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

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Training

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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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!

Inspiration and motivation; surviving the winter months

My last three posts have talked about how demotivating the winter months are, how we’re getting back into training and how seeing my progress has inspired me to maintain training.

They’ve been popular and it got me thinking – why have I suddenly become more motivated to ‘kick on’ and achieve my aims?  The weather hasn’t changed much – it’s still very cold, grey, wet and muddy but I’ve a renewed enthusiasm.  It stuck me that I’ve recently heard a couple of little gems that have stuck in my mind. I thought I’d share them in the hope that they might inspire you too.

#1 – It’s ok to be rubbish at first.

Just as you reward your horse/dog for trying during the first steps of training, I’ve been rewarding myself and taking pride in trying/making the first step towards a goal.  Yes my attempts at medium trot/shoulder-in/leg-yield are a bit pants, but I’m doing it and that’s what counts; each time I try I get a little step closer to my goal.

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Progression: from then to now

I often film my schooling sessions with Abbey, mainly to see how we’re progressing, what I am doing right and wrong and if what I feel is what you see.

Here’s our latest session:

There are plenty of things I feel I could be doing better and am I looking forward to my lesson next week.  What struck me the most is how far we’ve come in three years.

This video was taken in winter 2014, when I first sat on Abbey:

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New year and a new me!

We’re less than two weeks into 2018 and so far it’s going well.

Abbey is back in work and she’s remembered the vast majority of the novice work that we were doing last year. It’ll be a while before she’s fit enough and strong enough to move the work on but it’s a great start.

The fitness work is hacking only at the moment – a) it’s supposed to be the best way to start them off, and b) the fields are a swamp.

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Two fourths and a great schooling session

Last Thursday Abbey and I ventured out in 40mph gusts to do Novice 24 and 34.  Despite the wind we came home with just over 63% and 65% and two green rosettes.

Abbey settled much more quickly in the warm up this time and in comparison with our last outing, was slightly less tense and spooky (though I still could have kissed her ears many times during the test!).  I thought she was fairly fit but I guess she’d used up most of her energy being anxious and her engine died for the second test.  This did mean, however, that she got the the relaxation.

 

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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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Lesson with Ken Sudsbury (shoulder-in, medium trot, canter on a named lead)

On Sunday I had a lesson with Ken Sudsbury.  He teaches ‘fusion dressage’ (a mix of traditional classical riding and modern training sometimes called ‘neo classical’).

It was fascinating. I picked up some real ‘gems’ (of knowledge) and some great exercises that I’ll be building into our schooling. Abbey was a superstar too – considering she’d only been on antacids for four days, she was focused and willing throughout – feels like my ol’ponio is back 🙂

Ken first looked at Abbey’s walk.  He really liked it and gave me strict instructions not to ‘fuss’ with it.  All I am permitted to do is close my hands and shoulders to ask for a slightly more collected walk, and ask for a little more extension by opening my fingers on the reins and giving Abbey a small nudge with the legs.  He explained that with a small horse, the extended walk is not going to be huge. If I shorten my reins too much and push with my seat, I will flatten the walk – this is forbidden!

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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.

Continue reading “XC schooling – easy, peasy :)”

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