We didn’t think riding leggings could be so comfy until we got a pair of Hanley Riding Leggings & Evesham Riding Leggings. When we hack out in ours whatever the weather we know we won’t get to hot nor too cold and even in the rain! They are honestly the most practical Leggings for whatever you are doing, whether that’s Showjumping, Hacking (They have an ultra safe phone pocket!! Literally our phones don’t move an inch when in the pocket!), XC (They have a silicone knee that will help you going out the side door!🤣It certainly helped us when our ponies were extra excited on our rides!)
Thank you for reading our review, we hope you have enjoyed❤️ Poppy and Evie
The upcoming RDA National Championships at Hartpury College (12th-14th July) is the highlight of my year – a three-day festival of horses, hard work and reward.
It’s an honour and an achievement in itself to qualify for Nationals but make no mistakes, this is Competition with a capital ‘C’! People often think it’s just ‘the taking part that counts’ for disabled people, but they couldn’t be more wrong. We want to win!
Class: Level 4
Judged on: Style (marks deducted for knock downs, etc.)
Last year wasn’t much fun because I’d only jumped the horse once (two days before…) and he was very, very excited. I learnt a lot about myself that day! I know Boysie better but still we’ve only jumped around a course twice (once 3 years ago, and once at this year’s qualifier). He’s a good lad so I’m hoping I’ll be more relaxed this time.
On the other hand, we just haven’t had the time to practise. Setting up a Level 4 course requires a lot of time and effort, and it can’t be done in a 40x20m arena, so it’s pretty unlikely that I’ll be able to jump again until we actually get to Hartpury. It’s an imperfect situation but when the RDA group only has access to the horse for two hours a week (and everyone has to ride) it isn’t easy!
Class: Grade 6 Canter
BD equivalent: Prelim
In the last year I’ve ridden this test three times, all on Boysie – once at last year’s Hartpury, once in training this year, and once at this year’s qualifier!
I don’t ride Boysie very often because he is very popular, which means that lately I’ve been riding horses who are new to the group. I do really enjoy doing this and it certainly improves my riding to be able to adapt to different mounts, but it’d be good to get used to Boysie again and to see how he goes with the things I’ve been working on with the other horses, such as my weight aids.
It’s a double bill for me in vaulting this year! I’m entering the team event this year (on the barrel) as well as individual on the horse – I’ve never done anything other than individual at any vaulting competition, so I’m really excited!
Class: Team event (6 vaulters)
Vaulting on: Barrel
Requirements: compulsories and freestyle on the barrel
The team event is the culmination of more than 18 months of hard work setting up the vaulting side from scratch: getting qualified to coach, acquiring a barrel, training some helpers, persuading riders to have a go at vaulting, getting them to a higher standard, choosing music, creating a routine, arranging practices, funding and sorting out costumes (work in progress!), making instruction videos, drilling compulsories, etc…
The main work has certainly been putting the moves together and working out how to accommodate a vast range of experience and capability within our team. I’ve also tried to up the interest and variety by including some new and difficult moves. I’m black and blue all over from falling off!
The team’s worked really hard too and I can’t wait to show off our routine at Hartpury. In the interests of maintaining a sense of occasion we won’t share our theme and music until we get there – but I’ll certainly be sharing a video of it afterwards!
Vaulting on: Great Bear (Perry RDA)
Requirements: canter compulsories and walk freestyle
I’ve met Bear once before, when I competed on him last year. He’s a lovely boy and, since last year we just walked, I just hope he has a nice canter! Yesterday I went through my compulsories a few times in canter for the first time since early February. They weren’t amazing, but they were OK for now and manageable. Then I tried the freestyle…
Trying a new freestyle on the horse for the first time (having perfected it on the barrel) is always interesting – some things which are very easy on the barrel are suddenly impossible when you feel the change in shape from barrel to horse, and, of course, the element of movement. Even the horse’s coat is a factor to take into consideration – it’s often slippery! Inevitably there are tweaks to moves and new things to practise but I only fell off once!
I’ve also got a new dismount, which I did three times yesterday. I fell on one of them but hopefully it’ll get more consistent with practice. I need to build up some confidence with it – for me it’s a ‘vaulter frightener’ and I haven’t admitted to my mum that I’m doing it yet. Generally, it’s best to let her find out when she’s watching the competition…!
Generally my training is going OK but I am certainly struggling more than ever both with the lack of opportunities to ride (especially on the right horse!) and with my health. My legs, in particular, are getting far worse, especially when it’s warmer. I work so hard in the gym to fight back against my disability but sometimes it feels like I’m not even managing to keep my head above water despite churning away underneath.
It’s affecting me a lot in the saddle and I have to be careful not to get too frustrated. The RDA motto – ‘it’s what you CAN do that counts’ – isn’t just to celebrate the efforts of the disabled; it’s also an instruction. There are things that I’m struggling to do, but I need to find the things that I can still do and work out how to make best use of them. It’s easy to moan about the things you don’t have or have lost – be they health, money, opportunities – but, whereas you can’t do anything with nothing, you can with something – and I still have some things. You have to use what you have.
I’ll let you know how that goes!
Buying an Event Horse
Hope you’re all well and enjoying your horses. Quiet few weeks for Sadie and I as she has pulled her hamstring, fingers and hooves crossed we are out and about again soon.
When Abi and the Hardy team asked me to write this blog it led me down memory lane, to where eventing all began for me. Buying an event horse has always involved limited funds so, like many of you, I spent many a weekend trolling the country for my next superstar. I have started each of my horses from the beginning and feel this has helped me become a more accomplished rider (or maybe just taught me the ability to sit still and stick)! Buying young and relatively inexperienced horses throughout my whole life I have learnt many things, made some mistakes and on the whole had lots of fun in the process. Young horses can be very trying at times but it’s deeply satisfying when you see their progression.
So, what do I look for when buying an event horse? Firstly, I have a checklist, which often has endless attributes I would like my horse to be, i.e not grey, and this then has to be prioritised into a realistic list of essentials. A popular way to search for your next event horse now is to use the powers of the internet. This gives you a much wider scope to search for what you need, especially if you are willing to travel further afield to ‘try before you buy’.
Here are my 4 top tips to look out for when searching for either your next superstar or simply your new best friend.
This is a crucial factor to consider when buying your next event horse. Although we must be realistic and no horse is perfect, your horse must attribute soundness. I believe they must have an athletic body and sound legs, in order to cope with the physical demands we place on them during every event. The horse’s body and characteristics must be suitable for the intended job and not hamper their performance in any way. I’m sure we want to eliminate the risk of injury as much as we can.
For me an event horse must have the ability to jump the level you are hoping to ultimately compete at. Whilst this can be difficult to confirm when they are young and inexperienced, they must have a naturally scopey jump and a willingness to get to the other side of the fence. Jumping forms two of the three disciplines when eventing so I believe it is essential the horse can cope with the technical aspects required during the show jumping and cross country phases. If the horse has good conformation and a natural swing in walk then dressage can be worked on but their natural ability over a fence is something I would always consider a priority.
As an amateur event rider this I believe is the most important aspect to consider before I purchase a horse. Whether you are just starting out or hoping to climb up the levels eventing, a good event horse must have a trainable temperament. Temperament is something I have been guilty of overlooking in the past. I’m sure I’m not alone when I say; I saw a beautiful, well bread horse with endless scope in a dealing yard and believed it could be the next superstar. I now know all too well, you can have the most talented horse in the world, but if it has not got a trainable attitude then the talent is almost irrelevant. Your event horse needs to be strong, brave and fearless in order to succeed. These attributes I believe also need to be present in the rider too!
The breed of your event horse really depends on the level you wish to compete at and what you as a rider enjoys riding. I had a fantastic event horse that got to Novice level and her breeding was ‘unknown’ and hear others who have a horse bred by a top eventing stallion and it is afraid of its own shadow. Just look at Badminton trot up this year, event horses come in all shapes and sizes! I personally like horses with Thoroughbred in them, believing this makes them brave and able to gallop. Combine this with something like a warmblood for elegance or an Irish Draught for some sense and your flying. My best advice would be to say, be open minded about the breed and look at lots of different horses before making your decision.
Buying an event horse can be a mine field and I would always recommend taking an experienced coach, who knows you and your riding ability, with you when looking. Make sure you have plenty of time to try each horse and never feel rushed. I am a firm believer that horses pick their owners so don’t force a horse to like you or you to like it because everyone else says it suits you. If it’s meant to be then it will happen.
Lastly, I would like to wish you all the best with your search and I hope my top tips will help you to pick your next superstar. I would love to hear your stories about how you purchased your horse and any more top tips you would like to add to my list.
Take care everyone and enjoy your horses.
Love Laura x