Dessie’s blog – Dessie opens his BD account for 2015

Gosh its been another long gap between posts – time does seem to be flying by this year.

Since Dessie’s last blog post, we have been following our usual routine of some hacking, some schooling, lots of time in the field and lots of time eating and sleeping – the last three being Dessie not me.

Admiring the bluebells and cowslips on an early morning hack

Admiring the bluebells and cowslips on an early morning hack

We have also been out to some dressage and another showing show.

Whilst the master plan had been to practice the dressage tests at home, that really didn’t happen for non-Dessie related reasons though we did manage a quick run through of one of them.  These were my second and third ever BD tests respectively and fortunately were short arena, since I found learning these two difficult enough let alone long arena tests.

We slightly over-rugged Dessie for travelling – it was windy day and I thought it would be draughty in the lorry – so he was slightly sweaty when we arrived.  He soon cooled off  and then warmed up nicely.  In the tests, we got good consistent scores for the trot work and the canter started off very nicely in the first test – with a change of diagonal through trot across X, so a very show horse movement although perhaps less trot in the dressage test than in the show ring.  That went beautifully and I was just thinking gosh what a super transition and canter and forgot to ride at all so fell back into trot.  Both tests count for the Petplan festivals and whilst not stellar scores were ones I was pleased with given some of my riding.  I think it may also have taken Dessie up to three figures in his BD points.

And then it was on to some more showing.  Every day I trimmed or tidied a bit more of Dessie and his new bridle turned up the day before, so a quick try on of that whilst taking the old one just in case something didn’t fit and we were away.

Show preparation in progress!

Show preparation in progress!

My plaiting does seem to have gone downhill –  Dessie stands pretty well although he did spend his time undoing my boot laces and then seeing if he could get my whole foot in his mouth.  No is the answer and at least it kept him entertained trying.  The light in the stables is not the best for plaiting and I need to work on a masterplan for where to plait him so I can see what I am doing properly.

The competition was at a big centre Dessie at not been to before but he took it all in his stride.  He was very relaxed when he came off the lorry and had not sweated up at all despite it being a hot day and a reasonably long journey – made longer due to some roadwork road closures.  We arrived in time to have a little wander round, then untack him and tidy up, retack and a little short warm up and into his class.    He behaved really well and both judges (and the steward) really liked him.   It was a small (to say the very least) class but there is not a lot you can do about that.   We stayed and did a second class and again he went very nicely to be pulled in top.  Unfortunately he misunderstood what the ridge judge asked him and went into counter canter on the left – we had worked on counter canter the week before and it was probably fresh in his mind.  He dropped to second but I was incredibly pleased with how he had behaved and how grown up he was.

Dessie keeping a watching eye on his world

Dessie keeping a watching eye on his world

We know what we have to work on and got some good feed back from the judges to work on as well.   We have since had a lesson from Katie and I have learnt new things about my position!  Dessie does have the most lovely canter when I get it right and we even started on a few strides of collection.

Apologies for the lack of “outing” photographs, the camera does get taken but never seems to make it to the ring!

Dessie and Dawn



Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Dessie’s blog – Dessie’s goes competing

It doesn’t seem like it, but it was five months since Dessie last competition and a year since I have ridden him in a showing class, other than a turn out class at Aintree which was conducted at walk.

As you can imagine, there was a lot of preparing to do from finding out if any of my showing breeches still fit (one pair did just) to deciding upon tack for Dessie.   The lorry also needed a good post winter clean out and the spare wheel moved out of the living accommodation.  Long story, but it had been temporarily located there since the horses moved stables back in November.

The Riding Club had a clinic at Dessie’s yard on the Saturday and so we joined in that doing some very good work on straightness and the start of counter canter.  Dessie was, of course, doing counter canter in his novice tests last year but that was with Emily and not with me and I have to get to grips with that.

Trying to work out who that handsome chap is in the mirror

Trying to work out who that handsome chap is in the mirror

Whilst this is Dessie’s blog, in order to try to improve my riding, I have recently re-started doing Pilates, Yogalates and something called Fitball to try to develop the core muscles.    The Fitball is fairly hard core – to me at least – but fortunately it was mixed abilities so I could work at my own pace, which was just as well.

And in addition, Katie and I went to a Competing at your Best clinic with performance psychologist Charlie Unwin.  That all made a lot of sense as you would expect and there are definitely one or two things that I will be trying to use from that.

So back to Dessie – I explained to him about the psychology but I don’t think he was listening.  Dinner time might not have been the best opportunity to mull that over with him.

Dessie helping with the show prep.  The straw in the mane look is so in this year

Dessie helping with the show prep. The straw in the mane look is so in this year

As I expect everyone has noticed it has been a little windy recently and on the competition morning, I did wonder whether or not we should be setting off.  The supergroom was happy to drive though not quite so happy when the living door swung open in the wind and hit him in the back – ouch to say the least.

After a breezy journey, we arrived at Bury Farm.   I got changed whilst looking out the lorry window at some mounting block steps blowing across the lorry park, two people struggling to shut their lorry gates and an empty cardboard box blowing like tumbleweed towards us.  I am sure British Summer Time had started but it felt and looked more like midwinter.

Dessie wandered down to the arena thinking we must all be mad and we had a little walk around talking to another competitor whilst we both got our minds in gear.

The warm up was fairly cramped as people were standing in it, not unsurprising, given it was a hiding place from the wind and hail so there was not much room to do much riding in.   Fortunately Dessie doesn’t need to do much, mainly just some stretching after the journey and then picking up ready to go in.

When the class was called, I led in on Dessie – he had to walk through a spray of rain blowing in from an open door rather like a ferocious misting machine!   Dessie marched on it and went round like he had been showing for years.  He behaved impeccably and did a lovely show.  I felt he had gone well enough to win but were called in second, so he opened his prize money account for the year.

Unfortunately no show photos - so another ROR clinic photo instead.

Unfortunately no show photos – so another ROR clinic photo instead.

I had ridden that class in my dressage saddle as it is the one I am most comfortable with, so it was a quick tack change into the showing saddle and back in the for the open class.  That was with a different girth as well and I am not sure Dessie found the girth so comfortable – the girth for that saddle is something I need to play around with before the next outing. He went nicely though nowhere as well as he could have, if I had ridden him better.  He was pulled in fourth and stayed in fourth – I made a couple of fairly basic errors, including not having checked his girth so that it needed tightening when the ride judge got on which probably didn’t help.  This and my other areas for improvement have been noted!

Dessie’s canter with the ride judge looked very nice and – as often when someone else rides Dessie – got the comment from the supergroom of “why weren’t you riding him like that….?”  Seeing the results, it was quite decent company and we are still on a learning curve together, for want of a better phrase.

The ride back from the arena to the lorry was interesting – Dessie had a metal bowl blowing across the floor at him, someone’s cap aiming itself head height at him and then hail.  I think we were both relieved to get back inside the lorry and catch our breathe.

Dessie and Dawn


Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Dessie’s blog – Dessie has been out and about

Dessie has been quite busy since his last post – he has been out to a lesson for British Dressage UKCC training and he has also been out to a second ROR showing clinic, this time with Lucy Killingbeck.  At both events, we ended by default up having individual sessions and both very useful.  Lucy worked wonders on me and gave me some very helpful things to think about.

She also liked Dessie very much which was rather good.

Being put through our paces at the ROR clinic

Being put through our paces at the ROR clinic

He is very sweet in that after we had finished riding, we stood in the arena talking and had somehow ended up by Dessie’s tail, discussing pulling tails and tail length.  Dessie stood with no one holding him, in a strange arena having his tailed pulled!   He has now also had another few inches taken off the bottom of his tail, since that was still more dressage horse than show horse.

Trying to remember everything we have both been told

Trying to remember everything we have both been told

We finally actually have some decent photos as well – thanks to Jo Sutherst who takes lots of photos at the ROR Wales and the West regional clinics.   The photos have been really helpful to me as well in seeing my position – rare occasions it is fairly good, other times reverting back to bad habits.

Back at the yard, Katie has also been helping us and keeping me working on improving my position and doing very well with her own horse, who rather than being an ex racehorse was bred to drive.

Dessie has also been out for some hacks, some on his own and sometimes with company.

Des and friend enjoying the spring sunshine

Dessie and friend enjoying the spring sunshine


And Dessie has also had his new browband arrive – I was lucky enough to win this in a magazine competition, so thank you Prestige Browbands.  It a serious piece of showing bling.

Meanwhile  Amezola has a new friend –a pheasant who shares his breakfast most mornings, to the extent that his pheasant friend waits for him or rather his feed bowl to turn up.  It is very funny to watch as the pheasant hovers in the distance and then as soon as he sees us approaching, starts marching across the field to time his arrival in the field at the same time as I put Amezola’s feed bowl on the floor – he has it to perfection.



Filed under Uncategorized

Dessie’s blog – it’s been a while

Dessie sends his apologies for not having done an update to his blog recently – he sighs deeply and says you just cannot get the staff these days.

Most important things first – it is Dessie’s birthday, so happy birthday.  An enjoyable day with breakfast in bed, followed by a massage pad session, a morning in the field, a snooze and then dinner.  Nice.

We have most of February to catch up upon and at last Dessie has been out and about.   Having not made it to the TSR ROR clinic at Cheltenham due to the windy weather, we finally made it to an ROR clinic – at Abbey Dressage with Jo Bates.

Dessie at Abbey Dressage

Dessie at Abbey Dressage

This was Dessie’s first outing since the dressage championships at the very start of November.  He loaded up and travelled well, with no sweating up at all.  On arrival he had a little wander round the car park with the supergroom whilst I caught up with Clare Poole, the ROR regional representative.   A quick walk round the outdoor school and then in was in for his session, which he shared with one other horse.

I warned Jo that I had done little cantering with Dessie – mainly due to the school being frozen of a morning – and she did some work on that with us.  Dessie again proved how straight he moves, showing off his transitions on a straight line nicely.  Then Jo rode him – and wow, how beautifully did he go.  He looked absolutely stunning.

During the week we then had a lesson with Katie – working on my riding and in particular my riding into the canter transition when I have a really bad habit of collapsing forward.  My outside hand also seems to have developed a penchant for being a foot higher than the inside hand.  No idea why on that one.  Anyway Dessie did some lovely transitions, going just from the outside leg being moved slightly behind the girth.  I dropped him out of canter a few times – mainly because I was so impressed with the transition I then forgot to do anything.

We then ventured off to a TSR clinic to make up for the one we had missed.   It was okayish weather when we left but by the time we arrived, it was basically yuk.  Dessie wasn’t overkeen on standing in lorry  – he doesn’t kick or stamp but just gets a little anxious – so the supergroom, I and Dessie donned every waterproof item we could find and walked round the lorry park.   Then it was a quick tack up and into the indoor school.

After a brief walk round, it was on to work, with initially a clinic of 6 horses doing a joint go round then splitting into two groups, one for ridden work and the other for advice on in hand.

Dessie again went beautiful for the ride judge practice and looked lovely with her riding him.  He got some fantastic comments and a lot of encouragement to do riding horse as well as ROR classes.  The in hand advice was really good and I feel I know much more know about how to present him well for the conformation judge.

By the time we had finished, it was blowing a gale and hammering with rain.  Dessie was untacked in the indoor school and fortunately the lorry was very near the school door.  The drive back was not pleasant and borderline scary at times.

Dessie and me admiring the snowdrops

Dessie and me admiring the snowdrops

Then slightly back to earth after all that praise, with Dessie feeling a little out of sorts.  We think he may have knocked himself slightly on the journey back so it has been a little bit of quiet hacking for a few days.

And finally the grey one would like to have a word – that is if we could find him as someone seems to have hidden him under a layer of dirt.  He is very happy in himself although didn’t particularly enjoy the wash and brush up that this roll necessitated.

The retired top show horse has a sense of humour

The retired top show horse has a sense of humour


Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Dessie’s blog – having some fun in the winter sunshine

Dessie thought it was time to catch up with what has been going on.   And the answer to that is just a quiet time hacking out when not too icy and otherwise just have a little leg stretch in the school.


Des 017

It is a good opportunity to try out some different bits for showing to see what suits him and to admire his straight halt in the mirror.  We definitely had one that would have been a 9.

Des 016


Meanwhile, there are some suspicions that Dessie is very well named and is in actual fact part sea horse – he just loves playing with water.  He has a big water tub outside his stable which he has to stop and have a drink on his way to the stable and when having a bath enjoys playing with the water and drinking out of the hose.  He is rather spoilt in that there is a hot water shower at the yard and a solarium to dry off in.

Des snow 002


Dessie has a sense of humour – one night recently he unscrewed the top off the tap which he can reach from his stable and dropped it in the barrel of water.  Given that it was seriously frosty the next morning no one was keen to get it back out and strangely enough Dessie wasn’t volunteering either.

Watching the Morning Line the other week, there was a visit to Dan Skelton’s yard and they were talking about the use of the solarium.  I hadn’t really thought of it other than for drying off a horse but now try when time allows to stand Dessie under it after riding.

Dessie has a new neighbour at his yard – another ex racehorse who could almost be Dessie’s twin.  He is destined for an eventing career and the jump behind us in the photo below was for him.  Unfortunately it had gone frosty overnight or I would have been tempted to have a play – once having dropped the poles to the floor!   We have since had a little play over some raised poles and even a very small cross pole.

des 014

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Dessie’s blog – a blustery start to the year

Dessie has started the year ticking over with some schooling and hacking and going out in the field most days depending on how wet it is underfoot.

Vino Des Jan 2015 025

I am doing much more with him myself so am getting used to riding again as opposed to just going for a wander round the tracks with Amezola.    This change of jockey does mean that the dressage scores when we start out again may not be at the level they have been as it is a learning process for me now as well as him. He lends himself to being “riding school” horse very well whilst I do a bit without stirrups and he reminds me that he knows what to do now, the rider just has to ask him properly.

So far as schooling him, the development remains on suppleness and flexing  with a lot of stretching work.   

It had been our plan to go to the ROR clinic at Cheltenham racecourse – well in the indoor school at Cheltenham racecourse.  As a flat horse he could then have been to both Aintree and Cheltenham, which would be quite fun.

Come the Saturday morning and we were sort of ready.  The last outing  had been to the ROR championships followed by moving yards and as a result of that stuff was in a variety of places and needed to be tracked down as to where it had ended up in the move.

We woke up to the sound of a gale howling through the trees outside and decided we would see what it was like for driving before making a decision as to whether to go or not.   Driving the car to the yard was itself fairly scary and the super groom reported back that he was struggling to keep the lorry in the lane it was supposed to be in,  so we decided to hit the plan on the head.

The super groom headed off to play with motor bike parts whilst I rode Dessie at the yard.   I am sure as a racehorse he used to go out whatever the weather but a greater degree of concentration is needed to work in the school with bin lids and rugs flying round the place!  He worked really nicely and we finished the session with our own little showing clinic – I practiced some in hand work with him.   Even now he is retired Amezola automatically assumes the show horse position when standing up or tied up outside the stable but Dessie has to learn it.   Particularly confusing when 2014 was spent learning to stand square for a 9!

Vino showing how it is done

Amezola  showing how it is done

I think we were the only ones to wimp out of the showing clinic and well done to those who went for braving the weather.   Dessie is a good traveller but I don’t think he would have particularly enjoyed the journey with the lorry being buffeted by the winds and it is important that he continues to travel well.

Not a huge amount to report otherwise but as you can see from the photo below Dessie has a rather nice treat whilst being shod.   Fairly pleasant for all standing under the heat lamps.  The farrier at the new yard is hot shoeing him and Dessie is still a little mystified by the steam arising from his feet.

A popular place for horse and human this time of year

A popular place for horse and human this time of year



Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Dessie’s blog – Happy New Year from Dessie

Dessie missed out on wishing everyone a Merry Christmas so instead a Happy New Year to all.

Dessie inspecting the decorations a little too closely

Dessie inspecting the decorations a little too closely


Meanwhile how to embarrass oneself in a large supermarket just before Christmas – open the Horse and Hound and exclaim in surprise “It’s Larry”.   Now Larry is Amezola.  Larry is not his stable name but has sort of developed into an additional stable name as in “He’s as happy as Larry”.  It confuses many people when the supergroom and I start discussing Larry but makes sense to us.

Amezola had made it into the Horse and Hound Readers edition as the main picture in the “Best View in Europe” feature.  He was in the magazine quite a few times when showing but it was really lovely to see him in there again.

And a few pages earlier in the magazine there was Dessie aswell – a little round up of his first year of BD so two Horse and Hound dressage pictures for Dessie in 2014.

Also in the same edition was a picture of  Katerina Cox (Katie) with her horse Maserati doing their first BD Inter test – Maserati is one of Dessie’s new hacking friends and I am starting to have lessons with Katie.

Dessie is keeping ticking over with a mixture of some light schooling and lunging, a little bit of hacking and going out in the field, everything really being dependant upon the weather as it is for most of us this time of year.

I have had some help from Katie as to how to lunge Dessie properly.  Not having had a school for the best part of two months to lunge in and not having lunged Dessie for ages, it was important to get some tips on working him on the lunge rather than just lunging for a leg stretch.     His upwards transition from walk to canter was happening on the voice command on “can…….”.    Emily had brought his lunging on nicely over the summer and it is all very different from when I first started lunging him when staying out on a circle bigger than 5m was an achievement.


Dessie going for a Boxing Day hack in the rain

All set for a Boxing Day hack


The supergroom and I  had a little pre Christmas trip to Olympia to watch some serious show jumping and in the trade stands, I spent some of Dessie’s ROR prize money on a quarter sheet – unfortunately out of stock but eagerly awaited.

And really that is all for now.  The show schedules are starting to appear and the Winter BD Regionals are not far away.

So Happy New Year to all and if out and about competing next year please come and say hello.


Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized