Friday, December 26, 2008

AMDG photos

A couple of photos of Gosh doing his first ever GP Kur at the AMDG Champs. Thanks to the photographic skills of Judith!

And a very cute shot Judith took of us waiting for the prizegiving. On the left is Victoria Wall and her lovely 4yo Astek Gymnast and I'm on the right on Da Vinci. Victoria was Reserve Champion Level 1 while we were Reserve Champion Level 2. The bridesmaids!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Merry Christmas Everybody!

Only two more sleeps and the kids are positively bursting with excitement. I am, too, but more because on Saturday we are going to the north island and I will be reunited with my boys. They have both been enjoying some R&R at Brooklands Park, supposedly taking time out in the paddock but I have a sneaking suspicion that Bill won't have been able to keep his hands off Gosh...

We rounded out the spring with a couple of good solid shows. At Ashburton Des performed well for good percentages and proved again to have a great competition temperament. He was placed in both tests and was winning the SI Accumulator series last time I checked. Gosh did some rather fabulous work but scored disappointingly after deciding there were gremlins in the end goal lines of the rugby feild we were competing on. The grounds for the Ashburton Champs are always a bit dodgy with the A&P show a couple of weeks before and a SJ in the interim and both boys were feeling it in the end. However a well run show and lovely people to deal with.

I do have one comment to make regarding the prize givings, though... Please, those that are calling the results out - do NOT say 'first and only competitor...' It does take something away from the riders performance and they have worked very hard to get there. At Ashburton it happened for both the Inter II and also for the Para rider. In both cases, if the announcer wants to give either of us competition, then they are more than welcome in that arena with us!

After Ashburton it was time to plan and pack before heading up to the North Island. My (much) older sister was very inconveniently having her 50th Birthday Party in Hamilton the same weekend as Canterbury Champs so I packed the boys in the truck and took them with me. Some of you who cross over to the dark side and event might know my sister - Sally Millar from the Eventing Board... we had an awesome weekend with extended family and friends. I don't want to go soppy but I do have the greatest family; funny, intelligent, fun and about as diverse as they come. This is Sally (on the right) and her partner, Wendy.

From there it was over to the magical Brooklands Park in Waingaro, run by Carolyn McCree and Steve Gould and the base of Bill Noble. We had a couple of good days training before heading up to Auckland Manukau Festival of Dressage at Clevedon.

Da Vinci was incredible. For a 5yo at his first away show, first two day show and third ever dressage start - not to mention the days of travel to get there - it is hard to imagine how he could have gone better. He won two classes (including the challenge test by 4%) was second in a test by 0.5% where he litterally fell over after slipping on the glass like ground conditions and fourth in the first test when his rider was in a bit of a dream world and he broke in one lengthening. His temperament was rock steady throughout. In the end he was just pipped for the Championship by Ashleigh William's divine Papanui Don Juan. Don Juan (or 'Jedi') is a stunning individual, in his second year of competition with a very successful prelim year under his belt last season. Interestingly he is also by De Niro and is, in my view, a horse to watch for the future. Anyway, we were delighted to end up 'bridesmaid' with our first wide dressage ribbon.

Unfortunately the 'artwork' from the weekend wasn't the best but I do have two that mum took of Da Vinci at the truck and again at the prizegiving.

From there is was on to the Grand Prix and I have to say it was a change in mindset that I failed to make well. Gosh and I did do some good work but a lack of consistency and cohesion was apparent. I rode a little like a 'pony clubber', attempting to 'hack through' the tests which is not possible at this level and our scores were very low as a result. In saying that it was not all bad - some movements were outstanding, his temperament was brilliant and we got some good feedback from some knowledgable people who all said we look like we belong in the GP ring. It was a case of being brought back to earth with a thud for me personally. What I take away from it is the knowledge that we CAN do this, that both Gosh and I have the talent and that my trainer and others have faith in us.

From here it is onward - the next show will be the Grand National Championship Show. Da Vinci will be a show hack for the weekend while Gosh will contest the Grand Prix and the Kur and before that I have two weeks solid training with Bill. Cannot wait!

I wish you all the best for the holidays - take the time to enjoy your family and your horses and I hope you get to enjoy a true 'Kiwi Christmas'.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

We are the Champions!

OK, so this news is rather old, but things have been crazy around here lately!
Way back on the 24th of October I took Da Vinci out to the Rangiora A&P show - just for some mileage and to get him used to the atmosphere and whatnot. He was awesome, warming up with all the horses around and not fussed by all the distractions. That was enough for me, but as a bonus we won or were placed in all our classes and came away with the Champion Novice Saddle Hunter title! Not bad for us non-showies.
Since then we have been head down tail up with lots of training and a unique social event known to us Cantabrians as 'Cup & Show Week'. In that single week I hosted a clinic with my Melbourne based trainer, Manu McLean, had drinks for all my sponsors and supporters, went to the CatWalk Trust 'Up & Away' Ball - the best night out I've had in years with the bonus of being part of a group that raised $214 000 for Spinal Cord Research. On Friday I attended the show briefly to see some friends riding and see the amazing Bailey Family take out the Supreme Pony AND the Supreme Horse title - AGAIN... Saturday found us rail side at the Riccarton Racecourse with some close friends, enjoying all the best Canterbury has to offer - good food, wine, great weather and some superb entertainment. And on Sunday I had two lessons with Bill Noble. Needless to say I wasn't quite at my best and he was less than impressed.
You know I have been writing a lot about our successes and all the good times it is sometimes easy to forget the effort and sacrifices that are made for that. There are plenty of early starts, mundane tasks, physical effort and financial & social sacrifice. Nearly as many wonderful moments in the saddle are balanced out by disappointments or plateus in training. I am lucky to have the support of a great family and friends to help me along when things get tough and I find that just when I wonder if I can, I'll have that perfect 'moment' and it is all worthwhile.
Anyway I'm going to leave you with that - I've got a show at the weekend and plenty to do. You know, the rest of my family are away at school camp so I'm home alone. At the moment it is nearly 2pm and I haven't ridden yet! Someone needs to give me a kick in the pants...

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


I orginally recorded this for the person who is helping put together my musical freestyle but think it's good enough to share. Me & Gosh playing with our party tricks... Enjoy!

Monday, October 13, 2008

And so it goes...

Yesterday saw Gosh in his first ever official Inter II start and we're thrilled with the outcome. Too many mistakes in the changes let us down somewhat in the final score but still we came away with a very respectable 59.43% and the class win. OK, so there were only two of us in it, but always nice to come home with another red ribbon to add to the collection! The work we produced was good enough for consistent 6's & 7's throughout our p/p tour, half passes, extensions, pirouettes and zig-zags. Very happy with that as a springboard to greater things and I'm confident the changes will come right soon enough. Gosh proved he was happy with that level of work, finishing off the test with a lovely energetic passage centre line.
We will be based at home now for a couple of months solid work with his next definate outing the Auckland/Manukau Champs in Clevedon on the 13th & 14th of December. We may head to Ashburton in the interim if I feel our work at home warrants another outing.

Friday, October 10, 2008


Here are some pictures from last weekend - thanks to photographer Annie Studhome for her brilliant work once again...

Warming up

And again...

Working trot in the test.

Good Boy!

Happy it's done.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Two from two!!

Well we had the perfect start to the season over the weekend with Da Vinci taking out both classes he was entered in. It was a big ask for a not quite 5yo at his first ever show to be competing in two Level 2 tests, including the ‘Challenge’ class, but he rose to the occasion. The first test he won convincingly on a score of 71.923%. In the second he was noticeably tired – it was a two hour trip to the show and I think it was probably the first time he had ever been ridden twice in a day – certainly the look on his face when I saddled him up again was less than impressed. Despite this and not being forward enough, his class won through and he scored a 66.538% which was just enough to take out the win. He handled the trip with ease, and performed impeccably at all times which convinces me he will be a true competitor. Not only that but in his very first outing he has easily qualified for the Young Dressage Horse finals. This gives me the opportunity to select our shows and classes with care for the rest of the season, competing only to gain mileage and confidence and develop him into the top level athlete I know he will become. So excited!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008


To all my keen followers out there! I know it has been far too long.
It’s been a slow start to our season in Canterbury with the strangles outbreak cancelling what was to be our first graded day for the year. I was especially disappointed as Da Vinci is schooling so well and is now just in need of some mileage. This now means our first start will be at South Canterbury/North Otago’s qualifying show on the 5th of October at Winchester. I’m only taking Da Vinci with me as Gosh is not quite ready for the Grand Prix and I would like to concentrate on Da Vinci for his first day out. I have to confess to being a little nervous! His work is certainly good enough to compete in the two Level 2 classes I have entered him in, but the unknown entity is just how he will behave at a show. I guess we will know soon enough and I hope we do enough to qualify for the Young Dressage Horse class (at least 63% in 2.6) to take the pressure off for the rest of the season. I have both horses entered in the Canterbury Dressage Group All Grades Day the following weekend – Gosh in the Intermediate II and Da Vinci in the Level 2, but will only take Da Vinci if I feel he needs the extra day out. It will be Gosh’s first official start at Level 8/9 and I can’t wait! I will post a full report after the shows – wish us luck!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


A brand new sponsor. I have many times endorsed the work of Pete Gillespie and his team from Vet Equine and I am so thrilled to announce they have chosen to support us for the upcoming season. Hopefully the services I require from them will just be routine. I'll proudly be wearing their logo and extolling their virtues. Yay!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Some video for you...

Taken at the last outing with Gosh (July 13th). I rode the Inter II in a snaffle jst to keep things simple and once again it was a quiet hack through. I'm so pleased with his calm attitude to it all, now it is time to ask some questions and see how he responds...
Because our upload speeds are so slow, here is the youtube link to save me having to do it all over again!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

My Beautiful Boys

I've been quiet on here as it has been quiet on the horse front, too. Gosh is progressing - sometimes it seems so slow but Bill seemed impressed when he was down at the weekend. Des just keeps getting better and better and is starting to feel like a horse ready to compete. My 7yo daughter took this pisture of us working yesterday. Excuse the quality but you can see he is really starting to operate and use himself.
And if all else fails he'll make a lovely lead rein pony! This is my 4yo son, Clive up.

And Clive says 'thanks, Des'...

Monday, June 16, 2008

Manu & the Inter II

This last weekend I once again hosted Manuela McLean from Melbourne. She arrived with some more tools up her sleeve and gave us plenty to work on – she needed to as she is not back for 3 months as she has a trip scheduled to the Equitation Symposium in Dublin and then a stop off at the Olympics on the way home – all right for some! Des got better and better as we worked on sharpening his responses to the aids and Gosh had his best lesson yet, helped in no small part by a tweak in my position that I will be working on studiously to programme into my muscle memory – both on the horses and off it with my Pilates instructor.
Yesterday Gosh had his first ever Inter II start, just at a local Training day. It was purely a ‘hack through’ on our part – just to find out how he coped with the additional pressure at this level and whether he would perform the movements one after the other and in the ring when it matters. Despite it being a low level show I still plaited and turned out to the best of my ability (even put the flash new saddle blanket on complete with sponsors logos!) although I did leave the top hat and tails at home… Gosh came through with flying colours – his piaffe and passage, extensions and half passes being the highlights. Plenty to go on with and I’m looking forward to riding the test again in a months time at a similar day.

The boys have today off, the weather is grey, I’ve got a million inside things to do and the fencers have been here all morning putting in the poles for a new arena mirror – can’t wait!

Saturday, June 7, 2008

It's all good!

Yesterday I had the team from Vet Equine come out and check Gosh over. The swelling had almost completely gone but I just wanted to check that everything was OK. Can't be too careful I say! Pete Gillespie was extremely thorough and scanned both front legs and found no tendon damage at all. Great news; the best guess is that he simply knocked it and being so full of feed the leg just filled. No need to stay off him, in fact the movement would be good for it so back to work it is. In saying that I have decided just one lesson with Bill this weekend... I had hoped to ride him quietly at home this afternoon but a southerly downpour has put paid to that idea - I melt in the rain!
I took Des (Da Vinci) along for a lesson with Bill today and he was completely awesome. Bill is fantastic with getting me to push the envelope that bit more. Today we really had Des up and humming and there was one medium trot where his back came up and he just flew. This horse has incredible movement and the most relentless rhythm. It is so very exciting to ride. Bill was laughing at me - he said 'just think, one day you're going to have to sit to that!' My pilates instructor is certainly going to have her work cut out for her achieving that much spinal mobility. A great day out, even if it did start out with him on tippy toes and snorting - he thought the rugby being played in the main oval a ridiculous thing to do!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Good news and...

Des (Da Vinci) had his first public outing at the weekend and behaved impeccably for the whole day. A big day out for him – first day out on his own, the local German Shepard club was there with multitudes of barking dogs and loud speakers, he tied to the truck, was ridden with others… Despite all the distractions and the fact I rode very quietly, just there for the experience, he was easily the nicest there and scored 75%. Can’t wait to take him out properly now! Will still do things very quietly – he’ll have another couple of these schooling shows and won’t do anything official until at least October.
On the other news front Gosh is having a couple of days off with a filling in his leg - not sure why as there is not a mark on him and he is completely sound but will stay off his back until it clears completely. Have been using the 'Back on Track' wraps on him with remarkable results - first time I've tried them and have to say I'm wholeheartedly impressed. He is a horse that benefits from a few days off here and there so no drama there, just hope he is right for lessons with Bill this weekend, lessons with Manu next week and possibly our first Inter II start next weekend... there is always another show but the trainers are never here as often as I'd like!

Saturday, May 17, 2008

For no other reason

Than to post this lovely pic of my boys! Coming into their boxes on a cool Canterbury evening...

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

3, 2, ones!!

Well we finally have the ones! Having just had three days off I got back on Gosh today. We had a bit of breakthrough last week, finally having 3 tempi changes and the next day 5. We got them through just making him wait and slowing everything down, with lots of canter-halt-canter transitions. Today I went out and 'voila!' they were there. So excited. The only problem now is that now we have them everywhere!! Will have to go back to working on the single changes and get him on my aids with them, but at least he can now do a line of one time changes without standing on his head. It is looking like we will be on target for a training Inter II start next month... Yay!

Sunday, May 4, 2008

A weekend of firsts

Have just had a great weekend training with Bill Noble. It was a huge weekend of firsts for Des (Da Vinci) - First time to the Equestrian centre at McLeans Island, first time hearing the orangutans at feeding time (the zoo is just over the road!!) First time ridden indoors (at Canterbury Park). He coped so well with everything -including another rider being bucked off in the indoor - and Bill is delighted with our progress. Slowly but surely we ask a little more each day and each day he impresses me with his movement and trainability.
Gosh also had a good weekend. His piaffe and passage are 'Inter II' ready now and he is gradually coping with the increased requirements as we head towards a start in that grade. His tempi changes were erratic all weekend. Bill is sure that we are on the right track and one day they will just 'happen'.
Both horses will have a quiet winter competition wise. Gosh will come out when he is ready to ride through an Inter II in public and Des will first be socialised at Canterbury Dressage's young and green horse series (3 indoor and 2 outdoor 'shows' - VERY low key) and we will analyse what is best for him from there.
From wherever I sit the year ahead looks exciting!

Thursday, May 1, 2008

And now it's Thanks to the Sponsors!

Have to put a wee plug on here for my fabulous sponsors. I have been fortunate enough for the last year to be sponsored by Quadrant Insurance. Truly the best there is in Equine & Livestock insurance in New Zealand, Mike Parkinson has been providing peace of mind for us for many years now and we are delighted to have him on board.

And coming alongside this season is Zilco NZ. I have always been a fan of Zilco products - their rugs are simply the best and with a variety of ranges available they make something for everyone. For something special, check out their sheepskin lined dressage saddle pads. You may have seen me out with them last year with the Quadrant logo on, now the Zilco logo will be right alongside!

In the Stable

First there is Gosh, my stable star. He is a 14yo NZ Sport Horse (euphamism for bitza). He is my first 'proper' dressage horse and together we have bumbled our way from Elementary (about US 2nd level) to PSG/Inter I level. I'm hoping we haven't finished yet - we're aiming to come out at Inter II this winter with a view to tackling GP next season. He is an awesome creature with stunning movement but is super sensitive and has been rather tricky to train at times.

A new arrival is Da Vinci, a 4yo warmblood by De Niro out of a Flemmingh mare. With generations of performance breeding, he was always going to be special, I guess time will tell just how special! So far he shows exceptional movement and temperament so the world is our oyster...

And then there is Prospector, a 2yo Hannoverian gelding by Gryffindor. He has awesome movement and type and I can't wait until he is under saddle sometime next year.

Post the First

I'd far rather have some flash website complete with stunning flash media applications and quick easy navigation however I'm a struggling dressage rider so this will have to do to keep my public up to date. Feel free to post comments although you'll have to join first - I want to keep some sort of track of my stalkers...