Saturday, 25 January 2014

Making progress

We’re well into Operation Get Eventing which started with the kick up the bottom from my YO. The plan is only being scuppered by long days at work which mean I don’t have as much time or energy to ride during the week. I am making sure we get at least two sessions in Monday-Friday for a few reason, one we need to keep his feet working, two he needs to stay fit and three I need to practise my homework from my weekend lesson!

Since my last blog we have had two more lessons and we are making progress! Its not going to be a quick fix (I’d be worried if it was) but it’s great to see the changes so quickly. I’ve been taking lessons with my YO who is the right combination of not taking any rubbish but building confidence and pushing you out of that comfort zone.
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Buddy's new look
Our main issue is… Canter. Particularly on the left rein where I am weak and have an outside hand with a mind of its own so Buddy takes full advantage of that and we end up in a wall of death / fall out of the shoulder nightmare. Part of this problem is that Buddy uses his power to just propel himself along and get out of trouble rather than sitting and engaging his hind end. Engagement has then been our main focus.
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Inspiration from Charlotte and Valegro.. I'm sure we're nearly there ;o)
To do this we have been using a few exercises:
1.Spiralling in and out of 20m circles in walk and trot - making sure he doesn’t fall out of his shoulder

2.20m circles at B/E then into a 10m circle at each end – this really gets Buddy stepping underneath himself

3.Lengthening his stride down the long sides (careful not to rush and keep the same rhythm)and 10m circles in each corner to back him off and sit

They are really simple exercises but have made a huge difference in his way of going in a short timeframe. We have also used leg yield out of a 20m circle and going into canter to ensure he is stepping from behind and not just charging off into the transition. We tweaked this today by using a fraction of outside bend, then straightening him up and asking for canter and we got some beautiful uphill transitions.

For my issues I am booked in to see a new physio next week to see if we can try and keep my left hip in place which will help keep my seat bones and body straight as that doesn’t make either of our jobs any easier. I am also working hard on my errant right hand that likes to go a bit crazy when it is the outside hand and has a tendency to cross the neck which doesn’t help our issues in canter! So I’ve been really focused on keeping that hand steady and I wasn’t shouted out as much today so I just need to carry on thinking about it and hopefully soon it will become second nature. Off the horse I am doing lots of strengthening work on my core and have started a new diet so I can lose a few pounds (or a stone or two) before the event season starts as we will both find it much easier if I’m on the lighter side.
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Hacking in the sunshine
The plan for the next couple of weeks is to carry on with what we are doing and we’ve got a couple of XC sessions in the diary so, as long as the weather holds out and we don’t get any crazy snow, ice or more rain we are still all systems go!

Saturday, 18 January 2014

Start as you mean to go on

Since my last blog post I have been a busy bee! I had some time off after Christmas and wasn’t back at work until last Monday so I’ve been having fun playing ponies (and am now even more desperate for that lottery win) and visiting special friends.

The support network for the Rockley Rehabs extends way beyond Nic and all she does and there is a brilliant network of alumni who help each other through and welcome the newbies on their journeys. After the RRR13 a few of us have kept in touch and we see each other regularly but we talk almost daily and pull each other through the tougher times, the times when you aren’t totally sure you’re doing the right thing and celebrate times when everything(ish) is going right. We’re all relatively new on the journey but are at different stages with Buddy being the longest serving graduate. One thing the group highlighted for me recently was how you can be sucked into consistently treating your horse like they are still broken and constantly doubting yourself.
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Totally unimpressed with his new snuggy jams

It’s definitely something I have been guilty of over the past year and I have stuck to our comfort zone for a long time. It’s the only reason I delayed jumping until we had a new hoof as for me jumping = lame horse and when you are back on that onward trajectory you don’t want to suffer that awful heartbreak and disappointment again. However, as per my previous blogs, I vowed to move on.. But I still bumbled around.

Previously I had plans and ambition to get to 1* if I could (and it would be me holding us back) but when Buddy went lame I vowed never to make plans again as I always end up disappointed so all I wanted was to have a sound horse that I could have fun on with no pressure. I am so lucky that I have that now and I enjoy every second I have with Buddy and appreciate how far we have come but that removed all my competitive drive that I have always had. So, my YO staged an intervention and gave me a well needed kick up the backside after I was telling another livery that I had adjusted all expectations!
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Wk 13 vs 58
It started with a day of lessons, one on her schoolmaster to show me I could ride and then a session with Buddy to show me how he takes advantage of weaknesses in my position. I came away buzzing with a renewed drive to really get on and actually do it. So, I started up my training notebook again, have picked my first event and scheduled my training and competition schedule back from there and.. I wrote it in pen! I have also tentatively planned my season but that may change depending on how he takes to eventing (and whether it ever stops raining!).
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Sole shots - his feet weren't looking at their best in the wk 58 shots but it's interesting to see the changing shapes
So, I’m excited and ready to tackle the 2014 season. There is work to be done but I feel like I have got a good team of people around me who want me to do the best I can and I am (finally) mentally ready for the challenge.