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A big stride forward

Posted: 13 January 2019 - Comments (0)

Yesterday we went to the BS show at Duchy, never the busiest but always nice well built courses and a decent enough arena. There was never going to be enough competitors to make it easy to take both girls so I just took Ellie. Duchy jump their classes A7 meaning a separate jump off. I wanted to finally jump Ellie's first Newcomers a daunting prospect with a 14.1 pony.

We jumped the 1.05 and to be honest we were a bit rusty, well Ellie will say I was, to be fair we haven't done any BS for a couple of months. Despite the fact I needed to ride forward and hook less she jumped a nice clear round, in the jump off we had a lazy rail at the first fence then the rest was clear to finish one place outside the money.

So onto the 1.10 and it was a nice course, there is never many fillers to get you up in the air though. What can I say, this round was our best round of the day and we jumped a super clear.

I think Ellie was quite shocked having been used to Single Phase classes to be jumping a 4th round (the course was now 1.15) and I just didn't get her into the bridle enough for the first fence and had it down, then after chasing her a bit with my leg we rather ran in the bottom of another for 2 down in total but by no means a disgrace and annoyingly just outside the money again!

So can now say we have jumped a 1.10 class and can hopefully build from here.

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Am I mad?

Posted: 8 January 2019 - Comments (0)

Considering January can be one of the coldest and harshest months booking an away show at Chard Equestrian might not have been the brightest idea. Saying that it is a fabulous place to jump with a huge outdoor arena, great surfaces, well built albeit top end courses and lovely stables in an indoor barn. I can't get huge enthusiasm for jumping indoors and we haven't done much this winter, we have some nice show centres locally but none have particularly big schools and with most shows running single phase I find the horses get a bit backward, maybe it is me that needs to ride better! So come rain or shine I am looking forward to getting them out jumping next week. Fingers crossed for some reasonable weather!

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2019 Goals

Posted: 7 January 2019 - Comments (1)

"Failing to plan is planning to fail". I often fall into the negative trap of not creating any goals as I am afraid that I will fail in their pursuit. I have come to realise this is counter productive and to use another quote "if you aim at nothing you will hit it every time". So I am trying to dream big but be realistic for 2019, also recognising that horses being horses things may change or alter but at this point they are realistic. I also have to accept with two horses at a reasonable level this year finances may not stretch as far as needed.

So my main goals for 2019

x - Upgrade Ellie to Novice BE this Spring
x - Jump some Newcomers with Ellie by April
x - Start Fliss at BE100 and also upgrade to Novice by Autumn
x - Have one or both ready for 1 star by the season end
x - Run a 10k in less than 1hr5 minutes
x - Find a way to earn more money to support the points above so I don't need to rob a bank - not sure how to achieve this ideas welcome!
x - Be positive and enjoy the horses

I have been lucky this year that I have been sent the Rider Performance Journal from My Equestrian Life, see their Facebook page here for more information. It is a well laid out journal which really helps you not only set goals but then put in place the building blocks for achieving them. It helps you identify strengths and weaknesses and break down the goals into bite sized monthly chunks. I love the monthly diary that gets you to record plans, lesson outcomes, competition learning, lightbulb moments and achievements. My only complaint is in a few areas would be great to add pages if it has been a busy competition month for example. If you are the sort of person that likes to keep a written record of your year and be helped put together plans than I would definitely recommend it. Equally if you coast along aimlessly then this will help you focus your thoughts whatever your goals be it Badminton or a fun ride. Would be ideal for children too.

I will be revisiting this post at several points this year to see how well we are doing and if plans have to be tweaked or altered, I am looking forward to making these goals reality.

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Good Start to the New Year !!

Cilla radley on 7 January 2019 at 7:55 PM

First competition of 2019 - Dressage

Posted: 6 January 2019 - Comments (0)

We started the year with a relatively low key dressage competition at Colraine and decided to take both girls. I warmed up in the morning with a Park Run, these are organised free 5k runs. I went to the one at Trelissick which was described as undulating, it was actually hilly and testing, I wasn't therefore displeased with a time of 32.23.

The dressage competition was the first time the girls would compete head to head in a dressage class. They were both doing Novice 24 and then Ellie also was entered in Elementary 44. I must admit I was hoping to be competitive as the winner of the novice had a dressage to music tape made for them as a sponsored prize, quite fancy making our dressage a little more exciting, however as the most non musical person out I would need serious help.

Sadly mum had been struck down by the lurgy so I was without her help, luckily I was also taking my friend Vanessa so I had help to manage the 2 girls. Fliss was on first and in the warm up she was super, I had my best medium trot from her to date and she tried so hard, made me realise just how far she has come. We went in to the indoor and she just went slightly green on me nothing huge but just lost the smoothness and suppleness she had warming up. There is still huge improvement though.

A score of 67.6% was fair and I was pleased.

Ellie followed and I was slightly disappointed with her on the day. The Novice 24 wasn't a bad test and some of the trot work to start was lovely but I guess with all the jumping we have been doing she has lost some of the settled dressage work and is a bit feisty and uneven in the contact. One minute she was coming behind it and the next snatching at the contact. She was also ploughing down and forwards in the downwards transitions. Saying that she did do some nice trot work to start and scored a mark more than Fliss on 68% to win the head to head. Ellie was 2nd in the class and Fliss 4th which was a great result although we missed out on the music prize, never mind the dressage world can wait some more for us to try dressage to music! Sorry no video of this test so you can't make your own comparison.

Ellie then went on to do Elementary 44 and again the contact wasn't that great. She also was trying to pop her tongue over the bit in some of the trot work meaning she wasn't taking the rein forward so we had no mediums. Saying that it is pretty good on a bad day we can still score 65% for 2nd place (there was only 2 of us in the class though).

So a reasonable start to the competition season and certainly identified some areas to work on. Maybe a change of bit or bridle for Ellie to find something she can work softer to rein with. They will probably both be pleased to know that jumping is planned later in the month!

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A year on - I couldn't cope

Posted: 2 January 2019 - Comments (0)

Probably my most talked about post of 2018 was the first one I wrote explaining the confidence issues and depression I was suffering. See the post here This was hard to write, admitting how bad things had got. What perhaps surprised me is how many people agreed either publicly or privately that at some time they had had similar problems, I think awareness of these issues, how common it is and how they can affect people is important.

For me it had reached the stage of not wanting to ride, riding ineffectively and at times just not wanting to do things at all. I clearly remember a lesson with Fliss that all I would do is trot round holding the neck strap and when it was suggested I should canter I just burst into tears and got off. I have always struggled with confidence in my own ability but this reached a whole new level and made me very despondent. Admitting publicly I had a problem helped and hindered, it made me feel weak and hopeless but equally probably it was the beginning of being able to turn things around.
I have a year later turned things round, I am enjoying the girls and looking forward to riding. So what was the magic formula? Hard to say I think everyone is different, I tried sports psychology and for me it was a waste of time, too formulaic and probably didn't touch on the deep rooted problems. I do believe sports psychology has its uses but needs to be the right person at the right time. For me a number of things have come together to help:-

  • Support of Mum, friends and trainers. The help, advice and general support was invaluable

  • Having two very genuine and patient horses. Ellie was my comfort blanket and Fliss did not put a foot out of place despite my nerves and backward riding

  • Homeopathy, hard to say if this had an effect but tried to have a natural boost to my positive energy and general energy levels

  • Working hard at being physically fit and strong, started some running (not a natural runner) and did gym classes to improve physical fitness and core strength

  • Listened to a lot podcasts in particular those that focus on successful people be it business or sport. Amazing how many of them struggled at times in their lives. Included 'Tim Ferris Show' '10% Happier' 'Crazy Good Turns' they say surround yourself with positive people this helped!

  • Cussedness, at the end of the day I'm not one to throw the towel in horses have been my life and as such however much I didn't want to I kept getting on and doing things

  • The Thursday positive post that I run every Thursday on Facebook.

A year later and I am enjoying the horses. I did say that if in a year things hadn't improved I would give up as it was no way to go on. Probably 2018 was one of my more successful years with both girls showing huge improvement. I am aware that certain things still need improving, the confidence in my own ability, the tendency to over analyse every mistake, extreme competitiveness and the temptation to compare myself to others are all still problems that need improvement. I am sure it could be easy to tip back into the despair of last year but trying hard to avoid digging myself that hole again.

Lovely to finish the 2018 with a comment from a trainer "Lovely to see how well your horses are going. You should be proud and excited for next season".

Fingers crossed it will be happy, fun and positive, preferably with plenty of frilly's!!

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Arena XC training Pontispool

Posted: 31 December 2018 - Comments (0)

Yesterday we took both girls to Pontispool for some training with Jo May through Equestrian Training South West. I was delighted in how well both girls went and showed the progress they had made.

You may remember just under a year ago we took Fliss for the first time and she refused point blank to get her feet wet resulting in me paddling in icy cold water. This time she went straight in and we even progressed to jumping a fence in the water.

The structure of the lesson was similar with both girls initially making sure the different gears were available from an open forward pace to a collected coffin type canter. Jo was also very keen on developing a stable position following the Chris Bartle mantra of shoulders up over the fence and look up, forward and well ahead to the next fence. We started by working with the drop fence and halting on landing, then halting after a couple of fences to make sure the horses were listening and not just running on.

Fliss was ace and has learnt so much in the last year she took everything in her stride a few c.lips from the session.

Ellie really enjoys these sessions and has got very cocky but has just enough about her to keep it in check. She really showed what she could do and made the exercises feel very easy. This gave me more of a chance to work on my own position. Points to note in the main were :-

x - Look up (eyes up)
x - Shoulders up
x - Hands soft and down
x - Rhythm

Really pleased as you will see on the video we finished by jumping a decent fence into water that would be novice standard. Really starting to feel that novice is very much on the cards for Ellie.

Had some lovely comments from Jo about how fit and well my horses were and I should be excited about the season ahead. What a nice note to say goodbye to 2018 on.

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