So this week I waved goodbye to my Husband for at least 4 months when he will return on R&R (essentially a two week break midwayish through his tour) so what better to do than have a visit from a good friend Sandra who kindly also ‘dewonkified’ me and of course play ponies?!
Sunday last week I saw a lingering other half of a fellow livery who I pounced on thrust phone in his hand and asked him to video Oki and this was the result. Not bad for day 2 I thought, already starting to take the reins down and round which is testament again to her remembering her previous work.
Through the week I have taken it gently doing at most 20 minutes at a time as she needs to build a lot of muscle and fitness still and although willing to give more it would be dangerous at this stage to do so. So everything in short and sweet amounts rewarding when offering good work. We even went for our first short hack off the yard and a solo one at that. A small whinny but no objections at all. 🙂 Her owner said she was good hacking which I had no reason to disbelieve but in strange new surroundings with a new rider you never can be sure so for her to be so good and willing was a big plus point for me.
Saturday with Sandra acting as chief photographer and general helpful person I decided to introduce Oki to some poles. She has seen poles before but I thought most sensible to progress as if teaching her from scratch so to go back over and instil the basics.
Whenever I sit on a new horse I always set my presumption level as to their capabilities at zero. The first thing I do is checking I can stop, may seem silly but I want to know that if I say stop at a walk it will as I don’t want to discover at a canter that it won’t! With an established horse you can jump from the zero to it’s actual level very quickly i.e. within a few minutes but if you go in at a level too high it can take longer to resolve.
So we started over single poles in walk then in trot. As her outline is still understandably inconsistent I left her to organise herself as no point risking her having a moment of ‘not sure’ just as we are going over a pole at this stage.
Next we did three poles which she also soon caught on so we only did about 3 or 4 times total.
Then finished with a very small amount of canter work. Overall I am very pleased with her progress and have to keep reminding myself not too ask too much too soon as she is so obliging it would be very easy to do. The next few weeks I will probably do more hacking than schooling so to build up muscle and fitness further as need to give her chance to gain strength before asking any harder questions.
Now to Flirt who I obviously cannot forget (she simply would not allow it!) and who has also been rather busy. We are entered at our first event of the season which will be Goring BE100 so fitness work is now being significantly upped a gear (or 2!). I had decided to take her to my Riding Club’s winter showjumping this weekend so thought best to actually have a jump as she has done very very little jumping wise since Aldon at the end of last season. So I set up a spread and also some skinny practice. Jumping blocks are brilliant for skinny practice as you can add and take away whilst keeping them solid looking. So we started with the jump to the left then removed the centre
(which was placed elsewhere!) and jumped just the yellow blocks before finishing on the single blocks. It’s a major test of accuracy and yes we didn’t jump the narrowest one the first time but ultimately she did! BUT regular practice over fences of this width will make even the tiniest skinniest BE fence look huge in comparison.
So yesterday was the winter showjumping held just 15 minutes down the road. I will admit I was somewhat lacking in enthusiasm Saturday evening as my darling hippo of a horse was filthy and I mean filthy and that is without noting the actual dreadlocks of mud in both her mane and tail. But I plucked up some muster yesterday morning and started by hosing off her legs from the elbow down before brushing/grooming her for an hour which left her looking dirty still but gleaming in comparison to the before and for unaffiliated showjumping in a gloomy indoor arena ‘passable’!
We were entered in the last two and biggest classes the 90cm and 1m, which I was pleased to see were both well supported and also built well up to height which is often unusual for unaffiliated showjumping.
Well to make it short and sweet we were both somewhat out of match practice having not jumped a course for 5 months but we improved as we went along and 2 double clears (over 4 proper rounds) later including a final jump off which was our best ever impression of a nippy JA pony we finished with a 1st and a 3rd, a small handful of rosettes and over half our entry fees back in prize money. 😀 The near frostbite was definitely worth it in the end and I am just about now defrosted after several hours wrapped in blankets infront of the heater.
So now the fitness work must continue and I am eyeing up a dressage competition for Flirt in a few weeks time.
Hope all that were out eventing this weekend had a good run, though I can’t say I fancied the mud personally, there was enough on my horse as it was without adding to it!