I've spent the last couple of weeks having a bit of R&R which was very much needed and I spoilt myself a lot!! It was only when I was away that I realised how stressed I'd been with work and general life stuff and so I've made a pact that I am going to try not to take everything so seriously and try and keep chilled and not let work creep into my personal time. It's easier said than done but I am determined to try to make it happen and learn to say no and delegate a bit more!
Buddy was not fortunate enough to have any time off as we have our first event looming so my brilliant YO kept him ticking over for me in my absence. Although I was devastated to leave my blissed out bubble I couldn't wait to get back to see all my animals and get back on board le donks! I was also secretly excited as I had ordered my dressage saddle the week before I went away and was mega excited when Kate Hardt emailed me to say it was ready. She sent me a picture and wow - it was beautiful.
It arrived on Thursday and it is even more beautiful in real life than it looks in the pictures. Not only does it fit B like a glove but the quality of the workmanship is just incredible. The saddles look double their value (if not more) and I am so pleased I chose Northumbria Equine, the customer service has been great. Plus I can actually ride properly in it, I can sit up and put my leg on and move my leg if I need to. B was not so happy about my new found ability to make him work harder so there was lots of grunting whilst we were cantering around but wow did he try for me and he felt so strong and so good. I feel like we are in a really good place right now and that I am growing as much as Buddy is.
Then today we were off to Lyneham Heath for an XC session. I've never been to Lyneham but wow.. it is a fantastic venue. Fields of jumps from tiddly logs all the way up to Intermediate fences, the ground is perfect and so well laid out and cared for. It's quite a trek for me but it's one I will be making again. I wanted to take B somewhere different to test out the work we've been doing as I knew I would be feeling a bit apprehensive too (always do in a 'new' place) so would emulate a competition situation as much as I could. I had a lovely message from G just as I was leaving the yard to help me keep a positive attitude - he definately understands what I'm like!!
We started off in the baby field just getting in a rhythm but we quickly got into our old habit of ducking out of the left shoulder (by fence 3!) so G had me swop my whip over to the left and told me to keep more of a contact all the way into the fence. He noticed that B backs off three strides out which tips me forward a touch and so when I drop the contact B takes it as an invitation to duck out and I'm in no position to stop him at that point. So we tried something different... More contact (which feels completely alien to me), sit back and more core engagement to stop that naughty stop. It took us a few goes (for me) but then, all of a sudden it clicked for us both and we didn't stop again.
To help cement the feeling we approached a fence up a hill (to keep me back) and although he backed off he went. Then we did it in the opposite direction and he was great, really taking me in. Then a ski jump type fence which would normally have us both looking but he flew over and felt really grown up. We went off to the water, trotted through and popped a skinny then onto a log with a drop afterwards onto a skinny which we went a bit off our line to but B let me correct him and popped it. I was really pleased with him and just wanted to test our new found process over our nemesis fence - the flower box... He looked but wasn't stopping. Wahooo!
I'm so pleased with the way B is coming on and I can feel a huge improvement in us both. I feel like we have found a system that will really work for us and help us take the next step. B has more than enough talent and so when we finally get this process cemented we will be flying. My confidence has come on leaps and bounds, I feel like I am surrounded by people who are as excited about our journey as I am and who are willing to help me do whatever it takes to get me where I want to be. My job is to cement the process (I will be jumping scary things at least twice over the next 9 days) and make sure I don't get sucked into competition nerves and follow the process when I'm in that environment. I am excited (stupidly so) about next weekend but even more excited about the future - it's going to be awesome!