Arrival of the Branded Kit

Many thanks to Petplan Equine for our Branded Kit – I had a missed delivery card yesterday from the Royal Mail so this morning went to pick it up – a Huge box filled with goodies – it was like Christmas – very exciting and very pleased with the kit we have recieved – we are very much looking forward to the rest of the year with Petplan Equine ūüôā

Photos to follow!

Training, Training, Training

Since my last update we have done a fair bit of training – both endurance training and schooling – all with good outcomes and it gives me an exciting feeling!

Marco and I headed to Findon Riding Club Dressage competition on Sat 14th March to do Elementary 57.  He was pleased to be out at a party and gave me some cheeky moments but we both enjoyed ourselves and I am pleased with how he went and inspired to do more and improve on our score and suppleness (he is 19 years old though and has many miles on his legs so I have to be realistic!).

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On the Sunday Spangle and I headed to one of my favourite training grounds – Spyhill – starting from the foot of the Durris Mast we rode 40km – the plan had been to do about 30km with Gemma and Morgan but Morgan appeared to be tender on his feet so they turned back and we continued alone. ¬†The tracks here are amazing – they were redone last year and are canterable for most of the main loop, however as usual for me I don’t usually stick to the main tracks and we added in extras – including a burn crossing, some steep roller coaster type hills, and some narrow stony and muddier tracks and some fallen trees that we needed to go over or round.

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It was a lovely day and I knew Dawn was keen to get Floss out for some canter work and hill work so I made contact with her and she came over in the afternoon – I took Spangle back to the parking for a break after 21km (pretend vet gate) and then once Dawn and Floss arrived we set out again and did another 19km (following a slightly different route to what I had done earlier).

My phone was out of battery then so Endomondo wasn’t tracking it but I mapped it later on memory map – 40km with 1100m of ascent/descent and I had a very fresh pony still. ¬†She felt probably the best she ever has and I was so delighted with her.

I then had her to Riding Club Training on the Tuesday night, with Niamh Meehan, where Spangle went very sweetly, improving all the time, some good canter work, some lovely lateral work (one side needs more suppleness than other though) and a superb attitude!

Friday saw us head to Ardene House Veterinary Practice for Spangle to have an ultra sound of her heart done by Ceila Marr, one of the UK’s top Equine Cardiologists – this is purely pre cautionary as I am aware that on checking Spangles heart rate that it is not always totally regular and often the ride vets listen for extra and are interested in it – but rarely concerned. ¬†Just to be sure all is well last year we had the opportunity to have Spangle looked at by Celia so she had a scan of her heart then and an exercise ECG, followed by intensive exercise over a few days with the machine on to check what exactly happens. ¬†Whilst there is an abnormality in the rhythm at times it is nothing concerning, but was decided probably best to check the heart scan again in a year just to be sure nothing has changed.

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Spangle obviously relates this place to being sedated – she was not sedated but very much behaved as if she was! She was in here twice 18 months ago for xrays of her hoof as a result of her awful abscess and must think dreamy sleepy thoughts here!

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Hooked up to the Ultrasound machine

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Checking all is well

It was all good news though and we also enjoyed watching the Solar Eclipse which was just happening as we finished with Spangle.

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Spangle and Celia looking at the eclipse

I went from Ardene to Ladyleys to have a private lesson with Erik Mackechnie РErik was pleased with our warm up Рincluding our canter, commenting it was the best he had seen so we would leave the canter at that and work on the trot and some lateral work Рagain Spangle worked well, was responsive, willing and co-operative.  She was a real delight and we finished early with neither of us stressed or sweated up!

The horses both then had an easy weekend as I went to visit my good friend Kirsten, husband Steve and Baby Abi.  We had a lovely weekend but its always nice to get back to the horses again too. Thanks Dawn for taking good care of them as always.

Then finally last night I had another flatwork session through the Riding Club with Niamh – the canter became even more rideable and very nice to ride and judging by the gasp from Niamh that stopped her instructing Dawn of ‘oh, look at that canter!’ I think it also looked nice! We played quite a bit with the canter, then with the trot opening and closing and then more lateral work – again all very sweet and rideable, stress free and happy – I couldn’t be happier or more excited with Spangle right now ūüôā

Winning ways at BHS Grampian quiz night

BHS Grampian Region tonight held a fundraising Quiz night at the Newmachar Hotel.  We formed a team of 4 with my main endurance crew member Nicki, with her husband John (who is swiftly also being roped into being crew!) and super livery friend, pony looker afterer and exerciser when I am away, Dawn.

My head doesn’t retain much quiz answer like info so I went along fully expecting to be there purely for entertainment – we arrived and John had already decided on our team name ‘The Spangles’ (worked well following another team called the Twirlers). ¬†Perhaps having ‘The Spangles’ as our Team name made the whole experience become a positive one!

We seemed to start off well and scored the most in round 1 – and I managed to get a couple of questions – and one question that none of my team mates knew ūüôā Good start!

We seemed to fair well in each round always scoring in the 20’s and often with the highest score – ‘The Spangles’ went on to win the Quiz – I just thought it was a bit of fun – but it seems the main prize was actually pretty amazing – 1 x Family Bushcraft Taster Weekend voucher with Tipi accomodation at Amara Woodland Croft, Rothiemay, Cairnie, Huntly, AB54 4SP.

Many thanks to Amy Wolfe and BHS Grampian for a fun evening ūüôā We’ll let you all know when we go for our Bushcraft weekend and how it goes!

P.S. I even amazed myself by knowing an answer the others on my team didn’t know in rounds 2 & 3 as well – much better than usual!

Catching up with the Weekend goings on and another exciting start to a week! Two in a row!

This year appears to be fast moving, full of excitement and opportunity. I am excited to announce that after 12 years I am changing jobs. I will still be within Aberdeenshire Council, moving from Waste to Transportation – new challenges lie ahead but ones I am excited and prepared to tackle and face, but very sad to be leaving some of the great people I have met and worked with and that have taught me an awful lot.

Thanks to all who have helped my interview nerves and supported me in making the changes – more pennies too to help support the horsey plans, aims and goals.

So back to weekend – it was pretty hectic so I never had time for updates!

Saturday saw me pick you Robyn Jones, one of SERCs (Scottish Endurance Riding CLub) Young Riders, and her pony Pippa and take them to the yard I livery at to go for a hack. Robyn started University in Aberdeen last year and moved herself and Pippa up to Aberdeenshire from the Loch Lomond area. Spangle and Pippa enjoyed each others company doing a 17km ride up and around Kirkhill Forest.

On Sunday, my Crew Nicki and myself attended the SERC Grampian Training day where we shared crewing and fittening experiences with a group of other local endurance riders. It was good to listen to the presentations and experiences from Clive and Barbara and certainly gave some food for though of minor changes that we could make to improve our performance.

Exciting news – Petplan Equine Sponsored Rider 2015

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This week has been the start of a year of support from Petplan Equine as one of their selected Sponsored Riders for 2015.  I am absolutely delighted to be supported by them not only as a sponsored rider but also to have them as my equine insurer and very much look forward to the year ahead carrying their brand. Petplan Equine have insured Marco and Spangle for a number of years and paid out swiftly and with exceptional service on a number of occasions for Spangle. I will post some of Spangles incidents that have been covered by Petplan Equine on a page of their own in the coming days. Petplan Equine can be found online  http://www.petplanequine.co.uk/, on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/PetplanEquineUK and on Twitter https://twitter.com/PetplanEquine (@PetplanEquine)

Mild weather, no mud and another flatwork lesson

wow, it is amazingly mild tonight with little wind too. The fields have dried up of their mud and the horses feet are completely dry coming in. Signs of spring are definitely here.

Tonight North East Riding Club worked together with Findon Riding Club to offer another Flatwork lesson at Fountain Equestrian. Tonight Jean Stephen was teaching and I took Spangle along. She was a little on her toes to start but knuckled down and gave really pleasing work.

Friday tomorrow and then its the weekend ūüôā

Inspirational Evening – “Winning Leadership – it’s a game of inches” – Humphrey Walters

Last week I had an email from my crew, Nicki, asking if I was interested in coming along to a talk that she was involved in the running of for her work РI read the following information:

“Humphrey Walters is at the forefront of leadership and management development. As a successful CEO (for 35 years) he knows what it is like to be at the very top and stay there. He is a prolific writer authoring a number of books examining human and organisational performance. He also works at the very top levels of international sport across a variety of disciplines. This body of work led Humphrey to research the essential winning behaviours required to succeed at senior international level sport. He has successfully applied the winning behaviours in the business world with the concept of ‚ÄėThe Business of Winning‚Äô. During this talk Humphrey will share his considerable insight and experience around building and leading winning teams using the backdrop of the England Rugby world cup winning side, Premier League football, Formula One motor racing and the Olympics. Humphrey makes sense of the lessons to be learned from sport to enable business success.” and thought I most certainly was. ¬†Nicki¬†also said I could forward to others that may be interested so last night¬†a colleague and myself went along to an event organised by the University of Aberdeen Executive Education Partnership where Humphrey Walters gave a presentation¬†titled “Winning in a tough environment/ Winning Leadership – it’s a game of inches – 100 things 1% better”.

I came away smiling, with plenty of food for thought – both from a personal perspective in competing in endurance but also from a personal point of view for career development and for interview preparation, and from a professional point of view in the work environment.

Below are the bits that grasped me most (with some added thoughts alongside some):

  • ‘Never forget those who gave you the idea’
  • Break things down into small pieces (this links back too to the Endurance GB ‘Road to Montreal 2018’ International Seminar that I attended a few weeks back where Yogi Breisner was speaking and mentioned Tiny Tangible Tickable Targets – also a World Class Performance Manager)
  • Ruthless simplicity becomes an obsession
  • “Winners don’t do different things – they just do things differently”
  • They are constantly looking for little changes to make that could just give them the edge (I can relate to this – I find a huge part of endurance is constant trouble shooting, making minute alterations just to make things a little bit better – then all those little things collectively add up to a big improvement over time).
  • It’s not about being taught but about learning
  • GOOB – Good Out Of Bad – you should always look to take something away
  • You can actually perform better than you think you can – physically and mentally
  • Start with¬†the end result you want and work backwards, talking in past tense about what you would have done to get there – look at the list – can you do those things individually?
  • ‘Think in ink’ – Write it down – make it real
  • Never leave the game early
  • Fight for success – why can’t it be you?
  • Fatigue makes cowards of us all
  • Train as though you are Number 2, not Number 1 (always strive to improve in order to remain at the top)
  • Mental alertness is essential to success
  • “Winning isn’t everything. It’s the only thing.”
  • There are essential ingredients of Winning Teams – The Economics of Trust – if trust is low, the speed and outcomes are low and costs high – and vice versa (I relate this hugely to endurance and the behind the scenes team and the team at the forefront – I trust them all to play their part – they know their jobs and get on with it and I trust them to do their best for me and the horses)
  • Handling Issues – give issues numbers – 1&2 you don’t need to know – I’ll fix it (Francis/Catriona/Mum & Dad did this very thing in Exmoor in 1999 and Carola and Joan did at Burgie in 2010 – both car incidents – there was no need for me to know what was going on – they had it under control); 3 – You need to know but this is what I am going to do; 4 – I need to tell you and this is what I propose to do.; 5 – I need your help as I don’t know what to do. By giving numbers and them being allocated it also allows clearer communication on emails etc as to the importance of it.
  • Put something in your dash (this relates to a dash on grave stone – all the stuff in-between being born and dying) – I really like this and think I might use it on Monday…
  • Getting better never stops
  • Pride in the Badge
  • If you want to travel fast go alone; If you want to travel far go together (again this one really makes me smile)
  • “We are going to make it!” – concentrate on what you can control; look after each other; Never ever take the eye off the ocean; Focus on what is possible – look for the gap in the wave.
  • It is serious up on top but fun down below – be serious when it is needed and have fun at the other times – this is required for success!
  • It is not about predictability – it is about Finding the Inches

These talks are so inspiring; some it makes me realise more about myself Рperhaps why some things have worked out for me, why I see the detail in work matters that I want to improve but that others may miss or deem of less importance, why I constantly look for little things in many manners of life to be changing and altering. So for me I find these not only of interest to take on board, but as a way of understanding myself and why I perhaps operate how I do, why I do things differently and why I need to accept that is a good thing!

I feel very humbled to have started my year with two amazing inspiring talks by World Class Performance Managers.

Thank you Nicki for inviting me along РI have a good feeling that great things may come as a result of this (and not only in Endurance/Sporting terms) Рwatch this space!

Mr Marco has an outing

Marco, at 19 years old leads a slightly easier life nowadays and although still in regular work he is the one who gets the days off when time is short.  This week we have two indoor flatwork opportunities at Fountain Equestrian, one through Findon Riding Club and one joint between North East Riding Club and Findon.  I organise the Findon North Training nights that are run from Fountain and partake in the flatwork sessions.

As we have two opportunities this week I thought that Marco should get to one of the evening sessions – and what a great session we had. ¬†Sue Hendry stood in to coach 9 horses and riders at last minute after illness hit Niamh Meehan (Get well soon Niamh). ¬†Sue has a great coaching style and we had a super time – Marco is feeling as good as ever and he will likely be out at some Riding Club Dressage soon – watch this space ūüėČ I think he rather enjoyed his outing tonight – his ears were pricked and he was jolly and he showed a bit of cheek occasionally. ¬†He is a clever lad and knows exactly how to work well – but equally knows how to avoid it given the opportunity! He does make smile though – and that I feel is one critical thing we should all remember with our horses – we have them to enjoy!!

A mixed weekend

Last Saturday (28/02/15) saw us head to the beach, with Dawn and our Floss, fellow liveries. Floss was very excited on arrival at the parking and the km walk onto the beach, Spangle was remarkably sensible and being very good – until we hit the beach – then she decided it was pointless going up the beach to turn and come back – we have a fabulous stretch of beach but this is the downside of it. On the plus side I led her 2km up the beach and back so she didn’t not go at all, so I had a fab 4km sand walking workout. We shall be visiting the beach more often to overcome this difference of opinions. Floss still got a workout and went ahead and had a play alone. I think she may be feeling the joys of spring.

On Sunday we headed to Bennachie to do some hillwork.

Spangle ready to go

ready to go

We met local endurance friends there – Gemma Cooper and her pony Morgan.

Morgan and Mither Tap

Morgan and Mither Tap

We had a lovely ride showing Gemma some loops she could do in future herself and got Spangle and Morgan working on the hills.

Still some ice on the higher ground

still some ice on higher ground

It was a lovely spring like day and Mither Tap looked gorgeous

Mither Tap

Mither Tap

Our workout can be found on Endomondo Рwe had a super day out and Spangle went really well.

First Ride of the Season

A week past Saturday (21/02/14) Spangle and I set off to the Black Isle to stay over with the More Family РI met Helen when I went to a Scottish Team Training Day in 2004 Рwe forged a friendship, that was really cemented after both competing on the Scottish Team that year at the Red Dragon Festival of Endurance in Wales Рnot only did that experience in Wales see amazing lasting friendships made but also really gave me my drive and ambition to go further with Endurance.

Helen and I went a nice leg stretch (Endomondo route) with the horses on Saturday afternoon and then on Sunday (22/02/14) we did the 16km Training Ride at Dores, on the shores of Loch Ness. The tracks were great and offered many canter opportunities. The weather was kind whilst we rode and it gave Spangle and I a practice run at an event again – albeit a pleasure ride – we still have to have paperwork in order and with staying overnight the planning and preparation is greater – after a winter break getting back into the swing of things can be a bit tricky!

We tracked the ride on Endomondo for those who wish to see where we were and what we were up to!

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The views on the ride were great ūüôā Thank you Lianne and Carol for the pics!