Sunday, 18 August 2013

Just call him Tigger....

I was so excited waiting for today to arrive, it was a big test for Buddy and I as it would be a proper jumping session, on grass, on our going lame anniversary.
I hadn't jumped a course on grass for a long time and I had no idea if Buddy had (although I was doubtful) and I knew he hadn't seen anything like what we were going to do - it was set to be an interesting session and I just hoped he would behave!
In the week leading up to our lesson I had another jump in the school where I managed to combine three fences together at a height bigger than I could jump on my own two feet (!) so I was feeling confident and ready to attack whatever we were going to face.
We were a mixed group who included a rider who had never done anything like it, a new combination and a more experienced pair. The mix worked really well and the group were all tested with tricky lines and accuracy questions rather than height which meant that everyone had to use their brains and ride.
After warming up over a small cross pole the instructor threw us right in at the deep end and we were riding combinations and angled fences. Buddy was incredibly keen and was loving being back and pinging over fences - his ears were pricked the whole time.
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Flying Donkey!
He didn't make life easy for me and my eye is well and truly out so there were some moments when we weren't on the same page entirely but once I got my act together and helped Buddy out it felt great. I stuck to mainly trot coming into the fences as I wanted to keep control of the situation and not get sucked into battling against him rushing, he is a big young horse and controlling all that through combinations can be tricky and I want to make as many positive experiences for him as possible.

In the end we practised combinations, a coffin, corners and skinny barrels and I was so chuffed with him - there is plenty to work on but we've had a while off so I will give myself a pat on the back and critique later on. I'm just going to enjoy the buzz for now.
We're back at the vets on Wednesday for the x-rays so it will be exciting to see the results of those - hopefully we will see some positive improvements.

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Bouncing Buddy Returns

It's been a while since I updated the blog and a few things have happened in the meantime so this one may be long - I suggest grabbing a cup of tea (or a suitable beverage for a Sunday morning!).

Buddy's feet have continued to improve, the hard ground is doing wonders for his feet and he is having constant stimulation whilst he is out and it makes a difference compared to sloppy mud. The very last slither of old hoof has broken off from the outside wall on both fronts but we are following the same thread as last time and the inside is hanging around a bit longer - just as a reminder I think. I could trim it off but I love the fact that he self trims so I'm going to leave it, its not impinging his movement whatsoever so it'll come off when it's ready and not before.

Since my last blog we have also started jumping again *insert big grins* and, although they have been tiny compared to what we were jumping last year Buddy and I have thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and, most importantly, Buddy stayed sound. So, after this success, I decided to accept an invitation to the XC ride at Stratfield Saye. It was a 10 mile ride through beautiful estate parkland with woods, fields, river crossings - you name it and the ride had it plus 25 or so XC jumps. 
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Handsome Donkey
My plan was to see how he felt and I was prepared to not jump unless I felt the conditions were right. On the day I was slightly anxious.. Buddy had never been on a fun ride and I hadn't done was for about 20 years! But I have total faith in my pony, he is so sensible that I wasn't overly worried and I knew if I had to I would just kick on, let him have a hooly, and then he would calm down. As it was he was just a bit bright when we started the ride, striding out and looking all around, almost amazed that there were horses in front, behind and everywhere. After a nice walk and trot there were a few teeny jumps that I thought looked ideal so I told my companions I was jumping but to be wary as he hasn't seen an XC fence since May last year and was definately going to balloon it. As predicted he launched into space but I was prepared with my jockey length stirrups and so we landed together on the other side to a chorus of 'wow he's got some scope!' hmmm yes.. over a 2' nothing log.. silly pony  ;o)
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The three amigos at the end of Stratfield Saye XC ride
As the ride went on we had a brilliant time, we didn't press on too much but we enjoyed some canters and plenty more jumps. It was a brilliant education for Buddy as he had horses jumping next to him, cantering and trotting past and away in front and he was just brilliant. At the end of the ride he was mentally tired but feeling like he could go round again (or at least half way!) and my companions commented on how amazed they were that he was barefoot, had led all the way and stomped over some pretty unfriendly terrain. Big grins from me.
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Chillin' on his birthday
Then onto this weekend and it was Buddy's birthday yesterday - he is now the grand old age of 7. We celebrated with extra scratches, an extra handful of alfa pellets and a lovely evening ride. I definately didn't buy him a new dressage pad to add to my collection as I have been banned from buying anymore matchy matchy by my husband.. But *if* I had I would be very excited about that arriving for our next outing ;o)

The next couple of weeks are going to be quiet - we are in the process of moving so I am packing up the house and fitting in work and le donks in the middle. We have a simulated XC jumping lesson planned next weekend which I am super excited about (on grass so will be interesting to see how he copes with some of the turns) plus hubby has promised to come and video so there should be some evidence on camera. Then Buddy is back to the vets on 21st August for his x-rays.. I am excited to see what changes have happened but also nervous that things have deteriorated but I will share the comparisons on here when I have them.