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Friday, 1 July 2016

June Round Up

Following a bit of a green and tense two tests at a local dressage competition at the end of May, I'd planned to spend June getting Louie to relax again (& me!!), and ask him to take the contact down more. I also made the decision to do as much as a I possibly could so that Louie was used to going into new places and in the white boards... He's never taken much of a look at them, and I'm sure his energy is seeded from me as he seems to look to me for direction more at competitions, but he just felt a bit green when we went down the centre line last time...

So...The next weekend we were entered for another local dressage at a different venue, doing two Prelims. It was a beautifully sunny day, and was unusually quiet for this venue, perhaps because it was the same day as a local BE event. Anyhow, Louie warmed up lovely, was really relaxed, but the test was indoors, which is quite dark when you first go in. He did take it all in his stride, and he has been once before, but a while ago.

I could feel Louie was quite tense, which made me tense (one of my worst habits) & I rode a bit rigidly, not showing Louie off for a score of 63.45%, which was placed far down the class. I was determined to show my horse off better in the next class and have him much more relaxed. We did, although the score was fairly similar (63.75%) but we were placed 5th. Still a way to go, but much better together.

Thankfully, the next day we had a flatwork lesson, with the brilliant Cathy Burrell. We've had lessons from Cathy for about 3/4 years & she's a great motivator, coach and understands the combinations strengths and weaknesses - every individual lesson is tailored, never the same. We worked on bend, leg yielding and taking the contact down and forward to work better over his back.
We left the lesson feeling much more confident and with a good direction forward. & even better, when we put it all into practice on our own a few days later to get the same great work.

A few days later, we hired and arena, put a course up and jumped around. Louie was on his toes with all the bright fillers and different looking fences, but he went round superbly, gaining in confidence over every jump.

The weekend after Bramham, we went to our first ever showjumping competition with a local riding club's open day. We only did a few of the smaller classes, but there was still plenty for Louie to look at with the choice of fillers!!

We had come home with a 1st and a 5th, with a double clear and 4 faults when Louie got a bit too keen and dropped a back foot on a rail!

I was thrilled! Louie's only really been jumping this year, although did bits last year, we mainly worked on our flatwork, and I'm glad I've taken my time, waiting for him to strengthen and mature before doing too much jumping. It's also put Louie's mind in a much better place - he'd never seen a pole when I got him!
Straight onto the next weekend, we entered a Combined Training competition with another local riding club. We did two prelims, with fairly small jumps as unfortunately Louie isn't really ready for a Novice dressage test. It started off as a cloud, but light morning, and we warmed up for our first test. Unfortunately, as the horse before us went in, the heavens opened - we were soaked!!! However, off we went in to do our test.

Louie behaved impeccably, and didn't react to the rain at all! We scored 80.52% and I'd felt like he kept his swing in his stride and took the contact much more forward and down. We did our second test before any jumping, but with another heavy downpour, Louie, although relaxed and swinging along nicely, wasn't quite as off the leg as before. We scored 76.25%. Irrespective of scores, Louie's test were much better than the competition at the start of the month - this was the only aim.

We didn't get a video of our second test - the memory on Andrew's phone ran out!

We did our two rounds of jumping, both clear, and had a lovely surprise to come 1st and 2nd in the respective classes!!

We also had a couple of jumping lessons in June, beginning to work on turns, just with low height jumps, but Louie loves going - he's so excited that we spend most of our time settling him down ready to jump! Once we are going, Louie really takes on what you put in front of him. He still has his green and suspicious moments, but he's much more confident than six months ago.

There's not much planned for July, so far, just a dressage competition booked in for the first weekend.

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