We've had a quiet few weeks since area festivals but have kept busy with plenty of training and exciting news. Qualification for Team Quest regional finals ended on 31st August and I was delighted to see that we had qualified so we are off to Wellington on 4th October and will be praying to the dressage Gods that we get a bit of luck o the day and manage to grab one of three qualifying spots for Nationals. It will be extremely tough but we will give it the best shot!
Whilst I was sunning myself I had J ride Buddy for me to ensure that we keep moving forward to Regionals. She did a fabulous job (as I knew she would) and Buddy was feeling very well when I rode him out when I got back.. So well that I'd thought he'd had a few days off but no he'd been ridden the day before!! I am loving this change as it means we have finally succeeding in keeping Buddy looking and feeling well at this time of year. It's only taken me five years and I'm sure B will throw an additional question in at some point but for now it appears that adding omega rice in early (I started it again in August in anticipation) and the supplements from The Herbal Horse are keeping him in tip top condition and feeling well.
Upon my return I was asked if I'd like to go cubbing (or Autumn hunting as it's now known) and as I would like to take B hunting this winter I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to get him used to the hounds and settle any excitement with a smaller field. I am a true hunting novice so I was being very kindly babysat by a teenager from the yard who did a very good job of making sure I didn't do anything too silly. Initially B was rather on his toes but soon settled and was a super star. It was a perfect introduction as there was lots of hanging around, plenty of hounds around his feet and a busy enough field of excited ponies who knew exactly what was going on! I was also given an incredibly warm welcome and we will definitely be going back again soon.
It was then time for RRR15. I was in London with work in the morning so I arrived rather late on Friday evening but the lovely J stayed so I can still have a bit of my lesson anyway. We focused on keeping him forward and supple and he is feeling so good. I need to remember to keep him forward in the lateral work as he finds sideways far too easy but struggles to move forwards at the same time. It causes brain ache for the pair of us! It was lovely to hear from fellow rehabbers that B was looking better than ever and looks far more handsome in real life which made me chuckle.
We had a jam packed Saturday with SJ and XC lessons running all day. I was feeling rather apprehensive about jumping in front of so many people. It is still a huge challenge for me to get over so it was good practise to have so many people watching but G did tell me that I needed to breathe on a couple of occasions! Our SJ session was great, he was rather forward to start with so we tweaked the bitting again as he was sucking back into it rather than going forward and after that B felt the most balanced and controlled that he ever has. My position is improving and B is far more confident, he didn't even look at the fillers which would have been unheard of a couple of months ago. Later on we moved out to the XC course and G had us jumping lots of tricky combinations. We took the bitting back to its stronger version as I had nothing over the first few jumps and then we got back to a much more polite pony. He is still incredibly keen but it is positive energy rather than craziness and he just wants to get the job done. I need to make sure that I keep him focused on his job but he is becoming better and better everytime we go out.
RRR is such a great event and although we had some of my favourite people (and ponies) missing there were new faces to spend time with and share that journey with again. I come away each time filled with pride at how far all these horses and owners have come and despite the challenges their horses throw at them the network rallies round and helps each other through again. I watched several combinations bloom with confidence over the weekend and it was so nice for everyone to be cheered on along the way. No other group could empathise more with the journey we are all on and understand the impact that small steps forward have. The feeling of trepidation never goes away and even three years down the line despite being far easier, it is always at the back of my mind and my first panic if something doesn't feel quite right and it is in those moments that you need that support network of people to either tell you to just get on with it or to bounce ideas around with.
Next stop is Moreton Morrell for the BE90 and I am using all of my runs as educational pieces so I can try and get a system sorted! It will be the first time over an XC course in the new bit so hopefully we won't have a repeat of ALW but if we do then we will find a new way around it!