Saturday, 27 June 2015

A testing day

Well I have had a very busy and productive day today.  I was allowed a lie in this morning and took best advantage of that.  Well why stand when you can lie down?

Mum disappeared off early and came back with a super large pile of pallets, I'm sure when she left she was saying it was for hay.  More worrying by the time she came back she said some were so strong they could be made into a trec bridge - hmmmmm!

However along with all the pallets she brought lots of yummy food, so I'll ignore the trec bridge comment in the hope she will need all of them for the hay.  The only problem is while we are at the house I have to share my food with the chickens - yes seriously I have to share with chickens!

But back to my testing day.  Mum loaded me up into the box on wheels and we headed off to Greenlands Farm in Great Cheverell to compete in the KVRC Mufti dressage competition.  It was hot and they were running late when we arrived so Mum and Jo got me ready in slow time and spent a lot of time chatting rather than warming me up.  This was fine by me, it was far too hot to be doing too much running around.

My first test was Prelim 13, which we have done quiet a bit recently.  We started well and with it being so hot meant I was more than happy to have a stretch when we did the free walk on a long rein, which got me a 9 - Mum was thrilled.  However Mum then rediscovered the ghost of right hand canter lead, I always think its good to keep her on her toes and its important she learns to correct my mistakes - which she didn't!  However I did such a good job in helping her out that even on the wrong canter lead we got a 5.5 - well I was very balanced and I got a 6.5 for my transition to trot.  Overall we got 72.1% and came 2nd.  1st was one collective mark higher than us - Mum you threw that win away.

No rest for the wicked we returned to the warm up arena for some medium trot practice ready for Novice 24.  I did one good medium trot in the warm up, Mum should have saved it for the test!  They are hard to do, especially in very hot weather.  I got 6.5 for my medium trot and canter in the tests, which I know Mum was happy with (for the moment!)  However Mum did not learn from the errors of our first test and did not correct my wrong canter lead so we only got a 3 and 4 - come on Mum, really!  If we are competing at this level you really should have this sussed by now.  This was my second ever Novice test so 65.8% is not too bad and we came 7th (which was also last - but as we got a rosette, it's 7th in my book!).

Normally we only do two dressage tests but today Mum wanted me to do three - errrr its hot, is this really the day to be doing three tests?  The reason why, Mum read both Novice tests and didn't like either of them, so we had to do both - I have no idea where that logic comes from?  So back to the warm up arena for some walk canter transitions and then straight back in to the competition school.

The judge thought I had some lovely walk paces giving me an 8.  I also got an 8 for my half 10m circles from E to X and X to B.  Third time lucky, when I gave Mum the wrong canter transition she finally recognised this and got me to change my lead - hurrah!  Novice 30 is tricky having to change your canter lead across the diagonal.  Mum was well impressed with my last transition which got me a 7.  Ironically we got a higher mark for the harder test, scoring 66.9% which got me a 5th rosette.

It was a hot day and doing three tests needs lots of concentration but as this was my second and third Novice tests ever, I thought we did OK.  Hopefully Mum will pay attention to the canter leads I give her now and will be brave enough to correct them if she thinks I've got them wrong.  That's your homework Mum.

I have to say a big thank you to Eric's rider, Jo, for coming out and grooming me and more importantly reading the tests for Mum so she knew where to go - Jo she couldn't have done it without you, thank you xxx

I'm off to share my tea with those greedy chickens!

Friday, 26 June 2015

To jump or not to jump?

I've finally managed to get my ipad off of my little brother who seems to be hogging it all the time lately. I caught him googling circus pony job adverts - honestly I have no idea why?

Mum and I have been disagreeing on how to teach me to jump, we both have different ideas of how this should be achieved, so in the end I had to put my foot down and make it very clear how I want to learn.

I've been doing quite a few lessons with Polly, and we have jumps at home, and I have been out on fun rides which have jumps too, so I'm starting to get quite a bit of practice in.  My cousin, Eric, and I went on a fun ride with Avon Vale Hunt in May.  I seriously wonder about our humans sometimes, we might have set out in lovely sunshine but we soon got stuck in a thunder and lightening storm.  Being sensible ponies we wanted to turn our back to the rain and standstill and wait for the storm to pass, but oh no the stupid humans kicked us on and made us walk and trot into the rain - not happy.  

So I don't know why Mum was surprised that I wasn't that keen to jump the jumps on the ride, it was hardly the weather.  I jumped a couple but decided I wasn't jumping anymore, which Mum wasn't too happy about, but as we were soaking wet and she was wearing buckets for boots, we agreed a truce and headed home.

Our next disagreement was at a private cross country lesson with Polly, my favourite instructor - well she was.  Mum had explained about me stopping on the fun ride, so when I stopped at the first jump in the lesson, i got told off, but came around and thought I had better jump it the second time around.  At the next jump I decided I didn't want to be hit for stopping so executed a fabulous napping manoeuvre left while Mum tugged my head right. Ohhhh she was not happy and when she finally pulled me up I got a very sore bum - ouch!  After that I decided I had better do what I was told and she whizzed me up so much we charged around the rest of the cross country course, jumping, water, ditches, steps, logs etc.  I went home tired but with a very happy Mum, so that was all good, but I was dwelling on my beating.

Our next outing was gridwork with Polly at our usual venue in Hankerton.  The lesson was being shared with some other KVRC members.  It started OK but I got a bit confused because Mum couldn't decide on whether she wanted me to canter, gallop or trot.  She was asking me to canter and then gallop down the longside of the arena and then asking me to trot into the jumps - can't you just decide on one pace please?  Eventually I had enough and just stopped, Mum asked me to go forward but I didn't want to go, this wasn't fun and I was just getting confused and then I was getting hit.  Mum realised her mistake and burst into floods of tears. Polly kindly put all the poles on the floor and I reluctantly agreed to go over as a truce.

Mum went away scratching her head and after a good nights sleep worked out she needed to make jumping fun for me.  So we went to a combined training competition and Mum made sure she didn't put any pressure on me, so I enjoyed having a jump around the course, I did stop a few times, but did get all the way around.  My friend Emma did a video of me jumping which you can see here

Next came an outing to another new venue, Trow Lane, where Mum entered me into their clear round showjumping.  We started small and then it got a little bigger each time, Mum was so proud of me, as I got three clear rounds.  I didn't stop once or knock down a single fence.  I wonder whether I will be going next?

Will I jump or not..........

Growing my fan base

Hello to all my new friends at Sparsholt College, I loved meeting you all.  I was very happy to stand and chat to all my new friends and posed for selfies too!

It was a great trip.  I didn't realise when Mum took me home to Wales I would be making lots of new friends and showing everyone how fantastic us Dales ponies are.

Mum spent a couple of days helping D clean everybody up so we were all sparkling shiny.  June was chosen to be the confirmation pony, so she got all dressed up in her white show halter and pretty pink ribbons, she looked beautiful.  Though Katy did try and steal the limelight.  D had brought June out and was surrounded by 20 odd students, and she was being all serious telling the students all about our fabulous confirmation, while Katy stood at the back pulling faces and distracting the students by demanding rubs and trying to eat their handbags if they did not oblige.  Naughty Katy.

My new friends then went on a tour of the stud and got to visit both my Dad and my friend Eric's Dad, Laddie.  He's pictured below having cuddles with the students too!

Before the students had arrived I had been turned out into the big caravan field, so I thought I had better put in some practice of doing a REAL dales trot, rather than Mum's fancy posing dressage trots.  My secret practice got caught on camera, well not too bad I think.

My first job was to show my new friends how good Dales ponies can be at dressage.  So Mum asked me to do one of my Prelim dressage tests.  I can do that.  Mum and I warmed up while the students finished their tour of the stud.  They then stood at the bottom of the arena and it was time for me to strut my stuff.  So I headed of down the centre line in trot - errrr emergency stop required - Mum there are twenty faces peering over the end of the arena - that's quite scary, normally there is just a random car, not loads of people.  Ok Mum says move on, so I did, around the arena on the right rein - wait Mum, another emergency stop required, they are still there and they are ALL watching ME.  Nerves were starting to kick in and I was getting a bit anxious so when Mum asked for canter, I kind of over reacted and put in a big buck, which made the students giggle.  I'm sure Mum didn't do the test right because I seemed to be doing a lot of circles down by all my new friends.

Then Katy and Nondus came to join me and Mum and we were allowed into the big field, yiphee. I started by showing off my jumping skills while Katy practiced her Dales trot - shes good at that.

Katy and I were then allowed to do a trotting race and then to the amusement of the students we showed them how fast we could gallop across the fields too.  We loved that, its not often we are allowed to charge around.  It took Katy a little while to calm down after racing around, but we both enjoyed the cuddles of the students and stood very still while they all took selfies.

I'm hoping some of my new friends might send me some more photos to add to my blog.  Loved meeting you all, thank you for taking the time out to meet us.  I wonder whether I can become a professional demo horse, telling the world about how amazing us Dales ponies are?