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!”
A recent study carried out by Dundee university has independently verified that Flair – The air flocking system gives 26% less pressure on your horses back than wool flocking!
The research undertook to measure the forces on the horse and the rider. By using one horse and six riders using the same saddle filled with wool and then with the Flair air flocking system.
This is a great independent test of the Flair system. The research found that the forces on the rider increased with Flair. This is not a negative as the problem with this type of testing is that the horse is not constant. When such a large difference in pressure is made to the horse’s back this allows the horse to move bigger under the saddle/rider. The reduction in pressure results in increased stride length along with swing and elevation of the back. This induces move movement in the rider, which amounts to more forces being applied to the rider.
In other words it verifies what First Thought Equine Ltd the manufacturers of Flair have claimed about their product, that if you want a bigger moving horse Flair has the ability to deliver that movement.
Professional riders use Flair for that very reason, Wayne Channon will not ride in anything else now he has felt how his horses backs swing, as does Richard Davison, Lesley Payton-Gilbert, Paul Tapner, Kitty King, Francis Whittington and many, many, more. “The ideas along with the research and development strategy that First Thought Equine has employed to create and prove their products is enlightening and refreshing to see in the saddlery industry,” says Wayne Channon. “This product appeals to me on two fronts; its ability to deliver a better moving horse whilst providing more comfort for that horse and as a scientist, a science based approach to proving and then improving the product by using the best available technology and materials.”
It has therefore been suggested that there be another study carried out where the horse is replaced with a simulator so that a more controlled test without variables in the horse’s gait affecting the data. A simulator will keep the horse induced movement in the rider a constant and therefore accurate assessment of the forces applied to the rider using various saddle flocking materials can be measured accurately.
First Thought Equine Ltd have 10’s of thousands of customers using the Flair system, a lot of them with quite severe back problems. All these riders report that they are much more able to ride with the Flair system in their saddles compared with other flocking materials as this typical email points out.
WOW Saddles customer Georgina Greenslade says, “I have owned and ridden in Flair saddles for over 15 years and after breaking by back just over 8 years ago, my Flair saddle is the only one I can ride in for hours on end, without getting a backache!”
Great to catch up with our WOW Saddles blogger, Oli Lawrence. Read more to find out what adventures he has been embarking on this month…
“So. We’re nearly one month into the season and I’m still alive plus I haven’t fallen too behind with work which, in short, is a minor miracle. Since we last spoke/I wrote/you read Sox has been to Oasby, Lincoln and Great Witchingham. Oasby was his first event which normally leads to entertaining stories of general start of season problems but I’m surprised, even suspicious, to report that we had non except 2 poles down but we’ll let that go… Oasby did highlight though that a change of bit was in order for the cross country as it felt a little bit like being on a freight train with minimal breaks. Sox now has an American gag which does everything a bit is supposed to, well actually, it means I can stop which is kinda good really!
With new bit in tow Sox jumped a decent double clear at Lincoln and just had the one down show jumping but was clear cross country at Great Witchingham Intermediate. Coincidentally I discovered after Great Witchingham that if you finish your cross country round, pack up, go home and go straight to the library within four hours you’ll be one of the least productive students alive. Suffice to say I lasted about 5 minutes of sitting down before beginning to climb the walls and abandoned any attempt at work. I keep being told I need to compartmentalise things and focus on work in Cambridge then forget about work whilst I’m eventing. However, when you’re sitting at a desk convinced the table in front is fence 7 and beyond that there is a water jump and you click at your computer like a horse when it won’t start I think it’s safe to say you’ve failed to focus…
I also had the once in a life time experience, if I ever repeat it again someone will kill me, of doing a bad dressage test at Great Witchingham. Normally Sox’s dressage is pretty damn good but as soon as I went down the centre line I knew this was just one of those days – the arena had been moved slightly and there was the trace of a second centre line next to the actual one where horses had trotted before me. For the life of me every time I turned up the centre line I was off, which landed me in a lot of trouble with just about everyone, not least the judge who didn’t empathise with my predicament. I was once told by an old, dubiously wise and slighted bearded old lady at a pony club rally when I was still small enough to actually ride ponies, that some mistakes, like putting pans in a microwave and not tightening your girth enough, you will only ever make once. I hope she was right.
I suppose I should say something about polo too seeing as I missed it off last time. Cambridge uni is lucky enough to own its own ponies which makes playing polo here relatively cheap. As well as the actual polo the ponies have been subject to several experiments for WOW and other companies whilst I’ve been here. We tried cross country boots instead of bandages and WOW’s air adjuster pad under poorly fitting saddles to brilliant effect. What I’m trying to say is that from all of this I’ve learnt one thing – if you can give a product to a group of disorganised students who are either hungover or half asleep still and it works then you’re on to a winner. WOW might produce some wacky designs compared to your standard jumping saddle but their stuff is relatively idiot proof and simple to use – in a world where everything seems immensely complicated that must be the biggest compliment I can give something!
Sox heads to Belton Young Rider’s trial for his next event so watch this space. Actually , even better, come and watch! – its one of the best events in the country for spectators and a great family day out. Blimey, I sound like I’m selling ice to polar bears, but I do genuinely mean it!
On a final note, I have a classic Oli mess up to share. I’d offered to help out with a total beginners polo lesson and was really keen for it to go well seeing as I’d been for a drink previously with one of the girls involved. So she trots along trying to canter and I thought if I just give the pony a tiny tap on the bum as I go past it’ll be enough to nudge it into a nice slow canter for her. Predictably, as soon as I touched him he spun round and glared at me and in the process deposited said girl on the deck. Fantastic. Nice work Oli. Thankfully she got straight back on and seems to still be talking to me… When I got back I found I had an email asking how I’d managed to combine horses, uni and life in general as I seemed to have done a really good job of it and asking for advice… The temptation to reply that in all seriousness I was definitely the wrong person to ask was pretty high. That said, I do turn 21 tomorrow so I’m hoping for some beam of inspiration from on high that might eventually stop me having such ludicrously bad ideas!”
We are very excited to introduce a new WOW Blogger to the team! Oli Lawrence tells us a little bit more about himself in his first ever blog…
“So WOW Saddles asked me to write a blog for them that follows the highs of lows of being, well, me. Great plan. Then it occurred to me that I’d have to write it at 1am surrounded by piles of books, sleep deprived and high on caffeine. The inevitable consequence of this is I’ll end up being brutally honest and make lots of spelling mistakes… I guess for everybody else that can only make entertaining reading. Put some Jack Johnson or other suitable film-esque music on and keep reading. Here goes…”
“My name is Oli Lawrence. A 20 year old, tall, skinny Cambridge student. I study geology – rocks, fossils, oil, mining…stuff like that and play lacrosse and polo for uni. I’m also trialling for the Great Britain Young Rider eventing team this year as well as the other normal things students do – borrow traffic cones, go to lectures, not go to lectures, sleep. The reality of the situation is that I don’t actually get to sleep very much and I don’t really have an average life in any way. Some days its like living in a film – you score in a lacrosse match, drive straight from there and win money jumping and then remember you’re dating an Italian model which kinda tops it off really. On the other hand, there are days when it’s pouring with rain, I’ll be at the yard at 7am to ride, get soaked to the skin and covered in horse poo then have to go straight to 9am lectures that go solidly till 5pm. Realise, I haven’t eaten a hot meal in a week and dig into another Sainsburys meal deal of dry bread and fake fruit juice and run to lacrosse practise. NB – it’s still raining, I still stink of horses and when I get home I’ll be writing essays till 3am. Suffice to say life has its ups and downs… The idea of this blog, honestly, is to publicise my long standing supporters WOW Saddles by getting every man and his dog to read my blog, from which they’ll sell millions of saddles and I’ll find some new generous owner who wants to buy me a yard and a string of horses. Ambitious.”
“So. This eventing business. I don’t come from a horsey family in the slightest, which is ermm… unorthodox and a royal pain in the a*se. We’ll leave it at that. In fact my parents have just left for India for 3 months leaving me to handle the spring circuit on own. Cheers mum!”
“Sox, 17 hands, big, black, positive personality is the other side of the partnership in all this. Things kick off for us at Oasby this March and from there it’s kick on and aim for Houghton Hall CCI**. Sox lives with, and I’m trained by, Charlotte Bathe, who is based about 20min from Cambridge. As situations go its pretty ideal. *Hang on, hold that thought, I need to go to a lecture on paleobotany – basically, really old and very dead plant anatomy taught by a balding bat crazy french man with too short trousers.* Dead plants aside, thats the plan for the first few months of this season.”
“Cutting back to the present. I’ve got Young Rider training at Aston-le-Walls coming up, which should be a good opportunity to get Sox out and about and get a different opinion on how it is all looking. If everyone could touch wood and cross all fingers and limbs that would be great. After that we’ve got just over a week before Oasby and Sox gets his WOW dressage saddle fitted just before that. Perfect timing I’d say. Saddle fittings usually result in two things: Sox going much better and being more comfortable and me being told I don’t sit straight – cue Oli gets shouted at for multiple dressage sessions, which I’m sure Sox finds utterly hilarious.”
“In actual fact I think our pre-season preps been pretty good. The thing I’m kinda worried about is the fact that when I go to events there won’t be a mother to bring food and general organisation and money and just be vaguelly helpful. But hey ho, I’m sure it’ll be grand. Predictably something won’t go to plan (forgetting to get car insurance, cash for a start fee, forgetting a horse…) soooo on the bright side I’ll have something to write about.”
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.
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!
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!”
Just before the 2014 event season kicks off we have a chat to WOW Saddles sponsored rider, Kitty King, and find out what she has planned for this year…
“After the event season finished last year all the horses had a break and then came back into work in November so they were all fit and raring to go come January when the jumping and dressage training began. My year started off amazingly when I got a call from Yogi Breisner to say that I had been selected for the World Class Performance Squad! This means that I get access to lots more training and support, as well as additional funding towards my regular training. I have already been to William Fox-Pitt’s yard twice for training, Aston Le Walls all weather cross country course and the Unicorn Centre and it has been fabulous!”
“We have the first event of the season this weekend (1st March) where I will be taking one young horse for their first event. Then the older horses will run at Oasby the weekend after, then all going to plan it will be Aldon and then Gatcombe – fingers crossed the weather doesn’t ruin plans!”
“I am really excited about the season – Persimmon is aiming for Tattersalls 3* and Zidante is aiming for Badminton so we have some big plans! Hopefully all the hard work will pay off! I have a new mare called Creevagh Cooley, owned by Lindsay Caldwell, and she will hopefully do the 6 year old classes, meanwhile Ceylor LAN will be getting mileage on the clock at one day events before hopefully doing Le Lion 7 year olds at the end of the year.”
“WOW have been out and checked my saddles so we are raring to go for the season!”
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…”
“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!”
On Saturday 9th November many South East based event riders swapped breeches and boots for dancing gear as they celebrated at the annual South East Eventers League Ball! We are very proud to support the League and always look forward to seeing who is crowned the WOW Saddles Grassroots Overall Leading Rider and this year it was won by very worthy winner Francesca Brough. We find out a little more about Francesca…
“My history with horses began with the Crawley and Horsham Pony Club,” Francesca tells us. “I came through the ranks eventually representing the club on several occasions at the national championships at open level in both eventing and dressage. This yielded many top five planning’s.”
“I left university to pursue my eventing passion and spent three seasons with Jonty Evans, Angela Tucker and Tim Rusbridge. I learned so much about everything from stable management, producing youngsters correctly and competition riding. I have now relocated to West Sussex where I have set up my own yard from where I can continue my eventing career.”
“At present I have Angels Spirit with whom I won the fantastic WOW saddle! I have recently been given the ride on a lovely 5yr gelding, Freshman’s Minstrel, owned by Mrs Lynne Langridge. I have just sold Harry Hare and Scarborough Rock in order to fund the purchase of two 4 year olds to produce next season. I am always on the lookout for more rides!”
“This 2013 season turned out to be very successful after a rather patchy start. Harry Hare was seldom out of the placings and Angels Spirit went from strength to strength, gaining in confidence throughout the year. She eventually won 3 categories in the South Eastern Eventers League and was 2nd nationally in the British Eventing Foundation Points Table. I also secured 12th place nationally in the British Eventing Foundation Points Riders League Table.”
“After a long event season I like to give the horses time off in November. They will be brought back into work on December 1st. Once they have had their fittening work we will take them to some combined training and possibly a bit of hunting. In February the horses will spend some time on the gallops and also do some cross country schooling.”
“Next season Angels Spirit will start with some Pre Novice Plus Classes before taking the step up to Novice Level. Once she is confidently tackling novice tracks I would like to aim her at some CIC* star competitions. The young horses will begin at BE90 and progress to BE100 in due course. I hope to qualify at least one of them for some Burghley Young Event Horse Classes in the Autumn – lets see how it goes!”
“Winning the WOW Saddle means so much to me. They are so special. My horses have to share tack and I am very excited that Angels Spirit will have her own custom made perfectly fitting saddle! The award is a terrific recognition of how hard Angels Spirit has tried this season and just how far she has come. I would like to thank WOW Saddles for their most generous sponsorship of the Overall Grassroots Winner category!”
“Thanks to SEEL I was lucky enough to win a wonderful WOW dressage saddle,” Sue says. “After having the saddle for sometime, I was so pleased I decided to order a close contact jumping saddle from WOW also. In my opinion they are the best saddles for both horse and rider. My experience with the company has been superb. They have done everything they can to make sure both I and my horses are entirely happy and comfortable. My riding and my horses way of going have improved immeasurably in all disciplines, thanks to their superb innovative design.”
“Furthermore, due to the flexibility of fit offered by being modular, with changeable headplate and Flair flocking system I know both saddles will be my saddles for life that I can adapt to suit any horse I own at any point in the future. Which makes them a very worthwhile investment for any rider! No more getting used to a new saddle every time you change your horse!”
Technologically advanced saddle manufacturers are increasingly utilising design creativity to make their saddles not just functional, but beautiful too. WOW Saddles is shortly launching within its new designer range the ‘On Fire’ dressage saddle, which, on the fixed block models, utilises beautifully embroidered, quilt-effect stitching on the saddle flap. This gives a discreet, unusual appearance behind the leg and includes flame-shaped stitching behind the rider’s lower leg. A small burst of Swarvoski crystals behind the rider’s thigh adds light-catching sparkle.