An Australian hack

This is the helmetcam footage of the 2012 Sydney CCI Three Star (CCI***) Three Day Event, as shot from the view of Australian eventer Seamus Marwood, as his mare Wild Oats navigates her way around the cross-country section.

In terms of difficulty, a CCI Three Star is one step below the CCI Four Star (the highest degree of difficulty). CCI Four Star events include Badminton, the Olympics and the World Championships.

I love the horse’s attitude, the way she communicates back to the pilot, and the way he communicates back to her when she asks questions.

I love the rider’s independent seat; it is his secure position and balance that make the helmetcam view seem so smooth despite, what anyone can see, are scary-big fences.

I don’t like cross-country track, but this is a personal thing.

Enjoy the ride.

I want this horse!

This is a piece of helmetcam footage from the cross-country phase of a  CIC*** One Day Event.

Not only is it apparent that the horse *loves* his work, he has a fantastic attitude and a big, bold jump.

Those fences are *big*, yet the horse is so scopey he makes it look as though he’s almost stepping over them.

*love* this horse:

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

 

 

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.

Bastard.

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:

Dressage

16.00
Show-jumping

17.48

Cross-country

18.40

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…

Horses:
So, that scoundrel Tom.

Tsk.

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.

Grump.

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.

Illnesses:
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.

Bikes:
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?

Writing:
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.

Music:
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!

Saturday’s One Day Event

By the time Tom and I got to do our stuff the photographer had all but given up and gone home.

Well, we were the last to go in all phases.

But here’s a thumbnail of us on the cross-country course, coming out of the woods, heading for home.

I have stolen the thumbnail and enhanced the image slightly and scaled the size up.

And if anyone wants to know why I’ve stolen the thumbnail and not bought the full-sized image, if they hadn’t cut my head off, I would have!

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.

Again.

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.

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.

Disaster.

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!