Jumping Joys

Now the weather is less rainy the fields have dried up beautifully.  Which of course means that we are able to school again.  Not only that – we can jump!

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It has been a good few months since the ponies have jumped so I like to start them off with pretty simple jumps and not rush into anything too big or complicated.  Galahad loves to jump though – he really comes alive when we get the jumps out.  In fact, he can get a bit too strong if I don’t watch it.  On Thursday I kept him to a strict trot over the fences for serveral minutes as I had felt he wasn’t really listening to me.

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We have had a lovely few sessions playing with the jumps and my sister has even been able to join us a couple of times which just adds to the fun.  For one thing, it means we can have a go at pairs jumping which can be hilarious.

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I am so much enjoying having the jumps out again!

Excursions

Once again I have been off gallivanting without Galahad to compete for the riding club.  This time I was taking part in an eventer’s challenge – a round of show jumps immediately followed by a round of cross country fences.

I have only done a few cross country courses over the past couple of years and those were on Galahad so the jumps were very little.  I probably haven’t jumped a big round of cross country fences for about ten years so I was more than a little apprehensive.

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The horse felt quite tight and wound up underneath me and we had a couple of argumentative moments in the warm up ring which did not help my confidence.  However, I am nothing if not determined and we made our way into the ring.

Of course, we had to have a very good look at all of the scary tents and vans along the edge but once we were past those I asked for a canter and he shot off at top speed.  I felt like I had no brakes at all but we had gone through the start so I could hardly turn away from the first fence to settle him before we began.  I just had to commit to the jump and hope for the best.

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Look at his tail fly!

Thankfully once we were over the fence he started listening to me and we finished the show jumps at a much more respectable speed.  In fact, it would have been better if we had gone a bit faster but I was just grateful I wasn’t being carted away!

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Show jumping immediately followed by cross country means cross country colours all the time – no show jackets!

We finished the show jumping with no penalties and moved on to the cross country fences.  Suddenly we found our rhythm and the scary, solid fences flowed beautifully.  We had an unfortunate stop at one of them – the team had noticed that several people were having trouble with horses ducking out to the left at that particular fence and I think I overcompensated and sent him the other way – but he jumped beautifully and I found myself enjoying it more than the show jumping.

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Professional photographs are from Dorset Photo Event

We even managed to clear the tricky joker at the end of the course – a show jumping gate 10cm higher than the rest of the fences.  I had the most wonderful day and thoroughly enjoyed myself.  It is so good to be part of the team again!

Wilton Horse Trials

I am just back from a great weekend at Wilton Horse Trials.

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Wilton ’18 was written incarrots and bananas!

We had a small setback to start with as we were staying in Wilton very near to the main entrance to the house but hadn’t realised that the only way in to the horse trials was two miles away round the other side of the park.  We knew that was the main gate but not that it was the only one.  It was a shame but we’ll be better prepared another time.

I don’t get to go to many of the smaller events but I do love them – you can be so much closer to the action.  I spent Saturday morning basically sat in the warm up area watching the dressage and showjumping.  It was wonderful to be surrounded by so many horses.

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Once the cross country started we obviously had to walk the course and apart from being a little wary of approaching horses (there are less string fences than at the bigger events so we had to be very aware of where the horses would go) it was fantastic exploring the course and being able to get a good look at the fences.

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Saturday morning was novice cross country but I had a look at all the jumps we passed and I was particularly interested in a double on the BE100 course.  I could see several different ways to approach it and I was curious to see how it rode.

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Once the BE100 class started I went to have a look and the first two riders took one route but both had a run out at the second element.  The third rider took a different route and made it look easy so I thought that settled the question.

It’s never as simple as that though – over the two days I saw all possible routes taken and all of them cleanly so my first look must have just been bad timing!

Saturday had been mostly sunny – although very windy – but rain was was forecast for Sunday.  We knew that but the long dry spell has made us a bit complacent and although we had brought waterproof jackets we hadn’t really considered how cold we might get and we had actively decided not to take waterproof trousers.  It rained all day so we learnt our lesson!

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Even the horses were hiding from the rain!

We arrived on Sunday to find that the majority of the trade stands had packed up which was a real shame.  We hadn’t had time to look round them the day before and had planned to do so on Sunday morning.  The few remaining food stands were doing a roaring trade though!

First up on Sunday were the intermediate classes and it was great to be able to get a good look at the riders warming up.  I hope that I managed to learn something.

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We didn’t walk the whole of the cross country course this time – partly because we now knew it pretty well and partly because it was pouring with rain and blowing pretty well too.  I had dreadful trouble with my hat and ended up looking like Paddington.

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The hat will never be the same again.

We picked out a few of our favourite jumps and went to watch those.  The furthest field from the main showground had a fantastic group of trees where we could sit in comfort and watch six fences (eight or nine jumping efforts depending on the class).

I really think we had the best seats on the course, although a coffee van would have been nice!  We were also sat right by the double I had been interested in the day before so I not only got a good view of it being jumped, I also got to watch many different people walking it and it was fascinating to see all the different approaches.

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Despite the weather we had a great weekend and I’m already looking forward to the next event.

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Sunday Schooling

I very nearly didn’t ride Galahad this evening.  I had a busy day yesterday, I was at work all day today and had already ridden Cookster out so I was pretty tired and wanted to curl up with a book. However, I told myself that was not the right attitude and tacked him up.  It was too good an evening to waste anyway.

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We had a pretty decent schooling session.  The ground is a little rutted from the winter but is actually in surprisingly good condition considering how wet it has been.  I was pleased with Galahad too – we don’t manage a lot of schooling over the winter but he worked well and is even improving at picking up the correct canter lead on the right rein – he got it right nearly every time today!

I was hoping to get in a little jumping as well but I was more cautious with that.  We hadn’t jumped at all yet this year and in the past if Galahad has had a break from jumping he has had a tendency to get over excited when we pick it up again – he either rushes at the fences or gallops off after them.  I made sure he was calm and listening to me before I attempted a jump, then I introduced some very small fences, keeping strictly to a trot.

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I was very pleasantly surprised as he popped neatly over them and showed no sign of getting above himself.  Before long we were happily cantering over the bigger, scarier jumps.

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It was a very positive start to this year’s jumping.  We will hopefully manage to harrow the field this week and then I’ll be able to put out the rest of the jumps.  I was lucky enough to get some new fillers for my birthday this year and I am very excited about trying them out!

 

Beautiful Bank Holiday

The weather this bank holiday weekend has been glorious.  Blue skies all day with just a bit of mist in the mornings.  We went out for a lovely ride early yesterday morning and then spent most of the rest of the day in front of the television.  It is Badminton weekend after all!

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I always try to keep this weekend free because even if I can’t actually get there I love to watch.  I even watch snatches of dressage in my breaks at work.  On Friday I had an almost perfectly timed break and managed to watch Jonty Evans’ test.

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I was one of the many people who chipped in to pay for a tail hair of Cooley Rorkes Drift last year so I was very pleased with that.

As always, I thoroughly enjoyed watching Badminton.  So far I am a fan of the new scoring system without the dressage coefficient – recently eventing has felt a bit like a dressage competition!

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It has been a great weekend and we are now just out for what will hopefully be another lovely hack – an evening one this time.

Making Progress

Last Sunday Galahad and I went to a jump-cross challenge competition – a round of show jumping followed by a cross country course.  Given our last cross country outing had involved a lot of stops I was feeling a little apprehensive.  However, Galahad was jumping very well in training (barring some braking issues).  That and the fact that his back was probably a bit sore last time gave me some reason to hope we would manage better this time.

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We entered the 50cm class and the show jumping went pretty well.  We had one stop – I still don’t know why – but the rest of the round felt really good and back up to our normal level.  We made our way to the cross country course and actually managed to get over the first fence at the the first attempt.  That was much better than last time – as you can hear if you watch to the end of the video and listen very carefully!

In fact, the whole course was miles better than last time.  It was almost the same course and the only fences we stopped at were the quarry (which we had previously only jumped with a lead in the pairs class) and the chair (which was the fence we had to miss out last time).  Everything else we just flew over.  I was enjoying it, Galahad was enjoying it and it was so much fun.

We had too many stops to place in the cross country or the combined competition but as the show jumping was split into senior and junior riders we managed a fourth place for that which was very welcome.

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We also entered the show jumping section of the 65cm class.  Galahad felt even better and I was much more confident.  I did however completely misjudge the turn into the double and presented Galahad with a horrible angle at one of the widest fences on the course.  I was convinced he would either stop or just crash through it.  He did hesitate slightly but popped over it and the second part of the double with no problem at all.

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We did knock one fence down but in a completely unrelated incident.  We claimed fifth place in that class which felt very good indeed.

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It was good to feel that Galahad was enjoying his jumping – the rosettes were a bonus and we had a fantastic day.

Pinging

We recently had to have the fields topped again, which meant that I had to put all of my jumps away.  Then it started raining and we couldn’t cut the grass.  It didn’t seem worth getting the jumps out when I would only have to pack them up again so it has been a couple of weeks since we have been able to jump.

Last week however, it was finally dry, the grass was cut and the jumps came out of storage.  I found this lovely moth on one of them – it was huge!

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Its wings were open when I first saw it but it closed them before I could get to my camera.  It was beautiful though.

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I’m sorry the pictures are rather blurry.  Apparently the camera couldn’t cope with the light levels!

Galahad seemed as excited as me to see the fences – he was rushing rather to start with and he was putting in some enormous jumps.  We then had a horrid jump over the filler and completely demolished the fence.  After that he was much more sane!

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He was actually jumping quite nicely and we had a lovely evening in the field.  We didn’t overdo it though – it was still pretty hot even at nine o’clock in the evening!

Getting Kitted Out

Since Galahad has now done two whole cross country competitions I decided it was time to get a hat cover and saddlecloth to match my cross country colours.

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Obviously that’s just an excuse to treat myself to some horsey goodies  (although I do have another competition coming up soon).

I went through a phase a few years ago when I fell off every time I wore something new.  Even now I still make sure that I never wear anything for the first time at a competition – just in case.

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Naturally this meant that I had to try out the new colours on a normal ride and I am pleased to say that they worked very well and fit nicely.  I am starting to feel like a proper competitor!  Best of all, I didn’t fall off – hurrah!

Testing my Limits

On Sunday I went to our local hunter trials.  We were a bit doubtful whether I was ready but I don’t get many opportunities to do cross country and I want to make the most of the ones I do get.  This time I tried riding Galahad in a kimblewick – we had some steering issues last time!

I was very pleased with how relaxed he felt in the warm up.  He can get a bit wound up and bouncy but this time he was listening very nicely and I had no worries.  The grass was a little slippery but wasn’t too bad and I was pretty happy setting out.

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That changed rather quickly.  We had an awful lot of refusals which is quite unusual  – Galahad is far more likely to run out than stop dead.  I think he was worried about the new jumps and after my few weeks off my legs just weren’t strong enough to keep him going.

The course was set out over two fields and we refused at least once at most of the fences in the first field.  At the chair we even slipped and very nearly fell but just managed to hang on.  The fence judge made us skip that fence!  At the next fence I had a friendly helper who stood to the side to encourage Galahad over and after that we did a lot better, with only a couple of stops in the second field.

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By this point I knew that I wasn’t really fit enough to ride as positively as Galahad needed.  I was also coughing quite a lot between fences – thankfully not very much when we were actually tackling a fence.  I’m pretty sure the adrenaline controls it a bit!  It was a good experience though and I hadn’t expected to be competitive anyway.

 

I also had a pairs class in the afternoon.  My partner was riding a very green horse but he had been jumping better than us so I was hoping for a bit of a lead from them.  I was not disappointed!  We flew round most of the course, with just a little trouble coming out of the quarry – a fence we had not had to tackle individually.  We even managed our dressing fences very nicely.

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Galahad and I were responsible for getting into and through the water as our partner had been having issues with that.  I was a little worried but Galahad popped straight over the fence and into the water with no trouble.  Sadly our partners managed to go over the flag instead of inside and as we didn’t go back to correct it we were eliminated.  Still, we had a fantastic round and Galahad was definitely enjoying himself.   He was much more forward than he had been in our individual round!

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I went with the others to check the results at the end of the day but I was obviously not expecting anything for myself – we had clearly been eliminated in both our classes!  However,  so had quite a few other people and the riding club was nice enough to present rosettes to us anyway – the later in the course we were eliminated, the higher we placed.  Galahad and I managed a fifth in our individual class and a ninth in the pairs.

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The rosettes were completely unexpected but very welcome indeed.  We may not have had the best of days overall but our pairs round was wonderful and I think we learnt a lot.  I was very glad I decided to go.

New Jumps

It has taken me a while but I finally managed to get our logs moved to a suitable place for jumping.  It was lovely to be able to jump them at last and I did so at the first opportunity.

Galahad was not at all sure about the logs when we first entered the field and didn’t really want to go anywhere near them.  When we did get close he had a very good look at them and from then on we had no problem.  When we got to jumping though he ran out twice.

I  then gave myself a stern talking to.  Galahad has been round a proper cross country course and although we did have a couple of run outs we got round most of it with no trouble.  The only thing stopping him was me and my nerves so I told myself to look up and ride positively.  It worked!

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The next time I rode was with my sister who suggested trying some pairs jumping.  The ponies had never done it before but they took to it really well.

They jumped very nicely together and Cookster was more forward going than usual.     It took a bit more practise to jump our tyres – round a corner – after the logs.  Cookster kept drifting right, pushing us both around instead of over the fence.  We got there in the end though and we had so much fun!

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Not every fence is a dressing fence!