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A year from now…

It’s January. Halfway through winter, but still feels like an uphill struggle to better weather. I am feeling so inspired by my newly discovered love of in-hand work and surprisingly motivated for January, when normally I just want to hibernate until Spring. I’ve found something productive that I can be getting on with, when normally I’d feel like Saf and I are not moving forward at all.

I am slowly (!) learning that I get out what I put in, and that means keeping motivated. I need to keep chipping away, and if I can’t ride because the ground is waterlogged, then I need to do something else productive.

I always love looking back at photos from a few years ago to see how far we have come and since I’ve worked out how to make collages I’ve uploaded this one. Top left, 2012 through to bottom right, 2015. Happy new year everyone!



Mid-season break

Time for Saf to have a mid-season competition break. August is going to be a busy month, but no time for any competing what with holidays and yours truly’s 30th at the end of the month *gulp*.

So far, I think the regular competitions have been a really good thing for both of us. Last year when we were out just once a month, it felt like years between comps. In August we’re going to try to get lots of hacking done with Saf and Misty Moo, maybe some lessons with Saf and general schooling. Saf’s out in the long (over knee high) grass with her friends overnight, but she’s not going to get the chance to get fat!

I’m off to Majorca for a bit, but will be bringing as much of my equine non-fiction collection as my luggage allows! There’s always an opportunity for more learning, my books go everywhere with me.

Then we’ll be back to Bluegate for the first comp in September, hopefully fully refreshed!


Introduction, a little late…

Hi everyone,

For the benefit of some of our new blog followers, I thought I’d better do a bit of an introduction. First of all, thank you for taking a look. If you like what you see do click that little ‘Follow’ button on the right to subscribe 🙂

This blog sits under the banner ‘Dragon Dressage’ which is a bit of fun really, I train my Welsh Cob and my sister Claire, and my partner Andrew work as a support / advisory team. Normally Claire and I both post on our facebook page (Claire is currently without a ride but is window-shopping) but to be straightforward, just I write this blog.

We have an oddball collection of older ponies, including our first pony, Penny, whose now in her mid-thirties.


Though still fit as a fiddle and extremely active, at 11.2hh she’s far too small to ride, so is happily retired and lives a ‘Last of the Summer Wine’ existence causing mayhem with her regular escape attempts, jumping 3ft electric fences with no apparent difficulty in her unending search for more grass. She is absolutely a ‘grass is always greener’ girl.

Then there’s Misty, affectionately known as Moo, or Stroppy Drawers depending on what kind of temper she’s in.


Moo is Claire’s old pony (and my second pony), a 13.2hh New Forest mare in her mid-twenties. We have no real idea of what happened to her before she came into our lives in 1998, but she was pretty wild to handle and extremely aggressive. Suffice to say that as a very small 13 year old at the time, I’m amazed I’m still here at the grand age of 29! We all have our share of teeth and hoof marks, but thankfully she’s mellowed a lot with age and a lot of kindness, but old habits die hard and we still have to keep a close eye on her. Claire now hacks her, which Moo really enjoys.

I won’t say too much about young Rosie, other than she’s a very sweet Shetland and not at all stereotypical. She came along as company for Penny and is a worthy mascot.


Lastly there’s Saffron, the only one who really does any work around here 😉 She’s my beloved 21 year old Welsh Cob whom I fell in love with over the yard fence when I was 16. She is my world and we have such a bond, she’d do anything I ask. We currently compete BD at prelim level, something I never  imagine we’d do.


We train classical dressage, very much anti-gadget, the ponies all live out all year in a herd (although Rosie comes in during the day in summer due to laminitis). They’re all unshod, or barefoot and I feel I have learnt so much when transitioning Saf after taking her front shoes off in 2013, I often wax-lyrical about the whole barefoot concept.

The way we keep these ponies is in a way that we feel is fundamentally ‘right’ and as natural as possible, given their domestication. I appreciate that not everyone can keep their horses in this way, and I hold absolutely nothing against that. We all need to do the best we can for our beloved equines. I hope you’ll enjoy following our journey.


Position work

Made time to have a little schooling session with Saf, with Claire as eyes on the ground. Saf worked really nicely and I used the time to work on my position. A never ending list as usual, for some reason I have taken to looking down a lot! I need to really stop this before it becomes a habit. Also those shoulders need to come back a bit, and my lower leg is wandering back. Other than that it was ok haha!




Rope Halter Training

Tried out Saf’s new rope halter tonight. She’s extremely dominent and strong willed and has it in her head that she’s not going to leave the yard alone. She’s also very clever so i hoped she would catch on to this pressure and release system fairly quickly. So, going out is an uphill battle and coming back she’s practically dragging me home. This all relates to our loading problems as well.

I was so pleased with how it went. This idea is to put some pressure on and don’t release until you get that step forward. You need to have split second timing and release the pressure at the right moment. She knows every trick in the book so seeing her genuinely outfoxed by this simple halter was amazing.

Don’t get me wrong, we weren’t exactly marching out the gate but it was much easier. On the way back she walked calmly on a loose rope and stopped the moment i did and walked as slowly as i wanted. Very impressed! – Emma


Hyper hack!

A lovely Sunday hack with friends. Photos courtesy of Moo-Cam. It was all very civilised until we got to the bridleway, when Saf, feeling the spring grass, decided to demonstrate her entire repertoire of advanced dressage moves – including but not limited to – full pass in trot, passage, pirouettes and a couple of steps of piaffe. It was a dreadful display of disobedience, but I was grinning from ear to ear! Saf reputation as a stereotypical mad Welsh chestnut mare was well and truly cemented our cohorts’ minds. Misty, on the other hand, was perfectly behaved as always. Well, one out of two’s not bad!



Freestyle plans

It’s been a good weekend – Saturday, Emma continued with her BHS PTT training course, and Claire came along as an extra rider for everyone to practice ‘coaching’. Never one to pass up an opportunity to ride different horses, Claire was game. She might reconsider after having to trot for the best part of 1.5 hours! Just need to find some guinea pigs to practice on at home now.

With Claire striding around the yard like John Wayne, Emma and Saf had a little schooling sesh on Sunday.

We had a run through the freestyle floorplan to check timing, which was ok, so I can go back, adjust it a bit and re-shoot. I won’t humiliate myself by posting the video, as Saf is yet to realise that the aids for medium trot are not canter, and love her, she’s never done counter canter before so we have a lot to work on.

Everyone else had some TLC and pampering at the yard. If next weekend is spring-like we might clip out Saf and start tidying her up. Mist also needs to start gently coming back into schooling work and we will see how she’s goes and maybe go out and do some unaffs locally. Due to the PTT course, Emma will be busy on Saturdays until early May, so no BD for Saf until then. In the meantime, we’ll start doing Dressage Anywhere at home.