Saturday, 31 July 2010

Memories of Mattingley Horse Trials

1st time back after wind op - Mattingley Horse Trials
This weekend sees the last running of Mattingley Horse Trials to take place at Blue House Farm. Whilst not one of the 'big ones' this event was always well patronised and a favourite for many. Entries were nearly always full and you would always find yourself rubbing shoulders with the world's 4 star elite.

I remember the first time I competed here with my grey horse just after his throat operation and just wanting to take a nice easy pace in one of the baby classes just to give him a gentle re-introduction. The ground was also quite firm, but he was quite excited to be back - he does love competition or any type of ceremony.

Monday, 26 July 2010

Rebecca Farms CIC*** 2010

courtesy of
I've been following this event for the first time across the web. For those of you who don't know it, it's run in Montana in July (just finished), in what must be some of the most stunning natural surroundings you can find in America. Below you'll find a short video with a number of clips of the cross country, mostly of the CIC***, although they also run a number of other classes at this event.

Here in the UK this would probably be comparable to Barbury, Chatsworth or Weston Park. The course looks a lot more open and flowing than most Mark Phillips designed courses, and I note there were also some open corners, similar to those used at Badminton, so fortunately this is not going to please Tina Cook who has already expressed her desire not to see this type of fence becoming common place. (poor old Tina!)

Saturday, 24 July 2010

....."and ACTION": Enter Mr. Darcy on big white charger - stage left

Could we have a career in film?
Listening to the latest episode of Horse Radio's WEG podcast this evening talking about carriage driving got me thinking about the future equestrian exploits for my horse and I, as we are now both 'getting along in life'. 

At 16 it won't be too long before my great white charger needs to take things a little easier, something I had half a mind for him to be doing right now, but the time off I gave him earlier in the year didn't really suit him. He doesn't enjoy being turned out with other horses, he likes people more than horses and much prefers being in work than resting. 

Monday, 19 July 2010

The Road To, sorry, Highclere!

Showjumping at Highclere
Everybody seems to be talking about their "road to WEG2010". Team GBR has been announced, The Americans, even the Brazilians. All the riders are out interviewing, being ghost written in blogs, yada, yada, yada!

So whilst I haven't got a cat in hell's chance of getting anywhere near the World Equestrian Games, me and my trusty 16-year-old white charger do have our own 'road' to travel and every chance of making it to Highclere Castle Horse Trials 2010, even after 12 months away from the circuit and 5 months out of practice. I know it doesn't have quite the same glamour and buzz of WEG, but it does have the word "Castle" in the title!

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Greys: It's A Dirty Job, But....

If you're squeamish or don't own a grey gelding, then you may be excused from reading on...

This isn't a particularly delightful subject, but an important one if you own a grey gelding, and as I just had to tackle the issue I thought I'd write about it, but I'll spare you any gory pictures, instead here's a nice one of a lovely grey horse. Apart from the obvious problems of keeping grey horses clean (particularly if like mine, yours likes to roll around in the mud), there are a number of other issues with greys, particularly geldings.

GBR Team Selections for WEG 2010 Raises A Few Eyebrows

Yogi Breisner
Hunting around the web there certainly seems to be a lot of questions over the selection of Piggy French's horse JAKATA for the WEG 2010 GBR team. This horse doesn't have the solid form you'd expect to see for team selection. However Piggy has only had this horse for half a season, and had numerous top five placings on him, including a 3rd at Bramham CCI*** so the horse's previous form, that includes some failed attempts at 4* with previous riders, could be looked upon as 'good experience'.

Personally I think Piggy is one of those up and coming riders that just needs a top class horse to match the results of other olympians based here in the UK, I hope she's found it in this horse. I still can't get used to all these bizarre girl's names in this sport though  (more on that in another post).

So this leaves the 2010 WEG team looking like this:

Travelling Team:
William Fox-Pitt with COOL MOUNTAIN
Tina Cook with MINER'S FROLIC
Pippa Funnel with REDESIGNED
Piggy French with JAKATA
Nicola Wilson with OPPOSITION BUZZ

Non Traveling Reserves:
Daisy Berkeley (SPRING ALONG)
Sharon Hunt (TANKERS TOWN)

It is a little surprising to see Spring Along (3rd at Badminton 2010) and Tankers Town (winner at Luhmuhlen 2010) sat on the subs bench, both of whom have played a part in team competition before but  who knows what goes through the selector's minds! A lot can change over the next few months and there's plenty of 'politiking' to come......

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Barbury Castle Horse Trials 2010 - A weekend of hot competition to match the weather

With a high of 27 degrees and no shade this was one very hot and dry event. How Barbury manages to battle these conditions is with the old established turf, that at least muffles the rock hard ground on this chalk down land. 

Since it started 5 years ago, I've been to Barbury as a competitor, spectator, guest of a sponsor and even a supplier, and each time I've found myself wanting to call Nigel Bunter [Barbury's Owner] and say "well done but have you thought about..."

There's so much to love about this event, and considering it's relatively new you have to be a little forgiving over the things to dislike about the event.  Running this event here proves that you don't need a grand stately home setting to host a great event that draws in the public.

Saturday, 10 July 2010

Barbury Castle Horse Trials 2010 - CIC** Dressage Leader Video

As I just happened to capture Andrew Hoy's Dressage Test on camera whilst waiting for our horse to go, and it was the leading score I thought I'd upload it for you to view.

It's been a great day at Barbury and the Cross Country Course has played havoc with the novice and CIC** classes so far. I did capture some of this on video and there's a fair bit to report, but I'll leave this until end of play tomorrow when I'll do a full round up on the weekend down here in sunny Wiltshire.

It's been a scorcher of a day, but at least there was a decent breeze and the occasional cloud to keep things cooler.

'til tomorrow.........

Thursday, 8 July 2010

Getting Fit Again - Part 3: Now we're cooking on Gas

Two weeks on and we're both getting nearer to peak fitness, despite no sign of rain to soften the ground. The farrier has been and his feet are starting to shape up, it's quite incredible the difference a good trim up makes to posture and therefore agility. I'd even go as far as saying he currently feels a lot better than he has done for a few years.

Access to a peat based gallop has helped with fitness and I'm hoping we will eventually get some rain this week, so we can work out in the schooling field, which is currently rock hard. It's been so hot and dry one of our water complexes has dried up completely and the other has less than two inches left.

Earlier this week we also managed a short show jumping session, albeit only over 1.10M and on a surface. He jumped very well though and seems to be enjoying it as much as he ever has, more than me at least (it's my least favourite phase).

My Micklem Multi-bridle has continued to please me and I'm finding the ease of lunging in this a great help in warming up the horse for flatwork sessions, which I'm hoping will eventually lead to a few sub 30 dressage scores.

So now we really are cooking on Gas! (not at all bad for a horse many had been tyre kicked and rejected plenty of times before I bought him).

All we need now is a good dump of rain so we can work on all three phases out in the schooling field.....Bring it on.......