Monday, 26 May 2014

Xtraodinary XC

After our not quite as successful as I would have liked last XC session at Tweseldown I've been working hard on my PMA and have been jumping some bigger fences at home to prepare for our next go. I had a jump lesson last weekend and my YO commented that I was riding better into my fences and was more determined - result!
Getting more confident
So, determined to ride rather than sit like a dead fish, we trundled off to a local venue that offers tiddly jumps right up to 100 so I knew it would cater for what we needed. Buddy started off very green and backwards but instead of worrying about it I focused on letting him gain confidence in what we were doing and that seemed to work!
Warming up
We started off over a simple hay feeder and then moved on to a tiddly baby ditch and then strung a few fences together. Buddy was hilarious over the ditch initially but got confidence the more he did and was happily popping over and combining it with other fences so we moved on to the bigger ditch.

Popping the bigger ditch
After a few goes he was happily trotting and cantering over the larger ditch so I started to string this with a roll top to house to sharks teeth. We had a few 'I'm going... I'm going.. Nooo I'm not' moments at the start and then with the flowerbox at the end but as the session went on his default was to go (even if he jumped them 3' higher than necessary) which was great. 

At no point whatsoever did I worry about his footing - the ground was quite slippery in some places as we have had so much rain - he feels better than he did last year as his balance has improved massively and that has really helped. I also found it hugely interesting to review my footage - all these pics are stills from videos (I use instagrabber which is free) and I can go frame by frame to see how he is landing. As you can see from the pictures below he has a fabulous landing on the flat but he was also consistently landing heel first after the fences which was really interesting as I don't think this was the case last summer but I'd need to review the footage again to be sure.

Clever pony managing a heel first landing
We are definitely at the stage to start thinking about getting that first event in the diary and I do have one in mind for the end of June. I would like to get another couple of schooling sessions in as I would like to be at the stage where he is confidently popping fences first time rather than having his green wobbles as he could go backwards at an event and I want to make his first experience as positive as possible for both of us.
Textbook example of a heel first landing!

The next week is going to be busy, we have our first dressage lesson with Sara Jane Lanning on Friday and then our first ODE on Sunday - it's all three phases but arena XC so will be a good test for us both.

Sunday, 11 May 2014

First Place at Fairoak!

I've kind of given the punchline away with the title of the blog but hey ho - I'm a stupidly proud owner right now!

Buddy has been going really well at home and we have finally got a dressage saddle which has made a difference to my position and I am able to sit more into his canter which is a relief as he is so bouncy when he gets going.
Pic courtesy of PoloPhotography
I made a late entry into our local RC after I had totally forgotten to post my entry! I had originally planned to make our novice debut but I couldn't do a prelim as a warm up first so decided to just do the prelim instead. I hadn't realised that it was a new test for 2014 and that it was a long arena test so I'd never ridden it before and I've never ridden a long arena test so was a bit apprehensive -especially as I only have a 40 x 20 school at home so couldn't actually practise either!!

Buddy came off the lorry sightly wild - it was very windy and there were lots of horses having high jinks which Buddy thought was very exciting. Luckily once I was on he was calmer and he worked in really well. It was soon time to go in for our test and as I was walking up I ran over the test in my head and all of a sudden my mind went completely blank! I couldn't remember how to get from my 20m circle down to the other end on the right rein... Of course I didn't have a copy of the test on me but luckily I'd downloaded it from dressage diagrams and there was signal on my phone so it was a frantic minute trying to get to the right page in time! 

Posing in the sunshine after the test
As we worked in the wind really picked up and I wondered if we'd get blown off our centre line as the gusts were pretty strong. But Buddy appeared to be strong enough to hold his own and I was very pleased with the test. The only bit I wasn't as happy with was our right canter as Buddy was very naughty and kept picking up the left lead. It was a real shame as we threw away marks on his best canter and he got a 7.5 when we finally got there!

The class was small - there were only four of us - but there were some very smart horses in the ring warming up and I wasn't expecting to come top but as they put up the scores I saw we were first by a fair way. I had a little cry as its our first red frilly at Prelim and there is still so much to work on so we can improve on what we are getting now. I've got a lesson booked with Sara Jane Lanning at the end of the month so I'm hoping she'll give us some top tips.