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

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Dressage and flatwork

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.

Continue reading “Lesson #2 with Ken Sudsbury”

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!

March: quite a month

(Featured imaged by Karen Chaplin photography)

Between the snow, the return of Abbey’s ulcer symptoms and her first season of the year, we’ve had we’ve had quite a month!

While I have kept her ticking over fitness wise, it’s all been rather low-key with no lessons and no outings.

This week, however, we’ve started to pick things up again with two flatwork lessons and a pole clinic at Swallowfields.

Continue reading “March: quite a month”

Today’s test: Novice 23

 

To be honest I’m a bit disappointed with today’s result. It’s ok, the highs wouldn’t be as high if we always had a great result and came home with red frillies. It’s was a learning experience.

Continue reading “Today’s test: Novice 23”

Flatwork and travel update

Abbey and I are continuing to practice many of the movements that come up in Novice tests. Rather than describe in detail our schooling sessions, here’s a video.

Generally I am very happy with how we’re progressing. I think the medium trot is coming on, albeit very slowly. The canter-trot-canter transitions are definitely improving as are leg yields and shoulder-ins.

While the canter-trot-canter movements aren’t in the test we’re doing on Saturday, they are in a test we’re doing in a couple of weeks and it is good to mix up the exercises we do in our schooling sessions; it keeps Abbey enthusiastic about flatwork.

Next time we’re in the school (Friday or Saturday), I’m going to practice walk-canter and counter canter.  It’s not something we’ve done for a while and will help improve Abbey’s balance and engage her hind-end.

I was really pleased that we overcame the spooky corner (unlike in my windy lesson!) and managed to get some sensible work done in the bottom end of the school, even if it did take a little while to get there. As you can see, taking the time to go slowly round the corner, a moment of chill (with a free walk on a long rein), can be enough to calm and settle her.

In other news, I’ve started taking Abbey out in the horsebox daily. With the van floor secure (see here for how we replaced the floor) So far we’ve done two trips and she sweated significantly less on the second one.  Fingers crossed, this is the beginning of Abbey getting used to traveling again.

#LoveYourPetDay

(Photo courtesy of: Poppy K Photography)

It’s been just over 3 years since I met and sat on this ponio for the first time. In that time she’s taught me so much.

We’ve had lots of adventures and faced some scary moments.  Here, as they say, are our best bits (in photos):

 

And of course I couldn’t let today pass without mentioning this little monster!

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