News

The Lesson That Changed Everything!

I wanted to get round to telling you all about my first riding lesson in many years. This something that had wanted to go and do for a long time,  but as I now live in France I was frightened of going incase I couldn’t understand anything the instructor said. Like most people when they start speaking another language, some days I feel fluent, like I can understand anything or there’s those other days that I will make one tiny mistake or not be understood & then think how stupid was to think I can speak French! So going for a lesson to start with was quite the personal achievement.

I picked a stables near where Mya is kept. It was familiar and I was able to book online. The yard is called Encayla. My friend Nic came with me for moral support as she was familiar with the yard as she had previously had a pony on part loan there for her son Jake to learn to ride. Handily Nic is also an ex riding instructor.

The day I went for my lesson, the weather was apocalyptic. Storms and heavy rain continued throughout the day. Marion my instructor had text that morning asking me my size and my riding ability so she knew which horse to put me on. So I knew the lesson wasn’t cancelled. That would have been a good excuse not to go!

We arrived at the yard and the weather seemed to break. I was told I was riding Campa, who to me looked like a big pony. Pretty looking horse but seemingly quite nervy. I was regretting telling Marion that my riding was ‘ bien’,  when I needed to ask Nic to help me tack her up. (At french riding stables you come 15 mins early to brush and tack up the horse you are riding). Campa just seemed nervous or excited, moving around, pawing the ground which was making me a bit nervous too now. Gulp. I tried to be brave so I didn’t look like a complete wimp in front of Nic.

It was time to get on. I led Campa to the smaller arena. There was stuff everywhere. Cones, poles, whips & jumps. But it was only me riding so I tried not to let it bother me. I got on and Campa felt so tense! She felt like a coiled spring ready to explode. But I didn’t know how. As we started to warm up Marion told me that Campa does not like any contact on her reins and that I must ride with loose reins to keep her calm. This to me was the opposite of I wanted to do. However I did what I was told. Half relieved that I could understand what Marion was saying to me and half relieved that Campa hadn’t galloped or bucked me off yet.

Marion was right, we walked and trotted and Campa became more and more relaxed. She quite quickly settled down, and riding her with loose contact actually started feeling normal. I no longer had the urge to shorten her up to gain control as it was not necessary. Campa was doing everything I asked of her. I realised as I riding that Campa that my tenseness is the exact same thing that happens when I ride Mya. Mya is strong and can lean on my hands, and instead of pulling her up (which only occurred to me to do after Katie telling me recently) I just get more and more tense.

We went into canter next, and it was so interesting as Campa was very responsive, however when I asked for canter she wouldn’t. Marion said it was because I was too tense and blocking her & you know what it was true! Exactly like when I ride Mya I was a little worried about going into canter. As Mya has a tendency to run across the middle of our enormous arena bucking if she is feeling particularly naughty. I reminded myself that probably wouldn’t happen now and kicked on. Campa was good as gold. No bucks, no gallops. I actually felt a bit silly for being worried about cantering. Nic gave me an encouraging ‘go on’ from the side of the arena and on the other rein we were much better. We then did some walk to canter transitions to help me with my canter transitions and that was good fun. Marion reminded me to keep my reins loose to keep Campa calm and we went for it! By this time I had begun to trust Campa and had relaxed a lot. We did lots of walk to canter transitions on both reins and Campa did them brilliantly. Responding exactly when I wanted her to.

We finished the lesson and I felt so pleased. I just got Campa back to her tie up paddock (which was covered) and the rain absolutely poured down again. I was so lucky that my hour lesson had been dry.

I realised that I had brought along my insecurities with Mya to my lesson with Campa. For someone that had never suffered with nervousness when riding before. I was relieved that by the end of the lesson those nerves had vanished and I was enjoying riding like I should be! I didn’t realise how nervous I had become riding Mya. I had a few incidents with Mya in hand since Christmas. That involved her rearing and bolting a few times on separate occasions that I had admitted had frightened me but I didn’t realise I had let that worry join me in the saddle too.

But I am delighted to report that since that lesson I have ridden Mya on several occasions and have not been worried. I have been firmer with her, as I now realise I think she was being naughty sometimes when I let her be. For example she would spook constantly when being ridden in the arena, since my lesson now I have found some renewed confidence she has not spooked once.

I will be certain to book more lessons in the summer. As I really enjoyed it, I liked my instructor and I cannot explain fully how much it has helped me. It took going to ride another horse for me to have a little epiphany about how I had let the fear take over with Mya. The change since that lesson has been incredible. I didn’t want to admit that I was starting to feel nervous every time I went down to see Mya, worried about what she was going to do. I had lost all my trust in her, and I think that lead to her not trusting me either. Mya needs a firm hand, as she can be nappy and she can be spooky. After riding Campa, I realised that I do know Mya and can predict what she will do and that actually I do trust her to not be  a complete idiot all the time. Since then each ride we have had has been so much better!

 

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News

Danielle Goldstein – So Much More Than The Girl With Feathers In Her Hair

Danielle  Goldstein
Photo by Kathy Russell

We are in the year 2019. We live in a modern society where our differences can be celebrated and respected more and more. However when it comes to Equestrianism does anyone feel that our sport is a bit left behind? Don’t get me wrong, the sport is full of strong women competing against men as equals and that is something to be proud of. It’s just that I feel that it is still expected for everyone to think and dress a certain way. Until now…

I have recently discovered someone that everyone needs to know about ( I may be a bit late to the party but hey). The woman with feathers in her hair. The woman who is a professional show jumper but will be wearing yoga pants and a belly top walking the course and looking fricking cool doing it. The woman who Heels Down Magazine called ‘a rebel with a cause’. It’s Danielle Goldstein.

The articles that drew my attention to Danielle were articles focussing on her appearance. Sure, Danielle has a very unique look. Particularly for a show jumper. But her story is about so much more than that…

Danielle was born in America and grew up in a non horsey family in New York City. She only started riding when she was a child because her friend invited her to ride her horse. After that it was fair to say she dedicated herself to riding. Goldstein, decided on her first trip to Israel at age 12 for her Bat Mitzvah, that she wanted to represent Israel and went on a quest to start an Israeli Show Jumping team.

World of Showjumping reported that after moving to Israel for a short period in 2010 and having lots of friends of family there she applied for and successfully obtained Israeli citizenship. Riding for Israel is something Danielle had always wanted to do . Firstly because she felt that she had a deep connection to the country and secondly because she wanted to help a country that she felt did not get much positive attention in the global media.

Photo by Noelle Floyd

Based in the Netherlands with her partner Alan Waldman, she actually trains half the year in Holland and half of the year at her yard in Florida. Her website Star Wyns Farm states that Danielle firmly believes that there is much to done in terms in impacting Israeli society through Equestrian sports. Danielle has started ‘The International Equestrian Education Series’ from her base from Florida, with a hope to starting a series in Israel too. As she feels young people can learn all sorts of transferable skills such as responsibility, attention to detail and the importance of hard work through her training to encourage a stronger equestrian culture in Israel.

Danielle’s dream is to be the first female Israeli olympic show jumper. Since gaining her Israeli citizenship it’s going well. Global Champions Tour reported that She lead the first Israeli show jumping team in the European Championships in 2013 and again in 2015 & 2017 and since then has competed in 2 world Equestrian Games in 2014 and 2018. She has had success on the Longines Global Champions Tour with her chestnut mare Lizzymary. Winning the Grand Prix class in Portugal in 2017. Danielle also served as the Chef d’equipe for the gold medal winning team in the Maccabiah Games dubbed ‘The Jewish Olympics’ in 2013.

Photo by Sportfot

However Danielle has had her fair share of criticism. Mainly about the way she looks. Noelle Floyd reported that people online accused her feathers of being a safety hazard and a insult to the traditions of showjumping. Danielle took to the internet herself to tackle these cyber bullies and had a strong message ” It’s good to be different – there is no reason we all have to look the same”.

I don’t know about you but I think we could do with more Danielle Goldstein’s in Equestrian sport! She is a fantastic role model and I absolutely love her feathers!

Danielle will be competing for the Scandinavian Vikings in the 2019 Global Champions Show jumping league. For more information head to Global Champions League teams

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News, Reviews

In Due Horse November Round up: A horsey photo shoot, a very wet one day event & a momentous cross pole!

Well, I have had a fun filled November! A couple of weeks ago Mya & I were lucky enough to have our very first photo shoot with Genie from ezhphotos, who is also based here in Toulouse.

Photo credit: EZH.Photos

I met Eugenie a few months ago at a friends wedding. She was the photographer but also a guest at the wedding & we got along really well. She later contacted me to say that she had always wanted to do a photo shoot with a horse & would I be interested in doing one with her. I jumped at the chance! Genie wanted to do the shoot in the autumn so she could capture the autumn colours in the background, and I am so glad we did as the colours are incredible! I am so pleased with the photos that I have seen so far. I really just wanted to take the time to recommend her. She is so nice and had loads of ideas of what she wanted us to do, which was great for me as I am a photo shoot novice! She was also very attentive of Mya, as bearing in mind she has never photographed a horse before I was really impressed with her patience and understanding if Mya moved suddenly or wouldn’t stand still. That being said Mya was really good. I was so impressed with her as I honestly thought she may make it quite difficult for us but she was a superstar! The whole experience was very enjoyable. So those of you in Toulouse if you are ever in need of a photographer – do not hesitate to contact Genie at http://ezh.photos/.

In other exciting news, I went to my first one day event in France today. Although it was only as a spectator! I was dead chuffed when Trudi, someone I had met through a friend invited me to go see her at a local one day event she was competing at today. It great to spend time with Trudi & her horse Violine, but also to see what competing is like here in France.

I think Violine was trying to hide from the camera in this pic!

To be able to compete in France you must pass your Gallop 5 exam. Which from what I gather are kind of like the BHS stage exams (but they do not correlate, unfortunately as I have done a few BHS exams). So you have to show competence in horse care and stable management and in your riding ability. This is something I will need to get before I could consider competing and perhaps a good goal for me next year. I am hoping me & Katie (Mya’s owner) could do this together next year.

Overall the event was really very similar to an event in the U.K. although perhaps slightly more relaxed. Trudi did really well, I didn’t get there in time to see her dressage test but she was pleased with it, she went clear with some time penalties in the cross country, which I thought was understandable as it was very wet today. Then was unlucky and had two poles down in the showjumping. Not placed today but we both had good fun & that’s what is all about really isn’t it?! I’m looking forward to going to watch her compete again and it’s really got me wanting to do it myself…. Although I haven’t competed in over 10 years!!

That being said I did jump Mya for the first time ever this week. We only did a tiny little cross pole as I wasn’t certain if she knew how to jump! But she definitely can & seems to love it.

Mya had a serious leg injury a few years ago & has never really returned to full work since, because Katie understandably was worried it could happen again. So Mya has not really jumped in many years. That combined with me who only returned to riding in May after a break of many years (I had the odd lesson in that time but didn’t really jump). So watch this space! I feel my jumping mojo may have returned. Just need to remember how to be brave!

But in all seriousness all of this has really got me thinking about what Mya & I could be working towards and it’s really exciting! Trudi – you totally inspired me!

News

Go Team Hobby!

***Incase you missed it! This was my first post on the blog. I recently sent it to Emily King & she responded saying it was a lovely article!! I was so chuffed! ***

So a new modern era has begun in eventing in the form of crowdfunding. This is a modern way of funding your rides whilst making the sport more accessible to the greater public. However it has been met with more than its fair share of criticism in the equestrian world.

Emily King (daughter of Mary – every Brit’s fav event rider because she is just so lovely) launched a campaign on her Instagram account asking if any of her followers would be interested in contributing via crowdfunding to secure her ride on ‘Langford Take the Biscuit’ AKA Hobby. The campaign was successful and she secured the ride via crowdfunding within a matter of days. It was reported that there are 556 people in the ‘Your Horse & Country Magazine HobNob Syndicate’. Emily has also stated that because of the way she raised the money to buy Hobby she will donate all of their future winnings to charities including World Horse Welfare of which she is a patron. Sounds cool right?

I thought so I contributed a whole £20 to become a member of the syndicate. Since then I have had a letter welcoming me to the syndicate, a copy of Hobby’s competition schedule, dates of organised course walks and yard visits (which by the way for the critics are run on a first come first served registration basis with numerous dates so the opportunities will be open to many syndicate members but not all 556 people at once) and regular updates on how Hobby gets on in his competitions. I have been impressed with the organisation and really enjoy hearing how Emily and Hobby get on.

Emily King was not the first eventer to raise money to keep their horses via crowdfunding. In 2017 Irish Eventer Jonty Evans raised £500,000 to secure his ride on Cooley Rookes Draft or Art to his friends. However it seems it is only Emily that has received criticism and man there is A LOT of it online. This is not a dig at Jonty who seems like a very likeable chap. But the only differences I can see in between the two campaigns is that Jonty was at a higher level of competition at the time as he crowdfunded to secure his ride on the horse he had ridden at the Rio Olympics. Emily is competing at BE novice level on Hobby at the moment. The other difference there seems is that Cooley Rookes Draft had an offer made on him to be purchased and Jonty campaigned asking for donations to match that amount. Emily needed to raise £40,000 which was a way lower figure and also the figure she needed to buy Hobby, however non supportive members of the horsey community seemed to have a problem with this amount stating it seemed a lot for a horse competing at that level – but hey this is the sort of thing you need to have an opinion on when you decide if you want to contribute right? Although perhaps not all over the internet in a negative trolling manner.

Perhaps people are not familiar with crowdfunding? Crowdfunding is a form of alternative finance asking a large number of people to contribute to a project or venture online. Crowdfunding is a modern massively growing market that is becoming more and more popular. In 2015 $34 billion was raised through crowdfunding – that is a lot of money! It has been used for a wide range of reasons including artistic and creative projects, medical expenses, travel and community projects. Websites for crowdfunding you may have heard of include Kickstarter, Just Giving and Go Fund Me. The principal is that there is a project instigator that proposes an idea to be funded, individuals that support the idea, and a platform that normally is a website that brings the groups together to launch the idea. What you get from contributing depends entirely on each particular project. There are reward based projects, projects that provide you with equity/shares of a project or donation based crowdfunding just to name a few examples. Emily King offered the chance to be part of a large syndicate called ‘Team HobNob’ as a reward to contributing to her cause, I would like to add that she never said the contribuer would own any tiny piece of Hobby.

Syndicates are no way a new thing in the horse industry with it being common practice in the racing world. With there being more and more larger (and cheaper) syndicates that your everyday Joe or Josephine can join without owning any percentage of a horse. Which I personally feel as a self proclaimed average Josephine is a good thing for the equestrian industry. As the equine industry has been historically elitist with only the super rich being able to be involved in high level competition. Surely expanding our sport to the greater public is a good thing? So my thoughts are, perhaps a syndicate like this is not something to invest in to make money. It is an interest you can follow whilst having the feeling of being part of something you ordinarily could not be.

Hobby and Emily won the BE Novice at Cholmondely Castle, came 2nd at Homme House, 3rd at Bold Heath, 2nd at West Wilts & finished the season doing their first CCI in 6th place to name a few of their results. So look out for them next season and give them a cheer of encouragement!

As part of the HobNob syndicate I am updated on which events Hobby will entering and how he gets on. I am invited to visit the yard and to walk a course with Emily and other fellow syndicate members which I hope to do soon and will of course write about it on here to show you all!

Follow Emily on instagram @emilykingofficial or on Facebook -Facebook.com/emilykingofficial.

Photos used were taken from Emily’s Facebook page.

News

Air Horse One

Ever wondered how our four legged friends travel around the world to competitions? Well, this is a very fancy example but there is one U.S transportation company that has a dedicated aircraft nicknamed ‘Air Horse One’ and it is as luxurious as it sounds!

The aircraft is a Boeing 727 cargo plane that can carry 18-20 horses per flight. Each horse is loaded separately and it’s stall is assembled around each equine passenger. Each horse has in air refreshments in the shape of hay and water and their groom is able to travel with them too. (The grooms have regular seats at the back of the plane in case you wondered!)

The comfort of the horses is the priority as this plane is normally filled with expensive horses on the way to races or competitions. An average plane can be filled with between $50 million – $500 million worth of horse! With this in mind the pilot makes wide turns when flying and ensures extra smooth ascends and descends so the horses don’t lose their balance and get frightened. Each one way flight is said to cost just under $5000 and it has been reported that celebrity horse owners have chartered the entire plane which would cost considerably more! During the flight there are specially trained flight crew members to ensure the needs of each horse are met.

Air Horse One is only available to fly in the U.S, Canada and Mexico however the use of planes to transport horses is becoming more popular due to research showing that lorry trips (especially in the U.S as distances could be very long in between competitions) are more of a burden on the health of these fit competition horses, with Air Horse One rarely running flights longer than four hours. As most of the horses that travel by air are experienced competition horses used to travelling up and down the country in a lorry they don’t have many problems with the horses staying calm. If there is a problem it is normally when the horse first boards the plane and the grooms do what they can to calm the horse down, if that doesn’t work they just remove the horse from the plane. A tranquilliser is available to use on the plane but it rarely is. If the horse needs a travelling buddy (Some horses will stay calm if their friend – whether it be a goat or pony travels with them) they are welcome aboard too! It really is horsey luxury!

I don’t know about you but this makes the way I travel in an economy class seat on EasyJet look quite basic now!

If you would like to read more about this fascinating service information can be found at http://www.suttonforwarding.com.

Photos used were also from http://www.suttonforwarding.com

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