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The event!

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XC2RGosh, after my last blog Jay settled right down again, but he is different all the same. It was like he felt unsettled, and he had to see where his place in life was. After the few incidents of the last blog, they just stopped happening, I think we just worked it out. Jay explored the option, I did not react, the work still got done, Jay settled down. Simples! 
We did some more XC practice soon after the event, and rode out again in the beautiful North Yorkshire Countryside from the Farrier’s forge. Jay is changing so <BLOG_BREAK>much. It is like when he was younger he packed his little personality away, and hid it from sight. Now Jay is emerging, and he is no more mature than the young man that went away. He is more “alive” in everything, even in his stable, even at the farrier. He was bursting with vitality actually at the farrier, he had gasps of admiration when he lit up a bit when an old pony that was finished left him. But, they commented that Jay was still good o handle, softened up some when they went to actually do something with him.

I was a little sceptical of how he would behave when we rode out from the farrier’s forge, but once he was tacked up and given a job to do Jay was great. I deliberately did not try to make him “quiet” as Jay was not in a quiet frame of mind. Instead we had a jolly good trot out over the bridle ways. Then we had a walk, and he even managed the “Troll Bridge”, the opposite way to last time. He stopped and stuck for about 20 seconds while he looked to see if he could spin to the left. I asked him to stay straight but did not try to stop him from spinning, I just decided that if he did spin then we would deal with that, but Jay has to make some choices in life. He stood on the brink, then breathed, so I requested “forwards” and got it, at a walk and with no fuss.

Jay has been so much better with schooling too, offering some energy, but when I took him to a competition at dressage Jay was a bit nervous, and when he is such his first thing is to become withdrawn and shut down. I decided to keep happy with him, not to tell him off, and we just did a test. Jay was calm and obedient, but we would have been quicker if I had got off and pushed!!! The funny thing was that after the few incidents we had I prepared “just in case” with a XC saddle, shorter stirrups, neck strap and crash hat, and in the event he was slower and more sensible than ever. I just think the more established he becomes at offering energy at home, then he will start doing that at competition. At present he just does not see the point in dressage!

After the dressage we did a blast round the XC course. He is a great horse. The jumping raised his interest more! When we got home Jay usually goes into his grooming bay, but this time he INSISTED on exploring the yard. He went to see the passage to Mum’s garden, looked in the hay store, and insisted on going into Charlie’s stable.

Jay just did not do this before.. He was kind of small on the inside. Now he insisted on looking, and I let him in the other stable, and he was alive and round, and pumped full of his own importance. But, as the farrier remarked, when I tell him “c’ome on now Jay” he softened up again and complied.

I guess I want a compliant Jay, but not at the expense of his personality. But, I guess he will overstep the mark a few times while we sort it out.

Later that week I rode Jay in the dark. It was windy and he thought the shadows of the swaying branches in the wind were entertaining, but he was very well behaved. In fact he did some good work. Another day we went to the arena over the road, and we did some canter poles to a fence. Just so I could gauge where an even stride was, as I seem to be pushing him out of our stride. That was productive, and at the end of the session I was actually riding and helping Jay, and he was sailing over 1.15 as though it was a X pole. To him it is like a X pole!

Jay is great. Happy horse, Happy owner. Next weekend we had more XC practice, and again it was just a day out, in fact it was good as Jay looked at his surroundings and just seemed to think, “Oh, OK, Cross Country, I can do this”. I kept it simple, but what we did do we did well.

Then some more SJ lessons as I seem to be putting too much effort into the jumping, whereas in fact with Jay we can both stay quite relaxed. We did not jump above 1m, but we are getting it together, making it so that we each know the role the other is playing, making it predictable what will happen so we can feel comfortable with each other. Right now I just wanted us to get to a stage that we can do some BE events right at the end of the season, to see the format and get it together at this lower height. Then we will have all winter to improve technique, and come out to go a bit bigger next year.

We have done so much concentrated schooling that the week before the first event I slowed it down, we had time with each other, played with Jay’s toys, including having him walk through a plastic hoop. Jumping through hoops  In fact the day before our event I did not even ride, instead we did the dressage test twice, once at walk and once at full speed, which does not sound so strange until you know we did it on the long lines. I was blowing even though Jay was not!

Then....our first BE Affiliated event...

Jay was great. Better than his event at Aston, he did not be silly at all, all day. We did have a trick up our sleeve, we put Jay a mirror in his lorry (unbreakable stainless steel), and every time he entered the lorry he whinnied a greeting to his pal. Silly soft horse, but no stress in the lorry, so his pal made him feel better!

Jay had impeccable manners. His dressage can be viewed on http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FM2YZ6BlByUAs you can see he is calm and obedient, but again, he could do with a bit more Zap!

In the show jumping he knocked just the one down, but I was fairly pleased with the round as there were banners and tents all around, and they are not his favourite.

In the XC we were clear, but with 10 time penalties. The ground was quite hard, also he nearly jumped me off once and another time I was a little left behind, both times involved steps up or down.

The day felt wonderful, a previous owner of Jay had told me that they did not think he would event as he was so spooky and sharp, and there he was, eventing.

After the event the weather then went mad, really hot and sunny. I have some photos of Jay David and I having a play with some balls! Yes, really, inflatable balls. 1This was good, Jay finished up being able to kick even the biggest ball around. Later that week it turned very windy and I had the pleasure of schooling Jay with the balls blowing all around us, and when one got in the way of his centre line, he just kicked it out of the way!

I needed to work on the jumping up and down steps thing that had caused me concern at the event, so we had two XC lessons in the next two weeks. The first lesson made a breakthrough on my understanding of steps. The second lesson initially looked unlucky, Jay just sheared a nail and one of his shoes moved ¼ of an inch, so I asked for an arena based lesson instead of working on the firm ground. I had not told the trainer about Jay and his shut down in an arena setting, and she was amazed at how he was different, and that was what the lesson became about.

During the lesson she asked if I had heard of Andrew McLean, and I had, in fact I am booked to see his lecture on equine cognition at the British Horse Society on 11 October. She said that was lucky as he would be the man who could help me to help Jay enjoy his schooling. The work we did made sense to Jay and we finished with some good work.

When I got home I “Googled” Andrew McLean and found that he and his wife are from Australia, but are taking some clinics while they are here in England. I was so impressed by what I had heard about them that I have booked Jay in for a lesson with each of them. In fact this seems even more important to me right now than how we do at our events.

Yesterday Jay did his second event. He was more alive again, and scored better for his dressage (33.5). We had just the one down for his SJ, there is a video on http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1EwAPYC6dZw

Jay again went clear XC. In the XC there was a definite difference. In fact for the first 3 fences he was a bit too keen, but I realised that even though he was a bit free with himself, when we came to the fences he listened and was thoughtful. In fact as he went round he was becoming more and more confident, his confidence showing by him being happy and looking at the fence to see how to jump it best. This being different in feel to him looking at the fence as if it were going to jump out and bite him. He was nicely enthusiastic!

We are booked on two more events before the end of the season, we will run if Jay feels good and the ground is good too. For me we have already fulfilled what I wished to do competitively this year, success! I was asked by a few people to blog about buying a horse and preparing it for his first event, well, that is it, completed, success!

Other news, I am a guest speaker at the Your Horse Live event. It is an honour to be asked by the major magazine Your Horse to be one of their “Experts” and to speak at the two day event. More details are on their web site, pages    http://www.yourhorse.co.uk/Your-Horse-Live-2011/



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