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.