We've been busy... are you ready for this?
I started riding Skye again at the beginning of May doing lots of hacking up the hills and through the woods to build up both our fitness but also continued the in hand spook busting which he was getting pretty good at. Over the weeks he graduated from a plastic bag to flags and on to a golf umbrella! This time spent working in hand with him was interesting as from the ground I could observe how he used himself differently on each rein - just marginally... in the quickness of his stepping under behind or the slight reluctance to step across in front. With each session he improved and the differences gradually disappeared. We got back in our school again, with the help from Sally George on Lewey as 'friendly horse' to patrol the scary track side! Skye was good - I couldn't fault him - he's not 100% comfortable there but to be honest I am probably the one most tense in that school. As daft as it seems I just can't help it...
In early June I started taking Skye over to Park Farm on a Sunday to school him there - a place where we both feel a bit more relaxed. It also gave him a little outing in the lorry - the first for 5 months - and the beginnings of getting back into more formal schooling. Not only was it a step up for us both in the fitness stakes... we were aiming for a place at Andrew J Murphy's clinic at the end of the month - but a great chance to catch up with Suzanne and Rhapsody!!
That clinic - which I had such high expectations for - well... lets just say I let the side down big time. Once again it was me who was the weakest link! We were at a new (strange) venue - it was blowing a hoolie and I was expecting fireworks from Skye... so I sat there like a sack of potatoes. He was fine and I was furious.. with myself!!
OK!! Lesson learned. I gave myself a good talking to and vowed to start 'owning' our training sessions.. i.e. stop being such a wimp!!
In July we ramped it up a bit... continuing with our weekly trips to Kent but also a pole work session with Mariana Broucher which was good fun - and entertaining - for the spectators anyway! I had decided to try and get Skye out to as many different and varied activities for the rest of the summer. Not just to keep his busy brain busy - but to have some fun!! When 'one' (i.e. me) is working hard towards a big competition it is easy to get a bit blinkered and yet all these activities can add to the horse's well being, fitness, education.. not to mention the rider's too! We both enjoyed it and the following day at the next clinic with Andrew, Skye came out with a much better frame right from the start! Result! That clinic was fab - Skye responded to my more positive riding and I drove home with a happy heart!
Just a couple of days later I took the day off work and headed off to a local unaffiliated competition. Not only was there dressage but also show jumping training so it was buzzing - and so was Skye! But.... I had allowed plenty of time for our warm up so he had time to relax and then did a very sweet test coming 5th - just 1% behind the winner! To put this in perspective... this was our 1st competition since 1st January... and actually only our 4th competition together!! That in itself is hard to believe!
Now.. bringing it right up to date. Last Wednesday we did another unaffiliated competition. Skye went really well - so pleased with him and if it had not been for some textbook rider errors (clicking in front of the judge, large 20m half circles etc) we may have won the class... but we came 2nd so another positive experience all round!! Sunday we headed back to Park Farm - in the extreme heat - this time for a training session with Andrew J Murphy. Talk about turning it up a notch! Skye responded fantastically to my improved mindset and the input from Andrew on the ground. I felt like the session set the tone for the weeks to follow!! So excited for whats to come!
Skye is in great shape thanks to his regular check ups by Gill Maybury Chiropractor and we have lots packed in to the next couple of months if all goes to plan... hope I haven't jinxed it now given my track record so far with the little firecracker! Will keep you posted! xx