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Preparing for the Biomechanics Clinic

Posted: 14 Mar 2018 - Comments (0)
Sat writing this blog in the cafe at Tall Trees arena whilst Russell Guire from Centaur Biomechanics is doing a clinic assessing riders. Following a session with Russell last year I was keen to get him down again, realistically the only way to do this is organise the clinic myself. So we have a 2 day clinic with 20 riders having assessments and a lecture demo this evening.

It does make you appreciate the work that goes in behind the scenes. It sounds quite simple to book a school get a few people together and add a little talk. In reality it is time consuming to make sure everything is correct, ensure people have all the information they need, take money and pay for school and clinic as well as advertise to ensure spaces are filled as I can't afford to make a loss. Fitting this around the normal day job, Shoestring commitments and the horses has been harder than I thought. What has made it great is the positive feedback from all the attendees so far.

I have my session tomorrow so will update later in the week.

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Dressage Success

Posted: 11 Mar 2018 - Comments (0)
I have had a nice weekend and the most surprising thing of all is that it was dressage related. The day started yesterday with a lesson with sponsor Stef Eardley. Stef has helped me hugely, both understanding and giving me tools to improve my confidence and working with the horses to improve their way of going.

Perhaps the biggest success of the weekend was cantering a 10 meter circle with Fliss on the right rein. Fliss has always found the right hard and it isn't helped that I am a bit stiff that way, tight in the shoulder which often results in me pulling with the inside rein, losing her out the shoulder and the circle becoming a very funny shape. We worked on moving her in and out off the leg on a circle, building it up slowly in walk then trot and finally canter. I am lucky Fliss is keen to learn and once she understood what was asked she really tried.

The video starts with the canter work and then moves onto show the start of sideways. Hopefully you can see how the outline is improving and the neck starting to lengthen.

In the afternoon and it was Ellie's turn this time in the affiliated at Colraine. We were entered in the Novice 27 and 30. After riding Fliss in the morning Ellie felt a little choppier and tense in her test and I felt there was areas for improvement. The second test was better despite some harder movements and she settled more to what I was asking. Work pressures meant Ellie hadn't been ridden for a few days and she is always better for plenty of work.

However the tests can't have looked too bad as she was overall 1st in N27 with 72% and overall equal 1st in N30 with 73%. Looking back through my BD record these are my highest scores at BD so a big well done Ellie.

Novice 27

Novice 30

So on the back of that they have both been entered in dressage next weekend at the Threewaters Riding club show, Fliss in a prelim and novice and Ellie to try a couple of Elementary's. Now to learn 4 tests!!

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Exciting News

Posted: 7 Mar 2018 - Comments (0)
It is the BHS international convention this month where top coaches including Christop Hess and Christopher Bartle are speaking. A few weeks ago I sent off videos and applications to be a guinea pig.

I heard yesterday that I had been chosen with Fliss for a flat lesson with Christop Hess on Monday 26th at Hartpury, Ellie is also reserve for a lesson with Chris Bartle using grids. Very excited by this opportunity and great experience for Fliss. I think we are hoping we can find somewhere to stay between Hartpury and Goring for the week, try and get some more training in and finish the week taking Ellie to Goring to start the season. Need to get head round logistics and costs but be a good break.

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A few tips for your dressage test

Posted: 3 Mar 2018 - Comments (3)
This is an old blog post I have resurrected and updated - ok it is a lazy way of blogging but many of you won't have seen it or remember it!

Dressage Test 1I from time to time judge dressage at my local show centre or for a few riding clubs. I am very lucky because it always reminds me of the basics and areas where I throw away marks. I would recommend that everyone who is interested in improving their dressage marks write for a judge at least once to give a perspective on what they are looking for. Frequently it isn’t the flashiest test that wins but it is the one that had the best shape of movements and is accurate to the markers where as some tests that could have scored better throw away marks for lacking accuracy.

To start with allow yourself plenty of time, there is nothing worse than running late and then rushing usually with the result of a tense rider and a tense horse.

Once mounted ensure you are wearing the correct number (if appropriate) and you report to the steward so they know you are there. As someone that has spent time stewarding it is always easier for riders to report as early as possible so that you can keep them up to date with timings etc.

When it is your turn unless told otherwise make sure you ride to the writer clearly showing them your number or stopping and telling them who you are. If you are going to do the best test of your life you had better make sure you are credited with it!

The following things are important when riding the test (tips with names in brackets are from Shoestring followers):-
  • I'm always told to ride your centre lines with confidence (and huge smile) and POWER, especially at start of test. Centre line marks are always riders marks, so ride for a 10. (Sue Raven Hill-Handley)
  • Dressage Test 2Remember to breath! ! Nervous riders tend to hold their breath, and no good comes from that. (Serena Gordon)
  • Show a difference between a circle and going large, particularly when doing a circle at A and C (see pic right) and the difference in tracks you should be taking.
  • Make sure you get a straight entry then think about your turn at C. It is easy to drift just before turning and then make sure you have bend around the turn and use your corner.
  • If you have movements involving trot-walk-trot or canter-trot-canter make sure you establish the middle pace (for approximately one horses length) and make the transitions as smooth as possible by preparing properly.
  • When doing 1/2 ten meter circles across the middle make sure that for one stride you are straight on the centre line before turning to the second half circle.
  • If you have a circle at B or E (or anywhere away from the ends) make sure you return back to the track so you and the horse are on fully on the track at the marker meaning you need to approach the track just before the marker.
  • Use the corners (it actually gives you more time!)
  • Loops - make sure they are big enough. A 5 meter loop goes to the 3/4 line and the 10 meter loops must touch the centre line (these particularly are quite a tight movement)
  • When doing medium at novice level it is often only a few strides. Try and prepare by slightly shortening the stride then going into medium and at the end gently shorten the stride so you are showing a clear difference. Speed does not equal lengthening of stride!
  • Ride your corners and be accurate to your markers (Pippa Funnel via Jane Perry)
  • When you finish smile at the judge (one judge I write for definitely is more generous to those with a big grin)
  • Long diagonal, leg yield the last stride back on the outside track. Ensures you have correct bend for the next corner and prepare for the next move. If done subtly very hard for the judge to see (Flick via blog comments)
Now I have to make sure I practice what I preach as most of the mistakes above can be commonly found in my tests!

Comments (3)

Long diagonal, leg yield the last stride back on the outside track. Ensures you have correct bend for the next corner and prepare for the next move. If done subtly very hard for the judge to see

Thanks for the comment Flick - the first one on my blog pages!!! Good tip and I will add it into the post - thank you

Thank you for the comment the first one on my blog!!! Good tip I will add into blog post.

Weather Woe!

Posted: 1 Mar 2018 - Comments (0)
Like most of the country I am writing this in the grip of some very interesting weather. Snow is lying and we are snowed in, the yard 6 miles away I haven't been able to get to tonight. I did make it last night and this morning albeit with a mile walk to and from the car which is parked in town where I have the best chance of getting away. I am very lucky although I just rent the yard the owner is feeding and watering tonight and will do again in the morning, hoping to get over there sometime tomorrow to clean them out. Thankfully up until yesterday they have been ridden and turned out, their feed has been cut to just Hi-Fi with a few nuts for flavour as very keen they don't end up tieing up. Hoping that tomorrow I can get some exercise into them probably turnout as not sure the roads will be safe.

Hope everyone else is coping well, certainly horses are hard work at this time of year with many being quite ungrateful. Friends have mentioned carrying water great distances to provide water only for this to be knocked over. Mind luckily are being quiet and sensible with Ellie particularly enjoying the ab lib haylage and belly filling.

Pic back of my house overlooking Brea.

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BD Dressage

Posted: 25 Feb 2018 - Comments (0)
Had a successful day at BD dressage yesterday with Ellie. Our second show and a big improvement with both tests over 70%. To be fair I think the judge was slightly more generous but we were placed 2nd in both strong classes.

In her first test Novice 28 she scored 72%

In Novice 34 we scored 70%

The judges comments were very fair that she did a lovely test but needs to not tuck behind the vertical at times to gain even better marks. Certainly going in the right direction and pleased how hard she tried. Even better a small slice of prize money helped recover some of the entry fee.

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