So as I am writing this I am in the air 36,000 ft above ground on my way back from a fabulous two weeks in Australia visiting my sister in Melbourne and attending my good friend James Gaspers wedding down on the Mornington Penninsula, South of Melbourne. The two weeks have flown by but we have had some amazing experiences and Australia is a country that I have really come to love. The weather has been pretty kind to us and we have both managed to catch a bit of the sun without frying too much. I have to say I am not looking forwards to getting off plane in Birmingham and feeling the drop in temperature, let's hope it is at least dry!
To break up the winter with a trip to the sun is a real help but I couldn't do it without my amazing team at home who are all working diligently whilst we are away. Although I am sad to leave my sister and her partner Dave as well as my brother and friends it will be nice to see the horses, dogs and team again and get going with the 2015 season and all of the wonderful horses I am privileged to compete.
We have had a few changes at Team Pickles for the 2015 season and I am very sad to say Red Horse Rug Clean will no longer be sponsoring us. We have some really fun times over the last few years and I wish Tina Faulkner and her lovely crew of horses all the best for the future and would like to thank her for all the support she has shown me over the last four years. My era of riding the black and white wonder pony (aka Whole Lotta Rosie) is over but I am sure she will now give a younger person a huge amount of fun. I look forward to watching out for how all the Hathaway Horses are going after starting their careers here at Team Pickles and hope they all have bright futures.
We have had a busy winter prior to me jetting off to the sun. PLS Bluejay qualified for the BD Regional Dressage Finals which will be held later this year. He has improved beyond recognition on the dressage front and is looking forwards to eventing again this spring. I am in the midst of planning my season to kill some time as we fly back although sleep deprivation and decision making do not seem to go hand in hand I may have to revise this after I have had some sleep.
I have also taken some time to work on my riding with some regular dressage lessons which I have found hugely helpful and I am thoroughly enjoying the experience of having expert eyes on the ground again.
We also have some new supporters for the season with Topspec feeds and JS Equine equestrian products joining us as Sponsors. I have used Topspec for a number of years so I am hugely excited to have them supporting us with their huge range of products and excellent customer service team.
JS Equine are a Cotswold based company who provide all our yard essentials and wormers at very competitive prices; they have a comprehensive website http://jsequine.co.uk/ so well worth a look and I am very pleased to have them on board.
I would like to also thank my current sponsors Equestrian Direct and North Cotswold Construction for their continued support. It is such a huge commitment for these companies to make and I am hugely grateful for all they do for me.
We have a new Twitter account and will soon be joining Instagram thanks to my super team so look out for lots of updates and results of how the horses and team are going aswell as my usual posts on Facebook and Twitter.
So there you go, once I have finished my planning I will update you with where we are heading first but it will be nice to spend a few days getting back on them all and remembering how to ride!
The website is currently being updated with all the new recruits and those who we have lost this season so watch this space!
I always know that we are half way through the season when the grass is sky high, the list of jobs is two pages long and Mr Pickles is no where to be seen - you guessed it he is in Germany at his favourite event Luhmuhlen!
On his return he was presented with his list of duties which he is steadily working his way through and I was presented with a bottle of some ghastly German spirit which is apparently the best thing ever and a jar of rollmops; god he knows how to spoil me!
We have had some good outings with the horses and the star of the show is still Mr Percy pig aka Knights Escapade. He finished second in his first BE100 at Shelford Manor and then third in the same class at Ascott under Wychwood. He is on great form albeit a small blip at Stonar (I will forgive him as he is still very green) and we are very much looking forwards to our next outing at Upton House which I understand David Evans and his Team have given a makeover. What is also exciting is that Red Horse Rug Clean, my fabulous sponsors, are sponsoring a section or two and their prizes are pretty special if you are lucky enough to be in one of their sections.
Tully (Tullyoran Field of Dreams) is also going from strength to strength and finished in the top ten in her last two outings. She is such a classy horse and one I am hugely excited about for the future - She is just my type, quick, nimble and sharp with heaps of talent.
Albert (Airtime) is very excited about his run coming up at Barbury (as am I). We haven't had the best of seasons for one reason or another so it will be great to get going and as usual I am aiming high and going for the win!!!!
I have a new ride this season in the form of Ron (Goosesberry Hill Castle), he is a lovely Irish horse who belongs to a good friend of mine Jenny Webb. He is here to see if eventing is his thing so I am very excited about doing his first event at Stafford later this month.
Apple (Ciderpress) is back on form and we are off this morning for a spot of show jumping before she starts competing at Stafford. I am itching to get going with her as she really is such a special horse and is gaining in strength and fitness all of the time.
We have made the tough decision to retire Comet (Shannondale Comet) from eventing and focus on his dressage which he is so good at. We have had a lot of deliberation about it but feel he is not going to progress up the grades and therefore would be better doing a job that he is really good at and can excel. So we are off to Dressage this Friday for his debut this year. He has done quite a lot of affiliated in the past and was really good at it so hopefully we will have some fun times ahead.
Baby Dennis (Future Divine Illusion) is starting what I call 'proper work' now and is doing his first dressage competition on Friday. I think he will be a little green but he is ready to start going out and about and seeing a few things. We are off xc schooling with him tomorrow and a few others so it feels like the next chapter has started for Dennis. Sue Dawson who owns him came for her first ride on him last week which was really nice to see.
Hannah and Michael Henderson have made a very exciting purchase in the form of Miss Coco Chanel who is a four year old by Vancouver and has just arrived from the Emerald Isle. We had a very fun trip shopping for her and ended up seeing some really nice horses as well as have a few hilarious moments along the way. In the end though, Coco Chanel was the clear winner, however, we did pickup a couple of nice projects also. A lovely horse for Hannah to ride and also one that we felt we couldn't leave without - you could say it was a successful trip. Coco will hopefully be attending a couple of BYEH classes this year if we can get her ready in time!
Tina and Ian of Red Horse Rug Clean & Central Clipper care fame, who sponsor Team Pickles have also some new arrivals in the form of Fizz who is a beautiful three year old who we are just starting to break in and then we have a lovely four year old in the form named Wow Factor (love the name) who again will be broken this year. We also have a couple of very cute yearlings so watch this space.
So as you can see we have a lot going on here at the yard and as Mary is back from her jolly hols it is just as well!
Our latest recruit Alex Haynes has joined the team so we are now firing on all cylinders which will give us the boost for the second half of the season.
It is with great sadness however, that our muck out superstar Matt has gone on to other employment. He will be missed here especially as he was such a life saver for us through the winter - good luck Matt!
Also, a big well done to the Warwickshire Pony Club open team who qualified for the Championships last weekend! All the team road super and well deserved there ticket to the champs!
So there you go some very interesting news and times ahead, off to Allenshill now for a spot of Sj practise.
Promise I won't leave it so long next time!
We have been having a much better time of it recently with all the horses performing to their best at their recent competitions. I would love to say that I have done something different to make this happen but all I can say is a bit of luck is winging its way back to Team Pickles and the winning (or almost) formula is back! The dressage judges have suddenly started to love us again and the poles seems to be staying up (most of the time anyway)!
Working back from Gatcombe this weekend where not only did Albert (Airtime) go exceptionally well Apple (Ciderpress) also went like a dream to complete a really really special weekend.
This year has been testing to say the least and when it all comes together it really does make you appreciate the good times!!!
Airtime felt awesome, he was a little naughty in his dressage however, he still managed to pull off a 42.8 which is our best score to date. I was thrilled as I felt he could have done better but still scored so well. Gatcombe decided to reverse the SJ/XC order so we went XC first followed later by the SJ. Luckily,this did work in our favor; I initially thought that it would be a disaster (which it was for a lot of people). Airtime seemed to be well up for it, being one of the quickest times across county of the day as well as feeling like a total pro! The showjumping is always going to cause us a few issues however, I have to say the poles that fell were mine this time as Airtime was jumping his little socks off. I just got a bit free and sadly the poles came down. All was not lost though as 4th place it was in a very tough class of over 100.
In the shops at Burghley, I did treat myself to a new SJ hat with a bit of bling on it, so I am of course crediting my success to this as it really did look good and I know it gave us the winning (or almost) edge!
Ciderpress made a return to 1* and was totally mega. She jumped a fabulous double clear after a getting a stingy dressage mark to finish in the top 25. I was a little disappointed not to be top ten but seeing as it was her third event of the year one can’t really complain!
The BE90/100 crew are all going really well with Rosie v (Whole Lotta Rosie) back on top form with a win at West Wilts and a second at Llanymynech. She is such a pro now and it is so nice for Tina, Ian and Tiff to see her in action after their fabulous support in sponsoring us this season.
The horses and team have never looked smarter with all the rugs, jackets, etc so many thanks Red Horse Rug Clean and Central Clipper Care. Seeing as it is that time of year when we get the clippers out to start clipping and realise that our clipper blades are blunt, I have to recommend Central Clipper Care who will get those blades ready to do a great clipping job.
Percy (Knights Escapade) is also enjoying a good run, just missing out on winning a couple of times in his last few outing by having a few time faults, however, he is a horse I am looking after for next season and I want to do the best by him this year and give him the best chance of moving up to Novice next season.
Tully (Tullyoran Field of Dreams) is going from strength to strength just missing out qualifying for the 5YO champs this Autumn by 0.5 of a penalty at Llanymynech. I thought a 24.5 dressage might do it but sadly not! This is a horse I am very excited about competing next year and has improved so much from this spring when she was so green.
Wendy (Winsome Wendy) is also enjoying a great run having a win (Carlton) and a second (West Wilts) recently at BE100 and I have to say has never felt better. Mel and Kate are really enjoying watching her and it is so lovely to have such fantastic owners on board.
We also have a couple of horses for sale at the moment, a lovely hunter by the name of George, my lovely Shannondale Comet who I will greatly miss. We also have a really sweet ex racer, Jago, who is looking for a loan or purchase home to have some fun. All are lovely horses so please don’t hesitate to get in touch if you are looking for someone new in your life!
Coco (Miss Coco Chanel) is mine and Hannah Hendersons lovely 4YO who I am chomping at the bit to get going with next season. She is showing lots of promise and seems to have a fantastic attitude to work. She is very well balanced and has lovely paces so watch this space!
We have a few little projects on the go as well. Hacky (Hacketstown) is going to make a lovely pony for someone and Fizz (Hathaway No.1) is now broken in and I am mega excited about her. She is only three at the moment but her movement is spot on so watch this space! Ella, Rosie Ponies baby (she is now 4) is also going great and I think will be making a debut eventing next season.
The Team here are all going well. It has been a little bit of a running joke this year with the amount of people that have passed through the door though. My stress levels have never been higher but I think at last I have a solid crew who are all loyal to me and are doing really well in achieving their goals with their horses. Mary B did really well at the weekend on Brook (Take Your Pick), jumping a fab double clear in the ON; I was only a tiny bit jealous! Harriet Dickin also did brill at Gatcombe 1* on her lovely horse Bean who she has only had a few short months and has already started to form a solid partnership.
I am so thankful to the whole Team who have been working really hard to make the last few months of the season run smoothly and I can’t thank them enough after last winter. I know what it is like to be stranded and I am making certain that this year is going to be different!!
We have a month left of competing and next up is Moreton Morrell and Brooksby followed by Osberton next week with the lovely Airtime in the CCI2*.
So my next blog will fill you in on the next chapter and hopefully this weather will continue through October so we can have a fab end to the season and with a bit of luck a win or two along the way!
Until then peeps,