News from Chester Farm
LATEST NEWS - We are now writing all of our regular news and events on our Facebook page, so please go there and LIKE and FOLLOW our Facebook page so you can be kept up to date with current news and happenings at Chester Farm - www.Facebook.com/chesterfarm
Did You Miss Chester Farm on Country Calendar Live? View Now On Demand! - July 2017
If you missed watching the episode on Chester Farm on Country Calendar live on TV, you can still watch it online On Demand via your smart phone or computer by following this link and downloading the app:
Go to Country Calendar website by clicking on this link (you will then need to scroll down the page to see our Episode #23 called "Horse Talk").
Or purchase "Country Calendar Best Of 2017 DVD Volume 2" at any good bookshop or online store. (AS OF JUNE 2018)
We would like to say a HUGE THANKYOU to TVNZ, Hyundai Country Calendar, director Richard Langston, camera man Steve Fisher, sound man Kevin Hill, our families, friends and everyone else for who helped support and take part in the amazing experience of being on this iconic Kiwi show. We were very happy with the way the programme was put together and have been blown away by the overwhelming positive response and feedback we have received afterwards. It was a real privledge to be able to share our farm and lifestyle, horse training ideas and the stunning Maratoto Valley with the rest of NZ! Thankyou!!
TVNZ Country Calendar Screening Date Set for 23rd July 2017
We have now been given the screening date for our exciting little piece of TV time: Sunday 23rd July at 7pm on TVNZ1, the iconic Country Calendar will be featuring Chester Farm and showcasing the beautiful Maratoto Valley! We don't get given any sneak previews of the show before it goes to air so it will be just as exciting / daunting for us to watch it as anyone! Make sure you tune in to see what we get up to here on the farm and spot any of your friends and family who attended the lessons, camp and jumping competition during filming.
Exciting News! Chester Farm coming soon on Country Calendar!
TVNZ1, Sunday 23rd July at 7pm.
Country Calendar Comes To Chester Farm! - March 2017
While our everyday news is shared on the Chester Farm Facebook page these days, there is occasionally some news that is just too exciting to miss sharing here on our website with our non-Facebook users too!
Spectacular film scenes while long-reining a young horse through the overflowing ford.
Country Calendar came to Chester Farm in the middle of March 2017 and spent an amazing 5 days here filming our life with horses on the farm - WOW!!!! Such an exciting (and a bit overwhelming / scary!) experience, we feel so proud and honoured to have been given this opportunity to be involved on this iconic Kiwi TV show. It was a jam packed 5 days involving our daily life and routines on the farm, as well as a riding clinic and camp, Contact CARE therapy, the Paddock Groomer invention and a showjumping competition.
Greg working with Rochelle and "Mikey" on the arena while the film crew look on.
The Country Calendar crew were all fantastic to work with and helped us feel more comfortable in front of the cameras as the days went by. The weather gods were also on our side and we all enjoyed 5 days of magnificent sunshine to help show off the farm and the beautiful Maratoto Valley at it's finest.
The film crew Kevin, Steve and Richard from Country Calendar, with Greg and Diana from Chester Farm.
Here are a few more photos from behind the scenes during filming.
Horses getting up close and personal with the film crew, while Diana gets interviewed in front of the camera.
No Chester Farm camp is complete without a fun river swim! Good fun after lessons on a hot day.
Greg chats about the group lessons, Diana and Pat judge the Showjumping competition.
Steve and Richard discuss best angles and scenery above the Derby paddock.
Dates of TV viewing are yet to be confirmed but we have been informed it will probably air on TVNZ Country Calendar in August 2017. Thankyou so much to TVNZ and Country Calendar, as well as the fantastic group of people and horses who came and took part during the week.
Keep an eye on the Country Calendar website and Facebook pages and stay tuned here for more details!!!
Click here to signup to our email database so you can recieve first notification of latest news and coming events here at Chester Farm.
We are now writing all of our regular news and events on our Facebook page, so please go there and LIKE and FOLLOW our Facebook page so you can be kept up to date with current news and happenings at Chester Farm - www.Facebook.com/chesterfarm
HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYBODY! We hope you and your horses have all been making the most of the summer weather up and down the country, as well as spending any holiday time with family and friends. Yes we are still alive, it has been a hectic finish to 2013 and a super busy start to 2014 - but that seems to just be the way we roll around here, especially at this time of year!!
We have been busy breaking in some lovely horses over the last few months, many well bred warmbloods coming into work for the first time under saddle and progressing well. It is neat to see owners and horses learning to form a bond together in both groundwork and ridden, gaining new skills to help them go home with both the tools and the confidence to progress with success once they go home together.
We've also been out and about with our own horses on the competition circuit - Greg having some excellent consistent results jumping Grand Prix level 1.45m with warmblood stallion Vollrath Chagall including a superb win at Woodhill Sands in the 1* Grand Prix on December 1st following an exciting class and jump-off. This is Charlie's 2nd Grand Prix win and included a flash cover to add to his extensive wardrobe!
Diana's two Hanoverian/TB mares, the full sisters Astek Gianni and Astek Gymbya, have been out to several shows this season too and jumping very well, Diana loving being back at the competitions this year. Gianni has made a return to the showjumping ring after several years competing solely in showhunter and really thriving on the new challenge! Younger sister, the flashy chestnut Gymbya has been greatly impressing out and about, making her competition debut this year. With wins and placings from almost every class entered to date, she is currently leading the Waitemata Low Hunter series on 25 points, final show of series on 1st and 2nd Feb.
We've had some fantastic riding clinics and camps here over the last few months, heaps of new faces arriving to see what Chester Farm is all about and going home with awesome progress, good memories and many new friends made.
Due to demand, we have just scheduled another 2 day clinic on the 15th and 16th February - see Events page for further details and booking form.
And last but not least, through February we also have our summer Twilight Jumping series set to commence again on the 4th Feb and run for the following 3 Tuesday evenings, with the final prizegiving on the 25th Feb. Judged showjumping classes from 60cms to 1m, as well as a fun Mini Hunter Derby course available. More awesome prizes will be up for grabs to the Top 10 showjumping series winners so we look forward to seeing good turnouts at these nights - although these evenings are alot of work to organise and run, we see this as a great way to give something back to the community and provide a friendly yet professional competition series for local riders of all ages to take part in and enjoy. So we'll see you here on the 4th! Download the info flyer on our Events page.
While we will endeavour to continue to place reasonably regular news updates here on our website through this busy season, if you are interested in keeping up with latest news and events from Chester Farm, we suggest you LIKE and follow our Facebook page - www.Facebook.com/ChesterFarm
September / October 2013
If there is no rest for the wicked, then we must have really bad this winter!!! Lots of things are going on at the farm these days with very few moments spare to sit down and reflect on it all.
Horses in training have been making the usual good steady progress in their work, in amongst the occasional day off due to some very turbulent storms that have passed over us recently. We had 2 trees down after very strong winds in one storm, but no damage or injury anywhere else which is always a great relief. On good days horses have been enjoying some lovely hacks out down the road, in the river and up the bush tracks... it's always such a pretty time of year as the trees start to sprout new leaves again.
Two 4 year old mares go for a ride at Chester Farm during their breaking in and early training under saddle. Oct 2013
September saw us run two riding clinics due to early spring demand from riders keen to get into it again after winter. Greg held a Showhunter clinic 31st August and 1st September which was a nice small friendly clinic to start the season off. Those riders who had taken part in our showhunter clinics late Autumn and continued their training throughout the winter really showed some good improvement, and the riders new to showhunter went home with a great understanding of the sport and appreciation of just how difficult it really is to acheive that perfect round!
Diana ran an Adults Confidence Booster Clinic 7th and 8th September which was well received by a group of keen horse owners and riders looking for help and not sure where to go next with their young horses, problem horses or adults looking to gain more skills and confidence for general everyday horse riding and handling. A couple of problem horses on the clinic made enormous improvements over the weekend, again reiterating the fact that most problems under saddle need to be first addressed and fixed via groundwork before starting work on the horses back. Diana thrives of the challenge of working with these horses and loves seeing adults improve and enjoy what horses can offer us. Her calm, approachable demeanour mixed with practical advice and simple methods saw everyone learning alot and going home with renewed confidence and many new skills and exercises both groundwork and ridden to put into practise over the coming months.
Our Spring Into Action 3 day clinic and camp held October 4th - 6th was full and busy, with lessons running from 7.30am till 6.30pm and involving a wide range of ages, skills and levels. From the cheeky group of young riders all proudly accomplishing riding a full jumping course over lots of newly painted walls and fillers, to young horses and inexperienced horse/rider combinations working on their groundwork and flatwork skills, through to competitive showjumpers looking to hone in on their techniques and ringcraft for the coming competition season. It was a great 3 days with excellent weather throughout and people attending from all over including Taupo, Tokoroa, Whitianga, Whangarei and Hamilton.
With the first of our Spring Twilight Jumping series nights starting on Tuesday 8th October, we offered for any clinic attendees to stay on for the extra nights and put their clinic learnings into practise in a competition setting. A great crowd of people turned up with 22 riders attending the first jumping night including many locals and others from further afield making the effort to come along, join in the fun and see if they could get their names on the board for the series points prizes. We again have some fantastic prizes up for grabs to the Top 10 Showjumping series winners including polar fleece cover, leather halters, rope halters, 3 bags of horse feed, lesson discount vouchers and more. Our thanks to Farmlands Paeroa (Brian McMillan) and Riverside Equestrian (Diane Mumford) for their generous donations and support of this local series.
Keep an eye on our Facebook page for latest series results and photos from the Twilight Series - www.Facebook.com/ChesterFarm
July / August 2013
As I write this we have spent the last few days wearing t-shirts while working the horses and about a week ago I was surprised to see the first green leaf sprouting on one of the willow trees in the horse paddocks. Now the willows are a definite shade of lime green as sweet new leaves appear allover. The later season poplars on the farm have only just lost the last of their 2012 summer leaves, meanwhile the earlier variety poplar trees are covered in buds and showing some bright green leaves sprouting already now too. How exciting to think that spring really is coming early this year! The farm certainly has amazing grass growth on it for this time of year, the young dairy heifers are looking great and haven't needed any of their usual supplementary feed this winter.
On the horsey front, we have had a very busy winter with a full house right through, mostly young horses for breaking in but also some older horses here for further mileage, jump schooling and bringing back into work for their owners. A couple of repeat visitors returned for training while their lucky owners headed off on their annual winter holidays overseas. This is a great option for owners who are keen to have their horses up and going in the early spring ready for the coming season but due to going on holidays, work committments and short daylight hours, struggle to put any regular work into their horses.
We have some very nice youngsters in work that are being offered for sale by their owners at the moment, quality horses with good movement and coming along very well in their work under saddle. Contact us for more info.
Molly heads out down the road for a ride with Diana,
Left: 3yo Warmblood colt Halo in the river. Right: Astek Galavera explores the local fords on the longreins.
We have created a new Events Calendar page on our website to help everyone keep track of coming events, lessons, clinics and camps. You can download all clinic flyers and booking forms etc on this page so check it out and make sure you visit back regularly to see any new events added in as they are confirmed. Coming events include a 2 day Showhunter Clinic (31st Aug / 1st September), an Adults Confidence Booster Clinic (7th 8th September) and our 3 Day Spring Into Action Riding Clinic (4th, 5th, 6th October). This year we are also giving riders the option to stay on and making the clinic into a 5 day camp meaning you can stay on and take part in the first of our Spring Twilight Jumping Series nights on Tuesday 8th October. What a neat opportunity to put all your clinic learnings into practise over already familiar jumps during this low-key, friendly competition! Our first Twilight Jumping series was held in Feb 2013 and was a great success with local riders taking part and fantastic prizes donated from local businesses which were given out to the Top 10 series winners. We have more great prizes lined up again for this spring including embroidered covers, horse feed and equipment, lesson vouchers etc so make sure you take a look at the Events Calendar page to download the info flyer on this spring series too.
May / June 2013
Combined news months over the winter seems like a good idea when the days are short and we are - in some ways - quieter on the farm at this time of year so less happening to report on. Quieter in that we aren't heading off to competitions or holding clinics on weekends, but busier in that the short daylight hours mean we have to work flat out all day just to get the horses worked and fed and farm jobs done before nightfall! Sometimes it seems our only repreive from the farm is the weekly grocery shop and Farmlands visit for horse feed!!
The summer drought finally broke in late April and it quickly became hard to believe that paddocks that were once completely bare and dusty could now produce long lush grass in such a short timeframe.
We had a visit from Diana's mother Sue and nana Melva who flew up from the south island towards the end of April, a great family catch-up and chance to show them the farm and around the Coromandel. (After a week of rain the farm already looked quite different, I don't think they really believed we'd even had a drought!!!).
Above: images taken during April 3 day riding clinic and camp, 2013
On 26th, 27th and 28th April we held our Autumn 3 day riding clinic at the farm. It was a fully booked out camp and a full line-up of daily lessons fitted into every spare second of daylight available. We had really good weather all weekend apart from 2 very short and very sharp downpours which saw the junior rider jumping group get rather wet, but not one complaint was heard from these kids - a really keen and dedicated bunch of riders this lot!! As well as the usual popular jumping and flatwork lessons, Diana also taught two riders who were having their first rides on their recently broken-in young horses (both young warmbloods we had broken in for the owners prior to the clinic). This clinic setting is the ideal opportunity for riders to get to know their newly started youngsters both on the ground and under saddle... there is nothing like spending your first 3 days with a new horse having guidance from someone who already knows the horse well and can help you start to form a bond together through lots of good basic exercises and ideas with a focus on safety and developing the basic aids. Really neat to see both horses go so well for their owners and head off home with confidence to continue on their journeys together.
It was another great camp and we particularly love seeing everyone positively supporting the other riders in their lessons and making new friends at the clinics.
Above: images taken during our first specialised 2 day Showhunter Clinic, May 2013
Our final clinic for the season was a 2 day Showhunter weekend held 11th and 12th May. The weather gods were on our side again for this last hurrah of the year. Our first time holding a specific showhunter clinic and what a great weekend it was! Greg had spent the fortnight prior out in his "mancave" building some flash new showhunter jumps especially for the occasion, Diana's finishing touches with the flowers really completed what became a rather flash competition standard scene! With smaller numbers but several new faces including adults and young riders all new to the sport and keen to learn what showhunter is all about, the lessons went brilliantly with lots of progress made and feedback from riders was definitely "We want more!". We do plan to hold more specific showhunter clinics next season, so keep a look out early next spring when we expect to hold the first one.
And with that, our clinics and camps for the 2012/13 season came to an end. What a FANTASTIC season it has been with absolutely brilliant weather all year, but more importantly, such a great group of riders we've had to work with, all so keen to learn and making the lessons and camp atmosphere so enjoyable and positive. We want to thank you all so much for coming along and taking part. We have ongoing plans for upgrading and developing the facilities to make the camps a continually better experience for everyone who attends and we can't wait to see you and your horses and ponies all back here again next season to do it all again! Keep up to date with all the clinic and camp photos posted on our Facebook page - www.Facebook.com/ChesterFarm - please also make sure you LIKE our page to show your support!
Left: 4yo Diva goes hacking down the road. Right: 2yo Jack learning to lunge.
Following the article written about us in the April Horse & Pony magazine, we've had lots of positive feedback from readers as well as new enquiries from people around the country interested in our methods and sending their horses to us for training.
Our current line-up of horses in work hail from Hastings, Auckland, Taupo, Cambridge, Taranaki and Wellington! Lots of nice young horses to work with, mostly here for starting under saddle. Autumn is always a popular time for getting youngsters going under saddle, with winter providing good reason for them to have a good rest afterwards to mature mentally and physically, before doing some more work again the following spring or summer or whenever they are ready. We are great advocates of doing short stints of work with young horses alternated with rest time... if you start doing basic training or early ridden work with a 2 or 3 year old, they may not need to come back into any work again for 6 months or a year depending on their stage of development, but by doing something early and setting them up on the right track makes a huge difference to how they take to work again later down the track without being taxing on young joints or mental immaturity etc. Times does wonders, especially for the bigger warmbloods being bred these days who take longer to mature, yet it only usually takes a couple of days - no matter how much time off since first under saddle - and they slot back into work mode again like they've nver had a day off!
We always do several short stints of work with our own young horses between the ages of 2 1/2 to 4 years old before starting them in more serious regular work when they are around 5 years old and find this works well and they are always keen and ready to do things.
Goodbye to our last beautiful broodmare "Stately Affair", aka Rusty. Photos taken at 15 years old, just having weaned her 7th foal. Owned by Diana for over 10 years, the matriach of an outstanding family of progeny. She will be sadly missed!
Good luck in your new home Rusty.
Diana's latest foal "Astek Gymahlia" (by Gym Bello) and her dam Stately Affair (Rusty) recently made the big trip up from Astek Stud in the South Island. Bred as a special gift for Diana by her mother Sue, sadly this is to be the last foal from Rusty having had to make the very sad and difficult decision to sell her following Diana's parents downsizing their farm in Christchurch, as well as our own horse numbers reaching maximum capacity with the rest of Rusty's progeny and others filling the paddocks. Diana has owned this beautiful and proven mare for over 10 years and bred 7 foals from her who are all top quality including National and Regional Champions in both dressage and jumping performance. Rusty was collected a week after weaning by new owner Victoria Wall of Auckland, a friend who we are sure will look after this very special mare and gain the future benefits of this top producing mare for her own competition breeding programme. We wish them all the best together and look forward to hearing about Rusty's next baby in spring 2014!
Meanwhile recently weaned filly "Marly" has really shown us her quick trainability and great character during basic handling sessions. A very tall, athletic filly with great neckset and beautiful bouncy hock action, she is now heading down to spend the winter in a big paddock next to the river with her older full sister Gucci.
Winter rain and mud doesn't make for very inspiring horse riding weather, but there are still quite a few people coming for lessons keeping their horses ticking over ready for next season.
We hope everyone is appreciating the one benefit of shorter day and longer nights to get some well deserved R&R and catch up on TV programmes in the evening!
Well, another month has been and gone and unfortunately I never managed to get any news online for March!! Let's see if we can make up for it with a super sized news edition for April :o)
The horses here for training have been enjoying the cool relief offered by the lovely big willow shade trees in their turnout paddocks during this hot, dry, humid summer that we've been experiencing this year. A welcome spot to rest and digest the days learnings after a workout and wash down! At the moment we have a top class lineup of young horses to work with, including warmbloods sired by Lessing, Gym Bello, Centavos, Donnerwind, Vollrath Chagall and El Bundy, plus some nicely bred young Thoroughbreds intended for racing and here for early education and breaking in.
It is always interesting to compare the different traits that each breed brings forth in their training and noticing their attitudes and learning abilities towards new things.
Diana has had a busy time in the round yard preparing all the youngsters for riding, and Greg has been spending quite a bit of time marching out around the farm and river behind one young horse after another on the long-reins. Needless to say we always sleep pretty well at night!!
And speaking along our training lines, the NZ Horse & Pony magazine have just printed a fantastic big 5 page article on our young horse breaking in and training methods here at Chester Farm - our thanks to Rowan Dixon at H&P, journalist Helen Firth for getting our ideas across so well and also to Trish Dunnel for taking such awesome photos to go alongside the wording.
Make sure you buy a copy of the April 2013 edition and check it out - we'd love to know what you think!
April 2013 issue Horse & Pony magazine
- check out the big article on us at Chester Farm!
Following a gradual decline of the Paeroa Pony Club and their deciding not to hold their usual Twilight jumping nights this summer, we decided to take up the reins and hold a Twilight series here at Chester Farm through February to help continue to promote and encourage the local equestrian community into life, and it proved to be a great hit! Ring 1 was held in the arena (the sand surface a godsend for providing good footing and jumping during this hot dry summer when ground conditions have been so hard) and featured a judged showjumping course, with classes starting at 60cms through to 1m. Ring 2 was a Mini Hunter Derby - we setup a different flagged course each week of small logs, gates, hay bales and other natural type jumps in a rolling paddock, this course not judged but just for fun and saw many riders come along to have a go and enjoy doing something different with their horses and ponies.
Above & Below: The Mini Hunter Derby course provided lots of fun for all ages!
Greg's parents Pat and Joe came out of their retirement (having spent many years judging showjumping and course building all around the North Island) and were our judges for the showjumping, it was great to have their experience and knowledge at hand and help remind a few riders of the basic rules in showjumping - such as not carrying a dressage whip or to make sure you don't accidently ride through the flags before starting your course - to help set them up for future competitions... exactly what these sort of nights are for!
Left: Diane Mumford with her young horse Right: 2nd place getter in the Showjumping Series, Stacey Raynes and Biscuit.
We held a points accumulator over the 4 nights of competition for the showjumping classes, with points allocated for first 5 placings as well as simply participation. It all came down to the wire on the final night with the top 4 battling it out for final placings, but Natasha Forsythe and her fast pony Tawa Honey from Paeroa came out on top with 69 points, followed by Stacey Raynes and Biscuit from Katikati on 52, 3rd place went to Renee Hazelton and Just Ace'd on 46 and 4th to Baylee Wooldridge and Lord Tobias from Whitianga on 38.
The final prizegiving night, the top 10 placegetters all receiving their prizes
|Prizegiving was held on the final evening 5th March with the top 10 placegetters all receiving some fantastic prizes generously donated by Farmlands Paeroa, Riverside Equestrian, the Wooldridge family and Chester Farm.
As the overall winner, Natasha took home 2 bags of Nutri-rice feed, a leather halter, a polar fleece cover and a Chester Farm lesson discount voucher - not bad for a small local twilight jumping series eh!!! It was so neat to see all the riders that we teach regularly putting their lesson learnings into practise in a competition setting, and was ideal for young horses and pleasure riders who haven't perhaps competed before (or for a long time) to have a go and get back into the spirit of some friendly competition. Thankyou to the kind sponsors for the prizes and to everyone who attended and made it such an enjoyable series. Proceeds from the twilight nights are going back into creating new jumps over winter so we will be all set with some exciting new obstacles come the springtime when we plan to hold the next Chester Farm Twilight jumping series - watch this space!
Winner of the first Chester Farm Twilight Jumping series, March 2013 - Natasha Forsythe with Tawa Honey, with Greg Jamieson (left) and prize sponsor Diane Mumford (right) of Riverside Equestrian. Thankyou also to Farmlands Paeroa for their prize donations to the top 10 series winners!
> Click here to read Twilight series News article published in Hauraki Herald 1st March 2013
> Click here to read Twilight series News article published in Hauraki Herald 15th March 2013
We have also had a really busy last couple of months holding riding clinics and camps here, with word spreading of our lovely setting, facilities and training for all levels. The Waiau Pa Pony Club came on the 16th and 17th Feb for their annual club camp which was a great success, many riders taking part in lessons, as well as enjoying swimming their ponies in the river, having a go at the Mini Hunter Derby course, exploring the Wires Road bush track and also taking part in an organised group farm ride on a neighbouring property with super views out over the valley and Waikato Plains.
Our next Autumn 3 day riding clinic and camp is scheduled for 26th, 27th and 28th April and is only a couple of yards away from being full already! If you are still thinking of attending please ring Diana on 07 8624567 (evenings or leave a message) or email us asap to check if yards or lesson spaces are still available. Details and booking forms for the clinics are posted towards the bottom of our Lessons / Clinics page.
On the competition front it has also been a busy but successful couple of months.
Greg and Vollrath Chagall were asked to join the Waikato Showhunter team for an Area Challenge event that was held 2nd and 3rd February at Woodhill Sands in conjunction with Waitemata Showhunter's regular competition. A great team spirit was in the air with Waikato riders being given some lovely polo shirts to keep (Greg looks very dashing in his blue shirt with pink highlights!!). Chagall was in his usual good consistent form, winning 4 out of 5 classes and placing 3rd in the other, scoring an excellent 27 points for his team which also consisted of Fenella Skelton, Joanna Troughton, Tayla Wilson and Drew Carson. Congratulations to the Bay Of Plenty team who won the teams event, followed by Auckland in 2nd and Waikato 3rd.
Chagall has also been going very well recently in his showjumping competitions, competing in 1.30m to 1* Grand Prix classes with some excellent double clear rounds and placings including 6th place in the Woodhill Sands 1* GP on March 3rd.
|Not to mention the ever hectic week at Horse Of Year show in Hastings March 12th - 17th where he placed in 3 out of 5 classes entered including 4th place 1.30m out of over 80 starters and 6th place in the Showhunter Of The Year title class.
He followed up HOY with a clean slate at Woodhill Sands again on 30th and 31st March jumping clear all weekend and placing 4th in the 1.30m on Saturday before a top effort in the 1* Grand Prix on Sunday, jumping clear in both the first round and the jump-off which was a tightly fought affair eventually placing 4th - only 1 second behind the speedy Estina and Sam McIntosh.
Greg plans to jump him at Manfield in the April showjumping series final as his last jumping competition for the year.
Greg and Vollrath Chagall with owner Philippa Barriball (right) and admirers during a prize presentation at Horse Of Year show 2013.
Diana also took her bay Hanoverian / TB mare "Astek Gianni" (Ali) to the Woodhill Sands 30th 31st March competition, competing in the showhunter classes where Gianni was in fine form and jumped her way to win and place all weekend, gaining 15 points - only 5 short of qualifying for 2014 HOY already! Diana has chosen not to compete her horses this 2012/13 season due to other personal committments but decided to make the most of the ongoing good weather and super grass arena to compete on at Woodhill, very pleased to see the summer's training at home providing great results again in competition! Gianni will be kept ticking along through most of the autumn and winter with plans to compete her again more fully in the 2013 / 14 season alongside her younger full sister, the flashy chestnut mare "Astek Gymbya" who will be entering her first season of official competition.
Hopefully now you can see why sometimes the website news page just gets a little bit left behind!! We will endeavour to keep things more up to date over the coming months... it's always a bit easier in winter when the daylight hours are shorter meaning more time inside to catch up on office work!
Wow the months are flying by at the moment! It feels no sooner have I finally got one month's new completed and online that the next one is due (or overdue!!) already.... Maybe in the winter I might get a chance to catch up with a bit more inside work!!!
Chester Farm riding clinics and camps give you the chance to try out new things with your horses and ponies!
Yes we have been flat out and haven't really stopped or sat down since our day off on Xmas Day. We selectively had a few less horses in for schooling over January which made life alot easier while running our big New Year 3 day clinic and camp 4th to 6th Jan. The clinic was full with every yard booked and lessons running at full capacity over the 3 days starting at 7am and finishing up around 6pm each day. The voice amplifier speakerphones that we both use during the lessons are essential to ensure that our voices get saved and everyone gets to hear what we are saying by the last day!!
Left: Greg coaching a young rider jumping lesson. Right: Carolyn Mincham enjoying her flatwork lesson with Diana.
Left: Kimi Knight and Louie. Right: Camp life at Chester Farm riding clinic
The whole clinic was a huge success and the stunning weather simply topped it off. There were some very tired kids and ponies by the end of it having spent most minutes outside of lessons swimming in the river, jumping the logs and then going back horseless and racing around the log jumps again! A great group of adult riders from regular competitors to those who just wanted to brush up on their skills and confidence all helped to make it a really great atmosphere. A farm trek up on our neighbours hillside property also added another opportunity to go for a ride and enjoy some impressive views out over the Maratoto Valley and Waikato plains. We were most impressed to go down to the campsite on Monday and find every yard clean and not a scrap of rubbish anywhere - thankyou very much to everyone who attended for being such tidy kiwis and respecting our few basic camp rules so well, your efforts help the whole camp and clinic run smoothly for everyone and we sincerely appreciate it!
All of the camp photos are posted on our Facebook page so check it out if you haven't already - www.Facebook.com/ChesterFarm
The gorgeous river and swimming hole right next to the campsite is great for cooling off in after lessons!
Greg attended his second clinic with the legendary George Morris on 22nd and 23rd January, riding the stallion Vollrath Chagall in a group of other competitive jumping riders. Once again Greg received quite alot of praise from George for his riding position and for being such a great student! George is well known for being a critical coach but with the best intentions of gaining respect from his students and he is quick to praise when they try his methods and do something well. It was also very satisfying to hear this top international coach preaching the very same riding concepts and methods that we find ourselves repeating over and over to our own students.... the underlying message being that you simply cannot be too strong on the basic fundamentals of riding, correct postition and ringcraft, no matter what level or discipline you are riding in. During the 3rd day of his teaching at Ti Papa Equestrian Centre, George took his first New Zealand showhunter clinic which was well supported by spectators and riders alike, and of particular interest to Diana. Having watched the 2 days showjumping lessons prior, there was actually little difference asked of the showhunter riders compared to showjumpers with regards to postition.... in fact George even said the showhunter riders were overall all far better (postition wise) than the showjumpers! Working on a regular rhythm and correct ringcraft helped these riders do a lovely round of jumps each at the end of their lessons.
We both came home inspired and with some new exercises to implement in both our own riding and to bring forward to our lessons and clinics.
The gorgeous gelding "Astek Graffiti", who arrived here a few weeks ago, has been coming along brilliantly with his jump training and, after only 4 weeks since going over his first rail on the ground, attended his first jumping show in January 2013 where he attracted attention for his obvious scope, beautiful balance and quality. Without even needing to advertise him he has already been sold on behalf of his owner Nicki Page of Christchurch to a super new home, bought in partnership with 2 families who are looking forward to his future showjumping career! Greg will continue to ride and compete Graffiti till the end of this season, giving him some extra jump training and competitions, initially using showhunter classes as a great base for him to gain confidence and mileage.
We held a 2 day lesson weekend at the end of January after requests from many of the 3 day New Year Clinic goers wanting to come back for some follow up tuition, and from those who couldn't make the earlier clinic. We had another great weekend and it was especially neat to see riders from the previous clinic coming back after 3 weeks with renewed confidence and skills in both their flatwork and jumping ability, ready to take a step up. The swimming hole next to the campsite has had a heap of use this summer - there is nothing like a swim after a lesson for both horses and riders to cool off and have some fun!
Our next 2 day riding weekend will be 23rd and 24th March, so download the info flyer and booking form from the bottom of the Lessons / Clinics page and send it to us to confirm your place.
Happy New Year to all of our family, friends, clients and website followers!! We hope you've all had a great xmas and festive season - whether spending some time on your holidays to enjoy extra time with your horses, or taking time out and doing something completely different!
We love this time of year, not only are the morning usually beautifully warm and still and great for working the horses, but we are also building up to our summer riding clinics and camps that are held here on an annual basis. Following a great turn-out for our spring clinic in October, this January clinic has filled up quite quickly with people booking in from as far away as Taupo, Tokoroa, Northern Auckland, and everywhere inbetween!
3yo Warmblood mare by Lessing, owned by Sarah Neilson, learning to long-rein in the round yard, Dec 2012.
The horses in training all missed a day of work when we had Xmas Day off and spent it with family. But after one day of sitting around doing nothing and over-eating we were both keen to get back to work again on Boxing Day and pick up where we had left off. It is always a good sign when the horses are just as keen to do things, all waiting at their gates to come in when they see us arrive up at the stables in the morning.
Several of the young horses who have been here for breaking in through November or December are coming to the end of their stay with us and proving to be good rides out and about and getting ready for a rest. Depending on their age, maturity and stage of training, we usually suggest that owners ride their newly started horses for a few weeks or so when first taking them home to get a feel for them while they are still in work, and then giving these youngsters some turnout rest time again... whether rested for a few weeks, a few months or even a year or so, it is amazing how much they grow both physically and mentally during this turnout time and come back into work a much stronger horse, keen to start doing things again.
|We welcomed the arrival of warmblood gelding "Astek Graffiti" to Chester Farm recently. This very attractive 7 year old by Gym Bello out of a Thoroughbred mare was bred by Diana when she was still living in Christchurch at Astek Stud. Born on Xmas day (causing much havoc to a large organised family gathering in Nelson!), Graffiti was sold as a foal to Christchurch dressage rider Nicki Page who has produced and competed him with wins and placings up to to Level 3. Graffiti has now made the journey north and joined our team where he will be learning to jump and offered for sale on behalf, we are excited to have him here and look forward to seeing him progress!
Quality Warmblood gelding Astek Graffiti, owned by
Nicki Page, arrives at Chester Farm.
|At the end of December Greg was busy making hay while the sun shone... 670 bales to be exact, which are now piled up in the hay shed and ready to meet the ongoing demands of horses in work once we have exhausted our previous season's supply.
|Meanwhile Diana managed to cleverly miss the hay making and instead spent a few days catching up with her family and friends in Christchurch just prior to Xmas, where she also finally got to meet our beautiful new 2012 season foal "Astek Gymalia" (by Gym Bello x TB mare Stately Affair). With long legs, a gorgeous face and almost identical markings to one of her older sisters, this new filly is a full sister to our current horses Astek Gianni, Astek Gymbya, Astek Gucci and is also a half sister to Astek Versace (by Voltaire II). We will be looking forward to having her here on the farm after she has been weaned.
Our new 2012 foal is born! A gorgeous tall Hanoverian/TB filly by Gym Bello x Stately Affair (Spectacular Love).
With the 1st of December marking the offical start of summer, we have certainly been given a few promising tastes of what the coming months hold in store for us recently with some gorgeous weather making general farm life and being outdoors the place to be. There is no doubt spirits and motivation rise when you wake up to a nice sunny, still day! Unfortunately the weather patterns still haven't quite settled enough to be 100% reliable yet however, and we've both got wet on occasion recently too when getting caught out riding in a passing rain shower. The farm sure does appreciate the moisture though and our productive baleage paddocks are due to be cut any day, with several others shut up for making hay which will follow late December.
November has seen horses coming and going from the farm on a regular basis, with quite a few horses arriving for us to bring back into work for the owners following winter turnout or time off after being broken-in the previous autumn. Diana has been kept busy riding some ponies for owners from both locally and further afield that have needed further mileage under saddle, both hacking out and general schooling. While both of us are happy to ride ponies, they do appreciate Diana's lighter female frame and kind approach - although her legs do hang a bit close to the ground at times!!
Greg has been doing some miles walking out around the farm while long-reining and mouthing several young horses here for breaking in. Long-reining is somewhat of a dying art form these days however is something we firmly believe in for encouraging young horses to walk out on their own in front of you, learn to steer and move forward from your dictation behind them (simulating what will happen when later being ridden) as well as being a fantastic way to assess their attitude when approaching new environments, potentially spooky objects and unfamiliar situations.
Alongside the stallion "Vollrath Chagall" (Charlie) who Greg has been competing for owner Philippa Barriball in the recent spring showjumping competitions, several others of our own horses have also been in regular work over the last few months including two of our 4 year olds "Cadenza" (aka Chloe) who is a Warmblood/TB mare from Chagall's first crop of foals out of a Vice Regal mare and being ridden by Greg, and "Astek Gigi" who Diana has been hacking out and bringing along in her early flatwork schooling. Diana's older horses, the two full sisters Astek Gianni and Astek Gymbya, have also been in work however Diana has not yet competed this season due to deciding to take a step back from competition for the time being to concentrate on a few other jobs around the house and farm that have been needing to be done, which has seen the roller and paintbrush in action again during sunny afternoons and weekends!!
Greg's other horse, the Grand Prix showjumper "Retrospect II" (aka Enzy - owned in partnership with Bruce and Carolyn Mincham), has recently gone over to Shiwon Green of Fenlands Sporthorses in Cambridge, where he is having a change of direction and being prepared for sale as a prospective dressage horse. Shiwon is excited by his potential and it has been great to see him so settled, happy and enjoying his work in this new environment. His quality movement has always suggested he could turn towards a dressage career, and we know somebody is going to love his great character and enthusiasm as much as we have.
Our next 3 Day Riding Clinic and Camp is coming up early in the New Year on the 4th, 5th and 6th January 2013, a good response so far from people keen to make a little horsey summer holiday of it camping next to the bush and river, alongside enjoying some time progressing their horses. There are still some spare yards available so if you are thinking of coming along, whether to brush up on your flatwork riding and help gain "feel" and confidence, or to progress your jumping, from polework through to jumping exercises, please fill out the Lesson Booking Form or contact us today for more details. At only $55+GST per day for your lessons and cheap camping and yard fees, this is a great summer holiday option for family and friends..... we'd love to see you here!
The previous month of October has been an extremely busy one for us here at Chester Farm, starting off with our Spring 3 Day Riding Clinic and Camp held 5th to 7th October.
One of Diana's flatwork groups using pole exercises to good effect, Oct 2012
The weather looked upon us pretty favourably compared to the rest of the country with the sun shining through most of the time and only saw us get a little bit wet on Saturday morning when a couple of brief showers passed through. A friend who lives only a few minutes further up the valley said it rained at her place most of the day on the Saturday which just goes to show how sheltered we are here! We had a great turnout for the clinic with riders from all locations and of all ages and levels attending - quite a few new faces including adult pleasure riders wanting to gain more confidence and increase their general riding skills worked alongside some lovely young horses who all enjoyed Diana's flatwork lessons, while Greg kept the jumping groups busy and in good spirits working up from polework exercises through to jumping a technical course on the final day.
Laura Bon and her pony Ivy were in fine form
on the clinic, October 2012
Greg set up a few fun flatwork exercises for a group of
young riders who rose to the challenge! Oct 2012
A group of 3 young riders on their first ponies also had a blast and went home buzzing with excitement of their new knowledge and skills gained. The new onsite shower was also a hit with those who camped here and makes for a good way to freshen up after your ride at this time of year when the river is still a bit cool for swimming in. Check out lots more Spring Clinic photos on our facebook page - www.Facebook.com/chesterfarm.
|Diana went to Christchurch 19th October to attend a 7 day Ken Faulkner riding clinic alongside her mother Sue from Astek Stud who loaned her the lovely Holsteiner/TB mare Astek Remi Martini to ride.
|Ken Faulkner is a highly regarded Australian horseman who travels the world sharing his knowledge on horsemanship, however to our mind stands apart in the way he translates the methods of groundwork through to riding for any discipline and achieving a beautifully soft, balanced, correctly engaged horse. Ken was constantly quoting classical dressage masters amongst others and his fantastic friendly, approachable manner makes him a very popular clinician wherever he goes. Diana had a brilliant time and came home very inspired, confirming many things and learning plenty of new ideas too to bring forward into our everyday work here at Chester Farm.
Diana (left) and her mother Sue Fowler on Ken Faulkner's clinic, Christchurch, October 2012
Greg's competition circuit has seen him do a bit of travelling through October, riding stallion Vollrath Chagall (Charlie) at Hastings A&P show 17th and 18th, Woodhill Sands on Labour weekend and then Pukete on the 28th. Charlie has been putting in some excellent rounds this season, stepping up to 1* Grand Prix level and impressing many fellow competitors with his excellent jump style, new found collected frame (thanks to Greg's winter of extensive dressage schooling!) and, as always, his great temperament. Owner Philippa Barriball has also been ringside on several occasions and very proud of her Charlie's performances.
Back on the home front, the horses in schooling have been making great progress in their work. We've had quite a few horses here for schooling and mileage as opposed to breaking in lately which has made for a nice change and seen us able to go for more rides out together on these slightly more experienced horses and give them a variety of training, from farm and bush trail rides to arena schooling and jump training. It was lovely to have the previously sold on behalf coloured gelding "Merloe" back for a few weeks following our clinic when his new owner Paula Vernon went away on a family holiday. Hannah Johnson of New Plymouth also had 2 great days of lessons when she came to pickup her lovely Thoroughbred geldings "Ronnie" and "Archie" recently. So great to see horses and owners enjoying themselves and getting on well after their time with us!
Paula Vernon and her lovely coloured gelding Merloe
go through their paces together, October 2012
Hannah Johnson having a lesson with Archie before taking him home after his schooling stay, October 2012
Ongoing changable weather patterns across the country lately have made for some interesting days in the valley, with rain showers violently blowing in and then dissapearing again in 5 minutes followed by brilliant sunshine and calm weather behind them! All considered, the horses don't really seem to have been too affected and haven't been taking any notice of the wind and potential "boogy monsters" it can bring like they sometimes do when asked to work in it and we have been going out for some lovely rides down the road, river and in the arena which is great - but no doubts they are just as pleased as we are when a lovely calm day appears on the horizon!
A beautiful morning for a ride, springtime at Chester Farm, September 2012
|We have had a few horses on the farm recently who have travelled quite some distance to be here, including the quality young 4 year old Hanoverian mare "Astek Godessa" - bred by Diana's mother Sue at Astek Stud in Christchurch and now owned by Nicki Wall of Hawkes Bay, who has been brought back into work and is spending her time going out exploring the countryside gaining valuable ridden mileage under saddle. Also two lovely Thoroughbred geldings owned by Hannah Johnson of New Plymouth have arrived recently for general schooling, jump training and bringing back into work.
"Patricio Ego Z" learning to canter in the round yard.
And we said goodbye a few weeks ago to Whangarei based Jasmine Sketchley's very handsome young stallion prospect "Patricio Ego Z" aka Parker who we started under saddle and look forward to seeing on the showjumping competition circuit in years to come.
Regular lesson participant Cherie Jaques has put all her winter training with Greg at Little Valley Farm into good use, winning and placing on her two horses recently at Taupo ODE. Meanwhile Steph Cowdell, whose mare we had for schooling through August, has also gained her first wins and placings in showjumping competition. Great results!
Vollrath Chagall started his 2012 competition season proper with Greg at Woodhill Sands 22nd and 23rd September where he jumped a lovely double clear in the 1.30m and then jumped clear in the first round of the Grand Prix on Sunday followed by 2 rails in the jump-off - a fine effort for this young stallion as he begins his first season competing at this level, even jumping one fence as a stray rolling football came in from the sideline beneath it!!
Vollrath Chagall on his way to double clear and 4th place in the 1.30m, Rotorua Spring Show, September 2012
29th and 30th September saw Chagall and Greg head down to Taupo NEC for the Rotorua Spring show, again Chagall was in fine form jumping an excellent double clear and making some good turns in the jump-off in the competitive 1.30m class on Saturday to place 4th overall. On Sunday he took 2 rails down in the Grand Prix, just showing a little of his green-ness at this level but jumping the rest of the track superbly including the treble which was catching alot of the experienced horses out. Chagall's temperament and behaviour at the shows is really excellent in every way and his winter dressage schooling at home is really paying off now in the competition ring as he shows off his balance and wonderful rolling canter that gives him great power over the jumps.
We have been getting the farm all ready for our spring riding clinic - lawns mown, yards in place, arena setup ready for action... we are looking forward to a great three days!
Spring colours at Chester Farm, September 2012
September the 1st means spring has officially arrived - bright daffidols and calves and lambs have been showing up all over the place. But the turbulent weather hasn't been quite so rosy, though is suggestive of change which we can only hope is a good thing! The willow trees on the farm that make lovely shade and shelter trees in some of the horse paddocks started sprouting new leaves during the last two weeks of August which brought a smile to our faces as a sure sign of things to come. There is nothing like the promise of some nice weather and longer days just around the corner to get you more inspired again!
Left: Molly & Greg schooling on the arena. Right: Kricket and Diana explore the river.
We said goodbye recently to some lovely horses that have been on the farm for breaking in and training including TB/Clyde X mare Tilly who really transformed during her stay and we are sure will continue to develop into a fun ride for owner Bronwyn Taylor, and Steph Cowdell's Irish/TB showhunter mare Molly who visited us during Steph's exciting holiday to the UK watching the Olympics! Yes this winter we have stayed home and worked on the farm, training horses for several owners who have gone away on holiday everywhere from Africa to Rarotonga, however I think by next winter we will be well due for our own island getaway!!
Philippa Barriball's Holsteiner stallion "Vollrath Chagall" has been making super progress in his dressage schooling at home with Greg and has his first practise show of the season lined up on 9th September before the first proper show of the season starts 22nd and 23rd September at Woodhill Sands. Greg is excited about their coming competitions and plans to compete "Charlie" up to 1* Grand Prix level this year.
Diana's mare Astek Gianni (Ali) has come back into work recently and had her first rides since March 2012 Horse Of Year show. She is looking fantastic after her time out and feeling very pleased and much more loved now she's doing things again. She certainly is a very classy upstanding mare now at 8 years old and matured.
Full sister Astek Gucci, recently turned 2, has also been coming into the stables at night and doing a little bit of early groundwork training with Diana. Gucci is very like her sisters Gianni and Gymbya in many ways and also displays the family's lovely supple, cadenced, very balanced movement - we can see her being yet another beautiful, elegant young horse when she comes out under saddle and follows her older brothers and sisters footsteps.
We are looking forward to our Springtime riding clinic which is being held here on 5th, 6th and 7th October during the school holidays and looking to be a popular and fun time with plenty of early bookings coming in from riders all over the top of the North Island. Even if your horse hasn't had alot of work recently, our lessons cater for all and build up progressively over the 3 days, whether you are doing jumping lessons, flatwork lessons or horsemanship lessons. We have as many adult riders as younger people attending, and the small groups ensure everybody has a great time and makes lots of progress. Spread the word and come along with your friends for a fun horse riding camp!
Happy birthday to all the Southern Hemisphere horses out there that officially turn one year older on the 1st of August!
Paeroa and Thames got hit by a real deluge of rain towards the end of July, causing major flooding, road closures and slips in the area. We had over 200mls of rain fall on the farm over 2 days so there were certainly alot of puddles everywhere but we had no other damage and surprisingly the river beside us - although definitely high and raging! - wasn't running as high as it did 2 weeks prior when we had our first real winter storm and rainfall in the Maratoto Valley. The river that runs next to our property feeds from a catchment area up in the Coromandel Ranges and, when it crosses the ford located opposite our driveway, restricts several of our neighbours from driving home or out the gate to work etc. We are pleased to live on the right side of it as it must be very frustrating at times!
Our Photo of the Month - "Parker", 2yo colt owned by Jasmine Sketchley - crossing the flooded ford, July 2012.
Apart from the horses all missing a few days of work due to the torrential rain and storms, they have been coming along nicely with good training progress made on the gorgeous frosty yet sunny days that have shone upon us for most of the winter so far.
"Vollrath Chagall" (Charlie) has come back into work recently after we picked him up from owner Philippa Barriball's where he has spent a few months relaxing out on her farm. Charlie has settled in straight away again at Chester Farm without any fuss and thoroughly enjoying having something to do again. He's a great natured stallion who enjoys company and it has seemed rather quiet without his friendly chatter around the place.
Greg has been travelling regularly up to Dairy Flat, Auckland and to Little Valley Farm, Hamilton teaching which has seen some keen horse and rider combinations making the most of his available time to put in some excellent winter training ready for the coming spring and summer.
Diana has been busy painting black posts and rails in recent afternoons once the horse work is finished, with the arena now half done and ready for some more buckets of paint. We can't wait to see it all come together once the painting is completed and the trees start to leaf up again in the spring!
We have been working on some new facilities and ideas that will be up and running in time for our next 3 day riding clinic and camp to be held October 5th, 6th and 7th 2012. While we will also be emailing out a copy to everyone in our lesson database a little closer to the time, the Spring Clinic Booking Form is now posted online on our Lessons page for anyone who wants to take a look and get in early - click here to view and print your copy now.
Please do email us if you aren't already on our database but would like to be to be included in our occasional mailouts regarding lessons, clinics, camps, events, horses for sale and other happenings that may be of interest to you.
PS - Still some spaces left on Greg's coming 2 day riding clinic to be held August 11th and 12th at Little Valley Farm in the Indoor Arena. Young horses and riders doing flatwork or poles through to experienced competitors wanting to improve flatwork or jumping, all welcome. Great opportunity to utilise the indoor arena and make some good progress with your horse, no matter what the weather! Please contact us today if you'd like to participate.
Wintery weather has struck our region recently and, although we have actually missed alot of the rain that's been around in nearby places, it has been cold and bleak here in the valley at times with days of wind and showers that really don't make life on the farm pleasant! So unfortunately that means gumboots and plenty of warm clothing layers are out in force again. That said, we usually manage to fit in working the horses during the good spells and take cover in the stables or along the bush track trees when needed.
Philippa Warhaft came for a few rides to get to know her mare Vedette before taking her home, June 2012.
Greg and Tori head up the bank out of the river during a ride out and about, June 2012.
Tilly practises trotting in the round yard, June 2012.
Rubin doing some groundwork with Diana, June 2012
We recently said goodbye to a few lovely horses that have been here for training, including Phillipa Warhaft's classy warmblood mare "Vedette" that we started under saddle and Diana has really enjoyed producing in her early work under saddle, as well as a very nice rising 3 year old warmblood gelding "Tori" by Vollrath Chagall (the stallion Greg competes for owner Philippa Barriball). Tori is the third of Chagall's progeny that we have started under saddle and he showed a great attitude and lovely movement during his time which was very pleasing.
The coloured gelding "Merloe" who we have had here for schooling and sale on behalf sold in early June to Paula and David Vernon of Rotorua - a lovely family home where he will be thoroughly spoilt and enjoyed we are sure. We wish them all the best and look forward to seeing Merloe again at one of our coming riding clinics.
With all of our own horses turned out in big paddocks by the river, apart from Retrospect and Gigi going for occasional rides, we have had some extra time in the afternoons to work on the farm and catch up with jobs that need doing. Painting fences and posts has been Diana's priority while Greg has been busy removing some older batton fences and replacing them with clean wires - hard work but extremely satisfying!!
|We have also had more time for lessons, Diana's flatwork and horsemanship lessons helping people improve their confidence and skills, while Greg has also started travelling regularly to Dairy Flat area in Auckland and to Little Valley Farm in Hamilton (indoor arena at LVF) teaching both jumping and flatwork to a variety of riders of all ages and levels. If you are interested in having lessons either onsite here at Chester Farm or at either of these locations, please contact us so we can fit you into the lesson schedule. If you have a group of riders in your area also keen for some coaching, please contact us to see if it's viable for us to travel to you.
The indoor arena at Little Valley Farm, Hamilton, all setup for the first jumping lesson, June 2012
With enquiries already coming in from pony clubs wishing to hold their summer camps here, we have been working on some plans and coming up with some exciting new ideas that will be ready in place for the first of our coming 3 day riding clinics to be held in October 5th, 6th and 7th 2012 - mark it on your calendar now!
The clinic booking form will be posted on our website before too long, so keep a look out on the Lessons / Clinics page for it to appear soon.
1st June 2012
Less daylight hours these days means a bit more pressure for us to get all of our work done within a much shorter time frame through the day, but on the other hand it also means longer hours of enforced time inside - hence why our monthly news is more likely posted on time during the autumn and winter!!
"Merloe" and "Vedette" heading out down the road for a ride, May 2012
We have been making the most of the ongoing great autumn weather to give the current horses in work lots of variety including lunging, hacking out, arena rides and free-jumping as suitable for their stage of training. Although it's a fresh start in the morning (we've only had one frost so far here in the valley though!), these sunny calm days are beautiful for working outside in and especially helpful when riding young horses for their first few rides or going out for a hack down the road.
Milly goes exploring on the long-reins, May 2012
Diva heads down the hill for a ride out, May 2012
Autumn is always a great time for breaking in young horses as they rise up to their third or fourth birthday... 6 - 8 weeks or so of good foundation training accepting all the basics of what it means to be a riding horse, followed by a turnout period over winter then some more work the following spring, summer or autumn (depending on their individual needs), we find to be an ideal regime to allow them time to digest their new learning, rest and mature both physically and mentally.
|Retrospect II made his first start back in competition (albeit a winter training show) in May after an extended turn-out period seeing him miss most of last season's main competition schedule. Some time out on the hill just being a horse has done him wonders and he has returned to work this last month feeling better than ever pyhsically and in a very good frame of mind and a fresh approach to work. A few simple gear changes seem to be helping as well. He jumped really well for Greg in the Woodhill Sands 1.15m and 1.20m classes on 13th May, putting in two lovely double clears. Greg now plans to work his way quietly through the winter months, looking to build on the good foundation tha'ts been re-established.
Retrospect II (Enzy) jump schooling at home
with Greg, May 2012
|Retrospect (Enzy) is an emotional horse and can get excited when he competes so a big part of Greg's focus with him is to keep a calm and relaxed approach to Enzy's training to help create a more level mindset, one that can hopefully be transfered to the competition ring.
Our lovely young mare Astek Gymbya (aka Princey) has recently been turned out for the winter following some extremely pleasing performances at her winter training show attendances, and is now enjoying being paddock down by the river in a big grassy paddock, next door to her two full sisters Gianni and Gucci.
Diana now has time to really concentrate on 3 year old filly Astek Gigi who is coming along well under saddle, starting to do some good basic flatwork in the arena and going for rides up the bush track.
1st May 2012
Stunning autumn scenery surrounding Chester Farm, April 2012
Another month has rolled on by seeing us busy outside most daylight hours working horses and catching up with the ongoing maintenance type jobs around the farm while the weather is so good.
We held our Autumn Riding Clinic over Easter, 6th to 8th April, and - following on from a spell of terrible wet windy weather - were very fortunate to see the sun shine brightly for 3 days making it a most enjoyable clinic for the riders and horses involved, with everyone going away very pleased with their progress made and keen to join us again for the next Spring clinic in October. A small group of local spectators including rider's family were ringside cheering people on and adding to the fun, supportive atmosphere. The easter egg welcome at the gate also went down a treat, though I think some small hands may have helped themselves a little more regularly than others!!!
Autumn Riding Clinic, beginner group jumping lesson, April 2012
Diana also joined in on Greg's jumping lessons and rode 2 young horses on the clinic - our promising chestnut mare Astek Gymbya and also the lovely coloured gelding Merloe (for sale, owned by Heather Hayward) with them living in the yards and creating a "first show" type experience for the 3 days which was of great benefit to them both in preparation for starting their first training competitions over the coming months.
Diana riding Astek Gymbya (left) and Merloe (right) during our Autumn Riding Clinic, April 2012
Clinic photos can be viewed at the bottom of our Lessons page, on our Photo Gallery and also on our Facebook page (have you LIKED it yet?) - www.Facebook.com/Chesterfarm so make sure you check them out and see if you can spot any familiar faces!
15th April we took Gymbya and Merloe to Woodhill Sands for their first competition outing where they both entered the showhunter classes. Apart from a little bit of initial anxiety warming up amongst all the other horses (including a very vocal Gymbya!), both settled quickly and took to their job out in the ring like seasoned professionals, with Gymbya and Diana coming away with a brilliant 1st and 2nd and Merloe and Greg a 3rd which was fantastic way to start their competition careers.
We returned to Woodhill again the following weekend for the Waitemata Showhunter day. Again good numbers were present with over 30 in each class, who were, like us, all making the most of the stunning weather. Gymbya acheived a 4th and Merloe a 5th on this occasion, again both jumping confidently over the new jumps and settling well to eat grass at the ringside between classes. Merloe - who we have advertised for sale on behalf of his owner - has obviously attracted a following from his current Trade Me ad with a number of people admiring him in person and asking after him. His wonderful uncomplicated nature makes him a pleasure to take out, we know he is going to find a great home who will take him on to enjoy as much as we do.
3yo gelding Freddy's first ride in the arena, April 2012
Troy jump schooling with Greg, April 2012
We have had a nice group of horses onsite for training in recent months, including well bred warmbloods by Lindberg Des Hayettes, Furst Jupp, Orame, Anamour and Lansing to start under saddle. Also a big black X-bred hunter here for mileage and training who showed great improvement during his stay including increased confidence jumping under Greg's expert guidance.
Prior to our riding clinic, we had 3 young horses here to teach to jump for the owners who then came to ride them on the clinic and get going together. One of these horses we had also started under saddle about a year ago. It is really great to see the progression of these horses as they progress with their riders and work through our practical, systematic approach to ensure good technique and confidence of both horse and rider are established right from the start.
Our 3 year olds Astek Versace and Astek Gigi have been enjoying being in work again since we returned from Horse Of Year show, while Greg's showjumper Retrospect II (owned in partnership with Bruce and Carolyn Mincham) has also made a return to work, building up his fitness again with some hillwork and lunging, looking to be in good shape and keen to do things again.
We also recently took stallion Vollrath Chagall back home to owner Philippa Barriball's for the winter months where he gets to enjoy a lovely big grassy paddock and plenty of attention from both Philippa and daughter Georgia who both dote on their Charlie boy!
3yo gelding Astek Versace during an early ride with Greg,
Autumn colours surround as Greg long-reins a young warmblood mare around the river, April 2012
The farm is currently surrounded by specatular scenery full of beautiful autumn colours as the trees change their leaves against the backdrop of deep blues and greens of the native bush and mountains... combined with brilliant weather like this, it makes us feel this isn't too bad a way to be spending our days at all!
1st April 2012
The month of March is known within the New Zealand sport horse competition world as "the big one" as our largest show of the year rolls around. The annual "Horse Of Year" show (HOY) in Hastings sees around 3000 horses, 70,000 spectators and 1000 horse trucks descend from all around the country to the Hawkes Bay region for a week long extravaganza of all things equine. With 18 disciplines represented at the show, there is certainly something for everyone. Many disciplines such as dressage, showhunter and showing all require competitors to qualify through the prior season to be allowed to compete at this show, and the chance to win Horse Of Year title classes and championships creates exciting competition amongst our top competitors.
This year we took one horse each to ride which made for quite an enjoyable show after a busy one in 2011 when we took 4 horses to compete. Vollrath Chagall and Astek Gianni travelled well on the 6 hour trip down to Hastings, a good stretchy walk around the grounds and rest overnight in their yards saw them ready for their first classes the following day.
Chagall and Greg's first start of the show was on Wednesday in the 7 Year Old class over the beautifully presented Leopaldo Palacios course set at 1.30m-1.35m. He jumped a lovely round with just the one fence down, an excellent start to the show. There were only 5 clears in the class of 30 starters.
This performance encouraged Greg to late enter Chagall into the open 1.40m class on Thursday where he coped very well with the step up over quite a big technical track with just the 2 fences down plus a few time faults.
After a restful Friday, Saturday morning saw Chagall back in the Premier arena in front of the big grandstand for the 1.35m Horse of the Year title class. Another very challenging track which Chagall jumped beautifully, but alas again just the 1 fence down in the middle of the treble which kept him out of the placings. There were only 5 clears out of over 60 starters so still a very creditable performance that Greg was pleased with. Later in the day Chagall jumped again, this time in the Open Showhunter Of The Year title class. A 1st round that Greg would rather forget still had them qualify in 7th placing going into the second round callback. This time Greg rode an excellent round that saw Chagall shoot up the placings to eventually finish 3rd overall. Owner Phillipa Barriball and her excited daughter Georgia (Chagall's favourite little person) were on hand to see their lovely boy be presented with his 3rd place sash whilst trying to eat the pretty plastic flowers that lined the presentation area at the showhunter rings. This result was a credit to the young stallion showing his temperament and versatility, to go from the heated competition in the big showjumping arena back to the more disciplined style required in showhunter, all within a matter of hours.
Vollrath Chagall, 3rd overall in Open Showhunter Horse Of Year title class, 2012.
Sunday saw him return to the Premier arena for the prestigious 7 Year Old Horse Of The Year title class. Around 30 started over the 1.35m track and again clear rounds were scarce, with only 6 eventually completing the 1st round faultless. Chagall warmed up well and began the round jumping terrific until a slight graze at fence 7 saw the back rail slip out of the cups. Another fault at the first of the double at fence 8 was followed by a 3rd at the last, a big oxer over the liverpool. Another good performance though Greg felt Chagall was getting a little tired towards the end of the round.
It had been a long week, Chagall had performed consistantly all show and Greg was extremely happy with his progres, not only at this show but infact the entire season. All year, apart from 4 classes, he has jumped either clear or had just the one rail the entire season. He also jumped in his first two Grand Prix classes, being 1 of only three 7 year olds to win a Grand Prix in NZ this season.
A big thank you to Phillipa for giving us the opportunity to compete such a lovely stallion, and also for her support throughout the year. We are very excited about his future.
Having qualified for entry to the show early in the season, Diana and Astek Gianni entered the Open and Amateur showhunter classes during the week at HOY. Difficult warm up conditions for the horses on the first day prior to officials changing the throughfare layout resulted in many riders opting to enter the ring without having even cantered a practise fence. Gianni jumped quite well once out in the ring with room to move though was not placed due to minor errors and a little show excitment!
Astek Gianni and Diana competing in Showhunter at Horse Of Year Show 2012
Thursday saw them come to form and put in two excellent rounds over 1m and 1.05m placing 2nd and 4th in these two Open classes from over 30 starters which was really great.
But that was to be the end of their ribbons as Gianni started really feeling the hard ground and was noticeably uncomfortable warming up prior to the Amateur title class on Saturday, where she made a very uncharacteristic awkward jump over the first fence in the ring which saw them finish in 15th place out of 35 starters. Having finished Reserve Champions in 2011, it was dissapointing for Diana not to get into the top 10 this year, but with all things considered following a less than ideal workup with Gianni in the month or so prior to the show, still very pleasing to come away with 2 ribbons for the last show of the year. Gianni has now come home and, after an initial period of looking quite depressed about not being worked or stabled anymore, is now thoroughly enjoying her turnout time in a big grassy hillside paddock just outside our kitchen window.
Tiki Taane, one of the horses we competed and sold in 2011 at HOY, was also present at the show with new rider Olivia Robertson of Christchurch who has had a brilliant year with her new horse winning and placing in many eventing and showjumping competitions including at the National SJ Champs. Tiki continued in fine form at HOY 2012, winning the hotly contested Intermediate Rider Of The Year class (1.25m). This super little coloured gelding can really turn on a sixpence and has enormous spring in his jump making him very hard to beat in a jump-off! Fantastic to see a talented horse end up in such a perfect home and go on to perform with great success.
We were thankful to have chanced a week of dry weather for the show but were still pleased to get home and find the farm well looked after and everything still running smoothly thanks to Greg's parents help.
Now with our main competition season finished, we have plenty of work ahead with several of our own young horses including Astek Gigi and Astek Versace, to get going, plus a long waiting list of horses ready to come here for breaking-in and training over the coming months. While we overall both really enjoy our work, it will be very nice to have weekends back again and spend them like "normal" people, having the odd sleep-in and going places other than horse shows!
1st March 2012
Not long after it arrived last month, our brief glimpse of summer seems to have already moved along with quite an autumny feel to the weather now with fresher mornings and a turn in the breeze. We had an incredible electrical storm here in mid February with torrential rain, cracking thunder and bright lightening flashes only seconds apart, keeping us awake at night worrying about the horses and calves out in their paddocks! But the day dawned calm and sunny and we were very relieved to find all the animals had made it through the night in one piece and were enjoying the peaceful morning sunshine.
We've had a full house of horses here over the last few months, with several here for schooling and lots of young horses to break in, including 2 attractive warmblood mares by Lessing and a lovely natured gelding by Prestige VDL. The best part is seeing the smile on the owners face when they come for their first ride on their young horse before taking them home! A big Clyde X hunter gelding that we had here to jump school and sell on behalf also found a new home with a showjumping rider in Auckland who is thoroughly enjoying him and already been out to competitions with success. We also have another quality horse here at the moment who is being offered for sale - a 6 year old coloured gelding called Merloe - see our Horses For Sale page for more info on him.
Chrstina Thiele riding her 3yo warmblood gelding Diego on a ride around the farm and in the arena before taking him home.
Sharlene Storey and her 3yo warmblood mare Leila get to know each other during their first ride together in the round yard.
The local Pony Club twilight showjumping nights at Paeroa racecourse that we are involved with organising have been very successful with many riders of all ages coming along to make the most of these fun, laid-back nights for some friendly competition. It has been fantastic to see all the local children, teenagers and adults that have been attending our riding clinics and lessons come along, quite literally, in leaps and bounds with improved riding skills and confidence to tackle these twilight competition nights, really thinking about their ringcraft by riding excellent corners and approaches to the jumps, as well as now having the confidence to give it a go in the jump-offs and try for a quick time through smart riding. Some of the younger children started lessons afraid of doing poles on the ground and are now flying around the 50, 60, 70cm ring in great style. The big grins when the ribbons are handed out say it all! Very satisfying from a coaching perspective and important to keep encouraging these grass-roots riders to take part and support these sorts of local initiatives.
|We have also been taking part, taking along our young mare Astek Gymbya for her first ridden outing. Well behaved and with her very impressive jump, Gymbya took on the 80cm course like a pro and jumped double clear for 3rd place in her first ever start.
The nights have been popular with riders all still so keen to keep going that the club have decided to continue these twilight nights for a few more weeks and run them on Tuesdays into March as well. If you live nearby and want to come along, these are ideal outings for young horses (even if you just want to ride around and not jump), as well as being great for kids and adults alike to get some competition experience. See details at top of News page for dates and times etc.
Diana and Astek Gymbya at one of the Paeroa Pony Club twilight jumping nights, Feb 2012
February was a busy month for our competition horses, starting with Tauranga 3* on Thursday 2nd Feb with the special Mills Reef 1.35m Classic and World Cup round held at the lovely Mills Reef Winery, Tauranga. Greg was drawn first to go with stallion Vollrath Chagall in the 1.35m class, a good strong track by an Australian course builder that was made quite challenging due to the uneven ground and intense atmosphere caused by the surrounding winery, camera crews and bustling marquee full of people. Chagall warmed up well but was quite taken aback by the atmosphere as he entered the bowl-like ring (much to our surprise as he is usually so unfazed by things!) and the distraction cost him two rails, however Greg felt he jumped brilliantly which was certainly proven by the photos we saw afterwards. A tough class competition wise with many top combinations entered, Chagall stood up well and this experience will put him in good steed for the coming Horse Of Year where he will be competing in the big Premier Arena in front of the grandstand. (See below in this News iteam for our class schedule at HOY).
Greg competing Vollrath Chagall in the Mills Reef 1.35m Classic, Feb 2012.
We took Astek Gianni up to Woodhill Sands Saturday 4th for a day at the Waitemata Showhunter competition, Gianni unfortunately not at her best with Diana having felt her to be a bit unhappy on one rein during some recent rides at home and this was reflecting in the ring. For the first time this season they came home with no placings but a plan to give Gianni some light work and get her looked at by Dale Speedy from Contact Care as soon as possible. (For those of you not familiar with Dale, we HIGHLY recommend him and his team for their work on both people and animals, having some amazing results on both us and our horses at times when we have been injured or suffering general aches and pains.) It was a well run show though with strong entries, also hosting the first regional team event which proved very popular, Bay Of Plenty team taking the final honours.
Sunday 5th we took Chagall back over to Tauranga 3* (yes, the silver truck sure was flying around the countryside this weekend!!) where he and Greg competed in the competitive 1.35m 7 Year Old class. Only 6 combinations went clear, with Chagall and Greg making the course look decidedly easy but were caught out with 1 time fault putting them in 6th place ahead of all the 4 faulters.
The following weekend we did some more tripping around, starting with the 7 Year Old class up at Woodhill again for the Waitemata 1* show. We got held up in traffic on the motorway and pulled in the gate just as the class was starting! Greg threw the gear on Chagall while Diana raced down to see the officials and ask for a later start in the draw of what was a fairly small class anyway. Greg arrived at the warmup area with a very bouncy stallion where they had time to have a very quick canter and jump 3 fences before learning the course on the way into the ring! Once in the ring however Chagall knew his job and jumped a great round until he just tipped one rail in a short one stride double - something Greg would have been aware of if he'd walked the course! All in all a good result that earned them 4th place (having had the fastest time out of the 4 faulters) and plenty of laughs and jibbing from fellow competitors!
|We unsaddled and loaded Chagall back on the truck along with a surprised Gianni who had been settling into her yard (for all of about 20 minutes!), and headed straight on down to Taupo where we were going to compete on the Sunday at Waikato Showhunter's 2 day summer show. Gianni was still not at her best, though put in some good rounds nonetheless once she was warmed up, with just a few small mistakes costing them a placing. Dale's treatment the following week was very good though and with a little more time we hope she will be over any aches and pains and feeling in great shape again by Horse Of The Year show.
Astek Gianni and Diana competing at Waikato SH, Taupo, Feb 2012
|Greg entered Chagall in the Open Horse Classic Championship and the Open 1.10m to keep up his showhunter form in preparation for HOY as well. They put in two well executed rounds with great rhythm but it still came as a surprise when, amongst several of the top seasoned showhunter campaigners, they were announced as winners of the Championship class, receiving a flash big sash, trophy and cover for their efforts! The trophy already holds the name of many well know NZ riders including Vaughn Jeffries, Penny Stevenson, Joan Couper, Sally Steiner to name a few.
Vollrath Chagall and Greg win Open Horse Classic Championship, Feb 2012
Due to demand, Greg has been travelling to Little Valley Farm in Ohaupo (near Hamilton airport) each week taking jumping lessons with riders of all levels. Next visit will be Tuesday 6th March if you are keen to get some professional assistance with your jumping - great timing before HOY! - this is a great opportunity. Give us a call 07 862 4567 (leave a message if needed) so we can organise your lesson times.
Our competition schedule for HOY is as follows:
Greg riding Vollrath Chagall:
(Note: all Greg's showjumping classes are in the Premier Arena in front of main grandstand, and showhunter classes in Horse Showhunter Ring next to Premier Arena)
- Wednesday: Class 5, 7 Year Old Horse. (Class starts 10.45am)
- Thursday: Class 116 Open Showhunter 1.10m & Class 117 Open Showhunter 1.15m
- Saturday: Class 36 1.35m Horse Of The Year Championship. (Class starts 9.45am)
- Sunday: Class 50, 7 Year Old Horse Of The Year Championship. (Class starts 11.20am)
Diana riding Astek Gianni:
(all classes in the Horse Showhunter Ring next to Premier Arena)
- Wednesday: Class 105 Welcome Hunter (Class starts 9am) & Class 108 Amateur Hunter & Class 109 Open Hunter
- Thursday: Class 114 Open Hunter 1m & Class 115 Open Hunter 1.05m
- Friday: Class 127 Amateur High Points & Class 128 Open High Points 1.10m
- Saturday: Class 134 Amateur Showhunter Of The Year
It should be a good week at Hastings for our final show of the 2011/12 season and hopefully we will strike a week of good weather! If you are onsite and see us please do come over and say hi as is a great place for us to catch up with friends and clients from all over the country.
We have also just set the dates for our next Autumn 3 Day Riding Clinic coming up in April. Please make sure you check out the Clinic Info flyer (PDF file) and send us your lesson booking form (PDF file) if you want to attend the clinic, held 6th, 7th and 8th April 2012 here at Chester Farm arena.
Autumn Riding Clinic at Chester Farm, this year scheduled for 6th, 7th & 8th April 2012.
Held at the start of Easter weekend, this presents a great opportunity to get some professional flatwork or jumping training in for both you and your horse to utilise in the coming autumn months, whether it is to help you sharpen up your jumping skills ready for some days out on the hunt field or eventing competition or you would just like to advance your general riding skills or progress your young horse. We offer professional training in a friendly, fun, supportive setting. Come along and give it a go! All ages and levels catered for. Enquiries welcome.
And LASTLY (this has been a big long news session!) - Chester Farm has just joined Facebook so make sure you go along and "LIKE" our page so you can be kept up to date with latest happenings and news items - www.Facebook.com/ChesterFarm
1st February 2012
Summer feels like it might have finally started to arrive here in recent weeks with some beautiful hot sunny days and a gentle breeze flowing through the Maratoto Valley. It has been very good hay making weather with many locals cutting their well due paddocks and getting some lovely meadow hay in the shed - us included! Our hay useage is fairly high as you can imagine so with such a wet start to summer we have been able to shut up extra paddocks and grow a good lot of lovely hay to supplement that which we source from outside.
Haymaking at Chester Farm, Jan 2012
We had a super 3 riding clinic and camp on the 6th, 7th and 8th of January. The weather hadn't been flash over New Year but we remained optimistic and the sun shone brilliantly on the 5th and 6th as people arrived to setup camp and begin the clinic. The lovely tree-lined camping paddock on Wires Road, right next to the scenic river and swimming hole, proved very popular these first two days with adults and kids of all ages enjoying a swim - not to mention quite a few ponies and horses having a paddle too! We had hired 40 steel yards alongside our 6 permanent yards beside the arena, and they were put to good use throughout the clinic for horses staying the night. Alongside the campers, we had plenty of locals and regulars also attend who travelled to and fro each day.
Campers start arriving and setting up their spots, Jan 2012
Horse Yards at Chester Farm camp, Jan 2012
Enjoying a splash after lessons, Jan 2012
We run our clinics with lessons ranging from private individuals to small groups of 2 - 5 riders which works really well and allows everyone plenty of one-on-one time to progress. Those who worked through the 3 days made excellent progress and especially nice to see the younger riders with huge grins on their faces having jumped the "mighty" red wall, while many adult riders were just thrilled to achieve progression with the ridden flatwork basics or bring their young or green horses on and have them confidently jumping all the fillers and walls without hesitation. Diana's flatwork and pole lessons saw small groups of 2 to 3 adult riders enjoying some new exercises using poles and working on position and focus, while Greg's jumping lessons ranged from those just starting out through to 1.20m riders.
Saturday brought some light drizzly rain which did little to deter anybody from riding and certainly wasn't even noticeable while teaching, and it remained throughout Sunday with only a few campers with very young children deciding to go home early - not without complaint from the kids though!
Despite some wet weather, group jumping lessons proved popular with riders of all levels, Jan 2012.
The paddocks with small logs and hunter jumps also proved popular and made for a chance to enjoy doing something a bit different with the horses and ponies. Riders also enjoyed the Wires Road bush track for a relaxing and scenic ride amongst lessons.
We are tentatively looking to hold our next 3 day riding clinic either late March or during the April school holidays so keep an eye on our website Lessons page for more details and confirmed dates coming soon!
Following the clinic we received several emails from people who had attended saying they had gone to competitions the next weekend and won Champions and Reserves in round the ring classes, hunter classes and double clears show-jumping so very pleasing results so quickly following the lessons! This sort of feedback is great for any trainer to hear and we love to keep in touch with how people and their horses are doing.
Competition wise, we went to 2 shows in January 2012. The first was Waitemata 3* SJ and SH show held at Woodhill Sands 14th and 15th Jan. Chagall had one unlucky rail in the 7yo class but jumped well, followed by a clear first round in the 1.30m on Sunday and then a quick time but one rail in the jump-off. Greg was pleased with Charlie's attitude throughout the show and felt he was jumping this height very consistently and quite easily now and could be ready to step up another notch before too long.
Diana rode Gianni in the large showhunter classes, earning two third placings and a win in the Open and Amateur classes which Diana was pleased with. Gianni jumped extremely well over the weekend gaining praise from both days judges but was noticeably tired by the championship class on Sunday where she had a rare rail and didn't place. A great weekend nontheless with lovely ribbons and Hubriflex product prize to boot.
Despite having only attended 4 shows so far this season, Gianni is currently placed 5th overall on the Waitemata Summer Series Leaderboard and is 4th= on the Tara Groenstein Memorial Trophy leaderboard.
Astek Gianni with Diana on their way to a winning round at Waitemata 3*, Jan 2012
On 28th and 29th Jan we took Chagall over to Cambridge to enter the Pukete Grand Prix - his first GP start! The track was quite a technical ride, with all but 3 of the 18 combinations having particular trouble with the final fence - an imposing oxer built to full height and with a difficult curving approach caused by the surrounding ringside bank. Vollrath Chagall and Greg were first to go and rode a lovely rhythmical clear - eventually proving to be the only combination to do so resulting in a win for their first start at this level! Owner Philippa Barriball was onsite so it was a thrill to win with her present.
Greg and Vollrath Chagall win their first start at Grand Prix, Jan 2012.
We are building the courses again this year at the coming February Paeroa PC Twilight Showjumping nights, held 7th, 14th, 21st and 28th Feb at the Paeroa racecourse so encourage any riders interested to come along and make the most of these low-key outings, ideal for young/green horses or riders of all ages to enjoy some friendly competition in a supportive environment. Two rings run from 50cm - 70cm and 80cm - 1m, start 5.30pm. Hope to see you all there!
1st January 2012
Happy New Year to all of our friends, family, clients and website followers! The weather up North here hasn't exactly been a great introduction to 2012 but looking back over 2011 it was a really productive and exciting year for us, with our property development taking place, getting married in Rarotonga and some really good successes with our competition horses.
December saw us fairly quiet on the competition front. We went up to Woodhill Sands to a Waitemata Showhunter day, the wind was atrocious with jumps blowing over regularly in the hack ring, and horses and riders contending with little sand storms being swept up into their faces as they approached the fences! Diana was really pleased with Gianni who coped extremely well in the conditions and jumped well all day, earning two 2nd placings in the Open 1m and Open 1.05m. The points she has now gained at the 3 shows this season means Gianni has qualified for HOY, so it is nice to get that done so quickly in the season.
Vollrath Chagall also went along for the outing to Woodhill, Greg feeling it good for him to have the occasional smaller competition class to keep him fresh and confident. Chagall jumped well in the showhunter picking up two placings in the 1.10m classes and a win in the Open 1.15m thanks to his ultra consistent regular rhythm and even jump.
December 15th Greg took Chagall down to the ever popular Taupo Xmas Classic where they jumped in 3 classes. It was raining when they left and raining when they arrived... not so promising but the show must go on! Chagall always feels quite pleased with himself standing in the dry shelter of the stallion barn.
They jumped a good double clear the first day in the 1.20m (130 starters) and although not many came through without a rail or two, Greg didn't push for time in the jump-off which kept them out of the placings. Friday saw them jump a great first round in the 1.30m, jumping clear before then taking 1 rail in the jump off and finishing on 4 faults, again another big class with 80 starters. Having stayed home to catch up on some work, Diana drove down Friday night to watch the 7yo class on Saturday.
The ground at Taupo in Ring One wasn't looking too flash by Saturday morning following more rain overnight, and we woke to heavy dark clouds threatening rain but that continued to hold off for most of the day. Greg felt confident going into the 7 Year Old class (1.30m) and Chagall performed to expectations jumping a brilliant round in very patchy footing that was catching many out, just lightly rubbing one vertical but with good time which kept him as the fastest combination on 4 faults right until the very end of the class when one other 4 faulter just pipped his time pushing Greg and Chagall out of the prizemoney into 7th place.
We spent a very enjoyable Christmas day at home in the Maratoto Valley with Greg's family. The horses all enjoyed their Xmas day carrot with breakfast :o)
We have had a great response for our next riding clinic coming up 6th - 8th January with lots of people deciding to make a real horsey holiday out of it and coming to camp out overnight and make the most of the lovely local rides and facilities. There are just a few group lessons spots still available so if you are thinking of attending contact us asap!! Look forward to reporting on the clinic in our next news report.
1st December 2011
Who can believe it is coming around to Xmas time again! It feels like one minute we are looking forward to the competition season starting again, then before we know it, it is almost half over and we are on the downward slide towards the grand finale of Horse Of The Year show in March. However our horses have been going very well at the shows so far so we are already finding ourselves in good form if HOY does happen creep upon us a bit quicker!
We took Vollrath Chagall to Kihikihi for the Waikato Showjumping 3* Championships, 4th - 6th November. This was, as always, a big well supported show with quite a few additional entries this year from South Island competitors who travelled up together, adding to the atmosphere with these new combinations to watch. Chagall was in fine form jumping clear in the big 1.20m class on the Friday, which he backed up with another clear in Saturday's 1.30m. Greg was really rapt with how he was jumping and putting his effort and focus into the job at hand.
The big, square and quite technical track put in front of the 7 Year Olds featured many related lines including a large treble. Chagall stepped up to the challenge very well and jumped in excellent form, but much to Greg's dismay tipping the rail on a vertical - incidently the one jump in the course Greg thought was an easy one! It just goes to show you can never take any jump for granted! Though they came home with no placings this time, Chagall had performed really well and had a few well deserved days off out in the paddock.
He also competed in the 7 Year Old SJ classes at Pukekohe 2* and Woodhill 2* over the next two weekends, both instances saw big technical tracks with very few clears - in fact the winner, Sally Steiner, was the only clear at Pukekohe!. Greg guided Chagall around to finish both classes on 4 faults but with good times to see him place 4th and 3rd respectively.
Astek Gianni recently started her 2011/12 competition season at Woodhill Sands on 20th November where she and Diana put in several good rounds in the showhunter classes coming home with one placing and very pleased with their combined ability to slot straight back into the swing of competing again. The following weekend 26th -27th November we headed up to Pukekohe for the Auckland Showhunter group competition. This is always a very popular, well organised show with excellent quality jumping equipment that attracts many of the top horse and rider combinations. This year they again hosted record entries with big numbers in both pony and horse divisions which is a great sign for the sport of showhunter and proving its increasing popularity as a stand alone sport (from showjumping) with many people now making it their sole competition discipline. Gianni was in excellent form and won two of the most popular classes with a win in the Amateur and Open 1.05m, as well as 6th placing overall in the Open Horse Classic (despite a rider mistake that had Diana really kicking herself!!). Excellent comments from the two judges on Gianni's consistent jump, softness, movement and overall appeal as well as on Diana's accurate riding made us very pleased with these results for only their second show of the season. These results see them currently sit in 3rd place for the Tara Groenstein Memorial Trophy (a prize for Amateur competitors).
Vollrath Chagall also attended with Greg, jumping well with 1st, 2nd and 3rd placings in the 1.10m and 1.15m classes.
1st November 2011
Another month has flown by and a very busy one it has been. With a full house of horses in work alongside 4 of our own, the longer days are very welcomed so we can finish before dark and get home to enjoy the sunset views with a cool drink out on the deck.
General goes long-reining with Greg, October 2011
We went to Woodhill Sands 1* competition with Chagall and Retrospect on the first weekend of October, the boys both jumped really well and this time it was Chagall's turn to take home a prize, with a super double clear and some quick turns in the jump-off seeing him place 3rd in the competitive 7 Year Old series class (1.30m). Retrospect also jumped well over the weekend though didn't place in his classes. We were really pleased with the way the boys have taken to the show scene and atmosphere again so calmly and with little fuss.
We drove down to Te Teko show on the 8th October and Chagall again jumped very well in the 7yo class where he placed 4th this time behind several combinations who were just a second faster in the jump-off. We were quite concerned about the ground conditions which was developing quite a few holes and lumps and bumps in the ring after so much rain the night before so, knowing Retrospect's dislike for shifting ground, we decided to head home early - at least earning one ribbon made the drive somewhat worthwhile!
Diana works with Kathie and Gypsy during our riding clinic, October 2011
On the 14th, 15th and 16th October we held our "Spring Into Action" riding clinic here at our arena. The weather forecast was looking a bit dicey for the weekend but any worry proved uneccesary as the 3 days dawned sunny and still with only 3 or 4 short five minute showers arriving - keeping the arena surface beautifully damp and even! We had a good turnout with plenty of new and current students attending and all making great progress. Diana had her adult riders doing some much improved flatwork through the use of some good pole exercises to help riders work on their focus and basic riding aids. Greg's jumping lessons also proved popular with the groups of 2 or 3 riders (including one young rider only recently off the lead rein!) getting great mileage over the 3 days and leaving with improved jumping skills and plenty to work on. Our next riding clinic is scheduled for January 6th, 7th and 8th 2012 so make sure you check out our Lessons page for more details (including a clinic photo gallery), download the booking form and keep the dates free!
Greg sums up the key points with Anne, Belinda and Ann after their jumping lesson, October 2011
Labour weekend was our only free weekend until Christmas and we spent most of it doing some more gardening and planting around the farm. The grass - and, to Diana's delight, the weeds - have been growing flat out with the on-going warm rains. We have several paddocks shut up for baleage followed by hay that will be cut in coming weeks.
We drove over to Cambridge on 29th and 30th October for Greg to ride Retrospect in a class each day. He was very calm despite this being his first trips anywhere on his own for a very long time and cantered around the 1.25m and the Grand Prix courses well, taking a rail but showing some good form overall.
|Our beautiful yearling filly "Astek Gucci" has settled in to our farm life here very well. She arrived at the end of September after coming up on the transport truck all the way from Diana's parents' Astek Stud in Christchurch. Since her arrival she has had to learn how to negotiate ground that isn't always dead flat and has got to meet her first pukeko! A full sister to our mares Astek Gianni and Astek Gymbya, and a half sister to Astek Versace, she is another true to type example of this very attractive and talented family.
Diana is looking forward to starting her 2011 competition season with Gianni at Woodhill Sands 2* in the showhunter classes on 20th November, where Greg will also be competing in the showjumping classes.
Astek Gucci & Astek Gigi at Chester Farm, October 2011
8th October 2011
The farm is looking beautiful with all the willow and poplar trees showing their leaves again and the spring grass coming up from the ground. The weather has been a bit changeable lately, with occasional storms passing through seeing us outside working in the rain and wind, followed by lovely calm days bathed in sunshine - much appreciated by both us and the horses!
Sylvester negotiates the river with owner Coral Morrison
Po returns from a ride around the farm, September 2011.
We've had several owners come (from as far away as Wellington!) and stay with us for a night or two to ride their newly broken in horses and have some one on one lessons before taking them home. A lovely warmblood mare by the now deceased sire Salutation and a very cute coloured stationbred gelding have recently arrived to be started under saddle.
We recently heard that a local 2 year old Thoroughbred gelding by Sandtrap that we broke in over the winter won his first trial at the racetrack with flying colours, so look forward to following his progress.
|It was also great to see the Steven McKee trained "Mufhasa" was once again named NZ Thoroughbred sprinter of the year (for the second time), and followed that up with a win in the first Group one race of the year at Hastings. Mufhasa was broken in and spent his first two preps under the guidance of Greg and has since gone on to win six Group One races and counting, with over $2 millon in prizemoney, and with a second behind current NZ Horse of the Year "Jimmy Chioux" in another Group One race looks well placed before embarking on an Australian campaign.
Thoroughbred Sprinter Of The Year "Mufhasa"
And to complete our association with winners, the Hanoverian/TB gelding Astek Giovanni (that Diana bred and sold as a foal, that we later broke in and have also since schooled for his owner Cath Nichols) recently won the Horowhenua Prelim Winter Dressage series for 2011 with consistent wins and placings throughout the series. We always love to hear how horses we have worked with are doing and follow their progress with great interest!
Diana schooling Podge in the arena, September 2011
Molly explores the bush while long-reining
Greg started his competition season on the 17th and 18th September at Woodhill Sands 1* SJ competition, taking Philippa Barriball's stallion Vollrath Chagall and gelding Retrospect II for the weekend. Chagall was a bit more lively than usual when we first arrived having not been anywhere since last March at HOY, but soon settled down again and jumped a great round in the popular 7 year old class (1.30m), finishing double clear for 7th place.
Retrospect II also jumped very well, including a brilliant round in the very competitive 1* Grand Prix (1.45m) resulting in one of only 3 double clear rounds and finishing in 3rd place behind two World Cup horses (Annandale Online NZPH and Meersbrooke Flinstone). Proud partnership owners Bruce and Carolyn Mincham were also ringside to watch and take home the lovely ribbon. A great start to the season!
Retrospect II and Greg warming up at Woodhill Sands
A great double clear in the Woodhill 1* Grand Prix
October 1st and 2nd saw us back at Woodhill for their next show, here Chagall really stepped up in the 7 year old class finishing 3rd with a well executed clear jump off round. We have noticed "Charlie" has started to make quite an impression on the other riders and specatators who are taking note of his extremely rideable, unflappable temperament and very good form over the jumps.
Retrospect also jumped well in the 1* Grand Prix until a large hole in the sand in front of fence 5 saw him completely lose his front legs on take-off and take a rail, then a slight miscommunication between horse and rider saw Retrospect fall into a trot one stride out from the big treble! They came around again and took one rail but otherwise jumped well. The problem ground at fence 5 had already caused one crash and nearly all of the other riders taking a rail there too. Unfortunate circumstances caused by large numbers of horses riding in the ring throughout the weekend and the jump not being repostitioned adequately.
Diana started jumping Gymbya in September and has been making great progress with this gorgeous young mare. Her confident attitude certainly makes her a delight to ride and her constantly pricked ears and keen expression show she is obviously enjoying herself too.
Our riding clinic due to be held 14th, 15th, 16th October has gained good interest from both locals and riders from further afield. We still have a few spaces left for lessons on each day so if you are interested please contact us asap to arrange your times!
1st September 2011
Spring has sprung at Chester Farm! Daffodils are out, trees are budding up about to burst unto full leaf, the horses are shedding their coats in handfuls and we have been able to wear a few less layers at work during the lovely calm sunny days.
Diana riding 3yo filly Astek Gigi (by Gym Bello x Ramirez mare) during one of her first rides under saddle, August 2011.
We have been thoroughly enjoying working our own horses again all through August. Diana has just started doing some polework with Astek Gymbya in preparation for starting to jump over the coming weeks. She has also been riding 3yo filly Astek Gigi who is proving to be a lovely character to work with and always showing off her amazing big walk when out hacking - ears forward and she's off, she just loves it!
Greg riding 7yo stallion Vollrath Chagall (by Castello x Anamour mare, owned by Philippa Barriball),
shown here during their first time schooling over the water jump, August 2011.
Greg has been having a great time riding warmblood stallion Vollrath Chagall (Charlie), getting him back into work and jumping, ready for the coming National 7yo Showjumping series. Charlie has also been out hacking up the bush trail quite regularly which is so good for him mentally, not to mention great for fitness. In fact one of our favourite Friday afternoon past-times is going for a hack up the bush trail together on 2 of the horses; taking in the sunshine, fresh smells of the native plants and listening to the birdsong.... very relaxing indeed and a great way, for both us and the horses, to end a busy week!
Sylvester makes his way over one of the fords while hacking out, Aug 2011
We seem to have had alot of horses here lately from the lower North / Wellington region, including 2 lovely Anamour 3 year old geldings who have just gone home after spending 6 weeks being started under saddle. We spent 2 great days with their owners who came up to ride them here in the round yard, arena and then a hack out around the farm before they went home. This is something we really encourage all owners to come and do if possible so you can get a good feel of your horse and we can help the two of you get going together as a team before taking the horse home.
Greg's first competition of the season is coming up at Woodhill Sands on the 17th and 18th September where he will be competing Retrospect II and Vollrath Chagall. Retrospect is looking fantastic and going very well too so will be good to get the boys out at a show again. Speaking of which, it must be time to do a spring clean on the horsetruck!
We have our next Riding Clinic scheduled for 14th, 15th and 16th October so are looking forward to this. Our arena sand has settled down alot over winter and is providing a fantastic surface to ride and jump on. This clinic is scheduled during the school holidays and will be ideal timing for some lessons to get you and your horses or ponies going for the coming summer, be it basic flatwork, young horses or jumping lessons. Welcome to ride for 1, 2 or 3 days, with discounted lessons if you book more than one, so download the forms from our Lessons page and contact us today!
5th August 2011
Apart from keeping busy working horses and dodging rain showers all month, the biggest news from July is that we got married in Rarotonga on the 28th July!! Our small private ceremony was held barefoot on the beach at 5pm at the beautiful Crown Beach Resort where we stayed, followed by a great photo session amongst the resort's stunning tropical gardens, beach front and poolside. We both had a fantastic relaxing holiday and have lots of great photos to fondly look back on. Have decided Rarotonga might be on the cards for our annual holiday again next year!
Greg and Diana in Rarotonga, July 2011
But it was back to reality on the 1st August when we returned home again, luckily the constant rain that was drowing NZ when we left on holiday had dissapeared on our return, making getting back into the daily routine much easier. Several new horses arrived immediately and the 4 that had stayed on during our short holiday had all been very well cared for by Joe and were pleased to get back to doing something again too.
Theo hacking out, August 2011
Tralee schooling with Greg, August 2011
Diana has also brought Astek Versace (just turned 3yo gelding by Voltaire II), Astek Gymbya (just turned 5yo mare by Gym Bello) and Astek Gigi (just turned 3yo filly by Gym Bello) back in for some work and loving dealing with her own "babies" again.
Greg's showjumper Retrospect II - already rather round after his long winter turnout - had gained a few extra kilos after being turned out for a week in a big grassy paddock, so it looks like more fitness work and a new diet will be on his agenda, but he was pleased to be ridden again and is now looking very shiny with his new full body clip.
We also picked up Phillipa Barriball's Holsteiner stallion "Vollrath Chagall" (Charlie) on the weekend to bring him back into work and prepare for the season ahead. Charlie has just turned 7 and has filled out quite alot more over the last year as he continues to mature. He's slotted back into life here very easily.
We've had horses here over July from the tips of Kaitaia right down through to Wellington and several places inbetween! Bookings are starting to come in quickly and fill up for the coming spring months so it is full steam ahead now as we also start preparing for the jumping competition season with our own horses as well. But there is nothing like a complete change of scene and some quality R & R time to get one re-inspired again! Roll on summer :o)
16th July 2011
We had one of our external computer hard disks make noises and die recently... unfortunately it was the one holding all of our original Chester Farm website files and several years worth of photos etc, so that's added to reasons why this months news is late and not very colourful with no pictures available to add in just yet! Luckily we still have all photo originals on the camera cards but Diana will have to spend some time re-creating Photoshop files for all of our website and advertising graphics which she isn't too pleased about. We think this problem was caused by the kittens innocently chasing a ball of string on the computer desk while we were outside.... not an ideal play area we know but makes it harder to be too upset about it!
The last few weeks have compromised of rain, heavy rain, mud and more extremely heavy rain! The horses have all been keen to come in for their feeds in the stables and take shelter from the weather for a few hours each day. Surprisingly we have managed to avoid getting wet while working the horses and seem to have timed things very well, often coming in for lunch just minutes before another ominous black cloud drops a super heavy rain shower upon us. Our round yard and arena have been performing outstandingly well and have been 100% useable every day so far despite being so wet and having such alot of use - great testiment to the contractors (Arnet Development) who put them in. We are more than happy to pass on their contact details if you are looking to put an arena in yourself!
Greg brought Retrospect II back into work recently and is thoroughly enjoying riding an established horse on the roads and up the bush tracks after riding so many unbalanced and inexperienced young horses that are just starting out under saddle for so long. Retrospect has come in from his off-season turnout looking very round and relaxed and happy to be back doing things again.
We have been bringing the grazing calves into the cowshed at night and feeding them baleage as a way of giving the paddocks a rest overnight to avoid them turning to mud. The calves are all looking very good this year despite the weather thanks to such a great grass growing season earlier on until the cooler temperatures hit recently. We consider ourselves lucky though to live in quite a high valley and only have the young heifers onsite when we compare our farm to those in the plains or even down at the start of our valley, with large dairy herds and lower level land that suffers very badly with such constant wet. Greg is often heard saying how thankful he is not to be a dairy farmer anymore!!
We plan to bring several more of our own horses back into work early August so with a bit of luck the weather might decide to change for the better by then... fingers crossed! Diana will be adding latest photos to this news and our photo gallery soon so check back here later for the updates.
1st June 2011
The month of May brought mixed weather here to the valley and surrounding areas - beautiful warm, calm, sunny days, followed by days we got drowned in rain! Nevertheless, the horses still got worked and a few weekend days made up for any missed during the week.
Diana thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to bring back into work one of her home-bred "babies" Astek Giovanni for owner Cath Nichols of Kapiti Coast, following many months out of work due to Cath's second child on the way. "Gio" - no longer a baby as a 16.3hh 5yo - is a full brother to our horses Gianni, Gymbya, Gucci and half brother to Versace, so it was great to see and get a feel of him in work now as a more mature horse and compare him with the rest of the family!
Aspa & Greg return from a ride out, May 2011
Astek Giovanni & Diana going through their paces, May 2011
We've had a very nice Anglo-Arab gelding "Aspa" here for breaking-in from Te Puke and were rapt to see him hack out around the farm and over the ford very calmly and confidently with his owner on two occasions before going home. The pair have since been out on several treks where Aspa was impeccably behaved - see our Testimonials page for a lovely comment from Brian and Andrea.
|With lots of other young horses here for breaking-in at the moment, including three young thoroughbred race horses and two nice 2 year old warmblood fillies by Vollrath Chagall (the Holsteiner stallion that Greg competes for owner Phillipa Barriball), Diana has been getting plenty of opportunity to refine her groundwork and lunging skills in the round yard, while Greg's legs get alot of exercise as he takes over the horses for their next training stage long-reining out and about around the farm and river.
Retrospect II & Astek Gianni in winter turnout, May 2011
The rising 2 year old heifers that we graze on the farm went home to their owner in Paeroa early May, leaving us with the 50 odd calves to continue to take on through the winter months. There is certainly no shortage of grass around the farm at the moment with good rainfall and warm days, so these rising yearlings are all growing well and looking good going into the coldest months.
We have had two new additions arrive at Chester Farm and would like to introduce "Blackie" and "Chez" - a pair of 4 month old kittens we adopted from the Animal Rescue centre in Thames for Diana's birthday. "The Terrible Two" have very quickly taken over the house - it is great to have some cats around the place again!
Chez and Blackie making themselves at home, May 2011
Blackie and Chez, this looks like trouble! May 2011
1st May 2011
For once we have got our news posted on time! Surprising too considering how busy we have been (and still are!). An ongoing full house of horses here, from as far away as Whakatane and Kapiti Coast, has seen us outside most daylight hours fitting all the daily tasks in. Autumn is always a popular time for people wanting to get their horses broken in and we have had some really lovely young horses coming to stay - going home again after their 6 to 8 week stint much wiser and more worldly than when they arrived and feeling very proud and important now they are one of the big guns and can carry a rider on their back. It is a very rewarding moment when owners come to sit in the saddle and show their delight at riding their horse for the first time.
"Mac" and Greg fly the big log and the liverpool, April 2011
Greg has also been keeping his jumping eye in while bringing back into work and schooling several hunters for owners looking to hit the hunt field again this winter. The farm and hills are a great place for this sort of fitness work, complemented by training in the arena.
Predicted downpours put bit of a damper on our early April riding clinic and we postponed some lessons till the following week and weekend, however those that did brave the weather were mostly treated to fine spells and some sunshine which made lessons much more enjoyable than they might have been otherwise! The arena has been standing up very well to rain with the drainage system working brilliantly, so it's a great result and such a valuable all-weather all-year tool for training.
Scene from our Autumn Riding Clinic, April 2011
Since Retrospect II and Astek Gianni got turned out after Horse Of The Year, we have brought our 4 year olds Astek Gymbya and Astek Rantani back into light work and have started breaking in our 2 year olds Astek Gigi and Astek Versace. Gymbya's amazing intelligence and confidence, combined with her exceptional type and super supple way of going, make her a real joy to work with and to simply watch; she is certainly a very special young horse indeed. Due to our time restraints, Rantani hasn't done as much as Gymbya in her previous training stints, so she is currently still working at the top of the farm and in the round yard but she really loves being back in work and doing things... we look forward to riding her lovely big canter out in the open where she can really roll along!
Astek Gymbya (full sister to Astek Gianni) and Diana during their first arena schooling session at home, April 2011
Gigi and Versace are both happily accepting wearing all the gear and have just started long-reining, so Greg will have a few days with tired legs coming up after long-reining them all around the farm and up and down the hills. These two are both growing out very nicely and it will be great to get a feel of them under saddle before too long as well.
1st April 2011
The biggest event of the year for horse riders and spectators alike is the annual Horse Of The Year show held in Hastings, with this years competition being no exception. We made the 5 hour drive down to the show grounds on Monday the 14th with "Retrospect II", "Astek Gianni" and "Tiki Taane" onboard, in preparation for our first classes beginning on the Tuesday. Stallion "Vollrath Chagall" (aka Charlie) also came down with his owner Philippa Barriball on the Tuesday night - due to unforseen circumstances and arriving late in the evening he missed his first 1.20m class on the Tuesday, however was all ready to go on Wednesday where he jumped a very good double clear 1.20m and acheived a 4th placing out of approx 125 starters. Thursday saw Charlie and Greg entered in the 6yo Horse Of The Year Championship (1.25m) held in front of the grandstand. It was a large class of approx 50 entries and all competitive young horses who have been starting in classes throughout the season. A superb clear round saw them go through as 1 of only 14 combinations to make it into the jump-off. Another brilliant ride with just a slip on the corner going into the 3rd fence costing them some precious time and seeing them finish double clear but just short of the placings in 7th place. A superb result for this young stallion with so little competition experience to be competing so well in the atmosphere of the big ring. Phillipa was absolutely rapt and we decided to withdraw him from his Saturday class and finish his short season on a great note.
|Retrospect II (aka Enzy) and Greg started in classes ranging from 1.30m to 1.45m throughout HOY including Wednesday's entry into the 1.40m in the International arena where they put on a really good display in front of the big grandstand. Despite taking 2 rails in this class, Enzy was jumping well and throughout the week really showed his huge improvement of canter and rideability between the fences - thanks to the many hours of flatwork schooling we have been putting into him in the past 6 months since our arena went in!
Retrospect II with Greg and part owners Bruce and Carolyn Mincham, at HOY 2011
|They picked up a 2nd placing in a 1.35m class on Thursday following a super double clear and quick turning jump-off, a thrill in front of friends and family including part owners Bruce and Carolyn Mincham of Pukekohe (who were incidently also onsite all week promoting Carolyn's fantastic new book "Attitude & Heart, The Horse In New Zealand"). This too was a satisfying end to Retrospect's 2010/11 show season.
|Astek Gianni and Diana were also right on form at the show, competing in the showhunter. Gianni placed 2nd on Friday in the hotly contested "Amateur High Points" class (Amateur being a division for riders over 21 who own the horse they are riding and are not competing in showjumping over 1.25m or Advanced eventing during the current or previous season) where they beat all (but one! - "Time'll Tell") of the National Amateur series finalists. This set them up very nicely for the Saturday title class competing for "Amateur Showhunter Of The Year".
Astek Gianni and Diana show their winning showhunter form at HOY 2011 (Photo: GeeGee Photography)
The first round of the title class was held over a reasonably technical showhunter track which caught quite a few riders out. Gianni and Diana put on a lovely smooth, correct display and after waiting for the strong field of over 40 competitors to finish, we were excited to hear they had made it through to the final, with the top 10 combinations called back to jump a second different round for the judges to compare.
Astek Gianni and Diana (second from left) lining up as Reserve Champions Amateur Showhunter Of The Year 2011.
Another beautifully executed round, showcasing Gianni's real show-ring presence, elegance, movement and consistent quality jump, saw them announced in 2nd place as Reserve Champion Amateur Showhunter Of The Year, much to our delight including Diana's mother Sue and grandmother Melva who had travelled up from the South Island, and other friends and family also ringside to watch. The winner of the class, Tracey Parnwell riding Time'll Tell, was a cheered winner, being the horse previously owned by the late Denise Crisp who had won the class in previous years and for whom the class and large trophy are now in honour of. It was a thrill for Diana to do so well amongst a strong field of the top National series contestants and previous showhunter title winners and made a great end to Gianni's show season. Our thanks to Clearview Estate Winery for their sponsorship of this class!
|The very cute coloured gelding "Tiki Taane", that we have had in schooling for a few months and have both been riding in some showjumping classes this season for owner Paul Rasmussen, also jumped well in the 1.10m classes in Ring 3. Tiki had been advertised for sale prior to going to HOY and attracted interest from South Island based junior rider Olivia Robertson and her mother Jan. After a few rides during the show, Tiki proved his awesome nature in a hectic setting and ended up leaving the show on a different truck and in a different direction to the one he came in!
We certainly look forward to following his progress in the future and have no doubts they will have a huge lot of fun with him, as we did!
Tiki Taane and Greg competing at HOY 2011
(Photo NZ Equine)
Since coming home from HOY, we have been extremely busy with a very full workload of new horses arriving for general work and breaking in, as is normal for this time of year! Autumn makes a great time for working outside with fresh mornings and gorgeous scenery up here in the valley. Some more lovely young horses coming through from all parts of the country alongside great follow up comments from owners once they have their horses home again... keep an eye on our Photo Gallery page for latest pics posted soon - when we have time! Will also be posting more HOY action shots when our photo orders arrive!
We are holding our next riding clinic in mid April at the start of the school holidays (15th - 18th April) - click here to download info flyer and booking form - so hope the lovely weather holds out and look forward to seeing more of you here then.
1st March 2011
The most interesting show we went to in February involved Retrospect II's entry into the special 1.40m class held at the picturesque Mill Reef Winery on 3rd of Feb, as part of the Tauranga 3* show. A strong field of top combinations were no doubt attracted to the class due to the better than usual prizemoney up for grabs, not to mention television coverage and very nice food and drink onsite! Retrospect seldom travels anywhere alone but took the different atmosphere in his stride, with the horse trucks all parked tightly side by side amongst wine making buildings and equipment. A great crowd filled the marquee and the winery viewing area, this concept being the brainchild of Phillip and Sally Steiner and to be congratulated on their huge efforts and acheivements in making it happen and helping bring our sport more into the public spotlight. Despite taking 2 rails, we thought Retrospect jumped really well and is gaining more consistency between the fences all of the time. The class was eventually won by Adrian Bruce and Corofino II.
Making Hay at Chester Farm, Feb 2011
We also took Retrospect II, Astek Gianni, Astek Gonzales and Tiki Taane to Waeranga showjumping on the 20th of Feb, and then Woodhill Sands 3* on 25th to 27th Feb, as our lead up shows to Horse Of The Year in March. Diana formed a quick bond with Tiki having only started riding him herself over jumps in the previous week before Waeranga. They also had a great show at Woodhill, taking only 1 rail from 4 classes at 1.05m and Tiki gaining admirers even just in the warm up area his super springy jump style. Schooling up to 1.20m at home, this fellow is going to make a fantastic horse for a competitive younger rider. See our Horses For Sale page for more details on him.
Greg has been busy teaching several nights each week, it is great to see such improvements in the horses and riders coming for lessons on a regular basis, to then hear of their successes out and about as well makes it all very rewarding.
We have got our next Autumn riding clinic scheduled for the 15th, 16th and 17th of April (first weekend of the school holidays) so look forward to meeting new faces and seeing current and past students come along for a fun 3 days of lessons, making new horsey friends and camping onsite! The weather has certainly changed lately with the humidity gone but we have been having really beautiful warm, still days with fresh nights and hope this will remain for the duration of the clinic.
|We will be taking Retrospect II, Astek Gianni, Tiki Taane and Vollrath Chagall to Horse of the Year show in Hastings, all competing in the showjumping classes apart from Astek Gianni who will be competing in the showhunter.
We would love to see you there so please do find our classes in the programme and come and give us your ringside support if you are going to be at the show! It is often a pretty hectic week and the 4 horses will keep us busy but we are looking forward to it.
Vollrath Chagall schooling at home with Greg
1st February 2011
Another very busy month has flown by! We held our first riding clinic in our new arena on the 3rd, 4th and 5th of January and it was great to see both new and familiar riders and horses here for lessons of all types; from young or green horses working in small groups and progressing in their ridden work, through to basic flatwork lessons and of course jumping lessons for beginners to more advanced. We gave lessons to a wide range of riders, from children on ponies to adult riders just getting back into it and having a bit of fun!
Riding clinic at Chester Farm, January 2011
We had a few people attend from further afield who camped onsite and made the most of watching other lessons and spending some holiday time getting to know like-minded horsey people, and many enjoyed the nearby river swimming hole to cool off after their lessons! Our thanks to everyone who attended and we look forward to seeing you all back again during your regular lessons or for our next clinic, which is currently scheduled for late March / early April - keep an eye on our Clinics page for confirmed dates (email notification will also be sent out to all who have previously attended lessons).
We took Astek Gonzales and Astek Gianni up to Pukekohe on 9th January for the Auckland Showhunter competition. This is a really thriving, competitive show for showhunter riders and the committee always do a super job of running their shows efficiently, with flowing courses and lovely gear.
Astek Gonzales competed with Greg in the Training Hunter division, entering 3 classes and placing 4th, 1st and 3rd and getting commented for his excellent jump, movement and presence which was very pleasing.
Astek Gianni jumped quite consistently for Diana in her 4 classes up to 1.10m, again jumping clear all day, although just missed out on placings due to a few minor details - showhunter can appear a simple sport but it's surprisingly hard to get it all just right!
Geishaan competing in showhunter, Jan 2011
|Greg also competed the impressive 6 year old gelding "Geishaan" by Gymnastik Star, for his owners Linda and Laura Mead of Te Aroha. Although already a competitive and very talented dressage horse currently competing at Level 3, Geishaan comes regularly to Greg for jumping training to give him some variety from his usual dressage schooling at home. This show was his jumping competition debut and, with his wonderful rhythm and good jumping style he didnt dissapoint, placing 2nd in the First Year Registered class and then winning the Open Hunter 1m.
|The following weekend we headed up to Woodhill Sands for the Waitemata 3* World Cup Showjumping & Showhunter competition.
Gonzales only competed on the Saturday but performed beautifully, winning 1st Training Hunter 70cm and 1st Training Hunter 80cms, again receiving much praise from the judge. We were rapt with his performance and behaviour throughout the show, taking everything in his stride.
Gianni also did well, jumping clear throughout all of her classes up to 1.10m with Diana and gaining 4th in the Amateur and 2nd in the popular Amateur High Points.
Astek Gonzales with his two 1st place ribbons, Jan 2011
Retrospect II was fairly highly strung after a week of training over our permanent water jump at home so we didnt quite know what to expect from him in the 1.40m on Saturday, however with an option at the water jump, which Greg took, he finished with just the 4 faults in the first round. The Grand Prix on Sunday had no such option but he appeared confident once he entered the ring..... until he turned towards the water jump - unfortunately he is getting a little too skilled at standing on his hind legs for our liking! Again it is back to the decision to not enter any classes with water jumps for the rest of the season until we have have more time over winter to practise and get him confident about them.This is an all too common problem with many top showjumpers throughout the world, often the more sensitive and careful horses, and takes a great deal of schooling to get them past the mental fear of these particular jumps. They either hate them, or they couldn't care less!
The 25th - 27th of January saw Greg and Retospect head up to Ti Papa Equestrian Centre in Auckland to take part in a very rare clinic with legendary showjumping coach George Morris. Having not been to teach in New Zealand for around 15 years, and with only 7 spots available in the top level jumping group, we were rapt Greg was able to attend and learn from this world reknown jumping coach. Despite his rather firm manner at times, we both thought the advice and knowledge gained from George was fantastic, confirming many things that we are already doing and providing many simple ways to enhance our riding for more effective results. It was really interesting to watch George ride many of the horses on the clinic, including a ride on Retrospect, after which he certainly had more praise for Greg's riding, realising he wasn't the easiest horse in the group! George is not one to give compliments easily so his comments towards Greg's riding were quite an honour. We would like to thank John and Jackie Cottle for bringing George Morris back to New Zealand and hope that more New Zealand riders, coaches and the like, will seek his training and advice which may mean an earlier return for his next clinic rather than having to wait another 15 years!
Greg and Retrsopect II at the George Morris clinic, Jan 2011.
Meanwhile Diana was flat out working all the horses at home early in the morning and then again late afternoon each day, fitted around driving to and from Ti Papa in the heat. Times like these we are so lucky to have the support of Greg's parents Pat and Joe on deck to help out where needed, including having a delicous tea waiting in the oven each night!! :o)
No sooner had Greg returned home from the clinic on the 27th and put Retrospect out in his paddock, we loaded Gianni, Gonzales and Remi onto the truck and headed straight down to Taupo for the National Young Horse Championships. Needless to say, we were VERY tired that night and it was early to bed after getting the horses tucked up for the night.
Gonzales and Remi were both entered in the 4yo Showjumping class, a decidedly technical and initally very big course (up to 1.10m) - which surprised us for the 4 year olds - but was thankfully brought down one or two holes after lots of discussion, however was still going to prove testing for many. Gonzales jumped a very nice round considering it was his first ever showjumping round and finished on 8 faults; both rails Greg felt were due to the difficult half stride distances made even more difficult on a big striding young horse! We almost scratched Remi from the class after seeing the difficulty and realising her green-ness, but Greg decided to ride her for the experience. With 2 rails and a couple of mid-course circles to balance up again, Remi made a good effort of what was a big ask for a horse of her level and experience. She was well behaved at the show which was good to see and looked lovely all plaited up.
Gianni was busy over at the showhunter ring, again doing some lovely rounds at her favourite show location (she always goes so well at Taupo!!). A lovely flowing performance saw her win the 6 Year Old Showhunter class with a super score of 88%, beating many top SH and SJ riders. This was followed by what Diana considered to be an even better round in the 6 year old National Championship class... however Gianni took her first rail of the show in the most un-timely place, being the final fence of the title class, and extremely dissapointingly lost out on a place or potential National title. Diana's aim for back to back National titles just wasn't meant to be it seems!
With terrible weather looming, we decided to pack up and head home early, very pleased we did as it started raining just after we left the showgrounds and continued to pour down all the way home and throughout the night. Slippery conditions are no fun for young horses and it was good to be back home again after a thoroughly intense week of horses, courses, travelling and shows.
1st January 2011
December was a really hectic month for us with alot of horses to work in some very hot, dry weather, combined with a big competition at Taupo followed by Xmas, then straight after that our first riding clinic was due to be held early January that we were busy preparing yards and gateways for! Needless to say, we just managed to welcome in the New Year before falling fast alseep camping out under the stars :o)
We had two lovely 4 year olds arrive here in December from Sue at Astek Stud - "Astek Gonzales" and "Astek Remi Martini", both here to be prepared and offered for sale. Gonzales is a very impressive young horse and has a full sister competing very successfully in the USA. Remi has already attended some low level jumping competitions in the Canterbury area jumping double clear, and impresses us with her lovely sensible nature.
Astek Gonzales with Greg
Astek Remi Martini with Diana
Diana rode Astek Gianni at the Waitemata Showhunter day held 12th December, where they performed really well and placed 5th in the Open 1.05m and 4th in the Open 1.10m classes. Gianni is jumping in a really consistent style and rhythm and continues to improve as the jumps get higher. Greg also competed the coloured 8yo gelding "Tiki Taane" for owner Paul Rasmussen in the Training showhunter classes - although Tiki's way of going is more suited to showjumping, we thought this would be a great first outing for him to access his behaviour and attitude when jumping away from home and he didn't dissapoint, making easy work of the small, flowery tracks and being a very easy fellow to have out and about.
The Taupo Christmas Classic held 16th - 19th December is always a great show, although this year was marred by a bit of a showery weather throughout. Astek Gianni again jumped brilliantly for Diana every start, jumping up to 1.10m and taking only 1 rail throughout their 4 classes entered, finishing with a creditable 8th= place out of 230 starters in the 1.05m - 1.10m Championship on Saturday which Diana was rapt with.
Greg rode Tiki Taane in the 1m and 1.10m classes, where he too jumped well including a 2nd placing in a 1m class and gained more valuable competition mileage.
It wasn't to be as good a show for Retrospect II however... Greg had been practising him over our newly built permanent water jump at home for the 2 days prior to Taupo and was hesitant in taking him at all, but decided to have a go and see what happened. Horse's don't forget though and Retrospect wasn't keen on going anywhere near the water jump end of the Taupo NEC Ring 1 (even though it wasn't in the course this time), the same jump that had given him a fright 2 years ago as a 7 year old and had haunted him again in 2009. It was especially disappointing as he was jumping a fantastic clear round over the big 1.45m course before the mishap. Thanks to the officials at the show, Greg was allowed to re-enter the ring at the end of the class and ride Retrospect around for awhile, at least ensuring he ended his Taupo competiton on a better note. Greg chose not to start him again at the show.
We spent 2 days before Xmas visiting Diana's family at Astek and friends in Christchurch which of course included a tour of all the stud horses, including finally meeting our own new filly foal "Astek Gucci" and congratulating her dam "Sately Affair" on a job well done. A really gorgeous filly, she is extremely similar to Gianni in so many ways and it's going to be a pleasure to see her mature and compete under saddle in the future.
In December we sold our classy 5 year old Holsteiner/TB mare "Astek Radiance" to Rebecca and Rob from Auckland. Radiance arrived in Christchurch at Astek to get in foal to Gym Bello while we were there visiting the stud and was pretty surprised to see us there too after spending 2 days travelling! We look forward to following her progress and progeny in the future.
Leading up to and over New Year, we spent long hot days working hard to build yard facilities and our driveway entrance in preparation for our first riding clinic held here on our new arena. Greg did a great job of getting it all finished in time and his father Joe a very fine effort on the essential new double-sided longdrop toilet!!
January is lining up to be another busy month with more shows on the cards for most weekends and alot of new horses arriving for work and breaking in.
We hope everyone had a great Xmas and New Year, 2011 is sure to be another good one!
Geishaan enjoys a swim in the river after a schooling session on a hot day, December 2010.
10th December 2010
Thankyou to all of our clients, business associates, family and friends for your involvement and support throughout 2010.
Wishing you all a very Merry Xmas
and Happy New Year
from Greg and Diana and the team at Chester Farm!
(This news is really really late because we've been really really busy.. sorry!!!!)
The hot, dry weather through November made for some long days on the farm; working horses all day in the heat requires an early start, drinking lots of water and a good nights sleep to keep going! The horses have all been working very well though, with the inclusion of several youngsters who have returned to us for their second stint under saddle after having been broken in and then turned out at various stages over the past year. Always a pleasure to get these young horses back again and see them return to work and being ridden like they've hardley had a day off! It has been great to extend their schooling and flatwork skills on our big new arena and combine these sessions with hacking out around the farm and river. Some of these young horses are being offered for sale - see our Horses For Sale page for details.
Retrospect II and Greg competing at Kihikihi at 1.40m, November 2010.
We attended several jumping shows in November, starting with Kihikihi 3* on the 5th, 6th and 7th November which saw Retrospect II fly around three classes at 1.40m, jumping fantastic throughout the show ending with a highly creditable 3rd place in the Open 1.40m Championship against tough rivals. A super start to his season and Greg was very pleased at the progress and development of their canter and flatwork making the ride between the jumps that much easier.
Second show was at Pukekohe for the Auckland Showjumping 2* on 13th and 14th November. Again Retrospect II was in fine form, jumping brilliant clear rounds and placing 3rd in the 1.40m on Saturday.
The 20th and 21st November saw Greg drop Diana and Gianni off at Pukekohe for the Auckland Showhunter competition, while he headed on up to Woodhill Sands with Retrospect for a Saturday class at the 2* show there. Another super double clear in the 1.40m but not quite quick enough in the jump-off after Greg decided to go around a jump instead of inside it, seeing them finish in 6th place.
Retrospect II and Greg competing at Kihikihi at 1.40m, November 2010.
Back at Pukekohe, Diana and Gianni had a mixed weekend, Gianni still very out of sorts from an ongoing recent battle with spring grass and mycotoxin effects seeing her put in some rather out of character behaviour! After having previously not really taken much notice of it, we have really come to realise the major effects that mycotoxins can have on some horses over the last couple of months having now witnessing first hand a usually calm, settled, non-spooky horse become more and more senstive, spooky and 'on edge' both at home and then exaggerated at shows, also becoming very alert to all sounds and movements making her difficult to ride at home and unable to cope in show atmospheres, and even head flicking during rides (which is a strong indicator of mycotoxin overload). We contacted Vic Wall from Elite Equine and put a plan of action together, Vic recommending we put Gianni on strong dose Mycosorb (toxin binder), Organic Plus (complete balanced organic minerals) and Ultra-Mag (organic magnesium). The effects these products have had on Gianni 3 weeks later, combined with a change in diet and change of paddock, has been incredible and we'd like to thank Vic here for her quick response to our plead for help and fantastic range of products! We didn't quite realise just how bad Gianni had got until now when we have her back to her usual lovely quiet self... the head flicking has completely dissapeared, she is back to her calm, willing, unflappable nature and is so much more settled and relaxed in her everyday work and routine. Our most recent show at Foxton for the North Island 3* Championships 26th - 28th November was a good test where she competed in the showhunter and was at last able to stand calmly at the ringside again (no sign of rears or bucks here!) and put in some good performances including 3rd place 1st Year Registered.
Retrospect II also entered at Foxton, jumping in great style over the 1* Grand Prix track on the Friday but making one small mistake costing them a rail and entry into the jump off which was dissapointing for Greg, but we were rapt to see Lisa Coupe aboard My Ocean Wave (also by Ramirez) win the class - Greg taught this classy mare to jump as a 4 year old and competed her for her first 2 seasons as a 5 and 6 year old up to 1.20m, always believing she had what it took to jump a big track!
Retrospect's entry into the 1.40m class was always going to be a very testing one when we saw the water jump was included.... People who saw Retrospect's major aversion to water at Taupo as a 7 year old were probably among those in the crowd who cheered when, after some impressive standing on his hind legs, Greg faced Retrospect at the water again and he boldly cantered up and jumped it! Although we have been in the process of getting him more familiar and accepting of water in general and water type jumps, we have not yet had the chance to jump him over a jump holding any actual water, so to jump this in the ring was quite an exciting achievement.
No surprises we are including a water jump in our new range of derby jumps that we are currently building on the farm :o)
We have got our first riding clinic scheduled on our new arena for the 3rd, 4th and 5th of January 2011, with lessons for all levels of horse and rider, ranging from jumping, flatwork and young horse lessons. Download the info flyer and booking form by clicking here! (PDF file, Adobe Acrobat Reader required).
We hope everyone has a great Xmas and New Year with family and friends, and look forward to catching up with you all in the New Year.
|1st November 2010
Spring and summer are good times for new beginnings and that is just how we feel as our farm really starts taking shape now that we have our arena development completed, other garden projects and renovations finished off and early spring plantings getting well established.
An exciting new arrival also entered the world on the 30th October at 12.50am when our broodmare "Stately Affair" (Rusty) gave birth to a gorgeous bay filly by Gym Bello, under the watchful eye of Sue at Astek Stud in Christchurch.
|Her resemblance to her full sister Astek Gianni is very strong, and it seems "Astek Gucci" has the same beauty, character and body type to match - which we are thrilled with! Gucci is also a full sister to our 4yo filly Astek Gymbya, half sister to 2yo gelding Astek Versace (by Voltaire II), as well as her 5yo full brother Astek Giovanni who belongs to Cath Nichols of Kapiti Coast, so she has a strong family of quality young horses to follow in the footsteps of! We will be visiting Astek Stud at Christmas time so will have to wait to meet our new filly in person, but will be posting photos of her here online as we receive them from Sue, so stay tuned!
"Astek Gucci" 2010 filly by Gym Bello x Stately Affair
Photo: Antonia Steeg
We are both excited to get back into doing some jumping again now following months of flatwork and fitness riding while our showjumps have all been packed up and our flattest paddock gone beneath the earthworks and arena development!. A last minute decision saw us take Astek Gianni down to Taupo NEC on the 30th October for a day at the Waikato Showhunter competition. Gianni had only jumped twice in the week leading up to this show since last April at the Young Horse Championships, so Diana was very pleased to gain two 3rd placings in large classes and finish on a super round in the Open 1.05m class. Gianni's natural sparkle and enthusiasm for jumping occasionally make her a lively ride but it was great to see her settle so quickly back into the show atmosphere and perform as if she had been jumping all winter.
Greg is looking forward to making his 2010/11 seasonal debut back in competition at Kihikihi next weekend on the 5th, 6th and 7th of November, with Retrospect II entered in several 1.40m classes as a lead up to 1* Grand Prix's later in the season.
We have several on-site clinics planned for the coming months (keep on eye on our Lessons page for more info), with the first being scheduled for early January 2011 - tentatively scheduled for the 3rd, 4th and 5th Jan 2011 but keep an eye on our Lessons page for confirmation. Our new facilities will allow more regular lessons and clinics to take place year round which will be great, offering jumping lessons, general riding and young horse lessons for horses and riders of all levels.
Chester Farm Arena completed, October 2010
Alongside the arena, we also have further plans to re-instate existing and add in more cross-country, hunting spars and derby jumps around the farm to provide an all-round equestrian training facility that will help benefit local riders as well as horses that come to us for training.
So there is, as usual, plenty to do and it's not uncommon for us to be coming inside and having tea well after dark! We are very grateful for having Greg's parent's Pat and Joe onsite to help us maintain the farm (and ourselves!!) when we get so busy and need a helping hand.
A Connemara pony we had advertised on behalf last month had huge amounts of enquiry and eventually found his new home mid October, coincedently to a family living just around the road from us, so we wish them all the best with little Whisper!
We currently have a very scopey young Hanoverian/TB gelding here being broken in who is being offered for sale on behalf of his owner, see our Horses For Sale page or contact us if you are interested in finding out more.
1st October 2010
Where did September go?! Time sure has been flying by lately and the recent introduction of daylight savings means we just end up just doing another hour of work at the end of an already long day and work till 8pm now instead of 7pm! So a public apology to anyone who has had trouble getting hold of us in the evenings lately (please leave us a message and we'll get back to you!).
The very wet and extremely windy weather throughout most of September has made working young horses a bit testing at times, but we have managed to keep them all in daily work and progressing well, occasionally having to duck for cover in the stables and wait out a sudden downpour.
Chester Farm arena development is underway, September 2010
The weather also made the development of our arena very slow and bitsy - only in the last fortnight or so of September did we finally get a reprieve and the bulldozer and trucks made some great progress in a short time, moving amazing amounts of topsoil and carting in metal while Greg spent a frantic few evenings staying ahead of them putting in the outer posts and railings to fill the arena base against. The arena surface should be all finished within the next week in early October which is great timing as we continue into our busiest time of the year with the horses here for training and with our own horses' competitions coming up.
In mid September we were approached by Katrina from "Annandale" who wanted to do a feature about us in their Spring edition of their free "Seasons" magazine... this was a great opportunity and we have already had lots of great feedback about it. If you haven't seen the magazine, you can view the full article by clicking here or you can sign up to receive your own free copy in the mail by clicking here.
The farm is looking really beautiful now with all the spring colours coming out - green grass growing everywhere, all the willow trees now back in full leaf and the fence lines of poplars all colouring up too. With the native bush backdrop, it's a true slice of paradise! :o)
1st September 2010
"Rain rain, go away" has been the catch phrase here for the past month! Not many (if any?) days went by towards the second half of August that didn't bring a few showers or more to the Maratoto Valley, however with mostly mild temperatures it has kept the grass growing quite well and we should have a great spring flush that will keep the yearling heifers and horses happy in the coming weeks.
We made the most of the wetter weather by planting more pittosporums around the round yard and road frontage which will look great when they have grown up into a good sized hedge and keep the turn-out paddocks more private and sheltered. Now it's just a battle to keep the weeds at bay!
Two horses we had here for training both sold in August; 8yo warmblood gelding "Raval" going to a lovely home in Wellington for dressage and hacking, and 4yo crossbred pony "Valentine" heading down to Marlborough to a big station home where she will be in horsey heaven working her way around the hills. Always great to see horses going on to suitable homes and to acheive a positive result for our clients. We currently have another two horses here in work that are being offered for sale, see our Horses For Sale page for details.
Greg & Whisper enjoy the views at Chester Farm, Aug 2010
Driveway development gets underway, Aug 2010
The last few days of August were quite exciting when the trucks, diggers and bulldozers arrived to begin work on our driveway and much needed arena! Greg spent the weekend prior pulling down fences and cutting down trees to make way for the earthworks to commence. The arena will be in an ideal spot, easily accessed and quite private, surrounded by trees and native bush. We have both really missed (at times completely struggled!!) not having an arena for so long, and although the round yard has provided a good year-round surface to work on and remains an essential tool for breaking-in and young horse work, there is only so much more advanced training one can do with the older horses going round and round in circles all day!
Working all hours to get the jobs done! Aug 2010
Barney supervises the action. Aug 2010
Because we have these extra developments happening at home at the moment, and have a busy book of training horses already booked in over springtime, we are planning another quiet start to the competition season this year, looking to probably attend our first shows in October.
1st August 2010
We brought our horses "Retrospect II" and "Astek Gianni" back into light lunging work in July - with a clip and tidy up they have come through the winter and back into work in magnificent condition with a super shine to their coats, both feeling very well and definately enjoying doing things again.
Greg jump schooling over logs on the farm, July 2010
Diana on a farm ride with a young horse, July 2010
July has seen us working with outside horses that have come from as far away as Taupo, Whakatane and Wellington. With an ongoing stream of new horses arriving for training and breaking in, we have been as busy as ever so have been much appreciative of the weather being overall very mild and consistent, especially considering it really is still winter and all!
Spring and summer are traditionally the busiest times for outside horses arriving for training so we advise contacting us now if you are thinking of sending your horse to us for breaking-in or other training sometime within the next 6 months so we can pencil you into our schedule.
Local Paeroa owner Paul Rasmussen recently sent his very colourful 8 year old TB X gelding "Tiki" to us for jump schooling and, after witnessing his quite outstanding free-jump technique and general attitude under saddle, Greg has now aquired this new ride to include in his early season competition team where Tiki will be introduced to showjumping competition before being offered for sale.
By a son of Pintado Desperado out of a TB mare, Tiki has been trained in both Western and English riding to this point so is excellent to hack out with the young horses here, yet can also turn on a sixpence when needed! We think he could make quite a smart and competitive showjumping prospect especially for a young / junior rider and look forward to seeing his progress over the coming months.
"Tiki" at Chester Farm, July 2010
Diana spent another week down in Christchurch at the end of July giving Sue a much needed rest from the daily work in running Astek Stud, while Greg has been giving some jumping lessons again recently with a few early birds keen to get their training regime underway before the competition season begins again in September.
We have some very exciting developments due to get underway very shortly here at Chester Farm, so stay tuned for details on these coming soon!
1st July 2010
With not enough hours in the day at this time of year for doing anything other than getting through the daily routine and working the outside horses, things are pretty quiet on the news front this month, however everything is ticking along just nicely!
A hunting group in the Maratoto Valley on a neighbouring property
The shortest day of the year has recently passed and already the extra minutes at the end of the day are noticable as we are finishing the nightly feed round that includes both the horses and the grazing calves. June saw us get more good rain as well as very mild temperatures which has kept the grass growing pretty steadily on the farm and keeping the paddocks fresh.
|The Maratoto River ford located on Wires Road that borders the bottom east corner of our farm and provides access to several neighbouring properties was flooded over for 2 - 3 days towards the end of June when we had approx 200mls of rain here with more rain further up in the Coromandel Ranges, seeing the river swell up by several metres. Prepared neighbours often park their cars on our side of the ford and can walk across via the swingbridge enabling them to get to town, school or work, but if the rain strikes without warning, getting home or getting out can be a little more complicated!!
Maratoto River ford overflowing, June 2010
The past month has seen the arrival of several ponies ranging from 13hh - 14.2hh who have come for starting under saddle, including 2 adorable stationbred ponies that are being offered for sale on behalf of their owner (See our Horses For Sale page for further details!).
We have also been working with several Thoroughbred youngsters who we started under saddle before sending them home for a rest prior to their next work up that will see them head along to their owner's chosen racing trainers for introduction to their future racing careers.
Hacking out with young horses "Tiki" & "Valentine", June 2010
Pony "Blazee" learning to canter with Diana, June 2010
Our own competition horses Astek Gianni, Astek Radiance and Retrospect II, who have all been turned out since early April down the bottom of the farm, made their comeback up the top of the hill and back into their winter routine of being stabled at nights - not only to save their paddocks from getting too cut up and muddy but also because there is just something so nice about lying in bed at night hearing the rain pouring down outside and knowing your horses are all tucked up, warm and dry - I'm sure any horse owner can relate!!
Astek Rantani and Astek Gymbya have been making slow but steady progress under saddle over the past few months with them being worked spasmodically whenever we have a spare hour left in the day after working all the outside horses. Both girls (now 3 1/2 years old) have grown signifigantly in the past 6 months and are looking fantastic. We are very excited to be riding them at last and seeing their characters really develop - the first ride always a special moment for Diana and very exciting to see more of the young horses she has bred coming of age under saddle.
1st June 2010
The rain finally arrived here in May following months of dry weather and provided great relief to what was getting to be a rather difficult sitution for most farmers with no grass or growth happening anywhere around the entire Waikato, Auckland and Northern areas and the prospect of cooler temperatures on the horizon not giving us any sign of recovery before winter. But as often happens, when it rains, it pours! Here at Chester Farm we've had excellent rainfall lately and very nice warm days which have seen the grass flourish back to life and turn brown paddocks back into green ones. The rising 2 year old dairy heifers that we graze here over summer went home to their owner 2 weeks early, just in time for the rain to come and leave more pasture for the 60 or so calves that we continue to graze on the farm and take through the winter.
"Astek Versace", yearling gelding by Voltaire II, with the Coromandel Ranges in the background, May 2010.
Not to be deterred from working the horses inbetween the heavy rain showers, we have continued with a full house of clients horses here for work including quite a few new youngsters to be broken in, from Thoroughbreds to Warmbloods to everything in between! Two lovely 3 year old Warmblood geldings who had travelled here all the way from Gisborne and Nelson that we broke in and got going under saddle both went home to their very happy respective owners in April. We have since had another nice horse arrive for training who has also travelled a good distance to be here, this time from Palmerston North.
Some great news came from Cath Nichols in May who is the owner of the 4 year old gelding "Astek Giovanni" that we started under saddle and gave early mileage to back in October. Cath and Giovanni have recently made their dresage competition debut down in Kapiti Coast area with fantastic results, placing in their first four Training level tests and then winning both his first Level 1 dressage starts with excellent percentages and comments. Giovanni was bred by Diana and is a full brother to our 5yo mare "Astek Gianni" and 3yo "Astek Gymbya" and half brother to yearling "Astek Versace".
See our Testimonials page for some of the latest great reports from owners of horses we have been working with recently.
Diana went down to Christchurch mid May and spent a week looking after Astek Stud while her mother Sue went to Nelson to visit her own mother and have a break away from the daily chores that are involved with running the stud. With almost 50 horses onsite, the feed rounds morning and night take over an hour each and with such short winter days, it almost feels like there is little time inbetween to get anything else done! A nice chance for Diana to also catch up with some Christchurch friends and to give our broodmare "Stately Affair" (Rusty) a good pat and tell her we are looking forward to seeing what she produces this coming spring!
1st May 2010
April at Chester Farm has certainly had its ups and downs!
Our final competition of the 2009/10 season was the NZ Young Horse Showjumping Championships held over Easter weekend at Taupo NEC. We took Astek Gianni and Astek Radiance along, as well as rode Vollrath Chagall there for Phillipa, who, we must add, has become much more than a horse owner to us over the season - she does fantastic plaiting jobs, supplies hot drinks in the morning and is getting very skilled behind the camera - a big thankyou to you Phillipa for all your help!!!
The horses were all in fine form and jumped really well throughout the weekend. Competing in the showhunter classes, Gianni placed 2nd in the 5yo Showhunter class on Saturday (behind Astek Geneva, and with Chagall in 3rd!) and then on Sunday did an outstanding round in the 5yo Championship class (1.05m), seeing her win the title of "National 5yo Showhunter Champion"! We were all so thrilled for Gianni to finish her first season of competition on such a high, made all the more special by the fact that this was also Diana's first season back riding in jumping competition since 1995 so a great success! A beautiful big sash, sponsors rug and victory lap in front of the grandstand was an exciting way for Gianni to go out for the year.
Greg rode Astek Radiance in her first official showjumping competition, the 4yo Showjumping Championship. Radiance jumped very well, although a little greenly, over the first 2 rounds of competition on the Friday and Saturday, showing some great style and jumping clear so finishing 1st= in both the first two rounds, qualifing for the final round on Sunday in top place. A change in the course from the previous two stride double down to a one stride showed her inexperience and caught her out, catching one rail but jumping the rest of the final championship round in good form. Radiance finished the 3 days competition on 4 faults and in 8th= place out of 37 starters - a result we were more than pleased with!
"Astek Gianni" and Diana - the National 5yo Showhunter Champions 2010!
"Astek Radiance" and Greg finished 8th= in the National 4yo Showjumping Championships, April 2010
Gianni and Radiance also entered the led Sport Horse classes on Saturday afternoon, with Radiance placing 2nd in the 4yo class and 3rd in Potential Broodmare class, while Gianni placed 3rd in the 5yo section.
Chagall was ready to tell anyone who would listen about his mighty prowess when he first came out of his stable at the show, but quickly settled down with a lunge and look around from Phillipa. He placed 3rd in the 5yo Showhunter class with Greg aboard on Saturday with a lovely smooth round. Also entered in the 5yo Showjumping Championship, Chagall cantered around and made the height look easy (up to 1.20m), however a moment of distraction saw him take one rail in the first round on Friday which was a real shame to an otherwise excellent round! The second days' competition saw him jump a beautiful clear, placing him 1st= on Saturday and qualifing for the final. Chagall then jumped a super round on Sunday and was in with a good chance of a placing among all the top 5yo horses, most of whom where vastly more experienced than him, when a very unfortunate rail at the very last fence cost him entry into the jump off and saw him finish the 5yo Championship in 6th= place.
Overall it was still a great finish to the competition season for us, we were all quite relieved it was the last show and to be able to look forward to the next weekends - and beyond - for a few long overdue sleep-ins and relaxing time at home!
Since then we've had more time at home during weekends to catch up on jobs around the farm that have been getting a little neglected over the show season - fencing, gardening, painting, harrowing etc, there are always plenty of jobs to do around a farm, but a welcome change for sure!
Anzac weekend wasn't to be the nice time off we had planned when we first discovered one of our yearling colts "Astek Guy Fox" had completely unexpectedly died overnight - a later vet prognosis pointing towards a fungal infection in the gutteral pouch - nothing we could have prevented but the last thing we had thought we would find during the morning feed round! Guy Fox was maturing into an extremely elegant and very good moving young horse, it was hard to believe he could have passed away when he was looking so well and alert in himself.
On Sunday our Border Collie dog "Jess" made the rather unfortunate decision to suddenly turn and run right across in front of the motorbike as we made our way around the farm.... a very awkwardly angled leg proved to be a broken shoulder - 2 burials in one weekend was the furthest thing we had in mind for our weekend plans! We hope these 2 good friends enjoy their resting spots looking over the farm, RIP Mr Fox and Jessie :o)
Astek Guy Fox, April 2010
Jess at work
On a brighter note, the beautiful weather lately has seen us spending all daylight hours outside, with the gorgeous autumn colours around the farm and fresh but still warm air make working outdoors at this time of year a real pleasure and seeing Diana capture some very picturesque moments of the horses in work. We have started breaking in our two 3 year old fillies "Astek Rantani" and "Astek Gymbya" who are full sisters to "Astek Radiance" and "Astek Gianni". Both the girls are loving their new work routine and progressing very well, recently just backed for the first time and will start being ridden in the round yard over the next few weeks.
"Astek Rantani" exploring the farm, April 2010
"Dream" and "Beau" April 2010
1st April 2010
From the 5th - 7th of March we took our competition horses to Woodhill Sands for the 3* Showjumping and Showhunter show. A big crowd of horses and riders were there with all of the visiting Australian competitors attending in preparation for the coming Horse Of The Year show the following week.
Retrospect II has continued to improve throughout the season despite going to so few shows this year due to a minor injury earlier in the season. He jumped a superb double clear on the Friday with Greg in the 1.30m class to earn 6th place behind some of the top horses. On Saturday Retrospect jumped beautifully in the 1.40m taking just 2 rails and then on Sunday again jumped in great form in the 1* Grand Prix, a class which saw few clear rounds, where he finished on 8 faults. Greg was very pleased with the way Retrospect was jumping and felt he was in fine form going towards Horse Of The Year.
Astek Gianni and Diana entered the showhunter classes on Saturday and Sunday, jumping in very consistent rhythmical style, earning a 4th place in the Open 1m, and jumping a terrific round in the 1.05m. Astek Radiance also entered the Training 90cm Showhunter with Greg where she placed 5th.
Vollrath Chagall jumped a great double clear in the Astek Stud 5yo showjumping class to gain 1st equal place and was, for a large portion of the class, one of only 2 double clear rounds alongside Katie McVean with Springfield. Another lovely rosette for Phillipa's growing collection!
|From the 8th to 15th of March we were flat out working hard at home, with several of the young horses here for breaking in going home to their owners with a great foundation to their training now well established in place.
The surprise and delight on some owner's faces when they see the transformation their youngster has made since being dropped off as an unworldly, uneducated young horses to suddenly striding out confidently under saddle all around the farm and in the water etc is well worth the effort!
We've also recently had a few horses to bring back into work for owners that have been turned out for quite some time and they are looking to be either sold on or for them to ride during the autumn.
"Beau", here for bringing back into work & jump schooling
The big focus for us (and most NZ horsey people for that matter!!) in March was of course the "Horse Of The Year" show in Hastings from 16th - 21st. Diana spent an entire afternoon in the feed shed covered in chaff and grain making up feeds for the week - feeds for us to take away with us to the show and the rest for the staff at home to feed out while we were away at HOY! We drove down to Hastings on Monday, a 5 1/2 hour journey in the heat. Retrospect and Gianni were both pleased to get out and have a cool drink before a quiet ride around the grounds in amongst the other early arrivals setting up camp and getting their horses ready for the coming days competitions. Vollrath Chagall arrived with Phillipa on Tuesday and apart from his usual "hiss and roar" to announce his arrival, he quickly settled into his stable too and quite enjoyed being right beside the showjumping warmup area able to watch all the action.
Greg had unfortunately been feeling very unwell since the weekend so decided not to compete until the Wednesday where he rode Chagall in the Welcome Hunter and First Year Registered showhunter classes, earning 7th place in both in big fields. Gianni also entered these classes with Diana where she placed 12th and 6th respectively and jumped very calmly.
Chagall jumped a brilliant clear round in the 1.15m on Thursday, and then did a super double clear in the 1.20m class on Friday to just miss out on a ribbon finishing in 7th place. Chagall's entry into the Open Showhunter Of The Year on Saturday saw him do a good round which, although not a prize winner, provided a great warmup to his main aim of the show being the Astek Stud 5yo class. Things werent meant to go their way though as Chagall lost concentration due to the hectic ringside surroundings and took a rail off the first 2 jumps.However he quickly regained his focus and easily jumped the rest of the round faultless.We were all still very pleased with his progress and effort throughout the show and it was just unlucky he didnt come home with a placing!
Gianni was extremely consistent in her jump style and manner for the entire HOY show and certainly looked a picture everytime she entered the ring, already with her own fan club of admirers!
Astek Gianni and Diana competing in showhunter and receiving a prize at HOY March 2010
A brilliant round in the Open 1.05m saw her place 3rd behind two of the top national horses - "Moll Flanders" (2009 Showhunter Of The Year) and the ever consistent winner "Squirt", so Diana was thrilled with this and especially so with her family and friends in attendance in the grandstand looking on. Gianni's round in the Amateur Showhunter Of The Year on Saturday was very smooth and only marred by landing on one wrong leg which Gianni changed automatically of her own accord a couple of strides after the jump, but which saw them just miss out from the top 10 callback round, placing in 12th position from over 30 starters.
A late entry into the NZ Sporthorses classes on Saturday afternoon saw Gianni strut her stuff in-hand where she proved her classy conformation and quality movement once again by winning the "Best Mare 3yo and Over Most Suitable For Breeding Sporthorses". She then entered the ridden classes, placing 2nd in "Most Suitable For Dressage" (behind Astek Gymnast also by Gym Bello), 2nd in Most Suitable For Showjumping, and 2nd Most Suitable For Eventing. A super effort for a young horse at her first Horse Of The Year attendance!
|Greg was feeling much better by Thursday and ready to get his teeth into some competition. Retrospect II was fresh and ready to go going into the competitive 1.35m class, jumping a super clear first round and then another swift clear against the clock, just pipped by less than 1 second by the last horse to go in the jump-off ,the long-time campaigner "Midnight Hour" with Robert Steele, to finish in 2nd place from a strong field of approx 40 top combinations competing.
Retrospect II and Greg flying over 1.35m at HOY
Friday saw Retrospect entered in the 1.40m class, again another good field with top combinations entered. Greg gave Retrospect a great ride around the reasonably tight course making them 1 of only 2 clear rounds going into the jump-off. Vicki Wilson riding Showtym Diva gave it her all, but had an unlucky rail at the last fence, meaning Greg only had to ride clear and within the time for the win. Retrospect had the crowd on the edge of their seats, but flew around and made the height look easy, winning the class to much applause in front of many family and supporters including his part owners Bruce and Carolyn Mincham which made it a real thrill.
Retrospect II and Greg at Horse Of The Year Show 2010
Saturday's entry into the 1.35m Horse Of The Year Championship was a tough class, with over 60 of the country's best horses and riders lining up to start. 12 combinations went clear in the first round of which Greg and Retrospect were included. The second round (a shorter course with quicker time) narrowed the field down by half again with only 6 clear rounds going forward to the final jump-off, Retrospect again amongst them! A tight time was acheived but a turn into a fence cost them one rail, ending in 5th placing overall behind the first four clear rounders. Greg was thrilled with Retrospect's performance and decided, after so many jumping efforts in this one class, not to start him again on the Sunday.
We packed up the truck, said our goodbyes to Diana's family and headed home at lunchtime Sunday, after a spot of last minute shopping to grab some bargains!
1st March 2010
February has been a really busy month for us with a continued full house of horses here for training alongside attending several competitions with our own horses... all of this during a run of extremely hot weather which can make an already busy day outdoors alot more tiring! But the month has seen all the horses progressing in leaps and bounds (so to speak!).
The young horses that arrived here early February for breaking in are now all making excellent progress under saddle, learning the basics of ridden work and going for nice rides around the farm. We've been receiving lots of lovely testimonials from owners so plan to add these to the website, so keep a look out for that coming soon!
3yo gelding by Ramirez enjoys the river, Feb 2010
First ride out for Ruby, 2yo filly by Limonit, Feb 2010
Greg was asked to course build for the Paeroa Pony Club Twilight Showjumping nights which ran each Tuesday night throughout February, so after building the courses on Monday nights, we took 2 of our young horses Astek Gianni and Astek Radiance down to several of the Tuesday evenings for the experience. These were Radiance's first ever competition outings and she was very well behaved and jumped really well, taking all the new jumps in her stride, including a liverpool, without any hesitation, which was great. She certainly attracted some attention with onlookers very surprised to hear she was only 4 and at her first outings!
On 6th and 7th Feb we attended the Waitemata 1* SJ & SH competition at Woodhill Sands. Another hugely popular event with with over 800 competitors seeing the hosts constructing temporary yards all over the place at the last minute including filling up their round yard with visiting horses! Despite the numbers, these shows are a credit to the organisers and hosts for how efficiently they are run. The main star of our team at this show was Vollrath Chagall who jumped a beautiful double clear in the Astek Stud 5yo Series class with Greg to gain his first showjumping win which was very exciting and a real thrill for his owner Phillipa Barriball.
The following weekend saw us journey down to Taihape 2* show, there was a threat of rain all around which never arrived but instead a big gusty wind kept the ring crews busy holding jumps up while people competed. Retrospect II and Vollrath Chagall both gained placings against large fields which was very satisfying.
Astek Gianni competing in Showhunter at Woodhill Sands.
Astek Radiance at Paeroa Twilight SJ night, Feb 2010
In mid February, we took Chagall over to Cambridge for two private lessons with Australian international rider Chris Chugg. It was interesting to get Chris' perspective on riding a stallion seeing as he owns and competes them himself. Chris was impressed with Chagall's ability and attitude and the lessons proved very helpful with some great new advice and ideas to work on.
For the last weekend of February, the 27th and 28th, we made the 6 1/2 hour drive all the way down to Foxton for the 2* Wellington Championships. The weather was extremely hot and still so we were relieved to finish our classes each day by lunchtime and retreat to the cool shade and lemonade in the truck! We had a super show with Restrospect II, Astek Gianni and Vollrath Chagall all coming home with ribbons, while Astek Radiance made her showhunter debut in the training classes with very pleasing rounds to her credit.
tipped the top rail and down it fell - a big cry rose from the crowd followed by laughter as yet another chance for a clear round went astray! Eventually the remainder of the class came through with only 6 clear rounds out of around 70 entries.
Retrospect II went into the Saturday 1.30m class with confidence, jumping in a lovely calm manner and great style, earning one of the few double clears of the class and seeing him place 6th overall behind five 3* Grand Prix horses which Greg was rapt with. On Sunday the 1.30m Championship was a big and very related course with no room for error. After 20 starters, including many of the top combinations, there still wasnt a clear round, so when Greg went into the ring the crowd was still holding its breath.... a super round with Retrospect again jumping in easy form he was clear right till the very last jump where he just
Retrospect II at Waitemata 1* Grand Prix, Feb 2010
Astek Gianni competed with Diana in the showhunter section, looking to secure her final 4 points to gain qualification to Horse Of The Year show. Diana wasn't dissapointed when everything came together in the ring and Gianni completed two fantastic rounds seeing her win the big First Year Registered class, followed by then also winning the KiwiSpan Open Amateur High Points class - a real thrill against tough series combinations some of whom are among the top 6 of the national series leaderboard. This lovely 5yo Hanoverian/TB mare by Gym Bello is progressing really well now in her first season of jumping and it was very exciting for her first competition wins to be amongst strong fields and at only her 4th showhunter competition.
Vollrath Chagall jumped really well in the Astek Stud 5yo Series class, but made the same mistake as many before him and came in a little deep at the last fence oxer which caught him out and cost him a rail. On Sunday however Chagall wasnt going to make the same mistake twice... he jumped a fantastic double clear in the 1.10m class incorporating some quite tight turns in the jump off to finish in 3rd place - out of over 120 starters. We packed up and were on the road by 1pm on Sunday, seeing us arrive home to Chester Farm at around 7pm - all in a days work!
Our next competition will be at Woodhill Sands 3* on the 5th to 7th March, usually another huge show with horses and riders from all over NZ preparing for HOY, including overseas combinations.
We will have Retrospect II, Astek Gianni and Vollrath Chagall at Hastings March 16th - 21st for the Horse Of The Year show, with Retrospect entering the 1.30m showjumping classes, Gianni competing in the Showhunter and Chagall entering the Astek Stud 5yo HOY. Ringside support is always welcome and if you see us please do come and say hi, it is always so nice to see another familiar face there amongst the masses!! We hope everyone attending the show has a super time, whether competing or spectating, it is an event not to be missed.
1st February 2010
We had some good little bits of rain here through January which has kept the ground a bit softer and the pastures fresh. Most of our horse work lately has been breaking in, with some lovely well-bred warmblood youngsters coming to us including by Anamour, Furst Jupp, Ramirez and Limonit, and with horses arriving from as far afield as Wanganui, Wellington and Nelson! We find these young horses are usually keen to learn and very quickly slot into the daily schedule of coming into the stables, work time and the morning and night feed rounds, a routine which they really thrive on. Some of them have never been on hills or seen rivers etc before, but you can see their confidence and pride grow as they manage to successfully negotiate these new obstacles before them. Always very satisfying to see these young horses progress and enjoy their work!
Hez Zurich enjoying life on the hills with the 3yo filles Astek Gymbya and Astek Rantani, Jan 2010.
(The well known 'Maratoto Rock' is visable just to the left of Zu in the background.)
In January we took our competition horses to several shows - Auckland Showhunter 10th Jan at Pukekohe and Waitemata 3* SJ & SH 16th & 17th Jan at Woodhill.
Greg's big Holsteiner 8yo "Hez Zurich" was notably absent as we decided to turn him out after Taupo Christmas Classic for the rest of the season following minor foot trouble that has been niggling at him over the last couple of months due to the hard ground conditions. Zurich is now out barefoot and naked in a big hillside paddock with our two 3 year old fillies... and loving it!!!
Astek Gianni and Vollrath Chagall both entered their first showhunter classes at Pukekohe. This was a popular and very competitive event with some of the top NZ combinations present meaning high standards throughout all levels. Gianni did two super rounds in the Amateur 1m and Amateur High Points 1m with scores of 79 and 86, just missing out on placings - which shows how tough the classes were! Commented on for her excellent jump, balance and rhythm, we saw this as a promising start to Gianni's showhunter competition.
After winning his first class for First Year Registered, Chagall then jumped in his first 1.05m and 1.10m tracks, which he did with ease and earned several placings which was terrific.
Astek Gianni training at home with Diana, Dec 2009
Jumping lesson at Chester Farm, Jan 2010
At Woodhill for the Waitemate 3* show, we competed in scorching heat on the Saturday, with Diana riding Gianni in the showhunter and Greg riding Retrospect II and Vollrath Chagall in the showjumping. Retrospect II jumped in the 1.25m on the first day, jumping well but taking one rail. On Sunday he jumped a lovely easy clear in the 1.25m Championship, with Greg opting not to do the jump off to save him for the 1* Grand Prix in the afternoon. A big, square and reasonably technical track with no room for error, Retrospect flew through the first half of the course including making a problematic turning line from jumps 3, 4 and 5 seem effortless, however a slight hesitation at take-off at the start of the treble got them into trouble, with 2 rails in the first two elements and a miraculous recovery to jump clear over the last fence. Retrospect went on the complete the course in very good style and his calm rideability throughout the whole course had us rapt with his effort. The class caused problems for many riders, with only 3 clear rounds out of approx 30 starters.
Chagall jumped in his first 1.10m showjumping track on the Saturday where he had one rail, then entered his first 5yo Series class, a very nice track but the biggest course he has faced under saddle. Greg was confident and Chagall made it look easy, doing a lovely smooth clear first round, with one rail in the jump off - owner Phillipa Barriball was rapt! Jump-offs for 5 and 6 year old series classes are not against the clock (except at championship shows) which means simply completing the jump-off clear and within the allocated time earns you full points. This is an excellent concept for young horses who do not need to be pushed into racing for a fast time while they are still developing their jumping technique and experience. Chagall entered showhunter classes on Sunday, once again winning his first class - the 4&5yo Showhunter, followed by two more placings in the First Year Registered classes.
Astek Gianni jumped really well for Diana throughout the two day show, placing 3rd in the 4&5yo Showhunter, and placing 2nd and 3rd in the First Year Registered classes at 1 metre on Saturday. Sunday saw her gain more placings, with a 4th in the 4&5yo class and 4th in the First Year Registered. Gianni gained 14 showhunter points at this show, meaning she is now well on her way to the 20 point qualification required to enter the Horse Of The Year Show.
Of interest, 5yo mare Astek Geneva (bred and previously owned by Sue at Astek Stud and competed as a 4 year old last season by Greg) was the winner of the Saturday 4&5yo Showhunter class and placed 2nd on Sunday with her new owner Trudi Biggar. Great to see her continuing to do so well!
1st January 2010
Happy New Year! We hope you all had a great time over Xmas and New Year with family and friends! We went to Christchurch for one night to visit Diana's family for an early Xmas on the 21st December which was great - early presents and meeting all the latest foal arrivals was a very nice way to spend some time!! - before flying back home to Chester Farm to have a second Xmas with Greg's relations.
There has been no time out for our competition horses though over the festive season. We attended the very popular Taupo Christmas Classic show from 17th to 20th December (over 800 horses) which we thought was a superbly run show and a real credit to the organisers.
Of note Astek Gianni made her first official SJ start entering the 1metre classes each day with Diana and jumping in excellent form throughout the show.
Retrospect II gained 4 placings in some of the lower height classes that included entries of up to 200 horses per class, making it a great competition build up to some bigger classes at his next shows after Xmas.
Astek Gianni jumping 1 metre, Taupo Dec 09
Retrospect II jumping 1.20m, Taupo Dec 09
Hez Zurich's entry into the 1.20m Derby on the Sunday came down to an exciting finish. One of only 11 clear rounds out of 90 starters, Greg and Zurich gave the jump off everything they had (Zu has never gone so fast in his life!), posting the 3rd quickest time (including faster than any of the ponies in the Pony Derby which ran over the same course) however an extremely unlucky rail that simply dropped down out of the cup and landed a few inches on the rail below, went unnoticed until he had finished the course but thereby put him down to 6th place.
The 28th and 29th December saw us go to Waikato 1* for 2 days of showjumping. Retrospect II was the most pleasing member of the team at this show with one of his best rounds to date in the 1* Grand Prix, despite one rail we were really thrilled with the way he performed and jumped.
Hez Zurich in the 1.20m Derby, Taupo Dec 09
Vollrath Chagall jumping 1 metre, Taupo Dec 09
Vollrath Chagall also competed with Greg at these two shows for owner Phillipa Barriball and really impressed with his calm acceptance of the show surroundings, and lovely rhythm around his jumps. Charlie is progressing well and ready to step up another hole or two.
On the horse training front at home, timing was perfect as several horses were ready to go home just before Xmas which gave us a lighter workload for a couple of weeks over the festive period, with new horses due to arrive early in the New Year again.
1st December 2009
November was a rather hectic month working horses at Chester Farm, visiting family and teaching in Christchurch for 2 days, as well as competing at several local shows.
Learning to jump over logs is good fun!
Yearlings Astek Gigi, Versace & Guy Fox, Dec 09
We took Retrospect II, Hez Zurich and Astek Gianni to the Auckland Showjumping 2** show at Pukekohe, and owner Phillipa Barribell took her stallion Vollrath Chagall along for Greg to compete as well. This was Chagall's first jumping competition and he entered the 5yo Sporthorse class where he was judged jumping a course of 80cms and also presented in-hand. Although initially a little over-awed at all the horses in the warmup area, "Charlie" jumped quite well and was perfectly behaved in the trot up. A very nice introduction to the show scene for him!
Astek Gianni also competed with Diana doing two clear rounds in the training ring at 85cms.
Hez Zurich was in fine form at the show, jumping double clear in the 1.25m on Saturday to place a close 6th out of approx 80 entries, and taking one rail in the 1.25m on Sunday.
Retrospect II (Enzy) went in the 1.15m class on Saturday - a step down from his usual height but he needed a lower class to make sure he was fully recovered from his recent minor injury and to get his jumping eye back in again! After a very bouncy clear round, Greg opted not to do the jump-off, saving him for the 1.25m on Sunday where they took one rail after bit of a miscomunnication in the treble. Overall a very pleasing competition, especially managing to load the horses and shut the ramp just as the rain started to pour down!
Several of the young horses we've had here for breaking in have recently gone back home to their owners, including one all the way back down to the Kapiti Coast, and we've since had some wonderful emails reporting great progress from them all which we are always thrilled to hear.
Diana has been busy putting together our first Chester Farm newsletter which will be posted here on our website soon so keep a look out for that.
And, with Xmas fast approaching, Greg has also been spending some late nights finishing off painting some commissioned pet portraits.... there's always something on the go at Chester Farm that's for sure!
1st November 2009
Spring is flying along here at Chester Farm, the recent rains have seen the grass flourish and our paddocks that have been shut up are ready to be cut for baleage any day now. The horses are all blooming as they lose their winter coats and enjoying being able to spend some time without their rugs on out in the sunshine. Our own horses have been doing some more jumping training lately, with Astek Gianni making great progress under Diana's guidance and ready to enter some competitions in the training ring for starters soon. Retrospect II has been out of action for a month with a minor injury but is coming back into work again now and very pleased to be doing so - such an energetic, ethusiastic horse doesn't like to be left out of the action for too long!
Astek Giovanni (4yo) enjoys the river with Greg
Holly (5yo) heads off on a hack out with Diana
October's weather hasn't been so consistent for those of us who work outside, but rain wind or shine we've been out working the schooling horses and they too have been all making very good progress. Some of the young horses here for breaking in have been getting some wonderful mileage under saddle, out and about exploring the bush and farmland, it's so great to get them going out in the open like this enjoying themselves and learning to so bravely go "where no horse has gone before" (or so they seem to think at times!!). The river usually proves popular with even the more timid youngsters once they realise splasing around in there is actually quite good fun!
We visited Christchurch again on the 17th and 18th October where Greg held a jumping clinic at the National Equestrian Centre, McLeans Island, which was a popular location with his students, especially considering it was the competition venue for the following weekend's Labour Weekend Showjumping Carnival! Some great results have been coming through from students, from the placings and wins in showhunter, eventing and low level showjumping, through to the 1.20m and upwards class riders gaining recent placings amidst tough competition. And thanks to those dressage riders and first time jumpers who attended the last clinic to give their horses some variety with polework and over small jumps... it wasn't so scary afterall was it!?! Look forward to seeing you all back at McLeans again November 21st and 22nd for another clinic.
We are really enjoying having a quieter start to the competition season as we are getting so much work done around the farm on the weekends. Perhaps we will have earned a day off by Xmas? :o)
1st October 2009
We had a fantastic run of weather through September which saw us busy getting our competition horses back into jumping mode before the first show at Woodhill on the 19th and 20th. We took Retrospect II and Hez Zurich along to go in the 1.20m and 1.25m classes and we were very happy with how they both went, despite the extremely hectic warmup area which was causing many horses and riders all sorts of problems. The crowded warm-up was the sole reason we didnt take our young horses along.... a decision we were very pleased with!
The schooling horses for September / October are a quality group, including a 3yo Trakehner gelding by Holme Park Flute here for breaking in, a 5yo Hanoverian gelding by Gymnastik Star re-visiting for ongoing jump schooling, a 4yo Hanoverian/TB gelding by Gym Bello (full brother to our 5yo mare Astek Gianni) to bring back into ridden work and give early mileage under saddle, a very attractive 5yo Pinto gelding who is learning to jump and expanding on his basic flatwork, the local Holsteiner Warmblood stallion "Vollrath Chagall" also continuing his education over jumps in preparation for competition, and a 5yo Hanoverian mare by Dream Boy here to further her mileage under saddle with hacking out experiences over the farm and in the bush and to establish some basic flatwork and dressage schooling.
In our little bits of spare time (daylight saving is a blessing - or a curse?!) we have continued to work on re-fencing, painting and establishing garden areas around the round yard. With half of the farm currently shut up for hay, the return of the rain at end of September was great to give the paddocks another boost and keep our grazing heifers happy in good grass.
Our 3 yearlings have been growing like weeds lately and are looking great as their summer coats start coming through. Our last remaining broodmare "Stately Affair" will be heading back down to Astek Stud at the end of October to return to her old friends in the broodmare herd and get back in foal to Gym Bello - this outstanding cross simply has to be repeated again! We are extremely excited about Gym Bello's progeny. His oldest crop of 10 foals have just turned 5 years old and already showing outstanding results in their first season of competition as 4 year olds. Their beautiful movement, very scopey athletic jump with great technique, excellent upstanding types all with really beautiful heads and then to top it off, exceptional trainable, sensible temperaments - we just can't get enough of them!
October will be another quiet month of the competition front with our next intended outing over Labour Weekeend.
We are heading back to Christchurch for a showjumping clinic on the 17th and 18th October, this time at McLeans Island equestrian centre. We are both also looking forward to visiting Astek again and meeting any new foal arrivals!
1st September 2009
Our new 18 metre round yard was completed in August and has been in very regular use ever since! As well as providing an essential training facility for working young horses, this also timed in well with bringing our own horses back into work - Retrospect II and Hez Zurich are currently preparing for their first show at Woodhill Sands on the 19th and 20th September while we also have several young horses getting ready to make their jumping competition debuts in the coming months. One of these is Vollrath Chagall, a 5 year old Warmblood stallion owned by Phillipa Barribell of Thames, who Greg broke in as a 3 year old and rides in regular training. "Charlie" shows excellent jumping technique in his free-jumping work to date and we look forward to aiming him towards the 5 Year Old Series classes later in the season.
Diana's decision to sell her broodmares so we could concentrate on the our young horses came to fruition very quickly with TB mare "Sugar Rush" in foal to Voltaire II selling to Southland, and then "Renaissance II" also in foal to Voltaire II selling to Kerikeri... from one end of the country to the other but both to excellent homes where we will be looking to keep in touch with their new owners and hear of their exciting foal arrivals this spring.
We purchased some new showjumps recently which have enabled us to add to existing materials and now create the complete show experience here on the farm, right down to the start and finish flags, colourful fillers, walls and loud-speakers. This provides excellent training practise especially for the younger horses to ensure they dont get too overwhelmed when they enter the busy jumping rings on competition day!
Greg's last showjumping clinic in Christchurch went well with both regular students and new attendees all making great progress. Now that the weather is improving and with competitions just around the corner, its a great time to get some lessons in and work on new training ideas. Greg is available to take lessons here at Chester Farm, or further afield, so contact us if you are interested in some tuition.
1st August 2009
Fencing and painting have continued on our agenda for the month of July - we've been making the most of having all of our own riding horses turned out and freeing up some spare time for working around the farm, in between working the outside schooling horses of course! The grass has been growing pretty steadily throughout the winter thanks to some very mild spells of weather of around 18 degrees which has kept our grazing calves happy and making it very nice for working outside and getting the paint dry.
Man at work! Old fences coming down...
...to make way for new horse paddocks at Chester Farm.
Our 3 weanling foals are also growing like weeds and showing us more of what they are made of as they mature and with occasional handling sessions. Wet weather sees them come into the stables which they all seem to think is rather good, getting to act like the grown ups!
As much as we love the youngsters, we recently made the decision to sell our broodmares in foal as realised it was going to be too difficult foaling and serving mares while traveling away to competitions and clinics all at the same time - a little too much to expect from our staff!! So Thoroughbred mare "Sugar Rush" in foal to Voltaire II has just made the long journey back down the country to her new home in Clinton, Southland, with a showjumping owner... we wish them all the best and are sure she will produce a stunning jumping prospect! We also have our Holsteiner mare "Renaissance II" in foal to Voltaire II for sale, check her out on our Horses For Sale page. We will still be bringing along youngstock mostly via the Astek Stud progeny which is very exciting as they come of competition age and are starting to show real promise.
After a long break of 4 months off for the two big boys "Hez Zurich" and "Retrospect II", and a month off for our just turned 4 year old mare "Astek Radiance" and now 5 year old mare "Astek Gianni", the 2009/10 Chester Farm show team will all be getting reshod and brought back into work this coming week in readiness for the season ahead.
We've had quite a few early bookings coming in for the next few months, mostly young horses requiring breaking in or further mileage to add to their reportoire of skills. Spring is always a great time to get the young horses going and we have two of our own 3 year old fillies that we will be looking to start under saddle as well.
Despite the relatively mild winter (Diana still can't believe it's winter compared to Christchurch!), it will be nice to have the summer warmth and longer days arrive before too long, so we can spend even more time out with the horses!
1st July 2009
The last month has flown by and we have been making more progress around the farm, establishing new fencing and developing our new 18 metre round yard. We headed down to Christchurch on the 3rd July for another showjumping clinic at Selwyn Equestrian Centre - the indoor arena making lessons much more pleasant than the outdoor 7 degree temperature! Greg will also be taking lessons starting from September 11th in the new equestrian facility Little Valley Farm in Hamilton. With outdoor and indoor arenas, this will be a great central venue for future clinics.
The visiting schooling horses have been getting plenty of road work and bush rides during the wetter weather recently, our quiet roads making very peaceful rides for both horse and rider! We've also been working with a local young Holsteiner stallion "Vollrath Chagall", establishing his jump training in preparation for his stallion licensing in August.
Another trip to Woodhill Training Showjumping show at the end of June saw good improvement for our three horses, with Omniscient gaining placings in all of her showhunter classes.
The boys Hez Zurich and Retrospect II have been coming back into the stables at night again recently, a routine they both thrive on! We plan to get their shoes back on again at the end of the month and start bringing them back into light work ready for the coming competition season.
1st June 2009
We weaned our 3 warmblood foals last month (Astek Versace, Astek Guy Fox and Astek Gigi) and they have all come through it very well - quickly accepting their new found grown up, independant existance and thoroughly enjoying their new routine of coming into the stables every night and going out in the paddock during the day. Their dams (Stately Affair, Sugar Rush and Renaissance II) have also settled well in the big paddocks at the bottom of the farm and were pleased to have their winter covers on before the recent rainy days arrived. We've added a new page to our website called Breeding Programme showing all of our mares and youngstock so take a look!
We have an enjoyable team of oustide horses in training at the moment, ranging from saddle hunters to eventers to young horses coming back into work - it is always pleasing to see them develop and progress and enjoy their time here on the farm.
"Viktor M" cross-country schooling with Greg aboard
The weanling foals at Chester Farm
A few weeks ago we resurrected some of our stand-alone hunter/cross-country jumps and have had alot of fun schooling some of the jumping horses over them, adding to their variety.
On the 31st of May we took 2 of our outside schooling horses "Omniscient" and "Viktor M" and our own 4 year old "Astek Gianni" to the Woodhill Sands winter training SJ & SH competition and were extremely lucky to finish all of our classes and get the horses safely loaded back on the truck just as the predicted rain and cold wind arrived! Gianni made her showhunter debut with Diana and did two nicely balanced rounds showing her quality movement and jump style.
Greg's showjumping clinics in Canterbury at the Selwyn Equestrian Centre are proving to be very popular, we are heading down there next weekend - the 6th and 7th June - so Greg can keep his students progressing while Diana will be at Astek for a catch up. Considering the recent weather around the country, it couldn't be better to have such a fantastic indoor arena to give lessons in down there!
|Hez Zurich and Retrospect II are starting to feel terribly left out since being out of work and turned out in one of the bottom paddocks following the April Breeders Show. They will come back up to the top of the farm before too long and get back into their cosy stables each night which they love, although we won't bring them back into light work until July.
Our new fencing around the horse truck entrance with post and rails and a stone wall feature is starting to come together really well. We're on a mission to get as much done over the next few months before the summer competition season starts all over again!
Some new fencing goes in, June 09
1st May 2009
We spent a great week at the Horse Of The Year show in March and were right on the edge of our seats as we watched KS Genoa jump her way to victory in the HOY Olympic Cup. Genoa is by Graf Landau who is the dam-sire of Astek Stud's young stallion "Kinnordy Gym Bello". Astek Stud also own a broodmare who is a full sister to Genoa so some terrific jumping blood coming through in their breeding programme. We currently have 2 horses by Gym Bello, "Astek Gianni" and "Astek Gigi", both of which show great athleticism and jumping ability.
Since arriving back in Paeroa, we have been very busy setting up the farm - building stables, painting rails, putting up new fencing and getting our horses all settled into their new home. Diana's 10 horses all travelled up from Christchurch extremely well and have slotted in very quickly. Our thanks to Nationwide Horse Transport for looking after them so well.
Greg's big Holsteiner boys "Hez Zurich" and "Retrospect II" have both now been turned out for a rest following another very successful season in the showjumping arena. With their main focus having been on the Cushionride 7 Year Old series (1.35m - 1.45m), Hez Zurich finished a creditable 8th place overall including winning the 7yo class at the Canterbury Xmas Cracker, while Retrospect II finished the series in 4th spot overall, also acheiving 4th place 7yo at HOY. Both horses also stepped up to making their first few appearances at 1* Grand Prix level, with Retrospect II going clear or taking just one rail in every start. Both horses have finished within the top 8 over the last 3 years in the National 5, 6 and 7 year old series, so a very consistent achievement we are proud of.
Mares & foals sleeping in the sun
Hez Zurich on his way to 4th place in the 1.25m
Championship at the National SJ Champs, Feb 09
Our horses in work at the moment include 5 outside horses here for schooling, alongside our own 4yo mare "Astek Gianni" by Gym Bello, and 3 1/2 year old filly "Astek Radiance" by Ramirez. Both are enjoying the variety of farm hills and bush rides we can now offer them alongside their regular flatwork - a drastic change from dead flat Canterbury!
Quality 4yo mare "Astek Geneva" who Greg has been riding since October 2008 for owner Sue Fowler at Astek Stud, has recently been sold following a fantastic first season of competition. Geneva won or placed at every showhunter outing entered in both the North and South Island including winning two 4yo Showhunter classes and also gaining places in strong Open company. Geneva has been sold to competitive showhunter rider Trudy Biggar of Coatsville and we look forward to seeing them out together at the shows next season.
During the recent rainy days we have been continuing work on the stables and getting this website together! We are pretty pleased with how it's turned out, but would love to hear your feedback as well!
Greg & Astek Geneva at Taupo Breeders Show April 09
Diana & Astek Radiance working at home