….and there’s lots to update you lot on. From our dressage lessons and competitions to xc schooling and combined training, it’s been a busy few weeks.
I’ve been working on my position with regular lessons on the lunge. It’s been hard and rather painful but what’s the phrase, no pain no gain?! I’m trying to undo habits that are over a decade old and establish new muscle memories, it takes time and patience (not something I am well known for!)
I collapse through my middle, I’m stiff through my hips, my left hand wanders and my legs are too forward. At the moment holding the correct position feels like trying to rub my head and pat my tummy, as soon as I get one bit right, one of my other body parts goes wayward.
In my flatwork lessons on Abbey we’ve been focused on getting Abbey straighter and more supple with the aim of taking control of that left hand side which falls in and out (depending up which rein we’re on).
Riding squares, helps me to take control of Abbey’s shoulders. Abbey resists me on the left rein by setting her jaw against me. One exercise that encourages her to relax is spiraling in and out on a circle with inside bend on the left rein. It also is encouraging Abbey to use her inside leg to engage which improves her trot. Shoulder-in also helps me take control of her shoulders and engage that inside hind.
On the right rein riding off the track and stopping Abbey from drifting back to it, is also helping. Finally keeping my left hand up, blocks Abbey’s efforts to drift.
Monday last week we went to Aston Le Walls with some friends. It was a fun day out – at least Abbey thought so as she got rather excited! On one hand it is fantastic that she’s now so confident with new fences but I wish she’d chill a little. She’s a little nappy and stop argues with my requests to go in certain directions, she’s also started to ignore my requests to SLOW DOWN and balance!
We only had one refusal all day, which was a corner fence – she’s never jumped one before and she flew it second time round so I can’t blame her!
On Thursday we did two combined training classes at Solihull Riding Club. Given how well she’s jumping at the moment I decided to move up to the 80cm and I am delighted to report that she flew round the course. It was up to height with some seriously spooky fillers and Abbey only hesitated at one (fence #7). But I gave her a small squeeze and she said ‘ok’, chipped in a short stride and jumped it.
Our dressage tests weren’t so successful – predominantly because Abbey wouldn’t relax. In the prelim, Abbey’s ears were nearly up my nostrils and everything was a distraction. Consequently our score was in the low 60s and the comments included ‘tactfully ridden’ – still not sure whether the judge meant I rode the test accurately to maximise the marks, or whether I was tactful with a tense and hot pony!
The novice test was a little better, but certainly not a reflection of what we are capable of. Still I was pleased with a score of over 66% and a 6th placing – especially since it was our 2nd novice test ever.
In the next couple of weeks I’ll be continuing to work on our flatwork – both on the basics and some of the new elements, like canter on a named lead, counter canter and medium trot.
I’m planning on entering Abbey in the Trailblazers qualifiers in the Novice section so we’ll be working on those tests too.