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Packing again Posted: 15 August 2017

Packing the lorry for a few days away at Chard BS show. Even though our lorry has plenty of space by the time you have packed feed, haylage and bedding (Cousin Jacks) even just taking Ellie we are full enough. I have managed to combine a saddle check with Nathaniel Underwood on route tomorrow. I never thought Ellie would stay long enough to need a saddle check, her back checks have not thrown any saddle related issues up so I have not felt it a priority. However I have seen on several occasions what a few adjustments in the saddle fit can make a huge improvement in performance. The saddle Ellie uses was Posy's so it will be good to know if any slight adjustments are needed.

Yesterday I travelled up to see Helen Mathie the physio recommended by Russell from Cantaur Biomechanics. The news was good (I think) in that with a very specific exercise programme and a general improvement in my overall fitness she expects to see a massive improvement in my riding. As encouraging as this is it won't be a quick fix and will take months to see an effect and probably 18 months to feel the full benefit. Whilst I will be giving it my all another part of me says I'm tired and can I face another big push and commitment to get things on track. If I want to be successful and get my body physically strong to go on then I must put the effort in, just need someone to invent 28 hours days. Sadly I think it will mean the renewal of the gym subscription too, it would be ok if I enjoyed it but I don't and have little in common with a lot of the gym people. Does that sound awful?

Anyway for the moment I am looking forward to a few quiet days enjoying the jumping at Chard. I will update on my return.

Weekend work Posted: 13 August 2017

It was nice to have a quieter weekend, whilst it is nice to be competing or having clinics at the end of the day both Ellie and I sometimes need some recovery time. Thats not to say we haven't kept ourselves busy!

Yesterday I was asked to judge dressage for the Cury pony club camp (pictured learning my tests before judging started). I enjoy having a chance to help out and this has to be one of the friendliest pony clubs. All the ponies were turned out beautifully and everyone prepared really well after a few days of coaching. It all went smoothly with the exception of some writing issues, one pen leaked, one died and then it rained and no pen would work in the wet - a gazebo is on order for next year!! Luckily everyone got a readable sheet and hopefully some positive comments, for me in the early stages accuracy is very important and even if the pony wasn't going classically well a accurate test was rewarded.

For Ellie it wasn't a weekend off, yesterday we practiced a quite technical yet simple exercise (pictured) of jumping a cross pole equally spaced on 4 parts of a roughly 25 meter circle. This involves quick thinking of both horse and rider. It certainly was a little untidy to begin with but I was really pleased with how quickly she got the idea and we jumped a few circles each way on an even 5 strides between each fence. I will pop it again later in the week if I can to cement the lesson and see if I can get my body position better.

So tomorrow I am driving a couple of hours to see the physio that Russell Guire suggested so that will be very interesting to see if there is anything I can do to help my riding fitness and stability.

Then later in the week we are off to Chard for 3 days jumping before our first BE100 the following weekend.

Equine progress and rider plans Posted: 9 August 2017

Some times you just have a lesson and realise how far you have progressed. The first time I jumped Ellie she rather galloped sideways and went through the fences, with patience, educations and strength she is really suddenly starting to show enormous talent, popping around some big fences last night making them feel very easy. If only i could grow her a hand!

With Ellie going so well it is time to focus on a few of the things that are hampering my progress and riding (I am determined to still progress despite advancing years). Following my session with Russell Guire from Centaur Biomechanics I am booked in on Monday to see the physio he recommended to try (Helen Mathie) The aim is to see if we can put a programme in place to help me overcome some of the physical issues and improve my riding.

Going from the physical to the mental I am aware one of my biggest limiting factors is my own mental fragility. I lack confidence in my own ability and this not only affects my performance but at times my enjoyment of the sport. I think much of the time it is easier not to admit there is a problem than face it head on and tackle the issue. I have therefore booked a phone consultation (I suspect it will be the first of a few) with another Helen (Helen Rennie ) of Rezone Coaching to see if I can tackle the issues and find some ways of managing them better.

I guess it will make for some interesting blogs coming up and at least by telling everyone (well anyone that bothers to read this) I can't keep ignoring the problems.

Great weekend Posted: 6 August 2017

Just back from a fun and educational few days away with Ellie. On Friday we headed to Bicton for some show jumping. An early start to get there for the first class, I'm afraid the commitment did not stretch to getting there in time to walk the course but we arrived with plenty of time to learn it and warm up!

It was a nice track and Ellie jumped a super round for a nice double clear. Although we are not ready for speedy jump offs yet an angled jump and some tighter turns meant Ellie gained her first placing BS at one of the most difficult places to get placed.

She made the Discovery feel easy but we did make 2 mistakes and actually both were quite similar when we lost the revs round the corner and then I flattened her into the next fences. I have to say at times she gave me some of the best feel round the course to date. If you are looking at the video just see the air she gives number 7!

I'm really pleased with how we are progressing in this phase and the scope she is showing.

Instead of returning home we continued on up the road towards Shepton Mallet where a very kind Shoestring follower was letting us use their stable for the night (Thanks Julia). Sadly the journey that should have taken about an hour and a half took over 3 as traffic was horrendous!
The next day we had a cross country clinic booked at Rosamond Green with Jo May. Jo is a BE trainer and I found her style suited me very well being fairly straightforward and no nonsense. We went very much looking to move from BE90 to BE100 level and I think over the course of the clinic we really showed this was possible.

Early in the clinic we made some mistakes this was more from my lack of positivity in riding her, you can see in the video the skinny to the step complex went wrong when I missed my stride over the first part. However from this point on we both progressed throughout the session jumping a variety of ditches, into water, steps, sunken roads and every type of fence you can imagine. The video shows the progress we made, still lots to work on but going in the right direction.

Really felt we have taken big steps forward over the weekend and again excited by how easy Ellie can make it feel.

Kensa etc.... Posted: 3 August 2017

to share another Kensa picture, seems whenever I take pictures the light is a bit off but you get the idea.

Just packing up for the few days away at Bicton and Rosamond Green look forward to reporting further after the weekend. Packing for humans, horse and dogs is never straightforward and although many essentials are in the lorry something always seems to be forgotten. Thankfully the great eventing community are usually happy to help out.

Update Posted: 1 August 2017

It was nice to have a quiet weekend for once and probably did us all good to take the foot off the pedal. It hadn't been the idea as there was show jumping on locally Saturday and Sunday. Sadly Saturday fell victim to the weather and Sunday fell victim to Ellie removing a shoe! The day wasn't wasted fields were poo picked within an inch of their lives and thistles pulled, at home the garden was mowed and I even did some housework!

So Ellie is now shod and we are planning a trip to Rosamond Green on Saturday for some cross country training with BE trainer Jo May. I haven't had a lesson with her before and looking forward to it, will be decision time as to whether we upgrade to BE100 level next time out. It may seem silly to some to be driving 4 hours for a lesson but that is the logistical problem of being based in Cornwall. I have arranged a stable and taken Friday off so we can break the journey and as there is show jumping at Bicton seems sill not to stop on route!