“Once again I have to apologise for the lack of blogs recently! I was so, so busy preparing four horses for their Barroca three day events. I am now on the road, just about to enter Spain so have a few hours to catch up on things.
The last couple of weeks have been spent galloping, XC schooling, dressage and jumping lessons and running/ cycling for my fitness. The horses have had their manes, tails pulled and bodies and legs clipped. The lorry has been scrubbed, in and out although I did run out of time before we left to spring clean so that was done in-between Le Mans and Tours, I never have been very good at sitting still!
Kenny stays with Anna Ross-Davies
The last few days before we left were rather busy! I dropped off Kenny at Anna Ross-Davies’ as he is there for schooling while I’m away, which is very exciting for me as he has been going very well this winter and hope for some good results this year. He was third at the combined training at Felbridge just before we left having done a good test and jumped clear SJ. Amber won the section with a 26 dressage and clear SJ. Harry was third in his section and Becky rode Bomber in her first official competition and won her section, 28 dressage and clear SJ, bodes well for the season ahead!
Lessons with Emile Faurie
I also had a couple of dressage lessons withEmile Faurie who was quite inspirational. The horses went fantastically, he also really liked them (Harry and Amber) which was nice to know. They produced some superb work so will be aiming high next week! It has given me a few new concepts to work on. He was very complimentary about how ‘through’ the horses are, so thanks Anna!
They are jumping exceptionally well too. Had the last few lessons with Joao working on some pretty difficult turns and distances and they responded brilliantly. I have a lovely team of horses now, I am very lucky.
Could you be my next working pupil?
I am looking for a working pupil when I return, if anyone is interested please email me, there is space for a horse. I am looking for someone who I can train and produce, so must be ambitious and keen! Also to be able to ride to a reasonable standard already please.
Well, we are driving just a short way today compared with yesterday! I have a great groom/ helper with me, Denise Williams, who has her HGV so is sharing the driving. Her first day with me was yesterday. We started at 4.15am and finished travelling at midnight! Not usually such long days, I have tried to reassure her! We basically drove the whole of France so that takes rather a long while; today is Spain, tomorrow Portugal. So far so good although I haven’t brought Imp as he had a big back leg yesterday typically and when trotted up wasn’t 100%. I’m sure he’s just banged it, but three days on a lorry won’t help it at all. So I just have three now, Bertie who will compete in CIC1* and CCI 1*, Harry and Amber in the CIC2* and CCI 2*. I can’t wait to get there!”
"Since we arrived we have been inundated with friends and family. It's been great to see so many people up here and to get out skiing, cycling, walking and riding. The rest if the time we have been working hard implementing a few of the many changes we hope to make to the business. Our new website and online booking system was launched and seems to be doing well, our first newsletter went out and generated a great response and we have been fully booked for the whole of February! Phew!
However, due to the extreme weather we have experienced over the last few months we have been unable to start on the outdoor work on site to tame our wild gardens! While there is still fantastic snow cover up the mountain, we've had some welcome respite from the sub-zero temperatures down at the house and chalets, which has given us the opportunity to crack on with the much needed ground works.
It quickly became apparent that with just the two of us to do the work this task was extremely daunting. We spent many hours walking around site discussing what we wanted to do and making lists, but not actually doing anything!
The attack of the rhododendron
Fortunately our friends came to the rescue and for a small payment of homemade cakes and a constant supply of tea the extra hands came in very useful. All were armed with pickaxes, forks, shovels, rakes and a saw for shifting rocks, digging holes, log splitting, taking down trees and demolishing an out of control rhododendron. Needless to say the rhododendron didn’t stand a chance and before long a large pile of debris had formed, so much so that we are no longer welcome at the council tip for a little while! We are hoping that the local wildlife park may come to collect some of it for the animals, we certainly hope so and otherwise a sizeable bonfire could be the answer!
A great big thank you to all that were involved – plenty more work for anyone else interested!
While the ground clearance was in full flow, and after he had carried his fair share of twigs around the garden, Bennett took a little time out to have his photo taken for the local newspaper along with all of the Aviemore Business Association members. He is now the Business Association as well as the pub mascot; we hope all this doesn’t go to his head!
Famous Faces in Aviemore
After a few good days work we rewarded our friends and ourselves with a night out at our local next door, where a great band, Panda Su, were playing. If the rumours are true The Vaccines will be gracing the venue next month – perfect after a day on the slopes and/or doing the gardening."
“I have just caught a dace. A solitary silver dace. Not a chub, but a dace.
They can get mixed up, I know. Sometimes a dace can be mistaken for a small chub. But I have the eyes of an expert where issues like this are concerned. I have never caught a large dace and you may argue that this dace, this seven ounce dace, was not a large dace. However, I want you to think again.
The British record dace as I was growing up weighed in at a mighty one pound, four ounces and four drams. It was caught in 1960 by a Mr Glasson. My seven ounce dace was over a third of that weight.
Let us consider the blue marlin. The world rod-caught record weighed in at one thousand eight hundred and five pounds. A blue marlin weighing a third of that would weigh over six hundred pounds. I have never fished for a marlin, nor am I likely to, but you have to say a 600 pound fish is a big fish – a very big fish indeed.
Incidentally, my seven ounce dace was caught within sight of a tackle shop. You can see it over the road in the accompanying picture.
I almost took the fish into the shop to show it off in the net, but then I realised it would be wrong on so many levels.
1) I would be laughed at.
2) A fish should never see the inside of a tackle shop.
3) It might not have weighed as much as seven ounces when weighed on their scales.
4) It might have been a chub.
So I placed the net gently back into the water, lowered it, and I watched my biggest dace to date swim off over the rim. I loved the way he immediately turned right into the water and darted off upstream away from the tackle shop. I watched him as he sped into the depths. In ratio terms, all 600 pounds of him.”
In this blog, H&C's Jenny Rudall tells us of her pre-event training.
“So with the event season just around the corner and our first event entered, it was time to dust of the back protector and remind myself and the lovely ex-racehorse that I train what solid fences look like. When an email came from the CDT (Coaching and Development Team) to say they were running a workshop at Tweseldown, I thought it an ideal opportunity to get some coaching for both horse, rider and, as it turned out, owner.
The CDT was initiated by the BEF World Class training programme in 2005, orchestrated by BE's Performance Manager, Yogi Breisner. The workshops have been designed to improve rider knowledge and awareness, which alongside technical ability will be the main ingredients to Ted and I having a safe, happy and successful season.
The afternoon started with a course walk with coach Phil Surl which included a discussion on course design, distances, lines, terrain, straightness, types of canter, rider responsibility and presented a chance for Ted’s owner and me to shake at the size of the intermediate fences and ponder Ted’s chance of ever competing at that level. Phil was interesting and insightful and although he threw several thought provoking questions our way, inducing the group to awkward silences for fear of getting it wrong, I felt I was learning.
Speed training and reliving the racing past
After the course walk, the six riders jumped on and I was reminded that it was not that long ago that Ted was at this very venue as a point to pointer. Ted decided now would be the time to make his presence felt, growing several hands and literally bouncing towards the course. In my keenness to get in some much needed training, I had failed to remember that Ted had never schooled with other horses and, in Ted’s racing mind, if a horse leaves him, it is his job to chase it.
Speed training was part of the warm up and we excelled. The training is used as a way to gain greater understanding of the different speeds required at different levels. Markers for the 90, 100, Novice and Intermediate distances were out and Phil handed out stop watches and told us where we were to start from. As Ted and I were hoping to do BE100, I cruised him along at first to see how close we were to the 100 marker after our stop watched beeped at one minute. I need not of worried: Ted easily covers the ground and without trying hits the marker almost bang on. On the second attempt, I moved Ted up through the gears and at the Novice speed Ted may have found it easy but I seemed to have lost my brakes. Another reason we are in need of training.
Jumping and being a wet wimp
With the warm up done, it was time to start over some logs and work over some lines. Phil was excellent with each different level of rider, which seemed to be from Intro to Intermediate and understood each horse's differing needs. He encouraged us to choose our own lines and not to stand and get cold; it certainly was not a case of just jump one fence at a time, Ted and I were at no point bored. As we worked through the course, all the riders and horses grew in confidence and several of my fellow jockeys felt they were finally starting to get back into their XC stride and were voluntarily picking bigger fences and combinations.
After some ditch practice and some breath-holding moments where the mane played a vital supporting role, we finished off in the water complex. Again Phil said don’t stand around - jump what you want to jump then pick a line of fences to finish that suits you and your horse's level. To finish, we were told to do any jump or line we felt we needed to complete the day and I knew I had to use this opportunity to introduce Ted to the concept of actually jumping down into water. I did however want to end the day in the saddle and more importantly not ending up getting an untimely bath. Having been launched into water on several occasions when training youngsters (but never landing in it yet, a stat I was keen to hold on to), I all but tip-toed up to the drop in with a bit of mane firmly wedged under my finger, hoping Ted would just kindly dribble in; he was unconvinced and unsurprisingly refused. Phil quite rightly said if he was unsure I wanted to go in then Ted certainly was, I was to turn round and for goodness sake trot in. So off I went quick turn and with a good trot Ted knew what I wanted and just plopped in, he is a star and I still have no idea what I was worried about. Big lesson learned.
The CDT is certainly doing a fantastic job in helping to improve training for eventers and I would strongly encourage more riders to take part. They are an ideal pre-season training session which helps improve confidence for horse and rider at any level; I will book again."
“I do like a good story. It’s rarer and rarer these days that I can enjoy the treat of time to read a book (or even a newspaper for that matter) – what with work, my boys and all the duties that piece my world together; there’s just not enough time in the day.
The generous people at Harveys have come up with an indulgent solution - the Harveys Half Hour.
While the thought of women everywhere taking 30 minutes each day “to do something just for them” sounds like a ludicrous luxury – it would be my pleasure to take up the offer every once in a while.
Delving a little deeper into the heart of Harveys I have realised the brand has a little story of its own…
The company was started as John Harvey & Sons and has been importing the Bristol Cream brand of Spanish sherry into Bristol since 1796. I had always assumed that a “cream sherry” used dairy in the recipe and am delighted to discover this is actually not true. The standard story is that in the 1860s, a visitor to the Harveys' cellars tasted a new blend of sherry and, comparing it to Bristol Milk, proclaimed, “If that be Milk, then this is Cream.” The real ingredients are wines from fifty different “soleras” (Spanish for the blending process developed by sherry producers). These include three types of sherry: Fino (dry and pale), Amontillado (darker), and Oloroso (even darker, smoother and not as dry). Finally some Pedro Ximénez wine is added for to provide the trademark richness and creaminess.
Often chilled and on the rocks (ice cuts through the sticky sweetness), a slice of orange creates a simple serve (so I get the most of my Harveys Half Hour!) The fruit brings out the candied orange flavours and sets off the taste of toasted almonds.
If you are sharing your precious “time off” and want to impress your friends, here is an unfussy cocktail recipe and it doesn’t need to wait for warmer weather:
Harveys Frosted Apple & Ginger
· Fill a high ball glass with ice (cubes or crushed)
· Pour over 50ml Harveys Bristol Cream and 50ml premium pressed apple juice
· Top up with a dash of ginger ale (I can recommend Fever-Tree)
· Swirl with a cinnamon stick and leave in the glass. Garnish with a sprig of mint and apple slices (optional)
Harveys can’t really give me back half an hour of my day – even if it is a great idea – but it is a super excuse to benefit from the sherry renaissance and pour a quintessentially English drink at home.”
“As we had decided not to go to the winter regionals, it meant that I was able to go to my regional foundation squad training on Sunday 20 February. I decided to take our homebred rising six-year-old 17.3hh by Björsells Briar, Headmore Björndajoke (Björn), and no, I didn’t come up with the name!
A sizeable bath
Before I took him, I had to give him a bath which, ordinarily, would not be an issue but, due to his size it takes rather a long amount of time! Thankfully, I had my strawberry flavoured Clean Round shampoo, which is my personal favourite, to make it more enjoyable and, fortunately, I managed to get more water on Björn than on me!
He hadn’t been out to a party since May last year but he walked straight up the ramp of the lorry like a seasoned professional. I had my lesson with Jill Day, my trainer, first - once everyone had got over his size! He was, understandably, a little tense to start with but he settled and by the end of the lesson was going really well. Jill thought he was a lovely horse with a lot of power and movement but also said that he is too big for me! He is about the only horse I have ever sat on which makes me look small, which is a real shame as I think he is incredibly talented, possibly the best horse I have ridden!
After my lesson I had a session on the mechanical horse with Michelle. I think I may have finally learnt how to ride it... I could half halt it in trot and canter and could get my transitions within the paces as well, I now feel I could ride it round a dressage test without stopping dead in every corner as my half halt was too strong!
To finish the day Jill gave us a talk on what it takes to become a top class athlete such as what attributes you need. Her aim was to make us think about our future and what we want to do once we have finished competing, which is something that I hadn’t put a lot of thought into as all I have ever wanted to do is dressage! It certainly got me thinking and it made me even more determined to succeed.”
“My first week at the Parelli centre in Florida has hurtled by. We started with a series of tests designed around what we know already – and what we don’t! At the end we’ll take the same tests. The idea in the meantime is to get all the information, and then practice what we need to improve our results. I found it a really different and interesting way of doing things.
Getting to know my horse
For me, the tests were a perfect opportunity to get to know my lease horse, Lucette. I had seen some of the things she is capable of at home, but this was our time to find out how we would do together. We began with a theory test, followed the next morning by a tools test, and then testing with our horses in four different areas of learning – on the ground ‘Online’ (with a rope attached) and at ‘Liberty’ (no ropes!) and then ridden tests in ‘Freestyle’ (riding with a casual rein) and ‘Finesse’ (riding with contact). I had different results in each area, as expected, and I now have a much better idea of what areas and ingredients I need to focus on over the next three weeks. Towards the end of the week the teaching began with classroom sessions, demonstrations with the coaches’ horses, practical tool skills sessions, and plenty of time with my horse.
More fun than I bargained for
On Monday we were invited to go and support Pat Parelli at the Ocala Equestrian Center where he was taking part in a charity fundraising event for the Make A Wish Foundation. The competitors were in teams of two – one a Western reining rider and the other a show jumper. The Western rider had to complete a round of jumps against the clock on the show jumper’s horse, and the show jumper had to do a reining pattern and then do a cow horse reining pattern on his partner’s horse. It was a really fun test of horsemanship. Pat was partnered with US Olympic gold medal winner David O’Connor (who is also is also the president of the USEF - United States Equestrian Federation) – what a team!
Broadcasting around the world
On Wednesday we got to be in the audience for the first live tele-seminar to all Parelli Connect members around the world. Nearly 300 students were logged on and watching the live streaming, as Pat and Linda answered questions submitted by chat. We live in a truly connected world.
On Friday I was invited to watch the media crew do some filming. Linda played with her chestnut gelding West Point at Liberty, followed by Pat playing with his black stallion Casper, still looking amazing at 20 years old. He then played with another stallion, Peppy – what a power house! – ,and ended with Vision, another stunning horse from the Atwood Ranch, while Linda rode West Point in the background. It was a real treat to watch them both in action at such close quarters, as well as see what goes on as part of the media production process.
Wait, there’s more...
Just when I thought I couldn’t possibly fit anything more in, on Saturday the centre opened its doors to a morning of Parelli Games. People from outside came with their horses and joined some of us ‘Fast Track-ers’ to take part in a series of fun tournament-style challenges, either Online, at Liberty or Freestyle. I chose to try out the first two sets of challenges, and ended up volunteering to do a ‘Savvy Spotlight’ at the end where I got to show off a little of what Lucette and I have been able to achieve so far at Liberty. I’d love to be part of a demo team one day so this was my first toe in the water of what it’s like to do something in front of an audience. It was great fun and Lucette was a star. Dinner with new friends on Saturday night finished the week perfectly!”
"There is nothing cuter than foals, and watching foals in the snow is even cuter! Watch my video of Larissa's foal below. We still don't have a name for her - can you help? Leave your suggestions by clicking on 'Comments' below. Enjoy!"
“It’s early; first light and the dawn chorus has already started. I am surrounded by branches of a big Moumou tree (Strangling Fig) and look out onto the Matsibi river.
There is nothing quite like waking up in a tree house at one of our flycamps: Mokolwane (the camp is named after the Mokolwane palm tree which occurs in abundance in this area). The tree houses are tents built on stilts with only three canvas walls, which means that the fourth wall has been replaced by a stunning view of the floodplain in front of camp. After my wake up call, I crawl back into bed to sip my coffee and witness the blood red sunrise over the floodplain, whilst still snuggled under my duvet. What an exciting adventure we had getting to this camp yesterday, we covered a distance of over 30km the horses took us through flooded malapos, beautiful forests, other open areas scattered with palm trees and a bear back swim onto this fantastic remote island. This morning promises to be another glorious sunny day in the delta.
After enjoying some freshly baked bread and jam around the morning fire it is ready to mount up. The horses have all been saddled and are waiting patiently under the palm trees where they have spent the night, picketed to a high strong rope. The night watchman’s fire smoulders and the electric fence tape is being gathered up. It was good to know that the horses were safe last night as I listened to the soft grunts of a hunting lioness. Rodgers and Pamela have decided to track the elephants that had made their way through camp the night before and had walked underneath some of the tree houses much to the guests’ delight – or horror - depending on whom you ask!
Not far out of camp we bump into a breeding herd of elephants – so called due to the fact that the herd consists of mothers and their offspring. Letting the horses have their heads and happily munch away at the lush grass was very rewarding because we had front row seats to the “mother teaching rude youngster some manners” show. The young bull was being very obnoxious and insisted on browsing on the same branch that mum was eating from and after a lot of grumbling on mum’s behalf, which was blatantly ignored by the young man, she just turned around and smacked him with her trunk! He very wisely decided to find his own tree after that.
We moved off quietly to let the family dynamics continue without us and promptly stumbled upon a big herd of buffalo. Unlike elephants, buffalo herds consist of bulls, cows and calves with the older bulls – also known as dagga boys – living on the outskirts of the herd because they are generally too grumpy and old to fit in anymore. Dagga boys have the tendency to pop up behind a bush further away from the rest of the herd when you least expect it – which was exactly what happened to us. We were watching the herd from a respectable distance when the horses all looked up at the same moment because one of the dagga boys had decided it was time to make his presence known to us. He did that by charging us! As one, not unlike a finely choreographed ballet, the horses turned around and bolted to safety leaving Rodgers and Pamela behind to guard the rear. Luckily the old bull changed his mind and decided it was far better to join the herd – which had now swung around and were thundering off in a cloud of dust. We made it back to camp after a quieter ride which focused on the less potentially dangerous animals the bush has to offer – zebra, giraffe and lots and lots of stunning birds.
The guests were still on a high after this morning’s experience and have been fully admitted to the club that can sincerely use the typical African saying, “never a dull moment in the bush.”
“With February almost behind us and the odd mild day thrown into the mix, I have to admit that feelings of spring and those warm early mornings are at the forefront of my thoughts. As soon as the weather picks up and the clocks change spreading more daylight hours into the late afternoons you can be sure the Nation’s number one most participated sport, angling, will see anglers flooding the banks up and down the country in their quests to catch a fish of a lifetime. Sadly most people do not recognise angling as a sport and see it more of a leisure activity, a trip out of town in the countryside with a few friends, a social. Well that is the beauty of the angling, it is all of those things I have just mentioned and much, much more. I have played football for numerous London and Essex football teams including my beloved West Ham United for nearly three years as a youth team player, plus I played the game in European competitions for my clubs in Norway, Holland and France.
Passion for sports
I represented my London borough at cricket back in my school days and played for Bletchingley CC for a few seasons taking in a couple of tours to the Isle of Wight, great days. I represented my school and Newham at athletics for many years competing in the 400 and 800 metres, where I only got beaten once, plus the hurdles as well when I had the energy. I remember always feeling sick when it was time to race as I put everything into my races and I can still feel that eerie silence running down the back straight of Terence McMillan stadium in East London before the bend into the main stand where cheers of encouragement would push me over the line. I competed individually and in teams at table tennis, pool, snooker and darts winning trophies along the way in all the sports I competed in, but whilst I played competitively in all of these sports, meeting so many friends along the way, I still took time out to fish and learn making me the angler I am today. After learning my watercraft from my Dad, I pushed on and the competitive sportsman in me pushed me into the direction of match fishing and that meant club fishing for many years before moving into the open match circuit and competition events. Passion for my sports especially angling fuelled me to write about it and the angling magazine work followed a few years ago and when I was contacted a few days ago to write for a European Magazine from Czechoslovakia called Sport Rybolov I was only too happy to be accept and my first European angling feature will be published in April, something of which I am very proud about.
Angling in Europe
Angling in Europe is booming and being as Team England leads the way on the World and European stage, their quest for knowledge and how to catch more fish leads them to our country just like every foreign sports person wants to play at Wembley, win Wimbledon, win the British golf open, play cricket at Lords, beat us at Twickenham and the dream of owning a horse that can win the Gold Cup at Cheltenham and the Grand National at Aintree, plus of course winning a gold at the 2012 Olympics.
Our country in the sporting stakes has so much to offer but with all that said we must make sure that we are good enough, strong enough, and competitive enough to win our events in our own back yard. In angling I am glad to say, we are world dominant!