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When D was about 5 I took her to a ‘showing clinic’ at ‘a famous showing womans’ yard – it was a two day thing, my friend wanted to do it on her cob and because people had told me I should show D i thought why not lets give it a go!

There were about 12 of us at the clinic.  All shapes and sizes, plus a couple of ‘the famous showing womans’ own liveries.  Day one in the morning was about ‘ring craft’ so we were split into two groups and had to ride around as if we were at a show.

Now at this stage D was very green.  We walked and trotted with everyone else, eyes on stalks, about 100hh.  Then came the canter and we refused to canter, we bucked a lot and did an amazing extended trot but wouldnt canter.  Within the first hour ‘the famous showing woman’ had labelled us ‘special needs’.  Nice.

Our ‘individual show’ consisted of napping back to the line, running backwards, and bucking but no cantering.  ‘Very special needs horse, well tried by the rider’.

We were given a lecture in her stable complex about plaiting etc.  D was convinced that everyone was there to see her and banged her door throughout.  You guessed it ‘special needs’.

Day Two, full of positivity started with tack and turnout lecture.  No word of a lie everyone had all the gear.  I had a black grakle bridle and a wintec jump saddle.  Yep special needs again.  We practised trotting our horse up in hand.  We wouldnt trot.  SN – yep, again.

Last part of day two was get ready for a mock show, they brought an ‘outside’ judge in.  So i got slated on tack and turnout, slated on my plaiting (gave up on thread, too tedious), slated because she was covered with poo, slated because i only had front shoes on, slated because my ebay jacket didnt fit and i had the wrong boots, slated because I didnt wear spurs at the time etc etc.  I entered the ridden part full of confidence and on a high as you can imagine.  We walked and trotted round with the others, call for canter, we bolted, everyone else had to be pulled to a halt whilst we lapped the arena (to be honest i was proud we got canter at all and didn’t blame D after all the insults!).  Eventually stopped her.  Individual show refused to leave the line up. 🙂

We came last, surprisingly ‘famous showing womans’ two cobs came first and second (shock horror).  As I left I was told once again my horse and myself were special needs.  I saw ‘famous showing woman’ at a show a couple of weeks later and she scoffed and made some comment about ‘hoping I hadnt brought my nightmare nag with me’ I just laughed and said no.  Inside i wanted to deck her!

From that day forward I have been determined to one day prove her wrong and show that D can do showing – I ruddy hate showing its so subjective, so ruddy boring, all that faff cleaning and washing and trying to look presentable (I have NO eye for detail) and yet D seems to do ok at it.  In our first two shows we have got a 3rd and a 4th, maybe I am going to have to keep going at it, just to prove that ‘famous showing person’ wrong!!?

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After such a good lesson last week it was back down to earth last night with D.  What a terror.

She started off so well, she has definitely come on her trot and canter are so much stronger and she is making a much better shape over the jumps now.  We had a couple of stops, mainly my fault, and then it was like she was enjoying herself too much and she started tanking.

I may have mentioned this before, everything has been checked and checked again, there is nothing physically wrong with her, what she does is she locks onto a fence sets her neck and GOES.  So even on a course if its the wrong fence she will still jump it and you don’t have a hope in hell of stopping her!! I have a video of last night but not sure whether to include it here for fear of the normal ‘you are cruel’ comments.

Instructor suggested stopping after first fence of a related distance.  He stood in the way… he ran out of the way.  He was saying stop stop stop nope nothing i could do we bowled onto the second fence.  He tried putting up a barrier fence about 1.60 as there is no way she would jump that surely!? But blimey she got close with me hauling her off it so decided to try another technique and go for circling in front of the fence.

Major tantrums – she wants to go, comes off the corner hauling me in, I am trying to circle her, she is furious, head shaking and running sideways backwards and any way except the way I want to go at a rate of knots! Simply press repeat, this goes on for about 15 mins.  I try in walk trot and canter, as soon as she comes off the corner she is locked onto the fence and FURIOUS when i tell her no!!

Eventually I calm her down and jump it in trot and she is fine, and ask for canter and we start tanking again.  But she is clearing it and i have slightly more steering so am happy.  We are both dripping and puffing and huffing!!! Crowd as usual started at about 3 people ended up about 12!! At least we provide entertainment and at least I am smiling (not wailing!!) this week!!?

Have no idea how i am going to stop this tanking though? Any ideas!? Have tried numerous bits but it is her neck she sets against me rather than the bit!!

Onwards and hopefully upwards!?

D gets her first clip

This is a short one and second hand as I wasnt there (furious!!)

When D was 4 1/2 winter was drawing in and my yard owner decided she needed clipping (without consulting me – reason one for me leaving that yard – many more reasons to follow).

What ensued has ever since been referred to as a ‘health and safety’ disaster – 4 people trying to hold her down several people being kicked, bumped out of the way etc.  In the end they gave up.

What people don’t realise with D is she is normally ok about things if I am there.  An example is shoeing – at the old yard they had terrible trouble trying to shoe her (the farrier did) – they had to do it in a box and had two people holding her.  Yet when I was there she would stand stock still and not even need to be tied up with haynets, treats etc.  Fast forward a couple of years and it shows it was definitely the atmosphere at the old place.  At my yard now she is just tied to her door to be shod with no one helping or watching, she is super chilled.

Anyway back to the clipping – all they managed was two ‘go faster stripes’ over her shoulders.  What an idiot we looked for the whole winter!!! Mortified!!!

Once I had finally managed to load D (see previous post), we set off up the M6 to Billy Twomeys yard for a jump lesson.  His yard at the time was an amazing place, like a country estate with beautiful fields, stables, facilities etc and the horses – well breathtaking!!

I was an hour early so I asked if there was a box for D to go into, they didnt have any spare but suggested that I use an empty one they used to store all their stuff, like extension leads etc.  First problem of the day, D is terrified of wires, took us 5 mins to get her in the box where she just cowered shaking in the corner!! Oh and I so hoped to be professional!!

Eventually it was time for our lesson, I tacked her up and rode her round to the school.  It was surrounded by a high hedge and as I rode her in one of the grooms was riding another horse round the school, she was really friendly and stopped and chatted to me. Made me feel more at ease. I started riding D around the school only the hedge was terrifying and she was wired.  I kind of held her together until Billy himself turned up, when she promptly bolted with me across the school flat out, straight towards him!!

I stopped her eventually.  Billy was a really nice guy, I explained we didnt jump much and had a few issues, it started pissing it down, story of my life.  The magazine were there taking photos for an article, Billy asked me to ride her round and immediately spotted she wasnt off my leg, so we did some work on that and then headed on to do some jumping.

Long story short, I fell off, a lot.  All captured by the magazine.  We all got drenched, cold, and miserable.  I heard the word ‘hopeless’ muttered several times.

We knocked every fence bar one down.  I was black and blue.  D was dripping (sweat and rain), Billy gave up after about 35 mins.  Photographer gave up after 20!! In the end i was left wandering round the school mortified, filthy, wet and miserable.

Loaded D and set off on the 4 and a half hour drive home.  Not sure show jumping was our forte in those days!!

I was lucky enough to win an amazing prize in a magazine (more about that another day) and one of the prizes was a series of lessons with Richard Davison – stressage supremo.

At the time we were struggling to trot, let alone do much more, but i gamely drove up to Staffs to his yard where I was having a lesson, staying over night and then driving up to Billy Twomeys for a lesson with him.

Richard tends to teach in the afternoons and as I arrived there was an AMAZING GP horse in his school, i felt sick, how embarrassing. Soldier on I thought.  So unloaded D and stuck her a box to recover for a bit.  The time came for us to warm up and unfortunately there was another international level rider in the school.  I tentatively rode D in and started walking her round, all I could hear from the other end was ‘passage, passage, now piaffe, piaffe, now passage, passage etc’ then suddenly D took fright at something… cue the following commentary…

‘Passage now piaffe, NICE, bit sharper, now now now, GOOD, now into passage, lovely, push more, now into Piaffe…. SIT UP (my name) SIT UP, HOLD ON, SIT BACK SIT BAAAACK!!!

That second bit was for me, we were broncing… again. I stayed on.  Showed ourselves up? Not much! Haha! We did have a good lesson, although we didnt really get out of walk (perhaps for my safety!?)

I put her to bed, much wailing ‘why do you embarrass me I LOVE YOU’ (to her not Richard).  Get up in the morning for my long drive to Billys.  Up at 4 – I am on my own and let myself into Richards yard (I was allowed I wasnt breaking in), part of the prize was hire of a lorry – well D didnt load very well in it, but lets face it its pissing it down, she will be good won’t she?? I whisper quietly to her as she eats her brekkie and I skip out, all about how much I love her and how she will load well and how we are going to have a fab day.

I go to load her.  She refuses.  Its hard on these side loading lorries when there is only one of you, by the time you get them on and go to close the partition they are off again.. we did this little game for 40 minutes.  FORTY! Pouring with rain.  Dark. Away from home. No-one to help me.  Guess what? I wailed again and i mean SERIOUSLY WAILED!! WHY WHY WHHHHHY DO YOU DO THIS TO ME I LOVE YOU! etc etc. after about 10 mins of wailing she took one look at me sitting on the ramp sobbing and no word of a lie loaded herself.

Ruddy horses!!!

About a year ago I decided to take D to a riding club stressage competition, very low key at a field in Surrey.  They even had a class where you can follow someone else round to keep your horse going – that kind of level

We were feeling brave so didnt bother with that class!! 🙂 Instead entered two prelims.  Day before much washing plaiting bought a new white saddlecloth etc.  Off we go.

Test One:

– Up centre line, take objection to judges car (it was a rollerskate look alike) rear, spin, rear, spin, wail (me) think sod it dont get to the end of the school do a nifty half 10m circle to E and carry on, horn goes, I ignore it.  Next movement 20m circle, take exception to pushchair and small toddler at B – he is running around a bit.. won’t go near him, nap, rear, nap, rear, wail, wail.  Hmmm.  So i yell at the woman, ‘can you control your child and move that bl**dy’ pushchair – what do they say? Dressage is about elegance etc.  We haven’t quite nailed that bit yet! She moves it .. just further up the long side.  Rear, rear, wail.. I am seriously sobbing now.  Judge gets out of car and tells me to give up.  I wail at her ‘I love her and she is soooo horrible to me’ (yes i really said that), judge patted me on the leg and said don’t worry love just go and see your mum she will make it better… I didnt have the heart to explain I was 33 and had driven myself 🙂

Test Two:

– We manage the whole test RESULT! No pushchair in sight and the judges car is a lot more mediocre!! I am merrily slapping D on the neck and telling her I love her (tears forgotton) when the judge storms up to me and starts yelling that I shouldnt pat my horse and Parelli says its cruel??? And i should just scratch her on the neck as a reward.  I explain I have always patted her and she knows its a good thing… next moment judge is slapping me super hard on my leg yelling HOW DO YOU LIKE  IT EH HOW DO YOU LIKE IT, NEXT TIME I SEE YOU DO THAT I WILL ELIMINATE YOU… and then marches off… I am left surprised… and sore!?

We went home after that, a random day!!!

About 18 months ago I had a jump lesson at my old yard.  Now don’t get me wrong my intructor at the time was a very knowledgeable woman – she trained Olympic teams in the 60’s or summat.. but she often seemed to forget that not EVERYONE was ready to be Olympic team standard!! At the time D and I had been having a few probs jumping – no matter what the size of fence (even 10cm x pole) we would balloon over it (top of wings stuff) and then land deep and bronc and when i mean bronc I dont mean a few little bucks I mean head between the knees broncing!! And I would fall off, cry a bit, wonder why she didnt love me, get back on and basically press repeat.

Well we have been doing lots of loose jumping and Miss Olympics herself decided in her infinite wisdom that a grid lesson would sort D out no problem.

Should also mention at the time I was going through a crisis of confidence and anything over 60cm looked HUGE.

Miss Olympics decided that to get D paying attention she should set the fences at c. 70 to start – much wailing from me ‘their tooooo big’, ‘shut up’ was the response only slightly ruder!! Only 3 fences, outside in the jump field. ‘Her legs’ i wailed (ground was hard), ‘shut up’ again only ruder…

First couple of times through fine, Great lets whack them up thought miss olympics…. so she put them up to about 90cm, lots of ‘encouragement’ ie. ‘pull yourself together’ ‘stop being pathetic’, lots more wailing (from me) and we went through again – she bronced at the end, I came off, immediately appeared to be hoisted back on and told to go again.  We went again, she bronced again, I came off again, before I even looked up I was back in the saddle (Miss Olympics was pretty strong!)

So I am a wreck and a bit bruised, sweating and swearing profusely, out of breath.  D is wired. Head shaking, tanking etc.  What happens next? A helicopter comes round and starts to land in the field next door?? I mean seriously who would have thought it.  ‘Get on with it’ Miss O yells.  I wail.  I lose.. i ride a very wired D to the fences, we hoon over them 100000 mph and bronc like our life depended on it, I came off, crack, ouch… D is off bolting round field, man gets out of helicopter looks vaguely surprised at the commotion, Miss O tells me to pull myself together, i try and explain i have broken my arm – get back on she yells, no i wail, then i start being sick, then she realises perhaps summat is up!!?

Long story short I had dislocated and broken my elbow which is apparently quite a feat in one go.  Call to sister ‘i think i need to go to A&E’ AGAIN?? She asks.  Sorry I say.  Triage nurse greets me by name and a cheery wave – ‘hi xxx, what is it this week’ charming.  Much giggling from the nurses.. weren’t you the one who did this that and the other, ever thought about giving up horses hahaha.

Strangely no, I have never thought of giving up horses! I did move yards quite quickly afterwards but it wasnt just Miss O’s teaching style there was more to it than that….