Black and White does Belton…

This weekend I’m off on a little jolly…  to Belton International Horse Trials  . It’s one of my favourite events in the spring calendar, set in beautiful parkland with one of the prettiest stately homes in view. This year a stellar line up of competitors is entered in the CIC3*, battling for the Grantham Cup and the Shearwater Tri Star Grand Slam .

Eventing fans are waiting in anticipation to see if Oliver Townend will win round two of this prestigious and generously supportive initiative. 2016 seems to be the year of the big prizes with the Tri star and Event Rider Masters  which kicks off in a few weeks at Chatsworth. With that and new trialled classes such as the BE105, to support the upgrade from BE100 to Novice, it seems like really positive changes are happening in eventing, with exciting opportunities for all levels. Is the tide about to turn for Eventing? We hope so!

So back to Belton… As I mentioned, the start list is literally a ‘who’s who’ of eventing, with the Olympic selectors in attendance, team places are won and lost in these preparatory events. If you fancy doing some homework you can view the start lists here. I am particularly looking forward to seeing one of my favourite horses running, Improvise ridden by Australian Bill Levett.  I love the pair’s attitude to cross country and it will be great to see what they make of Captain Mark Philips’ challenging course. After having the pleasure of attending a couple of Bill’s XC clinics last year I still have the memory of his Aussie voice shouting ‘GO FASTER, MORE!’ imprinted in my brain. As a note Bill’s clinics are great fun and his straightforward and honest approach to cross country riding is really refreshing, you can find out more on his website.

Team Ireland are out in force following recent team training with Nick Turner at my local centre, Waresley Park Stud and it will be great to follow their progress leading to Rio. Expect upbeat social media from the gregarious Jonty Evans as the weekend progresses…

Other big names presenting include Andrew Nicholson, Ludwig Svennerstal, Paul Tapner, Bettina Hoy, Clark Montgomery, Aoife Clarke, Daag Albert and Vittoria Pannizon… this is set to be a thrilling weekend of international eventing!

In sum, Team Black and White wish the best of luck to all competing this weekend… we all have our national allegiances but ultimately my joy is to see great partnerships at the top of their game, coming home safe and well.

If you are unable to visit in person for the first time Belton International Horse Trials is offering eventing fans the opportunity to watch all of the action from the comfort of their own homes by streaming Sunday’s 3* Cross Country online. You can watch Belton international CIC3* live from 2pm by clicking on the link .

Alongside the eventing action Belton always makes an effort to entertain families and those not so equine motivated! There is a wide range of displays, demonstrations and the ubiquitous trade stands, along with a food court to refuel and relax.

The stands I will be definitely be visiting are…

Noble outfitters …some of the best riding and leisure clothing you can find… intelligently designed and full of great features too!

Fairfax and Favour … if you don’t know who they are you should do… my favourite footwear retailer and an upcoming business ran by a team of enthusiastic and really friendly staff.

Your 4 Legs …An equine an Human McTimoney massage expert whom I was a guinea pig rider for last year at Belton (photo below!)

Hot Togs …purveyors of some of the best thermals on the market, hopefully not required this weekend!

Recipy … fashion pieces for the design conscious, with quality fabrics and on trend, yet unique styles.

Altogether an amazing weekend and a great set up to the rather delayed and damp season so far. Keep a look out on my social media channels for some sneaky pics this weekend… and let’s hope the sun shows its face for just a little while. The organisers deserve at least that for putting together such an amazing experience for us to enjoy!

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When the King met the Queen! Wanda’s fan club…

 

 

 

 

 

New for 2016 … Ariat launches 2 new boots with added styling

New for 2016 … Ariat launches 2 new boots with added styling

I have long been a fan of Ariat boots for both the yard and competing and literally live in my contours and barnyard belle’s. I find this brand is hardwearing, has a great fit and is relatively affordable in the sense that they perform well and look great for many years.

Fresh for 2016 Ariat has launched 2 new styles to their range. Using their technical expertise and experience in manufacturing performance footwear, Ariat will be launching their new Heritage Ellipse Limited Edition Boots and Heritage Contour Dress Zip Boots.

Made from premium full-grain leather upper, these new Ariat styles epitomise style and performance. A contoured fit through the ankle allows for flexibility and a flattering appearance, while the full length elasticised panel on the lateral side features an elastic gusset on the inside knee for a sleek and streamlined fit.

Both Heritage styles also include a full leather lining, full-length zipper with keeper, elasticised laces, boot slide and a moisture-wicking sock liner. Further quality features that equestrians have come to expect from Ariat are the 4LR footbed technology and Duratread outsole ensures practicality.

The Heritage Ellipse Limited Edition features a high Spanish cut topline with added bling in the form of a Snake or Ostrich print cuff. The perfect boot for trend-setting riders, these boots will only available for Spring 2016 – making them a unique fashion investment and guaranteed to create a stir.

The plain toe cap Heritage Contour Dress Zip give a streamlined and immaculate appearance, suitable for all riding activities no matter what discipline, but particularly lending itself to the simplicity and style of the dressage arena.

The Ariat Heritage Ellipse Limited Edition Boots are available in Black Snake Print or Black Ostrich Print, in sizes: 3 – 8.5, RRP £269.99. The Heritage Contour Dress Zip Boots are available in black, in sizes: 3 – 8.5, RRP £259.99.

So keep a look out in 2016 for these new launches www.ariat.com

 

The End of Season Event – 2015 a year to forget?

Now officially off- season and definitely a holiday feel in the air, it’s time to take stock of the year. I could say 2015 is a year I’d like to forget. It’s been a tough one, particularly the last few months which saw my little boy diagnosed with cerebral palsy and a very close family member being diagnosed with lung cancer – as it happens she has her first round of surgery tomorrow.

As they say, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Well I really hope it does! But I think it’s important to be mindful that despite all the stress I am still hanging on in there, and having some incredible highs as well as lows. Wanda is as well as ever and she and my filly Wilma give me so much joy… even when they are being utter divas with attitude.

The Eventing community as a whole has had a tough year. At one stage I did wonder what on earth would come next. It goes to show how strong riders can be and how solid the glue is that sticks the community together. Over the past 3 months I have been lucky to join the team working to produce The End of Season Event, a black tie ball hosted by the Eventing Riders Association. Held at the Royal Berkshire Polo Club, we developed a Blair theme, following the Europeans hosted in Scotland earlier in the year. The committee was a mix of really hard working people who also juggled their day jobs alongside planning the party. At face value to organise a ball for 200 seems a breeze, but add in a short timescale and some plans to raise money for charity then you have a massive task on your hands.

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I could chat for ever about the ins and outs but it’s a big job and at times caused a good bit of stress… but you just keep going don’t you? If something seems the right thing to do you don’t stop even if you think why an earth am I adding to my workload here!

One of my massive motivations was to raise some money for the Eventing Family, which earlier in the year had supported the Teenage Cancer Trust and CRUK amongst other charities. Through some work I had been doing I’d met Hannah Francis, a young event rider who was diagnosed with cancer in May this year. She had opened an Instagram account, with her soft toy sidekick ‘Willberry Wonder Pony’, her companion during tough times in hospital. Hannah was looking to enlist 5000 followers on Instagram and I said I’d help out in any way I could. I don’t think either of us could have reckoned on how things have rolled and now Willberry is a veritable superstar. It would be rude to claim any credit in Hannah’s achievements whatsoever. She is remarkable and makes my daily gripes seem quite… well pathetic really. Hannah is the politest, sweetest young woman I think I have ever met. Always friendly and so brave with the way she has handled her illness. There is a lot to be learnt by her humble attitude, empathy for others and massive courage.

I was thrilled when Hannah was well enough to come to the ball, although I know she had been poorly in the day so it was a big ask. Lizzie, one of our committee members, had arranged 2 luxe cars to pick Hannah up from her hotel so she arrived in style. This was our first meeting, despite months of chatting and ‘knowing’ each other. I also got to meet Willberry!

Little did Hannah know she was going to receive the prestigious ERA ‘against all odds’ award that night. I had to be so careful she didn’t get wind of it and it was a massive surprise for Han! With all the committee on the stage, Han came up to collect her award. By this point I was in floods of tears. I make no apologies that I am a very emotional person. Sometimes it’s a pain in the arse… it really is… but what’s not human in caring and showing that you care? It was lovely to see Hannah’s face and for her to have some acknowledgement for the fundraising she has done. Hannah really is an example to us all.

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Hannah and Willbery being presented their award by ERA president Bruce Haskell and board member Paul Tapner

 

So where is this blog heading, should it have more ‘meaning’… well I’m not entirely sure! It’s just a tale of a ball, a lovely girl and her little toy pony. But possibly more than that… It’s about all the things that so often get forgotten, about caring for people and making little things happen, or even making big things happen that create little changes. It’s about trusting human kindness, having compassion, being generous and charitable. But it’s also about not expecting reciprocation. Reciprocation is about ‘togetherness’ and being part of humanity but in reality I believe no one should ever owe you anything.

For sure, I can be horrid at times. I work too hard and it makes me a stress-head- moan- arse. But I’m learning… slowly… about what really matters. Life is way too precious to not take it head on.To Carpe Diem, Choose Life or Kick On or Just Do It. Whatever your inspiration, don’t waste what you have and what you can do with it. Be brave like Hannah and Willberry and spread some kindness. Live life xx

Woof Wear release Young Horse Compliant Showjumping Boots

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Well known equine manufacturer Woof Wear are launching a new line of boots, available Nationwide December 2015 and at www.woofwear.com

Their new design comprises of lightweight, breathable showjumping boots offer superb protection against strike injuries to the vulnerable tendon and fetlock areas whilst allowing unrestricted movement of the joints.  I particularly like their simple use of black and white tech materials to give a contemporary and stylish look. Great for use on every yard, the Pro Showjumping boots are suitable for day-to-day schooling to top-level competition. What’s more the fetlock boots meet FEI Young Horse Compliancy regulations which is an added bonus for those competing on younger horses in the 2016 season.

The detail…

COLOURS: Black or White

SIZE: S/M and L/XL

RRP: Tendon £40.00 Fetlock £25.00

 

5 Ways to Treat your Skin Well when Working Outdoors

A few years ago I used to work as a fashion lecturer… yes… seems like another world to that of dirty nails, hat hair, eau de muck and all those other equine fashion statements. Never-the-less I still have a real interest in fashion, style and the constant battle of defying my age.

I am lucky as I’ve been able to learn from the best, including one friend, the talented Make Up Artist Clare Barber. In a departure from my usual blogs I’ve asked Clare to provide her top tips to keeping your skin looking and feeling great.

As ever, the diva herself, Wanda my trusty steed has to have a say and has included a budget face pack recipe using her favourite ingredients – apples and oats.

Stay looking great guys and girls

Xx

Nikki and Wanda

Clare’s Top Tips To great Skin

  1. Exfoliation: Start with incorporating exfoliation into your skincare routine twice a week. Regularly sloughing off dead skin cells keeps your skin glowing and allows moisturisers to sink in and do an even better job at protecting you from the elements. Try to choose an exfoliant that is gentle on your skin to avoid irritation and be careful not to scrub the skin too hard causing damage. Gentle circular movements over the face is sufficient.
  2. Moisturising: Skin becomes drier in cold weather, especially if it’s windy, because the moisture off the skin is evaporated more quickly by the wind, and the skin doesn’t produce as much oil. Try using a slightly heavier moisturiser which includes Hyaluronic acid for keeping the skin looking plump and a SPF. Moisturise morning & night and you can also use a serum combined with your moisturiser to give your skin an added layer of protection particularly for those who have dry, flaky or redness to the skin.
  3. Lips: Treat your lips to a routine just as you would your face. Typically, they’re the first to show signs of dehydration and winter abuse in the form of cracks, chapping and flakiness. Regularly apply a lip balm that offers moisturising properties as well as SPF. And you can apply Vaseline/petroleum jelly to your lips as this creates a protective barrier between the cold air and your lips.
  4. Make-up: Following the above tips will prevent you from starting your make-up application with a flaky base. In the colder months creamier products will prevent your make-up from drying out. Use a cream concealer with fuller coverage to prevent winter redness splotches, and then use a cream foundation. You can also mix a bit of cream foundation with beauty oil to get a glowing complexion. Topping it off with cream blush will add some life back into the skin.
  5. Stay Hydrated: Hydration is key if you want to keep your skin looking and feeling great throughout the colder months, especially when you have to worry about cold winds. Try having a bottle of water with you at all times so that you’re more likely to sip from it throughout the day. Keeping your body hydrated and your skin glowing.

To see more of Clare’s work visit www.clarealexandra.co.uk

Wanda’s Apple & Honey Face Pack for Dry-To-Normal Skin:

This is probably the most popular apple face pack as it contains honey. Apple and honey are used as main ingredient in many skin creams, skin packs, face washes etc.

  • Take 1 teaspoon of the grated apple in a bowl and add ½ teaspoon of honey
  • Mix well to form the pack and apply it all over the face.
  • Keep for 15 minutes and rinse off with warm water to reveal softer and smoother skin.

Wanda’s Apple and Oatmeal Scrub:

Mix two tablespoons of crushed oats along with pureed apples and add honey. Apply the paste on face for 20 minutes, and wash it with warm water. The oatmeal in this mixture exfoliates your skin while the apple and honey make it supple and glowing!

Wanda the Flying Cow Pony by Weezy Lamb Designs
Wanda the Flying Cow Pony by Weezy Lamb Designs