Let me introduce George (Clooney) - new pony! I am very lucky to have found him! He is a beautiful black/brown Trakehner 11 year old who has previously competed up to Medium level with Lizzie Merritt. I have never had a 'trained' horse before! I am hoping he will be agreat back-up horse for Darcy.
As he had been with Lizzie for a long time, we are taking things very slowly. He has been going to Carrie Adams at Centrelines Dressage to learn all about spook-busting and is proving a model pupil! I have also taken him to an Ellen Bontje clinic at Grangewood Farm Livery where he was a superstar - Bloody Hell can that horse move!!! Ellen loved him and wanted me to bring him the following day instead of Darcy.
More on the housekeeping side, George has settled in beautifully - he seems to like the arena at Sally's! Nikki Newcombe from Bliss of London Saddles came out to fit his saddle. Luckily, he basically fits Whoop's Bliss Paramour, it just needed a bit of tweaking so it has gone back to the Bliss headquarters for that. I am hoping that Kate Radford of TopSpec will bring her weighbridge out soon and weigh him and give me some advice on how to help him build up his muscle and stamina as he is a bit of a weakling at the moment. Annie Wright of PetChiro has given him the once over and there seem to be no major issues, he seemed to rather enjoy his treatment!
It is great having such great expertise as part of my home team!
This summer I have been very lucky to secure the support of 2 fabulous companies.
ShowerKing Hot Horse showers have very kindly given me one of their great gas-powered hot water units so my horses will have hot water wherever they go! http://www.equineshower.com/
Andover Healthcare Inc. have given me boxes and boxes of their fantastic bandages, dressings and first aid materials. Living with Whoop makes a well stocked first-aid kit a must-have!http://www.andoverhealthcare.com/
This is Burghley, my new lorry dog! He was given to me by Suzy of Morgan Equine, Darcy's breeder. He is a mini Daxie x Chihuahua and very cute!
Sorry! I have kind of taken my eye off the ball in the Blogging sphere. If you would like to keep up with me more closely, 'Like' my FaceBook page, www.facebook.com/BertSheffieldParaEquestrianRider, so that stories go straight into your newsfeed. Or check me out on Twitter, https://twitter.com/hopalongrider.
This summer has been wonderful! After our trip to Europe, Whoop and I went to Hickstead for the British Para Champs and finished 2nd to Deb Criddle even though we had some eventful tests.
At the end of June Whoop and I joined Darcy and the rest of team Canada down at Hartpury College for our Canadian Summer tour camp. This was a great way to meet everyone.
First stop of our tour was the Hartpury CPEDI 3*. All the horses were fantastic, especially Darcy who behaved impeccably at her first big show. Lauren had a good week even though she was feeling unwell for some of it and we, Team Canada, finished 3rd overall.
After a few days off and some sightseeing we got back to the grindstone and ready for Bishop Burton CPEDI 2*. This was a better show for us, Ashley, Lauren and I won all our set tests; Lauren posting the highest combined score for the show and I posted the highest score in the set tests. Lauren carried on her winning streak and aced the freestyle while Whoop and I were pipped to the post by a tiny .03%!
Thank you so much to Para Equestrian Canada and all the support team for making this possible! Zoe West, the wonder-groom was amazing as were Annie Wright Chiropractic and Gary Diplock of Mind4Sport.
Our exploits have led to Whoop and I whooshing up the FEI World Rankings! We are now sitting in 9th position, across all the Para grades, highest ranked Canadian combination! In the PE Canada rankings, worked out slightly differently, we are sitting in 3rd!
Since Darcy, Whoop and I came home things have been very manic indeed! I have had to move yards as Laughton Manor has shut for business and now have my horses down at Eventers International, Tiny Clapham's yard. This has meant a lot of change and upheaval but Tiny and her team have been brilliant!
Whoop injured himself out in the field so he is having an extended holiday in the field over at Annie Wright's house. It is such a shame as he has qualified for the big BD KBIS/National Championships in September.
Darcy has had to step into his very big shoes, and is proving to be real star! She has qualified for the BD Novice Open Regional Champs with the minimum number of tests possible and we are off to our local BD Pet Plan Area Festival this weekend.
Yesterday, Whoop and I won at our first show since returning to the UK. We took part in the BD/ KBIS Insurance National Championship qualifier at the Vale View Home International show. We are not eligible for the Home International as we have competed at CPEDI 3* level.
Whoop was really up for going to a party and he turned in a lovely test for us to head the biggest class of the show with 68.110%, 2% ahead of 2nd place. He has grown up so much over the last month! I couldn't be more pleased with him. Roll on Hickstead and the British Champs later this month!
Sorry, I have not been updating this blog much recently but we have been away on a little trip to Germany and Holland!
Whoop, Zoe and I decamped to Germany for 3 weeks, staying and training with Dutch dressage legend Ellen Bontje around Mannheim CPEDI*** and Roosendaal CPEDI*** international shows. We had a fantastic time, we learnt so much!
It was very kind of Ellen to let us stay at her beautiful yard, just south of Frankfurt. It was great to watch really good riding all day as well as train with her each day.
The first of our big shows was Mannheim CPEDI *** held during the 2 week long MaiMarkt. WOW, totally amazing show, huge arenas, huge atmosphere, so many people and horses, such a beautiful venue. This was easily the biggest show I have ever competed at and my first show outside the UK. The competition arena for the Paras was quite imposing, complete with fake grass around the outside and pretty judges boxes. Ellen came down and warmed us up for our first test, we gave a creditable performance to finish 8th. A mishap in the warming up for the individual championship test unfortunately impacted our performance on the second day and we ended up 10th but we made the cut, based on our combined scores, for the freestyle, where we finished just shy of 70% and 8th place.
Roosendaal CPEDI*** was a much quieter affair but Whoop arrived in the mood to party! He calmed down to give solid performances for 7th in the team test, 5th in the ind. champ test and we made it into the freestyle, where we came 5th. There were many of the same combinations at both shows as some of the European national federations were using them for team selection for the European Championships in August.
We had a great first time experience, competing at this higher level and made many new friends along the way. I have lots of great photos I will add soon!
After the BHS Spring Convention, Whoop and I were planning to have a little rest but 'best laid plans and all that...'
I have engaged TSM Ltd to represent me to the media and to sponsors so Becky Taylor came up to the yard and we had fun doing a photo shoot in a howling gale! I am so pleased to have Becky and Tim Smith representing me as they are so knowledgeable and well-respected in the industry.
I have also found a great sports psychologist to work with in Gary Diplock of Mind 4 Sport. Gary and I get on really well and seem to be on the same wavelength, so far! I hope that we can work together to improve the mental side of my performance.
I have been working out a new freestyle programme for Whoop as this year Grade 3 moved from the short to long arena. I think we have come up with a cracking routine. Kay of Equidance is going to do my music, she loves my sort of music, so hopefully it'll be something really special for us to dance to. Now I just need to add some polish and sparkle ready.
Now, I am in the final throws of preparation before Whoop and I leave for Germany at the end of the week. Zoe West, my competition groom extraordinaire, is coming with me and then Annie Wright, my chiro and Mum are meeting us out there for Mannheim CPEDI 3*. We will be staying at Ellen Bontje's yard before the show and then returning for a week before we head off to Roosendaal CPEDI 3*. This will be our first big international competitions representing Canada - I'm so excited!!!
Gosh! It has been a while since I last posted an update. Since last time, I have been crazy busy.
First of all, Whoop and I have got a new sponsor - Bliss of London- Saddles of Distinction. Nikki from Bliss came out and we tried some saddles and I particularly liked the Bliss Paramour. It is super close contact but still gives the rider lots of support and the horse has maximum freedom of movement. I chose to have the nubuck covering and serge lining to give me optimal grip and to allow the saddle to mould most closely with Whoop's back.
A couple of weeks later our bespoke, custom made saddle arrived, complete with a beautiful Maple Leaf decoration and Whoop and I have been in heaven ever since.
Earlier this week, Nikki came out again to check the fit, now the flocking has settled a little and to take some photos of Whoop performing in his new saddle.
Then, the Canadian team trainer, Andrea Taylor and Ashley Gowanlock,
Canadian dual-Paralympian came over the pond to see us for a short week. We had a great time playing with Whoop and Darcy, and Andrea got to see me training Whoop with Gareth.
Next, Whoop and I were off to the BD/ Nirvana Spa Winter Open Para Championships. Whoop was rather a cheeky chappy but nonetheless we came 2th in the Grade 3 Championship and one of the judges had us to win!
Two days later, we were off out again - this time to Bishop Burton Para show for Hickstead qualifier classes. Whoop won both his tests, so far he is unbeaten in any Grade 3 qualifier tests!
The following Monday, we were out again - this time as guinea-pigs for the BHS Spring Convention taken by Stephen Clarke. Whoop was a total super star - 'worth his weight in gold' according to Stephen! Whoop loved the audience and chapping and even Stephen's microphone keeping popping didn't phase him.
Had the wonderful news yesterday that the results Whoop and I have brought home have put us 2nd on the Para Equestrian Canada Long List!