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Blog - Training Updates

Preparation continues
05th April 2015 - 0 comments
Since combined training a couple of weeks ago I’ve been continuing to get Trad ready for our first event at Larkhill which is less than a week away now with a bit of fast work in the hay field at the yard.

On Saturday 29th March, Jenny took Trad to the Addington Unaffiliated Winter Dressage finals to compete in the Novice championships. They qualified earlier in the winter as part of Trad’s dressage boot camp. In the warm up and the first part of the test Trad went really well but the trickier movements and bigger arena was a bit too much for him and he tired and lost some impulsion. The score was a little disappointing but both Jenny and I were still really pleased with how much he has improved since last year.

Trad & Jenny looking good!

On Wednesday I went to my first event of the season supporting Harriet Upton who was riding Danny at Somerley Park in the Open Intermediate. Harriet had an average day on Danny with a fair dressage of 33, one pole and three time in the SJ and then quite a few time faults in the XC. They finished out of the top ten but if Harriet had kicked on a bit they could have easily picked up a rosette. On Thursday Harriet returned with four horses and three of them finished in the top ten, with Arabella jumping a double clear for 7th.

Harriet & Danny at Somerley Park

As well as taking photos of Harriet I took Otto along to his first event and I have to say he was pretty well behaved, if a little excited! There were lots of well-known horses on show in the OI sections including Chilli Morning, the super impressive medal-winning Stallion ridden by William Fox-Pitt. The ground looked good on Wednesday when I walked the Intermediate and BE100 tracks but sadly the dressage and SJ got worse over the following two days as more rain fell.

William Fox-Pitt & Badminton bound Chilli Morning

On Good Friday Jenny and I helped each other with a jumping session. Basically she tells me what to do with the jumps and she then jumps them with her lovely 4-year-old Mouse. Then once finished she puts them up and tells me what to do on Trad… works well for me!!

I have a dressage lesson on Monday and then that’s it, five days until the season starts for Trad and I. Must admit I’m really excited to see how he goes, fingers crossed please everyone.

Happy Easter and check back next week to see how things went at Larkhill.

Here are some more photos from Somerley Park, more can be seen on the gallery section of the site.

Tina Cook

Millie Dumas

Somerley Park is a beautiful setting for an event

Pippa Funnell

Website customer Rosie Fry
Winter into Spring update
02nd March 2015 - 0 comments
Last year I was a bit quiet on the blog front, too busy is always the excuse right? Well yes I am busy but everyday I spend an hour and a half on a train (to and from work) so I should really be able to knock out a few blogs every now and then!

In terms of riding and photography it’s been a quiet winter. In November my wife, Lisa had a knee operation to fix a long term problem. All went well but for the following months I became even more of a carer than usual. For those of you that don’t know Lisa has some long term conditions with means she had limited strength and mobility, however she fights on, working full time and gets around at events in her mobility scooter. No one would believe where she's taken it without getting stuck, although at Osberton last year she did run out of power in the middle of the XC field and I had to run back to the car to get the spare battery.

Lisa and Trad

The week before Christmas just as Lisa was getting stronger our lives were turned upside down by the arrival of Otto, a German Shorthaired Pointer puppy. We always wanted a dog and in particular a GSP so when I found out that fellow eventer Robbie Alman-Wilson breeds her own we couldn't resist. Having never had a dog before it was a baptism of fire with sleepless nights and plenty of tears! However 2 to 3 months in, his training is going really well and we wouldn't be without him, I can't wait to get him out at events soon so he can meet everyone – he loves people!!

Otto growing quickly

So with all that going on poor old Trad got a bit neglected. Luckily Dad has now retired so he has been hunting and riding Trad more and for a few weeks I got my trainer and friend Jenny Gray-Wallis to school him for me. She even had a lesson with Ian Woodhead and did a couple of dressage competitions, qualifying for the unaffiliated championship at Addington! As I expected Jenny was able to get him going fantastically, proof that he can do it if ridden properly.

Jenny and Trad at Addington

I was able to start getting back in the saddle in January as Lisa and Otto were able to look after each other and since then I've been concentrating on schooling. Trad is feeling better than ever on the flat, so Jenny’s mini boot camp obviously worked.

We've done a small amount of jumping. One session at the yard and two rounds of JAS at Bury Farm - this went brilliantly! I did the BE100 & Novice classes and jumped 2 clears with just a few time faults. In the Novice I finished 7th meaning I qualified for the final at Hartpury, however I decided not to go as it was a long way for a 1 minute round of jumping.

Video of JAS at Bury Farm

A couple of weeks ago we went XC schooling at Attington Stud, with my long term instructor Jonathan Chapman, which was brilliant! Trad has grown in confidence over the last two years and was very keen, taking me to all the fences including big ditches, trakehners, corners and water.

Video of XC schooling at Attington Stud

Our next XC schooling was unfortunately cancelled due to wet weather but as I'm not out competing until April there isn't a panic yet. My plan is to do an eventer trial at Keysoe in a couple of weeks time and then some more XC schooling, probably over the Easter weekend.
XC Techniques Clinic
29th December 2012 - 0 comments
I had a really enjoyable session with Jonathan Chapman today, practicing some simulated cross country fences in his arena. This was the first time I had jumped Trad over more than two fences at one time and he was really good and foot perfect. He did stop first time at the barrels but only because he wasn't sure what they were and why I was asking him to jump them but second time it was fine.

Jonathan used to teach me on a regular basis when I rode before so it felt very comfortable to be under his direction and as ever we enjoyed a bit of friendly banter. He was impressed with Trad and made no negative comments about us as a pair which was good. His overall comment was he looked like another Dime (my previous horse) which in my eyes is the ultimate compliment as you couldn't ask for anything more than the qualities that Dime had in his prime.

Here's a short video so you can see how we got on:

The difficult second lesson…
04th December 2012 - 0 comments
Three weeks after my first lesson with Kylie Roddy I had my second lesson on Sunday and I am pleased to report it was pretty good, again with lots of things learnt and to work on going forward.

Since the first lesson Trad and I have got to know each other and I am definitely feeling more comfortable. He seems to be responding pretty well and everyone at the yard has commented on how well he’s going.

Dad’s taken him out hunting and 1st time when there were no jumps he was very easy going, which took a few by surprise. 2nd time with loads of jumps he was back to being a bit strong and pushy, but I’m not too worried about this, as I want him to be keen when jumping.

Anyway back to this week’s lesson. Kylie had me working three things:
- Variation of tempo in the trot
- Leg yielding
- Cantering on the three quarter line

Rather than telling you all about it, feel free to watch the below video which features all of the above and takes about 7 to 8 minutes to watch. Suffice to say some bits were better than others but its all good and looking forward to practicing this week.

In this lesson Kylie picked up on another of my bad habits, which is not sitting into the canter properly, so that’s another thing to work on! I’ll add this to the looking down and the wondering lower right leg!

Next up I have a SJ clinic with 4* eventer and Kylie’s Young Rider team mate Georgie Davies on the 15th December so I hope to bring you an update after that.

Just a quick thank you to Mrs MDR Photo, Lisa for standing around in the cold to video me, she really supportive and the videos are really helping me to understand what’s going on!

If you enjoy this blog, I hope you will keep coming back and in 2013 watch out for my guest blogs, which will be written by a number of my equestrian friends.

Want to know more about Kylie Roddy? Check out her website
My first lesson report
13th November 2012 - 0 comments
On Sunday lunchtime I had my first lesson on Trad with Kylie Roddy who I have known for a few years as she used to teach Debs, Trad’s former rider.

It was a lovely sunny morning with bright blue skies, basically a perfect autumnal day, which was a good sign and as ever my Dad (aka owner/groom) was over prepared and Trad was all shinny and clean and tacked up 15 minutes early, so again another good sign!

However I felt as nervous as I did when I was a 10 year old lining up for my first pony club lessons… In other words VERY NERVOUS! I think this is because I am putting pressure on myself to pick up where I left off 8 or 9 years ago and not wanting to be rubbish!

But I have read a couple of sports autobiographies recently which talk about letting the chimp (negative thoughts) out on a regular basis so that all the rubbish the chimp throws at you doesn’t get you down. So I told myself that at the end of the day I had booked the lesson and this is what I wanted and what I need if I am going to make a come back to eventing after such a long break.

Kylie arrived and firstly we chatted about Trad and how I thought he goes and what I thought he’s good at and what he needs more work on. I was pleased that Kylie confirmed what I had initially thought about Trad, which was he needs to bend more and listen more to the leg. Another good sign!

Kylie then got me trotting around the arena to see how I ride and I think she was pleasantly surprised. Yes I have a few issues but basically my position is ok and not as ropey as she was expecting. However after a few minutes she had me sussed out and picked up on my two worse habits; looking down and a wandering right leg, which tends to drag back. Funny how this hasn’t changed in the 8 years since I last rode!

So really that’s all there is to report from my first lesson. Overall opinion was that it was a pretty good start but with plenty to work on. For me I need to stop looking down, keep my right leg forward and keep my reins short and not give them away. For Trad I need to concentrate on getting him bending more to the left, not leaning on the right rein and to move off the leg more as he can be lazy.

Next lesson is in a few weeks time and I am hoping to get a bit of jump schooling in by the end of the month as well. Please take a look at the below video if you would like to see for yourself how I got on.

Thanks to Lisa for videoing and Mum for the above pictures.

Want to know more about Kylie Roddy? Check out her website:
Working up a sweat
06th October 2012 - 0 comments
Since my first video two weeks ago I have only been able to ride Trad twice, mainly due to being busy with work and photography, but luckily Dad has been riding and autumn hunting in between.

Both these rides have been on Saturday mornings and I must admit it has been a bit of a battle at times. Trad can be very dead to the leg and I have had to give him a few reminders with the schooling whip, particularly to get him back trotting after a halt or walk. On top of this I feel that he is leaning on my right rein a lot, he is certainly a lot stiffer on this rain.

Anyway after about 45 minutes of work on both occasions we at last started to get somewhere with a bit of submission and nice work, some of which you can see in the below video from this weekend.

I am going on holiday next week so the real hard work will start at the end of the month when I am back. The aim is for me to school at least two or three times a week and at least one of these sessions will be early mid week before work. Its going to be tough for sure but I am still luckier than most as Dad will also be riding two or three times a week.

Hoping to get a couple of lessons in the diary for when I am back from my break, which I hope will give me some new ideas to work on and improve. Again hopefully Lisa will be able to video some of the action, so I will post again soon.
And we're off... But work to be done!
22nd September 2012 - 0 comments
Today I rode Trad for the first time in the school and I survived! This is the first time I have ridden any horse in the school for an hour session for at least 7 years and I actually really enjoyed it. When I used to ride Dime back in the day I can't remember time going as quick as it did today so long may that continue.

I was really impressed with Trad and he felt so much better than when I rode him before Dad brought him a couple of years ago, Debs has certainly done a good job to get him to this stage.

However I was not so impressed with myself as I got frustrated at my poor position, balance and strength. I knew it wasn't going to be easy but I still thought that I might be able to start off exactly where I left off back in 2004!

Below is a very short video of some of my efforts today, I hope to be able to have a regular video diary of my comeback and controlling the video will be my lovely wife Lisa. We just need to make sure the coffee mug isn't in the way next time!

To help with my riding I am hoping to have some lessons with local event rider Kylie Roddy who has been teaching Debs on Trad so there will be a nice level of continuity there as she knows how he should be going. I am planning to start these lessons in November once I'm back from my holiday in New York. I am also fully expecting my lovely supported riders Clare and Harriet to be giving me some 'words of advice'!

As part of my comeback I also need to work on my fitness and weight as I have lost all the muscles I once had. I have already lost over a stone in the last few weeks so I'll now be adding in more exercise to improve my strength. Any suggestions on this will be gratefully received, particularly as I can only ride 2 or 3 times a week due to work / time commitments.

That's it for now, don't forget to come back soon for all the latest on my comeback and updates on my supported riders.