Happy New Year

Welcome 2016! Firstly I wish all of you a healthy, happy and successful 2016.
I am aiming in 2016 firstly to get my horses, myself and Montydog, through it healthy and happy. There will undoubtedly be setbacks but these are to be expected – they are part of the shaping of the future and how you deal with them is what matters. I have seen some friends deal admirably with some exceptionably tough times through 2015 and hope that 2016 treats them well.
This morning I have entered my first dressage competition of 2016. This is also to be the first Novice Dressage Test that Spangle will have done. I am looking forward to the challenge and the preparations. I have started reading the test and thinking about how I will ride the sections of it to get the best result. Tiny tangible tickable targets. Breaking it down into small pieces is a great help.
Longer term through 2016 it is my goal to complete a 2* Fei Endurance event at the end of March, The 2 day 180km PK Scottish Horseshoe event and the Cairngorm 100. Some of the Cairngorms area is likely to have been badly hit by the storm on 30 December which has caused much devastation in Upper Deeside.
I must go and renew my Scottish Endurance Riding Club membership and look into FEI reregistration.

Merry Christmas, reflecting and planning

WP_20151225_10_41_34_ProI’ve neglected my blog over the past few months and am planning to get some updates on here in the next couple of weeks.

I wish all of you a Merry Christmas for you and your families and hope all have made it through safely.

I find Christmas can be a time to reflect.  I’ll be following up on this with a blog post reflecting on the past year that I have had.

Yesterday, Christmas Day, I spent some of my time, at my parents house, looking through old photographs. Below is one of me on my first pony – I think I would have preferred a real one but this one was well used for quite some time!


The festive break (if you are lucky enough to get one) can also be a good chance to be planning and preparing for the year ahead. My planning began some time ago, but mainly in my head – now is the time to get it down on paper and be ready to get started in January with the preparations.

I’ll dedicate a future blog post to planning and preparations; letting you know what my plans and preparations will be and how I go about pulling them together.

Wishing you all a lovely festive season and best wishes for 2016 in your personal and equestrian lives.

Back on track

We are safely back on track after the little incident with a tree on Exmoor!
Xrays have shown healing is progressing well with no complications but further follow ups are required to make sure it stays that way.  I have to admit that I have had to give in a bit and take things easier than is natural for me.  Doing just small things was really tiring me out and I’d be sore for a few days after.  However, riding seemed to be less problematic than walking so that was good news in my mind!

18 July I competed for Findon Riding Club at the British Riding Clubs National Championships Area 22 Qualifiers with both Spangle and Marco in dressage.  Taking both together meant borrowing a trailer and separation problems – I thought it would be ok as I knew the venue was open and they would be able to see each other if I had a helper on hand – not quite so simple and both were on edge.  Marco settled for his elementary test though and scored 62.75% and a 6th place – so I was very pleased with that – he is now 19 years old and is 33km short of 5000km of competitive endurance and whilst we’ve always dabbled in dressage it has only really been that! Spangle had some positive marks and comments in her test and I am optimistic that one day we’ll get all the good bits together in a dressage arena!

Then on 26 July it was time to try the shoulder/collar bone back at Endurance – a 24km pleasure ride at Knock (a lovely venue on the Aberdeenshire/Moray border. I took Marco and Dawn took Spangle.  Dawn was meant to be riding her gelding Homer, who we think would really enjoy endurance, but his shoes were needing done and not worth risking so she enjoyed being shown the ropes by Spangle, who was delighted to be back doing the job she loves. It was also lovely to see Spangle be ridden and tackle her job so well, she knows the score and just gets on with it (unless she thinks we have gone the wrong way…)

I recently helped at the Cairngorm 100 event – 100 miles riding over the Cairngorms in 24 hours.  I wanted to see how the event went as this was its first year in running. It went very very well and I am inspired to give it a go next year.

Petplan Equine continue to be a great Sponsor and we are enjoying wearing their logo with pride at any outings we go to (I also attended Banchory Show on Saturday to help a friend in show classes).

Petplan Equine currently have a Responsible Rider Quiz on the go – check to see how you score – http://www.petplanequine.co.uk/my-petplan-equine/responsible-rider/

I’ve recently done a May and June web update for the Sponsored Riders Pages too – be sure and check it out – included is my Top Tip – find out what it is http://www.petplanequine.co.uk/events/sponsored-rider-lorna-may-june.asp

Now planning our next outings – just taking it a step at a time! It might be Veteran showing for Marco on Sunday if the weather looks good!

The ups and downs of endurance

Our Golden Horseshoe adventure came to an early and abrupt halt when I realised too late that the leaf covered tree I was about to pass through, heading for a marking flag, had a rather solid thick horizontal branch, I ducked and went low to Spangle but it wasn’t enough and my head and shoulder made impact, at reasonable forward flowing trot speed, and I was knocked off Spangle by the force too.  I knew I had to just sit a few mins until I could assess the damage and feel ok from the shock.  Luckily another rider, Gillian Talbot, was with me when it happened and soon a few others came upon us too. We weren’t far after a crewing point but had no phone signal so couldn’t call my crew and tell them to get back there. Fellow rider, and friend Francis, rode back to the crew point though as one of the vets, Sarah Coombs, was on course observing that the horses were ok. Francis got Sarah and Della her very able assistant, to come to my aid.  Della took Spangle and led her back towards the venue as she was still in competing mode and was best to keep moving away from the other horses.  Sarah took me until we got signal to call my crew and the venue and alert them to what happened.

I can’t thank everyone enough for all the help they gave us, Della for walking lots with a bouncy Spangle until we had the trailer out to get her, Sarah for taking care of me, the St Johns First Aiders who were funny and brilliant, Nicky, Mum and Dad who all pulled together and managed to get things sorted and then me off to hospital.  My collar bone is broken and I have soft tissue damage.  Co-codamol, ibuprofen and arnica being consumed!

Nicky and John have been utterly fabulous and are now chief Spangle handlers and Nicky chief driver for the journey home tomorrow.

It is not how I imagined the competition would go.  However, my waterproof jacket was great, put to good test as the weather was pretty dire, Spangle was brilliant on the 11km or so that we did, she had her ears pricked, was full of beans but listening. Keen and well up for the challenge.  I was delighted with how she felt and how she was behaving.

It has been an experience – a good one and a bad one all together. Some great new contacts made. Some thoughts for the future. It is all part of the sport!

All set

Today we presented for the pre ride vetting, and passed. Tiny, tangible, tickable, targets – that’s definitely another tick!

Spangle has been equissaged, massaged, pampered, fed and tucked in for the night. I’ve done what I can to prepare her and give us the best chance. I’m happy with my preparation. Time will now tell.

Remember it’s a game of inches?

On Monday May 4th Spangle and I headed up to Glenhead to have a session with Pauline Kidd as part of our preparations.   Pauline does Movement improvement work for Horse and Rider, is a certified Rolfer, Advanced Pilates instructor and Reiki Master.  She also does fabulous Rider Biomechanics work. I find Pauline’s work quite mind blowing but the results are amazing – I have seen Pauline work some of the most amazing magic.


Arrived and wondering what today brings


Soft and relaxed


Pauline has made some tweaks to me – I like the outcome


Working freely


Thanks Pauline, I truly believe that these are the kind of differences that can make a difference – there are so many factors but anything small that can be done to get improvements should be.

You can follow Pauline on facebook https://www.facebook.com/pages/paulinekiddcom/118013348211122?fref=photo

Arrived in Exmoor

We set off just after 7am yesterday, arrived at last nights stop off point at 6pm, set off again just after 9am and arrived at our Golden Horseshoe accommodation at 3.30pm. Some hold ups etc and a wee detour yesterday… – oops! My fault.

We stayed last night where Spangle was born and where I first saw her,which is now almost 8 years ago. Kath looked after us all really well and its so nice to see her and her herd. She has a nice 4yo gelding, similar breeding to Spangle. Off for zzzzzzzzzzz now. More tomorrow.

Physio session with Catriona Goulding

Saturday saw both Spangle and Marco benefit from a Physio session with Catriona Goulding.  Catriona has worked on my horses since 2007 and we have all formed a close bond – and she has seen Spangle develop from when I got her through to present day.   Not only has Catriona been our physio she has become a friend, experienced her first endurance ride on Marco, crewed for Marco and I at the Golden Horseshoe in 2009 and been Team Physio when I was on the Scottish Team 2007,2008 and 2009.

Catriona’s experience and knowledge is incredibly valuable – she is a experienced horseperson as well as a trained physio and it gives me great confidence to have Catriona’s backing to continue following the path we are on.

I think the rest of the visit can be summed up by the following pictures and video – both Marco and Spangle very much enjoy Catriona’s visits too.


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Endurance GB Squad day

Another two weeks have flown past.  Last weekend Spangle, Nicky and I headed off to Dumfriesshire for Endurance GB Squad assesment day.  It was great that a day had been put on in Scotland and that it was well attended.  It was still a long drive for us but nevertheless much shorter than it could have been if it had been in central or southern England.

In the morning the horses were looked at by vet and farrier and riders/crew had individual dicussions with team management and in the afternoon we were split into groups to do some exercise on the gallops.  The aim was to do 20km on the gallops come straight off and report heart rate after 1 minute and vet as soon as possible.

The gallops were quite deep sand and this gave me a little cause for concern as while Spangle is fit she isn’t used to a surface like that for a sustained period and with it being three weeks from one of our major aims for the year I did not wish to risk injury so decided I would see how she went and pull her up if I felt I needed to.

It all was very interesting… first of all I fell off as Spangle did not like stepping over the entrance to the gallop warm up area and whilst I stayed on for that her reaction at the surprise of landing in the deep surface then caused me to go out the side door – fantastic with everyone watching on… I wanted the ground to just swallow me up! Anyway the surface at least gave a soft landing and I was not hurt so quickly got back and we set off round the gallops with our partner (we had warmed up already outwith the gallops area) once Spangle was used to the surface she settled into the work easily, we kept it steady for the first couple of circuits, mainly trotting, to ensure they were properly warmed up and that we didn’t overdo them on the going.  We then started to do more canter but Spangle then also realised this was a round and round job and became less than keen to pass the spectators/volunteers at the entrance – she was bearable tho until about 10km and then started to dig her heels a bit more at the top section of the track.  We managed to continue as I felt she was coping well and could do a bit more and was going strongly once we got passed the areas that she didn’t like to pass!

On approaching the entrance area again I really focussed on how to ride her past, we had caught up with another two so it should be easier, however at that moment, the lovely horse we had paired with from the start and that had tolerated us when we leapt into the arena at the very start and landed beside him, decided to take a dislike to us and swung his quarters at us and kicked out.  The noise of the impact was horrifying as was the intake of breathes from those watching from the side.  I knew he had made contact with my ankle but had he caught Spangle too – she felt fine and unperturbed, and I couldn’t see anything.  I wasn’t in a lot of pain either so we carried on another couple of times round and then called it a day as Spangle was saying to me she had had enough of round and round.  She had done well I felt as the most troublesome part of working with Spangle is her mind.  If you don’t have it on side it is very hard work! Given this was her first experience of working like this I didn’t want to overdo it – either physically or mentally.

The preparation for vetting was interesting and highlighted to me that we are out of practice! I never had a stop watch with my stethescope so we fumbled around trying to use Nickys which wasn’t the best for trying to be quick.  We’d forgotten a leadrope for the crewing area but made do with the reins – but again lost us time and generally we were just a bit disorganised – plus I hated all the stuck on sand from the gallops and wanted to clean that off while Spangle was warm as it was quite a cold wind and I’d need to wrap her up after.  I also found where the kick had caught her and took a bit of time to look at it.  So not the best impression to the management team I am guessing – but a valuable experience for me and Nicky and we’ll maybe have to make some preparation notes to improve and remind ourselves of what to have where.  It has also got me thinking I really should have heart rate monitors working again too – so this morning I have spent replacing batteries on some and working out which others I need to take somewhere to get fixed up.

Luckily both Spangle appear none the worse for wear for being kicked.  I had bruising and swelling and Spangle had a few grazes but remained sound.  Our Golden Horseshoe plans remain intact for now.

Time is flying

4 weeks today to the minute as I write this Spangle and I will be getting ready to start the 2 day 160km ride at the 50th Golden Horseshoe Ride.  We have been working hard preparing, 68km ridden 2 weeks ago with 3000m of ascent/descent all alone; SERC Grampian training ride last weekend where we flew round having a ball, eating up hills, at the same time having a photo shoot with Stephen Hammond for our Sponsorship with Petplan and yesterday another hilly 24km with Lynda and her young mare Sunlight.

We have had some fabulous flatwork lessons too with super feedback on progress and way of going which is so great to hear.  One major change I have made is trying a Fairfax girth – I fully believe this has made an enormous difference to our schooling and Spangles acceptance of work in the school.

This week we have a lesson with Phoebe Buckley – last month I went to see a demo by her – I loved her attitude, comments regarding quirky horses and thought she might ‘get’ Spangle so will see how that goes and report back – David Lawson has done a super job organising Phoebe to come up to the area and has been a great support to me too (even if he calls Endurance “Competitive hacking”!!).

Marco has had some outings too – he has been to meet young Arab Kaz at Kirkhill Forest and showed him some hills, he has been jumping at home with with fellow livery and friend Dawn and will be going to SJ training on Thursday evening with Dawn.  I’m getting tempted to jump him again myself too since he is getting back into it and flowing nicely.

This past few weeks have been a bit busy and stressful too as I left the job I have had for the past almost 12 years and moved to a new one last Monday – the thought of it all has been far worse than the reality and I feel quite comfortable with the move, much more so than I expected to for the first few weeks so that is positive.

Pictures of horsey adventures and endomondo workouts and routes to be added later!