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Monday, 12 October 2015

Part 1: Our Journey So Far

As Louie & I have now been together for 9 months, I thought I would start introducing a post every couple of months to better diarise our progress. So this is part one!

Let's start at the beginning... I first met Louie on New Year's Eve morning, down near Yarm, North Yorkshire. In the day or so leading up to going to see him I was convinced that he was too small and would be too thick set/too much bone (& he was grey!)

Arriving on the yard, which all looked very professional - very tidy, I walked over to see Louie, who was stood happily tied in the yard under the heat lamps. Instantly, I loved the look of him!!

He seemed to be almost wearing a smile, was excellently presented (I still can't get him as clean to this day!) and most of all, I was very pleasantly surprised from the preconceptions that I'd had about him...

I knew almost from the start that it was going to have to go horribly wrong for me to not buy this fab horse! He behaved like a typical green, just backed three year old - & I loved him!! Another viewing (back with an instructor) presented severe winds, which is testament to Louie's attitude because he just was not bothered at all! A vetting a day later secured the deal on 12th January 2015 :-)

We spent our first two weeks getting to know each other, lunging and plodding around the school.

Soon we were on track...

With a showjumping lesson at the end of January, and a flatwork lesson about 10 days later, Louie was off on his training. At every step, he has proven to be smart both in terms of looks and mind - once or twice of showing Louie something new, and he's picked it up. It does sometimes work against us though & he realises that he can be a bit cheeky!!

Throughout February we had lots of showjumping lessons, over very small cross poles & planks, but showing Louie that there are no monsters about to jump out at us! He's still convinced today that there are, but he's getting over it much quicker!

February also saw our first competition together - a local dressage competition. The aim was simply to introduce Louie to the white dressage boards. We achieved this, and more... Louie brought home two rosettes!

Moving on a little bit (with plenty more showjumping & flatwork lessons going on), we'd begun to hack out in company, venturing on the road and off-road across fields and tracks.

Going from juggling a busy working life with a competition season in 2014, I was really enjoying taking time to enjoy my horse, and not worry about how many competitions I was doing. The progress we were making was all about us, and only us, we didn't (& still don't) need to mark our progress against anyone else. It is one of the most truthful statements that young horses really do develop and mature at completely different paces, so it's been important to react to Louie.

At the start of June, was Bramham, which I go to every year, and is my "home ground" (I used to hack around Bramham growing up!) I took the time just before to enter a couple of competitions at venues where we hadn't been for any lessons - somewhere different for Louie & get used to working. He then had a couple of weeks off working for a rest.

We managed to get a late entry into a Prelim (not that we were ready for correct canter work!) but the experience is all we wanted, as well as entry into two tests at the end of May. Doing two tests with a gap in between gave me a chance to see how Louie would behave standing on the wagon, being put on and off, and getting used to getting off doesn't mean he has always finished for the day!

He did well across all three tests, still quite tense, but listening and doing not much wrong. Really couldn't have asked more of him. So off he toddled and enjoyed his break...

Towards the end of June, he was back in work, and now it was time to get Louie relaxing over his back and working through much more. We also continued with our showjumping lessons to chip away at Louie's suspicions over coloured poles.

In July, I went to Spain for three weeks, so Louie had a couple of weeks on holiday at the yard I'd bought him from.

Unfortunately, at the start of August, Louie wasn't schooling as he had been on the right rein - throwing himself to the left. I suspected it was an evasion, but as it came out of the blue, I had everything checked out with the physio, vets and his teeth. Thankfully, there was no issue, but it meant Louie had learnt a little evasion to work. A couple of weeks of lunging and concentrated schooling, and we've not seen the issue since!

This led us to September, where we entered another local dressage, had a couple of flatwork lessons and two great showjumping lessons!

The dressage test went well, and you can read it all here. We also recently did a showjumping update, that can be seen here.

This month so far, we've been out at dressage again - Louie was exceptional & I've added a post about it here.

Today will be exactly nine months together - and we've finished with a great flatwork lesson. The aim is now to build on our canter work, bring the relaxing balance to the pace that he has developed in his trot & walk.

We will continue to go to local competitions throughout the winter, as well as continuing with our lessons, and we'll be sure to keep you up to date.

To finish off, here a direct comparison of Louie in our first two weeks, and again just a couple of weeks ago. I'm really pleased with how he has developed, grown and strengthened. He's definitely one for the future & I'm confident I've made the right decision to take my time with him for the better horse in the long run....& even with that said, we've had a FANTASTIC nine months together! & here's to hopefully many more!!

The start of our time together - 26 January...
... & then again in mid-September.

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