Helmet Ears Lecture / demo

I’ve been lucky enough to be asked to be a guinea pig rider at the Helmet Ears evening demonstration with a show jump session, a talk from Chestnut Horse Feeds and a cross country session. The jumping sessions will be with 4* rider Sarah Stretton. I will be a rider in the XC session which will be held at Vale View EC on 16th November. For tickets and other details see the links below



Blogging for British Eventing

At Keysoe BE I was lucky enough to get a win and qualify for the 80T Championships at Brooksby Melton College. During the lead up and on the day of the competition I blogged for British Eventing. Click on the links to find out more about the competition and how I got on…



All smiles at Burnham Market

 I decided that I wanted my 3rd event back to be at 90 level so I could work on my speed and larger, more technical xc.

We headed off to Burnham Market in Norfolk, a really lovely venue set in rolling hills on old turf.

As expected Wanda warmed up for here dressage very well, although slightly sharper than normal as she had just been clipped out and there was a cool breeze. Our test was ok, although I have to say I wasn’t entirely happy with it. Since having my baby ive found Im so weak in my core that its hard to ride as strongly as I want to. It felt average and I was quite annoyed at myself.

Feeling a bit fed up I headed out to walk the XC. I wouldn’t rate it as a first 90 course. There were 7 combination fences and some really nice natural permanent ones. I really liked it and it was good to have some hills and good galloping stretches. On the way back to the lorry I checked the scores and to my surprise I had scored a 28 in the dressage and was lying in second… that will teach me to get annoyed with myself!

The showjumping was twisty, up to height and a really quality course to jump. Wanda warmed up well, getting quite excited as she really does enjoy her jumping.  My game plan was to ride a forward round, positive shots in, asking for changes (which we had been working on at home) if required. Ive also got a tendency to sit left and drop my left hand so Im constantly battling with that so I can make Wanda as balanced as possible. From fence 1 Wanda and I jumped a really confident round. Positive work although we sadly had 2 fences down. I also made the stupid error of turning left instead of right into the last line of fences – a definite ginger moment! To be honest though I was really pleased with my round, I rode positively and Wanda jumped well… I just need to manage to engage my course remembering brain with the part of my brain that works on what im feeling and reacting to when jumping my horse.

Next up was the XC… In true Nikki style I was a bit nervous. I don’t do waiting  around very well and I get really restless. Thankfully I was able to change boots and clothing and was soon making my way up to the xc start. Wanda decided to get quite excited at this point and we had lots of propping and sideways action in the start box which always makes me laugh. She was an absolute delight to ride round. Dealing so well with the combination fences and jumping more boldly every time we run. She really instils confidence in you and I always come back with a big grin.

Sadly we picked up a few time faults xc and with our sj fences down we were out of the running for top 10. However, we had such a great day out and I think our performance was greatly improved. Not a great day on paper but we gained a lot of experience. We are looking forward to eventing at Brooksby Melton this weekend in the BRC BE80T Championships. At this event I’m blogging for BE so look out on their website http://www.britisheventing.com/ for updates and information about the competition.

Back to Jumping – another 4 weeks until my first event.

I am a great one for setting myself challenges and so my next focus was to prepare for and enter a BE event. Milton Keynes was 4 weeks away and so this was my aim. I decided to step back a gear and train to do the 80T. I wanted a no pressure event where I could have fun and get back into competing on grass and riding XC. Luckily as Wanda was fit and is such a joy to jump I was able to start back jumping and was surprised at how well things went. I have to say that there was sometimes the odd day where I rode terribly and felt really worried I might never be able to event again but on the whole my riding got better with every session. I don’t know if I should attribute this to the horse (who is a total gem) or maybe because I rode and competed quite extensively as a junior and YR so there is some muscle memory stored way back in my mind! I was also lucky enough to come and train with Tina Ure at Little Downham and really benefitted with her tuition. She has really helped me with my confidence and understanding and I feel that I thrive on her approach to XC training.

We had a good run at MK (31 dr and double clear but with time faults as I was very slow xc) and came 9th. A great start to our season… In August! My next plan was to compete at Keysoe, again in the 80 so I could nail the xc speed and also work on a more forward rhythm in the SJ. I also train with Val Gingell who is very local to me. We worked a lot on jumping on grass in a more forward canter so that Wanda begins to take bolder shots into fences, riding quietly but positively through combinations and dog legs so that I kept a consistent and balanced stride length. Again I really enjoy Val’s lessons. I’ve worked with her since I was about 15 and I really have never been given bad advice by her. She makes both horse and rider really think and I enjoy this more cerebral element as it keeps me on my toes.

At Keysoe my dressage was not up to its usual standards and I scored 35. Still 5th in my section and a  fair mark for the test I rode but disappointing.  On the upside my SJ went very well and I went clear. I was under strict instructions not to hang about XC and was really thrilled with Wandas performance. She really loves her XC and for our second event back we felt really smooth and confident. To my amazement we actually ended up winning our section and qualified for the BRC champs in September. We also got a small write up inHorse and Hound 🙂


Dressage Regionals for Diva Wanda

Fortunately my sons birth went very well and I was lucky enough to feel quite fit and strong. As I had British Dressage regionals 4 weeks after the baby was born I was keen to get back on and had my first ride 4 days after I gave birth. Initially I had to be very careful as I was still quite tired and had lost a lot of core strength. At first I was worried that I wouldn’t make dressage regionals, let alone jump a fence again. I had a tough few weeks adapting to having a new baby, making sure my other children were well cared for and also beginning to focus on my riding and fitness. At first I took things very gently but I was soon able to work on my strength by having a few lunge lessons which really helped to re-engage muscles and work on my balance. I initially just focused on the dressage regionals and did my first BD competition 2 weeks after Bobby was born – winning on 71.25%. Bit of a shocker to say the least. I didn’t fare as well at regionals and came 19th out of 43 horses. Despite this I was really pleased with my performance. There was about 2% separating 19th – 6th and I think that I rode the best test I could have at that time. With the dressage out of the way my next goal was to start jumping and aim for Milton Keynes BE 4 weeks later!