Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Building the confidence bank

So after the high of our first event (still grinning about it almost two weeks later!) I had booked us in with Warren for a jump session and got a last minute entry to an eventers challenge. 

The session with Warren was, as usual, filled with information that is just unbelievably useful and educational. I feel like I am in the process of deconstructing my riding style and building it back up again. As such there will be a few bumps in the road but I really get what I need to do and Warren is helping me get there without getting frustrated! This session followed on from the XC session the week before and was focussed on getting Buddy forward and thinking and for me to sit back and allow B to jump. We warmed up over a cross a few times and then went to jump a fence with a rubber mat under it. I rode like an idiot, sat forward and Buddy span and I was eating sand. Urgh. It was so frustrating as I knew exactly why I'd come off a millisecond before it was too late to correct and I fully deserved to eat dirt. Must. Get. Better.
Pro pics from Wheatlands ODE
Hopped back on with pride hurt more than anything and focused on correcting my errors and getting B to think forwards. In my first session with Warren I was overriding so we corrected that and we've now gone too far the other way so Warren was getting us to walk into fences until we were a stride or two away and then kick forwards. This really helped B wait and sit back on his hocks and we got some much better jumps because of it. Warren also noticed that if I'm not 100% sure how B will react I slowly slide my bum backwards towards the cantle in semi-defence mode but this pulls my shoulders forwards and down which puts me in a position of weakness immediately. No one has ever noticed this (or just hasn't told me) so it was a bit of a revelation but as soon as I know I'm doing it I am aware and able to correct it. So, homework was to ride the last two strides and keep bum at the front of the saddle and shoulders back. Easy right???

So, onwards to the eventers challenge which was essentially a short format ODE with dressage and then 5 SJs, onto the XC and then back to the SJs. This was held at a local riding school and I usually avoid going there as the courses can be a bit dodgy and the ground isn't ideal but I thought we could do with another competitive XC run prior to our next event hence deciding to go. I walked the course the night before and there were some incredibly dodgy hairpin turns and a couple of the fences looked a tad larger than the 2'9" advertised but I thought my eye was a bit out so didn't get too close to those fences! 
Pro pic from Wheatlands ODE
Dressage was one to forget - it was a novice test (our first) and the ground was horrible (hard and slippery) and B just wasn't particularly willing or happy about it. It felt rushed and horrible and I forgot the final circle so had an error of course as well. Went to warm up for the SJ/XC and I noticed that some of the XC fences had been put up and there was a double of uprights on a table with a drop behind the second. I told myself to man up and kick!

The first SJ section was good and the session with Warren had really helped and Buddy was pulling me into the fences so I managed to canter all the way around, apart from the hairpin turn from 2 to 3 which was nuts and 3 was an ascending skinny spread so I wanted to get it right. Clear on those jumps and then onwards to XC. Buddy was full of it - he stormed over the working hunter style fences, onto the trackener and then over to the tyres (one of the fences I'd not got too close to) where he had a look, I came back to trot to get the power and then kicked and B FLEW. Blimey. That felt BIG (found out later it was 1.10m) then to the first combination of log to roll top. Straight through and over the water trough. He was feeling full of confidence and very strong at this point and so I brought him back to trot to regain control as the next section was through the woods and there were some boggy patches. He boinged over the barrels, over the log and then the next combination which was palisade to step to palisade. No troubles and we were back in the field heading towards the table. I was scared. I sat back but B knew what he was doing and flew over the first and then over the second and we landed at the bottom of the slope. Was back onto the SJ and by this point B was strong and not entirely listening so we knocked a couple of rails when he went flat and so we finished on 8 faults. Time was tight - 300 MPM - so I expected a few time faults but we only got 7.something so I was really chuffed as I didn't particularly press on. I was really impressed with his attitude as he is definitely filling with confidence and it was a really tough course for his second go. We finished 7th and just out of the frillies but it's all about adding confidence to the pot and that was definitely achieved.
You know I said it was wet.... Pro pic from Whealands ODE
I've got a manic week with work leading up to our next event on Sunday and I am crazily excited about it. Again, not expecting a placing but the aim is to achieve a sub 75 final score (sub 45 dressage, less than 8 SJ and one refusal XC) and build up confidence points. It's a lovely XC course and as long as I ride properly it shouldn't cause us a problem. Wish us luck!

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