11 Apr Alex Holman
Surprise, surprise… After almost a month of constantly wet weather, we’ve now had another event cancelled. This time losing Weston Park OIu21 – the second u21 GB trial. This has definitely been the theme of the season so far and I’m just so glad that I ran Alfie at Tweseldown to secure the CCI** qualification that I needed.
It’s so hard to keep positive and focussed when all of your plans just aren’t happening. Especially when you only have one horse and all your attention is on them. Nevertheless, we’ve been training hard and were out and about a little last week.
We’ve had a couple more super dressage lessons with Jake Taylor and for the moment we seem to have found a bit and noseband that really works for Alfie, which has made a big difference. It’s made him more rideable so that I can ask for a little more and help him in trickier movements (half-pass/shoulder-in etc.). Unlike many horses, he finds the half-pass easier in trot than in canter. However, he is getting the idea and feeling more flexible so hopefully we’ll be on track to step up to Advanced level later in the year. His canter is definitely getting a lot stronger now and is a far better quality when collected; this will help with the show jumping and should help us with flying changes later on – also needed for the step up to Advanced.
The dressage phase is definitely the most challenging for both of us, so it’s lovely to have real ‘breakthrough’ moments where you feel like everything is going right – it gives you reason to keep on going…
Alfie has been keeping up his fitness work – even in the wet. He is doing canter sets every 5 days in local woods as well as continuing his hacking/hill work. I have been cutting down on his trotting on the road to reduce impact on his legs now that he’s back in more work. He’s definitely feeling fit and well and finding all of this incredibly exciting. We had a trip to the gallops again too and he felt better than ever, so hopefully his fitness is on track to peak for Houghton at the end of May where we’ll have a much longer XC course. There are many safety measures in place in the sport, though it is the rider who is ultimately responsible – if your horse is prepared properly for the level then you can eliminate a large amount of risk.
We had a quick outing to British Showjumping at Allens Hill, dodging the rain in the 1.15/1.20 and 1.20/1.25 classes. Alfie jumped very well, just having an unlucky pole down in each class but not touching any other fences. I think the 1.25 section of the Foxhunter was the biggest course I’ve done with Alfie so I am very pleased with how well he went. You could tell all of our events are being cancelled as there were far more eventers there than showjumpers!
We also went to Aston-Le-Walls again for some XC practice while everywhere else on grass was closed due to the wet ground. We practiced some trickier lines using all of the narrow fences and angles possible. We also practiced some combinations where big or downhill fences precede a skinny or angled line, requiring a higher degree of control and focus. The improvement in his rideability and his experience with different fences meant that we had no trouble negotiating these more testing questions. It was great to keep our eye in over lots of different fences while we miss our BE events.
Tomorrow (10th April) I will be moving to our new home to base with Charlotte Agnew, so fingers crossed all goes smoothly and Alfie settles in quickly. Ready for our next run (hopefully) at Withington Manor Intermediate at the end of April.