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28th February

Posted: 28 Feb 2016 - Comments (0)
Although I work predominantly on the flat at home I haven’t done much in the way of dressage competitions with Posy this winter. Thought it was about time to change that and entered the dressage at Colraine this weekend. Although we are doing preliminary level tests eventing it is time to up our game and focus on Novice. We therefore entered novice 24 and 30.

We were competing indoors which I find does switch them off a bit and in the first test very much went in with a game plan of not trying to mask any mistakes but to ride as I would at home and correct mistakes even if it meant sacrificing a movement. In fact that happened as in the medium canter she slightly backed off my leg and had a small buck, we have stopped this at home but I didn’t want her to start learning there was an environment she could get away with it in so pushed her forward. The whole test wasn’t great she was on my hand a little and just not flowing.
I was actually really pleased with 68% and 4th in a strong class.

An hour to learn my next test (I can only learn one test at a time!) and improve our performance. Did lots of sharpening her up, transitions to get her more engaged. Novice 30 was a big improvement, the medium trots still need work and scored 6’s but the rest was much better with all the movements scoring in the 7-8 range. I chose in this test to go sitting as sometimes that just helps me get her more through although ideally I want to be able to get that in the rising as it will allow it to flow more at this level. It was good the judge saw the improvement too as we scored 73% for 2nd place so I was really pleased.

Only a week now until the first BE at Moreton. Loath to get too prepared as rain forecast mid week but on the other hand no point leaving preparations to the last minute. Frustrating we have not made it out cross country schooling on grass but there is nowhere within a 4 hour drive offering such a facility currently. At least we had the good session at Pontispool a month or so back.

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24th February

Posted: 24 Feb 2016 - Comments (0)
Bit of a late catch up but had a really good day at Tall Trees on Sunday. You may remember that the last time we show jumped there I came back very despondent as everything seemed to fall apart. This time there was a huge improvement. The meter class was a case of so near yet so far! We jumped clear in the first round and did a speedy jump off but just hollowed going into the double and took the fence behind. We were 5 seconds faster than the winner but the pole left us unplaced.

The schedule was different to usual and instead of a 1.05 it was a Newcomers. Although we did a few Newcomers last year they were outside and a long time ago! Certainly when your eye is out the track looked big enough.

For once I actually felt like I rode the class well and we were rewarded with a clear round.
There were 4 of us in the jump off and I was drawn 3rd to go. I had no intention this time of going for it against the clock but went for a steady clear, other than getting a bit close to the penultimate fence where she really helped me out we had another good round. The clear was good enough for 2nd place.
So really pleased with the day and a good confidence boost.

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Robert Pickles Lesson

Posted: 19 Feb 2016 - Comments (0)
It has been 10 months for various reasons since Posy last had a lesson with Robert. It was lovely to be able to show him the progress we made and indeed he was very complimentary on how well Posy was going.

We started working on some trot walk trot transitions and this was where Robert’s judges eye was very helpful. The downward part of these transitions was good but I then allowed the walk to be a bit free instead of keeping it shorter and up to the bridle allowing a crisper upward transition.

We worked on the leg yield in all paces even a few steps in the canter. Robert felt this was an area we needed to sharpen up a little. The clip shows a little gentle leg yield in the canter followed by some lengthening and shortening in the canter.
We finished off with some counter canter which since we have recently been working on changes I was surprised how well she managed.
Two weeks today we should be heading to Moreton still can’t get too excited as the weather shows no sign of drying up.

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Jon Pitts Ride Smart Clinic

Posted: 17 Feb 2016 - Comments (0)
Yesterday I took Posy to a clinic at Bicton with Jon Pitts. Jon has worked with and studied elite sportsmen and riders to develop a series of programmes that can help improve rider performance (see his website). This clinic was aimed at rider confidence.

Luckily we picked a dry day weather wise although it was a tad chilly. The pre 5am alarm call was a definite shock to the system (amazing how much difference 30 minutes earlier than a normal work day makes). Arrived at Bicton for a 10am start, the morning was a theory session to give us an understanding of the principles before we put it into practice riding.

The clinic was trying to change the mindset from constantly focusing on the horse to focusing on the rider. By focusing on the rider you can then have a positive influence on the horse. In order to increase confidence you need to improve skills in a low risk environment, i.e. not pushing up a level or a height before you find the current level consistently easy and comfortable. It is important to reflect on what goes well and focus on quality not quantity.

Whilst the theory gave a good background I must admit I didn't really ‘get it’ until the ridden session.

We didn’t do anything complicated under saddle and in fact Posy had a few interesting naughty moments as I think she may have needed a bit more to think about as for once it was my brain whirling!

We started off simply working on different gears in the canter. I was quite pleased with the bottom gear but the higher gears were a bit flatter and Posy came onto her head. I fed this back to Jon who observed that I was a ‘typical eventer’ who had immediately taken my bum out the saddle and therefore put more weight over the shoulders, what would happen if I used my seat and rode her in a higher gear with my seat in the saddle and sitting up? Therefore influencing the horse by having my centre of balance further back. So by thinking about me and altering my riding I improved what I was working on. We also put this into practice over poles adjusting the strides.
Another member of the group helped relax her tense horse by controlling her own breathing to help relax the horse.

Jumping wise we simply jumped a small cross pole working on having a good canter to the jump and away from the jump. Jon again quickly picked up some old problems that I slightly tipped forward two strides in front of the jump, then folded beyond what was needed and took a further 2 strides to recover - at the 18 inch height we were working at it was not necessary. Caroline always used to pick these issues up so as much as I was aware they had not gone away, also we all know I have been struggling to keep Posy up together particularly in the move off from the fence. So by making a relatively small adjustment but solely focusing on that I found that quite a lot else improved both in her way of going and recovery after the jump. This was the improvement.
So all in all a thought provoking session. It certainly given me the tools to try and adopt a different mindset so instead of focusing completely on the horses issues looking more at how my riding can change and improve the way of going.

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13th February

Posted: 13 Feb 2016 - Comments (0)
Well after a very positive post about the likelihood of Moreton running from British Eventing I am entered for our first event in just 3 weeks!! Things are getting a bit serious.

We were bolstered yesterday by a really good schooling session at Tall Trees where although by no means the finished article real progress was evident. The canter was a lot more up in front and she was doing nice changes.
Busy week ahead with a Ride Smart clinic with Jon Pitts and Abbie Hughes at Bicton on Tuesday and a lesson with Robert Pickles on Thursday. Add into that new shoes on Monday and a massage from Mowenna (Roseland Pets and Equine) on Wednesday and it will be all go.

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10th February

Posted: 10 Feb 2016 - Comments (0)
Computer is playing up again so will make this brief before we crash again! Good news on the Sarnie front she is confirmed still pregnant and since being predominantly stabled and out the weather she is looking much better. Guess she has got her way and she will be stabled until the weather picks up (she has got her way!)

Posy is ticking over but I am increasingly despondent about her first scheduled BE at Moreton on the 5 March. This weather does really need to start playing ball.

Took her on Sunday to Tall Trees to school working on getting her listening with a simple pole exercise.
The progressed to jumping a few fences focusing on keeping the canter up. We used a drop noseband and snaffle and this seemed to work quite well.

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