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Overview of BHS Trec competitions attended in 2013

2013 was a year for me to refocus on Charmer and progress onto Level 2 competitions. Charmer’s results were as follows:

Feb 13 – West Surrey Riding Club Indoor Trec – 1st in the ‘Open’ class (highest PTV score).

June 13 – St Ebba’s Farm Versatile Trec – 1st in the ‘In-hand’ class, 12th in the ‘Intermediate’ class and 4th in the ‘Open’ class.

June 13 – Black Horse BHS Trec – 7th in the ‘Level 2 Individual’ class (highest PTV score). Qualified for the GB Championships.

Aug 13 – Barwell Court Farm BHS Trec – 3rd in the ‘Level 2 Individual’ class (highest COP score). Qualified for the GB Championships.

Sep 13 – Mid Sussex Riding Club – 1st in the ‘In-hand’ class and 3rd in the ‘Open’ class (highest COP score).

Sep 13 – Bramble Hill Versatile Trec – 1st in the ‘Novice Ridden Walk & Trot’ class and 3rd in the ‘Open’ class (highest PTV score).

Dec 13 – Christmas POR – 8th in the ‘Open pairs with Natalie Douglas on her horse ‘Katie’.

These placings resulted in Charmer accumulating a score of 17 points in the South East Trec 2013 Versatile League, which put her in 2nd position overall out of 57 competitors. The winner was Natalie, who I did the pairs with in Dec, who scored 20 points – so, so close! Charmer’s wins in the ‘In hand’ class did not count again. Unfortunately we missed the first show of the season due to the clutch going on my lorry as we set out to collect Charmer from the yard. Luckily it didn’t happen when we were on the M25! We also missed the last show of the season as Breeze, Charmer’s field companion, got Colic.

Despite only managing to go to two Trec events competing at level 2 we managed to score 12 points in the South East Trec League, which put her joint 9th out of 16 competitors. These scores were also entered into ‘The Cavallo Horse and Rider BHS Trec League – Level 2 Individual’, a nationwide league, which put us on a score of 16, coming 23rd out of 165 competitors. My biggest achievement for the year was managing to qualify for the GB Championships with Charmer. However, after much thought and with my husband away at the time, I decided not to compete due to the long travelling distance involved.

Changes are ahead in 2014 as we are re-locating to Wiltshire due to my husband’s work. Sadly this change of county means future results can no longer be entered into the South East Trec League tables. Trec events will now be further afield so I hope to try some commutable ‘Kelly Marks Perfect Partners BHS TREC Winter series’ events. With work and family commitments again to take into consideration and all being well! My ultimate goal again would be to win a level 2 competition and qualify for the GB Championships for a second year and then attend (It is due to be held in England in 2014 as opposed to Wales or Scotland).

I still hope to run a Trec event at some point if I can find a suitable venue to host one once we have moved. I’m looking forward to judging the PTV at the BHS Wiltshire Indoor Trec competition in February and helping to build ‘Trec’ in Wiltshire as part of a new committee that is planned.

Shadow's Memorial Bench

On the 6th of January 2013 I travelled down with the family and, dare I confess, with Shadow’s urn in the rucksack (it just felt like the right thing to do - but I did have to stop hubby putting the sandwiches in with her!) to Dorset to see for the first time Shadow’s memorial bench that had recently been installed on Stephens Castle Heath in Verwood, Dorset. It is a favourite spot on our once regular walks, where we used to stop to look out across the heath land which includes a rather quirky little Scots Pine tree that grows there. Christina, an ex-client and now a good friend, who owns Turbo (little Lancashire Heeler who did many a demonstration with Shadow and was one of Shadow’s best buddies) had organised a get together of my old clients to meet up for a social dog walk to christen the bench. When I moved from Dorset I had to stop running the monthly social dog walks due to the distance, but it was lovely that Christina continued them under the new title of ‘Turbo Tours’ and strong friendships amongst clients have remained as a result.

It was an emotional morning seeing old faces again both human and canine. Sadly some of the ‘old gang’ had also passed away over the years, namely Tara (Doberman), Silver (GSD) and Arnie (GSD), but there were some new canine additions to meet, which lightened the mood. We set out on an hour and a half’s walk around Verwood Forest, aiming to finish at the bench. Walking Shadow’s favourite tracks and passing a stream she once stood in brought back many fond memories. Finally we turned the last corner and for the first time viewed the bench set up high on the hill - reality hit and the tears flowed.

We all gathered around the bench and Pete (hubby) read out the words on the plaque, as I could not bring myself to do it or read a poem I had in my pocket. After a few refreshments and photos everybody set off back to their cars leaving behind myself, mum, Christina and Turbo. It was very touching to see and capture Turbo sitting under the bench, as it symbolised one of the signature tricks he use to do between Shadow’s front legs (see photo in Services section). I do not know if the others guessed what I was carrying in my rucksack, if they read this blog they will know now! 

I am so grateful to East Dorset Countryside Management Service based at Moors Valley Country Park, and in particular Daniel Moore who did the installation. Allowing me to have the bench erected has helped enormously with the grieving process.

Overview of BHS Trec competitions attended in 2012

My aim at the start of 2012 was to take Breeze, my mother’s 9 year old New Forest Pony and Charmer’s life long field companion, to all the Versatile Trec events in the South East to see how he faired in the sport and to take Charmer to all the Level 2 BHS Trec events. This would be a step up for Charmer from competing at Level 1 last year, where she finished the year winning the South East Trec Level 1 League and came joint 5th in the Versatile League. Work, family commitments and finding events that were within an hour’s commutable distance from Surrey limited the number of events I could attend and preparation given between events. The wet weather in 2012 also resulted in many local Trec events being cancelled, which was disappointing.

Breeze went to a total of six Versatile Trec events and, considering he had only ever been to a handful of showing events when a youngster, his placings over the year were very good, coming home with a rosette at every show and a prize too in many cases. He often achieved the highest score in the ‘PTV Obstacles’ section. This was proof to me yet again that the training methods I use work in the ‘real world’. I know my results could be even better if I had more time to dedicate to the sport. Breeze’s results were as follows:

Dec 11 - 2011 South East Trec Group Christmas POR - 4th in the ‘Open Individual’ class.

Mar 12 - Abinger Forest Riding Club - 6th in the ‘Walk & Trot’ class.

Apr 12 - Bookham Riding Club - 2nd in the ‘In hand’ class.

Jun 12 - St Ebba’s Farm - 3rd in the ‘Novice’ class and 14th out of 21 in the ‘Intermediate’ class.

Sep 12 - Mid Sussex Riding Club - 1st in the ‘In hand’ class and 10th out of 21 in the ‘Open’ class.

Sep 12 - Bramble Hill Events Versatile Trec - 1st in the ‘In hand’ class and 9th out of 16 in the ‘Open’ class.

These placings resulted in Breeze accumulating a score of 5 points in the 2012 South East Versatile Trec Horse League, which put him in joint 25th position out of 66 competitors. His wins in the ‘In hand’ class did not count unfortunately!

I only managed to get Charmer to five Trec events competing at level 2. She was placed every time out and again often achieved the highest score in the ‘PTV’ section:

Jun 12 - 100 Acre Farm POR - 5th in the ‘Individual’ class.

Jun 12 - Black Horse BHS Trec. We completed the POR section but had to leave the event as Shadow, my dog, had been rushed to the Veterinary Surgery and subsequently had to be put to sleep. Not a weekend I am ever going to forget.

Sep 12 - Swanworth Farm BHS Trec - 6th in the ‘Individual’ class.

Dec 12 - 2012 South East Trec Group & Bookham Riding Club Christmas POR - 5th in the ‘Open Individual’ class.

Dec 12 - Mid Sussex Riding Club Indoor Trec - 1st in the ‘Open’ class and 4th in the ‘Advanced’ class. First Indoor Trec we had ever done.

These placings resulted in Charmer accumulating a score of 11 ½ points in the South East Trec 2012 League, which put her in 12th position out of 22 competitors. Not a bad start in Level 2.

In addition to BHS Trec, in September I also entered some video footage of Charmer (the fourth equine video clip (Part 3A) on my Training Video page) into the ‘World Clicker Equine Games’ in the ‘Clix Grand Prix Category’. We won the Bronze medal overall.

So looking ahead for 2013. With work and family commitments again to take into consideration, the plan all being well is to take Charmer to all the commutable Level 2 and Versatile Trec competitions and see if we can get higher up the league tables. Ultimate goals would be to win a level 2 competition and qualify for the BHS Trec Championships of Great Britain this year. Breeze will be on standby! No doubt continuing to enjoy life as Charmer’s very expensive field companion! I would also like to run a Trec event at some point in the near future, perhaps starting with a Versatile Trec.

Website launched today

My website has gone live today and great thanks must go to my very patient husband who has brought it all together for me despite hours of me saying “Can you just do this to the website?” or “Can we change that?”’ and having had no experience of web designing before he started.

I had never felt the need to have a website over the twelve years of being in this business but I made the decision recently to create one as I was getting ever more disheartened whilst listening to people making enquiries, during visits to clients and the day to day witnessing of people interacting with their pets. In particular listening to stories from pet owners that had been or continue to be ill-advised by well intentioned but unqualified individuals working in this field. This advice has often come at great financial expense to owners and more importantly to the detriment of their pet’s wellbeing. It has been quite cathartic bringing together my work and thoughts. In hindsight, it’s a shame I did not keep more of a pictorial record over the years, such as taking video footage of the once popular and highly regarded canine courses I used to run in Dorset.

Creating the website has also given me something to focus my mind on with the recent passing of my beloved dog Shadow. Appropriately named, it had always been “Me and my Shadow”. Shadow had been a true partner in my work, educating and inspiring all that had come to know her over the years. Together we made a difference in changing people’s perceptions of training methods and the true nature of the Dobermann breed, than that often portrayed by the media. “Shadow was my soul mate - the allotment for that is one per lifetime”. The website serves as a testament to Shadow and I hope to write a future blog about Shadow when I am able. I am just very saddened that I must continue the road ahead alone now.

Enjoy exploring the site and please contact me for more information if you need it.

About me - TREC

My teenage years were spent down at a local riding school where I earned all my rides through lots of mucking out, grooming, cleaning tack and many a mile in all weathers walking children out on lead rein. It paid off, as over time I was trusted to take clients out on hacks. I got to ride many different types of ponies and horses falling in love with a few. One such pony, Charlie, I was allowed to compete at local shows with but without the luxury of transport we had to hack to events. Being grey and living out 24/7 we would never have won best turned out! We did win many a rosette however, our favourite being ‘Chase me Charlie’ which we often won against the horses. Then Tico, a 14 year old Blue Roan New Forest Pony, was gifted to the yard. As a foal he had been saved from the meat man and had then spent the years out at grass where he became difficult to catch and got laminitis. In the early days I spent many an hour hanging on to the end of the lead rope as Tico galloped up the field trying to evade being caught. When the riding school finally closed down some years later my family gave into the floods of tears and bought Tico for me.

I owned Tico, and several others in addition on loan for companionship, for 12 years through my teenage years, my studies at Art School and university and into married life. My husband’s role in the Army has meant postings every couple of years and a posting to the New Forest came to be Tico’s final resting place. In 2001 and at the age of 28 I had to have him put to sleep - the battle with his laminitic feet was lost. I do find comfort in the knowledge he is buried back in the New Forest from where he came. 

The week after Tico’s passing I was asked by the livery owner where he now rests if I would be able to work with a mare and foal that had come into the equine surgery next door that needed to be handled. The foal had de-gloved her hind leg on sheep fencing. At the time I was studying for a post graduate diploma in ‘Companion Animal Behaviour Counselling’ at Southampton University, a complete career change from being a textile designer. I spent many an hour clicker training Jasmine, as she was then called, and after 16 weeks work at the age of 9 months I took her to Kingston Maurwood College to do a clicker training demonstration. She did exactly what we had practiced and relished being centre of attention. It’s funny that the livery owner at the time said to me “She’s going to make at least 15 hands and be another Blue Roan!” She’s ten now and I don’t think she is going to grow anymore or change colour! Jasmine’s owner was the late Lola Breeze, one of ten original women vets in this country. She wanted me to have Jasmine and after a subtle bit of work on the hubby she was mine. Shortly afterwards Lola sadly died and in her will I was asked to re-home her family of Foresters. I did as Lola had requested and my mother kept Breeze, the last foal born, as Jasmine’s companion.

At the time I was competing with my Doberman in Working Trials and Paws-to-Music and even demonstrated at Crufts for six years. I applied my studies and canine training experiences to Jasmine’s training and, with a new name of ‘Charmer’, I spent the next four years doing many clicker training demonstrations with her to the general public at agricultural shows and such like. During these, at liberty on grass, she would demonstrate such things as send ways, fetching a dumbbell, lie down on command and, my favourite, a Hooves-to-Music section to ‘Born Free’ music and another being titled ‘Anything you can do I can do too’, where a colleague, Sally Sanford, would work her spaniel Lark and then I would get Charmer to do the same action. Then life changed as I became a mother!

I now have a four-year-old daughter called Pippa (means lover of horses – hubby didn’t realise!) and my 14½ year old Doberman is retired from competition. Having achieved full membership of the ‘Association of Pet Behaviour Counsellors’ www.apbc.org.uk and the ‘Association of Pet Dog Trainers’ www.apdt.co.uk I wanted to apply Charmer’s in hand and under saddle talents to something and this is where Trec appealed to me. I liked the challenge of the different elements, similar to those in Working Trials, and the fact that it is not about how pretty your horse is or how high it can jump or its movement but more about using its head! And boy do Foresters have a working brain, which can be enhanced tenfold when trained with the clicker. In August 2009 while living in Oxfordshire I entered a Level 2 Trec in Gloucestershire as an individual. As I was starting out on the POR many a competitor was saying “You’re brave doing this on your own” and 3 hrs and 50 mins later I knew what they meant! (The ideal time being 2hrs 56 mins!) I came 8th despite this and the competitive spirit kicked in. I then entered a Level 1 Individual at Warminster and won it and the following year I did another Level 2 at Warminster and came 8th again. Then in the summer of 2010 we were posted to Deepcut in Surrey and I was very excited about the number of local Trec events in comparison to the few that were commutable in the past. 

However moving to Surrey was not to have a happy start. It was near impossible to find suitable livery for a mare and gelding at grass 24/7, where I could keep Charmer and Breeze together. Eventually I found a yard but they had to go out with several others in a 10-acre field. Three days later Charmer sustained a kick to her hock (the same leg that had been de-gloved – nearly ten thousand pounds has been spent on that leg so far!) and Breeze had been bitten all over his body. I moved livery yard that day and then later that evening found myself driving Charmer in the lorry to The Liphook Equine Hospital for emergency surgery as her synovial fluid was badly infected. I later found out the particular horse who was the culprit of the attack was known for damaging others and continues to do so! Several weeks in Liphook followed by 4 weeks stable rest at yet another yard went by before I could finally have the ponies back together. In addition, the once self-loading pony now had a loading problem and still to date she will not tolerate other horses getting close behind her, hence the red ribbon at events. But given time things have improved and continue to do so.

2011 was really my first proper year of doing BHS Trec and, with family and work commitments, I knew I could just about do one competition a month. So over the year I did both Versatile and full Trecs, having some good placings along the way. I wont lie and say I didn’t keep an eye on the league tables (shame winning the in-hand Versatile Trec at Bookham could not be included). Winning the Level 1 League and sharing fifth in the Versatile League has been a real achievement and considering I could have lost this very special mare this time last year doesn’t bear thinking about. The thought and worry of losing one’s cherished pony is definitely a quick way to loose weight!

And so for the future, all being well. I hope to try Level 2 but I know I will need to get both myself lighter for those extra hours in the saddle, Charmer fitter and jumping higher. It is a shame my hubby does not ride, as being a regular orienteer he would be a real asset on the POR – my weakest section. Silly mistakes are common, like leaving the venue the right way – my classic being Parham Park when I wasted ten minutes thinking I can’t go up the drive to the private estate! I’m also taking Breeze on the Christmas POR next week. He is eight now and has been a happy hacker for my mum these past few years and an ideal companion to Charmer. He too is another long story, but in short with all the stress and changes of environment since moving to Surrey he has had the last year completely off work due to folliculitis and his sweetitch has been really bad. Only this past month have I started to ride him again so you might see me running on foot for the whole of the event! Depending on how he fares I might try and see what he thinks of a Level 1 competition next year. I have found Trec a very friendly sport. Everyone is so approachable, helpful and interesting to chat to. Though a relative newbie to this sport, I would like to think my animal behaviour and training skills could be utilised in some way if there was interest, providing some skills to ‘add to the toolbox’, equally I endeavour to keep learning in order to improve. I look forward to seeing you in the map room next year.

This article was written for the South East Trec newsletter in Dec 2011.