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Saturday, 19 September 2020

Showjumping Training -12.09.2020

Showjumping Training 12.09.2020 - Team Tunnah Equestrian

At the end of August, I headed down to Will2Win for our first "proper" showjumping training session since I'd got back in the saddle. It really was a great session - I was relaxed, Louie felt great, and overall it was very productive. We came away with specific homework to work on in between poles and using poles with a stride-distance to small fences. If you didn't catch up with us on that one, you can read about it in the showjumping training blog report that I published.


Last weekend, we headed back to have a second session to build on everything that we'd done in the first session, plus with the support of all of our homework. Or so it should have been...


I had two weeks in between the two sessions, and I didn't want to overdo the homework between the poles but did want to keep up with our progress by putting in the practice so when next went for training, we weren't working on the same things for the whole session. I had put aside a few of our sessions at home to work on the exercises we left with - Thursday, Tuesday and Wednesday. But, I also recognise the need for variety, so I'd planned the first one to be poles to jumps, the second was simply poles of a short course, and the third was using an 18-yard distance to come sometimes on 4 strides, sometimes on 5.


However, as is frequent for many of us, it didn't go to plan, and I had one of the worst 7-10 days with Louie I've had since getting back in the saddle. I couldn't work out what was going wrong - he was rude, he wouldn't concentrate, we couldn't get the suppleness or flexibility to ride our corners properly, and I just could not get the strides between poles or jumps, so either I'd started walking bigger strides or we were that off the boil that we couldn't do 4 or 5 strides down the 18 yards...


I tried heading for the indoor to capture Louie's concentration better. The session was more productive, but we still struggled in our corners and down the distance, plus it was a warm evening so we were sweating before we'd started! The next night I went outdoors and just aimed for the poles on the floor - 18 yards. My gosh, Louie was so distracted - anything and everything around the arena got his attention twice as much as I could! I got him going nicely on the flat, tried the poles and had a few nice even 5 strides, so pushed for a normal rhythm for four... Wasn't happening. So I just got off. There was no point while he was like that and I was now in a negative frame of mind.


So Friday night came, and I thought that I'd see how I was feeling, and if I was still negative, I'd cancel my showjumping training session the next day. Saturday morning came around, and I nearly did cancel but thought let's go and ask for Philippa's advice if we were still struggling when we got there.


I am SO glad I went. Louie was rude at the start, and Philippa gave me some great tips for how to get his attention back to me and focused on what I am asking of him. It was also useful that we jumped an upright on the diagonal and he landed on the wrong lead, so ploughed on ahead, and despite me pulling he didn't come back to trot to enable a change of lead. Again, we got some great tips about not getting into a pulling war, establish a few strides of counter canter, half-halt, soften and ask for the new lead keeping the inside bend and suppleness to the inside. A pulling war is exactly what we'd managed to get into at home when I now look back. 


This is exactly why it is so important to have someone who you can build a relationship with on the ground - who knows you and your horse - so small errors can be corrected before they become bigger issues and beging to hinder all the hard work you've been putting in. 


Now, Philippa is a good friend as well as my coach. During our training sessions, it's coach and pupil. Outside, we have some really great times! But this session, she got tough on me, and my gosh, it whipped me up into a gear even I didn't know that I was capable of using. 


I landed on the wrong lead over the upright on the diagonal. Worked hard to establish the counter canter, change the lead, and as we'd always done when making a mistake, did a circle to bring everything together before carrying on. Not anymore. I was quickly told when I'd put that much effort into doing everything correcting and establishing the corect lead and bend before we evern turn the first corner, stop giving myself extra time and just go to the next fence. It was followed closely by my next "moment of fannying on" will be met with going around with no stirrups. Eeeesh... Anyway, we had to start the course again and there was NO WAY I was going to have my stirrups taken away!! 


A kick up the backside was EXACTLY what I needed, especially after the week I'd had! Whatever took hold of me I need with me all of the time, as I had an mini applause from Philippa when I jumped around, plus the best compliment I've had in ages - it is the best she has EVER seen me ride, even on horses in the past, and Louie is looking fantastic. Coming from the days where we both had zero confidence and wondered if we'd ever crack the jumping, this was amazing to hear! 


Unfortunately, Andrew was otherwise occupied keeping Moose entertained at the sidelines, so he didn't capture it on camera, but I'm sure there'll be many more times for us to jump around like it.


I've not yet planned another session with Philippa - I might leave it until the start of October and opt for jumping at home (so good I can do that now!) and maybe hire the odd place in between. I'd also like to get back out to some shows in October, but with all the restrictions due to Covid, who knows what will be possible! But I'm keeping everything crossed!

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