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Sunday, 11 April 2021

Winter Round Up

Winter Round Up & Training - Team Tunnah Equestrian

WOW! It's been over SEVEN months since I last published a post on my blog! 😳

Hopefully, you've been keeping up to date with us over on Facebook or Instagram, but if not, or if you just want to hear a snapshot of what we've done in that time, sit back & enjoy the catch up!

Unfortunately, we've not been out to any competitions, although Good Friday we did head out to a local dressage competition for the first time since September! I'll post about that later...

October gave us quite a few training opportunities, both on the flat and jumping. Cathy, our regular dressage trainer, now comes to Northumberland every second Saturday and is able to come to our yard to teach. I fell out of love a little bit with our flatwork in October & November - everything felt very rough, very resistant and just generally a bit rubbish. But it's classic of a training plateau...

We also managed to enjoy three showjumping sessions away from home in October - two at the fantastic Will2Win arena and one at Richmond where we hired a course & had some coaching around it. Philippa continues to be our consistent & only showjumping coach. Without her help throughout all of our struggles (& battles), I'm not sure we'd still be jumping! She's great at looking at life from the horse's perspective & setting up for success, even new challenges, breaking them down into confident achievements, and not only throwing the whole challenge at you in one go.

October also brought the time to start clipping. I'm always enthusiastic to start clipping, mostly to prevent a sweaty horse, but cut to halfway through the job, and I'm sick of my life with it!! 🤦‍♀️
This year was SO different...

Everything I'd ever read about giving your horse a really good clip included a full warm bath or hot clothing BEFORE you clip. The yards I've been on in the past only had cold water, and the prospect of filling buckets of warm water using a kettle of boiling water didn't inspire me, especially when you factor in constant refilling to keep using clean water and not letting the water cool...

Now I'm on a yard with a hot water horse shower, all neatly set up in a wash bay! 👌
This has literally revolutionised my life when it came to clipping. Not only did the clipper run through his coat SO much better - it was quicker, the clippers didn't heat up as much as normal, and they didn't get clogged up with all the grease. It definitely gave Louie the best clip I'd ever managed!

I know not everyone has access to hot water like that, but honestly, if you can box up to somewhere that does, I'd 100% recommend it! I'll never clip again without the bath - I bathed in the morning and came back mid-afternoon to clip.

Clipping & Bath Time - Team Tunnah Equestrian Blog

Towards the end of October, the weather really started to change & I almost instantly morphed into a complete fair weather rider. I took full advantage of the cover of an indoor arena, and didn't come back out of it until March!! 😂

Looking back at November, it doesn't appear that we did much, but we continued to work on our flatwork and jump exercises at home. I managed to get a session with Cathy in mid-November where we really focused on the lateral work while keeping Louie relaxed. I was still in a bit of a rut with our flatwork, so it wasn't as a productive session as it should be.

Meanwhile, on our own, we incorporated plenty of polework exercises...

Polework Exercise - Team Tunnah Equestrian Blog

Polework Exercise - Team Tunnah Equestrian Blog

Polework Exercises - Team Tunnah Equestrian Blog

December came around, and I had a full 10 days off work at the start of the month, where I did absolutely NOTHING in life. A complete break of everything - things that happen in life can put so much into true context.
I decided to take a break from social media in December, intending to start back up in January... You know the old chestnut of 'new year, new beginnings...' 
The reality was that I didn't start posting again until early Feb.

Behind the scenes, we didn't do much in December. Louie had a good break while I did. And then again for a week later in the month as Christmas was coming, work was insane with constant Covid regulation changes across the UK border coupled with Brexit...

When I got back onboard, I really felt as though someone has hit my rest button. The flatwork that I'd spent two months battling with, just fell into place. The break had clearly done Louie good, and the fitness training and weight loss programme I had started at the end of November was giving me such a better position and strength in the saddle. 

January came (and brought a national lockdown with it). I managed to get a session in with Cathy just before that was announced, so felt like I was able to really progress from where we were over a couple of months it would be before we saw her again. 

Between 3rd January and 13th March, we continued to work on our dressage a couple of times a week, putting a lot of effort into our medium trot and lateral work. For the first time ever, when I look back at where we've come out of winter, we've really progressed our training. 

I put that down to having better training facilities for sure but also taking the pressure off everything. Knowing it doesn't matter if I don't ride a few nights, or that one bad session doesn't mean I'm totally useless. Understanding that the polished picture of our next goal isn't the next step - breaking it into lots of small steps and building up to the bigger picture. 

I've not had a self- belief crisis for AGES now (OK, I had one the other day for the first time, but after giving myself a shake, I got rid of it WAY faster than I would have done in the past).

It goes for the jumping too. I've stopped being over-concerned about everything being perfect - it never will be. I have a much better attitude to polishing our jumping and working on exercises and movements to help our overall way of going, instead of getting fixated on the issue itself. 

I'd say that it wasn't really until mid-February that I started to really bring our showjumping into our work each week. Sometimes I work over jumps - I aim for once a week. Other times it might be over poles, or even just about the quality of the canter, transitions and way of going between the fences. 

As things started to open up, I made sure I was giving Louie a jump once a week with a specific plan - combinations, turns, rhythm - so we didn't just jump round aimlessly.

Finally, after what felt like an eternity, Cathy was able to come back for training sessions and our first one was 13th March. I've taken advantage of one every second Saturday since then, except yesterday when it clashed with a jumping lesson. 

Dressage Training - Team Tunnah Equestrian Blog

Our first showjumping training session couldn't happen until after 29th March due to the restriction on transporting horses, but the first weekend possible, I was there. Last weekend I had our first session since 17th October!!! I fully expected that despite things felt like they were going well, we'd need a hand resetting our rhythm, and Louie would take a few steps back when it came to seeing brightly coloured fences again...

We both came back so strong! Straight into jumping a course of fences. 

I'd booked back to back lessons (weekend to weekend) so that we could have some condensed training after so long without. The second was yesterday where we had a dry run of warming up then jumping a course. 

It was GREAT!! Bit of chaos on the roll back to the red fence - it had my life trying to nail getting that right 🙈

And here we are today...

I've spent the last week filling my calendar with training & competitions. Reflecting back on last year, I lost the love and enjoyment of this great hobby, putting too much pressure on myself, resenting the amount of time it took up. I'm not falling back into that place.

Between now and the end of May, I've got plenty of showjumping and dressage training booked. I've got dressage competitions planned locally and further afield, with showjumping competitions also planned in, working towards a 4-day show at the end of May. 

I'm so excited for everything coming up and it's been AGES since I've felt like a busy schedule is fun! 

Stay tuned to hear how we get on over the coming weeks! 

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