Only just got round to writing this today after a rather busy week at work, long days (and a long night on weds)… On Tuesday I took Ali to Malvern Pony Club Camp for a simulated XC lecture demo with Nick Gauntlett and 3 other ex-MPC members. We were in the big indoor so plenty of space to get a good pace up and she went really well. It was great to have the crowd and clapping for her to get used to and we went a tad quickly round the outside of the arena the first few times everyone clapped!! A fab evening was had by all. Click here to see our final round.
Today saw me up onto the 3yo again! I gave her a quick long-rein in the arena first then got up on top with Dad standing near by to help getting her going forward. She was much more relaxed than the first time I moved on her! We walked all the way around the arena a few times and changed the rein, we had a few little trots but didn’t get her going forward that well. She had been so well behaved though we left it there and will do the same tomorrow.
I finally got round to jumping our new cross country fences after a short hack on Ali this afternoon and she was brilliant and it means I can start to trust her more and more at skinnies on course. She jumped beautifully straight from the log to the skinny brush fence (see last post for pics) on 5 strides and then I made the angle more acute jumping a tyre fence to the left of the log and over the brush from there. We are taking her XC schooling tomorrow at Lyneham Heath Equestrian ready for our next event at Goring. This is after another dressage lesson for Donovan first thing tomorrow with Mike Garman. I have tried the double bridle on him a couple of times this week and her seems to be accepting it and working well in it, so finger crossed!
I took Donovan for a dressage lesson with Mike Garman today. We are trying to get him to sit and carry himself more at the moment so that the lateral movements are then much easier, in canter this is quite easy but in trot not so much especially on the left rein where he likes to fall out onto his right shoulder and lean! He has such a powerful big trot that we are trying to teach him to keep his shoulders up in a smaller trot and then gradually up the tempo. Things are gradually improving and when it’s good, it’s brilliant! I have decided not to enter BD next weekend but to spend the money on another lesson instead as want to be really ready to get good marks when go out and start Medium. I am also going to try riding him in the double bridle just to see if this helps.
We worked Flicka again this afternoon with Mum lunging then long reining her in the round pen – next step long reining in arena. At the end I got on again and we walked round for the first time (still on the lunge rein) until she totally relaxed. She was very well behaved apart from one little spook. We are very impressed with how she is working with the long reins on – exciting!
Flicka’s first ride
Cuddles for clever baby horse!
Lastly today Dad and I took the home made “Shoulder brush” into place in the jumping paddock on a 5 stride related distance from the new log courtesy of the bog old Conifer that had to be cut down last week. All ready for Ali and I to try out. Todd has already tried it – see pic!
Todd testing the log – see brush in background
Brush – this angle from the log
Good day at home today starting with a much needed lie in after a few rather late finishes and early start with work this week – very thankful for Mum and Dad doing the mucking out so I can have a sleep! Then had a great hack on Donovan this morning coming back along the terrifying bridle path! -he is still so spooky, don’t think he’ll ever grow out of it. He is going for a lesson tomorrow to polish up our lateral work etc. ready for going BD medium. It was interval training for Ali today, although she felt so fresh on the way down and once in the field that I’m not sure she needs to be any fitter but I entered her for the CIC* at Gatcombe today mid-September. She has Goring Novice first in a couple of weeks, and of course our exciting trip to Blenheim for the Nick Gauntlett Demo the week before Gatcombe!!
Flicka the 3yo has been lunging and long-reining well with Mum and I lunged her this afternoon with a saddle on – she’s looking rather smart and going well. We trotted and cantered her round with the stirrups down and flapping and she took no notice at all. Mum came and held her and legged me up once she’d worked well and after lying over the saddle for a little while – patting everywhere and lifting myself up so she could see me, it was time to sit on properly! I sat up and we walked round in a circle – all taken nicely in her stride so big pats all round! It won’t be long before I’m riding properly in the arena then we’ll do a bit of hacking before turning her away again ready for next season.
After a fairly long journey up to Somerford Park we were very impressed with the size and facilities at the centre, it is huge! We watched a few earlier riders and got Ali settled into her stable before our dressage late on Saturday afternoon. She performed well, slightly spoiling a few bits with minor spooks and one major spook shooting across the school when she was meant to be cantering back to the track after a half circle – we did manage to pick up the canter again to complete the larger counter-canter half circle though! There was a road above the arena with lots of lorries going past, a horse clip-clopping and flags so it was good experience for her with lots going on, and in the rain… She scored a 47.5 and was well inside the top half of the competitors – I was pleased and achieved my aim of a sub-50 score!
Warming up for dressage in top hat and tails
Nice medium trot warming up – shame mum cut my head off!!
Tragically the competition on Sunday was abandoned after a rider fatality on the 1 star cross country course, a reminder to us all how dangerous the sport can be and to enjoy every moment. Thoughts go out to event organisers, volunteers and all the riders family and friends.
This evening I took Ali down to our local Moores Farm Equestrian who do excellent value clear round on Tuesday evenings – she popped round 1.15-1.20m course, just rolling a couple of poles (one especially because I got too forward) but clear second time round a felt good despite only a short warm up in the indoor (very scary!) The more rounds we do the better I ride and so the better she jumps! Thanks to Alice for coming and helping and videoing!! (Pictures will be on facebook later in the week)
On call again this weekend and had extremely busy Saturday morning consulting almost non stop from 8:45am until 1:15!! Finally got back mid afternoon hoping not to have too much else to do as 2nd on call. Managed to fit in a good schooling session with Ali going through some more of the movements for to 1 star test next weekend, squeezing the 60x20m test into our just over 40×20!! (well if we can do it in the small one it will be easy it the bigger one??!) Then back to work to check on everyone before a nice evening at home with great family and friends for a nice meal (and luckily no disturbances!)
This morning as well as checking the in-patients I had to take a better look (after pain relief and treatment for shock yesterday) at head nurse Zoe’s cat, who was hit by a car on Friday evening and had a very lucky escape but a very swollen face, sore eye and broken lower jaw, poor boy. He was still managing to eat though!! We wired his jaw to stabilise it and let it heal.
Wellingtons fixed jaw (and very swollen face)
I got back mid morning and had a really productive jumping session on Ali. After Dad had topped the paddock last week we put up a new course, which had some testing but rideable turns and a treble. I put the course up to 1.15-1.20 m ready for our max 1.15 m course at the 1 star. I worked in on the arena as the ground was rather firm in the field and it is also good practice going out and jumping the course straight off, after warm up fences in the school as we would in competition. Her first round was rather messy and she was landing too much on her forehand then getting unbalanced as we moved away from the fence so struggling to get the right canter for the next fence, luckily Mum was on hand to come and have a look – she quickly found I was folding too much and not helping Ali over the fence and on landing so after sitting up much more and trying not to fold too soon he round was loads better and she felt fab!! I think I’ve started getting too forward after trying to concentrate on giving enough – now need to find the happy medium!!
After a bit of lunch it was Donovan’s turn for a school. We made a bit of a break through today with keeping he nice and soft in his neck and so more relaxed in his whole body in his half pass in trot and canter – this also meant his flying changes were cleaner and stayed more in rhythm! We have a lesson scheduled for 25th and then will be out to do our first medium test.
Yesterday we brought our homebred 3yo down from the field further up the lane – “Replica” (Flicka) out of the same mare as Ali but by Parsons Rasputin from Westpoint Stud. She will stay down at the yard for the next few weeks where we will start first doing some ground work and lunging with her then get on top for the first time! She has had tack on before so was fine with this but was not too impressed about having hind brushing boots on!! This I think was partly the reason for her being rather explosive when we first started in the round pen, Mum took over the reins and she gradually settled down and started to relax and take some great “pointy toed” steps!! She is bred more as a dressage horse for Mum but we’ll do a bit of everything to start with and I’m looking forward to doing some young horse classes with her next year.
Pointy toes!! And look at those hind legs picking up too!
This is my most local British Eventing Horse Trials, however we still had an early start as my dressage was at 8:06am! Luckily though as we are close I was able to walk the course the night before so at least didn’t have this to do on the morning too. We had an exciting entrance to the event, where the rain that had made the going excellent, it had made the entrance slightly less so – many lorries were being towed on by the tractor but after a short wait on the main road for a clear run I was very proud of myself getting through the muddy bits and onto the grass without need of the tractor!! One of the attendants yelled “give it some welly!” as I approached and it worked – an amusing start to the competition.
Ali was lovely in the dressage and did what we thought was her best test at Novice yet, staying nicely to the contact and not getting too distracted (apart from looking out of the corner of the eyes in the extended walk) even though we were right next to the entrance we lorries still being towed! She scored a slightly mean 31.5
Showjumping next – I thought it was quite a strong course with a double and a treble as well as the final line a triple bar on a downhill to an upright. It looked to be riding well for the first couple of horses though. Ali still felt half asleep (still before 9am but she is used to being ridden before work, but rarely jumping at this time I suppose!) and was rather on the forehand, after a bit of waking up though she was jumping well in the work in. However after a big jump over the first in the ring she was not the easiest ride for the rest of the course and being a bit stroppy (mares!), she gradually improved as the course went on but wasn’t as on the aids as I would have liked but most importantly left all the poles up for a clear round. Phew!
I was a bit nervy before cross country as Donovan had a mistake at the 4th fence here a few years ago but I need not have worried and Ali proved again much better she is on a line the he is! To see the Novice course photos click here. She jumped everything really well and just after we finished the commentator announced we had finished dead on the optimum time so finished on our dressage score of 31.5 – fantastic!!
Over the Trakehner
We got to watch quite a few XC while waiting for the class to finish and the 4th fence and the corner at 14 were causing the most problems. Homme House is a lovely event set in fabulous old parkland and has such a great friendly atmosphere. She finished in 3rd place, her best yet and a brilliant preparation for the 1 star at Somerford.
An exhausted Toddy!
I took both horses to Allens Hill yesterday for the British Dressage, it was a rather windy day but we missed the rain (unlike today!) The main purpose for taking Ali was to ride in the long arena with full boards, which we will probably have when we do the CIC* at Somerford in 2 weeks time. She worked in well and didn’t take too much notice of Donovan in the lorry, which I was pleased about as next season we will likely be taking them out together more often. Unfortunately she got a bit spooky and tense in the arena, the final commet by the judge summing her test up perfectly – “Athletic horse with so much to like. Such a pity becoming unsettled in the arena and tightness affecting fluency” – I was glad I took her though as I think some spookiness near the start of the test may have been because of the arena surface flicking up onto the dressage boards, which she then got used to… although it may just have been the wind in the trees etc!! She still scored a 65% in her Novice test 1st in open section and 2nd overall.
Donovan was great though and I was able to contain his slight spookiness at the white boards (yes, he is still silly at his age!) and it actually gave him more energy and ping in the trot work. He went well in both tests, apart from a couple of slight mistakes in the canter transitions in the first test to score 67.24% and 70.88% and win both classes – such a clever boy!! This means he has gained the 15 points needed to qualify for the Elementary Restricted Winter Regionals in just 3 tests! So he will now be aimed at medium and hopefully advanced medium soon after if we can get our flying changes working in the correct place!
I had some exciting news the end of last week that Ali and I have been picked to be one of the guinea pig riders in Nick Gauntlett’s demonstration at Blenheim International Horse Trials on Thursday 12th September. It will be such a good experience for Ali because there will be lots of trade stands, atmosphere and hopefully lots of people watching! So a big thank you to Nick for picking us!
Lastly, we had an unexpected new arrival today when one of the heifers calved 2 weeks early producing a lovely little heifer calf! After Ali’s last little pop over a few fences in the school before Homme House on tuesday I helped Dad to bring mother and baby in. This turned out to be more eventful than planned with mum heading in the wrong direction first up the lane and the over the hedge into another field – who needs to go to the gym when you have to sprint twice to get in front of and head off an escaping cow… in wellies and jeans!!! Once finally in the fields here Donovan met her over the fence, which he thought was very exciting!! They are now tucked up on a nice straw bed ready for all this rain they are forecasting tonight (hopefully means ground is good at Homme though).
Donovan meeting the new calf