Sorry about the Shrieking

My Easter Sunday lesson happened during one of the infrequent periods of sunshine between visits from Storm Katie. Sundays are traditionally “play time” with Leila and I think Real really enjoyed it today because we went from light-seat canter straight into a lovely flying change. And then, to prove it wasn’t a fluke, we did another one later in the lesson which is when the shrieking happened – the first one with delight at having done it and the second one with surprise as he followed up with a Real trademark star jump. I was so pleased with him – and me. No tension from either of us. The secret seems to be doing big, bold “eventing changes” and not anything quite as controlled as a dressage change. Sorry Joao and Dawn, but at least it’s a step in the right direction.  Those Schoolmasters better watch their backs.  And apologies to those who happened to be sharing the indoor school with me for the noise.


It’s not all horses!!

image                         Paul and I are members of the Hertford County Yacht Club and on Sunday Paul took part in the first Laser race of the season. It was for the Phoenix Marine Trophy. And I am delighted to report that he won this race, and he was over the moon as it was his first ever win! I was there in my support role and as club photographer so as I said we don’t just do horses there are other things that go on  in our lives!

but I must say it’s a bit like going to a horse competition there’s all the tacking up, warming up,  race itself, untacking,  washing down, putting away, all before you can go and get a cup of tea!! 



Strictly Come Dancing

The first weekend in March presented the opportunity to indulge in a bit of Dancing with Wolves Horses. First up was a bit of piaffe practice on Real. He’s a bit of a late starter with this tricky stuff (he is 18 now) but I think he was probably Rudolph Nureyev in a previous life as he quite likes the opportunity to do a bit of pointy-toed ballet dancing. Sometimes he even offers a few bounce-steps when I don’t really want it … Anyway, on Saturday we decided to try it on purpose and managed a few proper grown up steps. I was delighted with him and his efforts until Joao Cavaco – always striving for better – reminded me that we had been trying to perfect this for a whole year now. Whilst for me 2 proper steps are better than none, Joao wants 4. If we were in the equine equivalent of Strictly Come Dancing we might not make it past Blackpool, but we are certainly not in the John Sargeant / Ann Widdecombe camp!
The second act was courtesy of my own horse – Giuto – who went out hacking with Jack and Faffa for the first time. Giuto (aka Mr G) is a little bit more contemporary in his choice of genre and gives full vent to his Latin roots – he is a Lusitano from Portugal after all. He favours a free-style approach which shows a creative flair. One description I found on line says: “Pioneers of contemporary dance believed that dancers should have freedom of movement, allowing their bodies to freely express their innermost feelings.” He most definitely did that on Sunday at times!
Finally, returning to the Strictly theme, Wanda Bendisch took on the role of choreographer to my and Leila’s Anton and Erin as we performed a pas de deux on Unico and Xariel. Despite our protests she videoed our efforts which, to be fair, were not too shabby in the end, although this was about the 4th time we had ridden the routine.  Sadly the short clip is too big to attach here.  :-(    We might have warranted a generous 7 – but definitely not a “Ten from Len” this time.
Keep dancing riding. 

Zak and Arthur Kottas

Lovely write up in the local paper for Zak this week – I thought I should share it with you.


“Local Chauncy school boy Zak Layton-Elliott (14) of Contessa Riding Centre was invited to attend a dressage clinic with the world renowned Herr Arthur Kottas (former First Chief rider in the Spanish Riding School of Vienna) last week. The clinic was held in Guildford, Surrey and Zak took his new Lusitano dressage stallion Riacho that he has had since October 2015, Zak is extremely lucky to have this horse who was the Spanish reserve team horse for the 2012 London Olympic Games.
Zak had to preform some very difficult dressage movements and ride to a high standard, normally these clinics are just for professional riders and trainers but as his Mother Tina Layton-Elliott has been training with Kottas for over 25yrs he was invited to attend as he shows a lot of talent and dedication to the sport. Kottas gave him much praise and encouragement along with some great advise and help with Riacho.”
Contessa also had two other riders attending the clinic, Louise Clark and Joao Cavaco that also did very well for The Master!!