Sunday, 22 February 2015

We went hunting! (and survived!!!)

Yesterday the mare and I went hunting at one of the busiest meets in the area. The reason was because I know that super early on there is a 6 furlong stretch of grass that I could do battle should we need it, and I know my way home from most places too. Also, they don't technically 'meet' until later on so no cap required til then, just a charity donation, which works well if you think you might only be out 10 minutes (again)
It was very busy, we were towards the back and we were counted as numbers 98 and 99!
But..... We had brakes. The mare wasn't too happy about it to start with, and we stayed so far away from the others we were frequently following footsteps, but despite being so excited she could explode, she didn't, and when I asked her to stop she did.
We stayed out an hour, then spent an hour hacking back in the sunshine, which was blissful.
We really couldn't have done it without a friend and her super patient mare who kept Alice company and was a calming influence.
And I'm not sore today - result!

Monday, 16 February 2015

First day of the half term, and sorting a little blip

I had planned a quick pop on the mare today to help boost our confidence after our blip on Saturday. There were jumps already set up in the school, the kids, who are on half term holiday, were quite happy to have a play and a snack in the clubhouse (only had to stop and bellow at them once from the school) so I figured a 20 minute session would be just what we needed.

She warmed up well, a bit too well actually, rather 'free' today in fact. But I sat quietly and encouraged her forwards, trying to concentrate on my riding - not dropping my inside hip, keeping my shoulders up and the leg on.

Someone had set up what is now known as the Andrew Nicholson circle exercise (after the Eventing Forum the other week) where there are 4 small jumps on a 20m circle. I have done this exercise lots with ground poles, but never felt we were balanced or controlled enough for actual jumps. But still, it gave me the opportunity to pop over one or two of the small jumps, give us both a little boost and call it a day.
Well, that was my plan. Unfortunately the mare very often has her own ideas, and is clearly not suffering from a knock to her confidence. So in an effort to gain the upper hand (or something nearing equality - I'm never fully in charge) I thought "Right you little baggage, let's see what you think of this" and we gave the exercise a go. It's bloody difficult! But to her credit she cracked it on the second go. Not due to our extraordinary balance and coordination, but only our combined bloodymindedness.

Tomorrow we shall try it again and a bigger jump or two, then that will be all for jumping for a week or so. I just know that we need to address any issues as soon as possible to stop them becoming a proper problem (mostly in my mind of course)

And the kids? They've had a great day, playing all morning with the ride on toy tractor, followed by a Burger King and a film - what holidays are for!

Sunday, 15 February 2015

Things we learn the hard way

We actually went showjumping on Saturday. Like proper showjumping, with lots of bling, and barely a stock or hairnet to be seen! (actually that is totally a lie, I'm just trying to be funny)

It didn't really go to plan. As predicted I was in way over my head. I tend to have ostrich like tendencies, and if things get a little bit scary or stressful I ignore the bad stuff, put a positive spin on it and keep jollying along. This can work wonders in lots of situations, but sadly this was not one of them.

The course was probably the biggest I've done, it was indoors, and although they did a cracking job of building the course, there's no denying it is much harder in an indoor arena. Despite warming up beautifully, and jumping her socks off over the practice fences, it all fell apart once we were in the arena. We had a bad jump over the first, knocked the second and third down, then stopped at the 4th and 5th, at which point I decided to retire. We left the indoor arena and went straight out and popped the practice fence again, with no problems.

Strangely I don't feel disappointed. I feel it's been rather a large wake up call, and I'd much rather it came at this time of year. I've learnt that I can't take the horse for granted, that we can wing it at 2'6" or even 2'9" but 3ft is pushing it. I've realised that if we want to do the higher levels we need to do more work - more schooling, and we need to learn to change legs when we're jumping. That my horse is actually an animal capable of being spooked by things, and sometimes she gets confused with what I'm asking - our second refusal was due to her locking onto the double, and so the jump we were supposed to be jumping took her by surprise.

I've also learnt that I should not take my husband and children showjumping, because they will not be impressed with a 4 hour wait for a class, and I will spend the day feeling guilty! Especially on Valentine's Day ;D