I have had a great month training and competing topped off with an amazing opportunity to have a training session with Olympian, Spencer Wilton.
I had a brilliant experience at the Winter Regionals and although I didn't get the percentage I would have liked, I was still really pleased with how Tess (Comtess) performed. The feedback from my test had highlighted what I felt let me down, which was the forwardness and acceptance of my aids. After taking on board the judges comments, I worked really hard on improving these areas in preparation for the Premier League at Myerscough 10 days later. I came up with a plan of action in how to achieve these results; the results being that Tess was much more willing and surprisingly seemed to enjoy herself even in the spooky atmosphere!!
With Spencer, we worked on the straightness of the changes and not allowing Tess to get her way and take over, which does have a tendency to do!!! I am so grateful to Spencer for the opportunity. I really learned a lot to take away from it.
It is immensely important to keep Tess loose and supple as she is a naturally tense horse, so as an essential part of her training programme, Tess had a very relaxing massage from Victoria Spalding. She felt so much more supple over her back in the training sessions after!
As you know we have been on the look out for another horse as Tess is now 15 and we understand her limits and dont want to push her too far. Tess is an amazing horse and we are continuing to work on the consistency at Advanced Medium and are working on a Freestyle to music, which is very exciting.
For the last few weeks my focus of training has been on Tess (Comtess) in preparation for the regionals.
I had the most amazing lesson with one of my trainers Matt Burnett at the end of the month. At the start of the session Tess wasn't quite pushing through and into the contact in the canter. We worked on this by pushing Tess into a bigger more extended canter, whilst asking her to come rounder. This improved the contact and throughness hugely! After working on the canter half passes, which were so much better, as she had started to use herself more. We used the same technique in the trot as in the canter, only as I collected her back we used the shoulder in to help her come softer in the contact.
This lesson really helped me prepare for my first competition of 2017 at Myerscough! We gained 2nd place with 67.5% which I was very pleased with, to say there were a few mistakes one of which was rider error! I have taken on board the feedback from the judge and have started to work on improving those areas. Tess is working her socks off not only in the test riding, but also at reducing the amount of spooks in the test! I am learning to deal with the spooks by encouraging her to relax and lose the tension as quickly as possible after her spook. She can be such a wuss at times!! On my day to day training I am working on improving the quality of work and consistency, with Tess and the lovely Quest (Quiana) is having a bit of time off before I turn my focus onto her and start to take her out to some competitions.
Since my previous blog Tess (Comtess) and I have qualified for the Advanced Medium Regionals. Quest (Quiana) is coming on brilliantly and considering she is only five, she just takes everything in her stride. She is still a little unbalanced at times but that is probably down to the length of her supermodel legs!!
At the beginning of December, I had the most amazing opportunity to ride in the Piaffe Presents: Carl Hester Masterclass at Leamside Equestrian Centre!! Tess behaved so well and didn't bat an eyelid at the audience! I was so nervous, so for Tess to behave and not spook it really helped me relax and show what we could do. We worked on the straightness and getting her more through in the canter which led on to the flying changes. My nerves came through a little in some areas of the work... in fact they came through a lot!!! But they soon went away once I got into the session more. Carl was very encouraging throughout the session and gave me some homework to take away with me, riding without stirrups. This has been extremely beneficial in strengthening my core. It was so lovely to meet and talk to him before and after the Masterclass! I cannot thank Abby Newell, my parents, Bev and Samantha Brown at Leamside Equestrian and of course Carl for the incredible opportunity!
Wow what a difference having the right bit makes!! We met Gail Johnson from the Horse Bit Hire at the BD convention and having explained how Tess was quite strong to ride, she offered to come and check her out. Tess is feeling so much better having two new correctly fitting Neue Schule bits for her double bridle. Tess is now so much lighter in the hand and is really working into the contact a lot more.
I am really looking forward to taking Quest out to some competitions soon and see if she can keep her lovely calm nature when she is under pressure! Tess and I are still training hard and we plan to keep improving and working on my Advanced Medium scores.