Exciting news! Today I entered the first British Event of the season!! WAH! It is coming quicker and quicker. I decided on Oasby – BE90. I did not go to Oasby last season so this will be my first time there on the 11th March. I found a brilliant website that photographs all the British Eventing courses and puts them online so I can see what the course (from last year) looks like. Even though the courses change slightly year on year, I like to have an approximate idea of what I am aiming for.
In light of this and in light of some more surgery on Friday (a continuation of my issues over the summer and November) – which will require me to have a minimum of 2 weeks not riding *sobs hard* – I decided to jump Storm today.
The pony is AMAZING! He was on flying form! I know he enjoys his job and loves to jump but he really was a cracker today. I didn’t push him and just kept it to 95cm as this is only just above the heights he will be jumping in competition. But he jumped lovely. He tried really hard to tuck in all his legs and spring off those powerful hindquarters. As well as jumping like a dream, for the first time he gave me proper flying changes in canter when I asked him. They are not too tidy yet but they are solid and he understands the aids. This is proof that working on the flat helps with any kind of jumping. It’s all about the power and getting off the forehand. I cannot WAIT for the season to start.
Storm displaying some power in his back end.
Such a brilliant pony. He does not have a traditional jumping style but Storm is so much fun and he tries so hard! We love to jump!
In the meantime I have arranged for Storm to get ridden while I am not able to by my instructor. She will most likely hack him out to keep up his fitness. Our yard has a horse walker and a round pen I can use so I think I will be able to keep all 3 of them to some level of fitness and sensibleness. Dice will be ridden by his second rider an extra time during the week and I will fill some of his gaps with lunge/pessoa/parelli work and the walker. Jazz will get ridden twice a week by my jumping instructor, friend and pro event rider who lives and has her yard of eventers on the same lane as our farm. Everyone is sorted and I am paying these people so I am going to be severely out of pocket! Well worth it though.
Speaking of Jazzy! The last time I posted we had suffered a disaster ride. In my mind that had set us back quite a long way in his confidence and his trust in me. The more I think about it, the more I feel frustrated with myself that I made such poor choices on his part. Anyway, not to dwell on it – we have picked up. My mum has been out (with me on Jazz), on her super-confident and forward-going pony. Our game-plan is put her pony Jack in front and set a good forward pace and have Jazz behind but not directly following nose to tail. I think of it as being behind but finding his own path. So for example, Jack might be ahead on the left side of the lane/track and Jazz will be behind but on the right side. My theory being he has the confidence of a leader in front but he isn’t completely switched off. He still can see any potential spooky objects and must look ahead where he is going. If there is something very scary then I would allow him to tuck in behind Jack for now so there is no thought of stopping or spinning, only going forwards but in a ‘safer’ position. I say ‘safer’ – as in; what the horse perceives as safer.
This is the formula I need to stick to as Jazz was much, much better. I am hoping this will help to build his confidence more. I do not believe that hiding him away from these things is advantageous in any way. I think he needs to be exposed to things as much as possible in order to learn how to behave. I do not think shielding horses from potentially frightening things teaches them how to be any less frightened. If we can introduce these things slowly and with another confident leader horse. I think this is the best way to go about training confidence. There! That is a lot of using the word confidence!
He is a complete joy to ride out hacking in between these spooky episodes. It regained my own confidence a little bit and made me realise that this really is going to be a long game to growing Jazz’s confidence and not creating any issues by upsetting that delicate balance. I am much more pleased with him the last couple of days.
Baby Jazz – such a lovely boy! He is really like my giant Labrador.
And finally my lovely, little Dicey! He has been tremendous this week. I gave him a little jump and boy oh boy did he love it! He is such a passionate little show jumper. I don’t think in and amongst the Eventers I quite give him enough credit. He taught me everything about ring craft and tolerated my poor riding for years before I caught up to him. He is so cheeky and has been craving my attention like a lunatic this past week. So I deliberately set aside more time for him and took him on some longer rides out and made an extra fuss over him when it has been his turn to get brushed. He really is the rock that has been there for such a long time. I’ve always said it, there is a little piece of my own soul hidden in that pony. He just does something good for my soul. He has been my pal for many years now. He looks fresher than ever when he comes out after not being ridden for a few days. Such a stunning creature.
My beautiful Appaloosa Dice. I am biased but I think he is something special.
My one and only (plus my double chin!)