Sum up of 2017

So because I’m super forgetful and generally have bad time management and along with my break from college mixing up my days here is mine and Toddy’s sum up of 2017 ready for starting 2018 right.

So the beginning of the year for me and toddy was slow as I had my AS levels. we were training hard and  getting in to shape after a winter of us both getting a little round, cause we had been working on our dressage. Our instructor Carol helped us gain control in the arena as well as tips and tricks for me to calm toddy down when he got a bit excited (bit of an understatement) we started competing at Catterick Garrison in dressage where I won both of my classes (yay) and procceded to get lower scores whilst out eventing all year (sub 40 all the way)!

We competed in a few show jumping competitions gaining 2nd at bishop burton where we returned to in April for a pony club talent pathway lesson which I learnt a lot. We also placed second with the team after a stressful intermediate show-jumping competition, but by far the highlights of my show-jumping this year was jumping at Bramham and Chatsworth which were big grass arenas and although our team didn’t place at Chatsworth we did place 3rd at Bramham which was so amazing!

We also evented this season and did a few to prepare for my worst nightmare of intermediate eventing again. With our dressage doing a lot better it meant that we were getting close and sometimes even in the placings so I was feeling a little more confident when the day came until I walked the cross country course (I think someone couldn’t measure) so after an okay dressage and a tough show-jumping we heard quiet a few hadn’t made it round and we set off to get round with a little difficulty but we made it to get team 4th!!

This was one of our best years including me passing my AS Level (pretty well I might add) so as next year is hopefully may last year at home before I go to uni, so fingers crossed it brings even more great times in 2018. So I hope 2018 brings you all good fortune and you all have a happy new year!


Nothing to Do with Horses – Sorry!!

Its not often you get the privilege of glimpsing a world that you know you couldn’t survive in. I don’t mean shows on our TV’s – Blue Planet, or Made in Chelsea, or any of the other reality shows that pass for entertainment in our ever more disposable world.

Last night was one of those opportunities so, with no apology, I have hijacked Millie’s blog to get my thoughts down “on paper”.

A few weeks ago Millie and I volunteered to help with the food service for the homeless at Spurriergate Centre and last night was my baptism of fire! I turned up, a little late of course as per my usual, expecting to be given rubber gloves and the kitchen sink as the newby, but the Team Leader had other ideas. Straight to waiting tables for me!

A local York Beaver Group were also helping for the evening and we were all paired up, the newby and the Beaver were given tables 11 to 15. Luckily for me my young Beaver had a great memory and 29 badges on his sleeve, the little lad worked his socks off all evening, collecting plates, giving out sandwiches and fruit, chatting to everyone and generally being a real joy.  If I am ever lucky enough to meet his parents I will tell them what a credit he is to them and I will tell them of the smiles he received in return for his unconditional Beavering around that evening. I asked him if he would get another badge for being there, he seemed a little confused at first, as if he hadn’t given it any thought, then he said, “yes I think so – the one with the hands on”.

I was lucky enough to meet some lovely people, I hope to share more stories when I have had time to process all I experienced. One young man stood out, he received the gift of a new sleeping bag, his previous one had “gone walk about” and he had been sleeping with nothing but a sheet for a few weeks. After eating he set off with his new bed and his guitar, who knows where he will lay the new sleeping bag, but I do know that he will be happier and warmer thanks to that generous gift from a stranger.

It was a rainy night, not just a little rain but really coming down in sheets. As I walked back to my nice warm car I passed many restaurants and couldn’t help but look inside, families, couples, groups of friends, all enjoying dinner in the warm, waited on by strangers, with the prospect of a cosy warm home at the end of their evening.

I didn’t envy them, I am often one of them, instead I compared their evening to the one I had shared. My strangers had enjoyed the dinner I had helped serve and gone on their way warmer and happier for it. Being “homeless” is not a life many, if any, of us choose, especially in such adverse weather, but they embrace the life, enjoy the moments that they can and are grateful for the small gifts those who care can give them.

So, spare a thought if you can, now the weather is getting colder and the rain is more frequent, for those who can’t really get out of the rain, who can’t really get warm. If you have any of the following the team at KEY will  make sure it goes to someone who will make good use of it. And if you have a spare waterproof coat, a sleeping bag or a rucksack please consider donating it too. Thank you for reading

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First blog post

So, we’ve had the blog a while now, started a few stories on the page, lots more in my head, but pressing the publish button has eluded me. Lack of time, fear of failure, who knows.

But something happened last weekend that got me riled up enough to consider hitting the keyboard and finally here I am!

Sportsmanship, according to Wikipedia Sportsmanship is an aspiration or ethos that a sport or activity will be enjoyed for its own sake, with proper consideration for fairness, ethics, respect, and a sense of fellowship with one’s competitors.

Most, if not all, equine competitions rely on volunteers. Volunteers to pick up fallen poles, to run the score sheets, check results, open and close ring fences for entry and exit and, in the case of cross country events – to jump judge.

Jump judging can be fun, you can also learn a lot from watching how the riders interact with their horses and ponies in open country over solid obstacles of every size and shape.


We are very lucky locally to have an amazing facility, Thornton Lodge, with entry level jumps and competitions and bigger jumps and competitions for the more experienced. Jump judges are usually given responsibility for three or four fences and they mark each competitor at their fence, or fences. Volunteering there gives us the opportunity to pay back a little for all the times someone has volunteered to jump judge for us.

Before each event the volunteer judges are given a safety briefing about the rules, a flag and a whistle, and often a walkie-talkie. So one Sunday after our briefing we set off across a very muddy field, in the rain, and were in place at our fences in plenty of time.

We watched the first class, an entry level event often entered by first timers and those teaching their horses the ropes. Next class was slightly bigger and we had a few refusals to mark, and unfortunately some eliminations. One of these was a great looking combination who came cantering confidently into our sight over fence three, some tyres. Then, unfortunately, this riders day started to go badly wrong! Instead of heading right along the hedge line she carried straight on and popped equally confidently over the fence in front of us – fence five!

Missing out a fence is unfortunately immediate elimination and her card was marked accordingly “E” at fence four, with the comment “fence missed” and at the end of the event handed into the collector. Later the director of events came for some more score sheets and questioned us about the rider as she had complained about our judging. We remembered it well, had actually been quite surprised at the error, the only rider to miss a fence out, and the elimination stood.

The rest of the day passed, rainy and cold, a couple of young riders to pick up, put back on, assure they were doing really well, and send them on their way. They were in both cases eliminated, but at this level there is nothing to be gained by sending them back, let them carry on, if only for fun and experience.

Back at base at the end of the day talk was of a great day, one unfortunate fall had required the ambulance, but otherwise all was well. Except that is for the rider who missed fence 4. She apparently had been furious, the main focus of her anger not wanting an (untrue in her opinion) elimination against her name on the internet. Ah well, that’s judging for you, at least she had the courtesy to deal with her disappointment at the time.

Not so another unfortunate competitor, eliminated at one of the later fences by another judge. Oh no, she felt unable to complain face to face and instead took to her keyboard once she got home.

Now, I used to quite like Facebook, in my opinion its a good way to follow the lives of your friends, get reminders when their birthdays are and generally envy their multiple holidays and frequent dinners out. Sometimes I have even been known to follow a rant or two, but ………

……… what I don’t like is this new breed of keyboard warrior. Have a bad day, we all too, sport is often disappointing with rare moments of excellence. Deal with it on the day, face to face with the organisers of the event and then    ……….   move on. Don’t take to the internet and blame everyone else for your bad day, especially local small businesses who are doing their best to exist, continue and provide a facility for you to enjoy your sport.

As they say “The Judges Decision is Final”

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