We have a catch up with WOW Saddles sponsored rider Izzy Chaplin to find out what she and her horses have been up to since her last blog…
“Wow, it feels like ages since I wrote my last blog! It has been full steam ahead with revision for my IB exams, but I am pleased to say that I have done 11 out of 15 exams now. Woo, time to spend a bit of time with the horses!”
“After having a great weekend of training up at Keysoe, I was on a high leading up to the winter championships at Hartpury. But then disaster struck. Dora came in from the field with a puncture wound to the chest. Unfortunately she had hit an artery. Luckily we managed to patch her up pretty quickly with the help of some magic crystal things (apparently stitches are very old school) from the vets 😉 Absolutely amazing!”
“Unfortunately this meant that she had to have a week off which gave me a week of working her before the winters. We lunged her for the first few days and then managed to ride her for 3 days before the competition. Not exactly the idea preparation but i didn’t have anything to lose, I was just pleased that I had qualified!”
“So we arrived at Hartpury and I have got to say it is an amazing place. Everything was so organised and it had a lovely atmosphere. I was really pleased with how Dora went the day before and her trot work felt really good. In the warm up Dora was really with me. She obviously knew what was happening! The beginning of our test was great especially the medium and extended trots which felt really uphill and she was moving through her shoulder really well. The extended walk was really good but she didn’t feel quite right in the collected walk and a few strides into the canter it was obvious that Dora was not happy so I decided to pull her up and retire rather than push her and possibly hurt her. There is always another day and it has definitely made me more determined to qualify again for next year! I also got the chance to watch another WOW Saddle rider, Lesley Peyton-Gilbert in the evening gala performance which was great to see the riders riding through the higher level movements and showed me what I am aiming for (in a couple of years anyway!)”
“After that it turned out she had tweaked a muscle, so I did light work with her for a while. I had entered Keysoe premier league and Dora felt good when I started the more demanding movements so I decided to take her with the aim of doing a safe test. On the first day was the team test and I achieved my aim of getting round the test and I felt it was a good test to get Dora’s confidence up after the last competition. Unfortunately we didn’t get a great score as I feel I didn’t ride her particularly well. So bearing that in mind I focused on the individual test the next day. She was a lot more supple and responsive to my aids the next day and this showed in the test, especially the trot work. We still have areas to improve on. I overrode the changes which meant that some were late behind, but we ended up in 5th place which I was really pleased with for our first premier league of the season!”
“It has been great to be able to watch the WOW Saddles sponsored event riders at Badminton this weekend. Congratulation to all riders as it looked like a pretty tough XC course! At home, I have been really focusing on getting Sid to stay in a steady contact. His counter canter is really balanced now and the leg yields are becoming increasingly fluent and he is showing so much talent. I’m looking forward to taking him out to a local competition this weekend so I will tell you how it goes in my next blog! Also, I have finally decided to open a twitter account! Taken my time 😉 My twitter name is @IzzyCDressage so if you want to keep up to date with what is happening, follow me. Hopefully my next blog will have a few more results. Fingers crossed!”
We love hearing feedback from our customers so it was great to read about Kerry Weisselberg’s experience with her WOW Saddle! Read on to find out how her quirky and sensitive mare has gone from strength to strength since discovering the WOW Saddle…
Kerry has been eventing since 1988, and has produced and ridden horses up to Advanced and 2* and 3* levels. “I showjumped as a teenager (only up to Foxhunters) before I evented, and unfortunately no trainer and no amount of determined effort since has been able to get me out of my bad ‘showjumpery’ habit of an insecure lower leg. I have tried all sorts of saddles and all sorts of techniques over this time, including very short stirrups, even tying the stirrups to the girth, loads of work in 2-point seat, but nothing really helped my lower leg in the air. I can honestly say that in the WOW saddle, without me having to think about it while doing a round (which is always impossible, I have enough other things to think about!), my lower leg is FINALLY improving. That is a fantastic feeling.”
“Daisy (The Opposition Rose) is a homebred mare by Fleetwood Opposition out of a very quirky but talented Irish SJ mare. Knowing what I know now, I’d never have chosen Fleetwater Opposition as a stallion for her! Daisy had a physical problem growing up, some kind of asymmetry in her back end, and needed a lot of remedial attention. She is very opinionated, has always loved to rear – see photo – and is the only horse I’ve ever known who will stand and buck repeatedly, almost vertical, as if she’s a Buckaroo toy. I backed her without incident, but a few years ago, while quietly trotting a circle at home, she launched me spectacularly for no apparent reason and I landed on my feet but dislocated my knee very badly, leading to months on crutches and eventual surgery. So, I have always known that she has to be supremely comfortable, otherwise I am in deep trouble. She is very independent minded, the lead mare in my little herd here (in spite of not being the eldest by a long way) and likes to think that everything is her own idea. She takes a lot of tact to ride and train, but I absolutely adore her, and would do anything to keep her happy and on side.”
“We started eventing 2 years ago and progress has been slow, not for want of my ambition, but because she never felt ready to do more. Although she’s usually very bold, and sometimes liked to take full strides out (never fun or advisable, we’ve done a lot of work to eradicate that bad habit!) she’d feel a bit overawed by certain fences (although she did not stop) and, frankly, she felt lacking in scope and power. She was skewing badly over fences, throwing me off balance, sometimes feeling as if she was ‘sprawling’ in the air over them. She doesn’t always bring both hind feet down together so she was pushing off more from one hind leg. She was tense, bracing her topline in the air, not basculing and using her body properly. On one occasion (on our BE100 début) she backed off a fence, left one front leg completely behind – possibly stood on the overreach boot, I’m not sure – and slithered over the fence on her chest and that leg totally straight underneath her, somehow staying upright on landing, but I fell off. Not fun or at all encouraging, as it was only a metre high.”
“I remember scratching my head and wondering HOW a horse with this breeding, who looks like such a little powerpack, could have so little scope and talent. It was absolutely gutting and made no sense. I should probably mention that I hate selling horses, especially my homebreds, and that I want to keep her for her whole life and, ideally, get up to doing really big stuff again. I still dream of doing a 4* event and she is definitely my best chance unless I win the lottery! So, I was getting close to despair at her apparent lack of talent.”
“The WOW saddle has been a complete revelation to us both. She has started coming up in front properly and now bigger fences feel really easy on her. She is much straighter, and is starting to ‘throw her back end away’ in the air rather than bring it through tight and low (often having poles down). She is arguing less on the way to the fences and letting me ride her more, which helps a lot! I am still experimenting with different bits, and ways of riding her, and this led to us flattening three of the last five show-jumps on her début this year and one major misunderstanding during our last SJ round but overall there is a huge improvement in the way she feels and the way she jumps.”
“She’s run four times cross country so far this year, two at a hunter trial and two at BE100, always sailing round the cross country clear, with gusto, enjoying every stride, which means I can! Her confidence has grown hugely, she finally feels ready for the step up to Novice. She has a fantastic attitude to her jumping, loving the cross country in particular, feeling very keen and clever, coping brilliantly even with the odd duff stride or line (since I’m far from perfect!). She now doesn’t need all the remedial work she had to have very regularly (monthly, if possible) in previous years.
My dreams of getting up to the higher levels with her have been reignited. She’ll never lead the dressage (which, at the moment, we are doing in our WOW jump saddle, as I won’t put another make of saddle on her now, even though I have a couple of other very nice dressage saddles) but she gives me huge hope that if she stays tough and loving the game, we might get there.”
“There are even little things such as the fact that she now nails EVERY halt, perfectly square. That just wasn’t happening previously. It’s something she has learnt, but also something she now feels comfortable enough to do, consistently. That is a huge deal, to me. I can only say a HUGE thank you to WOW for making such special saddles, which my very special mare obviously needed, to Francis Whittington, for recommending me to try the WOW on her (and I should apologise for waiting a year to do it, and wasting a fortune on another saddle – of a very reputable brand – in that time!) and to my WOW fitter Fiona Reddick, for doing such a fabulous job, and having such a great eye for straightening me out too.”
“I love my WOW saddle, it is supremely comfortable (I can hack out in it for hours, unlike other competition saddles which were purgatory!), it makes me feel really secure in the air, and, more importantly, my opinionated, difficult, but talented and much adored little mare absolutely LOVES it. I wouldn’t swap it for anything now.”
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.”
“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!!”
“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!”
We are very proud to be sponsoring the WOW Saddles Star Championship this year and riders are qualifying left right and centre for the prestigious Blue Chip Winter Show Jumping Championships which will be held in April 2014. We hear from one of the riders, Ian Wynne about his qualification…
“I qualified at Croft Top Equestrian Centre near Accrington, Lancashire. The horse I won on is Don Douglas, a 16.2hh, gelding owned by Ann Wolley Dod who also bred him. He won the Star Championship final this year and we are obviously very pleased to have qualified this year to be able to try and win the final again (which will be very hard to do!).”
“He has been a horse of a lifetime, winning many major championships including the Amateur Title at HOYS and the now defunct British Open. Preparation will be nothing more than competing in the spring in the run up to the championships. I also qualified another horse in the same qualifier – Mirabella, a 13yr old chestnut mare!”
As we head full steam to the end of the year and everyone gets full of the Christmas festivities we wanted to take this opportunity to thank all of our customers and supporters for making 2013 a fabulous year!
We couldn’t do it without all of our WOW Saddle riders and we hope that you have enjoyed 2013 as much as we have!
There is nothing more to say other than Merry Christmas and have a healthy and happy New Year! We are looking forward to seeing what 2014 has in store!