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Monday, 1 May 2017

April Round Up

Well 2017 is certainly flying past – I can’t believe we’re now at the end of April!!

At the start of the month, I took Louie on his first ever pleasure ride. We spend a lot of time hacking out alone, or with only really one or two others, so I was keen to know how Louie would get on by himself, within a much larger group.

He was definitely keen!! He had a blast and really took me forward around the whole ride, even if it was a little quicker than I’d first hoped!

The ride was through Hulne Park with some beautiful countryside of Alnwick, making for some great photos – we did a full post on the pleasure ride already.

We changed Louie’s bit at the end of March, so we’ve done a “bit” of playing around with how that works for us too, really just by putting it through everything we do.

It’s definitely helping to improve Louie’s confidence to take a longer frame, and be more confident in taking the contact forward. It’s loose ring, so is giving me a fairly good feel on the contact too, but at times, can be a more muffled communication because of the mullen mouth piece.

While we used it to help with Louie’s confidence in taking the contact forward and it is achieving this, it’s has left us with the issue of some control in the showjumping. We don’t have an issue with the steering, but Louie can get very keen into his fences, and forgets to wait. A rubber mouthpiece isn’t helping to solve this issue, so during our showjumping lesson we played with a part rubber and part metal bit, which didn’t make too much of a difference. However, as steering isn’t an issue, we’ve tried to incorporate small circles into our jumping practice to make Louie think – they also make me sit upright and correctly.

It’s great to know that Louie now enjoys his jumping so much though!

We also enjoyed two flatwork lessons – we don’t normally have two, so why so April? Very simply, I learnt a big lesson – if you really have had a crappy day, and you are not in the mood to ride, just don’t.

I never really believed this, but during my first flatwork lesson, I learnt pretty quickly that I shouldn’t be riding. So, I booked one 10 days later, on a Saturday morning, when I was sure to be feeling better. I was & we had a fantastic lesson.

Louie learnt how to do his first steps of shoulder in, but we also worked on slowing the rhythm to allow him to have more elevation and decadence to his paces – something I was losing because I was becoming over-obsessed on being forward. I also do not turn my upper body sufficiently to the right, so we did some work around how to improve that for me, and so it was no longer just my head turning!

I’m pleased I had the bad lesson (& that I was easily able to book another one in so soon after) as it really highlighted the importance of my subconscious mood & what does affect the way I ride. It will be a much more obvious decision in the future.

Easter fell into April this year, and we took FULL advantage of a longer weekend, and enjoyed a morning cross country schooling. This will only be the third time Louie has seen cross country fences & every time, he gets better & better, tackling new things, being confident and understanding jumping, pushing on and coming back.

A post shared by Sophie Tunnah (@sophietunnah) on 
After the pleasure ride at the start of the month, where Louie really took a hold and was quite strong into the fences in the fields we went across, I was quite interested to see how he would come back to cantering around a big open field, and keep his rhythm in between fences.

He took to cross country far better than jumping the fences on the ride, as I could use twists and turns and combinations to keep him thinking and listening all the time!

Towards the end of the month, I had to go to Copenhagen for a week with work, but the timing was quite nice to give Louie a little break and time to enjoy in the field while I was away. After jumping back onboard the day I flew home, and some great flatwork produced, we headed out to a showjumping lesson. The aim was to sort out Louie’s lack of manners at times, and test a new bit out.

The session was great, and we really worked on circles before and after the jumps to help keep Louie listening, me thinking, and preventing the dive around the corner coming to the fence. It also really helped me to concentrate straight after the fence and think about the upcoming circle, rather than allowing the rhythm to speed up. The bit changed also went well – Louie accepted it really well, and although completely new to me, I felt no different riding in it in terms of the contact.

On the last day of April, we headed out to our first competition on over three months – the riding club dressage. Last time Louie was out with lots of other horses was the pleasure ride, where he was very excited even at the wagon. So I was pleased that he settled nicely down tied to the side of the wagon, stood like a saint in between our tests, and even with some playful horses in the field next to the warm up, got his head down to some work.

Unfortunately, I became a bit too fixated on whether Louie was sitting behind the contact as I had gone back to my NS Turtle Top bit, and forgot the whole picture. The test arena was fairly spooky and I think Louie could have done with more support from me to help alleviate some of his tension, but we came home pleased with a 4th & a 6th.

Happy to be back out & about!

Proudly wearing our Haynet numnah!

Now that we’re back out and about, I really hope that we can continue to do much more into May, so look out for our posts as we go… & very excitingly, it’s Badminton horse trials at the start of the month!

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