Wednesday, January 07, 2009

At Boot Camp

Since the last post, Hannah and I have not done much worth writing about...

I moved all three horses to a fantastic competition yard called Northcote Stud in September, but after a few lovely months there the travelling became too much for me. The yard was 30 minutes from home and a whopping 60 minutes from work on the motorway so I was spending two and a half hours in the car every day and driving over 105 miles! As a result, my riding started to suffer as I had less and less time for riding, competitions and lessons and was constantly rushing around trying to get everything done!

At the beginning of December I moved all three horses to a small part livery yard just ten minutes from home... Bliss!

Unfortunately, since we moved the weather has been freezing so I have not really been able to get going again. Because of this, I have sent Hannah and Grace to Jo Wright-Graham, or ‘Boot Camp’ as I call it, for three weeks while I am away on holiday! I have been getting some good reports about Hannah via text. Jo has been working on getting her hind leg quicker and her more through. Her half passes are coming on nicely and Jo said that she is really trying!

I am planning on picking the girls up on Monday afternoon and have booked a lesson on the two of them in order to get myself up to speed with what they have been doing and I am going to watch Jo ride first. I have given myself a good kick up the bottom and sent off a few competition entries before I came away. Hannah’s first one is at Bold Heath on 18th January doing the Novice and Elementary. We have a busy few months ahead!

Friday, September 12, 2008

We have elementary points

Since the Regionals, Hannah has been going from strength to strength.

We are still having some issues in the Novice tests, especially if we follow a big moving warmblood, but her mediums are starting to get some 7s and she is much more consistent now in her contact, her hind leg and her attitude. It has only taken us 6 years to get it right!!!

Last week I took her over to Arkenfield to do the Novice and her first Elementary not HC. We have done two affiliated elementaries HC, neither achieving impressive scores. However, I have been working on some half pass with Jo in my lessons, and this has really sharpened her up and improved her shoulders which I am thrilled about.

I did not know the two tests, so was in a complete panic about it. Plus we left late because I had to pick the horsebox up from Preston, leaving me flapping and stressed! Hannah warmed up for the Novice pretty well, but she was a bit hot as we went in and every time I asked for trot she cantered which dropped our marks somewhat. The final mark reflected this, as well as a rider not being able to remember where she should be cantering.

There were two hours before the Elementary which gave me chance to look through the test and try to learn it! A bacon sandwich and piece of lemon drizzle cake helped the cause too, so when I got her back out with an hour to warm up, I have to admit I felt quite positive.

She warmed up beautifully, I was really pleased because there was no silliness or stress, she just listened to me and did as I asked. This is a real first in a competition atmosphere.

As we went in for the elementary I reminded her hind legs they needed to work by doing some collecting work around the arena and some medium work too. This resulted in her feeling great as we started the test. I am not saying the test was perfect, we had a few blips. Her 10m circles need work because she tenses through her back, and I need to learn what a 15m circle looks like because I am incapable of riding one apparently!!! But she came away with 64.84% which I was absolutely thrilled with. If she can get one more mark like that, we will be going to the Petplans at Novice and Elementary, not something I imagined would be possible at the moment.

My aim for Hannah this year was to do a Medium test before 2009... it looked so far out of our reach at the beginning of the year, but now, it just might be possible!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Some pictures of us at the Regionals

We've been to the Regionals...

I cannot believe the last post was from April... how time flies!

Hannah qualified for the Summer Regionals for the Preliminary test, so I tried to be as prepared as possible for it. Unfortunately, nothing ever goes to plan and we started to realise that he saddle was just not sitting on her correctly and it was making it near impossible for me to collect her with my seat.

Following an emergency visit from my fantastic saddle consultant, Heather Roberts, I started using Grace’s on her as a temporary measure as Hannah’s needed sending back to the Albion to have the headplate changed.

She started to become a lot more comfortable in Grace’s saddle, but I was nervous as hell about the Regionals as I have never been before. Thankfully, my trainer, Jo Wright-Graham helped me warm her up so I went in with her in front of my leg and with the feeling that she was carrying me. She did a sweet test, but he walk does let her down, however it was a brilliant day and I enjoyed every minute! She came away with a respectable 64% and a very happy mummy!

Since then I have started working on some Novice tests and am hoping to start taking her out elementary very soon. I am also considering starting her at Medium once we get the half passes up to scratch, but she finds the lateral work pretty easy and really enjoys it too. Yesterday afternoon I had one of the best lessons I have ever had on her, and for the first time in a long time I am excited about riding her again!

The arguments are non-existent, her work is becoming far more consistent and she is travelling like a dream! I am beginning to get a lot of enjoyment from her, and it is a real achievement because she is not an easy girl to ride. But she is now working with me, trying her heart out for me and we are getting on really well!

Monday, April 21, 2008

BD Report - Cockshot Dressage

I have been concentrating on getting Hannah forwards and more elastic for the past month, so we have backed off the competing side of things. However, I have felt that she has been much more consistent in her work and decided to book in for a BD competition at the weekend.

It was the first time I have taken her on my own, so I had to make sure I knew the tests to avoid ‘panic’ moments which usually occur when I go completely blank! However, I felt as though I knew them quite well by Sunday morning, and set off feeling confident.

We got to the venue and the classes were enormous! I tacked Hannah up but she had two rubs on her sides which I believe to be a combination of my old boots and my spurs... so I felt a bit lost without my spurs as I always wear them out competing.

I started to warm her up for the first test, P15 and I could feel she was a bit behind the leg and very spooky! It is quite an open venue with a lot of electric fencing flapping around which she took a serious dislike to. Perhaps it was my though, as I seem to get a mental block about Preliminary tests, I do not ride her the same way as I ride a Novice or Elementary test!

We went into the arena and she was boggling at everything, but even through this I could kick her into a contact which is not usually something you can do with her when out competing. I felt that she could have done a lot better, but was pleased with the 65.8% and 3rd place that we received.

There were almost three hours in between the classes so I grabbed 30 minutes sleep and then some sandwiches and the most gorgeous butterfly cakes (they were for charity so I HAD to have some!)

With an hour to go, I tacked up Hannah decided to ride her as I would in my lessons or at home. I am always worried that people will think I use the whip/spurs/leg too much, but I just went for it in the warm up and she was the best she has ever been at a competition. I still left the spurs off because of her sides, but with them she would have been even better. However, we went into the test and I felt she was really up in the shoulder, in front of the leg and willing to work with me rather than trying to find a way of ducking out.

The beginning of the test went quite well, and the canter transitions were the best she has done. She stayed round into them (if a little deep at times) but it is so much better than her hollowing into the transition. Her first medium canter was a little weak and did not show enough change in my opinion, and the first medium trot was a bit shaky because it headed straight to the entrance and Hannah decided out was better than this!

However, her second medium canter felt great and the second medium trot (off her best rein) really moved up and forwards straight away rather than gradually. I was so pleased with her and have to admit I was a little disappointed with her result of 63.something% But the small arguments we had were nothing and quickly rectified, I used my whip to flick her up more in the test which normally I tend to forget about, and all in all I felt she was much better and we were more prepared than we have been in the past.

We have two more competitions booked for the next few weeks, so hopefully I can start getting her results up a little and she has already qualified for the Areas!

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Hannah is back from boot camp!

I went to pick her up yesterday morning...

Jo showed me how she has been lunging her before riding to get her more forwards, and encouraging her into the outside rein. She looks quite different, she has muscle in her bottom that she certainly did not have when she went.

Jo then got on her, and I could see that she looked much easier and forwards into the contact. She will never be an easy ride or straight forwards, but the arguments were manageable because she was not backing off, and she was trying to please.

I then got on (God, I am unfit after a week off riding... it's amazing how quickly you lose it) and could feel how soft she was through her jaw and neck, and more over her back and through from behind.

This morning I lunged her as Jo has been and she was really working hard through her hind legs... I couldn't stop smiling when I was watching her because it is great seeing such an improvement. She is more stuffy on the right rein, but when I put her onto the left rein on the lunge she was much looser and actually loose through her shoulders.I then got on and worked her as Jo instructed... using the shoulder in on the right rein to get her hinds working underneath her (she tends to throw them out) and leg yielding from the track into the centre on the left rein. She found it all so easy!

To finish, I had put a little jump up. She has not jumped since she was four months in foal, so July 2006. She absolutely loved it today. We started with a little cross pole and trotting into it, but she jumps so much better out of the canter. I put it up to a straight about half way up the wings (so not huge but big enough for me) and she gets so excited. She tries taking over a bit and then gets too close into it, so I got her together and tried really watching for the stride and she was great!So, I am a very happy bunny this morning

Monday, March 31, 2008

Hannah is now at boot camp!

Hannah has been quite difficult to get forwards the past week, and seems to be blocking through her right side. So I made the decision to send her over to my trainer for a week of ‘boot camp!’

She seems to have settled in very well and Jo said she is really trying.

I nipped up with a cooler for her over the weekend and she looked completely exhausted! That shows I do not work her hard enough at home because she never looks like that when I have ridden... It was nice to see how relaxed she was in her new surroundings though; at one time she would have been very stressed out about the whole ordeal!

I am going to watch Jo work her tomorrow morning which should be interesting... and I will try to remember my camera!

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Crow Wood Report

We set off at 11am yesterday morning looking very scruffy. I had intended to plait her up in the morning, but time ran away with me and I ended up having to just give her a quick brush and set off.

Once again, Hannah travelled perfectly, I still find it hard to believe it is the same horse who used to look as though she had just been through a carwash whenever we got anywhere. I had to tack her up quickly as it had taken slightly longer to get there then I had initially thought it would do, and the warm up was quite busy. She just would not settle, was fighting me like she has been doing and would not listen. We ended up 3rd with 63% which was generous really seeing how she felt.

Rather than putting her back in the box, I took her straight back into the warm up area and just walked her for 20 minutes until she felt as though she was actually listening. By the time we went in for the Novice she felt so much better. It is the first time I have really felt her work in the medium trot and canter which is such an improvement, and she came out with 65.8%. I was really pleased with her Novice test, and now look forwards to Richmond next weekend.