Friday, 31 July 2015

Every day's a school day....

If you haven't realised from reading the blogs recently we are having a huge overhaul in Buddy's way of going but also my riding, effectiveness and position. I had a lesson at my first RRR (Rockley Rehab Reunion) and I said my aim was to not just be an effective rider but to look effortless and elegant whilst doing so. Whilst that is still a long way off I have got far closer to that aim in the last few months than I have in the last few years. I've walked away from every single one of my lessons in the last few months feeling better, having achieved something and pushing my goals a little bit further towards reality. I'm also getting a far longer list of things I need to work on!

Our jumping lessons have been educational but with moments of slight terror (from both G and me) as Buddy has got more confident and knows that I do mean it. Kamekaze jumping however is not my prefered style so this has meant a change in bitting was required so that I had more control. The tricky thing about B is that he is not strong, far from it, but he is unbelievably heavy in the hand and then pulls me down into the fences which means we get flatter and longer and then the craziness begins. So we had a few ideas of things to try, we didn't want him to suck back away from the contact, so I went armed with a bucketful of bits that my lovely YO had leant me from her magical (almost bottomless) supply of bits. G had thought a jointed pelham would suit him so that was the first one we tried. 

Initially he didn't feel great in it but once I started riding him and asking for something rather than being afraid of the bit he started going really well. The issues we wanted to fix were him charging into a fence and keeping him off the forehand. We started over a small cross pole and I was slightly apprehensive as he'd not jumped for a couple of weeks and he did go to charge at the fence but I sat up, half halted and we popped over it very sweetly. Success! 

The plan then went up a notch and we started playing over some bigger fences and stringing a small course together. For the first time I felt like I had the power under control, I could place him to the fence and actually make small adjustments. It made a huge difference to my confidence and also to Buddy's way of going - he had a much better shape over the fences and his canter was much lighter on his feet which can only ever be a good thing. It stayed consistent throughout the session and so I'm looking forward to testing it out xc this weekend.

Then we finished our weekly learning with a flatwork session. I've been struggling with a creeping right leg and tight hips so we spent a long time stretching me without stirrups and keeping B soft and supple in the walk. This makes such a huge difference to his warm up routine and helps me massively at a competition as I only really need to spend a short amount of time in trot and canter so if the warm up is busy I have the ability to warm up enough without stressing B out too much. 

Once we were both suppled up we went into trot and really practised getting our transitions soft but forward and 'pinging'. I have to resist using my reins to slow him down and go to my body first before half halting but I also need to keep the hind leg active and really stepping though. This was a tricky exercise for both of us but wow the trot work felt good when we'd done a handful on each rein. We then did a bit of canter and the quality just went up another level! We only did half of the school and stopped as B was tiring and we didn't want to push him too much as he'd worked very hard. It is so exciting to be working with two trainers who are so in tune with each other (without ever meeting) and really compliment each other and the goals I want to achieve. 

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