Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Eventing Europeans: A golden opportunity for event groom Sarah Charnley

After her success at Badminton this spring, it was no surprise that top eventer, Ros Canter and her ride, All Star B (aka Alby), were selected for the eventing European championships in Strzegom, Poland. Her trusty groom, Sarah Charnley, went along to lend her support and cheer her friend and team mates on. Here is Sarah's account of this incredible trip.

"I always knew that if Ros was selected I would go with Alby because I had done the trip to Strzegom in 2016 when Ros made it onto the Nations Cup team," Sarah explains. "After the final team trial at Aston-le-Walls, Ros's mum rang me at 6.30am that Monday morning to let me know that Ros had been chosen as a Team GB squad member.

Having prepared and packed everything, Sarah and Alby travelled in style, as they made the journey to Poland in Team GB colleague, Nicola Wilson's horsebox. Sarah shared the drivng with Nicola's hubby Alistair, accompanied by Team Wilson's groom, Ruth. They set off on Saturday evening, arriving at the venue on Monday afternoon. "Three horseboxes went out there, transporting two horses and all the equipment. We went by ferry and had pre-organised stopping points with one overnight stay." The support crew were already at the event, so Sarah and her travelling companions were greeted with the stables all set up, bedding down, and the British flag already flying high above them!

"The whole event was an emotional rollercoaster, from finding out that Ros would be riding in the team to getting Alby ready for each phase. In the dressage he gave his all and gained a personal best. I was in tears, but thankfully it was sunny so I had glasses on!"

How were the grooms catered for and were there any social events?
"The grooms stayed in their respective lorries and we ate meals together either in our lorries or in the canteen where we had breakfast and lunch provided. There were no parties, but we made our own entertainment. After the crosscountry, pizza and wine were delivered to the stables so we could celebrate a bit while ensuring all our horses were in tip top condition for the trot-up the next day."

What were the highlights other than the team's success?
"The grooms were invited along to a course walk with [chef d'
équipe] Christopher Bartle, which was brilliant, and we formed a WhatsApp group where we had lots of fun banter during the long journeys there and home as well as at the event itself."

And any lows?
"Not really. Although on the way back, the ferry was so full that we were unable to let the horsebox ramp down so we had to rush about getting fans set up to keep the horses cool."

How would you sum up your experience?
"I am so incredibly proud - especially of Ros and Alby. Goodness knows what her parents must have thought seeing her in her GB tail coat and wearing her official team hat silk. It was an honour to think I was a little part of Team GB! Wearing official team kit was unbelievable."

Sarah, we are all very proud of Team GB including the support team - well done to Ros and the rest of the squad for an incredible few days of competition. Fingers crossed that the success continues to the World Championships next year.

Final team results:
1 Great Britain 113.9
2 Germany 123.0
3 Sweden 128.5

 Final individual results:
1 Ingrid Klimke/Horseware Hale Bob (GER) 30.3 + 0 + 0 = 30.3
2 Michael Jung/fischerRocana FST (GER) 32.8 + 0 + 0 = 32.8
3 Nicola Wilson/Bulana (GBR) 35.1 + 0.4 + 0 = 35.5

Kathryn White is a freelance writer and owns/directs Cathean Ltd writing services . She is a published medical writer and equestrian journalist/copywriter and her customers include pharmaceutical, healthcare and equestrian businesses across the world. 

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Ian White Memorial Trophy: Another great competition

This year's Ian White Memorial Trophy winner is Alyson Parker on her own 14-year old gelding, JJ Malone, or Joe as he's known to his friends.

The pair finished on their fantastic dressage score of 24.5 after storming around the jumping tracks without penalties and stealing victory from second-placed Brazilian rider, Marcelo Tosi. Philippa Henry wasn't too far behind, clinching third place on Chevalian Armagnac with just 0.3 penalties between them.

"I've had Joe since he was a newly-backed 4-year old," explains Alyson. "He was 16.1 hh when I got him, but he's now 17.1 hh. His passport says he's Westfalian, but we know he's part-bred giraffe!" It hasn't been an easy journey to this victory either, due to time out following a hock operation and the fact that Joe isn't the easiest ride at competitions.  "He is very frightened of rattly or loud noises as well as tents and flags and can catapult from one side of a field to another, scattering everything in his wake, which makes warming up a little tricky sometimes." Despite this, Alyson loves him, describing him as "an honest and genuine horse". Staunch supporters are her son, Stevie, and her husband, Steve, who tells her, "I don't care whether you win, just don't go wrong!" Alyson epitomises the dedicated owner/riders for whom we organise this competition, because in Alyson's words, "I really do appreciate every moment!"

The Willow trophy for best turned out horse and rider was awarded to sixth-placed Jo Hales aboard her smart iron grey, Worthy Illusion. Eighth-placed Millie Simons on Facet, also very smartly turned out, received the Moose trophy for completing the crosscountry round closest to the optimum time.

Thank you once again to Smiths Lawn organiser, Tissie Reason and her team and to our wonderful sponsors: former Team GB trainer, Gill Watson, Protexin Equine, Equilibrium Trizone, Your Great Mind coaching, Crisy Salmon (Feel Good Forever Aloe Vera products), Cala and Garry Russell (Chester the eventer) and Nigel Taylor of Aston-le-Walls horse trials

Photo courtesy of Fiona Scott-Maxwell Photography
Kathryn White is a freelance writer and owns/directs Cathean Ltd writing services . She is a published medical writer and equestrian journalist/copywriter and her customers include pharmaceutical, healthcare and equestrian businesses across the world. 

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

IWMT: Meet event organiser, Tissie Reason

Tissie  Reason is a long-standing member of the eventing community and has supported the Ian White Memorial  Trophy since its inception. Here, Tissie tells us how she became involved in the sport, and gives us an insight into the life of an organiser.

How did you become involved in eventing?

Tissie and Tarquin in action, Stokenchurch Horse Trials
I competed, mainly on a super grey called Tarquin with whom I did Pony Club and then British Eventing competitions. The legendary Dick Stillwell was my mentor. Our jumping was great but dressage was always a challenge, so Dick sent me to Alison Oliver [former trainer of Princess Anne] to sort this out!

How long have you been organising horse trials, and in particular, Smiths Lawn?

My first involvement in organising was at my family's farm in Bucklebury - the Bucklebury Horse Trials ran in the late 1960's until the mid 1980's - which my brother organised and I did the secretarial work. In the late 1960's I organised the Crookham Horse Trials at Tweseldown. I started Smiths Lawn Horse Trials in 1981 on the site of the former Windsor Horse Trials after they moved into the Deer Park to become a three-day event. The cross country track was not being used and the then deputy ranger of Windsor Great Park, Roland Wiseman, was keen to see the event continue at the lower levels.

What other events are you involved with?

I am entries secretary for Aston-le-Walls Horse Trials plus their dresssage, combined training and arena eventing competitions, Rockingham Horse Trials and Catton Park Horse Trials. I also enjoy helping at other events, particularly Blenheim and at the Horse of the Year Show where I am chief rosette steward.
HOYS 2014

Why did you become an event organiser and what has been your highlight so far?

I wanted to put something back into the sport which had given me such fun. Rather cliche, I know, but true. The highlight was joining the organising committee of Chatsworth Horse Trials in 1998 and then becoming Director in 2009.

Tell us more about Smiths Lawn Horse Trials

The beautiful Royal Park provides a unique venue. We are privileged to run an event here. The polo games held at the neighbouring Guards Polo Club present their own challenges as we do our best to ensure neither discipline adversely affects the other. I remember Claire Balding's mother saying how nice it was when her daughter was eventing here and her son was playing polo because they could see both at the same venue on the same day!
The most recent challenge was moving the cross country course from around the lake near the Savill Gardens to the private area where it is now, behind Cumberland Lodge. This has better going and have given us more space while avoiding the public area by the children's playground. This year I look forward to even more improvements to the course by Andrew Hunter and his team.

Why did you become involved in the Trophy?

I knew Ian when he was competing. He epitomised the continued appeal of eventing to owner-riders. I wanted to support Kathryn in her mission to raise funds for and awareness of brain tumour research.

How do you relax 'out of season'?

Tissie out cubbing with Mosquij
I enjoy hacking with Mosquij, now 21 years old, who my brother bred and my daughter events, and walking my two Jack Russells. I also enjoy amateur dramatics, reading, swimming, going to the theatre and nice restaurants.
You can catch up on the latest news from Tissie and her team at Smiths Lawn on Twitter: @SmithsLawnHT and on Facebook  

Kathryn is owner and director of Cathean Ltd Writing Services. She is a published medical and equestrian writer with a passion for creating compelling text in collaboration with her clients from pharmaceutical, healthcare and equestrian businesses across the world.

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Badminton Blues: Event groom, Crisy's first visit to Badminton

Me and Blou outside Badminton House
Our blogging event groom, Crisy Salmon, describes her first experience of grooming at the biggest event in the world and how she too, is hoping to event. Crisy is based with British event rider, Sarah Bullimore, a member of the World Class Podium Squad for eventing.

There is no better way to start than with my Badminton story. This was my first time grooming here and my expectations were well and truly met. The location, the stabling and the event in general just blew me away! We were so well looked after that coming home was a bit sad; I liked living in the Badminton bubble; though three cooked meals a day would have started to affect my waist line!
Sarah took Reve Du Rouet (aka Blou) who is a very experienced 4* horse despite suffering from nerves. Sarah took a different approach to his pre-event training by focusing on a simple system and keeping him happy. He is so well trained that Sarah felt he didn’t need to be ‘drilled’ in the school. So long as his fitness was maintained then he was ready to go!
Leading Blou back after dressage

I’m obviously biased, but I felt his dressage score didn’t fairly represent what he gave in his test. Despite a slightly nervy start, he settled into some lovely work, but the judges didn’t seem to reward the good bits. I guess that’s how it is when competing and you learn to accept it and move on!

Cross country
Cross country day felt very long as we had a late start time. The course also caused quite a few problems from the offset, which added to my nerves never mind Sarah’s. I needn’t have worried because Sarah and Blou pulled it out the bag as usual. Despite badly slipping early on, causing a momentary loss of focus leading to 20 penalties at the tricky water complex, Blou quickly got back into his stride just adding a few time faults & making it look so easy! Sarah opted for all the quick routes and Blou didn’t struggle with anything, making it “feel like a pre-novice” according to Sarah. He finished full of running with a great heart rate and trotted up well the following morning. 
Sarah and Blou at the trot up

Blou jumped well on the final day, it wasn't exactly the finishing result Sarah had envisaged but anyone who knows this horse knows just how difficult he is to handle and ride, so all in all there were a lot of positives to take away. We had big smiles on our faces and were feeling proud of how normal he had been! We joke about him being a quirky horse but all that week he was a delight to handle and the work he gave Sarah was totally different to what she had from him at Badminton last year. We are over the moon with him. Roll on Burghley!

Lilly Corinne enjoying some down time

The youngsters shine
The rest of the season has been just as exciting as we went to the fantastic events of Burnham Market, Belton and Chatsworth with some of Sarah’s up and coming youngsters. The superstar from last season was 6 year old Corouet (Elfie) and so far this year he has had a 1st and two 2nds at Novice level, jumped a double clear at his first Intermediate finishing 9th, and completed his first 1* finishing 11th. He has ‘small man syndrome’ at home and can act like a spoilt brat, but when he produces results like these, then all is forgiven! Although it is not just the youngsters who deserve praise, as Corouets mum Lilly Corinne finished a close 2nd in the advanced at Chatsworth.

Coco Flower, my new project
My own racehorse project
And, finally, an update on my riding situation. I’ve been given an ex race horse to ride! Not something I ever imagined doing. However, I felt totally safe riding this 5-year old chestnut mare at the racing yard, so I thought it was worth seeing what I could achieve. Coco Flower is certainly opinionated and it’s fair to say we’ve had a few discussions, but I can’t wait to see what we can achieve together. Of course, I wouldn’t have taken on this challenge if it wasn’t for the fact I have Sarah to give expert advice and training.
When you work for one of the best event riders in the country, it’s too good an opportunity for me to pass. So far, it has been incredibly rewarding and every day I look forward to riding her, even in the rain! In the near future, I will join British Showjumping so we can start jumping bigger courses.  I’d also like to move up to Novice dressage and I’d love to start cross country schooling, because my ultimate goal is to event! Having never evented before, I’m happy to begin at the bottom and progress. I’m fortunate that Sarah is out competing most weekends and at different levels, so there will be the chance for me to compete as well – as long as it fits in with the schedule, of course.
Me and Coco in action

Thank you to Liz Sankey for the beautiful photos of Blou at Badminton
Kathryn White is owner and director of Cathean Ltd medical writing services and  Cathean Ltd equestrian journalistm & copywriting services. She is a published medical writer and equestrian journalist/copywriter with a passion for creating compelling text in collaboration with her clients. Her customers include pharmaceutical, healthcare and equestrian businesses across the world. 

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Team White archives: A Royal Event (Sept 2007)

Ian and his best friend, Moose

Ever since we started writing this column we seem to have experienced more adventures than ever before, and September was no exception. It has been a rollercoaster of a month starting off on a bit of a low point but definitely ending on a high.
Our first event was West Wilts Horse Trials, a new venue for Team White and the furthest we’ve travelled so far. It turned out to be rather more of an adventure than we had anticipated. Very early dressage times meant we had a choice – either we set off at 3.30am or stabled overnight. The former was not met with the greatest enthusiasm as you can imagine (least of all by the Crippen’s who own the yard where Moose and Willow are stabled!). So several frantic phone calls later and with a lot of help from an already frazzled entries secretary we managed to obtain stabling at nearby Stonar School.
With that under control we set off on Saturday with renewed vigour. Anyone who has been to Stonar School will know that the stables are in a lovely yard but are usually occupied by 13.2hh ponies. Whilst the size of the stables was fine, the height of the walls and doors made Moose look like a giraffe. It didn’t take him long to realise that he could torment Willow over his partition and the screams could be heard for miles around! We were soon asked to move them to stables with slightly higher walls to save Willow’s sanity as well as ours.
Whilst the ponies settled into their new surroundings so did we – our horsebox - which I hasten to add has no living. So, on a very drizzly Saturday night we huddled around a one ring camping burner, under torchlight, with the prospect of sleeping on an airbed in the same area the horses had travelled in. 
My confidante and friend - Willow
After a less than satisfactory night’s sleep it was a very grumpy Team White, human and equine that arrived at West Wilts! Tempers were not helped when five minutes before poor Ian was about to warm up for dressage we realised we’d learned the wrong test – and the rain was still pouring. What was said through gritted teeth by my dearly beloved cannot be printed…. Needless to say he practised the test on foot to the great amusement of the rest of the lorry park. Despite the lack of preparation both horses did well and our spirits were lifted. The rain was beginning to ease and Ian’s parents arrived with coffee. What else could possibly go wrong?
Perhaps it was the shock of being well behaved in his dressage or sleep deprivation but a petulant Moose entered the show-jumping arena. After two refusals, a pole down and time faults an even grumpier jockey exited – the cross country had to go well. It did – the boys recovered to storm round the course in fine style only picking up 20 penalties for crossing their tracks at a long route – the Moose was exalted, Ian was exhausted!
In the meantime we “girls” had displayed our new found skills in the show-jumping phase – we found a rhythm – and finished with only four faults. This should have made me eager to go cross country but something didn’t feel quite right. I don’t know what it was. This was only our third novice course so maybe it was lack of confidence on my part or just sheer exhaustion but I was not looking forward to it at all.
Willow, the dressage diva
Andrew Hoy recently said in an interview that experience has taught him that if he doesn’t feel prepared enough at an event he won’t run - experience counts for a lot and I now understand what he means. With hindsight it would have been sensible to retire after the show jumping but instead I prepared for the final phase.
We jumped the first five fences well and then disaster struck. Having descended the steps at Fence 5, the next fence – an elephant trap over a large ditch – came up quickly and I was not prepared.  Still trying to pick up my reins I was not in control. On seeing the ditch Willow stopped and then launched herself from a standstill. Had she been in the centre of the jump she may have made it, but being so far over to the right she clipped the flag on the way over, affecting her momentum and she crashed over the top pole. Miraculously she landed on her feet on the other side with me still on board. In fact she was already to going onto Fence 7, but I wasn’t sure what we should do given we had broken the fence – would we be eliminated? Despite her apparent soundness I pulled up and decided to retire.
Extended Team White with my mum and Ian's parents
It is amazing thinking back that I even contemplated carrying on - but that’s the power of adrenalin. It was not until the horse ambulance made its way towards us that I saw the blood pouring down Willow’s back legs. The adrenalin vanished and I began to cry. The extent of her injuries was unknown at this point and the guilt I felt in walking away unhurt was unbearable.Ian’s mum and dad took control and looked after everything as did the veterinary and support team who were wonderful. Willow was also taking control – no way was she loading into the back of the horse ambulance thank you very much. This stoic old bird was going to walk back to the lorry, no doubt telling everyone on the way what a bad mother I was! Thankfully, her injuries were deemed superficial by the onsite vet and we were allowed to make our long journey home.
Gatcombe 2006 - what an event!
Despite our adventures the experience had not been in vane. We had yet again learned more about this sport than you ever learn from reading books and watching videos. It had been a steep and painful learning curve, but a lesson none the less.
Much to Moose’s disgust, whilst Willow was convalescing and enjoying all the accompanying fuss, he was hard at work preparing for his next event. Gatcombe beckoned and we set off in sunshine across the beautiful Cotswolds. Maybe it’s seeing riders in their top hats contesting the CIC** or maybe it’s because it’s the home turf of a great eventing family but Gatcombe always has a special sense of occasion. It is of course the home of Zara Phillips and Toytown – the latter of whom Moose believes is a distant cousin of his which is why we think he’s always so calm when he comes to Gatcombe – he thinks he’s visiting family!
With both sets of parents on hand to lend their support, and me as groom, spirits were running high in the Team White camp. A very relaxed Moose did his best dressage test to date, showing off his moves in fine style and scoring under 40 penalties for the first time this year. The good fortune continued in the show jumping phase with Ian riding a clear round. Last year, the jumps at this event had looked enormous. This season they were the same size but with more novice events under their belts they looked less intimidating and the boys entered the arena with more experience, confidence and finesse.
Unaware of his dressage score Ian started preparing for the final phase whilst the rest of us (who were acutely aware that he stood a good chance of being placed) nervously found our way to vantage points on the cross country course. The novice course at Gatcombe is always very well designed with a flowing, galloping track that suits the long striding Moose.
Prize-giving and a chat with the Princess Royal
He flew round, eating up the ground and the jumps with incredible ease. In fact he went through the water complex so fast that it prompted a comment from an onlooker of “now that’s how to ride water”!!
With our breaths held, they cleared the direct route at the corner (Moose’s nemesis) and successfully negotiated the troublesome complex out of the woods to cross the finish line with only five time penalties. The huge grin on Ian’s face was a picture and the result was a testament to his hard work and dedication. This was their first double clear to give Moose his first BE point.
It was ice-creams all round to celebrate whilst we stood and waited for the final placings. The wait was worthwhile – not only did Ian and Moose win their first rosette at novice level but never in our wildest dreams did we expect him to receive his prize from the Princess Royal. This was just the icing on the cake for what had been an incredible day for Team White.  Note: Ian took this rosette with him when he was transferred to the Sue Ryder hospice and joked with the nurses about how his hand had touched Royalty. Despite all he was facing, he never lost his sense of humour. And, as luck would have it, the prize giving was captured on video (see below).

Did you know brain tumours kill more people under the age of 40 than any other cancer yet research is significantly underfunded? To find out more about this devastating condition and help raise funds for vital research, visit the Brain Tumour Research charity website. 

Kathryn White is owner and director of Cathean Ltd medical writing services and  Cathean Ltd equestrian journalistm & copywriting services. She is a published medical writer and equestrian journalist/copywriter with a passion for creating compelling text in collaboration with her clients. Her customers include pharmaceutical, healthcare and equestrian businesses across the world.