You'll find regular blog updates below with all the very latest news and updates on everything that we have been up too!
We were out eventing again, this time with just Milli competing in the BE100Plus at Chilham castle BE Horse Trials. After completing her first Novice run of the season at South of England a few weeks ago Milli felt like she was more than ready for the step up to Novice level. However I don't want her to ever feel over-faced so I had decided to run her round the BE100Plus at Chilham as she will still have the tricky Novice dressage to do and then SJ will be Novice height but the XC is only BE100 level so I was using it as a bit of a sweetener for her, not that she needed though as we found out on Sunday!
The weather forecast wasn't looking too good but thankfully Sunday morning it had brightened up slightly and the rain wasn't due until mid afternoon......hopefully once Milli and I had finished! It was so nice to have an event which didn't require an early start and even better when it's a local event too, only half an hour journey for us :)
On arrival I picked up my number and slowly got Milli ready for her dressage. She warmed up well but the warm up was very busy which made her a little anxious as she isn't a fan of other horses going past her too close! She settled though so we went in. I knew from previous comments that Milli needed to be a little more forward and up-hill so we have been working hard on this at home and when I came out after our test I almost thought I may have rushed her a little but the judge disagreed and used the comment 'laboured' more than once which none of us could understand! It wasn't the best test she has performed but I felt the 40.5 we were scored was quite harsh and it was consistent but obviously there is movements to work on but I have to remember she is still only rising 6! Bless her.
Putting our dressage score behind us we set of to walk our XC course which looked very straight forward, especially after walking the Novice and Intermediate tracks at SofE last time out, but just because it looked straight forward didn't mean it would ride that way! It was a nice course though for a sweetener run after Novice at SofE, there was a few questions then more forgiving fences so we were hoping for a nice round.
Before that though we had our jumping to contend with and from rounds I had watched during the day it was causing a few problems. I must be getting used to walking the bigger tracks now as it looked like it hadn't gone up! Milli was a little fresh in the warm up with the odd buck and squeak moment, I'm getting used to it now at competitions! We went in to the arena, and Milli had a slight babyish moment when she saw all the trade stands around the arena but after giving her a quick pat and saying 'good girl' she quickly concentrated on what was asked of her and went on to jump a lovely clear round!
With a quick change of tack the clouds were fast approaching so I, and many other riders, were quite keen to get the XC done before the rain started! She warmed up well, and I could really tell how fit she is now as she felt full of it so we went of to the start. Milli flew out of the start box and started in a great rhythm, perhaps a little on the forward side of things as a few strides were taken out at some of the fences but she felt full of confidence which is always a nice feeling in a young horse! She took it all in her stride and jumped a lovely clear round, taking all the direct routes and it felt like quite a fast round too! We later found out we were well inside the time, in fact the fastest in our arena which is great, showing she will easily make the novice times once we have a 'few more miles under our belts' as it were.
Milli was very lucky as we had a great support crew with us at Chilham, including one of our super sponsors, Sofia Graham, Veterinary Physiotherapist. Sofia very kindly gave Milli a treatment after her XC to help her relax and recover and as you can tell from the picture to the right Milli was relaxing and chilling really well, in fact had she had a nice straw bed I'm sure she would have had a nap!
Unfortunately our not so good dressage score resulted in us finishing just out of the placings in 11th place, but to be honest I wasn't too bothered as I know the dressage will get there as she's been working so well at home and most importantly she jumped two super jumping rounds making it feel easy!
For more pictures and a video of Milli competing at Chilham please 'Click Here'
We have a few weekends off eventing now so lots of training to be done at home with Roxie and Milli. This will allow us to get the others out to a few local competitions as Mum's 'big' Milli has been coming on well and I am taking her to Chilham unaffiliated horse trials in a few weeks, so we are aiming for a dressage competition before that so she can see white boards etc. It will also give us time to do a bit more work with our homebred rising 4 year old 'DidHe IV' who has been a very grown up boy and went for his first hack this morning! I think all of 'Team Gadd' will be competing at Chilham Park unaffiliated so it will be an incredibly busy day that's for sure!
***Keep Calm & Canter On***
We had a fantastic weekend out eventing at South of England BE Horse Trials with both horses. SofE is one of my favourite events in the south east and this year was one of the best yet, although I have to admit I was a little nervous! It was Milli’s first Novice run and Roxie’s first Intermediate of the season so I wanted to get good runs under our belts as they are both horses I have backed / re-trained and produced to event myself…….no pressure then!
First to go was Milli and with a 9:18am dressage my alarm was set for some ridiculously early hour once again but we made it there on time. On arrival I got the horses settled then we set of to walk the XC courses, I concentrated on Milli’s mainly but also had a look at Roxie’s as I went round, and as usual at SofE the novice course was a nice introduction for younger horses to this level with alternatives at some of the more complex combinations and the Intermediate was, well let’s just say, it looked a TOUGH track!!
Dressage was first and Milli is now so much fitter and feeling very well indeed which resulted in a rather wild Milli in the warm up. She did calm down and performed some lovely movements in her test but she also added a few extra movements in which resulted in us scoring 38.5 which was mid-field after dressage……I think she must have asked Roxie how you make dressage more fun!
Next was the jumping and it was a very big track, with two doubles downhill but it seemed to be riding well so after warming up well we went in. Milli jumped really well and as usual made it feel like a 95cm track not 1.10m! We did pick up a very unlucky 4 faults at an oxer half way round after she dropped behind me leg a little bit so she didn’t quite make the width, but after touching that pole she made sure she didn’t touch another that was for sure!
Next was our XC and I hadn’t decided if I was going direct at some of the combinations so I decided to wait and see how she felt once we got out on the course. This question was answered very early on as she felt like a pro, so we went all the direct routes and she gave me an awesome ride. We jumped a super clear and she felt very bold and brave for a young horse who’s not 6 until May! She felt quite fast too, I steadied her up so she could assess what she had to jump, especially at the combinations, but she still took out the odd stride out like at the fence into the water…..that felt a big jump! We later found that we picked up just 6.8 time penalties which was great as quite a lot had double figure time penalties so with a bit more experience under her belt she’ll make the time easily J
After sorting Milli out once we returned from XC it was now time to get Roxie all ready for her dressage…..the term no rest for the wicked sprung to mind! I was trying a new warm up routine with Roxie which has been working well at home so I thought I’d put it to the test in competition! I think it’s safe to say it worked, she remained calm and attentive all the way throughout her test and walked when she was supposed to walk and didn’t jog…..for once! I was very pleased with how she went and even more pleased to find out later that the judge agreed with us and scored us 35.0 which is a PB for us at Intermediate level!
Although it felt like we’d been there hours it was only 1pm but I now had 2 hours before Roxie ‘s jumping so I went and got something to eat and went out to look at some of the combinations on Roxie’s XC course again. I love my XC but being only just over 5 foot does make the fences big, especially the bullfinch fences which I can’t see over!!! Even though it was a big course I couldn’t wait to get out there, but first was the jumping, which we all know can be Roxie’s nemesis…..
I have been trying a variety of bits recently and, ‘touch wood’ I think I’ve found the right one. She was jumping brilliantly in the warm up so in we went. Like the novice it was a very big track, 1.20m all the way round with two doubles downhill and a treble as well, 10 fences, 14 jumping efforts which I did think was quite a lot for an eventing SJ track. Roxie jumped a really nice round, in fact it felt like the best round we’ve ever jumped. Unfortunately we did pick up 8 faults, the first part of the double of up-rights downhill…..I think she was busy looking at the filler on the second part and just didn’t jump quite big enough, and the last part of the triple where she just got a bit close. I was really pleased with how well she jumped and there was very few clear rounds across the intermediate sections and many with double figures faults!
Now with a quick change the adrenaline really got pumping and off we went for our XC round. The plan was to go direct at all the combinations and really test Roxie out, and her response was……challenge accepted! She really responded well and jumped her little socks off for me, flying through the direct routes all the way round and jumping a super clear! We went quite fast as well but this still didn’t tire her out as we got, one of those ‘flyer’ strides to the last fence and she just took off after…..I think she was disappointed when she realised she’d finished! I was even more pleased when I found out we only got 5.6 time faults, 6th fastest in our arena!
It was a very long day, not quite as long as our day out at Goring a few weeks ago but I was lucky as mum did the driving then, this time round I had to do the driving and I have to say the drive home felt very long! The horses and all of us in the car wanted our beds!
Although there was no placings this time I couldn’t have been more chuffed with how well they ran, with both horses performing brilliantly in all three disciplines and more importantly showing how much more they both have to offer for the future I'm getting rather excited…………roll on the next few events J! For more pictures and great videos of Roxie and Milli please check out their Gallery pages!
***Keep Calm & Canter On***
We had a bit of a frustrating outing at Goring Heath BE Horse Trials with Roxie and Milli but many positives to take away.
With the clocks changing Saturday night and us loosing an hour it made the 4am alarm seem even earlier but just after 5am and we were all packed, loaded and on our way, ahead of time for once! Although it is a bit of a trek to Goring it is such a lovely event and on arrival the sun was out which makes the early morning start worth it! After unloading the girls for a leg stretch I set of to walk Roxie’s XC course which was, as usual for Goring, an up to height and technical Novice track.
First was Roxie’s dressage and to say she was a little excited to be out eventing would have been a slight understatement. She wanted to do extended trot EVERYWHERE so after lots of lateral work in the warm up to try and contain her excitement we headed over to our arena…..she thoroughly enjoyed doing her test that’s for sure, she even decided to add in a few extra movements to entertain the judge! Frustrating as it is she did do some lovely parts of the test to score good marks but then she did some ‘interesting’ additional movements, like the explosion from walk into canter at C along with a squeak which should have just been a simple walk to trot transition at C! The judge did laugh when she squeeked though but as it wasn’t in the test we were lucky to get the 3 we did! She was scored 45.0, which believe it or not wasn't the worst score in the arena…
With a very quick change of tack we were off to SJ and she felt great in the warm and was jumping brilliantly so in we went. The course was, like the XC track, very up to height which worked to my advantage until she had another over-excited moment as we approached the triple and our round very quickly turned from clear to a round with faults. Disappointing as it was she started great and we did regain control for the last part of the course but I do think biting for SJ is next on the to-do list as she just kept taking hold of the contact, leaving me as a passenger not the pilot!
Putting this behind us we got changed and set of to go XC. As we were out of the placings by now I decided to use our XC round as a schooling round because the novice I did was last year at South of England, where I had to retire XC as she was just too strong! She was a dream XC and settled into a lovely rhythm very early on, I stayed steady to start with just to make sure I had control but in the middle of the course I took the handbrake off and she flew, we took all the direct routes and then towards the end of the course I steadied her up again just to remind her who was boss and she remained very polite all the way round…..if only she was so polite in the SJ! Considering we started and finished steady we only got 4 time faults which is quite fast for going as the novice time is always very hard to get. Roxie managed to redeem herself after her ‘enthusiastic’ start and I can’t wait for her next run which will be around the Intermediate at South of England in a fortnights time…..hopefully the bigger fences will get her to back of a bit! On a positive note though we did finish 5th out of the retrained racehorses section so it wasn’t all bad.
With only an hour between Roxie’s XC and Milli’s dressage it was a bit of a rush to get Milli ready for her test but with the help of mum washing Roxie off and sorting her out we made it . After Milli’s good test last week I had been working on the movements we got lower marks for at home and she warmed up really well, if not slightly excitable…..I blame Roxie for that!! She performed a really nice test, both mum and I were convinced it was a low 30’s test or if the judge was feeling generous a late 20’s…..the judge thought differently and scored us 40.5 which we really couldn’t understand. I was very keen to see her sheet to see what the judge had to say, but the sheet didn’t help us understand the mark anymore. We got very strange comments such as ‘cautious, too careful in the walk and 1/4s high’.
Agreeing to disagree with the judge we put the dressage behind us and now had 3 hours to have a bite to eat and go walk Milli’s XC course. The track was similar to the Novice track and was up to height with some complex combinations in it so it was the perfect place for Milli’s last BE100 run. Before the XC though we had to SJ and as usual Milli was jumping really well and popped round the course clear making it feel very easy!
In a bid to get home soon we changed quickly and headed over to the XC start and she warmed up really well and felt very forward going which makes a change for Milli . 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, GO…..off we went and I planned to take all the direct routes at the combinations to test Milli out and she certainly stepped up to the challenge and jumped and amazing clear finishing well inside the time! Every time I asked her to travel a bit faster she responded and there was plenty of fuel left in the tank when we finished which is good seeing as her next run will be at Novice level at South of England in a fortnight . Milli did finish in 10th place in her section as well which was great and lets hope the double clears with placing's continues…..you can wish can’t you?!
Sorry for babbling on but we have had a very good weekend, learning lots and also coming away with things to work on for next time. For more pictures as well as great videos please check out both Roxie's and Milli's Gallery pages........onwards and upwards from here!
***Keep Calm & Canter On***