Alfie danced his way to a 1st and a 2nd place in the Mediums at Merrist Wood. I was very pleased with his placings and % as there were some awesome horses there, ones that i would sell my house to buy and live in a caravan if only James would let me!
But the next day he was a little sore in the back and sadly I had to face up to the fact that even when a saddler tells me the saddle fits Alfie .... it may not :-(
After a month of long lining whilst new saddle being made (wow Alfie is going super on the long lines - piaffe, a little passage, square halt, rein back, shoulder in, travers and half pass!) I now have the most gorgeous saddle in the world, bespoke for both Alfie and I.
It is so heavenly for both of us and I am so grateful to Nick Dolman Bespoke Saddler (and so grateful to Alfies sports massage lady Pennie Hooper for recommending him!)
Never again will I buy an off the shelf saddle made by god knows who when I can get a bespoke saddle made by Nick for less money than a well known saddle. SORTED!
Alfie was reserve Champion at the Medium Area Festival last September so he had qualified for the Area Festival Finals which take place at the BD Winter Nationals at Hartpury in April. Sadly I had to withdraw as could not keep Alfie in ridden work as I just couldn't keep training in the old saddle once I knew it was not right for him. Gutted. But Alfie is more important to me than anything.
Two lovely ladies Sally Brogden and Kate Hird have been coming out to venues for training (as well as having training at home) so as to to get their very 'attached' horses more confident at shows ready for when they have to leave each other. We all brought ear plugs for the first few lessons due to all the calling to each other, wore gloves and hats due to the high school airs above the ground and now feed them Equifeast Cool Calm and Collected so as to help the brain! Well im pleased to say all the hard work is paying off! Kate and Suprise came 5th and 6th at Merrist Wood, Sally and Red came 4th in P7 with 71% and 3rd in P12 with 76% at Angel Farm, then Kate and Surprise came 5th in their first long arena test at Wellington!
Selina Barrow has made such awesome progress with her beautiful spotty mare. Selina wont mind me saying that when we first met, she was suffering dreadfully from nerves after a horrible accident. I am not a brave rider anymore so I really do understand when someone's stomach is churning with nerves and would rather get off and go to the pub! Here's the proof - a beautiful horse completely 'on the aids' (if you know you can 'woah' then your more likely to 'go'), attentive and complete trust to the rider (instead of on a sight seeing tour bus to Brighton!) thanks to the internal connection of the ring of postural muscle in the horse, brought about now by Selina's improved position and aiding system. They are now ready for BD and i am very very very proud of them for that as Selina had to put her trust in me that I would never make her do something she didn't want to, yet I could stretch the boundary (on the right day, at the right time) to make sure we progressed both physically and mentally.
Alf and I had the most exciting brilliant day making the TV advert for Equifeast. I can't believe ginger squirt is on the telly! Am so grateful to Equifeast for the brain food, tummy food and joint supplement that helps so much with Alfies training.
Karen Jazz Merrifield continue with their awesome success on their black knight Toggi with Jazz coming 7th at the Hartpury Champs in April! Karen did a dressage test getting x4 8's on her test sheet and then Jazz scored 72.21% for individual 4th at the RC Intermediate Winter Champs in May!
Sally-Anne Barton and Casper are flying after winning both Ele 49 and Medium 63. Training a Gelderlander to work over the back with a long neck, drawing the contact forwards is probably one of the hardest things to do (Friesian, Welsh D, Andalusion, Lusitano, can also be very similar) AWESOME horses with phenomenal leg movement but we also need to be a 'back mover' not just leg mover. Casper is well on his way and I am so pleased for and so proud of Sally-Anne. I think they can go to Grand Prix, in fact that may be the easier part, establishing the correct foundations to build this onto is the harder part! Not because Casper is not an eager willing dance partner because he really is, but because his natural in bred way of going is to move with a hollow back and very high head neck carriage with a high hock and high knee action. Very useful in the piaffe passage work but there's much more to do than just that!
I had two fabulous days riding him at the TTT with Stephen Clarke. Stephen was awesome as always. Day 1 was spent on getting more genuine honest reactions to the leg so we could get both the brain and the hock thinking forward not up and and down. Casper slept on this overnight and the next day he could really show Stephen his talent and his desire to please by coming out and being so lovely and reactive to my leg and so brave and forward thinking, that we could slow down and start showing his super duper lateral work.
Sally-Anne has had a brilliant summer with him with more wins at 68% + at Elementary and 70% + wins at Elementary Freestyle to Music. Elementary Area Festivals Qualified for and next years Music Regionals qualified for!