Laura- And we are back!
So as I write this month’s blog, I do it with a feeling of pure happiness after an amazing weekend with the pony – all will be revealed later what we have been up to that’s left such a big smile on my face.
This month has been a busy (and expensive!) month. Mikey had his annual tetanus jab earlier in the month aswell as the yearly visit from the horse dentist. Thankfully all was good on the teeth front (I had my check up too this month – and thankfully like Mikey my teeth were looking good too and I was out of the chair as quickly as I got in it!).
I have been on the look out of a new saddle, being almost 6ft tall I have struggled to find a jump saddle that accommodates my long legs and puts my weight where it should be, i.e. not too far at the back of the saddle, I don’t know about you but buying a new saddle fills with me the same sort of dread of taking your car to the garage for an MOT, you know its going to hurt your pocket, but you aren’t sure by just how much! It’s a minefield and all my horsey friends seem to have their own ideas of saddles I should and shouldn’t be buying – I feel completely clueless in this area and just want a saddle that fits both me and Mikey! After sitting in most of the jump saddles on the market, both new and second hand, I have settled for a brand new Ideal Impala, it feels great and being forward cut puts my leg in a great position, its currently being made for us and will be here in the next few weeks. Credit card is poised for action! Gulp.
Mikey had another session with Sarah his lovely physio this month, she is really pleased with how he is looking and feeling through his body, hardly any tightness at all, so the continued management programme and increased work load seems to have gone well and we got the go ahead to gradually (gradually Sarah, see I do listen!) introduce some jumping back in to his regime. Yippee!
With the warmer weather and ground drying up my friend Emilie and I decided to head out for a hack together, we live about an hour and a half apart so we decide to try somewhere neither of us had been before and met up at Cholsey Farm, which is about half way between where the two of us live, they do both guided and unguided hacks round the Chilterns. We opted for a 2 and ½ hour guided ride nicknamed the “Daffodil Ride”. We had a great time. I would highly recommend it, lots of opportunity for some good canters and lovely views as you ride, Jackie and her husband make you feel really welcome – half way round the ride we stopped off at a café in the woods, grabbed a cuppa whilst the horses were tied up, there were head collars and ropes all ready for us to use – they clearly are used to horses stopping off for a drink. When we got back from the ride Jackie had made us all some homemade soup and sausage rolls, they were delicious and much needed after almost three hours in the saddle. I was really impressed with the hacking and am already making plans to go back!
Speed and I aren’t great friends, although I am getting better, I hack out with some really long striding horses so over recent months we have definitely got faster, but I am always being told “kick on” out on the XC course so when I saw a “XC Speed Training” session advertised with British Eventing it was perfect for us to try out. We headed over to Swalcliffe Equestrian in Oxfordshire, its quite a long drive for us but I found the session really helpful – and our first attempt to hit the minute marker at the BE speed of 435mpm and we were 7 seconds too fast! Who would have thought it! Good boy Mikey.
Having got the go ahead to get back jumping and having done a grid session at home I decided to do a course hire with my friend Emma and her horse Oscar. We took Michaela who we both have regular lessons with and had a joint lesson. (It was pouring with rain and we all got soaked – no fair weather riders round here that’s for sure!) We hired Wakes End Farm Livery and Hire which is a venue near us, they have a great course of working hunter fences set out, given the problems I had jumping towards the back end of last year I was pretty nervous, back last year we were struggling to hit any sort of stride at all even to just a simple a cross pole, for the last five months I have patiently done the rehab suggested by vets and physio’s and so this was it. Had it paid off? Had it made a difference to his way of going? In a word. YES. I needn’t have been nervous – the rehab we have done for the last five months has clearly paid off, and he felt great, jumped everything first time, no stopping, no chipping in, just took everything on, and his face light up coming in to the fences, he was enjoying it again. So, lets hope the set backs from last year are behind us and with careful management can move onwards and upwards with the jumping!
My final news this month is from the RAF Halton Fun Ride, having walked the course on the Saturday expecting the typical fun ride fences of a few small logs and tyres I was both pleasantly surprised as well as little bit nervous to see the course had a drop fence down to a ditch, a big set of steps down, some decent steps up, aswell as some steeple chase fences that are much bigger and wider than I have ever jumped, not to mention the famous plane fence! Given it was only the second time we had jumped for five months I decided to limit the jumping, and opted for what some of the friends said was an “interesting” approach, which was, if it scared me, I jumped it and if it didn’t scare me I chose not to jump it! And I am so glad I did – yet again as with the course hire, he was awesome, jumped everything, was forward and for the most part we hit our stride perfectly. My friend Fiona’s horse Benji is a bit of a speed machine which was great as out on the main airfield which was a huge square field it meant I could open Mikey up faster than my natural comfort zone, we hit each fence perfectly – I was so pleased with how he had gone round and that feeling you get when things are going well is amazing, I just hope it stays that way. Well-earned day off for the black and white pony today. J
We have entered our first hunter trial next month – after our elimination last time out on the XC course back in October I am hoping we can lay to rest our demons, I certainly feel more confident about getting round so lets see how we get on! Next weekend is some dressage at local venue Quainton Stud – any tips on how to remember two tests on the same day very welcome!
This month’s exercise set for us by Tim Page was jumping using v poles, used to both encourage straightness through jumping the middle of the fence using the v to guide to you in as well as getting your horse to pick up their legs over the fence!
Still unable to jump on Mikey I asked my friend Nadine and her horse Moet to help me out again, having ridden some of Tim’s previous exercises for us in recent months Nadine was keen to give this a go.
Moet found the exercise really easy! We started warming up over some simple cross poles with a placing pole one stride out from the fence, before moving the fence to an upright with a really wide v. Moet was unfazed by the v pole, and came in to the fences nice and straight, even when we moved the v pole in so the poles were touching at the point of the v Moet remained consistent in her approach, the closer the poles did come together however Nadine commented on how it encouraged her to “pop” a bit more over the fence, picking up her feet. The placing pole which was placed one stride out also encouraged Moet to not take over coming in to the fence and wait for the fence, however it did also highlight that if you loose your canter in your approach you don’t always hit the fence exactly where you need to be and as a consequence Moet had to take a few long / short takes off to make the fence correctly. When the canter was nice and forward however she hit the stride perfectly and popped over the fence making a really good shape. Nadine really enjoyed the exercise and its definitely something we should all practise more off – to build on the exercise if you had enough space in your arena you could try two or three fences in a line – this would definitely highlight how straight you are!
Having had the go ahead to get back jumping we are able to give the next exercise a go from Tim Page, it was my first time jumping, so we took it easy but you can read all about it in East Anglia Rider next month and watch my video on my blog!
Until next month Laura and Mikey x