Thursday, 14 April 2016

Welcome to Zecora Photography!

I'm starting the blog with some really exciting news as I have been chosen as a supported rider for Zecora Photography. They are based in Berkshire, Surrey and Hampshire (but will cover the UK) and they create the most beautiful pictures that capture the bond between horse and rider. I cannot wait to start working with them and create beautiful memories.

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After our last blog I was worried about how Buddy would react to his second flu & tet jab but with the addition of Protexin Gut Balancer I am delighted to report he's been completely fine since. Phew. Since then I've been planning my season.. a bit late but it's got to be done! We have just had a gorgeous new arrival into the BUBDs and have another on the way so we have made a decision to not do Team Quest this year as we really want to stay as a team and we don't want any pressure on any of us to compete. We will be back next season with a bang! As a result I have decided to give My Quest a go as it means I can get practise at Novice (and maybe Elementary) without the points. I'm not sure if I'll be able to get out enough to build up the points to qualify for regionals but I'll give it a shot!

Bit of ride and lead R&R
Over Easter weekend went on a last minute trip to Tweseldown to get our first XC session under our belts and I was delighted with how Buddy performed. Considering our first SJ session was interesting (!) I wasn't entirely confident with how he would react but he surprised me. Giles did a fab job of calming my nerves and helping me just crack on. Buddy was defintely bolder than last season but I still need to commit and ride every single stride. I did come a cropper when G told me to jump a step down with a right angle to a table. The table had a pink sticker on (which signifies a BE100 fence) and that messed with my head a bit - I thought it was 'too big' for my first XC session. G told me to stop being silly but I wasn't commited, had a stop and fell off. Doh. Totally my fault and it gave me a swift kick up the backside to sit up and commit! Other than that he was bolder off drops, over ditches and all the fences I rode properly to so I was really chuffed with our first session. We had planned a couple of days at Huntercombe but Storm Katie and some local cases of stragles stopped all those plans unfortunately. 

Ready for action at Tweseldown
Our next scheduled outing was to The Croft who were running a test riding clinic. After the improvement in my lessons recently we decided that it was time to leave Prelim behind for good and focus on solidfying our Novice work with the view to stepping up to Elementary shortly. I had chosen to ride Novice 28 and was looking forward to getting some feedback from a judge's point of view. I did not have the best start after a work client had a massive issue which led to me being on the phone whilst in the lorry en route, a far shorter warm up and a rather stressed Krista!! B was very good being hauled into and out of the lorry, having his tack thrown on and a rather brief 10 minute warm up.

Rocking matchy matchy
The indoor arena is rather spooky and I always find B to be on the distracted side when there but once we were in the arena and going round the boards he felt fab, forward and off my leg so I was feeling hopeful for my test. Each session was 30mins so I was told to enter when I was ready so after a few transitions we started our centre line. The minute we started he backed off completely and felt tense (I'll take some blame for that too) and so we got hammered for our suppleness (or lack of it) on the serpentines and then our left canter struck off on the wrong leg and I struggled to get the trot back to correct it so threw marks away there too. The 15m loops on both reins broke a stride before the marker but overall it was an OK test considering the circumstances. 

Nice square halt - 8! And looking rather chunky.
The feedback from the judge was that he was lacking suppleness on the left rein in the serpentines and I should have used a bit of leg yield in this to help. She also shared how I was throwing marks away across multiple movements - especially breaking back into trot in the 15m loops as this meant that I messed up the canter move but I was already trotting when I should have been making the transition so lost that mark too. Feedback on the medium trots were good (no medium canter in this test) as I kept them balanced and rythmical which was great to hear although I lost marks towards the end of the movement as he backed off going towards the boards which dropped me from a 7/8 to a 6.5/7. 

I took all of this feedback and started the second test. I knew I did not quite have him supple enough on the left - it is both of our weaker side and I need to make sure I'm relaxed to help Buddy be the best he can but it was much improved from the first test. I was thinking 'more' in the trot and although at times it felt a bit manic the marks improved and looked ok in the footage. Canter is so much better in a test now but we changed twice (grr) so I need to really keep focused on my position as the slightest change leads to quarters swinging, flying changes or breaking and I need to do more work on cantering towards boards as although he is happy to do the loops at home where we have a fence I think I need to practise with boards so I'll be hiring a local school for some practise. 

Test sheet - lots to work on but a good start!
Feedback was much better and there was an improvement in the marks so that proves the point! It was a really useful exercise and I'm on the lookout for more test riding clinics as I really need to improve my test riding and that environment is more like a proper competition so it's much better practise. The best bit was that we didn't disgrace ourselves and I will be heading out with my head held high to get my AF sheets and my first ever BD points! It also means waving goodbye to Prelim. I've got my last entries to get my last sheets and from then on it's Novice and above. Eeek. 

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