What I’ve Learned at Uni so far

Besides the typical uni life lessons such as ‘vegetables are actually quite important’ and ‘3 for £6 jagerbombs are killers’, I’ve also learned that polo is brilliant fun.

I signed myself up for a polo taster session so off I went on Wednesday afternoon walking through campus in my jodhpurs, boots and chaps with no idea how to find the place we were meeting at. Luckily, I met another girl on the way who was going to polo (not sure whether it was just a lucky guess or the breeches that gave her away!) and we got chatting about horses, unsurprisingly.

When we all met, we piled into two cars and our poor driver, Tom, got the task of answering our questions. And there were a lot.
Most of the girls had tried polocrosse before with The Pony Club but nobody had actually done polo before. Turns out there are quite a lot of rules too. Either way, we were all there to have some fun and try out a new sport.

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My polo pony for the session

My pony was lovely, but definitely wanted to get going as she was fidgeting while we were learning how to hold our reins, where to hold them and how to hold and swing the mallet!

We started by wandering around the arena practising getting out of the saddle to give us a good stroke to hit the ball well and just getting used to turning purely by moving our hands and applying some leg if we really wanted them to whip around. This resulted in lots of giggles and “sorry” being shouted many times as balls went flying here, there and everywhere!

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As we all got more confident, we picked up the pace and started a little game to finish our taster session. It was very competitive and also messy, but I managed to score the first goal, meaning our team won.

Watch out Rupert- we might have to be trying polo and horseball soon!

Charlotte x

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Did the Red Bull work?

I was up at 5am this morning to get Rupert ready to go on a show jumping outing before coming into the shop this morning! We went out to Tanglewood Farm, a completely new venue for both of us. Our first time going out since mid-August on our hound exercise, and I couldn’t even tell you the last time we jumped a full course (maybe when I went to Willoughby?!). So I was fully expecting the ginger missile to be unleashed.

I was wrong. Kind of.

red bull fence

The jump wings were so cool! I loved the Red Bull double, although Rupert didn’t!

To start with, I just had a little course of about 70cm up as I was expecting real problems with there being fillers under every fence and strange jump wings. Instead, Rupert was an angel. He barely looked at the fillers- a little bit of extra leg and he asked no questions. He was nice and steady (hallelujah!!!) the entire way around the course. Cue a very proud mum!

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Orange fence for an orange horse! Our little course

The issues arose when we put the course up to around 1m. He started to bury himself under the fences (as he always does) which gave us some very dodgy strides and some awkward moments when I tried to ask him to take off in a ‘normal’ place. However, he was very honest and still jumped most of the fences, even if it wasn’t very fashionable!

He had no trouble with the wide 1m spread ‘stable’ fence- who said cobs can’t jump?!

We went with friends from the yard; one who took Rupert and I in her lorry along with her horse and another who kindly came as jump steward/instructor. Rupert and I took another break while our friend was jumping the course. After having a couple of run outs when we went round the course the previous time (my fault for not having enough leg and control of his wayward shoulders), I wanted to pop through some of the doubles nicely before we left.

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Rupert decided he didn’t want Red Bull to give him wings!

Rupert decided this was not going to happen. He started running out and stopping at the fences before jumping from a stand-still, just because he was feeling naughty and tired. In the end, I settled for going over the fences I asked and called it a day.green upright.jpg

So, today I’ve learned I must be doing something right as, previously, he would have never gone over all of those fillers, especially not first time with no questions asked. Rupert has also reminded me of how honest he can actually be- he definitely saved me a few times today! I know Rupert has the ability to jump a 1m course easily but there were issues today, which I’ve pinpointed to mainly a lack of control over his shoulders which allows him to run out and drift as well as striding, meaning I need to have a more adjustable canter.

Plenty of positives to take back from today, but lots too work on too!

Charlotte x

P.S. The Red Bull worked for Rupert. It clearly didn’t give me wings as I got out-jumped!

Dare I say I might want to try dressage?!

So I decided on Monday night I was going to jump Rupert in a new bit (a Neue Schule Elevator) that my instructor let me borrow and pop over the little barriers that Rupert had an issue with in his lesson last Wednesday.  He’s not scared of them as he’s jumped them several times before and they’re only about 60cm maximum- he’s just choosing to be a pain in the bum.

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Long story short, he was a real pain in the bum to jump.  However, he’s shown me (whilst I was trying to jump) that he can move beautifully with a rider on his back, so I’m definitely going to start pushing for more on the flat!

Excuse my position as he was being rather strong and pulling me arms off as he was quite forward!  But he can be fancy when he wants to be apparently!

If I can get some movement like this during our flatwork sessions, I may be willing to try some dressage…

Charlotte x

3 Year Anniversary with the Love Of My Life

23/08/14 – 23/08/17

I have officially owned Rupert for 3 years and wow, we’ve had a bit of a journey.

First, I started off riding for a lady who needed help exercising all of her horses. We knew she always planned to sell Rupert, so I promised myself I wouldn’t get attached (hahaha clearly that went well!). The first time I met him, he ran to the back of the stable and kindly did a dropping in his water bucket. The first time I got on him, I was on his back for all of 10 seconds before he threw me off. So, we were off to a great start!

A few months went by and when I got back from my holiday in America, I was met  by one of my friends at the yard running to me to tell me Rupert was at Irish Farm, where I was already riding another horse. I offered to look after and ride Rupert as I was already at the yard every day in the summer holidays, and I was allowed to take part in the yard Pony Camp. I was just about to tack up ready for the handy pony when I walked round to his stable to see this:

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The moment I found out Rupert was officially mine

Safe to say I cried!!

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Rupert and I attempting flatwork

A few months into owning Rupert, he became very ill to the point I wasn’t sure he was going to make it. With symptoms that suggested colic, azoturia and atypical myopathy, we never found out what was wrong with him. After a long period of time off and ages bringing him back into work, I finally had my happy, healthy Rupert back.  20840566_1539687146092386_1170964404_n

After having not ridden for so long, I forgot what a pain he was! He would refuse to jump the tiniest cross pole after he’d already jumped it twice that day, tank off in the school and bolt in the field and about run himself into hedges. I tried every bit going from a Waterford to a Pelham and double reins, but nothing gave me any more help.

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A happy Rupert loving life

Fast forward past a few more months off due to an issue with the muscle in his shoulder and lots of hard work, Rupert had been to cross country schooling, a dressage competition at Vale View, some show jumping at Weston Lawns unaffiliated, started hacking out on his own, moved yards and has also been out on a Tuesday with the Quorn Hunt and just recently, a hound exercise around Prestwold Estate. And most of the time, he’s in a snaffle!

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Rupert’s first (and only!) time on a cross country course

Hopefully lots more fun to come for Rupert and I!

Charlotte x

Rupert’s Ride Report

As part of our Prestwold Hall preparation, Rupert definitely needed a bath as I couldn’t remember the last time he had one. Plus, it was his first time going out in a while so I had to make a bit of an effort! Due to being at work during the day on Wednesday, and the ride being on Wednesday evening, I had to bath him on Tuesday night (risky I know, but at least he’s chestnut not grey!).

Went down to check on Rupert on Wednesday morning holding my breath but he was still clean thanks to his lightweight rug and just a bit of dried mud on his neck and legs (thankfully his one white sock was still sparkling!)

Rupert's Ride Report from Prestwold Hall

Rupert all clean after his bath with a very white sock

Raced home from work to put on my jodhpurs and shirt, then trackie bottoms and a hoodie to keep me clean. Bad choice as it was rather warm, but better than having chestnut hairs and green slobber all down my beige jodhpurs. Having cleaned all my tack on Tuesday night and swapped from a snaffle to a gag (an absolutely essential piece of life saving kit!), everything was ready to go in the lorry.

Rupert loaded into the lorry perfectly, considering the last time he’s been in a lorry was 3 years ago before I had him, and I don’t know whether he’s ever travelled in a lorry with a horse either side of him. Regardless, a well behaved pony so far.

Tacked up and put on my hacking jacket (which a lady from my yard very kindly let me borrow as I only have black jackets currently), we went to find the most important place on site: the food van. Definitely needed to pay a visit there after the ride!

Rupert's Ride Report from Prestwold Hall

Pretty in Pink

Walking into an open field where we all met, Rupert was as chilled as ever, just decided he was going to call to any horse he thought might be his friend. More brownie points for Rupert for standing still in a field with lots of other horses like he goes out every week and it was no big deal.

Rupert's Ride Report from Prestwold Hall

When we set off, Rupert woke up as he started to realise what was going on. On the first gallop, Rupert kept up and over took some of the Thoroughbreds. This resulted in me smiling and shouting at him “you’re supposed to be a fat cob!!”. After that gallop, it was decided that Rupert definitely needed a flash or a grackle as we only stopped because of another horse’s bottom, not because I had control in his Cheltenham gag! Bit too late to do anything about tack issues in the middle of a field.

Popped the fences very nicely and although he was strong the whole day, he did settle down to the point I had some form of control. Overall, we had a lovely ride and Rupert definitely enjoyed it!

Rupert's Ride Report from Prestwold Hall

Sweaty Rupert having a sponge down after the ride

Charlotte x

Prestwold Hall Preparation

FINALLY Rupert and I get to go out over summer next Wednesday for a lovely calm (or perhaps not so calm!) ride around Prestwold Estate for a hound exercise.

Rupert loved going out with the Quorn Hunt on a Pony Club day in February so I can’t wait to take him out somewhere that he’ll love. It involves jumping and going fast so what’s not to like?!

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Out with the Quorn Hunt

Might be time to get the hip flask out too!!

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Very traditional hunting flask

What I’m really, really, really looking forward to is this: “no need to plait”. Hallelujah!!!!

Charlotte x

Is your hat up to scratch?

Recently, we’ve had a scary amount of people come into the shop that have been sold a riding hat or body protector elsewhere, to be told by their riding instructor that is has failed the safety test, either due to ill-fitting or the hat/body protector isn’t up to current standards.

Whether you’re a member of a local Pony Club or eventing at Burghley, your hat must meet the new standard.  This means that (BS)EN1384 alone is not permitted by the The Pony Club, Riding Clubs,  British Horse Society (BHS), British Eventing, British Show Jumping or British Dressage in 2017.  However, hats would be acceptable if they carry EN1384 or BSEN1384 and another standard such as those listed:

  • PAS 015 (1998 or 2011)
  • VG1 01.040 (2014-12)
  • ASTM F1163 (2004a or 04a onwards)
  • SNELL E2001
  • AS/NZS 3838 (2006 onwards)

So if your hat is still meeting current safety standards, fab.  But does it fit correctly? Scott and I are both trained to fit safety equipment correctly, so please call us on 01509 670436 to book an appointment as the shop gets busy.  Even if your hat was fitted when you first bought it, it is a good idea to have it regularly checked in case any straps need adjusting or in the case of young riders a reminder of how to correctly wear their hat! A fitting or check is free here, so it’s definitely worth the peace of mind.

For 2017, the Pony Club requires that body protectors must meet the Beta Level 3 2009 standard for cross country and pony racing, but they are not compulsory for other activities. In 2018, British Eventing will only allow body protectors with the Beta Level 3 2009 (purple) label to be worn, as the 2000 version will no longer be permitted.  We can also check that your body protector fits correctly.

If you bring your hat and body protector along to your appointment we will check them.  That way you know they will do their job properly in the event of a fall (it happens to the best of us, just seems to be me hitting the deck every other week at the moment!)

*Always check with your riding organisation for current rules.

Riding hat blog

A variety of hats at our stables for interest only

The Ginger Missile Exploded

Due to limited time, I decided to lunge on Wednesday evening.
Whether it was spring fever, the down-pour of rain that was here all day (hence the soggy pony) or just pure excitement I do not know- all I know is that I’m very glad I wasn’t on his back!

He lunged nicely in walk and felt a bit more excited in trot so I asked mum if she could video him when I asked for canter as people don’t always believe that Rupert can be naughty, especially when he’s so laid back on the ground. Poor quality photos but you get the idea!

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Bucking

Fly Kick

Bums Up

Rupert Bucking

I schooled him the day after and (thankfully!!) we kept all 4 feet on the ground!

Charlotte x

Dressage Divas (hopefully)

Anybody who knows me knows I enjoy jumping and dressage really isn’t my thing. Obviously, I can’t jump Rupert every day of the week and to be able to jump well, flatwork is an essential.

I’ve recently gone back to having fortnightly lessons after not having lessons for over a year, and I alternate each lesson between jumping and flatwork. Since Kath has forced persuaded me to have a go at a dressage competition down at Long Lane Equestrian at the end of the series, I really need to step it up a level if I don’t want to embarrass ourselves!

I think Emma, my instructor, probably cried internally when I asked for a flatwork lesson and she saw what she had to work with! She has, however, seemed to work miracles as we’ve only had 2 flatwork lessons (and practice in between) so far and already he’s working a lot rounder and his lateral work (which I’d kind of abandoned since Rupert always got tense and galloped off when I asked for any kind of lateral movement) is slowly improving, with his leg yield and turn-on-the forehand getting better, as well as rein back.

I doubt I’ll ever prefer dressage to jumping, but flatwork is much more interesting and pleasurable now Rupert isn’t fighting me all the time.
If you see me down at Long Lane at some point with a chunky ginger horse, feel free to come and laugh at us!

Charlotte x

The Ginger Missile

Somebody was feeling a bit fresh and excited to jump!

Long stride

Rather strong and I was just a passenger! 

He started the session off by being forward (as usual) but sensible. He was finding the jumps too easy so I decided to put fillers underneath the fences and all of a sudden, he turned into a very excited ginger missile!

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Happy Rupert

He’s definitely enjoying his jumping!

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He also decided to grow wings 

Even though he was incredibly strong and forward, making him much more difficult to ride, we both had a very positive and rewarding session. I think it might be time to start challenging him a bit more and taking him out to some competitions when I can.

Charlotte x