A tale of a shoo…

Hey guys .. Thought I’d bore you all again! So here goes..

Today i was asked about a horse I ride called Jimmy Shoo , it was also pointed out to me that I don’t  talk about him much nor have I given him a nickname like my other horses . I got asked why – it honestly took me a back! But they were right , I don’t and I haven’t.. So it got me thinking – why?

Jimmy was bought as a yearling by his now owner , whom I’ve ridden for for 15 years.. I have done everything with him from rollering and gently long reining him away as a 2 year old to riding him riding him around a advanced today.. I start all my horses off gently as 2 year olds.. The way I see it is it’s better to get them on side and get them used to working with/for you at a young age.. For me young horses are like kids , why shouldn’t kids clean there own room and work for pocket money? If you left your son to do totally as he likes till he is 18 could you then expect him to get up early , work for his keep and do chores without argument?!?! I see young horses the same.. Also there has to be a respect and pecking order set from day 1.. I am  boss end of… Now it doesn’t mean I can’t be a great , fun , kind and amazing boss.. But like any good boss – you work with people , listen to there needs and help get the best out of them for the sake of both of you…

So along came Jimmy Shoo – how would I describe him from day 1 if asked? Simply vanilla and nice…

Ask anyone that knows me and they’ll tell you I don’t do ‘Vanilla’ or ‘nice’ – I am a total law in to myself , but will be told , I’m fiery , hot headed but fiercely loyal and I like to think I inspire my friends and horses to be and treat me as I treat them.. But then along came Jimmy!!!

From day 1 I knew I never totally ‘had’ him , he did what we asked with no real questions asked until he started finding what we were asking of him hard.. If Jimmy found something hard or didn’t like what he was being asked to do he simply said – No , why would I want to do that? This if I’m honest is a trait I have a little of myself!! But he is one of the most naturally talented horse I’ve ever sat on… That’s half the problem , he does 98% of everything so easily why would he want to do the 2% he finds hard? Also he will not be bullied and will not be ‘told’ even when he’s in the wrong!!! The way I  train my horses is very black and white.. Try for and be kind to me and I’ll try for and be kind to you , don’t try and be unkind to me and I will make it clear that’s just not cricket.. I don’t mean in a rough horrid way but for 1 hour of there day I expect my horses to try for me.. After all for the other 23 they can do as they like and are very well looked after!!!

Simple as that!!!

I quickly learnt to ride Jimmy like he was to clever for his own good.. Gentle canters round his first few events giving him time to look and learn turned to disaster , all it did was give him time to think about how he wasn’t sure he wanted/found it easy – therefore why would he do it?

Every time he went up a level I found myself making the same mistake – giving him a steady run round only for him to very often decided it wasn’t for him on that particular day… So 2 weeks ago at his first Advanced I found myself making the same mistakes (who says I’m a slow learner!!) and yep you guessed it , he decided by fence 6 – a left handed corner it simply wasn’t for him..

His owner wanted to know afterwards did I want want to go schooling or make up some left handed corners etc.. Nope I said… Why remind him of what he found hard? He isn’t the type to try harder for us for it.. Let’s remind him of the 98% he finds easy..

So off we went today – his second advanced , after one ‘naughty’ in the dressage (still a nice mark) and a super round in the SJ for a one very unlucky pole down , we went down to the XC.. Loads of skinnys the whole way round and two lovely left handed corners at fences 19 & 20!! Great I thought when I walked the course!!!

So off we set , whilst I have never thought I ride well I do think I ride ‘inspired’ as well as anyone… So that’s what I did , I rode him like he was the most inspiring horse ever , no vanilla or nice anywhere to be seen!! Jimmy finds going quick across country easy , he has a amazing cruising gear and he loves to angle fences and his brain is so quick he eats fences up when you turn him tight to them , I can feel his ego build underneath me when you do…

So we galloped round , I rode the most unorthodox round on a horse doing his second ever advanced event round a track that caused real problems… But he loved it , he grew and grew under me.. A couple of fences early on I had to throw my heart first but to be fair he followed and that’s good enough for me!! We were the third fastest time of the day behind two very experienced horses ridden by the best and quickest XC rider to have ever have come out of ireland and we finished a good 5th in very hot competitive section.. Still marks to gain in the dressage and SJ so the futures looking bright… (hopefully!!!)

I always try to make sure I get a good jump at the last fence , it’s what the horse goes to bed on… I try to make sure there last jump makes for dreams not nightmares!!

Remember unorthodox isn’t always bad and if they won’t be told maybe try it there way… You might just be pleasantly surprised , after all there way with results is better than your way with none… Not everyone will conform but if your smart you can out think them so they don’t even know that they are conforming even if its conforming on there terms…

Having a ego rarely gets you anywhere in life…

Think smart , be smart and talk quite….

Night people..


So people I’m back!!

Its been a while since my last blog , lots has happened thou so pull up a chair and prepare to be bored!!

So I spent most of last week in the deepest darkest depths of Norfolk at Houghton 3 day event with the run away Moose , I honestly thought we went there with a great chance of being in first 3.. How wrong could I be?! Very is the answer… The whole week was disaster from start to finish!!

First of all there was a massive mix up with the new lorry we were went to be taking , then my poor parents rocked up at there hotel to find out I’d booked it for the wrong week.. It gets worse… Having then flown thou the trot up and got given a great draw (mid day Friday) I thought all my bad luck had been used up! Again I was so very wrong!!

Having done a dressage test I thought would be right up there with the leaders (on a mark of 44) I found myself on a mark of 60!! Now my first thoughts were that because I had followed this bloke called Andrew Nicholson , you many have heard of him.. Or not as he is foreign but he rides well , has nice horses and is someone I think is going places.. The horse he rode was very very smart so I guessed maybe they felt it might be nice to let him win something for once and didn’t want me stealing his thunder. Again I was wrong , Andrew was on a mark of 58!!

Judges and the way they mark can be hard to work out sometimes but I just try to suck it up and no matter how disspointed I maybe with the mark as long as I’m not disspointed with my horse I try not to worry and move on , it’s a opinion after all… No matter what people say if Pippa Funnell trots in to a ring EVERYONE expects her to do a better test than most people so straight away you naturally would be looking to give her higher marks. No point in getting stressy or worrying , it won’t change the mark…

So on to the XC , or should I say the swimathon! I was woken on Saturday morning at 5am to pouring rain.. This can’t last I said to myself – you guessed it!!! I was wrong again!!! Having sat in my PJ’s in protest till 7.30am saying I wouldn’t go out in it (fair weather rider you see) I bit the bullet and started to get ready.. Now the run away Moose is well named , she runs away with me – a lot!! But for all the right reasons , she’s a work horse that lives to do her job , we have worked really hard to get the bitting right… The course was by fair the biggest she had jumped..

The ground was very deep but they were getting thou it , anyways off we set to the first fence on the XC and what should come flying by my head on the landing side? One of her front shoes… I could not believe it… So I took a deep breath , swore aloud and decided to just let her ‘canter’ round the track , after all it was her first 2* , the ground was shocking and we were well off the pace after the dressage.

The Moose has her own ideas on many things but my god she jumped her heart out , she busted a gut to jump between the flags.. She hated every inch of the ground and got quite tired as she puts a million per cent in to every stride she takes.. I took 2 long routes where the ground was really bad at skinnys and although she got low in front as she got tired she kept her ‘jump’ often really strong horses get on there head and shoulders as they get tired and it was great that she finished the course so well.. So you could have knocked me down with a feather when as I pulled up a member of the ground jury came and had a word with me for going to slowly!! Eventing isn’t like racing, there’s no betting etc so often riders will ‘school’ horses round for experience…. I stood my ground as I’d done the right thing for my horse on the ground…

Gutted to say there’s no fairy tale ending , bad luck again.. Having got her shoe back on and seemed A1 the poor Moose had given the other leg a right wallop , we could have got her sound for the last day but decided to do the right thing by her and take her home give her a full MOT and save her for the 2* at Barbury and Osberton.. She if I’m honest surprised me with what a great feel I got from her and I’m excited to say I think she really could be my next ‘proper’ horse.. But still I was gutted not to complete..

So having left Houghton Sunday morning I made the impossible possible and drove to Uttoxeter race course to watch my great friends horse run , now I was still feeling sorry for myself , felt I should have been at Houghton getting my winners prize…

On a different note – it’s amazing what you can pick up on the M1…

The horse that I went to watch is far from the easiest horse to train and ride , not because he’s not a nice horse – he just simply is a very complex character… I have to say having had the pleasure to see the training performance and the brilliant quiet thinking ride the horse was given from the start to the end of the race.. No ego , just proper horsemanship – It made me decided that it takes a bigger , better owner/trainer/rider to look after the horse and do what right by them not what we think is right by us…

It reminded me that there’s always another day , another race , another dressage judge that might even like you or event to go to… Follow your gut and be kind to yourself on any decisions you make , you make those decisions for a reason – maybe not always the clearest of reasons at the time but everything happens for a reason and you must believe that..

Good night people…

Over and out…




Over thinking…

Hi guys ..

So I think I’m getting the hang of this blog maralaky! I waffle on about stuff that you will hopefully find interesting!!

A couple of days ago I got a interesting email from a lady asking me if I had lost any confidence after my roll around on the Norfolk soil with the not so flying Cow and if I had how did I dealt with it…

I have watched the video of my fall at least 45875 times now! Each time I can hand on heart say I don’t think I did anything wrong , nor if I could go back in time would I change the way I rode the fence. Id like to add nor do I think Mary did anything wrong , she just made a mistake – she saw the ditch after the rail , took her eye off the rail for that spilt second and boom it was to late to do anything about it.

Being honest it did shake me a little (it was my first ever ‘proper fall’ and it hurt! A lot!) I found myself walking around the XC warm up on my first ride back (2weeks after my fall) over thinking how to ride the course , I don’t really do thinking full stop! Let alone over thinking! So I got hold of myself and thought this – how often do we let the actions or views of others effect us? Much more often than we should..

Why should I let a mistake Mary made change or effect the way I ride? I do not and have never said I’m a good rider but I think I give horses confidence , I’m always riding forwards and try to leave there heads alone and I like to think I don’t give them mixed signals..

Mary was very green on her first run back after our fall , for the first 4/5 fences XC I had to work very hard to get her jumping as if she believed in herself but by riding her firmly but gently forwards like I had total self belief in her she started to get hold of the bridle and believe in herself too.. But I was careful not to allow her to be to brave , at the end of the round she was jumping like she could take on the world and I was the party pooper saying ‘steady steady’ rather than putting the gun to her head saying ‘go on then prove how brave you are’ when she more than likely still needs her hand holding..

I treat horses like people – you make them think and believe there super stars and they will start to act like super stars. If my young horses make a mistake I just give them a pat to reassure them and then kick on to the next fence.. Make them learn to put any mistakes made behind them and more on. Remember leave the past where it is – in the past..

As you can’t change whats already happened but you can make sure you learn from it and not make that mistake twice..

Have a good weekend all….

First Post!


So everyone… It’s official – I have blog!!

I will do my best to keep you entertained and amused with my tales of gate jumping , donkey riding and the odd event thrown in for good measure..

But above all I will be honest and give my views on any pressing matters (wanted or not!!)

So I’m sure you all know I had a close and personal encounter with the Norfolk soil at Burnham Market , I’m pleased to say my good self and the not so flying Cow (Mary) walked and a little battered but unharmed..

Although I most definitely used up one of my 9 lives!!

Oppsie…the not so flying Cow

So on to Badminton…

On the Friday night I honestly said that I’d thought the course was half a step too far , seeing tired horses trying but being punished at the Huntsman’s close by those two corners was I feel that half a step…

I hope the rest of the course stays in the same vain but maybe the good old fashioned gate coming out Huntsman’s close, it would catch a tired horse out if they left a leg and maybe even a tired rider too!!!

But you wouldn’t see that horrible picture we saw of horses trying and getting stuck on top of the second corner.

Now to my feelings on the fitness of some of the horses

Horses can look fit and lean, it’s a bit like people … Some people are born slim or diet to be slim and then you get someone who excises or runs a lot but is a heavy set frame.. It’s about being fit not looking fit , also riding with your head.

Let’s be honest now – warmbloods aren’t bred to gallop and jump but if there got fit there’s no reason why if ridden suitably they can’t hold their own at the highest level.

You as a rider have to remember you are very unlikely to have that ‘reserve’ when they hit the wall that a fit TB horse will have.

For me there were too many not fully fit horses this year and a switch back to a true old fashioned Badminton found them out!

It’s easy to forget after the dressage on Thursday and Friday they have to then go jump and gallop for 4miles on Saturday!!!

At home we even do proper canter work with our BE100 horses, try and establish even some sort of base fitness and the lower levels…

On to Keysoe , the not so flying Cow remembered how to fly and did a lovely double clear just 2 and a bit weeks after our crunch .

She was a little green but I didn’t rush her off her feet early on, looked after her and she grew in confidence as we went round.

Mary at Keysoe… Flying!

The run-away Moose (Freya) did a super test to lead her section and SJ, we didn’t run XC as she’s off to Houghton next week.

Also this Weekend Jimmy does his first Advanced at Chatsworth , fingers crossed he goes well as we are hoping to take him to Bramham in 3 weeks…

I’m writing this on my way home from an afternoon of truly awful dressage lessons on all the horses… I’m hedging on the side of its good to get all the naughtiness/lying down in temper (horses not me!) out the way before the next couple of very busy and important weeks?!?!

Here’s hoping anyways!!!

Over and out till next time people, be good and if you can’t be good just make sure your good at being bad!!