I decided to take both horses to my friends yard as she has a fantastic arena with lots of cross country style jumps and steps. Lady was absolutely fantastic jumping everything I asked of her! She popped up and down the steps amazing, water trays, skinnies, corners, arrowheads and jumps on angles nothing phasing her so I was very pleased. Candy popped round at the end jumping very confidently and jumped a few 1.20m which I didn't get on camera unfortunately. So that has set us up nicely for the BE100 plus this Sunday at Stafford. I'm am so excited about Lady and have no doubt she will be entering the 4yo class this June. See for yourself on the video, sorry for the small picture it was done on my iPhone as we forget the camera!
On Wednesday we headed down to Draycott House to do the BE100 with Candy. We had fairly late times running near the end in our section. I had looked the previous day at my section and felt a bit intimidated there was the likes of Oliver Townend, Matthew Wright, Jannette Brakewell to name a few. After speaking to Holly (currently laid up in the hospital but luckily she still offers a fantastic helpline!) she made me feel much better after saying "Becci everyone was a nobody before a somebody" and she is very true I hadn't looked at it like that before! So I watched a few do the dressage and thought I am going to ride like that! Well thats what I did and came out with a 35.5 dressage which I was very pleased with it, this put us in a good position. The show jumping had been causing so many problems and I didn't really understand why. Was it the ground? Or was it the fillers? At this point I still didn't know my dressage score but knew cross country I would still have to go for it. The Show jumping was seriously delayed firstly running 15 minutes behind, but then a lady fell off and the course was held up for a further 30 mins. Then they lost power so they timers wouldn't work. Eventually we went in and Candy jumped a lovely clear round.
We headed straight down to XC, our time was 4pm but we didn't get to until 5.30pm due to all the hold ups. Candy didn't disappoint though, she flew round to be only one of two in my section to get within the time. I was over the moon we had finished on our dressage score. We decided not to wait for results as there were still lots left to go. I looked online the next day to find Candy had been placed 3rd, I was ecstatic and so pleased. I'm glad she has been making the time as that was my only worry moving her up to Novice level. This weekend we are headed to Stafford to do the BE100 plus which is a Novice dressage and SJ with BE100 level cross country, very excited to see how she fairs up to this.
I know most of you reading this will be asking why did you sell her? Well I am still asking myself the same question. So I will tell you all the dilemma that I faced which made me come to this decision.
I regularly visit my good friend Holly Gillott at Fox Covert Horses, which I'm sure you have all read about how she improved my show jumping in the space of literally 10 minutes! After spending a few days with Holly I went from jumping 1.10m courses with the odd pole here and there, to actually winning 2 classes in a row at Arena UK against 70 odd competitors and against top riders. Holly installed so much confidence into me that I even tackled my first Foxhunter 1.20m track only feeling sick once! I'd like to think Holly know's me better then anyone when it comes to riding and what horses I like. Going back 4 years ago when I first met Holly after ringing up an advert for Puzzle. I like to put it all down to fate, I was meant to have Puzzle & meet Holly. The website I found Puzzle on was under construction and they had mixed up all the adverts, putting the old ones on the first pages and new adverts right at the back. It was getting late, around 11.30pm and I was on page 39 out of 40. I was tired but something told me to look on the last page... There she was. Pokeys Puzzle. As I read the advert I instantly became excited and was hoping she was still for sale being on the last page you automatically think old advert! I rang up first thing the next morning to find out Holly had only just uploaded her advert that night... Now it was definitely fate! We went straight away to try her and as soon as she brought her out the stable I knew she was the one I had been looking for over the past 2 years. Puzzle was one of Holly's first project horses that she had kept a year to bring on and sell to fund university. I bought her there and then subject to 5 stage vetting which she passed with flying colours. At that time I was only looking for a Pony Club horse maybe to try a few BE90/100. Well 4 years later she has taken me all the way from BE90 to CCI*.
I was on holiday when I first got a text from Holly to say she had a horse in "that had my name written all over it!" I can only afford to keep 2 horses, and don't have enough time or stables to own 3. (Holly knows this!) It was only when returning from holiday that I went to stay again for a week with Puzzle & Candy. She told me again about this super talented mare that would suit me down to the ground, but I tried to block her out! It was the mid week and Holly & her partner Graham were headed out with the Quorn Hunt. I couldn't take any of mine because they had too much on that week. Holly suggested that I should take this mare she had been telling me about. I said only if it will look after me, but I won't be jumping anything! Well she was good as gold, I ended up jumping everything! Hedges, post and rail the lot! I just seemed to click with her like I had rode her for years. It was like riding Candy but with Puzzle's brain! I took her round the farm jumping all Holly's cross country fences. I knew there and then this horse was for me. That night I made a fairly quick decision to sell Puzzle to fund the purchase. I don't have the finances to go out and by another top event horse so buying a top 3yo seemed the next logical thing to do. Holly knows a top horse when she see's one and this one has the ability to hopefully go all the way with lots of time and hard work.
The next day Puzzle had sold. But rest assured, I couldn't have dreamt up a better home for her. Sam is perfect for Puzzle & such a lovely person who made this decision a whole lot easier for me knowing that she can provide such a great long term home. Sam will continue eventing Puzzle which is what I want for her. We will be keeping in close contact and I would love to visit her in the future, with Sam even offering me and my horse a place to say for a few days. My closest friends have come from buying or selling a horse and something tells me I have made another.
So I wish Sam & Puzzle a very successful partnership, which I have no doubts about what so ever. Puzzle has given me the best 4 years and I owe and love her a lot, but now my journey continues. It is set to be a very interesting 2012 with 2 young horses aiming for the Lycetts 4yo & 6yo finals held at Osberton. And who knows this horse could be the one to get to the very top.
My friend Holly took candy in her first 1.10m to be placed 3rd. This is really a fantastic round to watch and learn from.
Well this is Puzzle & I's first attempt at 1.20m. She was incredible, I on the other hand was a bit of a mess! They looked so big! She really did take me round only touching one pole...
Here is the latest video of Candy Blue in action jumping a strong double clear...
After looking at my times for Somerford a few days before it was a relief not having to get up at the crack of dawn, 2pm for my dressage test meant a lie in.. well till 8.30am. I got up mucked out, ate breakfast, lunged Puzzle, removed stains from Candys head & neck, went back up got changed, make pack up then headed down to boot Candy up ready for travelling. A nice relaxing start. We were going in our new lorry for the first time so thought it would be wise to give ourselves plenty of time.
Setting off at 11.15am we should have arrived at Somerford in good time estimated by the ever so trustworthy(not!) Sat Nav 12.40pm. Well it was the journey from hell. We had decided to get onto the A6 then head on the better roads through Macclesfield, well we missed the turn signposted to Mac & couldn't turn back round, the Sat Nav quickly re-routed so we thought great we must be able to carry on and get back on the Mac road. What a mistake trusting the Sat Nav was. I couldn't believe that when we had stayed on this road for 25miles in had taken us in a huge circle back to Buxton. What a nightmare! At that point we scraped the idea of going through Macclesfield so headed the way we had dreaded in a lorry on the A54. We did see a road closed sign at the beginning but assumed as lots of cars were still going on it mustn't be our road that was closed... we couldn't be more wrong yet again. We had travelled another half an hour to find out there was no way past the road closed so had to turn around and go all the way back on the narrow twisty roads. By this point we had no idea how to get to Somerford any other way so thought about just going back home! I saw a sign for Mac and decided to follow gut instinct (if I had any!) Phew it was the right, but the road was 25 miles long and now the Sat Nav had re-routed and estimated time of arrival was nice 1.55pm, not good being as my dressage was 2pm! I rang my friend and told her I doubt we were going to make it are they running to time... Just my luck they were running spot on time!
Finally at 1.50pm we arrived and had to throw Candy's tack on. I trotted to the warm up and there was no way I could go any later so had to go at 2pm it was now 2pm... Oh gosh! And to make things worse I had forgotten my number bib so had to pinch someone else's! I was in a complete panic with my saddle cloth slipping because mum had forgotten to put it through the straps at one side, Candy felt tense because I was tense. I tried to calm myself down and smile despite everything that had just happened. At times through the test I completely went blank... such a horrible feeling so left a lot of the moves to the last minute. I came out feeling just glad that the horn hadn't beeped at me, i really don't think I could of handled that as well! I knew it wasn't going to be a very good test but at least I now had 2 hours before Show Jumping! We walked the XC and I felt quite confident to tackle it, they a good testing course with lots of different types of fences. It was fairly up and down with an optimum of 5.39 which I thought was quite long but you always find at Somerford this catches people out.
The show jumping course wasn't as big as I expected it, maybe just because I am getting more used to the BSJA courses! It didn't cause many problems a few poles here and there. Candy jumped a nice clear round just faffing around with which leg she wanted to be on, which was normally the wrong one! Quick change and onto the XC. I popped a few warm up fences and then headed to the start box. Candy felt really up for it so I was going to push to try and make the time. She set off really strong with nothing phasing her as yet. We got to about half way around the course which had a jump to a ditch downhill to a jump back up the other side, then a few strides to a house on the top of a hill. I slowed her down a lot so she could see and prepare for the ditch.. this made no odds, she just decided to catapult me over it anyway! I landed half way up her neck with one stirrup to jump the next fence 2 strides away! I clinged on and managed to get over the next two fences. A gallop down the hill gave me chance to recoup myself and the rest of the round was foot perfect. We finished in the fastest time of my section 5.19 which was only 1 of 5 to make the optimum everyone else gained a fair few time penalties. This actually was a good feeling to know she was nearly travelling at Novice speed, so when we move up the time difference won't be such a shock to her! So a nice double clear picking up another 2 foundation points ended the day in 16th place. Hoping no roads are closed for Draycott on the 22nd!! Video footage to come soon...
Well its been a seriously busy week for me literally non stop! Work has been busier than ever after Look North featured a video of how easy it is to get into your house! They get in by using a pair of mole grips and snap the cylinder clean in two using only a slight force, the lock then just slides out leaving your house unprotected for anyone to walk in and help themselves! We test the cylinders before selling them and can get into standard locks under 10 seconds which is very worrying now seeing as there are tons of videos all over YouTube and now the TV of how to do it!! So just a quick warning go and check your door cylinder locks, if you had them fitted in the last 6 months you may have the new Anti Bump, Anti Pick, Anti Snap already. The only way to check is sliding the lock out of your door and looking for a hardened steel bar that runs along the bottom on the cylinder which is designed to strengthen the easy snap method. The other is a sacrificial cut around the end of the cylinder which is designed to snap off if anyone should try to snap the lock. You can read more on this topic and purchase the latest top quality cylinders to help protect yourselves here www.anti-snap-lock.co.uk
Anyway enough of work talk I seem to be chatting about them even in my sleep! So when I finally got a day off on Thursday I had the chance to meet up with Nick from Caviera Bedding. I was secretly very excited about this meeting after speaking with him the week before. We were both on the same wave length which is always a great start, and I was very keen to help him get this fantastic competitive bedding to market to help save other Equine owners a fair few pennies. It all went very well with lots of my friends already keen to trial this. So I will be able to offer those who would like to trial first before buying a bigger order 3/4 bales to make a bed at £6 per bale. (Trust me you won't look back) This way you can see for yourself how soft, absorbent and how long it lasts before topping up. In the long run you will be saving lots more money as we advise only 1/2 a bag a week after an initial 3-4 bags to make a new bed. (Maybe slightly more or less depending on rubbing matting) and remember you can get a further 10% off your first order direct to Caviera after sampling with myself by quoting BHE2012. Just send me a quick email at firstname.lastname@example.org or give me a call on 07800769991 to trial a few bales. www.cavierabedding.co.uk
This now leads me nicely to my next new sponsor Emvelo. Emvelo's products tie in very well with Caviera Bedding as I currently use Stable+ to keep all the unwanted bacteria, insects and smells away. This product also stops horses (well mine!) from eating the bedding just by simply using the ready to use spray that you can purchase from www.emvelo.co.uk. The other really great thing about Emvelo is they use natural animal care products and its not just for Equines.
Lastly I spoke to Carl from Hedcamz on Thursday & he was keen to sponsor me with a fantastic compact HD head camera, I have a very active YouTube channel which I'm sure you are all already aware I try to keep updated regularly with interesting videos. Well now it will certainly be more than just interesting! I will be bringing you something completely different... A whole new different way to watch Eventing through the eyes of the horse. Looking forward to using it at Somerford Park with Candy so keep an eye out for the video. www.hedcamz.com
Its really nice to have a great team of new sponsors behind me, as well as existing ones. Global Herbs are fantastic supplying me with great products for the horses & dogs! (if you haven't seen my promotional video for Leap Plus its definitely worth a watch & no I haven't completely lost the plot!) www.globalherbs.co.uk.
Super X Country have me in their new Sports Breathable cross country colours for this season so I will be wearing a new set of jazzy colours on course so watch out for those! I doubt you will be able to miss me in them! www.superxcountry.co.uk
So thank you to all of these companies for been extremely generous & supporting me. I believe a 2 way partnership leads to the most successful sponsorships. It is definitely one of the most important things to me. I will represent & promote these products & companies to the best of my ability. I know recommending these products will help other Equine Owners & their horses in some way so please do pick my brain about any one I will do my upmost to advise you further. I am looking forward to what I hope will be a very successful 2012 and with a great team behind me is what makes it even better.
To finish off thank you to every single person who took the time to vote for me in the Equestrian Social Media Awards. I was so shocked to even get nominated for the Amateur riders category, never mind to actually come in the top 3! It was such a lovely feeling to be put forward & then voted for as well as chosen by the selected judges. It seems what I originally set out to do which was to encourage as many other amateur riders that they can compete against professional riders without any facilities or unlimited budget and still succeed. So thank you everyone.
Off to Somerford in the morning, its my lorries first outing since I convinced my dad to part with his money finally after 2 years of constant pestering and since mum refused to sleep in the trailer ever again!!
Well despite the horrendous weather from rain to hail to snow we still managed to come away with two great placings! I have never been so cold in all my life! I think I was extremely close to hypothermia!!! Candy warmed up a little fresh for dressage after winding her up for BSJA the previous few days to get more out of her now the fences are getting bigger. She was unsettled due to the rain blowing in her ears but the test didn't look as bad as it felt when looking back at the footage. I must say I was a little surprised when I saw Candy's dressage test which they had given her a 42!!! She has never been given anything anyway near that before and she now has much better balance, OK yes she jogged a little in the walk, tilted her head a few times to avoid the rain and when a gust of wind hit her she went disunited! But still this horse normally gets anything from a 27 to 35!! Hmmm maybe some PC rivalry?! When I looked at other scores it seems she had marked very harshly but still I was a little disappointed ! Trying to put the dressage behind me I headed down to the Show Jumping with it still pouring it down. I was onto my 2nd pair of gloves and 3rd coat! Candy warmed up nicely although I could hardly grip the rains, she went and jumped a very wobbly clear round, I think the ground was to blame for the round looking so inconsistent, it was very slippery! We saw lots of people crashing and skidding into many fences eeeeek! So I was pleased she cleared them all. Again after another change of gloves and coats we trotted down to the XC. The course was testing but looked small next to the Open. It had every style of fence you could like of. Ditches, skinnies, palisades... Candy cruised round inside the time to finish on her dressage. We managed to pull it back jumping double clear to be placed 6th. She definitely deserved that placing with what she had to withstand.
The weather was getting considerably worse. It was now hailing for Puzzle. She was very forward and eager in the dressage but came out with 35 which was respectable I thought and put is in a good place going into Show Jumping. Again everyone was slipping and slidding all over the place with many withdrawing. Puzzle did not want to go home she had come all this way and couldn't wait for her XC run I could tell! She flew round jumping clear but very cocky! Seems all the training from Holly has certainly paid off! We cantered this time back to the trailer quick change and cantered back down! Puzzle is only 11 but by goodness she know her job better than anyone I know. She picked up a couple of time faults due to the ground, but who cared in those conditions! To get round whilst it was snowing and we both couldn't see the fence until a few strides away was an achievement! She even came back to trot for the most humongous drop we had both ever tackled and just popped off no problems! It felt like we were dropping off the leaf pitt at Burghley haha!! So Puzzle jumped double clear to pick up 3rd place in the Open eventing league.
Next stop is Somerford Park with Candy in the BE100 & Puzzle in the Novice.
Here you can read Becci's Eventing Diary