Training: Nick Gauntlett & Sammi Mcleod at Rectory Farm

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!

Rectory Farm

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