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You may remember a few months ago I mentioned some low level niggles the princess was having, and the visit from the vet that ensued... and his subsequent recommendation to try a product that has only just been released in Australia, 4CYTE. He was happy that this product was one of the few on the market that had some "real science" behind it to back up the claims the company was making.

I have since spoken to a few other vets, and the company themselves, and we are going to try the supplement out for 6 months and monitor our progress. One interesting comment came from an FEI vet over the weekend regarding peoples expectations of products, in that they will not make a lame horse sound, but may keep a slightly scratchy horse going for years as part of a good program.

The first sample has arrived, and 2 days in its all good - at least she will eat it.

If you would like to read more about the product, have a look here,  http://www.4cytevet.com/4cyte-equine/product-benefits-equine.

Since the frustration of the Dubbo competition, we are back to a snaffle and doing a lot of work where the princess is not allowed to rely on my hands for balance and security, and neither am I...it is one of the most difficult things I've had to do with her. As an inherently spooky horse, it's very hard to resist the urge to hang on 'just in case'.

Our next outing is CWDG in Blayney at the end of November, followed by a long hot summer and plenty of training in the leadup to our first event next year, the Advanced classes at the ThinLine Dressage with Altitude CDI in February.

 

Stay cool !

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The team from Warrumbungle Eventing promised the bushfires that devastated the area  in January were not going to hold them back as far as hosting this year’s ODE, and they certainly delivered on their promise. Seriously, Coonabarabran has a reputation for hosting fantastic events, putting 600+ kids through the XC at the NorthWest Expo in June, so putting 130 through this weekend was never going to be a challenge.

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The dressage started at a quite gentlemanly 10.30 on Saturday morning and as a judge it was really pleasing to see some really nice tests that could have been quite at home at an open dressage competition. A few that I judged I have seen about a few times this year, and the tests are improving a little each time they go around.

 

Only a couple of little dramas, with a child eliminated for riding their test in an illegal bit. Apparently it had been through a couple of gear checks prior to this event, but after some very serious phone calls to FEI Eventing and Dressage Officials and iPad searching for EA rules… our TD had to make a call. So a special point to remember, even if you go through a gear check, the onus is on the rider to present in legal equipment, because you may still be eliminated by the Ground Jury.

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The traditional happy hour made Saturday evening most enjoyable, and thanks to the team for organising this. The social aspect of eventing is something that really makes it stand out from other sports.

 

The lower grades SJ’ed on Saturday afternoon, and from all accounts this was pretty uneventful, so onto XC day.

 

I managed to find myself a camera position at the water jump, with the hope of getting a good shot for the major sponsor, PAAL Homes, and it very nearly ended in tears for the first rider on course… a great recovery by the lone 1* Rider, Megan Nolan to still be on the horse as she exited the water, and completely regrouped by the time she hit the next fence, just a few strides away.

 

I’ve set up a quick Facebook competition to add a caption to this photo if you are interested. https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=223886484446720&set=a.158826270952742.1073741828.158160454352657&type=1&theater

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Totally done and dusted by 12.20 pm, with presentations about 1 pm. Yet another great weekend. If you are ever asked to be an official at Coonabarabran grab the opportunity with both arms. They are a really friendly bunch with great facilities and catering to die for.

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I have uploaded almost 1000 photos from XC day, so go and have a look. http://sixtybytwenty.com.au/#/gallery/warrumbungle-1-star/dsc-38341/ 

 

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The road to PSG has a few potholes, but last weekend was a flat tire and a broken windscreen all in one !

I thought dressage was supposed to be a non-contact sport, but apparently not… last weekend one rider was carted off in a rescue helicopter- 4 broken ribs, and 2 other busters for the weekend. This weekend, no busters that I know of, but a little bit of bronc riding, and a broken arm loading up at the end of the weekend.  

It’s when everyone else is having trouble with their ponies that I really do appreciate the Princesses innate goodness. She can be a high stress pony and a total moron, but she has never done anything that makes me concerned for my own safety. Even though her flight response is very well developed, she doesn’t do anything to deliberately get rid of me and she is very careful.

 

Heading off on Saturday morning to our local championships (Dubbo), all felt OK, loaded well, travelled well, nice pony when she got off the float, but the tension seemed to slowly develop from there. Not naughty, but unsettled and a little edgy. Dug a bloody great hole beside the float. Warming up, it just didn’t feel right, again, not naughty but just not relaxed and happy so I did something I have never done before, I scratched from my test before I was due to ride it.

 

Similarly to last week, I rounded up someone to help me warm up for the next 2 tests, and it really did point the finger for the issue fairly and squarely at the jockey. One of her friends was watching us. He’s a great horseman but not a dressage rider, and he quite rightly pointed out, “while ever she’s talking to you, the horse is going beautifully”.

 

So what am I doing wrong ?

 

Backwards contact….while I am relaxed, the Princess can cope. When I am nervous, I hold the contact with a tendency to take, but not release. Combine this with the effects of a double bridle and it just gets worse and manifests itself as tightness through the neck and back and pulling the tongue back. She still does all the moves, just not as nicely as I know we can.

 

I ended up riding 3 of my 4 tests, all with 55-58% scores, just because I knew I needed to force myself to do it, but have gone back to the really basic stuff at home. Snaffle, long and low into the contact with a swinging and relaxed back, walk trot transitions and me focussing on taking my hands forward irrespective of the length of my reins.

 

So who has any great ideas on dealing with tension in a rider when access to competition is very limited ? I’ve got a month to get my stuff together before our next, and last outing for the year.

 

For a more interesting rundown on the rest of the competition… while there were a few scratchings due to illness, there seemed to be an interesting shift in competitors and classes for the weekend. Check out these nominations…

 

Preliminary- 2 ponies, 8 horses,  Novice- 8 horses, Elementary- 4 horses, Medium- 6 horses, Advanced- 4 horses, PSG- 6 horses, Inter 1- 4 horses.  

 

And another useless piece of information… of the 15 individual horses competing Elementary or above, 12 of them have been with their current rider since Preliminary. Only 6 of these travelled more than 2 hours to be part of this competition.

 

Of the 15 individual horses at Preliminary and Novice,  12 of them travelled more than 2 hours.

 

So my conclusions based on a tiny subset….higher level horses travel less and compete less, but we are educating our own horses to a higher level, and more horses are making it to the higher levels. Anyone have any thoughts on this ?

 

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It’s been a long time since I have posted an update on our progress towards Prix St George, because nothing much has happened.  Just one of those things that happens when you change jobs, kids hit HSC and it forgets to rain- horses become very much an also ran on the list of priorities.

 

I was becoming quite despondent about how the princess was going, and felt she was always just holding something back on me and sometimes sore under the saddle on one side. Not unsound or lame, just not giving me everything she had.  Saddle was refitted and restuffed and no real progress. So I finally bit the bullet and organised the vet and the Farrier in tandem as I felt it was coming from the back end somewhere.  Flexion texting and x rays revealed a tiny spur on one hock, and a little bit of degradation in the other, but to show the complexity of the whole situation, tenderness in the suspensory ligament diagonally opposite the spur !!! Yay !!! At least now I know what I am trying to deal with.

 

I have a great vet when it comes to treating legs on horses and he has his own methods of treating them, and he worked wonders with our pony a few years ago, so I let him do what he needed…and he gave the farrier instructions how and when he wanted the princess shod, and presto, 2 weeks later I have my free moving princess back again. He has also recommended a new product onto the Australian market that I am going to try and I will keep you posted how we go. Apparently there is quite a deal of “ correct” research and comparisons as well as anecdotal support for this product. He doesn’t tend to recommend commercially available products very often so I’m going to give it a go.

 

I think it will take a little time for her to redevelop the confidence to truly push again in the extensions but I feel so much better about what is going on.

 

I travelled to a competition in Blayney this past weekend, with the dream of picking up one of the 60’s I need to move on to PSG, but fairly realistic that it wasn’t going to happen riding a princess that had not been out  and only had one lesson since March. Combine that with a campdrafting session on Wednesday, it was always going to be interesting.

 

She can be a really high stress animal when it comes to travelling, and I woke up Friday morning ready to puke from nerves!  I think I loaded the wrong horse on the float though… straight on after only 2 minutes of “do I really have to “. It has taken me a while, but we have this little routine that goes like this..

 

2 days before a competition I drag the float out and we load and unload 4 or 5 times fully rugged. That way, if she resists and I have to start the lunging in small circles, she gets hot and tired before I do. It didn’t take any lunging this week. I just stood on the tailgate with her, just behind her shoulders and she got one flick on the bum with the end of the lead and up she went. I’ve found the secret though is to let her stand on the tailgate for at least 2-3 minutes before I put any pressure on her.

 

On the day of travel I tie her to the float for 15-20 minutes while I unrug, finish packing, tail bandage and float bandages. So she knows we are going somewhere, but she’s had time to get her mind used to the idea before she is really confronted with it.

 

So off we toddle to Blayney, 3 hours from start to finish. Off the float while trotters are working, and she didn’t care. Walked up to them for a chat no worries. Lovely to ride at the grounds, in fact all round  Mrs Nice Guy. Chilled out, eating and not looking…UNTIL I but her in a yard by herself.

 

 She hasn’t been stabled all winter, and this was the one piece of the plan I overlooked. She walked the stable all night and hardly ate anything and did not drink at all.  So she did a grass lap first up on Saturday morning and did eat a heap, but still would not stand in the yard at all, even when I tied her up. So I dragged her out, and tied her to the float, where she stood all day in the sun, eating her hay and drinking, happy as a pig in mud.

 

I judged a few horses at the start of the day, and then had an hour from when I finished to when I had to enter the arena…so she spend that time saddled, ready to go and I judged in full riding attire--- very cute.

 

One of my riders was 5 minutes late for her test which went down exceptionally well. Please riders….the time on the draw is the time you are supposed to be heading down the centre line, not the time you head over toward the gear check, or decide to read through your test one more time. If the arena  is running late for any reason, please make sure you are close by and ready to go as soon as the horse before you heads up the centre line for their final halt.

 

I was third to go in my class, and we were all there warming up and the last horse in the event before us was about to enter when a horse behind me spooks, bolts, shies or pigroots and loses its older rider in quite a nasty fall. Ambulance, helicopter, police with lights and sirens, ambulance operational control. We had 15 minutes notice that the chopper was coming, so most riders put float boots on their horses for leg protection. Most moved as far away as possible and held their horses, one rider with a couple of young horses put them back on the float and took them to the far side of the grounds until the chopper left. I tied Flora up solid in her stable and stood near her but not close enough that she could  get me if she was to be silly. She could still see all of what was going on. About now I decided I loved the boys and their motorbikes and the fire truck.

Of all the horses there, only one was silly and lost a bit of bark, the rest all just accepted what was going on.

 

Not a great start to our warmup, but a worse start for the poor lady. Luckily only 4 broken ribs, but at 70 its going to be a long road back for her.

 

So the 5A, it rode OK. Not flash, but OK, for a 58%. Bugger not to get the 60, but all in all, I was really happy with her headspace and the lack of tension. I left marks on the table for lack of bend in some of the lateral work, and not true clear extension/collection transitions and very modest extensions. But no mistakes, no resistance and 3 from 4 changes clean.

 

A bit over it by the time the 5B rolled around late afternoon, and after already warming up twice for the day, the third warm up was always going to be a challenge. We were both over it, and the suppleness and obedience that was there in the morning had a little holiday. 55.?% was the score, and about what we deserved !

 

Did I mention the fact that all this excitement occurred with a 30 km per hour wind for the entire day with gusts up to about 70 ? and a top temperature of 25 degrees. And here’s another useless piece of information for you, 3 of the 4 horses in the Advanced classes are used for stockwork, 2 of them weekly. In the Medium class, 2 from 8.

 

Sunday was a pretty uneventful day by comparison. I was ready to go home after breakfast and it showed. I rode one of the most sloppy and uninspired tests I have ever ridden and I thoroughly deserved the 56% that I scored. An error of course on the second movement for crying out loud !

 

I decided that was truly appalling and I couldn’t leave on that note. One thing about  CWDG competitions, there is always a friendly face who will lend a hand. I managed to sweet talk someone I knew a little into warming me up for the 4B. I knew she would be a pretty fierce task master, and also knew I deserved a beating around the head…. I got it.

 

I have never worked so hard in a warmup or a test, but guess what, I’ve never had a 60 in a Medium test before either !! And that’s after another error of course. One judge even gave me a 62, but I think he was just being nice.

 

So all in all, it was a nice weekend. I’ve got a lot to work on in terms of my motivation, and I need someone to flog me in a warmup.. Bring on next weekend, our Championships here in Dubbo and see if we can continue the roll and get a little closer to the elusive 60 at Advanced level.

 

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Anyway, I started talking to people I know from 'round the ridges, and got home at 4pm. I took heaps of photos, got sunburnt as, met some new friends and caught up with some I don't see very often.

Will I go campdrafting on the Princess in future ? I think this is one sport we can cross off the bucket list. While I'm happy poking about behind our cattle I don't think I need to make an idiot of myself in front a crowd that is quite this big. I just wish we could get crowds like this to some of the other horse sports.

Interesting differences: $20 class entry per horse per class, someone else can warm your horse up. Must have a big hat ! and the clothing is loosing it's Australian feel and looking VERY American.

 

Have a look at these photos, and there are a heap more at www.sixtybytwenty.com.au under events, Guerie Campdraft.

And Tickle can identify herself and her son if she feels the need.

 

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Saturday afternoon saw me trying to take photos of reining horses at a competition at the undercover arena at Dubbo Showgrounds. I don’t know that I have ever seen a great photo come out of that arena due to the lighting causing havoc with cameras. The challenge is, that the background is in fill sunlight but because the horses are under cover, they are in the shade.

 

So in I toddle after lunch and try to find a spot that might work- that took about half an hour, but in the end, facing southwest, with a big wall of trees about 50 m behind the arena as a backdrop seemed to sort of work.

 

I was bit conspicuous, but they were a friendly bunch who answered my many ignorant questions with humour (and I don’t think they were taking the mickey out of me but who knows). So here’s the lowdown on what this dressage princess learned in 5 hours about reining.

 

1.       They think dressage riders are a mob of toffs.

 

2.       They cant understand why anyone would want to be that far off the ground without a parachute.

 

3.       Reining can be just as bitchy as any other sport.

 

4.       They love good boppy country music.

 

But seriously,

 

1.       They have classes for green riders similar to our associate classes.

 

2.       More than one person can ride a horse on a day  but I think they still have limits.

 

3.       A Pattern (test) will start in the centre, or wherever, with a salute to the judges who are always in the middle of one side. Each pattern takes about 5 minutes.

 

4.       Most work is done at a canter, even green riders are expected to be able to do flying changes.

 

5.       The movements I saw included 20 m circles fast and slow, 10mish circles slow, 20m fast into 10m slow with a flying change in the middle, reinbacks, spins, rollbacks and slides (not sure if that is the correct terminology).

 

6.       Scores are collated and announced immediately.

 

7.       A break/lost pattern (error of course) results in a Zero score. For example, they are supposed to do 3 spins and do 4…gone.

 

8.       They do bit inspections as well after each ride.

 

9.       At the lower levels at least, the flying changes are allowed to be late, but must be fixed within ¼ circle.

 

10.   After each spin set, the horse has to stand dead still and show it is relaxed. Some people stood as long as about 10 seconds, others not so long. The aim is to show that the horse can be wound right up, but still obedient enough to then stand.

 

Like dressage, the number of riders relying on their hands to get the job done and not their seat or legs was pretty disappointing. The ugly part of this is, the number of gaping mouths when the reins are used harshly ( but unlike dressage, no noseband to help hide the fact).

 

What did I like ?

 

Of the 50 or so horses I saw go through, only one showed any glaring disobedience, and that was a smaller young girl on a larger horse that I think was just being a bit smart. Darn sight better than some of the ODE’s or Pony Club events I have judged at.

 

The crowd clapped, cheered and wolf whistled their appreciation each movement that the rider got right. Yes it could be distracting, but at the same time very supportive and the horses did not seem to mind.

 

Interestingly, the horses who placed highest in many classes would have been at home in any dressage arena- forward, through, obedient and calm.

 

Which reinforces the conclusion- a good horse and good training is a good horse and good training, irrespective of what you do with it.

 

I’d love to have a crack at it one day, but probably not with the princess for a while. I don’t think she’d pass the spin/stand test for a while yet.

 

So thanks guys for inviting me along. Some photos of the day can be found at http://sixtybytwenty.com.au/#/gallery/dubbo-reining/dsc-3687/  if anyone wishes to order, just send an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and we can work it out from there.

 

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 Having lessons with someone new is always a bit daunting, and when you haven’t had a lesson, or even been anywhere for almost six months, it was always going to be a bit ugly.

 

I did some important preparation the week before- dragged out the float, checked the tyres, made sure the brake controller worked with the “new” car and asked Miss Flora if she felt like some floating practice on Friday afternoon. All good, she went on almost immediately, so I should have been VERY nervous.

 

Saturday, still didn’t trust that she would go on and behave, so attempted a load at 12 N for a 4pm lesson. Ok, it turned out to be overkill but she has been known to be a bit stubborn at times. (And Heath Ryan had the audacity to suggest that my pony and I were a perfect match). Little witch goes straight on…all good going to town until a huge low loader  carrying a bulldozer with flashing lights, when she started to weave a bit, but very good going through town.

 

Unloaded calmly and was happy to stand quietly at the float for 3 hours.

 

All too good to be true…then she sees the circus tent behind the trees at the showground. My calm pony departed about then.

 

So frustrating as she was lunging quietly and calmly, into the contact and stretching down at home and it reverted to the bloody arab showoff trot complete with snorts today.

 

The lesson turned into a lesson on how to deal with tension and hollowness, but Jana also saw straight away the issues I was having, that I knew had developed over the past few months. Lack of activity, reliance in the hands too much for collection, not accepting the snaffle so well.

 

To the solutions, Ride forward, as forward as I can, must listen to you…everytime she spooked, I had to drive her forward at the same time resisting the urge to hang on for dear life.  Jana was great dealing with this, and by the end of the lesson she was moving well, but still with more tension than I like. My poor body though…

 

Jana did do some great work helping me sort out something that has been bugging me with my flying changes- I am using my outside leg too much to signal the change, but losing the impulsion from the inside leg. Resulting in too much swing and not enough through.

 

So roll around Sunday. The little witch felt that another drive wasn’t on her agenda for the day. Didn’t take too long to convince her to behave though. Back into the showground where she again was quite happy to stand about. I didn’t bother with the lunge today as I figured with the circus still there it was going to end the same way.

 

Today I threw out the challenge to Jana, and she rode the first half of the lesson for me. Well the princess wasn’t so keen on the new rules. Four steps really forward, then collect for the same, forward, straight off the leg as soon as asked to get her really coming under. Quite tense under the new regime but in the end accepting and trying really hard.  I’m still in two minds how I feel  about the different tactics, I’m a little more relaxed in my approach, but no doubting its effectiveness in improving her responsiveness- and it did need to be done.

 

So I climb back on, to the biggest trot I have ridden in a long time. The challenge today is to see whether I’m brave enough to do it myself.

 

In summary, yes the lessons were a bit ugly, and I’m feeling a bit sorry for myself, but needed to be done.  It really did show how much regular instruction is worth and I’ve got heaps of things to work on. The ultimate compliment though, when your instructor asks if there is any chance your horse is for sale, and if not, that she would love to work with you on a regular and ongoing basis.

 

So will I do another clinic with her ? Yes. And from the work I saw and improvements I saw in the other horses at the clinic I would recommend her teaching for anyone who wants a bit of a  hand.

 

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Some fun and  games at our house in the past few weeks. The princess hasn’t done much in the training space but has been doing quite a bit of stockwork as our cows and calves have worked out that a short swim in the river gets them onto much greener pastures. Feed is a bit tight, so it doesn’t take much of a wiff of feed to get them moving (escaping).

 

The best bit about paddock work is the ability to get some very forward movement happening. The scariest bit of the paddock work is having the anatomy to stay with the very forward movement.

 

Our neighbour’s very nice and very quiet bull has been having a holiday with our girls for the past few months. We had more feed than he did and a few very young calves. But it was time to take him back this week.

 

To set the scene, last week Barney (the bull) rubbed a gate open and escaped into an oats paddock that was not quite ready to graze. I left him there for  a while, figured he wouldn’t eat too much in half an hour while I finished schooling the princess. Well the girls and the calves saw him and decided to adjourn from the bare paddock to the bar so to speak. Off we toddle to bring them back.

 

Amazing how fast a Charolais cow who has been trying to convince you she’s crippled and can’t move fast can go when faced with the choice between bare and oats paddocks. So off goes the princess in what I would call a somewhat exuberant extended canter. She loves going fast, but unlike those of the stockhorse breed, sometimes forgets that when the cow turns, she is supposed to go as well. Maybe I should give her the benefit of the doubt and say she was just being careful I didn’t suffer an unfortunate and unscheduled dismount.

 

All the time, Barney the bull is munching away, happy as a pig in s…

 

So we finally convince the cows they need to be in the paddock and head back to get Barney. Now remember, hes quite an old bull, fairly quiet but about 1000kg. Not the sort of target you would normally select for 500 kg of ditzy dressage princess to do battle with. So she pokes up to his face, right into his face so all he can see is her legs and chest, too stupid to know better and with me thinking all the time that she would pull up before this. Barney lifts up his head threateningly and shakes, so what does she do ? put hers down and ask if he’s speaking to her in that tone of voice.

 

After being reprimanded for his manners twice, he sulks off like a teenage boy back to his bedroom.

 

This brings us to this week.

 

Head down the paddock to separate Barney from the girls. Easy, he just walks out the gate as soon as I ask. He trots straight up the road. Two things wrong here. He never goes that fast, and two, he’s not used to being moved with a horse, we normally take him home with a trailer. Anyway up the road, and into the neighbours paddock. Whereby he turns into a lunatic at about the same time as the princess sees next doors trotters fanging about.

 

We’ve still got about a km to go to get him back to his girls and there is no way I was going within about 10m of him. Bellowing, shaking his head and pawing the ground. Typical aggressive, bull behaviour. So she’s having a brain freeze and he’s having a testosterone attack at the same time. Way to go Princess.

 

Unbelievable (bad pun) how much the personality changed with his environment, and yours truly glad to have him home.

 

Back to the arena this week and as the days warm up and get a little longer, so does the training. Off to a clinic this weekend with Jana Poppe. Don’t know her but worth a try. And then another with Carlos deCleermaeker  three weeks after that.

 

We haven’t had any lessons since March due to me starting my own business, and I can really feel my riding going backwards. We were on such a roll early on in the year. Now we need to get it all happening again.

A friend came for a visit this morning and she decided to take a few happy snaps- just wish we could do some airbrush work on the jockey.

 

 

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Since qualifying as an H level judge I have judged the Dressage phase at quite a few One Day Events in our area, but was blown away when Vicki Burgess asked if I would be interested I being on the Ground Jury for the 80 cm class at the Quirindi 3DE. I evented locally as a child with not a great deal of success, and then participated in my first ODE for 24 years about 18 months ago- the 45 cm class at Nyngan where I managed to get the princess eliminated at the last jump, the water. So I’m not totally ignorant about eventing, but definitely not what you would call an expert.

 So it was with trepidation that I set off last week, not knowing what I was in for. Well I shouldn’t have been concerned. What a great bunch of people to work with. The Ground Jury for this class consisted of Winks Armstrong and myself with Rebecca Moxam as the Technical Delegate. The Ground Jury makes the decisions on fitness, rule interpretations and appeals/protests in conjunction with Vets, stewards and other officials.

 

So what is the process for a 3DE ? On the Thursday afternoon, all horses were inspected by an FEI Steward and a Vet to make sure they were who they were supposed to be… no Fine Cotton here.

 

And then the fun began.

 

Friday morning started with an official Trot Up, where all horses were inspected by an FEI vet, Celina Sylvester in this case and the rest of the Ground Jury for that class. It’s a very formal process with riders and horses dolled up, each combination called up by the marshall, then an announcement made at the completion.

 

 Horses were required to stand for a quick visual inspection, then walk approximately 10m, then trot about 30, turn around a marker clockwise and trot all the way back. If all members of the Ground Jury were happy with the soundness of the horse, then it was accepted and off they went. If there were any concerns regarding the fitness of the horse to complete the three phases, then they were “held”, and fully inspected by another vet, and another FEI Steward. The horse was then represented.

 

If a horse is still not quite right, the Ground Jury, in consultation with the FEI Vet and the TD may eliminate the combination, the rider may withdraw the horse, or the horse may be accepted pending another inspection, possibly under saddle prior to the dressage phase. It may also be that the horse is allowed to complete the dressage, but must be inspected again before being allowed to present for the Cross Country.

 

My class was a huge class, with 32 combinations presenting to the vet. Being the lowest class, we had quite a few young horses with experienced riders, and some quite experienced horses with juniors or inexperienced riders. A number of the horses in my class were a bit scratchy, mostly due to age.  I found it a really difficult thing to balance the principles of encouraging inexperienced riders on experienced horses and helping them enjoy the sport with the principles of welfare of the horse. We ended up with one horse that needed to represent before its’ dressage, and 3 that the vet watched their dressage to make sure they were ok and definitely safe and sound enough to go cross country.

 

In the end, all were deemed ok to continue through the dressage and cross country.

 

So what does the Ground Jury do for Cross Country ?

 

We had to inspect the Cross Country course, observe all our class cross country and deal with any appeals that arose from XC in consultation with jump judges, XC control and the TD.

 

 Its quite a long walk around a long format 3DE course. At least our course was simple enough with no options to consider but we did have one tricky bit, a pipe bounce. Apparently this is a legal fence but quite unusual.

 

Sue Gunn, Darryl Burgess and Ming Thompson had done a brilliant job on the XC course. Each fence had clear ground lines and hundreds of  potplants were used as fill and colour. To top it off, the entire course and surrounds had been mown.

 

The Ground Jury for each class stays the same, but in practice the GJ’s for all the classes shared the duties across all classes;

 

 One person ( for my class, this was me) stayed with Control, who is the person who keeps a tally of refusals and incidents on course and makes the call if someone needs to be pulled off the course and walk home. In this case, control was up on a hill, and could see most of the course.

 

Another went to the finish, and if someone missed a fence on course or there were questions that  needed to be dealt with, this person  informed the rider immediately. This is a relatively new idea, and it worked brilliantly and ended up saving quite a lot of time trying to find riders after the fact, and reduced the number of appeals as the riders knew straight away while it was fresh in anyone’s mind if there had been an issue.

 

There were 2 GJ members that roamed around each part of the course, and if there were queries raised by control, they went straight to the jump judges and investigated immediately, again, while it was fresh in everyone’s mind.

 

I got to spend a bit of time with each of these positions, and then did the 1* and 2* classes at the finish with the FEI Stewards and vets. This was a really interesting facet of the event. Facial expressions at the end are quite special…jubilation of those who got around that didn’t expect to, exhaustion on the faces of those who had a hard ride and some interesting expressions on the faces of those who had to walk home as a result of elimination due to rider error.

 Each horse is visually assessed for injuries, has its temperature taken and heart rate as soon as the rider finishes.

 

Horses are then iced, scraped, walked, hosed….to get their temps down as quickly as possible. This is a really busy area and the Quirindi committee had great finishes, right near wash bays with ample running water and ice on hand.

 

All horses were checked  again at 10 minutes. Many horses’ temp increased at 10 minutes, but their heart rate dropped. If the vets were happy at 10 minutes, then they were cleared to go. If not, they were checked again at 20 minutes.

 

Only a couple of issues in the 80cm XC. No falls, a few missed jumps, a couple of refusals at the bounce pipes. Funnily enough, it wasn’t the actual bounce that was the problem, but rather, the lairy, shiny paint.

 

Another trot up before  the showjumping, and only one issue. The horse did look a little sore in front, and the vets suggested a farrier check the horse as it looked like a minor issue that could be easily fixed, however the rider decided to with draw. Horses that were eliminated XC were allowed to complete the showjumping if they wished, subject to the trot up and a few took this option.

 

As a member of the GJ, we had to inspect the course for distance, height, marking, ground suitability, quality of the jumps and safety of individual fences. As expected, no issues and everything with the jumping went off without a hitch.

 

So from a newby, it was great to be involved with an event from start to finish.  The weather was great, and in my class, I think the best horses floated to the top. Will I do it again ? In a heartbeat.  As I said, I was nervous about taking on such a big and unknown task .  Luckily, the rest of the team had a huge amount of experience and happily answered my multitude of questions.

 

I took a heap of photographs over the course of the weekend and you can see all of these at ***

 

Full results for all classes can be found at ****

 

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Two weeks of wet weather in the leadup meant it was always going to be interesting to see if the committee could pull it off, but disappointingly, on Friday morning the news went out that there were to be no horses at this years' Duck creek picnics. The track was just too wet, and with more rain forecast it would have been a long way for trainers to travel only to have it cancelled at the last minute.

Having been to the last Duck Creek washout, I wasn't the least bit upset that there were not to be any actual horse races. The last one turned out to be a fantastic day that turned into a fantastic night. I was travelling out for two reasons, I had been invited to be a part of the festivities in the marquee hosted by the guys from LawLab, who, by the way throw a great party, and to photograph the guys from Mounted Security and Asset Protection so we could use the images on the website I have been building for them. The rest of my family were busy doing other things, one child working, and the other and my husband getting ready for their trip across the Simpson on motorbikes, so I was flying solo...

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It was dry when I arrived... but it went downhill from there. I did get the shots I was looking for for the www.mountedsecurity.com.au website and it was quite interesting to watch how they go about patrolling an alcohol free carpark at a race meeting. Two guys on horses were able to patrol the entire  carpark and a couple of times you could see a few rowdy teenagers look like they were going to push back and then thought better of it. And the guys on the horses think its great having their photos taken with cute young chicks.

 

 

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DSC_9361Lunch in the LawLab marquee was great, and Angie Armstrong from the Cockies Wife has to be congratulated again for the way she pulled off a great meal in conditions that were getting worse by the minute. The braised beef cheeks were awesome.

The rain was heavy, but most people weren't too concerned, especially the kids, and it would have been great to see the mess about 10 pm but old age got the better of me. Go and have a look at the photos I took for a giggle if nothing else.

I've uploaded more images on my website, so go and have a sticky...http://sixtybytwenty.com.au/#/gallery/duck-creek-2013/dsc-9326/

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Posted by on in Equestrian

Hi all, and welcome to my first blog about my pony and myself and what we get up to in the horse world. A bit of background. I grew up on a farm in central west NSW. Always rode, had my first buster as a 2 year old showing off how well I could rise to the trot. Attended Pony Club without a great level of success and did a bit of local showing and eventing. Did a lot of stockwork and broke in our own horses, as a kid I was bulletproof. Only ever had one riding lesson, and that ended in tears. Funnily enough, I took my daughter to the same instructor 20 years later and she loved him after the initial shock.

Fast forward 25 years. I now live on another farm in central west NSW, have 2 teenagers who have both ridden but given up. I made a doomed re entry to riding about 9 years ago, bought myself a young TB (not raced) that apparently had a history of offloading his riders, but I did not find this out until after he put me in hospital with a fractured vertebrae. So now I'm not so bulletproof.

I started riding my daughter's dressage pony when she moved on and was having a hoot. I was doing a bit of judging and a lot of pencilling carting her about and  it looked like fun. He blew a tyre at 17 years of age and we decided it was time for retirement, but I wasn't ready for that, so what did I do ? Bought a five year old warmblood mare with a few brain challenges.

This is my first ever purpose bred horse and she alternates between Miss Flora, Princess and Miss Witch, depending on her attitude on the day. Flora is by Weltblitz, so one grandfather is Weltmeyer and the other grandfather is APH Hirte, who was/is owned by Carlene Barton and Libby Sauer, there is also a mare called Polarschne(sp?) who is her grandmother in there somewhere. So the upshot is, she's bred to event, and to be a little hot, being 3/4 Trak and 1/4 Hannovarian, but shes only 15.2 and very spooky. But the most fun and talented horse I have ever ridden. She's now seven years old and competing Medium/Advanced with reasonable scores, but not incredible due to our lack of match fitness_ normally the driver lets her down.

So this blog will be about where we go and the things we get up to. A middle aged rider in a non dressage area, on a misfit, cheap though well bred horse. The only thing we have in our favour is a stubborn determination to ride successfully at FEI level before my body gives up on me.

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