Graduated and Raring to Go: Happy Birthday Mama!

After her holiday a few weeks ago, Heather explains how she's well and truly got back into the swing of horsey life, including a surprise riding lesson for her mum!

This fortnight, we got some good news: it turns out that Socks won the Retraining of Racehorses award from area dressage last month, which was a nice surprise!

This bodes well for my plans for starting BD next month… watch this space!

As I mentioned in my last blog, Mum’s birthday wasn’t too long ago. We normally celebrate properly at Burghley, and sadly Mum’s birthday happened to fall on the one day a week where she has to work all day.

So, that day, I caught up with Georgie (who write's her blog, The Student's Horse, on Your Horse) and helped her collect data for her dissertation.

Naturally, Socks went first, and I was pleased to find out that her fetlock and hoof conformation is pretty much bang on and that she places weight on her two forelegs fairly evenly. That is, after we got her to stand on the sensor.

Now, Socks understands weigh bridges. She knows that once a year the lady from Spillers comes to the yard, tells her she’s beautiful and gives her a treat if she stands on the metal thing.

Georgie’s weigh bridge, of course, was an entirely different kettle of fish. For starters, it was black, with two squares on it, and there was only room for half of her to get on it.

It took a lot of snorting and me presenting her about five times, but she did eventually get her feet in the right place. Then, I was the worst mummy ever because I only had sugar-free treats to give her. How dare I…

Not impressed with the lack of nice treats…

Not impressed with the lack of nice treats…

Luckily I turned Socks out before she saw that she was completely upstaged by the yard  mischief maker, Dennis.

He has his own Facebook page, and you can find it here.

Dennis walked straight on, no problem, and was generally a model pony. Until, later that day, he escaped from the field and into the school. Thankfully, it was empty…

A model pony, for now…

A model pony, for now…

After that, there wasn’t much to do except while away the time before we went to Burghley.

I spent the bank holiday Sunday fence judging the Gosling Cup, which my Pony Club branch were hosting this year at the beautiful Trumpington Hall.

If anybody's interested, this is in the same area they film the TV show Grantchester. Fun fact.

Yet again I sulked about not having joined the Pony Club while I was young enough to do any of the fun things.

The Gosling Cup is a truly unique one-day event that also includes a tack and turnout phase as well as a team quadrille ride.

It was lovely to catch up with some people I haven’t seen in ages, and even better that our A-team placed sixth! I especially loved how creative the cross-country course was, particularly the Gosling Goose at number seventeen!

The Gosling Goose and Trumpington Hall, beautiful!

The Gosling Goose and Trumpington Hall, beautiful!

Mum’s birthday surprise

Fear not, I didn’t totally ignore Mum’s birthday!

I’d gone for a couple of lessons on advanced horses in various places through Pony Club, and Mum always seemed like she wanted to have a go too.

So, I thought I’d book her a lesson at Contessa Riding Centre and, well, I couldn’t let her go on her own, could I?

I could tell that Mum was a little bit nervous but Dawn, who had taught me before, was lovely and we both had an amazing time! I rode Lula, a gorgeous big chestnut warmblood mare, and Mum rode Unico, an ex-bullfighter Lusitano.

Mum and I on our new friends for the day

Mum and I on our new friends for the day

It was honestly lightbulb moment after lightbulb moment: ah, that’s what collected trot is supposed to feel like! Oh, so flying changes really are that easy! Ooh, I can ride a half pass!

It also occurred to me just how much strength a horse needs in himself to do these moves properly – come on, Socks, it’s gym time!

We’ve been considering if it would be possible to have Socks in a double bridle for a while, and after riding Lula I would really love to try it. She has such a small mouth, though, we’ll have to have a think.

Mum smashed it as well! Dawn asked her to ask Unico for collection, and he immediately sat back into passage. Mum’s face was a picture! I think she had just as many lightbulb moments as I did, and she’s already talking about booking to go again.

I knew she’d love it! She also said she missed riding a smaller horse – don’t tell poor Socks!

The most wonderful time of the year

Next stop, Burghley! I fully plan on having a go on the Musto Mare, and can’t wait to see Nicola Wilson in action after her European Bronze – she’s been my favourite eventer for years, purely because she’s so smiley!

I’m still in awe of Ludwig Svennerstal’s amazing bridle save at Blair, too. Will I pluck up the courage to actually speak to either of them? We’ll see…

(Also, I’m planning on actually competing at some show jumping next month, too. I’ll let you know how it goes!)