Theresa Smyth's Blog

Happy Christmas!!

Apologies for the lack of posts recently – I can only blame lack of time – as always! I will update everything in January – I cannot believe how quickly this year has gone – but for the moment I just wanted to wish everyone a wonderful Christmas and a happy and peaceful New Year. See you in 2017!

May/June 2016

Well a very busy few weeks but not really with the horses – I actually took some time off and spent it with my family and friends! I spent a lovely week in Portugal with my husband and little girl and two very good friends of mine. The weather wasn’t brilliant – how could we pick the one week of the summer which wasn’t?! – but everything else was amazing. Good to get away and just relax after a busy winter and spring. Then a week later I jetted off to Spain for my very good friend Alice’s hen do. Again good food, good company, good wine – I think we gave her a fitting send-off before the big day.
So then it was back to earth with a bump – lots of teaching, horses to ride and competitions to sort out.

The Summer Regional Championships are coming up for me and Brownscombe Francisco so it’s lots of schooling and lessons at the moment. Louise has also qualified Blue River Cocktail for the Regionals. My other clients are out there competing and getting good results and the Wheatland Hunt PC are all working hard at their dressage.

A new horse has arrived at the yard, Livingstone II (otherwise known as Dave) owned by Henrietta Cheetham. She has very generously sent him to me to compete on until he is sold. He is a 6 year old skewbald gelding bought at auction and I had ridden and schooled him for Henrietta last year. Our very first outing was at the Wellington Premier League Show recently (what was I thinking!!) The class on Thursday was very promising and a good score of 7.64
so I felt I could ask a bit more of him in Friday’s class. I was thrilled with the way he behaved as a high profile show can unsettle the steadiest of horses. It certainly paid off as we won the class with 7.94 which has qualified him for the National Dressage Horse 6 Year Old Championship at Hickstead at the end of July. The National Championships at Stoneleigh don’t have a 6 year old Championship class, so provided he doesn’t sell before July I will be taking him to Hickstead. I am also planning to do the Hartpury Premier League 6 year old class at the beginning of July on him.
Many thanks to Henrietta for giving me the opportunity as it was nice to compete at Premier League again. I met up with lots of people I know there and it was a boost to my confidence to be winning at a high profile show once again. Even professional riders need a boost now and again! Henrietta was so pleased with his success and it is lovely that owners can take as much pleasure from seeing their horse do well as they do from competing themselves.

Holiday schooling liveries are coming in to the yard whilst their owners are away. Please contact me for availability and rates if this is something which would be useful for you.
Enjoy the rest of the summer everyone – even if flippers and a snorkel are more appropriate than T-shirts recently!

An inspiring story!

I have asked one of my clients Jacki Belchambers to put down on paper the amazing story of her horse Jalousie. I think it sums up the amazing bond between horse and rider and also that we are never too old for riding/competing and generally loving our sport!

“Jalousie or Lou as she’s known at home is a lovely bay 16hh AES mare by Sally Blair’s late KWPN stallion Jashin . Lou was bred by Mrs Joan Farquharson in Wiltshire and, born in May 1991, is celebrating her 25th birthday this year!

She was bought as a 2 year old by Jacki Belchambers and Wendy Malet, two friends who’d just lost another jointly owned horse and who were looking for a “nice person” to hack and ride at lower level dressage. She certainly ticked the “nice person” box but was deemed way too sharp by the ex-jockey who helped Jacki back her to ever consider dressage as a career.

Despite this Wendy, who was by now in her 70’s and Jacki persevered with her education and she qualified and acquitted herself beautifully as a 6 year old in the Preliminary class at the National Dressage Championships at Stoneleigh –a dream come true for dressage amateurs Wendy and rider Jacki. Lou progressed up the levels, qualifying for Novice, Elementary and Medium Regionals along the way until, due to personal circumstances, she was sold as a 12 year old to a teenage Emma Adams who downgraded her to Novice and, again, took her up through the levels to Medium, including a spell at Carl Hester’s yard where Emma spent part of her gap year as a working student.

Jacki and Emma made contact again when Lou was 18 years old, Lou having in the meantime enjoyed time with Emma on Under 21 training and winning a memorable Under 21 festival Elementary with a huge 76.4%. Emma and Lou subsequently moving to a beautiful parkland farm in Northamptonshire where Lou decided life as a proxy farm animal grazing 24/7 was preferable to dressage! It took many hours and much man power to round her up and return her to the world of dressage but she took to it once again after this gap of a few years and won at Elementary with Emma and Medium with Jacki.

Lou returned to Jacki in 2014 as a 22 year old when Emma started a family and is now based at the Wakehams’ Livery yard at Whitfield Farm in Warwickshire. It is here that Theresa was confronted with an overweight 22 year old “retired” dressage horse and it’s now 60 year old original owner and rider! The dream has come true again with Jacki and Lou training weekly with Theresa, getting back in shape and finally getting out on the competition circuit again. In 2015, Lou and Jacki were back winning Mediums and came third in their class at the British Veterans Dressage Championships held at Vale View. This year has brought a 2 wins and a 2nd place and qualification again for the Veterans Championships in October. Lou is as bright as a button, improving all the time and looking fantastic. She is a “once in a lifetime” horse – kind, willing, sparky and characterful and is now teaching Jacki’s grand daughter to ride alongside her continuing dressage career.”

Winter Championship Success!

Thanks to my team of helpers & supporters on Saturday! I was thrilled to win the Pet Plan Area Festival Medium Championship at Hartpury College with a score of 69.8% I did an interview with the Horse and Hound afterwards and there is a mention on the BD website too. I shall be uploading the pictures and write up onto my website shortly.
Cisco coped very well with the atmosphere of the big event and I was thrilled with his performance – a few things which could have been better but then don’t we dressage riders say that after every test!
So thanks again to Louise, Cisco’s owner, my sponsors Ocean Blue Equine and everyone who helped on Saturday.

Good start to the competition season

Well, my plan of concentrating on training over the winter seems to have paid off! Following my bad fall at the end of 2015 plus Louise’s decision to upgrade the horsebox, I wasn’t able to go out and compete for a while. I decided to work on training the horses at home and have lessons with Maria (Eilberg) on a more regular basis.

My first competition of the year on Cisco last week at Solihull brought 2 wins at Medium level with 71%+ in both classes, which completes our qualification for the Medium Summer Regionals. I was thrilled with how he felt in the arena. Perhaps it has done us both good to have a lay-off from competing for a while! It was really an outing to prepare us for the Winter Championships next weekend at Hartpury, so fingers crossed we can repeat that success. Cisco can be a bit quirky but I felt we really clicked on every level last week – it’s the greatest feeling when that happens and makes all the work put in over the winter worthwhile.

Solihull was our first outing with the new Gold/Silver/Bronze categories from BD which has replaced the Open/Restricted sections. It caused much discussion around the scoreboard I must say!! Although I haven’t really got my head round it all I have to confess – has anybody?? it does seem to bring together horse and rider as a combination but still with restrictions on riders at a higher level – so I cannot be a Bronze rider as I have competed at PSG and above. I was in Silver last week but if competing a young or less experienced horse at Novice level I would move into Gold because of my competition experience.

It was nice to see everyone at the Wheatland Hunt Pony Club rally at Easter. Good luck to all the riders this year in competition.
I should mention that I am DBS checked, have my BHS Safeguarding Certificate and am on the BHS Register of Instructors which is all very important nowadays when parents are choosing an instructor for their son/daughter.

Louise Danton is really getting on with her purchase last year, Blue River Cocktail (aka Winston). She won her Medium class last weekend at Rodbaston so it’s onwards and upwards this season! That almost completes their qualification for the summer.

One of our horses we had in for sale, Centaurs Commodore, has gone to a good home. Such a lovely horse. Tracy Young’s Section D pony, Ladi, has gone off for some XC schooling but is still for sale and would make a fantastic mother/daughter combination. All this means that I do have schooling/sale preparation liveries available at the moment so do contact me if that is an option for you and your horse.

January/February 2016

January/February 2016

A belated happy New Year to everyone I know!

I have had a really busy couple of months teaching, taking in horses for training/sale preparation. I have also kept to my aim at the end of last year to have some lessons on my top horse Brownscombe Francisco with Maria Eilberg. As I mentioned in my last Blog entry, Cisco is learning flying changes and I have found Maria an enormous help, giving me some really good tips and strategies to work on at home. He is getting stronger all the time in order to cope with the big demands that doing changes, pirouettes etc. puts on the horse when attempting the higher competition levels. We are at the Winter Championships in April at Hartpury College for the Medium Open Area Festival class so fingers crossed for that one!

Isn’t it lovely to see lighter mornings and evenings – especially after all the gales and rain since Christmas. Teaching outside all day one Saturday in February I did think I was going to drown! Let’s hope for a bit calmer weather from now on.

Happy Christmas and New Year!

Wishing all my clients and friends a very happy Christmas and a happy, healthy and successful 2016!

Not much to report on for the last couple of months – but more on that later in the Blog!
I have qualified Brownscombe Francisco (Cisco) for the Area Festival Finals at Medium level and have taken him out a couple of times at Advanced Medium. He is working very well at home but, like most horses, he finds doing a flying change great fun and tends to pop one in when he feels like it! Which doesn’t always work in a competition. Still, I’m not about to tell him off as that would be counter-productive when he is doing his best to learn them.

I did a dressage demonstration a couple of weeks ago at my local riding school called Country Treks with Cisco and Louise Danton riding her own Blue River Cocktail. The format was to give Louise a lesson on her horse and take questions and then for me to ride Cisco and talk the audience through my training schedule for this advanced horse. It was a very blustery day outdoors but both the horses behaved beautifully and the spectators enjoyed themselves (especially the mulled wine and assorted goodies kindly provided by Steph Eddies-Davies, the owner!)
I was pleased I was able to get there that day though as I’d had a bit of a spectacular fall only 10 days before – that’s why the comment at the top of the Blog about not much to report! – I was still walking a bit gingerly but my amazing technicolour bruises were well hidden under my breeches!

We have a couple of lovely horses in for sale at the moment –
– Centaurs Commodore is a stunning 8 year-old 17hh KWPN black gelding by Lord Leatherdale out of a Diamond Hit mare. He is working at full Advanced Medium and is definitely a Grand Prix prospect. Take a look at him on the British Dressage Classified section of their website. He has lovely movement and a beautiful nature.

– I have been producing a pony for Tracy Young, which is now for sale. Ladi is a 5 year-old Section D, she was backed this summer and is now hacking out, working well in the school and jumping small courses. She will make a fantastic mother/daughter share or a top class working hunter pony.

Please contact me if you are interested in either of these horses.

Louise and I were lucky enough to see the dressage at Olympia last week. I came home totally inspired! Just a question of trying to put some of it into practice now! My aim this winter was to crack on with the training of the young horses I have as well as the more advanced rides. Sometimes it’s good to take a step back from competition and work out where exactly you are with the horses’ (and your own) development.

We are all so busy at this time of year, trying to fit Christmas into our horsey lives! Hopefully we can all relax for those few days and bounce back into the New Year with lots of energy for the coming competitive season.

September 2015

“October already….. where has this year gone. The good weather has been a real bonus especially with outdoor competitions still going strong. But no competing for us for a couple of weeks as Louise’s horsebox has gone off for a few updates. Our next one planned is the Area Festival over in Camarthenshire.

The competitions so far this autumn have gone very well. Cisco won the Medium qualifier for the Hartpury Area Festival Championship next April. I am now starting to take him out at Advanced Medium.

I am bringing a new horse out this autumn who I feel is definitely one to watch for the future. Diamond in the Rough (or Dougle to his friends!) is owned by Sophie Willetts. He is 8 years old but has only been doing dressage for 4 months since I have taken on the ride. He has won both unaffiliated outings at Novice level on 70% and 69%, so Sophie will now register him with BD and we will aim at qualifying him for the Winter Regionals.

Tracy Young’s horse Unchained Melody has been lightly competed over the summer at Novice and will now be given a well deserved couple of months off to have some down time. She will be back in action at Christmas to get her ready for Young Horse classes in March.

Louise has been doing very well on Winston (Blue River Cocktail) winning their last 2 outings at Medium level. She is thrilled with how he is going. We have both had some excellent lessons with Maria Eilberg recently and plan to continue the training over the winter.

I have lots of teaching at the moment, it’s always great to catch up with my clients and see how things are going. My “Mum’s Camp” this month in September was a huge success with many of the Mums seeing great improvement from last year after coming to me regularly for lessons. The annual “Camp” is great fun for everyone.

Many thanks to my sponsor also, Ocean Blue Equine, based in Worcestershire who continue to provide me with high-quality equestrian clothing and equipment. Their competition breeches and other clothing are comfortable, hard wearing and look great! Take a look at their Facebook and web page.

No doubt now that winter is coming but fingers crossed that the rain, ice and snow hold off for as long as possible. Life seems so much better in the sunshine!”

August 2015

The end of a very busy summer, but as it turned out, a slightly disappointing one. I was unable to take the 4 year old mare to the YH Championships and Percival and Colour Trento M (Tonto) got slight knocks whilst eventing/in the field. Both back in action now but too late for the Regionals I’m afraid. Tonto was back competing for the first time last week at the Area festival Elem Open level and was joint first in the class, excellent result. I now aim to take him out at Medium level. Tracy Young’s mare Chelsea will be competed by me at Novice Open over the winter, she came 1st on her first outing at Novice Open a few weeks ago with 66.21% and Percival is back eventing.

Brownscombe Francisco (Cisco) did go to the Regionals at Mount Ballan, although it was a race to get him fit as he too had to have a few weeks off. Do horses sense that they are going somewhere special and decide to mess it up for you? If someone could invent a padded stable to keep them in one piece before a big competition, I’d be first in line to buy one!

Unlike 2014, the classes at Mount Ballan this year were HUGE! Some had to be split into 2 sections and the warm up classes were cancelled as it would have been impossible to fit everything in. My Elem Open had 42 entries….. some very stiff competition on the day. Cisco was definitely not at his best but we scored a creditable 67.97% and came 16th.

A few weeks later and he is firing on all cylinders again – we won the Medium Open Area Festival last week, which I really enjoyed. We have had a couple of lessons on him with Maria Eilberg and she has inspired me to be a bit braver in the test with him and really ask for a bit more.

In training at home his advanced work is really coming along well. I aim to crack on over the winter and aim at Advanced Medium.

We have just sold one of our young horses, Mr Presidente. He had been posting good results at Unaffil Novice level and I’m sure his new owner will have lots of fun with him. Under BD rules I can’t ride at Prelim level, having competed at PSG and YR level, so I compete the young horses for sale unaffiliated or H/C so as not to put too many points on their record for a new owner.

Louise Danton, the yard owner, is coming along really well on her new horse, Blue River Cocktail. Her results at Medium level are improving as she gets to know him better. She also has her young horse Escada to compete over the winter.

The Wheatland Hunt PC worked hard over the summer, but missed out on qualifying for the Championships, but there are some nice combinations coming through for next year.

So it’s onward and upward for the winter months. Let’s hope for an Indian summer and avoid the mud and cold mornings for a while longer! I am stocking up on warm winter fleeces for my teaching days though just in case!

A Busy June

“Well, June has been and gone in a blur I’m afraid. Qualification for the Summer Regionals closes at the end of June so I’ve been out competing to get those final few points necessary. The new points system is much fairer than the old one where you had to win a certain number of classes to qualify at a level, but it does take some working out as to whether you have enough points from qualifying classes to add to the points from non-qualifiers to get the magic number of points needed! A calculator and a copy of the BD rulebook are needed in every horsebox these days!

The good news is I have qualified all the horses I set out to do. Mr Percival will be at the Regionals at Novice Open, Brownscombe Francisco at Elementary and Medium Open and Colour Trento M at Elementary Open and Medium Open at the Pet Plan Area Festival. Tracy’s youngster Unchained Melody will be in the 4 year old class of the Albion Young Horse of the Future Championships at Badminton at the end of July.

So now I have to work out which horse to take to which Regionals venue, quite important in terms of showing each horse off to their best advantage.

Luckily I didn’t have to compete in the current heatwave – trying to look cool, calm and collected in full competition outfit isn’t easy! Especially when the horse is also wondering why he or she isn’t back at home in the paddock under a shady tree….. and decides not to cooperate.

Following the birth of daughter Eva, it’s nice to have Louise back riding and competing on her new horse Blue River Cocktail (otherwise known as Winston!) He is a lovely 12 year old horse who has been competed up to Medium level. Louise is aiming to qualify at Area Festival at that level.

I am pleased to be training the Wheatland Hunt PC again this year. Training is in full swing with area teams being picked in the next few weeks. Some exciting new combinations to look out for this year. I have started teaching several new clients recently – I look forward to seeing them progress.

Wishing everyone a good summer of riding and competing.”