Shaun Mandy’s dressage blog: uneducated Facebookers who think they know it all

  • Dear gorgeous readers,

    I just don’t know where the time goes, but it does! I came home last night from the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials where I had been assisting the talented American rider, Libby Head. She has been based over near Gloucester with New Zealand event rider Tim Rusbridge, since competing at Badminton in the Spring. I coach Tim and so started helping Libby with her dressage too.

    Libby got her personal best dressage score at four-star level, which was very exciting. On the Saturday, the cross-country course caused loads of problems and sadly Libby and her horse, Sir Rockstar, had a fall thus ending their Burghley journey. Neither were hurt. Up until that point they had jumped round beautifully and the great partnership between them really showed. Libby put an awesome pic up on Facebook page of her and Rocky clearing (with feet to spare!) the infamous Cottesmore Leap. The picture spread like wildfire and soon had over 10,000 likes. I think it is such a shame that there will always be one or two people who comment negatively on something that is so brilliant. What is more frustrating is that these people are making comments from a very uneducated and inexperienced perspective.

    The amazing photo Libby put on Facebook which received some negative comments

    The amazing photo Libby put on Facebook which received some negative comments

    It got me thinking of cases I have seen on social media of amateur riders or even just ‘people who like horses’, but have no idea of training, educating and the years and stages that that professionals go through to get their horses to the highest level of competition. Some think they have an idea because they have watched a Carl Hester video or gone to a Monty Roberts demo and are so quick to pass judgement on one snapshot photo and start going on about horse welfare. Yet, so many of these people are riding their horses in a way that will not build them up correctly and potentially in the long run cause soundness, behavioural and other issues. I see and experience it. I have seen so many times how quickly a good horse who had no issues while in the hands of a professional go very badly the other way with an inexperienced rider, no matter how good intentions that person has and how much they love their horse. Education, experience and ability is key. If we remain humble, we never stop learning, professionals and amateurs alike.

    Anyway, back to Burghley! It was fun to be there and catch up with some people I have not seen for years. Roo Fox and Gubby Leech to name a couple. My dog Pringle, of course, became famous within a few hours of me being there!

    With Roo Fox at Burghley

    With Roo Fox at Burghley

    I was warming up Libby in the collecting ring outside the main arena before her dressage on Friday morning. Naturally, I had Pringle with me (on a lead). In the middle of the collecting ring was wooden boxed area made out of picket fence panels and standing about one metre high. Just before Libby entered the main arena, I tied Pringle up to one of the panels which she was very happy lying next to it on the grass so that I could join the rest of ‘team America’ and go into the arena to watch. A couple of things to bear in mind before I continue the story:

    1. Pringle is one of the best behaved little doggies in the world! When we lived in Denmark, I once forgot her lead while visiting a friend in Aalborg and we walked through the city (quite a large one!) with her at my side.

    2. I had been in this collecting ring for half an hour before Libby’s test with enough people around to see that Pringle was with me.

    From the time that we all entered the main arena for Libby to do her test, until leaving again straight after, Pringle had been taken by one of the stewards. They had tried to call me (phone was obviously on silent) they had made announcement all over Burghley that Pringle was missing her owner! My dear friend Sarah Boon, who was at Burghley with Team Bragg, even tried calling me after hearing the announcement.

    Libby at Burghley

    Libby at Burghley

    Pringle was very much loved in the rider’s camp and one lady at the stables told me later that her husband had run up to her with his wallet after hearing the announcement and told her to go and pay for Pringle to be released! This did make me laugh, but of course at the time I took it very seriously and apologised profusely to the ladies that had Pringle and assured them that it would never happen again!

    So the British Dressage summer regionals have been and gone. Euphoria E (Inky) went to Mount Ballan for the Medium.

    With Libby and her groom in the stables at Burghley

    With Libby and her groom in the stables at Burghley

    It was an adventure in itself just getting there with my lorry breaking down and then taking an hour to cross the bridge into Wales due to an accident. Fortunately I had left plenty of time. I had my warm-up planned, but halfway through it found out that they were suddenly running 20 minutes late. I had checked before getting on and it was running all to time. Inky still felt great, but unfortunately lost the winning score due to a few expensive mistakes, including breaking in the extended trot and doing a beautiful (but sadly not required) flying-change. He was on his way to getting his best score at medium so that was a shame. One of the judges wrote: “The talent is obvious when the brain comes to the party”. Love it!

    We went to Bury Farm for the Advanced Medium and Lis (Hollander) and I were really pleased with him. Jennie (Loriston–Clarke), judge at C, had us on 69.8% which is what I felt he deserved, but we ended up on 67.44% with the other two judges’ scores.

    Onwards with training with the fabulous Peter Storr and Inky is learning his tempi-changes and canter pirouettes — we’re not too far off a Prix St George!

    Poppy continues to make a great recovery from her colic surgery and will start work again in October.

    Houston V (Huey) will now have a friend to join him with the five-year-old classes next year as Lorain (Nixon) and I have just bought a gorgeous four-year-old old Furst Fugger/Stedinger gelding, Parry, from our man Andre in Germany where our three-year-olds came from. We still have Bonny, who has been chilling since I backed her in June.

    Walking the course at Burghley

    Walking the course at Burghley with Libby

    I had an adventurous trip out to Germany a few weeks ago when I went to go and view Parry. This time round, it was decided that I would go by myself (save costs and all that!). Easyjet, however, were not doing morning trips so I had to fly out the night before. Naturally, the flight was delayed and by the time I had landed, picked up my hire car and driven to Oldenburg country it was 2am! At this time I was supposed to be checking into the hotel that Andre had organised for me. My GPS though had decided that said hotel was a field! As it was two o’clock in the morning, it was not easy to find anyone to direct me to where I needed to be and I eventually found my hotel closer to 3am. Of course I had been about two miles away from it the entire time. My trip home that night was also massively delayed and so got back into my bed again at 3am. This just helped reinforce the idea that I need a holiday — it has been three years! Hopefully my friend Elodie and I will be going somewhere for a mini-break in October.

    Continued below…

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    The rest of September holds competitions, my brother Mark’s stag party (which I still need to finish organising!) and then his and Maria’s Wedding. Eeeek! I also really need to get some sponsorship letters written and update/overhaul my website. There are simply not enough hours.

    A close friend recently sent this to me in a message and I love it so much so must share: Life and circumstances can change so quickly, but always have faith and believe because there are more ups than downs.

    So my lovelies, it is now bed time. Pringle is already snuggled under her duvet and I am going to do the same.

    Until soon xx

    Body Mind Mastery Quote: “Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off the goal” – Hanah More

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