So I am now closer to the first event of 2015 than I am away from my last event of 2014, and to say I am excited is an understatement!
2014 did not go totally to plan, especially with Lily and I cannot wait to put that right in 2015, she is so talented and I want to show the eventing world what she is really capable of! I am hoping that her love of hunting is going to transfer to self belief cross country and she will be away!
When I left off we had been show jumping and she felt great. Since then we have had some dressage and jumping lessons, been hunting a couple more times and been combined training, and so far all systems are go, as we enter the last week of 2014 I can admit I have learnt so much and it has not been easy, but I have never been more excited to start the New Year and the new season. BRING ON 2015!!
Back to the beginning of December and I had my first dressage lesson in months! Lily felt fab and showing her new found love of going forwards from the hunting field. I was able to work on much more specific things to perfect my tests rather than just working on getting her forwards off my leg, I don't think Jenny has ever told me to steady so many times in a lesson, so that must be a positive!
A couple of weeks later, we headed to Littleton for a jumping lesson with Ernest Dillon. I hadn't had a jumping lesson since May and it was long overdue. I couldn't wait to show Ernest how much Lily had come on and for him to help us with the next stage of our training. She was simply awesome. She was popping a 1.20m+ course for fun, and although she rolled a couple of poles, there was a simple and quick fix to the problem. Ernest picked up on the fact that a stride away from the fence I tend to relax the hand, this causes her to lose her balance in front of the fence slightly and as the fences get bigger this becomes more of an issue. We worked on keeping the hand to give her something to jump out of and it is amazing how such a small change can create such a large difference in the quality of the jump, but it did! I love my lessons with Ernest as I trust him completely and as he said to me 'I would never ask you to do something I couldn't get on your horse and show you' and it is this kind of relationship that really works when training.
To put the lessons into practice, we went to Felbridge for the Novice Combined Training. She did a much improved test, she was forwards and happy and although there were moments of insecurity, generally she was much more stable in the contact. This was rewarded with a great mark of 28. Onto the jumping and it was nearly dark, but this didn't bother Lily, she skipped round a decent track and I ensured I was keeping the contact in the approach, take-off, in the air, landing and the get away to produce one of the best rounds we have had to date and a confident clear. It caused plenty of trouble and we finished 2nd out of 11 in very good company - clever pony!
This weekend we went to Belmoredean for a dressage lesson with Damian Hallam on my dressage trainer (Jenny Watson)'s recommendation. It was the most fantastic lesson. He kept everything so simple and it worked, we focussed on keeping Lily 'in her box' meaning straight, forwards from behind and into the contact. I think it was probably the best she has ever gone which is very exciting for next season.
Meanwhile Coco is still coming back into work, so far his leg is holding up well but I am not saying any more than that (tempting fate!) He is trotting and will do another 2 weeks roadwork, taking it up to 12 weeks on the road, 8 weeks walk and 4 weeks walk and trot. Fingers crossed we can start to incorporate a bit of schooling soon, but he feels fantastic and considering he is a fluffy pony his coat is shiny and he looks amazing! He did drop a little condition once we started a bit of trot work but the addition of topnosh to his feeds morning and evening did the trick nicely and he was back looking his best within a couple of days - if you ever need a non-heating feed to help put condition on, I couldn't recommend topnosh enough - improvements are almost visible overnight!
On Christmas day, Lily and I took my cousin Katie and a livery Liv and their ponies Ellie and Connor on a christmas hack. Lily and I definitely won the fancy dress - Lily was a tree with tinsel, flashing lights and baubles, whilst I was an angel! You can see pictures above and below!
So that is it for 2014 but 2015 will start with a bang. We are going arena eventing at LMEQ on Saturday followed by BS at Merrist Wood on Sunday. I have got all my competitions planned between now and the start of the season and includes a mixture of the British Eventing JAS series, the new arena eventing series, combined training, dressage and hunting - bring it on.. As they say, failure to prepare is preparing to fail!