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Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Clipping to Start the Winter

With the clocks going back on Sunday gone, TTE is now on countdown to the Winter Solstice on Friday 21st December! (can you tell we really are waiting for it!)

Last weekend, we went on a lovely long ride with a friend from our yard. It was a ride I'd heard about but had never been on, despite it being local, so it was good for Thomas and I to see somewhere different without going out in the wagon.

As some of the ride is along a relatively busy country road, we decided to trot to hurry up to the off road parts. While Thomas is still fit, I hadn't quite realised how hairy Thomas had got since our last competition! He was a bit hot and a bit wet, and when we got home, while he wasn't too bad, I needed to wash the sweat away from his girth area. So I washed all his saddle area to help him no be too itchy...

As we are working hard through the winter, and will continue to compete, it means I'll need to be able to ride on an evening, and getting him this sweaty is no good for a cold winter's night. Last night Thomas got a hair cut:
Thomas looking a smartie!

This week we're hitting the school again to work on a variety of things, ready for a dressage competition at the weekend. We'll be sure to post our results and tell you how we all got on! No doubt Andrew will be on camera duties giving you a taste of the day!

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

A Drop of Rain Doesn't Stop Training

Following a fantastic 2012 half season, Thomas has spent the last few weeks chilling out, relaxing in the field during the day, and some gently hacking at the weekend (last weekend was our beach ride!)

Throughout the winter we use our time to work on the things that perhaps get sidelined during the summer. Fortunately most of these are arena based flatwork activities. As it is too dark for me after work to hack out, I need to keep Thomas in work and fit enough to compete throughout the winter months.

This training started this week. We were forecast an Indian summer this week - so far, we've had two days of thick fog and drizzle!

This didn't stop me getting onboard last night (Monday 22nd Oct) to do some flatwork exercises, mainly looking at bending and halts.

Thomas worked well although wasn't overly enthusiastic about working so late at night - he'd much rather be munching hay!

Andrew filmed a brief clip of us to show our dedication in the poor weather and dark surroundings!

We are planning a dressage outing on 4th November, so will be working towards this, but we promise to keep posting out progress and updates... as well as how we get on when competing.

Friday, 19 October 2012

A Snapshot of Training

In last week's Horse & Hound, there was an interesting article about workloads before competitions - whether the Tapering technique is beneficial. The main problem with the comparison to competition horses and this article is that the workload and fitness work described was most like a racehorse. We also have to consider temperament.

So what does TTE do in preparation to their competitions in terms of exercise workload.

Throughout the winter, local Dressage and Show Jumping competitions take place, and are a great way to keep both Thomas and I in shape and in the right frame of mind. The tapering technique is definitely applicable to both of these disciplines; we don't jump a large number of up to height fences a few days before the competition, neither do we work on complex movements putting big muscle groups under pressure in the school a few days before a dressage test.

However, throughout the summer, when the eventing season is in full flow, the picture is somewhat different. We definitely need to keep in shape and ensure that we are both fit enough to tackle the challenge of three phases in one day, especially out on the cross country course.

Some say that the best way to improve fitness and stamina is the interval training method, and this is the one we follow. Regularly we will take to a long strip of grassland, and canter, before walking back and cantering again. Repeating this several times really helps us to improve the fitness, stamina and recovery time overall.

Typically, we won't go for a canter/gallop any less than 4 days before our competition.

But what about getting power fitness for the Show Jumping & Dressage phases?

This requires a variety of work and activities in the arena. Polework & gridwork can help both phases, with specific exercises being worked on to help improve our dressage score. To improve our Show Jumping, we're firm believers that the canter need to be right on the ground, & to prevent Thomas getting sick of jumping, we tend not to actually jump too much at home.

We won't jump at home any less than one week before a competition, and will not run through a test any less than 4 days before a competition.

Overall, we try to keep our routine the same so as not to disrupt Thomas, but also to help keep consistency within our fitness and workload.

Now that the eventing season is over, we are looking forward to brushing up on various things over the winter. We'll enjoy going to local (ish) competitions and training sessions in Northumberland and Yorkshire.

We'll keep you up to date on how we get on!

Monday, 15 October 2012

A Weekend of Adventure

So Saturday... I hadn't ridden Thomas all week and had a little adventure planned for Sunday, so thought I best take him out for a plod, but we had bad rain the back end of the week, so all the fields were too wet, and I went to the county park the weekend before. I didn't just want a 20 minute trot around the industrial estate, so decided I'd go and hunt down the cycle track that ran through the local town. It passes right by the in laws so I thought hey, let's go for it. Thomas was a such a good boy and was nosy all the way there and back. I've never seen him walk so fast at some points!

Anyway, I tracked it on my phone, was 7 miles (further than I thought in all honesty) and took 1hr 26mins... Not bad for a plod about...

Here's a photo of a rather docile looking Thomas....

I really had a great time just doing something a little bit different, and quirky really. I've looked at the cycle track network and I can hack to the local beach - 5.5 miles each way....

Even though we live really and keep Thomas really close to the beach, we've never actually been. Until March (when my wagon came) I had transport as an issue, and it was expensive to hire, just to go 20 minutes up the road so a quick blast...

Anyway, yesterday (Sunday) we decided to go to Duridge Bay beach in Northumberland (about half an hour up the coast) - it's a beautiful beach and a lovely big wide beach when the tide is out. We got there about 10.30am, and followed another little box in... Little did I know that there was actually some sort of pleasure/endurance ride planned, but after asking, I realised they went up the coast via Bridleway and then back down the beach, so I shouldn't get mixed up and as it was 19km (I think they said) people shouldn't be recklessly bombing about on the beach....

Thomas was full of beans (glad I rode the day before) but as usual well mannered.

Once on the beach, Thomas walked REALLY quickly, looking left, then right, then left - so much to see! His tail was in the air, and as we trotted off a little, Thomas tried to do his best impression of passage!! Andrew was with me, with his mum, so I went down the beach on my own until I could barely see them, Thomas didn't really settle so I let him go on the way back up - got some great photos and a video!

Usually after a blast like that, Thomas would be tired, and although slowed down, was still full of beans and walking quickly, bouncing and looking about everywhere!

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Askham Bryan ODE

The week after Bishop Burton brought our final event of the season - Askham Bryan.
It also brought a fantastic support team of family friends, friends and mostly importantly, my instructor - a 4* international rider. It was great to see such a mix of people come and watch and willing me to do well.

I'd never been to Askham Bryan, so was looking forward to seeing a new event, a new course and a new setup.

Another social start at 8.45am, and arriving at Askham Bryan (just outside York), I walked my cross country - lots of fence types that I hadn't tried before, including open ditches, hay carts and banks. I was looking forward to the challenge, and it definitely gave me an adrenaline pump!

Thomas was again, a star. Enjoying looking around at what was going on while walking over the dressage warm up, but settling straight into his work. He did go a little lazy during his test and required A LOT of leg, but the warm up had been sticky, and we'd warmed up a little longer than planned.

All that said, we scored 37, which was a great finish, but with a little more energy could knock a few marks off it to improve even more.

We had a very long wait from the dressage to the show jumping - 2.5 hours!

I took the time to walk the course with my instructor again, and watched the show jumping together, learning the course and where the errors were coming from and why. My instructor was great, helping me with what to do at each area where the poles kept dropping.

Eventually it was our turn. I was thrilled to bits - just two poles down from where I let my shoulders drop onto Thomas too much. Without a doubt, our best show jumping round.

We decided it would be best to get changed quickly and go straight out onto the cross country, and had 6 horses in front of us waiting to go. We didn't do much to warm up and the ground was getting turned over and sticky, and I didn't want to waste Thomas' energy. 

Once we were out and going, it was fantastic - we took it steady over the first few and the ones that required a little more concentration, but enjoyed a nice gallop over the steeplechase. 

Here's a short video Andrew took of us coming in over the finish:

We pushed for the finish line, knowing we'd slowed up in places, as you can see, and it produced probably one of my favourite photos:

The main aim was to have a good, solid, confident run to end our first season, and so we could head straight into 2013 feeling good about eventing! We yet again improved our score, finishing on 50.6, and again in 22nd place.

Bishop Burton ODE

After a couple of week of no competing, Bishop Burton seemed to take a long time to come round!

This competition was to be a new adventure for TTE - not only was it another competition, but as it was around a 3 hour drive, we decided to stable overnight.

Setting off from Newcastle on Saturday lunchtime, and a brief stop at Boroughbridge, we arrive at Bishop Burton college (Beverley, just outside Hull) around 4pm. Finding our stable, Thomas seemed to settle well, quickly, munching happily on his Horse Hage - a real treat from his usual hay!

I chose to walk the course when we arrived, rather than the next morning - I had dressage  at 8.30am and thought half an hour to get Thomas and I looking smart was a better choice. It was a great course, really nice and inviting, a little hilly and sticky in places, but a great one all the same. It included a couple of questions on the way round and I looked forward to answering them!

Now, with Thomas all tucked up in a stable, where did the other members of TTE sleep? In the wagon of course! As it is a 3.5t wagon, we moved the partition and had a super comfy air bed. I was worried I'd be a bit chilly in the night, but we were both as snug as bugs, and woke after a good night's sleep.

On the way to the dressage, you had to pass a very busy and lots to look at Show Jumping arena - Thomas was was excited to see everything, and I just started to worry about having another tense test. He proved me completely wrong. He relaxed as soon as we hit the warm up and produced a nice test. We scored 37.

Only an hour to wait this time in between. The warm up was a little tight which made getting going forward quite difficult. We had a good round, and although came off a right hand corner a little wobbly, nudged 3 to the ground.

I wasn't too disheartened as every time we were getting better in our riding and partnership.

I was looking forward to the cross country, and was determined to go back to the steady and consistent ride I'd had at Richmond - I certainly wasn't getting another 20! I couldn't have been more wrong, Thomas was great, and went at whatever pace I asked of him. We pushed on where we could and took all the questions at a steady pace.

Here's a couple of videos that Andrew took while watching:

We finished on not only a much improved score from Hutton, but also moved up the table by 10 placings! The final score was 54.2 and 22nd.

Hutton in the Forrest ODE

Two weeks after Richmond came Hutton - a much more challenging event, with lots more going on and an overall higher key event. It also followed Cumwinton the previous week, which after travelling from Newcastle to Penrith at 5.30am, was cancelled around 10am due to heavy rain. We hoped that Hutton would be a much better week... Right we were.

Team Tunnah Eventing welcomed a guest on this trip - my husband's Mum, Rosie.

The sun was shining and we left the yard at a much more sociable 8.30am to travel almost to the same place, near Penrith.

I'd watched a friend at this event a few years ago, and knew how it was set up and where everything was, but I was still very excited to be there competing.

The course is much more challenging, and walking the cross country, I looked forward to tackling some new style fences with more technicality.

Thomas found this event much more exciting, with lots to look at and lots going on. He was very excitable in the dressage, as well as being strong in places. It resulted in a tense test, and scored 42.5.

Onto Show Jumping...with a 2 hour wait in between! I was determined to ride a forward and positive round, and try for more consistency in between fences. We got this, however, more forward and strength from Thomas meant I took a check on my reins too much on some fences, and just rolled 5 out of the cups.

Cross country was much more fun with Thomas having all this strength and new found power - he flew round most of the course, but due to my inexperience, and riding a line to a triple slightly wrong, we had a run out at the middle element. Complete rider error... and the rider won't make it again!!

We came round and jumped it perfectly the second time, and still got home in time. Here's some videos from Andrew stood in the middle of the course.

Unfortunately, we didn't better our score from Richmond, finishing on 83.5
However, to show the increased difficulty of this course, we finished in exactly the same placing as Richmond, 32nd.

Look out for the next post.... Bishop Burton!

Richmond ODE

As Richmond was to be my first ever event, I wanted to just be able to say I'd finished, with no problems, and most of all, I really didn't want to pick up 20 jumping penalties in the cross country!

Thomas behaved liked such a pro. He was a little excited when we first arrived, but after a few minutes off the wagon, he realised he was here to have a great time and settled well.

He warmed up for the dressage very calmly, and was working nicely. We went into the arena to carry out our test, and it was the best time of my riding life - I was here, and doing it... After all the years waiting!

We came out with a score of 37 which I was very pleased with. And, just as some evidence, here's our test:

Our Show Jumping has so far been our weakest phase, and the element which I am going to concentrate on over the winter. However, I was very pleased, and although rode a corner a little too wide, we had just 3 poles down - so 12 penalties to add. We even managed to get a great photo on the way round!

Next, onto the phase that I'd been most excited about, although slightly nervous, but much outweighed by sheer excitement!! CROSS COUNTRY
Thomas warmed up nicely over a few small fences, and suddenly it was us up next. Off we went. Thomas was great and flew over everything, really showing me how it was done. We got home clear, but with a steady and consistent pace all the way round, we were about 30 seconds over time.

We finished on a score of 60.6 - a great result for our first competition!


Welcome to Team Tunnah Eventing (TTE)!

Team Tunnah Eventing is simply made up of me, Sophie, my husband, Andrew, and the main star, the horse, Thomas.

After getting back into the saddle following 8 years out doing GCSEs, A-Levels and Uni, I have been more than keen to have a go at eventing...

I've had a 15.1 black mare on loan to get me back into riding, from Nov 07 - Aug 08, Grace.
Next, came Buddy. A 16.3 ISH that I bought as a 5 year old. Buddy certainly taught me to ride a 'proper horse', and is very talented. Unfortunately, he wasn't so keen on cross country. Buddy was sold May 2012, after having him since Sept 08.

Now I have Thomas, a beautiful 16.3 ISH bay gelding. His full name is Plessey Tee Jay. We've had Thomas since May 2012, and since then he has been a superstar, competing local dressage and show jumping, before FINALLY taking me to my first ever British Eventing competition.

Since August, we've done four competitions, have great results in all. Thomas has done some eventing before I bought him, so he shows me the ropes most of the time!

2012 Competition Results

  • Richmond (18/08/2012)
    37 dressage | 12 penalties Show Jumping penalties | 11.6 cross country time penalties
  • Hutton in the Forrest (08/09/2012)
    42.5 dressage | 20 Show Jumping penalties | 20 cross country penalties
  • Bishop Burton (29/09/2012)
    37 dressage | 12 Show Jumping penalties | 5.2 cross country time penalties
  • Askham Bryan (07/10/2012)
    37 dressage | 8 Show Jumping penalties | 5.6 cross country time penalties
I'll follow up this post with some reports of the individual events, including some photos and videos.

I hope you'll enjoy reading about our competitions, training and equestrian adventures, as much as we do when doing them!

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