So as I am sure you are aware, we had a rare but precious luxury this weekend just gone, a bank holiday weekend. These magical events occur no where near as regularly as I am sure the majority of the British public wishes they would. For the horse owners of the UK that extra day on the weekend means an extra day where you can focus on your equine partner whether you go for a long hack, put your brave girl pants on and get the jumps out or give your horse a spa day. Hartley, the lucky devil, was treated to all of these things.
I was lucky enough to arrive on the yard on Sunday when one of the other liveries had just finished jumping a course of fences meaning I didn’t have to break my back trying to lift the 90’s era wooden wings over the arena fence. I wasn’t planning on riding but seeing as the jumps were out and there was a gap in the traditional bank holiday rain I decided to don my big girl pants, hop on board and give Hartley an afternoon of fun. Hartley adores jumping, his ears prick and his little face lights up as we hurtle towards a jump with minimal control with me clinging on hoping to make it to the other side. He had a great time!
He had less fun yesterday when it was time for a clip. Hartley is a saint to clip. Just stands there not bothered about anything until you get to his ears, at which point a dragon suddenly replaces my sweet little cob. The eyes roll and the nostrils widen to the point I could probably climb in there and set up camp for the night. In the end I gave up to avoid any more stress for either party however Hartley does now look like he’s wearing a very fetching pair of fluffy ear warmers!
In other news we are all entered for our first affiliated British Dressage competition in a couple of weeks time which is very exciting! We have entered into Novice Bronze in the hope of qualifying for an Area Festival in August. Qualifying shouldn’t be too much of a problem but I feel the standards are going to be set pretty high once we get there so we better get practicing that mega medium trot!
So it’s been a busy couple of weeks! Where do I begin? So when we left each other last time I believe I was preparing for my first BD competition and worrying about plaiting an unmanageable mane and worried about seeing my breakfast come back up. Well I didn’t even manage to eat breakfast let alone throw it back up. I managed to consume a grand total of half a can of monster energy drink and most of the local supply of rescue remedy.
The warm up is somewhat of a terrifying place when your mount is no less than 2hands smaller than everything else in there and is definitely the only animal that doesn’t have mostly warmblood breeding. It became less scary, however, when I realised how much nicer the warm up is at an affiliated competition. People actually pass left to left and they fully understand that you don’t suddenly stop by the gate to chat to your adoring fan club. The other competitors were polite and at no point did I think that anyone actually cared that I was on a 14.1hh rescue cob. Hartley did us both proud and we came a rather respectable 3rd and 2nd. I was on cloud nine!
Fast forward a week and I am less elated and now have a gigantic bruise on my right bum cheek and my right ankle is a fair amount larger than it should be. Hartley and I and a couple of girls went on a fun ride and had a go at a few cross country fences. That’s right the dressage cob goes cross country! Evidently solid fences are both a bit more scary for both horse and rider, I can promise you now that my bum cheeks were clenched the whole way round the cross country course. So I expect you are thinking ‘this is all very well and good but we’ve only got this far down the page because we really need to know how you fell off’. Well, we had already gone over this raised log which was probably only about 2’9 (which doesn’t sound big but it bloody looks it when you’re steaming towards it on a tiny cob!) and he jumped it perfectly, respectfully and calmly. When we went over it the 2nd time it was less ok. We were giving my friend’s horse a lead but decided to bolt towards it, neither of us could see a stride and he decided that instead of jumping the fence, he thought he would try and jump the moon. Sadly he failed. I’m not entirely sure what happened apart from the fact there was around 4 feet between my bum and the saddle and I didn’t land back on it. My bum landed right cheek first on ground which wasn’t as soft as it looked. I also now have a bruise to prove it (don’t worry I won’t post a picture)! I managed to get back on and crack on over a few more fences. It was a lesson hard learned but it was jolly good fun all the same!
So eventing is not going to be my new past time I’ve decided that I’m probably not going to be selected for the Olympic eventing team so I’ll stick to dressage. For the time being anyway!
Hartley and I have had a busy week so far and it’s only about to get busier!
Its official, Hartley and I are all registered with British Dressage and we have our first affiliated competition this Saturday competing at Novice Bronze level. To most people this probably isn’t a big deal and that’s ok. To Hartley and I this is a massive deal. Just less than a year ago we were barely getting 60% at unaffiliated Prelim and now thanks to a fantastic trainer who believes in us and a lot of hard work and hours put in we are now ready to go out and compete with the big boys. My main concern is the slightly overweight rider, dragging her slightly overweight cob off the lorry and very much looking like they should be at Appleby Horse Fair instead of at a Dressage competition. Or better yet getting so nervous I manage to throw up my breakfast of cereal bar and sugar free energy drink over his lumpy, uneven plaits during the warm up.
Hopefully the new breeches that I bought (that are incidentally a touch on the snug side!) stretch and give a little round the waist! Also desperately hoping that the new plaiting technique I’m trying (and only practised once) goes well and Hartley doesn’t look like he’s got 8 tennis balls on his neck! Only time will tell….
It’s difficult to know how or where to begin when introducing yourself. You have to think about what people want to hear, are you going to bore them, or more to the point is anyone even reading? One would hope that if people are reading this then we all share something in common – horses. It is amazing how quickly you can start enjoying somebody’s company once you realise you have something in common. I always feel that horses (or animals in general) bring people together, especially when they are passionate about them like you are; and that is exactly what I am here to do. I want to share my story and my passion with people and hopefully entertain you all along the way!
Lets just talk for a moment about the co-producer of this blog. Hartley. Without him this would just be me talking about how I am attempting to break onto the dressage scene with an imaginary horse. Hartley had a bit of a rough start in life, being abused, neglected and eventually abandoned. He and a group of other colts were picked up by the RSPCA and that’s when I came along. I was looking to re-home an ex-race horse and potentially compete in RoR classes and do a bit of low level riding club stuff. Somehow I ended up with a stumpy (mildly overweight) cob and have ambitions of reaching Advanced Level dressage. Yeah…I am not really sure what happened either! In September 2012 I picked up a very scruffy 2 year old cob and slowly broke him in and brought him on; then last year I decided to get serious, found myself a dressage trainer and got stuck in. Hartley is now 7 and we are now starting to compete at Elementary Level.
This is the story of our journey, the many ups and (even more) downs, the tears, the tantrums, challenges, the joy and many celebrations of our successes. We are here to prove that warmbloods (although amazing animals) are not the only choice when you are a regular competitor, regardless of your chosen discipline. Hartley might even do some guest editing as well!