Monday, 23 August 2010

The Road To, sorry, Highclere! - 1 Week To Go

XC Schooling In Preparation for Highclere
Just one week to Highclere Horse Trials, our seasonal debut, and it seems like an age since I brought the big white charger back into work. He's gone from a white giraffe to nifty looking eventer, and I've shed 2 inches off my waist and about a stone in three months (I can finally fit into my jeans again!). This last weekend I thought we had better have a little cross country schooling session, just to make sure he was committed and still enjoying the job, it was also a good excuse to test out my new gadget, the Helmet Cam, before Highclere.

Cross country schooling is always something I'm very careful not too over cook, as tempting as it is with the facilities we have at home, but I have to say I really enjoyed putting us both through our paces yesterday. From the video you will see that he is generally a very willing and capable horse, and in the 7 or 8 years I've owned him he has never had a dirty stop or a run out, in fact the only xc jump penalties we've ever got are for me circling before a fence, when we were running on a bit too much!

Where ever possible when I ride, I try to go through the water complex in my warm-ups just to keep him focussed on it being no problem. This does seems to work, but it can be a little concerning when he tentatively approaches a fence into water, rather than attack it like any other fence. In this session he was a little more cautious than normal, although never looking like he was about to refuse. In hind sight I probably should have tackled the water earlier in the session when he was a little fresher, I think he was just getting a little tired towards the end of the session - lesson learnt.

What was incredibly pleasing though, was the way he handled the 'skinny' fences, even when tackling these off 90 degree bends from bolder fences, or as part of a 'double skinny combination', the perfect opportunities to run out, but he was rock solid and locked on!

A Career In Radio!
The family joined me yesterday, an opportunity for my wife to practice her photographic composition, and a chance for my son (age 2) to see 'horsez' ("Daddy rides horsez"). My wife and I have a friendly battle regarding photography as she is now an 'expert' on the technicalities, but lacks concentration on her composition, where as I am the other way round. As it's her birthday on Highclere day, I've promised to buy her another photographic course on portrait composition so she can take lots of great photos of the children. Most of her photos from today left my head, the horses feet, or his head out of shot, perhaps she's trying to tell me I have a face for radio!

After a bit of messing about with the Helmet Cam, securing the fixing, getting the angle right so you can see the fence and horse's ears, instead of just the horizon, and getting it on the correct settings, I'm really pleased with how the videos from it have turned out. It looks fantastic on the big screen TV, the bigger the screen the better, unfortunately I have only uploaded it at 480p, as 1080p would have taken forever.

The rest of the week, in the lead up to WEG Highclere, will be spent having a potter down the road on Tuesday, lunge on Wednesday, light canter on Thursday, handful of show jumps on Friday, and a little flat work on Saturday after his bath and plait. I may also go and have a look at the course on Saturday, if my times are very close together, it just takes 20 mins off a stressful part of the day. Not forgetting I'll need to learn the dressage test too!

Then Sunday is competition day! It's tipping it down with rain at the moment and the forecast says it will be drier towards the end of the week, so it looks likely we'll have good ground at Highclere, thank goodness, because the ground for schooling was just starting to turn firm.

Until the final report, I hope you enjoy watching the XC Schooling session:

Click on '2010 Seasonal Debut' (below) for other posts in this series following our progress to Highclere


  1. Thanks,Monty, that was terrific, I feel like I rode every stride with you, my very own Wii! I think we're definitely ready for WEG, I mean Highclere! Seriously, I really enjoyed watching, and it looked fabulous to me. I can't wait for the latest updates, are you planning on using the helmet cam at the event? Have a good week, and thank you again for sharing your journey.

  2. I am planning to use the camera at Highclere.