We had a great time at Chard last month, I ran a little late in the morning on the Saturday as I didn’t expect them to start at 8am, so a 5am start and hitting traffic meant I arrived as Scrappy’s class was starting. I popped both horses in a stable and quickly got her ready. Scrappy jumped a good round but unfortunately there was a fence we missed in the scary corner. Onto Lambos class and he came out like a wild 4-year-old, thankfully I know the guys at Chard well and convinced Sarah on the collecting ring to walk him round while I walked the course. Of course Lambo behaved like an angel for her and then returned to crazy dragon pony when I got on. We cleared the collecting ring quite well with his antics, but it was an improvement as there was no spinning just a lot of bucking, fly bucking and rearing. I have no idea how but he jumped a clear in the Blue Chip qualifier and with only 6 clears we guaranteed a space in the final, so we really went for it in the jump off, unfortunately he still wasn’t really listening so we had a couple down but I learnt a valuable lesson that he does need my help!

Lambo came back out to jump the Foxhunter a changed horse and jumped a lovely double clear coming 4th. The Sunday was an early start for Scrappy but in her normal bit we were back on form and jumped a double clear coming 2nd! I took Lambo out and he didn’t feel 100% behind after his antics the day before, so I decided it was best to leave him for Arena UK and get him treated in the meantime.

We were all set for Arena UK, Lambo was on top form then on the Monday of that week someone had left the main gate open going from the lunge arena in to the big outdoor arena. I didn’t know and was happily lunging when the gate suddenly swung open, Lambo obviously panicked and spun round at such speed he fell over. Thankfully we have Carole who does the rehab on the yard, but even after treating him we decided not to go to Arena UK as he could do more damage to his glutes and be off for longer. On the Wednesday I also came down with a lurgy but didn’t think too much off it. Then on Monday I had my Covid vaccine planned and went ahead with this even though I wasn’t 100%. We had a ball in London on Wednesday evening and getting the train in I started to not feel great. I carried on but by 10pm I had to call it a night. I was then very ill all night and had no idea how I was going to make it home on the Thursday. Thankfully we did and I have been stuck in bed ever since.

After speaking to the doctor it turns out I must have had a viral infection at the time of my Covid vaccine, and then the vaccine had mutated it into something much worse, so again I missed my planned weekend with the horses and didn’t make it to the Geoff demo.


Back in November I held a clinic where I helped clients work on their confidence when jumping to improve the relationships between horse and rider. Everyone had a great time and loved their Dengie goodie bags 😍😀 We also worked on gaining suppleness, how to prepare and ride a course, in particular dog legs, as well as discussing management of their horses and ponies and how to get the best from them.

With the weather also turning I decided to give the horses a holiday and come back into work over Christmas for shows in the New Year.

happy horse and rider

Last time I blogged I had just returned from a fun week at Burghley, the end of the season was approaching and there were only a few more events left to go in the calendar.

Petal had already started her end of season holiday when we got back from Blair at the end of August as we felt she would benefit from a nice long holiday. Oli also enjoyed a quiet few weeks after Blair before building up to do his final two events of the season. So whilst Petal and Oli enjoyed some down-time I spent time getting to know my new ride, Chance and aiming to get some BE100 runs in before the end of the season.

I have really enjoyed getting to know Chance and at our first three events together we did three double clears and had three top 10 finishes! Our dressage scores also improved with each event and there is still much more to come from her. She’s a very exciting pony and I can’t wait for next season together.

Oli enjoyed a good fitness run at Bovington BE100. He lead after the dressage on a score of 19.5!! I was absolutely delighted with his mark as we have worked really hard on our flatwork recently.  Unfortunately he didn’t jump his best showjumping round and had an uncharacteristic two fences down, but then he finished with a great clear XC in very wet conditions and a place in the top ten. Although I was a bit disappointed not to have finished on our dressage score and got the win, the main aim had been to have a nice easy run before Norton Disney Pony Trial the following week.

I took both Oli and Chance to Norton Disney, Chance was doing the 100 and Oli was in the Pony Trial.  Chance did another super double clear and gained another top ten finish, which was a great way to finish our season. Oli did a nice test with a few small mistakes on my behalf for 30.1, he then jumped a super round showjumping, just having the final fence down, but it was a big improvement on the previous weekend and I was delighted with how amazing he jumped and how good he felt. He then finished with a great clear XC round, it was a tough track, but he made it feel easy! To top it of we finished in the top ten, a great way to finish the season!

The ponies are currently enjoying a nice holiday out in the field to relax and refresh ahead of next season. They will be out for 4 – 6 weeks and will come back into work between the end of November and middle of December. Whilst they have been out in the fields I have been busy “spring cleaning” the stables with a fresh coat of paint, and doing mock exams! When they start work again they will do a few weeks of hacking and road work before getting back in the school to work hard and get better and stronger for next season, which I can’t wait for!

Horses on holiday

I have been so happy with how the ponies have performed this season on their Dengie Diets, they are always looking in great condition and feeling fit and healthy too. All three ponies are quite different in their dietary requirements but the Dengie range of feeds has something for each of them to suit all their different needs and energy requirements.  I can’t thank Dengie enough for their continued support, I know that the ponies diets are in very good hands!

The start of the season saw a bit of a change with both Bracken and Smartie going to new homes. It was really sad to say goodbye to them, but lovely to see them having fun with their new riders.

Through the spring and summer I have gained more experience eventing at Novice level and doing Pony Trials on Petal and Oli.  They have both been superstars and have tried so hard for me. A definite highlight has to be a double clear at Bicton Pony Trial on Petal back in the spring and two top 10 finishes on them both at Moreton in the Open Novice in July. These results then meant we were invited to go up to Blair Castle International in Scotland as part of the England Team for the Home Pony International at the end of August! We had the best time from start to finish, it was amazing to be able to ride at such a prestigious event and in such an atmospheric main arena, I loved it! Oli did a smart test to leave him in the top 15/100 after dressage, an unfortunate rail show jumping, but then a super clear XC inside the time meant we finished 9th individually out of 100 starters! Petal did a rather wild test, she thought entertaining the crowd was more important than behaving herself, so this left us quite far down after dressage, however two super jumping rounds, just rubbing a pole show jumping, but a quick clear inside the time XC moved her up to finish in the top 25! Although she was naughty in the dressage, I can’t fault her performance in the jumping phases, she made it feel so easy and gave me a great time!

Petal and Maisie Randle

Another highlight of the summer was going to the Pony Club Championships to compete in the Intermediate Team Dressage competition with Oli.  Our team did really well and came 2nd over all. I was placed 2nd individually in my section which meant Oli and I went through to the ride-off where the top 2 in each of the 4 sections rode through the test again with 3 judges. We were first to go in the ride-off and Oli was an absolute superstar, he did another fantastic test to score 72%! I was so pleased with him but felt fairly sure our score would be beaten as there were some very good horses and riders to follow us. Amazingly our score stayed at the top and we were the Intermediate Dressage Champions! It was a great feeling to stand on top of the podium at the prize giving, but the highlight was being interviewed by Horse & Hound!!

Oli and Maisie Randle

The week after Blair the ponies enjoyed a quiet time while we went up to Burghley Horse Trials for the week.  I had a great time watching all the top riders and it made me even more motivated and determined to get there one day! It was also lovely to catch up with the Dengie Team on their stand.

Since being back from Blair and Burghley I have gone back to school, however we have welcomed a very exciting new member to our team….Chance! She is a very exciting mare for me to event next year for my last year in ponies, she’s incredibly talented and I love her so much already, fingers crossed for a good season next year! Chance had done quite a lot of travelling before coming to our yard, so we thought she would benefit from being fed on the Dengie Healthy Tummy and although we haven’t had her long, her shape and condition is already improving since being on a Dengie diet!

Petal has started her winter holiday already as after a busy season she will benefit from a longer holiday.  Oli is back in work after his short break after Blair and is now gearing up ready for his last few events of the season. I am aiming to  get a few runs in before the end of the season on Chance to get some of the MERS that I need to do the Pony Trials next season, then both Oli and Chance will join Petal for a winter break!

During the Eventing season both Petal and Oil have been fed on Dengie Alfa-A Original with Dengie Performance+ Balancer.  They have both looked and felt amazing throughout the season and certainly had plenty of energy to tackle the hills at Blair! When the weather was really hot and dry I also gave them a bowl of soaked Dengie Grass Pellets during the day which helped to replace the grass that they weren’t getting from the fields and also helped to keep them hydrated.

I want to say a huge thank you to Dengie for all their support this season, and for keeping the ponies in tip-top shape so that they can perform at their best and feel amazing, which they definitely do!

We had a fairly quite start to June as my ankle took its time to heal! It was very frustrating to miss out on the next 2nd round at Wellington in June. We ventured out to Badgeworth arena at the end of June to jump a couple of classes. Lambos attention span isn’t great when he has had a break and true to form, we had a little mistake in each both classes for a four faultisis day! We then went to Chard the weekend after for their 3-day show. We jumped the 1.05m Speed Class coming 4th and then also jumped the Newcomers for one pole down, but he had improved quite a bit from the weekend before just in time for the 1.05m/1.10m Grand Prix on the Sunday. We arrived a little late on the Sunday and had a very rushed first round, but managed to scrape a clear round! We then decided to go all out for the win as there was a rug up for grabs and I have been dying to win a rug for ages! Lambo was super and completely on form and won the class!

Sammy and Lambo at Chard Equestrian

He has also shown what a handy pony he can be this month letting me take the rubbish out on our way out for a hack and even offering to lead Scrappy in from the walker!!

I gave Lambo the weekend off after his win as I believe he had earned it before heading to the PONY Mag Big Day. I had no idea how Lambo was going to react performing in front of such a large crowd, but he handled it like a total pro. I was very glad to have some extra Alfa-Beet with me as the temperatures have been crazy of late, so I was safe in the knowledge he was well hydrated. Because of the high temperatures forecast for the Sunday I made the decision to tackle the 4-hour drive back over night. I’m fortunate to have a fan in my lorry, but I just wanted to be safe and secure in the knowledge it wasn’t too hot to travel him, or risk getting stuck in traffic where everyone is heading to the beach!

We have Chard planned again for the end of the month, and I might just make it there with Scrappy too! She had a mystery illness where she had strange lumps come up all over her, we seemed to get that under control then she got a big leg, thankfully we scanned it and there was no damage so she had just banged herself in the stable! She is now back in work and we will see if we can have her ready for Chard at the end of the month, however it might just be one weekend too soon.

We went out to Chard at the start of May with Lambo and Connie, both jumped good rounds; Lambo picked up a place in the Newcomers and Connie just missed out in the Open. Ready for Wales we headed off with these two for the Newcomers and Fox Second rounds. The Newcomers track was very strong, it had to be with 160 in the class!! Connie had a couple of poles down and I debated whether to jump Lambo as he had never seen a track like that, but I decided it was worth it for his experience, so we had a jump round for 3 poles down and I was actually really happy with him. He jumped his first open water in the ring and made it look easy.

Sam and Connie at Wales

However, on day 2 Lambo was up first of my two and in the collecting ring he decided another horse was a little too close and spun round to go the other way. I stayed on board, but in the turn all my weight went into the left ankle and I heard a crack with instant pain (never a good thing). Long story short I ruptured a ligament in my ankle, so that was the end of the show for me.

Sam and Lambo at Wales

We haven’t done any shows since then, but we are planning an outing next weekend, so all being well hopefully I would have just missed out on a month of shows. Its not ideal as it does mean I miss Wellington this weekend, but unfortunately these things happen.

In other news, Connie left to go to her new home after Wales and is busy settling in with them now. Scrappy is finally coming right after one heals we seem to be getting another problem at the moment. Babe is progressing well and will be up for sale in the coming weeks.

We started March at Chard with Lambo and Scrappy. Scrappy jumped a super double clear in her first class and would have won, but there wasn’t enough competitors in the class to award prizes! In the second class the mist really set in and I don’t think she could see a fence until the last minute and got a shock, so it resulted in a circle for us. Lambo had his first show in 6 months and came out as fresh as was expected! He jumped a lovely double clear just having a silly spook at the photographer on the way round.

Then Connie and I set off for PONY magazine’s Big Day Out at Arena UK where we gave a jumping demonstration to around 700 people! I was very proud of Connie as she has never done anything like that before and behaved like a total pro! When we arrived home, our new fence and been delivered which was very exciting!

Sam Backstrom with her new showjump

After this I finally got struck down by Covid-19 and the horses missed the next show planned, although I was glad to get it before the Blue Chip Championships this week. However Connie and Scrappy had other ideas! Scrappy managed to be silly in the field and get a sore back, but she is back in work and should be ok to jump again this coming weekend. Connie managed to injure herself in the stable and after a vet visit it was decided the best thing to do would be to miss the Championships this week. I was devastated, but these things do happen and that’s horses for you. They don’t know what shows are coming up and how much it means to us! With just Lambo in the running for the show I’ve decided to give it a miss and rather concentrate on the ones here at home.


Horse lying down in stable

So my revised plan for April is a local show this weekend coming and the weekend after, as well as a visit to Chard mid-week before heading to the international at Wales and West with Connie and Scrappy at the end of the month. Babe is coming on really well, going on her first hack this month and I am planning on starting her jump training soon! The outdoor school is finally getting a surface and the first truck of 18 loads has arrived!

The team have had a quiet February as I was away for the first week celebrating my birthday. We still made it out to a few shows with Scrappy contending the Blue chip Diamond Qualifier at the Grange and although she had a fence in the jump-off finishing as a fast four faults and coming 7th she qualified for the final in April! Connie went out for two days at Bicton arena and although jumping super she managed to have a couple of fences both days.

Lambo is back in full work and enjoyed his first show back last week, just spooking at a photographer half-way round meant we turned a circle, other than that he jumped a super round all be it a little too keen! Scrappy also went to this show winning the 90cm open and just having a little confusion about where she was going in the discovery jump-off meant a circle here too!

Babe is taking a little bit of a break at this point as we are unsure if she is pregnant! The vet visited last week and could hear some suspicious noises so we have had bloods done and should have a definitive answer any day now.

Hacking in country lanes

We have been doing plenty of hacking and using the Devon hills to our advantage! We also did some Spring cleaning trying to get ahead of ourselves and wishing Spring was already here, below is a picture of Lambo trying to help!

Horse spring cleaning

It was great to see Dengie Performance Horse Nutritionist, Claire Akers at the end of February and also great to see the horses are all maintaining a good weight. We have quite a lot planned for March starting with Hartpury this weekend, then we are going up to Arena UK to perform in the PONY mag Big Day out demo which we are all really excited about! Then we will finish up the shows this month with another visit to Chard.

It’s not long until the Blue Chip Championships and I am looking forward to contesting the 3 finals with Connie. I am unsure if I will contend the final with Scrappy as the schedule doesn’t really work in our favour. But I do plan to take all three up to compete over the 3 days.

We all had a great New Year here in our new Devon home. The first show of the year was with Connie at Chard on the 5th January where she jumped a lovely double clear in the Foxhunter, although she was jumping about 30cm bigger than every fence!  I was glad to be in my sticky bum breeches that day!

Connie then went back the week after to jump another double clear in the Blue Chip B&C Qualifier, coming 5th and qualifying for another final, we now have 3 to contend in April!

At the end of January we took both Connie and Scrappy to 4 days of jumping at Olney. Connie jumped a super double clear coming 4th on the first day, then just the last fence on the second day. On the 3rd day Connie woke up with a rash, which put an end to her jumping at the show. Scrappy was the star of the show making the most of her time in the ring jumping double clear 3 out of 4 days, winning her first class, coming 2nd on day 2, winning again on day 3 and just touching a pole on day 4! She was over the moon to be back out at a stay away show and made the most of it!!

Lambo is now back in full work and I’m planning on taking him to a show towards the end of this month with him. We had a new addition to the team, Babe who is an unbroken 5 year old, now 6 that I have taken on to produce and sell. She is doing great and turning out to be one of the sweetest horses I have ever started.

In other good news, Connie seems more settled in her new home and is back tucking into her Dengie dinners and gaining weight! On the weigh tape she has gained 20kg! It will be interesting to see how much she has actually gained when Claire visits next week!

It has been a very busy summer with the ponies…The Pony Club Championships, C+ test, training camps and lots of eventing!

The first exciting thing to happen was the arrival of a new ride for me. Petal joined the team at the start of August, kind of a bit unexpected as I already had 3 ponies to ride! However, Petal is an experienced Pony Trial pony and as my parents had been looking for a while for a more experienced pony to help me make the step up to novice level, before I took the younger ponies up to that level, she was too good to turn down! I was so excited and couldn’t wait to get going with her! The plan was to spend the summer holidays getting to know her and going to some dressage and show jumping competitions before maybe doing our first event at the end of the season. However, we bonded really quickly and got on well together so things happened a bit faster, which I will tell you about a bit later on in this blog.

Maisie and Luna

First up was The Pony Club Championships! It was so exciting to be going to the champs for the first time. Luna was in the novice dressage and show jumping teams. We travelled up the day before and stabled over-night so this was going to be Luna’s first experience of staying away from home. Unfortunately the temporary stables did not suit Luna as the stable doors were grilled up to the top! This made her quite stressed initially and meant we had to check on her quite a few times during the evening, but by the morning she had settled down and was much calmer.  Dressage was first and despite Luna’s lack of sleep the night before she did a very nice test to score 72% and finish just outside the top 10 in our section and help the team to 15th place out of about 30 teams.

The novice team show jumping competition was in the afternoon, all team members jump 2 rounds over different courses and then any teams that are tied for scores go forward to a jump off. Luna was fab and jumped 2 lovely clear rounds, and with good rounds from the other team members we finished in 5th place out of 52 teams which meant we got to go to the prize giving!! It was then time to head back home for 24 hours before going back to the champs with Bracken for the Individuals Intermediate Show Jumping. We had decided not to stable the night before and just take Bracken up for the day which did mean an early alarm call! The course in the first round was pretty big and probably one of the biggest tracks that Bracken and I had jumped, but she did a lovely clear round so I was very happy. We then had a 4-hour wait before the second round where the course was even bigger. Bracken didn’t feel as ‘springy’ as she did in the first round and we had 2 fences down, but I was still really pleased with her and we finished in 24th out of 48.  It would have been amazing to have got into the jump off, but I was still really happy with how we had done and it was just brilliant to have made it to The Pony Club Championships with both Bracken and Luna – I couldn’t have asked any more of them.

Maisie and Bracken

After the champs I had a few days away at Somerford Park on a Pony Training camp. I took Bracken and Petal and had an amazing time!  Somerford is a fantastic training venue and it was a really good opportunity to get to know Petal and after a couple of days of intensive training I felt that Petal and I were ready to go and do our first event together.  I also had some really good training sessions with Bracken and really felt like our dressage improved over the few days.

So having got on really well with Petal at camp we went to our first event, a BE100 at Sapey! It was a really good day and we came 4th with a good dressage and double clear, it was also quite a learning experience as Petal certainly knows how she likes to do things at a competition and she makes it quite clear that she doesn’t like any waiting around, particularly before the cross-country. However, I now felt like I was getting a good bond with Petal so we entered to do 3 more BE100 runs to get the MERS needed to step up to Novice level with the aim of doing a Novice or PT before the end of the season. Our next 3 events went really well with double clears at all of them and 2 top 10 placings, so I felt I was ready to step up to the next level. Going to my first Pony Trial was so exciting as well as a bit scary, but I felt really confident doing it with Petal.  We had to go all the way to Norton Disney and because it was a 5-hour journey we went up the night before, so that Petal could have a good nights sleep. I walked the course the night before with my Dad and then did a course walk with Jonquil, the Pony Team trainer on the morning of the competition. It was a big track but I was actually more worried about the show-jumping than the XC. Our dressage went really well, we scored 28.8! It was probably the best test that I have done with Petal and it was my first test at that level.  On to the show-jumping and the course was causing lots of problems, but I need not have worried as Petal was awesome and jumped a foot-perfect clear round to put us in 2nd place after dressage and show-jumping. Cross-country was absolutely amazing too despite having an annoying run-out early on the course, I think I probably didn’t have Petal quite collected enough coming into a double of brushes resulting in the run-out. After that we upped our game and completed without any more problems and the rest of the round felt amazing. Despite the run-out I was so thrilled to have completed my first Pony Trial and to finish just outside the top 10! I wanted to go and do it all over again but as that was Petals last event of the season I will have to wait for the 2022 season. Petal is now enjoying a holiday out in the field with her bestie Bracken.

Maisie with Petal and Bracken

In the meantime Luna had also stepped up to 100 level and had 2 really good runs at West Wilts and Moreton Morrell jumping double clears at both.  She absolutely loves the cross country and her confidence has really come on although this has meant that she has been getting quite strong! At our last event of the season at Broadway I decided to pull her up early on the XC as I felt she was getting a bit too strong to safely tackle some of the combination fences. Our winter training will now be focused on teaching her to wait and listen, as well as trying some new bits, but for now she is enjoying a break out in the field.

Bracken also had a few more runs at 100 level where her dressage marks were much improved, she was also show jumping really well, but we just had an unfortunate run outs on the XC. She is now enjoying a well – deserved winter break.

Maisie and Smartie

Smartie had a break during the summer so after a few weeks of walking and hacking to get him fit again the focus for him was dressage, dressage and more dressage, in the hope that he would calm down about riding in the white boards. It seemed to work as he scored consistently in the 70’s at 6 dressage tests in 3 outings! So then we had to test out his new calmer attitude to dressage at a BE event….unfortunately the excitement at being back at event was too much for Smartie and although he warmed up really nicely he couldn’t resist throwing in a few bucks in his test! He then went onto jump a double clear and finished just outside the top 10.  Smartie will be doing lots of dressage this winter as well as show jumping and Arena Eventing to get him confident at 100 level. He has started jumping courses at 100 already and is getting more confident at that level, he has just done his first 100 AE and came 2nd!!

So that wraps up my 2021 Eventing season! The ponies have all finished fit and well, and their Dengie fibre feeds have kept them looking and feeling great. I can’t wait for the 2022 season although after a very busy summer with 4 ponies I am enjoying having a slightly quieter time for a few weeks now!

Ps. I passed my C+ test!!

The team went to Chard mid-August for a 3 day show. Day one Lambo jumped the 6-year-old Grand Prix at 1.20m in the first round – it was a step up for him, but I felt he was ready. I changed his bit to only have one rein the week before, so this was a new feeling for both of us! It did lead to a mis-communication in the collecting ring, which lead to me testing out the landing on the surface at Chard (I can confirm it is very soft!). However he wasn’t phased and went in to jump one of only a handful of clear rounds. Unfortunately, it wasn’t our class and we had the first fence in the jump off trying to pull off a turn back to fence two! He made up for it by jumping double clear and coming 2nd in the Newcomers on the 2nd day, then didn’t jump the on the last day due to a rub from his overreach boots- he is a sensitive boy!

Sammy Backstrom and Lambo competing at Chard

Baby Scrappy jumped super all show, coming 3rd and jumping double clear on the first day in the discovery, getting her last double clear in discovery for next year’s seconds rounds on the second day and winning her class, then just knocking one fence in the 5-year-old Grand Prix on the last day.

Connie was the star of the show for not touching a fence all three days! Jumping her last double clear in foxhunter for next year, coming 5th in the 1.20m open on the first day, jumping double clear coming 4th in the foxhunter on day 2, and finishing in the 1.30/1.40m open jumping a lovely double clear. She also went to Rectory Farm last week for a jump before her 2nd round this week and jumped a lovely double clear coming 4th in the 1.30/1.40m open qualifying for next years Scope Championship.

Sammy Backstrom and Connie at Chard

We went to Wales and West to contest the 2nd round Newcomers, but unfortunately just had one silly fence! Lambo also went here and jumped double clear coming 5th in the newcomers on the first day and qualifying for next years 2nd rounds and then the fastest time, but a silly fence in the first phase on day 2!

I am taking Gibbs out to his first arena hire and then will plan some shows in with him. He is progressing well and his attention span is improving, although not consistently yet! He has lost some of the weight he was carrying and is looking really well. Scrappy is planned to go to Rectory Farm next week, then we have Bury Farm planned for mid-September with a few local day shows in between.