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Monday, 25 November 2019

Showjumping Training - 24.11.19

After missing our showjumping training earlier this month due to a frozen arena, I was so excited to be going to another on Saturday. Sadly, the weather gods weren’t on our side AGAIN, bringing pouring rain to the northeast throughout the whole of Saturday. Literally, it didn’t even so much as turn to light rain from the moment I woke up until when I went to bed… Not much fun for outdoor showjumping!

Fortunately, I was able to find a space on a showjumping clinic the very next day at the same venue, but with a coach I’d not been to before. That’s always a little nerve-wracking as for the last four years, we’ve only been coached by Philippa, who knows us both inside out, and knows exactly how to get the best from us. Anyway, this coach was recommended by Philippa and I knew I was in safe hands by that alone.

Sunday’s weather was much better…as in, it didn’t rain. But it was still typically grey and damp, but at least there was no wind or rain. I’d decided to leave Louie in the stable, enjoying playing with his Silvermoor swinger until early afternoon when we headed out for our lesson.

Over the last month, we’ve had some real progress with our showjumping, with things really starting to come together and giving us a good basis to start to develop and improve. It’s only in September that we were still very inconsistent going over planks and fillers… If you remember back, the first showjumping training session after my holiday was a real kick-starter where all of a sudden everything seemed to click into place in what felt like a 1-hour session.

Anyway, back to this showjumping session… Our coach was Grace Maher who is part of the Will2Win team that Philippa runs. We told her a little bit about us and where we were at when we first went into the arena, and I was very honest explaining my comfort zone would still be to start with half in fillers, but in reality we’re now capable to just go out and jump the course with everything in right away. I gave her my three bad habits – keeping a good canter, looking where I’m going and hands down.

Incorporating into our canter warm up Grace asked us to canter over a pole over X. First thing to remember, don’t look down. Louie looked down, popped the extra stride in and gave for an uncomfortable stride over it. Next few times, we looked up and around the circle and things were much better! Next, we warmed up over a cross pole, which was nothing to Louie. This in itself is a milestone as until two months ago, he would freak out at a cross pole…

I really tried to focus on looking up and not down into the middle of the cross, as well as keeping my hands down. In that, I forgot to keep my canter which caused a couple of long and deep jumps once it was raised to an upright.

Next up was a four stride distance on the left rein. It was a little oxer coming in and fillers under the second upright. I was still managing to kill my canter around the turn and I was now starting to feel and understand how that was affecting my stride into the fence. We fit five strides in the first time down, and even until nearer the end of the session, really struggled to not square my corner and just allow the canter around the turn.

We worked on a five stride distance too, which had less room off the turn and again, I could feel the difference when adjusting the canter on the corner into it. Next up was the turn back to the purple set of fillers. This wasn’t the easiest turn but had a decent straight line in front of it & a perfectly placed tree beyond the arena behind it to give me a good line to aim for!

Before jumping around the full course, we had a couple of practices over the green and yellow, with filler underneath. Again, Louie just flew and I needn’t have thought about it at all. It’s so great now that he has found his confidence to jump, it’s just taking me a little while to get used to the “new canter”. He isn’t strong when he goes to a fence, he’s now taking me to it, and that feeling I need to go with a little more… Ride less defensively, allow around the course & over the jumps, and literally relax & enjoy the ride!

Here’s a video of us jumping around the full course. I am so proud of how far we have come & made such strong progress over the last month or so. I never believed people when they said one day it would just click into place and both Louie & I would find our confidence together…I now know exactly what they meant, as it feels like we’ve just woken up one day and things clicked into place and came together.

To some people, this may not seem a big achievement, but for me, it’s major. To be able to come into an arena, warm-up and jump around a course complete with fillers and planks, it everything I’ve worked on. And yesterday was only that, but that we kept a steady rhythm all the way around, kept looking ahead, and mostly my hands stayed down. I now need to master keeping the power to our canter around the corners!

Stayed tuned later this week to see what other jumping adventures we’re heading out on! It’s a good one!


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