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



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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XC schooling – easy, peasy :)


In less than a week Abbey and I will be doing her 2nd (my 3rd) one day event.  XC is probably our weakest phase as we don’t get to do much practice. Two days ago I had a day off, put my brave pants on and headed to a local yard which has a selection of little fences.

Abbey was a little excited when we got there but soon settled and got down to work. She’s come on so far – all the grid work and show jumping practice has paid off. She now maintains a lovely rhythm going into a fence and after, listens to where we’re going next and has the confidence to jump new fences without hesitation.

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Showjumping lesson

Over the passed week Abbey’s not shown any signs of being ‘poorly’ and the lump has continued to decrease in size so yesterday we went for a jumping lesson with a new teacher.

Abbey loaded but was trembling from the moment she got on the box. Not sure why – perhaps I was tense or anxious or perhaps she was just in one of those moods.

It was no surprise that when we got there Abbey was rather wound up. 

She was tense as we warmed up and the teacher advised that I let her have a good look and give her the time to see everything. She also said to concentrate on forward rather than round.

We’re still struggling with bend on the left rein and this teachers advice was to give more with my outside rein while opening the inside hand and using my inside leg.  It worked and the canter on that rein improved as a result.

We didn’t have one refusal but we did have some hestitations. When I get these the RI suggested opening both hands to channel Abbey towards the fence.

We also worked on keeping my shoulders up going into a fence and keeping my reins (I often let them slip) as I ride a course.

The take home message was to work on maintaining the rythym all the way to the fence, not letting Abbey rush or firing her into fences.

Abbey the angel

Abbey and I have had a throroughly lovely day at Solihull Riding Club.

We did the boundary ride and then took to the members field to pop a few of xc fences (not too many as she was tired!)

The boundary ride is beautiful and includes  lots of river crossings (which Abbey now goes through on her own), woodland (with scary logs!) and lots of fields to have a canter in. There is a train line and a motorway parallel to the some of fields but neither Abbey now her friend didn’t batter an eye lit at.

In the xc field she popped all but one of the fences first time – including a ditch. We also did a big step (for us) up out of the water. The one fence she refused, she jumped second time around.

All in all it’s been a fabulous day and Abbey gained some valuable experience xc.

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Holidays, Olympia, Physios and EquiPilates

Since my last post it’s, quite frankly, all gone to pot!

I’m not too ashamed to say that the cold dark nights have dampened my enthusiasm to ride of an evening. I’ve been struggling for motivation for a month or two and our training has become a little sporadic.

As a result Abbey’s fitness has gradually decreased and then last week I caught a cold. So  I have declared us on holiday! I think it will do us good.

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10 days of fun and there’s more to come

While its been a while since I last posted, it’s not been a quiet 10 days for Abbey and I.

Since Trailblazers I’ve been avoiding the school. The nights are already drawing in and soon we’ll be confined to it 5 days out of 7.

Immediately after Trailblazers I had a jumping lesson.  We’d not jumped for a while and I was delighted that Abbey came out and popped over a cross pole as if she was well practiced and it was nothing exciting.

As we’re working on Abbey’s spookiness with fences, my instructor quickly upped the anti and started popping anything and everything she could find under the fences and changing the course.  During the half hour we jump road barriers, tarpaulins, flower pots, banners, barrels and traditional jump fillers.  It was a great session and showed how the flat work was translating to our jumping too.

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Practice makes perfect – jumping position

My jumping position has bothered me for ages.  Most of the time I manage to stay in balance but every time I see photos or videos I cringe.  Don’t get me wrong, in recent years it’s got better but it’s still a little hit or miss and there’s still plenty of room for improvement.

December 2013


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‘That’ feeling


This is why I ride. This is why I spend most of my free time quite literally shoveling poop, why I carry on trying even when it seems like we’ll never get there and why I get back on each time I fall off!

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A great jumping exercise

Often, when I explain a problem to my riding instructor she has an exercise up her sleeve.

On Wednesday I described how Abbey got a bit full of herself jumping the cross country fences at the weekend and that she wasn’t listening to me, that she was getting a little strong, slipping out of her shoulder towards the other horses and going “whoo-hoo” after the fences that headed towards the other horses.

Clearly this is natural behaviour and not one that I would want to correct by ‘telling her off’. Nevertheless it’s something that I would like to discourage! My riding instructor didn’t disappoint, before I knew it there were four fence small fences erected in the arena.

She explained the exercise and what she wanted to see; me using my outside leg and rein to guide Abbey around the curves, no drifting of the quarters and no drifting through the shoulder.

Boy, was it hard!

We started with the two jumps on the long side, on a 20m circle. I was supposed to jump both fences maintaining a ryhthm. At first,  on the left rein, it was a total disaster, we barely made the fences and certainly not on a good stride. We adjusted the circle to help Abbey and I get a comfortable stride but I was still making egg shapes, particularly on the approached to the fences.  The drifting was something those car racers would have been proud of!

After 5 mins we switched reins.  And wow! What a difference.  On the right rein, easy peezy!  Just shows how much stronger our right rein is….I’ve some work to do!

We switched back to the left rein, and got it a little better, but still not where I was hoping it would be and then we introduced some of the other circles/fences.

This is definitely an exercise I will be practicing and I’ll be keeping a careful eye on all our flatwork to ensure that we work both reins equally.  #practicemakes perfect!!


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