ANNNNDD Breathe……

Wowsers what a week!

Started on Friday with a trip to Hill House showjumping. We were transported by a local company NR Equine who were lovely and helped me stay calm before jumping! Parker hasnt ever been in an indoor school so this could have gone either way, as it turned out he was such a cool dude and we jumped three clears and even managed to win the 90cm. I noticed with interest the difference in horses between the showjumpers and the eventers (there were a few out!) The eventers tended to be slower and more careful in some rounds I was 3-4 seconds slower than the winners so I suppose something I need to work on would be to work on speed!!!

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On the pilates front I have joined a class and am going weekly and finding it RIDICULOUSLY hard! The teacher found it very funny how physically fit and strong I am but at the same time how weak my core muscles are! We were performing a move where you lie face down, your arms are stretched out above your head ,and lift up your upper body and I just couldn’t do it!! However I have found my back pain has lessened for a few days after the class so I’m hoping as my body continues to get stronger the pain will stay away!

Parker and I became proud owners of a beautiful Kent and Masters Dressage saddle this week and we took it to Sheepgate to test ride it whilst filming January’s E-Dressage video. I have to admit that I wasn’t entirely happy with either of us we seemed to butt heads quite a bit. I have been think about my riding a lot recently and have come to the conclusion that I am currently at a threshold in my learning.

4stages_learningI am currently very critical of myself and my riding, particularly on the flat. I keep thinking I should be able to do this move better than that and this is affecting my actual ability to ride. Using the four stages of learning model I think im hovering between stage 2 and 3. I look back on my riding a year ago and cringe at my riding as I thought at the time it was brilliant. I realised today how important it is to video regularly as its a great tool for self reflection, and although I wish I was amazing it has helped me to realise how far me and Parker have come and how with practise and dedication hopefully in another year’s time I can look back on videos from now and think wow what a difference.

This week I’ve also found time to spend with the other man in my life! We travelled to Hull and had a wonderful meal at the Michelin starred restaurant the Pipe and Glass and then stayed the night at dog friendly B&B the Boxtree house. Both were amazing and come highly recommended! I have to say I left Yorkshire slightly heavier to say the least. “Sorry Parker!” I think its good to sometimes get away from my horsey life and remind myself that there is a life away from jodhpurs and mud which has helped me relax and be ready to get back to it!

Last on my list this week was a quick jaunt back to Hill Hose to meet Lisa Smith an eventer from ‘p north’ who was holding an arena XC clinic. It was a fantastic experience once again I was told to stop riding so dressage and had to shorten up my reins and have them much more out in front of me. Although the jump height was not huge we worked in approaches to skinnies and corners and how to find a line and jump through a awkward grid of jumps. I was very happy with Parkers work ethic and was so happy with his fitness, we could have carried on for another hour given half a chance.  Lisa seemed to like him telling me that he was intelligent and could work out a lot of the stuff for himself and to stop interfering so much! Looking back on the videos much of our jumping is a bit rough and I got left behind a few times but Parker was bold and had a go at everything!

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So thats me done for a while. I’m going back to work to earn some pennies to pay for Parker the money eating machine! (I’m a little skint now!) Oasby has opened so it’s time to enter my first event of the season!

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Beating the Winter Blues……

So after a few well deserved weeks off for both me and Parker after competing at Norton Disney, it was back to normal with a dull thud. I felt the familiar feeling of I can’t be bothered creeping into my riding routine. It was always dark or raining or both. Hacking was out of the question unless it was on a day off, galloping was out as it was so wet, Parker was always dirty – who buys a grey? Schooling was too much hard work or the school surface was too boggy ….. I realised then that I needed to change my mindset. The winter Blues were setting in!

This year I’ve worked really hard to keep Parker going strong not just ticking over ready for the beginning of the season. One of the main ways of doing this for me was joining an on-line dressage site called E-dressage. They set a dressage test for you to video and upload, BD judges judge it and you get really good feedback to work on for the next month (and if your lucky a frillie!) Another great thing about on-line dressage is no need for transport and hours of cleaning as although you should look smart they don’t want you in show gear. Since joining E-Dressage I’ve become obsessed with schooling and dressage again. It’s been brilliant and I’ve even had a go at a Novice test which I might not have done out and about. It’s brilliant except on the day the results are published as I’m so competitive I find myself clicking refresh over and over again!

Me and Parkers first attempt at on-line dressage

My plan for January was to get myself stretched out. I promised myself I would work on  my own body to make myself stronger in the core in order to improve my Dressage score. So far this month Parker has had a visit from the equine physio Sarah Harris who told me apart from a few tight spots Parker is beautifully built. I then went to see Laura Payne for physio. She believes I am indeed hyperflexible which sounds brilliant but instead is the cause of my back pain as my muscles are protecting important joints. So I will indeed have to do lots of stretching and pilates in order to strengthen everything! (Boo I just wanted to pay someone to fix me!) Cod liver oil and Aloe Vera Gel on the go. Watch this space!

It’s all about the PANTS! So I was reliably informed by my instructor that full seat breeches would change my life. Once she said this to me I went into full detective mode and got into the weird and wonderful world of dressage pants! I’m always up for trying anything that may help improve my riding so for Christmas this year I have ended up with a pair of gel padded dressage pants, seam free pants and the most amazing faux fur lined under-jod thermal leggings as well as a pair of Ariat full seat breeches.

So a few days after Christmas and giggling insanely to myself  I got dressed in all my Christmas presents and prepared to start riding like Charlotte! Alas although I had a really comfortable ride without any of the possible underwear ‘malfunctions’ my riding didn’t really improve although I am looking forward to our first event to wear the seam free pants, always embarrassing to have VPL!

I have also realised that stressing about not wanting to ride only causes more stress. If I’m really not in the mood Parker doesn’t care as long as he’s warm, fed and has a hug. We’ve done a lot of long distance hacks on days off and to keep me fit trotting in a light seat ah the burn! Parker has been amazing out by himself as we explore the countryside. We have discovered the painted SLOW letters on the road. At first he was’t sure about them and we had to jump over each and any every one. Lucky we can trot over them now!

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So now it’s back out to the freezing cold (of course wearing my thermal long johns and all my christmas socks, gloves, hats…) checking the BE website for when the first events open. We have a few weeks of fun planned including some showjumping, an arena eventing clinic at the end of Jan not to forget this months E-Dressage test!