Sunday, 1 March 2015

Perhaps I'm just ungrateful?

We had a jump clinic today at our yard with an event rider. It was bloody awesome, felt I learnt a lot, and have been bouncing ever since!

But, the more we do, the more we improve, the more capable and in control I feel, the more I feel I don't actually know where I'm heading.

Last year my goal was to get back into it, to improve my confidence and fitness. Then it was to compete more, which we did, then I felt like I wanted to perhaps give British Eventing a go.

But after this winter I feel a bit lost. Ironically because I've had more time to ride, more disposable income to spend on pony outings and things have improved loads.

But what now? I feel we need to practice our newly acquired jumping skills until they become habit, we should definitely work on our dressage, and I really need to get out xc schooling. But I feel flat, not excited. Maybe I just need sunshine? Or more sleep?

Team Chasing starts for us in 3 weeks, hopefully that should help perk me up. The horse is feeling really well by the way, so no concerns there.

Maybe its just the realisation that we're only ever going to be mediocre? I'm horrifically competitive and I'm no good at being just 'ok'

Meh, maybe I just need to man up and stop moping!

Sunday, 22 February 2015

We went hunting! (and survived!!!)

Yay!
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

Thursday, 29 January 2015

Happy Things

I do love a bit of good news, and the last few days seem to have been full of it! Maybe it is from being at home on enforced box rest with poorly children all last week, but this week I have been full of oomph and good intentions (hence actually writing a blog post ;D )

Happy things this week:

* The children are better and back at school (yay!)

* I have started riding a lovely little skewbald mare for a friend - I love young horses!

* I have had the amazing news that I am a runner up in the Twitter Eventing ran 'Fit to Ride' coaching course competition. This means I get a whopping 50% off the course price.

* I am considering becoming a freelance groom again, and where once this would have filled me with fear, I am now full of excitement.

* EQ Life magazine have done an article on our Team Chasing team and there is a fab pic of myself and A the wonder pony in it (fame at last?)

* I have had some lovely rides on my little mare A this week, really looking forward to our jumping clinic on Sunday.

Would love to hear anyone else's good news from this week.

Monday, 23 June 2014

Another ODE!

On Sunday we competed in a team competition at our Riding Club Area Horse Trials.

We had a dressage time of 9.30am, and with a 1.5hr journey time meant it was an early start!

I packed an enormous picnic (one of my biggest fears is running out of food!) the horse and a whole boot full of necessary gear, add one husband and two small people and we were on our way.

We managed to get there in plenty of time, so found the loos, Secretary tent, burger and ice cream vans, then set about plaiting the horse.

The dressage warm up was huge which was rather nice, especially if you do a proper warm up. Myself I usually just have a good canter round then walk around aimlessly getting in people's way! (not intentionally, everyone else just seems so focused and very few of them actually look where they're going)

Our test went well. It was nothing special, a bit flat and quiet, but as I have been trying hard to keep everything quiet and relaxed, it was just what we needed. We managed a score of 39.5 which I was delighted with, especially seeing as my aim was to get below 40. We got straight 6's except for my riding which I got a 7 for.

We went back to the trailer for a short breather and a change of tack, this is when I realised I had only brought 3 brushing boots with me, which was rather clever. Thankfully little mare only has front shoes on, so we just put front boots on, and didn't worry too much about it.

Little horse seemed a bit warm and flat, until she saw a jump! Then suddenly perked up. We produced a fantastic round, the best she has ever done and the best I have ever ridden. Huge smiles all round.

It was starting to get very hot by the time we went xc, so we kept the warm up brief. She stood in the start box snoozing and giving cuddles to the starter who thought she was very cute. 

As soon as we got going she was flying. This horse really loves her jumping. We jumped lots of things we've never seen before, and due to navigational error managed to approach a fence from the side. Thankfully my mare is a saint and thought nothing of jumping this fence from less than a stride away. We decided to go the trickier route at the water which meant we ended up with a stop, but I still think it was the right decision, because we need to see different types of jumps, and she is good enough to go once she's figured it out, which she did. We then stormed home, with a total of 40 faults - 20 for our stop and 20 time faults.

The rest of the team also did well and everyone felt pleased with their results. Unfortunately we didn't really get placed (6th out of 6 isn't really a place) but everyone felt they had achieved something which matters more.

Sadly, I really am bitten by the eventing bug, but just can't justify affiliated prices. So desperately on the hunt for some unaffiliated One Day Events in the area. 

Thursday, 12 June 2014

Sunny evening riding lessons, a picnic tea and impromptu ballet lesson.

I had booked a riding lesson for Wednesday evening. I can't really afford lessons weekly, but try to budget in some kind of training each month.

A friend of mine has started riding our gelding, and I thought us both having a lesson would be beneficial.

As is always the way, my poor husband had had to swap on call duties so ended up being on call that evening. But a picnic tea and a warm, sunny evening meant the children were quite happy sat outside the school while we rode. I had only occasionally to answer to "Mummy!" Or to  bellow across the school at them to quiet down or get out of the long grass as the horses (well, the gelding) thought they were monsters. They had a wonderful evening staying up late and running around. At one point my daughter was giving her brother and two other liveries a ballet lesson.

The lesson itself went well too. The mare and I are continuing to make progress with our flatwork, and my friend and the gelding seemed to achieve a lot too. Poor thing was made to do sitting trot though, and when asked how she was feeling the next day, said she woke up wondering if she was in labour, or whether it was the sitting trot! (Decided it was the sitting trot, mostly due to her not actually being pregnant)

The kids are a little more tired and ratty than usual from their late night, but mostly coped very well. It's always nice when things work out better than expected!