So is it just me or does March seems to have flown by?

The long weekend?

A couple of 4-day weeks at work?

And too many Easter Eggs?  Well the first parts might be true but hang on a minute I didn’t get any Easter Eggs!  Still, what do they say, a lifetime on the lips?  Maybe its’ just as well I didn’t get any!

So what have we been up to?

Polo lesson

Polo lesson

Earlier this month I went for a taster polo lesson.  Aspley Guise are a local riding club that I have recently become a member of and they were doing taster polo sessions with Dallas Burston Polo Club, my friend Candice and I decided it would be good fun – and boy were we right!  We had a great time.  The horses were beautifully schooled, it felt like you only had to look left or right and they responded, although I have to say it took a bit of getting used to, the horse I was riding was much smaller than Mikey and there wasn’t much “in front” of me, plus all the movements are done from neck reining the horses.  We had a great time though and even got to play a ten-minute chukka – it’s a pretty tough sport – you can literally push your opponents out the way either by pushing their horse’s neck with your own hand or by moving them over using you horse!  If you ever get the chance to give it a go do it – you will have a ball!

The Easter weekend was a busy one for me.  Full of horsey antics.  What do normal people do on a bank holiday weekend?  Oh yes, visit B&Q – not me it was all about the horses!

 

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I know I am biased but what a cute face!

Amy and Mikey

First up Mikey got back in to the show ring, we attended a local show put on by the old Berkley Hunt Riding Club, after a miserable few days with never ending rain, we had to be towed IN, yes, that’s right IN to the show ground, we were one of the first horseboxes to arrive but the farmer did a great job getting everyone in to the grounds early doors.  The sun soon came out and it was a glorious warm and sunny spring day, we had a great time, everyone was really friendly and we came away with a few ribbons too.

 

My niece Amy had a stab at a couple of in hand classes, she has been practising her “fast” running (she doesn’t like running too fast!) and did pretty well picking up a 2nd and a 5th.  I did the ridden coloured class and riding club horse, the coloured judge obviously wasn’t too keen on us on the day, but we came 2nd in the riding club class and even managed to jump the small fence that was put to be ridden as part of you individual show without a hitch.  That was the first fence I have jumped in the ring for over 6 months!

Looking the Part in the Show Ring

Looking the Part in the Show Ring

 

With the typical bank holiday weekend weather showing its face again, a fun ride on the Bank Holiday Monday that I was due to attend got cancelled, queue me furiously looking at about 10pm on the Saturday evening for somewhere to go over the remainder of the bank holiday weekend, I woke up at 9am on the Sunday to a message from the lovely people at Quainton Stud to say I had a withdrawal place at their combined training, and my dressage test was 11.29!  I had just 2 and a half hours to get sorted and Mikey was at that point in his stable covered in mud from a nice few rolls the day before!  Thankfully the dressage test was prelim 13, which, as luck would have it I had ridden just the weekend before, so I knew the test, of sorts.

 

Back in the Show Ring

Back in the Show Ring

But wait a minute, what about the show jumping?  I haven’t managed to get round a course of show jumps for over 6 months, the last time I attempted a clear round it was pure carnage, and its got in my head, I had only jumped Mikey two or three times since coming back to jumping after five months off, but, I had got a place, and today was the day to put that right.  Now or never as they say. I sometimes wonder why we put ourselves through it, do you know what I mean, the nerves and stress of it all?  I was literally shaking tacking up for the jumping; my niece did her best to calm me down (although later that day she told me she was scared it was going to go wrong, but realised telling me at that point in time wasn’t going to help the situation!).  I needn’t of worried, whilst the course was small, and we had 2 fences down, (both of which were my fault) we did it, we got round and the most important bit, we both enjoyed it, I think the fact I hadn’t really got any time to think to much about it meant I just had to get on and ride.  Hurrah.

Dressage at the Combined Training Quainton Stud

Dressage at the Combined Training Quainton Stud

We had pulled a half decent dressage score of 67% too meaning we managed to get a third place and qualify for the combined training championships later this year – not bad for 2 and a half hours notice.  To say I was pleased was an understatement.  I was DELIGHTED!  I plan on doing some more combined training at Quainton in a few weeks time, this time I plan to be do the bigger class, the 75cm, to see if we can bag another qualification place.  I know 75cm is still small, but small steps.  If we can get round that and continue to make good progress as the season really gets underway I have half a hope of completing a BE80 this season, which is my ultimate aim.

 

 

Having Fun out Solo Hacking

Having Fun out Solo Hacking

The solo hacking has been coming on leaps and bounds too – I know lots of people find it really nerve wracking and the first few times I did it I was no exception but as with anything the more you do something the easier it gets and try and get out at least once a fortnight on my own now.  On Easter Monday I went out for a lovely solo hack, I was glad I waited for Storm Katie (!) to pass as the afternoon was gorgeous and sunny – we had a great time cantering round the big field we have near us and the ground was perfect, which was a shock considering all the rain.

 

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Dressage Camp at Twin Oaks Eventing

I’m pretty achy today as I write this blog; we are just home from a 2-day dressage camp.  I have done camps with the trainer before, Tom Graham.   He is local dressage rider and instructor and really gets some nice work out of Mikey.  Trudy who hosts the camp truly has an amazing yard, and cooks us the yummiest breakfast muffins you have ever tasted! Its not the muffins I go for, but it helps.  2 lessons a day across both Saturday and Sunday is tough going but so rewarding and all the horses come on leaps and bounds throughout the course of the camp – its great to see everyone else’s lessons and I definitely picked up a thing or 2 by watching them.  We have more camps booked in for later in the year but Mikey will be glad of a few days off this week before we head off for some cross-country schooling at the weekend.

 

 

And March was the last exercise from Tim and I actually got to have a go at this one. It was to practice keeping a good rhythm in the canter, firstly by jumping down a grid of small upright fences, before making it more difficult by jumping mixed jumps from the grid as doglegs or on the angle all the time maintaining a good rhythm over the fences. Mikey hasn’t jumped for 5 months and as this was my first session back jumping with him it was a big ask but grids are perfect for building your confidence and making sure you have a good canter so I was confident that once we had done the grid line a few times we would get back in to the swing of things.

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Having a go at Tim’s exercise

I started my warm up with the grid set out, four fences in total with a stride between each, but to get going we started with the poles on the ground. Mikey quickly got used to coming over the poles, keeping the same rhythm throughout and found it quite easy which was great to feel as when we first started doing anything with poles on the ground he would often bash through them and send them flying so it was nice to feel some of our pole work over the recent months paying off. Next up while the poles were still on the ground we also practiced what was the build on the exercise coming from the side of the fences and taking the poles on a line (hence the exercise being all about keeping a good rhythm regardless of the angle of the fence). We then built the ground poles one a time until we had the line of four small fences.

 

Jumping on both reins the grid rode itself and we hit the fences perfectly each time which was great, Mikey has got a tendency when I don’t ride him forward enough to chip in a little stride at the last moment but when I have a grid in front of me I think it gives me the kick I need to ride forward and we tend to get down the line much easier. Once we added the dog leg element to the exercise it became a bit tougher, the first time I took one of the fences on an angle Mikey got really close to the fence, chipping in an unnecessary short stride, so we came back round again, this time around I rode him more positively and we hit the fence perfectly – for our first time back jumping I left it there as he had worked had and I didn’t want to over do. This exercise definitely showed that we need to work on not just jumping fences straight, but the grid was the perfect way to start off and get the canter established. Riding some dog legs and angles is one for another day, and I will definitely re-visit this exercise to help us with that!

Until next month.

Laura and Mikey x