There’s a lot to write about this month, and what better way to open my blog than to say we started the month off with a ‘bang’ by competing for the first time in a year on the 1st of June with Midget at Hartpury.
Despite the fact we went into it HC so I could get a feel for how Midget is at competition with no pressure, I have really missed being in my whites, and showing everyone what my horse and I are capable of, and whilst there were errors throughout the test, and overall messier than what I had at the end of my competition career with Prince, it’s a great start, with lots of improvements to make, so it can only get better.
Since then, we have been out twice again on the 7th of June competing HC again and the 21st of June at Allenshill to start the qualifiers for Winter Championships next year. It was quite interesting how different Midget was in the indoor arena at Hartpury, where he was a lot more relaxed and ‘lazy’ in comparison to how strong and forward he was at Allenshill to the point he was running away with me, which made the test on the 7th look extremely rushed, despite my best efforts to contain the energy.
I mentioned in last month’s blog that we were starting to hit a plateau during training, but I do think that going out to compete and gaining opinions of different judges on the test sheet gives you a lot to think about and in turn work on at home to improve. Since the 7th, the main focus with Midget at home is controlling the speed of each pace, as he does tend to think he has sole control, and evades from doing things he finds difficult by going more and more forward. Similar to how I speed up a core exercise in the Gym when it hurts to finish it quicker, when in reality, I’m cheating out of working the muscles within that area properly.
It was great to see such a difference from the extremely rushed test Midget and I produced on the 7th in comparison, to the last competition we did on the 21st of June at Allenshill, where I had more control over the speed throughout the test. It still wasn’t perfect, but definitely a huge improvement since the previous competition, which just goes to show the work Jade and I are doing with Midget at home is making a difference, and giving me more control.
Moving away from the competition, you may have seen that Alfie is now back with us, and you may be as surprised as I was to find that I actually got back on Alfie for the first time since last year. If I’m being completely honest, when Jade and Sue asked me to sit on him, I was extremely reluctant to, as I had emotionally cut myself off from him because of all of the upsetting memories that are associated with him.
When I got on him for the first time last weekend, I really tried to find something I didn’t like about him, by comparing him to how he used to feel, and the little irritating things he used to do, but Contrary to my best efforts, I found absolutely nothing I could say I didn’t like about him! He feels like a completely different horse to the last time I rode him, this just goes to show what a great job Wayne has done in terms of building Alfie’s confidence after it was so badly knocked. Wayne has stripped everything back and started implementing the fundamentals of training, plus giving him plenty of variety in his work, which was another thing he had been severely lacking after we bought him.
Jade has done a great job in teaching him so much in such a short space of time to make sure he’s at a place where I can get back on, and he feels a lot more confident in himself and stronger in terms of taking the bar rein and discovering that I can take a contact down the rein whereas I was always told to be lighter because he was so sensitive. Also I can put my leg on, which is Ironic as one of the causes of the separation from the previous trainer was because he was so hot that she couldn’t get her leg on him at all and he was being so spooky. I guess this highlights the accuracy in the saying of you keep your legs off a lazy horse and put them on a hotter horse, Alfie feels security from being ridden with leg and a contact, yet he was previously being ridden with neither, so it’s no surprise that he probably felt abandoned and nervous.
As amazing as this is, it now leaves me in a position where I need to choose which horse to move forward with, as we simply can’t afford to run both Midget and Alfie as nice as that would be. Clive Milkins came to do some training with us last week, which was handy to get his perspective on the two horses, which didn’t give complete clarity as he said that Midget was definitely International quality too. I suppose I need Alfie to tick a few more boxes for me in terms of feeling as safe on him out as I do on Midget, before I decide, and Clive is confident that Jade and Sue have the skills to ensure we don’t have any other relapses, which I guess is my fear.
I know I’ve said this before, but on reflection, I feel so lucky to have great sponsors like Betta Life. Not only do they provide me with the best joint supplement for my horses, in effect, they’ve also provided me with a greater network of people like Jade and Wayne who have helped me along my journey when I’ve needed it most, that just goes to show just how amazing the Betta Life Team really is!
As you can imagine, the next month is going to be very interesting and will require a lot of deliberation, but I’m hoping whatever I decide to do will be the best thing for my development and my sporting career furthermore, and I know I have the best team behind me to make that happen!