arena surface in my teeth!

Day One:  Beau decided this sponsorship announcement was a good reason to give himself a holiday.  Like almost everyone this year, we’ve had a spot of mud fever, so every morning at 5am when I feed, I thoroughly check his legs for heat.  I have to use a head-torch to see, but I am positive his legs were all A-Ok that morning.

I left my other half (OH), Simon,  in charge for a visit from our fab physio, Jen, at 9am that morning, just to get the season off to a comfy and healthy start for him.  As soon as Simon dragged Beau in from the field he could see he wasn’t right, so trotted him up for Jen who stopped him straight away with clear but slight hind leg lameness.  On examination, she was worried it may be a pulled tendon (presumably because of the mud) which OH texted to tell me.  Unfortunately I was on a course with work so could do nothing but panic for the rest of the day!  OH texted that it was okay though: Jen had advised cooling therapy to bring the swelling down so we could find the problem, and OH had found that the wine cooler from the freezer fits a treat on Beau’s leg!  (Hope that does not result in warm wine…!)   He’d also been told it would be a good precaution to arrange box rest and, as we don’t currently have stables, came up with the genius idea of electric-fencing off a dry 12 x 12 area of paddock!

odel patient

odel patient

Ready for Spring:  A bonus was that because his fur is so thick, the needle wouldn’t go in for the antibiotics, so we discovered he is good to clip.  I was feeling inspired, so he is now bald!  Interesting that he was still toasty the morning after, still in just the same medium-weight turnout rug.

Fluffy Beau


Good boyHalf clipped

With Beau’s cut leg still healing, on Sunday I played out with my sister’s horse – the legendary Sardra (also 19).  You will be seeing more of her this year as she is also on the quadrille team, and in our Team Quest…

Of course nobody told Beau that he should take it easy with his injury, and our ‘relaxed’ lunge session to stop him getting too bored was mostly up and down – instead of round in circles – and at a far quicker pace than intended, to a constant soundtrack of squeals!  I think he had fun.  Although he seemed to like his little pen with his personal stash of hay for the first couple of days, he quite soon turned into a whirling dervish and covered his wound with mud anyway, so I let him out again with a good layer of wound protector on his scab.  He was indeed back in work within the week.


Competitions:  We had our first go at Team Quest dressage on March 13th in our gorgeous royal blue Cherwell Valley VRC gilets!  We had gone aiming for a start time of 12.30, which was changed at the last minute to 12.48, so at 12.30 I hopped on and wandered over to the warm up, only to be called straight in!  I didn’t argue because I figured just five minutes warm up would be a good place to hang my hat of failure if it went wrong.  I had bought some continental reins to try and stop me dropping the contact as soon as I enter the arena (I always lose marks for inconsistent contact and Beau is quite happy to flop along at top speed if I let him) and I got no negative comments about slipping reins.  We scored 65.8% which means  I have already achieved half of Goal 1!!  I thought this was brilliant, being not too bad AND a personal best, but we ended up as the discarded score!  What a team!  Much to improve for next time but much improvement too from the last time I competed at dressage.  So, as to maintain my tradition of average, the team came 2nd out of 3.

Training: We are so very, very lucky in Northamptonshire to be surrounded by top class instructors in all disciplines.  Our local Riding Club chairman, Amanda Rawson, (security blanket, test reader, instructor, organiser, mediator and sanity maintainer) is our regular trainer and practically every member of CVRC owes any success to her patience and talent.  The club has also been working with a fabulous teacher called Jonathan Canty, and both Simon and I have had a flat lesson from him on Beau this month.  He helped Simon to focus on his riding empathy, and me to focus on enjoying myself and to stop trying to ‘fix’ every issue after one lesson.  He explained (obvious, really) that Beau is used to how I have always ridden him, so if I change that – even to the ‘correct’ way – he will have to adapt and that takes time.  Makes sense.  If Si can keep his balance and I can bend my elbows and keep my reins, we’ll be giving Charlotte and Scott a run for their money soon…

Beau has now had his proper massage from Jen, and enjoyed it very much with just some tightness behind, and in his neck.  All in all he wasn’t in bad shape for this early in the year, so I’m hopeful that with the right management we can keep the old campaigner campaigning!


Quadrille practice has been going on already with some serious test writing in the evenings using substitute horses…

Quadders test writing

Roll on spring and the clocks going forwards so that, weather permitting, Beau and I can play out in the week too!

Tam and Beau x