Taking the plunge!

So today I went to my first ever affiliated show with my Arab Sky! I was absolutely terrified and convinced that I would be out of my depth but entered anyway.

We attended the Northern Arabian Horse Show which is affiliated to the Arab Horse Society. When we got there we found out that they were running late which meant that we would have a lot of waiting around for our class which was the home produced purebred in hand. Sky thankfully was an angel and happily stood on the horsebox until it was time for us to get ready and wait by the ring.

There were two other competitors in our class, however one of them missed the class completely due to turning up late! Sky by this point was very fresh and a little bit of a handful (aka bucking in the ring) but she trotted up beautifully, the best she ever has in my opinion!

We came second behind a bay Arab which behaved better than Sky did so I didn’t mind too much as Sky was not as well behaved as she should have been.

I enjoyed my first big show immensely and I am looking forward to attending the Derbyshire County Show in a couple of weeks with Sky! This will be my first ever county show so I am a little apprehensive but I am excited nonetheless! Hopefully we will do well!

I am one very proud owner 😃

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Loss

May can be a hard month for me. Today marks the 1 year anniversary of my horse Champion’s death, and then just over a week later on the 31st is the 2 year anniversary of Maddie’s. I still miss them both so much everyday and this time of the year makes them feature more prominently in my thoughts. Although I get upset, particularly around this time of the year, I always remind myself of how lucky I was to have 2 such special and contrasting horses and friends in my life. I have so many special and happy memories with them both and much of my happiness in my teenage years was down to them.

I owe them both so much. Champion allowed me to discover my love of showing. He allowed me to learn the ropes of the discipline and we enjoyed much success at local shows together. Maddie was challenging at times to say the least but she was so much fun and I learnt a lot from her. She also introduced me to the fabulous Arabian temperament and thanks to her I fell in love with the breed.

One particular thing that makes this time difficult is not only the added stress of uni exams, but often not having anyone who understands why I feel this way. My close friends are not horsey and don’t realise the bond that I had with both Maddie and Champion and therefore do not generally understand how I can still be so affected by their passing. As wonderful as horse ownership is, sadly, there are times when you have to make hard decisions. These decisions are awful to make but they are made with the horses best interests in mind and I know in my heart that there were no other options.

This year I will spend their respective anniversaries remembering all the good times I spent with them both, and in truth, they will never die because they will always be with me in my thoughts and (as cliche as it may sound) I hope that they are both watching over me wherever they are- although I suspect they are both probably too busy stuffing themselves full with grass.

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Dark Horse: The Incredible True Story of Dream Alliance

Yesterday I saw this documentary had come onto Netflix and I decided to give it a watch seeing as it was only 85mins long. I had heard of the racehorse  Dream Alliance before but I was only vaguely aware of his backstory. This documentary explores the unlikely story of the previous Welsh National winner and how a group of villagers from Wales managed to breed a highly successful racehorse by saving £10 a week each.

I don’t normally feel the need to review films/documentaries that I watch but this really was one of the best things I have watched in recent years. This was such a well made film with no bells or whistles, and it really was wonderful. It incorporates interviews with the owners and assistant trainer along with real footage of Dream’s early years and his racing career.

I don’t want to say too much about it so I don’t spoil it for those who have yet to watch it but I would say it is a must watch for anyone who follows horse racing, loves horses, or just wants to watch a truly heartwarming emotional story. I truly cannot recommend this enough.

Dream-Alliance

Dream Alliance at Aintree

Unimaginative Schooling

So I have never been particularly imaginative as far as coming up with interesting exercises to do in the arena which can often make schooling boring or repetitive. This has become more of a problem than it has been before now that I have two young, green horses. To combat this I decided to get onto good old google and see what I could find to spice things up!

Surprisingly, despite finding a lot of people asking the same question, there weren’t actually many exercises suggested on the internet itself. However, I did find a lot of people recommending the same book: 101 Schooling Exercises: For Horse and Rider By Jackie Bell. I decided that it was worth a try and I bought the book.

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I received this book recently and so far I am finding it to be quite good. It grades the exercises by difficulty and offers solutions for the common problems that may be encountered when attempting to use them. It is well laid out and very easy to follow. Some of the exercises are familiar from long forgotten childhood riding lessons and I like that the purpose of the exercise is stated so I can pick and choose appropriate exercises to target specific weaknesses that my horse or I may have.

Whilst doing my research, I also cam across another book that sparked my interest: Basic Training of the Young Horse by Ingrid and Reiner Klimke. I have heard of this book a lot recently in magazines and it has been highly recommended online in reviews and blogs. I decided to purchase it (I’ll admit a little bit on a whim) to help me structure Sky’s education seeing as she has only recently been backed. One of the most useful things I have found with this book is that it provides a guide of the different things you should be working on in each year of their education and then elaborates with various exercises and tips in order to ensure success. I have not yet finished this book due to dissertation (boo!) and the various university assignments I am currently battling (only 1 month left!) but I can already tell that it is going to be invaluable and give me the focus and direction required to help establish Sky’s way of going and solve any problems we encounter together.

Does anyone else have issues with being imaginative with schooling? How do you combat this? What are your favourite exercises?

Things Are Looking Good!

Good news! George is now home again so I finally have both my lovelies back home with me.

I’m really happy with how much he has progressed in his 3 weeks away being schooled and he has really started trying for me now (although he will always be a tad on the lazy side bless him). His manners have also improved and he is just generally better all round which I am really pleased about! He was also very happy to be home and the other horses were also happy to see him (to my surprise as normally he gets on their nerves). He’s now all settled in again at home and still as endearing as ever.

Sky is also doing really well. She went on her first proper hack today around our village. She had been walked round once or twice but had very little experience hacking (other than down our lane!). However she behaved like a seasoned professional, barely looking at anything ‘scary’ and listening to me when she did get worried. She never ceases to amaze me with her maturity and intelligence and I often find my self wondering how I managed to end up with such an incredible mare!

I’m so excited for this summer to have plenty of time to hack and compete the two of them and hopefully things get better and better for us from now onwards!


Sky and George looking a little sleepy! I need to tell Sky that the middle parting is not a good look for her.

George Update

So my last few posts have been focused on Sky and some of you may be wondering what has happened to George! George has been sent away for schooling due to my lack of time and frustration with not getting the results I want from him. Sky is much more amenable and of the two of them you would think that it were George that was newly broken! He is often lazy and doesn’t often try very hard to do as he is asked so I decided to send him away to get him schooled on a bit and then we can be reunited and hopefully begin to achieve things together as he has a lovely nature and I really think he has great potential.

He has been at Guy Robertson’s yard for a week now and I went to go see him today and he already looks to have improved! He was soft and really trying to please Guy and so far I am really happy with the improvement!

Hopefully when he comes home we’ll be well on our way to getting him achieving the things I know he can as he can move like a dream when he tries!


George with Guy at a groundwork clinic last summer.

First Show of the Year 

I took Sky out to our first show of 2016 to get back into the swing of things before the season properly begins. I got up at 6am, fed her and cleaned her up and then loaded everything into the horse box. We arrived at the show in good time and it was surprisingly a very stress free experience (for once) getting prepared for the competition.

There was only really one class that was suitable for us to enter and this was the purebred/partbred class. I was excited to get a chance to use my new Arab show halter that I bought myself for Christmas but I was unsure if Sky would behave OK in it so I made sure I had my bridle on hand in case I would need to swap into it.

We entered the ring and there were two other horses in the class (I think they were both partbreds of some form).   I was pleased with how she went and was turned out, she looked good and didn’t put a hoof wrong! We were however, placed 3rd (aka last). She handed me my rosette and congratulated me but provided me with no feedback.

This is where things got interesting (or more accurately, frustrating). Before leaving the ring I decided to ask the judge for some feedback as I always strive to learn at shows, especially when placed down the line as it is often the case that either me, or the horse, could improve something for next time. This was not the case this time.  After asking the judge politely for some feedback her response was “No, there’s nothing you could really improve. She moved really well and was presented well, I just don’t like Arabs”. I was rather taken aback but this blatant prejudism, thanked her and left the ring.

I was annoyed by her feedback though. I have no problem with being poorly placed but when the only reason was that the judge does not like a whole breed I think this takes the biscuit. It showed a lack of professionalism and consideration for the effort and time put into getting to the show. In my opinion a judge should be fair and consider a horse in an unbiased light, comparing them to either the breed standards or judged using the same criteria for all horses in the class. All horses should stand a fair chance upon entering the ring rather than being discredited due to their breed alone!

Sadly, this kind of prejudism is seen in the showing world too often and I myself seem to encounter it a lot whilst trying to compete my Arab. Judges should be fair and objective when making decisions, after all, everyone in the class are paying the same entry fees to be there! On the bright side though, Sky behaved perfectly in her new show halter, the show organiser found out,apologised, and completely agreed that the situation was wrong, and we also met a lovely woman who was also an Arab enthusiast who was really nice to chat to so the day was not a complete disappointment!

Ps. Below is our beautiful show halter set made by a lovely woman called Kim Antill!