My journey with Abbey & other horsey bits 'n' bobs


Dressage and flatwork

Abbey knows how to bend to the left…

…it’s just a shame I don’t!  For a while now I’ve been struggling with inside bend on the left rein and quite frankly I’ve been more or less ignoring it.

A little while ago (after a particularly bad schooling session where I tried to wrestle Abbey into left bend!) I decided enough was enough.  So Abbey’s been having regular treatments (with Lisa Bartley) and so have I (with Jess Shemmans).  I am also getting fitter (HIIT pilates and running) and we’ve started having lessons with a lady called Leonie Alldrick, who is an Equipilates Affiliated Instructor and Biomechanics Coach.

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A good’un and a bad’un

Overall we’ve had a good day out and I couldn’t expect any more from Abbey.

She loaded and traveled well and was very calm and responsive in the warm up until someone turned out a huge horse and his miniature friend.

The pair galloped up their field which is adjacent to the warm up and Abbey (who was on a long rein) went from E -B in a nano second, turning 180 degrees in the process. After that Abbey was a lost cause; in between snorting and gawping at the minature we had piaffe and passage on the diagonal.  All my usual tricks (changes of rein, transitions, bending and flexing) to get her attention and clam her down had little effect.

Perhaps if I’d more time we could have got it together but only 10 minutes later we were heading into the arena to do our test (looking at everything on the way).

Somehow we managed to keep it together well enough to score 68.94% and came 6th.

The test itself was alright. At home practicing last week I was thinking about keeping her forwarding through the transitions, maintaining impulsion and correct bend (on the left rein).  Today  I was mainly trying to keep Abbey between hand and leg,and ‘catching’ spooks before the affected the test too much.  She shyed at the viewing gallery, at the judge and at my OH who was filming.

We’d 45mins in between the two tests and Abbey really calmed down.  The second felt much better, although she did start to feel a little tired.


One of *those* schooling sessions

I know I shouldn’t say it but I’m really chuffed with myself tonight.  I managed to turn a schooling session that was fast heading toward disaster round to a productive, worthwhile session.

I did make a couple of rookie mistakes early on: #1 trimming Abbey’s ear fluff and #2 testing how Abbey goes without a flash – both on one of the windiest nights of the year so far. The result? A spooky pony armed with supersonic hearing and her favourite evasion (running with her mouth open wide like a hippo and a neck as high and long as a giraffe).

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Center lines, prelim 13 & equi-pilates

I’ve not long returned home from a fascinating equi-pilates session. It was the second session in a series of three and the insights were brilliant.

Last week’s session was an assessment.  Leonie (the instructor) asked me to do some very simple movements and assessed my range of movement and how developed various muscles are. I was given some exercises to do four times a day….

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Prelim 12 practice


The next Horse and Hound e-training session was about the free walk on a long rein.  First attempt on Tuesday evening was better than Wednesday’s but the video camera failed again!

Unfortunately, having been put through her paces the day before we were lacking our normal ‘forward’ but I’m still relatively pleased with the result.

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First first of 2017

2017 is off to a great start with 67.85% and qualification for the second round of Trailblazers.

Sadly there’s no video…not sorted that out yet but we got some really constructive comments from the judge and some really encouraging remarks.

I’m delighted that we got 2 x 8s for our upwards canter transitions (and one of the downwards), we’ve been really working on those.  The 6.5 and comment for the other canter-trot transition was fair – just shows how important it is to collect before the transition and that we’ve more work to do to get that consistency.

I’m disappointed with the marks for our 20m trot circles.  It’s made me realise that while I ‘get’ 20m in a short school, I need more practice in a long school.  Need to revise the H&H e-learning 1st lesson and practice in a full length school!

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2017 is off to a flying start…

….in a good way.  Abbey and I have had our first two lessons, we’re booked in to our first dressage competition and we’ve a mini adventure planned for the weekend (subject to the weather forecast being accurate!).

Lesson 1 introduced us to a really useful exercise.  Flex to the outside on the long straights and then 15m circle at the end.  It makes Abbey truly go into the outside hand and encourages her to stretch and relax into the contact.  It’s especially useful on the right rein where she will avoid going into my left hand.

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Holidays, Olympia, Physios and EquiPilates

Since my last post it’s, quite frankly, all gone to pot!

I’m not too ashamed to say that the cold dark nights have dampened my enthusiasm to ride of an evening. I’ve been struggling for motivation for a month or two and our training has become a little sporadic.

As a result Abbey’s fitness has gradually decreased and then last week I caught a cold. So  I have declared us on holiday! I think it will do us good.

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Training…the next step

As Abbey has learnt to relax and now approached questions quietly and without fighting or rushing our RI says we can take the next steps….collection.

We’re aiming to start competing at Novice next year and collection is how we’re going to teach Abbey to use her back end more. The plan is then to use this new-found power to ‘push us’ into our medium trot.

She explained that if we were to try to get a medium trot without collecting first, we’d end up running, something we’ve only just taught Abbey not to do!

The exercises we’re using are:

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