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

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Dressage and flatwork

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.

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Lesson #2 with Ken Sudsbury

Ken Sudsbury teaches ‘fusion dressage’ (a mix of traditional classical riding and modern training sometimes called ‘neo classical’). Last time I caught him at the end of his English tour of teaching but learnt so much I made sure I was on the list for his first visit of the season.

The lesson didn’t disappoint!

We started off in walk. Ken like Abbey’s walk, it had bounce and purpose but, he said, it could have a little more ground cover.  He observed that I was restricting her movement and asked me to relax the contact a little – just by giving with my 4th finger, Abbey gave…

He also observed that she was a little tight through her shoulders and introduced us to two exercises that would help improve her suppleness.

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Distracted dressage

Our latest attempt at dressage saw Abbey and I go to a venue we normally showjump at. Abbey’s always spooky and tense here, which makes it rather hard to produce a nice test!

By the time we’d finished, I think we’d looked at every marker and spooked at every corner.

Still we came home with a 62.88% and a 3rd. The percentage was higher than Sundays for the same test and we didn’t get any of the same comments that I could easily change. ( not showing the give and retakes well enough, for example).

Should I have been firmer with Abbey when she wasn’t listening? Or would that have resulted in an argument? I might try it next and see what happens! If it’s an unplanned dismount, we’ll know that it’s not the best way forward…

Stressage at the weekend

On Saturday we competed at Swallowfields in the 2nd round of the Trailblazers qualifiers.

All in all, it went rather well. We’d not done as much prep as I would have liked and Abbey isn’t as fit as she should be so to come home with 65.86% and 61.92% was quite an achievement!

The first test was Novice 24 and a warm-up class. As I didn’t want to tire Abbey out, I kept the warm-up very short – 10 mins.  This seemed to suit her and something I am going to try again at our next competition.

 

The venue was running a little late for the next test and there were more horses in the warm-up arena. So we warmed-up, then walked and stretched (having realised that we’d a little wait) and then did a couple of transitions before going in. Abbey started to get a little crabby, tossing her head in the warm up and pulling faces when another horse got too close (in her opinion, nobody actually got too close!).

In this test she felt more tense than in the first. I think I was rushing her while also trying to steady her, which made her cross!

Saddles and teeth

ATM I am not convinced either of Abbey’s two saddles (dressage and GP) fit. Really I ought to get the saddle fitter out but it’s only been a couple of months since she last came and it’s getting rather expensive.

I’m going to have a look at treeless saddles, they are supposed to be a bit more forgiving for horses that change shape regularly and I rather like the idea of Abbey having something soft on her back.

In the meantime though, we’ve not stopped schooling or hacking around the farm. I’ve put my brave pants on and started riding on a bareback pad. I’ve surprised myself and seem to have pretty good balance even without stirrups!

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Some mini breakthroughs

Having had weeks of banging my head against a break wall what with the travelling, the ulcers and lack of work, we’ve finally had some mini breakthroughs.

For the second time we’ve been round the block and I’ve unloaded a dry horse. Today I think she even trembled a little less. After unloading she calmed down extremely quickly, allowing us to tack up and head to the school…

…where we had another breakthrough. I’ve been trying not to nag and demand a response to my leg, and today there was so much power I didn’t know what to do with it!

To celebrate we went for a little hack round the farm tracks to cool off. I must have been feeling brave as I was riding in a bareback pad!

I’m thrilled; they were just the little success to make me feel like all the effort is worthwhile and that we’re getting closer towards our goals!

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