As I’m sure it has for many others too, the recent weather has put a dampener on some of my pre-season preparation plans. Nevertheless, I’ve still been keeping rather busy!
Robbie’s first event of the season at Osberton was abandoned due to the rain, rain and more rain. I was also planning to take Frank cross-country schooling that week too, but then the strong winds of storm Ciara and Dennis put away that idea as well! Instead I practiced some test riding at home, something that I should probably do more often in training. I habitually ride parts of a test, or practice specific movements, but riding the whole test really allows me to focus on the fluidity of movements. I recently managed to get both boys out to show jump school indoors again, which went well. Thankfully we finally got a morning of sunshine last week to reschedule Frank’s cross-county school. Frank hasn’t done cross-country in around two years, but he was very, very happy to be back at it, and threw in a good few bucks and leaps in the air. He is such a cheeky monkey but he jumped amazingly! As soon as we loaded to come home, the rain started again.
In my latest few lessons with Tiny, Frank has worked on numerous exercises and lots of pole work. Robbie’s last lesson consisted of leg yields on a circle, shoulder in, travers and renvers. I‘ve been working on trying to teach him to half pass at home. Something I try to do is to jot down and keep a scrap book of the various exercises I learn in my lessons. It gives me notes to reference back to and use not only for when I school myself, but also when I’m teaching. Often when I look back, I think “I forgot about that exercise!” Or “I haven’t used that one for a while!” It helps especially when building fences or pole work layouts.
I’ve spent time planning season goals for each horse and looking at how we will get there. I’ve looked closely at my management routines over the winter and how they could be improved. One thing I’ve spent time doing is strapping the horses. Something that is quite old fashioned and not really done as often nowadays, probably because it takes time and a lot of effort. I want to know as much as I possibly can about my horses – spending the time to mess around with them in the stable with massages and stretches allows me to recognise normalities, pick up quicker on abnormalities and tailor training programmes accordingly. The horses really enjoy the bonding time also, especially on a Sunday afternoon while the weather has been miserable. I get a lot of advice from our Chiropractor, Sophie, who has worked with my horses for almost 10 years now. Looking at weaknesses in a little more detail, I personally think my horses could all muscle up over their hind quarters a little more at the moment, so I’ve added a performance balancer to their existing feed which consists of Fibre-Beet, Alpha A and topline conditioning nuts. I routinely lunge in a German string which I, in my opinion, like as it encourages the horses to stretch. However, Sophie has advised that Equi-core bands may be of benefit for bottom building so my next mission is to get some made up.
On the yard at home we’ve been building all-weather turnouts, which we’re now ready to fence. As well as fencing for when the liveries move onto their spring paddocks. We ran a “Bring your boyfriend/girlfriend yard day” for our pony clubbers around Valentine’s Day - which went really well! We had 24 crazy riders turn up for a wild gymkhana, which we managed to get in before the heavy rain! We then spent the afternoon playing our Love Island find your girlfriend/boyfriend, Mr & Mrs and Take Me Out themed games in the dry classroom.
Hopefully by the time I write my next blog, I’ll have been to an event! Fingers crossed for better weather!!!