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!

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 🙂

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.


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!


Hooked up to the Ultrasound machine


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.


Spangle and Celia looking at the eclipse

I went from Ardene to Ladyleys to have a private lesson with Erik Mackechnie – Erik was pleased with our warm up – including 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 – again 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 🙂

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 🙂 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 🙂 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.