The Rebel Comes Good
The show season is now well under way and I am really pleased with what we have achieved so far. Harley has adapted very well to being ridden side saddle and all of the hours of practice over the winter are really starting to pay off. He qualified for the Royal International Horse Show (RIHS) by taking home first place in the Ladies Hunter qualifier at White Rose, Leeds.
His second outing saw him pick up a qualifying ticket for Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) in the Ladies Side Saddle at the Yorkshire Sport Horse Show in June. It will be Harley’s first time at HOYS so I was thrilled for him and so pleased with how well he has done in a new discipline. To keep adding to his experience and confidence in the show ring and with different ride judges I have continued to take him out, and at Royal Three Counties we also gained a qualifying ticket for HOYS in the Lightweight Hunter class as well.
Whilst doing a fantastic job in the show ring, he has certainly been testing me at home and his ability to lose focus became apparent at the Great Yorkshire Show where he did not behave as well as he can!
Keeping Harley’s mind busy
With my other horses at home I tend to keep their schooling sessions to a minimum. I often reward them for good work by letting them finish on a good note, even if that means we have only worked for 20 minutes or so.
But I find Harley needs much longer periods of schooling to keep his mind in work mode, and limit any spooking or attitude to a minimum. I try to vary the location of his work, using all of our indoor and outdoor arenas and the fields where possible. But when he tries to show me that he wants to be the boss I have found that being consistent and repetitive in my work helps keep in focused.
After noticing a change in his attitude at home I felt much more confident when I took him to Hickstead to the RIHS. But I was still not totally sure he would behave himself when we entered the ring for his first class, the Lightweight Hunter Championship. He gave both me and the judge a lovely ride though, and this gave me much more confidence for our later class — the Ladies Hunter Championship.
This was his first major class competing sideways and he repeated his earlier performance giving me a lovely ride. We were pulled in 7th to start with and he seemed to do a really good job again for the judge. But as they started to pull us back into line in reverse order of merit, it seemed at first that he had not been placed. As horses were called in one by one, and we got closer and closer to the top few places, I had already resigned myself to trying again next year, so I was absolutely gobsmacked when we got called in in first place!
I have always wanted to win this class but I never expected to win it with this horse in his first year, especially after the trouble we had only a few weeks earlier. He had totally redeemed himself and I was over the moon.
Meet our new arrival
June is always a busy month for me as a lot of the HOYS qualifiers are up north so I am generally out competing a lot. I have also been on baby watch this year though as my brood mare, Grace, had a due date of June 5th. As the date approached I was anxiously waiting for any sign of the arrival but was disappointed each morning and the due date came and went. On Sunday 18th of June I woke unusually early at around 4.45am so I popped to the field to check on her. She looked happy and comfortable and certainly not like there was any sign of a baby on its way. I have to say I was a little annoyed and I had a little word with her about keeping us waiting! She must have listened because two hours later when I went back with her breakfast there was a little bundle in the grass next to her. She had given birth to a beautiful bay colt by Sandy’s Light from Charles Upham’s Langaller Farm. He is a strong and confident little boy and easily managed the walk back to Grace’s stable. We have decided to call him Sid, with a show name of Symphony Royale.
What I’m wearing
When I’m riding I like to wear a glove that isn’t too thick so that I have a good feel for my reins and contact, but also not so thin that the reins rub my fingers. I have found that the Bellmount gloves are perfect for this. They offer just enough protection without being too warm, and also offer great grip on the reins especially in the rain.
I have also been making good use of Harry Hall’s Lilley Women’s Waterproof Jacket during our unpredictable British summer weather. I much prefer riding outside so this has been invaluable. It keeps me perfectly dry but I don’t find that I get too warm in it either when the sun pops outs again!