Friday, 1 October 2010

Ambitions Equestrian Centre Open Day


The Planning
The open day was the brain child of the Ambitions staff; during a meeting the topic of mirrors for the indoor school came up and everyone agreed how great it would be for their students and themselves to see themselves as they rode. I completely agreed as it would be wonderful to help train myself between my monthly lessons. Sadly I informed them that arena mirrors cost a lot of money and Ambitions isn't blessed with a large fortune so the mirrors would have to go on the wish list. "lets have a fundraising open day" Rhiannon said, just like that, I was skeptical as my already 8 day week schedule would not allow for organising such an event. So, I threw it over to her "if you want to organise it, I am right behind you" and she accepted whole heartedly.
Over the next few months they had meetings, messages for ideas and organising to be done, there was a real buzz from all the staff. They have achieved so much by working as a team, it was wonderful to see their idea come to life and be so successful. Here is what happened........

 Farrier Demonstration
Performed by Tom Godfrey
Our lovely yard farrier Tom Godfrey donated his sunday afternoon to Ambitions to provide a fun and informative demo of shoeing a horse. He really put his skills on show and had the audience captivated with his easy to understand explanations and displayed his kind and patient way with the horses.
The Wild West Musical Drill Ride
Performed by Beth Tilley riding Robby, Darcey Scott riding Katy, Hannah Tilley riding Barney and Mitzi Scott riding Chuckles.
This was a fantastic display from the young riders, all of which first learnt to ride at Ambitions only two years ago. They worked together with Jo to produce a lively western themed display that included jumping towards each other across the diagonals. Their timing was perfect, the ponies ears were pricked and the girls all had huge smiles on their faces - well done girls, I heard the audience clapping and chearing from the top yard, I knew it was going to be a tough act to follow!
Dressage Demonstration
Performed by Charlotte Jackson and Saab (Splodge)
I must say I don't usually get nervous about competing, even at the National Chamionships, or doing the evening demo's we have at Ambitions but when I was getting ready for the Demo at the Open day my stomach was churning! Splodge was none the wiser and did the usual routine of trying to pull the stool out from under my feet whilst I was plaiting him up.
Well it started ok, Splodge of course felt very relaxed with a large crowd of admirers around him - butter wouldn't melt - he is such a hero! The microphone was a great idea over my hat but it wasn't liking Splodges bouncy trot so kept slipping down around my neck - take two - lets try underneath the hat? Voila! a success. The crowd were able to hear my every breath perfectly as I took them through the basics to more advanced movements- sorry for the heavy breathing guys! Anyway, the demo went really well and we had some great questions from the crowd although the crowd did become quite quiet when I asked them some questions - they came out of their shell in the end and we had a great time until we got kicked off the stage for running over time! Have a look at the videos they are on the Ambitions Equestrian Centre facebook page along with other photos from the day.
Dog Agility Demonstration
Performed by Alison McBride and Archie and Debbie Davies and Maddie. 
What a fantastic display form the two ladies and their dogs. They have both been attending evening classes at Ambitions ran by Sheila McDonald. They showed their training off by skillfully completing an obstacle course including jumps, tunnels and obedience exercises. The crowd loved it and were then allowed to have a go with their own dogs around the course. Again this display ran over time due to everyone having so much fun!
Alison and Archie
Debbie and Maddie
Millie and Lauren with Scully
Su and daughter Darcey attempting to coax Panda inside the tunnel
Ben and Flick

Showing Demonstration
Performed by Madge Morrow riding Jimmy Morrell
Madge did a very professional demo of what's required when showing your horse. Jimmy is an 18 year old ex race horse who with Madge have qualified for Hickstead, Stoneleigh and many other prestigious shows in the Retrain of the Race Horse and veteran classes. Madge and Jimmy showed their individual show routine; this involves walk, trot, canter, extended canter, extended trot and rein back. This is performed in front of the judge to show your horse off and display their obedience and the harmony between horse and rider. Madge then took questions from the audience, people were really interested and for some it had been their first introduction to the world of showing. 

Show Jumping Demonstration
Performed by Rhiannon Morris riding Clary and Hana Uvirova riding Ruby.
The girls put on a fun performance that got the crowd going. Clary and Rhiannon have competed at county level show jumping to a height of 1 metre 30cms! She was able to show us the technique used by a more experienced horse versus that of a more novice horse like Ruby and Hana. The girls had a jump off - the fence went higher as each combination cleared the fence. The fences began to fall as the pressure was on, Ruby gave a brave effort, really giving it her all but it was Clary (after a dramatic knock down - caught in the pictures below) who cleared a height of 1 metre 15cms.
 Rhiannon and Clary
Hana and Ruby

Pimp my Hat Competition
Entered by all the helpers at Ambitions.
Well the stakes were high - it was serious competition as you will see in the photos. We got the crowd to do a cheerometer to determine the winner.  It was close. I had to parade the hats for the audience as they deliberated the winner. Finally after three goes they crowned Esme Sanderson as the winner, her prize  - a private lesson at Ambitions with the instructor of her choice!
 I couldn't understand why everyone was laughing?
The Winner - Esme
At the end of the day
Once everything was packed away the Ambitions staff, family and friends got together for a celebration drink - there were quite a few laughs involving some face paint, a mountain board and a wig?!
 Rosie had her hair painted
 Bev at the heart of the fun
 Even Bess getting in on the action
Hasan, Aziz, Beth, Bev, Hannah, Rhi, Roy, Charlotte and Hana.
Lynne creating another masterpiece
Ta da!
I couldn't resist!
and No....I wasn't drunk! 
 Scully loved her new makeover!
Who is this handsome fellow?

As you can see, the day was a huge success! There was a smile on every face. We managed to raise a whopping £780.00 for the mirror fund, which will be coming soon, also we are donating a portion to Cancer Research in memory of  one of our clients and friend Mrs Wakelyn who sadly lost her battle against cancer earlier this year.
A massive thank you to.......................
Su Porter-Scott for her services on the mic, Chris Young for arranging a much needed bar, Lesley and wonderful husband Mark for providing a delicious BBQ, Lynne and Arlene for their fantastic face painting, Mom and Dad, Pete for taking great photos, Albert Honey for lending the marquee and tending the bottle stand, Paul Simpson for lending his camper van and organising the parking, Mr Tilley for helping with the car park, Debbie and Alison for the dog agility demo, Jo for organising the Musical drill ride, Tom Godfrey for the Farrrier demonstration, Nikki's dad for lending the tables, Mr Townsend for providing soothing live jazz throughout the day, all the donators of prizes for the raffle especially John for his star prize of the Jumps, now all the staff (in no particular order) Rhiannon, Jo, Hana, Laura, Madge, Fliss, Tryna, Michaela, Alison, All the helpers and anyone and everyone who helped us achieve such a fantastic day - if I have forgotten anyone at all I am truly sorry!

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Autumn Essentials for the Fashion Conscious Equestrian

Welcome to Autumn Essentials for the Fashion Conscious Equestrian.

My aim is to provide you with a unique "Equestrian themed" selection of fashion hints and tips to keep you bang on trend through Autumn.

Now, the weather is turning and no matter how you look at it - those die hard short wearers need to listen up - we have to start wrapping our bodies up ready for winter hibernation.

I can say only one thing...................................Layers!

1. Base layer
Don't be fooled that this can be a scraggy old T shirt that no one will see. Often autumn throws some milder days at us and we all know how hot we can get whilst working with our beloved horses. Go for darker colours and patterns, they don't get dirty so quick, they also flatter every figure. The neck line counts; Again - don't fall into that trap of thinking because its underneath no one will see it - at some point, someone will!

Long Sleeve Round neck tops often only suit those blessed with the frame of Angelina Jolie. For us normal folk a round neck makes our shoulders slump and we loose our more feminine features. Although I am not their biggest fan they are useful for wearing under short sleeve polo's and still a must for your winter survival wardrobe (Winter Essentials for the Fashion Conscious Equestrian coming soon).  Good places to get these cheap are H&M and Primark, they sell different colours and materials, stretchy or cotton - so choose carefully! Go with dark colours for fuller figures, stripes and designs for a more funky, fun look. Remember not to get really tight clingy tops as this does not allow any room to trap air for your body to heat, it also clings to the places you don't want and makes that extra sausage roll stand out more. Pastel shades anyone? well I'm not sure who suits pastels? I'm not a fan personally as they always wash me out and block pastel colours always make you look a size bigger - at least! Step over to the dark side or maybe you could wear them under a Tshirt (a darker coloured Tshirt - I know I'm obsessed)

V neck long sleeve tops are soooo much better than round necks - they give instant shape to all bodies. Again go to H&M or Primark for cheap solutions.

Long sleeve shirt - yes this may sound odd but if you are in the more customer or professional based equestrian areas nothing looks better than a shirt; plus you can choose any colour, any pattern to help reflect the image you want to create. New Look, H&M, Primark all have nice varieties that are kind to the pocket but if you have a little more cash to spare or important people to impress try Try wearing a cute tank top to layer up or dress down a louder shirt.

Short sleeve Tshirts are a must and even better if a polo shirt. They can be worn underneath sweaters or over long sleeve shirts. They make all sizes, ages a shape and most places now do a lady fit style. I prefer finding T's that are personal to me, maybe a band I like or I love the superdry shirts - although they are expensive and I can't recommend using them to muck out in unless you have wads of cash! All the horsey brands do their takes on polo shirts and have some pleasant designs and colours so shop around Joules, Toggi, Derby House and don't be afraid to get cheaper replicas for the dirty jobs! If you are small enough, Asda or Tesco have their school packs of polo shirts for a few pounds - perfect for wearing whilst mucking out.

2. Mid-Layer
This is really important to get right as at this time of year whilst your working it will be the layer most seen.

Tank tops are so cute and add sophistication to your look but are also really practical. They will keep your core warm but leave your arms free for equine activities, I also like them because they don't bunch the sleeves up like a sweater can so leave you looking feminine not butch - most horsey girls have well muscled arms anyway we don't need any extra help!

Thin Sweaters can look really classy but require the right neck line and fit. Like the long sleeve T's these can make you look masculine and also boring, wear a pretty scarf to protect your neck from chills and make your outfit stand out. Another way to improve this look is to try wearing a shirt or polo underneath with a contrasting sweater to match. Beware of using short sleeves or 3/4 lengths as these can show through and add bulk. If you are lucky enough to have great bone structure and are slight then you will get away with a V neck or round neck sweater without a shirt collar underneath.

Make sure your sweaters are the right length in the body for you - if they are too long they can make your legs look short, too short in the body and you will be showing off your friders tan trade mark white belly!

3. The Top layer
It is vital that your coat makes the statement you want to send out. Wearing a baggy, tatty coat blends you in with so many others and doesn't get you respected or noticed- yes I understand in horses we all work long, mucky hours but even washing your coat regularly makes a whole heap of difference in your presentation.

The Blouson has probably been the most popular equestrian coat in all disciplines and all countries for years. You will find most working equestrians wearing these especially with the added advantage of having your own name, brand or business being embroidered by many companies or stands at most equestrian events. This is a bulky jacket that isn't waterproof and doesn't do anything for your figure; however it does cover you up if you're feeling a bit bloated. They have an awful habit of riding up your back if you bend over letting cold air in and a possible builders bum out to any unlucky bystander! You can do better than this coat but they are a good back up for riding out on those lovely rainy days where we need ten thousand dry sets of clothes before lunch time!

The Puffa Jacket has developed. It used to be a duvet style navy blue coat worn by most farmers wives complete with baler twine hanging out the pocket and barbed wire nicks. Now Puffa have re invented the puffa with new fashionable cuts and colours complete with new materials to keep you toasty and fashionable. Other brands do great and cheaper alternatives such as Derby House, Caldene, Toggi etc - if you find a coat you like head to ebay to see if you can pick up a bargain. I love they have great variety and fantastic prices. The only downside to a puffa style jacket is that they aren't water proof - bummer!

Drawstring waisted Jackets are good for most shapes and sizes and come in many colours, they are often cheap on the pocket too. They are waterproof and can add a more feminine outline however they are a little out of date. New versions of these can be found with belts around the middle - these are much nicer and look smart. They don't ride up and display your behind to the world but they aren't practical to ride in as they often hang low enough to sit on, this can be annoying but also when it rains the water runs straight off the tail and onto the saddle saturating your jods and pants! There are shorter versions available but make sure you hunt around if buying from the Internet and really check the pictures out to make sure they don't sit further than your hip line.

Sport Jackets are my favourite option - they are however more expensive but I do believe they are worth the money! I work with horses everyday year round - I used to buy at least three coats per year - these were all equestrian coats that shared the same problem; they weren't truly waterproof, the fabric was weak and the fastenings broke easily and quickly. I brought my first Northface jacket three years ago - its just a shell but it came with a detachable thermal core (a thin micro puffa if you like) I still have that coat - I wear it all year round as its light its perfect for summer showers - it even goes in the washing machine . I can't recommend this enough and if you join go outdoors and get their discount card (£4 a year) you receive massive savings via Internet but they have got stores across the country that are easily accessible. Be brave DON'T STICK TO THE EQUESTRIAN SECTION - yes it is good but have a look at the other sporting sections that offer the same qualities such as water resistance, warmth etc - you may get a better more stylish bargain!

4. Jodphurs and Breeches
These are not the most flattering attire for anyone, fact. My advice is to (a) get the right size; too small and you will show the world what you got, too large and even Nora Batty will wince! (b) get the right colour. The amount of colours and shapes available now are immense, long gone are the days of army major style high waists and ludicrous hip and thigh bulges. Hello Mark Todd, thank you for making Jodphurs for all shapes of woman - those that are very womanly to those that resemble teenage boys - they have created jods and breeches for us all that are still affordable - hooray! Go have a look online or try on at equestrian events but make sure you get the right colour. Larger ladies beware of light coloured plaid or block coloured pastels (including beige) these can accentuate everything  try dark colours or even better a full seat style that has contrasting colours or plaid, this will create a feminine look that makes any derriere look fab! If you have curves - make the most of them - these kind of jods do that for you! Smaller ladies steer away from block colours - especially black or navy as these can slim you further - I know everyone wants to be slimmer but looking like a swiss ball propped up by two match sticks is not a good look - try some plaid or brighter colours - again the full seat jods that contrast colours are great at creating a feminine look. Whatever shape you are do not, I repeat, DO NOT WEAR BLOCK PALE COLOURED JODS they are purely for the under 12's!

I hope this blog has been useful? Lets see better dressed and happy horse women out there. My next blog will be on Make up tips when working with horses - I know it doesn't seem practical but there are great products out there to improve our health plus it goes a long way to making us feel better about ourselves and making our time spent with horses even better.

Please let me know what you thought of the piece and if you have any ideas or tips you can share with fellow readers.

Best Wishes,

Charlotte x