Thursday, 18 August 2011

Shelford Manor BE90

Shelford Manor was mine and Mally's second BE90. It's not an event I have ever had any experience of, but I shall definitely make the effort to return! The ground was just fantastic given the drought we are currently in the midst of, plenty of grass cover and alongside watering and aerovating, I had no worries running Mally on it.
Walking the XC the day before, I thought it was a fairly straightforward course, nice and flat, with a few questions. There was a corner which concerned me slightly as Mally has never met a proper corner before! and a few meatier fences, which I tried hard no to obsess over! My plan of action was to trust her steering and accuracy when it came to questions, and just keep kicking on!

So on to the actual day, I began warming up for Dressage and instantly knew it wouldn't be a good score! We haven't done much proper schooling recently due to lack of time, and she warmed up fighting me every inch of the way! The test itself was certainly not her best and the judge agreed, giving us 43, which put us last!!

Had a short break and caught up with my friend also competing, who warned me it was very easy to miss out No8 in the SJ, as she had just done! So I mooched over with Mally a bit early to watch a few rounds and refresh my memory, only to have the first few miss out No8 or fall off, and completely confuse me!
After making sure I had the right course, I warmed up and Mal was flying, so only popped a few and went it. She jumped a beautiful round, I was so chuffed with how grown up she felt! I even managed to jump ALL the jumps in the right order, although I was so busy congratulating myself for remembering No8 that No 9 snuck up on me and I buried Mal in the bottom of it, so we ended up with just 4 faults - which she didn't deserve!

A quick change and onto the XC, again Mal warmed up fabulously! Practised angling the roll top a few times to make sure she was switched on and we went to the start box.
Mal decided to remind me early on she was a baby, and went green going over the first few, by fence 4 she was getting into the swing of it, and by 6 she was flying! She stormed around after that, jumped the corner brilliantly and flew the drop-sharp left-skinny combination very professionally!
The last fence looked enormous to me, but we got a super stride to it and it felt like she was flying! So finished with big grins on our fences. We must have been motoring as despite a sticky start, we only got 4TPs.
Nomad Horse Washers were sponsoring the BE90 sections, so had provided washers to use free of charge at the finish. They were wonderful, but unfortunately I couldn't persuade anyone to buy me one!

Found out today the we finished 15 out of about 25 starters on a score of 51, so although it's not wonderful, I am over the moon with her.

Eland Lodge Unaff ODE a week on Sunday is our next venture, then we may attempt one more BE90 before the end of the season, and then Mally gets a well earned rest before starting her other job of being a hunter gets under way!

Monday, 1 August 2011

Stafford BE90

My aim for the last couple of years has been to do a BE90. I knew Mal was more than capable but thought she wouldn't be ready until next year, but mal being Mal was more than ready this year. SO I decided to give Stafford (2) BE90 a go as it is a gorgeous course and a favourite of mine for a while.
Walking it, I was pleased to have chosen it, gorgeous ground and a beautifully presented course. Thought it would require a bold horse, but Mally is so confident normally I wasn't bothered. A few turns to skinnies that concerned me as I steering is still a work in progress!

Due to being 'local' and entering as soon as entries opened, I was up at 3am (!!!!!) Friday morning, a time I have only seen from the other side, when stumbling into bed. Mally was less than pleased to be dragged out of bed and then have her hair fiddled with, she and I are very similar in a lot of ways.

Arrived in plenty of time, and started working Mally in for Dressage. Recently I've been riding her in spurs to get her used to them for the jumping parts, but decided to leave them off for Dressage and she can over-react to them slightly. Think it paid off as she was fairly accepting of my leg and we definitely had less tail swishing than normal, perhaps she has realised there are worse things to be kicked by than my leg.
I decided to canter her around whilst waiting for the judge to beep, as this normally makes her settle in trot better. I rode her in the outline she does the majority of her work in, a bit longer and lower than the rest of the horses there, but it kept her far more relaxed and I was happy with the test. A few bit that could have been better, I need to ask for downward transitions better and ride my canter transition in the correct corner

Was really pleased with a 39, improved on her previous performances but I know it can be better.

On to Show Jumping, and with KC's 'look at your fences, allow the line to become natural' and 'scoop her up with your legs' ringing in my ears I proceeded to ride like a muppet in the warm up
Into the ring and she was brilliant, I really felt like we got it right. There were a couple of sticky bits where she had to help me out, but because I hadn't killed her canter she could and we jumped clear.

To say I was chuffed is a slight under statement!

Got changed and went down to the XC, and made my first mistake, put my stirrups up a hole when they were already at XC length. Ignored how short they felt and carried on.

Mally flew the first fence, googled at the flowers on the second fence but jumped it, round the corner and up the mound to the skinny-ish log and was really pleased with how she jumped it! Galloped at some people, but they got out the way, and over 4, 5 was a big brush and I thought Mal would over-jump it, as she always does with brush!
She did a lovely jump, but took off early and I got mighty left behind! Slipped my reins and then had no control on landing, headed for the crowd and just managed to turn in time!
I think the jump over the brush rattled us both and I got Mal back far too much and then didn't kick on. She would normally ignore me and go anyway, but she went green and stopped. Turned and jumped it fine the second time, but then carried on being green and wobbly, nearly dumped me on the floor (not helped by mega short stirrups!) she shot so quickly to the side, but carried on jumping as long as I kicked on.
Next combination I did exactly the same thing, killed all forward momentum and she stopped. Jumped it fine second time and started to get back into the swing of it.
Fairly stormed around the next few, including two skinnies on a straight line, jumped through what is normally the water (but was empty!) fabulously, through the sunken road perfectly (more on that later!) and finished with her confidence back to normal.

I felt really disappointed in myself, even more so when I was washing her off and my OH which fence it was I had jumped the wrong part of and was therefore Eliminated for! Coming through the sunken road, I was so busy looking at the last fence that I turned and jumped out the PN step, I hadn't even realised to be able to turn back and jump the right bit!

So felt mega pants after that! However I have a list of positives now to stop me for being such a miserable whinge bag...
- I am started to feel like I can actually ride my horse
- The Dressage was a definite improvement
- The Show Jumping was HUGELY improved and was clear!
- Mally will stop if she is wrong. I was worried she was so bold she would always jump and get herself in trouble, but now I know she can stop (these were her first ever stops)
- The green moments were perfectly justified, she is only 5 and only been broken since feb, but she felt like she grew in confidence by the end and she doesn't know we jumped the wrong bit!
- The fences she stopped at she jumped brilliantly the second time, so it didn't rattle her too much and next time I can trust her steering more and kick on.
- First BE90 was technically completed (I rode through the finish flags, even if i did get E'd) so on to the next one where I will jump all the right fences in the right order and I WILL kick!

Recieved my CD of photos from the wonderful Bill Parrott, who always manages to get a snap of the jump you want a picture of! But they are such good quality my computer is taking a lifetime to upload them, so you'll just have to wait!

Help with Schooling Your Horse.

I, like many people, can't afford to have regular lessons, so do the majority of my schooling alone. Usually I warm up, do a few minutes of work, get stuck for ideas and give up having not really acheived a huge amount!

But after finding this blog...

... I have made some breakthroughs in Mally's work! First was my contact issues, I was aware it was a problem, but not sure how to go about tackling it. I saw the article on Lorraine's Blog and became determined to do something about it. After only two sessions Mally is far more consistant in the contact and far less ready to jump into canter as I don't fiddle with my reins every 5 secs!

I highly recommend it as a blog to follow!

Arena Eventing at Vale View

Had entered Vale View's Arena Eventing last week, convinced it was on the Saturday and organised cover for my lessons as such... however half way through the week I realised it was today! So quickly cancelled cover and decided I could compete in the morning and teach my lessons which didn't start until 1pm.

So arrived as early as possible and ran around the course, which hadn't actually been finished! Following my Stafford debacle I wasn't feeling confident about remembering where to go given how twisty it was!!

Warmed up and went in first, got an awful shot at the first, I went long before Mally did and generally rode like a twerp for the SJ, including losing my way after 6 (luckily 7 magically appeared in front of me!) and taking a flyer at 5. Miraculously Mally managed to just have 1 down and we lolloped off around the XC part.

Given how terrified she was at one of the XC fences near the warm up I didn't hold much hope, but she really was a brave Mally Pants! She was ace, so honest, there were so many turns and skinny fences and she never once really gave me cause for concern. First time we've had to jump a fence in water and she didn't bat an eyelid, she also did all the 'harder' options and didn't make me regret it!

Didn't bother waiting to see how we'd done, given we tootled around and had a fence down and there were a number of whizzy ponies warming up, but Mally did manage to come away with some treats and a rather swish new Anky pad in UltraMarine.

And a video (there are more if anyone cares to investigate!)


I had been looking forward to EHOA Camp for a LONG time, when I first got Mally, one of the things I was really looking forward to was having a 'normal' horse and going to lots of training.
So after a fairly sleepless night (far too excited!) I had an early start to set off ready for two days of lessons with JP Sheffield and Kenneth Clawson.

Arrived at 9 and with my first lesson at 10 I had plenty of time to get unpacked and set up, especially as Wonder Mum was on hand to help, for once in my life I was super organised and had everything packed in boxes and I was kipping on an airbed, so had no tent to put up.
Instantly Mally went in the good books, walked straight into the tiny temp stable and set about eating

Got tacked up and set off for our first session with Kenneth, Flatwork and Poles. Moot was a bit of a pleb at first but after a canter she settled down and did some nice work, which is usually the case! Kenneth had us working on riding with elegance, imagining a mirror at every corner and using it to keep ourselves straight, in a rhythm and preparing for the corners. Such a simple exercise and yet it instantly made a huge difference to my riding! Our corners were consistantly rubbish and my riding into downward transitions was awful, but we didn't seem to disgrace ourselves!
Then we progressed to get the canter strides nice and even, so had to get 14 and 16 even strides between K&H or M&F, Mally and I like to ponce about in canter, so we got 16 very easily, but we managed 14 in the end.

Then we had to ride over some poles and stay on the specific colour all the way through, despite Idiot rider getting left and right wrong fairly constantly Mally was a star.

Very pleased with how the first session went, plenty to work on, keeping a good contact and improving transitions being the main things!
Kenneth also made a point of giving me some ideas for teaching my own lesson once he found out I was a Riding Instructor, which was a lovely bonus!

XC with JP followed, with the session focussing on Judging Speed and Water. After getting 2 minutes worth of TP at Draycott, I was interested to see how we got on with judging speed, but we managed to get it fairly well, so I'm even more sure something went wrong with the timings, hey ho!
Mally was ace, no problems what so ever, including little things like being left alone whilst others cantered off, switching off whilst we where standing still and jumping whatever she was told to. Practised getting even strides and discipline, so halting after fences, which Mally was very well behaved about! Got told off once again for having long reins, so something I really need to work on!
Then dinner at JP's, which involved large amounts of wine for a few of us! Being first up for a lesson at 8.30 the rest of my group were sensible and left early, I however was not! I woke up feeling a touch tender, however if you'd asked me on Thursday morning how I felt, I would have said 'Fine' in as cheery voice as possible, I was determined not to let on to all the sensible people just how rough I felt!

Once I got on I felt much better, so set off for SJ Course practise with Kenneth, and once again Mal was a super star! Really felt like I finally understood how to ride her and when I got it right she was fantastic! KC had us jumping a single filler stand on it's own and then on one stride to an upright, then one stride after an upright and finally 3 curving strides after an oxer. Mal can get away from me and run out at times, so I thought we would have problems, but she suddenly decided listening to me was a much better idea than going it alone and she jumped it really well everytime! I was so pleased with her, given I have done no work on skinnies with her, she made it all feel quite easy! We jumped a course and as long as I keep the canter going and don't rush her into a fence when I think I've got it wrong, we're ok!

Our second XC session with JP carried on from the previous one, he got us jumping a few fences strung together and despite an awful line to the last two fences Mally jumped brilliantly! JP told me to stop holding her and kick on a bit more but further out from the fences as it would help her scope no end, and although I knew that's what I needed to do, it wasn't until someone actually said it to me that I did it. It made such a huge difference, so chuffed to bits once more.
We went back to the water and progressed up from a titchy step in, to doing three big steps in. Mal took me by surprise at this point as she has done lots of jumping into water, but suddenly went green and hesitated! Obviously as it was Moot, it didn't last long and she did jump in, and after a few repeats she went in fine!
Onto ditches and again, Mal who has never jumped extravagantly in her entire life, went into orbit over the bloody thing! So we were sent back and forth until she calmed down, which she did.

Verdict was, nice horse get some spurs. Despite always riding my other horse in spurs I've never tried with Mal as she is such a baby, but she can go a bit behind my leg at times and it's normally when I need her to be listening most!

So pleased I went, KC and JP were fantastic and any opportunity I get to have a lesson off either of them in the furture, I will! Mally really made me proud, I got lots of lovely comments about her.
Have also got the entire thing on DVD as Sara from was there for the two days and it's brilliant to be able to go back a remind myself what exactly it was I was supposed to be working on!

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Introducing Henry!

Although technically this is Mally's Blog, I think Henry's introduction is long overdue, as without him, there would be no Mally!!

Henry was my first horse, he was bought for a nervous teenager that was adament all she wanted to do was hack ;) He didn't make the best first impression, threw me off and then tried a few more times once I got back on, but something made me go back (despite my Mum saying she would never trust 'that horse' if I had him!) and he was a perfect gent to hack, so I decided I wanted him and he became mine on the 10th November 2001.

Henry is Part Shire and not really designed for much more than pulling carts, in fact whilst he was for sale the Army tried him out as a Drum Horse, but rejected him as too small at 17hh! I think it had more to do with the fact he threw everyone off that tried him, something I wasn't told until after he was loaded ready to come home!!

He was actually pretty well schooled in walk and trot, but his canter was nonexistent and a very green jumping. We progressed together and eventually he became a pretty consistent horse to compete, very rarely was he out of the ribbons, although obviously he had his limitations!
Despite my insistance that he was only for hacking, Henry and I did everything together - Dressage, Show Jumping, Hunting and Eventing - not bad for a carthorse and a nervous nelly!!
 My proudest moment came when he won Eland Lodge's Unaff ODE, the soppy wuss I am, I had a tear in my eye as I collected our prizes!
Henry also came with me to Uni and we both came on a huge amount in that time, and it was at Uni that Hen became the infamous Flying Cow, a name that stuck and caused a fair few Dressage Judges to smile!

Unfortunately, Henry's willingness to do absolutely anything asked of him took it's toll and despite my care to avoid hard ground, he developed Ringbone behind. Once medicated he continued happily with a bit extra TLC, until an extra slippy day out hunting and a distinct lack of brakes resulted in a torn Check Ligament. With his age against him he took extra long to heal and as a result over compensated on all his other legs causing Arthiritis all round.

Despite him still being pretty active and happy, I decided Henry should retire as he owed me absolutely nothing and it seemed selfish to push him for my own enjoyment. And that's when Mally appeared!
So he is now a Feral Retired Pony, living in a HUGE field with the other oldies and a few youngsters to beat up! He thinks life is absolutely wonderful!!

A Mally Update!

The last feww weeks have been so hectic I haven't had a chance to update my Blog, so will try and do a round up!

After Draycott, we took a spur of the moment trip to Weston Lawns to do their Unaff Monday Evening Dressage. Hoping that I could maybe crack the warm up and get her to settle, unfortunately Mally had other plans and on Sunday night her and the rest of her fieldmates broke out of their field and went on a feeding frenzy!! Luckily they were caught before doing any real damage, but Mally had her first taste of barley and oats and then spent the day in her stable whilst the fencing was repaired, so was rather energetic!
15 minutes of cantering did nothing to dampen her enthusiasm and the Judges didn't appreciate her 'expression' and she came 5th in the W&T and LAST in the Prelim 7!!

We also took a trip to Vale View to get rid of my SJ demons and practise for Stafford BE90. So we entered the 85cm and the 95cm on the bases that I would see how she coped in the 85cm and then make a decision whether to go for the 95cm.
I needn't have worried, she was fanstastic, jumped clear in the 85cm and then had one down in the JO (down to idiot jockey getting carried away!) to come 5th!

So obviously I had to the 95cm then! It was the biggest course I have ever competitively jumped, so needless to say I was a bit nervous, however coming into the first jump on Mally I had complete faith in her! Unfortunately I still rode like a muppet and she flattened the third fence, but in a class where there were only a handful of clear rounds I was over the moon with her! Especially as she never even glanced at the water tray or had an issue with the treble, which was concerning a lot of riders in the warm up.

She was also treated to a gorgeous dressage saddle after Draycott, which was a complete eBay bargain! I am positive that the saddle and the white boots and pads have convinced her she is a Dressage Diva and her flatwork is definitely improving.

And just to prove what a fabulous horse she really is, she went from schooling over 1m10 with ease...

To plodding around with my novice Dad on board!!!

And what better way to cool off, than a nice drink out of the hosepipe!

So we are off to EHOA Camp next week (very excited and nervous!) and the Stafford BE90 the week after!

Monday, 6 June 2011

Draycott BE80

Mally's BE80 debut saw us at Draycott House on Saturday. I had fairly late times, so had a relaxed morning getting Mally ready, perhaps a little too relaxed for Moot...

We arrived and I was pleased to see a giant Dressage warm up, so didn't think we would have the same issues as at Eland with lots of horses winding her up. She had studs in for the first time ever, which was rather easier said than done as she's not a fan of her back feet being fiddled with! I managed to get them in with just the one kick and by the end of the day, she was much better at having them in and out, thank god for SupaStuds as they are much easier than normal studs!
She was still unsettled (it is only her 2nd ever event!) so walked her around on a loose rein to let her relax. Unfortunately everytime I picked up the reins she thought I wanted canter, so I trotted and trotted until she started to get the idea, until we entered the ring and she immediately tried to canter... She settled down and did what i thought was some nice work, until the Judge beeped us in the first canter... Panic set in at this point as I was sure I hadn't gone wrong, so thought I'd learnt the wrong test! It turned out the judge had accidently lent on the steering wheel!! So we carried on, feeling rather unsettled yet again! The second canter was awful! I think she was always going to get tense after the first canter, but the beep didn't do anything to help and I began to hesitate about where i should ride the movements, leading to a lot of late of early transition.
I felt the scoring was rather harsh, a lot of 4s and we ended up with 44, but everyone was in the same position, so hey ho!

After a long wait, we made our way down to the Show Jumping, where Mally warmed up like a lunatic! I think I anticipate her firing herself at the fence, so slow her down too much which makes her fire even more.
Some of the kids I teach had come to watch, so they gave me some advice (steer and kick!) and crossed their fingers tightly!
Mally went into the ring and jumped ok, if rather out of control! As we approached 6, which she had already spooked at and I had seen a couple stop at, I booted her instead of steadied slightly, so she had an awkward jump and took the rail off. Jumped the last few slightly better to finish on 4 faults.

A quick change and down to the XC warm up, which was tiny and absolutely rammed with horses! So I took her to the now empty Dressage warm up and had a blast to open her up a bit, then popped the practice fence and went into the start box.
Managed to time our start perfectly (for once!) and she leapt out the box and over the first, jumped the second well and then went very wobbly and green at the third, but jumped it well with some 'vocal' encouragement. 4 was a tiny house which I don't think she noticed until she was almost over it and down to a step at 5, which had a horrible approach. It was really steep and narrow and it confused mally for a few moments, but she went down in the end and didn't hesitate at the actual fence.
6 was a small flower box that she flew and then round to 7 which was a large drop in the woods, dropped back to trot and she popped off neatly.
She stormed around most of the rest of the course, had a slight hesitation at 9, which was a hedge in the shade and almost ground to a halt but went after a hefty boot! Even jumped the ditch at 12 which I think caused a few issues (Boy was I glad we went ditch schooling the other day!), the flew the last bit of the course with no problems at all! In fact the biggest issue we had on the course was her spooking at the fences in the other classes!!

Despite the fact I felt she flew round, she ended up with 42 (!!) time penalities, however I was happy with the speed we went at and wouldn't have wanted to go any faster and potentially scare her. So although th results don't necessarily look great, I was really pleased with her. I felt her Dressage was better and her SJ was confident (maybe a little too confident!), the XC was a big ask, this was the first time she had jumped a course without schooling around first, and I felt she really stepped up to the mark and by the end of the round was full of confidence.

So she is going to have a quiet couple of weeks, mainly hacking and then I want to get out and do some 90cm SJ so I can get over my SJ nerves! Then it's the EHOA camp in July and hopefully Stafford BE90 a couple of weeks after that!

Monday, 30 May 2011

Yet MORE Cross Country!?!

As Moot has her BE Debut on Saturday (albeit at 80T level!) and I suspect there could be an open ditch on the course, I decided that Moot's last encounter with a ditch (unplanned and she stopped, it was large and there was no alternative to get her confidence back!) was maybe not the best experience to go forward with, and that we should get a last minute XC schooling session in.

This does mean that she has gone XC rather a lot recently, but she had most of last week off and will get another short holiday after this weekend, and she certainly seems to enjoy herself, so I'm not overly concerned that I'm over-doing it.

I needn't have worried that she would be ditchy, as she ate up every possible ditch Aylesford had to offer and flew a couple of Trakehners without so much as a second glance!

She is super confident (almost too confident!) with ditches, steps and water, she stays straight at skinnies (I just need to trust her more!) and she positively flies the bigger and wider the jumps get! I am so chuffed with how she is turning out, she is exceeding my wildest expectations!
She also proved just how honest she was after being confronted with three steps down to the water (we had worked up to it and she had sailed through all the easier versions!), her tiny brain couldn't quite grasp the concept, but instead of stopping, she carried on... just VERY slowly....

I was slightly concerned she was stuck at first, but she was just working out what I was asking her! She flew through it the second time, a tad too confidently for my liking!!

So I am hoping our confidence stays on a high for Draycott (our BE debut!) and she eats up the XC course in the same way she did today!

We also have had a couple of small breakthroughs in her flatwork... 1) I have changed her from a Neue Schule Loose Ring, to an Eggbutt version and she seems much happier in the contact, I think the loose ring was just a bit wobbly for her, and 2) I have discovered that in my quest for a light seat to prevent hollowing, I am actually ruining the downward transition and if I just sit that bit deeper, I can ride with my leg a bit more and the downward transitions are really starting to improve!

So, the plan is, Draycott this weekend, then a short holiday, then a bit of 90cm SJ, EHOA camp in July and the Stafford BE90! Fingers crossed everything runs smoothly!

Sunday, 22 May 2011

All That Malarky's Eventing Debut!

Finally the day arrived for Mally's first ODE. I had packed, polished and prepared weeks ago due to extreme excitement, so only had bathing and plaiting of Mally to do. Luckily I decided to keep her in last night as we had a very stormy night, so the pristine pony I left yesterday was still there this morning! I managed to plait and load with minimal stress and we arrived in plenty of time. So had a lovely relaxed time getting ready and pootling down to the Dressage warm up.

Arrived and found a PACKED warm up and coupled with the windy conditions, Mal's tiny brain was whirring at warp speed! The end result was a test on a horse that was far too busy gawping to concentrate and a few freestyling movements to boot! Overall I was pleased and felt the 40.5 score was fair, the comments echoed exactly what I felt.

We had AGES to wait for the Show Jumping, so loaded Mal up out of the rain... except Mally decided to use my foot as a stepping stone and my chest padding for the partitions! Naughty Mal! She was so forgiven and after a long wait, we tacked back up and headed off to the Show Jumping.
She jumped a super round, despite quite a few pilot errors, and was unlucky to roll the second to last fence (all my fault!)

Then a quick change a we scooted off to the XC. I watched a few go and seemed to jinx every one of them as there were problems with napping/spooking/refusing galore! So not filled with confidence I went to the start box, and my super little horse charged out the box and set off without a second glance! Had a few sticky moments where her greeness came out and she began to tire up the final hill, but I couldn't be happier with how she had gone! Felt rather teary going through the finish line!!

Stuck around for a wee while and bought LOTS of photos, then had a quick look at the scoreboard to see that Mally had finished around 9th, so EVEN more pleased with the Moot's first attempt!

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Gridwork take 2!

With our first ODE rapidly approaching I decided to have one last jump this week, and really work on getting her to listen to me rather than locking on and charging over whatever was in front of her!
So after consulting my '101 Schooling Exercises' book I came up with two grids to work on - an upright, three strides to a bounce, two strides to a spread, to get her thinking about her feet and shortening and opening up her stride. The other exercise used the first part of the grid (upright, three strides) to two fences either side of the bounce, so that when she came over the upright and locked on to a fence, I could ride her over a completely different fence, so that she started to listen to me, rather than thinking she knew best!

She warmed up with her usual disregard for small fences, but really started to listen to me when she realised the jump infront of her wasn't necessarily what she was jumping! So goal one was acheived! The grid she found ridiculously easy, despite my over-estimating her stride, meaning it was actually a long 3/short4 to a bounce and then a long2/short3, Mally and her super adjustable canter (for a baby anyway!) found it easy on both, but she much preferred to go on a long one!

We built the grid up to about 3ft which is the minium she will actually try over and once again she jumped through beautifully! I then asked my 'helper' (my unhorsey, but very pushy boyfriend!) to raise the spread by a hole or two and rode round to jump it. As I approached I thought it looked rather large, but decided I was just being a wimp, kicked on and Mal flew it...

...It was then my boyfriend admitted to raising it rather a lot more than I asked and on closer inspection the fence was 1m15!!! Just a tad bigger than the 1m I had asked for!! However given how easy Mal had made it and with my confidence through the roof I decided to give it another shot and once again Mal flew through it without batting an eyelid!

So she will now more than likely knock every show jump at our ODE, as 70cms is so clearly beneath her ladyship! But at least I will have supreme confidence in her ability to get over the fences and therefore will actually ride her positively!

Monday, 9 May 2011

Eland Lodge XC Schooling

In preparation for Mally's first ODE on the 22nd, I decided to take her over to Eland Lodge to have a play around the course.
My intention was to let have a look at some of the 'spookier' fences she would meet and to have a go at a few of the larger fences. As Eland Lodge is a BE course and also run their own Unaff events they have a range of courses from 70cm, up to BE Novice height! They have also spent a lot of time during the dry weather to keep the ground good, so with the extra rain we've had the going was fantastic, with only the lack of water in the water jump being the only hint as to how dry it's been!

Right from the start Mally was as keen as mustard to get going, she seems to really love cross country and despite few green wobbly moments, she never stops! Her eagerness really fills me with confidence too and we ended up jumping a lot of the BE90 course, including a pallisade/hedge with a rather large drop on landing!

She tackled the Horsewear Island, but was rather shocked to see a ditch on the landing drop, so launched off that to my shock!!

Second time round, she was much less shocked!

She did the rest of the course with absolutely no issues, never hesitating other than to take a second to work out what she was being asked to do! It will take me some getting used to having a horse with such a gallop, my other horse is Part Shire, therefore not built for speed!!

So excited about my ODE now, although I think she will need a bigger challenge than 70cms for next time!

(Lots more videos on my Youtube channel!!)

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Gridwork, gridwork and more gridwork!

As her Ladyship is getting rather cocky when it comes to jumping, I wanted to do some gridwork to challenge her tiny brain a bit.
After working through the poles and building up gradually, I set up a grid of cross pole, bounce, cross pole, stride, upright, stride, spread, hoping the bounce would make her think a bit more, however Mal being Mal, it didn't work! Her feet work just as quickly as her brain and she ploughed through far too easily! Until the jumps go up, she has absolutely no regard for them, so lots of clunking poles and knocking them down.

Once it reached 80cm she started to listen a bit more, but still barely making any effort! In an attempt to challenge her, the spread was gradully built up to a metre with a fairly decent spread on. Yet again she cleared it with little effort although at least gave it a modicum of respect!

I'm really chuffed as I am not the world's bravest jockey when it comes to jumping, 80cms would have been plenty large enough for me, but she feels me with such confidence that cantering down to a metre spread feels like nothing!
She is obviously trying to tell me how grown up she is, it's her fifth birthday on Tuesday and she's getting her very first set of back shoes!!

Saturday, 30 April 2011

Another Brilliant Outing!

Today 'should' have been a day of going in circles and attemptinig our first prelim, however someone didn't book the day off far enough in advance, so had to teach until lunch time. However this proved to be rather fortunate for Mally, as it meant that instead we went to do some more jumping, which is far more exciting!

I can't say I was feeling too enthusiastic about rushing off to Vale View after a morning spent sprinting after small ponies and their even smaller jockeys on a diet of fresh air and revolting flavoured water, but at least the joys of a bay pony meant I only had to show her a brush and throw her on the trailer, so we arrived at Vale View in plenty of time.

I entered the Clear round and the 75cms Trailblazers, so that she could have a look round first and then jump a nice round after... in theory!!

I set about warming up the donkey I had dragged off the trailer, however it would seem that someone had swapped her for a large rubber ball, that bounced her way around the warm up and boinged her way over the practice fences!

Into the Clear round and I needn't have bothered about her looking! What was a very spooky course right from the word go, with giant dice at the first fence, warranted absolutely zero response from the Moot! She jumped the first and second well and then jockey had a slight brain fart and forgot she was riding a green youngster, didn't half-halt or steer and we sailed past number three (with jockey nearly going over alone!), circled round and she popped it lovely. The rest of the course went well, with just the rail going out of a two stride double down, she got close to the first part and then fitted in three strides to get way to close to the second part and take it down.

Loooooooong wait until the 75cms class started, at which point someone thoughtfully returned my donkey, who stood dozing in the sunshine whilst we waited. I was third to go, so popped the practice fence to wake her up (which it did, the leaping, boinging, bucking ball returned!) and we went in. I was slightly apprehensive as she had been doing a rather good impression of a hurdler in the warm up (someone is trying to tell me that little jumps are for babies, and she is nearly 5  you know!), but she went in a was very sweet and rideable. Jumped round lovely with just a rail at fence 2 for 4 faults. Completely my fault, I rode around the corner aware I needed to ride a good line to 3 so she didn't run past it again, didn't ride 2 at all got deep and didn't get out of her way so she could jump, so she had the pole in front.

There were only 4 clears in the entire class, so technically she came joint 5th, at least that's what she's telling all her mates!

Once again I am completely chuffed with her! to have a horse with both an on and off button is fantastic!

Next outing is our very first ODE at Eland Lodge on the 22nd of May, then hopefully we have a place on the EHOA Summer Camp at Rolleston in July, which will be brilliant but also rather nerve wracking!!

Saturday, 23 April 2011

Grown Up Hacking in the Sunshine!

Mally has done lots of hacking since she's been broken in, her general opinion is that hacking is brilliant. She cannot wait to see what's around the next corner, this is regardless of whether she is alone/in company/first/last. All of her hacking has been done on our 'quiet' lane (which is actually rather busy!) so she has seen traffic, but not an awful lot else!

Today she ventured out around the main roads, where there is LOTS to look at! It wasn't until I'd reached the end of the lane I realised she hadn't seen white road markings or drains before, she decided they were scary but not likely to attack, so managed to conquer them! Parked cars, cricket matches, and gardens were all met with the same hesitant braveness!!
Then we got to the pub, bedecked in England flags and a St George's day celebration in full flow! She shut her eyes very tightly and wriggled past them.
Everything was super scary, but not enough to stop Mally in her tracks, trains, buses, bridges, ferocious JRTs and even more ferocious Mastiffs where marched past in her newfound elegant TB walk (although she is saving her camel impression for special occasions!)

Traffic was not an issue at all, despite the fact that most of them seem to view lanes as Sliverstone (and most of them are Vet students, so should blooming well know better!) and horses as chicanes!

So Mally has a super big gold star today, even better we managed to get home just before the thunder and lightning started!

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Sod Dressage, we like JUMPING!

After the sucess of Mally's first outing, I planned a trip to Eland Lodge to do the Clear Round jumping they hold every Wednesday.

Eland Lodge is one of my favourite places, they have a beautiful XC course, a lovely arena, the staff are wonderful and they have a tack shop that could get me in a lot of trouble with the bank!!

The plan was to do a round, she how she felt and go from there. We arrived with plenty of time to spare, meaning I had plenty of time to look at the course and start feeling that perhaps this wasn't such a good idea, the course suddenly looked very bright and had a couple of sheep fillers under the last fence! Mally experience of fillers is rather limited, given we haven't got any, so I have had to be creative and have taken to putting easibed bales under my jumps, on the basis they are rather bright!

Once I got on I started to feel better, Mally was trying very hard not to be her usual gobby self in canter and was positively pinging the warm up fences...

I was first up and started to feel rather weak and pathetic in the heat, so was eternally grateful that I was allowed to compete sans hacking jacket. Mally wandered in as cool as a cucumber, wibbled into the first but jumped it! This pattern was repeated until she got into the swing of it for the last two fences and flew them, so I was chuffed for just 4 faults.

After a quick think, I decided to take her in again and then go home to cool down. This time she knew what was what and flew around, despite some muppetry riding from me! I really need to stop firing her into fences! She did take a flyer at one point, completely unaided by me, but settled into a nice enough rhythm by the end when I started to allow her to come in by herself and just support with my leg.
I was chuffed to get a clear round and went home with the feeling she found it all very easy!

So the plan is to do another dressage on the 30th of April (if I can get time off work!) and then aim for a 70cm one day event at Eland Lodge on the 22nd of May, in the hope we will have had some rain and the ground will be less concrete-like.

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Dressage Debut for the Diva!

Although it didn't quite go to plan!!

Despite my (out of character!) planning and preperation, having everything polished, plaited and packed ready for prompt departure at exactly the planned time, I managed to forget my girth! And whilst Mally is a good girl, I didn't think bareback dressage was a good plan for her first competition!

So a call was made to the ever suffering other half, who arrived in a cloud of dust and burning rubber 20 minutes later! However by this point I was running late, so despatched the Chaffeur and Groom (long-suffering Parents!) to let the steward know I was on my way. They returned to inform me I had been given the wrong time and was due in the ring at that very second!

Luckily after much running around from the lovely steward, they managed to squeeze me in at the original time I was given, so Mally's first outing was back on track!

She warmed up rather quietly after falling asleep waiting for the girth to be delievered, but wasn't fazed by the other horses, the spooky warm up or anything else any other horse would have found daunting! She soon started to wake up and had a few bucks and leaps in protest at not being allowed to canter like the grown up ponies!

When our time arrived, I suddenly realised I was asking a baby pony to leave the sunny warm up ring full of ponies, to go into a dark, empty barn full of potentially horse eating white board, flowers, white markers and mirrors, not to mention the terrifying judges sat behind a table at C...

Mally being Mally, she did it without a second's pause, had a bit of a look about, admired herself in the mirror and settled down to doing a bit of work!

She did a nice test, with the only issues stemming from her age and lack of experience. She works better when I allow her to stretch, but fearing an explosion I rode with the handbrake on, so we had lots of unsettled in the contact moments.

All in all I was chuffed with her, not only in the test, but her attitude throughout, she stood quietly on and off the trailer, didn't bat an eyelid about anything and loaded like a dream!
So it was the icing on the cake when I collected my sheet and discovered she had come 3rd out of 5 with 67%!!!!!!!!!!!!