Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Getting closer!

Where has the summer gone? This has to have been one of the busiest summers ever, and unfortunately, not so much of it has been Echo-related! What with moving out of my house (into four different places) and trying to organise going on holiday and applying for loans to fund my journalism studies, I have had very little time to do anything else! As you saw in my last post, I've managed to compete a little, but unfortunately I won't be able to do any more competitions now, as we've run out of time!

The next big thing on the horizon is my move up to Lincolnshire. My family have a house with land and have been busily building me a couple of stables and converting a shed into a tack room; I am eternally grateful for this, as although I intend to keep Echo outside for most of the year, if we have another winter like last year, I shall be glad of the stables!!

The plan was to hire a lorry and drive Echo up to Lincolnshire myself this weekend. However, I was then offered a lift from a very kind lady at the yard who is taking her horse up to the national riding club championships in Lincoln and has space in her trailer; I could not believe my luck as this solves a whole host of problems: the stables are not finished and there is no concrete in the yard; the extra time should hopefully mean that they are a little closer to being done. I was terrified about driving the lorry myself; my boyfriend was going to come with me, but that would involve masses of driving; this way, I can drive my car up behind her trailer and then I'll have everything there. It has all worked out pretty perfectly, so we are staying for an extra couple of weeks. Even with an extra week's livery, I still think I will save money as hiring a lorry is bloomin' expensive!

I was on holiday in France for 10 days over the last couple of weeks and Echo has been finding ways to entertain herself. As is usual for her at this time of year, she has taken to climbing out of her field. It all coincides with her being in season, not being worked and probably feeling a bit bored as she is out on her own at the moment. She has geldings on both sides, but none of them pay her the slightest bit of attention! So she gets out and goes to find someone who is interested. I'm hoping that this won't continue to happen when I get her home; she'll be living with a very attractive gelding, so hopefully that should keep her occupied for a while!!

Talking of fencing, I am going up to Lincolnshire again this week to sort out the fencing in my parents' field. At the moment it has sheep wire all the way around, with two strands of barbed wire on top. Obviously, this is unsuitable, but I can't afford to totally re-fence the field yet. What I've decided to do is to get long insulators that hold electric tape about 20cm from the outside fence, and run two lines of this round the perimeter of the field. It isn't perfect, but provided it is on, it should stop her getting close to the nasty barbed wire behind. At some point, when we have a bit more money, I hope to properly re-fence the outside all the way round. For now, this will have to do. The field will be cut in half so that we can rotate the grazing, and to begin with, will be cut in half again so that Echo and Gizmo can be kept separate for a while, just til they get to know each other.

I'm excited and nervous about having Echo at home. It feels like a big responsibility when I've been used to having her on livery, but it also feels 'right' - the 'proper' way to have a horse. I've still got a few more logistical issues to sort out, but I hope we're going to be able to carry on doing things together. I'm hoping to join a local riding club, for example; I don't have transport, but thought that if I join a riding club, someone might be passing my house and able to give me a lift to training or competitions. It's worth a shot, I reckon.

For the next couple of weeks, I'm hoping to get her back to the standard she was schooling at before I went on holiday (it always feels like we've gone back about 3 steps!), do some jumping and go on plenty of hacks. We'll make the most of our extra week in Suffolk!

Sunday, 8 August 2010

Competitions and a little catching up to do!

Goodness - it's been ages! It will take me a long time to bring you all up to date on what Echo and I have been doing so this post will just be a brief overview. We've been having a few lessons with a fantastic Portuguese dressage trainer, we've been hacking and jumping a lot, and we've been competing - yes, proper competing!

I was going to register with British Dressage, but with my up-coming move, I'm not sure how worthwhile it will be, so we've been sticking to unaffiliated competitions for now, but we're having so much fun. There is a lovely and very generous lady at the yard who used to compete at Prix St George with her horse who she has now retired from schooling and only hacks with, and she has now driven me to a couple of shows. One was about a month and a half ago and the other was on Friday.

Echo is so fabulously behaved at shows. I didn't completely expect her to be, but at her first competition, she came off the lorry, had a little look around, then stood tied to the lorry with a haynet until asked to do some work. The competitions we've been to have been in a lovely venue - really well run, with great surfaces; having said that, there are plenty of things there that I would have put money on her spooking at, but she seems to just know what she's there to do, gets her head down and tries her hardest.

At the first show, we won our first prelim class and came fourth in the second - she was a bit tired by the second one as I think I'd worked her in for too long. I also had a few issues with downward transitions and nearly ended up in the judge's box at the end of the second test! On Friday, her second ever show away from home, she was absolutely brilliant. I didn't warm up for too long, so she felt fresh and lively going into the arena. It wasn't a test I'd ridden before, but I could tell it would suit her. We even got a 9 for our centre line entry!!

She was a star - we won the prelim with nearly 79%. Could not have asked for more from her at this stage. Next came our first novice test - not exactly an easy one either - it has two diagonals of medium trot and two long sides of medium canter, as well as a walk to canter transition, so lots of places where things could have gone wrong. A couple of things did - we got the wrong canter lead at one point - rider-error entirely - and we didn't really do any medium strides in trot. I'll post more about my schooling another time, as I have lots to talk about with engaging her more and getting her to carry more weight on her hindlegs. We are certainly getting there - she is much more 'through' than she used to be, but there's always more work to do - that's why I love dressage!

Anyway - we won the novice too! I totally wasn't expecting to, but the judge seemed to really like her and commented on what a super attitude she has. I would have to agree. I'll post the videos here, so you can see how we're getting on. I will be posting a little more regularly soon - I promise!

Daily adventures while training my young horse.