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Saturday, 4 April 2020

March Round Up

Well, it feels like blinking ages since the start of the month, and I don’t think anyone can disagree, it’s been the most strange month ever! I’m two weeks into full-time working at home, along with Andrew, sitting staring at the same four walls all day long, with the saving grace of needing to sort Louie each morning & evening.

 I’ve been using What’s App more than I ever have, whether it’s managing through crisis communication for work or resetting with a good lol at some of the memes, gifs and videos doing the rounds right now!

Work has been insane & completely structureless while we navigate through rough seas that the travel industry is currently sailing through...some nice little puns there when you know I work for a ferry company! ⛴

It’s been a big challenge, but I couldn’t be prouder of everyone involved - teamwork, commitment, dedication and solidarity is shown every day. Everyone supporting each other, bringing humour when it’s needed to keep us all sane, and working flat out to deliver the best for our customers.

Anyway, back to equestrian life.

The start of March was going well, and I was enjoying going about our usual routine with Louie. Since going to Morris at the end of January, I've been working on getting Louie fitter and slimmed down a little. So I started off in the arena with just two simple planks - one up the long side three-quarter line and the other across the centre line on a 20m circle from C. The purpose was to work on straightness on both, and nothing better to get Louie's attention with a plank to go over.

At the start of March I was also able to make my first hack out after work, without having to finish early. It was lovely to head out as the sunset over us, and we just made it home in time for dusk.

The next weekend, we'd booked a training session with Philippa to work on our jumping, with the aim of heading out to Richmond for a jumping competition on 22nd March. Obviously, that never happened.

It was a really great session and it's really starting to show that Louie is confident & taking me to the fences. However, I realised he's getting me out of a lot of mistakes now, so I left feeling keen to resolve these and start to tidy myself up. You'll see in the clip below of us jumping around a short course that I make a mistake into the blue oxer as I got no reaction to the fence when straight, down the 4-stride combination by not reacting to him being keen and going deep to the second part, and again on the final line to the first part of the double by not committing and keeping my leg on. I can definitely tidy all of this up to help things be more fluid as we jump round.

Our regular flatwork session with Cathy came up the next day, and we really worked hard, focusing on starting to work towards the collection of the canter. We worked on a small circle in the centre of the arena, using walk to canter and canter to walk. Louie found this very difficult, and only really managed a couple of strides at a time. I found it really hard to co-ordinate myself and remember not to let the circle get bigger, or as I kept doing, coming out of it entirely. I was pleased with Louie's efforts and left knowing we can work on to improve before the next lesson...whenever that may be!

Then, Friday 13th came...

Yes, in a month that's been the strangest, we also had a Friday 13th... Sad news at work that due to Covid-19 government restrictions in Norway & Denmark meant we had to suspend our services. It meant a bit of a late stay at the office to deal with crisis communication to all affected customers, and I knew we'd be in for a turbulent weekend. So I took the option to get up and ride out at daybreak on Saturday morning. It made for good timing as most of the early morning messages I could deal with from my phone while heading home and on the yard. 

It was a hell of a week, and most of my time with Louie was interrupted by work. I have always worried about these situations and finding a way to balance everything, but the reality was actually really easy. When things were quiet, I spent some time in the saddle, occasionally being disrupted as the What's Apps came through to support with something else changing across Europe affecting our business. 

It was also the week that we were sent home to work. I've enjoyed working from home when I've had something to really concentrate on, but not really as a long term arrangement, so I wasn't very sure about how this was going to be. It's turned out to be fine - I'm never off Skype, Teams or Facetime to someone somewhere in Europe - & I've been able to find focus on urgent pieces during this unusual time. I have also learnt Andrew is a total chatterbox at work...there's been many a time so far he's driven me nuts, so I've discreetly popped my earphones in, covered by my hair and listened to some Apple Music playlist.

That weekend, again, getting up and riding as early as I could, Louie and I managed to go on the beach solo! This is a major achievement as Louie won't go on the soft sand - he gets halfway across to the harder sand, freaks, and tries to march off the beach. We've only ever been on with a friend and even then it's a bit of an effort. After a trot along to the end, we carried on with our ride.

The next week we enjoyed hacking and schooling on an evening after work, and while I've always found it a great way to relax and unwind after a particularly challenging day, I found that even more appropriate with so much going on.

Normally, the clocks springing forward is a happy day for equestrians all over, but it came around without almost a mention. Classicly for the UK, the 1st day in BST was FREEZING with hailstones and Louie went out for the day in his heaviest winter rug...

I finished the month with a simple pole exercise in the arena - 3 strides down the left side, and a 2 canter stride distance to 1 on the right. Louie was....keen! But with plenty of flatwork, he soon settled and bossed the exercises on each rein.

I even added a new kind of line for him - a diagonal line from the furthest top pole on the right across the lower pole on the left. He was a bit wobbly over the poles the first time, but I repeated a couple of times, and he did it foot perfectly the third time, so we finished.

It looks like things are going to be as they are for a little while yet, so make sure you stay safe and stay strong. Happy times will come again.

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