Well I have had another busy couple of weeks, what with having to fit in my PE coursework and keep the horses exercised and avoiding the rain, I have had plenty to keep me occupied.
On Friday 20th, I took Punch to Hambledon to do the BE100, which I was really excited about as I have never competed at Hambledon as the BE100 is always on the Friday and I am normally at school. We got there and got ready for the dressage. Punch was feeling rather fresh and pleased with himself, but none the less knuckled down to produce what felt like a really lovely test, with no real mistakes, and much more consistent than South of England where he got a mark of 36.5, which I thought was on the harsh side of fair. We had a big gap before the jumping, so went and walked the cross country course, which looked fab. They had worked so hard on the ground and although deep in places where the string was narrow, considering the rain we had had leading up to it, it was very good. Unfortunately we got back from walking the cross country to see Punch had been given a 40 dressage mark. That was a real shame as we didn't feel that we should risk him in the deteriorating conditions, so yet again I haven't been able to complete at Hambledon, although at least I got there this time. All credit to the organisers who were fantastic, and it was such a shame that the conditions deteriorated sufficiently after the first day that they had to cancel.
Then on the Saturday I went round to Littleton for a show jumping lesson with Ernest Dillon. Lily was flying, and didn't touch a pole, except when she had a little spook jumping into the combination, having the rail in behind. She jumped the water trays and all the new fillers, which filled me with confidence, especially after our little issues cross country. There are pictures in her album in media.
On the Sunday we then took Lily to do the 90 cm pairs hunter trial at Coombelands, thinking pairs would be a good idea to get her going forwards and enjoying it. We had aimed to jump the 2'6, but having been schooling there and jumped the majority of the 90cm fences, we decided that would be more beneficial. So off we went out of the start and through the hedge, just at trot so they could see what they were doing, and picked up a nice confident canter towards the first which she jumped beautifully. Unfortunately at this point Lily decided it was all a little exciting following a friend and started to buck... and buck and buck and buck and buck. Well I reckon I sat at least 10 bucks, increasing in the height her back end was reaching and the amount she was propping until I fell off. Off went the air jacket.. again, although I kept hold of her this time, wasn't playing any more of those games. Very cross at this point, I got back on and then made her go in front, and to be fair she was fantastic, she jumped round the whole course, bar a spook at the photographer behind one fence which caused her to stop. So actually despite falling off it was a really beneficial outing as I feel I have got the measure of her a little more.
Back to school this week, unfortunately. And I still hadn't finished my coursework which was in for Friday (27th) I spent my frees in the library and was up till ridiculous hours but I got it done and given in on Friday, all 25,000 words or 38 pages of it.. and yes this was A level coursework, not a dissertation! However I think it is pretty good, so fingers crossed the moderator agrees.
On Saturday, with Nurstead cancelled, we headed to Felbridge with Punch and Lily for some BSJA. It was heaving and everyone was there, including most of the eventers from the South East, which was very sociable! Punch was a superstar, as usual, and jumped a fantastic, quick double clear in the discovery, which was good enough to win, out of at least 60 horses, if not more. See his winning round here; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lN73AFYbDzY&feature=plcp
Lily is still thinking she is a teenager and a little too cool for rules, well for obeying them anyway!! She was jumping very well in tuntil we reached the spooky line at 7 to 8, which was a one strided double and then five strides to the planks. She wanted to stop at the double, but my reactions have improved a lot, and I was quick enough to ride her forwards, so she jumped it. However she backed of the planks the whole way up and when she got there decided to test my stickability by stopping and moving sideways rather quickly. I have to admit I did come dangerously close to coming off AGAIN, for the 3rd time in a month, but knowing this and that if I did fall off I then couldn't make her jump them, I stayed on. A reminder of who was boss and she flew them. She then jumped clear the rest of the way, so I wasn't too disappointed. At the moment, she is just testing me a bit, to check that she has to do it.. which I am informing her that she does, so I think we will be back on track very soon. And whilst its not all going to plan, it is doing my riding the world of good, so just got to keep going and working at it. I then took her back in for an HC round to reaffirm what we had learnt in the first round, and she got a little tired towards the end so rolled a couple of poles, but it was a much better round, so hopefully she will be ready for next time!
This has ended up with a bit of an essay... But until next time
Well the cross country schooling on Tuesday was great fun! I took Ozzie in the pony club group to get his rallies done so that I can do pony club teams. Ozzie was such a superstar, and my god I miss eventing that pony, he truly is incredible and jumped round everything so neatly, I love being able to just get on him and go and have a blast, as we know each other so well and trust each other with everything! It was so difficult being at South of England today just doing the Pre Novice when all my friends from the JRNs over the last 3 years were doing the U18 Novice, and I know I am too old for the U18s, but I miss all of it!
We then took Lily round for some confidence, and I followed my Trainer, Tracey Brown, round on her experienced horse to give Lily the idea. She very quickly regained her confidence and popped round the course beautifully, so that was an improvement on Littleton earlier in the week. I think also Simple System suggesting that we reduce her feed right down to Greengold and Lunar Eclipse has worked too, as she is much more settled and concentrating on me, where as before she was definitely feeling a little bit too well! We then took her to Littleton again on Friday to see where we were in terms of getting her confidence back on track and she felt like the horse I was riding at the beginning of the season. We started off with all the small fences but she flew them and I ended up jumping some of the bigger fences which was really good, so fingers crossed she will be fine. We are going to Coombelands Hunter Trial next weekend to do the pairs and give her a jolly round, to keep her confidence high!
So today we were at South of England with The Whole Punch (Punch.) I had walked the course yesterday and it was very up to height and technical, although Punch is an old pro and so I was looking forwards to having a go, especially after falling off last weekend. The dressage could have been better, in terms of what I did, rather than the horse going better. Punch went fantastically, but I was stressed and feeling that he wasn't working well enough, but looking back at the video he looked great and I looked like I was flapping around a bit but still being rather ineffective. I find dressage difficult as the marks don't always reflect your test and at the end of the day it is judged, I would much rather be jumping! However today has proved to me that I really need to start working on my flatwork, because until I can present a test, my marks will not be as high as I would like, so through my exams when I'm not eventing, I will be working hard on my dressage so that I don't hinder the horse! Punch came out with a 36.5 today, which was on the harsh side as it was a very nice test overall, just a bit rushed at times, however the comments didn't really reflect that!
The show jumping was on the sticky side, and the drying ground was definitely a bit holding, not helped by warming up on a surface and then having to go and jump on grass! Despite this, Punch jumped very well, but I didn't seem to be able to get into a nice rhythm, resulting in me over checking to the double at fence 8 and getting deep, before panicking that we weren't going to make the stride so pushing him a bit flat and he just touched the front rail of the in behind which came down. He didn't really deserve it as he jumped fantastically and didn't touch a pole anywhere else!
The cross country today was spot on! He was absolutely flying along and gave me the most fantastic and confidence giving ride possible! He is one of those horses that puts a smile on your face as he just loves his job. We were meeting all the fences on such perfect open strides which he was just picking off like it was nothing, he would jump round novice cross country easily with the way he went today! At fence 14 was a pale blue fence, which was a decent enough size, with enough width to it, although it was sloping. Punch was having a good look at it on the way in so a stride out I smacked him down the shoulder for encouragement, and he just took off! It took me slightly by suprise but he felt fantastic. Then in the quarry was a ditch, two strides to a skinny house, I managed to lose both stirrups coming to this fence and was then a long way off the ditch, but put my leg on and he popped it all easily and finished well within the time. We ended up 11th and without the pole we would have been 7th.
This afternoon I stayed and watched everyone compete in the junior section, which was lovely as I caught up with everyone from last year that I haven't seen for ages!
Thats it for now, although I am sure there will be many more mad tales next week, most likely from the warm up at a hunter trial! I still have the bruise from Lily jumping on my foot last weekend.. horses are heavy!
Link to photos from coombelands xc schooling;http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.3694276120691.165664.1388942349&http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.3694390083540.165668.1388942349&
a link for todays video click here ... _
After being on a high for so long, it was never going to last, and as they say - how the mighty have fallen... quite literally in my case. After Tweseldown I was buzzing, and Lily's stop was just a green baby horse mistake, so with all that in mind I was feeling very positive.
The weekend after Tweseldown, we popped down the road to do the BE100 combined training with Punch and Lily, just to give them an outing. They were both extremely good, Punch did a foot perfect test, although didn't get the marks (what's new?!) and Lily was much improved, we are definately getting somewhere. They then both show jumped clear over a decent sized track to finish 2nd and 3rd, so very pleased and a really good outing once again.
The weekend of the 23rd, I went to Bath with 3 friends to support the boys from our school who were on hockey tour! The sun shone and we had a lovely weekend, and it was actually rather relaxing to have a weekend off from the horses.. a big thank you to mum for looking after them ...again! Although the results of the matches didn't go our way, we had a lovely time. On the Monday we then had our Hockey awards evening, which is always entertaining. I won an award for playing 50+ 1st XI Matches for the school and also won coaches award because I always put in 100%. I like to think that this attitude transfers to my riding, although sometimes I think I try a little too hard to get it perfect, one day I will achieve perfection!! We then had a mixed hockey tournament on the Wednesday, which was so much fun, and we finished 3rd overall which was pretty good.
However back to the horses.. Mum took Lily to some dressage last weekend to give her some more experience, as I was playing netball and hockey that day! Lily was extremely good and although didn't receive the mark she perhaps deserved, she was very good and it was educational for her - so thank you mum! On Sunday we headed off to Parwood for some cross country schooling. However the ground was very hard and rutted so we did no more than trot through the water and jump a ditch. But it was an educational outing for Lily just the same, and although she was a little green at times, she did everything I asked her too. I will add some photos of her schooling.
With this under our belt I was excited to be going to Larkhill this weekend, as it was hard to believe it was only my 2nd event of the season! The weekend didn't start that well when Lily managed to jump on my foot because I accidentally got water in her eye whilst giving her a bath, so I am sporting a nice purple bruise the whole way along my foot... she is surprisingly heavy, although I don't know why I am so surprised shes quite a big horse!
Anyway, a relatively nice start, having to leave at 8, which wasn't too bad. The course was lovely, plenty of questions, but really educational - I couldn't wait to get out there, however we had to get the dressage out the way first. However Lily was really good if losing attention a little at times, but it was by far the best test we had done, with no kicks out, but a little bouncy in the canter! The judge gave us a 37 which was on the harsh side, however there were plenty of areas to improve and the judge said she was too forwards - YAAAY, never thought I would get marked down for being too forwards. A quick change and we were off to the show jumping. She warmed up brilliantly and we timed it just right. When we went in she was very green, as she has never jumped with lots of trade stands and contemplated not going near them.. but the jumps were just too tempting so she decided to jump them after all! Unfortunately fences 1 to 2 were on a related distance, and she wasn't quite focused. I felt we were going to be on a complete half stride so took a large check 2 strides out, which she took as an aid to stop as she hadn't really locked onto the fence. So a kick up the bottom for the jockey and she jumped a lovely clear.. so very cross with myself, but she coped very well, and if I had kept moving to the 2nd she would have jumped it, but I will get there in the end - as long as I learn from each mistake I make!
Onto the cross country and I was slightly apprehensive about the warm up, but there was no where near as many bucks as last time and she jumped all the fences very well so I was feeling quite positive. I gave her lots of time at the start to see what she was doing and off we went over the first without any backwards thoughts. However the 2nd was the first fence really away from home but I sat up and held her together and although she had a look she still jumped it. Fence three was a spooky red house and she was backing off it the whole way in and eventually ground to a halt, so I turned round to jump it again and she had gone very green and wanted to go back to her friends, so stopped again! So a quick smack bottom and she jumped it.. cheeky pony, but she didn't like going into the big wide world without a friend! Onto fence 4, and she had started to go a bit more forwards again, which was my downfall. 2 strides out we were still going very forwards, last stride Lily thought it was much too scary so stopped dead and dropped her shoulder, at which point I went straight over her head, hit the fence and then the ground, however the air jacket was extremely effective until I got a bit stuck on the floor through the shock of falling off and the air jacket kind of beaching me.. eventually I managed to get up and Anna had kindly caught her for me, so back on I jumped as she was not getting away with it! She then jumped the fence as if nothing had happened (and unfortunately the photographer was taking pictures at that fence.. so has got some lovely ones of me falling off!) She then got going and jumped the double of logs and through the water, however there was then a spooky brush down the hill away from home, and there was a horse that had just passed us going the other direction so she lost her concentration and then lost her balance, so went to jump it and then wasn't sure so put down again. Unfortunately that was the end of our round, which was a shame as she was just getting going. However they were just green, babyish mistakes and she is a lovely mare so I am sure we will get there, it will just take time. However she was also very fresh and not very focused yesterday which I don't think helped so she is now out at night! I think she is feeling very well, and the Red Grass Nuts have given her plenty of energy which is what we wanted, however mixed with the spring grass she now doesn't need as much, but they have really helped her build up strength as she is feeling fantastic!
To make sure she hadn't frightened herself we took her to Littleton today to have a trot round some of the little fences and get her confidence back. She was a little angel and she had a couple of stops where she wasn't focused on the fence, but what the horses were doing in the next field, the nice thing is that it isn't really the fences that are the problem so I am sure we will get there as she is very brave. We are going cross country schooling again on Tuesday with the Pony Club, so hopefully she will build a bit more confidence there!
The outcome of this weekend was therefore a bruised foot, a swollen lip, a bruised shin and a bruised shoulder. On the plus side Lily is feeling very very well and I know what I need to work on. Also because it is Easter I can now eat chocolate, sweets and crisps again... its been a long 40 days but I do feel better for it!
Thats all for now.. updates soon!
Links to cross country schooling; http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.3678576008198.165325.1388942349&