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3 day boot camp - Fred Scala

Posted: 28 Mar 2016 - Comments (0)
Just returned home from a very successful few days in Sailsbury having some training with Fred Scala. I bought Posy from Fred in February last year and hoped he might be just the person to take us on that next step. Fred for anyone who doesn’t know has represented Ireland at Young Rider level, won Tattersalls CCI** and show jumped successfully. He has a nice quiet teaching style but is very effective at assessing both horse and rider.

Friday was a beautiful day (sadly the only one of the weekend!) We had a good journey up, luckily all the traffic jams were heading into Cornwall and we were fortunate to be heading in the right direction! It still took over 4 hours to get to Fred’s but I guess living where I do I accept anywhere is a long way. Posy was very pleased with her lovely stable and deep shaving bed which was soon christened with a good roll.

On the Friday we had a flatwork session. We worked very much on getting Posy to develop strength and really use her hind end. Fred described the exercise as sweeping using a fairly small circle keeping hold of the outside rein to stop the shoulder falling out and using the inside leg to push the quarters out so that they were stepping over. Once she had given the step over you then ride forward into the outside contact which with the hind leg being engaged really allowed her to step through. Neither of us found it easy and we started gently in walk before progressing through the paces. However the more she understood it and engaged the greater her paces became. You can just see from the picture how she was really working through.

The video will give you an idea of what we were trying to do. Fred emphasised it was important not to do it for too long and that the hand (particularly the inside) should be very soft, the exercise will in time allow her to work with more lift.
So a good foundation was built. The next day was wet and miserable but we did want to try and get some cross country schooling in. Many courses were closed and likely to stay closed but luckily Fred managed to book a session at Rollerston. I will admit this wasn’t the cross country schooling session I have most enjoyed! It was windy and pelting down. No video as would have killed the camera. Actually it did Posy good to work in that weather and certainly meant the course was quiet! The ground was standing up really well and the course had a nice variety of fences. Warmed up and popped a few simple fences and was faced with the usual problem of Posy sitting on my hand and pulling me forward. The idea always had been for Fred to have a sit on and have a feel. From what I could see through the rain Posy looked awesome with him on board! I think it was a combination of Fred’s great core strength and his skill and he soon had her off the hand and powering over the fences looking very impressive. He also progressed to jumping her into the water over the log drop in.

I jumped back on and had two minutes of what Fred had sorted out before she realised it was me again and leant back down. Strangely it seems one of the major issues is that I wasn’t using enough leg into the fence and rather bracing than riding her up into the bridle. Also I was generally being too nice rather than setting the clear boundaries. I had a jump into the water and down some steps to a skinny which she gave me a super feel. So a very positive session albeit a tad wet!

The final day was spent back at Fred’s working on the show jumping and predominately the canter to and from the fence. We started off using the same exercise as the Friday on the flat. We then progressed through going over a pole on the ground to jumping a small course as per the video.
The main focus was on good square turns, having a short rein and good upper body and approaching the pole / jumps straight by ensuring she was off my inside leg yet using my outside leg to make sure she came round the turns. You can see from the balance and engagement in the canter how well she was going. I would honestly say that was the best I have had her.

We finished off the session with some more water practice. Fred has a lovely ford he has access to just outside the yard. Great for some splashing and confidence building.

So a really great 3 days where I think we have both learnt lots. I would highly recommend Fred as a trainer and indeed I am hoping that I can arrange some clinics with him in Cornwall. This is purely selfish as I want to carry on the good work we have started over these 3 days.

Now keeping fingers crossed that Howick is not washed away in this weekends torrential weather and that we get to go eventing again next weekend.

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23rd March

Posted: 23 Mar 2016 - Comments (0)
The BE season is now in full swing which means that the course pictures are now in full swing. Fabulous to be still getting everyone’s support to cover a wide range of venues and courses.

Lovely to see the back of the mud as the fields have finally dried out and now are rolled and harrowed. Sadly the rain is due back for Easter weekend but at least there has been a break and surely we are now over the worst.

Hoping to go away for some training this weekend as seems we have not really done much since our aborted run at Moreton. Only 10 days now until our next run at Howick followed a week later by Larkhill and then another 2 weeks and Bicton. I think that will suit Posy as she could do with a few runs close together to really get her in the swing and best to do it now hopefully before the ground goes too firm.

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20th March

Posted: 20 Mar 2016 - Comments (0)
It has been a bit of a slow week horse wise with Posy having quite a quiet time to make sure she has fully recovered from her colic. Thankfully she seems in fine form and has no lasting effects. It has knocked plans a bit though as originally I was planning a weekend away this weekend with some XC schooling and show jumping on the cards. Hopefully the weather will hold so we can arrange something next weekend. We did have a jump today, working on the quality of the canter. We have come so far over the winter yet I am still struggling with keeping her off my hand and in front of the leg. More time and more strength and one day we will get there.
Horse hunting has been frustrating as I do find some horses with bigger movement or a wider sit on I just can’t ride as my hip is too uncomfortable. This has led to me turning down a couple of suitable horses. There may be light at the end of the tunnel or maybe not - watch this space!

Meanwhile the broodmares are enjoying being back out again. They are fast losing their fluffy coats and I take up a curry comb most nights while they are eating to remove the excess hair, typically it seems the majority sticks to me! Only 5 weeks now until Sarnie’s companion Batty foals so they will be going back to Mel at the stud in good time as I don’t fancy the responsibility of maternity duties!

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13th March

Posted: 13 Mar 2016 - Comments (0)
It has been another hectic week. The new job I started in February needs a lot more time than my old job and is more office based meaning by the time I get home having done the horses I am fairly washed out. Thursday I had a big day at work with a project I had been working on reaching its conclusion. Up early to get the horses done to find poor Posy suffering a colic attack. Like most horse owners this is something I find very frightening and immediately fear the worst. Although symptoms were relatively mild it is not something to trifle with and the vet was contacted immediately. It turned out she had a compaction colic and needed tubing, this was not a straightforward process as she was difficult to allow it to be done and needed sedating and even then the tube was not easy to get down. Fortunately the tubing did the trick and she was soon looking brighter and starting to dung. I then had the job of trying to get clean and presentable for work washing off blood (she had a nose bleed from tubing) and grime.

Fortunately work went well and Posy made a speedy recovery. She has had a few days off, not sure what drugs she had but she spent the next few days showing she was feeling well with a variety of field antics. Have ridden her quietly this weekend as instructed by my vet and all seems ok. Wondering what caused it, the only thing different was the day before there had been a terrible storm and she didn’t go out in the field, however she had been ridden. Touch wood that episode is behind us.

Today after coming in 7 weeks ago the broodmares were turned out again. They have been out for an hour or two most days but we have been waiting for the land to dry out a bit and the weather improve before they were turned out 24/7 again. Sarnie’s condition has improved greatly although she is still not looking that pregnant (due 4 June). Batty her companion on the other hand is looking ready to burst but she is only 6 weeks off foaling.

For the moment they will have rugs changed morning and night as the weather is so warm by day and cold at night. I reckon this at least is easier than twice daily muck outs!

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Moreton Horse Trials

Posted: 6 Mar 2016 - Comments (0)
Yesterday was the first BE event of the season and sadly it was a huge anti climax. We arrived on the Friday night and it was clear the ground was still pretty wet, we squelched walking over the grass, overnight there was more rain. The event were perfectly correct to go ahead as it wasn’t dangerous and the vast majority of the competitors appreciated the run but for Posy she has never much liked the mud!

We were 25th to go in our section and by the time we got to dressage it was sticky in the small warm up and the arenas were horrid as well. Posy hated it, the cold and abundance of fresh horses did also mean that she was a tad explosive as well. All in all a very long way from our best test and we scored a very deserved 39. Actually in places such as the transition to canter and circle I thought the marking was generous. We had a 4.5 for this movement despite the buck, spin and tantrum!

The show jumping was on a lovely arena and a super course. She made it feel very easy but I was annoyed that we clipped the last fence, probably had let her get just a little long.

The cross country course was very nice but in places it was very holding. Considering that she was not enjoying the ground it seemed wise to wait for another day to go XC, lets face it we were hardly competitive and she is just too nice to either be upset by the ground or to hurt pulling herself out of it. Anyway plenty to work on and hopefully in another 4 weeks things may have dried up a little!

Posy anyway was quite chilled at the end of the day and fit and happy to look forward to the rest of the season. Howick, Larkhill and Bicton planned for April.

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2nd March

Posted: 2 Mar 2016 - Comments (0)
It suddenly feels like we are in proper countdown mode with our first BE of the season at Moreton just 3 days away! I still can’t quite believe that it will stay dry enough to run, but Moreton sound very positive so I must presume it will.

I am definitely a bit unprepared particularly as it is only Posy’s second BE100 event. That said she has come on hugely over the winter and is much stronger now. The area I am still struggling with and would have liked a chance to play on grass is biting and control to stop the leaning. I think Moreton will very much have to be seen as a schooling event with another 4 weeks then to iron out the kinks before Howick.

The lorry is nearly packed and I have been checking the things are fully stocked and ready to go. Stud box, first aid, odds and ends and plaiting gear has all been replenished. The main thing to remember though could be the neck strap! Not sure it is a great time for the lorry heater to have a temper tantrum though!

Times have just been published and we have lovely times starting at 11.30 and finishing just after 1. We are also stabling on site which does make things easier.

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