Dressing up the Caldene Way!

If you're no stranger to my blog, you'll know by now that if I could be, I'd be wrapped up in a million layers on those cold and blustery winter days.

I LOVE warm clothes and I'm one of those people that can't walk past big scarves or thick jumpers whilst out shopping. If it's warm, hand me one right now!

So when Harry Hall asked if I'd be interested in trialling their Caldene Luna Women's Jacket, I don't think I could've replied any quicker begging for the opportunity.

It looked toasty warm and perfect for those chilly days down the yard, so what more could I ask for?

For the last 2 weeks I have practically lived in the jacket, and I promise I'm not exaggerating. It's one of those jackets that's great for nipping to the shops in, riding in, mucking out, or even going off shopping. It's stylish enough to wear with a pair of jeans but practical enough to hop on and go for a hack in. I'd definitely describe it as one of those jackets that simply ticks all the boxes.

What makes it so good?

I'm sure all of you reading this hate getting cold and wet and find that element of dealing with horses the worst. You're probably not the only one that looks on in envy at your friends Instagram as they're all wrapped up warm in front of a log fire in wooly slipper socks whilst you're battling with 500kg moody mare in sub zero temperatures. Oh to have a normal life...

The Caldene Luna Women's Jacket is showerproof so for me that deserves one big green tick already. Showerproof is an absolute must when dealing with horses. Especially on the days where hosing legs off is a necessity and you seem to end up more drenched than the horse. Don't you just LOVE winter?!

It's also got a 260gsm fill, so imagine those medium weight turnout and stable rugs you put on your trusty steed and often think "I wish I could crawl under there too!" - well now you have your own! No need to steal them to wrap around you as you sit at the yard having a coffee and a natter now - just pop your Caldene Jacket on and pass the coffee.

For me, a coat isn't good enough if I have to take it off whilst I ride. I'm always stretched for time, so I need something versatile that isn't too bulky to ride in, but is equally as adequate to turn out in on frosty mornings and for me, this coat did exactly what it said on the tin!

There's a 2 way centre front zip and rear riding vents so if you want to hop in the saddle then go ahead. And if you're horse is like mine and hates hoods flapping about as you ride, don't worry - the hood is detachable, meaning less spooks and more happy riding. Perfect!

Another aspect I noticed is the tight cuffs, which means no wind or rain can sneak down your arms as you're lifting hay nets or riding. I know that sounds dramatic but there's no worse feeling that chilly arms and the rest of you is toasty!

The only thing I would say is the cuffs are quite air-tight, so if you hate a tight feeling jacket on your arms and you want more movement then size up, but I prefer a tight fitting jacket so for me it was perfect.

Overall it's another thumbs up from me and a big green tick for everything that I could want in a winter jacket. Even better they're available in Black or Wineberry and available from size 8 upwards. Priced at £125 or £87.50 for One Club Members, why treat yourself to One Club membership too by clicking here?  

I'm wearing the black in a size 8 in the photos above and have teamed the jacket up with the Harry Hall Checked Breeches!
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Make sure you CHECK these out!

When Harry Hall initially contacted me to test and review a pair of their Breeches, I was little dubious. I am one of the fussiest ladies out there when it comes to breeches and jodhpurs. You have to agree there is simply nothing worse than putting those itchy jodhpurs on and then spending the rest of the day regretting it.

Or there's those types that make your legs feel like they're in some robotic suit, or the pair that leave your legs absolutely freezing in any remotely chilly weather.

When I'm looking for a pair of Breeches or Jodhpurs to buy they have to tick a few boxes for me. Now call me picky, but I spend a lot of time in them, so they have to be right!

- Are they comfy?
- Are the warm?
- Can I put my warm tights underneath?
- Can I spend the day in them?
- Do they look smart?

Because I predominantly work from home, I spend a heck of a lot of time in my riding gear, whether that be working, riding in a morning or evening, or running around doing the yard. Because of this I want to wear something comfy, but smart enough that I feel comfortable going to the shop in them at lunchtime!

I have to say, the Harry Hall Checked Breeches quire literally ticked every box for me and I'm not exaggerating.

The first day I put them on it was 3 degrees outside I thought I needed to wrap up warm and popped my woolly tights on underneath to muck out at 7am. How wrong could I have been? I was absolutely boiling. They were definitely warm!

The rest of the day I spent working from home and I have to say, not once did I get that dreaded painful feeling in the back of my knees that Jodhpurs can sometimes give you. They were certainly comfy.

That evening I needed to school Ziggy and even after wearing the Breeches for over 9 hours already, I still felt comfortable and like I had a pair of old comfy pyjamas on!

Shall we now talk about how smart they are? I LOVE the design, and elastic at the bottom, which makes it easy to pull your socks over without causing huge bulges making getting boots on tricky. Another tick in the box for comfort.

Priced at £42.99 (or £30.09 if you're a Harry Hall Gold Club Member!), they are an absolute bargain and well worth the price tag. For me, you can't put a price on warmth and comfort, especially when winters on its way!

These definitely get a huge thumbs up from me and I imagine I'll be spending a lot of time in them!

In the photo I wear a size 26" and am usually a size 8.
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We're going to the PetPlan Championships at Hartpury - a dream come true!

Here it is.... Our Area Festival Finals write up! 🦄
My dressage journey this year has been so up and down. We finished 4th at the Senior Inter Regionals and then 2nd in the Sheepgate Tack and Togs Championships and have had some other super results too, but then it went downhill. 
I went off somewhere to get some Regional points and Zig spooked at B, jumped in the air and carried on. I laughed, because that’s Zig - so full of surprises and character. But then I walked into the cafe and as I walked up to the scoreboard I heard two people having a good bitch about how I “claimed” to have sorted Zigs spooking, and how hilarious it was he still did such stupid things. At that point I turned on my heels and left. I know in hindsight I should’ve said something but I didn’t. I wanted to be the bigger person. 

At that moment I vowed I was giving up BD, because it was too bitchy and selective. I wrote a post on here about taking some time out of dressage and maybe one day the love for it would come back. 

Now my partner isn’t horsey but he said he would support my decision, provided I thought about it and meant it, and it was what I truly wanted. When I couldn’t say I truly wanted to give BD up, but I needed help to overcome this fear of riding infront of people, he suggested finding a new instructor away from home. And that’s when he said about my now current instructor. He’d met her once for a photo shoot I was involved in last year and said how I just seemed to get on with her, so maybe I should try her.. 

And that’s when I sent an SOS text to Vicki, kind of detailing everything I felt, everything id experienced lately and no pressure but I was leaving it up to her to help find my mojo again!

Cor blimey she did - she installed this confidence in me that I’d struggled to find. When I told her I felt worthless riding in the warm up arena and how I hated riding down that centreline she said things like “trot down that centreline like you’re about to win the class. Ride at the judge the most positive you’ve ever ridden”. And not once has she ever laughed that I have these silly dreams with my little Irish pony. She always finds the positives and if I say something negative, turns it into a “....yes but look how different that was” or “... look how much more effective that became” and things like that.

I was determined to go into the warm up on Saturday feeling like I had every right to be there. I’m usually THAT rider that stops for everyone, apologises for getting in the way, despite them being the ones walking on the track or not going left to left. I was determined to stop that. 


So Friday afternoon I took a half day from work and Ziggy and I trucked to Manor Grange. I wanted to bed him down then school him for 20 mins in the warm up arena. The hectic warm up arena last year had really got him (more likely me) in a muddle and I wanted a positive session in there.

He was ace; I just worked on moving him around, leg yielding as Vicki had said and having a play without asking too much as I don’t like to on the eve of a competition. 

Two girls started to watch me ride and focused on my every move. My anxiety was screaming “they’re looking at you” and my new found confidence shouted even louder “they’re just admiring Ziggy!”. Of course it helped he was going like a lamb. I love this pony!

I did 25 mins and then put him away and went off to set my own bed up. My air bed in the back of the lorry. Ugh. Meanwhile zig is tucked up, in a £60 a night stable eating haylage. How the other half live eh?! 🙄

I looked at all the big pop out lorries next to me with their misty windows from their lovely warm heating and created this idea in my head that I was DEFINITELY adopted and my real parents were some millionaires that could’ve provided me with all this.... haha! I joke! 

Anyway, then I had a quick couple of drinks with two ladies I befriended who were just normal like me! They had dreams, but not the typical dressage horse we see so much of. We sat dreaming of being in the big horse boxes with heating as we sat outside our little van conversions with our horses thermatexes over our legs! Then it was bed time. 

In the grand scheme of things I didn’t sleep too badly but all night my head was going over and over the test and the usual “do I know it...” “yes I do...” rubbish! God I could talk myself in and out of some rubbish I reckon!

Soon enough however my alarm was rattling off and it was 6am. Time to get up! I was the only daft enough person to be awake at that crazy time, but I wanted to muck out and give myself plenty of time to get ready. I was on at 9:49 and the arena walk ended at 8:45, so not much time between the two. 

The arena walk went fine. Zig went in a little apprehensive of the boards and the judges boxes near the cafe, so it really made me feel more positive that I’d done the arena walk. I think for now he needs them. I spent longer than I’d anticipated doing it but wanted to be sure he was relaxed in there, not like last year. Eventually he settled into the walk and so I hopped off, and went to watch the first person in. 

I watched one test then got back on myself. I kept telling myself and Zig to stay confident, stay positive that I deserved a place in that warm up arena and between the boards. Kate is always trying to make me feel better about the worries I have anxiety wise with how much I deserve to be there and don’t. She’s great and always spends time chatting to me about being open and honest in how I feel, but at the same time telling me to be positive and confident in that I CAN do it. It’s not that I’m scared, it’s that I feel I could do better all the time, and I’m always questioning my worth. 

I find i sit up more in sitting trot and so to begin the trotting in warming up, I did sitting trot. I was so adamant I didn’t want to do my usual curl up, lean forward and go into myself trick. I had every right to be there....keep thinking it. 

Zig felt so lovely to warm up. I know people say you should always find more to work on, but there wasn’t a thing I’d have changed about his warm up. He was loving every second and he was giving me his all - and in then I was smiling like a Cheshire Cat and loving it too. 

Soon enough it was my turn and Vicki came to find me. “Ride the test positively and like you mean it” she said, and off I went. 

Going down that centreline I rode smack bang to the judges and positively. I remember someone saying ride to them like you’re going to run them over and that’s what I did.

I made a conscious to sit up, ride the corners, keep the inside bend, but don’t let him fall on that right shoulder. Slight shoulder fore where I could feel him curling too much and keep his neck up, and keep the impulsion. 

The first canter to trot transition was a bit Blah in my eyes, I wanted it a little more fluid but such a minor thing in the grand scheme of things. Everything else felt nice. The walk was such an improvement in what I’d had been weeks before! We got a free walk, and I didn’t throw it away. 

The stretchy trot was nice at the end too and he didn’t rush or dive onto the forehand. Then up the centreline, ride for my life, massive smile because I’d blooming done it, sitting trot and then halt with a positive square halt. 

I welled up a bit actually, because for the first time in what seemed like forever I came out and thought “actually I did what I could, I enjoyed that and I want to do it again”. I hadn’t felt like that in BD in a LONG time! In fact this was my first BD in a long time! 

Vicki was clapping and said what did I think. I turned it on her and said “What did YOU think” - apparently I shouldn’t answer a question with a question but she said what I’d felt - the first canter trot transition was a little blah and she felt my canter could’ve been more forward but aside from that she was pleased.

And that’s kind of what mattered. Someone that I’d gone to whilst at my lowest with my self esteem in the ring had thought I’d ridden the test. Not sat there, not curled into myself and became a shy lamb on top of a horse, but RIDDEN! 

I wanted to cry there and then but quick slap on the wrist to myself and got on with it. Put zig away, literally hugged the blooming pony until he nuzzled me off because haylage was far more important than mum hugs! 

Got stuff sorted and didn’t want to check scores! But OMG - 68.12, putting us into 4th. Unfortunately only the top 4 qualified so I decided I was bound to be knocked down as I was only the 7th out of 28 to go in. People were bound to knock me out of the qualifying spot. 

I sat by that score board all blooming day, and if I didn’t I was refreshing my phone. It was agonising! Waiting for the last couple of results were horrific!

Then I saw there was a withdrawal, and it dawned on me that would mean only the top 3 would qualify. So even though I finished 4th, I’d narrowly missed out on my ticket. I walked back to the box, sat alone for 20 mins, had a cry that I’d been so close - and decided I’d keep fingers crossed for a wild card!

Prize giving. Didn’t feel like celebrating but I’d gotten talking to someone who had finished 2nd and was happy for them so stayed upbeat and told him I would hope for a wildcard. Hugged zig some more, cried some more about how I just always seem to be unfortunate and then cried because despite it all I was 4th in a huge class and I was proud of zig. Basically there was a lot of crying!

Anyway, prize giving.....

They went into reverse order, got to me and Jo read my name out and then as I got to her she shouted “This is your important envelope Siân!” - to which I replied “I haven’t qualified jo!” And she did the tut look she always gives me when I’m negative and said “YES YOU DID SIÂN!!” and literally at THAT very moment I realised I’d achieved my dream. 

I WAS GOING TO HARTPURY!!!!!

Stood at the podium like a Cheshire Cat, beaming, welling up, not knowing whether to laugh, cry, jump and hug someone or curl into a corner and cry. 

Managed to smile for photos between blurry eyes, walked to Zigs stable and found the stable manager Caroline at the stable. She said “how did you do?” And literally at that moment I fell onto her sobbing, she hugged me and I explained between sobs and snot I’d qualified. God I’m so embarrassing at times!

It felt physically and mentally - I don’t know. Was I exhausted? I’d had this dream. I’d worked so bloody hard, I’d shuffled work and lessons, done god knows how many 18 hour days to fit it all in..... I cried because it happened, I cried because I could finally relax a little, I cried because I was experiencing something I’d wanted for so long, but then I cried because grandad wasn’t here to see it, and then I cried because 4 years ago Ziggy didn’t trust me enough to barely come near me. Now we were going to Hartpury!!! We were going to the competition that Charlotte and Carl ride at. Ahhhhhhh 
😱
I didn’t let Zig for ages after that, I just stood with him, thanking him, telling him how much he’d made my dreams come true and how I’d never let him down. I SO wish grandad could’ve been there. I can’t tell you how much. 

And here begins my road to Hartpury. It’s scary, it’s exciting - I want to go and enjoy it, but also I’ve realised through Vicki that I want to go and I want to go and be as competitive as I can! Why should I feel like I’m making numbers up? I have to stop with that thought!

We’ve a long winter ahead and I need to cut my lessons down to fortnightly now the winters here, but I’m so excited! And my first question to Vicki was “So what do we work on next?!”. 

I know I sound like a stuck record, but this is a dream come true for me, and some may be thinking Jesus Siân it’s not that big of deal, but to me it is - there’s just so much emotionally I’ve dealt with, or at least tried to, to get there. And Ziggy started out 4 years ago, when I finally was able to ride him with 56% in an intro test. NEVER did I imagine he’d get 68.12% in a PetPlan final to get us a ticket to Nationals. 

Ziggy - if you could read this you’d see how proud you’ve made me.

Grandad - if you could read this, you’d see how much I wish you were here to share this. It’s all you ever wanted me to achieve, and when it’s time for Hartpury you’re coming with me in my locket of you, and I’m taking the picture of you in my glove again. 

Vicki - You gave me the confidence to ride between the boards and helped figure so much out, THANK YOU!

Kate - Your angry face texts when I say i can’t are appreciated. THANK YOU!

Fiona - You told me he’d be special. THANK YOU!

Aran - You gave me the courage to seek help, and ask for it, THANK YOU!

Here’s to counting down to April!





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Half way deployment blues!

What did I learn about myself this week? 

I hold a grudge. 

Usually if my other half and I argue (shock horror we are human, we occasionally argue), I’ll end up still going round to see him or visa versa and he’ll just act normal so eventually I’ll snap out my grump. He often snaps me out of it by making me laugh or something stupid. 

Well that’s a bit difficult when he’s several thousand miles away. 

So last week started something like me getting angry at a comment he made, going into a grump and refusing to budge. 

“Are you coming on skype?” He said 

“No my laptops not out” - I replied, with my laptop on my knee. 

Of course I gave in and went onto Skype whilst he told me to stop hiding my laugh behind my hand etc, and so my mood frazzled. 

I agree, I can be a miserable sod and god knows why but I struggled last week. 

EVERYONE I spoke to commented how quick the half way mark had come around and we only had 3 weeks to go. All I wanted to do was say how slow it had dragged for me. And I guess the reminder that we were only half way and we had the same to go again was a bit of a harsh but true reality check. 

Poor sod, he got the brunt of it because of course it’s his fault he’s away. Oops! 

I thought hitting the half way mark would be something to celebrate but it felt like the beginning all over again, even though that sounds ridiculously pathetic. I felt angry all of last week, really angry. In reality I don't even know what about because weeks 1 and 2 were fine(ish), but for some reason, this week I've been emotional, moody and just fed up. 

Someone asked me why I've decided to do short blogs about the weeks and how I get by, and then she said she's retracting that question, she knows why - because its my way of dealing with it and sharing my emotions and thoughts. 

I think that's the problem with those of that are writers and bloggers; we find it so much easier to share things when we're writing them rather than when we're saying them. Or maybe its just me. 

To be fair, everyone around me have been great. Especially my colleagues, close friends and family. I remember the week I was offered my job I'm in and prior to that just a few days before, I'd been for another interview. The lady interviewing me asked about a comment I'd made regarding my partner being in the military and then she said she had a concern regarding offering me the position. 

When I asked what, she said "How will you cope when he gets deployed. What if it affects your work?" - I was mortified that someone would immediately judge your ability to cope in such a situation, and I love that about my colleagues now; not once have they assumed I wouldn't cope. At the time I remember rambling on about having no option but to cope, and I wouldn't spend every moment he was away, in bed, watching sad episodes of Friends whilst eating as much Ice-Cream as physically possible. Goodness, we're strong women to have to deal with this, we get out of bed each day and we cope! Of course we cope, because we're proud of the men! Some days I don't feel strong and I moan about having to go through it, but I'm proud of him and not coping is just not even an option.

Needless to say I turned the job down and explained why as well.... 

So anyway, this week the other half dropped a bomb shell on me that when he returns he gets another graduation. Of course he asked if I wanted to go and I replied with something along the lines of it being a stupid question and I would be there. BUT that means finding yet another blooming dress! All these balls, graduations and events are nice, but I'm still not au fait with the dress codes and what you can and cannot wear. However, it will be a nice excuse to have my hair and make up done again and put a nice dress on, with the added bonus of him having to wear his number 1's - which always makes me swoon! (seeing them in their Number 1's etc is one of the perks of the military life..!) 

Right, I'm waffling! Not entirely sure of the point of this weeks blog, but as always, I've kept it real, shared that we had a bit of a row, I had a grump, and then we hit the hill of the half way mark and now on the slow decline to counting down until he's home. I think that's one thing this deployment has taught me - your weeks can literally be more up and down than a yo-yo! 

Onto week four....



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Becoming the MASTA of relaxation....

Anyone that follows my blog, but mainly my Facebook page will know I've had varying issues with Ziggy relaxing into the contact when ridden. He's not horrendous by all means, but the walk has taken some work. He's very jumpy, tense and generally a sensitive little soul. I put it down to him being rescued and the trauma he went through prior to me getting him.

Anyway, I have spent a fortune on bits and bridles. In fact, it got to the point where I seriously considered selling a kidney to fund his bits, because for the life of me I just couldn't find one that he 100% settled into the contact in and seemed happy, and for me, his happiness is fundamentally the most important thing.

However, about 6 weeks ago now when I went back to a dressage instructor I hadn't seem in quite some time, she asked me if I had considered the Infrared technology for him and if I'd looked into a Harry Hall ProtechMasta Infrared Poll Pad.

I must admit, I hadn't considered it for Ziggy, but I had read up a lot about it and considered the possibility of buying some of the boots for Ceaser's legs as they swell when stabled.

But, like most people, I'll hold my hands up and admit I was sceptical of spending yet more money and buying something that didn't work. I was in the region of £300 down because of various bits and bridles, and still I wasn't 100% sure Ziggy was working as well as he could do.

That evening, I did some research, posted on several Facebook groups and asked for some genuine feedback with using the Poll Pad on anxious and sensitive horses when ridden. To my surprise the feedback was all positive. Everyone that had used one in these circumstances had seen a notable difference in not only their horses relaxation but also the time it took them to relax.

With that I immediately purchased one and was dying to try it out and see if I felt the same results as everyone else seemed to.

Thankfully my photographer friend came with me to my next lesson so she could take some photos of us and I was shocked to see a different picture in just 10 minutes with the Poll Pad on!

Warming up...


After 10 minutes with the Poll Pad on!

Since then, I've used it every time I have ridden without fail - the results are too good not to! 

Whilst the Infrared radiation is a natural process and is scientifically proven to gently and safely assist blood circulation, therefore, helping to ease muscle tension, I'm happy to use it because its none evasive and all a natural product. 

I think many of us are so quick to change bits, bridles, saddles and so on, when actually with products like these on the market; if we know our saddle fits, bit is correct, and bridle fits - why don't we be more open minded to trying something like this?

This is not a collaborative post in any way and Harry Hall haven't asked me to write this, but I was so keen to share the positive effect of a product on the market to help horses like Ziggy that struggle with their anxiety and tension. 

I'm saving up for the Infrared rug now that I can put on before a competition whilst we're travelling with the hope it will just give him that extra bit of help to relax prior to competitions. 

If anyone wants to ask any questions about how this Poll Pad helped Ziggy, or wants anymore before and after photos as proof, please don't hesitate to contact me!

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It's Berry nice....Rydale!

Every time I visit a Country Fair or our local country shop in the nearest town, I'm drawn to the Rydale section. Those of you that see me regularly will know I basically live and breathe in V-neck sweaters and shirts. They're the kind of clothing that you can dress up or down and are perfect for any type of occasion. So when Rydale asked me if I'd do some collaborative work, I couldn't have agreed any quicker.

Already having a drawer full of their Cable Knit V Neck Sweaters in my bedroom, I was thrilled to have been offered the chance to try out one of their newer products, the Ladies V Neck Sweater in Berry.

Now I must admit, all of my clothes get abused. They get worn to do the horses, worn to go out riding and the next day I might wear them out to a meal. I don't have the time to keep some clothes for best and swap if I'm going up to sort the horses, so they need to stand all kinds of weather and surroundings.

In the past, lots of V Neck Sweaters I've purchased from other shops haven't stood up to the constant washing machine experience. If I love an item of clothing it'll get worn and worn, so for me, I need something that won't look like I've just dragged it through a hedge after a couple of washes. It needs to look as good as new each time I put it on.

I was thrilled when I opened up the packaging to the Rydale V Neck Sweater. One thing that struck me instantly was how soft it was! If there's one thing I dislike is those clothes that feel like cardboard and do nothing but make you itch from the moment you put it on, until the second you take it off.

The first day I tried the sweater I dressed it up, with a shirt, jeans my long brown boots, with a tweed jacket to go to the theatre to see Shrek the Musical. The second day I tried it, I went over to my dressage instructors to have a lesson and the third day I wore it to meet with a work client.

In one week it was washed three to four times, and each time I put it back on it felt new each time, didn't shrink in the wash, and didn't loose its new jumper feel. It really is one of those items of clothing that is as versatile as you want it to be. Wear it to the pub, wear it to walk the dogs, or dress it up and wear it to the theatre - it looks just as good whatever you do!

Additionally its a perfect layer to wear solo or team up with a nice shirt for a more chilly day.

Priced at only £19.99 and available in 9 different colours, there isn't an excuses not to have a couple in your wardrobe.

I wore the Berry colour in a size 8, and its available direct from Rydale!
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