"With the Regionals looming ever closer, we took Bracks (Headmore Boadicia) to Sparsholt to compete in their festival of dressage last weekend.
Best turn out
On Friday 8, we had a medium and an advanced medium class, and they were the tests that are the regional tests so we thought it would be good practice for her! She was very pleased to be out at a show as she hadn’t competed since she had qualified for the summers, but this meant that she was a bit over the top in the trot and she just kept trying to trot bigger and bigger! Unfortunately, she isn’t strong enough to maintain such a massive trot and was struggling with her balance, but she was just so pleased to be out at a party again! The walk and the canter in the medium test was good, but there were quite a few places in the trot work where she lost her balance because she was trying too hard, something that the judge commented on! She still scored just under 68% and finished third, so it wasn’t all bad! In the advanced medium, there were some losses of balance in the trot work again, and there were also a few green mistakes in the canter work, particularly in the changes. This kept our score down at 67.3% and we finished fifth. However, we won the best turned out prize on Friday (which mum claims was all down to her!) so we have won a photo shoot!
Winter regionals qualification
We took her back to Sparsholt on Saturday 9 for the medium music. Percy the pigeon, who Bracks had nearly trodden on twice on Friday, was still flying around the indoor arena and making a bit of a nuisance of himself! We arrived in time to watch my mum’s best friend do her elementary music test on a horse which we had bred, and it was a lovely test which everyone was pleased with. They scored over 73% and won the restricted section, so mum’s best friend was thrilled! It was then my turn with Bracks in the medium music. She was less excited as she had been out the day before, which made her easier to ride, but there were still a few wobbles in the test. We scored over 71% and finished third, which qualified her for the winter regionals, so now both of her music qualifications are done for next year’s winters!
A charity ride
I was then back at Sparsholt on Sunday as I had been asked on the Tuesday before to ride in the pro-am medium elite class as someone had dropped out. It is for charity and the format is that the amateur rider does the test, medium 75, on their own horse and then they get drawn one of the 10 professional riders. The ‘pros’ get 20 minutes to get to know the horse before we then had to ride the same test and, hopefully, improve the score! I got drawn the last horse to go, this was Vorame, owned and ridden by Bryony James. I watched most of the professionals before I was allowed to get on for 20 minutes. Max, as he was known, was a lovely horse and beautifully trained, if I pushed the correct buttons he did as he was asked, which made me look really good but actually he was easy to ride! Bryony had scored 62.57% as he had been spooky in the first round and was lying in joint seventh. I was pleased with the test I had out of Max, we just had one little mistake after the first travers, but the test flowed well and felt good to ride. We scored 70.68%, which was the third highest score from the pro riders and overall with our combined scores we finished fourth! This was an improvement of 8.11%, the joint best improvement of the pros, so I was thrilled! I really enjoyed the experience and it was all for a worthy cause... And I have already agreed to take part in it next year!
Following our manic weekend, we had Sherry Belton from Albion, one of my sponsors, come down on Monday 11 to meet the horses and look at my saddles! It was a very enjoyable afternoon and I can’t wait to get my new made to measure saddles!”
“With the Internationals at Hartpury and Hickstead looming, we took both boys to Hickstead Premier League for a last run through and hopefully a confidence building outing. We arrived at Hickstead in the middle of an absolute downpour, so we were greeted with lots and lots of mud, but luckily we were parked right out the back of the lorry park where there was no mud!
Del (Headmore Delegate) was on first in the Inter I on Thursday and he warmed up well, especially considering we got a little bit damp! I was quite pleased with the test; he was just a bit nervous in the Hickstead International arena which led to a few wobbles here and there. We still scored 69.74% and finished a close second, so it wasn’t bad for his first test at Hickstead.
A day to ourselves
The only test I had on Friday was with Del in the Inter I again, but I wasn’t on until 7.56 in the evening, last in, so we had all day to ourselves. I rode both boys in the morning and then Mum and I walked over to the show jumping part to do a bit of shopping. It was lucky that Del had won some money! We also watched a good friend of ours, Sam Roberts, in the showing for some time as well. When we eventually started to get ready, we did manage to ‘wake up’ and switch on for the test. He felt much more confident than on the previous day, we just had a slight mistake in the 3’s but the overall test felt a different league to the day before. We scored 69.56% and won the class, meaning that Del is now completely qualified for the Nationals, so he won’t have to go to the regionals.
Wellies are the in look
We then had a lovely evening with friends and a rather large amount of wine was consumed (not by me I hasten to add!) before we had more rain on Friday night so everywhere that had dried up got all wet and sticky again. Wellies were definitely the ‘in’ look at Hickstead! Del was on first in the Inter I on Saturday, I had decided to run him in it as it was in a different arena. He warmed up phenomenally, he was really confident having been there for a few days. Unfortunately, as I went into the other arena he backed off me a bit as it was a different arena, which led to quite a few mistakes. We still scored just below 67% to finish ninth, so all in all it was a very good week for Del. Wiz (Wurlizer) was then on in the Grand Prix and my sole aim was to get him round the test confidently as we had been having a bit of a blip. He was really enjoying himself and was very excited to be out at a party again! I was pleased with the test as he was really taking me and he seemed happy and confident throughout. We had loads of mistakes, which kept the score down, but they were only through him being over enthusiastic and offering too much, so I wasn’t worried about them. A lot of people also said to me that they thought my score was a bit harsh, but I wasn’t bothered as I was pleased with how he had gone and thrilled that he had felt so willing throughout the whole test, job done!
So, all in all, it was a very successful week at Hickstead and we can now look forward to Hartpury and Hickstead Internationals!”
“We made the most out of having qualified all of the horses that needed to be qualified for the summers by taking Roxy (Headmore Roxanne), a five-year-old mare by Keystone Rhondeo out of the same mare as Del (Headmore Delegate), out to her first ever show on Sunday 19 June. We hadn’t been planning to take her out to a party yet, but she had come on so much in such a short space of time that we thought we might as well!
Roxy had only ever been on a lorry once before (when she had to go and have a tooth out) but she loaded like a pro and travelled beautifully! She was impeccably behaved when we were tacking her up and was absolutely perfect in the warm up even though she had never seen anything like that before! It was like she had been doing it her whole life and it was just another outing!
Not quite on track…
The only time she was slightly less than perfect was when we first went into the competition arena because she had never seen white boards or mirrors so the first circuit was not quite on the track! Once she had seen them, however, she was absolutely fine and she did settle, although it was quite green and wobbly, which was understandable I think! Once she had settled into it and relaxed, she went beautifully and I think she will be very rideable in the arena.
She finished fourth which we were pleased with as it was her first party and we also had many comments about how smart she was, I think she is only going to get better and if she was that well behaved at her first show I think she will end up being very successful!”
“We’ve had one of those weeks this week where the phrase ‘it never rains but it pours’ has never been more true, and I’m not talking about the weather (although we did have some much needed rain this week)!
It started on Monday morning when the vet came out to look at our embryo transfer mare that hadn’t yet foaled. She looked in foal but had gone so overdue that we slightly worried. The reason she hadn’t foaled was because it turns out she isn’t in foal after all, she has obviously just wintered very well as even the vet was surprised! We are just thankful that we did ask for both embryos to be implanted because at least we still have one foal, Drama, but that can happen with embryo transfer foals.
Del gives it some welly
We then took Del (Headmore Delegate) to Wellington for their premier league show on Tuesday 7th for the PSG. Mum went to fill the lorry up with fuel in the morning and when she got back we noticed a fuel leak. Thankfully, a number of our liveries offered to let us use their lorries, so we still managed to make it there on time. Del warmed up well but was quite spooky in the test. I knew he would be because Wellington is quite spooky and we only wanted to get him in the ring before the Inter I on Thursday. He still finished fourth with 66.67%, so it wasn’t all bad!
Pigs on the doorstep
Then on Wednesday, to add to our week, a couple of lovely little piggys literally arrived on our doorstep! It turns out that they had escaped from next door and somehow made their way down to us. My sister and I wanted to keep them but Mum said no and it’s probably a good thing because some of the horses really couldn’t cope with them!
We then took Del back to Wellington on Thursday 9 for the Inter I. I asked for a bit more from him in the warm up as I was going for an all or nothing test. He felt amazing as I went into the ring and he wasn’t spooky as he had been in there earlier in the week. The test was going well until the second shoulder in when a load of water fell off the roof of the stands right in front of him, which he understandably spooked at. Unfortunately he then kept spooking in that corner for the rest of the test so once he had gone into the spooky corner nicely I patted him and called it a day, but some of his work had been fantastic!
So it was definitely just one of those weeks, but it’s over now and so hopefully we will be able to get back to normal!”
Dream went on her outing in Alice's newly sprayed lorry
“As Dream (Headmore Dream On) just missed out on completing her elementary qualification last week, we took her to Merrist Wood on Friday 3 June in the hope that we would get the last two points that she needed to finish it off. We had just got our lorry back from being re-sprayed on the Thursday, but thankfully Mum was driving so it was her fault if anything happened to it!
‘Dream felt amazing’
It was a beautiful day, if anything a little bit too hot, but we weren’t on until late afternoon so it was quite pleasant by the time we got to it. She warmed up well and felt amazing by the time we were ready to go in. She then did a lovely test in the elementary, by far the best she had ever done, and we were just hoping that the judge thought the same! Thankfully, she did and we scored a massive 75% to win and complete Dream’s elementary qualification so she is now all done and dusted for the summers.
A personal best
We then had a little break before we did our second test, which was an elementary to music, so we had a chance to cool down! I was hoping for a good score in this test as she had been so fab in the first test, but you never know what is going to happen with horses! It was the first music test we had done together and, once again, I was using my favourite Lion King music which we thought really suited Dream. She was amazing in the test and she really enjoyed going to music, she felt as though she had a smile on her face the whole way round! We scored a massive 84.38%, which is the highest score I have ever had! She has now also qualified for the elementary music regional for the winters as well, talk about getting organised!
I think the only word to describe Dream was mega, and I can’t wait to step her up to medium now!”
“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!”
“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!”
“We’ve had a fairly busy week this week. It started on Monday 9 May as we took Bracks (Headmore Boadicia) to Wellington for her first advanced medium music test. It was a fairly big class and we had been a bit slow getting her test organised! We only sorted out the music (which was Wizard’s old music) on the Saturday before and we only practised the whole test the day before! Thankfully, the music suited her and the test went well when I practised it. She warmed up fairly well for the test and I was quite pleased with how she went, we just had a couple of little wobbles and the odd mistake where she is still very green at the level, but overall it wasn’t a bad test for her first attempt to music! We scored over 74% and finished third, not far behind the winner, which qualifies us for the winter regionals but we just missed out on qualifying for Wellington’s own championship, but hopefully we will get a wildcard with that score.
Wiz and Del go Premier League
Then, on Saturday 14, we took Wiz (Wurlizer) and Del (Headmore Delegate) to Addington Manor for the Premier League show. Del was on first in the PSG and I was hoping he would go well as he had been super at home this week. His test could only be described as mega, it was much more confident and expressive and he scored a massive 71.36% and won, qualifying him directly to the Nationals! He then did the Inter I and it was also more confident than at Sheepgate but he was tired so it was a bit lacklustre, although there were no major mistakes. We scored 66.71% and finished ninth, but it was a very close fought class as the winner was only ten marks ahead of us! It was then Wiz’s turn in the Grand Prix and he warmed up very well but he got a bit panicky in the piaffes in the test. The first one I did manage to get but he was very nervous in it and then in the second piaffe, where he had been naughty at Sheepgate, he got very nervous and had a bit of a Wiz moment, but I was able to ride him through it this time and the last piaffe on the centre line was the best I have ever had in a test so, although it was a bit disappointing, I think it was a good outing for him.
Help name my foal!
We have also had two new arrivals this week! Ruby, our Rubinstein – Donnerhall mare, had her foal by Dimaggio on Tuesday night, a lovely chestnut colt who has been christened Dumbo in the stable as when he was born his ears were a bit all over the place! He is the first foal to have ears like that when he was born was Del, so let’s hope it’s a good omen! The other new arrival this week is very exciting as it is one of Bracks’ embryo transfer foals, the chestnut filly, also by Dimaggio, was born on Saturday afternoon and she is yet to be named. Any suggestions for names for either foal will be gratefully received! We have had so many Dimaggio foals we are running out of D names!”
“With the season now well and truly under way, we set off to Sheepgate on Monday 2 May with Wiz (Wurlizer) and Del (Headmore Delegate) for our second Premier League show of the year. We were slightly worried that we may get stuck in traffic as it was a bank holiday Monday, but, thankfully, we arrived in good time. Once we arrived, however, it seemed as if we had ventured up to the Arctic as it was so much colder than at home! We settled the horses in to their stables and then settled ourselves down. I had a nasty shock when I cleaned my teeth before bed as my toothbrush had a really funny taste, but once I had soaked it for 24 hours it tasted fine!
Del copes well
We awoke on Tuesday morning to a blowing gale and still really cold temperatures (I think freezing is a bit of an exaggeration!) and got the boys ready for arena free time which we don’t normally get in this country. I think Sheepgate is the only venue that lets us work in the arena rather than just walk, which is a nice change and much fairer on the horses! Del was on first in the PSG and he warmed up well. I was pleased with the test, he felt much more confident than at Keysoe but I was disappointed with the score of 67.28% to finish sixth in a big class. He then did his first Inter I and I was very pleased with it. He coped with all of the tricky bits like the full canter pirouettes and two time changes, but there were a couple of annoying little mistakes that kept our score down at 66.75%, but we still finished third which isn’t bad for his first Inter I!
It was then Wiz’s turn in the Grand Prix and I was aiming for 66% so I would be eligible to go internationally. He was very hot and buzzy in the warm up and a bit over the top; I think he was very excited to be out at a party! However, he settled quite well for the test, there was just a bit in the middle where we had three quite expensive mistakes, but nonetheless I was very pleased, it was much more confident than at Keysoe and the piaffe and passage had massively improved. We finished just second with a score of 66.38%, so I got my 66%! It also completed Wiz’s Grand Prix qualification for the Nationals, which was my aim for this year, so I was over the moon with that! That evening we went out for dinner with a group, including Kevin Sparrow and some top International riders, and had a fantastic time and a really good laugh. You could tell we were horsey however as after about 11 o’clock we started to flag, but it was well worth the trip out!
Wiz decides to finish early
The following morning the wind had died down and the sun had come out, it was a much more pleasant day! Unfortunately, the rest of the day didn’t follow that trend! Wiz was on first in the Grand Prix again, I was hoping that he would be a bit more relaxed today and we wouldn’t get the silly mistakes, and he was more relaxed, but he was a bit too relaxed so decided he didn’t really want to do the second piaffe, so that was the end of my test! We then got Del out and he had a sore heel where it had been so dry and windy so we decided it would be better to withdraw him as we didn’t want to make it any worse. As a result, we packed the lorry away and left for home and, as we were driving along the A16, we noticed a VOSA vehicle waiting at a roundabout... and they pulled us over for a routine check. Typical! Thankfully, everything was fine, we had both passports and they were more than impressed with our lorry, so it wasn’t all that bad in the end! We then had to stop for some fuel and lunch and Mum bought some Jaffa cakes, which are her favourite. However, when I gave her one she said that it tasted funny and, when I checked, they were out of date! Normally it wouldn’t bother us but after everything else that had happened, it was very annoying! Once we had got home and had a drink and relaxed we found the funny side of it all! You could definitely call it a show of two halves!”
“As Easter had finished, we thought we would make the most of the bank holiday weekend and take Bracks (Headmore Boadicia) and Dream (Headmore Dream On) to Fair Oak Grange on Friday 29 April. As it was the day of the Royal Wedding, we managed to hold off leaving until we had seen the bride’s dress... And we still managed to arrive on time!
A Dream competition
Dream was on first in the elementary and we had only had her back for schooling for about ten days, but we thought that as we were taking Bracks we might as well put Dream on the lorry as well and take her out too! She was a bit cheeky to start off with in the warm up but, once she settled, she started to go beautifully and she really relaxed into her work. I wasn’t sure what she would do when I took her in the competition arena as the warm up is outside and very open and the indoor school is a small arena so I thought she may back off as there was quite a big difference. Much to my delight, however, she was super in the test and didn’t even mind when a rather stupid blackbird kept flying into the mirrors rather than out of the open side of the arena! She scored a very pleasing 71.6% and won, and the nicest part of it was that there is still much more to come from her in a test!
Bracks completes qualification
It was then Bracks’ turn doing her second advanced medium. She had been being a bit naughty at the beginning of the week, which is very unlike her, so, thankfully, Jenny Hadland (my equine physio and one of my sponsors) had been able to come and treat her for me as she had been sore. I also gave her some of my trusty Nupafeed as I didn’t want her to get wound up if she was still a bit sore. She warmed up very well and was doing some very expressive work and I was pleased with how she was going. She was quite hot off my leg but she stayed rideable. I was very pleased with the test, there were just a couple of little mistakes, and she scored 72.3% and won, completing her advanced medium qualification. She has only done two advanced medium tests and scored over 72% both times, so roll on the higher levels!
It was a very good day all round and my chestnut mares both proved the stereotype wrong!
Horses Help Heroes
Finally, we have been approached by the BHS to see if we can help the charity 'Horses Help Heroes' in their quest to raise £1million for our wounded British service men and women. They will be driving a replica World War I horse drawn ambulance from John O'Groats to Lands End in just ten days this summer. We will be helping one of the participants (an injured service person) who lives in our region with some riding and training to improve his or her fitness before this amazing feat. The website is www.horseshelpheroes.org.uk, please give whatever you can to this very worthwhile cause.”