Show Day. Part deux: drama overload.

Wowsers! Yesterday was one heck of a doozy.

It was a drama-filled day, full of learning curves and the peaks and troughs I have become so familiar with in the horsey world.

It was our first solo show: no Alison. I’ve spent all week worrying, panicking, dreaming about forgetting to pack the saddle and other assorted mad things. To add to it all, Pop had a mid-week meltdown, refusing to jump and panicking when Splash kicked at the whip.

Given all that, it was a miracle that we even got on the lorry yesterday, so that as an achievement in itself.

When we got there everything went well. We were way too early, but better that than being stuck in traffic, I guess.

And then the ‘disasters’ began.

First of all we found out that Pop couldn’t compete in the dressage as out bit wasn’t dressage legal. We knew on Friday and had spent hours seeking a suitable snaffle to no avail. (Pop rides with a wilke but, but rides with it snaffle.) She was allowed to do the dressage test, with the judge scoring her, allowing us to see how she scored and where she would have placed.

Then we found out that her dressage class and her first jumping class were at the same time, and with only a fifteen in the jumping competition, any delay at the dressage (which there was) was going to cause a problem.

Ok, so the dressage went well. She scored an impressive 69%, which I thought was great considering we only gave it a bash to keep up entertained in flat work. She would have placed 6th had she been allowed to compete, which I am very proud of, considering the other 24 competitors in the class were all experienced, older riders on horses.

The jumping went to pot. It was her first proper competition (we’ve only done Welcome to Jumping classes before). She had a major attack of nerves but still managed to go clear in the first round. The second round was against the clock – the first time she’s competed against the clock.

Nervous already, she started before the bell (the judges gave her 4 penalties for it and let her restart) and then Splash decided to stop for a poo mid-course. He never does that at home! She came in 6th due to having 4 seconds added for starting before the bell. She would have come 4th had she not been in a panic.

The next jumping class was also fraught. But she jumped it and all was fine – until Splash stopped before the last but one jump for another poo! Needless to say, we didn’t get through to the jump off.

It was a great day, with much learned, but it was so, so stressful. The coolest of us all was Splash.

Can’t wait until next time!

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Show Day

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Saturday is show day. As a result, I am currently filled with equal amounts of excitement and trepidation.

This will be the first show that we’ve been to to ride at where we don’t have Poppy’s trainer with us. It’ll be the first show that I’ll be totally in charge – where I’ll have to do the warming up, the keeping calm and the reassuring.

It’s also the first time that we will be travelling Splash without a horsey pro. Argh!

Jo and I, along with Poppy and my husband (driver), as well as my younger daughter, Penny, will be running the Poppy and Splash show for the day. Alone.

Organisation is key. I’ve made a list to make sure I don’t forget anything (I think I’ve already lost the list). I’ve filled a poly pocket with all the documentation I need (I’ve just remembered I haven’t put Poppy’s number and or tickets in it).

This could be a disaster!

The good news is that we have nailed the dressage test and that it looks pretty good. Splash’s socks don’t look too bad either, although I’m sure he’ll find the greenest grass in his patch, have a roll, and get them stained before Saturday.

More importantly, I have all of Poppy’s show clothes ready to go, which is probably the most exciting part for me.

I love seeing her dressed up, looking very much the horsewoman. It’s the only time I get to see her looking crisp and clean – no mud (hopefully, at least. I’ll tell you a story about that another day!), a neatly pressed shirt (yeah, I treated her to an Animo one because I love the quality and the little sparkly additions) and perfectly styled hair (cute plaits of course). It’s the only day I can fully dictate what she wears and I love it.

Today’s pics are from the last show we went too. They’re Poppy’s selfies and, thanks to Apple, they appeared on my photo stream. I love the black and white one particularly.

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What!

Today I spent £8 on a bottle of shampoo for Splash! Eight pounds! I don’t know what’s happened to me! My own shampoo usually costs £2 a bottle (unless I can stock up on an offer!), so taking a 40 mile round trip to spend 4 times that on a bottle of shampoo for a pony is, well, crazy biscuits!

And, to make things even more crazy, it’s only for his socks!

Next week’s dressage test will require a high standard of turnout, so the socks must be tackled. He hates having his legs and feet touched and he really hates having a bath, so working away to get them sparkly white this week should be fun – NOT!

Still, having spent £8 (did I mention how much the shampoo cost yet?) on a stain-removing shampoo should make it happen easily, or at least it had better!

At least there’s no rain forecast this week (touches wood like a lunatic!).

Review to follow, but for now here’s a pic of the boy’s socks. We gave them a wash today so they don’t look that bad. Let’s see how the week goes on!

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Confidence Building

Every week Pop has three riding lessons: one on a Monday as part of a group (to help her build confidence riding with others), a second half hour session on Wednesday which is used for flat work and technique, and a third on Friday which is used for practising jumping courses and jumping technique.

The latter two are with Alison, the group lesson is with her husband.

He’s a renowned trainer, bringing through some of the best kids in the country. People travel hundreds of miles for lessons with him, and his services are employed right across the country at various shows and competitions.

He has a very different teaching style to Alison – he’s more forthright and more blunt. He doesn’t take any messing and doesn’t suffer fools.

Pop has found it hard to take to his style of teaching. He’s not afraid to push to get results – he wouldn’t push anyone above what they or their pony can do, but he will push riders out of their comfort zone. That’s how he gets his results.

A few times now, Pop has freaked out in his lessons – and this Monday was one of those lessons. She refused to jump a 2ft jump – something she and Splash do regularly.

It was quickly decided that Pop needed to develop confidence in other people, aside from Alison.

Enter ménage right: Me.

So, when Pop is riding between lessons we are going to jump. Just me and her.

Now, I know diddly about riding and jumping, aside from the buzz words and phrases I hear all too often: “Pick up your contact”, “watch that outside rein”, “you need to be more forward”, “those reins are so long I could dry my knickers on them”, etcetera. Of course, I know when to say them too, but that’s it.

So, during our “free ride” time today we had a jump. We have done it once or twice before, but usually Pop and I would stress at each other – thankfully today was different.

We didn’t scale massive heights, but the duo did some lovely jumping, with Splash taking lovely scopey leaps and Pop not coming off! A resounding success, and we both felt great after it.

Can’t wait for the next time, now!

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Get Back On, Then

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Poppy hasn’t fallen off for a while. I can say that out loud now without fear of jinxing her, because last night we had a land in the sand.

The lesson was going great, with Alison really pushing Pop to go faster and higher. The exercise they worked on was tricky; there were 3 jumps in total and the idea was to come over the first one before taking an alternate left or right (on a dog’s leg) to the next one, just 5 strides away. With no pattern to the course of travel this was a great challenge for Pop – especially when the jumps hit 75cm.

Splash was loving it, so much so he did a lovely big buck after one of the jumps. Pop was also loving it and was so excited she was riding in a light seat in forward position when it happened (the adrenalin took over), which resulted in her landing in the sand.

Usually a fall entails some tears and “I don’t want to get back on”, but this time was different.

“Come on then, get back on,” I encouraged as soon as is checked she’d not broken anything.

And she did.

Usually getting back on after a fall involves a little trot and that’s it, but yesterday she was back over the jumps within 5 minutes.

What a breakthrough for both of us!

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Procrastination Is The Thief Of Time

I am Queen Procrastinator. If I can leave something until another time, I will. Not because I’m lazy, but because I love the buzz of doing something under pressure, be that work related, cleaning the house or filling up my car with fuel. If it can be left, I’ll leave it.

I just hope Pop thrives under pressure.

We have 9 days until she does a dressage test at the Usk Show. She’s never done dressage before and thus far we have spent around 41 minutes on it and have only gone through steps 1 to 6.

Yeah, we are a little behind.

My sensible head wanted to have it all nailed by now, with all being left is some practice to make perfect, but this weekend we’ll be frantically learning the rest of the test before making perfect at some point next week.

Ah , well. Wish us luck!

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Today

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Friday is my favourite day at the yard. It’s the day that Pop’s instructor and I build a course and send her and her steed over it.

Each week, Pop asks me to video her jumping so she can see her progression, then at the end of each lesson we take a pic of her and Splash by the biggest jump of the day.

After last week’s cracker of a lesson confidence levels were right through the roof today, so I thought I’d post a video. (Sorry about the size of it!)

A Friend Like Ben

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When Pop was about 18 months into her riding education, pre-own pony, she was put on Ben for a few lessons.

Ben is the oldest pony at our yard. He’s so old nobody is quite sure how old he is because equine passports weren’t a necessity when he was born. Estimates stand at his age being around 30-33.

He’s a lovely little 10.3hh or 11hh pony who, during his hay day, was quite the superstar jumper. Legend (well, fact) has it that he could jump the height of his own ears and that he was quite the competition pony, who if he were only a hand higher, could have been a real contender.

I remember Pop’s instructor telling me that he and Pop had a natural bond. A ‘thing’. I thought she was bananas , but as the lessons rolled by I could see what she meant.

Ben responded to Poppy in an incredible way. There was an unspoken connection; if she was feeling like going fast , he would oblige. Quite happily. Now, bare in mind that Pop’s legs couldn’t get down below past the saddle flaps at this stage, this was nothing to do with her getting her leg on – he kind of just ‘knew’.

He was the pony that taught Pop that ponies know what you feel and think. She really learned so much from him.

When Lucy came on the scene Pop rarely rode other ponies. It wasn’t until the failure of a new pony (pre- Splash) that she started riding the school ponies again.

By this time Ben had started having some trouble with one of his legs and so would very often go lame. However, when sound he and Pop would ride and they would click straight away.

Alison (who’s son used to compete Ben) told me about how she could see how much Ben enjoyed working with Pop, and as the weeks went on it was clear that they really have a great bond. They worked so well together and Ben lost years and years, really enjoying the sight of the pole and nodding his little head with excitement. He really did know when Pop got on that he was in for a tonne of fun.

He taught her more and more, rebuilding her confidence post-Muffin (a story for another day) and helped her get to grips with a forward-thinking pony. He was also small enough for her to tack up alone and he would happily let get brush and fuss him beforehand – a privilege not shared by anyone else.

We actually began to talk realistically about bringing Ben back into work and doing a few competitions on him after the vet gave his ticker the all-clear, but it was not meant to be.

His lameness became more frequent and well, as much as he fancied reliving his youth with his new friend, he wasn’t up to it.

He’s now happily retired, cantering about his field and ruling the roost.

If only he were ten years younger…

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Boot Shopping Success!

Today’s boot shopping trip was like some sort of miracle. Seriously!

We made the journey to the Scope Festival of Showjumping – a five hour round trip. It’s a great show to spot upcoming riders and it’s also great to take Pop along to to see what she could realistically achieve.

Anyway, I digress; at Scope there’s some amazing shopping to be enjoyed, and so searching for boots was at the top of today’s agenda.

I’d prepared myself for a slog and an afternoon of drama (too small, too tight, too expensive, etc), but the God of riding boots was obviously looking down on us today.

In the first shop we went to, Pop saw a pair of boots she liked (first challenge overcome). They were the last pair and had 25% off. Of course, I suspected it to be too much to ask that they fit her, especially as they were the last pair, but guess what? They fitted. Like a glove! Perfectly!

It was unbelievable!

Poppy is now the proud, lucky owner of a gorgeous pair of Brogini long boots.

They’re lovely too!

Real leather with a gorgeous diamanté detailing on the calf, they are lined with silver which looks dazzlingly amazing under the light. The patent top is a really stylish detail, and they look and feel far more expensive than they are.

They fit wonderfully around Poppy’s calf, answering my gaiters-and-short-boots-combo issue too. And, best of all, the size a little large meaning there’s growing room too.

Beautiful!

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