Tuesday, 27 June 2017 12:02

Working at Liberty

When I first started learning about join-up and Monty Roberts’ techniques I never expected to find such rewards from working at liberty with horses. Initially I used join-up to build a relationship with Archie and to gain his confidence as in the early days he was nervous and unsure about a lot of things! Over the last year that has developed further and we are now having a go at liberty work. On days when we both fancy a bit of play and nothing too strenuous, mixing some loose schooling and liberty work can be really rewarding. It’s particularly good to help us reconnect as Archie is a champion sulker when I’ve been away on holiday.

The video (above) shows a little bit about what we have been doing at liberty, I have been very much just taking things as Archie offers them and playing around.

Learning to follow me came fairly quickly as part of effective join-up, and so the next step was teaching him to back up. It’s a useful skill to have in your toolbox for everyday situations, especially at dinner time when it stops Archie barging me out of the way to get to his feed!

Since Archie is inherently lazy and would love to spend all day in bed or chilling in the field teaching him to follow me in trot took a little while, and he still has a tendency to stand in the middle of the arena as I run around him like a lunatic. Something I’m sure he does purely for his own amusement.

When Archie has previously had physiotherapy we have noted that he is reluctant to cross his right hind leg underneath him on a circle, and so working at liberty has been a great chance to improve on his flexion. He has needed plenty of encouragement to get him flexing and moving over his right hind leg but it has finally started to make a difference. Something I was delighted to hear that Samantha Bardill our physio noted the last time she came out to see him.

If you have ever thought about liberty work but have been unsure where to start, I would highly recommend learning about join-up (there is masses of information online if you are new to it), and spending some time getting to know your horse without lines or reins. A round pen certainly makes this easier but you can do it in any space.

For me liberty work is about learning to communicate more effectively with Archie, and to put it simply, I believe that honest communication is the bedrock of any long-lasting and successful relationship.

 joae01As it says on the tin, this is a personal blog about the journey Archie and I are taking in discovering the world of eventing. Archie is a 6 year old Irish gelding, and I am a 26 year old horse addict. I didn’t grow up in a family with horses, and Archie was the first horse I ever owned, having loaned for over 20 years. I hope that we can show other riders who perhaps don’t feel that they can achieve their dreams, that anything is possible!
Re-published by kind permission of Journey of an Amateur Eventer|Blog 
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Sheila Willcox , the equestrienne who paved the way for women in the sport of eventing, has died at the age of 81.

Born in 1937, Sheila was a pioneer for women in the sport of eventing, winning multiple European medals and Badminton titles. Starting her career in The Pony Club, she went on to become the top female rider in British eventing, winning her first Badminton in 1957 after finishing in second place the previous year.

Riding High and Mighty, she was then selected for the 1957 European Championships where they won team and individual gold medals before returning to Badminton in 1958 to convincingly win the event again with a 47 penalty advantage.

Sheila Willcox married, becoming Sheila Waddington, and returned to Badminton in 1959 with her new, and inexperienced mount Airs and Graces - who had only competed in his first three day event just six months prior to Badminton. She won the dressage, but had to go slow cross-country due to the ground conditions. However, a rail down in show jumping by fellow competitor David Somerset allowed her to clinch the win. To this day, she is the only rider to have won Badminton three years running.

In the same year High and Mighty also added another team gold to her tally at the European Championships. During this time women were not allowed to compete in the Olympic Games so despite being one of the most decorated riders and accomplished horsewomen of the time she was denied an Olympic appearance.

She went on to coach Team Canada for the 1976 Montreal Games and 1975 Pan Am Games and wrote the first book about the sport, ‘Three Days Running’ in 1958, followed by the ‘The Event Horse’ in 1973.

A Requiem Mass is being held for Willcox at St Gregory’s Church, Cheltenham on June 30.



Published in Articles
Monday, 19 June 2017 13:49

Equestrian First Dates

Equestrians are a special bunch, but undeniably they have certain qualities which make them pretty epic on a first date. Assuming that is, that they don’t meet you for dinner in their jods, boots, whip in hand and with a faint whiff of horse in their wake. I promise you you’ll be impressed.

A key fact to remember is that they are used to controlling a 500kg animal with their thighs, so trust me, you, are no trouble at all. Not only that, they can compete and perform to a high level despite little sleep, as early morning competition starts often require. That means you’ll never see them hanging around outstaying their welcome in the morning as they will be up and off to the yard sharpish. Plenty of hours in the saddle and plenty more of yard work gets you toned and fit pretty quick. A necessary amount of exercise when you see the skin tight pale jodhpurs needed for competition, which are incredibly unforgiving no matter how slim you are! Equestrians have no choice but to squeeze themselves into them on a regular basis.

Equestrians are no stranger to managing difficult personalities, although they may be less patient with you than with the difficult pony on the yard. People generally come second to horses. Conversation however will never be a problem, as in the case of running out of something to talk about, once on the topic of their horses they can go for hours.  It might not be your cup of tea, but all that is required of you is to feign interest and make a few encouraging noises here and there.

Just something to take note of, before you launch in for a goodnight kiss, remember that  you will always and forever be second fiddle to their horses, your weekends will disappear into the black hole that is competition life, and spare cash becomes a thing of the past. You will however, be immensely happier for it! So if you’re brave enough to enter into a second date, get ready for a crash course into the equestrian world…!

joae150As it says on the tin, this is a personal blog about the journey Archie and I are taking in discovering the world of eventing. Archie is a 6 year old Irish gelding, and I am a 26 year old horse addict. I didn’t grow up in a family with horses, and Archie was the first horse I ever owned, having loaned for over 20 years. I hope that we can show other riders who perhaps don’t feel that they can achieve their dreams, that anything is possible!

Re-published by kind permission of Journey of an Amateur Eventer|Blog

Published in Trot On Blogs

It was an emotional moment for Germany’s Julia Krajewski when she realised she had scored the biggest win of her career after steering Samourai du Thot to victory at her home event, Luhmühlen CCI 4* presented by DHL, fifth leg of the FEI Classics™.

Krajewski, 28, was third year last year at her first attempt, but now she goes home with the big prize after the fairytale failed to come true for cross country leader Bettina Hoy (GER), who is 26 years her senior.

“If I hadn’t taken a pull, my horse wouldn’t have hit fence eight as he didn’t want to touch a pole. I thought ‘damn’, but there were so few clear rounds and when Bettina had her fence and time faults, that’s how it happens sometimes and you’re a four-star winner!” Julia Krajewski

There had been little difference in the leaderboard after a straightforward cross country phase, but a challenging jumping track certainly shook up the order, with only four clear rounds without time penalties from the 34 finishers.

 Nicola Wilson (GBR) and BULANA     Photo: Eric Knoll/FEI


Krajewski, second after Saturday’s cross country, hit the back rail of fence eight, and Britain’s Nicola Wilson, third before jumping on Bulana, jumped clear but added a frustrating three time faults to finish a mere 0.7 behind in second place, a career best for the 2012 Olympic team silver medallist who has been a solid pathfinder for the British team.

“It was an expensive time fault or two, but Bulana gets better and better and better.” Nicola Wilson

Hoy’s problems started with a sticky jump over the fifth fence on Designer 10 and the horse then didn’t get high enough over the sixth for a rail down. That, plus three time penalties, dropped the newly crowned national champion (Hoy won the German championships earlier in the day) to third place.

Marilyn Little (USA) was clear to move up to fourth place on RF Scandalous and Maxime Livio (FRA), currently runner-up in the FEI Classics, was also foot-perfect, rising six places to fifth on Opium de Verrieres.

Livio has now managed to narrow the gap with runaway FEI Classics™ leader Michael Jung (GER) to just six points, and Wilson has sprung from 11th place in the rankings to third, so a thrilling finish is guaranteed at the finale at Burghley (GBR) in September.

Full Standings HERE


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British rider Emily Gilruth is set to leave intensive care after she was injured in a fall at the Badminton Horse Trials.

British Eventing reported that she had suffered a traumatic brain injury after a fall at Badminton Horse Trials last weekend.

The 40-year-old, who is based near Malpas in Cheshire, was riding her horse, Topwood Beau when she fell at the third fence - Keepers Question - on the cross-country course.

Emily was airlifted to Bristol's Southmead Hospital. Topwood Beau, a 14-year old gelding was uninjured in the fall.

Published in Articles
Monday, 15 May 2017 10:42

Trust Is All You Need

Badminton horse trials this year was incredibly exciting to follow, with a truly challenging cross country course which made me sweat just watching at home on my sofa! Flying around our mini (by comparison) 90cm course at Eland Lodge on Sunday I was reminded as to why I am so passionate about our sport. Success at any level in eventing requires a partnership between you and your horse built on absolute trust. When you train together every day and experience successes and failures together, you develop a relationship which is something unique and beautiful. It is the trust that our horses place in us that allows us to achieve such feats within our sport.

Archie flew out of the start box last Sunday, but I felt him hesitate for that fraction of a second before the first few fences. Following our recent training session (A Balanced Approach) I was prepared for this and my leg and seat was there to catch, support and guide him meaning I was in a much better place to give him the confidence he needed. Sunday was the first time I have ridden around a cross country course clear and within the time, with the final result being that we were 8 seconds too fast! The course was kind, without too many tricky combinations or skinny fences, but plenty of steps and water combinations to get Archie’s brain in gear. It was a wonderful feeling to know that the recents months of training are finally starting to pay off, and a 6th place birthday frilly to take home didn’t hurt either!

I won’t deny that the more I do the more I want to do, and the more my dreams and aspirations grow. The exhilaration and adrenaline rush of riding cross country is addictive and the evenings after when I’m wallowing in “post-event blues” I find myself plotting our next training session and next outing. Archie and I are now over a year into our relationship and I can feel the difference in his interactions with me. There is a level of understanding and trust there which has taken time to build and grow, but which is vital to us being successful as a pair. Not only that, I am now trusting him too, and really, when you strip everything else away, trust is all you need.

joae150As it says on the tin, this is a personal blog about the journey Archie and I are taking in discovering the world of eventing. Archie is a 6 year old Irish gelding, and I am a 26 year old horse addict. I didn’t grow up in a family with horses, and Archie was the first horse I ever owned, having loaned for over 20 years. I hope that we can show other riders who perhaps don’t feel that they can achieve their dreams, that anything is possible!

Re-published by kind permission of Journey of an Amateur Eventer|Blog

Published in Trot On Blogs
Wednesday, 10 May 2017 11:56

Real Life Unicorns

Grey horses must be magical as they somehow always weasel their way into your heart, even when you are insistent that you want an easy-to-keep-clean bay horse. From my study of grey horse owners it seems to be that once you go grey you never go back, and so in order to survive a lifetime of grey horses it becomes necessary to learn the tricks of the trade early on.

Longstanding grey owners know all the best shampoos (human and horse), leg whiteners and chalks, plus all the weird things like putting ketchup on a stained tail (whoever tried that out the first time was braver than me!). They have an encyclopaedic knowledge of the different types of lycra hoods and they somehow always manage to turn their horses out absolutely spotless. My personal experience is that no matter what I do Archie is always yellow somewhere come the following morning and even the covered bits managed to get stained. It probably doesn’t help that he is incredibly lazy and will find the one and only spot of wet straw in his stable to sleep in. No matter how many layers and wraps you put on, when you’ve got a 5am start and you need to get on the road pronto you can guarantee the stains will be gigantic.

The summer show season is replaced in the winter by endless battle against the mud. This winter I gave up trying to groom the copious amounts off on a daily basis, and after two weeks of eating dinner at 10pm having got back from the yard so late I decided we needed a turnout hood. The Snuggy Hoods Boxing Day sale was an fantastic excuse to purchase probably be best bit of kit I have ever bought! He still manages to get mud underneath it, but now it takes 5 minutes to remove rather than 50.

My best tactics for keeping Archie vaguely clean involve; combing through and conditioning his tail daily and then plaiting up, a turnout hood in the field and show hood in the stable the night before an event, and a new trick of wearing waterproof turnout rugs in the stable to stop the wee getting through! Most importantly and often the hardest thing to do is not stress about it on a normal day and instead save that for the days that really matter. Despite the awkward and time consuming colour, they really are a gorgeous bunch. Let me know any of your top tips, they are always gratefully received!

joae150As it says on the tin, this is a personal blog about the journey Archie and I are taking in discovering the world of eventing. Archie is a 6 year old Irish gelding, and I am a 26 year old horse addict. I didn’t grow up in a family with horses, and Archie was the first horse I ever owned, having loaned for over 20 years. I hope that we can show other riders who perhaps don’t feel that they can achieve their dreams, that anything is possible!

Re-published by kind permission of Journey of an Amateur Eventer|Blog

Published in Trot On Blogs

“Such an exciting finish to the competition. Andrew Nicholson has completed Badminton a record-breaking 37 times, but the title had always eluded him. To come back from serious injury and finish at the top of the table here this year is the stuff of fairytales." Lance Bradley, Managing Director of Mitsubishi Motors in the UK

1. Andrew Nicholson (NZL) riding NEREO

“It’s been worth the wait. Nereo is a truly amazing horse. The amount of big events he’s done year after year is unbelievable,” Andrew Nicholson
2. Michael Jung (GER) riding LA BIOSTETIQUE SAM FBW
“It’s been a great week. Sam feels so strong and happy that even though he is now 17 years old, right now I think he has more competitions in him.” Michael Jung
3. Tim Price (NZL) riding XAVIER FAER
“I was expecting him to jump well if I could just manage him. It’s all about making sure nothing happens that he’ll have an adverse reaction to. He’s proved a lot to me and a lot to all of us. He’s going to be a cool horse and we’re looking forward to his future.” Tim Price

The William Miflin Memorial Trophy ~ To the rider of the horse with no cross-country jumping penalties and closest optimum time: Tim Price & Xavier Faer 


4. Mark Todd (NZL) and NZB CAMPINO

"Thank you Badminton Horse Trials for another spectacular sporting occasion. I could not be happier with two double clears from my horses" Mark Todd


5. Rosalind Canter (GBR) riding ALLSTAR B

“It’s the biggest thing I’ve ever done. The horse is a good jumper which sometimes puts even more pressure on because he deserves to jump a clear round, so it was up to me to put him in the right place, and it’s a relief that it came off.” Rosalind Canter

Butler Bowl ~ for the best British rider: Rosalind Canter
Laurence Rook Trophy ~ best British rider not previously completed Badminton: Rosalind Canter

6. Mark Todd (NZL) riding LEONIDAS II

"4 th (NZB Campino) and 6 th(Leonidas II) is a tad further off the pace than I would have liked but congratulations to Andrew Nicholson for a deserved win and Tim Price for his 3rd!" Mark Todd


7. Gemma Tattersall (GBR) riding ARCTIC SOUL

"Arctic Soul has a heart as big him, tries beyond belief. What an unbelievable horse he is. So so proud of him." Gemma Tattersall

Retraining of Racehorses £1000 ~ The highest placed former racehorse which must have been raced under the rules of a recognised racing authority worldwide: Arctic Soul


8. Yoshiaki Oiwa (JPN) riding THE DUKE OF CAVAN

Silver Jubilee Plate ~ best Owner/Rider: Yoshiaki Oiwa



"Bobby is our hero...A ninth place on English turf. We are thankful for that and still have heart palpitations!" Ingrid Klimke


10. Kristina Cook (GBR) riding BILLY THE RED

Frank Weldon Memorial Trophy ~ Rider of youngest British owned and ridden horse in top12: Kristina Cook & Billy The Red

See Full Final Results HERE
MORE photos - Badminton Horse Trials 2017 HERE
*VIDEO* Trot On Quick-Pics Badminton Horse Trials 2017



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British eventing rider Emily Gilruth remains in intensive care in Southmead Hospital in Bristol after falling from Topwood Beau at the Badminton Horse Trials at the weekend.

In a statement, her family said on Monday afternoon:

"Emily’s family would like to thank all the many well-wishers for the lovely supportive messages that they have received.

"She suffered a TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury) when falling from her horse at the third fence on Saturday. She was airlifted to Bristol’s Southmead hospital.

"The doctors are pleased with her progress. She has had a stable night and remains under sedation.

"We would like to say a huge thank you to Badminton’s medical team, for their efficient and very caring service, also to the staff in the intensive care unit at Southmead."

Her brother-in-law, Andrew Gilruth, told the Telegraph newspaper:

“With any significant injury it’s going to be about a week before anybody knows but she’s heading in the right direction.

“She was on one of the non-technical fences [when the accident occurred]. There’s no indication that its not all recoverable the problem is we just don’t know yet…you just have to wait and see how it progresses.”

British Olympic Event rider, Gemma Tattersall responded to the news of Mrs Gilruth's recovery on Facebook:

"Very encouraging to hear, saw her fall and my blood ran cold. Keep fighting Emily...your eventing family are behind you."

We wish her well.


Published in Articles
Monday, 08 May 2017 12:32

Judging When to Push On or Pull Up.

Many of us watched dismayed as U.S rider Elisa Wallace coaxed her obviously exhausted horse over the last fence during the Badminton Mitsubishi Motors Cross Country phase and saw them crash to the ground as Simply Priceless lacked the energy to clear it. It was very sad to watch and afterwards the ground jury gave Wallace a yellow yard for 'Abuse of the horse.' 

However, did many of you wonder, as we did, why those officials on the ground didn't make her pull up earlier?

Fortunately rider and horse were unhurt in the fall and In a statement on her Facebook page, Wallace said,

“I am OK as well, but I’m disappointed in myself for letting down my horse, my country, and my sport. I should have pulled him up. And I agree with the ground jury giving me a yellow card. I made a mistake that I will NEVER make again. I am lucky we are both unscathed. Johnny gave me everything today. I love my horse and my sport.”

Some horses really will give their all for us so it's important that not only riders but also the sports that we engage in don't abuse that generosity. However, before we all jump in to attack Wallace for what is obviously a bad judgement call, we should also ask ourselves if we have at some point when working towards a goal, however big or small, just gone that little bit too far and asked too much of our horse.


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