Telling your storiesfrom the stables to the fields

02 September,2017

Dressage Rollercoaster and a Lovely New Saddle by Steffi de Bootman

This is the second attempt at my latest blog post. Grrrr I really should save as you open then you don’t lose your information…anyway moving on!


After 8 weeks off riding and work we are back and I can’t tell you how much better I feel and ooh how much riding the Eek makes everything so worthwhile.


Booked in for a saddle fitting with Liz Legget Wearing of Mill Saddlery with me saying I need a saddle I can’t afford a new one definitely not a new one I just don’t have the money…yep as you can imagine I ended up with a new one and ooh it’s lovely – a make and type I was not at all keen on until I rode in it.   As soon as Liz put it on Eek I realised it looked good and considering she was just fat that it fitted with the flexibility of gullet changes that will fit her as she gets back into work.


As you can see, she was keen to get started when we arrived.  Liz arranges to do a day at a venue around the county which means to us normal horse owners (ie I work to keep my horses in the luxury they want and demand) makes it much easier to get our saddles checked or purchase a new one for a much reduced price. This makes it very appealing and I do hope other saddle fitters around the country will adopt this practice as it will only lead to more owners checking their saddles more frequently and happier horses.


My lovely saddle is just brilliant and I also returned to my training with the ever patient Nerys Leer who just smiles and encourages you so much but is always thinking about the welfare of your horse first.  Nerys likes to know what your saddle feels like, less than enthusiastic she jumped on board and declared like me she was rather taken with it…Eek which is really the most important person in this conversation loves it.


My training was exhausting as I knew it would be as both Eek and I are not fit but we had been working up to being able to do a training session.  Eek was much fitter than me finding the training easy and I was elated at the results.  With this positive note I entered a local competition at a very lovely venue Water Farm Dressage in Raydon Suffolk run by Gerda Warner and her lovely team.


Bathed Eek who wasn’t at all impressed like most grey’s their ambition in life is of course to be black! Brown or GREEN anything but grey, she looked lovely.  Car packed up, tack gleaming even my boots I was ready for the early start.   Laura Rose was again lending me the second trailer and was going to meet me after her night shift to load it up.  I got a Facebook message from the team at Water Farm there had been an accident and a much loved horse had to be put to sleep…  They were all devastated and had decided to cancel the competition.  It must have been awful.  So sad for the stables – our horses are so precious.


So with no competition to go to I decided on a hack out with the Eek – on a recent dog walk I’d discovered a fab couple of canter tracks so was keen to try them out – yep they are good nice slow gradients for fitness…as we stopped to look at the view (that’s shorthand for me getting my breath back) a very large grass snake slithered past into the corn…Eek wasn’t phased at all but me yuk just wanted to get on home.


I should add the ponies are at home now we always come home until about February or before if it’s a wet winter (yep I did say the W word).  Laura has somehow  managed to have another pony – it was her sisters and she just didn’t really get on so it’s come to live with Laura’s crew – giving her a nice little jumping mare and to let Spike take his time to mature.  Hector, Laura’s horse boarding horse has the summer off but is being kept fit by hacking out before his next competition in September.


I’m back at work as I said but the long summer holidays will soon be here and I’ve worked out I can do two days a week all summer and ride the rest…who needs a summer holiday when you can ride five days out of seven – woohoo!


Since writing this part of my blog I went out to two competitions! As you know my lovely horses are from charity World Horse Welfare and with the return of Maxine after her maternity leave the lovely relaxed shows have started again.  So we entered Intro A which is not something I like in fact every time I ride this particular test I go wrong ..even with a caller! So better prepared and knowing my test, Eek and I ride into the arena. Last year we rode into this fab indoor arena with mirrors, signs and posters everything so there was no excuse for spooking…well that’s what I thought, a pigeon was sitting minding its own business at A. It flew off and all was going well I thought, so we headed down the centre line. Ok, not that straight but with purpose start our circle at B and as I come round the corner spook, I forget where I’m going!  We go wrong, spook, and again I go wrong – what is wrong with me! I’m grinning ear to ear riding down the centre line and retire…yep that was me for the day totally bad. Oh well better than being eliminated.


The next day I headed to a newly refurbished venue doing Intro C and I love this test. We arrive and the facilities at Anvil Farm are awesome!  Me and my little pony feel slightly overwhelmed.. Laura comes with us as we go to warm up  and we ride everything we would normally do …I go up to the dressage test area. I’ve never ridden in an arena with proper grown up dressage markers and boards but think I’m here let’s do it.. My riding wasn’t fab but my pony was quite good. If only my circles had been better but we did the test and finished in a lovely square halt which was brilliant.  We waited, I didn’t care what the marks were. I was just relieved that we had finished and it wasn’t too bad!


We came third! Wow! Happy happy rider! My marks ranged from a low 4.5 to a rather pleasing 7.5 with some places to improve.  So I have a lesson on Friday with Nerys who is so encouraging and a competition on Sunday. It is the dreaded Intro A and Prelim 12…oh yes let’s get started…


Happy riding everyone!


By Steffi de Bootman


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