Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Buddy Bounces Around Barbury

We've had a really good, busy week after XC schooling which started with a nice gentle plod around the lanes the following day to check for any stiffness or soreness anywhere. Buddy bounced round the hack, full of his own self importance and I just spent the time giggling as he was so funny! 

It was my husband's birthday after Easter so we all had a well deserved day of rest and relaxation. A dressage lesson followed where we spent most of the session working in canter as this has improved dramatically and we are now starting to introduce novice level movements to get ready for our first test. The test we are looking at has 15m canter loops so we were introducing those which were tough on our brains! I was shifting my weight and/or changing the bend just prior to the track which led to beautiful flying changes from Buddy - one of the joys of having a youngster who was backed with show jumping in mind. As a result we tweaked the exercise slightly and worked on canter loops instead to get us both thinking forward. For some reason my brain really struggled with maintaining the correct bend to maintain the right canter lead so it was a bit messy at first but after a few goes I got it and it was great.

We have been practising since and we (me) are slowly getting there but his canter is coming on in leaps and bounds, is starting to feel established and he is allowing me to just sit and enjoy it which is great.
Chilling in the lorry

Then, as a reward, we had a yard trip to Barbury Castle for their fun ride. We took a couple of 4 yo's and Buddy was chief babysitter for the day. Despite the horrific weather it was packed - I think everyone had the same idea as us and thought it would be quiet! We had a brilliant time and popped plenty of jumps and it was great practise for me to jump several fences out of a forward rhythm. Buddy felt great and full of beans at the end so I am more than happy with his fitness as the ground was pretty holding in places. 

The only real disappointment was the lack of manners shown by so many of the other riders on course. We lost count of the riders cantering past without so much as an excuse me and no one slowed down even when we called we had two babies who were a bit alarmed by it initially - where have the manners gone?!

The next couple of weeks are going to be busy for Buddy and I as we have a few competitions planned so hopefully we will have some good news from those!

Sunday, 20 April 2014

XC schooling at Tweseldown

Buddy and some of his friends trotted off to Tweseldown today for his first proper XC schooling session. We've done bits and bobs here and there but nothing totally XC focused. I was excited and terrified in equal measures!

We warmed up and it soon became evident that I had lost my XC riding mojo and I sucked! I haven't ridden XC properly for a fair few years but as I've been showjumping (and we had an awesome session on Thursday) I thought I'd be ok. I can't tell you how awful I was - I was just thinking completely backwards which is not what you need for XC - and then the more I messed up and the more I saw my friends doing well I just started to spiral into a place I haven't been for a long time.
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Neither of us totally sure what we're doing!
I semi kicked myself but still wasn't quite getting the right pace and wasn't making Buddy's job easy but he still had his ears pricked and was thoroughly enjoying himself. He popped off his first drop like a pro (I did think he'd launch into space) and was really well behaved - anything he did 'wrong' was because I was riding like a total wally and he had no choice but to stop.

We then went to string a series of fences together and after watching the others go it was my turn. I had a 'thing' about a chair which shouldn't have caused us any bother but I just couldn't get over it, on the third go I knew I was the problem so bypassed it on the way to the next fence. I then pulled Buddy up and asked if the people with me could stop watching me as I was just being rubbish. I'm such a wally as they really don't care but when it goes wrong I still struggle to stop myself thinking like it. 
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Starting to get the hang of it
My lovely YO suggested I take some 1-2-1 time with Buds and get my mojo back. I gave myself a virtual slap and told myself to stop being a knobber and actually ride! As soon as everyone disappeared I managed to pop all the fences in a proper rhythm without a care in the world - what is wrong with me?! Anyhoo, my mojo was found and then I went and joined the others again. We then did the water and strung some fences together, into and out of the water. I rode, Buddy flew and my YO said it was the best we'd been all day and I think we even got a 'good'. Finally!
My favourite pic of the day!
As I was so rusty I am going to get out again very soon as I cannot go eventing riding the XC like a lemon and I want to enter my first event. My show jumping was like this and we have found our mojo there so I'm hoping we will be ok with another session under our belts. Buddy loved it and was really towing me into the fences towards the end which, funnily enough, coincided with me riding positively and trusting him. Gotta love Le Donks - he's such a star!

Monday, 14 April 2014

Not quite the result we wanted...

So the last time I blogged we had been for our assessment with Jamie Wright. Unfortunately we weren't picked but Jamie said we came a very close second which is nice to hear. He has also offered us half price training throughout the season which will be lovely and is a nice consolation prize!!

Buddy has been doing really well in the meantime, his canter has improved massively - we seemed to have a breakthrough a few weeks ago and we are managing to maintain it consistently now. So, with that in mind we trundled off to our local RC's dressage. I was planning on doing Prelim 1 and 13 but my entry didn't arrive with the secretary and there was no space to squeeze me in. Luckily for me there was a withdrawal so I was able to do the Prelim 1 class. I had high hopes as he has been going so well at home and knew that if we managed to pull it all together we are capable of a 70+% score. 
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Centre Line
He was wild in the warm up, it is where we go to jump so I think he was slightly miffed that we were there for stressage, and our canter transitions consisted of leap and bugger off! I was conscious that I didn't want to overcook him, despite his freshness, as we had hacked over to the venue so after a couple of transitions on each rein we were ready to go.
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First canter
The judge took ages to ring the bell so we had already done about 4 or 5 laps in trot before we got started and he just switched off a bit on me. However, I was really pleased with him as he stayed with me despite lacking the activity I had in the warm up (!) and get at home. His canter transitions were accurate, although he broke just short of the marker on the left transition but it was such a huge improvement there is no way I could be disappointed with him. Free walk on a long rein is not our strongest pace but I thought he did show some lengthened strides and stretch - although the judge disagreed and gave us a 4 which I thought was very mean. We ended up on 65.5% which is a great score but having watched half of the test on the video I don't totally agree with the judge and thought she marked him quite hard but that's dressage! Unfortunately we were just out of the frillies - they only placed to 6th despite there being 30ish in the class - and there were a couple of stunning horses who won the show on 85.5% and 83.something respectively!!

Link to video - only half the test as phone died

Onwards and upwards from here - I have my first event scheduled in for the end of May - we are going XC schooling this weekend and then I will make my entry based on that. He is turning into such a superstar and I'm chuffed to have him all to myself.