Cindy Eventing and Showjumping

Liane and Mike bought Cindy as a 3 year old at the Monart Sales in Ireland in November 2016.

She has slowly been backed and brought into work.


Cindy Smiths lawn 5th August 2019

Cindy began warming up beautifully and relaxed she felt ready to go after only 20 minutes, yet I had allowed longer as she normally needs it so I let her walk for a while. When I had 5 minutes to go I picked her up again to get ready to go and for some reason she felt horribly tense. Not ideal as I now had little time to relax her and she carried this into the test. It wasn’t our finest test by anyone’s standards, she cantered in a trot transition and generally felt tight and heavy in the hand. I was relieved to get through the test and salvage a 33.3 score from it.

The show jumping course was interesting to say the least, it had horrible twist and turns between nearly every fence and was causing real issues. It seemed clear rounds were few and far between but Cindy tried her best and jumped clear.

After having to retire xc at our last event I was keen to give Cindy a confidence building round across the country but was prepared for her to be backing off from the jumps. She felt great over the first few jumps but I stuck to the plan and gave her a steady, smooth ride around and she obliged jumping clear the whole way and gave me super ride. What an improvement and just what we both needed, a solid double clear.

Cindy Little Downham 21st July 2019

We made the journey to Little Downham in search of some nice ground as the local clay has got very firm with the recent dry weather.

Cindy did a lovely relaxed dressage test, which I thought was by far her best to date so was slightly disappointed with a score of 33. She then jumped a great clear in the show jumping, giving all of the jumps plenty of air. Then onto the cross country and she felt a little flat in the warm up and were called over very swiftly as there weren’t many horses ready. The course was big and had plenty of questions but I felt confident that Cindy would handle it. We came out of the start box and set off only for her to stop at the first jump, what the hell?! It caught me completely off guard as this was very out of character. I circled Cindy and she jumped it the next time but very tentatively, she then jumped the next 5 jumps in a similar fashion despite my best efforts to get her jumping smoothly. She just didn’t feel her normal bold self at all and then had another refusal, which at that point I kind of felt was coming. I put up my hand and decided to retire. For whatever reason she wasn’t feeling right and was not enjoying herself so I decided to call it a day. Disappointing and frustrating, if only they could talk! She’s been working really hard over the last month so maybe she needs to have a bit of an easier time as I want her to enjoy her job, which she normally does, so I will try and ease some of the pressure and hopefully we can get back on track soon.

Hickstead July 2019

Firle 11th May, BE 100

A lovely local event for us being only half an hour away made the very early times slightly more bearable. The dressage could have gone much better but a combination of Cindy’s inclination to get tense and an arena next to the driveway to the horsebox park (she is not keen on loud traffic) led to an uptight test with a distinct lack of suppleness and therefore bend. We made it through without any big errors and thankfully I remembered the test this time!

There were pros and cons for having an early showjumping time, on the positive I got a chance to walk the course, but it was not very helpful in that I couldn’t watch anyone actually jumping it. Cindy warmed up really well, catching people’s eye in the collecting ring with her jumping everything felt great until we went into the ring where the grass was considerably longer and the dew on it making the undulating course ridiculously slippy. Cindy suddenly felt very unsure of her footing and was very wary jumping the first few jumps. I tried to allow plenty of time to turn between the lines but had to kick her on in front of the jumps when she is normally taking me to them. She responded well and trusted me enough to do as I asked but unfortunately slipped badly with both back legs as she went to take off for one jump and crashed into it, although she did try her very best to jump it. After this she felt even more cautious but carried on jumping and gave them even more air than normal. I was really proud of her for continuing after her slip and frustrated that she now has a pole down on her record when it really wasn’t her fault.

After the showjumping skid had scared us both the first thing I did was get back to the lorry and swap for some bigger studs! Once I had done this and swapped kit we headed over to the cross country warm up. I had walked the course the evening before and thought it was up to height but not hugely technical and after having some rain a few days before the ground was perfect. The warm up area however was not so perfect, littered with sharp bits of flint, bricks and metal it was not a nice area to ride in so I kept our warm up to a bare minimum, trying to avoid the debris as much as I could. Once we got onto the course the riding was much more enjoyable, after our earlier slip I started out on the steady side but once we tackled the first 8 obstacles with no bother I allowed Cindy to get a better canter. It wasn’t our smoothest of rounds but no real issues and we finished clear with some time faults.

Felbridge 4th May, BS Discovery (1m)

I took three of the girls for an outing to affiliated jumping at Felbridge on Saturday and had a fantastic day. First was Betty who came 2nd in British novice (90cm). Next Cindy went in the Discovery (1m) and felt mega confident, so much so that I cut in and took the last jump on a tight angle, which happened to be the biggest on the course at around 1.10m. She sailed over it, as she did the rest of the course and finished in 3rd in a big competitive class.

Chilham 28th April, BE 100

This was Cindy’s third event and her first step up to 100 level. Having gone showjumping a few days before she felt tired to start with in the dressage warm up, but actually worked in fairly well and stayed relaxed. However once she got near the dressage boards she worked out we were at a party and found a lot more nervous energy. She started spooking at everything and got tense, not ideal as the dressage judge sounded her horn for us to start. The test didn’t go brilliantly to start with and then mid way through I made an error of course and got beeped, which wasn’t ideal. I restarted and we got through the moves but it was far from our best. I knew I wasn’t in for a great score but at least we had the jumping to look forward to!  Cindy did not disappoint me when it came to the jumping. She coped brilliantly with the undulating show jumping arena, which she has never encountered before and jumped a confident clear round unphased by the multiple tradestands next to the ring.

The cross country course was a fair test for the level, it had several questions that a young horse like Cindy had not been asked before, but they were all inviting and not trying to catch an honest horse out. Cindy started off well, keen but not too strong. The first combination, an acutely angled offset pair of barrels, came up quickly at the start of the course and despite a slight drift to the right at the first we held our line and jumped through cleanly. After our blip at the water at Goring I was sure to ride to the water with my wits about me and Cindy made sure she checked it out but carried on into the water without losing her forward momentum. After this she tackled all of the jumps put in front of her without any problems and finished clear well within the time to end the day on her dressage score at her first BE 100.

Upon returning to the yard, she still found the energy to nearly break free and dragged me all the way to her favourite place………the field and got a special treat a paddock full of fresh grass and extra carrots in her dinner!

Goring Heath 31st March 2019, BE 90

After last weeks outing to Munstead I set out with the aim of riding a better test in the dressage and improving Cindy’s dressage score. I did realise though that this may not be the easiest goal to achieve as I’d only had the chance to school her once in between so improvements were not to to be made through practice. Instead I tried a different approach in the warm up and it seemed to pay off in the test. Still much to improve but Cindy felt much more settled in her test and was rewarded with an improved score of 32.  The judges overall comment of “some nice movements” was as helpful as ever though when trying to improve for our next outing. I don’t expect an essay but it would be nice to have a bit more to go from.

The showjumping wasn’t producing that many clears, although not a massive track it had some tricky lines, not least a sharp dog leg to the last fence which was heading directly back to the entrance/exit. When I entered the ring Cindy quickly took a dislike to a filler resembling a train, she refused to go within 5 meters of it which was a little worrying as she would soon be required to jump it. However I need not have worried as she sailed round the course clear in a much better rhythm than the previous week at Munstead.

A quick change and then onto the cross country course.

We set off in a positive manner and Cindy made light work of the first few jumps and combinations. She felt really confident and like she was really enjoying herself. The water jump was approaching and Cindy was in such a nice rhythm it seemed a shame to alter it so she jumped boldly over the jump immediately before the water at a good speed. However, she didn’t see the water until she was nearly in it and suddenly ground to a halt and took a few steps to the side and slightly backwards. I then heard the dreaded words “represent” coming from the jump judge, meaning I had to circle Cindy and come back to the water. At the second opportunity she went through the water without any bother but we now had 20 penalties to add to our score. After this blip Cindy soon got her confidence back and jumped boldly round the second half of the course without any hesitation. It was such an annoying mistake as Cindy was all set to finish on a good score but on the plus side there were plenty of positives to take from the day and at least we have a nice big water complex at the yard to do plenty of practice in!

Munstead 23rd March 2019

Cindy’s first ever event!

It’s been a long time in the making but Cindy finally got to make her eventing debut at Munstead. From purchasing her as an unbacked 3 year old in Ireland a lot of hard work has gone into her, so its really rewarding when you finally get to do what you’ve been preparing for. She is now rising 6 and up until now has done a handful of showjumping shows, two dressage tests and a single xc round so she’s been relatively untested in a competitive setting. This has mostly been on purpose to carefully and slowly produce her with the future in mind. However, along the way my pregnancy and Cindy having a virus have ensured that we weren’t tempted to rush!

For the dressage it was the first time Cindy had done a test on grass and she suddenly felt quite unsteady in the contact and wobbly around the turns. At home she is capable of much better work, for her first event I was pleased with how she coped.

In the showjumping again Cindy felt a bit green with it being her first competitive round on grass and the take off points quite holding. It wasn’t the most stylish of rounds but she tried hard and was rewarded with a clear round.

Onto the cross country I set off on the cautious side as in training she has sometimes got quite strong and hard to turn. As soon as we got going I had a good feeling about the round. Cindy felt like a schoolmaster rather than a first timer. Jump 4 was an angled double with opportunity and space to  put 2 strides in but Cindy jumped in boldly that I kicked for 1 stride and she was all to happy to oblige.

Next was a coffin, I tried to take it steady so that she had plenty of time to assess the obstacles in front of her but Cindy assured me there was no need for that and jumped through the combination without so much as looking at the ditch. The only part of the course that I really needed much leg was coming through the water as she wanted to stop in the middle and play but after this she sailed round the remainder of the course with loads left in the tank at the finish line. We collected 1.2 time penalties but I fully take responsibility for those as I was riding cautiously with her long term rideability in mind. I don’t want to be on a horse who thinks xc is all about galloping with no brakes!

After completing I checked the scoreboard, where I found we had a 36.8 dressage mark, slightly disappointing but at least it gives us room for improvement. Although slightly irrelevant for our aims of the day, it was nice to pick up 7th place overall.

All in all a great day and I am hugely grateful to Mike for his support and giving me the opportunity to get out eventing again after having my little boy. Amongst all of this I had to hide in the lorry and express milk as I’m still breastfeeding. At this exact point Cindy, who was tied up with a haynet, got spooked by a trailer pulling up beside us and shot across the lorry park breaking her headcollar in the process! Luckily a kind competitor grabbed her before she got too far as I had a pump attached to my boob so couldn’t easily run after her!!

7th February – Felbridge BS

Double clear in the discovery showjumping (on a ticket)

Cindy and Liane have been to training shows and arena eventing at Pyecombe, show jumping practice at Felbridge, and cross country training here at home at Hurstwood Farm, in preparation for the upcoming BE season.