January has been a very busy month here at Georgie Wood Eventing! The horses are feeling fantastic and the uni work has taken a bit of a back seat, however with a lot of deadlines coming up over the next month and the need to get my dissertation proposal in, I need to start distributing my time a little more evenly!
We had a great day out hunting at Tilford with the Staff College and RMA Sandhurst Drag at the end of January, and it was so lovely to be accompanied by my best friend Jenny Wijsmuller on her lovely horse Darcey. Jenny and I worked out the last time we did any sort of riding together was the Pony Club Champs in 2009!! Lily made a new best friend in Darcey and it was the most fantastic meet with lots of jumping which Lily loved.
Last Thursday, Lily and I left mum working and Jenny very kindly came to Felbridge to help us in the Novice Combined Training. Lily went really well gaining a fantastic mark of 30.5 in the dressage which was 3rd. She then had an unlucky pole show jumping, but I hadn't managed to jump her since she had been hunting and was just a little too keen! She made it feel easy and was really confident which is the main thing. You can see the video by CLICKING HERE.
Last night we headed to Merrist Wood Evening dressage. I used it as a real opportunity to start asking a bit more from Lily, as previously in the arena I have had to ride very tactfully and almost let her get away with things. Now her schooling has come on so much, I am able to really start asking her for more. In the first test (BE106) this meant she was a little inconsistent in the contact and thus the rhythm varied. She still got 70% which was 3rd. In the second test (BE112) she settled much better and apart from a cheeky buck in one of the medium canters she remained focused and happy, she got 68% in a relatively low marking test which was good enough to win the class - a very successful outing, I am just hoping the good form continues!
Last Saturday we had a very promising dressage lesson with Jenny Watson. Lily is so much happier to work in the school now she has been introduced to the hunting field and as a result we are able to start making huge improvements in her way of going. We were using a counter canter exercise with counter flexion in order to improve suppleness. When we came back to trot, it was much more elevated and this is an exercise I am going to put to use in my schooling sessions now as she benefited from it hugely.
Sunday, we headed to Aston Le Walls for their arena eventing. Firstly what an incredible facility, I have only been there when the event is on so never seen the surface with all the fences on. Knowing the course was an optimum time and with over 40 in the class, I wasn't holding out much hope as I have never been overly successful in optimum time classes! However, I didn't know how Lily would react to swapping arenas and so went in to give her a good ride! She was mega, the hunting has giving her that real desire to go when she sees a fence which is the effect I hoped it may have! You can see her being awesome by CLICKING HERE. She finished just 2 seconds inside the optimum which left her in 4th place.
Yesterday we had another play with some of Andrew Nicholsons jumping exercises. I had the planks 5 metres in from the fence on the S-R line and the V-P line, I then had the circle exercise set up on the 20 metre circle at E and B. As a result I combined the two and angled the plank on one stride to the circle exercise on the centre line and 3 strides to angle the jump on the track! Lily absolutely loved it and I came in grinning from ear to ear - there is something very rewarding when you make a breakthrough on a horse who hasn't always been the easiest!
Today we headed to Wellington Arena Eventing, wanted to gain qualification points towards the final at Blenheim in September. I think I have found her forte in area eventing - she thinks it is the best fun ever! Again she flew round (finding it rather small!!) No video from today as super groom, i.e. Mum, couldn't come, luckily my boyfriends mum, Hilary, offered to come and keep me company and Lily was very grateful as she fed her copious amounts of polos (as Lily rightly deserved). Another optimum time competition at 375metres/minute.. So I just went in and rode in a positive forwards rhythm. It paid off with her finishing 1.5 seconds outside the optimum in 2nd place. It was great to see Nicola Holehouse and her gorgeous pony 'Marmalade Monty' who looked on incredible form and finished just 0.5 of a second from the optimum to beat us in the BE100!
Lily has had a rather busy week and it doesn't stop there with her heading to Merrist Wood JAS for the Novice and the Open on Saturday. We have slightly upped her feed as a result and she is now on one scoop of Lucie Pellets per day, alongside her Greengold and Linseed and Total Eclipse to keep her on top form. Feeling slightly guilty, however, as my boyfriend is back from Uni for the weekend to visit. It is valentines day (not that I don't hate the day) and he had offered to cook dinner and we could have a quiet evening in.. That plan is out the window now I have found out I am jumping at 6.12 and 7pm (whoops).. Oh well, ponies always come first and he knows it!
Very excited for a 5 day skiing break next week before coming back to put the final preparations together ready to hit the ground running in the BE100 Open at Aston on the 7th March!
I also had some very exciting news in the last month that due to my performance at University Riding (BUCS) Nationals and the follow up training/selection trials, I have been selected to ride for the Great Britain Student Riders squad at the Student Riders Nations Cup in Belgium over Easter. You can find about the GB Student Riders Here: http://www.gbstudentriders.co.uk
Sorry for the essay - the next blog will probably be shortly after our first event of the season (eeeeek!!)