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Thursday, 31 October 2019

October Round Up

On the one hand, October seems to have flown by in a heartbeat, but on the other hand, it seems a long time ago since I came back from holiday. As soon as I returned from holiday, I headed to Amsterdam for a few good days with my team at work. It was fun with an afternoon enjoying a treasure hunt around the city before coming to the office to plan our next 18 months.

The first job when I came home properly was to get Louie’s shoes put back on, which we did on 8th October. The next night I hopped onboard and headed into the arena for a light schooling session where we worked on a couple of suppling and bending exercises. He felt GREAT – lovely and loose.

Next up…clipping. Louie wasn’t sporting an overly thick coat, but the issue with riding in October is the varying temperature. So, some evenings it would be 12/13 degrees to school in, which would get Louie hot and sweaty, but then falling to as low as 5/6 overnight so he needed a light rug on. When he has a thicker coat, he takes longer to dry, especially as I wash him down when I’ve finished riding, so it can be a couple of hours after that I’m able to rug. That isn’t practical for me.

So I clipped Louie, opting for a hunter clip because he is in a high workload in the school and when jumping, as well as being worked five days a week with hacking included. The next night we headed out for a hack and I did question my sanity when I went out in strong winds on a horse that was clipped less than 24 hours earlier & that hadn’t really done any work for three weeks… I needn’t have worried as he was well behaved and relaxed.

While Louie had been enjoying a break, I’d teamed up with the fabulous Boudica Equestrian to celebrating reaching an amazing 4,000 followers on our Instagram (so if you’re not following us, head over now!). The winner of the prize draw worth £70 was drawn early into the month & it was great to see the winner so excited and sharing her lovely new prizes with us!

We’d also teamed up with Oil2Horse to help give Louie a really great clip. Applying the oil to the horse’s coat can help condition the coat and skin so you can get an extra smooth clip & helping to make him look glossy afterwards. It’s a very versatile oil that you can use to promote coat condition when clipping but also relieved skin irritation when horses are rugged in the winter, and especially great on their legs.

Mid-October we head back out and about to kick off our winter training, opting for some evening showjumping training with Philippa but part of a local riding club. I was sceptical about how well it would go as it was a while since Louie last jumped but I was thrilled with how well he just came into the session and gave it his best & along with another super positive session later in the month, I’m looking forward to accelerating our showjumping over the coming months! If you missed it, you can catch the full training session blog post here.

Perhaps the BIGGEST (& most exciting!) news of the month was the arrival of our brand new Voltaire dressage saddle. It arrived on a Wednesday, but it took me until Saturday to open the box…that’s how ill I was!! After covering it in balm all weekend – I literally went through almost a full tub of it – I sat in it for the first time on Monday evening. It’s very different to flat schooling in a jump saddle but it felt so comfortable and natural right away. I loved it.

I decided to enter a dressage competition the next Saturday and thought I’ll give it a spin, even though I was still unbalanced and getting used to the movement in my ankles, I needed to ride in it! After a quick school around in it later in the week, we headed to the dressage competition & what a lesson I learnt! Negativity gets you nowhere.

I won’t go into it fully in this post (if you want to read it, take a look at my latest dressage competition report), but I let my lack of self-confidence completely take over, thinking everyone around us was so much better and we shouldn’t be in the class. Yes, it came out and exploded.

We completed two very different tests – the first a little too forward although the judge seemed to like it. And the second wasn’t off the leg enough. Kind of wish I’d not listened to myself and adjusted for the second really. The judge was a list 2 judge with frequent experience at 5* eventing level so to come away with 65%+ in both tests made me think differently about how “crap” we were… Plus, looking down my test sheets, I got some great scores with plenty of 7’s across both tests. With a judge of this calibre, I was pleased with how we’d gone but know there are improvements to now come.

A few days later, I took the afternoon off work and hired an arena to go showjumping on our own, well, with Andrew, but without an instructor. My goal was to jump everything fully in. I’ve done this in the past by creeping the fillers in inch by inch, but this session I jumped everything with them half in and then pushed them right in. The fences weren’t particularly high and there was nothing too challenging about the short course we put together, BUT for us, jumping around a course confidently and over objects that have previously caused us major issues was very much something to celebrate!

I was over the moon with how well this session went!

We’ve got plenty planned in for the upcoming weeks from more competitions, to schooling in our new dressage saddle, to showjumping training so stay tuned to read all about it! I’ve also launched an exercise of the month series for the winter months training, so November will bring you the second in that series!

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