First off, Happy New Year to everyone. I hope you all had a great Christmas break and are not struggling like me to get back into this thing called work!

Jacob and I had a lovely bit of rest over Christmas. Although we did a lot of hacking, I think he enjoyed having a few less rugs on and a good roll in the dirt after all of the preening in the run up to Olympia.

Funnily enough his coat still looks great and brings a smile to my face each morning when I take his rugs off.

Now I am back at work it has been a real shock to both of our systems being up and awake at 6.30am again. He was well and truly fast asleep when I turned on his light on Monday morning and I can’t say I am enjoying the mucking out in the dark again!

Jacob is having a little bit of down time now as I can’t ride before work anymore so we are back to being weekend happy hackers, which at the moment is suiting us just fine. However, it is full swing ahead again with the novice ponies. I swear showing only used to be a summer sport!

I went a to ride Bam (Popsters Glamourize — pictured top) a couple of times during my break, who is coming along really well. I can’t believe the change in her from when we first got her. She is so willing to please and loves her work. I am really looking forward to getting her out and about this season.

It is always such fun with a novice as whatever place you come out of the ring with, you feel like you have achieved something.

A new face

Chloe Chubb Flute

I also had a new novice pony arrive after the New Year — introducing four-year-old Laithehill Flute (pictured above and below).

He has arrived from Chief’s owners (Richard and Jane) who have had him since a youngster. It was planned he would be a stud stallion for them but unfortunately one of his testicles didn’t drop so he has to be cut. Luckily for me he now gets to start his ridden career.

Having not done anything since a yearling I think it could be a slow process as he has a fair amount of maturing and learning to do. But so far he has taken everything in his stride. He is a real ‘barbie’ pony and can really move. We are quite excited about his future, although I am slightly worried he might be a little small for me at just 13hh. I better start that New Year diet I always talk about!

I do love this time of year as it is always exciting with the baby ponies. Getting glimpses of what might be and planning ahead always gets me excited for the season.

Fingers crossed, Chief will be coming back to compete in a few shows with me in his last season under saddle, and Windy will also be campaigning a little more seriously this year, so I have been busy hunting down the shows and judges.

Chlow Chubb Flute2

What about the amateurs?

However, it is sad to see so many of the Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) qualifiers for mountain and moorlands (M&M) are now being assigned to midweek shows where the regular people who work, like me, will struggle to go to. When you get such limited holiday and try to have a bit of a life as well it becomes all the more restricting on what you can do and aim for. Also with restrictions so tight with schools now, so many children won’t be able to compete either.

I know there are often comments that the small breed M&Ms are dominated by professional adults but with the qualifiers placed like they are, it’s hardly surprising.

I work to afford my hobby and want to ride my ponies, however with more qualifiers being put so close together and midweek, it looks likely this year might be a very different season for me.

I hope HOYS might have a rethink next year for their placements for these qualifiers to give some of us amateurs more opportunities to get to them.

Chloe