Monthly Archives: March 2017

Spring Training – catching up with our sponsored rider Rosie Warner

In this blog we catch up with In The Saddle sponsored rider Rosie Warner as she prepares for the start of the event season.

Rosie says, “with the event season almost underway I have been busy training to get myself and the horses well prepared for the exciting season ahead of us.

Recently, I’ve been lucky enough to get some fantastic training from 4* event rider Ben Hobday and Olympic equestrian Jeanette Brakewell.

In January I headed to Somerford Park in Cheshire for an arena cross country lesson with Ben Hobday. The facilities at Somerford are fabulous, with a huge variety of fences. I chose to take Milo to this lesson as I have never had a cross country lesson on him before. Although Milo is a machine cross country, as we start moving up the levels it is very important that we are well-established as a partnership.

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Rosie on Milo, with Ben Hobday

Milo was absolutely awesome, jumping fences and combinations that you would get at intermediate/2* level. It was amazing how much we developed throughout the lesson. It helped me to realise how important the ‘right canter’ is and also how keeping the same rhythm through the technical combinations without pushing the horse out of rhythm can help the horse get to the fence at the right place and improve the jump technique. I learnt a huge amount and I would definitely recommend a lesson with Ben to my fellow equestrians.

I also took Romeo my 5yo along to have a play over some cross country fences after my lesson with Ben. Romeo has only been cross country once before. He was brilliant and jumped everything like an old pro, so I’m feeling very excited for our first event season together.

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Rosie & Romeo having a go at some of the arena fences

Then, a few weeks ago I was lucky enough to have two one-to-one lessons with Olympic rider Jeanette Brakewell at her yard in Derbyshire. I took Romeo and Milo.

Romeo was up first. We worked on his straightness and getting him sharper off my leg aids. It sounds basic but it plays a big part in a young horse’s education and now is the time to teach Romeo to work properly so we can get the best out of him in the future. It really sharpened Romeo and I up and made me realise that I need to be more disciplined with my horses when schooling at home. We finished off with a bit of grid work and gymnastic jumping which really helped with Romeo’s straightness and technique over a fence. Jeanette seemed to really like Romeo and said we are lucky to have bred such a nice horse!

My session with Milo was next and although he is a very different horse to Romeo, we worked on the same kind of basics with him. I had to work on getting him sharper to my aids and engaging more, which created the most incredible canter. Jeanette then asked if she could have a sit on Milo….what an honour!

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Jeanette shows Rosie some techniques to keep the canter engaged

This was really helpful for me as I was able to watch from the ground and Jeanette was able to give me feedback and help me push the right buttons. She really gave me some great pointers to get the best out of him, especially in his huge canter which I sometimes  struggle to keep engaged. He’s such a clever horse and learns so quickly; once he understands what you are asking of him he will always try his best to give it to you. I have lots of homework to work on at home and I can already feel the difference”.

Thank you Rosie. What an exciting couple of training sessions with some top riders. It is great to have some input into a few new techniques and as we all know, you never stop learning with horses!

STOP PRESS: Some bad news, unfortunately Rosie took at fall at the weekend and has suffered a fracture to one of her vertebrae. We would like to wish you a speedy recovery Rosie. We know with your hard work and determination, you’ll be back in the saddle soon and will be ready to make a big impact of the rest of the event season.

 

 

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A Dream Vacation in Portugal

In this blog, In The Saddle guest Sala Scarcello tells us about her recent visit to Monte Velho in Portugal.

“After years of being notorious for not making the time to take vacations, I finally took the plunge this year to get organized for my first riding holiday. My criteria? I was looking for a trip that was warm (Canadian winters are cruel), centre-based (relaxing), and with advanced dressage riding. I had grown up riding Lusitanos, so based on this and my other criteria, In The Saddle’s Abigail Wood recommended the Monte Velho Equo-Resort in Portugal for my holiday. As luck would have it, they had one opening left, and I quickly snapped up the spot!

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One of the luxurious ‘premium’ rooms at Monte Velho

I landed in Lisbon on a Thursday morning, and thankfully all of my luggage landed too (success!). After quickly rolling through customs, I was greeted by Monte Velho’s driver and we got started on the hour and a half drive to Monte Velho. The Portuguese countryside is absolutely beautiful, and the weather reminded me of California’s climate. Much better than the snow and ice we had been experiencing in February in Canada!

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A warm and sunny day in Portugal – a welcome relief after a cold Canadian winter

The drive went quickly, and I was met by Rita, the lovely office manager, who quickly checked me in, gave me a tour, and guided me to the dining room for lunch. The dining room at Monte Velho is stunning, and overlooks the dressage arena down below. No better way to start off a vacation than by sitting in the sun, enjoying great food, chatting with other international guests, and watching some riding!

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Watching the lessons of fellow guests can be a great learning exercise

For my trip, I had organized two dressage rides a day, scheduled to start the day after my arrival. So, I took the first afternoon to relax and explore. First stop? Checking out the stables of course. I made my way down to the stables, and was greeted by João, one of Monte Velho’s resident trainers and instructors. He gave me an enthusiastic and energetic barn tour, showing me the lay of the land and telling me the history and personalities of the horses. He also welcomed me to watch the lessons that were running that afternoon. Within just a few minutes of watching the lessons, I knew that I had picked the right vacation spot. The quality of teaching from João and Coralie (Monte Velho’s other trainer) was absolutely correct from a dressage perspective; focused on forward, supple, engaged and straight riding, instilling confidence in the horse and rider, and a good balance of insisting on the basics and allowing guests to ‘play’ with the upper level movements. I was in for a fun trip!

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Once the basics are mastered, guests can try some upper level movements

My days at Monte Velho fell into a perfect and relaxing pattern: breakfast at 8, lunch at 1, and dinner at 7. My two rides were generally both in the morning, or sometimes one ride in the morning and one ride in the afternoon. Either way, I had ample time to watch other lessons and training sessions for the Monte Velho competition horses. As a visual learner, this was a great way to enhance the overall educational aspect of the trip. Getting to live this schedule for a week against the beautiful backdrop of the Monte Velho resort was just perfect!

Over my 7 days of riding, I had lessons on 5 different horses with 3 different instructors (Joao, Coralie, and Coralie’s sister Cendrine).  I rode a good variety of younger horses where we focused on the basics, and older horses where I was allowed to practice advanced dressage movements. In my first ride alone, I rode through piaffe, passage, half passes, and flying changes.

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A number of the horses are established at piaffe, passage and flying changes

The horses were well schooled and honest – if you rode well, they were happy to do their jobs! My favourite horse was a younger stallion named Felix, who I was able to ride almost everyday during my trip. Felix was a newer addition to the Monte Velho stables, and just my kind of ride. Sensitive, forward to the aids, a good personality, and a fantastic modern mover. The running joke of the week was that I was going to pack him up in my suitcase and take him home!

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Sala finishing a session on her favourite stallion Felix

It is worth mentioning that in addition to great horses and teaching, that the Monte Velho property is huge, and equipped with great trails for running. After riding everyday, I would take a run around the property. Those runs were an adventure all on their own. I was greeted by horses, cows, goats, dogs, cats, and peacocks on various days. I joked that it was my own version of a safari!

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In between lessons, you are free to explore the estate on foot, by bike or on horseback

Another trip highlight was getting to meet all of the international guests at Monte Velho. As the only North American there for the week, I had a great time getting to meet fellow riders from England, France, Scotland, Sweden, and Switzerland. We would share meals in the communal dining room, and were all great friends by the end of the week. As the icing on the cake, Abbie from In the Saddle arrived at the resort on my second to last day, so I was able to meet her (and say thank you!) in person.

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Meeting like-minded fellow guests was a real highlight

Overall, I was thrilled with my trip to Monte Velho. The resort had all the ingredients for an amazing vacation: fantastic and healthy horses, correct training, beautiful accommodations, friendly staff, and great food and wine. The weather even held up for the entire week! I am already searching for some time on my calendar to return – I can easily say that I’ve found my dream vacation spot!”

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“I’ve found my dream vacation spot!”

 

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Many thanks Sala for your fantastic blog, which we have really enjoyed reading here in the office. We’re so pleased your stay at Monte Velho went well and we look forward to arranging a return visit for you before too long.

 

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Don’t Forget Your Toothbrush

There’s nothing worse that embarking on a riding holiday only to find you’ve forgotten to pack an essential piece of kit. In this feature we ask the In The Saddle team to share some of their top packing tips.

Chris won’t leave home without packing a pair of boot laces. They have a myriad of uses, but are especially useful on expeditions like our Gobi Steppe Ride in Mongolia. You can use them to tie your jacket to the saddle, they are good for creating a loop on your camera so you don’t drop it and they can be used to secure bandages in the event of an accident. You can even play cat’s cradle with them around the fire in the evening!

Olwen says her must have items include a lightweight hard hat such as a Troxel and her hat bag, which also doubles as hand luggage. She also always packs a bum-bag to keep essential items like sunscreen and a camera readily to hand. Re-hydration sachets are always on the packing list too, especially when visiting somewhere warm and sunny.

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Lightweight hats like Troxels are perfect for riding holidays

Lucy always packs wet wipes, which are ideal for washing the dust away after a long day in the saddle when you are in the middle of nowhere. Make sure you ask your guide how best to dispose of them; it might be on the fire if you’re on a camping trip.

Hannah’s top packing tip is to take a portable charger if you’re going on a safari like the Tuli Trail or heading somewhere off the beaten track. This means if you’re careful, you can keep your phone or camera charged for the duration of your trip. Resist the temptation to look through your pictures in the evening so that you maximise the juice left in your device.

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Take a portable charger for your phone or camera

Sarah always takes a tube of lip balm with her. It is worth its weight in gold, whether you are going to warmer climes or might encounter cold and windy weather. Make sure it has SPF in it!

Becky’s favourite piece of kit is her handy buff, which helps keeps the dust off your face. If you’re going to a hot climate, they can be dipped in cold water which helps keep you cool as you ride. A fleece buff, such as those made by Musto are perfect if you are travelling to colder places.

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A cotton buff is great for dry, dusty conditions

 

Abbie says comfortable breeches are vital. Make sure you pack some appropriate to the weather you’re likely to encounter. A pair of thermal soft-shell breeches are ideal for somewhere like Torres del Paine in Chile. They’ll keep you toasty warm and dry throughout the day. If you’re riding across the Namib Desert or going to be doing lots of hours in the saddle in warm temperatures, a pair of riding tights are well worth investing in. We love the ‘Balance Riding Tights‘ by Noble Outfitters and the ‘Kerrits Flow Rise Performance Riding Tights‘ by Irideon.

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A pair of riding tights are worth investing in

Claire says a lightweight travel shirt is a must-have for warmer weather. If you’re going somewhere tropical then the long-sleeved version is good because you can roll the sleeves up when it is warm, but you can also cover up your arms when the sun is at its strongest or if you encounter any biting insects. The shirt’s lightweight design means you can rinse them out, hang them up and they’ll be dry by the morning. Make sure you go for muted colours like green, brown or beige if you are going on safari. We love these ‘Craghoppers NosiLife‘ shirts from Cotswold Outdoor.

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Lightweight travel shirts are great to ride in

Imogen never leaves for a trip without her trusty Telluride boots by Ariat. She says they are super comfy for long days in the saddle, last well and sturdy enough to double up as walking boots. You might need to go up a size with your half chaps to fit over these boots as they are quite chunky, but they are ideal for many different types of riding holiday from safaris to expeditions.

Ariat also offer range of styles which are perfect for instructional holidays. For example, their Heritage Contour tall boots or Devon Pro paddock boots teamed with a pair of Chorus chaps are ideal for dressage holidays in Portugal.

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We love these dual-purpose boots by Ariat

When we send out your booking confirmation pack, there is a detailed packing list towards the end of your personalised itinerary. This has been added to and evolved over many years and should have everything you might need on that particular trip.

We hope you’ve found our essential items useful. If you’ve got any ‘must-have’ packing tips then we’d love to hear your ideas.

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