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Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Feeding Energy

After another good weekend, I am now pleased to report that Thomas' new diet seems to be going well & as planned. I've been a busy bee the last few weeks, calling a number of feed providers to discuss what the best options are to aid energy without adding too much weight and causing fizzy behaviour.

I've settled on a diet that Dodson & Horrell recommended. This consists of Competition Concentrate to aid the release of energy in both mind and muscles. It also helps post-work recovery & hydration. Once Thomas is back out in the field, oats will slowly be added to the diet to increase slower release energy for sustained performance. This will be a fine balance as too few may have no effect, but too many may make Thomas feel a little too well...!

How do I know the feed is working?

Usually I allow 10 or 15 minutes warm up before a dressage test. This allows me to loosen Thomas off but not be too long that he loses interest or becomes tired. On Sunday, I was running a little late for my time and so only got 10 minutes in the collecting ring. Thomas was very forward and very interested in everything going on around - just how I'd like him to be during the test. It's a shame that I didn't have a few more minutes to settle him in a little more, as he was a little tense in the test, but still came out with a pleasing 67.08%

Feeding is a testing and refining process until the balance is found, so no doubt we will have lots to report on this in the upcoming weeks.

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Working to Improve Flexibility

With plenty of time over the winter to take a step back and work on the basic, I've realised that both Thomas and I are right handed (in a sense!) We both have a much stronger right side, than left, meaning that I struggle to support Thomas on this side, and he finds it harder to counteract my dominant right!

We've been doing a lot of lunging recently - at least once or twice a week which has been a huge help towards building up Thomas' left side. I've been using the gym and some strengthening exercises to help with my left side too.

Thomas now feel much easier when working on the left side, but it will be key to ensure that we don't neglect the right. As it's been a while since we've had a nice photo of Thomas mid-work, Andrew kindly took a short film of a lunging session earlier this week. From that, I was able to get a really nice photo of Thomas - he looks very well and fit for this time of year!

Monday, 11 February 2013

A Successful Combined Training

Yesterday saw Thomas and I take a trip with some friend up to Titlington - to take part in some Combined Training. Despite its name, it's not training - it's a competition that combines Dressage and a round of Showjumping.

A reasonably early start, I plaited Thomas up, gave him a good groom to help get that shine all over ;-)
Some friends from our yard were also going to the same venue, so rather than take two boxes at the same time to the same place, we went together.

Although we arrived a little ahead of when we had planned, and it being very cold outside, time flew by and after watching our friend, Thomas stepped off the wagon, I got changed, and tacked up.

You do the dressage first - our first ever Novice test. I was a bit worried as some of the movements, I hadn't done before. BUT to enables us to jump the bigger fences, that's what we had to do! Thomas warmed up great - we went into our test, and although Thomas was lacking in energy a little, he put in a nice test. The judge gave some positive & constructive feedback - plenty for us to work on back at home.

Next was the showjumping...

Our best round to date! Just one fence down - the first. Not sure what happened, think Thomas was perhaps a little forgetful with those front legs as he felt like he flew it! We concentrated on keeping round, supple and sitting straight, so we could have been a little more forward, but it was a great effort!

We've got some dressage planned for later this month, with a couple of events already scheduled in for March - so keep watching out for our updates!

Monday, 4 February 2013

A Great Motivating Lesson

At the end of 2012, Thomas took life a little easier and had a break from competing and training. The start of 2013 saw things start off excellently, with a win and second place at our first dressage of the year.

Since then, we have unfortunately had a very unwelcome guest - SNOW! 

Fortunately, this has now all melted, and although it is still very cold and wind here in the North East, at least this weekend we could continue our fitness and training plans.

Starting on Saturday afternoon with a rather fast trot out from the yard and around the industrial estate - the ground is very muddy everywhere, so we need to stick to the roads for now to get our fitness work in. It gave us just over 4.6 miles which is a good start when Thomas hasn't been able to get out and stretch his legs recently.

Sunday was another great day for us - I'd arranged to have a lesson from my regular instructor, who owns the yard where Thomas is kept. It'd been a long time since we'd had a lesson, and I was really looking forward to working on the things that we'd struggled with on a night in the arena. It was a great lesson! Thomas worked beautifully, and we found a great way to help improve the left side bend that we'd found a lit difficult. 

Unfortunately, although Andrew was watching, we weren't able to get any photos or video, however we are out and about competing this coming weekend - we are very excited to be back out! We'll make sure we post to say how we got on...
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