As I mentioned in the previous installment I felt that it was time that Reggie got out and about somewhere where there were other horses. I like going out and about to be a normal part of life from as early on as possible so from now on I hope to take him out somewhere – even if just boxing up to use a different school or go for a hack – once a week.
Last week it was our RC ‘Club Night’. It’s a good concept – it runs for a few hours on a weekday evening and they have a dressage arena and a couple of show-jumping courses set up, all on grass. For a nominal fee you can do pretty much whatever you want – even go for a hack or just mooch about if you don’t fancy anything too exciting. It’s very sociable and most people hang around for a glass or wine and a gossip afterwards. A perfect low-key outing for a first time.
The loading issue seems to be solved so after a 10min journey we arrived and I started off very conservatively by giving him a lead/look round in a bridle and lunge rein. I did a wee bit of lunging and let him graze a little. He seemed a little distracted by the things that were going on but not in any way wound up so I tacked up properly and hopped on board. I walked him round everywhere, stopping to chat and watch other people working, generally ignoring him and using him as a means of transport! After he’d seen everything it was into the dressage warm-up for some trot-work and gradually his back softened and his stride lengthened and he was concentrating and working nicely. I warned the other riders around me how green he was but he didn’t seem bothered by the other horses. We took our turn working within the dressage boards – they were very scary initially and he gave them a wide berth but after a few circuits was happy to work normally in the laid out arena. I also worked him around the SJ practice fences – the poles were laid on the ground initially so ideal for trotting between the wings – then popped a couple of small X-poles.
Before finishing I pushed him slightly. I weighed up whether it would be a good idea or not and decided to have a go and leave him if it didn’t work. There were a few XC practice fences laid out of which he was initially very suspicious. We trotted round and between them for a bit then I lined him up to jump the log (and we’re talking about 18″ here!). He jogged in, slammed the brakes on about 3yds out. I just let him stand for a minute and gave him a pat. Then he dropped his head, pricked his ears, jogged up to it and leapt over! Clever pony! Admittedly he jumped 4ft over an 18″ obstacle but after 3 or 4 more goes he was jumping it quite normally.
He got washed off and loaded up and his trailer practice has obviously paid off as he was happy to stand quietly in the trailer for 20mins with a haynet whilst I had a well-deserved glass of wine. We joked that he was an eventer already as he’d done all three phases on one day!
He had 3 days off after that to chill out a bit, then my husband came to see him jump and took some pics and a vid:
He’s just getting a little bit quick in front of a fence so future sessions will concentrate on me keeping my shoulders up on the approach and folding less over the fence – ideally he just needs to jog in at this height.
We’ve got our first ever competition this weekend – a combined training at the same venue we went to for the RC evening. He’s doing a walk and trot test and a tiny round of SJs, though I may just do the dressage depending on what the jumping looks like and how ready I feel he is for it on the day.
I’ll report on that next week, then the frequency of the reports may drop a little. He’s got all the basics in place and I’ll be spending a few weeks just messing about over some small fences, developing a more relaxed outline on the flat and improving his transitions, along with plenty of hacking and chilling out. Inevitably at this stage the pace of development slows considerably.
Reggie’s now looking for a posh grown-up name and we’re running a competition to find him something suitable. The winner gets a gorgeous Mountain Horse jacket so get your thinking caps on! You can enter here, on our forum