Stunning, talented, fantastic horse for sale

Update: Enjoying a new home, almost instantly.



I haven’t been paid for this. I’m just putting this information in to the market/google for a close friend. I’m also wording this advert myself, but the wording is, of course, 100% verifiable and accurate.

Very, very sadly for sale owing to a relationship breakdown, one of the most-loved, best-mannered, most capable horses on our yard.

Soldier is a total star in every discipline.

In British Dressage he has amassed 45 Dressage points, in Show Jumping he has BSJA cash winnings and in British Eventing, has successfully competed up to and including Novice.

Soldier has also won in all Pony Club and Riding Club events including individuals, teams and National Championships.

Soldier has been in the same home for 9 years, during which he has helped take his current owner/rider from BE Intro to Novice – though she is now competing at Advanced level.

This is a serious, competitive horse, a quality dressage schoolmaster, who is excellently mannered in all respects. He needs to have a competent rider as he is capable of of sussing out a novice rider. Good to Box, Clip, Shoe etc.

Unfortunately, Soldier stands at 15.3hh, and if it wasn’t for his lack of height, I’d have him for myself in a flash.

He’s 15 years old and is bred as a TBxID, Sire: Miley.

Here’s how he looks when he’s working:

Goring Heath BE



Collecting things as I walk about

We three Kings of orient are
One in a bus and one in a car
One on a scooter beeping his hooter
Following Ringo Starr….

I don’t know. It just somehow fits my slightly idiosyncratic mood.

Perhaps because Home Alone 2 is on the TV.

I’m not listening to it though.

I’ve got my studio headphones on; I’m currently listening to Ray Charles’ ‘Heartbreaker’ on Barnsley Sime’s internet radio station

I am new to what Barnsley Sime does; it ain’t half bad, mum.


I have spent the day doing pony-related things.

I was shut in a car with a very nice lady.

Judging dressage.

I seem to have accidentally become the new owner of a lovely Dun-coloured pony who was in our section.

I sneaked him in to the back of the car later, when his owner wasn’t looking.

Right now he’s grazing in the garden.

I’m going to have to find somewhere more appropriate to keep him.


Vinnie says ‘hello’.

In that whickery kind of ‘Huhuhuhuh’ way he does.

We seem to have bought a new suite.

And I haven’t bought one of these:

Kawasaki ZX9R


But it was close there for a couple of minutes.

As well as the pony (who is at this moment quietly grazing on my neighbour’s rhododendrons), I almost came home with a puppy.

I know I can’t have one because of my stupid hours and daftly enormous travelling and stupid job but, and this is totally true, a small stray puppy, about 3 months old, was handed in to the Secretary’s tent.

It was gorgeous.

And nearly mine.

But a sense of the common variety came upon me and I left him there.

Though I do wonder if he was claimed by his rightful owners.

And finally.

I don’t understand why sitting in a car judging a day-full of dressage is tiring, but it flipping is!

So it is only fitting that I make myself a mug of chocolate and vanish in the direction of my lovely bed, for half an hour in the company of David Niven’s first autobiographical work.

And then lots of Zs will fall out of my mouth.

Love you!



So, this eventing lark…

Ho hum.

The commentary starts before we even left the yard because Tom, evidently, was having one those days.

Tom, who normally marches up the ramp in to the lorry, decided he didn’t want to load.

He went up on his hind legs and waved his front hooves around my ears. And again. And again and this time he pulled back as well as going up. And then he did it again.

On the last flying rear-up he pulled the lead-rein out of my hands (I will have rope burn for a week), turned, cantered at a five-bar gate and then flew over it.

He spent the next ten minutes evading capture (despite still having his head-collar on and trailing his lead-rein) galloping round and winding up the horse he’d jumped in with.


I fetched a bowl of feed and he turned, mid-gallop, and headed straight for it.

This time he loaded OK and we drove up to the venue.

Our dressage netted us 39.5 penalties which, frankly, felt that we had been harshly-marked.

Prior to show-jumping, we worked-in over the practice fences brilliantly. But as soon as we cantered in to the show-jumping arena Tom changed gear and wanted to do everything quicker than I did. He had two fences down and gave me a nasty run-out at fence 3, so that netted us 12 penalties.

The cross-country started off brilliantly. We attacked the first six fences with style and assertiveness; they felt excellent.

Unfortunately at fence 7 (the first part of three parts at the water), Tom decided he didn’t want to get his feet wet and no amount of riding could convince him otherwise.

So we bit the bullet and retired.

I’m not scrabbling around for the positives, they’re actually there for everyone to see.

Our show-jumping was more focussed, better controlled and despite Tom’s carelessness over the SJ fences, was far more fun at a competition than we’ve ever had.

The first six of the cross-country fences were also brilliant. I know that last time out we finished the track, but this felt *better*.

Hey ho.

Onwards and upwards.

Ups, downs, lefts, rights and straight-aheads

Edited: Saturday times in

This Saturday Tom and I are competing again. If you’re in the Ascott-under-Wychwood/Burford/Charlbury area, the British Eventing One-Day-Event is free to spectators. There’ll be the usual on-site catering and the organisers are putting on a range of activities/things to see for children.

But the best things to watch will be the action in the show-jumping arena and out on the cross-country course.

Our times are:






We jumped brilliantly today; if we can keep everything as smooth in the show-jumping arena on Saturday as it was today, we’ll jump a careful but perfect double-clear. Here’s hoping!

Of course, it will be a different kettle of fish on the cross-country, but we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. 🙂

In other news…

I have been impressed beyond belief with the way my Googlephone (Nexus One if you prefer) seamlessly plugs in to the full range of Google’s services. But yesterday, on my way to Cambridge, I accidentally discovered that it has SatNav built in to it.

I was in a motorway services, having a coffee and using Google Maps on the phone to double-check the location I was aiming for. And then I noticed a ‘Navigate’ button. I pressed it. After 2-3 seconds of looking at a ‘Fetching directions’ message, a disembodied female voice said ‘Turn left, then travel forward for half a mile then turn left and join the motorway’. And the screen displayed the typical GPS ‘directional’ display that has become so familiar to us all.

So I put the phone on the passenger seat and followed the instructions. And arrived, not too much later, at the front-door of my destination.

I’ve been playing with the SatNav feature in Google Maps today too. It really is simple to use.

I know what you’re thinking.

You’re thinking that this Old Welsh Fart(tm) has changed his mind and is going to get all hypocritical and be in favour of SatNav – a product he has raved and ranted against on more than one occasion.

You’re be wrong.

Using SatNav has made me realise just how dangerous it is.

  1. SatNav has a screen with a moving display and it is a design intention that the vehicle driver looks at the screen. This means the driver taking his/her eyes off the road.
  2. SatNav has a commentary, but when the commentary dries up – even if it is only because the commentary has nothing to tell you at the moment – the driver inevitably takes his/her eyes off the road to make sure the device is still working.
  3. SatNav has the ability, I can clearly see, to stop the driver for thinking for him/herself. I am now completely unsurprised that so many ‘middle lane hoggers’ are SatNav users. They can only be sitting in the middle lane of the motorway because the SatNav has not told them to pull in to lane 1.
  4. SatNav creates a dangerous situation whereby the driver stops giving 100% concentration to his/her driving, and instead, transfers a significant proportion of his/her concentration to SatNav, and that leads to situations like this.

There is a more trivial point for not liking SatNav: it doesn’t like my short-cuts through farmyards.

But it’s a thumbs-down for SatNav as we know it.

Horses, illnesses, bikes, writing, music

… and the bitter taste of something… bitter-tasting…

So, that scoundrel Tom.


Tom is nothing but a worry to his ‘dad’. He spends all day sleeping and eating and some of the time he’s more lovely than a lovely thing. But unfortunately, some of the time he’s less than lovely.

He’s not, to hastily clarify a point, nasty.

Oh no, I don’t believe for one instant that Tom has a nasty bone anywhere in his 17.1hh body – and that’s a big pile of finely-muscled body!

But he is… inconsistent.

And in a way, Tom’s inconsistency is his consistency.

On Sunday we competed at a British Eventing One Day Event in Berkshire.

The dressage test, unlike our dressage test the previous weekend, felt brilliant. Tom was alert, keen but listening. His attention was on me and him and not once did I feel his physical or mental gaze wander outside the dressage arena.

The judge’s sheet shows we were awarded lots of 6s, a large helping of 7s plus an 8 and a 9. These are good marks. Actually, given that Tom and I have been a working partnership for about eight months, these are very good marks.

During the working-in for the show-jumping Tom changed mental gear. He upped his speed, upped his game and upped the amount of riding I had to do. The working-in was, frankly, fast and furious.

But our actual show-jumping round was more controlled, better balanced and more finely-tuned than I could have hoped for. Yes, Tom had a pole down, but that was just carelessness on his part. And yes we had a run-out because I got the pace of approach and angle wrong in to one fence. But that was it. And at no time did anything feel ‘wrong’. Slightly too quick, yes, but not wrong. And Tom’s jumping speed can be reduced even further, without threatening his ability.

So far, so positive.

Unfortunately the cross-country was a disaster, I had to retire us at fence 3 for reasons of safety. And yes, I was bitterly, bitterly disappointed. It was a lovely cross-country course and, with the exception of fence 5 which was a nasty – and very technical – ‘corner’, every fence on the track was well within our capability; we would have flown round.


So here’s the plan.

Throttle back on the competing for the next couple of months.

I’m going to use the time to continue the improving trend in our dressage and show-jumping and, hopefully, find a way to reduce Tom’s speed in the approach to our cross-country fences.

This, I am declaring, is Our Way Forward.

Thanks for the concern. The 24-hour tummy bug lasted 12 hours. How’s that for a service improvement? But unfortunately my hand is still sore from car door closure incident.

I passed a ‘motorised bicycle’ today. No, really! It was a normal pushbike that had been fitted with an electric engine.

So I’m just wondering.

Would it have road tax and insurance? Or could it be ridden on the pavement/cycle-path?

You know the sitcom? It’s nearly finished. I’m at the stage where the palms of my hands are itching and I want to get the thing in front of the TV companies.

I need to be doing the playlist for this weekend’s podcast! I can’t hang around here all evening nattering with you – gorgeous though you are!

Leading from the rear

We were working in for the dressage phase of the Ascott-under-Wychwood Horse Trials when I heard Tom’s near-hind shoe flapping.

Fortunately the farrier on call wasn’t difficult to find, and within 20 minutes the problem shoe had been removed, the hoof tidied up, the shoe refitted and we were back on track.

Unfortunately the time that the emergency farriery had taken had used up most of the time we had for our working-in.

So we went in to our dressage test less than fully prepared.

And, as a result, our dressage marks were nowhere near as good as they had been at Allenshill last weekend.

We were, in fact, trailing in last place by a handsome margin, after the dressage phase.

A couple of hours later the show-jumping phase was a big improvement on recent exploits: Tom had three fences down and put in a very naughty run-out.

That gave us a very expensive 23 penalties (20 jumping and 3 time) to add to our very expensive dressage score.

The cross-country phase started very well.

Fence 1 was a sculptured log that was, frankly, much smaller than the 3′ our fences were supposed to be.

Fence 2, however, was a disproportionately large, very deep ‘table’ that was well up to height and depth regulations.

Tom recognised the challenge, he changed gear and we barrelled in to it at a substantially quicker pace than I’d planned.

And as a result, somewhere between landing after fence 2 and preparing for fence 3, Tom decided to ignore any and all slow down/stop signals.

We had no brakes.

This is a very interesting position to be in.

I managed to convince Tom to perform a large circle before fence 3, which was a stone wall with a large drop on the far side. I didn’t want to be flying over the wall and landing halfway in to the next county.

On the represent we flew over the wall, turned up the hill and jumped fences 4a, 4b, then galloped further uphill to fence 5, galloped further uphill to fence 6 and then galloped through the woods, and out the other side, up another hill and over fence 7, which was another very large, up to height, up to width ‘table’ fence (the same as fence 2) which we flew over.

We still had no brakes.

Fences 8a and 8b came far too quickly but Tom wasn’t showing too much any interest in slowing down, so I sat tight and let him get on with it.

Fence 9a was a bounce up a bank then three strides to fence 9b which was a large hanging log on top of the bank.

The trouble is, you’re supposed to massively reduce speed from cross-country jumping pace to slow-and-bouncy show-jumping pace to negotiate the ‘a’ part safely.

I had about 120 yards to try and achieve this reduction of pace and I was still asking for some kind of slowing down when we arrived at the foot of 9a.

Again, I sat tight and let Tom get on with it.

And 9b.

Fence 10 was a straightforwardly-large galloping fence.

Fence 11a (the first part of the water complex) was not to Tom’s liking. He ducked sideways and, if I’m honest, he got away with it because I wasn’t sufficiently prepared for him to muck about when he caught sight of the water.

Fence 11a was a straightforward table, but it was placed so that in the last three strides prior to jumping, he would catch sight of the water – and that’s what threw him off his stride.

I made a simple represent, we jumped it, cantered down in to and through the water (fence 11b) and jumped a very angled exit out of the water complex, over a large ‘chest’/table fence (fence 11c).

We galloped down through the other wooded track, over a large stone wall (fence 12), made the 90-degree right-handed turn up the bank and out over another stone wall (fence 13) and then turned left and headed down the hill towards ‘home’.

Fence 14, another full-up-to-height-and-width table,  caused us no issues but by now Tom had realised he was heading for home so he changed gear, again.

No brakes.


We were hideously scarily fast on to fence 15 and as it had a significantly large and deep drop on the far side I managed to wrestle him in to a circle well before the fence.

Two laps, that’s what it took to knock sufficient speed off for me to feel safe.

We flew over it, galloped on down the hill, turned right and we were so quick over the last fence that Tom made it feel much smaller than it really was.

Unfortunately, by now, I was having breathing difficulties because my compulsory body protector, which is normally very ‘snug’, was so tight that I couldn’t open my lungs properly.

So I fumbled the zip down and began gulping huge lungfuls of air.

Tom and I hacked back to the lorry park, I returned to a normal colour and he stopped puffing.

I’m a bit cross about the rubbish dressage score, but at the end of the day it was one of those things that was a direct result of having to get the shoe fixed, but a poor dressage score has a major bearing on the rest of the competition’s results.

I’m very cross about the run-out in the show-jumping; but I feel that the three fences he brushed down were just one (three) of those things. He jumped a similar show-jumping track clear twice on Wednesday, we just need to keep working on his balance, because that’s the key.

As far as the cross-country goes, I’m pleased at the jumping efforts on the course, but to spend a good 2/3rds of the track galloping onwards with, it has to be admitted, pretty accurate steering but no brakes at all, is less than good.

The organisers are going to leave the cross-country course up for schooling for a few days. I think we shall revisit it on Tuesday to see if I can introduce a slower pace!

We finished, unsurprisingly, in last place after that many penalties.

I could have wished for last Sunday’s brilliant dressage score and last Wednesday’s brilliant jumping, but if wishes were horses…

I am, nevertheless, ridiculously proud of my little boy.

We get to do it all over again next Sunday. We shall be trying for greater control and improved jumping.


Testing times

Tom’s times for the Ascott-under-Wychwood British Eventing Horse Trials are:

15.16: Dressage
17.43: Show-jumping
18.31: Cross-country

If he Show-jumps like he did on Sunday, we’ll have lots of issues and a swift elimination.

If he Show-jumps like he did on Wednesday, we’ll have a nice, relaxed double-clear and then we’ll get to play games on the cross-country course.

I wonder on which side the coin will fall in the morning.

Broadway result

Big write-up follows in due course, but there’s only 24 hours in a day so here’s the headlines:

Dressage penalties:


Show-jumping penalties:


Cross-country jumping penalties:


Cross-country time penalties:


Total penalties:


Overall position:


Dressage video: (check out the first give-and-retake of the rein, Tom got a ‘9’ for that!)

Show-jumping video:

Cross-country video part 1:

Cross-country video part 2:

Hot, horsey and lazy

On Saturday I drove Tom to Aston-le-Walls which is in Northants (but only just, it’s a few miles from Banbury), to take part in an Intro level one-day Event.

This was Tom’s first competitive run with Sammi onboard – Sammi has been schooling Tom all week, trying to get things straightened out – and we wanted to see how he would go in a competitive environment.

As well as the schooling, we have also had a tack change. We have decided to stick with the snaffle Bit for flatwork, and use the Cheltenham Gag Bit for both jumping phases.

We have augmented these changes by abandoning the Grackle noseband and, instead, using a Flash noseband for all three phases (dressage, show-jumping and cross-country).

I realise this is esoteric stuff to non-equestrians, but believe me, these pieces of fine-tuning are critical to the horse’s comfort and well-being because, just as you can lead a horse to water but can’t make it drink, you can’t make a horse perform well if it is unhappy with its tack.

Tom’s dressage continues to improve (fortunately it was the same test as his last two Events), and he scored only 36.5 penalties which is brilliant. I think his true dressage potential is around the 32-34 penalty zone, but it’ll take a bit more effort to get down there.

In the show-jumping Tom had a fence down which, as the video shows, occurred because he was too keen in to the corner, and he was unbalanced and rushing out of the turn.

In the cross-country phase Tom showed everyone what it was all about.

He came out of the start box at a fair pace (keen to travel sidways at one point), and maintained that speed for most of the course.

Sammi allowed him to open the throttle a little on the final 3rd of the track.

Tom’s dressage video is below. If you think discussions about nosebands, Bits and other pieces of tack is esoteric, stay away from dressage videos!

A bit pacier and racier than the dressage, this is Tom’s show-jumping round:

This is the start of Tom’s cross-country:

And this is the last 2/3rds of the cross-country, and the point where Tom is allowed to get a shift on:

The bottom line for Tom’s day is that despite rolling a pole in the show-jumping, clever Tom finished 12th out of 34 finishers. He completed the cross-country in 3m 50s against an optimum time of 3m 55s, which is brilliant.

I got caught by the sun and Sammi and Jess (who groomed for Sammi) spent far too much time taking the pee out of me.

After Tom had finished, and during a moment of mental inattention, Jess allowed Tom to tread on her foot.

As Tom is a) very big, b) very heavy and was c) wearing studs in his shoes, I was desperately concerned for her wellbeing.

However she reassured me that he hadn’t caught her foot and had just trodden on the side of her wellie.

Several hours later I had a text from Sammi to say that Jess was in hospital having a piece of her toe removed.

I felt – and still feel – very bad about this.

Everyone had the day off. Well, when I say everyone, I mean Sophie, Tom and I had the day off. Poor Sammi had to work at the yard (and she’d competed three horses at Aston-le-Walls on the previous day!).

We got up in the afternoon, we got showered and dressed in the early evening and we got back in to bed not many hours later.

During the course of the afternoon/evening I did a huge load of admin and, as a direct result, spent several hours feeling very smug.

And that, my friends, was my weekend; hot, horsey and lazy – as promised.

How was yours?

Man, I am so tired and I almost wrecked the lorry yesterday…

A mere two-and-a-half hours sleep last night, on top of the general stress, activity and rushing around of the weekend, all compound together to make me extremely worn out today

Yesterday’s one-day event at Larkhill was a bust.

Despite symptoms of misbehaviour going on underneath me, we somehow achieved a vastly improved dressage score of 39.5 penalties.

As we hacked back to the lorry to change the saddle and bridle I was starting to get very optimistic about the show-jumping.

Unfortunately there was a bit of a balls-up when a critical part of Tom’s jumping tack – the Cheltenham Gag Bit – fell apart in the groom’s hands. So to retaliate she dismantled Tom’s flatwork bridle.

Erm, umm. I may have been a little short – but I maintain that I didn’t shout at anyone or anything – and, anyway, I did manage to rescue victory from the jaws of defeat by finding the two, tiny, popper-like fastenings in the lorry, and the buckle that was hidden on the grass outside the door to the lorry living.

Anyway, with tack duly changed we hacked down to the show-jumping working-in.

Jess – my groom for the day – did a grand job. She set practice fences that were, to start, generous and welcoming, but within ten minutes we were coming in to obstacles that were slightly over-height and over-spread for our class.

But it was all good. Tom and I felt joined. We were together, we were calm, I sat quietly and waited for the fence to come to us and kept my hands down and relaxed (my failing is not doing these things!) and *gave* him stretch room as he basculed through the air.

We were good to go.

Or so I thought.

We cantered in to the main ring and although I rode him forward and kept off his mouth Tom stopped at fence 1.

I re-presented and he flew over it, and two, three, four and five.

At fence six we had issues and another stop and after that everything fell apart (almost literally) because we started hitting them down.

So we were eliminated from the one-day event in the show-jumping phase, because we were over the limit of jumping penalties.

A hack back to the lorry and a feeling of gloom, doom, despondency, disappointment and (even more) despondency invaded my head for the rest of the day.

Not even hot chocolate and home-made brownies managed to lift my spirits.

On the way home we had a horrendous moment as we were driving down the hill in to Marlborough.

A Honda Civic whipped out of a side-road in front of me and then just stopped in the road and indicated to turn across the opposite carriageway – but it couldn’t turn because there was oncoming traffic.

The trouble is, because the driver had just whipped out and, with no warning, come to a halt in front of me, we had to apply the brakes *very* fiercely and a) in a 10-ton lorry and b) carrying two horses, our stopping distance is nothing like that of a car!

Although we were slowing fast, the distance was closing too quickly so I had a choice: smack the Honda Civic up the arse fairly hard or aim for the gap between it and the hedge.

I chose the latter. Although it was very tight, it gave me the 12-feet I needed to stop the lorry.

We were actually three-quarters off the road, the hedge was overgrown and untended and the nearside of the cab was in it.

I signalled to the driver of the Civic to pull forward to a layby and, very carefully drove the lorry out of the hedge and went to join him.

We got out and looked at the car and the lorry.

The car was untouched. You wouldn’t have been able to pass a sheet of paper between the side of the lorry and the side of the civic, but somehow I’d managed to avoid making contact.

The lorry had a few paint scrapes down the side from the branches of the hedge, but other than that was similarly unscathed.

A very lucky escape for both of us, but I wonder if the driver of the Civic understands things like braking distances of *other* types of vehicles? Don’t they set questions on that in the driving test these days?

By the time I made it back to the yard, unloaded Tom, groomed him, rugged him up, fed him, unloaded all of the tack, put things away, tidied the lorry, put that away, switched off the lights and had driven home it was very late.

I don’t know how late because I was too worn out to care. And in the night, as I’ve said, I had far too little sleep.

Oh well, maybe I’ll catch up tonight/tomorrow.


The plan for the week is that Tom is going to have his big brown bottom jumped off him until he’s being straightforward and honest once again.

He’s entered in an unaffiliated one-day event next Saturday, but Sammi is going to take him around because she’s more, ahem, more assertive.

And maybe I could pick up some sleep, here and there?

In other news, I see from our Google Feedburner stats that the podcast has picked up 480 new listeners in the last two days.

*big smile*