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Good weekend

Posted: 10 Dec 2017 - Comments (0)
Despite the iffy weather it has been a good weekend. It was the first night this year that Ellie has been in as the wind, rain and cold were a bit much even for her. Cornwall did miss out on any snow though which on the whole I was quite glad about.

The weekends are an opportunity to ride without time constraints of work and light so I need to make the most of it irrespective of the weather. In fact Ellie in the gales this morning schooled in the flat really well. We are currently working on our lateral work, the leg yields and shoulder in are coming nicely which is in turn helping all her other work. I reckon she could have a half decent stab at an elementary test now. Where we still struggle is out medium trot, this runs rather than lengthens. Hopefully the more she takes the weight behind the more this will come.

Fliss meanwhile was taken schooling to Colraine and we had a play round a simple course that was up. Although she is still quite wobbly and green I can't believe how quickly she is progressing and we jumped a course about 85cm today in quite a reasonable style. She will still fight the contact but she is quick and clever with lots of scope so is still finding things quite easy.

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Chris Bartle Clinic

Posted: 6 Dec 2017 - Comments (0)
Yesterday was the Chris Bartle clinic at Pontispool which I had been really looking forward to. Not having done much since Aldon I took Ellie for a jump at Tall Trees on Sunday and we were both rusty and not really on our game!

Pontispool is great for winter training with steps, water and ditches as well as a large variety of fixed obstacles. Ellie was certainly pleased to be out and doing something interesting. Chris's teaching was very different from anything I have had before and having spent years being shouted out to shorten my reins it was novel to be constantly told to let them get longer. If you watch Micheal Jung ride with a soft quite loose contact but with superb body balance this was what Chris was trying to get us to achieve.

He also had Ellie's martingale taken off to allow her head more freedom. The general principle was to have a good canter look ahead to the next fence so as you were approaching a fence you were already looking for the one after keeping the fence you are about to jump in the peripheral vision allowing the horse to work out the stride. A longer rein and your body position and core being used to keep in balance. Hands quite low and not interferring.

As I say it was very different to what I have been taught before but actually allowed Ellie to jump with more freedom. Honestly I could probably do a few more sessions to really drum home the message but it is certainly something to go home and have a play with. I will also be leaving the martingale off for now.

Hopefully these few video clips should help you see what we were working on and if you have the sound up you can hear him shouting to lengthen the reins!

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Traffic issues!

Posted: 2 Dec 2017 - Comments (0)
I am becoming increasingly worried by riding on the roads. An accident in Surrey last weekend where 2 horses were killed despite riders wearing high viz only emphasises how vulnerable horse riders can be.

The yard I rent is on a widish minor road where vehicles speed along. I always ride in hi viz yet I am increasingly find drivers are impatient and pass irresponsibly, whether this is through ignorance or impatience I am not sure. Both my girls are really good in traffic and their stables overlook the road so they are well acclimatised. However there have been instances recently where both have been frightened by speeding drivers, rattling trailers and even lorries driving too fast. I have had an early Christmas present from Mum, a flashing florescent breastplate so we will see if that makes a difference. Sadly this time of the year it is not practical to ride in the field so they have to go on the roads most days or I have to find another yard which is a depressing thought!

On a more positive note it is the fun time of year that I create the Shoestring calendar for my sponsors and supporters. This is very much a team effort and I don't say often enough how grateful I am to everyone that helps keep the show on the road.

Talking of shows off to do some BS with Ellie tomorrow, our first jump since Aldon and though I had better do something before our clinic with Chris Bartle on Tuesday. Ellie is certainly feeling very well currently so may find her a tad fresh. Be nice to be out with my favourite pocket rocket again. She is under strict instructions that all her shoes must be on in the morning.

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Busy weekend

Posted: 26 Nov 2017 - Comments (0)
Great to have a busy weekend with both girls getting out. Fliss had a good chance to get used to her new saddle which I am really pleased with. She turned out not to be easy to fit and Nathaniel spent a good few hours trying saddles to find one that fitted both Fliss and myself. Finally came up with a nice double flap jumping saddle designed to give a close contact feel. Really freed up Fliss's shoulder and should allow her room to develop.

So on Saturday I had a lesson with each horse. Threewaters Riding Club had organised a clinic with Andrew Lovell, dressage lessons in the morning and jumping in the afternoon. Ellie felt she drew the short straw and was nominated for the dressage lesson. A last gasp attempt to wiggle out by pulling a shoe overnight failed and she went with 3 shoes! Ellie was pleased that at least there was poles in the school!

Focused on her listening to my seat more and accepting and carrying me rather than just running through the aids. Used the poles to test our straightness and balance. Even finished with some work without stirrups. Very pleased with how she went particularly considering her first lesson since her mini break.

Fliss had a jumping lesson in the afternoon. I thought Andrew had slightly gone mad with the exercises he had up for a horse that couldn't canter very well yet, however as usual he hit the nail on the head and by getting her to focus and concentrate she really improved and coped remarkably well. It also made me ride properly!

We used angles and turns to get her to focus and stop her running through the bridle and taking charge. The exercises did seem quite advanced for her stage of training but I was surprised how well she coped.

So maybe a jumping lesson wasn't the best preparation for our first dressage competition today. We just entered the one test Prelim 1. The show was busy enough and she was very chilled and well behaved. Considering we jumped yesterday she did revert to a habit of throwing her head up which without a martingale wasn't ideal but she settled and worked through this.

We went into the indoor school and she focused on what was being asked. While she was green at times and showed her tension by being quite tight in the frame she did show some excellent work and a great free walk (got 8 for that).

Very pleased with the progress of both my girls and plenty to work on moving forward.

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Looking back

Posted: 22 Nov 2017 - Comments (0)
I try not to live in the past but it is sometimes great to look back at what has been achieved. Sarnie without a doubt was that horse of a lifetime that helped me reach and exceed my ambitions. In all she completed 12 international events and despite the usual ropey dressage test was often placed in great company.

I have just dug out our video from Pau in 2008 where we contested the CIC** and she finished best of the British in 16th place. Enjoy

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Good weekend

Posted: 19 Nov 2017 - Comments (0)
The eventing pony has now been tidied up and clipped, the main issue is what we all hoped was coat is actually now just fat! She is currently still out at night and obviously in light of her losing a lot of coat she was out in a thicker rug with a hood, of course I forgot the trick that she could now shimmy under the electric tape letting the rug take any zaps going. A night in a full field of grass did not improve the fat stakes! She is currently only being fed a handful of Dengie Hi Fi and vitamins and I can't see that changing any time soon.

I took Fliss for her first lesson with Stef Eardley today. Stef has been an amazing help to me this year and it has been fabulous to have had the sponsorship which has allowed me some extra lessons. She is great whether it is a kick up the backside (as today) or some more intricate corrections for little niggles.

I can't believe how rapidly Fliss is improving, her canter in particular has improved greatly and is getting stronger all the time with a few steps of real self carriage. She is entered for her first dressage test next weekend so that should be interesting.

Tomorrow a day off work to sort her out a saddle.

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