Menu

Uncategorized

We are delighted to have Caroline Mosley of Orange Fox Eventing onboard as one of our new ambassadors.  Read Caroline's competition entry below which gives a great insight into all about her as a person and Orange Fox Eventing. Hello Team FOMO! I would love to be considered to join the team as a FOMO Ambassador. As someone who is a supporter of the advancement of safety and the development of innovative, useful products, I am a fan of the FAZE as it has been developed with some important safety considerations without compromising on comfort which, in my opinion, makes it the best BP on the market. I was impressed that in the design process, the zip area on a typical BP’s had been considered as an area of weakness, so the design to offset the zip to protect the sternum had been included in the development of the FAZE. For me, this showed a massive demonstration in the consideration of safety. I have found the FOMO FAZE to be incredibly comfortable and have already recommended it to many riders. About me I have been lucky enough to be involved with horses all my life. I started out competing at affiliated show jumping competitions on ponies and was fortunate to represent my country on home-produced ponies several times. After growing up and having to concentrate on my career as a Registered Veterinary Nurse I gave up riding for several years to obtain my qualifications. Towards the end of this non-horse period, I worked in Australia and happened upon a show jumping yard where I picked it all up again. I rode several super horses and picked up some high placings at large shows such as the Royal Dubbo Horse Show and many others around New South Wales. I returned to the UK and moved to Edinburgh to start working at the Vet School. I met my non-horsey husband John, and at this same time, a friend eventually convinced me to give eventing a try. That was just over a decade ago and I have been hooked ever since! I have produced my own horse up to British Eventing Novice and was placed consistently in the top 10 with him. We had won at horse trials, qualified for grassroots eventing championships and riding club team championships, but it was all halted after I was a passenger in a serious car crash in June 2014.  I spent three weeks in high dependency with abdominal drains, chest drain and underwent spinal surgery. I had to take time to rebuild myself so all riding was put on hold and there was a possibility I may not ride again but I was determined to get back in the saddle. This drive helped me stay positive and keep pushing forwards with the plan to get on board and go hacking. My horse at the time was super quirky so I was loaned a superstar older horse Classy Touch to help me. Classy didn't just get me hacking again, he surpassed all expectations and took me around several three-day events at (old) 1* and we obtained top ten placings at BE Intermediate too which was fantastic for a 22yo horse. He was retired from eventing in 2017 and continued to have fun at Trec, dressage, and was a natural at side-saddle. His most recent outing was in 2018 where we were placed in the large Side Saddle classes at the Royal Highland Show (RHS). Shortly after the RHS I sadly found he had died in the field from a massive heart attack. It was a big shock and broke my heart. I will be forever grateful for having such a wonderful horse in my life. Classy gave me the ability to ride again, and the drive to enjoy every day as it comes. I love my hobby and the horse’s happiness and welfare are my number one priority (sorry John!). The horses live on our smallholding in the Scottish Borders shared with my husband’s Hebridean Sheep. They love a varied life and so alongside national and international horse trials, I take part in other spheres such as Trec and showing. I also take my Miniature Shetlands running with me to keep their weight off, keep them and myself fit too! It is a happy gang and another important part is the Labradors – aka The Eventadors – who are a constant source of support (and licks). In my full-time role at Edinburgh University’s Vet School, I lead the clinical skills department teaching practical skills to veterinary students; this involves everything from basic animal handling to performing clinical tasks. I also lead and train examiners for clinical practical exams and run a teaching qualification programme. The Eventadors join me daily in these classes and play an important part in the training of the next generation of veterinary Surgeons! My horses are all chestnut! Not by choice but they do seem to have ended up that way! Here is a bit about them all: Marqued Man, 11yo, Thoroughbred, gelding I had the pleasure of riding Kenny while his owner was expecting her first baby, and he settled into the team life really well. He can be a bit of a drama queen, but we love him and earlier this year he joined the team permanently. Kenny has competed at 2* with me including a fabulous ride around the Blair CCI2* long this season, ending the week on a clear showjumping round. While we had a blip on the cross country I can take so many positives (it was rider error!) and I am so excited about what the next season will bring together. My aim for 2022 is to step up to 3*/Intermediate and possibly in the future maybe achieve an ambition of competing abroad! Dwina de Cavron, 14yo, Belgium Warmblood, mare. I bought Dwina in 2017. I saw her advertised and loved her and spent a week convincing my husband we had room in the stables for one more! She had recovered from a suspensory injury and was looking for a forever home. She is a wonderful mare and I competed at CCI2* and Intermediate with her last run being at Belsay in the Intermediate in 2019. My aim for 2022 really is to see how she feels. She was unable to hold a foal and owes me nothing so there is no pressure, but I would love to pop round an event one day again however just seeing her trot up the field for breakfast gives me so much joy, I’m happy as long as she is happy. Dwina and I have also completed an endurance ride, taken part in lots of Trec competitions and, generally, we have fun and enjoy everything we do (except being rugged up, Dwina doesn’t like this so much!) Lobinstown Elite, 12yo, Irish Sports Horse, Gelding I’ve known Larry since he was 3yo as I originally bought him to the event. It turned out he was a bit unlucky and has spent many years in and out of the hospital for a variety of reasons! It was due to Larry that I met my best friend Sarah who now part-owns him and enjoys him as a happy hacker, although this year he seems to be feeling incredibly well and I’ve tried to event him! He has completed two BE80 and 90’s and if he feels well again next year we might try to do a few more! He can also be seen with Sarah at Trec competitions and any other outings we take him on. His main role has been partnering my horses to the gallops to keep them fit (he gallops fast!) so you could say he is the fittest happy hacker around! Motivations Live each and every day to the full is how I view my life. I am so lucky to be able to do what I do, I enjoy my job, my hobby and have the support of a wonderful husband and friends. When I go out with the horses I want to always be improving, and while I know I will always be an amateur rider, I have a professional approach to this and continually strive to do better. I am in awe of the amazing athletes we have in many different sports. I love following athletics as well as equestrianism and my hero’s include John Whittaker, Frankie Sloothaak, Lucinda Green, and Princess Anne, (Princess Anne rode a horse my god mother produced – Goodwill!), Carl Hester, Charlotte Dujardin, and many others in equestrian plus Liz McColgan, Paula Radcliffe, Katarina JT, Roger Black, Jessica Ennis Hill, and many others. One of the most inspiring people I follow is Suzanna Hext, who had life changing injuries from a fall off a young horse in 2012. She became a Para dressage rider, and went on to be European champion in 2017, and then moved to para swimming where she has just become a Paralympian competing in Tokyo despite her body trying to fail on her. Her journey is inspiring, and her hard work and dedication are seen in her posts on social media and her successes in sport. I have the most incredible support from my husband, family, and friends. In my spare time, I try to catch up with them, I like a quiet dinner out and a good catch up when I can, it’s a great way to unwind and something that has been missing a bit over the last year due to the pandemic…. that and dog walking holidays exploring the British Isles! Hopefully, they can pick up again soon! Caz  ...

We have been really lucky to have Muddy Mayhem of Team Chasing Mayhem on board as an ambassador for FOMO.  For those of you who don't know about Team Chasing Mayhem, you can read all about her below: Hi, my name is Karla & you might know me as the blogger Muddy Mayhem. I’ve been involved in eventing my horse Vince (known as Miiiiiince on the blog) at BE Novice level with the ultimate aim being our first 2* international. I share my ups, downs & try to keep a grip of my, quite frankly, chaotic life. I’m so excited to be working with FOMO as an ambassador. The company had impressed me with their design & dedication to creating the ultimate body protector. As soon as I put my FOMO FAZE on I knew that I’d found the perfect body protector, it’s amazingly comfortable…which I tried to demonstrate by doing a ‘bridge’ with my body (a totally bizarre thing to do as I’ve never been able to do one of those even when I’m not wearing a body protector!). For those of you that don’t know what team chasing is, it is the most brilliant sport ever invented. I honestly believe it was created by a bunch of people who were drunk, in a pub. It involves a team of 4 horses & riders, galloping around a course of, mostly, massive hedges. The rules are : 1st 3 horses/riders home times count Jump all the fences Don’t fall off more than 3 times a round. And….well that’s about it really. It’s crazy,  it’s bonkers & it really is the most fun you can have on a horse. If you’d asked me how I was a few months ago how I was I would’ve replied ‘fine’. However I was lying, I would have had a face like a slapped arse and I wouldn’t have meant it. Not at all. My eventing, the very thing that I felt defined me, which previously had been mediocre at best, was…well it was going utterly to shit. I was dispirited and low wondering what had happened to my brilliant Miiiiiince. I was not in a good place. ‘Go Team chasing!’ people shouted at me from the comments of my mopey, miserable posts ‘You will love it! It will cheer up Miiiiiince’ I was assured. Now all of you who suggested it, Do you have an ‘I was right’ dance prepared? Because you were right. I joined a fab team who looked after me and we had the most amazing time at the Warwickshire, I hope you all enjoyed the videos (can I take a moment to assure you all now that the creaking you heard wasn’t me farting in fear but how I’d attached the headcam) However, the intention was always to get Miiiiiince back onside and then return to eventing for the remainder of the season. I got plans after all. I got aims I’ve got to achieve, right? I headed over to the Sweary Kiwi for a lesson and to decide what BE events to enter. This all changed though as Miiiiince absolutely flew through a decent exercise of corners on a curving line with me bellowing how awesome he felt. ‘Whatever you guys are doing at the moment she said ‘keep doing it, because it’s working for you both’ And that’s how I found myself heading to Belvoir for our second team chase run. The first thing to note here is that the English language is fucking weird. I was happily pronouncing it ‘Bell-vwah’ with the flourish I felt that it deserved until I found out it’s actually pronounced ‘Beaver’. Beaver? Fuck. Off. Why? How? What? It doesn’t look anything like Beaver. Secondly, it was a fantastic course, proper big and bold. It made the Warwickshire look tiny. We walked the course with me getting paler and paler and, mainlining gin in a tin as I was, quite frankly, shitting myself, but Miiiiiiince knew what the deal was this time and where he had started a little unsure and backward at Warwickshire. Well, there was none of that. Ears pricked so tightly they were almost touching he gave me the most blinding of rides just bursting in confidence the whole way around. We had one hairy moment as a team where, at the 3rd, our lead rider went left, his horse went right and his testicles got smacked somewhere in the middle as he pulled out the save of the century to stay on.   Our most recent and 3rd run was the Intermediate at the Grafton. The first half of the course was pretty much ‘trip hazard’ with small timbers until about halfway around where it chucked some decent hedges and drops in. When I say ‘decent’ hedge I thought it would be funny to take a picture of one of my teammates stood beside it. Turns out it wasn’t funny in the slightest, because it towered over her and I had to swallow down a little fear sick. It definitely caused enough trouble. At one point instead of the 2 teams of 4 that should’ve been on the course, there were 6 randoms just galloping together laughing,  the commentator tried his very best to work out what the very fuck was going on, but then just gave up and joined in with them laughing. It was chaos. It was then I realised that right now, this very moment, right in the middle of this glorious chaos was JUST where I needed to be. I was so happy. Instead of spending the run-up anxious and nervous, stressing I hadn’t done enough prep, I wasn’t ready and I was going to make an utter twat of myself (I really don’t know why I worry so much about that, it’s pretty much a given, right?) I had spent the run-up excited and looking forward to going. I was no longer going through the motions of what I thought everyone expected me to do and instead I was having the most glorious, brilliant, fucking fabulous fun with my amazing horse. My Miiiiince. We had another superb run. Miiiiince pulling my arms out as he wanted to take on the course, I was literally whooping with the pure joy of it all – and no, I’m not in the slightest bit embarrassed by it. Why should I be? After what feels like months of crying in lorry carparks because I hadn’t had ‘the best day on paper’, of feeling inadequate and like a failure. I’m having the best time and boy, I’m gonna let the world know. Hear me roar bitches, hear me roar (no seriously, you will hear me roar, its that no ‘indoor voice’ thing of mine again, I reckon they could hear me back in Suffolk and I was nearly 3 hours away) I see it all so clearly now. The standards that I was comparing myself to were irrelevant. The things I had convinced myself were important really weren’t. I’d pitched myself and Miiiince into some ridiculous self-created struggle that really wasn’t worth it. What I’d convinced myself was my dream had just turned into a heavy millstone around my neck, dragging every last inch of enjoyment from my riding. Eventing had made me doubt my worth, I thought I was not enough. But I am enough. I know I am because I realised it stood in that glorious chaos of the Grafton team chase. Will I return to eventing? Absolutely, I will at some point. But this time it will be on my terms, genuinely not giving a shit what is ‘expected’ from me or what the results say. I heard something recently that really resonated with me. ‘Life is short, it thunders by if you like the music you just got to get up and dance’ Miiiince and I are dancing to the music of team chasing and it is EPIC. Karla  ...

Growing up, I was your typical Pony Club kid; you know the type, absolutely fearless and always on the go. I was constantly climbing on bareback to ride to the field, jumping anything that stood still long enough and galloping here, there and everywhere.  I loved all things horsey and participated in every show possible, so naturally, my parents spent their weekends ferrying my pony and me to competitions, rallies and fun days. Dressage, showjumping, cross country, showing, pony club games, you name it, we did it!  One day, I was on a hack with my friends and our ponies when a driver sped towards us, and I ended up parting ways with Bleu straight on to the tarmac. Luckily, there were no broken bones but the next few months consisted of frequent visits to the physiotherapist due to an excruciating pain in my back. The worst part? No riding allowed. When I eventually got the okay to get back in the saddle, my parents made me swear to wear a body protector every single time my bum was in the saddle. As you could imagine, that didn't go down particularly well. Like everyone else, I was desperate to fit in, so the "but nobody else wears one" argument was a daily struggle in our house.  My pony at the time was a bit of a character and would throw in a fly buck at every opportunity. I was used to his rodeo antics, but I struggled to sit the more exuberant bucks when wearing my clunky old body protector; it was restrictive, uncomfortable and inhibited my ability in the saddle.  Fast forward a few years; both pony and body protector now too small for me, I packed up and headed for freshers week at the University of Strathclyde. When I graduated with honours from my degree in Sports Engineering, Design Manufacture and Engineering Management, a good decade or so on from that bulky, uncomfy body protector, it was evident there had been no real innovation in the sport. I now had the knowledge and skill from my engineering degree to re-invent equine safety wear, hence, FOMO was born. It was important to me to create something that would inspire rider confidence and maximise movement and ability in the saddle, something that riders would WANT to wear rather than only wearing it when they had to.  You know what they say; if you want something done right, do it yourself. Carmen x...

When you see someone wearing a body protector in the warm-up before cross country, you would think it was perfectly normal; in fact, it's so normal that you probably wouldn't think anything at all. However, if you saw someone wearing one in the collecting ring for dressage or showjumping, that would most likely be a different story. Most of us would assume the rider was very nervous or that their horse was wild. If we were being really honest, we might even judge them for ruining their smart show day outfit.  The question is, why? Why do we judge someone for riding WITH a body protector when in the same breath, we would be horrified if someone rode WITHOUT a helmet? Both were designed to keep us safe while participating in this wonderful yet dangerous sport; therefore, why is a helmet a must-have whilst a body protector is not?  Is the simple answer that it just isn't cool to wear one? Over the last few years, the eventing world has seen many falls, but a few in particular shocked us. Mr stickability himself, Andrew Nicholson, was lucky not to be paralysed after he fell from Cillnabradden Evo in 2015, making a "lucky" escape with a severe neck injury. Shortly after that team GB's William Fox Pitt fell into a coma after his tumble at the Young Horse Championships. More recently, we all watched with bated breath, as Jonty Evens fought his way back into the saddle after a fall left him with a serious brain injury at Tattersalls in 2018.  These three falls brought a noticeable shift in the way people view equine safety, which presented the opportunity for a long-overdue mindset shift towards body protectors. Riders began to question what their lives would look like if a similar thing happened to them. Today we ask you what you would miss out on if you were left seriously injured from a fall? You might miss out on a season or, as a younger rider, you could miss out on getting selected for the U18s or Junior riders team. You might miss out on playing sports at school or have to skip your exams and watch your friends go off to university without you.  For the more mature rider, a fall could mean you can't look after your kids. Perhaps you wouldn't be able to go to work and therefore wouldn't earn a wage. Could you continue to pay your mortgage and put food on the table?  It's a fact we are often dismissive of, but a fall, even during the simplest of schooling sessions or on the quietest hack, could result in your life completely changing. Having the correct safety equipment every time you put your foot in the stirrup maximises your chance of walking away from a fall without a life-changing injury. Body protectors might not be cool, but it's pretty cool that they could save your life.  Here at FOMO, it is our mission to normalise body protectors for every single ride. Prevention is better than a cure, and if doing something as simple as wearing a body protector could save your life, why wouldn't you? ...

Season 2021 is a go! It was great to finally be back out eventing again. Huge thank you to everyone involved with the elite sports riders for making Oasby Elite a great first event for many of us. It was also my first event with my new FOMO FAZE Body Protector which I was very impressed by the comfort and adjustability, given how cold it was and the many extra layers that were required.  Both Oughterard Cooley owned by Debbie Whalley and Liz Magennis and Ella MacGregors, MacGregors Cooley made light work of the OI track. Rich aka Oughterard Cooley finishing 13th and Greg aka MacGregors Cooley jumped a great DC to finish 4th. We returned a week later with another lorry load for Oasby 1. This time bringing some of the younger horses out for their first runs. Both Rich and Greg enjoyed another run round the OI again both improving on their dressage scores from the previous week, steady xc rounds for them both in preparation for the advanced class at Weston Park next week. DHI By Design owned by Daisy Cross had his first 100 run with us finishing on his dressage score for 5th place. Our own Keep It Cooley and Cooley Fun Time also performed well in the 100 sections to finish 2nd and 9th respectively. We now look forward to Weston Park with the Novice and Advanced horses....

Finally, it feels like spring is on its way! This winter has felt super long for us! We had almost 3 months of solid snow    which meant our poor horses hardly stepped foot outside of their stables! But recently it has been all systems go both Skinny and Biscuit have started their pre-season fitness and with things COVID wise looking to be hopefully going back to an almost normal state we are excited to start planning for this season Biscuit has been entered into the Your Horse Live Virtual, Search for a Star qualifiers. Which has given us something to look forward to! April will see both horses start training, with cavaletti and dressage training on the cards! Hopefully, by May the shows will have started back up again and we will be out in full force This month I have signed up for the Walk all over Cancer campaign to walk 31,000 steps in March, this has definitely been helping me with my pre-season fitness! I hope to be able to bring more regular updates from Team Shieldhill now that things are hopefully starting to get going again. It’s been a Loooong Winter! Jodie xo...

Well, I've been quiet for a while, apologies for that. Sadly Trusty had a slight injury in July 2020 where he had a check ligament strain. Although it was very minor, due to the fact ligaments are very temperamental and with the joys of lockdown, the decision was made to very slowly rehab Trusty to give him the best possibility of the injury to heal properly and also prevent it from happening again. This has meant a long process of firstly hand walking then, walking under saddle, and thankfully, we are finally on the last stretch of ridden trot work. Poor Trusty cannot understand why his life is a constant stream of four walls of his stable, the arena, or endless amounts of country lane walking; he's desperate for a canter and a jump! We are hoping for a sign off scan at the start of February to finally start some faster work and then it will be all preparations towards hopefully getting out eventing dependent on Covid restrictions. My hopeful aim this year is towards the new Cotswold Cup which is a new unaffiliated series running this year where you get points at several events working towards the Championships in September. One of the most exciting events for me that run as part of this, is held at Barbury Castle in July which has been one of the venues on my eventing bucket list so it would be amazing to be able to get here. The first event of the Cup is at Oxstalls at the end of May which I think, so long as everything goes to plan, should be a reasonable goal to work towards. I'm hoping to link up with fellow FOMO ambassador Alex Holman for some regular lessons in flatwork and jumping once Trusty has the all clear; Alex has been having some great success not only with his own horses but with his growing client base as well and with him being on my doorstep it would be rude not to take full advantage! So keep your fingers crossed that we will continue going well; Trusty has had his fresh clip and he's desperate to get back out strutting his stuff  I've also got some very important kit that's been sat gathering dust, waiting for a cross country run; I cannot wait to test drive my FOMO body protector!...

My winter training tip is: to work on the basics! This is something that sounds as it is, basic, but it is very important for our training and is definitely something that I make sure I get into all coaching sessions I deliver and every time that I get on a horse! 1, My first, and most simple tip is to remember 3 essential ingredients to a good position from the rider – a good position allows both ourselves and our horses to find their balance, and to keep it whilst working on the flat and over fences, whether they are cavalettis or Advanced fences. No time in the saddle is wasted when it comes to our positions. They are: 1) EYES 2) SHOULDERS 3) HEELS If you keep your HEELS down it stabilises your lower leg and keeps it in the right place to use it as an aid to the horse. Keeping your SHOULDERS open engages your core and secures your body over the centre of the horse. Keeping your EYES up and focussed on the new direction or task keeps the balance ‘up’ and helps to direct the horse onward. You can think of all of these things whether you spend 10minutes walking in the arena, or hours out hacking, and it will make a difference as several new clients can testify. 2. My second tip is to help work on suppleness for the horse – both left to right & over their backs. As clients I coach regularly will know, I LOVE a serpentine! You can make these as easy or difficult as you like, ie as many or as few loops as you like, and within these, you can add extra circles, transitions, and/or poles.  Focus on riding even loops, with the horse really connected between your inside leg and outside rein, and staying straight between your aids. If you work the horse on a serpentine for a period of time, they really start to soften around your leg and are ready to work – it’s a great one for a warm-up. I definitely practice what I preach on this one, as I have permanently had poles set up on a serpentine for over a month at home, for flatwork, and used poles to warm up for jumping when we went to hire a local arena for a jump.  Whilst on the serpentine, don’t forget to remember the 3 main points of your position… My favourite exercise involves a serpentine in trot using poles and halts, but either you’ll have to book a lesson or wait until next time to see a demo…! Hope you have found these useful. Alex  ...

New research into equestrian body protection delivers surprising results. FOMO, the company behind the UK’s newest body protector FAZE that was launched earlier this year has just released the first findings in a study into body protection for the equestrian market. FOMO was awarded an Innovate UK SMART Grant in October of 2019 and has spent the past 15 months completing a feasibility study on the named technologies working alongside thought leaders such as the University of Edinburgh to determine “life-like” test methods for assessing each technology. The company was founded by Carmen Cummiskey, an experienced equestrian, and a graduate in Sports Engineering from the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow. Throughout her development of FAZE, Carmen was always of the belief that the best balance of performance and comfort would not be achieved with the use of a single technology and that the combined characteristics of complementary technological solutions would be needed to achieve a step change. As with all safety products, ongoing technical evaluation is crucial and the team at FOMO recognised that three technologies had to be considered in this latest study – microcellular foams, air cushion (including inflation technology), and ‘exoskeleton’ (structurally engineered in suitable materials). The aim of the study was to provide an overall solution in which the individual technologies provided for performance and comfort exceeding the sum of their parts. The Study Working with Edinburgh University, FOMO developed a unique numerical modelling system that evaluates the stress on the rib cage and the body's internal structures with and without various forms of protection. Falls were evaluated at multiple speeds to assess how the various technologies work to protect the body and its internal structures. The first impact scenario aims to replicate the impact between the rider and a fixed wooden corner fence, and the second aims to replicate the impact between the horse and rider as a result of a rotational fall. Both impact scenarios took place at velocities of both 5 m/s and 9 m/s. This approximately corresponds to the minimum and maximum required speeds across levels. The properties of the microcellular foams were taken from testing on the FOMO FAZE layering system. This foam is a unique, polyurethane foam manufactured and developed by FOMO with the support of Horizon2020 through the European Commission. During a collision with a fence at 9m/s the stress on the rib was calculated to be 35% lower with FAZE’s DION foam protection than when hit with no protection. In addition to this, at 5m/s the internal stress on the rib cage was reduced by 47% with a FAZE protector. The air system alone displayed a negative effect on the body with the pressure of the air inflation increasing the peak level stress on the ribs. The peak shown was higher than that without protection. However, there are multiple factors that come into play that can positively or negatively affect this value. Firstly, the rate of inflation of the jacket, the jacket’s shape, and whether the jacket inflates away from the body or in the path of least resistance. The research suggests that outward inflation jackets, when worn with a foam protector underneath would be the best option should an air jacket be chosen to be worn. The team at FOMO is excited by the new testing process which allows repeatable testing of multiple impact scenarios. The research is already being implemented to the design process and the team is looking toward BETA International which has now been moved to later in 2021 to initially show the outputs from the project to both trade and public.    ...

So after a good final few runs of the season, finishing with both my own & Carrick Diamond Bard (Gerry)’s first CCI3*-L at Bicton, all of the horses enjoyed a holiday in the field! They are all so different and have run at different levels during this strange year, so some had more time off than others, but all had plans to suit them. Unfortunately for me, COVID has not allowed me to have a proper break, unlike last year, but I have had a much quieter November than usual, not only with the horses on holiday but with the November lockdown affecting things further. All of the horses are now back in work, and we have started having a few lessons and outings again. They are all feeling extremely well, partly thanks to their TopSpec feed & Animalife supplements, and I have survived more than a few exciting hacks during their walking and roadwork! I have already hosted the amazing Holly Woodhead at my yard twice since the horses have been back in work, and the few lessons I’ve managed to have with her have really helped me to plan where I want to take the horses to the next level in their training. Holly makes me ride so positively and the horses really respond well, which gives me so much confidence in them and how I’m asking them to work. Rathnageera Aussie (Billy) & Hocus Pocus (Hugo) both showed off their post-holiday progress with 2 super tests each at our local venue Prestige Equestrian, with Billy successfully tackling his first 2 Novice tests, and Hugo posting easy wins in a Novice & Elementary. We scored well on all of the specific areas I’ve been working on, which was very pleasing, and makes me excited to improve our scores as we head on to the more difficult movements again – I always like to start the horses out in an easy test for them after their holidays so that it helps them feel confident and relaxed in the whiteboards, and the harmony I felt with both horses was exactly what I was aiming for! We then rewarded them with a couple of jumping outings over the following weekend, and despite them feeling VERY keen on the first day, they settled and worked well the next, both jumping well around decent tracks. We all felt a little bit rusty, but as a friend pointed out: it’s December so we’re allowed to! The next stop will be some jump lessons to really get us back into the swing of things. I have been mentally keeping myself engaged by doing a few online group zoom meetings with Caroline Moore, on ‘Podium Mentality’ throughout training/competing in all 3 phases. These have been very inspiring in dark, wet winter months, and have been a huge help to focus me in a quieter time, and have given me some great pointers to use when teaching as well. It has been lovely to greet both old and a few new clients through teaching over the past few months, as the lockdown rules have allowed. I have to give a special mention to long-term client Chrissie and her horse Guto, who came out jumping with me and put in their best SJ rounds ever, over pretty big tracks, and also won their dressage test at Prestige! Hopefully, when the COVID situation becomes clearer after Christmas I can get back to organising some clinics, which I love doing. I hope that everyone manages to stay positive and enjoyed some festive cheer before we head into 2021 – I have learned a lot in 2020, and feel that I made the most of the situation we got, but cannot wait to see the back of it, and I have exciting plans to look forward to… Hopefully starting early with (finally!!!) a move up to Advanced level with my own & Janet Coe’s super horse Gerry… Fingers crossed! Alex...