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



Nellie the elephant

It’s been a while since I did an equine update so…

Vin’s headshaking continues to improve; the treatment seems to be capable of mitigating about 90% of his most serious symptom, which is a massive win.

I’m so happy with the way he’s responding that I’m now devoting quite a lot of time and effort to finding him a convalescent home; a place where he can spend a year resting, and allowing his back ligaments to repair.

Yay Vin!

Tom’s getting quite a lot of work thrown at him and while this seems to be suiting his attitude and temperament, it means he’s now incredibly well-muscled and fighting fit.

I schooled him in flatwork on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. On Thursday and Friday we schooled over the cross-country course and had a great time!

On Saturday Tom and I went to a local show-jumping competition at an agricultural college.


He worked in brilliantly, we jumped well and he needed just a very light-touch over the 1.10m warming-up fences.

Unfortunately, it was a different story in the arena where Tom napped badly back towards the collecting-ring, and we were eliminated.

The following day – yesterday – Tom and I went to a combined training (dressage and show-jumping) competition at Stow-on-the-Wold.

Not disaster!

I was a bit hazy on the dressage test, and the judge didn’t ‘get’ my pick ‘n’ mix approach to the sport, so we had a couple of ‘errors of course’ but, apart from them, we came away with some very respectable marking right down the sheet.

The show-jumping was a nice big arena, but it consisted of the scariest, spookiest, shiniest set of BSJA/JAS-style fences I’ve ever seen.

And we bombed round.

I was a little more assertive than the previous day, and we tanked round. The final fence was an absolute galloping monster of a five-bar gate with a rail on top; it came at us so quickly I didn’t really have time to fiddle our speed down so I went forward and encouraged and Tom answered with a beautifully basculed shape over it, even if we were slightly above the national speed limit.

Big smiles and many pats!

The rest of the week looks like this: gridwork tomorrow, flatwork on Wednesday and cross-country schooling on Thursday.

On Friday Tom’s off to NN14 3JA to do a Pre-Nervous with Sammi. I might let her do a Novice with him later in the season, but the plan is that Tom and I crack on and just have fun.

There’s another combined training competiton the following weekend, and the weekend after that is our ‘home’ One-Day Event

Good times!

p.s. the title springs from a rhythm exercise; the perfect show-jumping canter is supposed to be the same beat as a correctly-paced chorus of the song ‘Nellie the elephant’, or so I was told in Pony Club. Maybe it was just a cruel joke to get that tune embedded in to my head!

Horses and courses (again)

Apologies for the overly-equine flavour of this blog lately, normal service will be resumed soon

Because you would, right?

You would pick up a horse on Monday, school it flatwork on Tuesday and Wednesday, pop it around a small course of fences on the Thursday and on Friday…

On Friday you’d take it to a Combined Training competition at a big equestrian centre, right?

Combined Training is a dressage test followed by a show-jumping round.

The class I decided Tom and I would have a go at comprised the dressage test known as Prelim 18 and a course of 10 fences set at 2’9″.

I’ll leave out the detail of the day, the bottom line is that we arrived back at the yard with two rosettes: 4th in the dressage and 5th in the show-jumping.

Not asleep yet

Aren’t they peculiar, those strange things that wriggle in to one’s consciousness to press the worry button, just as sleep starts to come?

And with the worry button fully engaged, sleep vanishes quicker than a pair of your girlfriend’s knickers being pulled up, dangerously close to cutting off more than your wrist circulation, with the sound of her mother walking in through the front door an hour sooner than expected.

The heartbeat quickens and consciousness zaps right back in there at a hundred miles an hour with a massive bang!

And so it was just a few short moments ago.

I was dozing off, drifting gently in to the state of total unconsciousness that, in my world, passes for sleep.

When the worry worm wriggled in and did the button pushing trick.

And what was the thing of global importance that had been slumbering beneath the worry button before that tendril of consciousness pushed The Big Red Worry Switch?


Yeah, I should explain.

Vin and I are out competing on Sunday, it’s not Eventing, just a low-level bit of Riding Club stuff.

We’re in a Mercian Teams Combined Training competition.

Combined Training is eventing but with all of the stress and none of the fun.

Sorry, I mean: you get to participate in a dressage test and a round of show jumping and then go home.

It’s still serious stuff and – being me – I’ll still be out there to perform the best we can.

But there’s none of the cross country thrills.

Nevertheless, Combined Training is a very good preparatory exercise for The Real Thing.

Did I mention that Vin and I are out eventing – doing The Real Thing – at Eland Lodge Horse Trials on 28th June 2008?

Anyway, back to the Combined Training thing that’s coming up this Sunday.

As I mentioned, Combined Training comprises dressage and show jumping, right?

And there’s a gazillion different dressage tests, right?


I have a horrible thought in my head that I may have learned the wrong one for Sunday.

Yeah I know.

What a twat.

Oh sure, I could learn the right one.

That’s really easy for you to say.

But, knowing me, I’d be halfway through the right one when I’d suddenly, and for no reason at all, slip in to one of the other dressage tests floating about in my head.

And then Vin would get confused, and I’d get confused and the judge would get confused and beep her horn at me and tell me where I’d gone wrong and how I should pick up the right test again but in my head I’d be floating from Prelim 14 to Prelim 18 to BE 102 then BE 100 to Prelim 10 and I wouldn’t be able to remember where I’m supposed to be or in which direction we’re supposed to be going or at what pace or speed or anything and I would become catatonic with nerves and stage fright and be unable to carry on and everyone would point their fingers and laugh at me and I’d slouch out of the arena and burst in to tears and…

Oh boy.

As Sam – in the 1980s television series Quantum Leap – would say (in that ‘boy am I in deep doo-doo’ kind of way).


Sunday’s combined training at Allenshill

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity.

Boy did Dickens get it right when he penned that beginning to Tale of Two Cities!

My age of foolishness peaked (I’d like to think) with the thought that Vinnie and I were ready to step up a gear and tackle a more competitive environment.

Not ready enough, it would seem.

The Lovely S was on hand (bless) to capture some pretty excellent dressage.

This photo shows he’s pretty relaxed with the whole thing and that he has an unexpectedly extravagant trot movement (for a Thoroughbred ex-racehorse):

The second photo shows he can be extravagant (though less so) on the right rein too:

I like this third photo, it shows he’s relaxed right down through his back and he’s working in to a really soft canter:

And finally the last movement – ‘Halt, Imobility, Salute’. Unfortunately Vin is supposed to be doing his ‘bit’ of the salute – standing in an outline ‘on the bit’ with his head toward the judge. Sadly he seems to have seen an unguarded pint of cider in the other direction and he’s gauging his chances of quaffing it before I notice. Ah well, horses, eh?

Unfortunately the dressage was the high point of the day.

He just didn’t want to know anything about jumping.

The Lovely S didn’t seem to bring back any photographs of our attempt to hurdle the Allenshill show-jumping track at 90mph. I think she had her hands over her eyes.

But – being positive and optimistic – Vin’s competence in dressage continues its upwards climb. Saturday’s marks show the trend improves with every competition.

So there’s some good in the day as well as some not good.


Let’s have another go…

Fresh from our gloriously non-competitive outing at The Deer Park on Sunday it’s time for another go…

This Sunday there’s another combined training competition at Allenshill – Prelim 7 this time.

So Vinnie and I are entered (isn’t this internet-thingy wonderful?).

We’re going to do two classes.

Punishment and glutton.

The last time Vin and I did P7 we were placed so we’ve got a very tangible target to beat this time – 125 points.


I received a text from Sue at the yard this morning to say that Beech is having his (hopefully final) x-ray on Wednesday.

Fingers and crossed.


Combined Training


The Lovely S and I got out of bed more or less on time.

We did the usual stuff then left the house more or less on time.

We arrived at the yard on time.

I loaded the lorry.

Groomed a surprisingly mud-less Vin.

Put him in, gave him a haynet to munch on and we…

Left the yard early (shock horror!).

It didn’t rain (more shock horror!).

Arrived at Allenshill way ahead of schedule (so much shock horror that it defies description!).

Had a cup of tea from the excellent refreshment stand.

Watched a small group of horses working-in.

Walked the show jumping course.

Walked around to the dressage arena and watched three tests.

Got very confused because the first test we saw wasn’t the one I’d learnt!

Realised that that test belonged to an earlier ‘dressage only’ class.

Watched the first Prelim 18 competitor.

Watched the second, just to cement the test well and truly in my head.

Got confused all over again!

The second competitor rode a movement that I hadn’t learnt!

Dashed back to the lorry to check that I had learned the correct movements after all.

I had.


Got Vin out of the lorry, ran a body brush over him, tacked up.

Put my show jacket on, slipped the smart silk on to my hat.

Put on my riding boots and gloves.

Mounted up and walked in to the warm-up arena.

And began working in.

Vinnie (bless) was brilliant; laid back, supple, obedient.

Until, about 10 minutes away from our test…

I asked for a right-lead canter.

And he blew up.

Minor rocking horse action accompanied by a couple of bucks.

One of the other working-in combinations were so spooked by Vin spooking that the rider fell off!

I didn’t.

We got called forward and rode in to the arena.

I felt we executed our dressage test pretty damn well.

With one exception.

The second canter – right lead.

Yep, he had an issue with it again and let me know, again.

I asked three times for the correct canter lead and three times he told me where to go.

In the end I ignored the unasked-for counter canter and just resolved to finish the test.

Back at the lorry we swapped tack (jumping saddle for dressage saddle).

And began working in: canter-work in a forward jumping position.

Then rode in to the jumping arena and popped the practice fences a couple of times.

Announced we were ready and…

Went for it.

Vinnie jumped like a star (even if the star in question had a resemblance to a stag on speed).

No stops, no poles down, no crookedness, no hesitation, (in fact lots of quickness of the almost too variety).

I don’t know where we finished in the placings.

We had to leave Allenshill as soon as we’d jumped â- a prior commitment with Harry Potter.

But I do know that Vin was a total star.

We raised our Prelim 18 points by a further 20 on our last Prelim 18 outing – brilliant improvement.

I also know that today’s competition filled both of us with confidence and elevated our partnership to a new level of trust and understanding.

I just hope that the whole thing wasn’t too boring for The Lovely S who accompanied us.

Combined training, Sunday


Dressage at 12.22 and show jumping as soon as we’ve changed tack and worked in.

Need to be at Allenshill at 11.00.

Which means leaving the yard at 10.15.

And that means arriving at the yard at 09.15…

Therefore, leaving the house about 08.45.

Ho hum.

So much for a Sunday lie-in.


This morning’s show jumping…

Didn’t happen.

Yeah, I know.

Waste of space.

It didn’t happen because I was too tired last night.

I could explain but…

But I schooled Vin this afternoon; flatwork.

He was tense across his back and a little stiff on the right rein but his left rein work was much improved.

And now I’m about to dig out Prelim 18 and start a learning programme in preparation for Sunday’s combined training at Allenshill.

Just had a text from Gary The Lorry Mechanic.

Big Bird (my lorry) needs a new exhaust.



Forthcoming plans

On Tuesday Vin and I are probably going show jumping at Allenshill.

And on Sunday we’re probably going Combined Training, again at Allenshill.

On 19th August we’re probably going to do the Riding Club Teams combined training competition.


I really want to see the new Transformers film. I mean, I really do!

And now I have to finish writing an end to a short story.

I must.

So I’m going to do it.

Right now.

I mean.

I’ve been thinking about it for hours.

Just going to sit right down.


And write it.

Watch me.

Dum de dum de dum.

long pause.


Haven’t written it yet.

Soon though.

Any minute now.


I mean.

There’s nothing else for me to do.

I’ve wasted time doing all the usual time-wasting things.

And now I’m going to do it.

Just as soon as I’ve watched the end to Crocodile Dundee II.

And perhaps played spider solitaire.