Address: Kintbury Park Farm, Kintbury, Hungerford, Berkshire RG17 9XA

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December 2017

Well another year gone – another year older for both horses and riders – and hopefully wiser!!

This year seems to have been a real non-starter for myself and my horses.  If the horses weren’t off the pace, then I was.

However, there are new horizons next year on all fronts.  As for the staff, Lauren has now gone home to Ireland, saying that it was very difficult decision to leave as she had enjoyed the job so much.   I am busy looking for a full-time replacement, but we already have a Saturday girl, Phoebe, who is looking to go to Veterinary College, and Chloe is back!  The new Monday girl, Becca, who is very experienced has really fitted into the groove so fingers crossed that next year sees a more settled time on the staffing front.

As for the horses, well it was cruising time really over the Christmas and New Year holiday, but work in earnest will start in the New Year.  Diamonit’s soft tissue injury is on the road to recovery, having now started canter work, the next stage is for him to start the sideways.  However, Addington is definitely out, and we are probably looking to the end of February beginning of March for his first outing.

Now Chloe is back, she will take on the fittening work of Legs and look to making a competition with him in March or April time.

That leaves Danny, who really can’t get a hold on the changes, so that is going to be rather like pushing water uphill, but I do believe he will get there.  As he is still registered Novice, then he will go out to some small competitions to try and settle his nerves.

And for those of you who feel you have not achieved this year what you would have liked to, this year might have passed – but you are never too old to set another dream!


 November 2017 

Well another bombshell…………….Lauren wants to go home to Ireland :-o  !! After nearly two years of being here and doing such a good job, she will be sadly missed, not just by me, but everyone that comes to the yard – and of course the horses.

So now a hunt starts for a replacement.  We did find one girl who came to work with us for a couple of days, then decided that the job was not for her.  At least she was honest and didn’t take the job to leave in a couple of weeks.

Lauren has been very kind and said she will stay until we find someone.  We had better get on with finding  replacement quickly, but it will be difficult ot fil Lauren’s boots.

After some treatment I am able to ride again, YEEHA - but my energy only lasts for one horse, and that is Diamonit.  He is now trotting and feeling very much better, not always keeping four legs on the ground!!  Very disconcerting!!

This month was the National Convention, based on the ‘German method’ and the two speakers, Ulf Müller of Hof Kasselman fame and Michael Klimke, were both very good, drawing on their years of experience.  It was interesting to hear the difference of training that Ulf Müller does to produce the young horses for the auctions and the training that Michael does to produce Grand Prix horses.

At the end of the first day was a meeting offered by the CEO of BD Jason Brautigen and the Chairman Penny Pollard, as there had been a call of ‘no confidence’ in their management.  With all the people there and the questions that were asked, it appeared that there was no resolution to the difficulties or the questions that were asked, so BD doubtless will continue as before.  However, there has been a terrific loss and change of staff during this year, and one has to wonder why?


October 2017

This should have been a busy month for me judging and judge training, but unfortunately all of it was cancelled.  On the judging front, there were insufficient entries at Frensham in the advanced classes.  I think only a couple of entries in the PSG and none in the GP.  The judge training at West Wilts was cancelled because there were not enough entries in the classes to do the training.  It may be an idea to do judge training at Regionals or Pet Plan so that there is a surety of enough entries to look at.

This month there was the first big ‘bombshell’ as Jenny, our weekend girl of three years has decided to spread her wings and to have experience in retail.  So, she has left the yard and gone to work in Topshop.  Quite a difference and I wonder how she will like it.

Well I am off the dreaded medication and the treatment being given me by the Consultant is working, but I think it will be a slow road.  At least I can walk a few more steps, but still unable to ride.  Lauren is very patiently walking Diamonit in hand twice a day for 20 minutes, which is a very boring job, but does keep everything moving in the right direction.

The other two boys are doing well, but I would like to get back riding again – soonest!


September 2017

Well this month has presented it difficulties for me.  I had a serious back problem, so bad that I could not stand up straight to walk and I could only walk maybe seven or steps before I had to stop to recover.

We went to Spain for a long weekend to see if a rest would help, but it got worse.  I tried several physiotherapists but without success.  Eventually I was given some medication which absolutely knocked me off my feet and riding was a definite no no.  The Consultant then booked a scan for me to have a look at what was going on, which resulted in more treatment. Oh well!!

As for the horses, they are all going great guns, thanks to Lauren who has looked after them through this difficult time.

Diamonit is getting better with his soft tissue injury, but unfortunately will not be going to The College in December.  I will certainly not be taking him to Addington in January!  I think during the winter months that venue is so cold, miserable and uninviting, but that is my opinion, other people love it.

Legs is on tick over and Danny looks ready to go to competition with all the hard work done by Lauren.

So, let’s do the treatment and then I can start working with the horses again.


august 2017 

 The results of the bone scan were interesting, although showing nothing untoward, save for a troublesome splint.  So Diamonit can now press on with his work and hopefully actually make some competitions.  Well – that was the plan – as the work started Diamonit being precious as he is, was just off on the left fore. Call in Peter ! Then call in Matt !  A further MRI scan showed that there was a soft tissue injury which required some time off.  So whilst Diamonit is languishing in his box, Mike and I shot off to France for a few days.  The weather was shocking, but the food and wine was good.  That was some recompense.

I am still struggling to complete the paperwork for the UKCC 4.  Having written the paper on Periodisation I now have a paper to write on ‘how my own sport can be improved’!!  Now there’s a thing!  I chose to write on whether coaching in the UK can be improved.  Was that a good idea?  We shall see when it is submitted to the BEF

:-o !

This month has been fairly quiet, which is why I suppose this newsletter is late.  I promise the Spetember one will be on time.


July 2017

Back into the summer weather again. PHEW!

Well I did manage to complete my end of year Project and get that off the desk and on its way to the tutor.  I now have an essay to write on Periodisation and Training.  I do hear that some people think this course is too academic for coaches, but I have to say this has taught me so much about coaching people and the correct theory of training horses.  Here’s to putting it all into practice now!

All horses are going well, but in my opinion not well enough to go to shows at the moment.  This seems to have been a really slow year for me to get going, but hopefully we will get there.

I have been busy judge training again this month, with two sessions at Hickstead, at their International show.  Dane and his gang really do put on a very good show, so well organised and so friendly. The judge training went well and it is always a pleasure to meet other judges and have their take on British Dressage and the different levels they are judging.

Well everything is in full swing for the Regionals and heading up to the Nationals.  I’m not judging any of the Regionals but doing more judge training.  Whilst judge training is hard work with the trainee judges asking all sorts of questions, the pressure is not really on like t is when actually judging the class.  It is interesting watching the horses that have qualified and thinking if they go to the Nationals where their placing may be.

So here’s wishing them all the best of luck and that all riders achieve their own aims.


June 2017 

My hair is now growing again – so much so that I managed to have a trim at the hairdressers this month.  Don’t get me wrong – it is not long – but some hair is better than no hair.

This has been a ‘steady as you go’ month for the horses.  All due for their MOT, so we have had the Horse Dentist on the yard – several times.  Unfortunately, the teeth were a bit overdue as they are normally done every six months by Stephen Holmes who was our regular dentist for a number of years.  However, Stephen was coming down from Newmarket and he fitted the yard in when he was in the area, and as Stephen is now doing more leisure time with his racehorses timing was difficult. So we have a new dentist, Christy O’Connor, recommended by our vet Peter Thurlow and I’m afraid Chrisye had a baptism of fire.  All horses needed a lot of time spending on them and worse still, Danny actually broke the gag! We gave up at this point and called a vet in to give him some sedative!

Diamonit has had an easy month because he went for a bone scan, just to make sure that everything was tickety-boo and that we can now press on with his competitions.

And in accordance with the FEI Regulations of flu jabs being done every six months, the flu jabs were due for all horses this month, so another ‘holiday’ for them with a few days off to recover.  They must think they have died and gone to heaven!

At the beginning of the month I took some judge training at Wellington Premier Show for judges aiming to go up to List 2a.  As a result, I had the pleasure of watching one of the Prix St Georges classes.  There was some interesting riding and some very different methods of training quite apparent throughout the whole of the class.  Some horses did look rather ‘unhappy’ in the arena, yet managed to achieve the movements required of the test. I wonder if marks should be given for happy horses!!  Just a thought ��!

I have nearly completed the UKCC Level 4 course with Gloucester University and the them I have chosen for my end of year Project is ‘Recognising stress in the dressage horse’.  Oh boy have a I read some interesting articles and editorials both in the library and on the Internet, which has given me a new insight into how to read horses.

As the expression goes, ‘You never stop learning’ and ‘Everyday is a school day’.  I wonder how many riders maintain that mantra?


 MAY 2017 

Well this has really been the ‘holiday’ month with all the Bank Holidays!  So making the most of the easy time, Mike and I spent a few days in Spain at the beginning of the month – BUT – that was only after I had taken Diamonit to Sparsholt for his first outing. �� !!!
I don’t know who out of the two of us was the most concerned about the outing – during the test Diamonit seemed that he was holding his breath – rather like me !
Putting him on the lorry at home he was very positive, almost cantering up the ramp and quite the same at Sparsholt coming off the lorry once we had parked.
We were riding our test first up, before the day started, so getting on an advanced horse surrounded by the prelim competitors did seem rather strange.    He was good in the riding in and there was a lot going on.  Indeed, one prelim horse in the riding in – thank goodness it was behind us – bolted with his rider!  Diamonit did not hear or see it. PHEW !
We rode the test indoors and the large posters on the long side did nothing for his confidence.  However, ‘we’ managed to get over that and begin the test.  That was when Diamonit went into automatic pilot and although he performed the movements of the Grand Prix, he was very tight and not really going forwards.  The more I asked with the leg to go forwards, the more he went up and down on the spot.  Nevertheless, we completed the test, with errors, but who cares, that was his first outing doing a grand prix and now things can only get better.  When we got home he was flat out in his box for the afternoon.  The outing certainly taxed him mentally.  I now need to make a plan for him for the rest of the season.
Legs and Danny are going well, but unfortunately the warm weather does not help Leg’s breathing.  However, he is still a very willing horse, has a heart as big as a bucket, and always enthusiastic for the work.
At the end of the month I judged some music classes at The Croft Equestrian, Tadley.  Such a lovely friendly place to go and I would always recommend this for a first outing or just to get experience at the higher levels.  The classes were very interesting.  I was judging Novice through to Advanced Medium and it was easy to spot the music that had been produced for the riders by one particular musician.  However, the quality of the music and the movements to the music were very well presented.
As for the rider – I am on a get fit and get fatter campaign !!

 


APRIL 2017

This month seems to be steady as you go.  All the horses ae working and hopefully they will all be out by the end of May, with Diamonit taking center stage.  I think he will take more outings than the others before he begins to settle to arenas, competitions and working in the competition arena.

Legs just needs to get fit and as he has been so well trained, he never really forgets anything, although riding him it does seem it is difficult to jog his memory at times.  He is such a laid back horse, unless and until there is a noise from somewhere and then it is amazing how much instant power he can find !

As for Danny – well he is a classic De Niro – just seems absolutely wired at times and the is simply perfect.  Oh well – that’s horses.

I attended a BYRDS Training Day this month at Wellington Riding, taken by Jo Swain, watching al level of BYRDS riders and all levels of squadding.  I do think we have some very talented young riders on the way up and hopefully they will come through to Seniors.  I think it is difficult to assess whether young riders will see it through to Seniors, it is such a long slog, and when they start as maybe 12/13 year olds in ponies actually then getting to 21/25 years of age and still competing is a really long haul, not to mention the support of the ground crew and family to help them and see them on their way.

I am nearing the end of my UKCC Level 4 course and although the assignments and projects have been very hard work, which has been a major effort on my part – however – I have learned so much and it has had a profound and overwhelming impact on my coaching and my coaching expertise.  I am really pleased I have undertaken this course and am seriously considering following this up with a Masters Degree in Coaching. ��!!

Hopefully next month will see one or more of the horse out competing !! 


 march 2017

Well after a very busy and fairly chaotic February, March seems to have been a slow month – no judge training or judging! But all the better for working the horses at home.

Diamonit has now started to put the Grand Prix movements together in his work, but unfortunately or otherwise he seems to think he knows better than I as to what is coming next!  His center lines are no straighter than a dog’s hind leg, because he tries to second guess whether it is the zig-zag or the canter pirouette.  Aren’t intelligent horses wonderful – not!!  He just cannot help himself trying to take over and ‘recommending’ what we should be doing next!

Legs is coming back into work – gently – as only he can!

And Danny is going with great gusto – one morning working perfectly and the next morning too many crocodiles around the arena to contemplate anything other than lurching around.

I cannot believe the last twelve months have passed so quickly.  This was brought into sharp focus for me as the date came around for the lorry needing its HGV Plating Test.  Of course, it has done very few miles, so absolutely flew through.  Indeed, the DAF garage could not comprehend how low the mileage was.

My health seems to be back on track, having finished another block of treatment the latest scan is looking good, so I am hoping to get all the boys out within the next few weeks.

I think Diamonit may be a bit of a handful, but superglue and extra strong Velcro will be used.  Watch this space. 


FEBRUARY 2017 

I must apologise for the lateness of this news page, but I was out of the country at the end of the month/beginning of March.

I will remember February for being a very, very cold month, not conducive to riding horses – fingers so cold in gloves that they feel like they are not really working, eyes streaming, nose running and worse of all – purple legs when you take the breeches off!  Some people would say we are lucky here having an indoor school – that was even colder than outside!!

This was very busy month for me with British Dressage.  There was a BD training day at home, with riders wanting to ride and improve their test in readiness for the Regionals.  Although the weather was bright and sunny on that day, again the temperature was just above freezing but the outdoor surface was still very rideable.

With so many Regionals happening at this time of year, I judged at Merrist Wood and Wellington.  The Advanced Medium class at Merrist Wood was very interesting, as hopefully there are horses at that level who are just about to break through to the advanced level of Prix St Georges. For my sins of liking dressage to music, I was given the Medium music class to judge.  Again this was entertaining to judge, to listen to the different music and to see how inventive riders can be with the freestyle tests.

At Wellington Regional I judged the Prix St Georges freestyle.  Although this class was relatively small, there was great diversity with the music, the stamp of horse, the quality of the training and the quality of the riding. As dressage judges we must remain impartial and judge what we see, not what we would like to see and what type of horse we like either.  Being open-minded is an absolute must and also removing any personal feelings with regard to the music chosen by the riders.  Having said that, riders cannot expect really good marks for music when the music they have chosen for their powerful moving warmblood is akin to the Sugar Plum Fairy and vice versa, big music for an elegant moving horse.

As for the boys at home, they are all feeling and looking good.  So with my treatment finished and looking forward to getting going in the competition field, I then did a crass thing and slipped off the mounting block whilst getting on Diamonit.  He was very good about the mishap, as I was swinging in the wind with my left foot stuck in the stirrup and my right leg underneath him, he just stood there and sort of said ’What are you doing?’.  Good horse.  However, that has left me with a damaged cruciate and medial ligament in the left leg, and weakened quad muscles – with some eight to ten weeks for repairing ☹

As for getting on horses now, at the beginning it was taking three people, with some suggestion that I might need a pulley!  None of that – we are now the proud owners of a very large mounting block.

Here’s hoping by next month everything is back in working order – fingers crossed!


 January 2017

 Well – here we are at the start of a New Year and what a miserable cold start this has been too!  Even with the indoor it has been difficult to do the work and training that is necessary for the upcoming season, but looking at the weather patterns it has been much kinder to you riders in Central England and above that line. 
Hopefully this will get warmer through next month, allowing us all to crack on with the horses. But – I do believe that horses once trained – at or to whatever level – don’t really forget what they have learnt.  As a result, all we have done with the boys is to keep them ticking over with lots of down and round and really simple stuff – turns, circles, transitions. So for them it has been like a mini-holiday without letting them off the hook and losing too much fitness. And actually, thinking back to my eventing days with Hen, all we did with the horses in January was to walk them, with lots of road work (we were lucky having the Estate to ride around, rather than take to the main roads) and then maybe begin some jog trot at the end of the month.
I suppose the eventer in me will never be dead – as the saying goes you can take the girl out of eventing but you can’t take the eventing out of the girl.
Nevertheless, I am now a dressage person and although I have not done as much riding as I would have liked this month, I have done a lot of dressage orientated things.
I was very pleased to be invited by BD to join the working party with the aim of developing a new annual musical championship, which will come into being in 2018.  The Championship will be for all levels from Preliminary up to and including Prix St Georges, and at each level, except for PSG, there will be a class for each of the bronze, silver and gold sections.  This will give all riders the opportunity to have a go at dressage to music.  The finer details for this Championship have not been finalised, but as soon as I have any further news I will let you know. But I do think it is a great opportunity for all riders of all levels – so please do have a go!
The other interesting day was the Tutor Judge’s day, taken by Jo Graham.  The training of dressage judges is becoming more focussed and directional in order that the training, given by the tutor judges, remains the same throughout the UK.  At the meeting, there was lots of discussion about some of the movements in dressage tests that seem to be confusing to the riders, not to mention the difficulty of interpreting them by the dressage judges.   Following on from this meeting suggestions are being put forward to the Rules Committee in order that the ‘description’ and requirements of movements in tests will be simpler and easier for the riders to decipher – not to mention easier for the judges to mark!  Hopefully these will come into being as and when the present test sheets are re-printed.
Next month sees the Regional Championships being run, so for all of you out there who have qualified – the best of luck and have a good ride.