“What crazy weather this month! After a scorching April, I think the April showers finally arrived in May.
Four seasons in a day!
We have had sun, wind, rain, sleet and snow and that’s just today. Unfortunately there has not been enough snow to get the ski season started again, but there was an impressive storm last week that cut the electricity to the whole of the Highlands, from Glasgow to Inverness.
The big storm
Simon was away on a trip to the big city in the south and I had finished work for the day and was enjoying a wee glass of wine on the sofa with Bennett when everything switched off. Jumping to the window I realised it wasn’t the house but the whole site. Thanks to it being light until almost 11pm at the moment, there wasn’t too much of a problem with lighting. I reluctantly grabbed a coat and set off into the storm to check on all of our guests, who it seemed were on the whole enjoying the excitement of the wild Scottish weather, and a few chalets had even decided to have rainy BBQs as their electric ovens had switched off. Fortunately, the power cut only lasted an hour or so and the storm subsided shortly after that.
The main point to note this month is Bennett’s success at puppy training. He now has a big purple rosette and a certificate on the wall above his crate boasting a pass in his puppy exams. He apparently came third in class (out of 15 pups), which I have to admit did surprise me a little; our little genius is currently lying beside me trying it seems to fit his whole back leg into his mouth… Regardless, training has now begun at home for his bronze award.
All about the garden
On the work side of things we’re very busy getting the site prim and proper for the summer. We have a massive task in planting 100 odd plants along a bank. Little did we know what was lurking just below the soil; roots galore and large chunks of Cairngorm stone. It makes digging holes a real mission. Bennett being (fully) trained now means that he is free to roam with us, shame he focuses his efforts on trying to dig up the plants we have just put down rather than fresh holes.
Final mention, for anyone planning a trip up to Pine Bank Chalets, we now have mountain bikes for hireso guests can jump in the saddle right here and head off exploring.
“This week, we took Dream (Headmore Dream On) to Merrist Wood on Saturday 28 to do a couple more elementary tests. She warmed up well for the first test, which was being judged by the same low scoring judge as our previous trip there, and the test was good apart from a few annoying silly mistakes such as she fidgeted in the halts and we had an unexpected flying change which proved to be very costly as we were third, just two marks behind the winner, with a score of 65.94%, which is also quite irritating as it was just below the qualifying score... VERY expensive mistakes!
Dream soon to go Medium
She then did a second test for the first time since she’d been back and she was much more settle and much more on my aids than in the first test. It was the hardest test she had done and I was very pleased with it, it felt much better than the first test and it was mistake free, there were just a few wobbly moments as it was quite a difficult test for her at the moment. She scored 71.4% and won, so now she has very nearly completed her elementary qualification so she will hopefully be going out a medium soon as well!”
“Our story begins with the inspiration behind this momentous challenge and the founder of Horses Help Heroes Jacks El Tawil, an advanced paramedic from Wiltshire.
The story so far…
A few years ago, Jacks was brought in to train members of the Forces to paramedic standard so they could give more medical aid to the wounded at the scene of injury. It was from this that she saw the increasing number of personnel who needed help, both physically and mentally, recovering from their horrific injuries they suffered by war. Jacks as an experienced horsewoman, carriage driver and rider, wanted to raise money for direct and practical support for the wounded using horses.
A royal patron and some horsey heroes
Jacks went on to gather a committee of friends and family to make this challenge possible. Prince William, The Duke of Cambridge quickly came on board as the patron and since then we have received great support from the general public as well as some well known faces; including Frankie Dettori, Carl Hester and Bear Grylls. Family friend and winner of this years Badminton Mark Todd has also lent his support, and even joined in on an interview with H&C.
Events done a month to go
Since our launch with a fantastic photo shoot with historical landmarks of London and appearing in the finale of War Horse at the Olympia Horse Show in December 2010, we have been busy organising, sorting out logistics, sourcing horses, meeting the wounded servicemen and promoting this cause at many events around the country.
Now having done so much, we suddenly find ourselves with only a month to go! The route has been checked the whole length of the country, a mammoth task that has required detailed surveying of every road. Safe stopping points, every few miles, have been sourced so that the horses can be rested and change over’s can occur. There are also bases every 50 miles or so for the horses not in use, so they can rest, be stabled or grazed and the support crew can also try and catch some sleep. These facilities have been offered by supporters of the cause, for which we are very grateful.
The servicemen are training hard; practicing their riding and driving skills with Jacks and eventer Helen Cole, as well as at establishments nearer their homes that have kindly offered their facilities and horses.
All the horses have now been selected for the challenge, a total of nine pairs in all. It is with great kindness that Andy Spatcher, Charlie Reeves, John Davies have all offered horses to be used along with Jacks’ mares to complete the lengthy journey. On difficult hilly terrain the normal pair of horses will be swapped for a team of four to make work easier.
We recently acquired a fantastic exhibition trailer to transport our merchandise and to take to different events fundraising and raising awareness. Look out for the trailer and ambulance at events and on the many miles of motorway we seem to be travelling!
So now the countdown until the off is really in our sights we will keep you up to date with our progress, wish us luck! The HHH team.”
Ways that you can support HHH on their way to reaching the one million pound target:
Buy and wear their fantastic clothes: We have t-shirts, polo tops, rugby tops, fleeces, hoodies and gilets in a large range of colours for men, women and children. You can purchase them online on the website and also at the many events we are visiting, before, during and after the challenge, from their fantastic merchandising trailer.
Hold a fundraising event: Could you or a group of friends hold an event to raise funds for HHH? How about a coffee morning, mufti day at school or work, sponsored ride, walk or just rattle buckets at a local supermarket or event already taking place. Leaflets and posters can be downloaded from our Facebook page and we can organise collection buckets and additional fundraising items to be sent to you.
Cheer us on: Come visit us at and event or meet us on our challenge somewhere near you. Visit the Facebook page to see where we will be.
Donate: Donate by visiting our website, go to our Just Giving page, sending a cheque to our office or putting some money into one of our collection buckets at an event.
Joey, after treatment (see image below for Joey before treatment)
“Time has flown by and before you know weeks have gone past. I’m finally catching up with my blog! Since my last post, I’ve returned back to the UK, but first with a quick stop to Australia to teach and New Zealand to attend HOY –Horse of the Year - where the Kiwis exhibit some of the finest hospitality at an equestrian event!
While attending HOY, many people visiting had many questions regarding their horses. It is always a pleasure to be able to offer assistance. What I found most interesting is that many young riders showed interest in the therapy and enquired for assistance for their horse. This is a very positive sign for equestrianism’s future! The enthusiasm of the young riders’ interest is a sign that doors for many possibilities to aid horse welfare and health lie in the next generation!
Before heading off to the UK, the last three weeks were spent in the editing room to work on the new DVD “Conformation vs Posture Myths Unveiled.” The editing process brings many challenges and moments of excitement as the DVD comes together in its final stages. The first full cut is finished and we hope to have the DVD ready by June 20. Watch for our release date! After talking with a lot of people at Horse Of The Year it reassures me how important this DVD project really is.
Arriving in the UK
It’s always a pleasure to return back to the green pastures of England! Coming to the UK at this time of year can only mean Badminton is upon us, one of my favorite events to attend while visiting the UK. What’s great about Badminton is the level and the athletic ability of the horses and riders who participate. These equine athletes need to be in such great shape for the event. However, there is a difference between in “shape” or in “condition” and in “balance” are two different things! This year there were so many accidents that occurred. This gives us an opportunity to look at what may attribute to this. If, more riders were aware of when there horse was out of balance we would definitely see less accidents. When the horse is in balance performance is more effortless and done with comfort.
With this knowledge, better actions can be taken to keep our horses in balance, so we see less injury at such a great event.
Workshops and teaching
After a great weekend at Badminton, it was back to teaching with students in this class from all over the globe. The students’ eyes were opened! In total, 14 horses were treated in the class and out of the14 horses, five horses were headshakers, six horses out of these 14 horses exhibited signs of spookiness and two horses showed signs of aggressive behaviour. In total 14 out of 14 horses showed signs of previous head injury and trauma, which would have attributed to each of the conditions. Each case was successfully treated in class.
Looking at things with new eyes
Many times behavioural issues are thought to be the horse misbehaving or it gets discounted that training methods would help. However, this workshop only confirms that head compression plays a big roll in all of these situations and can be corrected with craniosacral. The severity of head trauma varied from horse to horse in class. These pressures that are applied must be looked at by the industry more to see how that affect various conditions in our equine friends.
Also, improvements in the biomechanics were seen with all horses treated in the workshop. This confirms all horses can come into balance and do what we ask of them from a balanced state. However, being able to identify when our horses are out of balance is the first important part of action to correct it!
Back to the US
After a great trip to the UK, filled with teaching, Badminton, trips to pubs and Royal Weddings, it ‘s time to go back to the US. Time to get back into the editing room and finish the upcoming DVD!”
"I have literally been on the road for the last two weeks hence the lack of blogs. I have been XC schooling the young horses - Columbo, Billy and Elsa ready for their first events and competitions, so this has also taken time between the events. I enjoy the young horses so much as they improve so quickly, it is very satisfying when they get better and better.
Jasper's looking better
We went to Keysoe as I stayed with my parents for the weekend and also combined it with a trip to Rossdales that has been successful. The good news is that Jasper’s scan is looking better and I will tentatively aim for big autumn competitions but won’t say where yet just in case! He starts cantering now so we will see. I am very excited, you can’t imagine how much better he is feeling now his work has been increased. He knows when we are working to a big competition and sure he will be hopeful now!
Great ground at Keysoe
Keysoe had made a huge effort with the ground; they spread woodchip all over the dressage warm up and around the XC course. They then aggregated the course and luckily we had some rain both nights which made the ground pretty good. The show jumping was also on a great surface so all in all pleasing ground. I had Amber in the open novice as I couldn’t get an intermediate run before Chatsworth. She performed a good test but the judge sadly didn’t agree and gave her 37! I felt it was a 30 but nevermind. She did a double clear and came ninth; she was strong still so I was slower, still work in progress. Imp performed a very good test but not a whole lot better than Amber and scored 24, very much in the lead! He jumped clear SJ and nearly clear XC but I had a run out at the first corner annoyingly and still came tenth. I am so close to a win but still not close enough! It will be celebrated when I do!
Luna was in the 100 and performed a great test for 29 and jumped double clear and was just pipped to 2nd. She is great fun to ride, a very nice mare. We returned again with Elsa and Bomber in the 90 h/c. I wish that all 90s had an open section as we would all like to be competitive, there were several of us going h/c. Bomber did a good test, 32 and double clear and would’ve been third and Elsa was very grown up and scored 25 and double clear and would’ve won her section again. Good weekend and back to Kent.
I had a couple of days back at home, riding all the horses at the yard and then off again. I’d also taken Bambi and Tweedy to the vets to be checked, good news for those two also that my new farrier is doing a great job and they are ready to crack on again. They should both be ready for the autumn events.
Lessons with Anna Ross Davies
We left Wednesday with seven horses (Vivien taking Red) for lessons with Anna up at Oxfordshire as I was competing at Aston Le Walls in the Intermediate and then at Chatsworth at the weekend. The lessons were great, she has such a lovely way of teaching/ training / explaining. The horses are making great progress especially Bertie and Maisey. Now it’s more of a case of tidying up corners, transitions and straightness rather than the basics. Red and Romeo also making good progress with more emphasis on balance.
Impressive ground at Aston Le Walls
We stayed at Anthony Clarkes’ before an early start at Aston Le Walls. I was seriously impressed with the watering and work on the XC course as the ground was very good. As expected it did dry out later on in the day so the best ground was early on but it was still good late on. The course is also ideal for a first time intermediate, a few testers but generally a nice educating course. I did chuckle to myself walking the course at the second water which was a brush in, as it used to be a log and this is where I had a spectacular departing from Imp two years ago! Thankfully history didn’t repeat itself!
Imp didn’t perform his best test, I must admit the emphasis had been on XCso I have neglected his dressage, (have been working hard since!) so he scored 32. Red did a great test for 26, Romeo was a little on his forehand for 34 and Maisie was a little excited with the wind howling a gale during her test so scored 35. They all jumped clear SJ, I must say they are jumping superbly this year. All credit to Joaos’ help. I went xc on Red first, I was as quick as I could be bearing in mind he had just returned from an allergy. He was very good and finished fifth, a good result and the places were very tight! Imp was awesome, exceptional at the waters but I had the most stupid mistake at a single fence, I went to slow down as he ran slightly and he took exception and ran out! He felt the horse I had wanted to buy finally, scopey and careful and even though he had a run out this was a big achievement for us. Onwards and upwards now!
Romeo jumped very well XC as did Maisie but I felt the ground by the afternoon wasn’t sufficiently soft enough to go too quickly so they both had time faults. A good day though. Luckily Georgie Strang took my horses home for me so I could stay in Oxfordshire with Bertie, Luna and Amber. I did some vital schooling at Aston ready and prepped for Chatsworth.
A rare lie in
I don’t often get lie ins but when I do I can really sleep. This was the case on the Thursday evening, I slept for 10 hours! I think nine the next night too! More often than not this part of the season and the end are exhausting as we are working towards three day events and the horses are really coming into their own now. So a couple of good nights sleep really does help!
Perfect going at last!
We got to Chatsworth and it’s like a different world from down south. The grass is green! Although they had also been watering the XC course extensively. The heavens did open a few times over the weekend though to provide us with perfect going at last! I wish it could continue but sadly we have still had no rain here.
I schooled Bertie, Luna and Amber as soon as we arrived, I was well aware Bertie had a great chance of winning a Novice as he is so established at that level now. Luna at the other end of the scale as it was her first time. They both did very good tests and scored 32 for Luna and 30 for Bertie. Bertie was in the lead! We had a lovely meal with my parents and owners David and Sue Howard and I slept for hours again!
The show jumping caused a few problems, sadly Luna had a fence down as she was rather strong, but Bertie jumped an immaculate clear. Luna jumped superbly XC for her first novice, she is very able and I hope that I will be able to keep her as she will go far I’m sure. She has a natural confidence and ability that makes her lovely to ride.. She finished tenth not bad for her first one! Bertie was exceptional XC and was clear inside the time and won, by one point! I was so delighted as he thoroughly deserved that, lets hope he makes it to Gatcombe.
Amber performed a reasonable test but wasn’t that competitive unfortunately. Surprisingly we had one down, but had a brilliant clear XC. She was superb and back to her old form so pleased, she is some horse to ride when she’s in good form and today was one of those days.
I went SJ schooling with Elsa, Bomber, Columbo and Billy and Romeo and Maisieto canter at LMEQ. The ground understandably is firm there so we jumped the drops, waters ditches etc and that was enough for a practise. The show jumping arena is great as there are very spooky fillers and plenty of them! Billy is very brave and has a naturally good jump, as does Columbo. Elsa is very talented and will go far for sure and Bomber has improved so much the last two weeks, he is for sale but i am happy to keep him as he has developed an excellent jump now. We cantered Maisie and Romeo who worked well, ready for Brigstock."
“Now that the weather has picked up and the water temperatures have increased plus all the marginal growth like reeds, bushes and lily pads have sprung into life so have the anglers and the angling trade is all smiles again for at least the next few months until late autumn when all the fair weather anglers retreat back into the armchair for winter. But that is nothing new and will always be the case so I say to all, enjoy while you can.
Enjoying the river bank
I always enjoy myself when I am on the river banks or lake side as I am doing what I like doing best, competing, filming, target fishing, pleasure angling or doing magazine work where I am under pressure to deliver the goods. By mixing up my angling duties I always feel my next trip is different as it can be quite easy to get in a rut of doing the same thing time after time and as they say variety is the spice of life. This week I will be back on the lake side of Monk Lakes in Kent filming the next part of my angling series The Obsessed Angling plus doing a short film for Anglers Mail TV to help promote an Action Replay feature for the paper I have planned for June 6, where I will be targeting barbel on the pole. The filming and the feature will be fast and furious as the barbel are in many numbers and I can’t wait to get stuck into what will be plenty of pole elastic stretching action for the cameras, it could well turn out to be the best of the series to date which will be just fine as I aim to push the series as much as possible. Angling needs more up to date and current shows with latest techniques, screened to reach the large angling audience which for most tend to watch more angling shows than actually fish themselves, I guess it is their way of getting their angling fix. With part five, ‘Tench’ now out on DVD I have to say I am very pleased with the feedback I have had from the viewing public and the email responses asking questions about the series have been great and very rewarding. Being screened on www.fishingcinema.tv and TENCH soon to be screen on www.onlinefishing.tv has helped the cause of The Obsessed Angler and whilst the interest is still there I will continue to make more of the series over the following months.
Disabled Angling’s Team GB
I was approached a couple of months ago by the Disabled Angling Association about their intentions to set up a TEAM GB squad of anglers to represent the United Kingdom in future disabled angling events, some of which are held on International venues. Worried that my lack of time would not allow me to put the 100% effort into the role of TEAM COACH I thought long and hard about whether I would be able to give the position the commitment needed and after some recent discussions about time scales and meet ups to put the team into place I am happy to say that I have accepted the role and look forward to help putting a successful team together in the forthcoming months. With the hope of attracting sponsors for the team to help put everything into place the Disable AA team are already busy contacting potential sponsors outside of the angling trade as well.
“As Wiz (Wurlizer) and Del (Headmore Delegate) have a quiet few weeks, we took Dream (Headmore Dream On) to Merrist Wood on 18 May for another elementary test. It was an evening show so the entries were good and it was fairly busy.
Dream warmed up well, she was much more settled than at Fair Oak and her concentration was much better. She was very keen in the test but there were no major mistakes and overall we were very pleased with it. She scored 67.67%, which we were slightly disappointed with as mum thought it was a 70% test, but this was still good enough to win the class so the judge was obviously just marking quite low! We can’t really complain however, as Dream has done two tests since she has been back and won both of them!
Another new arrival
We have also had another new arrival this week, my mare Jaffa, who is Wizard’s full sister, had her foal on Tuesday night, a lovely chestnut filly by Briar. She has been named Buttermere or Flora for short! We have also decided on a name for Bracks’ filly, she has been called Dramatica, or Drama for short, but we still haven’t decided on a posh name for Dumbo so please keep the suggestions coming!”
“Time seems to be whizzing by and before I knew it we are off eventing again.
This time to Aston le Walls with my girls both first time Intermediates, Chico Bella and Wolfgang Penelope. We unfortunately had an 8.30am dressage time and Aston is three hours away. Combine this with needing to walk the course before dressage and you get one very early morning.
Wolfgang Penelope unfazed by cross country
Wolfgang Penelope was on first; ideally I normally ride her once before I get on for her test but as we were so early I didn't get the chance, so she was a bit keen but did a nice first test at this level for a score of 35.
On to the show jumping, this was a good track on a surface. We’ve been working hard on her show jumping at home as she still gets tense when the jumps are a bit bigger so it was disappointing but not surprising that we had three down. I am hoping to get her out to do a bit more pure show jumping, just to get a bit of practice in the ring as I am sure that when she relaxes she will be happy at this level. She is an XC machine and I was really chuffed that the step up didn't faze her and we had a good clear round.
Chico Bella the show jumping star
Chico Bella was good in her test which was a relief after her naughtiness at Hambledon the week before. There were just a couple of minor errors and we got a 33. She jumped a superb clear round in the show jumping leaving a few fellow competitors open mouthed and green with envy when she literally flew through the final combination. She is exceptional over a fence and always brings a smile to my face even if sometimes I feel like I'm going to get jumped off. Around the xc she was bold and straight and I was thrilled with how well she made the step up to Intermediate. It was doubly pleasing as her owner Chris Stone had managed to escape from the office to come and watch her so we were all happy campers.
One benefit of such an early start is that we were done just after lunchtime so we were able to pack up and head home.
A weekend off ?
A rare weekend without competing followed, although I didn't entirely escape from eventing as I took my owner Chris Stone's daughter Alex to her Pony Club event on the Sunday. At her previous outing she had a bit of trouble with the brakes on her horse Dolly (who I competed last year) so it was good to be able to go with her to help. We had been trying her in a different bit xc and this seemed to help and she finished seventh, which was great.
A day off to recover tomorrow then back to it and heading to Tweseldown and Brigstock next weekend.”
"So, the H&C team has now found ourselves chuckling over a show jumping cow, a show jumping zebra and show jumping bunnies. We didn't think it could get any better than that. Until Albertine V Barsewisch sent us the video below. At first, we were incredulous. We can't even train our cats not to bring mice in, but the owner of this fluffy moggy has trained him to show jump! Watch and be amazed!"
"After Badminton, we had a couple of quiet weeks which were well received by all but it was soon back to it and a busy weekend at Hambledon suddenly loomed.
Billy on Air
On the Friday, I had my newest arrival Billy on Air in the BE100 for our first event together. It's always a bit difficult when you first compete on a new horse as although they may have been eventing before and you have been riding them for a while you never know quite what to expect.
Fortunately, she was lovely. We made a couple of little errors in the dressage, mostly just miscommunications as we are still getting to know each other, but it was a good test. The show jumping was great, she is really careful and loves jumping and we had a nice clear round. Then off we went around the xc and again she was great, feeling as though she was smiling all the way round and coming home with a good clear. We finished in fifth place, which was a great result for our first outing and now she just needs to get fit, ready for stepping up to Novice in a few weeks.
Additional movements in the dressage
On the same day, I had three dressage tests in the CIC*. My little advanced horse Ollie Artois has been out on loan but his new mummy had a fall from her other horse, so I have got him back for a bit. He was already entered so we took him but as I had only ridden him for the first time the day before his test was a bit wild. Next was Chico Bella who was very naughty. She is just beginning to realise that eventing is great fun and was keen to get to the xc phase so went through her dressage test at high speed and with a few additional movements.
As she was so lovely in the good bits, she managed to get a reasonable score of 56 but possibly a discussion required before our next event!
My mum's horse Wolfgang Penelope was very good and brightened up the day, producing a nice test for a score of 47.5
Placing’s in the CIC*
Saturday morning and off we go again, this time with just the three in the CIC* to do their show jumping and cross country. Little Ollie Artois made it feel easy and jumped a super clear in the show jumping. Chico Bella also made me smile with a classy clear round and Wolfgang Penelope jumped a super round until we turned to the last combination. It was a bit of an eyeful and she made a mistake jumping in and rolled two poles; such a shame as the rest of it was super.
On to cross country and just as I got on Ollie the heavens opened and the rain began. Luckily it was an easy track for him and we just cantered round despite the torrential downpour. It was still chucking it down when I got on Chico Bella and with her being less experienced it was a bit trickier with the added complication of rain but she was super and jumped a lovely clear, just collecting a handful of time faults.
By the time I got on Wolfgang Penelope, the rain had stopped and everything was drying out so I was able to push her on a bit and we were one of only a few combinations to be inside the time.
It turned out that the track had caused a few problems throughout the day, so I was really pleased with my three. Chico Bella finished sixth despite her less than perfect dressage and Wolfgang Penelope was third - a great result.
Tropique finds his brakes
Sunday dawned and off we set again, this time with Tropique in the Intermediate. I also took a couple of youngsters to work as it is a great opportunity to get them out to events when the lorry isn't full!
Tropique was a bit fresh and the sight of some cyclists whizzing past his dressage arena was too much for him to handle early on a Sunday, leaving us with a disappointing score of 40. He redeemed himself in style though with a really lovely double clear. It was only his third outing at this level and I had been struggling a bit with a lack of brakes, so I was really pleased that he went so well.
Next week, Wolfgang Penelope and Chico Bella tackle their first Intermediates at Aston le Walls, come on girls!