As you know our dressage has been steadily getting worse all season. We started with a super 33 in April and declined to a horrific 48 in May. This time I lunged with side reins to start with, then rode in my jumping saddle, changed from a happy mouth and micklem bridle to a NS verbindend bit and flash bridle. Things definitely felt much better than the 48 at Floors, we ended up with a 33.8 (though I think the judge was a kind marker in all honesty). I think it was the lunging that made the biggest difference as instead of having a fight with me about taking up the contact, he had a fight with the side reins! When I got on he was quite happy to work which was a nice change. I also think the change of bit helped too as he was listening to me more. All in all, a massive improvement.
We have been away show jumping a few times in the last few weeks with RC and Corky has been jumping great, only taking a pole here and there. I was looking forward to this phase and felt quite relaxed…….but it turns out I should have been worried! After a great warm up we started our round – Corky spooked at the crowd and shops which was very unusual as even at Blair they didn’t worry him. The first 4 jumps were lovely but as we approached 5 (jumping into the crowd) he backed off and ended up cat leaping – I almost hit the deck and lost a stirrup (classy!). The next combination (a double then an upright on a related distance) came up so quickly I hadn’t managed to get my stirrup back so we took most of the poles – not very slick! I then managed to balance and get my stirrup back but the damage was done – 16 faults. Not my finest moment. In hindsight I should have circled, got my stirrup back and then presented at the next jumps. Oh well – onto the XC which I was looking forward to.
There were lots of challenges on the course – jumps over waters/ditches and brushes in-between fields. It was not like any course we had jumped before and I underestimated how challenging it would be. I had gone down to a little pair of spurs which was a mistake. I presented at the warm up jump and I’m not sure what happened but Corky stopped – it was almost as if he wasn’t sure if he was meant to jump it or not. I think I got a fright at the SJ (and he did) which caused a bit of a crisis of confidence. This continued out onto the course a bit – I had to ride really positively into most of the jumps on course to give Corky the confidence to jump everything. Kicking into lots of the jumps did put me off balance a bit so it wasn’t the most graceful of rounds but Corky did listen to me and jumped everything in a super-fast time. On reflection I think I take his braveness for granted sometime and in future I need to make sure I presently him correctly in the warm-up and not assume he will just jump. As you’ll see from the photos he looks like he is having a great time flying over the jumps so overall (apart from the SJ blip) I’m very pleased with the wee man.
Learns – lunging helps, new bit helps, spurs required for XC!