"The breeding season hasn't yet come to an end, with stallions still on the waiting list for semen freezing and mares still trickling in for late season covering. Rarely do we see first coverings in August, but this year there have been more than a few. By this time of year we are usually quite safe to compete the stallions internationally, leaving basic responsibilities for the staff at home. But while we were away competing at a CDI in Luxembourg we received calls for several walk-in collections, mares still scanning and a stallion arrived for freezing. It just shows the seasonal breeding calendar is not as reliable as we might think. Fortunately our grooms are highly skilled and we train them to cope with routine breeding procedures, so with a few phone calls and mentoring from Brian, they did not let us down.
A good CV
More and more, breeding stallions, mares and their offspring need to achieve a competition CV to convince breeders of their worth. For me the most important thing is that the stallion is producing sport horses. The recent CDI was an eye opener, with more improvement in the stallions' performance, yet we and many other competitors were left aghast at the marks. The new scoring system appears to be pushing what I call the 'A listers' scores through the roof while the 'B listers' are lower than they have ever reached before. With the qualifying scores for major events increasing, many combinations - especially those from fledgling federations - are going to soon be pushed out. Interestingly, if you turn to online sources such as YouTube, you can see discrepancies in the scoring - some horses make serious mistakes yet score above 70%, while others can be seen with minor errors barely breaking 60%. Perhaps sources such as YouTube open the door to a fairer system?
A week after Luxembourg and we were off to Brightwells Auction at Addington Manor. We've sponsored this for many years and it is arguably the only dressage/show jumping auction in the UK giving UK breeders and producers the chance to market their horses nationally and internationally. To our delight, the auction was a huge success - with some high returns for sellers and some absolute bargains to be had for buyers. We brought home a very talented jumping mare who we sold on to an eventer. A very worthwhile venture, with a small profit to be had plus all the excitement of the chase.
Farewell to Jack
Sadly, my friend and protector Jack (pictured) passed away at the grand old age of 11. When you live life surrounded by animals, you know their life span is shorter than ours. Rest in peace, Jack Crane, you will always have a special place in my heart."
"With the nationals all over and done with and our main season now over, the three horses who went to the nationals; Wiz (Wurlizer), Del (Headmore Delegate) and Bracks (Headmore Boadicia), are all enjoying a well earned holiday. Luckily, I wasn’t left without horses to ride and jobs to do - it just meant I could have a bit of a foray into other disciplines...
Armed with a paintbrush
For example, we are in the process of putting together a new set of show jumps which will go in a field so all the show jumpers and eventers here can practice jumping on grass. This meant we have been busy painting various items whenever we have had a spare few minutes. Gina (the eventer) and I left our whole Saturday afternoon free to paint and clear out the shed where the jumps will live all winter, and had a very productive afternoon. We got as much painting done as we could with the paint we had, and I've done so much painting that I might have to borrow a horse to jump round the new fences myself. I don’t think it’s what most dressage riders get up to when their horses are having a holiday.
The following day, instead of spending another day painting, I went to watch polo. It was the last day of the season and Nick Pepper - who my friend Kerri grooms for - was playing, and as I didn’t have many horses to ride, I went along to watch. Nick’s team, BHC polo, were playing in the Autumn Cup sub final at Coworth Park and I made myself useful by plaiting their horses' tails, oiling their hooves and putting their boots on. My stint as groom ended when it came to putting on the incredibly complicated tack, so I left that part to the professional and watched the game instead. I did have the highly important job of spare stick holder, in case Nick broke his during the game.
It was a good game and Nick’s team won 7-5, with Nick scoring a lot of the goals, so we had an easy trip home in the lorry and it was a good end to the polo season. I now have to find some different jobs to do this week while ‘my three’ enjoy their holiday."
Harry Meek competing at the Three Counties Farriery Competition
"This year is absolutely flying by – possibly something to do with having a Little Brown in tow – hardly seems possible we are now in September.
Harry passes exams
We are delighted to confirm that Harry passed his Diploma Examination from the Worshipful Company of Farriers with great results which now make him a fully qualified farrier. His apprenticeship officially finished on the 31 August and he graduated at a ceremony in London shortly after. He is currently on a well-deserved holiday but he is not leaving us – just yet!
Lewis secures a place
Lewis completed his two month probationary period before starting his apprenticeship officially on the first of September. College places were somewhat restricted this year and we were quite relieved to learn that he had secured a place at Warwickshire College. He is currently at College completing the first four week block at college.
So many competitions and so many ribbons! Despite a few trips to A&E (I was kicked on the head, Robbie injured his leg, Harry had to have his eye washed out and I was then kicked on the finger) we have battled on and have enjoyed some great results.
Between the team we have secured multiple placing’s at the Ayrshire Branch Competition, Devon, Bath & West, Three Counties, Royal Welsh, Handmade Shoes (UK) Ltd Shoemaking Competition, Peover Game Fair and Newbury (Royal Berkshire).
Replacing the original Royal Show Championship held to coincide with the Royal Show at Stoneleigh each year, the British Farriers and Blacksmiths Association held the National Championship over the weekend of 11th - 14th August 2011. These Championships (and their trophies) are highly sought after amongst farriers across the UK.
I won in the Shoe & Tong with partner Duncan Thomson, received a second in the Open Therapeutic Shoemaking, a second in the Roadster, a fourth in the Heavy Horse Shoeing and won the Best Specimen Shoe for the Heavy Horse Shoeing. Overall I finished sixth in the ‘Royal Show’ Championship.
Hetta Carthew was successful this year to be selected to represent Great Britain at the International Pony Club Polocrosse Challenge held alongside the Polocrosse World Cup. The team won – read Hetta’s report complete with photographs on our website under ‘News’.
Monmouthshire Open Mounted Games team who train with Iain Hopkins based in Llanarth, Abergavenny have just been crowned the new British Champions after stealing the title from 2010 winners Shropshire after a fast and furious run off. The full story is on our website. Congratulations to them!
I am part of the Welsh Team selected to compete at the International Team Shoeing Competition held on the first weekend of October hosted by the British Farriers and Blacksmiths Association. Wales will be one of 14 teams confirmed so far and we are busy practising. The team this year is a young team of up and coming farriers so the competition will be tough but good experience.
This competition will be one of the last in the year. It’s been a busy summer and it will be nice to catch up with bits at home and local friends we have not seen for a while!
We were busy working on the website in our last blog and pleased to confirm it has now gone live. We have had great feedback from current clients and have gained new clients already. The news section keeps everyone up to date with developments and changes within the business. Do have a look and let us know what you thinkwww.nrbrownfarriers.co.uk"
"I’m writing this blog on Sunday evening while watching the X Factor. I have to confess I love this programme - all the naff auditions are hilarious to watch but I also love it when someone really talented turns up on stage.
It fascinates me that some people are amazingly talented and they're just out there, going about their normal lives, waiting for someone to notice them. I also wonder, is talent genetic or borne through dedication and hard work? It’s probably a bit of both.
One to watch
Either way, we are currently working with a young man called James Thatcher who would easily win The X Factor if they were looking to find the next star gundog handler.
James lives and breathes the countryside and his dogs, and he is fresh back from the Sandringham Game and Country Fair with an armful of trophies won in partnership with his Cocker bitch Boots.
James’s efforts and hard work are really paying dividends. All he needs to do is keep up the good work, keep training, and keep his mind on the dogs and not on the ladies, and he'll be a big success. Having said that, it never did me any harm...!
Still on the subject of success, congratulations to Tessa, Tracey and Lynda, who all presented themselves and their dogs for assessment at the end of our latest training course. Ladies - you were fabulous. It's always scary for me when pupils are being assessed, but they have been model pupils, hard-working, determined a little tempermental at times but it all came good.
We’re still on the road with three more shows to do, which makes for a busy September/October. The Shooting School is busy, Mullenscote Dog Training Centre is full on, with days out game shooting, beating, picking up and trialing. Bring it on!"
"We had the climax of our season last week - the Dressage Deluxe National Championships at Stoneleigh Park in Warwickshire. I had qualified three horses: Wiz (Wurlizer) at Grand Prix, Del (Headmore Delegate) at Prix St Georges and Inter I, and Bracks (Headmore Boadicia) at medium open.
The entourage arrives
We arrived on Wednesday, leaving plenty of time to settle the horses in before I had to ride Del, who was competing on the Thursday. Mum was redundant as we had two grooms with us, Amy (my best friend) and Tor, so we were very organised. Del went very well on the Wednesday so I was feeling confident, and we had a rather leisurely build-up as I wasn’t in the arena until 4.15pm on the Thursday.
I had ridden all three horses in the morning, and I was pleased with how they had all gone. However, unfortunately I didn’t get Del's warm up quite right for the PSG and he was a little bit tight as we went in the ring. There were no major mistakes in the test but it didn’t flow as well as it could have. We still scored a respectable 65.7% to finish 12th in a big class, and the foreign judge awarded us more than 68% and had us in fourth place, so it wasn’t dreadful, just a bit disappointing.
Friday morning was also somewhat leisurely, with a 5.30pm start time. I rode all three horses again in the morning, then I decided to compete Del in a snaffle bridle for the Inter I. We were so pleased with his Inter I test; it was much better than the PSG. There were a few green mistakes, but he was the youngest horse in the class and we scored 67.7% to finish seventh - just 1% behind the horse in second.
All systems go
Having had an easy first couple of days, Saturday was a bit of a shock to the system with Bracks in at 8.48am and Wiz at 10.43am. Del was also in the Inter I freestyle in the afternoon, so it was all systems go. Bracks was electric to ride, so she was tense and over-excitable, which led to a rather interesting test. It was definitely not our best, but she is still young and now needs to go out and do a few more big parties so she gets used to the atmosphere.
It was then a quick turnaround to get Wiz ready for his test. Wiz was not at his most co-operative at such an early hour, but with my trainer Erik Theilgaard's help, I managed to get him ready for our test. In the end he was super, he almost tried too hard which resulted in a few mistakes, but overall I was really pleased with it.
This just left Del in the Inter I freestyle. He warmed up fairly well but with a busy atmosphere, a sellout crowd and lots going on, he felt a little bit tense. Overall, I was pleased as he did settle down in the test and the canter work was some of the best I'd had all week. We finished on 67.5%, though again the foreign judge had us at over 70% and fourth. Consistently over the course of the week the foreign judges awarded me higher marks, so I can’t wait to get abroad next year.
Although it wasn’t the best nationals I've had in terms of results, we had brilliant fun and the horses and I learned so much. Next year will hopefully be more fruitful! All three horses are now having a well-earned holiday before we start the winter's training."
"In the second instalment of our behind-the-scenes blog, I'm writing from the Dressage Deluxe National Dressage Championships at Stoneleigh Park. The team is here to tweet, pap, report on the action and have lots of laughs... while working extremely hard of course!
Early morning exercise
At a competition like this you never know who you might bump into while wandering around the grounds. For our crew this can create quite a dilemma. While out and about getting our bearings, myself and our camera-girl Katie bumped into Carl Hester. Well, obviously we had to grab him for an interview, but with just one radio microphone on them it was up to Katie to sprint back across Stoneleigh Park “at the speed of Usain Bolt” (according to her) to fetch the second one from the press tent. By just 10am she declared herself done for the day.
Carl just kept popping up, but the best bit was when I got to have a chat with his adorable sidekick Snoopy the Daxijack (Dachshund cross Jack Russell). He wasn’t too keen on the microphone at first, but he soon opened up. Take a look through our gallery below to see Snoopy telling me about his day.
When the H&C team escape
As much as we love being confined to the press office while trying to make technology become our friend, it’s also great when we get the chance to escape and take in some of the other entertainment on show. This afternoon we were treated to a freestyle to music lecture with H&C favourites Richard Davison and Charlotte Dujardin and a masterclass by Laura B.
Our favourite bit of interval entertainment, though, was the "Bad Boys" Pas de Deux performed by Charlie Hutton and Henry Boswell. Talk about heart-throbs! We decided that we definitely heart these boys as we watched them performing their routine to music by the likes of Alexandra Burke and Alesha Dixon. We were oh so sad when we didn’t get a chance to flutter our eyelashes at them over a microphone.
Farouche in the flesh
The final of the Shearwater Potential International Dressage Horse Championship was also fascinating as we watched the top young horses be ridden by Daniel Sheriff and judged on their potential to be world class performers. Woodlander Farouche, ridden by Michael Eilberg, took top honours without a shadow of a doubt. It was breathtaking to see this stunning mare in the flesh. No exaggeration – H&C journalist Jess nearly fainted! She’s truly a credit to British breeding (the mare, I mean, not Jess). Michael told us afterwards that she’s going to have a bit of a well-deserved holiday.
Our paparazzi team were out in force again today, shooting the crowds and hounds at the BD Nationals. Check out our gallery below to see if you were snapped. We also took lots of photos of the warm-up arena, as well as the Elementary and Advanced Medium classes, so don’t think you were safe from our lens even if you were on horseback.
We’ve seen some fabulous competition here today and it’s clear that the standard of British dressage is higher than ever, and with horses like Woodlander Farouche rising through the ranks, hopefully Team GBR will have plenty more medals coming their way next year."
Gayle is becoming more of a dressage rider by the day.
"The nationals are finally here, so last week we gave Bracks (Headmore Boadicia) her final outing in preperation - the Wellington Riding advanced medium freestyle to music final.
A truly amazing horse
We didn't have the best of run-ups to the final, as she had messed around in the field the week before and given herself a sore back - not ideal this close to a couple of big competitions. Luckily, Natalie from Jenny Hadland and Company had been out a couple of times to sort her out so Bracks was able to go and compete.
We weren’t on until late, so no panicking to get ready, and she warmed-up well despite Wellington’s International arena being very spooky. It was pitch black outside and the test was under floodlights, but she didn’t even look at a thing throughout her whole test. The test wasn’t perfect, there were a few little mistakes here and there and the changes were a little bit green in the atmosphere, but I was nevertheless over the moon with how she had just gone into the arena and got on with her job. We scored 74.33%, which was good enough to finish second, not bad for all the drama we had had beforehand. That mare really is amazing.
We then had the prizegiving, where she amazed everyone further. She stood there looking, literally, like a donkey while all of the presentations were done, and then when she trotted off she transformed doing her most amazing extended trot. She is such a superstar.
Then, on Friday, we went back to trying to get all of the horses qualified for the winters, so we took Roxy (Headmore Roxanne) and Yogi (Ca-Traum), Gayle’s nine-year-old international show jumper - who we are trying to turn into a dressage horse - to Crofton Manor for a prelim and a novice. Gayle was on first in the prelim on Roxy in which she still managed to score 68.64% despite all the spooking.
I then did the novice H/C on Roxy to have a ride on her in the arena and see what she was like. The trot work was a little unsettled in places but the canter work felt lovely, and I think it did Roxy good to have a bit of a schooling round the arena.
It was then back to Gayle to do the prelim on Yogi. It was Yogi’s first ever dressage test and Gayle was very nervous. However, they didn’t do a bad job, it was a little bit wobbly and a bit spooky but she got round, so we weren’t too disappointed. They also scored 68.64%, meaning that Gayle finished equal first on both horses and that Roxy is now qualified for the regionals at prelim. We couldn’t have asked for a better result, and Gayle is really competitive and gets grumpy if she doesn’t win, so I was happy as well.
I then got on Yogi for the novice H/C as it was his first competition and we wanted him to have a quiet ride round. He was much more settled than in the prelim and did an absolutely smashing test, especially as it was his first ever dressage show. His mediums were good and his counter canter was balanced - which is obviously a difficult movement for a show jumper - and we were all pleased. If I hadn’t been H/C he’d have won the class, so it was a good day for all."
It may look scary but horses are surprisingly tolerant of the dentist
“When you have horses, you definitely need regular visits from an equine dentist. But are horses as afraid of the dentist as we humans are?
Hogwash and dentists
Here in the United States, an equine dentist does not have to be a veterinary surgeon, but the American Veterinarian Association is lobbying hard to make it illegal for a non-veterinarian to be an equine dentist. To that I say “hogwash”! Fortunately, our farm vet Dr. Paul Elwell, who has been practicing forever (Tim remembers Doc Elwell coming to treat his family’s horses when he was just a little boy), and he has a great equine dentist who that he refers his patients to and that is who we use. We love Doc Elwell’s forward thinking.
So this month we held dentistry day at North Point Farm. Because our horses are competition horses and lots of what they do involves a bit in their mouths, dental health is of great importance for optimal performance.
One by one, the horses were led to an empty stall where they were sedated and then had a rather scary looking contraption put on their heads to keep their mouths open during their treatments. Our dentist uses power tools to float teeth, but he also uses old-fashioned hand tools. The tools make lots of noise and as in humans with tooth drills; the floating produces lots of vibration which can be startling to a horse. The biggest issue with our horses seems to be that with the sedation comes heavy head drooping. Have you ever tried lifting a draught horse's head?
Once everything was in place and the dentist was ready to begin, we all gathered around to watch and see what the mouths of all of our horses looked like from the inside. I am sure there was no pressure on the dentist as Tim and I stood behind her, almost in her back pocket, and the interns that work on our farm also took time away from barn chores to peer inside and watch what she was doing. Several of our interns have aspirations of attending vet school so we try and expose them to as much of the vet work here at the farm as we can.
One of our three-year-olds needed to have some of her caps removed. You all probably know that a horse keeps losing “baby teeth” until around age four. The caps will come off naturally, but sometimes a bit of help is needed as was the case with this mare. She also had her teeth floated and, the dentist exclaimed, “This mare’s teeth are huge”.
The mare had been holding her head to one side recently while being bited and driven so we suspected that there was a dental issue after we had changed bits three times with no resolution. Sure enough, between the loose caps and the sharp edges on the teeth on one side of her mouth, and the correction of these issues, her biting issue has resolved itself.
We like to tell folks that a horse will always tell you what is wrong, you just have to be an excellent listener. We knew that there was something bothering this young mare so after changing bits with no result, the next logical step was dentistry.
Blind wolf teeth
Another mare that we had the dentist look at had no issues with her mouth and was accepting the bit and working well. But because the dentist was out at the farm, we asked her to take a look.
The mare had what are called “blind wolf teeth”. These are unerupted teeth, which can be detected as firm nodules under the gum in front of the cheek teeth in some horses. These are often painful and may be covered with ulcerated gum membranes and may require removal. The dentist was shocked that the horse was so stoic and accepting of the bit. She recommended that the teeth be removed and would have done so except for the fact that the horse does not belong to us and was only here for training and, she is pregnant, making sedation a risky proposition.
Since the mare was having no issues and seemed to not be in any pain, the decision was made to address her dental issues after her foal is born next year. Her owners got a phone consult with their vet about the issues and, all is well with her.
Our last dental patient of the afternoon was a young two-year-old mare who is going in to work next year. Our dentist believes that dental work for the young horse is essential and we agree. This mare also had a set of wolf teeth that we will keep an eye on. Because of their position in her mouth, they do not affect the bite or her ability at this point to work in a bridle.
Every six months
In six months, the dentist will be back on the farm to do more routine dentistry and to make sure that everyone is doing well. We believe that money spent in this fashion is money well spent and all of the horses benefit.
Until next time, please be sure to keep in touch via Facebook and, be on the lookout for a complete re-modeling of our website in the next few weeks atwww.northpointfarm.com"
Tim Davies wins the 1.40m Open at Hickstead, much to Daisy's delight
"Crikey, it is finally here - the end to the season 2011. Now I would be lying if I didn’t admit that on the odd occasion as a show organizer one daydreamed about never having to set foot on a showground again (it’s normally at about 1am during wet shows) but when the end of a long season finally comes, it’s always with mixed emotions. Happiness is in the form of a holiday to France next week (wooo hooo), but there’s also the inevitable sadness too that all the fun is over for another year. The anti-climax of next week makes leaving the country nigh on essential. And what a season it’s been, and what a fabulous new show we’ve had.
The wrong horse
Now, for today’s blog I actually have to hark back to last night when, sitting having supper with my sister Chloe, I received a text from the lovely Shirley Light – of Brendon Stud fame. Having regaled my readers last night with the story of Truly Darco only costing £50, the text went something like this:
'Dear Dozy Daisy. Shirley here. Um, excuse me, Truly Darco jolly well was not £50 – he went for that but with several noughts on the end! I think you’ll find it was Andrea Skinner’s lovely horse It’s Billy the Kid that was such a bargain!’
Oopsie, and huge apologies to Laura Preston. That will teach me ever to listen to Jess, one of our esteemed showjumping secretaries again (henceforth Dozy Jess!) Funnily enough, I did think it was quite amazing that a progeny of Darco, one of the top sires in the world, had gone for so little. Always one for a wind-up, my sister Chloe, herself also a horse dealer and breeder in Sussex like Shirley, sent her a text saying: “I know we’ve just done quite well on a deal we pulled off together Shirley, but it doesn’t mean you can flood the Sussex market with good cheap horses, you’ll do me out of business!” At least it proves someone reads my blog though I suppose.
Hickstead rumour mill
Although I have had a lovely relaxing week, the ‘other’ office (we split into two offices in the summer) have been at pains to point out that it’s been just as busy as any other show for them this week, as there’s still tones of horses here! Anyway, Dozy Jess should probably be excused for her misinformation due to extreme tiredness, but it is not the only reason she became BF today (Blog Fodder). As you can imagine, in such a close knit environment as this, we thrive on any gossip and Jessica provided ample when she was busted arriving early this morning with Matt (who works on the showground) in her car - who it has to be said was looking rather hot and sweaty. The rumour mill went in to overdrive particularly when he appeared in the office later to try and give her ten pounds she said ‘oh don’t worry Matt, it only took two minutes!’ The boring truth was that she’d found him running home from a mates to get changed and then in to work and had given him a lift – or so they say, anyway!
A grand day for Tim
The competition in the main ring reached a thrilling climax this afternoon as Tim Davies because the first person ever to win our All England Grand Prix – Tim hadn’t been to Hickstead for years, but this year has made a triumphant return with a third in the Templant Events Queen Cup at our July show and grand prix win here. We are now his favourite show!
So it’s goodbye from me for now… but not for a whole year, as I shall be back blogging from HOYS… really a recipe for disaster as I’ll have even more time for going out and having fun, but I’ll be behind the scenes catching up with some of the best in the world and keeping you up to date on all the gossip.
The H&C team invaded the press tent at the Fidelity Blenheim Palace International Horse Trials on Sunday – even though there were just two of us!
Sparkly new blog
Blenheim marks the start of our new behind-the-scenes blog. Our users have been asking us what goes on at the competitions we cover while we’re busy Tweeting, interviewing and writing to keep you all up to date with the latest news and results so we thought we’d provide you with an insight to the media side of competing.
A minute to remember
As this is being written, the whole of Blenheim Palace descends into a minute’s silence to mark the ten year anniversary of 9/11. It’s eerily quiet in the media centre – a very rare occurrence – as everyone takes the time to reflect on the dreadful events a decade ago. But after 60 seconds it’s back to the usual hustle and bustle of clicking laptops and the H&C team making too much noise!
H&C Paparazzi Team
Today’s action included the CCI3* showjumping, the CIC3*8/9YO cross-country and the Tri-Zone BE100 Eventer Challenge. Our Tweeting fingers were kept busy and our photography skills sharp, all the while trying to dodge the intermittent downpours. Make sure you check out our gallery to see if we papped you in the Eventer Challenge.
We had the pleasure of talking to some of the competitors taking part in the Eventer Challenge who all said how exciting it was to be competing alongside their horsey heroes at such a prestigious event. We even managed to grab a couple of interviews with riders Charlotte Bacon and Zoe Taylor. Make sure you check out the videos below.
In life we often learn lessons the hard way. And we had a harsh reminder today that technology cannot always be relied upon while interviewing William Fox-Pitt. After a great interview about his first and third placings in the CIC3* we discovered when we got back to the media tent that the sound had not actually worked. Frustrating is an understatement!
All in all we had a great day at Blenheim Palace and send our congratulations to everyone competing.
Results of the BE100 Tri-Zone Eventer Challenge
1st - Ellen Goodwin riding PG Tips
2nd - Charlotte Bacon riding Ballyvaden Ivy - see interview below
3rd - Lynda Cockrill riding Amoreal
4th - Phoebe Cromer riding Its Gotta Be Dun II
5th - Zoe Taylor riding Lyndwey Tune - see interview below