Not how I had envisaged the season starting...
Cross Country arena Practice
27th March was a day of lessons with John Bowen coming down for the day. All horses were on good form and had dressage lessons in the morning, even little Ted had his first lesson. In the afternoon instead of show jumping we tailored the jumping to cross country, including related distances on a curve (both 2 and 3 fence combinations), bounces and corners. The way the jumps had been set up we could adjust the order and combination they were jumped in to each horse. A very productive day and very helpful.
The Partner had a good weekend at Belton and finished 12th in the CCI3*-S. We were particularly pleased with his dressage test as the arena had a lot of atmosphere and the crowds were right on top of the arena. Usually he would curl up into himself in this situation and although more to come he allowed me to ride him for most of the test and was taking the contact. He didn’t warm up particularly well in the SJ and this carried through to the arena but he still pulled out a clear. A clear is a clear. Cross country was the following day and he felt awesome.
V.I.P Vinnie and I didn’t have the best performance all round - we both let the atmosphere get to us at different times. Vinnie in the dressage where he was amazing in the warm up and was doing the most unbelievable work but went into the arena and completely drew into himself which is so unlike him and then made it very difficult to ride him. He jumped well in the show jumping despite having 2 annoying fences. We had had a long wait for the cross country as our class was last to go of the weekend.
Both Saturday and Sunday the CCI4*-S did their cross country and there was one particular fence that was causing a lot of problems - unfortunately you can’t get away from the tannoy at Belton and Matt Ryan was doing his best to be dramatic about any duck outs and making it thrilling for the crowds - he does a good job at that, but sadly this psyched me out so I went out to the cross country not feeling overly confident - consequently fence 6 we had a duck out and also fence 8.
The lesson to be learnt in this is that no one else has your horse or your partnership and you must believe in your training.
If I had done this and not focused on what everyone else was doing the story would have been different.
The rest of the round was class and Vinnie looked unreal.
We stayed off site over the weekend and The Partner made the most of the Naf Magic calmer as he does not do well staying away - we are getting better at managing it each time we are away and continue to learn how to keep him less anxious.
New style of shoes for Vinnie …..
Last year Vinnie had pads in his shoes to help protect his joints from the concussion from his work load. He ran his first 2 competitions this year with out but we have decided to put them in before the ground hardens up. Ted on the other hand still continues to work without shoes as being so recently backed we don’t want him to strike himself so we will keep them off for as long as possible,
Larkhill and the young guns…………..
Both horses got very excited about being out competing again and this showed through the whole day. Ballycoog Breaker Boy only did the dressage as planned and the first half was very nice, sadly the second half was tense and therefore marks were lost. He will be going to Burnham Market this weekend so hopefully he will be a little more relaxed for the whole test!!! Stardom has come on so much during the winter but this didn’t show at Larkhill as all he wanted to do was bound on, which always makes it quite difficult to ride and keep a rhythm. Show Jumping he was beyond excited and just had the one pole. Cross country he flew round but spent most of his time looking everywhere and at everyone. More focus next time!!
It has to be said that the start of the season hasn’t gone as I had envisaged it - It is so frustrating when you know how good they are and yet you can’t produce it when you need to - but I guess no one ever said it was easy training and competing horses and of course they do have their own mind!! Comfort must be taken for what you know they can produce and believe that it will come once they and I settle back into competing.
Although I did not watch the Grand National, as I am not a racing fan as such, you can’t help but have huge admiration for the success of the team around Tiger Roll with their second consecutive win. The work they must have done to achieve this is massive and it must be so rewarding to achieve a chunk of history. Whatever happens in the future no one can ever take this away from them.
Horse and Hound - week 21st March 2019 - 2 articles particularly worth a read.
There was a very good article on ”Why Athletes need their rest”. This was based around Andy Bathes (Rossdales Vets - Newmarket) advice on giving horses time off and that “physical fitness is gained through incremental increases in training followed by periods of repair and recovery - a process known as adaptation. Adaptation actually occurs while the horse rests. Fitness develops as the body responds to exercise, rather than during the exercise itself.”
It is a very interesting article and is a timely reminder as the Eventing Season gets under way and we all start our competitions and qualifications in order to reach our goals set for this year. If nothing else it might confirm that you are doing the right thing!!!
The second article that should be read is “What’s new for 2019”. This is an article that lists and describes some rule changes for all levels of riders. There seem to have been a lot of new rules this year and it is important that you make sure you differentiate whether they are for National, International competitions or both. For me the 2 biggest is the fact that in international competitions you can;t ride with a neck strap unless it is attached to a breast plate or saddle - I always were a neck strap in show jumping and cross country and in recent years haven’t worn a breastplate - I believe there is no need to have more tack than is necessary for the horse. - so like many people I was astounded when the FEI made this rule - adaptations must be made. There are also new rules about if a horse is struggling at a particular level then it will have to drop down a level and when successful there then move back up - the basis of this is sound but no two situations will be the same so it will be interesting to see how it works in practice.
Next time I will be reporting on our trip to Burnham Market, with a large support group coming over the weekend it is time for us to perform!!!