Thursday, 23 April 2009

Powderham Horse Trials.

This year saw the return of British Eventing to Powderham Castle. Last year’s Horse Trials proved to be a great success, despite the appalling rain and soggy conditions. This year saw a dramatic increase in the number of trade stands and spectators, helped out by the glorious sunshine and dry conditions underfoot.

The top riders were out in force, with the likes of Zara Phillips and William Fox-Pitt competing in the advanced class on their top horses. This was another rare occasion to see the amazing Toytown in action, and he looked in fabulous form.

The thing that I love most about Powderham is that you are able to get up close and personal to the riding greats. Unlike some of the really big events, such as Badminton, the riders seem very close to the spectators and can be seen wandering around the ground and watching each other. It is a fantastic opportunity to see our idols at close range and see them more as human beings! It is also humbling to see them competing against local riders.

The trade stands this year were greater in numbers, although because of that, they were placed away from the show jumping arena in their own quarters. This did have the disadvantage that you couldn’t shop and watch at the same time. Although, the view from the Otter Brewery bar was exceptionally good!

Andrew Nicholson, riding Avebury took the top spot in the Advanced section M, with Zara Phillips and Toytown claiming the prize in the N section. There was also success for local riders Claire Austin, who came third in the Novice Section K riding Rooskey and Helen West, who won the Novice Section L on Mon Chappelle.

Undoubtedly, this event will continue to grow in the future and is well worth a visit. It has certainly put me in the mood for the eventing season; roll on Badminton!

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Lunging Success!

Last Thursday, I successfully lunged Thomas! He was a bit distracted initially; I don't think he knew what we expected of him. I was very glad that Fiona (Crawford - friend and equestrian photographer) was there to start him off and get him under control.

By the time I took over the lunge rein he was a little lamb; listening to my voice commands and responding almost instantly. What a star!

I am amazed at how much that little pony has developed since my Mum bought him two years ago. Although we fell in love with him from the start, he was a tricky chap to handle and he just didn't seem to get us. It just goes to show how valuable time and patience are with horses. We both rushed him at first I think, wanting to build a firm bond and enjoy riding him. However, it has taken two years to get to the point where I feel that Thomas is working with us, rather than just for us. A subtle, but important difference. Not that he is perfect all of the time...

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Don't Look a Gift Horse in the Mouth.

If you work or volunteer for a Registered Equine Charity, or simply know of one that would benefit from some extra publicity at this difficult economic time, please contact either myself, by leaving a comment or Fiona Crawford, Equestrian Photographer via her website, We will be selecting charities to work with on our Equine Welfare Campaign at the end of May and are keen to hear your ideas and suggestions.

This is an excellent opportunity to raise awareness of your favourite Registered Equine Charity - why look a gift horse in the mouth?

For further information, see my post 'Equine Welfare', or visit Fiona's website.

We look forward to hearing from you!

Catching up...

So much has been going on in the last few weeks that the time has just flown by! I have been making the most of the spring sunshine and spending plenty of time with Thomas and his aging companion Foxy. Both are losing their coats rapidly now and require lots of grooming!

Since I last up-dated, I have tested out another new route with Thomas, which was a real success. He really enjoys exploring new places and I'm sure it does us both more good than sticking to the tried and tested circuits. We are lucky, being based in Mid-Devon, that most of the lanes are very quiet and they all tend to link up together so we have miles and miles of glorious countryside to explore.

We have also had a go at lunging; at first with me riding to see how we got on. Thomas seemed to know what he was doing, but I am not so confident. When I lunged in the past, Foxy wasn't very keen on the idea and I don't think I asked quite the right questions of her. So I have been right back to basics and have had some help with the techniques of lunging. I am going to have a go with Thomas tomorrow. Fingers crossed!

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Equine Welfare

As well as trying my hand at Equestrian Journalism, I am a humble pleasure rider who has a genuine passion for horses; that is why when equine photographer (and friend) Fiona Crawford asked me to be involved in a campaign for equine welfare, I jumped at the chance.

We are inviting any Registered Equine Welfare Charities to contact us with regard to the work they do and suggestions for an awareness campaign to raise the profile of their charity. At the end of May, Fiona and I will select six of the charities that have contacted us to work with. We will work on one a month, for six months, devoting at least one day to capturing images and compiling the campaign story.

This really is a fantastic opportunity for Equine Charities to receive some free publicity at a particularly tricky time - what are you waiting for?

All Fiona's contact details are on her website Or feel free to leave me a comment.


So, the weather was still beautiful this weekend and I had planned a new route to try with Thomas. I arrived, map tucked under my arm, only to find that Thomas had lost a shoe...

Gutted doesn't even come close. However, both ponies did enjoy the glorious sunshine on their backs as we took their rugs off and it was great to see them full of the joys of spring.

The shoe is now back on, so roll on next weekend. Obviously the weather will be cold and windy, but who wants to be a fair weather rider anyway?

Monday, 16 March 2009


I think my finger crossing worked all last week as the weekend saw beautiful sunshine - perfect weather for riding. I took Thomas along a new route and it was fantastic. The views were amazing, we could quite literally see for miles. The lanes were so quiet and peaceful that we could almost have had the world to ourselves. Perfect.

Before my Mum bought Thomas nearly two years ago, I was a very nervous hacker. I had unfortunately had too many near misses on my Thoroughbred mare (who is now retired). It has been quite difficult at times, getting to grips with a new pony and re-building my confidence. However, rides like yesterday's make it all worth while.

Sunny riding - bliss...

Thursday, 12 March 2009

The First Post

For my first ever Blog post, I hoped I would be able to tell a wonderful tale about a glorious hack in the warm spring sunshine. Unfortunately, last Sunday's ride could not be further from that vision. Approximately five minutes after we set off, the strong wind brought a heavy hail storm over us. In disgust, Thomas stopped still, in the middle of the lane, bum turned towards the stones of ice and refused to budge until it had passed over. To give him his due, he wasn't at all scared by the howling wind or the falling twigs - but he wasn't going to actually move in it!

After the shower had passed, the sun arrived and it was slightly warmer. However, we were both very wet and I was cold, so we cut our ride a bit short and just completed a forty minute circuit. It is a route we both enjoy; a little way along a quiet lane before dropping down a farm track and then climbing up a steep hill towards home. Great for me, not quite as relaxing for my husband who accompanied us on his bike!

Fingers crossed for better weather this weekend and a bit of sunshine.