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13 May 2009 – Boot Camp!

Well I definitely back at Boot Camp! I have brought four horses with me for training at Emile's and four lessons at once is a bit of a shock to the system! I'm learning so much about each horse, they are all so different - Sunny is kick to go and pull to stop and yet no legs needed on Royale! Aristo is so sensitive for a horse with a Dinosaur heritage and well no one ever knows what to expect with her ladyship Feine Dame! So I don't think they could be more different if they tried. Aristo's piaffe is really starting to come on and now he understands it, its really exciting to think that we could be doing our first Inter 2 very soon.

11 May 2009 – My Birthday !

Today was my Birthday and after a manic morning of packing ready for going down to Emile's for training and competing for the next two weeks, I managed to squeeze in a chilled out afternoon. We opened a bottle or two of champagne and decided not to think about our ridiculously early start the next morning! To be honest the whole weekend has been pretty chilled out as I went out clubbing with some friends on Saturday and then out with the Family for a meal on Sunday. Only eight years until the dreaded 3 - 0!

26 April 2009 – 25th April

Back again today, same arrangement in our lorry and Royale in our friend Cath's lorry as she was passing the door and we didn't fancy trying to squeeze her into our lorry with the other three as well! She was up first when we got there and tried her heart out in the Novices. We still had a few wobbly moments which unfortunately kept the scores a little lower than we would like but the quality of work is starting to far outweigh those mistakes now and she is really going to be special with a little more time.

I was very surprised how quietly Sunny stood on the lorry while I was competing Royale. A little too quietly I think! Or maybe he is growing up? Anyway he was super to handle and tack up - we have been through that stalliony and bolshy phase and coming into what I hope is a slightly more normal horse situation! We had a very exciting first test and something that has never happened to me before happened! We were attacked mid test by a Black Bird who must have been nesting in the hedge right next to the competition arena! He flew up between Sunny's legs in the middle of the 10 metre circle and then was dive bombing us for about 4 movements! Sunny had no idea what to make of this especially as it was then sat on the hedge squawking at us for the rest of the test. We just came out at the end laughing because there really wasn't a lot that could be done about it!

I think sunny was very relieved to be in a different arena for the next test. There was no Black Bird bullying him so he concentrated so much on what I was asking him for, he really felt fabulous! As foot perfect as he can be at this stage in his training. We were rewarded with a mark of over 76%!! So not such a great start but worth it in the end!

Last of the day and in her first ever Medium Tests it was Feine Dame's turn. We had had trouble loading her in the morning as if she was saying 'I went yesterday and I was brilliant, why should I have to go again?!' Our response was, you ARE going madam and you WILL behave!! She is such a funny character, a total brat most of the time! So it was going to be an interesting exercise for her to stand on the lorry while the others competed and then come out last in the day, when she is used to being done first and then lavished with grass and dressed in expensive rugs like the true princess that she is! Warming up outside was a little hairy for a few minutes until she got a bit of the bounce out of her system and then I really worked on getting into her with a lot of lateral work in preparation for what was to come in the test. As we went into the tests, the actual movements felt like only they can do on Feine Dame, but the short sides were another story altogether! Passage? No? Canter? No? Okay how about bucking? No? Okay well if I have to I will just get on with it then was her response! Although this probably sounds strange, I was really happy with the tests!! I felt like this was the first time in competition with her that I have been able to really get stuck in and ride her rather than just being a pilot! I felt I was able to maneuver her and work on the movements with her rather than sailing through, getting the marks on her sheer brilliance. To my shock we ended up winning both tests and that nearly qualifies us for the regionals. The princess will have to reign again another day!

25 April 2009 – 24th April

Having had a short rest after the winters, we were back out again today for a two day local show at Richmond, today with Sunny (Show Boy) and Feine Dame then adding in taking Royale (Royal Alliance) tomorrow as well. The traveling arrangements with two mares and a stallion can be difficult at the best of times, so today we took Feine Dame and Sunny with my trusty partner Forrest Fire (Chunky) to stop them getting frisky!

Feine Dame was up first and after we had had such a bad experience here at Richmond last time, I was determined to get the better of her right from the moment I got on! It turns out I needent have worried as she was an absolute angel, looking like butter wouldn't melt! it does! Lucky for me not today though and we ran through two beautiful (H/C) Elementary tests as preparation for her first ever Medium tests tomorrow.

After a re-arrangement in the lorry to get Sunny out without causing too much chaos it was his turn to strut his stuff. We did the Young Horse Medium 6 Year old Test (bit of a mouthful to say!) and he behaved beautifully setting him up very nicely for his elementary tests tomorrow.

12 April 2009 – 11th April

Attention back on Aristo now, this time for the Inter 1 Music. Having practiced earlier in the week, I was just focusing all my attention on giving Aristo the best ride in the ring as possible. He tends to get quite nervous, so our team decision was to take the pressure off a bit for this one and give him some fun in the hope it will make him a bit more confident and cocky in the future! We got through what was a pretty decent test with only a couple of mistakes ? a counting error in the twos and one slightly questionable pirouette. Apart form that we just needed a bit more va va voom for the really high marks!

I am hoping that from giving Aristo and Feine Dame quiet, easy and confident giving rounds at this stage in their careers, when the timing is right we can rev up the gears! Both of them have so many gears in there and at the moment we are still in first, bring on the next competition and second gear..!

11 April 2009 – 10th April

Tonight was Feine Dame?s turn to shine again, this time in the Master class for Emile. I had no idea how she would be, as similar to Wednesday, we had never experienced this sort of atmosphere together before. The aim was to show Emile?s training system from beginning, through to him showing his Grand Prix horse the following night. He told me to walk when I first went in though I have to admit I was wondering if that was the safest option! She actually turned out to be a total superstar and though I was still playing it very cautious I had to giggle a lot when Emile kept saying to me before the audience ?trust her, let go in the contact, be brave!? I have to say, those moments when I was brave felt incredible. She is the only horse in the world that makes me go weak at the knees with her talent and slightly sick in the stomach with how high spirited she is all at the same time!

10 April 2009 – 9th April

We had a great day chilling out as I had no classes to do though we spent most of this time room changing in our hotel and wishing we were just staying in the lorry! The first room we checked into had a shower only usable by sitting on the floor in the bath, and then in the second room it just flat out refused to work! We had only decided to get a hotel so we could have a shower and this proving a difficult task, in the end we checked out and went back to Hartpury. The showers there turned out to be more than sufficient to use, clean, wet, and hot and at least you could stand up in them!

09 April 2009 – 8th April

The time had finally come for Feine Dame to show herself in the Novice Championship. This was the biggest atmosphere she has been in, so I was really just hoping not to get bucked off to be honest! Emile came to help me warm up which was brilliant, though my radio system we were using was a bit intermittent so I ended up just getting random words of the sentences he was saying, not great for the concentration! We gave up with that in the end and went back to good old fashioned shouting!

When it came to the test, we went down the centre line at the beginning and I felt her shut down a little bit so I did my best to just give her a good, positive round as today and in the atmosphere wasn?t the time to push the boundaries! The trot and walk felt good, only with a couple of little balance mistakes and one trot circle in canter! The canter on the other hand was a bit on the expressive side gaining lovely comments on how beautiful our flying changes were though sadly not required at this level. All in all I was still pleased as we have now got our first championship under our belt and now its onwards and upwards! I came out and the feeling in our camp was that she showed all the qualities of a Grand Prix horse showing fabulous passage when not required, at times serious sitting down in the canter and those lovely changes of course!

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