After seeing a glimmer of hope that all may not be lost at Skipton, we headed off to Buckminster feeling a lot more confident. As it’s quite a long journey for us, we took full advantage of it being in my home county and stabled with my family the night before, meaning Herbie got to spend the night in the field and was fresh and ready to run the next day despite the heat.

He produced a super Dressage test, had a pole SJ but felt absolutely fantastic, and made mincemeat of the XC with just a few time faults due to me being cautious about the ground to finish in 8th place. A super result after the previous month.

This boosted our confidence even more and the following week he produced a foot perfect double clear at Northallerton! Sadly our dressage wasn’t quite so on point as before but we still managed a solid top 10 placing and more importantly, he felt right back to his old self!

So, without tempting fate and planning too far ahead, I am quietly confident that our goals for the 2018 season may be achievable after all. I have been fortunate enough to receive some fantastic training recently which has been invaluable and I’m determined to keep our progress moving forward.

Jalisca, the 4 year old mare I ride on behalf of my boss Jennifer Whittaker has also had a fantastic month.

She contested a very strong BYEH class at Richmond, gaining great scores but most importantly learning her trade and soaking up all the sights and sounds ready for her career as an event horse.

We then decided to take her to Fieldhouse for another qualifier as they are such good experience and again she displayed maturity beyond her years in a very busy atmosphere. Exciting things to come from this young horse. She has started to learn about XC and is thoroughly enjoying it so as long as we get a bit of rain she will have a go at a BE80 in the next few weeks and if we think she’s ready we may have a go at one of the later BE 4 year old qualifiers.

So super horses, super results and super weather – what summers are made for and long may it continue!

I do just have to take this opportunity to thank firstly my boss Jenny for her unwavering support, not only in trusting me to ride her fabulous horses, but also for all her encouragement with Herbie as well. Secondly but equally important is my long suffering husband Ross who puts up with a life that is consumed by horses, is a fabulous event groom and manages to deal with me, our daughter and all of our dramas! It means a lot guys and I hope me and the horses can make you proud!

Carrie x

Sit down with a brew, it’s a long one……………..

So after finally managing to get a few good runs under our belt, Herbie and I were both feeling confident at Novice and I was starting to excitedly make plans for the rest of the season. It has always been my dream to ride him at an international and it was really feeling like we could be ready to move into the world of FEI and tackle our first CIC* and I decided that Burgham Horse Trials at the end of July would be the perfect event to start our international campaign. However, you will notice that this paragraph is written in past tense!

The dream came to an abrupt halt (literally) at Warwick Hall horse trials, were I went against my better judgement and decided to run, even though I knew the ground conditions were not suited to us. Due to our location, Herbie and I spend the majority of our training sessions stomping about in the mud, and as such this is his favourite ground to run on and where he feels most comfortable. He does not like hard ground and last year I had to withdraw from a few events because he simply would not jump on the hard ground.

Unfortunately the ground at Warwick was hard. And then it rained meaning it was not only hard but also extremely slippery. This is in no way down to the grounds team at Warwick, who had done a sterling job at preparing the ground as best they could, but event organisers cannot control the weather and it was really unfortunate that after weeks of wall to wall sunshine, the heavens decided to open the morning of the first day of their horse trials!

Off we went to the dressage and I could tell straight away that Herbie was bringing his A game! He warmed up beautifully and I went into the arena feeling like CDJ on Valegro, which in turn made me ride much better than usual, and we produced a pretty foot perfect test. All the while in the back of my mind I was thinking that the ground was just not right for him to be jumping on but sadly the competitive streak in me came out, and knowing I would be in a good position after the dressage I headed over to the SJ hoping that we would be lucky. He warmed up fairly well, a little uncertain on landing at times but was really pinging the fences so into the ring I went. And then it all went wrong!! Cantering to the first fence I was on a perfect stride, but as he went to take off his front feet slipped and we skidded completely through the first fence. Poor Herbie felt me pitch forward and tried to take off again mid skid, throwing his head back and splitting my lip in the process. He rarely makes mistakes when jumping and I could feel him trembling so knew he’d really given himself a fright. Fence 2 was a very small upright on a slight uphill run so I popped that, put my hand up and retired. I was (and still am) absolutely kicking myself that I put him in that position. I think a lot of it came from my ambitions to event at higher levels, but I let that take over and I forgot that he’s my only horse, he’s only 6 and I am not out doing this every single week on lots of different horses so I have to really look after him! So huge lesson learnt and it’s still upsetting now to think of how much worse it could have been.

Later that week I gave him a jump at home and could really feel how much confidence he had lost, and when I took him XC schooling a week later I knew it was going to take a while to build ourselves back up.

So that’s Burgham 1* out of the question and I have decided to drop back down to BE100 for a few events until we regain our confidence to move back up to Novice.

Last weekend I took him to Skipton having asked the secretary to swap me from the Novice to 100 and although he had a few green moments in the SJ, he started to feel like his old self again, especially on the XC course where I went round with the handbrake on much to his displeasure due to the firm going. Thanks to Nick Gill Photography for the fabulous photos!

So we are now on Plan B which is to go and have fun at 100, do a regional final as I have a qualification from last season and then move back up to Novice when we both feel ready. I’m still hopeful we can take on a CIC* this season, albeit later than planned, but if not then it’s no big deal – there’s always next year!

So moral of the story is always listen to your gut instinct!

Next month we will be heading off to Buckminster, Northallerton and Cholmondeley Castle before heading back to Skipton for our BE100RF with loads and loads of SJ practice in between!

Hope you are all enjoying the gorgeous sunshine! Although it does feel very hot I’m not going to complain after 8 months of winter!!

Carrie x

Hurrah! The weather has improved, we’ve had a very busy month and it’s all systems go!

Herbie followed up his good run at Richmond with another fantastic effort at Warwick Hall in the Novice. I’ve not been to this event before and I have to say that I am very impressed with the standard of events ‘up North’ as despite the weather, the going is always great, and the Cumbrian views are amazing!

We managed a respectable dressage of 32, had one pole SJ and then a fab clear XC round a track that definitely didn’t play to his strengths being quite twisty and full of combinations. We had one slightly ‘uh-oh’ moment on realising that there was a fence actually in the water after the drop in, something we haven’t encountered yet, but Herbs had a good look, slithered over and completed the course clear with just a few tp’s.

The weekend after we attended one of the Gatehouse Stepping Stones training days run by BE for people wanting to step up to 1*. The day consisted of dressage and show-jumping sessions in small groups of 3 taught by Richard Carruthers. I had a great time and found it so useful. Richard quickly worked out that most of our little issues are down to me (surprise surprise) and I just need to stop chasing perfection all the time! I told him that it is because I’m so worried that I am letting Herbie down by not being good enough to ride him to the best of his ability, to which he swiftly replied that I created his ability in the first place as I produced him and I need to stop being so hard on myself and just enjoy it. We had a revelation in the jumping by realising that Herbie is so polite that he is over reacting to my half halts, coming back too much and as a result having poles down. Now in an ideal world I just need sit still and never interfere, however it’s a very hard habit to break and will take a little while! So instead we have changed to a Nathe straight bar and no martingale to allow Herbie to take the contact forward and up (and basically ignore me ????) and WOW what a difference! Really looking forward to seeing if it makes as much of a difference at an event as this is obviously where my nerves of not being good enough really take hold.

Next port of call was Brand Hall and the less said about that the better. I don’t often have bad competition days but when I do, I do it in style! A combination of getting lost, being beyond late, a 15 mins dressage warm up, a very annoyed horse and an attack from a savage horse fly meant we gracefully admitted defeat and left after the dressage. There’s always another day!

Lovely 4 year old Jalisca went to Chatsworth International Horse Trials for the BYEH qualifier at the beginning of the month, and what a star she was! Anyone who has been there will know what a huge buzzy atmosphere it is and she behaved impeccably, taking it all in her stride. Unfortunately she took a major dislike to fence 4 but I couldn’t have been happier with her and her owners thoroughly enjoyed our day out. I say it every time but I can’t wait for her future. She felt very tired at the end so we decided to give her a week off followed by an easy few weeks of hacking which she has really enjoyed and is now fresh and ready to start preparing for her first little event at the beginning of July.

I’ve had a super busy few weeks at work, preparing for our first public event at the Stud, selling 2 lovely youngsters that we have produced, foaling our second mare of the season, hosting (and completing) a 3 day First Aid at Work qualification, as well as keeping the rest of the yard ticking over. There’s certainly never a dull moment!

The plans for June are to take Herbie to do 2 Novices at Warwick Hall and Skipton, with lots of jumping practice in between so we can get used to our new bitting system and get Jalisca out XC schooling and show-jumping a few times ready for her competitions in July. I also plan on going for a day out to Bramham to walk the course for when Herbie is ready to go there in a few years time…………… Hey, a girl can dream!!

Carrie x

It’s been a while!

Firstly, sorry it’s been so long!

Following on from my last post in February, we have finally started the event season, albeit a lot later than planned thanks to the great British weather and a bit of a tumble resulting in me having concussion for a few weeks!

We had a few months of depressing texts from BE telling us everything we had entered had been abandoned, but at least it gave us time for plenty of training! I was lucky enough to be chosen to be a demo rider at the BHS National Convention and had an amazing lesson with Chris Bartle working on xc technique for difficult fences. Chris worked us hard and I learnt so much which has really helped me so far this season. As well as this poor Herbie was subjected to lots of dressage which he wasn’t too impressed about, and lots of XC schooling where he was a lot more enthusiastic!

Finally the sun came out and we have now completed 3 events successfully and are back into the swing of things! Due to all the cancellations, our first event was actually Kelsall Hill Novice rather than a nice little BE100 as I had planned – nothing like throwing him in at the deep end! Given the lack of practice and a less than ideal run up to the event, he coped really well and other than being very ring rusty in the SJ we had a pretty good day! He really impressed me with how bold he was xc as he tackled it with ease despite me leaving the handbrake on!

After this we decided to have an easy run at BE100 to get our confidence back in the show jumping. This proved to be a very wise move as he produced a lovely double clear and was placed 8th which I was over the moon with.

Last weekend we stepped back up to Novice at Richmond. He produced his best dressage test to date which I was thrilled with as last year he was very tricky in this phase. All credit goes to my amazing trainer Silvia who has worked miracles in persuading us both that dressage can actually be quite enjoyable! Sj was much improved from Kelsall around a very up to height track. We still rolled 2 poles but they were genuinely unlucky and no fault of his so I am certain with more outings we will get this phase nailed. As usual he produced an immaculate clear xc, making nothing of some pretty big solid fences and I actually rode forward and made the time! We were just outside the top ten but I couldn’t be happier with him and I am sure the placings at this level will come very soon!

Jalisca has also started her competitive career with a few local outings to familiarise her with a show environment, followed by her first big outing to Badminton to compete in the Burghly Young Event Horse qualifier! It was a bit of a baptism of fire given that it was such a huge atmosphere and she had a lot to deal with but she took it all in her stride and really impressed with her attitude. There are great things to come from this lovely mare and myself and her owners are very excited about her future.

Over the next few weeks Herbie is entered in the Novice at Warwick Hall and Brand Hall and Jalisca heads off to Chatsworth on Friday for another BYEH qualifier and will then start her xc training in preparation for her first BE 4 year old qualifier at Stafford in July. Both horses are in fantastic form and looking fit and trim thanks to their Trickle Nets!

So that brings us up to date and I won’t leave it so long next time!

With 2018 upon us and the countdown to the start of the BE season well and truly underway, January has been anything but blue for myself, Herbie and the rest of the White Hill Stud team!

The BD outing to Crow Wood Equestrian that I mentioned at the end of Decembers blog was, ahem………….interesting to say the least! Herbie took one look at the lorry being packed and turned into a fire breathing dragon, a theme which continued throughout the day, and the less said about the tests the better. We shall just say that a) he was pleased to be out and about, b) he does not like patches of light on the floor of an indoor arena and c) medium canter to emergency halt is not a very comfortable movement to sit to, nor are judges impressed by it!

With him feeling so well I decided it’s best to get him out and about as much as possible between now and his first event to make sure he is settled and ready. As well as the odd trip to the local water treadmill at Crow Wood Equestrian for fitness work, I have been taking him out for lessons and low level competitions every week.

The week after the embarrassing dressage outing I took him Arena Eventing at Kelsall Hill, where once again he was rather bright and very pleased to be out jumping again! This competition was a useful training tool for me as it highlighted areas I need to improve on in the jumping which I have since been able to work on during my show-jumping lessons.

Last weekend we went to Somerford Park for a spin around the amazing all weather XC facility. Having access to these facilities over the winter is absolutely invaluable, especially with younger horses, as it allows me to practice questions that will be found at events later in the season, as well as introduce new types of fence in an controlled environment before we venture out onto the grass in the Spring.

Four year old Jalisca has also been progressing well and has had her first jump under saddle and her first little Dressage lesson! She is such a super young horse to work with and shares the same enthusiasm towards her ridden work as Herbie does which really does make producing these horses an absolute joy. She will be going out to a few different arenas for a look around in the next few weeks before taking her to some low key unaffiliated competitions to learn her trade.

Both horses have had a bitting consultation and have consequently changed into new bits which has made an unbelievable difference to their way of going. It was a very interesting experience and I would definitely recommend it to anyone.

Herbies first event has been entered and is now just 5 short weeks away so February will be spent concentrating on further fittening work, plenty of training and a few more competitive outings to ensure we are both fit and ready to go!

We also have some very exciting things in the pipeline which will be revealed next month – 2018 is going to be a good one!!

Carrie x

Sorry for the slight delay in getting my December blog out, to say I’ve been busy throughout December is an understatement! Work has been absolutely manic with the broodmares and youngsters coming out of the soggy fields into their winter housing. However, with 12 sold to Germany before Christmas, things are a little quieter meaning I’ve had a lovely little break to enjoy the festivities.

Herbie is well into his preparations for the 2018 BE season and as well as plenty of hacking, he has been building up work in the school and has also had his first few jumping sessions which he found VERY exciting after a few months away from it! He already feels stronger and more mature after his holiday, which is always lovely as it shows how much he has benefited from the rest. He will now start to go out to a bit of dressage and showjumping to get our eye back in and we will be picking up where we left off with dressage trainer Silvia as well as traveling down to Somerford Park for our monthly lessons with Andrew Heffernan on the all weather XC.

I unfortunately had the flu just before Christmas which completely wiped me out for a day or two but did give me the opportunity to plan my BE season using my fabulous new Leroy and Bongo planner. I love getting my plans down on paper for the year, and with both Herbie and Jalisca competing in 2018, the diary has filled up nicely!

Jalisca has continued to polish her halo as the model youngster and is now confidently trotting and cantering under saddle, as well as showing a phenomenal loose jump – I am so excited about this mares future! She will have some front shoes on this week and is ready to start leaving the ground with a rider in preparation for the young horse classes later in the season.

Both horses will be having their pre season saddle checks, dental appointments and physio sessions this month. These checks are not to be overlooked as they are very important for making sure the horses are comfortable and therefore happy and able to perform to their best.

So 2018 is upon us, it’s all systems go, the countdown to the first event of the season is on and I need to try and squeeze myself and my extra ‘festive’ weight into some white breeches by Sunday for some BD practice with Herbie – wish me luck!!

Carrie x

November is generally a quiet month for event horses and Herbie has enjoyed a well earned month off after his last event in mid October. The weather hasn’t been great but he managed to spend most days out in the field enjoying some down time with his mates and has relished the challenge of getting as muddy as possible. Sadly for him, Herbie isn’t blessed with a fast metabolism so doing no work means he piles on the pounds very quickly. His Trickle Nets have been an absolute God send for allowing me to monitor his forage intake whilst ensuring he has Haylage to last him all night! He started his walking work last week and will continue to build up his road work for the next few weeks which is very boring but so important for building the strength and fitness he needs for next season. The only problem with this is that he’s feeling rather fresh in this very cold snap we are having so the neck strap is earning it’s keep!!

Just because Herbie has been on his holidays doesn’t mean I’ve been bored. Toya has been progressing really well with her training and notched up another fantastic BD score this month. Now her flat work is so much more established I have started to pick up the jumping again and I can really feel how much stronger and more balanced she is. This in turn has really helped her confidence as she feels more physically able to cope with the jumping work and therefore is so much more ridable. We really can’t wait to get her out to some events next season and see how a winter of training has improved her!

I also have a lovely 3 year old mare called Jalisca, who I am very excited about! She is owned by White Hill Stud the same as Toya, and is by Crespo VDL who just so happens to be Herbies sire! So I have very high hopes for this lady to follow in her brothers footsteps! So far she has been an absolute pleasure to back and ride away, taking everything in her stride with the same chilled out attitude as her big brother. She will quietly continue her education over the winter and all being well she will be produced for the Burghley Young Event Horse and BE age classes next summer.

Can you see the family resemblance?!

Can you see the family resemblance?!

So, that’s 3 exciting horses for next year, and lots of planning to do in the next few weeks to produce work schedules and competition schedules for all of them now the British Eventing 2018 fixtures list is out and I am already counting down the days to the first event of the season!

But for now it’s thermals on, neck strap at the ready and a rather round, hairy horse to attempt to stay on…………………. Wish me luck!!

Carrie x

October sees the British Eventing season draw to a close, and Herbie and I completed our last 2 events this month.

First up was Weston Park BE100RF which I was slightly dubious about doing as he isn’t really competitive against the true grassroots horses who are older and much more experienced. However, it looked like a testing XC course which is what I wanted for our penultimate event so off we went to Shropshire and what a lovely event it was!

I have been working so hard on my dressage so I was absolutely thrilled to score a 25.8 which is our best mark at BE100 and I still feel there was more we could have improved on. On to the showjumping which didn’t play to Herbies strengths being twisty and quite small. As predicted we had 2 down, both fences being the smallest on the course. He is bred for showjumping and very scopey, but also a little arrogant with it so he really puts no effort in when he feels the course is too small. So although I was disappointed, I’m not worried as I know he respects a bigger track which is what we want for the future.

He warmed up well for XC and for the first time ever he was actually a little excitable at the start box waiting for the count down! He knows his job now, he lives for the xc and it’s so nice to be sat on a horse that is so happy to be out there doing it. He flew round finding the course easy – almost a little too easy in places and I had to take a pull here and there to make sure he wasn’t too quick going into the more straightforward fences! He finished well within the time and full of running so overall a great day which set us up brilliantly for our last event of the season – Norton Disney Novice.

With Storm Brian in full swing we headed to Norton Disney and I set off to walk the course. Now I obviously know there is a step up in height/technicality from BE100 to Novice but I don’t think I truly appreciated it until I was walking the course, wondering if I had bitten off more than I could chew with my precious 5 year old!

There were a few decent questions, the main one being 2 angled brushes shaped like L200’s, on a curving line to a rather large and very solid looking corner. Oh yes, and you could jump either the bonnets or the boots of the cars meaning there were a lot of ways this could be ridden and none of them looked easy! Luckily 2 of my old college instructors were fence judging and after chatting to them I felt much happier and confident in the route I had chosen.

Herbie warmed up appallingly for the dressage which didn’t do much to instill confidence. With Storm Brian’s winds  raging, he spent most of the time curling up around my leg and refusing to bend right. I went in and did my best but he felt tight and spooky, which was hardly surprising in the gales, but we did it and I was proud of him for giving it a go.

Off to walk the SJ and I can safely say I was feeling a tad nervous! It was big and with marquees flapping in the wind all around us, I honestly expected poles to be flying! To my absolute astonishment he jumped a beautiful round and was very unlucky to have just one pole down at the end of a combination where he just got a little quick. I was absolutely thrilled with him and was pleased that my judgment was right and he does jump better around a bigger track. On the way back my husband went to check the dressage scores and we had managed a not too shabby 35.5 putting us in the top 25% of the section in our first Novice!

He again got rather excited at the start of the xc and I had serious butterflies! Due to my nerves making me over ride him, we didn’t make the best job of the first couple of fences and I could feel Herbie getting annoyed with me so I gave my self a talking to and left him to it! From that moment on he was fabulous – bold, brave and very clever. I decided to take the long route at 12 as I didn’t feel confident jumping the straight route but we went direct everywhere else, including the L200 fence and he just made it feel so easy! He had barely broken into a sweat by the time we finished and although we got 10 time faults I know these were from my over cautious riding at the beginning so I’m not concerned about him making the time in the future. So we finished our season with a clear XC round our first Novice track and I couldn’t be prouder of my awesome 5 year old, who has gone from BE90 to BE Novice in 1 season with no XC jumping penalties.

Herbie is now on a 6 week holiday which he thoroughly deserves! Sadly I don’t get that luxury but I can’t complain as I’ll be using this time to get a very nice 3 year old mare, who happens to be by the same stallion as Herbie, going and hopefully prepared for some BYEH classes next year. I also have the beautiful Toya who will be working on her XC this winter as well as continuing with her BD career, and a couple of other young KWPN’s to get going with their ridden careers as well as looking after lots of broodmares, weaning foals and maintaining the fitness and schooling of the older horses at work.

No rest for the wicked so they say……………….. roll on 2018!

Carrie x

September didn’t get off to the best start as far as Herbies eventing season was concerned, with Dalston Green being cancelled due to the wet weather. Having never lived this far north before I’ve not experienced so many event cancellations in a season as I have this year, and I have to say it’s pretty frustrating. But we cannot change the weather and I really feel for the organisers of these events as having worked ‘behind the scenes’ I know how much work goes in to getting them ready.

So my new Trickle Net competition gear had to wait a bit longer for its eventing debut and Herbie spent the first few weeks of the month quietly training in preparation for his next event. He’s such a funny horse and gets quite grumpy when he doesn’t go out in the lorry for a while, especially when he sees me taking Toya out and about!

Toya had several successful outings, gaining yet another placing at BD, and also picked a 3rd place at Combined Training where she scored a PB in the dressage of 71.8%!! She is such a super mare and if she doesn’t sell soon then I think we may register her and Herbie to do some showjumping over the winter as it’s something all 3 of us need to put more work into!

Finally, on 29th September came Herbies turn for a trip out to Bishop Burton BE100. I  went with the attitude that this was very much a schooling round as we hadn’t been out since Llanymynech BE at the end of August, and having not had time to go xc schooling since then I was a little dubious once I walked the course and saw a) how deep the mud was and b) how technical it was ???? It was MUDDY and fair play to Bishop Burton for getting it good enough to go ahead.

Anyway, 32.8 dressage, fairly marked and equal 3rd in the section. It’s taking a lot of hard work and early morning schooling sessions but he’s really starting to improve in this phase and becoming more consistent. We’ve had a play around with bridles and it seems I have finally found one he’s happy with (for now!) so hopefully we are on an upward curve as far as dressage is concerned!

On to the SJ which was thankfully on a surface to give us a break from the mud. It looked big but it always does from the ground so I walked it quickly and tried not to go too close to the fences! It’s been getting quite disheartening this season as at home he rarely touches a pole but at an event we always seem to have one down. He warmed up beautifully and I went in to the ring determined not to do anything other than keep a good canter and get straight to the fences and it worked – FINALLY a clear round putting us up to 2nd place! No pressure!

I went to the xc with the attitude that it was just a schooling round and definitely not going for the optimum time in the mud! It didn’t help that I was last but one to go and with the live scoring system, I knew that over half of my section had either retired or been eliminated and a lot of others had picked up stops at the more difficult combinations. But WOW, did my super little horse do me proud!! It took him a few fences to work out he needed to jump a bit higher out of the deep ground, and I very nearly came a cropper at an innocent looking shotgun cartridge when we had different ideas about the striding, but he just kept plugging on, making all the combinations I was worried about feel so so easy and the fences feel tiny. We finished with 6.8 time faults to come 3rd which I am absolutely over the moon about! His class on the XC really stood out, having one of only 7 clears in my section – not bad going for the youngest horse in it!

So I couldn’t have wished for a better preparation before next weeks Mitsubishi Motors Cup Regional Final at Weston Park, which will be our penultimate event of the season, as we will hopefully be heading back to my home county of Lincolnshire for a pop round Norton Disney to finish what has so far been a rollercoaster of an event season!

Wow, I can’t believe we are in September already and there are only about 6 weeks left of the event season!

August was a very busy month for me, mainly because on the 19th August I got married and became Mrs Skelton! We had a fabulous day, with our wedding reception being held at the yard so of course Herbie wasn’t far away and there was a strong equestrian theme to the day!

With the wedding taking up such a lot of my spare time, it took a lot of organisation to keep on top of training and competing. As Skipton BE was sadly cancelled due to the weather, Herbie took a short mid season break from events to concentrate on training at home and I decided to push back my regional final entry to Weston Park in October. This meant he had 6 weeks between his early July event at Stafford, and his latest one at the end of August at Llanymynech in the BE100. Herbie is known for his exuberance and enthusiasm at events, so I was slightly concerned about him having such a long break between competitions! He held it together well in the dressage, producing a neat test to lie in the top 25% of my section. I’ve been working really hard at home on improving the connection and contact and it seems to be paying off.

However, he couldn’t contain his excitement for the SJ and had 2 poles down due to being rather spooky. Although this was obviously disappointing, I do have to remember he is only 5 and still finds ‘parties’ very exciting so he can be forgiven!

On to the XC, which walked quite big and bold, so I was expecting him to perhaps feel a little green after the showjumping. I needn’t have worried though, he cruised round without a single issue and made the course feel tiny! Rides like that remind me why I do this and why I love him so much!

As I mentioned in my last blog, I produce and compete young event and dressage horses as part of my job managing the Stud. One of the lovely horses I have the pleasure of riding is La Toya, a 16hh 5 year old Oldenburg mare. She was originally purchased to event but is proving to have a real talent for dressage. During August she completed her first 3 affiliated BD tests and has won one and been second twice – pretty good going! She also went to a combined training show and came 4th in a big class so I am very pleased with her progress! She is entered for her first Novice tests this week and will go out to some jumping shows later in the month.

We also found the time to take a trip to Burghley Horse Trials for the weekend which is my favourite event of the year and I am determined to ride there one day! I find it very inspiring and motivating watching the elite riders compete and so much can be learnt just from watching them.

September is already looking jam packed, with Herbie entered for Dalston Green and Bishop Burton and Toya entered for BD classes, with lots of lessons and training in between!

Herbie enjoying his Trickle Net in the lorry
La Toya with one of the many rosettes she won last month!
Herbie at Llanymynech making the fences look tiny!