Archive

9 Oct 2013

Autumn Update

I am FINALLY getting my act together to update the diary section of my website.....!


You may have been following my regular celebrity blogs on Horse Hero www.horsehero.com where I have been reporting on my drressage journey for 3 years now, but if not, here’s a simple overview of what I’ve been up to over the last year.


As I already reported, my horses are at the Academy Bartels in Holland where I train full time during the University holidays and every other weekend during term time. I am now an expert in living out of a suitcase and writing essays wherever I can! My Dutch is improving greatly - however I can understand much more than I can speak!

I have learnt so much over the past 12 months and I feel my riding and understanding of the art of dressage has improved immensely. Imke and Tineke are amazing teachers and their clear and detailed explanations of what I am trying to accomplish and their support and guidance is invaluable.

My horses have thrived as well. Danny has grown stronger over his back and is able to carry weight more easily behind, so becoming lighter in the hand. He has enjoyed his routine of hacking, schooling and field time (this one probably the most!) We have been competing at Young Rider/PSG level at national shows in Holland and he has never let me down, achieving good placings in excellent company. He has now been sold to a lovely Swiss family and I hope to see him at International shows next year with his new rider. I have been concentrating on Bella who is progressing really well and maturing both mentally and physically. She is well muscled now and more able to balance her own incredible elasticity and power. She is thrilling to ride and I am working towards establishing her at PSG level for next season. She too enjoys her varied life - especially when we school our tempi changes on the canter track!

I am now looking to invest in some youngsters and to improve my skills in riding them. I have been given the opportunity to ride some of Imke’s young horses and I am learning all the time. Life is very exciting!

 

 

 

27 Oct 2012

Holland Bound

After settling into student life at Leeds University I have taken a week out in order to travel over to Holland for some training at the Academy Bartels. Despite the cold weather the training is going well. As I haven't ridden Danny for a while we are working on obtaining submission and throughness in order for him to transfer more weight behind and consequently become light in the hand. It is also great to see Bella out here who has improved greatly. She is more confirmed and secure in her work resulting in her having more confidence in her training sessions. She also seems to be getting a clearer idea of the concept of flying changes which is very exciting.


 

 

 

7 Oct 2012

From now on....

 

I first of all have to apologise for my lack of communication since my last diary entry. My website has been undergoing re-construction but it is nearly complete! The form of my diary on the updated website is going to be somewhat different. I will be giving frequent and shorter snippets of what I am up to.

 

Since the beginning of the year there has been a huge amount of change. I have represented Great Britain and numerous internationals as well as being selected for the European Championship. Alongside this I have also been given the opportunity to have both my horses out in Holland and I have also just enrolled in studying for a degree in Broadcast Journalism at the University of Leeds.

The European Championship was a super experience and a great learning curve. It was great to be involved in the European teams again after having had a year out and it was a bonus that I managed to score two personal bests. I now move up into the Young Rider category and look forward to attending GB Winter Squad sessions.  Throughout the winter I am also excited to be training out in Holland with Imke Schellekens Bartels as well as getting to grips with Bella who is improving and moving up the levels, which is very exciting. 

I have just  got back from the GB squad selection which was very informative and it seems effective strategies have been put in place to make sure GB have a strong squads and individuals going into the 2013 dressage season! I am excited to be a part of it.

 

 

 

12 Feb 2012

Lift off!

Since my last diary entry everything seems to have lifted off with a new arrival as well as bettering Bella’s way of going!


The day before Christmas Eve we picked up Danny who is an 11 year old chestnut Hannoverian gelding and is trained to Small Tour level. Since Christmas I have been working hard at home in order to come out at the beginning of the season to hit the floor running. Well, it seems to have gone to plan as I have had really positive feedback from the two competitions I have been to with him!


I entered my first Advanced Medium test at a local venue . It enabled me to get to know Danny in the arena as well as to give myself a chance to remember how to ride a test seeing that it was my first competition for 18 months! We had some disastrous bits and some fabulous bits and the judge was very encouraging so I felt we had some very useful feedback that we could learn from for our next outing.


The following weekend was the much more important event, Addington High Profile Show. The test went well with good rhythm and energy and I had some very positive comments from the judge. I was delighted to win the Junior FEI class on just over 71%. Following our strong performance at Addington I was told that I have been put onto the Great Britain Junior Prime Squad which is great news! Since then I have been training hard, even in these freezing conditions, and am looking forward to what the season will bring Danny and me.

 

Bella has also been coming on leaps and bounds and is starting to look a bit more like a dressage horse as her winter coat is now starting to come out! We are continuing with the ground work as well as the ridden work now and it is all going in the right direction. It is great that the pressure has been taken off her slightly due to the new arrival and means that we can take our time with her so that her full potential can be fulfilled.

 

Daylight continues to improve with Harriette and is looking amazing. Their scores are steadily improving and I hope they have a really good season.

 

I am planning my competition schedule for the coming months, aiming to have the horses peaking when it most matters and to give them time off in between to recover from all the stresses of travelling and performing.

 

So far it has been a great start to 2012 and let’s hope there is a lot more success to come!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3 Nov 2011

Work in progress

Since my last entry, I have continued to make steady progress with my talented new six year old mare, Bella. We have been focusing our sessions on her general way of going and on lateral work and these areas have hugely improved. Also encouraging is that her changes are coming on and she is now doing every one on the aid – it’s all very exciting. I've also been out hacking which we both thoroughly enjoyed. She is interested in everything around her and yet is well behaved and brave. I am now becoming more confident in knowing what to expect!

 Another highlight over the last couple of months was the fantastic victory for the Senior team in Holland at the European Championships. Here, I was lucky enough to witness the great success of our talented GB team. It was such an honour to be part of the atmosphere when the team were awarded their gold medal. It was also refreshing to see how fair the judges were marking and how they were rewarding correct, harmonious work. It made me feel increasingly excited for when I get back onto the circuit! There is no doubt that the whole experience was truly inspiring and having Scandic, Bella’s sire, win the bronze medal on the last day was even more exciting for the prospects for my horse back home! I wanted to go straight back and try all the movements but then I remembered, Bella is only 6!!

My FEI pony, Daylight, has continued to improve and it is exciting to announce that she has been selected for the first training session for the Great Britain Pony squad under her rider, Harriette Williams. They are improving every day and I hope that through the winter they continue to maintain their progress to give themselves the best chance for being considered for selection for the international competitions coming up in 2012.

Over the coming weeks I will continue to work on my relationship with Bella and to be thorough in our basic training so that we can look forward confidently to the coming season. 

I have also enjoyed interacting with the many young riders that have contacted me through my website and answering their questions as best I can. Please feel free to do the same! 

 

 

 

25 Aug 2011

A New Horse

I have been extremely busy over this summer both with the horses as well as being abroad on holiday and catching up with friends. I am happy to be able to announce that I have recently been bought a new horse. After a six month search and numerous trips around Europe we managed to find one in England! I am lucky enough to have Annette Ballerina (Bella) who was owned by Rebecca Hughes. Bella is a bright bay six year old mare by the stallion, Scandic, who won a Bronze medal at this year’s European Championships. Her damsire is Jazz so all the ingredients are there for a good equine athlete. She has huge bags of talent as well as a trainable brain and is the reigning National 6yr old Champion having won at Hartpury and Hickstead. It is so exciting to be training again and I feel that all the knowledge that I have gained from riding so many horses during our search has allowed me to develop skills which I will now be able to use with Bella. She is still green in her training, so slow and steady is the tactic we are using. I will be training hard throughout the winter in order to hopefully (fingerscrossed) come out with her at the beginning of next season, but we will see how she comes along as we want to be thorough in the basics. 

Alongside this exciting new arrival I have had a wonderful opportunity regarding a lovely grey GrandPrix Lusitano horse – Oeste. I had been riding him last term at school and I was lucky enough to look after him for a time during the summer holidays. He has taught me a lot about the advanced movements and about riding a really sensitive, sometimes cheeky(!), horse. I am thoroughly looking forward to riding him when I go back to school in September. 

My pony, Daylight, is also doing very well with her new rider. Harriette has got to grips with her so well and their partnership is flourishing. After a good summer training I'm sure that they will be able to go and face the competition ahead of them in the Autumn.

My former European team pony, Gigolo, was named reserve for this year's Championships and he and Bethany are continuing to make a strong partnership. Leo has also been doing really well at competitions throughout the year including the Home International and the Under 25s National Championships.

From now until January I will be campaigning Bella in a handful of competitions as well as putting in the hard work at home. I hope that patience and skill will pay off so I will be able to come out in 2012 with our relationship strong and ready to perform to a high standard!

 

 

 

 

20 Mar 2011

Over the Winter and into Spring

The winter has been hard but we are now seeing the end of it as Spring feels well and truly here! After a really successful season last year it was hard to wind down together with no specific horse to ride or immediate goal.

It was nice to have a break over Christmas and I managed to ride a couple of horses on the yard where I began to get to grasp with some of the more advanced movements that will help when I come to compete. I think that riding different horses gives you valuable experience and teaches you so much. 

Over the last few months we have continued our search for my junior horse. We have had numerous journeys all round Europe to Denmark, Germany and Holland. I have ridden  a wide variety of horses all of which have strengths and weaknesses in different areas. I think I have learnt a huge amount and I know what kind of horse I want and also what kind of horse I don’t want! I have had my hopes raised and dashed on more than one occasion and it is a real test of my commitment and determination to stay patient as I know that it will be all worth it in the end! 

In order to keep motivated throughout the winter I have been running and in the gym this has helped me maintain my cardiovascular fitness. 

As the season gets underway, Daylight is being competed by Harriette Williams in the FEI pony classes and they are quickly becoming a harmonious partnership and I am really looking forward to watching their progress at the Premier League Shows and to help in any way I can. Bethany and Gigs have been on GB Squad training and are going to contest their first Premier League in a few weeks time and I have been asked to help them with their warm up! 

Should be fun!

 

 

 

30 Nov 2010

Winter's here!

November has certainly been a cold one yet a lot of exciting things have happened. 

This month I have been given the opportunity to ride some of the horses at Ace Dressage where I keep my ponies. It is great to have such a generous offer and it allows me to continue my transition from ponies into juniors. Firstly I was given a ride on Stacey Munson’s horse, Showbiz, (Diego) who is on the World Class Equine pathway, which just shows how special the opportunity was. This was the second time I had ridden him, so it gave me a chance to start to really ride him rather than figure out his quirks and what buttons to press. Last time I rode him I was finding it challenging to understand the correct counting in the tempi changes, however this time I came to terms with it much more and was able to count correctly resulting in me getting some good and consistent lines of changes. I also got a feel for the piaffe and passage, which was amazing to sit to. Alongside Diego, I was offered the opportunity to have a lesson on Woodlander Frank Sinatra (Frank) who belongs to Judy, a fellow livery owner at the yard. Frank was very different to Diego, which allowed me to get a feel for two very different horses. On Frank I was able to work more in the canter and experiment with the pirouettes. I began with the working pirouettes and then gradually made them smaller and smaller. Frank has a great temperament and he allowed me to make mistakes without him getting confused or tense. Throughout both my lessons, I learnt a lot.

A significant moment this month is that The Beast, Gigolo, has been sold and gone to his new home. Whilst this news is sad for me in many ways, I am really pleased that he has a lovely new home where I know he will be well cared for. His new rider, Bethany, bought my previous pony too, so it will be nice to hear how they both are getting on. I know that she is going to do a great job with him and he is going to give her all the experience and fun that he has given to me over the last two years. I wish them the best of luck.

Last week we flew out to Germany to continue our search for my junior horse. It was definitely very interesting to see all the horses and  enabled me to ride a variety of different types and to further see what I like and what suits me.

 

 

 

 

10 Oct 2010

Into Autumn

After a hectic month in August with the European Championships we had a lovely holiday in Portugal where we got some much needed rest and sun which set me up for camping (in the mud!) at Reading Festival. However it was definitely worth sleeping on a mud/water bed for 4 nights due to the amazing music.

Shortly after I returned, it was time to get ready for my new school - Stowe. It was going to be the first time I had boarded so I was slightly nervous but now I am here it is great fun and I am really enjoying my whole experience. I am coming home during the week and at weekends to keep up my riding and school is being very supportive about it all - which is great. I am riding a variety of horses and learning a lot from doing this. It is widening my knowledge for the different types of training required for a well schooled horse that knows his job, to a youngster who is still coming to grips with the concept of a 20 metre circle. I am really enjoying the process and it keeps me riding horses while our search for a Junior horse continues.

I have also recently heard that I have been accepted onto the TASS scheme, which is great. This is a government funded programme which supports and fast tracks young sporting talent to achieve their sporting goals whilst they are still in full time education. I will be able to increase the level of my training and perhaps go and train abroad, as well as using the money for my sports psychologist sessions, which have really helped me perform to the best of my ability. I can also restart my strength and conditioning sessions which I will complete in the gym at school under the guidance of my school coach who will work with my TASS Coach from the University of Hertfordshire.

A couple of weeks ago I was asked to speak to many Pony riders who had been selected for National Training and who hope that perhaps one day will ride with the Great Britain flag on their jacket and numnah. It was a great honour and opportunity to be asked to tell them my personal journey as well as explaining that not everything is plain sailing and there are many lows as well as highs.  I also was able to explain what it takes to be an International competitor and to stress the importance of keeping things in perspective and balancing school work and social life with training which is so important during your journey. Everyone seemed to enjoy it and I received great feedback which was rewarding.

For now, our Junior horse search continues and I will continue to work hard at school and ride many different horses at my yard. 

 

 

 

4 Aug 2010

Pony European Championships

What a month it has been! The main event  was the European Pony Championships at Bishop Burton in Yorkshire. We travelled to Kilbees Stud in Windsor owned by Mr and Mrs Pidgley for the final intensive training camp. This included sessions with Peter Storr- the GB team trainer. We were all working on individual aspects of our performance that we found weak. Alongside this we also rode through rode through the FEI team test which was judged by Jenny Ward - chief pony selector. This was great to have feedback and also ride through the test in practice before we rode it through at the Europeans. That evening we then watched top German and Dutch pony riders performing on video at Moorsele. This would help see how accurate they were , how well they had their ponies going and how they adjusted their ponies in the test if they needed to. This evening was very useful and made the whole team determined and ready to put into practice what we  learnt. The following morning we set off for Bishop Burton. 
When we arrived we settled in the ponies and set up a really good patriotic camp which was decorated with many GB flags and was full of good team spirit! Before we knew it all the ponies had passed the trot up and it was time for the first day of competition. Charlotte Gill and Lottie Fry were the first GB members to go. Even though they were faced with some challenges, they both rode with real experience and dealt with problems that were thrown at them. The arena was causing some problems so when it came to the day of my competition I knew what to expect and where the arena was spooky to the ponies. Erin had pulled out a good performance and I knew that I had to score over 70% in order to get a bronze medal. Yet this was easier said than done. Unfortunately, Gigs was slightly too hot and we both made some really expensive mistakes. This meant that we ended up 4th just 4 points behind bronze medal. Even though it was disappointing it was still a creditable result. 
Then it was the individual test and having scored 68.61% in the team test, I wanted to reach over 70%. This indeed happened. Gigs felt great in the warm up and I was able to maintain this quality in the test and was awarded 71.8% which I was thrilled with. This meant I finished in 5th position. The home crowds were great and I felt I had full support around me, which filled me with confidence as I entered the Kur on the last day. I knew that the competition was going to be fierce  and I really wanted to par or even better my performance from the individual. I was a little more nervous as I went into the music  -  however I love riding to music so it was a mix between nerves and excitement. The music was great fun and it all went to plan. My shoulder in’s could have done with a little more angle and one of my halfpasses wasn’t quite parallel. Due to these small mistakes I ended up with 74.1%. This result was great! I was pleased with how everything went and it left me in 5th position once again. The prize giving was amazing and  took place in the international show jumping arena.  Gigs loved throwing his legs about and showing off! I was awarded a beautiful new saddle from the Worshipful Company of Saddlers for being the highest placed British Rider.
Overall, the Europeans was a tremendous experience and the team sprit was high. Everyone did a great job and thank you to everyone who made it possible. Now Gigs is on holiday for a little break whilst I’m off to Portugal for 2 weeks to relax and get a bit of sun!

 

 

 

11 Jul 2010

It's all go!

The last few weeks have been very busy and challenging.

Since my last entry, I have taken the ponies to compete at Somerford Park Premier League which, despite the endless journey getting there and the howling gales when we were doing our tests, was a very successful show and everyone made you feel very welcome. Daylight is becoming much more established at FEI level now and with consistent training over the winter should be gaining even higher scores next season. Gigolo was a star, winning both classes on 72+% and the Individual test was particularly pleasing. Even with the sand bags holding down the arena letters, he stayed focussed on me throughout the test and earned high praise from the judges.

Very sadly my Grandpa died at the beginning of June and it has been very challenging to remain focussed on my exams and to prepare for the final trials as he was one of my greatest supporters, always wanting to hear about how I had got on at competitions and giving me positive encouragement even when things didn’t go so well.

I have now finished my GCSEs which went as well as could be expected and it is a great feeling not to have to do any more revision! I just have to wait for my results which come out at the end of August.

The day after my last exam , we left for Hickstead Premier League where the Final Trials for the Pony Team was taking place. The weather was so hot but Ami, from ACE Dressage had come with us and she did a brilliant job in keeping the ponies cool and fit for work. Because my training programme had been disrupted because of  our family loss, I was not as well prepared as I would have liked to have been which was reflected in our slightly lower scores. However, Gigolo won both his classes and the revised floorplan for my music was given its first try out so we had useful feedback from that. Daylight did a solid Team test but was amazing in the Individual Test, staying in front of me throughout and gaining 4th place!

Two days later I had an email saying that Gigolo and I have been selected to ride for Great Britain at the European Pony Championships 2010! It is a great honour and I am thrilled to be contesting for medals as part of the Home Nation as the Championships are taking place at Bishop’s Burton College in Yorkshire from 27th July – 1st August. It will be exciting competing in front of a home crowd – the bigger the better! The website for the Champs is http://vikingfm.bauerweb.co.uk/FEI-Pony/index.html so come along and see the GB pony teams in all disciplines competing!

We are completing our last training sessions now before we leave for final training camp and travel up to Yorkshire to compete at the Europeans alongside my other team members. I am really looking forward to the whole experience and hope that my hard work will pay off and all of the team members have a good championship.

 

 

 

 

 

17 May 2010

Home and Away!


Since my last entry we have been doing lots of training and Gigolo and I have been on an exciting trip abroad to the CDI in Saumur, France. It was the most amazing show I have been to and our results were very satisfying. In the Team test we came second on 74.2% which was a personal best , in the Individual test we came 3rd on 72.4% and in the Freestyle to Music we were placed 5th on 74.5%. We were away for a whole week – the weather was fantastic, GB spirits were high and the competition was tough – I loved it!! If you want to read more about this trip in detail, go to my celebrity blog on www.horsehero.com where you can find a daily account of the show.


I have also had a lesson at the home of our top GB Olympic rider, Laura Bechtolsheimer which was a 16th birthday present from my parents. We were videoed for Horsehero and the whole experience was really interesting and informative. Laura explained things very clearly and gave me some helpful tips on how to improve. Gigs thought the lesson was very exciting as there was a large statue of Giorgione at the side of the outdoor school who kept his expert eye on everything we did! I also met the famous Mistral Hojris, or Alf, who was lovely!


At home I have been making some fine alterations to my freestyle programme, have taken Daylight to Addington Premier League where we came joint third and we are now preparing to head North with both ponies  to Somerford Park Premier League. I am also in the middle of my GCSE exams which finish just before the Final Selection Trials at Hickstead in June - the revision is very boring but I know it has to be done!

 

 

 

 

31 Mar 2010

Spring is in the air!!!

March has been an extremely busy month which included my birthday, Myerscough Premier League and a lot of training with Dan.

My birthday was a lot of fun and one of my presents was a lesson with Laura Bechtolsheimer! This was a huge shock and I am really looking forward to it as I hope she will give me some really good tips! This lesson will be taking place at the end of April, so I will let you know how it goes in my next blog. Myerscough was a little disappointing but I still finished second with Gigolo and Daylight was a good girl too , breaking the 60% barrier despite me overdoing it in the warm up.

After Myerscough it was back to the yard for some intensive training before the CDI Addington International. I was also able to see my sports psychologist which was really helpful as we talked through some of the techniques that I might possibly have to use at Addington. Sure enough I did have to use some of the skills we had discussed as I managed to go wrong in my first test! However I was able to pick myself up after it and I even rode a lot better after the blip. The results throughout the weekend were extremely rewarding and I felt that the comments I received from the judges were positive and constructive. In the FEI team test I scored over 73% and the following day I scored 71% in the FEI individual test. However my most pleasing score was my Kur result. I shot a score of 77%!  I really felt that my hard work at home working on my freestyle had paid off! These scores meant I finished 2nd, 3rd and 2nd which I felt was a good place to be at the beginning of the international season with still time and room for further improvement.

I am now once again back at home training both the ponies. My lesson with Laura B will swiftly be followed by a trip to the CDI in Saumur which will be another international competition were I will once again come up against some of the top pony combinations in Europe and I hope to continue my successful start to what I hope will be a rewarding season! 

 

 

 

15 Feb 2010

A Successful Beginning to 2010


January seems to have gone by so quickly in a white blur! Due to the snow, we moved the ponies to Dan Sherriff’s yard which means I have access to the indoor arena (and the sound system!) enabling me to continue with my training uninterrupted by the winter weather. We have since decided to keep the ponies there, as they have fitted into the daily routine so well and it is working well for me as I have my GCSEs this year.

The snow also prevented me from attending all the shows I was planning so the  Addington High Profile Show was our first outing since November. It was the first time that I would have ridden the FEI Pony Tests in competition since Sheepgate U25s Championships last year and it was Daylight’s very first competition at this level. I was excited to get the new season underway. The ponies both went really well and it proved that all the training through the cold winter weather and rainy, dark nights had paid off. Gigs behaved beautifully and the tests we rode were both accurate and rhythmical. I ended up winning both the Team and Individual FEI Tests on him with over 71 and 72 percent. This was a pleasing start to the season on Gigolo.

We also took my second pony, Daylight, who does not have as much competition experience as Gigs. She was a little fresh in the warm up on the first day, resulting in her Team test being flat, but the second day was much more promising. She was extremely well behaved and we shot over 69% and came third! This was extremely promising as it was the first time we had ever ridden through the Individual Test as a whole and her first time in competition. This score still leaves a lot of room for improvement and more experience is yet to been gained.

The recent work I have been doing with my Sports Psychologist is also contributing to my success. I am learning to deal with pressures outside my control in a positive way. I have also learnt how to handle problems that I face in arena and Sion and I will be working towards trying to achieve my final goal which is the Pony Europeans at the end of July. I am really enjoying working with him.

A couple of weekends ago, I went to the BDSC Ball (British Dressage Supporters Club), in London. It was such fun to catch up with everyone and party with some of my best friends that I have made through dressage.

I am also really looking forward to attending the next GB squad training and it will be good to have feedback on my progress from Peter Storr and hope I get some positive comments about my new improved toe position!!

I’ll let you know how everything goes!

 

 

 

 

23 Dec 2009

The Year Ends

It has been quite a while since I have written a diary entry. I have been up to lots of exciting things.

 

 Both Daylight and Gigolo have been improving and getting stronger in their work. I have been continuing my lessons with Jill Day and Dan Sherriff  and have attended GB squad training where it was really nice to meet lots of new people and receive feedback from Peter Storr. I was told that what I really HAVE to improve is my TOES! They seem to be sticking out - and I believe it is limiting the effectiveness of my leg and ruining the overall picture, which is very important. I have been working on this at home by strapping my stirrup irons to the girth to try to ‘encourage’ my toes to point inwards not outwards!! I have to say they are slowly improving.

I unfortunately couldn’t attend the most recent squad training session due to all the snow. We live on an Estate and were marooned as no snow ploughs or gritters come through.The road was icy for days and it was very challenging to keep the horses occupied, not being able to exercise them. We turned them out in their tiny paddocks whenever we could so they could stretch their legs and have a roll. Next time we have warnings about snow, we will move them to a yard to prevent their exercise programme being disrupted so badly!

I have recently started regular sessions with a sports physiologist, which has helped me in many ways. I have become aware of many more things and I am beginning to learn about dealing with pressure and turning negatives into positives. I hope that this will enhance my performance in order to improve my overall scores.
Christmas is only two days away and the horses have been given lots of apples and carrots. I am really looking forward to the new season and meeting all the new and old people on the circuit. I have a busy time in January as I have Squad training and the Addington High Profile show. This will be a really good chance to take the ponies out and start to ride through the FEI test again in competition.

 

Wishing you all (and your horses!) a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! 

 

 

 

16 Nov 2009

Inspiration and Improvisation!

As part of the Elite Athlete Support Programme, I was invited to attend a ‘Business Breakfast’ where business people came to hear local plans for 2012 and had the opportunity to meet some of the athletes on the programme. It was a real eyeopener for the plans for the Olympics and it was great to have a taster of what the campus is going to look like. A Paralympian swimmer gave an amazing speech about his personal journey to Olympic medals and I found his talk very moving and it inspired me hugely. I gained a lot from the occasion and it was nice to spend the morning with some of the other athletes.  

The following weekend it was back in the lorry and off to a show. I was competing in 3 classes: an Elementary on Daylight - who I was thrilled with and we came second in really good company! We had some very encouraging comments from the judge which was great. My other two classes were with Gigs and I had to keep his full attention during the test as the warm up was right alongside the competition arena. I did Medium 75 which is the hardest Medium yet we took on the challenge and came second - I was really pleased with the way he listened. My final class was the Medium Freestyle. This was the most interesting class as I hadn’t actually got a Medium floor plan so it was time for some improvisation! I adapted my FEI Pony Freestyle and decided to add a canter half pass when the music allowed. I entered the arena with an idea of what I was about to do next… but it was a true FREESTYLE! I managed (don’t know how) to get a terrific mark and win!!! I think I should do it more often! After a successful day out and some prize money to spend on clothes - I was happy! 

Next we are off to GB winter training which will be good to get in the swing of the FEI test again… not to mention to enjoy the amazing food that they make at the Unicorn Trust!!

 

 

 

 

12 Oct 2009

Under The Spotlight

As I stated in my previous entry, Gigolo and I were invited to showcase pony dressage at IPS Performance Ponies Event at Aintree Equestrian Centre.

After the 5 hour journey, we arrived at the spectacular Aintree Racecourse, home of the Grand National, with signs directing you past numerous galleries and bars named after famous steeplechasers like Corbiere.   The huge grandstand towered over the race course and was awe-inspiring. We were escorted to the Winners stableyard by Derek who had been in charge of the racecourse for many years and who knew all the famous jockeys , trainers and, of course, horses! His office was full of racing photos, signed pictures and even the gloves belonging to one of the Grand National winning jockeys! To my surprise, Gigolo was given the stable belonging to the most famous Grand National winner of all time  -  Red Rum!!!!!
After the arrival of Emma (best friend from school), the Leaks and Georgie Starkie, excitement was inevitable. The ponies were plaited, and wearing their Pony European rugs , we made our way along the horse walkway by the side of the racetrack in the dark with only the grandstand lights to show us where we were going.
The evening started off with the showing of the auction ponies, swiftly followed by the best performance of the whole night... US (: !!!
Olivia (riding Devito) and myself (riding Gigolo) had a great time under the spotlight, showing off our lovely ponies who rose to the occasion and performed spectacularly! We had to perform a variety of movements ranging from a simple half halt to a more challenging half pass and other lateral movements to help the audience understand what dressage ponies at the top level are being asked to do.  
I throughly enjoyed the whole experience!  

 

 

 

19 Sep 2009

Just a quick update!

I have been following online all my friends at the Nationals, as this year sadly I was not able to be there, as my brother is going off to university and our whole house is full of getting him prepared. Everyone so far has done really well and I am disappointed that I am not able to celebrate with all of you! Well done, Alex Hardwick, Alicia Patrick, Georgie Starkie, and good luck Olivia Oakeley-I will be thinking of you tomorrow! I am looking ahead-excitedly- to our next event, which is the IPS Performance Auction in Aintree Equestrian Centre ( www.ips-auction.com ) where Gigolo and I are performing in the Gala Evening. I am excited about the thought of being back with all my friends I met at the Europeans as they will also be there! I am also going with one of my best friends, Emma, so it will be an unusual to be with one of my friends from school. The whole weekend should be a great experience, mixing with competitors and top names in all disciplines, not to mention the fabulous parties that will be taking place in the evening! I will let you know how it all goes!

 

 

 

30 Aug 2009

Incredible!

After spending part of the week at the Senior Europeans held at Windsor Castle, I felt I really had to write something about it. 

All the horses there were special horses in their own ways, however, I think that Totilas is truly magnificent. His ability to extend and then come right back to ultimate collection of the Piaffe was perfection. Every time he came into the arena the crowd gasped at his talent. The Kur was magical, the music suited him and Edward Gal rode him superbly- I felt honoured to be witnessing it. I must also rejoice in Laura B's success. Coming home with an individual medal is a dream I am sure we all share! Mistral Horjis looked fabulous and Laura B rode a foot perfect test. Not least to mention that Team GB did so well to come out of the Europeans with the Silver Medal- beating the Germans - who would have thought! To all the riders - well done! 
I found the whole competition truly inspiring. 

 

 

 

23 Aug 2009

On the road again!

After a relaxing holiday in Southern Spain,  we set off for the regionals at Addington last Tuesday.

 I was competing on  Daylight in the Novice Open and Gigolo in the Medium Open. I took Daylight for the experience and to get to grips with the atmosphere of the bigger competitions. She was the first to go out of the two ponies, and after a good warm up she did a lovely test  - spoilt only by a couple of very expensive rider errors which meant we didn't finish as high up as we would have liked.

However onward and upwards to Gigolo! He was such a good boy, and even with all the distractions around him he kept focused on the job in hand. The test was soft and flowing and we scored a very well deserved 67.03%. However, being in such a hot class with Garry Williams, Peter Storr, Jane Gregory and everyone else you could possibly think of, we just missed out on qualifying!  I will, of course, be hoping to go to the Nationals to support my friends Georgie Starkie, Livi Oakeley and Steph Pike, on their horses, - GOOD LUCK (: !!!!!!


After the regionals we travelled  in convoy to Sheepgate with Liv and I watching ' Marley and Me" - our trucker parents driving over what seemed like a million  roundabouts!

I was in a number of classes , from Novice and Elementary on Daylight to the FEI tests on Gigolo! The elementary didn't quite go to plan as in the Championship we think Daylight got stung so she was unable to complete the test, however the Novice went better and  after coming 2nd in the qualifying round, we finished 7th in the Championship, which was very pleasing as by that time she was somewhat rather exhausted!!

Gigolo as usual, pulled it out of the bag, scoring a winning score of 70.79% in the Team Test and 71.05% in the Individual  which meant we had won the FEI Pony Championship!!  Holly Woodhead came second (and Daylight stood in for Holly's pony for the prize giving) and Fiona came third on Bernwode Nirvana. Really well done to you two!!

The Kur was my final test and I wanted to go in and enjoy it (without speakers crackling!)  I scored a very pleasing 74.5 % and took the honours which I was thrilled about!

Not only did I have a very successful time at Sheepgate, but also one of my friends in the Eastern region, Michelle Watson, was proposed to by her boyfriend, Jamie, whilst standing on the podium -  so congratulations to the both of you!


Sheepgate is always a great show, with great prize money, which allows me to pay off some of my phone bills that I have run up throughout the year!!


It's great to have such a good end to such a successful season. Now it's time for a holiday for everyone in the family, including the ponies!!



 

 

 

4 Aug 2009

Home at last.

Everyone has arrived back home safe and sound. After a tiring and eventful 11 days, I am glad to get home back to my bed but yet I miss all the amazing friends I have spent my time with at the Europeans!

After losing a team member at Peter's we set off to Dover with three team members. After the ferry journey and 5 movies later we arrived at the show ground and with help from the grooms, all the ponies were quickly settled in and the lorries all sorted for the week. 
However the three team members all got a amazing surprise when we heard that Holly Woodhead (who was originally on the team) was on her way out to Belgium to compete with us!
Before we knew it, the first day of competition had arrived. Unfortunately during the draw we got picked to go first so throughout  the team competition Great Britain had to set the standards. With slight complications it meant that Georgie had to open the competition and I had to go on the first day, leaving Livi and Holly to go on the second day.
Every team member put 100% into their performance and we all worked well as a team supporting one another when it mattered most and in the end we came 5th - Well done everyone!
With one day's rest, the individual test was next up. Everyone did well, and although  I was a little disappointed with my own score, Holly and I made it into the Kur. Sadly Georgie and Livi just missed out - however still put in a super effort. Georgie finished 9th in the consolation and it was great to wave the Great Britain flag in a prize giving!
A number of ponies were very unsettled in the Kur due to the sound system crackling and a banner catching the bright sunlight and Gigolo too was a little tense which left me with a lower mark than I would have hoped, however I was comforted when the 2008 German gold medallist also had much worse problems with his pony and I ended up beating him!!! Holly rode a lovely freestyle and finished 11th - she was very pleased.
Overall the trip was a great experience and I learnt a lot AND it was great fun spending time with some of my closest friends.. 
WELL DONE TEAM GB :)

Next - regionals on Daylight and Gigolo and then off to Sheepgate!

 

 

 

24 Jul 2009

All packed up, let's hit the road!


Today I leave for Peter Storr's with my pony Gigolo, ready for my final training before we set off for the Pony European Championships. This weekend will allow for final preparations, along with team bonding and the last chance to relax before competition. Following our final vet check on Sunday afternoon, we set off for Dover and will we leave on the ferry for Belgium early Monday morning. The excitement levels amongst the team will no doubt be high, as all the girls travel together in one lorry, though I don't think the driver will be quite as excited to have such a 'quiet' bunch of passengers!

Once we arrive in Belgium, the competition will be upon us, and following the opening ceremony on Wednesday we will all be focussing on the job at hand. 

At the hotel I will be looking ahead to the stiff competition the week promises as well as enjoying the company of my team-mates and the chatter of Mini Leak! 

All the team members have been working hard, and are determined to do well.

Go Georgie, Charlie and Livi... 
Let's make Great Britain proud!

 

 

 

 

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