"I had a lovely holiday at the beginning of January and went on a Caribbean cruise, which was amazing. Although it was the first time I have been on a cruise, I am now a total convert and I got back full of enthusiasm, to get going and get prepared for the season.
A world class approach
First on the agenda was a trip to Stow for two days of training with the World Class development programme. This time it was dressage, which although not my favourite is becoming more and more enjoyable and I found the lessons very beneficial. It was very encouraging to get some great feedback on my horses and our improvements from great trainers like Nick Burton and Angela Tucker. The great thing about the World Class programme is that not only does it offer me fantastic training - but it also supports me in other areas such as my health, fitness and nutrition. I have also just started working with a great Sports psychologist who is hopefully going to help me be even more focused and reach my optimal performance level, especially at competitions.
Jumping into the papers
Also part of the schedule has been lots of indoor show jumping (which I really enjoy) and some dressage which it has to say brings less of a smile to my face! Regardless of which discipline I am doing it is always nice to compete successfully and bring home some prizes, which we have been doing. I even got a call from the Horse & Hound wanting me to comment on my wins (yes plural!) at Royal Leisure dressage. One of the winners was Tropique (Austin) and this was his first competitive outing for nine months after some time out from injury. It was a lovely day and I was really pleased that Austin's owners (Sue Johnstone and Charlotte Huggett) could be there to see him after their patience through his recovery. Long may it continue.
Snow stopping us
A bit of a hitch in the military precision that is our plan - was the snow although, it didn't stop us for long as after two days Elodie started to get cabin fever and got the whole team in the school digging a path through the snow! It worked really well and I was very grateful as it took another week for the snow to go away.
Now it has all gone and the plan is back in place so I am off to get on with it. I can’t wait for the new season and to get cracking on my fabulous team of horses.”
"Winter is supposed to be a time for quietening down, but this winter has been one of my busiest ever. I have moved a few of the horses on - including Romeo, who has gone to be a junior horse, and Tweedy, who is enjoying a quieter life of dressage and hacking.
A fall and a ban
After my fall at Lignieres back in October, and two nights in a very nice French hospital, I was given an automatic 21 day ban, which meant that I was unable to take Bertie to Le Lion D’Angers, something that we had been working towards all year. It was desperately disappointing for me, the team and Bertie’s owners, as he will be too old next year, but ultimately your health has to come first. I did go to Le Lion to support the other British riders though, who turned out to be very competitive!
November began with a trip to Ireland to the Goresbridge ‘Go for Gold’ sale. This consisted of two days of looking at the 58 horses all selected for the sale. There were many very nice horses and some well over my budget, but I had a great time watching them perform. The sale was extremely well run and gave a very professional performance and I shall be returning next year. We bought a very nice four-year-old mare ’Double Whammy’ - she is by Olympic show jumper Lux Z and out of a dam by Master Imp and Clover Brigade. I also bought another horse from Ireland, a four-year-old gelding named ‘Greenacres Cherry’. He moves beautifully and has a fantastic jump; I’m very excited about him. I keep saying that I won’t do the Young Event Horse again but this horse will as he is too good not to!
Dressage with Emile
Instead of having a rest before the next season starts, I decided to work on improving my dressage,with a combination of lessons from Emilie and a few dressage outings at Keysoe and Fenning Farm, and the all went brilliantly. I learn so much from my lessons with Emile and I am never short ofthings to work on! I have been working without stirrups, something I haven’t done for years but ithas definitely helped my position, seat etc.
December and a sad farewell
December started off on a sad note as Nelson had to be put down after another unsuccessful trip to the vets. I had everything blocked, x-rayed, scanned, bone scanned and even MRI scanned andwe cannot find a reason for his discomfort. He had over a year off but he was so lame behind that I felt it fairer to have him put down than try and keep him going. It was terribly sad; it is horrible to see horses in pain when they are so willing to work. I am dreading that awful day eventually when something happens to Jasper, but he is fighting fit and that is a thought along way ahead I hope.
Let the season begin
The start of the eventing season is getting ever closer, and the horses are all moving along well with their fitness, despite the snow. The younger horses will start their first season in a couple of weeks while the more established horses will continue their campaigns from last year. Maisie kicks off the season at Tweseldown and will go to Fontainebleau before (hopefully) going to Badminton – fingers crossed. I hope 2012 will be a great year - I have a fantastic team (in no particular order!) of horses, owners, staff and sponsors, and the season can’t come soon enough.
“Hey guys, hope you are all okay and have managed to keep warm. Working in these cold icy conditions over the past few weeks has not been easy, but spring is on the way and we already have a hose pipe ban!
A near sniff of success
A trip to Pachetts in sub-zero conditions was a test of dedication and survival skills. Even though I went in Spencer’s luxury lorry, the water tanks ended up freezing so we had no running water for three days. With Hickstead qualification just a sniff away, Athene H was fifth in a class of 90 - this was a great result for him as the jump off was standing at 1.30m. Who Boy had a third in a Bluechip 1.25m qualifier and VIP was third in a 1.30m and had one down in a strong 1.40m class; both good boys.
Watch out Rudall
Last week Spencer and I had a busy day with the team from Your Horse magazine, this year we are the ‘experts’ for the training academy. This involves sharing our methods of training and tips in the magazine, and making videos for their website. Going in front of the camera at first was a little daunting, but after a while we relaxed and it all seemed to go quite well. Apparently I was quite good so H&C's Jenny Rudall should watch out... Jay’s World could soon take your slot!
Look good, feel good
A few days prior to our moment on camera, Spencer and I had received boxes of beautiful riding wear from Cavalleria Toscana, which was even better than Christmas. We will be wearing Cavalleria Toscana in all of our training features.
Gold medal performance
As you know, I like to keep you all up to date with the things I like - so check out this video of some Olympic athletes. Don’t you think the Equestrian Team GBR could do something funnier?
Sadly my body does not look like his, so here comes another health kick!
Tweet of the week
Well my fairy godmother may still not have bought me a horsebox or found me a groom - but I did get tweet of the week in Horse & Hound. I can’t believe there is a shortage of jobs out there and I am finding it impossible to get staff.
Don’t forget you guys can follow me on Twitter @JayTigerhalim, or add me on facebook for daily updates and general silliness! Thanks for tuning in to the latest Jay’s world.”
"Hi everyone, I'm Anna Edwards and I'm a showjumper from Somerset - welcome to my first blog for Horse & Country.
Two years ago I was just beginning the best year of my career so far. I had been selected for the British team in Nations Cups, I was crowned the winner of the prestigious Queen Elizabeth II Cup at Hickstead with Unique IX, and if I hadn't quite made it to the very top of my sport, I felt I was at least three quarters of the way there. I owned and rode, at that time, one of the best horses in the country. We had results together that made us stand out from the crowd and be known to the public. Then Unique was sold to join Tina Fletcher's string.
So why did I sell my top horse? Sadly, my head ruled over my heart. Sometimes I wonder why I had to make that tough decision, to sell or not to sell - it's a fortunate position to be in but nevertheless a tough one! Put in the same situation, would I sell again? Who knows, but I do really miss my boy and 5am starts to take naughty young horses to shows can really make me question my decision.
High profile sales
There was a flurry of horse sales at the start of the year, with a number of top British horses sold abroad. These sort of decisions - like selling Unique - are commonplace in showjumping, but they do make me wonder what the sport is all about, success or money. In an ideal world it would obviously be both, but in the real world, I chose to take the money.
The next star
Now I am back to getting up early, going to shows, producing young horses and trying to make the next superstar, rather than buying one. I have proven that I can ride at top level, so now I just need to believe in the wonderful young horses I have chosen to work with and train. I have a yard full of promising young horses which I believe have the correct attributes to be superstars. Sometimes it is easy to stop believing, but I am a great believer in staying positive - once a champion, always a champion!
My top horse, Diaghilev, has had a good winter break and is now fit and ready to go. We had a great year last year together, and with him now nine years old I am hoping that this year is going to be my best year yet. I'm lucky in that I have an amazing support team, including my wonderful parents who I could do none of it without, my understanding boyfriend, great owners, family and friends, plus a fantastic team of young up and coming horses. I just hope I can make it back to the heights of my sport where I once was.
I hope you enjoyed my first blog, and to keep up to date with how I am getting on, please follow me on Facebook and Twitter."
"Hi everyone, hope you've all been wrapping up warm over the last few week in this very cold snap we've been having. Don't know about all of you, but this weather has been causing havoc with racing and even just getting the horses out for their daily exercise.
Firstly the weather was working in my favour. I was banned when the cold snap started, so this meant that when the first few meetings were called off, I wasn't losing out on rides - a little plus side to the bad weather. But this plus side didn't last long as on my first day back I had three rides booked for Sandown on 4 February but the weather put pay to that meeting too and there hasn't been a meeting since.
Fit to ride
In these last few week I've been keeping myself busy by riding out every morning, getting into some trainer's yards that I find it hard to get into regularly as they're not near me. I have also been going to the gym in Oaksey House, Lambourn every day. I'm very keen on my fitness and I think it is a massive part of being a jockey. Not only do you have to be very fit to ride a horse in a race but your fitness can help too with preventing and returning from injury, which is unfortunately part and parcel of our game.
No racing, no income
With jockeys being self employed, when racing is off because of the weather like it has been, it really affects our livelihood. If we can't ride we make no money, so let's hope they've got the weather forecast right and we are over the worst of it now. I'm really looking forward to getting back into the swing of things this week and getting back to earning some money."
"Hey guys, well January seems to have flown by and I cannot believe February is with us already! All the horses seem to be well and we finally have some new staff.
So I have gone show crazy and have done eight shows in 14 days, which was one way to kick start the year. Team Halim has a new secret weapon in Athena H, owned by Chantelle Souness, who has jumped eight classes and only had one rail down. He looks to have great potential so watch this space. Neil O'Hara’s Kellistown Cavalier has also started doing some affiliated shows and has won two Newcomers classes as well. Four days at Addington Pro/Am show was a worthwhile trip. Jen Goodman’s Who Boy had some placings in the 1.25m classes and jumped his first few 1.35 classes with just four faults. Rachael Heart’s VIP jumped six classes with one rail down including our first 1.50m class, in which we finished eighth. VIP is now going to stay with me full time so hopefully we can keep growing on this performance.
Top hat and tails
My partner Spencer is soon to do his first competition of the year. His horses are moving up a level so he had to quickly send his tail coat off to the seamstress for a quick refit. He told me he was having it taken in... I am yet to discover if this is true! It’s been five years since Spencer wore his top and tails as he has been patiently producing his horses, so I will keep everything crossed that he has a good season and gets back to where he should be. He will always be my number one.
In my last blog I made a comment about the young horses and falling off - and I finally hit the deck! My five-year-old was trotting around the school quite nicely, when he whinnied and the next thing I know I'd done a full flip with tuck and landed on my feet in a perfect dismount! With London Olympics approaching fast I could not help think that the gymnastics team was missing out on my potential of a medal? The below clip makes me giggle every time I see it, I had a lot in common with young Ross when I was little.
My fairy godmother has yet to appear so I am still on the hunt for one more yard groom, a new lorry and a few more rides. You never know...
“With only a few days left until the winter regionals, we had our last preparatory outings to try and get both Roxy (Headmore Roxanne) and Bracks (Headmore Boadicia) ready for Kingston Maurward next week.
Chilly at Croften
Bracks had a rather chilly trip to Crofton to start her final preparations. She wasn’t at her most rideable, as she is clearly not a fan of the cold. I don't blame her, as being down on the coast, the wind was vicious and it was very cold. Going from the indoor warm-up to the outdoor arena for the tests was a bit of a shock to the system for both of us, but she still produced tests that were good enough to win the medium with 67.8% and the advanced medium with 70.3%, so we couldn’t really complain.
Frozen at Oldencraig
We also had a cold trip to Oldencraig with both Roxy and Bracken. It was on my mum’s birthday so Gayle (my groom) and I were feeling the pressure to produce good results. When we arrived, however, we found that all of the outdoor arenas were frozen and pretty much unrideable. We decided that the novice horses would be ok to walk around the warm-up and then go in for the tests, as the judge said that they could have a few minutes ‘warm-up’ before the test started. So Gayle and Roxy went in having walked for 15min and, after a trot and a canter on the right rein, they started their test. We were pleased and felt they went surprisingly well considering, so were disappointed with the mark of 65% and second place. They made up for it however by winning the novice qualifier with 68%.
The outdoor arena had thawed a bit by the time I had to warm Bracks up, but due to the number of withdrawals we could use the indoor arena. Unfortunately it meant that Bracks was a bit too electric in the tests as all the stopping and starting didn’t suit her, so there were a few mistakes in the halts and walk. But she still scored nearly 70% in the medium to win, and 68% in the advanced medium to win, and has now qualified at advanced medium and part-qualified at medium for the summers. What a good birthday for my mum!
Bucking at Wellington
Our final outing was at Wellington with Bracks in the advanced medium music - which I hadn’t ridden through since September. She was a little lively and the test wasn’t as good as it could have been, particularly when she tried to buck into canter! It was still good enough to win with over 75%, including nine’s for her extended trot. So Bracks has won all seven of her starts this year and Roxy has won five out of six. Fingers crossed we haven’t peaked too soon.”
We thought we might get away with it this winter, but no such luck - the snow has arrived.
While a hefty load of the white stuff may make yard duties treacherous and everything take twice as long as it should, it seems that your horses and dogs don't seem to mind as much, as long as they can get outside to play. Scroll through our gallery at the bottom of the page to see your equine and canine friends making the most of the wintery weather.
If anyone needs any help or advice on how to keep your pony happy and healthy during the cold snap, take a look at our top tips from the experts or write in to us at email@example.com.
"Hi everyone. Competition wise it's always quiet at this time of the year, but with my husband Simon away this week I've been trying to do six horses as well as look after my two children, who've both had stomach bugs. Fortunately I have had my in-laws up here to lend me a hand."
Mr President blots his copybook
Mr President (Rimmer) has been back in work for a couple of months, but he’s being a complete monkey at the moment! I was leading him out to his grazing corrall and he gave me both barrels, so he’s in the bad books. The plan with him is the Myerscough Premier League dressage in March, if he's ready. He is 18 now and though he's older, he's fit and happy and still loves what he does. But I don’t want him to come out and get 52% in a dressage test, I want him to be remembered for doing high-60's tests. So if I think he's no longer enjoying it, it'll be time to stop.
Heading for the regionals
Mr Hyde has qualified for the British Dressage regional championships at Medium and Advanced Medium level, so that's the main aim with him. It will be interesting to see how he handles the atmosphere, as he’s quite a nervous horse. I’m trying a new calmer with him, which works as long as he eats it! I'm having to resort to bribery, so I'm getting him used to the smell and taste of garlic to mask the taste of the calmer to trick him into eating it.
Ancie gets antsy
My broodmare Ancie went to her first competition recently, though someone else has been riding her for me as I can't ride in any qualifiers up to Medium level, whereas Adam and Ancie can compete at Prelim and Novice. Ancie had never been anywhere except the vets to be AI'd and the stud, but she’s so laid back at home I thought she'd be easy. But she went into the arena and nearly had a heart attack! So she'll need a good few outings to get her used to the idea of competing.
Brits on form
We watched the live streaming of the World Dressage Masters in Florida, and the Brits did a very good job – they're really up against it with the Americans on home turf. But it's phenomenal to be beating the Dutch and the Germans, and long may it continue. Though Team GBR has had some great results recently, we need to keep working and pushing in the run up to the Olympics, and to become more consistent. But we're very strong at the moment, and I believe there's even more to come.
Alice Oppenheimer with her Grand Prix horse Wiz - who started 2012 in very high spirits!
"I had a very good feeling about 2012 at the start of the year, but the first couple of weeks of the New Year proved me very wrong. Unfortunately, we lost our older dog, Scrappy, very unexpectedly. He slipped a disc and deteriorated very quickly so in the space of two days he went from running around the yard to us having to make the awful decision. Gayle spent the last two hours of his life feeding him chocolates that were left from Christmas, he loved the coconut crèmes but wasn’t so keen on the orange ones, and spat them out.
Heading for a fall
I also had a bit of a nasty fall from Wiz - you may have heard as Mum plastered it all over facebook and it then made Horse & Hound. At 12, and as a Grand Prix horse, Wiz should probably know better, but at least he is feeling well. I was told I was lucky not to crack my hip, but after a few easy days I was back riding so no harm done. I did blame Gayle though as she had said now that she was back up and running it would be my turn next. However things did perk up, Gayle was allowed to start riding again and has been on a mission, surprise surprise! She has also started jumping again and her rising seven-year-old showjumper, Dolly, who I have been schooling for her on the flat while she has been off, was unreal - so at least I did a good job on her.
Back out to parties
We have also been starting to compete again as it isn’t long until the winter regionals, and both Roxy (Headmore Roxanne) and Bracken (Headmore Boadicia) have been going to some parties in preparation. We weren’t sure Gayle would be fit enough to compete, but she and Roxy have been well away, winning a novice with 70.38% and an elementary with 65.88% at Merrist Wood, before then winning two novices at Crofton with 68% and 69%. Not bad as Gayle had only been back riding for two weeks, Roxy hadn’t been to a show for three months and there was room for improvement in all tests. Bracks also made the trip to Merrist Wood having also had a break from competition for three months. I was very pleased with how relaxed and rideable she remained as she normally gets a bit over the top when she hasn’t been to a show for a while, and she felt much more established and more confident in her work, and much stronger in her body. She won the medium with 67.35% and advanced medium with 69.19%, despite there being a few ring rusty errors and miscommunications between us where we hadn’t been out for a while, so we are all well on the way in our preparations for the regionals.
Crash hats compulsory
The new rules came into force on 1 December 2011, meaning that crash hats are now compulsory from prelim to advanced medium level dressage and in young horse classes. I am very pleased with my new Antares hat as it is so light it doesn’t even feel like I have one on, but it was slightly odd seeing everyone in crash hats in the warm up. It won’t be long before everyone is used to the change and it will be the norm, especially as there are now so many smart crash hats available that we can still look classy and stylish whilsee wearing one."