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Ok... this one is a bit out there, but it has been knocking around my head for ages and I thought I would see what other people think. First, let me explain where the idea came from. I have listened with interested to the guys at Equi-Ratings (and their brilliant podcast!) as they talk (complain) about the multiplier used in dressage at FEI level. My feeling is that it can give too much space to some riders, complicates an already indecipherable scoring system, and places too much emphasis on the dressage, which encourages riders to put more focus on the dressage, often to the detriment of the jumping phases. There are obvious safety concerns with this too. People are spending so much time improving their dressage scores to keep up that they forget there are two jumping phases to come. After all, isn't cross-country the core of our sport?
So my suggestion... scrap the dressage marks! Not totally, but use them as a ranking system, like a qualifying round before the jumping. So the dressage is performed and marked in the same way, obviously there are still areas to be improved in the judging, but the top placed rider goes forward to the next phase on score of 1, the second on a score of 2, and so on down the line. The best dressage riders are still at the top of the leader board, and if they jump clear will win, and if they don't they can be over taken putting the emphasis back on clear jumping rounds. You still have to be good at dressage, but there is no point in being 5 marks ahead as it won't give you any extra advantage, so you better practice jumping clear rounds!! I haven't done the research, but I usually feel that a 10 mark spread in the top 10 after dressage is about right, which is exactly where this would put us.
Other advantages would include simplifying the scoring for spectators, both the eventing fans and the casual viewer. From the point of view of someone with no knowledge of our sport, a qualifying dressage test to seed the competitors seems much more straight forward. Lets be honest, we are never going to get casual viewers to watch two days of dressage, so there isn't much point in explaining the intricacies of it. This works perfectly well in Formula One with a qualifying day for grid position.
Questions and comments please!! It is a bit radical, but look what they did to the Olympic format!
How to sum up the ups and downs of Blenheim Palace International Horse Trials... It has been a dream for many years to compete here, and the event didn't disappoint in the slightest, but we fell just short of the line.
I still know this horse has a mid-40s test in him at this level, but we had a difficult preparation for this week, and given the circumstances I wasn't disappointed with a 55. We lost vital marks in the second change, and while his work was calm and pleasing, it lacked the power to get the big marks. But if we can put a bit more power into his work we can increase each mark a fraction and really start to move up the ranks. Losing my hat mid-test didn't help either I guess, after saving it the second trot half-pass, the second time I decided to let it go! Though the commentator did say that I deserved an extra mark for holding the half-pass with one hand while dropping a rein and catching my hat!!
There was still a lot to play for after dressage, a difference of 5 marks would have moved me up 30 places, and the new design on the course made it look like the time would be tight. The course walked big and bold. There was plenty to jump, you needed to be tight on your lines and be careful how you and when you pushed with the hilly terrain.
Teldon came out of the blocks like Usain Bolt (as usual!) and I was surprised to see the minute markers tick by relatively easily, despite having to set up for some tricky combinations early on. The sixth minute of the course was always going to slow riders down, a tricky turn back, downhill into the trees to a choice of upright rails (fence 12), which needed to be taken on the right line to get you out of the trees high enough on the hill to turn back down to the water fence (fences 13 and 14). Then there was the first of two long runs through the lake, which really drags and slows the horses down, before you set up for the two corners (fence 15 A+B) on the exit, and then pushed up the steep hill away from the water. Teldon was super bold in the lake over a big brush fence. We opted for the bold two strides off the angled brush and stood off the huge drop into the water. I had planned to play safe and take the long route at the corners coming out of the lake, (which was relatively easy, but time consuming) but he jumped in so well I took a last minute decision to take the direct route through the two corners on three strides. He breezed over them and up the hill, but we were already down on the clock after the busy water section.
We didn't push on after the top of the hill as I wanted to let him recover and was aware that having not tackled a course of this length, we would be expecting to finish around the 6-7 minute mark, the length of most shorter CIC3* tracks. Sure enough, though he was still full of running and jumping out of his skin, he was no longer dragging me, and seemed to be wonder where the finish was! So we forgot about the watch and settled into a nice rhythm to take us home.
We jumped through the next few minutes at our east really. He soared over the log drop at fence 21 and was surprisingly balanced down the hill back into the lake. I expected the water to slow him down but he cruised through it like it wasn't there. We had a slight miscommunication at the flower boxes at fence 23 where he reacted quicker than I expected and we ended up sticking an extra stride into a distance that should have been tight already!
At this stage I was struggling to contain my excitement and couldn't believe how full of running he was. We had definitely done the right thing taking him home easy, and had just two fence to jump. I set him up for the turn to the penultimate, a hanging log on top of a steep mound, and again he came back a bit quicker than I expected, meaning I turned in a fraction tight and pushed for the jump up the mound. Perhaps we set up a bit early, meaning he had flattened again by the base of the mound, maybe I was thinking too much about the B element at the bottom of the mound, but whatever happened we reached the top of the mound in a bit of a head and Teldon said I was one too many times to save my ass. I shot up his neck and my air jacked popped. I struggled to stay on, clinging to his neck for what seemed like 20 or 30 seconds (though looking back at the video was more like 5 seconds!), I was desperately trying to salvage the situation. But it didn't seem fair to swing out of poor Teldon's neck after all he had done for me, so I gave in to the inevitable and gracefully dismounted, on my ass!
He had jumped out of his skin all the way around, helping me out, getting me out of trouble and never hesitating. I think he will be a lot stronger for having galloped over that distance now, he came very strong out of the start and jumped himself out in the first half. I know that if the fence had been on the flat, not matter how tricky it was, he would have done it for me. Perhaps if my air jacket hadn't gone off I could have climbed back into the saddle. Was I thinking too much about the B element before I jumped part A? Could I have been fitter after 11 minutes of galloping? What if...? What if...? What if...? It is such small margin at this level, one lapse of concentration, one missed line or detail and you pay the price.
I am so proud of Teldon. In my mind he completed. He did the tough questions, he made the distance and another day would have run a competitive time. He is likely the best horse I will ever ride, if I could clone him I'd never buy another horse again.. He deserves to finish a CCI3*, hopefully even a CCI4*, and hopefully next season I can do him proud. For now I am just glad to have him home safe and most importantly sound. Now he can have his well deserved holiday and we will be out to prove a point next season!!
Took advantage of a free day after Aston WA cancelled and free jumped some horses, and Chanel the super pony!
Going to be an exciting year!
We had a great weekend last week at Bridging the Gap training. It was great to catch up with people before the season and get some intensive training.
On the Saturday we had dressage and jumping sessions and also had a session with a Polar hear rate monitor on the gallops. I was initially sceptical whether a heart rate monitor would really be worth it, but was very impressed with the device. Being able to track Alfie's heart rate in real time on the gallops helps track how hard he is working, when he is anaerobic, and, importantly, his recovery.
Having more accurate information helps build their fitness more carefully and successfully as well as helping to avoid over working and injury. The latest models also sync to your phone or computer storing the data so you can monitor your horses over a period or season. This is definitely something we will be looking to invest in.
Thanks again to our sponsors Horse Health Expo Ltd for making this possible, and to Laura Swinnerton - Eventing & Showjumping for helping exercise some the boys left back at home!
We had a great day at Rectory Farm Arena combined training on Wednesday. Alfie jumped his usual superb round to finish second after a good dressage in the wet and greasy conditions.
Podge managed to keep his feet in the dressage and scored 28.75, sadly we just dragged a toe in the double to miss out on a placing.
Julia and Loki did well to battle through the snow, see photo!! Julia decided not to jump as they are eventing on Saturday. I felt rather guilty as she had been feeling unwell and I convinced her to go, only for her to get the worst of the weather!
Some big news today! We have been using Keyflow Horse Feeds since October last year and been really impressed with the results. The horses are looking great and even picky eater Loki loves it!
Today Keyflow have agreed to sponsor Julia and Loki as they look to build on Loki's good start to his eventing career last year and move up to international level this season.
We are delighted to have a closer association with Keyflow. They are striving to improve equine nutrition, using the latest processing techniques to make their feed more digestible, meaning you can feed less for the same results. They have won BETA awards innovation and are dedicated to producing the best for each horse.
Another Partnership helping D&L achieve maximum Performance!
Great day pre-season jumping at Wickstead HorsePlay! Clear rounds from all the boys, Alfie finished 1st in the 1.10m, 10 seconds ahead of second place, and Podge took 6th in the 1m. Alfie needed night vision to see his way around the last round of the day! Huge thanks to all the team at Wickstead for fitting in so many horses. It really was down to the wire!
Great way to start the season, off to the JAS in Wellington on Sunday and next week we move into our new stable block at Seven Bridges Farm... They can't build stables fast enough as we grow and expand! It looks pretty fancy though!!
Better start getting some entries in!!
Winter has finally turned up and brought a beautiful morning with it! Love days like today, even if I struggle to find the horses in the field!
Our sponsors, Horse Health Expo, have had their ad on Horse and Country TV right through the Christmas period. They asked us to do some filming at the yard and lucky we have an indoor as the weather was awful! The Ad features riders Harry Meade and Paul Tapner and top vet John McEwen, including us! Alfie was slightly struck by the camera and lighting equipment!
Check out the ad here:
Or find out more about Horse Health Expo
As yesterday was the first Monday of 2016, we dubbed it the official start of the New Year! We are well into planning our 2016 season, and are stepping up our fitness programs for both us and the horses. But with the continuing dreadful weather and a lingering post-Christmas slump we occasionally need a little extra motivation...
This is a video I came across mid-way through 2014, and it always provides that little extra motivation to push through, hope it can do the same for you all!
It has been a blustery couple of weeks at D&L and winter work is well and truly under way. We have completed work on the outdoor arena, we have another barn with 5 Monarch boxes due to be completed soon, the indoor arena has had a new top on the surface and the walker is due to be completed soon also! Now we just need the wind to die down and the fields to dry up!!
While the building work has been in full swing Julia and I have been doing a spot of horse shopping and found two stunning 3 year olds to our team, a mare and a gelding (see photo!!). They are quite the pair and we think they will make excellent additions to the team. On the topic of youngsters, we loose jumped our super pony, Chanel, recently. There is a video on our Facebook page, but safe to say she has springs in her feet!! Can't wait for Julia to start riding her and we will see what she can do!
Teldon has come back into work this week, we are looking at taking him to an early CCI3* in order to get our qualifications. There is talk of increased requirements next season so we are going to start early, he only has so many years left!
Alfie is living his diva-dream!! He went from showing off in front of packed stand at Hartpury, where we were demo riding for Paul Tapner's XC Masterclass, to staring in Horse Health Expo's TV ad which has now been viewed over 18,000 times on Facebook!! There will be no talking to him if he ever finds out... Excitement is really starting to build about the expo, the ad will be shown on Horse and Country TV from Tuesday. It is such an incredible thing to be part of, we never tire of hearing people's reaction, it is clearly something that has been born out of passion for horses and a desire to share knowledge and help educate everyone from professionals to single horse owners and anybody who cares about horses.
Last week I spent a day in Lambourn on a BE 'Good Business Practice in the Equine Industry' course. This is the second one of these courses I have taken part in, and the topics this time covered Insurance and Liability, Accounting, Social Media and Marketing and Health and Safety. These courses are a great innovation from BE. There is so much to running a business, particularly in this industry and those who are keeping up with legislation are going to get caught out, and it can be very costly. The main question we were all left asking was: 'Where are we going to find the time??'
Speaking of time, it is getting late and we have a full yard in the morning. What ever happened to the off season run into Christmas and a bit of a break??
The equestrian industry is known for being traditional and not keeping up with the times. Many companies have brought innovative and revolutionary products to the market, with mixed success, and one product in particular has stubbornly refused to accept modernisation. The basic design of the saddle as we know it hasn’t changed for generations. Many companies have introduced new materials in the construction of the tree, but these invariably follow the same basic design and are usually prohibitively expensive for the average consumer. However, we may now be looking at the first truly innovative design, at a price that makes it accessible to the mass market. The Bua Saddle, is certainly unlike anything I have seen before.
On a visit to Ireland back in August I managed to arrange a trial with Martin Ryan, designer of the Bua Saddle, and I promised you all a full review of what I thought. As anybody who saw my original post will know, I was impressed enough to buy not just one, but two Bua saddles. I will try to explain why that is in a moment, but I think it is important to say at this point that I have no business arrangement with Bua. I am not sponsored by them, I wasn’t given a saddle to trial, I paid full retail price for both saddles, and so I hope my opinion can be taken as genuine and unbiased. I also want to thank my friend Gill Crawford who is based close to my home in Ireland and was kind enough to bring a horse for us to try the saddle on!
Last season I was struggling to fit a saddle to a number of horses and remember asking why we can’t design a saddle where the panels are made to fit the horse, and are independent to the seat, which fits the rider. This would allow both to be interchanged around the tree, so that you could have a custom set of panels to fit each horse and still be comfortable in the same saddle, rather than doing what most people do and use various pads to adjust the fitting to the horse. It turns out Martin Ryan had the same thought... over five years ago, so he is a bit ahead of me! Interestingly, it was this idea of separating the panels and seat which led to the cantilevered tree design, which then brought it’s own set of benefits.
What is a cantilevered tree?
Probably better to check out Bua’s own website as it is difficult to describe effectively. The simplest way to explain it is that when viewed from the side, the tree sits on the horse’s back in much the same way as a traditional tree. However, as it comes towards the front of the horse, the tree folds back over itself to form the seat, which is effectively suspended over the horses back. The tree is made from a composite material that is incredibly flexible and strong, allowing it to fit a much wider range of horses than a traditional saddle, with no adjustment. The tree also sits further back than a traditional saddle, allowing the horse’s shoulder to move more freely and making it easier to fit that wider range of horses. It might sound like a bit of a gimmick, but like many great inventions it has evolved to solve a very particular problem, and actually the design is beautifully simple. It passes the all important ‘KISS Principle’ - ‘Keep It Simple, Stupid!’
From what I understand, the original idea was to provide a range of panel sizes and shapes to fit different horses. However, during the testing process they tried the saddle on a range of sports horses and never had a problem with the fit. Different fitting variations will be available down the line, but currently it hasn’t been a problem. Now I was very dubious about a ‘one-size-fits-all’ saddle, but when I saw the tree and it’s flexibility, as well as the foam panels, it does make sense. I was lucky enough to have a friend bring a horse so we could test the saddle (Thanks again Gilly!) and it fitted her perfectly. When we took the saddle off it left a good even sweat mark as you expect from a well fitted saddle. In addition to that, as the fabric covers on the panels are removable and accessible, you could use foam ‘shims’ to rebalance the saddle, in much the same way that many saddle pads do. Another important point is the wither clearance. I have a huge problem with most ‘close-contact’ saddles on high withered horses. It simply doesn’t make sense that you could have a very thin panel and still have enough clearance for a high withered horse. The Bua has plenty of clearance at the wither and all the way down the horses back, without making you feel you are sitting on 6 inches of foam.
The Bua isn’t the only modular saddle on the market, it is however the only one I have seen where you can change the panels and flaps in less than five minutes, at an event, in the front of your car, without any tools. The tree, seat padding, panels and flaps are all removable. You can buy them individually and swap them as you please, with very little fuss. Now, most professionals aren’t going to swap from dressage flaps to jumping ones, and it might not even be something that most amateurs would do. But it does give you the flexibility to change panels as your horse changes shape, or change the flaps should you decide you don’t like the knee blocks, or even change the colour if you want to fit in with a new sponsorship deal. Or none of the above if you are just happy with your saddle! But this is part of the reason I was happy to buy both a jumping and dressage saddle. I will explain later that I think there are one or two adjustments to be made in the dressage saddle for it to work for me, but if all else fails I simply need to buy another set of jumping flaps and I have a second jumping saddle!
The all important question! I tried three versions of the saddle: jumping with knee blocks, jumping without knee blocks and dressage. First up was the jumping with knee blocks. I was impressed how close my leg felt to the horse. The flaps are very thin and flexible so you can really feel the horse underneath you. While the seat is raised a bit more off the horses back than some close contact saddles, it is no more than what a sheepskin or foam pad would do. The suspension action of the cantilevered seat helps you feel more in the motion of the horse and in the firm setting that I tried isn’t at all bouncy as some people have feared. The mare I was riding had a pretty short and bouncy canter and I felt the saddle helped my sit into it, and didn’t give me the feeling that I was going to cause her discomfort by doing so.
The saddle without knee blocks will likely be more popular with professionals and fans of close-contact saddles. I did feel that the extra foam on the knee panel pushed my thigh out slightly and that I lost some of the nice close contact in that part of my leg. However those flaps were newer and perhaps that was the issue. I am planning to buy a set of these panels so I can interchange them.
I am guessing the dressage saddle has had less development, as many of the trials have been done with jumping riders. However the seat functions in the same way and made it much easier and more comfortable to sit on even the most bouncy trots. Unfortunately we hadn’t brought a set of stirrups leathers long enough to for my legs, so I rode without them for much of the session. The panels are shorter than on most dressage saddles, but perhaps this could be a customizable option in the future? The flaps weren’t quite straight enough for my liking and the seat could do with some more support at the back of the saddle, but that is linked to the design of the tree and seat. The thing to remember is that it’s very easy to swap and change the flaps as the design develops. I wonder if adjustable knee blocks might be a good option for more customization by the user. In the end, the fit of the tree and the seat works the same way, and will be massively beneficial in a dressage saddle, and given how easy it is the adjust the balance and position of the saddle I think it will give much more control than any other saddle on the market.
The first question people always ask is price. At €2,000 (currently just under £1500) I think it is very competitively priced. There is a serious amount of research, not to mention some cutting edge materials involved in bringing this to market. This links in with what I will say later about appealing to the mass market and not currently targeting the top end of the market, which is a smart call.
Materials and colours. As anyone who has seen photos of the saddle will know, they are certainly distinctive looking! At first I wasn’t sold by the brighter colours on offer, but in the flesh they look seriously smart. If you are going to ride in something that is cutting edge you might as well shout about it! In the end I went for the brown leather and orange panels for the jumping saddle and a more conservative black and light grey for for the dressage saddle. The blue leather looks beautiful and I am sure it will be very popular... decisions decisions!
The fabric covering on the panels is removable and washable. So should you have that muddy day hunting or eventing, or even if they need a bit of a clean up after a few sweaty workouts, its quick and easy.
The saddles are incredibly lightweight, even compared to the most modern jumping saddles. Really they are more comparable to a racing saddle than a jumping saddle.
As I referred to earlier there is a ratchet style clip on the back of the seat that allows you to adjust the stiffness of the seat, rather like a cars suspension. I don’t see myself using it apart from maybe a long hack, but thought I should mention it.
The Bua is a real game changer. A huge step forward to providing a more comfortable and more flexible saddle to benefit the horse and alleviate many of the back issues we see increasingly within our industry. I loved the feel of all three of the saddles I sat it in, though I admit the dressage saddle may need tweaking. The close feel of the horse, with the support of the cantilevered seat puts you in a great position to communicate with the horse. If the current designs don’t fit you, I can see the modular design leading to very easy customization in the future.
The Saddle Industry
At one of the last events of the season I was speaking to an agent from a large French saddle company. I asked him about the Bua saddle and his only response was that all the top professionals still ride in traditional saddles of one brand or another. I think that says a lot about how these companies view innovation. They effectively ignore it, knowing that the majority of established riders aren’t going to change to something so innovative just yet, and the companies use this to continue their rhetoric of ‘we are the top choice’. They are the equivalent of a large multi-national company, too big to adjust quickly, while the small flexible start-up company can run rings around them. Bua has been very clever by not going after the high end of the market immediately. With what they have now they can gain good market penetration and get people using and talking about the saddle. From there I can see them offering more options, more customization etc. and then they can start to target the high end brands. But that’s just my opinion.
For me, the Bua saddle has everything I love in a product: a no-nonsense/commonsense design, modern high performance materials, it’s scientifically tested, has an eye-catching design ruled by function not form, and a price that makes it accessible to the mass market.
For more information view the Bua Saddles website
It is safe to say that this blog update is long overdue, in fact there are three or four overdue at this point! So first I thought I would give you all a quick run down of what’s been happening, and why it has taken so long to get these updates out.
I am shocked to see that the last blog update was way back in August, just after Bicton Arena. In my defense, our Facebook page has had a few updates since then!!
So.. the week after Bicton Arena, Teldon and Loki made the trip to one of our favourite events, Wellington Horse Trials, this year running an international 3* for the first time. Loki produced a good result in the BE100, he was still struggling with some tension in the dressage at this stage and Julia was slightly disappointed with a 36. But he jumped well and would show a big improvement before the end of the season.
Teldon moved back up to 3* at Wellington, following a difficult time in the rain at Camphire. We pulled out a personal best dressage at this level, scoring 49.5pen, it was great to break the 50 penalties barrier and it certainly didn’t all go to plan so I know there is plenty of room for improvement next season. The showjumping at Wellington is always influential, so we weren’t too disappointed with 8 faults and still on target for a top 10 finish! Teldon started the cross-country with his usual flair and exuberance, we were testing a new bit and it was proving a good fit. Unfortunately as we approached fence 7, I spotted the fence judge flagging me down, a rider had fallen at the influential gates at fence 9 and the course was being held. Luckily the horse and rider were fine, but Teldon never reacts well to being held in this way and when we restarted he was a different horse, leaning very heavily in the contact and not giving me the same responsive feeling in front of the fence. As we jumped the gates at fence 9 we nearly became another victim, as he hit both parts quite hard and so I had to change the plan and take a bit more time setting him up. We finished clear and I was delighted to get that elusive CIC3* clear round, but the hold on course had cost us dear. Before we were stopped we were running well and comfortably within the time, but the change in Teldon’s way of going caused us to rack up time penalties that ultimately cost us a placing.. Next year!!
Lander at BYEH Finals
Next up was the Dubarry Burghley Young Event Horse Finals, and Lander’s big day out. It was great to be making the trip again after taking Max for the 5 year old last year, and nice too that Julia had the opportunity to ride this time around. My Mom made the trip over from Ireland as she did last year, we are beginning to wonder if she comes to see us at all, or is it just go to the big events! (Only joking Mom!)
Lander was a star from start to finish at Burghley, it is a lot for a young horse to deal with, we left at 7am and didn’t get back till 10pm, it is a long time for a young horse on his own in the lorry, but he just goes with the flow! He absorbed the big atmosphere with his usual pensive manner, as though he is studying everything before deciding what he needs to do. He achieved one of the highest marks for his dressage, conformation and type, but sadly was a few marks off the pace in his jumping and so just missed out on being called back for the top ten. As was always the plan, Lander was officially put on the market following Burghley and was recently sold on his first viewing.. but he deserves his own blog post so more on the later!
A Flying Visit
In September I travelled home to Ireland for my friends Craig and Megan’s Wedding. I know people always say this, but it truly was an amazing day, with a fantastic party! I was honored that Craig had asked me to be his best man, though utterly terrified at the thought of having to give a speech in front of all their friends and family! But I wanted to take this opportunity to thank them again for a great day and for all their support, they have recently invested in a young pony that Julia is currently backing and who promises to be some pretty special!
While in Ireland I took the opportunity to trial the innovative new Bua Saddle, as I mentioned on our Facebook page at the time I was seriously impressed by how they have brought the saddle into the 21st century, but again that requires a blog update on it’s own to really fill you in.
Mark Todd Bridging the Gap Scholarship
I came back from Ireland ready to focus on Osberton and was delighted to hear that I had made it into the final selection for the Mark Todd Bridging the Gap Scholarship. It was amazing simply to make it to the final of this process and receive some great advice from Mark Todd during the final assessment. The selection process assess riders not just on their riding ability, but their team of horses and training principles, and also included an interview process where we discussed the structure or our business and how we aim to promote the sponsors of the training scholarship, Keyfow feed and the Mark Todd Collection. I was delighted to finish in third place and felt it was a really positive experience and vote of confidence for what we are doing here at D&L. Again I hope to give a full rundown of the process and the day in a separate update.. how many did I day I was overdue??
Teldon’s final event of the season was Osberton CCI2*, our first CCI for a number of years. With one eye on an early CCI3* next season I wanted to go to Osberton and make sure Teldon wasn’t going to get a shock at moving back up to the longer CCI format. The result may not have been what we were hoping for, particularly after a strong performance in the 3* at Wellington, but we learned a lot that we can take forward to next season. Three day events are a totally different experience to the shorter format events and though Teldon ran well within himself all the way round the cross country, there was a definite change around the 7-minute mark when he would usually be well finished. A silly lapse of concentrate from me put us slightly off the line to the angled ditch to skinny near the end of the course and Teldon didn’t even see the B element until it was too late, again I could feel his concentration also wane towards the end of the course, it was in-fact the longest course we have ever tackled, so good preparation to move up to CCI3* level next season. Trotting Teldon up on the Saturday evening and again Sunday morning he looked like a three year and clearly the course hadn’t effected him too much, which was encouraging for a horse 15 years young, though he did feel tired in the showjumping, so we will work on that before next year.
Where was I..??
The week after Osberton I was really excited to finally get to event Aldorro (Alfie) for the first time at Calmsden. This flashy grey gelding came to my on a recommendation from Mark Todd, and he has everything to impress! His owner, Jo Street, has been really patient over the summer and so it was devastating when I had to phone and withdraw him at the last minute after a fall at home. I suffered a nasty concussion in the fall and was off riding for nearly two weeks, bringing a sudden end to my season. By the sound of it I was pretty amusing to be around for a few hours, if slightly annoying because I kept asking the same question over and over. I was gutted not just because I was unable to ride, but the timing meant that I missed the last few events of the season. However, a week later everything was put into perspective with news of William Fox-Pitt’s fall in France. In the end I was incredibly lucky to suffer nothing more serious than a concussion and a few events. It was great to hear earlier this week that William is now conscious and his condition looks to be improving. We wish him and his family all the best, the out-pouring of support from the eventing community has been inspiring as always, it really makes me proud of our sport.
Loki's Flying Finish
I did recover enough after a week to be able to drive Julia and Loki to Broadway so that they could finish their season properly, and what a way to finish! Loki was much more relaxed in the dressage and showed everyone else a glimpse of what we see at home. He jumped his usual exuberant clear showjumping and put in a really classy round on the cross country too. It is amazing to see how Julia and Loki have progressed through the year, from the stressy ex-racehorse who started the season and finishing with a well earned 4th place at their last event of the year. Onwards and upwards in 2016... actually, going by the photos, he has quite enough ‘upwards’!
In other News..
In the middle of the frantic end to the season Julia and I celebrated our first wedding anniversary, moved into a new house and sold Lander.. all on the same day! Julia also officially received her residency permit, allowing her to stay in the UK for 5 years. It has been an incredibly long and complicated process to get to this point and we just can’t believe how much has happened and how far we have come in the last year. Here is to a good winter season and a safe and successful 2016 season!
Just about dried out after a soggy weekend at Bicton Arena! Teldon finally got the result that he has deserved all season, finishing 8th in the 2* with a double clear and just 6.4 time penalties to add to his dressage. I managed not to mess it up for him this time!
Julia and Loki had a great run in their 2nd BE100. Loki was much more relaxed in the dressage, and he did his usual fantastic double clear. Unfortunately though forgetful fever must be spreading as Julia missed a fence when walking the course and got them technically eliminated!! She wasn't the only this weekend as we have heard of a few people at different events doing the same! They are off to Wellington next weekend and will hope to continue their good form.
There were a few surprised faces on Sunday morning, as anybody who stayed over night couldn't believe that the event wasn't abandoned after all the rain Saturday night, and I think a few people didn't even wait for a decision and simply packed up! The team at Bicton did a fantastic job though, they have the advantage of all weather arenas for the showjumping and the ground on the XC drains incredibly well and the course rode super with the only really wet patch being through the arena.
We are always grateful to the volunteers and organisers who give up so much to put on these events, but we have to make a particular mention to those who kept smiling all through Sunday morning. They was a great atmosphere all weekend and we were rewarded with sunshine for the afternoon on Sunday!!
We are so proud of our superstar ponies this weekend! Let's hope we can do them justice at KBIS Wellington International Horse Trials where Loki is in the BE100 and Teldon moves back up to 3*. It is one of our favourite events on the calendar and it is exciting to be there for their first international event!
Till then it's back to the day to day, horses to school, videos to be made, students to train... We wouldn't have it any other way!!
A little last minute, but we have just heard that Lander has been accepted into the KBIS 4yo Qualifier at West Wilts on Wednesday!! It is great to get another chance, good as he is we can't really expect him to qualify on his first ever event, and only his third competition! From Wednesday he will be keenly focused on the Finals at Burghley, now less than three weeks away!
Going to make this week a bit busier with vettings and viewings to fit in, not to mention some lessons!
Had a great day with Lander and Loki at their first BE event at Homme House Horse Trials yesterday. Lander was a star all day, taking it all in his stride. He did a lovely relaxed test and sailed around the XC like a natural. He is really improving every week, and with just three weeks to Burghley the excitement is really building!
Loki was a bit tense in the dressage, but jumped a fantastic double clear. It is probably the most testing XC he has come across, with lots of skinny brushes that really aren't his favourite, he looked a class act all the way. We have a few ideas to tweak his warm up and help relax him, then he will really show us what he can do!
Lander is on the waitlist for the KBIS British Equestrian Insurance 4 year old class at West Wilts Equestrian Centre next week. It would be great to get to go as, due to our competition schedule, it is the last qualifier he will get to. It would be great to have him at both Osberton and Burghley, and he is definitely capable!
Loki will join Teldon as we travel to Bicton Arena for the CIC2* and BE100, not to forget The Eventing Family fundraiser!! From there they will both go to Wellington one of my favourite events on the calendar! We couldn't fit it in last year, but I am really excited to see the new CIC3* track.
It has been anoter busy week here at D&L as we recover from a busy Barbury weekend. We were XC schooling on Tuesday with Lander, Teldon, Max and Storm. Lander was nothing short of amazing for his first time XC schooling. Took everything in his usual calm manner, a real mature head on his young shoulders. Teldon and Max had a little tune up before heading to Camphire in Ireland next week and Rosie and Storm had a real 'eureka' moment and we couldn't take the smile off Rosie's face all day!
Yesterday Max and Loki went to British Eventin Bridging the Gap Training with Gill Watson and Lizzel Winter. The course is aimed at horses moving up to 1* level and was perfectly timed for Max, before his first CIC1* next week.
This weekend Podge and Loki will do their first BE100 at Crown Farm UA ODE, hopefully we can improve on their good results last time out!!
From there, it is all hands on deck to pack for our first competition abroad, as Max and Teldon get the boat to Camphire in Ireland. This is a really exciting time for us, all the horses seem to be upgrading and we are really in the midst of the season. We would to thank everyone who has helped us along the way and continues to support us, in particular our sponsor: Horse Health Expo.
Keep up to date with D&L Performance Horses and all the horses at: DLPHorses.com
Find our more about Horse Health Expo at: Horse Health Expo
We have been sitting on this for a while, but finally able to announce our new sponsor, Horse Health Expo Ltd. This fantastic new event will bring experts in horse health from different sectors together, to answer your questions and help you make informed choices about your horses health.
We really couldn't be more proud to be involved with HHE, from the moment we first heard the concept we wanted to buy tickets. With ridden demonstrations, critical illness lectures and round table discussions with leading vets and professional riders, (not to mention a large shopping village) this is one event not to be missed!
We will be posting plenty more about HHE as time goes on to show why this is such an innovative event. It will go a long way to helping the growing welfare issue we have in the UK and Ireland. For now, every time you see somebody on social media asking for advice about their horse, your first thought should be Horse Health Expo!!
A big thank you Horse Health Expo for their support and we look forward to a big year ahead!
For more details and early bird tickets visit their website at: http://horsehealthexpo.com/
Júlia and Lander put in a fantastic performance to top the 4 year old class and qualify for the prestigious Dubarry Burghley Young Event Horse Finals, to be held at the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials in September. This is the second year in a row we have had a young horse qualified for this exclusive class. Júlia has produced Lander from the start, they have developed a fantastic partnership together and it is great to see all their hard work pay off. They put in a convincing performance and their high dressage and jumping marks could not be beaten.
Júlia will now continue Lander's education, taking him cross country schooling and possibly seek qualification for the four year old championships in Osberton at the end of the season.