Tag Archives: Breeches

Just another Amateur Show Jumper – Spring has Sprung

Just another amateur showjumper – Spring has sprung

Spring is in the air and early morning rides before work are much more pleasant (ie I can
actually feel my fingers and toes and am not questioning my sanity every stride). The
negative is that dust seems to stick to my face quite easily, and I have shown up to work
multiple times with a dirt beard. It would be remiss of me to talk about spring and not talk
about the joys having two mares in full work. Let’s just say I am super glad they can’t talk,
because I am pretty sure I would cop a mouthful.

Since my previous blog, I spent a week feeling sooky over my performance at the NSW State Titles. However the universe put my issues into perspective after a close friend and a family
member have faced/are facing some really serious health related issues. So after giving
myself a much needed kick up the bum, I readjusted my attitude and got on with it.
Mid November I took the mares to the local jump club.

I jumped Narnia her around the 1m and the 1.10m class as a way of continuing to get her
confidence back to where it was pre-titles. One of my biggest lessons I have learnt jumping
horses is that you should never worry about stepping them back. I have seen many a horse be
ruined by people who continue to step their horses up or give their horses less than adequate
rides without some form of consolidation (then wonder why their horses are dogging it “all of
a sudden”). Anyway, thankfully a month of going well and truly back to basics has paid off
and Narnia was back to her normal self. Bless her, she genuinely loves her job, which makes
training a lot easier. So next event all going well I’ll step her back up to her 1.20ms.



I also think I am finally starting to click with Celeste (the mare that I ride but don’t own).
She is a quirky mare who I have grown to really enjoy. I call myself a bit of a ‘slow burn’
kind of rider, and she is an example of a horse that I have taken along slowly.

I have seen footage of Sam Lyle jumping Celeste around the 1.20m mark, but I have been
sticking to low heights. Some would say I am being too cautious or not using her to the best
of her ability (or maybe just a crap rider). However in my opinion, until I can get her mind
where I want it, there is no point asking her to jump higher. Plus being a mum has definitely
brought some caution into what I do.

It is no longer just me that I have to think about. Sure she can jump 1.20m but just because a horse “can” do something, it doesn’t automatically mean it should. Sam Lyle has more talent in his little toe than I have in my entire existence,
so it would be mighty presumptuous to think just because the horse jumped the height with
him, that I would be able to do it right away.

So I have focused on getting the basics right with her first. To me I would rather do a nice
round at 90cms, than have an absolute shocker at a higher height. In any case, Celeste jumped
well and did two clear rounds. She is still getting a little strong, but it is a manageable kind of
strong which I am ok with. I expect the more we do the better she will get. She just needs to
be more consistent in her rhythm at this stage, and I need to trust myself more and keep my
shoulders up (as my coach yelled at me from across the field).



Other news is that my young gelding Nifty just turned 3. He is the first horse that I have bred
and I am excited to finish breaking him in. He is out of my mare Statford Narnia (Statford
Novalis) by Glenara Gold Dust (Balou Du Rouet). The plan for the next 12 months is to
continue his education and finish breaking him in over summer, spell him through
autumn/winter, and bring him back into work as a 4 year old.

So watch this space for some serious training in the next few blogs.


Fiona is wearing the Tallow Breeches in Black

Taylah and Sym – Back in the Game!!

Things have been super busy with work and competitions. I started two new jobs early September, they are both my dream jobs, working casual positions with one riding beautiful home bred performance horses and the other at a race horse spelling, breeding, pre training and re training property in Berry. Learning about the breeding program and being involved with the foal work is something I have never done and love learning about. I am also lucky enough to be riding the gorgeous pre trainers and the re trainers.



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Jessie Smith and her Dressage Scholarship

On the 29th of October, I received a letter telling me that my recent application for Equestrian SA’s Youth Development Dressage Scholarship had been successful, and that Stormy and I were one of the 10 state-wide finalists to receive a weekend of coaching with well-known Victorian based dressage coach and rider Dirk Dijkstra. I was so incredibly surprised by this, as I had applied knowing we were so unlikely to get in, hoping that it may just get my name out there a little bit.





We had 2 weeks to prepare, and very early on Saturday the 12th of November we set off to McLaren Vale. The weekend was being held at the beautiful McLaren Vale Equestrian Park. The stables were AMAZING, and the indoor arena was incredible to ride on! We had two lessons with Dirk, an individual on Saturday and a group lesson on Sunday.

Stormy absolutely worked the house down in both of his lessons, I was so so happy with how he took in the atmosphere, working in a new indoor with a number of people all sitting in a scary grandstand like he had done it all before. Of course Storm was the only Standardbred there, however he didn’t let this phase him, and he showed everyone what he is made of! In our first lesson we continued to work on flexion and bend, and he thoroughly enjoyed a long canter! I had an interview on Sunday morning with Dirk and the co-selector Jan Gilligan, before we had another lesson. In our second lesson we got the chance to show everyone more of what he is capable of. We were given the opportunity to leg yield, shoulder in and work on his trot extensions. Storm felt fantastic in his leg yields, allowing us the opportunity to start a little bit of half pass. His shoulder ins are coming along in leaps and bounds, however it is incredibly difficult without my leg when we are on the right rein. We have continued to work on these things at home and with Megan, and he just gets better and better.




The winner of the scholarship is announced at the ESA awards night early next year (good excuse to buy a dress and get my hair done!), however Storm and I are just so incredibly thankful to have been given this opportunity! Storm and I made many new friends, and had a fantastic weekend together. If Storm continues to train like he did at the scholarship weekend the sky is the limit (funny saying I am writing this whilst on a plane to Equitana!).

We are competing at a dressage competition at Mt Crawford next weekend (26th of November), and then have three more hack shows, the last being on December 11. Hopefully we will have success at these competitions, theoretically we should do ok, but it is forever changing!



Catching up with Andrea Parker – A Dressage ‘Holiday’

Back in January, my partner Steve announced that he wouldn’t be taking holiday’s this year. Naturally, my first thought was, ‘Damn, I guess we won’t be sunning ourselves on a beach in Thailand, cocktail in hand this year’, then of course I realised that my horse makes this a financial impossibility. My initial disappointed gave way to excitement as I realised the potential this held for my pony and I to take a ‘working holiday’ on the Sunshine Coast.


With my annual leave allowance rapidly accruing, a plan took shape to take the entire month of August to do a few competitions and pack in as many lessons as Nonie and I could handle. As the year rolled on and I realised that I had qualifying scores to ride novice and elementary at the State Championships, my enthusiasm only grew.


At the beginning of August, I set off from Mackay feeling excited at the prospect of being able to travel to four competitions over as many weekends and to be able to sleep in my own bed each night. After a long and uneventful trip down, we arrived at the beautiful ‘Riverlyn’. Riverlyn is an agistment centre with paddocks so clean and well maintained that you could practically play golf on them. Nonie made herself quite at home in a paddock with mum’s mare, Brooke, on one side and on the other side a small dam which is home to all manner of birds (from ducks, to swamp hens and grebes), most of whom were intent on stealing Nonie’s feed. In a strange twist of fate, after a matter of days Nonie, my staunchly independent mare, had befriended mum’s mare.


As the days ticked by in a blur of horsey bliss, my first competition drew nearer, the Adult Amateur Owner Rider Championships. I don’t do early mornings well, so the Wilson’s Skinny Hood always comes in handy for keeping her plaits looking great overnight. After a relaxed start on Sunday morning, we arrived at the Caboolture Dressage Club grounds, and it must be said that these grounds are rather lovely, plenty of big tree’s in the car park, a large warm up area and four beautiful sand arena’s. I had no expectations coming into this competition in South East Queensland ‘Dressage Country’, and as I warmed up I was a bit blown away by the quality of the horses. They say fake it ‘til you make it and my Wilson Equestrian competition outfit (super stick breeches, long sleeved show shirt and show jacket) certainly helped me to feel the part.


It was one of those days where we seemed to have saved the best for last, although the first two tests felt soft and easy, they didn’t feel ground breaking. In the last test the work felt like it was on another level, Nonie and I were really in sync as the test flowed from one movement to the next. Although the results would have been out early, I wouldn’t let mum check the results until I had ridden my last test, a superstition that goes back so far that I no longer remember where it came from. Needless to say, I was pretty chuffed when I finally let mum check the score board and she reported that I had managed a 1st, 2nd and a 3rd. Even more exciting than that was having a new PB score of 67% in the elementary!


In between competitions, I made the most of the time on the Coast to progress my riding, through a number of lessons with Danielle. One of the things that I love the most about dressage is that feeling you get when something clicks, and you feel the quality of the work move up a notch. We worked on improving the overall quality of the paces, cleaning up the transitions, increasing the suppleness through Nonie’s body, building her carrying power and of course strengthening my position. On one particular day, the arrival of a goanna next to the arena helped me to really understand the amount of energy required in order to make the lateral work easier. This was a huge turning point for me as previously Nonie and I have not been at one with travers


As the month drew to a close, I began to get a little homesick, a feeling probably not helped by the fact that my partner Steve had picked up our 8 week old toy poodle puppy Sailor. I also began to feel rather nervous about the impending State Championships. In previous years my nerves have been a major problem preventing me from enjoying competitions and seriously affecting my riding. Over the past 18months, I have been working with a Performance Coach (Danielle Pooles – Dressage Plus) to help gain control over my nerves. I looked back over the notes from past sessions with Danielle and made a plan, I set goals that reflected how I wanted my tests at state to feel. The day prior to state I had a great ride, we were on the ball and Nonie had given me some great work, I felt excited and ready.


In the end I enjoyed riding at this massive competition, I soaked up the atmosphere and loved watching some seriously talented horse and rider combinations. It was particularly thrilling to watch some of the combinations in the FEI tests, it helped to remind me what I aspire to in my own riding. My decidedly un-horsey father, who used to joke that everything he knew about horses could be written on the back of a postage stamp, made it down to watch one of my tests and deemed Nonie to be a keeper. There were a few highlights from my time at state, one of them was definitely receiving a 64.7% in one of my elementary tests (including several 7s) from two very tough judges. The other was probably my last test, the Novice 2.3, were I finally fully relaxed and we clicked up into that next zone. It didn’t score as well as I might have hoped, but I left the arena with a huge grin on my face and my mum was happy – she will always be my toughest critic and greatest supporter.


One thing I can conclude after my month down in dressage country is that bling is certainly still in. However, like many of the good things in life (eg. wine, chocolate) bling is best enjoyed in moderation. This is just one of the many reasons that I love my Wilson’s Equestrian Show Jacket, the touch of black diamantes around the collar gives that bit of sparkle without overdoing it. My super stick breeches and long sleeved show shirt were as always supremely comfortable and handled the extra usage well.


While State was the last competition our calendar for 2016, Nonie and I will continue training hard with our sights set on having a medium start in 2017!

Andrea is taking out Dressage all over the place!

One of my coaches used to tell me that it was always better to ride a test bravely aiming for the 8’s and 9’s even if it sometimes meant that you had a mistake and got 3’s or 4’s as well. My most recent equine adventure could be summarised by this sentiment, albeit accidentally.



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Tayhla and Symmetry’s next adventure… Lets try this Eventing thing!!

Last week we spoke to Tayhla who had taken her new horse Symmetry out to Dressage for the very first time. She was super happy with her and has backed it up this weekend just gone by taking Sym out to Silver Hills for the ODE to compete in the 60cm.

Silver Hills 8th Nov-1

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