Contessa instructor, Jade, reports on their start to 2011.
“I think our last blog was in November, so I will just give you a bit of an overview of what’s been going on. We tried to hibernate for most of January and February due to the horrid weather but unfortunately the horses still wanted to be fed and exercised!
Daughter beats mum!
March brought the early glimpses of Spring as well as our first dressage competition of the season. We had a lovely afternoon for it and the rain was kind enough to hold off until the second we finished! The first class was a Contessa walk/trot test won jointly by Emma-Louise on Razzle and Heather on Solo. It was a special win for Emma-Louise as it was their first outing, so big congratulations. Class two was a victory for Ruby on Moonie and class three was another red rosette for Heather scoring 1% higher than mum, Sharon who took second place.
Zak begins training
We’ve had a John Bowen Dressage Clinic as well as two John Adams Show Jumping clinics. All horses behaved very well and a good time was had by all. In the most recent one, new horse Rosie found her jumping legs with Emilie and Zak began his training with John on Queijada!
Tessa turns 40
Easter brought pony days, Pony Club rallies and an Easter Egg Hunt and for the adults, an In-Hand afternoon, Side Saddle taster and Video Afternoon. My favourite thing about Spring is the lambs and I have already adopted one who we’ve named Tiny Tim. The thing that we’re all getting most excited about though is Tessa’s big 40th Birthday Bash on Saturday, following her birthday this Thursday. Tessa was one on the original ponies that started Contessa in 1977 and is adored by all.
Here is a round up of recent events at Contessa by Assistant Yard Manager, Sarah Jackson.
"Even though the children have gone back to school, Contessa is a still very busy with plenty of events having taken place… On Monday 6th September we hosted a BHS CPD day taken with FBHS Nick Turner, focusing on indoor eventing. There was a good turnout and Amy, Sarah and regular client Sharon rode Jaya, Real and Charly respectively. This was a great opportunity for all those involved and a valuable day's training. Later in the month we had a John Bowen dressage clinic. All horses and riders went very well and we will see if they have done their homework for the next clinic on the 24th November. We would like to welcome Jo White to the Contessa team, who is here as a working student training towards her BHS exams. The horses and ponies want to thank Amy for making them more comfortable now it’s colder by giving them a clip and getting their winter rugs out. In October we had day courses focusing on other equestrian disciplines, including western riding and adult only vaulting. They proved very popular and so may be a more frequent feature in our calendar. During half term we ran pony days for our younger riders and at the end of the week held a Halloween themed pony day. This was very popular and all the children had a great time riding, playing games and dressing up the ponies. A big thank you to all the staff that ran the day, it was a great success! On Saturday 30th October we had the championship show for our 2010 dressage season. The horse and rider combinations had qualified throughout the season that resulted in a strong warm-up class followed by the walk-trot and “pick your own” championship classes. C Redman on Ridgewood High Five won the warm-up class with an impressive 68.4%. In the walk and trot championship all riders and horses performed very well, but Heather Rowe riding Contessa’s own Solo came out on top with 66.6%. Mark Phillips and Harry Chandler on their own horses came a close joint second. In the final class the standards were very high and we are pleased to say that Contessa’s yard manager, Amy Wright and Jayanti came first in Novice 34. As winners of the championship classes both Heather and Amy came away with a trophy, one of which was kindly donated by regular client, Steve Machin. We would like to congratulate all riders and thank you for your support throughout the season. We hope to see you all next year! In the weeks ahead we will be looking forward to our John Adams jumping clinic and John Bowen dressage clinic and start our preparations for Christmas, including holding the Contessa Children’s Christmas Party, information for which can be found on our website or by calling the office.”
"We’ve had a pretty busy summer here at Contessa. Congratulations to all our NVQ students who have achieved their qualifications and to Sarah and Amy for passing BHS exams. We’ve had three Unaffiliated Dressage Competitions, two Sarah Gemmell Vaulting Clinics, two John Adams Show Jumping clinics and a stage 2 training course all of which went very well. We also had a new addition to our events list in the form of Crystal’s Western Taster Course. Sarah had another Bank Holiday Show Jumping Clinic which was completely full and very successful.
Children's summer party
The 10th July was our annual Children’s Summer Party. It was a full afternoon of vaulting, handy pony show jumping, a pony quiz and lots more. We also had our annual presentation of Child Rider Awards and Pony Club Progressive Tests. The weather was fantastic and everyone had a great time.
This year we decided to hold a Client’s Summer Show which we haven’t done for a couple of years. It was a great day. We had seven classes including Veterans, Best Rider, Best Condition & Turnout, Cutest Pony/Rider, Pony Club Pony and Ridden Warmbloods. Well done to everyone that took part and special congratulations to Helen and Regitse and Tommy and Tessa for winning both of their classes. The horses were beautifully turned outand it was a difficult job for the judges. Huge thanks to Sarah for organising the day and to everyone for making the day run smoothly.
Staff coming and going
It’s also our busiest time of year in terms of staff changes. Marta joined us for a five week working holiday from Italy. She was a pleasure to have on the yard and we hope she will come back to visit us. Rita joined us in June from Hungary, having previously worked in elsewhere in England and Ireland. Karin joined us from Sweden in August, having spent ten years in Spain. We’re hoping she’ll adjust well to our lovely weather. Welcome to our new team members. We were very sad to say farewell to Elly and Helen who have finished their training with us and coincidently are both going to work as Teaching Assistants. Thank you very much both of you for all your hard work. You’ll be missed by many, staff, clients and horses alike.
We’re leaving you with a lovely poem that Elly wrote for us as a parting gift about all of our Contessa horses. Those of you that know the horses will really appreciate it."
An Ode to the Equine Characters of Contessa
Contessa is bursting with characters galore, This is an ode to those equine who are at the core.
Golden girl Anni is sent from above, She gives all that she has and it’s this that we love.
Polly Pocket the princess is adorably cute, But get in too close and she’ll give you a boot (with a dinky sweet foot). A beach-ball sized stomach this pony has got, Spotting possible food you’ll be dragged off at trot. The patientest pony that you’ll every meet, Her pirouettes are amazing and her centre lines a treat. Her bed is pristine and a pleasure to be done, But enough about Poll for there’s more left to come.
Big brown-eyed Suzy is a voluptuous beauty, Though scared of it all, she is such a cutie. Against the wall of the school your leg she will scrape, And at Lamb and Flag she DOES try to escape.
Beautiful Maisie, her nose is quite funny, Point her at a fence and she jumps like a bunny.
Talking of jumping, if Red Bull gives you wings, Then Tarra must have had a load of the things.
Real is a pin-up, despite his frog eyes, He fills all that see him with wonder and sighs. Give him a chance and bolt open will be found, I’ve heard he’s the ‘easiest horse on the yard to get round’?!
Puro is another of the boisterous three, Yet for vaulting he’s as patient and sweet as can be.
The girliest mare on the planet is Jaya, For a ‘quality’ horse, she is quite the player.
Benisa makes you feel like you ride like a pro, But enter her personal space and soon will you know. When in her saddle she’s gentle and mild, But at Lamb and Flag she turns feral and wild. Independent as a cat Ella’s not touchy-feely at all, Give her a canter aid to strongly, she’ll put a hole in the wall.
Sandy’s our shark-horse so kids, back three paces, She’s amazing to ride but keeps pulling those faces. At teaching kids canter she is not a stranger, But watch out for your ankles, they could be in danger.
Charmer’s Prince Charming with his long flowing mane, If he ran out of tricks he’s just not be the same.
Fergus is regal, a grand moustache to show, He keeps an eye on Contessa at night did you know?
Connor is another of our gentle, sweet giants, Though it can take some effort to make him compliant!
A big hairy cob is dear Harry, sweet pea, But he doesn’t like flies, especially not at C.
Beautiful Krystal looks surprised all the time, Staying on the same rein will help all to be fine.
Solo’s a munchkin with ears out of bounds, A grand-prix dressage horse just in a small package (and a little too round!)
Tally’s a sweetheart with startled deer-eyes, She doesn’t ask much but a smaller door would be nice.
A golden llama is Moonie who doesn’t like being left out, He jumps for the stars and when hungry he’ll shout.
In her heart Paigle is a crazy wild thing, She pretends to be old then speeds off with a spring.
Reg is a heart-breaker, for her eye-lashes you’d die, A true classy horse yet she can be strung high.
There are many ways to keep Romy at bay, The best thing I’ve found is just give him some hay. He’s a super stud to ride but can be a pain. Especially when cantering on the right rein. He’s sometimes nervous when jumping but what works a treat, Is singing which helps him to pick up his feet. A sweet-tempered cheesecake is our lovely Q, Though wiggly-tongued and dirt’s best-friend she’ll not be satisfied with blue.
Sweet handsome Luke can be quite the Jekyll and Hyde, From tortoise to hare in the space of one ride.
Detzky’s big and itchy with ‘buttons’ hard to find, The positions he pulls to scratch that spot blow your mind.
George is a darling who has googly eyes, At the field gate his energy is quite the surprise.
Zeus’ bed always immaculate must be, His mum he adores though please learn to whinny!
Charly’s so handsome with manners very smart, This with his washing-powder scent has captured Maisie’s heart.
Yves is an Arab who’s supposed to be grey, His canter’s to float on a cloud some do say.
Marcus is big, orange and special you know, His power and presence seem to everyday grow.
Intelligent Lanzo’s amazing but fragile, For an older man he’s incredibly agile.
Deskant is a gentleman and round the ladies gets excited, It’s just a shame that for Reggie that his love goes unrequited. He’s a handsome black horse with an inquisitive nose, But becomes terrified when you wriggle your toes. Take care when you’re giving fresh shavings to him, For he’ll lie down and roll whether you’re out or in. He breathes like Darth Vader and his charisma astounds, A horse more impressive could rarely be found.
Joker lets himself out of the field at lunch-time, So lively and friendly, he does like to dine.
Sweet, gentle Gambler in our memories will always remain, Without him Contest’s not been quite the same.
P.D. is the ultimate in and in awe we all stand, When she demands a scratch we obey her command. And then there’s wee Tess, our little bean, She’s the whizziest old lady that’s ever been seen. Although her eyes aren’t as good as they could be, Paigle and Zeus are still her loyal groupies.
Their quirks and uniqueness make them a delight, When TL says ‘That’s horses’, we’re glad she is right.
"Hi everyone! Sorry it’s been a while since the last blog. We’ve been very busy and had lots going on, but let’s go for the most exciting news first – the trip to the Palace!
After all the trials and tribulations we faced regarding clothes, hair, make-up, jewellery, etc. we finally made it to Buckingham Palace for my mother to be awarded her MBE. She was allowed three guests, who were myself, Paul and Zak. It was a beautiful sunny day and we were very lucky in that the Queen herself carried out the investiture ceremony. I think my mother’s main concern was the fear of falling over during her courtesy, which luckily she didn’t do! We got to see the inside of
Buckingham Palace in all its grandeur and Zak really enjoyed seeing all the guards and soldiers. Everything went very smoothly and my only disappointment was the lack of cucumber sandwiches, especially as my nephew works there as a chef!
After the ceremony we stayed in London for a family luncheon at The Orrery, where we celebrated in style with bottles of champagne. The chauffeur driven car returned us home at the end of our exciting and exhilarating day. It was a really wonderful and memorable day and we had some lovely photographs taken that will help us to remember it for a long, long time.
Okay, going right back to May. We had a great Bank Holiday Monday holding a Show Jumping clinic with Sarah and a Western Pony Day with Crystal. The following week, we were busy with an Unaffiliated Dressage Competition and a Pony Club Badges rally. Well done to all competitors and all those who took and achieved their badges. Well done also to all our NVQ students who have been busy taking their riding and stable management assessments in preparation for the course finishing in a couple of weeks.
More successful John Adams and John Bowen clinics were followed by a busy half term of Pony Days every day. This summer, we are looking forward to more competitions, day courses, our Children’s Summer Party, Summer Show plus lots more - hopefully with continued good weather!
Welcome to Emily, who has joined us from York as our new Working Pupil. Perhaps in the next blog she can let you all know how she found her first couple of weeks. For now, I’ll leave you with another perspective of Contessa life from Madeleine. But just to give you a little history on Madeleine, we were at school together at Chantry Mount in Bishops Stortford. She was a couple of years older than me but we built up a friendship that has lasted a long time, although there were a few years where we were not in contact. Then it all started up again and the rest is below! Madeleine owns Harry, who was with us until April this year on a working livery.
'New friends, new figure and new horizons! My three months spent as a working pupil at Contessa, from September to December 2009 were the greatest fun and the hardest work; as day one wore on, I could barely place one foot in front of the other let alone push a broom or lift a barrow. While the girls in the house micro-waved suppers and prepared to go out, I slumped in a chair, semi-comatose... But it got better.
Gradually, with the best teaching I have ever had, my riding improved. Whereas at home, cantering over the moor requires you to lift your weight off the horse's back, lean forward and go, cantering in the school is completely different and I couldn't do it! Try as I might, attempting to sit to a long-striding trot, even for a couple of paces, while maintaining any sort of dignity and move into canter just didn't happen. Within seconds I slumped and slipped like a complete beginner; galling after having ridden for most of my life – I remember parking my pony in a stable at Tina's during our school holiday, when Contessa was a dream of the future and the only sheep munching grass in the meadow was an enormously fat pet named Pod.
Within a fortnight Detsky, with his dry sense of humour, had shown me just how unfit and unbalanced I was; Charmer, the vaulting stalwart, had a successful stab at showing me how much and how quickly I needed to improve and a little black Arab helped me develop 'feeling' and the first steps to improvement.
Every day the learning curve extended, speed increased and I felt more at home. I worked at the ABRS Riding and Stable Management tests and would have liked to complete the NVQ levels but wasn't there for long enough – my teaching job back in Devon was waiting for me.
One of the best things about being a working pupil at Contessa was the variety and quantity of opportunity offered. Up to three lessons a day on occasions; vaulting - yes I had a few goes kneeling on one leg, with the other pointed out behind me – a little like pilates on horse-back for the feeling of body control. Side-saddle was immense fun and great for balance. John Adams show jumping and John Bowen flatwork clinics were a challenge and the greatest fun while every day instruction from one of the many excellent teachers was always varied, fresh and motivating. I have taken some of the positive teaching styles and adapted them for my own use in the class-room.
There were all sorts of highlights; working with interesting and enthusiastic people, learning how much can be packed into a day with organisation and routine, seeing how each horse and pony whether small, large, cob or top quality dressage star have equal respect, being Tina's groom at TTT and looking after Queijada, while being able to watch a real Master at work—Arthur Kottas, working horses from the ground, riding – no having a sit on – Pik Dame and Deskant, but not Marcus when I think about it... I will just have to return, if you'll have me. Madeleine Leech.'"
“Hi everyone, I hope you’re all enjoying this fabulous weather. We had a good Easter and are looking forward to the summer. I can’t believe I forgot to congratulate Zak on his purple belt in the last blog. We now have our very own resident ‘Karate Kid’!
Welcome to Mirva, who has joined us from Finland for five weeks of training.
We’ve had lots going on including an Unaffiliated Dressage Competition, Advanced Dressage Day Course, a show jumping clinic with John Adams and one with Sarah Jackson, a Show Jumping Day Course and a Video Afternoon. This Bank Holiday Monday we’re holding another Jumping Clinic with Sarah and also a Western themed Pony Day! Email us (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you would like a full list of upcoming events/day courses in May and June. You can also check out our new Facebook page!
Jade and I had our second competition of the year with Marcus and Queijada. I’m pleased to say the weather was much better, Queijada was a lot less ‘wild’ and much more rideable, coming first and second. Marcus was also very good, Jade was more relaxed and competing HC and scored well. Date for our next outing to be confirmed soon.
On the 12th April we held a Vaulting Day Camp here as part of our Vaulting Group’s training. It went well and all our Vaulters tried their best and showed Julie how they have improved. Thanks to Julie and her team for coming down and running the day.
We had a staff/client outing to the ‘Magic of the Horse’ on the 17th April. Well done to Tanya and her team. We can’t even imagine the amount of work that must have gone into the production and it was a great show that everyone really enjoyed. The Mini Marvels were particularly cute with their rendition of ‘Cotton Eyed Joe’!
I’ve had a good month with Charlie as well. We went to an Agility competition at Shuttleworth where he got two clear rounds and was only three seconds out of the time and he also won the competition at our Obedience class.
We took Jaya and Real, with Amy and Sarah riding, out to a dressage competition at Hastingwood last Sunday. It poured with rain but was a great day nonetheless. It was Jaya’s very first outing since she arrived here as a foal almost 11 years ago. Although both horses found it rather exciting and slightly scary, both riders demonstrated some extremely tactful and sympathetic riding, diffusing most issues before they became huge problems. They came home with two firsts and a second. Well done Amy and Sarah! Congratulations also go to Amy and Sarah for passing a BHS exam and to Hilka and Liz for being awarded the ABRS Jeffress Training Bursary.
We have a date to go to Buckingham Palace for my mother’s MBE so better get shopping so that we’re all suitably attired! Ideas for outfits welcome!"
"Hi all. I think we finished the last blog at the end of February with Zak’s fast approaching ninth birthday. We had a lovely day with a bit of a party followed by bowling and a nice meal. Can’t believe how each year birthdays seem to get a little more expensive as his tastes become a little older - namely electronic devices...
On the 11th March we held a BHS pilot scheme, training police officers how to put on a head collar, lead, turn out and catch horses. We explained how different it would be handling the horses in this controlled environment to outside on the road for example, but I think it was still very useful for them to get a bit of hands on experience.
It went very well, with all the horses playing their part superbly, including Jaya (one of our slightly more reactive horses) who came out to show the difference in how different horses may react to different people!
On the 15th March my mother and I attended the ABRS Regional Training Day at Greenwich, where we had the opportunity to view the Olympic sites for the Equestrian disciplines. It was a very informative visit and we look forward 2012, if we are able to get tickets that is.
On the 17th March Sarah and I headed off to Warwickshire again for the next part of our Vaulting Coaching Courses. We are really enjoying being able to offer this new discipline to clients (and students/staff) here at Contessa. The horses too are taking to it exceptionally well.
We’ve had several day courses running from our new Spring Planner such as An Introduction to Rider Fitness, a Dressage Day Course and a Pole work Day Course. All went very well as did a rather busy John Bowen Dressage clinic on the 25th.
In this blog, we thought we’d give you a different perspective of Contessa by getting one of the students to write a piece. Let me know if you think it’s a good addition and we could maybe make it a regular feature! This snippet of life at Contessa comes from Sam, who we sadly said farewell to this week as her training here came to an end.
"I came to Contessa in July 2009. My time here has been hard work but very rewarding and lots of fun. I will be taking lots of good memories, including my first lesson with Tina when she told me that if I wanted to ride on her lessons I needed to improve my fitness! I’ve worked really hard and although I’m still not quite ‘canter fit’, I'm getting there.I’ve taken part in three John Bowen dressage clinics that have really improved my riding and were great experiences. I’ve also done four John Adams showjumping clinics which were brilliant for my confidence, especially as I was terrified – thank you to Charmer for looking after me! I’ve had some amazing lessons on some brilliant horses. I will never forget my experience of riding piaffe on Pik Dame and Deskant.I would like to say a big thank you to everyone for being so patient with me in my lessons and for all their help and listening to all my dramas. I’ve met so many great people and horses, especially my favourite Luke and I hope to keep in touch and see everyone again soon."
Thank you to Sam for all her hard work, we wish her lots of luck for the future. We’re very busy at the moment with lambing. We’ve had a couple of years off and it’s lovely to see them bouncing around the yard again, although it’s increasing Paul’s workload significantly, including night feeds. We have some real characters, including Jade’s adopted favourite, Hercules!
We’ve got a busy weekend to look forward to including an Easter Egg Hunt and a Dressage Competition. Next week Jade and I are out competing again and I’m hoping my horse will be a little less wild than last time! Watch this space..."
"Another very busy couple of weeks at Contessa! We are very glad to have Amy back with us after two and half weeks in the Cayman Islands (lucky thing!). Our John Bowen Clinic on the 28th January went very smoothly with no dramas. On the 1st and 2nd February I was at the TTT in Guildford for my training session with Queijada and Arthur Kottas. She was very well behaved and we worked to improve her canter and flying changes. She did some excellent piaffe and passage and Arthur was pleased with her progress.
We had a Video Day Course on the 6th, where clients had a lesson videoed, and a playback with feedback followed by a second ridden session in which to perfect positions!
On the 11th February Jade and I took Queijada and Marcus to a competition at Norton Heath. It was Jade’s first ever affiliated competition but we threw her in at the deep end and we both rode two Advanced Medium tests. Marcus was superbly behaved and looked after Jade well (who was a tad nervous), giving her a taste for the competition world!
Queijada was very sharp and decided that leaping and rearing was on the agenda for the day! That aside, she won her first class and came first in her section of the second class. Thanks go to Dawn, Sharon and Crystal for grooming, test calling etc in the FREEZING cold. We decided after that to wait until Spring and warmer weather for the next outing.
On the 13th February, Theresa came down from the College of West Anglia for our NVQ1 students to be assessed. They were all very nervous but passed with flying colours, well done.
Half term was extremely busy with full Pony Days on each day. The kids had a great time grooming, riding, vaulting, playing games etc. On the Monday of half term we took some members of our Vaulting Group to a training day in Warwickshire. They all did very well and tried their hardest, but we came away thinking that perhaps we needed a bit of a push/drive on the fitness front, after watching the pros!
On the 20th February we had another successful day course; Introduction to Dressage. Participants rode twice and had lectures on effectiveness, how the horse should work correctly and an introduction to lateral movements.
Tomorrow is our next John Adams Show Jumping Clinic which I am hoping will go well, although I think the horses may be a little spirited after riding inside mostly for the last couple of weeks with the recent weather.
In March we are looking forward to Zak’s birthday, lots of day courses and hopefully Spring! As the weather improves we will also prepare Queijada and Marcus for their next outing."
Tina met a different type of equine in South Africa
“I’m sorry it’s been quite a while since my last blog. I hope everyone had a great Christmas and is looking forward to a good 2010.
We had a nice Christmas and then shortly after were lucky enough to escape on a trip to South Africa to visit relatives. Zak, my mother and I flew out on the 28 December, so we celebrated New Year out there and two hours ahead of you due to time difference. It was an extra special celebration as unbeknown to my mum (although I was in the loop), she had been awarded an MBE in the Queen’s New Year Honours List for Services to the Equestrian Industry. This was mainly due to her role in the instigation of CSE and YTS schemes, careers development and the ABRS, on whose executive board she sits on and is vice chairman. We’re not sure yet when the visit to the Palace will be, but are very excited about it and looking forward to the occasion. The big question is what hat will she wear?
While in South Africa we did quite a bit of travelling and visiting and also went on safari, which was fantastic. We saw the Big Five, plus many more animals. The safari was in an open top jeep which took us so close to the animals that you could almost touch them, although we daren’t for fear of being eaten! It definitely gave a new meaning to the term ‘off-roading’ as we went through bush where I thought there was no possible way we could fit through, but somehow we did. Jeremy Clarkson eat your heart out!
On arriving home two and half weeks later with a slight tan, I was told that apparently you had quite a bit of snow in my absence, although I didn’t really believe it as there was none to be seen anywhere. Zak, although he was away for two weeks of school, only actually missed one week of work due to the January freeze.
We kicked off our 2010 clinics with John Adams on the 21 January. It was a very exciting one as the horses had not jumped since before Christmas and also not been in the outdoor school! It was very high spirited all round, thankfully with no casualties.
On Sunday, we had a ‘Have a go at vaulting’ afternoon for 30+ Brownies who came and try out the discipline. Julie Newell came down with one of the top vaulting horses in the country, aptly named Go for Gold, and the Intermediate English Vaulting Squad, who kicked off the afternoon with Sarah Gemmell doing a fantastic demonstration. Our own Contessa Vaulting Group then showed off their new found skills; I think it was the first time some of them had been on an 18hh horse, but they were very cool and collected and made us very proud. Our own horse, Charmer, then came in to join the fun. The Brownies played some games warming up, learnt some movements on the barrel and then had a go on the horses. It was a great afternoon. Many thanks to Gill, Julie, Sarah and the squad for coming down, and thanks go to everyone else that helped on the day, especially all the parents of our own vaulting group.
We are looking forward to our John Bowen clinic tomorrow - hopefully with a little less drama than the last! Next week I will be very busy going to Guildford for my training sessions with Arthur Kottas and preparing Queijada for some competitions.”
“The 26th November was our bi-monthly dressage clinic with International trainer, John Bowen. It was a full clinic of 25 rider/horse combinations that lasted to 7pm, by which time we were all getting a little cold and tired. Thank you very much to John for a fantastic day of lessons. The day didn’t pass without some drama, thanks to a rather excited Regitse, leading to the second time ever that paramedics have been called to one of John’s lessons in his entire teaching career! We wish Hilka a speedy recovery and hope to have you back riding and teaching soon.
I spent the following Monday and Tuesday at the TTT in Guildford with Queijada for two training sessions with Arthur Kottas. Arthur felt that there was great improvement in the horse, which I think shows the importance of doing your homework in between sessions. The piaffe and passage was very good and the changes were much improved, finally. We will be going to see Arthur again in February so will have to keep up the good work in between.
On Friday a couple of us from the yard went to the Eastern Dressage Liaison Group’s Christmas Bash at Keysoe which included an informative and fun lecture/demo with John Lassetter. This brought back a lot of memories from when I used to ride in John’s demos, which were always good fun, if not a little stressful at times! After the demo, we had a super Christmas lunch before setting off home again.
We then had a busy weekend of lessons plus an ‘Own a Horse’ day course and a show jumping day course. That weekend we also said a sad farewell to Madeleine who had spent the last three months here training towards exams during a break from teaching English in Devon. Thank you very much to Madeleine for all your hard work; you will be missed by all. We hope that you enjoyed your time here as much as we have enjoyed having you. Madeleine’s horse Harry will be staying with us until March for some schooling.
The 8th was my birthday and it feels great to be 23 again! I had a surprise birthday lunch instigated by Jade and the other members of the team full of food, champagne, a very special ‘Dressage’ cake made by Sharon and lots of presents. I had a lovely time, thank you very much to everyone. In the evening I had a great meal out with the family.
Saturday morning we held a clipping course and also made the final preparations for the afternoon’s Children’s Contessa Christmas Party. We had 30 children and a full afternoon of games, treasure hunting, pony dressing up and lots more. We also used the occasion for the annual child rider awards. Well done to all those who were awarded certificates and Pony Club flashes. A special congratulation to Ruby Bunker, who was awarded ‘Child Rider of the Year’ and the 'Apollo Trophy.’ All the kids had a great time and went away very happy with their ‘presents from the ponies.’
On Sunday we very sadly lost Gambler, who had been a much loved member of the horsey team for 20+ years. He was a real character and taught hundreds of adults and children to ride. He will be especially missed by his best friend Joker.
We concluded the week with our slightly unconventional Christmas staff/client get together at the local Chinese restaurant. A great time was had by all, including lots of lovely food and wine.
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to everyone. If anyone feels like coming down to help over the Christmas period do let us know. It is a great way to burn off all those extra calories put on due to turkey, mince pies, wine, etc!”
"A slightly quieter week than the last few. Last Saturday we had a late celebration of bonfire night for staff and friends with a bonfire, drinks and games up on the new land. It was great fun and everyone enjoyed themselves.
On Wednesday we had our second side-saddle taster course in which clients learnt a little about the discipline and the fitting of the saddle before having a go. I think everyone was very pleased with how it went and enjoyed riding in this different way.
On Thursday we had another John Adams Show Jumping clinic in which 14 rider/horse combinations worked on approach and straightness, with a big focus on the horses’ way of going in between the fences. The weather was kind to us and the horses were very well behaved.
That afternoon I went off to Scotland for another weekend of teaching the Scottish Dressage Group in East Calder. We were fairly lucky with the weather and although very tiring, it was a great clinic and most enjoyable. I would like to thank Joy Maclean for all her hard work in organising the clinic along with Janice Thompson who was on holiday in some lovely sunny land over the weekend. Another thank you must go to Jane and Graham Wood who put me up and give me a fantastic time with lots of lovely food and plenty of wine!
Meanwhile at home, they were not so lucky with the weather. Saturday saw weather warnings for high winds and heavy rain. Thank goodness for the indoor school, which was at times a little cosy! The bad weather didn’t deter 95 per cent of riders and lessons went ahead, as well as the vaulting group and a children’s birthday party. The horses and ponies were needless to say a little spirited though.
Sunday was much brighter and they had a busy day of lessons.
I would like to say welcome to the team to Helen who has joined us as a senior working student.
We said goodbye to Josef this week, who came from Germany to improve his English and has been working with Paul around the yard for a couple of months. Thank you very much for all your hard work. Paul, Josef and Gary have worked extremely hard over the last couple of weeks putting in post and rail fencing around our new land, which is almost ready now to introduce the horses to. Just to let you know Zak’s collar bone break is on the mend and the sling is off, so that is good; back to sport soon!
This weekend will be all go, with an unaffiliated Dressage competition here on Saturday and a Classical Dressage Day Course on Sunday.
Next week we look forward to our bi-monthly John Bowen dressage clinic, so that will keep us all busy."