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!!