Category Archives: WOW club dressage

Lesley Peyton-Gilbert’s blog: How time flies

WOW Saddles Sponsored rider Lesley Peyton-Gilbert reflects on a fun, crazy, challenging, frustrating and sometimes painful year so far…

“Well here I am and i’ts September! How on earth did that happen?? It’s been a fun , crazy ,scary , challenging, frustrating and at times painful! Woodcroft Garuda K has taken to Grand Prix like the proverbial duck to water and we continue to grow and develop . We have done premier leagues and several internationals, one in France which was very eye opening and disappointing in that we drove 700 miles only to be allowed to ride one test and pay £900 for the privilege. Don’t for one minute think we get any support for going on these international expeditions. I have to say  a MASSIVE thank you to my horses’ owners Woodcroft studs Tim Harris and Bernadette O’Sullivan for making it possible for me to have these international experiences! Deauville was a stunning location found at a very late hour and making like ‘wee Willy winky’ running through the town looking for our stable at 3 am! Hilarious if we weren’t so exhausted! It was HOT, 32 degrees sand arenas that were over watered and rock hard.”

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“The positives were the food! The Australians, French and Brazilians were doing their final team selections for WEG so there was a lot of tensions at the show and some interesting tests and riding ! We got home to have three days break at home and then travel to the CDI at Hickstead! Again a great show and a steep learning curve but certainly the Grand Prix Special was our high light, like the one we did at Hartpury international to come third with Carl and Nip Tuck winning. I had got Garuda ready to travel home and had to do the prize giving on foot!”

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“Yet again the team at Hickstead had produced great show and I never fail to enjoy my time there and the wonderful atmosphere aided by the Irish bar for the riders and connections! I hope that the public enjoyed watching as much as we riders enjoyed taking part.”

“After Hickstead it was time to really turn my attentions to my younger horse, World Exclusive, as it was the regional championships at Addington. The weather was truly awful on the day we were there and at one point hail stones the size of marbles pelted down. I thankfully only had sideways rain to contend with, and Wex was a super star. The classes were huge, and the depth of talent bottomless. So I was very pleased to come 6th in the 30 strong medium and 7th in the advanced medium both with scores a hairs width off 70% meaning as we were one place off qualification in both classes that we did get wild cards for the nationals!”

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“Garuda, who had qualified for the Inter11 got his place in the Grand Prix, realising a massive ambition to ride at the nationals at Grand Prix!  We have to drop the inter11 as we had ridden a big tour CDI abroad. Consequently I am now madly trying to get a Kur together! It’s compulsory to do the music if you get into the top 15! The weekend is going to be a busy one at the nationals (18-21 of September). Outside of my riding I’ve been helping my pony club teams get ready for their area championships and for a couple of my riders the pony club nationals champs. This is such a rewarding process and I am so proud how far they have all come. I think I can say that for all my pupils , young and old! I do give them grief at times but always in good humour! I have also have the pleasure to judge some amazing horses during the coarse of judging the BEF Futurity scheme, there are some  very exciting young horses out there so remember that when looking for your next equine partner!”

“I have managed the odd day off too, here is evidence! A day out with my dogs , to watch my husband play some polo! A bit of a bus mans holiday but I got to chill out for a change! The autumn looks to be as busy as the summer, we are off to Saumur in France to represent GB again the week after the nationals! I’m very excited about this as for me this is one of the real homes of dressage. Just hope I get the chance to go and explore a bit!”

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Izzy Chaplin’s blog: Red rosettes to finish the summer

As WOW Saddles rider Izzy Chaplin prepares to go off to university, she looks back at what has been a very exciting August… 

“Well August has been quite a successful month! Early in August I found out that I have been accepted into my first choice uni, Nottingham University to study Accountancy! I was absolutely thrilled as I was a bit nervous before hand. Then it was on to Sheepgate U25’s championships. I had an intensive training week before going up to Sheepgate where I was lucky to be able to have training every other day for a week with my trainer, Sarah Millis. We worked on getting Dora suppler and in self carriage and we had a massive breakthrough. It was as if everything has clicked and Sarah has given me some brilliant exercises to work on that I can also use in the warm up, which came in very handy in the warm up at Sheepgate.”

9th August 2014 6“You could tell you where further up north as soon as we got out the lorry, it was so cold! But luckily, thanks to WOW Saddles, we had our team clothing to keep us warm and looking very smart! As I had been picked for the Southern advanced team, I did two medium tests for the team over the 2 days. I also entered into the music class as this is something that I have wanted to do for a while. After sorting out a floor plan I decided on music from Narnia and Prince Caspian.”

“On the first day, Dora and I got just under 69% in the medium team test which I was really pleased with considering we had a mistake where Dora broke into canter in the shoulder in. My other team members also did really well and this meant that we were lying in 1st place as a team overnight. Later on was my music class. Dora felt fab in the test. We got a bit ahead of our music in the canter but apart from that the music worked really well with the test and I got all the extended trots in the right place! Our score can through at 74% to win. I was absolutely thrilled as this was only the second run through of the test and this meant a new personal best. You can watch my test on my YouTube channel.”
Sheepgate 2014 Dora“Day two was just as successful for the team. I was one of the first on in the team test and we did a good test although I felt that she could have been a bit suppler and in more self-carriage. We got a score of 70% to get 3rd place. As a team we all did brilliantly again on the second day so we managed to win by a big margin. Prize giving was amazing as every southern member that had been competing was in prize giving. A very successful show! Unfortunately that was it for another year for Dora and I but it is such a lovely show and always a highlight of the show season. After Sheepgate, I went away on holiday with my family so the horses had an easy week but now that I am back I am looking forward to fitting in some training and competing before I go off to uni. I will keep you up to date on my Facebook and Twitter page.”
Sheepgate 2014 Team

Pete and Gaynor have a great weekend at the Petplan Area Festival

Great to hear from WOW Saddles advocate Gaynor Ranshaw that Pete (Zero to Hero) had a winning weekend at the PetPlan Area Festival in his WOW Saddle
 
439“We arrived on a VERY WET Friday morning and had a super lesson with Jill Grant who is based at Morris. We ran through our tests for the weekend and worked on improving a couple of the movements, Jill thought he was looking good and his canter work was much more through with greater cadence than when she had last seen him. I then installed him in his stable and gave him a shiatsu massage before spending the rest of Friday helping 4 pupils and warming them up for their various classes on Friday evening. They all did good tests and we had a fun evening when they had all finished.”
 
“Up early on Saturday morning to take Pete for a walk prior to warming up Moira, Siobhan, Pam and Marita for their tests that started at 8.20am! Between working with pupils I took Pete out for various walks around the show ground, massaged him and let him munch grass in a nearby paddock. By 5pm Pupils were all finished so it was time to scrub off the stable stains and plait Pete up. At 7pm I got on and walked him for half an hour then went to warm up. He felt absolutely super, really listening to me and as we entered the arena I felt confident that he would do a really relaxed test. I could have probably asked a bit more in my Medium trot but was pleased with our test and even more so an hour later when I discovered that he had WON the Petplan Elementary Open. Both judges said it was a lovely test from a harmonious partnership.”
 
“5.30am Sunday came round awfully early and Pete was sound asleep when I gave him his breakfast. He was lying down again when I returned an hour later to plait him up and scrub those hocks! I got myself ready and went back to the stable to tack him up and yes he was lying down again!!! However, as soon as I got on him he felt great and we arrived in the warm up arena at 7.45am. He felt good and Jill assured me he was looking good so in we went. Other than a not too brilliant walk pirouette, I was really pleased with him and Jill assured me that it looked flowing and easy!  I was hoping to be in the top half of the class and was completely overcome when I discovered that we had won the Medium Restricted. So that’s us qualified for the Championships at the Spring Nationals 2015 at both Elementary and Medium level – Pete really is a Hero!”

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Gaynor Ranshaw tells us how an unusual shaped back hasn’t stopped Pete’s progress thanks to WOW!

We were fascinated to hear how well WOW Saddle fitter Gaynor Ranshaw’s horse is getting on with his WOW Saddle. As an Equestrian Shiatsu therapist and dressage trainer as well, she explains here that despite an unconventional back shape, Pete is thriving in his WOW…

“Pete, AKA Zero To Hero, is a 17.1hh grey gelding by Marston St George, born in 1998. He was bred at Warwickshire college and born with rather unusual back conformation!”

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“He was originally produced by David Wadge BHSI and sold to Kim Young in 2007. Kim continues to own him and I have had him on loan since 2011. I have known him for over 10 years as I used to train with David and when Kim took over the ride I coached her and also regularly gave Pete Shiatsu sessions. Kim competed Pete at novice, elementary and medium level and I often accompanied them to competitions including regional and national championships. In 2011 Kim offered Pete to me on loan and I decided that as I had not competed for a number of years I would get us both down graded to novice level so that we could have some fun and also see if I still enjoyed competing.”

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“I work as a dressage trainer, equine shiatsu practitioner and WOW saddle fitter so don’t have very much time to compete but when we have been out Pete and I have had a great time together. In 2012 we won the Petplan Area Festival and Scottish Championships at Open Novice and came 3rd in the Open Elementary Petplan. Last year we were 3rd in the Open Elementary Scottish Championship and won the Scottish Veteran Trophy – but I am not saying who is the veteran out of the two of us! Unfortunately we missed last year’s Petplans due to illness but have qualified for them and the Scottish Champs at both Elementary and Medium level this year.”

“We have only competed a few weekends this year but most of his rosettes have been red ones and we recently won both Elementary and Medium music classes to qualify for next year’s winter regional champs. He qualified for the summer regionals at Open elementary but we are going to do the Petplans and will hopefully complete our non music winter regional qualifications at our next outing.”

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“I train regularly with FEI 4* judge Jo Graham who is really encouraging and really likes Pete – all trainers love him as he tries so hard. He has an absolutely amazing extended walk and loves his medium trot & canter. He is very established in his lateral work and we do lots of it to keep him supple. Generally I follow a routine of hack/school/lunge on alternate days and include plenty of hill work and canter work plus paddling and playing on the beach in his hacking.”

“Pete was fitted with a WOW saddle in 2005 (I think) when he was with David as with his rather unusual shaped back he was a saddle fitter’s nightmare. It has certainly worked for him! Kim inherited the saddle with Pete and when he came to me I had the one owned adjusted to fit him. I purchased a WOW saddle in 2005 as my horse had kissing spines and the WOW combined with shiatsu really seemed to help keep him as supple as possible and gave him another few years of work. I currently ride Pete in an Extra Deep seat with Giant High angled back flaps. He has DWG no tab with 2.5” rear gusset panels and insists on a sheepskin saddle cloth so I really hope WOW start doing Sheepskin saddle cloths soon! I became a fitter when the fitter in our area moved away and having just taken Pete on loan I thought it might be a good idea to learn what I was doing.! I now fit WOW saddles throughout southern and central Scotland & Cumbria!”

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Find out more about Gaynor’s Equine Shiatsu by visiting www.equestrianshiatsu.co.uk or emailing info@equestrianshiatsu.co.uk. To discuss WOW Saddles with Gaynor call 07818 006 079 or email info@gaynorranshaw.co.uk

Izzy Chaplin’s blog: All systems go for the Home International

Read WOW Saddles sponsored rider Izzy Chaplin’s latest blog and find out how Dora and Sid have been going…

“I can’t believe how quickly the summer holidays have gone already! After finishing my exams (hooray!), I got to go out to Spain with my friends for a week for a girlie post exam holiday. It was so nice to be able to relax by the pool and go to the beach. Once I was back from Spain I have really focused on the horses, getting them out training and competing ready for competitions later on. Hickstead Premier League was a success where Dora and I got a personal best in the Junior tests coming 3rd in the individual test. Unfortunately I had a bit of a blond moment, thinking my test was 1 hour later than it actually was (my mum and I were quite happily shopping over at the showjumping) and only realised 15 mins before I was meant to go into the test! Luckily the secretary was extremely nice and let me go in at the end of the class! Panic over! But I was extremely pleased considering all the hurdles we have had to jump this year! She needed to be a bit softer over her back and I made a few silly rider errors so there is still a lot to improve on but it was a great competition with a lovely atmosphere.”

“Shortly after I found out that I have been selected to represent England as part of the Southern Team at the BYRDS Home International in Wales next week! This will be my third time competing at the Home International but my first time competing in Wales! In preparation for the Home International I have been fitting in a lot of training sessions with my trainer Sarah Millis. We have been working on suppleness to improve the quality of her way of going and improving the quality of the movements. Some of the exercises included doing a figure of eight around blocks with a pole in the middle. This really helped with getting Dora to bend round my leg. I have already noticed a difference in her half passes which seem so much better and easier, so fingers crossed it will pay off next week.”

“Sid has been out to a few shows recently. I have been doing a few novices and he is really settling down and growing in confidence at shows and is improving all the time. I was extremely pleased with him at Hadlow College where we gained 67.5% in a novice getting great comments from the judges.
I am also pleased to say that both horses have qualified for the Petplan Area Festivals. Sid has qualified at Novice Open and Dora has qualified at Medium Open. I am also hoping to qualify them both for the music regionals and to qualify Dora at Advanced Medium open.”

“Currently I am working on putting together a music routine for Sid and Dora, however my limited musical ability is failing me at the moment while trying to search for music for Sid but I will keep everyone posted! In my next blog I will tell you about the Home International but you can keep up to date on my facebook and twitter page in  the mean time!”

Hickstead PL 2014

Lesley Peyton Gilbert’s blog: Preparing for the Nationals!

We catch up with WOW Saddles Sponsored rider Lesley Peyton-Gilbert before she heads off to the Nationals next week…

“So it’s the week before the NAF Winter Dressage Championships! Both my lovely boys World Exclusive and Woodcroft Garuda K are going to be strutting their stuff! Wex will contest the open medium and open advanced medium championship and Garuda the inter 1 music. So it will be a busy old weekend for us. Exciting but busy!”

“The lovely weather has made training a whole lot easier and certainly more enjoyable for all of us! The next best bit was that Wex got his new saddle and I got my bling!”

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“I am totally thrilled with it and so is Wex. I feel so lucky to have such support for me and my horses from WOW and Carly was lovely to work with. It was a cold grim day but Carly was very patient and we made a lot of adjustments. You certainly have to be open minded and have a sense of humour to be a saddle fitter, especially when I’m about!”

“We tested out our new saddle at Addington as I had the chance to run through the two tests I’ll be riding! Wex was super and won both the medium with a smashing 73.31% and the advanced medium with 68%. Building on that I had a good training session with David Trott where we worked on a few of the movement to see where I can squeeze so more marks out of the test!”

“Garuda had a trio out at the two day show at Keysoe, the first time we had to do two ‘ big’ tests. The inter2 on the Saturday and the Grand Prix on the Sunday. We were greeted with the most stunning weather and as usual the team at Keysoe had put together a great show. Including an international French judge.”

“Garuda won the inter2 convincingly on Saturday with a super 69.98%. Had I not let him tighten up in the right pirouette we would have broken the magical 70%. Super weather the next day for the Grand Prix and another good day of competition. Garuda was quite unimpressed that I upped the anti and wanted more height in the passage and a more on the spot piaffe! He logged this by having a little moment in the piaffe and then carried on as well as then adding two extra one tempis (17 instead of 15!) to ensure that he does have a say in our tests! So expensive mistakes as both were x2 movements leaving us third and 65.65% so all I’m all a good weekend.”

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“The next move is to work on my ground plan for the Grand Prix kur. I must try and keep this easy for Garuda as I’m always trying to think of the maximum I can ask. (I’ve been watching Edward Gal’s test and thinking about movements!) I’ve found my music so now we have to put it all together and try and keep it simple! Garuda and I also had a run through our inter 1 music recently as I’ve not ridden it since the summer nationals, he has developed his trot since then, it was therefore important to make sure of my timings. This will be the last time I ride this test as he will be out of points (more than 15 points at GP and you can’t ride inter1) so it will be a good night for us to say goodbye to this test that I have enjoyed so much.”

“Straight after the winters we will have training on the horizon with Paul (Hayler ) before our premier league season starts at Keysoe. From then on it is pretty much full on for the summer! The other exciting thing will be taking out Garuda’s four year old daughter to the young horse classes! We hope next year it will be his son!”

“In amongst all this my husband is having a hip replacement op. It was supposed to be before Christmas but the usual NHS delays have meant he will be dropped off by me on Thursday morning and I will have to leave him while I go to the nationals. Poor chap all on his own! It’s so typical that timings like this occur! Tomorrow is his birthday so I will have to work hard to make it up to him! Like any partner of someone totally absorbed by the equestrian life he puts up with an awful lot! Thankfully he does actually ride so pretty much understands…. Most of the time!”

“So more soon….. After The Winters! I’m looking forward to catching up with Maggie and David from WOW as they will be at Hartpury for the duration. If any of you are there be sure to say hi!”

Izzy Chaplin’s blog: Sid’s first show and camp with Dora

We hear from WOW Saddles sponsored rider Izzy Chaplin as she gets going for the new season…

“As I am writing this blog, I am staring at my physics textbook willing myself to get the motivation to revise and try and understand the quantum nature of particles (!!!) as well as other physics related stuff! Eugh!! Now is the countdown to my exams which start on the 5th May (the IB doesn’t seem to recognise the word ‘bank holiday’). So I thought this would be the perfect time to start planning my show season!”

“First up was Sid’s first affiliated competition at Cobham Manor. The Great British weather didn’t fail to disappoint with gale force winds battering the lorry as we drove down the motorway. Sid was extremely excited to be at a show where obviously every horse was there to see him, he thought he would be better off without a saddle and a bridle and proceeded to stride down to the warm up arena with me hanging onto a lead rope behind.”

“After much discussing with Sid, we managed to get his tack on and we started warming up. He warmed up really nicely, however when we went into the other arena to do our test, unfortunately Sid spotted a very handsome horse in the mirror that he just had to stare at. Once he realised it was actually himself he was staring at, he decided to listen to me and went really nicely.”

Sid Cobham Feb 2014
“Although being a bit rusty as it was the first time I had been out competing since the Petplan regionals, we did 2 lovely tests without any major mistakes. We have a lot to work on especially getting the medium trots in the test, and being a younger horse, I have to prepare a lot earlier for the movements than with Dora. I now have a lot to work on before our next show!”

“I then took Sid to his first lesson with Sarah. We thought this would be a great experience for him to go somewhere different in a relaxed atmosphere. Although we had a few difficulties at the beginning of the lesson with getting him to concentrate, we worked on getting him to work more over his back and I got a great trot out of him!”

“Next up was Dora’s turn. I took her up to the BD Southern Camp held at Keysoe. It is a great camp with a lovely atmosphere and it was really nice to see everyone from BYRDS as well as my sponsors WOW Saddles. It was also great to see so many people riding in WOW Saddles, obviously seeing the benefit of them. One of my fellow BYRDS riders didn’t want to give the saddle back after trying it, she loved it so much!!”

Dora Keysoe Lorry
“Over the weekend I had two lessons and two test riding sessions. My lessons were with Henry Boswell who really helped in getting Dora to collect in the canter which also producing a much more uphill canter. I was able to take this into the tests later on in the day and I was really pleased that we managed to keep the work I had in the lesson in the test. Unfortunately, I had a few silly rider errors in the first test, but it was a great opportunity to use a test riding session, especially as it had been a while since we had been out competing. “

“I am now utterly exhausted after the packed camp, but it was another great camp with many laughs! My next show will be Brook Farm with Dora and then Nationals (eek!!!). Roll on the Easter holidays!”

Keysoe BD Camp 2014

Lesley Peyton-Gilbert blogs about Garuda’s first Grand Prix…

An epic blog update from WOW Saddles Sponsored rider Lesley Peyton-Gilbert! Read on to find out how Garuda’s first Grand Prix went and how Wex has qualified for the nationals…

“Well, like everything in the winter it seems a bit like Ground Hog day! Even this blog, I’ve written it once, was pleased with it and then for some bizarre reason my iPad erased it out of my notes file! So even when I’m trying to be an admin genius and usefully using the days where I can no longer fight the elements, it does not go to plan!

So the winter has been a time of stepping up and moving on! Terribly exciting and exhausting as only the winter can be. Saying that with all the terrible news coming in from my birthplace of Cornwall I can only conclude that thus far we have got off lightly with out sea of mud and slightly squelchy outdoor school.

Having done the summer championships with both my chestnut boys I came home determined to get Wex (World Exclusive) ready for the winter regionals at medium and advanced medium so the winter planning had to include a competition schedule to make that possible before the end of November.

Wex is a star and it’s all to easy to forget he is only seven this year! He has struggled with confidence and I think this goes hand in glove with strength to carry and balance himself. He has a fabulous way of going and it’s improving all the time. After a training session I decided to spend a month of riding with no legs (not literally but not using my legs while riding) I learnt this from my friend Lee Pearson and how he wants horses to go is with a click of the tongue, a light tap with the whip and the smallest leg aid. Initially it was weird but really thinking about it and how I use my upper leg and seat. This also had a positive effect in lateral work. So the end result was a quicker lighter way of going especially in the trot and especially on ten metre circles where he could get slow and lumpy.

A test for all this work and improvement was the high profile show at Vale View, where he won the medium winter qualifier and was second in the other medium.

The best result for me was recently at the Addington High profile show. Wex came out so happy and confident and I feel he has finally stopped physically growing. He felt amazing and was confident and responsive throughout both his tests. The advanced medium was particularly fab where he got a fab score (73.18%) and some lovely comments from the judge. For me however it was how happy, confident and willing he was that was so great and I could not have been more happy with how he had worked for me! The other great thing was his owner Charlotte was there to witness her horse’s progress. This makes the process doubly rewarding.

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Wex’s next test was to be the regional championships at Addington in both the medium open and the advanced medium open. Yet more horrible weather, trying to keep up the training schedule was a challenge, I think I’ve been wet to the skin every day for months at least once a day. Usually as I drag poor Garuda out of the stable! (More about him in a mo!) The wind was crazy on the Saturday of our medium regional, driving the lorry was interesting and I was glad it was not too long a journey! Our test was inside in the international arena and thankfully; we had the luxury of working in in the old indoor. Wex was a really good boy, he’s often a little less ‘goey’ indoors and I was happy how he worked but knew it didn’t quite have the power I know he has to win but a good score of 69.38% put us in 3rd (by one mark!) but that was qualification for the nationals so job done!

The advanced medium was also a good test the next day but he was good not ‘wow’ which he needs to be again another 69.13 % score and 6th with 3rd to 7th all on 69% so waiting to see if we get a wild card at the moment!. All in all a good regional with a lovely horse that has a great future so I feel very lucky.

My winter has also been a time of moving Garuda up to Grand Prix. It is a life long dream to train a horse to this level. Its one thing riding to this level, a whole different ball game being responsible for developing a special horse to this level! Any horse that is able to perform the requirements of Grand Prix in a test is a special horse so it’s not just my bias towards the wonderful Woodcroft Garuda K!

Our first test at Grand Prix was at the Bury Farm high profile show in December, a huge entry of 24 starters! How amazing and obviously an indication of how the sport of dressage has come on so definitely an Olympic legacy and a result of the efforts of Carl and Charlotte!

The crazy thing for the Saturday of the Grand Prix was I’d booked a couple of tables at the Towcester vets 10th Anniversary ball in aid of the air ambulance. A chance for my team, friends and family to let their hair down and have some fun together. Unfortunately I’d worked on last years timetable and thought the GP would be in the afternoon, sadly not! So I was first to go in the class at 6 pm as we had to be back and sitting for dinner at 8.30 pm! I definitely had the most glamorously made up groom as Laura had done her hair and make up in the afternoon!

I was really excited about my test I felt the only way to really find out how our development was progressing was go down that centre line. Its one thing doing the movements in isolation putting them together is where it gets tricky! I was pretty happy with our first slightly green experience! I over rode the piaffe / passage transition and lost balance in the second pirouette but overall was thrilled with a 64% and 10th in a strong field with some more experienced combinations. Lots to work on and a lot learnt! Garuda was warmed down, loaded and driven back with alarming efficiency! And Laura and I made it to the ball by 8.35pm! A great evening was therefore had by all!

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My next competitive outing was the Addington High profile show. Another enormous Grand Prix of 26 entries! Running again from 6pm to 10.45 pm! I was on at 9.15 pm. Garuda was a bit bemused by me plaiting him at 6 pm in the evening!
Having done a ‘normal’ GP at Kingswood and got a good 67% I felt happier and wanted a’ clear round’ as I’d been making mistakes in the one tempi changes. My error always, not his, I have to get the balance and the rhythm right then they are really good.

The previous weekend Garuda has been at the British breeders stallion parade and it was a super evening, we closed the show which Garuda loved. The only problem was that the atmosphere in the warm up at Addington slightly reminded him of the razzmatazz of the preceding weekend! So he was a little tense during the warm up.

In the test I was really pleased with his work. We got all the elements, I got the ones right…woohoo! Counted the zig zag and got the pirouettes. I made a slight hash of the pick up from walk to passage other than that I was happy. So 64% again was a disappointment and I felt really deflated. I read the sheets and took the comments on. Its hard to read but you have to be honest and in the cold light of day I can see that I had to address a couple of issues if I’m to break out of the mid 60’s hole I was in. So I called Paul Hayler (my trainer) told him the wheels had fallen off my cart and we went for two days training!

Paul is brilliant, experienced and really gets Garuda and I and where we need to progress. It’s hard work and he is brutally honest, however its what we needed. So I returned from my two days a lot happier and feel like we are back on track. I’ll test this at a two-day show at Keysoe in March before the premier league circuit starts for us in April.

I then want to go to Holland and revisit Roosendaal in the Netherlands as we really enjoyed the show and it would be nice to do our first international GP there. Garuda is also in demand as a sire, I will be riding his daughter in some young horse classes this year as well as preparing to work with his son next year! So more busy times ahead. I’ll try and not do such epic blogs in future but it would be nice if my computer could stop erasing them! I’m also hoping I may have a new interesting sponsor to tell you about too!”

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Izzy Chaplin’s blog: A new ride, mock exams and looking forward to 2014

The team at WOW Saddles are really looking forward to supporting Izzy Chaplin through 2014 and here she blogs about the start of the year…

“I  hope everyone had a good Christmas and New Year! All the horses had plenty of carrots over Christmas as we had the whole family over for Christmas Day! I also had the amazing experience of watching Charlotte and Valegro achieve a new world record at Olympia in the freestyle. It was great to be able to see all the top riders, especially Carl and Edward Gal, who both really inspire me. It was also really sad to be saying goodbye to Alf, who put on an amazing display, still looking like an 8 year old despite his 18 years!”

“I have been very busy with school at the moment. I have just completed all my mocks, and its getting a bit scary how close I am to the real exams in May! I am also pleased to say that I have had all five offers from the universities I have applied for, so as long as my exams go well, I will be going off to uni in September to study Accounting and Finance! Hopefully with Dora!”

“On the horsey front, Dora has had a bit of down time over the holidays as she worked so hard last season, so she has temporarily taken up modelling as a reindeer…”

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“I have also been up to the junior squad training sessions, watching my squad mates performing their tests, while also getting some great tips from the selectors about what to look for in the tests and how to maximise the marks for each movement. Meanwhile, I have been given the amazing opportunity to have the ride on a very cheeky horse called Cyrano L aka Sid. He is a 16hh, rising 7 year old. I am riding him for WOW Saddles to give him some competitive experience and I can’t wait to get him to his first competition!”

“Sid has an extremely cheeky temperament and unfortunately he also shares the same love of mud as a hippopotamus! Felix, my mum’s horse, has been doing his best stallion impressions when Sid arrived (Felix is a gelding). But they are all friends now and Sid has settled in really well.”

“After a couple of days of having Sid, we took him to a lesson with Darryl Thickett. It was a great opportunity to get to know how he would be away from home while also getting a few pointers from Darryl. I am really excited to take him out to his first show now, which will hopefully be in the next few weeks! In my next blog I will hopefully be able to tell you about Sid and I’s first competitions together!”

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Lesley Peyton-Gilbert’s blog: Time to plan and train

We catch up with WOW Saddles sponsored rider, Lesley Peyton-Gilbert, after the nationals now she has time to draw breath and look ahead to the coming year…

“I must admit I dislike the drawing in of the nights and dismal weather. Made more frustrating by battling with the elements! I find wind the worst as we are working and starting some very young horses at the moment and it can be a bit on the nerve wracking side when its blowing a gale! Excitement I’d rather do without! Lots of my lovely fellow riders keep posting pictures of their lovely indoor schools too which adds to my depression! On the bright side, when it’s rained, blown a gale and even snowed during my tests my horses don’t even turn a hair so it does pay off sometimes! (every cloud and all that!)”

“I’ve been finishing my qualification for Wex (World Exclusive) for the winter regional championships at medium and advanced medium. There are the new High Profile shows at Vale View and Bury Farm this side of Christmas which give the advanced horses something to aim for and also gives us a head start for summer qualification in the advanced test. I’m planning on Garuda doing his first Grand Prix at the Bury Farm show.”

“Wex went to the Vale View show to do the mediums where he won one and was second in the other. The funny thing was it was an early start and by the time we had done our tests both Laura, my groom and I had finished we were desperate for our bacon buttie… all very nice … until it was announced they were running a prize giving! Sadly I’d taken his plaits out and as there was only five minutes no time to put them in! Hence the Horse & Hound photo of us with no plaits! It is important to take part in the prize giving as the class sponsor was there and we must show our appreciation! Just I’m disappointed I’d taken my plaits out! Especially as there was a beautiful sash and rosettes to show off!”

“Wex is a lovely talented chap who internalises his tension. It’s shown by this breathing, he hyper ventilates and then holds his breath in the canter! He then gets a little behind the aids so I was pretty happy with his performance as he started, especially in the second test, to trust me and work with me in the test.”

“I had him booked to do the advanced medium at Keysoe the following week as I feel he needs to keep going out to help him realise that its not a stress at a show and he can enjoy it! He did well at Keysoe and got a good score in the qualifier, won the class and again grew a little more in confidence. Our final qualification scores were achieved at Bury Farm this last week. Again a more relaxed rideable Wex and a good 71.89% in the medium winning the class and a second in the advanced medium. Still he needs to keep the balance on the hind leg but it is improving! The other major breakthrough and believe me this is major….. he managed to have a wee on the lorry! This has been an issue and I think signifies how much more relaxed he’s becoming!”

“My top ride, Woodcroft Garuda K, is working hard training at home but also we were invited to take part in the list one and two judge training seminar with Stephen Clarke and play our part as guineapigs. It was a very daunting day I can tell you. We were riding movements from the new national inter 2 test. I wasn’t very happy with my performance, I overrode the piaffe / passage at first and then slowly relaxed and improved! Still very much a case of going in the dragons den!! With all the top judges from the country there.”

“We did learn a lot from it and I enjoyed watching fellow riders like Alice (Oppenheimer) with her horse doing the Grand Prix work. Some good tips there too on how to give the judges what they want to see to get the marks! It is about presentation when you are in the ring!”

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“Autumn is the time of seminars and conventions as I’ve said and the Convention/forum at Bury Farm was a fantastic two days. I spent the time with Maggie on the WOW stand where I had the pleasure of meeting lots of people and telling them about the saddles and how they work for me and my horses. This photo shows Maggie and I watching the activities in the arena from our very comfortable view point! Best seats in the house!”

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“Watching the wonderful Valegro was a definite high point and lots of the information was absorbed by me for top tips in the Grand Prix we are about to do.”

“Counting. It’s the key in Grand Prix! The zig zag or counter change of hand is a series of half passes on the centre line with a determined number of steps in each direction with flying changes so in the Grand Prix its the counting of steps of half pass first three then six steps, three times to either side then, three then a final change. Fitting it in can be interesting! Quality of the canter and not trying to make the half passes too steep are the key factors! As well as being able to count! Everything comes down to numbers, 15 one time tempi changes, 8-10 steps of piaffe, 9 two time tempi changes …. 6-8 steps to get around the pirouette … lots of counting!”

“I have some more training with David Trott this week as a top list judge and rider it always helps me and I feel a bit more confident after his input (he knows I struggle to count too) I also enjoy training with Paul Hayler but my lorry has been in for it’s plate and needed a new fuel tank and then various other bits so I’ve been a bit stuck. That’s pretty frustrating but back now and going well! Bluebell is my lorry and I’m very fond of her! We’ve had some good adventures this year! Although if the French get their way with their super new lorry tax we simply won’t be able to afford to go abroad, or I will have to find a new way into Europe avoiding France!”

“So the build up to my first Grand Prix and getting Wex more confident is ongoing. I also examine my management of the horses at this time, feeding and the management issues. Check the worming, teeth, vaccination programmes, I’ve also started using a massage rug on Garuda twice a day on work days and once on ‘easy ‘days. I really feel this is having a positive effect on Garuda and his way of going. He seems really very happy with his new treat! Here he is enjoying the relax massage programme after work…”

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“My groom Laura has a fabulous new horse, a Garuda daughter and she is so amazing ! We will nibble away with her over the winter and then aim to do some young horse four year old classes with her in the spring. Laura also took the young coloured stallion out to his first show and he did a lovely consistent test to earn a good 71% test so very proud of them both. Working my horses and training all shapes and sizes….. people and horses that is! That is maintaining the light at the end of the winter tunnel for me! From the weather warnings it looks like its going to be a long one. Here is Woodcroft Natalia, Garuda’s daughter, winning her performance test at the Trakhener show. Laura my groom is on the Exel talented athlete training programme and this is her new horse to hopefully be her partner and to follow her dad’s hoof prints to Grand Prix!”

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“So as you can see there is a lot to be looking forward to!”

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