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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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Need a saddle for a Lusitano or Andalusian horse?

The WOW Baroque saddle is aimed at classical dressage riders that wish to use a classical, Spanish style of saddle that is often seen on Baroque horses, such as the Lusitano and Andalusian breeds, but want a technologically-advanced saddle with all the attributes of standard WOW saddles.

Common conformational issues where Lusitanos and similar breeds are concerned include a short thoracic vertebra, eg. the area that begins at the withers and extends to the lumbar vertebra. Because they can be short-coupled, the length of the rib cage from front to back in this type of horse can also be quite short, and this of course represents the bearing structure for a saddle. A steeply sloping final rib, common in these breeds, also limits the length of the saddle that will fit the horse.

Therefore, riders and owners of Lusitanos often find that saddle fitting can be troublesome. The WOW Baroque has been designed to face the conformational challenges of the Baroque horse, and features the unique WOW carbon fibre tree, which moves with the horse’s shoulders. For an extravagantly-moving horse such as the Lusitano, this is very important. It is vital that they are not restricted at the shoulders, so they can move as nature intended. The Baroque also comes with extra wide gullet fittings and has the option of Flair air bag flocking, which reduces pressure on the saddle’s bearing surface, for ultimate equine performance and comfort. (Wool flocking is also available).

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The winner of our June competition is….

Congratulations to Beth Parker and her lovely horse.

Beth says “I absolutely love my Wow saddle :)) it’s the only one my horse will allow on his back…”

She goes on to say “My horse is a 6 year old P.R.E, he transformed once he had this saddle on his back (I bought it in late December 2011)…he now has a completely different movement, lots of shoulder action, he has come on leaps and bounds since I bought this – it allows such freedom of movement through the front that he has really muscled up in this area. I love it. Now everyone thinks he’s a warmblood when they see him out places – he has the same sort of big paces.”

www.wowsaddles.com

HISCOX ARTEMIS LANDS TWO PB SCORES AT 2012 FEI WORLD CUP FINAL WITH WOW-SADDLES-SPONSORED RICHARD DAVISON

WOW-saddles-sponsored Richard Davison, riding the Countess of Derby’s and John Dodd’s 12 year old gelding Hiscox Artemis, laid down two outstanding scores and personal best results at last week’s FEI World Cup Final in S’Hertogenbosch, Holland.

In the technical grand prix test, the combination achieved 73.3%, and then went on to gain in excess of 78% in the freestyle.

The FEI recognises the standard of their Championships and Finals by awarding riders with a 2% uplift on their World Dressage Rider Rankings, which equates to equivalent scores worth in excess of 75% and 80% achieved at non-5 star events.

Eurodressage reported that Davison and Hiscox Artemis’ performance should have been receiving straight 9s and 10s (out of ten) for the piaffe and passage exercises, a key part of the tests at this level.

“This has shot Hiscox Artemis up into the big time and reflects the improvements he has made during this winter season’s World Cup series. ” said Davison. Throughout 2012 the combination has consistently scored above 70% at top level events which is a specific criteria for selection for this years Olympic Games. So far they are the only British combination yet to achieve this, other than the ‘big three’ riders Bechtolsheimer, Dujardin and Hester. At this stage in the running, this makes Davison and Artemis the strongest contenders for Great Brtiain’s fourth individual Olympic place. Their next outing is Munich’s World Dressage Masters 5 star event 18th to 20th May.

Well done Richard! Visit http://wowsaddles.com to see why Richard loves WOW saddles and the Flair air bag flocking system.