I had the day off today to take both horses to Summerhouse for the British Show jumping show. The forecast was terrible and they said at Summerhouse that it had rained heavily for the first 3hrs of classes but we got lucky and it stayed mainly dry for the afternoon classes. Donovan jumped first in the 1.10m, his first jumping competition since coming back from injury. I was riding him a bit too steadily at first with a slight too “careful” canter in the warm up, I think partly because I was concerned that the surface was not perfect with all the rain. Once I started to be more positive and “kick-on” a bit, he was flying! He jumped really well in the arena and just clipped the planks behind, which was my fault for over checking and adding a stride.
Donovan in the 1.10m
Ali started off in the 1.15m, she was feeling quite fresh and being a bit precious about the wet! Once in the arena there was a big puddle in front of the first causing her to back off badly and then not respond to my ask for more forwardness between 2 and 3, knocking the latter. After this she jumped much better. I decided that I wanted to see if I could ride round again and maintain a more even forward rhythm so entered for the Foxhunter class (1.20m), her first time at this height. I worked on getting her more off my leg in the warm up and cantering more comfortably through the wet patches!! In the ring, she was fab – taking me much more forward and making a really good shape over the fences. She just clipped 2 poles, the 2nd my fault but I was really pleased and think we both gained lots of confidence.
Ali in the 1.20m
Sorry photos not the best quality as off phone video!
Good week despite quite a busy time at work and on call this weekend. An interesting case at work early in the week reminded me why I did 5 years at university and continue to juggle vetting and eventing!! Like riding and working with horses, as a vet I will always see things I don’t necessarily expect and no 2 days are the same – in both areas you can always learn more! Anyway, enough musings….
On Thursday I had a lesson on Ali with Nick Gauntlett at Hillview Arena in Malvern – this will hopefully become a monthly fixture (see details below). She warmed up well on the flat working on sending her forward and bringing her back again with good response while keeping things smooth and not getting stroppy! We started off with a fence down the middle of the arena so we could come to it off both reins. It was noticeable that as we got straight for the fence she seemed to back off just slightly and Nick said that she would do one or two strides a little shorter then carry on but putting us off for the fence. This meant I needed to work harder on keeping the rhythm and forwardness as we straightened – she improved and jumped very well off the left rein but found it a bit more difficult off the right. Something to work on at home!
We moved on to jumping round a short course and I was pleased how easily she was making the related distances between the fences, which we were struggling with at first in our last lesson – she is quite a small horse but it is usually only if she is tense that she struggles with distances as she takes shorter tight strides. Over an upright on the diagonal left-to-right I had some difficulty getting her to stay straight as we came away from the fence and then change onto the right lead neatly – this is because she was anticipating turning right by falling in and onto her right shoulder. We managed to correct this but again something I can work on at home.
This weekend I have worked her both days in the jumping saddle. Yesterday on the flat practising the straightness and moving on more forward and back in trot and canter. Today we cantered firstly over a pole on a circle then over fences on a circle and on the diagonals. Interestingly over the pole, she found it more difficult to keep even rhythm and cope if she reached the pole on a less than perfect stride on the right rein – after some persuading she realised it was possible to do it well both ways! Jumping her on the diagonal, asking her to stay straight and wait until I asked for the change was really useful too and she did this well.
Donovan jumped on Thursday as well but at home. I have started using Ali’s Albion Kontact Lite on him and wow what a difference! This was the first time I had jumped round a few fences up to intermediate height in it and he was flying AND I was able to stay so much more balanced without getting “boofed” up the backside! I am really looking forward to taking him cross country again. This coming week I have booked Tuesday off work to take them both show jumping for the BS at Summerhouse EC, which will be a good opportunity to jump some up-to-height courses.
Finally if anybody is interested/close by then Nick has booked monthly clinics at Hill View, Malvern, Worcstershire. It is a lovely arena and as you can probably tell I think he is a great trainer! Dates: Thursdays 27th Feb, 27th March, 24th April – afternoon/evening, small groups/individual.
See his website www.gauntlett.me.uk for details or email firstname.lastname@example.org for questions or to book a place.
Once all the feeding, haying and mucking out was all done this morning, Alice and I went for a lovely long hack , going a different route to normal, which Donovan thought was very exciting so he walked out really well and thoroughly enjoyed himself!! After turning Don out (allowing him to yet again plaster himself in mud) and loading the lorry I was a very good girl and fitted in a 3.5 mile run before lunch, great running weather in the chilly but fabulous sun today. Such fantastic views from up here from the Malverns to the Cotswolds! I grabbed a quick piece of toast and then it was off to Allens Hill to jump Ali, I wanted to pop round the 1.10m unaffiliated before I go out British Showjumping to jump some bigger courses ready for the new season. After a bit of standing around (inevitable with show jumping!) she worked in well and jumped a great clear – I just need make sure I keep riding her positively forward and let her do her stuff!!
I am looking forward to another lesson with Nick on Thursday at Hill View Arena near Malvern, this is hopefully going to become a monthly training slot so anyone nearby who may be interested please get in touch!
Last Sunday we braved the cold for training at the lovely arena at Rectory Farm near Cirencester. I started off on Ali doing flatwork with Nick – I was really pleased with how relaxed she felt despite the cold. We worked on using firstly leg yield and then shoulder-in and renvers on a circle to soften her more through her body and rib cage improving her expression in the lateral work as she tends to back off slightly as we move into these movements. It also improved her contact with her reaching out to the rein better and feeling more secure. She felt fabulous in the trot work after this, using her shoulder more, moving and soft over her whole topline! After a quick saddle swap we moved onto jumping. She was rather fresh and excited to be jumping even when we first started working around the jumps – this meant she jumped massive to start with, being far to extravagant and over jumping then whizzing off rather out of balance. Although keen, starting like this meant she was a bit tense in her back taking a shorter stride and not making distances as well so when asking her to go more forward she took quick short steps rather than opening up. This did improve but she still didn’t feel quite as good as she had the previous week schooling, however this may have been stopping and starting in the cold plus likely me trying too hard!
Luckily Mum was able to come with me and had got Donovan ready so I jumped on him for flatwork with Sammi. I was very impressed with his behaviour, he is usually so spooky but even with all of the banners, sheds etc. I was able to work him in a long outline, stretching and stepping well to start with. It was good working on the basics with transitions firstly trot-walk-trot then canter-trot-canter – he tends to shorten his neck and drop the contact during transitions but this improved the more we did. He continued to stay soft once I picked him up a little more to work in a more advanced outline. Next onto the jumping – only the second time he has jumped away from home since he started jumping again and so his spookiness returned!! Over the first cross pole then upright you would have thought he had never seen a coloured pole before – but he will never change I’m sure! I was really pleased though and any rusty moments were more from me, he is so different to jump compared to Ali but I was pleased that he didn’t get strong at all after being too keen and strong schooling last week. We finished off jumping round a course at 1.10m and he seems to be making nothing of it! I am keeping my fingers crossed that he will be the same cross country and we can back up to intermediate level fairly quickly this season.
Only managed to get one pic this time and not the best quality… Donovan enjoying his jump round the course!
A nice dry November has turned to a very wet December and now January! We have floods all around us but the advantage of living on a hill is no floods on the yard but still very wet, the main disadvantage is the wind and it has been very windy!! Moan over! Onto the horses… Ali is back in work after her 4 weeks off and going well. I was very impressed with how well she behaved when I started riding her again although she has been a bit over keen and extravagant jumping but only because she enjoys it so much! She feels much stronger in the canter work especially. Donovan is going well with a new pair of spurs for me helping lots on the flatwork, which he can be hard to motivate for. He is really enjoying being allowed to jump and now that I have my great Universal bit back on he feels very good.
A happy Donovan jumping well!
I am hoping to get them both out showjumping as much as possible in the next couple of months before the new season starts. First though, I’m really looking forward taking both of them to a flatwork and jumping clinic next weekend with Sammi Mcleod and Nick Gauntlett at Rectory Farm Arena, which has a brilliant surface.
A rare sunny moment