I got Packenham (Paddy for short) - an ex point-to-pointer in May of 2012, after having a break from riding of about 20 years. There have been some ups and downs (mostly downs) over the past 18 months & this is our journey together from Paddy being a racehorse to hopefully eventually a riding horse!

Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Matt Cox lesson

So off we went to our first lesson with Matt Cox. Paddy was good to load - probably because he had daisy next to him who he thinks is lovely!
Went into the indoor arena at Rosewood stud & he was very spooky and snorted at everything! Had a chat with Matt & told him all of Paddy's problems & I think he was surprised at all Paddy had gone through in the last year as a half!

We started off in walk, then up into trot & he got us leg yielding on a circle, then doing shoulder in on a 15 metre circle. This was to stop Paddy from hugging the wall and falling out through his shoulder. I did actually admit that I didn't know whether I had been doing it right but it appears that I had been. When doing tis paddy really started working across his back, but because it is such hard work for him he couldn't maintain the outline we wanted for very long. We were aiming for a fairly low head carriage with him working from behind in order that he lifted his back. When he did achieve it he felt lovely, with more cadence and suspension. 
Lots to be working on before our next lesson which is in May. 

Of course Paddy couldn't maintain his good behavoiur for very long, because as soon as he spotted the horses outside who were in the next lesson he kept neighing to them & wouldn't shut up!! He aparently only needs to glimpse another horse before he thinks it's his new best friend!!

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Paddy's feet 14 months since his shoes were removed

I haven't done an update on Paddys feet for some time so thought I would post today as he has had his first trim since December 2012. I have to say the farrier was very shocked when I told him how long he had gone without a trim especially when he saw that there was nothing to take off from the walls at all - all that work he's done on smooth hard surfaces has certainly kept them trimmed, although the edges were looking really ratty where bits had chipped off, so the farrier did just what I told him to and left his soles & frogs alone and just beveled off the edges a little to neaten them up. This was mainly  because we have our first competitive endurance ride this weekend and they have to be checked by a farrier & I didn't want to be thrown out because if the state if his feet.....though even if they don't look pretty, they are obviously functioning far better than they ever did with shoes on!!

Right front

Right front sole

Right hind

Right hind sole

Left front

Left front sole 

Left hind

Left hind sole

And Paddy looking lovely! .....not bad for a skinny thoroughbred coming out of winter :-)

We have our first Matt Cox lesson this Saturday which I am really looking forward to, and then our 20 mile endurance ride on Sunday near Brandon in Suffolk. Hopefully Team Balsham (Balsham & District Riding Club) will do well with lots of fast times & low heart rates!!

Saturday, 5 April 2014

Jumping.....sort of!!

So it was with some trepidation that Gillian & I set off to Prestige Show Centre to have a jumping lesson - Paddy's first time jumping since 2012, pre lameness and back op & legs' first time out since last year. 

Paddy was on his toes when I loaded him & this continued when I unloaded him at the other end! 

With my heart in my mouth I got on him & we went into the arena, where Paddy proceeded to gawp at everything, but thankfully he didn't do anything stupid. 

Started off walking in & out of the jumps, then went over trotting poles in walk & trot, which he did well & didn't seem bothered by them at all. Then went on to do some single jumps (all very tiny thankfully!!)

Then went on to do some combinations & this is where the fun started! Paddy was giving the poles a very wide berth when going over them & it felt like he was adding in a buck mid air! I have to say it was very disconcerting to ride and I had to remember to sit up, otherwise I would have been catapulted out of the front door!

And again...

And again!....

The previous times I have jumped him he's not done this, so I can only presume that either he's feeling really good, the jumps are too small for him, or that now that his back is more free, it feels unusual. I am hoping it is not hurting him, though I think if this was the case, he would have acted up more, which he didn't. He had to use his back in a way that he has not had to for over a year, so it's all going to feel strange to him although I have got the physio coming at the end of April to check him over again & iron out any kinks that might be there. 

We also jumped a filler & paddy took great offence to it - I had forgotten that he had never seen a filler before!....any way we managed to get over it, but without any style what so ever!!

Don't like the look of that!!!

All in all I was pleased with both Paddy & I.....it was something that I really wanted to do again, but was absolutely dreading it! Hopefully Paddy's over jumping will calm down a little once he's done a bit more, and I think that some jumping will also help him use his back a bit more. 

Having looked at the photos, I can see that I look down, rather than ahead, so I need to remember to look where I'm going, otherwise I will end up where I am looking!!

We are planning another lesson in a month, then the riding club is going to be holding jumping clinics for show jumping & cross country, so the plan is to go along to these in order to keep practicing and to gain some much needed confidence!

Thursday, 3 April 2014

Dressage diva

Well off we went to the Balsham & District Riding Club dressage competition last Sunday. It was the first competition that BDRC had run & I had a major part in organising it, so not only was I riding my daft thoroughbred, but I was meant to be running the day also - must be mad!!

I plaited him up the evening before so that he did not anticipate a party!

Got there in plenty if time & put everything where it needed to go & sorted out the judge, writer & stewards. Then had a cup of coffee & then got tacked up & ready to go - the only drawback was that I had got my time wrong & ended up with about 10 minutes to warm up - he then napped all the way to the arena & we had to be led there.....slightly embarrassing!! He was the calling for all his new best friends - he only has to pass another horse & they become his new best friend!! Consequently his first test (intro b) was tense, but not too awful considering. We got 60.43% for 4th place out of 5 - the judges comments were 'lovely horse & rider combination, sympathetically ridden, a little tight today, but shows huge potential - well done. 

Had more time to warm up for the next test, which was a classical riding club walk trot test, where the rider is marked in their riding far more than in a british dressage test - he was better in this test and he got all 6s & 7s, but I managed to get all 8s & 9s for my riding, which I was over the moon with - for a final score of 84.39% and first place out of 10 - Whoo hoo!!! Judges comments were 'professionally presented test, now needs to show more engagement and suppleness in the back & hind leg - well done'.

Then onto the third test which was prelim 4 - the first prelim he has done in a competition (mind you he's only done one other proper dressage competition!). We got mostly 6s & 7s, a couple of 5s and a 4 for his second canter because he struck off on the wrong leg. He felt ok in this test, though again he was paying more attention to his new best friends than concentrating on what he was meant to be doing - got 60.90% for 4th place out of 9, so pretty good for a first prelim. The judges comments were 'some loss of balance at canter today, but a pleasing test throughout. Now needs to improve strength and engagement behind'.

So overall I was really pleased with Paddy - he behaved himself.....apart from being very vocal! So for a first outing since he went lame (other than the few in hand classes last summer) I could not have asked for more. 

I know I need to work on Paddy's engagement & get him using his hind end & back more, but as he gets stronger through schooling, pole work & hill work, this should improve.

Apart from being chuffed with my boy, I was really pleased with myself, as I got all 8s & 9s throughout all the tests for my riding, and was the only rider to have got these marks.....having Sarah nag me is obviously slowly sinking in!!

Paddy showing off his frillies :)

Everyone had a good day & it was a very successful first competition for BDRC :)

Lesson time

Paddy & I had a lesson with Sarah last Friday in preparation for our dressage debut the following Sunday, and we both worked hard - me on my position because he is straighter and more consistent if I am sitting upright and not tipping my head down, and paddy on trying to get his hind end engaged and work across his back.

We practiced transitions a lot which currently are very stilted - he almost stalls into them. We worked on not using any rein, just using my seat and back as aids, which helped. 

His canter is so much better now, but again his transitions are poor, but eventually managed to get much smoother ones & decided to leave it on a good note. 

Now need to learn my tests! It will be Paddy's first dressage outing in nearly 1 1/2 years & we are doing our first competition prelim - not sure if I am looking forward to it or dreading it!!