Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Bumper Update

It must be the time of year as I notice this time last year I was a bit rubbish with the blog too!! However, same as last year, no news is good news but it does mean it's time for a bit of a bumper update so I'd suggest grabbing a nice cup of something and get comfortable...

So our last blog was just prior to our last event at Elmwood. It didn't exactly go to plan and I was a bit disappointed in our performance. However, we did a good dressage to be at the top end of the field (and managed 8's for our walk which was SJL's request), clear show jumping (and it was causing a bit of carnage with some incredibly dodgy lines used) but we got eliminated XC. In all honesty it was just one of those things.. I'd trialled a new warm up and really wound B up and he shot out of the start box meaning business. He flew over the flower box at 2 (which I was worried about) and stormed over the next 5 fences. We then got held on course as someone had fallen off. I tried to keep B focused but by the time we were ok to go he had switched off a bit and the next fence was a spooky trackener and he refused three times so we walked home. I was really gutted about it but in all honesty it has just showed up a flaw in my training and so I am focusing on getting B jumping spooky fences immediately into our sessions so he understands that he must go and stopping isn't an option. 
Final fence at Elmwood
After Elmwood I immediately felt a bit worried that I was pushing B too far, was he comfortable in his feet, was something else going on that I was missing.. Typical paranoid owner behaviour when you're bringing back a broken pony! He had also started to feel a bit 'bleurgh' and a touch flat in his work (he usually does at coat change time) so I decided to back off a bit, give him an easier couple of weeks and then re assess. I also added some propell + into his feed (which I know isn't ideal as a BF friendly additive) and that seems to have had a really positive impact. So my paranoia was diminished and I felt better as B felt better too. On reflection, he hasn't had any serious time off for a while and he's never been in this much work before so it probably all got a bit too much - something to remember for next season.

I had booked on to a clinic with Warren (my RC runs monthly clinics) and I decided to go, see how B was with the thought that I could pull out if he didn't feel right. As it was he was super and we jumped the biggest course we've done. Warren was also really impressed with the improvement in both of us. I do have a new plan though and must keep jumping spooky things early on in my session as that will only help us in the future if we get stopped again and will allow me to trust B more. I have practised that since and it is starting to work and he's not stopped since so it will be interesting to see how we get on at our next session with Warren.

The following weekend was the biggest weekend in the calendar - the Rockley Rehab Reunion 2014. I have been organising this with Nic for the last two years and it keeps getting bigger and better. I didn't manage to get to the Thursday festivities due to another commitment but I had booked Sara-Jane Lanning in for Friday and nabbed myself the last slot of the day. Nic had also managed to get the slo mo camera for the whole weekend so was filming everything we were doing and our SJL session formed part of that. I hadn't seen SJL since before Elmwood so it was good to catch up and see if she thought we had improved. As it was, I ended up with the same pony that I get at home and he was working really hard for me. He was impressive (I think he knew he was on camera) and I was riding round with a massive grin on my face. I am really starting to enjoy dressage again and can see the impact it is having on all areas of our work.

Saturday morning was spent on the XC course and I had one aim in mind - DO.NOT.LET.BUDDY.STOP! So, as per Warren's instructions I found the spookiest fence on course (that wasn't novice/intermediate height) and headed off at trot. He did try and stop but I had my lead rope neck strap (I need to get a leather one made as can't find one long enough) and just kept my leg on and he popped over. Big grins. Went over it a couple of times and he was confidently cantering over so I moved on. We did most of the fences on course and for the first time he managed to canter through the water and did drops into water which was great - I was prepared for a huge leap as he ummed about going in but he was very sensible and just popped off in walk and trot. Clever pony. Unfortunately we didn't really get involved with the filming as I need to keep him moving and focused on me but I was really pleased with his attitude. I am still debating our next step - I'd like to do another 80 but it's impossible to find any that don't clash with other things so I am contemplating stepping up to 90 but I don't want to finish the season on a problem and it will be on his record so am still debating!!

One of my favourite parts of RRR is catching up with old faces and meeting new ones. Last year Steven Leigh came to meet us all and this year we were blessed with his presence for the whole weekend. It was great to have Steve's feedback on B's feet (especially given my wobble after Elmwood) and to hear that he thought B and his feet had improved was great to hear and really boosted my confidence that I am not ruining my pony just yet!

When I arrived home I had a lovely invitation to my RC's dressage championship which we qualified for this year. I am really excited and will be working hard on our test to make sure we can be as good as possible and stand a chance of doing well.