Ode To A Non Horsey Boyfriend

Thank you quietly becoming resigned to the presence of mud and hay in your life and our home!

Thank you for making wellies one of your most worn pairs of shoes.

Thank you for the many miles driven and putting up with my constant sharp reminders to be ‘gentle’!

Thank you for all the times you’ve had to ‘hold my horse’.

Thank you for cleaning my tack or doing my stable (because you know it will get us home sooner).

Thank you for the many many dinners you cook and the cleaning you do while I’m at the yard with my other best friend!

Thank you for not moaning (too much) when I forgo a weekend lie in in favour of riding.

Thank you for standing out in excess heat, rain, hail and snow to be our support.

Thank you for the hundreds (and hundreds) of carefully angled photographs with forward ears and square legs.

My ‘Swedish Death Clean’

I have been lying a little lower on the internet for the last week, mostly because my spare time has been thrown into the concept that is ‘Swedish Death Cleaning’.. or at least my own version of it.  I was told about this at the hen do I went to last weekend and I have grabbed it and run!

What is ‘Swedish Death Cleaning’?

The general gist of it (as I understand it) is that you are meant to imagine you are dead (morbid I know) and think about what your loved ones would be faced with when going through your stuff.  Anything useful or that you love, you can keep.  You are meant to look at the things that you keep for sentimental reasons and consider whether you actually need them to remind you of memories.  The idea is to reduce the physical clutter in your life!

My reason

I have moved house over 10 times in the last 10 years and each time I have dragged with me a whole host of stuff.  I regularly have clear outs and take things to the charity shop and the clothes bank or pass things on to people I know but I still have SO MUCH.  Before my next house move I really want to downsize my belongings

My approach

I have made a list of all the categories of things I have and am slowly making my way through them.  I started with nail varnishes (15 kept and 40 gone!) and have done stationary, art resources, DVDs, clothes, shoes, guinea pig accessories and of course horsey stuff!  I still need to attack my books, the kitchen and, potentially the hardest thing to be ruthless with, my big box of sentimental things!

The benefits

  • I have rediscovered and re-purposed things.  For example, my Jack Wills gilet, that used to be my favourite ‘best’ things but hasn’t been out for years, is now keeping me warm at the yard!  I have also started using this high vis numnah again (after a few years lying dormant in the garage) which, while not really to my taste, is a good thing to use for hacking out.

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  • I have ‘let go’.  My favourite yard shorts that have oil stains on them and have had a rip in the bottom patched up unsuccessfully have finally gone in the bin. My ripped, slightly mouldy, not worth repairing and reproofing rugs are also on the way out along with my old, paint stained yard coats that went from being best coats to lambing coats and now to their final destination!

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  • I have ‘moved on’!  Beige ‘Pony Club’ style jodhpurs are going to the charity shop along with some polo shirts.  I now have lovely Derby House breeches and various base layers so I don’t need them!  My post hip op dresses have also gone, I won’t be needing those again in a hurry hopefully!

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My tips

  • Make a list and tick off each category when you have done it.
  • Think about who would appreciate the things you don’t want and give them away rather than throwing them away.
  • Take your time (because it will take time!)
  • Remember why you are doing it and try to be appropriately ruthless.
  • Rope in a partner, family member or friend to help you because it will be far more entertaining and they might help you to ‘let go’!

Let me know if you give ‘Swedish Death Cleaning’ a go, I would love to hear what useful, useless or funny things you find!

Along For The Ride – Swimming Not Drowning

Who else had a sinking heart this morning when they looked outside? Last week’s snow was inconvenient yes but at least it was beautiful and I had a nice day off!  Horrible as the rain was, I still had that Friday feeling.  The motivation to get out of bed every Friday is that it isn’t too long until 3.30 when I can drive to the yard and be with Pea.

Arriving at the yard was even more exciting than usual.  Yesterday, I picked up my saddle from the saddlers where it had been to get new LONG girth straps put on.  I have been wanting a dressage saddle for a long time but realistically can’t justify the cost.  I have been thinking for a while that putting dressage girth straps on my saddle might be a good compromise.  Anything to help me be more effective with my legs sounded good to me.

It was less exciting when I realised Pea was literally as far away as she possibly could be in the field and when I had finally reached her she was also absolutely disgusting!

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There was a lot of flowing and standing water in the fields and we appear to have a new lake that wasn’t there yesterday!

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Has anyone else fallen into an extreme comfort zone with their tack?  I feel like I’ve been using the 5th hole on both sides with my double ended elastic girth and saddle for my whole life (it is actually only about a year and a half).  Anyway, I had to put that to one side when tacking up and try to get the right balance of girth tightness.  I got on and honestly felt an instant difference.  My saddle felt narrower purely from the lack of bulk that a normal girth brings – mental!

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Pea was quite entertaining for the first ten minutes or so of the ride, she spent the whole of one long side with her head up in the air, turned to the side, staring out the donkeys who have recently moved to the paddock next to the school rather than at the end of it.  It was as though she had never seen them before!

I went through my normal routine to try to get her working over her back and becoming more supple and to my surprise, it worked fairly well.  Each time she softens I am shocked that I’m actually getting her to do it! I feel like I’ve just about got my head above water with this ‘riding properly thing’ (excuse the water reference!)

She was really good on the left rein but on the right rein she seems to want to bend to the outside which isn’t great.  She is definitely harder in the right rein.  Now would be a great time to see my instructor and get her to help us with the next steps but due to the equine flu situation, I’m going nowhere for the moment.

I didn’t last long tonight, my left leg muscles felt weird (probably due to the slightly different position as a result of the new saddle set up) and I called it a day after about 25 minutes.  I hopped off and led her round for another 10 minutes to cool off – she always needs an extra bit of walking to get her breathing back down and since we don’t have a walker, I do it myself!

How was your Friday?

 

Always Look On The Bright Side Of Snow

I could write for days about the inconveniences and issues associated with snow, particularly for equestrians but it has all been said before.  Yes, it is a pain, but unless you want to move to a different country, it is something we are just going to have to get used to, particularly with increasingly erratic weather patterns (don’t get me to get my A level geography out!)  Therefore I’m encouraging you to try to be positive about the white stuff.

School’s Out!

Particularly if you are lucky enough to be in education or work in education, but also in other jobs, you may well get yourself a day off.  What is better than an extra day at the yard?

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Taking Stock

If, like me, you’re currently focused on progress (maybe working towards a competition or confidence goal) the snow is likely to put the brakes on your plans.  I think this is a great opportunity to take a step back, reflect on what you have achieved so far and what you are doing next, take the pressure off and do something different (even if that is just working on your walk rather than your canter).

Cleanliness

The snow freezes up the mud, covers it over and leaves us with squeaky clean ponies (and wellies!)  Nice soft, dry coats and pristine hooves in the winter?  Yes please!  And for those of you frowning at me because your shod horse’s hooves fill with snowballs.. I direct you towards the wonder that is Vaseline.

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Fun

Sorry but no matter how old you are, the snow can be fun.  Whether your fun is galloping through a snowy field, making a snow horse or sledging behind your pony, there is no shame in being a bit childish and playing in the snow.

Beauty

There can be no denying that the snow is beautiful.  I love the clean whiteness of it and the sparkle when the sun comes out.  When you are done having fun (and battling the snow challenges that we are not talking about) take in the view.

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What do you LIKE about the snow?

Along For The Ride – There’s Snow Place Like Home

If you follow my socials you will know I’ve been hoping for a snow day and today, my dream came true by many inches!

At 3 in the morning (I must have known something was going on) I woke up to see the world was white and by 8 o’clock it was confirmed that work was closed.  Not that I was going to get there anyway!  My other half had taken our 4×4 to go to his job so I was twiddling my thumbs at home trying to work out how to get to the yard. If you know me, or have read Home Is Where The Horse Is, you’ll know that the yard is my favourite place.

My 3 o’clock in the morning plan had been to walk but it was very sensibly pointed out to me that it is a 4 mile drive, would be quite a bit further to walk, snow isn’t easy to walk in AND if I got into trouble no-one would be able to help me.  Let’s not forget the ceramic hip either!

Anyway, I had established that the buses were not running and just as I was contemplating hitch hiking (for the first time in my life) I got a call to say my boyfriend was coming home and the car was mine!

Five of us horsey people made it to the yard and mucked in with the yard owner to help to feed some of the horses.  I can definitely recommend bumping around on the back of a pickup to go up to a far away field and divide and conquer a herd of fluffy, fat gannets with buckets of grain as the best way to start a Friday.

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The others all decided to hack out but I really didn’t fancy it.  I’ve watched ‘The Horse Whisperer’ too many times and the image of that horse slipping and falling on the ice under the snow and sliding down the hill haunts me.  I know lots of people hack out in the snow but I just couldn’t get past that worry that something might happen.  I didn’t have a hip replacement so that I could end up in hospital again and I’d never forgive myself if something happened to Pea.

I spent a good couple of hours grooming Pea and trimming her feathers off.  I know the snow will probably be all gone before we know it but I don’t want her to have snow dreadlocks or cold wet feathers.

We then popped into the school so that we could get some kind of ride in.  Pea was slightly put off by the remnants of the snowman that had been made earlier but soon made friends with it..

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We plodded round and round the school, trying to churn up a centre line, long changes of rein and 20m circles.  I tried to work on having a forward medium walk and free walk as there wasn’t much else I could do! I hoped to break up the surface enough to school properly but we only managed a bit of trot as it was still just a bit too hard.

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I whiled away a few more hours at the yard before succumbing to the call of a warm house and the promise of a chippy tea!

Today’s ride was not a success in terms of working towards our goals (though we did work on our walk) but I had a really lovely day in the best place.  Sometimes pony time is more important than riding!

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Did you have a snow day?  What did you get up to?

Yoga For Horses

Before you read this, I’m not an equine physiotherapist, I’m just sharing what I’ve been shown over the years by various physios.  I try to do Pea’s stretches most times I ride and she’s pretty flexible (though she wasn’t when I first started doing them!)  Read on for my reasons for stretching Pea, my top tips and our routine accompanied by pictures from our soggy, sweaty stretching session after hacking and schooling on Saturday (please forgive the state of us!)

Reasons to stretch your horse:

  • Improve flexibility and range of movement
  • Reduce stiffness
  • Strengthen tissue/protect from injury
  • Warm up or cool down
  • A nice bit of bonding time!

Top tips:

  • Don’t tie your horse up – either get someone to hold them or do your stretches in an safe space like a stable or arena!
  • Start each stretch with your horse stood squarely (where possible!)
  • Repeat everything on both sides
  • Be gentle!
  • For the treat/carrot stretches, encourage your horse to mouth the treat/carrot before you give it to them, otherwise they won’t be holding the stretch long enough!
  • Don’t force your horse to do more than they are comfortable with
  • Don’t do anything that might aggravate an injury and if you’re unsure, ask your vet or physio before doing any stretches

1. I start with neck/back stretches.  For the first one, I use a carrot or treat to encourage Pea to bend her neck around as far back as she can.

Future-Poppy Edit – If your horse gets too ‘good’ at this and snatches around without stretching, make them reach wider.

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2. I then get her to stretch down to the outside of her front hoof.

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3. By far my favourite stretch is holding the treat between Pea’s legs, she really stretches down and backwards.

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4. The next stretch involves standing in front of Pea and holding a treat up high so that she stretches her neck up and out.  In theory she should stick her head out straight but we tend to often have a sideways tilt.. something to work on!

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5. I also get her to tuck her head right in to her chest.

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6. Recently I have introduced some leg/shoulder stretches into our routine.  Firstly I stretch her front legs forward.  It is really important to be gentle with this and support the leg rather than force it.

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7. I then hold her knee up in front of her.  This one is good when you have just put your saddle on as it gets any skin folds away from the girth!

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8. I also stretch her hind legs forward – this is where it is important to be in a safe space, have someone to help you or have full trust that your horse isn’t going to walk off!

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The next stretches to add to our routine are a backwards hind leg stretch and the tummy tickle which makes the horse lift their back (I’ve been trying to find the spot on Pea but haven’t perfected it yet!)

Do you have any stretches you do with your horse?

Along For The Ride – Practice Makes Progress

Last Weekend

I had a great lesson last weekend – after a month without any lessons but with more riding, lots of strengthening myself and an attempt at a competition it was seriously needed. It was the first lesson since my operation that my instructor didn’t ride Pea too as I’m now strong enough to actually ride the whole time!  I did it all myself and I was chuffed.  We worked on getting my legs really working to get Pea to come round.  I’ve got to get her to see my leg as more than just ‘go’.  In each of my previous ‘new hip’ lessons I have credited Pea’s way of going to my instructor riding her before I did.  This time I can credit her for telling me what to do, but I was the one actually doing it so it definitely feels like all the practise has been paying off.

Yesterday

Yesterday, I got Pea back into the school after four days of not riding.  Just like in last week’s Along For The Ride, she was really unsettled in the stable beforehand, snorting, circling and completing ignoring her hay (usually unlike her but seemingly a new weekly habit!)  Might have something to do with the new (and very exciting view) from the barn..

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She also had what looked like bites or kicks on her back (one of the downsides of herd life and being near the bottom of the pecking order).  I felt over her back, worried that a saddle would be a bad idea but she didn’t seem to be in any discomfort and there weren’t any bumps, just bent hair!  If I was in any doubt I wouldn’t have ridden her but she wasn’t bothered about me pressing on her back, putting the saddle on or getting on so we cracked on.

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Aim one every time I get into the school is to get Pea going off my leg.  I admit that I spent years being really ineffective with my legs but now I’ve got a whole new leg, I’m adamant those days are over.  It is great to feel her marching on and while old me would have panicked at jogging, now it makes me smile.  Even her reaction to riding past the new stables made me laugh.  Now that’s a different kind of progress!

I tried to recreate what I had done in my lesson last Saturday

– bending into circles each time I picked up the contact

– riding the four points of each circle and putting my legs on at each point rather than nagging my way around!

– thinking of my inside leg pushing her out around each circle

– not letting her rush off when I created energy

It by no means went perfectly, but I worked damn hard!  Ten minutes in, I was stripping off my jumper and trying to roll up the sleeves of my base layer!  Sometimes this happens but I’m achieving nothing, yesterday it happened and I know I was achieving something!  Feeling her coming round and being light in my hand, even only for half a circle at a time is amazing – especially when I can look in the arena mirrors and see that it looks right too!  Of course it was dark but I wish I could have videoed the ride so that I could look back and see what I was doing right to make it go right and what I was doing wrong.

Today

I went for an hour hack today and then when we got back I thought I would see if I could recreate yesterday’s magic moments!  Although Pea and I were both a little tired (and bizarrely, my right knee/leg was really sore) she definitely remembered what she was meant to be doing.  It wasn’t completely consistent but she felt much more connected.  Practice IS making progress!

Investing in lessons and putting what I’m learning into practise is definitely paying off.  So, with plans on the horizon for more training and competitions, I’m hoping that this progress continues and one day in the future the words ‘works over the back and through neck’ and ‘works from behind into a consistent elastic contact’ WON’T be underlined on my dressage sheets and will be considered more than satisfactory!

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Finding ‘The One’ – Horse Buying Tips

Today is exactly three years since I bought Pea so I  thought I’d share my thoughts on finding ‘the one’ (of the equine variety!) Obviously Pea is my first so I feel quite unqualified to talk about this so I’ve consulted some of my favourite internet and real life friends to get their perspectives.

 

In an ideal world.. get to know them!

I was lucky. I had been leasing Pea for a year and a half before I bought her.  I knew her about as well as I possibly could and was sure she was the one for me.  My thoughts about buying her started long before I actually did.

Pea’s internet doppleganger Henry, from Henry Dressage Cob, had a similar story.  His mum Shelley said

‘I weekend loaned him for a while and riding school owner said he looked happy, so one weekend I asked her if you ever did sell him can I have him. That afternoon after having a think and chat with some people, she came to say yes you can have him!’

Buying from a friend or someone you know, having already seen the horse with a different rider, is also a good start.  The best Pony Club ponies get passed from family to family as their riders outgrow them and plenty of competition horses and ponies move on to people who already know them.  Although in different homes, with different riders, horses will act differently, the more you know about a horse, the more likely it is you will be able to make the right choice!

 

In the real world.. conduct a careful search!

If you are not lucky enough to have found a horse through your yard or friends you are likely to have to resort to looking for horses in the wider world!  For advice on this I hand over to Leanne, owner of Bourton Vale Equestrian Centre (my yard) and general horse guru!

‘1. Be realistic. The perfect horse does not exist, but one perfect for you does. Decide what’s most important to you and be prepared to be flexible on the least important.

2. Read adverts thoroughly and prepare questions to ask before wasting your time or the sellers. Listen to the answers and ask for more specific details – “goes around a set of showjumps” could mean literally that.

3. Someone else’s perfect pony might not be yours! The fact that Neddy tows his current owner to the nearest piece of grass at every opportunity might be acceptable to them, but not for you!

4. Research! Facebook is great for this! Ask someone in the pony/riding club/hunting field who might have seen them out and about.

5. Always take someone else with you to view, preferably someone more experienced, but a witness and an outside pair of eyes is always useful. Try the horse in the circumstances you will be riding in – in fields/alone/in company/ on roads, and always ride past home on your return to check for nappy behaviour if that’s on your unacceptable list. Ask to see the horse caught, tacked up, ridden – and look for signs that they might have been ridden or lunged prior to you coming- a freshly washed one might have been having sweatmarks removed!

6. Go back and try again- honest sellers will be as keen as you to make sure you match, dealers to protect their reputation and private to ensure their “darling” isn’t going to be sold on.

7. Get a vetting – but bear in mind point 1 when you get the results.’

 

General considerations..

Be open minded

If you are looking for a 15.2, bay gelding with four white socks and a star and a BE record, you’re likely to be setting yourself up for disappointment or at the very least, a massively restricted search.  Try not to rule out colours and breeds because you never know, you might miss out on ‘the one’ because of it.  Charlotte, from The Forelock Journal, said

‘When Hamish was advertised for loan at our yard I wasn’t actually sure about trying him. He’s a thoroughbred and I’d have classed myself as a nervous rider at the time. He was so calm, kind and patient from the moment I was around him and I just knew I wanted to take him on right away.  He just knows me and I just know him. I can put my finger on what it is, but we have a very special bond.’

Keep in mind the ‘stretch zone’ theory

For a bit more information about this theory have a read of Tips from HOYS but essentially, in my opinion, you want a horse that keeps you in the stretch zone rather than the safe or danger zones.  Pea and I have plenty to work on together and she can certainly keep me on my toes but I knew when I bought her she would never throw anything at me that I wouldn’t be able to cope with.

Don’t sweat the small stuff

When I started riding Pea, people used to ask me when I was going to get a ‘proper horse’.  I still get questions and judgements about the fact that I’m a 5’6 adult with a 14hh pony but I really couldn’t care less.  In my opinion, providing you are not too heavy for your horse, it shouldn’t matter if they are small, tall, fine or chunky providing that they are right for you.  I see far too many teenagers thinking they need a thoroughbred because that is the image they want rather than thinking about what horse is actually right for them – don’t fall into that trap.

When you know, you know

Most loving horse owners won’t be able to quite pin point how they knew their horse was the one for them, they just knew!  Francesca, from Country Frantics, said this about when she tried Buddy (her first horse)

‘I felt confident on him out on a hack straight away and he completely looked after me, it was like I couldn’t be without him now he had entered my life. I bought him 2 weeks later.  He understands me and is the male horse version of me in every way!’

And sometimes they chose you

When Francesca met Adie, her RSPCA rescue horse, he was the one in charge of the decision making

‘When I met him for the first time it was like he chose me, he put so much trust in to me and he couldn’t stop following me and rubbing his head over me.  I knew I had to take him home so I did!’

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Thank you to today’s contributors for sharing their experiences and advice. Please check out their links!

Shelley from Henry Dressage Cob

Leanne from Bourton Vale Equestrian Centre

Charlotte from The Forelock Journal

Francesca from Country Frantics

Along For The Ride – Being Braver

On paper yesterday was just another day.  I missed Monday’s ride due to adult commitments (!) so I decided to try to sneak one in on a Thursday.

I swung by the yard after work to get Pea in, then went tutoring and came back an hour and a half later to ride.  It was dark, freezing (literally), I was still mostly in my work clothes and Pea was positively wild.  She hadn’t eaten any of her hay, she had trampled poo everywhere and was circling and stamping around like a bull.

At this point, I could have easily given up on the whole idea of riding and turned her out.  Although I didn’t really want to turn her out either as I knew I would have to go through the shire gelding’s paddock (who has been on box rest for months) and I was worried I might end up panicking and ending up in the mud.

I didn’t give up on the idea.  I gentled the wild beast with the support of some carrot stretches, tacked her up and attempted to face the next hurdle.  When Pea is in a mood she is not a fan of standing still at the mounting block – not great when you’ve got a higher risk of hip dislocation than your average person.  Luckily, she was hoof perfect.

We then got in the school where there were some dodgy distance trotting poles across the track at B – potentially problematic however I decided to use the obstacle to our advantage and practise some five metre loops.  Bend and suppleness are what we need to work on so along with that we did lots of circles and figures of eight.

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Pea actually felt amazing.  Maybe it was because I couldn’t see what we really looked like or because I was expecting lots of tension but reminded myself to chill.  I wasn’t the only thing chilling, by the end of our schooling the arena was starting to feel a bit crunchy and I could see the puddles on the yard were already icing over.  My fingers had that burning cold feel and our cool down was more of a freeze down.

When I clicked finish on equilab (the riding tracking app I have recently been using and loving) I realised I had managed nearly 40 minutes of riding without any real struggle with pain (only in my cold fingers). I then had to cope with the sweaty hairy situation that was Pea – she had worked hard!  She had a boxer style rub down with a towel and then I did her stretches again.

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I was torn between sticking her cooler on and leaving her in or accepting that I had done the best drying I could, chucking her turn out on and turning her out.  The decision was essentially having a grumpy pony all night vs getting past the shire.

I am proud to say I opted for the later!  Roo, the shire, is a very kind soul but I am embarrassingly nervous of him.  I was very much on crutches when he arrived with us and I think the memory of feeling so vunerable next to him has carried through.  I had been pre warned that he had cantered up behind the last mare to be turned out through his field HOWEVER I managed to get through (without letting him through either gate despite his attempts) and off Pea went to find her friends.

Doing my stable was slightly compromised by the fact I had a wrestle with a bucket of water and lost. Not ideal on an already icy night!

Positives

– I didn’t wimp out of any of the things I was worried about.. and I need not have been worried in the first place! The difference in my confidence compared to previous years is unbelievable – fingers crossed it stays that way!

Learning Points

– Thermals.

– Don’t get Pea stressed out thinking she is staying in all night if she’s not!

– Must get stronger! I should be in charge of buckets, buckets shouldn’t be in charge of me!

– Communication with home would have been better than letting this happen..

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January Dressage

Last week I took the plunge and entered a dressage competion. Evenlode RC, who are the ones who host dressage competitions in our fields in the summer, were hosting at Lower Haddon Livery today. I decided to just enter the intro, although we used to do prelim, as since my hip replacement we haven’t really established maintaining a comfortable canter yet!

I didn’t broadcast that I entered because I was worried something was going to go wrong (remember what happened when I tried to do a pre op competition?)

Anyway, today was the day!

The Prep

Last night I gathered together all my show things (most of which have been unused for a year and a half) and gave my boots and tack a thorough clean with Horseman’s (my favourite leather cleaner).

For fear of Pea being a fresh beast, I left her out last night which meant getting to the yard at 7 and shampooing her legs, neck and mane in semi darkness (the wash area has no light!) I’m not going to lie, she was still damp when we warmed up but was looking beautiful by the time I got off!

The Journey

We were adamant that it would take about 45 minutes to get there, it didn’t. It took just over 30 and it was such an easy route.  A plus point since I’m always nervous about travelling Pea.

The Warm Up

After faffing about getting myself ready and tacking up/trying to put off the inevitable, I went to warm up in the outdoor school. As you can see below, Pea was really rather interested in what was going on around the outside of the school. I struggled to get her as forward as I do at home and forget working in a consistent contact! I also had a bun malfunction – hairband, hairnet and scrunchie all came sliding down and I had to get off and redo it!

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The Test

The test was in the indoor school. Pea has only been in an indoor school twice and each of those times she wasn’t keen to go in and found the first few minutes rather unnerving. Today was no different except this time I didn’t have the time to sort it out like I did with lessons, I had to pretty much go straight into the test.

Firstly, there were significant pony club kicks required to get through the doorway.  Then, as the woman shut the sliding door, Pea did the most majestic rein back away from it.  We then set off around the outside of the arena, she wasn’t sure about the mirrors or the way the surface was quite compact and basically wanted to stop at each point of the test to have a look at what was going on. Apart from nearly stopping whilst doing a poo down the first centre line and nearly stopping at the door later on (causing me to forget when to transition and consequently being late to walk), I managed to keep her going through the movements though it wasn’t particularly dignified or connected.

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Reflection

Really I could have done with entering a second test because I think if we went in again, Pea would have been more comfortable in the arena. I was just so pleased to have done it – it was the first dressage competition we have done away from home and the first since my hip replacement.

The Scoresheet

I got 64.78% and a rosette for coming 3rd out of 4! My comments were as expected, she needs to be softer to the contact, more supple to the bend on both reins and generally more connected. The general comment did say that we were a ‘lovely partnership’ and that we ‘show real promise for the future’ which was amazing. I’m so aware we have got a long way to go even to do a passable prelim test (which I’m hoping to start entering next month) but at least we are showing promise!

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Final Thoughts 

It was a great, low key, friendly event today (thank you Evenlode RC) and I feel so proud of Pea for being generally so well behaved in a completely new environment.  Hopefully there will be another competition in February for us to have a go at.

As ever, all the thanks go to my boyfriend for his help – it wasn’t ideal for him to have to sacrifice his Sunday lie in to support me BUT we were right next to Brize Norton so at least he saw some aeroplanes!

One 2019 goal ticked off!

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