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Saturday, 1 September 2018

August Round Up

Since we were given the all clear by the vets to start to bring Louie back into work following his injury, we've been busy bees getting back into the swing of things. This morning, as I took Louie's rug off in the field, I stood back and took a look at him - he's looking in good shape. The muscle tone is starting to return in all the right places and his coat is back to see its usual shine. Looking at him just made me smile 😁

So what have we been up to over the last month... flatwork training, long hacks, competitions and finally returning to jump!

Enjoying a stroll around the countryside

This is something I really missed throughout Louie's rehab - being stuck to the arena and not being able to amble out across the fields & along the tracks. Our first hack out after nine weeks was certainly a great feeling of freedom (even if all we did was walk!)

With such a good summer, Andrew's even joined us on a few hack over the past couple of weeks, cycling along with us! Even if it's just roaming around the cross country course, stopping to pop a few fences as we go...

Since moving yards, I've always come home from hacking with such a buzz about the adventures that we have and all we discover. It really is a fabulous feeling to set off with a rough idea of direction, and two hours later arrive back at the farm. There is literally miles & miles of off-road hacking around us...and even better, the farm is literally on the beach!

I hadn't explored the beach before Louie's injury, whether the tide time wasn't right, or it was veyr busy (in the good weather), or the weather was too bad... For whatever reason, we hadn't ventured across the sand. However, in August, we've made the most of it, whether it's a cool down after a schooling session in the arena or taking full advantage of flexible working hours to start the day with a walk along the beach & back ❤️

Bringing our flatwork back up to speed

I've been very conscious to work Louie correctly to bring him back up to where he was before his injury. Mid-July we enjoyed a very basic flatwork session with Cathy, so it was great to be back in the saddle properly for August session, working on bringing Louie's poll back up after spending a few weeks much longer and lower to support building his muscles back up. Cathy gave me some really great tips to help me be able to feel the difference between and up & out poll, and an up but tucked poll, which was also useful to see in the mirrors around the arena. We also worked on straighten the canter on the long sides as Louie's shoulders were hugging the walls, making it appear that his quarters were falling in, again using the mirrors to help me see the improvements being made. 

It was a well timed session as the previous day we'd been down to Northallerton to compete in a couple of British Dressage classes.

Earlier in the year, we'd entered the PetPlan Area Festivals at Alnwick Ford that ran in mid-June, but with Louie stable bound until the day before, we were forced to withdraw. We'd qualified early into the season & while I didn't feel Louie would be competitive, I entered with a good plan to get us there and to give Louie some more experience in a big, dressed arena. So I was disappointed to not be able to go.

I felt like we'd been given a second chance when I found out there was another Festival at Northallerton in mid-August, however with Louie only back in work a couple of weeks and barely no practice away from home, this run would definitely be for arena experience. My aim was simply to have a more mature test than we had when we were at Bishop Burton the year before.

So, I was pleased to have our Cathy dressage session five days before and that it gave us a chance to go back to the arena and practice using the mirrors ahead of going to Northallerton for the Festivals.

I was over the moon with how Louie performed, and even more so to find out we qualified for the Finals!! Take a read of our full competition report at the PetPlan Area Festivals.

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Our plan now is to keep ticking over - we've had a bit of a break from dressage for a couple of weeks since the Festival, before picking back up for a couple of competitions in September & heading for the Finals in October.

Getting back into the swing of jumping

I think everyone knows that Louie can go a little green in his showjumping, so I was curious as to how he would get on after four months without seeing a course of showjumps. The day before our Area Festival, we headed for a training session with Philippa in her super-swanky new arena and bright & bold showjumps. Perhaps we should take more four month breaks because Louie was fab - relaxed and rhythmical throughout the small course that we skipped around.

However, while he was a star for all the plain poles, he reminded us that he needed to remind himself what fillers and planks were, so the very next week, we were back to get in some practice over these. We've even borrowed a couple of planks to help us when we are at home...

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We also worked on finding our powerful showjumping canter again, while concentrating on keeping it rhythmical. Philippa used two poles to canter over for us to find the feeling of a correct pace, power and rhythm & gave us this as our homework before the next session. This week, we put it into practice and found it really improved our canter rhythm.

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