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Sunday, 8 October 2017

One of My Most Proud Moments...

Today, I had one of my most proud moments with Louie.

We headed out showjumping to the fantastic Alnwick Ford Equestrian to jump around two of their unaffiliated classes. After a few busy weeks of dressage in August and at the start of September, I was pleased that we didn't need to be plaited nor be a contender for the 'Daz Doorstep Challenge'! However, I obviously couldn't go with a yellow tail and socks, so the day before I gave Louie a quick hose down after a long morning hack before popping him back in the field.

Back to showjumping...

My first class started at 10am, and I didn't want to be feeling rushed, so I planned to arrive early to give myself time to walk the course & really learn it (I have a pants memory for showjumping!!), before getting changed and tacked up, ready to warm up about 20 minutes before the class. I wasn't expecting many entries as it was unaffiliated, the first class of the day, and the 50cm class... But there were 9 or 10 combinations that went into the ring.

My showjumping coach, Philippa, had a number of clients jumping throughout the day, so met me in the warm up where Louie was relaxed and taking everything in. He stayed nice & calm even as a couple of ponies whizzed passed us!! After a trot and a canter, we had a couple of jumps over an upright and oxer, before heading into the ring.

The competition venue sections off a small area at the top of the arena for when you are next in, but with a couple of riders stood at the top, I walked a circle before going pretty much straight in. We were first in for the class, and with a brief trot in between a couple of fences, then the bell went.

We were off. Striking up canter, Louie's green-ness showed as he broke to trot at the other end, but I kept coming. The top tip from Philippa before I went in was sit up, look up and keep your leg on... So I did!

Here's the video from the first class - bit of a near miss after number 10!! As Louie landed and took a spook at some spare wings, I collapsed and lent to the right... It's definitely one way to make sure you sit up and be balanced as you land!!

I was thrilled to bits to come out with a clear round!! We've done a little bit of showjumping at this sort of height, but have been met with tiny, lead rein style fences or badly built courses, so this was our first proper attempt in over a year at a showjumping class. Yes, Louie was very green, but when I sat and looked up, he just lowered his head and said 'gotcha-ya!' as he popped over everything!

With a few still to go, I popped Louie back on the wagon for 15 minutes, before heading back to the warm up for the second class - moving up to 60cm.

This time Louie thought he was king pin, which is great but also leads to a strong Louie. It was a great feeling to have Louie pull me into the fences, but perhaps slightly too keen at times and left us with two down. I was still thrilled with how he had come back in, so much more confident and took everything on!

Here's a quick clip of our second class - no bloopers in this one!!

So, why is this a proud moment?

Very simply, Louie has not been an easy and straight forward young horse to bring on showjumping. It has taken a long time for Louie to find his confidence over poles, and over the course of this summer, has come on leaps and bounds. I've experimented with various bits to try to contain some of his new found enthusiasm without taking away his confidence to take the contact forward.

But it's not only Louie... I've had to find my feet too.

Buddy you could point and he would jump. I don't ever remember having any issues showjumping him (a shame he didn't do the same cross country). Similarly, with Thomas - he would just jump. While both these horses gave me confidence to jump, they didn't really teach me the technique, the flexibility, the confidence... I've re-learnt to jump with Louie, right up from the way of going through to how to position yourself effectively over a fence, to actually being able to see a stride! The latter I couldn't see for toffee before!!

Some might only see it as 50/60cm jumping after two and a half years, but there has been so much dedication, hard work, willing, determination, and understanding to get to this point. We are by no means the finished combination, but I feel like today we started a new chapter to our journey... One that will be exciting and full of new adventures, learnings and achievements.

It's not only my hard work and dedication. Andrew is a huge support - driving me to training sessions all year round, helping out at the yard, pole moving, wing carrying, you name it, he helps me with it!! But I also would definitely not have been able to get where I am without the support of Philippa who is always there, always listens and always gives me a kick up the backside when it's needed!!

I'm really looking forward to a winter of showjumping, and see what the next chapter has in store for us - I hope you enjoy it too!

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  1. WELL DONE! I'm so very pleased for you, I'm glad you are both feeling more confident at SJ 💕

  2. This is awesome, well done!


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