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Thursday, 1 June 2017

May Round Up

Jumping. That’s what this month has been all about! Our last showjumping lesson feels like a lifetime ago, WAY back on 28th April, where we saw Louie show some real green mistakes - mistakes that we thought were behind him and took us by surprise.

We decided to build his confidence back up, starting with loose jumping him over various things (water trays, fillers, planks, ladders…) which highlighted that actually he didn’t seem to have a lot of his own confidence. I’m not really sure what’s caused the loss of confidence – perhaps his recent over-eagerness, but there’s certainly been no immediate trigger.

So, the task this month was to make jumping anything the norm for Louie, while still also working on our rhythm.

As we mentioned in our April Round Up, we tried a new bit – a Beris Butterfly Pelham – which Louie accepted very well going nicely in. Unfortunately, as this bit costs £130 (!!!), I wasn’t able to buy it to test for a few weeks, and because of that, in May, we have done a countless number of circles to work on rhythm just to make Louie wait.

It’s worked a treat – he now come to a fence in a consistent rhythm without dipping behind the contact or losing power. I’m pleased I’ve worked on this, & achieved it, in my soft-as-they-come rubber straight bar loose ring. The only change I had to make was to add rubber bit guards that were needed when we started to do more circles.

We also went back to basics with our jumping, setting up for success at the start of our session. What does that mean? Basically, start with what you know you can do, then add in or change something that is a bit of a step up from that starting point. I find no shame in going back to poles on the ground before popping up a simple jump to get Louie’s confidence in the right space. We also ended a lot of our session short because he had done as he was asked and he felt confident. I never want him to become over-tired jumping and think it is hard work – it should be as fun to them as it is to us!

By last week (25th), we were happily popping over white ladders and a range of planks from the start. To some, this might seem basic and a big backward step, but it is one of the most positive months I’ve had with Louie’s jumping. I’m pleased I stripped everything back, and have started to come back up – I think it will make Louie a more confidence horse in the long run.

May is Badminton month, & I’d be surprised if anyone reading this now, hasn’t read a report on all the action that took place, but in case not, you can take a flick through our full Badminton 2017 highlights post.

Image credit: Horse & Country TV

Also during May, we had our first real experience of going to a British Showjumping show – I told you this month had been all about jumping!

About five years ago, I had ONE go at British Showjumping with Buddy & only because I was trying to sell him. In we went, all plaited, tweed jacket, velvet peak hat, stock and pin… I think the warm-up paused when we walked in. I felt so out of place!! I sold Buddy shortly after & Thomas was never a clean enough jumper to do pure showjumping. But, as I now sit on the area 12 committee, I take every opportunity to get to know the sport better, plus it was the area qualifiers, so I could watch my coach warming up the teams to learn tips & techniques in the warm-up ring!

I had a really good day, learning a lot about the sport and little things I could put into practice myself. The team members also seemed to really enjoy being part of a team and representing the area too, despite some of them feeling the pressure to perform more than jumping for themselves in regular classes. If you’re into jumping and compete at 90cm – 1.15m, you should find out about qualifiers in your area – you can read what we thought of watching the area qualifiers in the full post.

OK, so I said it was all about jumping…well, not quite. While we were jumping, to help with our fluidity and rhythm, we did a lot of flatwork between fences, which when we had our dressage lesson on 8th, really showed. Unfortunately, Andrew wasn’t able to get any photos or videos, but it was one of the best lessons we’ve had – Louie is really improving his length of frame as well as starting to show off the hard work we’ve been putting into our lateral training.

Leaving the arena at 'B'....

Feeling positive, we entered a local dressage competition at the end of the month. Well, in a nutshell, it just was not our day! Although calm and relaxed, and despite warming up beautifully, Louie seemed extra spooky, taking a particular dislike to the judge’s car in both tests (one did have its wipers go AND they were squeaking!! 🙄)

I really wish I hadn’t let frustration, disappointment and overall negativity affect our second test, as we got some really great comments from the judge, & despite a tense test, I was pleased to find out we were only 12% from the leader (who did a lovely test!).

Similarly, in the second test we were just 8% from the leader – it’s even more frustration knowing that all my tension transferred into such a bad feeling test when actually, it clearly had some really great moments!

Never mind, we all have bad days, & we’re putting it firmly in the archives & behind us – onto the next!

So, what’s coming up in June?

It’s another busy month! We’re heading to Belsay horse trials in Northumberland, as well as Bramham the week after. Bramham horse trials is our FAVOURITE on the calendar, so look out for lots of updates about 2017’s event!

Later in the month, we’re hoping to do some combined training competitions, as well as head to the Riding Club area qualifiers. Fingers crossed all goes to plan – you’ll be sure to see updates as to how we got on!

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