Sunday, 26 April 2009

Well look who went and won!!

Proper post about the competition will follow, as I am in a real hurry, but Echo was a star and she won!!! Not by loads, but we had a few 'interesting moments' so I was impressed that we came first! Here are some of the pictures. The screen on the camera was broken, so they were taken without the person being able to see anything on the screen, but they are ok. Also, the light in the indoor was awful and the door was open (one of the causes of the 'interesting moments'!) so the quality is not great. My friend took a video of the test, so I hope I'll be able to upload that when I get it.

Proud of my pretty pony today - she was awesome.

Thursday, 23 April 2009

Dressage - at last!

Well, Echo and I are taking part in our first dressage competition on Sunday and...I'm really nervous! I'm also really looking forward to it, but it's so long since I've ridden a dressage test and so I'm bound to be a bit rusty.

I've practised it a couple of times and there's nothing difficult in it. In fact, that's almost the problem - there's a lot of trotting round the outside of the arena and we don't tend to do much of this in our schooling. When I was practising it, I found Echo wanted to do shoulder-in or leg-yielding or something - she isn't used to having to trot the length of the arena just...straight! So we've been working on this, and we've been working on changing the rein through two half 20 metre circles. Unfortunately, the test asks for it from the left rein to the right rein(our more difficult rein...) and so getting the right bend is a little tricky, but we'll be ok!

I rode her last night and she went really well. It was interesting actually - she had been going quite averagely for the first 20minutes or so - not doing anything wrong, just not bending that well and not really using herself. Then she just suddenly seemed to click. I did one halt to trot transition and she was like "Oh...I get it - weight on the hind legs - why didn't you say so!?" Technically, I think I had been saying so.

She suddenly became flexible in her bend - she felt like plasticine - it felt as if I could have coiled her round my inside leg if I wanted to. She remained quite heavy in my hands, so I constantly had to remind her to keep her carriage up, but through her body felt fantastic. I've been doing quite a bit of sitting trot recently and it seems to have really helped with engaging her hind legs. I can't decide whether or not to do sitting trot in the test on Sunday. Really, at prelim level, I would expect to do it in rising trot, but I definitely get a more uphill, powerful, connected trot when I'm sitting. I guess I'll see how she feels when I warm up.

One last thing - as I'm hoping to do a few shows this summer, I thought it was about time I got my lovely riding boots fixed. They've been sitting in a cupboard with broken zips for the last year, but I have now had them mended and I rode in them last night. It doesn't make sense to me that a pair of boots can make a difference to the way one rides, but I could put money on the fact that I rode better last night in my Cavallos than I do in my yard boots and chaps. I really don't know why this would be though.

Wish us luck for Sunday - I can't ride on Saturday, which is annoying, but it might mean she's fresher. Sunday morning will be spent washing, trimming, plaiting and generally getting organised. I shall endeavour to take some photos of the day too - and if at all possible, I'll hijack someone with a video camera for the actual test.

Saturday, 18 April 2009

Look what we jumped!!!

May not look huge, but definitely the biggest we've ever jumped. And it was a straight bar - only jumped cross poles so far. Felt lovely. Proper post to follow - moving house - all very hectic!!!

Saturday, 4 April 2009

Exciting Stuff!!

Echo went beautifully today - I was so impressed. I had to ride really early as I had a busy day planned, and I can conclude that Echo is most definitely a morning person. We did lots of work on being bendy and that seems to be really helping, as I am able to ride her much straighter as a result. I need to do some work on her right rein canter transitions, as these were a little scrappy, but she had a lovely contact in my left rein after a while and was really bending through her body. My only criticism is that she got quite deep in her carriage through the session - I was able to bring her front end up most of the time, but I think she just got tired and couldn't maintain it after a while.

There are some exciting things happening. Having decided that my summer goal would be to compete in a little showjumping competition, today I saw that the yard where I keep her is going to start a summer dressage series, having monthly competitions ending in a championship that takes your best 3 scores through the series. It's only 'in-house' so it won't be a big thing, but we have lots of liveries now, so should be fun. The other thing is that it is the British eventing tests, which I don't know, but I'm sure they must be fairly similar to the British Dressage tests. I guess to do a prelim level I would have to do an Intro level BE test - not really sure yet. Anyway - it's a chance to dress up, practise our test-riding and have some fun, without the stress of travelling to a show yet, so I think it's a very good thing.

So lots to look forward to! I'm going away next week, taking a school trip to Ireland, so won't be able to ride Monday to Friday. I have been very brave and said that a friend can hack Echo out a couple of times if she wants. I 'ummed and aahed' about it for ages, but she's a very considerate and experienced rider, and has just had to retire her horse, so has no one to ride. She has trained young horses, so knows all their quirks, and is much braver than me out hacking! I think they should have some fun. I am trying not to be too much of a neurotic mother about the whole thing, so have only given her a few instructions - like keeping her off her forehand in trot and not allowing her to rush. It'll be good for Echo to have another rider on her and I think my friend will really enjoy her. She's had an ancient riding school pony on loan for the last year and, though lovely, she is an ancient riding school pony nonetheless and I think Echo will be a bit of a treat!

I've been consulting my favourite training book and I think it's time we did a bit of gymnastic jumping. I think it would really help her strength and agility to do a few short grids, and also help my ability to ride her positively towards a fence. It will also be the beginnings of riding a course, so is a step (or a jump! oh dear...) in the right direction. I thin next time John is around, I will see if we can do a bit of this in my lesson. Don't think I've jumped a grid since I was about 12, so I'll need a bit of reminding!

I'm SO excited about my horse right now!!!!!

Daily adventures while training my young horse.