Posted: 28 Jan 2020 - Comments (0)
It was good to have a low key weekend. We made the most of the good weather on Saturday with an early trip to the beach which both Ellie and I enjoyed immensely joined by pals Vanessa and Flynn. We are very lucky to have Perranporth only a few miles away with several miles of sands at low tide. This time of year it is relatively quiet and we were lucky that the sand was quite consistent on this trip. We usually walk and trot to the far end and then have a steady canter on the better bits coming back. I never use the beach for fitness work as actually sea sand is not a great surface and can vary quite quickly also being totally flat it isn't the most helpful for fitness. However for fun and amazing scenery it can't be beaten. It is also great to let them have a paddle and get used to the waves. It can be quite disconcerting with the water moving underneath you so always good to look at a fixed point.
Saturday afternoon Fliss was taken for a little jump with Mel Hennah. It is great to use some athletic exercises to really help her keep her shape. She is certainly feeling fresh and well at the moment and was keen to be on with the job but jumped so well. Getting really excited for the season.
Posted: 24 Jan 2020 - Comments (0)
Still playing catch up on the blogs and admit I am knackered this week. Clearly age and last weeks adventures are catching up.
So Sunday we had a chance to practice our dressage at the local riding club show. Really pleased with Fliss's first novice test which she comfortably won with 72%
The second test wasn't quite as good and she was 2nd with 70% but still a solid attempt.
Still very much a work in progress but felt we took a good step forward from our training.
Ellie meanwhile just did the Elementary and warmed up amazingly outside, once under test conditions she was just a bit cheeky and unfocused but still made a reasonable stab at the test for 71%.. The judge rightly commented she was a bit 'busy' in her trot work. Probably got a bit quick again.
Thanks to Georgina for calling even if she did tell me to haltand salutein the middle of the test!
Posted: 20 Jan 2020 - Comments (0)
One thing I was really looking forward to was getting the girls feed and condition assessed. You may remember I had them weighed in March last year when we went to the Riding Club Arena Eventing Championships. At that time Fliss was 510KG and Ellie 440KG.
Ellie was on first and you can see by her face that she is not impressed about having a weigh in, possibly she feared (rightly) what the scales would say. Indeed she weighed in a 473KG a 33KG increase. Her condition score was 3.75 (3 is perfect) and her ribs were hiding slightly more than ideal. Currently Ellie is out by night, in by day on ab lib 2 year old soaked hay and is fed twice a day with a balancer and handful of Alpha A. We have taken her off the balancer and replaced with Dengie's 'Performance Vitamins and Mineral' and changed her onto Alpha A lite where she is allowed a whole half a dipper of food at each meal. I need to be careful to control her grass intake and restrict as much as feasible. I also find as the work increases I can slim her down but she definitely needs to lose a few kilos!
Fliss weighed in at 514KG so pretty similar to last March. She was condition scored at 3.25 so just slightly overweight which surprised me but as she can easily drop weight this time of year probably ideal as she picks up work. Her diet changes very little
Split into 2 feeds (3 may be ideal but not practical)
- 2-3 scoops Alpha A
- 500g Dengie Performance Balancer
- Alfa Beet to damp if needed
She also gets turned our daily and has haylage at night.
Posted: 19 Jan 2020 - Comments (1)
So after a fab and busy day on the Tuesday we again had a stormy night in the lorry and were relieved not to be driving home. We set off at 8.30 next morning with thankfully quieter weather. I felt slightly mean after their good work the day before to be taking them for more lessons but equally having travelled all that way and put the diesel in the lorry it seemed silly to miss out on an opportunity to see Owen on the way back when it only added 30 mins to the journey. In fact having done dressage and XC the day before we had a good opportunity to focus on the show jumping.
It was 2 hours to Lyneham Heath and we arrived in good time for the girls lessons. It is great as Owen is getting to know us we can progress from the last session and move forward again whilst remembering we haven't done a huge amount of work lately.
We continued the theme of our last session with Owen working on the length of the stride and ensuring the canter is not too weak and backward. Fortunately Owen could see an improvement since our last visit. We started by using a pole 5 strides to a jump and then practicing turning alternatively left and right afterwards. Fliss found this hard both to sit and listen and stay straight, her changes to the right also need work. Ellie on the other hand when we did this found this bit easy.
We then moved onto practicing some related distances, Fliss even had a pole but this wasn't helped by myu body position that had got a bit forward. She was ace through the distances and so agile and clever through the treble at the end. The video gives you a taster of our work.
Ellie's session was similar although no video of the end but you can see how well she was jumping she was on springs.
I was delighted with both girls and feel we are going in the right direction. They also coped so well with the work and the travelling.
Posted: 18 Jan 2020 - Comments (0)
We are back from a fairly epic few days in more ways than one! The weather, travelling, tuition and people all made it memorable in one way or another. I'm going to split this into a few blogs
- This one - Dengie Bursary Day
- Owen Moore Sessions
- Feeding assessments
I seriously thought I may have lost the plot, however fabulous it was to win the Dengie bursary 8 hours travelling and 315 miles each way was a serious commitment. All I can say is it was worth every minute and every mile as we had an amazing few days that even the weather couldn't spoil. We started on Sunday by travelling to my friends at Launceston where I was able to give the girls a school and jump as they were a bit short of work as well as be an hour further on to start next day. I got up early on Monday and rode both as dawn was rising to ensure they were exercised for the day as didn't know if I would be able to when we arrived. We left at 9am and luckily in the main kept ahead of the worst of 'Storm Brendan' and being January the motorways were kind and we made good time. Sadly it is always the last bit when going somewhere new and we spent half an hour trying to find Vale View without contravening the road weight restrictions which seemed in force in the area.
We actually arrived whilst still light and settled the girls into their lovely stables, each girl was then walked in hand for 20 minutes to loosen up after the long stretch on the lorry, luckily neither seemed bothered, as you can imagine Ellie was soon in bed. The storm certainly hit after we arrived and the lorry rocked and rolled for a few hours.
We were up early to polish the girls and Fliss was first on for a private session with Hannah Esberger who is one of Dengie's sponsored riders. We also got to meet the Dengie and Horse & Rider team and receive our fabulous goodies. I have to say the lessons with Hannah alone were worth the long journey. She really understood me and both girls and firmly pushed us to the next level giving us confidence to advance.
There will be professional footage and write up but I have added a clip from our training although you can't hear Hannah. Thanks to Mum for taking the footage despite turning into an icicle! Some of the key things we focused on and points to work on were:-
- Straightness, the neck must be straight with Fliss which will in time allow more body bend
- She had me doing a half bridge (holding the slack from my right rein in the other (left) hand) this was to stop me pulling Fliss around with my right rein and instead focusing on riding her shoulder around.
- Slow the temp to allow her to move and not lose her rhythm
- Make sure she is not just going prettily but is actually in front my leg and listening to my hand and half halts
- Keep my leg on - cuddle her with my calfs.
- Make sure she has periods of stretching and periods of working up but do not accept the middle ground
- Think about a biting change, she has a small mouth so something with a single link loose ring or eggbut snaffle, a lozenge or double link is too much
- Need to practice the walk and the rein pick up from free walk
Hopefully the video will help you see the result of the above.
So we had an hour and then Ellie had a shared lesson with Hannah. Hannah loved Ellie and we saw some amazing progress in the session. Again some of the key points.
- She is ready to sit on her backside more and needs to lessen the temp like Fliss
- We did a lot of work in counter canter to help the balance
- We used shoulder in to get the hocks working
- Be braver in the medium there is plenty there
- Again be careful with the right hand, ride the shoulder round
- Use leg yield in the canter to help control the shoulder
- Try and improve my position (applies to both) with hips underneath more and a less forward leg
- She is easier and more straightforward than Fliss and felt the basics were better in Ellie
Again I hope from the video you can see some of the progress made.
For anyone looking for a dressage trainer in that area I was very impressed with Hannah and would certainly highly recommend.
By the time the dressage sessions had finished the weather was coming in and with a worsening forecast everything was brought forward for the afternoons sessions with New Zealand event rider Lucy Jackson. Ellie was on first this time and we were using the fabulous arena xc facility at Vale View. In retrospect I didn't warm Ellie up well enough to get the sharpness and initially as Lucy rightly pointed out we were slightly in the wrong gear meaning I slightly threw her at fences and we needed more power. Don't get me wrong she made everything look v easy but once we were both switched on she was awesome and so enjoyed it. Lucy thought she was a real pocket rocket.
I have to say the weather doesn't look as unpleasant as it was it was dank, damp and cold but didn't spoil the day.
Fliss was last on in the afternoon and seeing it was the first XC type work she has done for a while she was totally awesome and Lucy had lots of nice things to say. She thought we had a great partnership and that she was a very exciting little mare. Fliss was switched on straight away and showing how far she has come on and how easy it all is for her. I was particularly pleased how confident she was in the water.
The main area Lucy wanted me to focus on was being very clear on my lines and own focus, when I got slightly confused on the route was the only time Fliss lost focus too so seems we have to be a real team.
I had a fabulous time over both sessions and learnt so much and a really good kickstart to 2020. Huge thanks to all the team at Dengie and Horse & Rider that made it happen a particular mention for Lisa who organised the day so well. The day finished with feeding assessments but that I will cover in another blog.
This was all the bursary winners with Lucy (middle) and Hannah (left)