Bella's Blog


I will be updating this page as often as possible, visit the results page to check out how we have been doing out competing.

20 January 2016

Since my last update, I have been working hard reaching my next goal of 2,000 FB Friends. I couldn't believe it, in just 25 days I had hit 2,000 friends. I am still gaining more new friends everyday, which is fantastic.

I had a great week off from work, so lovely to spend every day down the yard. Really fortunate with the weather as well over Christmas and New Year. Lots of hacking for Rudy and I to help bring him back to fitness after his sore back. (No idea what he did, doing something silly in the field, charging about and probably fell over, thank goodness with time, patience, excercises every day he is now back to 100%.)

Well, on Tuesday 19 January 2016, I was offically announced on FB as becoming a LegUPforTalent Star, I am over the moon. Now the hard work REALLY starts, as I set about selecting sponsors who will benefit from my Social Media presenter skills. I am limited to how many sponsors I can have, so it will be down to the best fit for both Sponsor and myself as to who I will blog about on FB to 50,000 Equestrians and rural communities across Berksire, Surrey, Sussex, Oxfordshire and Hampshire.

I am really looking forward to having a great 2016.


23 December 2015

AT LAST, today at 9.25am I was able to tell my friends, I had been selected from 100's of talented riders, to be a LegUPforTalent Apprentice which is a Social Media programme, helping talented riders turn their dreams into reality. I am thrilled to bits to have been accepted. My next goal is to reach 2,000 FB friends which will help me become a LegUPforTalent Star. I am so happy to be a part of a great team of riders.

If you are on Facebook and would like to find out about LegUPforTalent, here is the page:

20 December 2015
So proud of Rudy and I, we have faced our fears and been out hacking. It has taken a long time for us to gradually regain our confidence where lorries are concerned. Since our incident with a lorry where we both ended up on the ground, I have been too frightened to go out hacking. Because of Rudy's sore back, we can't school, instead we can only hack, so basically I had to be brave and get us both out on the roads. We are still not 100% confident yet, we are getting better, it will just take time and patience.
18 December 2015
What an absolutely brilliant day, the whole of the Honda Marketing Team went to London, the Empire Leicester Square. Yes, you've guessed it, to see STAR WARS, The Force Awakens, in 3D. I have never seen a 3D movie before. WOW, it was awesome, the screen seemed so close I could touch it. I was moving about dodging things coming at me on the screen, squealing and generally having the best time. After the film we all went out for a few drinks before coming home.
17 December 2015
AMAZING, I couldn't believe it, at 10.28pm today I reached 1,000 FB friends. It would not have been possible without the full support of my friends, who worked so hard sharing and asking their friends to add me as a friend. I cannot thank everyone enough for all their help. Even though I had reached my target, I still couldn't tell everyone what it was about, they (and I) had to wait 6 days for the official announcement on FB.
10 December 2015

Exciting times ahead I think.

Rudy is being a complete angel while putting up with me stretching his legs and carrot exercises. (I think he does he leg stretches so well because he knows carrot stretches come next lol.)

On Wednesday afternoon we both faced out biggest fear, lorry's.

Since a really bad experience about 7 months ago, when a big lorry from the local dump came passed us too fast and too close ( the driver didn't stop). It frightened Rudy so much we both ended up on the ground. Really horrible and frightening experience. Needless to say, Rudy and I were both too scared to hack out after that. Really upset me as we used to go our hacking all over the place and he was never frightened of lorries before. Anyway, back to Wednesday, Rudy and I put our big pants on, took our brave pills, wearing our equisafe hi-viz and had our Mojo's on and out we went. As soon as we got onto the road, we came face to face with two very big lorries. (I rode on the pavement to give a bit of space between us and the road, I wouldn't normally ride on the pavement though.) With just a little hop and a skip from Rudy the lorries passed us and thankfully they were kind drivers. We came across quite a few lorries while we were out and Rudy became braver and braver. I cannot tell you how very proud I am of him and over the moon we did it, going out on our own and learning to be more confident about lorries.

The other big news is, at 3.30pm on Tuesday the 8 December 2015 and at the time I had 527 friends, I was set a goal of reaching 1000+ Facebook friends by Christmas 2015. It is driving everyone mad because I can't say why, until I reach my goal, lol. For now, my lips are sealed. With the help of my friends, I am well on my way to achieving my goal, so far, 726 friends. Everyone has been amazing and of course I could not dream of reaching it without them. So if you read this, and you are not already a friend of mine, please add me and share.


30 November 2015


Well, not quite as long between updates as last time.

The second half of 2015 has been great. Rudy and I have been out competing and we have been improving on our percentage mark, you can view all our results for 2015 on the results page.

The first highlight of the year has been coming 2nd in the Rob Waine Dressage Summer League on 6 September 2015. I was absolutely over the moon, especially as we had a shocker result at one of the events and couldn't attend another due to Rudy getting kicked and needing 9 internal stitches and 11 staples. He was an absolute star while the vet put him back together again and while on box rest.

Then mid September after a huge amount of manual hard work by people on the yard and Stuart, we now have a fabulous new 20 x 40 all weather surface to ride on. It really has made a massive difference to our training, we are no longer restricted by hard ground in the summer or very wet ground in the winter. We can train all year round now, it is a dream come true for all of us at Charlton Village Stables.

Something I have been trying to achieve for nearly 3 years, is to win a class at Merrist Wood, Rudy and I came 1st in Novice 27 on 1 November 2015 with 70.89%. I was a very happy bunny and so was Stuart, a great present as it was Stu's Birthday.

Unfortunately, we have not been able to compete since Merrist Wood as Rudy has hurt himself while out in the field, knowing him, probably slipping over while causing mischief. He has had the Physio, Saddle Fitter and Chiropractor all working to get him back to 100%. I have been doing leg stretches and carrot stretches with him daily and lots of grooming. Really hope Rudy is back to his normal self soon.

In the last week or so I have spent a lot of time revamping this website. Adding new photo's and generally giving it a facelift. I hope you enjoy looking around the site.

Not long now until Christmas, I am not a lover of Christmas, to me, it is just another day, down the yard spending time with Rudy which I love. Hopefully he will be all better so we can go for a hack on Christmas day with everyone from the yard.

Merry Christmas and a Very Happy New Year to you all and thank you for your support throughout the year.


More video clips for you to catch up on via my channel


18 July 2015

I am shocked and stunned it has been 16 months since I updated this web-page. Well, quite a bit has been happening, I don't know where to start so this update could be a bit random.

In summary:
I am focusing just on Rudy and keeping an eye on Folly as I am too big for her really.

I bought my very own lorry on 26 April 2014 at 3.30pm and she is called Bluebell

I broke my ankle on 19 October 2014 in two places and dislocated it, now have a plate and 6 pins.

After breaking my ankle on the 23 December 2014 I got back on Rudy, very proud of myself.

The company I work for moved offices from Langley to Bracknell, so now I work 4 long days and have Wednesday off to spend with the horses.

In May Rudy got kicked while we were out on a hack and ended up with a very deep cut down to the bone, 11 stitches inside and 9 staples outside. Just 2 weeks and he was all healed and back to light work. Not happy on 2 weeks box rest though.

Rudy and I have moved up to Novice now and no longer compete in Prelim.

We attended a Nikki Crisp 2 day bootcamp in April and I still don't know who paid for us to go. It was a very tough couple of days as Rudy was completely on one and I totally lost my confidence due to not riding for a few months, then Rudy and I had a nasty incident with a lorry which resulted in Rudy and I both ending up on the ground. Rudy and I used to hack out alone all the time and go all over the place, now I am too scared to go out and Rudy is terrified of lorries. So upsetting as I loved hacking, we have been out a few times with other people, just hope one day we get our confidence back.

Rudy and I are training on a regular basis with Rob Waine and I am very happy to say we are coming along nicely, slowly slowly due to restricted practice at home as ground is like concrete and the school is just too deep and dusty.

I am feeling more confident and Rudy is being such a good boy.

It is already July and we have hardly been out competing, lets hope we can get out more in the second half of the year.


Lots of clips for you to catch up on via my channel



March 2014


Where does the time go, I cannot believe we are already halfway through March and it has been nearly 3 months since I updated this web-page.

As I think most of the world heard and saw on the news all the terrible flooding, it goes without saying we have not been able to do much. All the fields and school have been flooded for such a long time. Plus of course the dark evenings, I have only been able to hack Rudy and Folly out at the weekends. The poor horses have been pretty fed up with hardly any grazing due to the grass being under water. Thankfully the fields are drying out and the school has also dried out. So for the first time in a very long time, we were able to use the school again. This I should mention was after a lot of hours and hard work with Stuart and his trusty tractor, Mel, Pacific, Mia and myself, racking, shoveling and leveling the sand, clearing grass and weeds and branches. The school did look good and was wonderful to ride in, all the hard work was certainly worth it.

Folly has been an angel as always and we have had some great hacks. Rudy is really turning into a wonderful horse. He is much calmer, more respectful and learning to relax when being groomed. He really is a joy to handle as well as ride. I go down every day to spend time with Rudy and Folly, grooming and doing stretching exercises with them.

Riding Rudy in the school last week, he didn't seem quite right, so arranged for Laura from Equilibrium Animal Physiotherapy and Equine Training to come and see him. Oh WOW, Laura really is amazing, Rudy was so relaxed and more supple after his session. I then rode him the next day in the school just in walk and trot, long and low and he was brilliant. He was forward going, relaxed and had a good rhythm.

Getting ready for our first dressage event of 2014, Rudy had a bit of a make over. Whiskers, beard, ears, feathers and tail trimmed and I attempted to shorten his mane, not very successfully I might add. It will be Folly's turn next.

Well, just a week to go before our event at Little Owl Stables where Rudy and I will be doing Prelim 7 (HC) and Prelim 13. I have already been out in the car park practicing walking through my tests. Hopefully I will get a chance to ride both tests in the school after work next week. Fingers crossed we will do well.



December 2013


Well we didn't get the chance to do anymore trailer training as the owner needed their trailer back. Rudy is certainly a lot better though and I feel a little more confident he will be a little more confident when loading.

Well all through December is all I have been able to do with Rudy and Folly is hack. The school and paddocks are too wet to ride in and now the school is more like a small ocean. Did my best to do a bit of schooling while out hacking at walk and trot, but no canter work. Rudy was a very good boy out, Folly on the other hand was rather full of herself, wanting to canter rather than trot, the little monkey. The days I couldn't ride due to awful weather, Rudy and Folly were groomed within an inch of their life, lol.

Angel Farm Stables in Longcross, Chertsey announced they are having a dressage competition on the 29 Dec 2013. So I thought it would be a good idea to take Rudy and Folly. Didn't take in to account the amount of time it takes to clean two lots of tack, clean two very muddy horses and plait them up as well. Thankfully my friend Rianna helped plait Folly up to me. So without any practice apart from walking through the tests round my car park at home, I gave it a go.

Also Melinda who also rides for Stuart, rode Kevin.

So, with 3 horses to load, 2 of which are not great loaders, we decided to use the stable trick. Backing the lorry upto to the stable door and loading from out of the stable. Worked a treat, all 3 horses loaded in no time.

Couldn't believe it, the sun came out, no rain and very little wind, thank goodness. Melinda on Kev was first in at 2pm doing Prelim 12 and then Rudy and I also doing Prelim 12 were in at 2.06pm. I nearly went in with Rudy's tendon boots on, thankfully Natalee the ring steward took them off for me. Rudy was a bit spooky as quite a bit going on down at "A", luckily he did a big spook just before we turned at A to start our test. Considering we had not done any practice, I was really pleased with Rudy, apart from being a bit hard to keep to the outer part of arena down at A, he was a little star. Cantered on both reins and kept cantering until I asked him to go forward into trot.

Then it was Folly's turn, I had asked for at least an hour between my start time on Rudy and Folly to give me enough time to get her ready and warm her up gently. She felt really good in the warm up. Much to my surprise she was focused and being so good. Folly and I went in and did our test which was Novice 24. She was a super star, I really thought we had managed a few strides of medium trot, unfortunately though Folly was running and on the forehand. Otherwise we did a really good test and I was over the moon.

Angel Farm Stables 29 Dec 2013 Results: Rudy and I came 2nd in Prelim 12 69.6%, Melinda and Kev came 3rd in Prelim 12 with 69.2% so we only beat them by a whisker. Then found out when we took the lorry back, Folly and I had won the Novice 24 with 68.85%. I was chuffed to bits, what a super star pony.

So with 19 in the Prelim 12 class and around 10 in Novice 24 we did very well in deed. A huge turn out with a total of 45 entries.

The icing on the cake, they all loaded without too much protest so we could all go home.

Not been able to ride from 29 Dec 2013 to 1 Jan 2014 due to even more rain, so horses are just getting very muddy and wet and eating.

Hopefully the weather will improve soon so I can practice improving my riding which will hopefully improve how Rudy and Folly go. Fingers crossed we do well in 2014.

Happy New Year, lets hope 2014 is a really good one.


Rudy Prelim 12 via Youtube

Folly Novice 24 via Youtube

Photos via Wayne Jones Photography website (arrow back or forward to view photos)





28 November to 1 December 2013


After last weekend with Rudy not wanting to load, I decided we needed to do some serious trailer training. Thursday evening I spent 3 1/2hrs, bit by bit getting him to put one foot on, then two feet, then leaving them on for a little while, eventually after about 2hrs, he actually went in the trailer, I couldn't believe it. Then he really tested me, nearly ran me over, so we had a few words, I did some ground work establishing myself again as leader (well, as much of a leader as I can be, me 5'3" and Rudy 16.3hh) We then spent another 1 1/2hr gradually getting him almost in and then all the went in, stood for a little while and then brought him gently and quietly out and did that 5 times all together. He still is not confident going in, but we are getting there. I was so happy.

Rudy and I went for a hack on Friday and took Folly out for a hack too, both goody boy and girl.

On Saturday, took Rudy and Folly for another little hack. Then it was time for some more trailer training. I had prepared myself to start all over again with Rudy. Well, I couldn't believe it, just 10 mins and he loaded, still not really confident, but he did load. So I did the same as Thursday, in and out 5 times in just 40 mins. I was over the moon, we had made real progress. Also forgot to say, all the training is WITHOUT food of any kind. I have made a rule that I NEVER give Rudy any tip bits or treats, just lots and lots of hugs and kisses and good boy.

Sunday I decided to face my fear and take Rudy round the golf course which part of it runs right next to the railway line. We were half way along the track when I heard the toot of the train further behind us. I won't say what I said to myself, but you can imagine. Before I knew it, the train was upon us, Rudy snorted, stood still and looked in horror at the train going passed. I think I held my breath and just stroked him and before I could say, Bob's your uncle, the train was gone and we had made it through this big test. I was so happy and gave Rudy lots of pats. What a relief to have conquered the fear of the train. Little did I know, the train was the least of our challenges. There were a big group of golfers, each with a golf trolley and they were all about to eat Rudy. He threw quite a wobbler, we nearly backed into the river, he was snorting and so tense and I was pretty scared. I asked the golfers to stand still please and asked if I could bring Rudy up to them so he could see there was nothing to be afraid of. They were very kind and all of them stood rock still, bless them, they were probably more frightened than Rudy was. Eventually Rudy calmed down and realised the golfers and their golf trolly's were quite harmless. We carried on round the golf course without too many more issues. He was a really good boy, as he could have been a whole lot worse, very proud of Rudy. Put him out when we got back to have a roll and chill out. Took Folly for a hack and of course she was a very good girl.

Then it was time for some more trailer training. The trailer was the opposite way round and not much room for the front side ramp and everyone was at the yard. I was a bit worried Rudy wouldn't want to load with so many distractions. I needn't have worried as it only took 5 mins for him to load, still not 100% confident but a lot better than the other 2 times. He did go backwards briefly once, otherwise he was brilliant. Stuart his owner was really pleased. Of course I was absolutely chuffed to bits, if I can manage to get Rudy to load happily it will take the stress and worry out of going out and about and he will be just the best horse ever. We will do some more training on Wednesday and the plan is to load him, drive him across the road, unload him and see if he will load again to come back across the road, fingers crossed.



Sunday 24 November 2013


oh my goodness, what a challenging day. where to start? 2 flat tyres, so bit late leaving.

Had to use stable to load Rudy as didn't have time to mess about and he eventually went in the trailer.

Rudy was a very good boy to put up with having a snowman on his back and covered in bows and tinsel, bits of snow and ribbon dropping off! lol

Then it was show time, we started off OK, music went quiet for a few seconds, walk and trot went OK and then Rudy decided he didn't want to canter, ended up on the wrong rein so had to do a quick about turn to finish in time with the music, snowman lost an eye, but we got through it and everyone had a good laugh and loved the costume Rianna Kemp did such a fab job of making, thank you so much.

Then the keys were locked in the car and of course our phones were also locked in the car along with my coats, lucky I was a snowman which kept me warm. Thank goodness Linda is a member of the RAC who came to our rescue and opened the car.

Then of course Rudy decided he had so much fun at Little Owl Stables he didn't want to go home. Eventually he decided to go in the trailer by using a stable to load him out of.

We nearly didn't have transport as the lorry we had hired ended up being double books. So mad last minute to get transport, so grateful to Leslie for lending us her car and trailer at such short notice. Oh, I had left the yard with the keys in my car, the radio on and all the doors open, Sam for locked it up for me. Stuart, Rudy's owner did a grand job of sorting the tyres out and getting us there and back safely. Rianna and her mum came to give their support and help. Some how we managed to come 3rd in our first Dressage to Music class. Rudy, was a little star to put up with everything. Auntie music Amanda Louise Birch gave us fab music and was there to support us all as well. Phew, what a day, glad to get home.

VIDEO CLIP: If you would like to see a snowman riding a horse, then you will love this video of our first dressage to music test via Youtube:


10 to 17 November 2013


Oh my goodness, Rudy and I came 2nd in Prelim 4 with 71.82% and THEN came 1st in Prelim 14 with 80.42%, I cannot believe it, thank you to a very generous judge. Rudy also loaded like a dream going using the stable and with a bit of encouragement and help from a big burley man, he loaded coming back too.  Very good boy. We still have a long way to go and lots to work on. It was our first visit to Angel Farm and we had a really lovely day and everyone was so support, lovely people. Very happy bunny, still can't quite believe it. Well done Rudy and thank you.

VIDEO CLIP: This is a video of our Prelim 14 test via Youtube

I had a good day off work, managed to have a bit of a practice on Rudy which didn't go quite according to plan, walking through my test in the car park is not the same as trying to ride it, yep, I went wrong. Then Rudy was a very good boy for his session with Laura from Equilibrium Animal Physiotherapy and Equine Training. Plus for once, it didn't rain,it was a lovely sunny day.

Rudy and I had our first dressage to music lesson and oh boy was it hard, the instructor Amanda was brilliant, I on the other hand was rubbish, I forgot to take my jogging bottoms off before the lesson so my lovely clean jodhpurs could not be seen! lol I was bouncing about as usual. Rudy was a bit challenging to start with but I think we did OK in the end. We will see how we get on at our first Dressage to Music competition (in fancy dress! lol) at Little Owl Stables on 24th Nov.


Sunday 10 November 2013


After spending a lot of hours last night with Rudy training him to load, I was quite tired. He went in once and I was so shocked I got all flustered and after about 30 seconds he decided that was enough and out he came. We did finish on a good note though with him keeping two front feet on the floor and then gently backing out a few times.

Well I think the training last night paid off, even though we still did the stable method, he did go straight up on the lorry, I was so happy. Hopefully it won't be long before he will be happy to load without using the stable and backing the lorry up to the stable door.

Off we went to Little Owl for our dancing lesson with Amanda Birch. Rudy was behaving like a naughty teenager to start with and he wasn't keen on going past the loud speaker with music coming out of it. Goodness, dressage to music is very difficult and took me quite a while to get to grips with it all. Rudy really took to it once we got in to the rhythm. Really enjoyed the lesson and towards the end there was a little glimpse of some lovely trot to Mariah Carey, all I want for Christmas is you. We will see how we get on at the Dressage to Music competition on the 24th Nov. I just hope we get the chance to practice otherwise it is going to be a disaster. Going to be interesting making up our test to fit to the music.


Saturday 2 November 2013


Goodness, where does the time go, it has been a long time since I have given you an update on Rudy and Folly. Quite a lot has been happening, 3 fabulous lesson's on Rudy with Rob Waine, Camilla James and Nikki Crisp. Folly has been chilling out, causing havoc in the field and getting quite a fat tummy and getting covered in mud and burrs which take me forever each day to get her clean again. Rudy has been watching I think as he has been getting just as muddy and loads of burrs in his tail.

Really pleased with Rudy's progress, he now stands still while grooming, he is so much better with giving me his foot to pick out, still a bit hit and miss on the off hind though. Doesn't object to being tacked up and putting his boots on. He stands perfectly still while I get on. He is brilliant out hacking, not much phases him, we have been out in quite heavy traffic now with some very large lorries and he is as good as gold. I haven't been brave enough to go along the side of the railway track yet as not sure what Rudy will make of the trains.

Very excited about Rudy getting his dancing shoes on, we are going to attempt dressage to music. Having a lesson with Amanda Birch at Little Owl Stables on 10 November, 2 weeks practice then our first Dressage to music competition on 24 November. We also have our first proper dressage event on 17 November at Angel Farm where we will be doing Prelim 4 and Prelim 14. I really hope we do better than we did at our first attempt, when I had only ridden him twice and it was pouring with rain, so I am going to discount that one.


Saturday 28 September 2013


So excited about the lesson today with Nikki Crisp and going to Little Owl Stables which is just lovely.

Well Rudy it seemed was not so keen to get in the trailer, took 45 min's until he finally loaded.

Lovely to see everyone at Little Owl and Helen came to watch our lesson, great to see her.

Nikki was loosing her voice so I had an ear piece so she could talk to me during the lesson. Loved this idea as quite often it is quite difficult to hear what the instructor is saying while riding.

I cannot tell you how much I enjoyed the lesson, it was amazing. Nikki pushed Rudy and I and had us going much more forward. Rudy was so well behaved and I could not stop smiling. I wish I could afford to have a lesson with Nikki on a regular basis. As I know Rudy and I would progress much quicker under her direction. She understood that Rudy is still quite a baby even though he is rising 6yr. Even so, I need to ask much more of him now and Nikki gave me the confidence to ask more of him.

Really hope we get the opportunity to have another lesson with Nikki in the not too distant future.


Monday 23 to Wednesday 25 September 2013


Interesting day at work, asked to judge a bake off containing cheese, not your average Monday morning, it was fun and standard was very high. Yum Yum.

Folly is having a bit of a chill out, so it was Rudy's turn to have a schooling session. Stu harrowed the school so it was lovely to ride on. Started putting into practice some exercises given to me by Rowan Tweddle via which is a brilliant on-line training website, I love it. I posted a video of the 6th time I rode Rudy and Rowan watches the video and then gives me feedback. Well, the exercises certainly helped with encouraging Rudy to go forward and into both reins and even got a bit of canter on both reins. Really we are just going back to basics, focusing on getting Rudy to listen to my leg aids, as well as my seat and body aids when coming downward in transitions. So lots of transitions, walk, halt, walk, trot, walk trot, trot halt and canter and so on.

Just gave Folly and Rudy a good groom on Tuesday as I don't want to school Rudy everyday as important to keep him interested and not bore him to death with schooling. If it wasn't getting dark so early we would be out hacking at least once in the week to break things up a bit for him.

Well, today, Wednesday, Stu harrowed the school so it was all lovely. Rudy did get a surprise by the brand new mounting block at the entrance to the school, he was a good boy though. We had a really good practice session, he was more forward and willing and even wanting to canter when asking for trot which is a good sign of him having the desire to move forward which is what we are after. I listened to music while practicing to help me maintain (or at least attempt) an active rhythm in walk. I will look forward some music to help with trot when we practice on Friday.

I am so excited about the lesson on Saturday with Nikki Crisp, can't wait.


Sunday 22 September 2013


Took Rudy out for our 4th hack, Stuart walked on foot as we went over the Motorway bridge and Rudy was brilliant, we popped into the Golf Course car park for him to have a little look around, again, brilliant. Then I took Rudy down another road which is not used much. There was a big pile of rubbish which he had a look at and a very long lorry trailer and then I asked him to go up a little slope to a gate and a little stream running by it. Well, that did take a little while and a few conversations, we did it in the end though, so very pleased with how brave Rudy is.

Folly had managed to get a tonne of burs in her tail, so took a while to get those out. She is going to have a few days off and then some hacking and some time to chill.


Saturday 21 September 2013


Today is the day of the Sunshine Tour Small Tour Dressage Championship

Folly had a few hours out in the field (without a rug so you can imagine how clean she was), plaited and gave Folly a good groom as she was rather muddy. Rianna helped get Folly all lovely and clean.

Got loaded up in the lorry and off we went to Great Bookham EC. Didn't take too long to get there. Peter and the girls were already there. Girls helped give Folly a final polish up and it was time to warm up. Folly was a bit on her toes when I first got on, then she chilled out. Had a good warm up and Folly felt really good. Went in and did our test Prelim 14. Stu confessed he had only videoed that last couple of min's. I was really pleased with how Folly had gone and her transitions were better than ever. Then it was time to wait to see how we had done. Well, lets just say unfortunately the judge did not think we had gone well at all, giving us 62.9% which meant we were not placed among the 30 horses in the class. I was disappointed with our percentage as I really felt we had gone well. Oh well, never mind, lets hope next time we do much better.

So off we went back home and Folly had a lovely tea and time for bed.

VIDEO CLIP: Only the second half of our test:




Monday 16 to Friday 20 September 2013


Gave Folly Monday off, so just gave her a pear which she loves, to keep her happy.

I decided it was time I groomed, tacked up and got on Rudy by myself and I did it, over the moon with myself. It did take me an hour, but I did it, by the time I actually got on it was starting to get dark so just had 20 min's at walk in the field.

Thankfully the ground was good due to the rain so I could school Folly as we needed to practice big time for Saturdays Championship. So we practiced Tues, Weds and Thurs in the paddock and the school and she was very good. Hopefully we will be as ready as we can ever be for Saturday.

I managed to ride Rudy as well on Weds, we are still having trouble with trot and getting him to canter, I think he is just really testing me. We will get there I hope, just keep practicing.

So today (Friday) I took Rudy out for the 3rd time on a hack and he was such a good boy and the traffic were very kind and gave us plenty of space. The first time I took him out we were 15 min's, 2nd time 20 min's and today were stayed out for 35 min's. Gradually building up the time and distance so he gets used to being out on a hack without worrying about how far from home he is.

Then took Folly for a little hack, just chilled walk and then got tack cleaned and ready for tomorrow.


Sunday 15 September 2013


So off to Little Owl Stables for Dressage tests Prelim 14 and Novice 24. Folly loaded in 2 min's which was great.

We had a bit of trouble finding the stables and oh WOW, what a gorgeous place, spotlessly clean and some really lovely horses. My friend was there with her youngster for their first outing doing Dressage.

Worked in on the most amazing school surface, then time for us to go in and do Prelim 14. Oh and what a surprise, it rained. I was managing to remember the test and then came round from H to C after our canter to trot to walk and I went completely blank for about 3 seconds and then thankfully remembered where to go. Phew that was close. Can you believe it, we won the class with our highest mark. 1st with 69.17%, so really chuffed.

Gave Folly a little 5 min's break without me on her back, then had to warm up for our next test, Novice 24. Oh dear, it all went a bit wrong, I completely went blank not just once, but twice so very nearly eliminated. The judge had to tell me where to go as I just couldn't remember, so embarrassing. Oh and yes, it was raining even harder. I had to laugh at my self for having not just one but two senior moments. Taught me a lesson, some how we must practice the test before the actual event. We still did pretty well though, coming 3rd with 63.08%

Had a great day at a lovely place with the most loveliest people, cant wait to go there again.

Folly didn't want to get back in the box so a lady put her car to the left of the ramp and up she went. Boy the heavens open on the way home, glad it waited before really chucking it down with rain.


Saturday 14 September 2013


Had a really good day, took Rudy out for a little hack and he was brilliant and also Folly and of course she was brilliant as she always is.

Got stuff ready for mine and Folly's first time going to Little Owl Stables and first time doing Prelim 14 and Novice 24, both a bit tricky and having trouble remembering them both and not had chance to ride them either because of the ground being too hard. So fingers crossed we do well.


Friday 13 September 2013


I have been really busy with Folly and Rudy so not updated this page for quite some time, I am writing this on Friday 20 September, so these will be very brief updates, as my memory is rubbish (thankfully though I seem to be able to remember dressage tests, well most of the time anyway).

I had a surprisingly great day considering it is Friday 13.

I have been making sure I spend time with Rudy, grooming him and just getting used to being around him and vice versa. We have made good progress with the grooming as I am getting confident with him.

Rode Rudy then Folly this evening in the school, it was pouring with rain, the school was only a bit wet when I started riding, by the time I had finished poor Folly needed her water wings, they were both very good though.


Monday 9 September 2013


Rudy was not such a good boy today, took him in the sand school as the ground was too slippery to ride in the paddock. He didn't want to trot at first, so we did a lot of walk, half transitions and eventually got the trot. Then did a lot of trot walk, walk halt, walk trot and asked for canter which he was not keen on either. So more transitions and eventually we did get some canter steps. It could be he found the sand quite heavy going compared to the firm paddock. He was better with the downward transitions, so I was pleased with that. Very annoying though as I kept loosing my stirrups, must concentrate on relaxing my thighs and knees and reinforce my leg aid with the whip if he does not respond to my light leg aid. I think I was trying to hard to get him to canter instead of thinking about what I was doing with my body to give him a chance to canter, lesson learned, take my time and take a step back, more transitions and ask for canter again. I have given myself a good telling off.

Folly had a day off today, so just a cuddle and pear (removing the pips as they can be harmful to horses) which she loves.

Need the rain to stop now as the ground is too wet believe it or not, I don't know, no pleasing some people! lol.


Sunday 8 September 2013


Rain, rain and a bit more rain, well the ground does need it.

After helping Stu around the yard, he got Rudy ready for our first hack out around the quiet roads. I was a little bit nervous as he is a lot of horse to control out on the road. I needn't have worried though as he was a little gem. We said hello to a yellow barrier and a low level silver trailer and some children on the swings, he looked and was a bit unsure. With a bit of encouragement he went up and sniffed at the barrier and trailer and walked passed the children on the swings. He was walking actively forward with ears pricked and he seemed to enjoy the change of scenery. I was over the moon with him and really enjoyed our little hack out.

Then took Folly for a little hack round the roads, as always she was a very good girl.

Had a really fab weekend with Folly and Rudy.


Saturday 7 September 2013


Last night I schooled Folly and what a super star she was. After watching some Sylvia Loch's video's I was all inspired and reminded me of stuff I should be doing. Folly responded beautifully to my body aids (when I got them right that is). Walk, Trot and Canter transitions where so much better, she was active and light. Really pleased with out training session. Then did some grooming practice with Rudy and he was a pretty good boy. Managed to groom him all over and gave him a little neck massage.

Really good we had some rain as the ground really needs it. Rode Rudy today and continuing on with my inspiration from Sylvia Loch, our training session was brilliant. He is not as responsive as Folly to my body aids, as he does not understand what I am asking yet. So I have to be a bit more obvious with my aids. He is starting to seek the contact and stretch in a rounder frame. Trot to walk needs a LOT of work and trot to canter on the right rein also needs a lot of work as it seems harder for him to keep cantering, the left rein is easier for him. Hopefully we are going out for our first little hack tomorrow. I am a great believer in variety, prevents a horse becoming stale and bored. So getting him out hacking will really help with his education as he hasn't been out hacking for quite a long while.



Thursday 5 September 2013


A quiet week this week as just been hacking Folly, then lightly schooled last night in a friends sand/rubber school so I could practice a bit of canter trot transitions, bit dodgy to start with, then quite good, she was a good girl and felt we had achieved some good work.

I have been spending time getting to know Rudy and working on my confidence handling on the ground. Because I have not handled such a big horse for a very long time, his size is quite daunting. So I have been bringing him out of his stable, tying him up which he is not used to as normally everything is done in his stable and food features quite a lot! lol My aim is to be able to groom him and tack him up outside and without using food. (Because I am allergic to horses hair and dust, I have to do everything outside and while wearing a surgical mask, mmmm, not a pretty sight! lol. We made good progress on Tues, I managed to groom him all over with out too much fuss from Rudy. We took 3 steps back on Weds as he was quite naughty. Then today he was a good boy and I actually rode him, just some light flatwork, mainly in walk, with a little trot asking him to stretch and seek the contact and then loops and a bit of shoulder in. He was really good and I felt much more confident this evening.

Hopefully the more time I spend handling Rudy the more he will trust me and vice versa and it will all be a fun experience for both of us. Just need to find transport to get him to Little Owl on 15 Sept, otherwise it will just be Folly and I competing. Fingers crossed.


Saturday 31 Aug and Sunday 1 Sept 2013



Got down the yard in plenty of time which was a good job I did, as one of the people having a lesson did not arrive in time, so me and Rudy had to go earlier. Rudy was a little monkey to bring in and Stu thought he might be a bit naughty in our lesson. He wasn't, he was a very good boy, just a bit nosy when the other horses were wandering around. Our lesson was with Rob Waine and we worked on making sure I had an even contact on both reins and encouraging Rudy to seek the contact, so working long and low in walk and trot. Using 5m loops to get Rudy moving more under the saddle and as well as asking him to lengthen his stride without going faster. I really enjoyed the lesson and found out how to correct Rudy when is looses his left shoulder on the right rein. Basically I almost ask for left flexion but still keeping him to the right which keeps him straight on the long side and on the corners stops him loosing his shoulder. He does try to back off though on the corner so I have to ask with me leg more positively to keep him forward. Got some of the lesson on video but not as much as I would have liked to remind me of what I need to do when I get the chance to ride him again.

My friend came to see me at the stables and Linda made 2 very yummy cakes, a victoria sponge and a chocolate sponge and I had a piece of both as I couldn't decide which to have.

Then I took Folly out for a nice hack, a good active walk on a long rein and some medium walk with a bit of leg yielding to keep her on her toes. A lovely day and she was an angel.

A very nice horsey weekend.

VIDEO CLIP: Me and Rudy having a lesson with Rob Waine

There are a few clips from the video on Rodolfo's page


Well, thought I had better ride Rudy before our lesson tomorrow. Stu got him ready and up I got, goodness, he really is a big boy. I still felt a bit nervous and took me about 20 min's to feel relaxed on him. He was a good boy apart from a couple of little bucks and I didn't feel scared thank goodness. He is starting to listen to my body aids when asking him to go from trot to walk and walk to stand. Still not seeking the contact, so still working on encouraging him to go forward in a long and low outline. I was really pleased with our training session and looking forward to our lesson tomorrow.

Then it was Folly's turn, after our not very successful training session yesterday in the and school. I decided to train in the field, which proved to be much more successful. She was a different pony, even though the ground was a bit hard for her liking, she was a very good girl. Working on lots and lots and lots of transitions in walk, trot and a tiny bit of canter. Her shoulder in was better, still have trouble with leg yielding though. I videoed our session so I could see how she was going compared to yesterday and I was very pleased to see she was much more active, even though not tracking up fully.

VIDEO CLIP: Me and Folly training session


Monday 26 to Friday 30 Aug 2013


It has been a bit of a quiet week.

Monday just took Folly out for a quiet walk round the roads as she didn't get ridden yesterday.

Tuesday we went for another hack, not so quiet as Folly was feeling a little lively and strong. We had some really nice trot, plus I was practicing transitions as well and by the end of the hack she was really responsive with the lightest aids, I was very happy with Folly for being such a good girl.

Wednesday Folly had a bit of a treat as Laura from Equilibrium Animal Physiotherapy and Equine Training came and gave her a lovely physio session. I have never seen Folly's muscle's so supple. I was really happy with the work Laura had done with Folly.

Thursday just took Folly for a quiet walk after her physio yesterday. When I got back I decided I should get to know Rudy a bit better and for him to get to know me too. So as it was nice and quiet down the yard, I got him out of his stable to give him a groom. He is normally groomed and tacked up in his stable. Because I am allergic to horses and all that goes with them I have to groom outside and wear a mask as well. As you can imagine, this was all new and exciting for him. He is only 5 yr so still very immature. So we have fidgeting, trying to bite me, striking out and lots of swishing tail. He really liked his face being brushed, so each time he objected I would go back to brushing his face. I only go as far as his shoulders today. I hate to admit I am rather scared of him as he is so big and young, he is a totally different ball game to little Folly. So I am working on getting over my fear of him and building my confidence around him. I didn't want to push things too far with him, so after about 10 or 15 mins it was time for him to go back in his stable. Well, he wasn't keen on that idea either, took me 5 min's to get him to go back in his stable by putting light pressure (lead rope round my body a bit so I had some weight behind it) on the lead rope until he stepped forwards, then lots of praise and he eventually walked in to his stable quite happily and without the use of any food. I gave him lots of praise to let him know what a good boy he was.

Friday I took Folly into the sand school to start some practice for our Novice 24 test next week which involves a LOT of canter. The ground is too hard for canter work so into the school we went. There were horses still out in the field which Folly was not impressed with. Well to cut a long story short, it was probably the worst practice session EVER. Not listening, strong, head all over the place, not tracking up at all and I was a mess too. So not a good start to our training, lets hope it was a one off and she was just having an off day. Then it was time to do a bit of bonding with Rudy, Stu was there today, so I felt a bit happier having someone there. I used the TTouch today which worked well on his ear's and OK on his face. He didn't try and pull back so much today but he was still fidgeting, striking out (which I researched when I got home and will try some techniques tomorrow as it is a very dangerous habit which needs to be broken ASAP). I did managed to get as far as the middle of his back and tummy and I felt more confident with him. So very pleased with our little session today and he walked straight back into this stable without hesitation, so that was a big plus.


Saturday 24 Aug 2013


The day of mine and Rodolfo (Rudy's) first dressage test.

Typical Bank Holiday weather, yep, it poured down all day. Rudy did not want to get wet as it took nearly an hour to convince him it would be a good idea to go and compete in Dressage when it's raining cats and dogs.

We all got to Pachesham EC, Leatherhead safely.

Melinda rode Rudy first in Prelim 15 at 12:08hrs and mine was not until 14:08hrs, so Rudy had a nice break, munching on grass and hay. I was really hoping the rain would ease off, but no, it rained even harder.

I was feeling VERY nervous about riding Rudy as this would only be my 3rd time riding him. I am happy to say, he was such a good boy, there were a lot of horses whizzing by and sometimes quite close to him and he was so well behaved. I finally managed to get my jelly legs working and started to relax a little bit.

It was time to go in and do our test. I was a bit worried as when the bell rang and I asked Rudy to trot, he didn't want to at first. Then off he went, I over shot the center line forgetting I was not on little Folly, a silly mistake. We got through the test, not great, I was still nervous as he was looking at things outside the arena, but he was still very good. We have a LOT to work on before our next outing, which hopefully will be in the near future. I am feeling very pleased with myself for finally riding Rudy, he is lovely to ride if a little hard to keep going, he is a super star in the making (hopefully), he has great potential. Watch this space.

VIDEO CLIP: Me and Rudy our first dressage test together via Youtube


Friday 23 Aug 2013


Me and Folly went for a rather lively hack, she was very on her toes. Very warm evening, went round the golf course and through Shepperton. Had a fab ride if a little lively and strong. Giving Folly some chill out time as a few weeks before our next dressage event.

Melinda and Stu had bathed Rudy and Melinda had plaited him. I cleaned his bridle and go a few things ready for tomorrow. Then home to make sandwiches as we will be at the event for quite a while. Melinda's test is at 12.08hrs and mine is 14.08hrs, which is good as it will give Rudy a nice break in between tests. Supposed to rain tomorrow which is not great, hopefully it will only be a light shower.

Still can't believe I am actually going to ride Rudy in a dressage event after only riding him twice, I must be mad. I so hope we do well and I don't make a fool of myself.


Thursday 22 Aug 2013


I couldn't wait to finish work and get down the stables as I was going to ride Rudy for the second time and just hoping I didn't feel as scared. So for the second time on with the body protector and up I got. He really is very big and his neck goes on forever. Well I still felt pretty scared. It took me about 20 minutes to start to relax. After about 15 minutes of walk exercises, it was time to move into trot. Well Rudy wasn't too keen at first and then off we went. To start with he is a little opinionated and not wanting to bend or move off the leg. Slowly but surely we got there, not a very pretty sight though, me bouncing about and legs a bit jelly. After about 30 minutes I started to build up to cantering. I finally got the courage to ask him for canter and he was so smooth into canter I wasn't even sure he was cantering. I was chuffed to bits he accepted my aids and was doing what I asked.

I then thought I had better see if we could get through the test. We did manage to get through it, again, not very pretty but I was very happy to have done it. As going on Saturday not knowing if I could do it, would have been even more nerve racking. My friend videoed us so I could see what I was doing and make adjustments in the hope I can do Rudy justice on Saturday.

When I looked back at the video I felt a bit better seeing he was moving forward which is all I can hope for at this early stage.

Fingers crossed we do well on Saturday at Pachesham EC for our first test together doing Prelim 19. It will be very strange competing on a horse that will be of a similar size to the other horses.

You can see some photos from today's session by going to Rodolfo (Rudy)

I then rode Folly, just some gentle walk and trot stretching and bending to see if we can be more supple for our next test. Bless her, she felt like a Shetland after riding Rudy. Such a good girl, love her to bits.

VIDEO CLIPS: Me riding Rudy today via Youtube


Right Canter

Left Canter (a bit hit and miss)


Wednesday 21 Aug 2013


Me and Folly went for a nice hack, walk and bit of trot on long rein. Lovely evening, so warm.

Looks like I will be riding Rudy on Saturday at Pachesham EC in Prelim 19 as Melinda can remember 15 but not 19, so she will ride Rudy in Prelim 15 and then I will ride him in Prelim 19. Just hope my ride on Rudy goes well tomorrow, I cannot believe I will have only ridden him 2 or 3 times before I attempt a test on him, I must be mad.

Here is a picture of Rudy with Melinda riding him at their first dressage test. View photo


Tuesday 20 Aug 2013


I did something today I have wanted to do for a long time, but been too scared to do it. I have not ridden a 16+hh horse for 15 years. Today I did it, I rode Rudolfo (Rudy) a 16.3hh black gelding owned by Stuart Boyle. Rudy is entered for a dressage competition on Saturday at Pachesham EC in Prelim 15 and Prelim 19. The girl who normally rides him may not be able to get the day off work. So it looks like Rudy needs a rider and I had a mad moment of braveness and I said to Stu, OK, tack him up and I will see how I get on with him. On with the body protector and up I went and boy, it was a very long way up. Compared to little Folly, Rudy seemed absolutely HUGE.

I have to admit, I was rather scared, I didn't need to have been as Rudy was a very good boy for me. I spent 10/15 min's in walk, shoulder in, leg yielding, circles, loops, walk halt walk to build my confidence. Then decided I had better try some trot, well I think Rudy could sense I was rather nervous as it took a while to get him to trot. Once we both realised we would not hurt each other, he was an angel, trot walk transitions, circles, shoulder in, serpentines and loops in trot and in the end, just the slightest leg aid would have us going from halt, walk, trot and back to halt again. He is certainly easier to ride than Folly who can be rather argumentative. Really pleased with myself for finally riding Rudy. Stuart was really happy I finally rode Rudy as well. Hopefully if I do end up riding him on Saturday at the competition we both get through the tests safely and we both enjoy the day.

Then it was Folly's turn, bless her, she did seem so small after riding Rudy. It didn't take long for me to adjust to her way of going again and I do love little Folly. We just did some light stretch work in walk and trot with lots of circles, loops, shoulder in and leg yielding as now we need to really work on suppleness and improve our transitions. We will go for a hack tomorrow and school on Thursday.


Sunday 18 Aug 2013


Day of the Merrist Wood Dressage Series 2013 Championship

Bella Giles-Smith riding Fully Connected to Portobello Press (Folly)

WOW, what a FABULOUS day for me and Folly.

Good job I got down the stables early as Folly had managed to undo 4 of her plaits and was covered in poop stains. So I set to work fixing her plaits and getting her all cleaned up. She is getting to know when we are off out to an event as she didn't stop pooping again. Luckily she loaded on to the lorry in a couple of minutes and off we went to Merrist Wood. Got there in good time as no traffic on a Sunday morning.

Peter from Portobello Press came along to support us, I was chuffed to bits to see him. It was his first time at a dressage event and he was rather impressed by all the lovely horses. He did laugh at how small Folly was compared to the other horses.

While getting Folly ready, I managed to trip over Stuart's dog Carol while carrying Folly's saddle, thankfully I didn't fall over, Stuart and Peter did think it was rather funny. Poor Carol was not impressed, she hid under the lorry after that.

Got tacked up, I got changed into my show gear, then me and Folly went to warm up. I changed tactics today and warmed up keeping Folly on a longer rein, letting her stretch in walk, trot and canter, before gathering her up and working in before going in to do out test.

Folly felt really good, which I think is down to the on-line training I received via My Straight Forward Training website. I uploaded a video of me and Folly, submitted what I needed help with and I received personalised detailed feedback and instructions on what I needed to work on from instructors Rowan Tweddle and Ernest Dillon. I can refer back to it as many times as I like and at any time. Plus videoing each of mine and Folly's training sessions, means I can watch it back on slow motion and frame by frame to see exactly what I'm doing and what Folly is doing and then make changes to my riding on the next training session. Being able to see how me and Folly are improving a little bit each time, really helps build my confidence. I have found the on-line training enormously helpful and works brilliantly along side the training I receive from my instructors Camilla James and Rob Waine.

It was 10.59am, so time for us to enter the arena, it seemed huge and looked lovely, with massive flower pots around the outside. Folly didn't bat an eyelid at them, which was a relief. There were 3 judges which was quite daunting.

The bell sounded and it was time to start our test which was Prelim 19 in a 60m x 20m arena. Folly felt super, she was active and her ears were forward. I thoroughly enjoyed riding the test and had a big smile on my face and the nearer we got to the end of the test, my smile grew bigger. I felt we had gone well, even though there were times when we could have gone better. All in all, I was very pleased with how Folly had gone, she was listening and so willing to please. She got a big pony hug when we finished. So then we just had to wait and see how well we had done against the other competitors. Time for a nice cup of tea and a chat with Stuart and Peter and the ladies from the horse box next to us. Everyone was so nice and friendly and all wishing each other good luck.

Before Peter had to go, we went to see if our score was up on the screen. Oh my goodness, I couldn't believe, me and Folly were in 1st place with 3 competitors left to ride. So at worst, we would be 4th, it was nail biting waiting for everyone to finish. The ladies in the next box went to see how they were doing and said they would check how me and Folly were doing. When they came back I think they were just as excited, telling me that we had won. I was over the moon with excitement. How lovely of them to be so supportive.

Because we had won, it meant we had to go into the main arena to receive our prize. Folly was not impressed to be tacked up again, bless her. On our way to the main arena, everyone was congratulating us, people we didn't even know, I was grinning from ear to ear.

So thinking we had won as the score board showed us in 1st place, , you can imagine my surprise when they called out another ladies name as the winner. Would you believe it, the last competitor beat us, the same lady who won the NetTex Championship at Pachesham a few weeks ago. I have to admit, I was just a tiny bit gutted, to have been so close and yet so far. Then after a few seconds I realised we had still done very well indeed getting Reserve Champion in Prelim 19 with 66.667%, against the winner that was also in today's Novice Championship and Elementary Championship.

It was all very exciting going into the main arena to music and everyone watching from the gallery and to hear the results over the PA system. Folly and I received our rosette and a lovely green sash with Merrist Wood College and Reserve Champion on it. A photographer took our photos and then we did a lap of honor. When everyone clapped and cheered it really fired up Folly who got all excited and wanted to gallop round the arena. I managed to keep her to a rather brisk trot and then missed the exit as we were going a bit quick.

When I went to collect our dressage score sheets, I was very surprised to receive lovely prizes of a new head collar (which is rather large for little Folly, hopefully we can change the full size to a cob size) and matching lead rope, treats for Folly and chocolate for me, plus vouchers for Frosburys, a physiotherapy session for Folly and photo shoot, how wonderful, thank you to the sponsors of the event.

Stuart took some pics and then it was time to load Folly back on the lorry and come home.

Folly enjoyed eating her carrots for being such a good girl and then went out to tell all her friends in the field about her day, well actually she just stuck her head down and munched on the grass.

I still can't quite believe we did so well today, I will have a massive smile on my face for quite some time.

Folly will be having a well deserved rest tomorrow.

VIDEO CLIP: This is me and Folly doing our stuff today via Youtube:

There are some photos from today on the Fully Connected page.


Saturday 17 Aug 2013


After going to Tesco's to get stuff for sandwiches and drinks oh and chocolate of course for tomorrow, off I went to see what mood Folly was in.

It would appear Folly was not in a better mood, she was trying to tell me something though. Perhaps she had a headache, bless her. Gave her a good groom as too cold to bath and then a massage. Cleaned tack and got stuff ready then did the thing I am not the best at, plaiting and then it started raining, we would not win any prizes for turnout.

Really hope her plaits stay in and she stays clean. Everything ready, then off home to make sandwiches and get my stuff ready and off to bed as an early start in the morning.


Friday 16 Aug 2013


So, our last training session before the big day. My friend Rianna was on camera duty, as I really wanted to be able to see exactly what I am doing and what effect I am having on Folly. The session did not quite go according to plan though, as Folly came into season and she is a typical chestnut mare i.e. stroppy mare! lol. A judge described her as argumentative in one of our tests, well she sure was that today, the little monkey. We did get some good steps in walk and trot and even a square halt. She was rather tense and strong. Worked on shoulder in and leg yielding to try and help her become supple. We are improving with these exercises a little bit.

Quite worried about Sunday as not sure we are going to be at our best. I did ride the test and it did not go well, strong, rushing, falling into trot, head up in walk, well I wont go on. Oh well, we can but do our best and SMILE.


Thursday 15 Aug 2013


Me and Folly went for a hack round the roads and through woods behind Shepperton Studios, (didn't see anyone famous! lol). She was a pretty keen girl and a bit strong. We did have a good ride and it was a nice evening. Not long now til Sunday. Found out my time is 10.59am so an early start which won't go down well with Stu. Really hope we have a good day.


Wednesday 14 Aug 2013


Typical, on the way to the yard from work and it starts to rain. It had all day to rain, why does it decide to rain when I am going to ride.

The school was rather up and down so I did a bit of racking by hand around the outside track to make it a bit more level, as Folly is a bit of a diva when it comes to training surface. I ended up with a blister on my thumb from the rack. Glad I did it though and of course the rain did mean it wasn't dusty.

Folly was not impressed having to get wet. I set up the video camera as wanted to see if she was any better, worse or the same on a different surface.

After a relaxed walk on the buckle, I gathered up the reins quite short with my hands in front for some fast trot to get her back end moving and tracking up. She does track up well when we go fast, just not so good in working trot. After a bit of fast trot we went to working trot. Circles, loops and so on, trot walk trot transitions, and at last, we could do some work on the canter and canter to trot back to canter transitions. She was rather strong again and rather keen, just not in a good way, too much from the front and not enough from her back end. We worked for 40mins in the rain. By the end of our training session there were some glimpses of her tracking up and off her forehand which I was pleased about. I am still too far forward and too much movement in the saddle, hopefully in time I will be able to be quieter in the saddle (I really do hope so, poor Folly).

Looking at the video, there is some improvement. Just one more training session before Sunday. I will take Folly for a little hack tomorrow. Oh and she had new shoes today just in time for the big weekend. I saw on the Merrist Wood website, there are 13 competitors in our Prelim 19 Championship class. Fingers crossed we do well.


Tuesday 13 Aug 2013


Well, Folly was really keen tonight, we went for a hack round the golf course. She was looking all over the place, not listening at all, strong and basically doing her own thing. She seemed to enjoy herself, showing off to all the golfer's! lol I still enjoyed our hack. We will be going in the school tomorrow so we can do some canter work. Fingers crossed Stu will be able to harrow it, otherwise it will be quite bumpy, deep and unless we get some rain, pretty dusty.

Only 5 more sleeps to the big event.


Monday 12 Aug 2013


I think Folly had that Monday morning feeling this evening, as our training session did not go well. Ground so hard now, really need a good down pour. Folly prefers firm to soft going rather than rock hard. We worked on shoulder in, leg yielding which I think did go better this evening, I could see on the video Folly did move her shoulder (and not just her head) off the track and in leg yield we did have some crossing of the back as well as front feet. After that it did go down hill, in more ways the one. I am STILL leaning forward even though I am sure I am sitting up (I really need someone on the ground to nag at me), so annoying. I wore white gloves so I could see my hands in the video and they look more forward which is good. Even though we did have some good trot to walk transitions, the trot just was not forward going. We did have just a few strides of canter on each rein, couldn't do anymore as ground too hard. Getting a bit worried now, as only two more practice sessions and two hacks before Sunday and we haven't been able to practice canter or ride the test. So will need everything crossed for a miracle on Sunday.

Tomorrow we will go for a hack as I prefer to break up the flatwork as don't want Folly to get bored. Hopefully we will have a good practice on Weds.

VIDEO CLIP: If you dare to watch, here is our not so good practice session from this evening via Youtube.


Saturday 10 Aug 2013


Folly had a day off yesterday as I had a team night out in Windsor to say goodbye and hello to our graduates, plus a sad goodbye to one of the team who is moving on to pastures new and I wish him all the luck in the world.

Well Folly thought she was going out in the box today, she got herself all in a pickle because the box was at the yard bringing back another of the horses that had been to Chertsey Show. Bless her, she didn't take her eye's off it all the time she was being groomed and tacked up. It will be your turn next week Folly.

For today's training session I decided to just wear spurs to see how we get on. I think the box livened her up a bit as she was more keen today. We worked on transitions again, in walk, trot and just a little bit of canter (as ground still quite hard) and halt. I am starting to do a bit more sitting trot, which I find very difficult to stay still in the saddle. We just did a little bit of the fast trot to get her moving, then back to working trot. I think we are looking more active and not so on the forehand and there are even moments of tracking up in trot. I still need to stop leaning forward, even though I am convinced at the time I am sitting up! lol The camera doesn't lie though. Our walk trot and trot walk transitions are improving and even trot to canter has a bit more jump (as the judges comments ask for) and canter to trot is improving, i.e. not falling into trot so much or rushing when going into trot. She is still swinging her head in trot, hopefully as she begins to move through her back this will stop. I was quite pleased with today's session. Folly was a good girl. Only a week to go before our Championship Event at Merrist Wood.

VIDEO CLIP: A little clip of me and Folly from today's training session via Youtube


Thursday 8 Aug 2013


How exciting, there was a little piece on me and Folly in the Surrey Herald today

Staines & Ashford News covering Staines, Ashford and Stanwell. written by Clive Youlton, Sports Reporter.

Click on image to read.



This evening I decided to train without spurs or a whip. Oh boy was it hard work, Folly was not in one of her keen moods. As the ground is pretty hard, we worked on transitions, walk trot, trot walk, walk halt, halt trot and stretch trot. Folly did give me some good steps and especially in stretch trot. So I am pretty pleased. I set the camera up as it is a great training tool, because it shows it how it is, warts an all. Still not managed to find the right angle and set up yet, so the video is lots of very little clips joined together, at least I have something to see our progress.

VIDEO CLIP: Me and Folly practice lots of little clips so best viewed on slow motion:


Wednesday 7 Aug 2013


Me and Folly had a lovely hack out and about round the roads just at walk. We practiced chilled walk, active walk, half halts and halts round the quite roads. She is starting to get the hang of less is more when asking her to halt, as in, using my core, closing my thighs and bum and being still rather than moving with her. She is becoming more sensitive to my aids (well, when she isn't being distracted by something behind a hedge or a worm hole appears out of know where! lol). Maybe it is possible to teach an old horse and rider new tricks.


Tuesday 6 Aug 2013


Well it was back to work for me and Folly today. Working on a more active working trot and less of the really fast trot now. To make sure we are making progress, I set up the video camera again so I could review what I am doing and what effect I was having on Folly. It is safe to say, we do not look pretty at the moment, I am bouncing about all over the place, still leaning forward even though I know I must not, hands more forward but probably too high. The good thing is (I hope) Folly does look more active in trot and even now and again is tracking up, she finds it easier to track up when we are going faster though. I think we have some success with getting her off her forehand. Also, her medium trot is more engaged even if it is still rather rushed. Swinging head because she is not through her back, there are glimpses though of no swinging head. She does try so hard bless her. I think a nice little hack tomorrow after she worked hard today.

VIDEO CLIP: Bella and Folly training, hopefully showing a bit of improvement via youtube


Saturday 3 Aug 2013


Me and Folly had a lovely hack out and about round the roads and golf course. She was rather a keen girl to say the least. A lovely day and everyone we came across either had a smile or a wave.

Had to rush home as needed to get ready for my friends wedding reception and the less said about how I was feeling when I got home and the next two days the better! lol It was the best party EVER and everyone had a brilliant time. They say a picture speaks a thousand words, well the photos are so funny and no, I will not be sharing those on here. I have to say the bride looked so gorgeous and very proud to be her friend and I wish her and her new husband all the happiness in the world. It was really lovely to see so many friends and just having a great time together.


Thursday 1 Aug 2013


So pleased with how our training sessions are going with a more forward going pace (otherwise known as very rushed and fast). I wanted to see exactly what me and Folly were doing in our training, so decided to video ourselves today.

No-one around to video us so had to set up the camera and tripod and tie it to the fence as it was rather windy. Took a chance on where to point the camera and just had to hope for the best that it at least caught some of us in shot, rather than in the far distance or disappearing out of shot.

The ground was still really good as got a nice covering of grass and with the rain, no where near as hard as it has been.

I tried using two whips today so I didn't have to keep changing over which unsettles Folly and me. We worked on the faster trot again, shorter reins (I did notice in the video though, I am not putting my hands as far forward as I thought, plus I am leaning forward, which I must focus on sitting up and pushing my hands even more further forward which will hopefully help Folly come off her forehand in our next training session.) We are starting to get the hang of the stretch trot, she still needs to stretch down much more and her stride needs to get longer too, we are getting there. Still, considering it was another very warm evening, I was rather hot and sticky at the end of session and Folly was even sweaty which she does not normally get too sweaty I think it was a successful session.

Here is a little video clip of today's training session. If you have Internet Explorer to see what we are both really doing, change the settings to 0.25x which is slow motion. Compare today's video to clips further down to see the difference in Folly's way of going and let me know what you think, would love to hear from you via my contact form.

VIDEO CLIP: Bella and Folly training short version

Dressage Training by Rowan Tweddle via



Tuesday 30 July 2013


Super excited, me and Folly had a brilliant training session this evening and quite different to what we would normally do. All thanks to Rowan Tweddle one of the trainers on who I cannot recommend highly enough. If you have a mare that does not track up or any other issues you need help with, upload your video and purchase a session with Rowan, it will be the best few pounds you will ever spend.

So, the issue me and Folly have is she is croup high and because she is a mare, also long in the back which makes it very difficult for her to engage her hind quarters and track up in trot. She tracks up great in walk even though it is not active enough, plus she just does not use herself in trot or canter. Even though the instruction from Rowan was way out of mine and Folly's comfort zone, we gave it a go.

The ground was perfect due to the rain we have had over the last few days, otherwise I must admit I would not have tried the following. After about 10 min's walking on the buckle, I then had a much shorter rein than normal carrying my hands forward (not up). We then trotted on a 20m circle much faster than normal and with the whip held in my inside hand just tapping her lightly on her quarters to encourage her to be more active and come underneath herself. Rowan mentioned it will feel horrible and very weird and she was right. I then allowed Folly to stretch her neck and head down which in turn enabled her to take a longer stride as a reward and then gathered up the reins and so on for a few more circles, then the same on the other rein. She finds it much easier on the left rein than the right. (This is also something Rowan could see from the video I sent her). We did a little canter, but the ground was a bit slippy so didn't do much canter. We then did some trot to walk making sure I kept the walk much more active and forward going than usual (normally considered rushing). I also from the faster trot was able to ask Folly to come back to walk and even stand with just my core and upper body without asking with the rein which is brilliant. I don't think Folly was as happy as I was with how things were going as she was swishing her tail and had her ears back. She was much more willing to go forward without being strong and even deciding she wanted to do a bit of medium trot when I didn't ask her which made me chuckle, bless her.

I have renewed belief that in time, we will have less comments from the judge saying, needs more energy, on forehand, lacking engagement, well you know the kind of comments and more comments like active and energetic test, or something like that.

Thank you so much Rowan for spotting what Folly's and my issues are and giving me clear and easy to understand instructions in a very encouraging way.

Folly is having the day off tomorrow as she will probably be aching a bit after today's session. So she can go and cause trouble with the other mares putting them all in their place, she might be the smallest but she sure doesn't take any nonsense from the other mares.


Monday 29 July 2013


Catching up from the weekend.

Where does the time go, I cannot believe it is already Monday, me and Folly should have been competing at Langshot today, unfortunately Folly is terrified of trailers and the other horse going wouldn't fit into the lorry, so me and Folly stayed at home. It will be Melinda and Rudy's first dressage test today, I think they will do very well indeed, I will find out later how they got on.

So a day off work for me today, updating my CV which is taking rather a long time, as not touched it for 5 years, that will teach me not to leave it so long in future.

Really glad we have had some rain, not sure it will be enough to make a difference to the ground yet.

Well, me and Folly had a chilled weekend, had a nice hack on Saturday round the roads just at walk after her couple of days off. Then yesterday we went and played in the woods, quite fun as little drops, steps, tiny hills and winding paths, I managed to loose the hi-vis off my riding hat, so someone will get a surprise when they come across that. Folly sure was feeling good about herself as she was rather strong and quite lively. We had a fun ride and only got a little bit wet when the rain decided to show its face.

When we got back from our hack, Rianna another girl at the yard was cleaning Rudy's tack as Melinda had to work, so I helped get tack ready as Melinda and Rudy will be leaving 9am so she won't have much time in the morning. I helped Melinda on Saturday going through her test and giving her a few little tips to help her as it is her first ever dressage test. Melinda is Hungarian and does not speak a lot of English and I don't speak any Hungarian, so me giving her a lesson was rather amusing by all accounts. The owner of Rudy who was watching said I looked like I was doing a Zulu dance! I had to be rather animated when trying to explain things to Melinda, well it worked anyway as both Melinda and Rudy were going really well, so very excited to find out how they got on today.

Well, Melinda and Rudy came 6th in Prelim 7 and Rudy loaded going and coming back fairly easily, much to the owners relief. Really please for them and Melinda is very happy and so is Stu.

So I managed to finish updating my CV and upload it on to

Also listened to the feedback from Ernest Dillon who is one of the trainers on a great website that offers online training. How it works is, you upload a video, choose your trainer and purchase a session, write your questions and submit for feedback. What a fab idea, the website is I am really impressed by the quality of feedback and how in depth it is. I was able to go and put into practice the feedback Ernest gave me in today's training session with Folly. We worked on transitions and lots of them, pushing my hands forward and using my core and upper body in our downward transitions without using the reins, well, we still have a way to go with that in canter! lol I also had feedback from Rowan Tweddle who is fantastic, very encouraging and very easy to understand what she wants me and Folly to do. So I cant wait to put in to practice Rowan's feedback in mine and Folly's training session tomorrow and hopefully I will be having another try at riding Kev, fingers crossed he will be chilled out after his massages.

So all in all, a very good day in deed. Back to work tomorrow.



Friday 26 July 2013


Folly has been enjoying a couple of days off, just chilling with her pals and doing what she loves best, munching on grass.

Gave her a bit of a groom, few little stretches and swede and pear as a treat yesterday and today.

While Folly is having a couple of days off, I was going to be riding another horse owned by Stuart called Dynamo Kev, well he sure lived up to his name yesterday. He had not been ridden for a while due to an injury, so I was not planning to do much more than exercises to supple him in walk to bring him back into work gently. Well, he was behaving more like a stallion than a gelding, so tried lunging him and then got on. Nope, he was still way too full of himself, so off I got. He was so uptight I decided to give him a massage to relax him and for us to get to know each other. He seemed to enjoy the massage and nearly pushed me over he was leaning into me so much at one point. He was licking and chewing, yawning and lowered his head slightly. Folly was not impressed though, head over the door rather than eating her hay, wondering why Kev was getting so much attention.

Gave Kev another massage today, he was much more relaxed and not so tense in his neck and shoulders. Just a bit of licking and chewing and he did lower his head more and almost went to sleep.

Folly scraped her cheek, goodness knows how, she was standing watching what was going on and the next minute there was a bang, poor little girl, just took the fur off, so on with the savlon.

So another week done and its the weekend and some happy hacking for me and Folly.


Wednesday 24 July 2013


Well, today is the day we do 2 x Novice tests and boy was I nervous. Another very warm day. I think Folly knew something was happening today as from the time I brought her in from the field she did not stop pooping! lol

Plaited up, not the best plaits, thank goodness I don't show anymore, what with our brown bridle and black saddle and dodgy plaits, we would not win any prizes for turn out.

Very good girl, loaded in a couple of min's and off we went. Got to Merrist Wood and I got an awful feeling that I had got the wrong day, as there were no other boxes there at all. Phew, I did have the right day, we were just super early, I like to give Folly plenty of time to chill out, have a munch and take our time getting ready and warming up, especially on such a warm day.

Warming up Folly felt lovely, so I was really looking forward to doing the test until I found out it was the judge who doesn't seem to like us! plus there were lots of very large and very flashy horses warming up and there was little ole me and Folly. The owner said we looked so tiny compared to the other horses.

We did Novice 27, the first half didn't feel great, we did our medium trot (not great, but we did it) our give and retake in canter wasn't the best and I was late with trot to canter over X, but apart from all that, it could have been a lot worse. I was very pleased though as I felt we were more forward going and active (or so I thought! lol) unfortunately the judge didn't think the same! lol We did pretty well though coming 4th with 62.857%.

We had an hours break before our next test, so nice cup of tea and a sandwich and chill out time for Folly munching on soaked hay (dry hay makes her cough). Met some lovely people, so chatted with them before getting ready for our second class.

I didn't warm up too much as didn't want to over do it in the heat. So in we went for Novice 28. Folly was a little star, she did everything I asked of her and I was much happier with our second test, of course we could have done it much better, but we are still new to novice and with the hard ground it has been very challenging to train as much as I would have liked, especially in canter. The judge seemed to like our second test better too as we improved on our mark still coming 4th with a higher % of 64.583%, so I felt pretty pleased with the result.

VIDEO CLIP: You can watch our test via YouTube

So a good day, a very nice evening with lovely people and a good result.

Folly will be having the next couple of days off and a little break from schooling, we'll just go out for some nice relaxing hacks before preparing for our next Championship.

I will be riding another horse owned by Stuart for a couple of days, so we will see how we get on as he is 16hh quite a bit bigger than Folly. I much prefer ponies but I guess I need to give it a go on a bigger horse, especially as he is a lovely mover with natural ability. Watch this space.


Monday 22 July 2013


Goodness me, HOW HOT was it today. Poor horses sweating without even moving and the flies, YUK, must drive the horses round the bend.

Well, Folly's leg is 99.9% back to normal. Managed to get an emergency lesson with Camilla James as practice not going well with medium trot (or so I thought) and give and retake of rein in canter, plus needed to double check how to ride serpentines accurately. Had a fabulous lesson, our medium trot was not as bad as I thought and got tips on how to deal with Folly in the give and retake and how to overcome Folly's difficulty in right bend. Also rode through both tests for the first (and only) time apart from walking through the test in my car park. A lot for me to remember as well as remembering two tests. So looking forward to Weds however feeling rather nervous as riding 2 novice tests is quite daunting. I just hope Folly is on form and it isn't too hot for her. Merrist Wood here we come. I will just take Folly for a quiet hack at walk tomorrow and then its tack cleaning, riding gear ready and well, you know everything that goes with getting ready for an event.


Sunday 21 July 2013


Good news on Folly's leg, 99% back to normal, and very much still full of herself. We went for a lovely hack, went for a paddle in the river, water was rather deep considering no rain for ages. Bit worried about Weds event though as not been able to practice canter due to very hard ground, so just hope we can pull it together on the day and that I manage to find that elusive medium trot button.


Saturday 20 July 2013


The latest on Folly's leg is it is a little better and she is not lame, thank goodness, she is out in the field head down. Just hope she doesn't misbehave in the field and start throwing her weight around. As she is the smallest in the field but thinks she is the biggest, a right little diva. Watch this space for further update later. Enjoy your Saturday

Well, leg looking almost back to normal, hosed it with cold water, took Folly for a little walk round roads, even though she did want to trot, little monkey. Fingers crossed leg is even better tomorrow..


Friday 19 July 2013


oh thank goodness it's Friday, not been a great week at work.

So, Folly pleased to see me today, gave me a little wicka, so cute (she only wants some swede! lol). About to get tacked up when I noticed her off hind fetlock was a bit puffy. Stu (Folly's owner) checked her over and said to take her for a little walk. So off we went, she was quite keen and a bit cheeky. When we got back the puffiness had gone down but not 100%. Stu will check her in morning and if still puffy, he will ice her leg. I really hope she hasn't done anything bad and that she will be OK.

On a more cheery note, just posted some new fab photo's taken by Berta Images - on the Gallery and Fully Connected (Folly) pages. Go check them out. Have a wonderful weekend.


Thursday 18 July 2013

After discussing the tree and scrub issue with the gardener, off I went to Tesco's to buy just one or two copies of the Surrey Herald! lol

All very exciting as there we were, a lovely photo and piece on me and Folly at the NetTex Dressage Festival held at Pachesham EC, Leatherhead on 6th July 2013.

Today's Surrey Herald - Staines & Ashford News covering Staines, Ashford and Stanwell. written by Clive Youlton, Sports Reporter.

Click on image to enlarge, it will open in a new window, click on the image again to read.


VIDEO CLIP: You can also watch our test via YouTube

I think Folly being in the paper went to her head, as she was rather full of herself tonight. I tried the give and re-take in canter, no Folly, that does not been gallop! lol so rather an interesting practice session. We did briefly find the medium trot button and then it went missing again. I sure hope we find it in time for next Weds event.

Wednesday 17 July 2013

After yesterday, I thought a nice chilled hack would be in order, so me and Folly went for a lovely walk round the roads and golf course. A lovely evening as well, didn't ride until nearly 8pm so much cooler by then. We will try schooling tomorrow and hopefully it will be more successful. :-)

Tuesday 16 July 2013

Watch out for Bella and Folly in this weeks Surrey Herald (Staines & Ashford)

Tonight's training session did not go according to plan. Folly was full of herself, wanting to buck and generally not paying attention. Quite the little madam, no-one would have believed she is 19 years old, more like a 3 year old race horse about to start a race. Well, she is normally a very good girl, so hopefully tomorrow will be more productive. She is still the best pony EVER.
Also, today I launched this News page on my website.
VIDEO CLIP: This video is just a little something from a Dressage Lesson with Camilla James on 23 June 2013 and one of my favorite clips (turn your sound down) watch it via YouTube
Bella would like to ask you to please follow her and tweet this page, thank you.

Thank you to all 900+ follows, it would be wonderful to get to 1,000 :-)







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