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

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Dressage and flatwork

A very equestrian day

Some days you get to play ponies all day and today was one of those days 😀

This morning I had a dressage lesson and this afternoon I went to the National Dressage Championships.

Even the rain couldn’t put a dampener on the lesson. Abbey is on top form at the moment – she feels stronger, more supple and is concentrating more than ever before (or maybe that’s me!). Together we’re making good progress.

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Product Review: National Dressage Championships

Today I went to day one of the National Dressage Championships. Despite the wet and very windy weather, it was a great day out.

I’ve been a few times now and nothing quite prepares you for being within a few feet of some of the best riders in the country doing their thing. And with wall to wall competition, it’s hard to find time to shop (and you’ve got to do some shopping!).

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Clever girlie

Abbey was on form and in the zone for our lesson today. 😁

We got off to a slow start but it allowed me to show Sam what I’ve been struggling with the last couple of rides. Namely, getting Abbey to ‘give’ and ‘let go’.

She’s such a clever pony that she’s learned that she can to hang on to the bit rather than relax her jaw and poll. The flexions we had been doing and were working, no longer seemed effective.

Yesterday I got round this by stepping it up a gear and using outside flexion as well as inside, to get her to ‘let go’.

Today, Sam gave me another tool. Slow the walk (my speed, not hers!) and, on a circle, do shoulder in, with flexion. It’s more demanding. It makes her think where she is putting her feet while also getting her to relinquish control and relax.

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The day that didn’t go as planned

Yesterday we went to Solihull Riding Club for an unaffiliated dressage competition.

I’d done my homework, learnt and practiced my tests, scrubbed Abbey to within a inch of her life and set off a little early. With less than a mile and a half to go, the horsebox starts making a funny noise and then the ‘stop’ and oil lights come on the dashboard.

Those regular readers will know that Abbey is a bit of a nervous traveler. She finds the process stressful and often trembles and sweats. I try to make her experiences in the box as relaxed as possible, I drive extremely carefully, pick routes that are as straight as possible and try to keep to a routine.

I pulled over to discover oil spewing out all over the floor. I tried not to panic (and failed!). Thankfully I had some oil in the van, so I lift the bonnet, pour half in, close the lid and jump back in. I was thinking that at least if we can get to the club then Abbey is in a safe place where she can get off the van.

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Novice 34 Practice

It’s been a while since Abbey and I took to the school to practice a test, but with a competition in just 2 days I thought we’d better do some.

Lately we’ve been focused on building Abbey’s strength and suppleness, particularly in her trot work. Looking back at the video, I can see it is paying off. She’s much more uphill and there’s more cadence.

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Little Sh*tbag

Today’s lesson did not go to plan. Abbey will be affectionately know forthwith as little sh*tbag.

Out of an hours lesson we had 10mins of good quality work. The other 50 minutes consisted of looking and spooking, resisting and arguing.

I don’t know what was up with her. There’s wasn’t anything obviously scary outside of the arena and she was perfectly chilled yesterday. Maybe she’s coming into season.

They say every cloud has a silver lining and today’s was getting Sam‘s advice on how to do some damage limitation and get Abbey back to work quickly.

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First attempt at half pass

Lessons with Sam Twyman are continuing to go well and on Tuesday we attempted half pass for the first time!

Sam has had me flexing Abbey a lot, to build suppleness and encourage her to lift her withers.

We’ve also introduced outside flexion – in the stretch work and when we’re working in a more developed frame.

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Two blues :D

Had a cracking outing on Sunday.  Abbey was a superstar coming 2nd in both a prelim and a novice classes with 67.69% and 66.96% respectively.

We got good marks for everything we’ve been working on in our lessons and there was only one comment on Abbey’s suppleness (a word that normally litters our score sheets).

It felt lovely too. Often I am fighting for Abbey’s attention and feel like I am hauling her around the circles. On Sunday there was a lightness and a flow which I’ve not had in a test before.

Overall I though my position was better. I was sitting up straighter and on both seat bones. I am still working on keeping my pesky toes in.

 

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Time flies!

Can’t believe it’s been a whole month since my last post!  From lessons and competitions, to hacking and interval training, Abbey has been a busy girl.

She’s starting to loose a little weight. Abbey is now doing at least an hour of work 5 times a week, including interval training. We’re up to 5 miles of trot/canter work and she’s finally burning more calories than she’s consuming.

Continue reading “Time flies!”

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