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My journey with Abbey & other horsey bits 'n' bobs

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Dressage and flatwork

Abbey’s bouncing back

It’s been a busy week for me and a good one for Abbey.

On Wednesday I went to Horse of the Year Show (see my report here). I got up early to see the Connemara class and was delighted to read later this week that Skaergaarden Delicious Love won the overall M&M championship (click here to find the showing tips I picked up).

Thursday was dressage schooling. I’m having to get used to Abbey’s new way of going. She’s so chilled that I’m having to generate energy and engage her hind end through exercises rather than containing the anxious energy that she’s been giving me for the last couple of months.

Determined to get more ‘ping’, Abbey and I headed to the school again on Friday evening and I’m please to report that there was a small improvement.

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Lesson with Ken Sudsbury (shoulder-in, medium trot, canter on a named lead)

On Sunday I had a lesson with Ken Sudsbury.¬† He teaches ‘fusion dressage’ (a mix of traditional classical riding and modern training sometimes called ‘neo classical’).

It was fascinating. I picked up some real ‘gems’ (of knowledge) and some great exercises that I’ll be building into our schooling. Abbey was a superstar too – considering she’d only been on antacids for four days, she was focused and willing throughout – feels like my ol’ponio is back ūüôā

Ken first looked at Abbey’s walk.¬† He really liked it and gave me strict instructions not to ‘fuss’ with it.¬† All I am permitted to do is close my hands and shoulders to ask for a slightly more collected walk, and ask for a little more extension by opening my fingers on the reins and giving Abbey a small nudge with the legs.¬† He explained that with a small horse, the extended walk is not going to be huge. If I shorten my reins too much and push with my seat, I will flatten the walk – this is forbidden!

Continue reading “Lesson with Ken Sudsbury (shoulder-in, medium trot, canter on a named lead)”

From Ab Fab to Crabby Abbey

Today was Abbey second one day event. It didn’t go as planned. ¬†In fact, I’d go as far to say it was probably our worst outing, ever.

The picture above doesn’t tell the full story…the collage below is more accurate!

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Straightness, suppleness, counter canter and medium trot

In preparation for moving up to novice level, we’re working on a number of elements of our flatwork: some basics that we’ve let slip (straightness and suppleness) and some new movements (medium trot and now, counter canter).

We’re using a small number of exercises to build the suppleness, which in turn makes it easier to get the straightness.

Loops

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Concentrating on bend with very clear aids to change bend on both reins.  We also add in 10m circles to vary the exercise and keep Abbey listening.

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Abbey second in her first novice 

Today we stepped up and did our first novice dressage test. ¬†I couldn’t be more delighted with Abbey, the girl really tried and came home with a blue rosette for our efforts.

We warmed up with a prelim test Рscoring 69.80% including an error of course (yes, I had a reader and still managed to go wrong!).  Interestingly the judge noted a lack of suppleness on the right rein as well as the left, as well as lack of suppleness through the transitions.

Continue reading “Abbey second in her first novice¬†“

Abbey knows how to bend to the left…

…it’s just a shame I don’t! ¬†For a while now I’ve been struggling with inside bend on the left rein and quite frankly I’ve been more or less ignoring it.

A little while ago (after a particularly bad schooling session where I tried to wrestle Abbey into left bend!) I decided enough was enough. ¬†So Abbey’s been having regular treatments¬†(with Lisa Bartley) and so have I (with Jess Shemmans). ¬†I am also getting fitter (HIIT pilates and running) and we’ve started having lessons with a lady called Leonie Alldrick, who is an Equipilates Affiliated Instructor and Biomechanics Coach.

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A good’un and a bad’un

Overall we’ve had a good day out and I couldn’t expect any more from Abbey.

She loaded and traveled well and was very calm and responsive in the warm up until someone turned out a huge horse and his miniature friend.

The pair galloped up their field which is adjacent to the warm up and Abbey (who was on a long rein) went from E -B in a nano second, turning 180 degrees in the process. After that Abbey was a lost cause; in between snorting and gawping at the minature we had piaffe and passage on the diagonal.  All my usual tricks (changes of rein, transitions, bending and flexing) to get her attention and clam her down had little effect.

Perhaps if I’d more time we could have got it together but only 10 minutes later we were heading into the arena to do our test (looking at everything on the way).

Somehow we managed to keep it together well enough to score 68.94% and came 6th.

The test itself was alright. At home practicing last week I was thinking about keeping her forwarding through the transitions, maintaining impulsion and correct bend (on the left rein). ¬†Today ¬†I was mainly trying to keep Abbey between hand and leg,and ‘catching’ spooks before the affected the test too much. ¬†She shyed at the viewing gallery, at the judge and at my OH who was filming.

We’d 45mins in between the two tests and Abbey really calmed down. ¬†The second felt much better, although she did start to feel a little tired.

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One of *those* schooling sessions

I know I shouldn’t say it but I’m really chuffed with myself tonight. ¬†I managed to turn a schooling session that was fast heading toward disaster round to a productive, worthwhile session.

I did make a couple of rookie mistakes early on: #1 trimming Abbey’s ear fluff and #2 testing how Abbey goes without a flash – both on one of the windiest nights of the year so far. The result? A spooky pony armed with supersonic hearing and her favourite evasion (running with her mouth open wide like a hippo and a neck as high and long as a giraffe).

Continue reading “One of *those* schooling sessions”

Center lines, prelim 13 & equi-pilates

I’ve not long returned home from a fascinating equi-pilates session. It was the second session in a series of three and the insights were brilliant.

Last week’s session was an assessment. ¬†Leonie (the instructor) asked me to do some very simple movements and assessed my range of movement and how developed various muscles are. I was given some exercises to do four times a day….

Continue reading “Center lines, prelim 13 & equi-pilates”

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