It's been a while since my competition to win tickets to Blenheim, so to help see the year out in style, I'm now running another competition. Premier Equine is fast becoming one of my favourite horsey brands, and having recently been super impressed with their boots, I am offering 1 lucky winner the chance to try them for free! Enter below for your chance to win a pair of white Premier Equine
Air-cooled brushing boots, in size large. (Suitable for 16.3+ horses.)
If the boots won't fit your 4-legged friend, don't despair; there's something for everyone! You can also win a rather smart navy, red and white John Whitaker
fly veil, in pony/cob size, just to make sure everyone is catered for.
To enter either, or both of the competitions, all you have to do is name the celeb I'm interviewing at Hickstead in the respective photo's below. You also need to have 'liked' the Headstrong Equestrian Facebook page
to make your entry valid.
When you know the answer, submit your entry via the 'contact us' page
. Entries close 31 December. Good luck!
Name the celeb!
If you can correctly identify this famous Hickstead Derby winning showjumper, you could win a pair of white Premier Equine Air Cooled Brushing Boots, in size Large.
Submit your entry here
Click the picture for a closer look!
Name the celeb!
To be in with a chance of winning the pony/cob size John Whitaker fly veil, in navy, red and white, simply name this top young event rider. She has been making headlines recently because of the rather famous horse who has just joined her stables!
If you know the answer, get your entry in here.
Click the picture for a closer look!
2012 has been a pivotal year for me; lots of excitement, lots of changes and plenty of bumps in the road too. The year started with so much hope and lots of rigorously thought-out plans of how the year would progress, but the phrase ‘best laid plans’ springs to mind...
Having won sponsorship for the year with my fantastic trainer Sharon of Kilminster Equestrian Ltd
, we both knew that there would be lots of hard work ahead, and hopefully plenty of success too. However, the first 6 months of the year were really about 1 thing alone; partnership – namely that between me and 4 legged friend Willo. We spent many sessions training, working with him, and making inroads, but it was obvious that Willo just wasn’t the schoolmaster we had hoped he was. We had some really fantastic Eureka sessions, and some brilliant results out competing, but after a year of persevering it was certainly not getting easier – and a very interesting first BE90 together ended up with a fall across country that no doubt knocked my confidence. We had some tough times after that, and after much soul searching we decided that Willo was not the horse for me. We ploughed on until he was continuing to make progress, and getting us both jumping happily again, but we were very sure that it was the right decision for both horse and rider.
I learnt so much from Willo, had some brilliant moments winning both xc and sj in style, and our flat work was always a challenge but there were visible improvements – both seeing our marks creep up, and also from a training perspective. I was keen to keep my eyes on the prize and keep training and competing after he went, despite the circumstances. I was lucky enough to continue having both flat and jump lessons on a friends horse, Jake the lovely warmblood, which has allowed me to continue training with Sharon at a level that Ruby is not quite capable of yet, culminating in comments like ‘I’d be very pleased to see that in a novice test’ and ‘with a bit more elevation that wouldn’t look out of place at elementary.’ As someone who always been a jumper at heart, dressage is still new to me, so to hear those kind of comments has been fantastic – a testament to Sharon’s training. Yep it’s official, I actually enjoy dressage! I’ve also been riding another friends horse Daisy, a tricky character as she can be a handful, but very honest with it and an absolute jumping machine! I’ve enjoyed helping to establish her flatwork better as well as schooling over fences, and in just a few shows we have come away with some rosettes or at worst having just 1 pole down in 3’0” classes, as well as easily jumping round the open xc course at our local uk chasers. Really pleasing results, and something that I would never have had the confidence or skills to do a year ago. Again, a testament to Sharon’s training.
Meanwhile in the background, Ruby has been just ticking over. We still have an issue in her 1 sidedness which we are currently investigating thoroughly thanks to my vets and insurance company, but she has been making steady progress in between physio. In fact, having just Ruby has been a bit of a breakthrough for us both!
Comparing her to the horse she was at the beginning of the year she’s quietly come so far and matured greatly. Her breeding has really started to shine through recently by introducing her to jumping. We took her xc schooling for the first time with Sharon, and she was just unbelievable – jumped everything asked of her with massive enthusiasm and far exceeded everyone’s expectations, even jumping a few elements from the open course! This is no doubt where her talent and heart lies, and ironically when jumping although strong, we have managed to get some really nice balanced, light canter work. Lots of hacking, hill work, and cantering whilst out has helped to develop different muscle and I’m seeing the benefit in her work.
Sharon and I have a sj session planned at home before heading to a local venue to have a play over a course of fences, so watch this space. All being well it may not be all that long before Ruby is out doing some little courses. She has masses of scope so it’s really between the fences that we will need to work on. Sharon has some brilliant clinics coming up too that we’re planning to attend, and a great fun xmas event that will be a great introduction to a competition type environment but without the pressure.
2012 has certainly been challenging; there have been trainer injuries, rider injuries, wonky horses, and mismatched partnerships, but throughout we have kept our focus, and where there’s a will there’s a way; we made the best of what we had and kept the Kilminster Equestrian name out and about. We finish the year with some lessons learned, my confidence soaring, my knowledge broadened, and safe in the knowledge that selling Willo was absolutely the right thing to do, even if it was hard at the time. I’ve since ridden a variety of horses, none of whom could be described as easy, but with some great results, I can work many different horses consistently in an outline, jump happily and confidently, without any of the issues we had together. Sharon told me many times that the problems we were having were not down to me, but as a rider you always tend to think that it must be because of something you’ve done wrong, but as always she was right, and my experiences in the saddle since have evidenced that.
I think it would be fair to say that we are both excited about Ruby’s future, and even despite having her ‘wonky’ issues she is really developing into a lovely horse with a bright future. Some real flashes of ‘wow’ moments on show lately. Sharon and I will continue to work closely together throughout 2013 and beyond, and with her extensive and sound knowledge I am sure there will be lots of exciting things to come as Ruby starts her career and who knows - maybe even a rosette or 2?! Perhaps Ruby will turn out to be the super little eventer I’ve been searching for? Watch this space. ..
Sharon; thanks for giving me such a fabulous opportunity as a sponsored rider, the benefits of which I will continue to see in years to come, being much more accomplished in the saddle. Thanks for your continued support and mentoring, friendship, knowledge, training and endless patience. It means a lot to know you have always kept faith in me throughout even when I doubted myself, and Ruby and I look forward to representing #TeamKilminster in 2013 and beyond. It’s been emotional!
Reporting for Horsemart.co.uk, I caught the final day of the competition. Below is my report, which you can also see on the Horsemart website here.
The Longines King George V Gold Cup; what a way to cap off the Royal International Horse Show for another year. This prestigious cup is arguably one of the most highly sought after prizes on Britain’s showjumping circuit, and is suitably lucrative with 200k Euro’s in prize money up for grabs.
The course looked technical and up to height, promising a stiff test for horse and rider, so thrills and excitement were sure to be seen. Much to everyone’s surprise, the competition started with not one, but two clear rounds courtesy of Belgium’s Pieter Devos and GBR’s own Joe Clayton.
Ellen Whitaker put an end to that though, when her grey mare Ximena took a dislike to the tricky white double of gates for the second time this meeting, planting before take-off. Probably not a week she’ll care to remember.
Ellen was one of a handful of riders who retired gracefully, saving the horse for another day. Geoff Billington was another, retiring with Uppercut II having knocked down both the first and second fence. Ever the showman, he theatrically waved a white hanky in surrender – much to the delight of the crowd!
John Whitaker had an uncharacteristic round when his ride Maximilian notched up 21 faults, and many of the other top Brit riders also fell by the wayside. Greenwich bound Olympic representative Peter Charles finished with 14 faults, whilst reserve rider Tina Fletcher was unlucky to pick up 4 faults with Ursula XII.
Fresh from success in the Sky Sports Speed Classic, Shane Breen was always a threat. Cos I can jumped immaculately in the first round, but with 4 faults in the jump-off it would not be another win for the Breens and Ireland.
French rider Marie Hecart gave a great account of herself to come 3rd with a double clear on Myself de Breve, the little horse temporarily taking the top spot, and almost making Marie the first female ever to win the competition.
Louise Pavitt and Joe Clayton were the only 2 clear rounds for GBR, and the former thrilled the crowd with a superb jump off effort which would be enough to secure 4th place. Louise finished down on the clock having chosen to go around the planks to the last fence rather than inside, costing her valuable seconds. Joe Clayton had recorded another competitive effort but 4 faults put him out of contention.
The worthy winner however, was 22 year old Hendrik-Jan Schuttert and the scopey grey Cerona H S for the Netherlands, making it the first victory for a Dutch rider in the history of the cup. A superb fast double clear would win him the top spot, but with Ludger Beerbaum the last to go, he was no doubt holding his breath until the last! The ever stylish Beerbaum was double clear, but couldn’t find an answer to Schuttert’s unbeatable time.
Having clocked up 16 faults in the first round of the Nations Cup, it would be a brave person who backed the young man, but a surprise was on the cards and Schuttert will now have his name recorded next to some of the greatest showjumpers of all time. Like many of the spectators, I would have loved to have seen a GBR win, particularly so close to the Olympics, but there’s something about watching the underdog take the spoils that is good for the soul. For all the photos, see the album here. Oh, and don't forget to go here to find out how you could win tickets for Blenheim Horse Trials!