Nationals Bound

In July I went to our regional showjumping and style jumping qualifier for the British Riding Clubs National Championships.  The showjumping did not go quite to plan as we had one refusal and  twenty three time faults in the first round which clearly put us well out of the running.

We had to go into our second round almost immediately so I gave myself a stern talking to and tried to push my horse forward more.  We had a pole down but were at least inside the time and it felt like a much better round.  Obviously I came nowhere individually but we did come fourth as a team which was some comfort.

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Picture credit: Indy Equine Photography

We moved on to style jumping which I had never done before so I was quite nervous about it.  Especially as the horse I was riding is inclined to pick up the wrong canter lead on the left rein.  However, this time we got all the right leads, the course felt nice and flowing and we jumped clear.  All I could do then was cheer on the rest of my team and wait.

I ended up coming second which was very exciting and totally unexpected.  The person who beat me was on the winning team so I knew there was a chance I could be invited to the Nationals as an individual but I tried very hard not to get my hopes up.  However, two weeks ago I received an invitation and so we are going to Nationals after all.  When I heard I was so thrilled I actually squealed and dropped my phone.

I have been up once before – fifteen years ago when I was a junior and got eliminated in the second round of the show jumping.  Hopefully I will at least manage to finish the competition this time!

The Championships are next weekend (I am both very excited and very nervous at the moment!) so I will have no blog post next Sunday.  I will update you on the whole experience the following week.  Fingers crossed it’s a good one!

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!

Gadding Without Galahad

My riding of the ponies has been a bit curtailed recently as I had the opportunity to ride on my riding club’s showjumping team last weekend and I had no hesitation in taking it.  Obviously the jumps are too high for Galahad – hence the riding of other horses.  Before we had the ponies I used to ride so many different horses in my lessons and it really did make me a better rider – I was reasonably confident sitting on anything.  These days I am much more nervous and it feels like it takes me longer to get to know new horses – just because I have got so used to the ponies’ way of going.  These couple of weeks have really brought home to me how much I have lost and I am determined to keep riding other horses.

It has been several years since I jumped proper grown-up sized jumps and even longer since I competed for the riding club so I was somewhat nervous but very, very excited.  We had a much earlier start than Galahad and I are used to – we do stick to the local shows after all – and I am certainly not used to getting the horses ready in the dark.  We also had an interesting journey as the lorry broke down and we arrived as the class was starting.

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I didn’t have my usual support crew with me so thank you to Wayne for taking some brilliant photographs!

Of course, that meant we could not walk the course but we are nothing if not determined and it certainly wasn’t the first time I have jumped without a course walk.  I overshot one turn slightly but overall we got round pretty well with just one pole down.

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We did manage to walk the course for the second round but annoyingly we still had a pole down and time faults as well – which meant we were the discard score for that round.  I was still so proud of us though – I had only ridden Murphy a few times and we were working well together.  I learnt so much too which I can hopefully use another time.

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In the end our team came third overall and second of the qualifiers.  We actually had the same score as the qualifying team but were slightly slower – which makes that pole and time faults extra frustrating!

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I had the most amazing day though and am very much hoping that I get to do it again soon.

A Gentle Week

We have been having a pretty quiet week here.  After the excitement of a show it is good to have a bit of a rest.  Galahad and I have been out for some lovely hacks.

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We have been working too though and have had some successful schooling sessions.  It does however currently seem to be my fate to get absolutely soaked whenever we jump.  I don’t think it has rained any other time I’ve been riding this week but when we had a play over the jumps there was an absolute downpour.

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Galahad has been having fun too – he seems to permanently have a mane full of burrs and I have to spend ages working them out.  I then have fingers full of splinters for hours afterwards.  It is pretty painful!

Getting a Soaking

Last Sunday was our inter-club team show jumping event.  Cookster came with Galahad and I so for the very first time I had two ponies to compete.  That really is the dream!

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What wasn’t the dream was the weather – it poured down all day and I don’t think I have ever been so wet.  I have certainly never been able to pour water out of my riding boots before and they are still not quite dry now!  Luckily, the long dry spell meant that although the ground got a bit soggy it was nowhere near as slippery as it might have been. We had to be aware of the footing but there was very little slipping.

The teams consisted of four riders, each jumping a different height.  As my two ponies were the smallest on our teams I jumped the lowest height – 50-60cm – on both of them.  Cookster was first up and stopped at both of the first two jumps.  After that though he suddenly seemed to wake up to what we were doing and flew round.  He sadly knocked two poles down but he was jumping beautifully and I was so pleased with him.

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As soon as we were finished I got straight onto Galahad (who had been warmed up by one of the children – such luxury!), had a practice jump and within a few minutes we were called into the ring.  As we went through the gate my instructor – who knows all my weaknesses – said, ‘Keep those eyes up!’  It was good advice and it worked as Galahad jumped a lovely, flowing clear round.  It was so good to feel him going forward confidently.

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After a break whilst the higher rounds were jumped Cookster and I were back in the ring.  This time Cookster knew from the start what was going on and he jumped a beautiful round with only one fence down.  We also had a silly stop which was entirely my fault – there was a bit of a dog leg line which I messed up, tried to correct and ended up completely confusing him so he slid to a stop.  It was annoying but I was so pleased with the rest of the round and, again, it was definitely not his fault.

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Then it was another quick change onto Galahad – and another instruction to keep my eyes up!  Once again, Galahad jumped a super round but we did have a stop as the same fence as Cookster.  Again, it was my fault – I think I was worried about it after Cookster’s round and that made me mess it up again.  Definitely need to work on dog legs!  Galahad was great though and I was so pleased with him.

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In fact, I was very proud of both ponies.  Cookster has really come on with his jumping and did so well, especially as this was his first show.  Galahad is really jumping nicely too and feels wonderfully confident – which is not always the case!  They both also coped very well with the ground – Galahad can be a bit tentative on slippery surfaces but that was not a problem at all.

Cookster’s team came third and Galahad’s second so it was a pretty successful day results wise too.  Definitely worth braving the weather!

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Jumping Variations

After the excitement of getting the jumps out, I finally got the chance to use some of my birthday presents (from March!).

First I had a wall jump for the first time.  It’s a great design and fits neatly over a straw bale.

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It might be meant for the ponies but the first jump belonged to the dog.

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When I did get to jump it with Galahad I was fully expecting him to try to run out so I set up some guide poles but he actually popped over it with no trouble at all.  I think my face shows how astonished I was.

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The wall is double sided so of course we had to jump it both ways.  This time Galahad did run out at our first attempt but as usual it was because I didn’t keep my eyes up.

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I also got some pole sleeves which just needed trimming and sliding on.  As always, my Dad came in very useful.

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Once again I looked down at the jump and Galahad ran out.  After that he jumped very well but I really must work on looking up!

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As you can see, there were enough trimmings to make an extra interestingly coloured pole.

We had a great time playing with the jumps and I am looking forward to using them more.  It is good to get Galahad jumping as many different things as possible but apart from that it is fun!

Jumping!

Now we have finished the work on the field we can get the jumps out again.  It has been seven or eight months since we have been able to jump at home so this was a very exciting moment.

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We went out to jump as soon as we could but as it has been so hot recently we wanted to ride reasonably early.  We got out into the field by about eight but even so the sun was blazing and it was still very hot.

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Considering how little jumping the ponies have done recently, they both did really well.  Galahad and I had a few run outs to start with but once we got going he jumped really nicely.

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The run outs are mostly my fault.  I know very well that if I look down at a jump Galahad is almost certainly going to try and run out.  The trouble is that if I think Galahad will be worried about a jump I find it very difficult not to look at it.  At least I know what I need to do to get better!

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We had a lovely play in the sunshine and even the lambs next door seemed to enjoy it!

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It is wonderful to have the jumps out again and we are looking forward to using them over the summer.  Let’s just hope the ground doesn’t get too hard!

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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!

 

Exploring

Galahad has had some time off this week as I am just back from a couple of days in Surrey.  I had a lovely time pottering about and found a simply wonderful bridlepath.

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I would love to have that a little nearer to home!

I came back home to some very good news.  Firstly, the grass is starting to grow.

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It’s a bit hard to see in the picture but I promise it is sprouting!

Secondly, the field is finally dry enough to school in.  It is still a little soggy down one end so we have to be careful but today I managed to school both ponies and Cookster and I even had a little jump.

I didn’t jump Galahad – instead we did some semi cross country training.  We went up and down pretty steep hills in a different field and splashed in and out of the stream.

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I had a thouroughly good time and I think Galahad enjoyed himself too.

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.