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Thursday, 12 January 2017

2017: The Next Chapter

Today is two years since mine & Louie's partnership started. I was so excited to get Louie home and begin our adventure together. We've had a blast so far, & can't wait to see where the next 12 months will lead to!

Louie is my first young horse, & I jumped in with two feet, taking on a freshly-back three year old, who was ready to start learning about life. In some ways this was quite daunting when I thought about how I would find the time to juggle Louie, a full time job & the rest of life's demands, but ultimately I couldn't wait to find out what the future had in store for us.

The story so far...

I published a post in October 2015, detailing our journey so far & you can take a look through our monthly round up posts to see everything we have been up to in between. I don't want this post to focus on the past, but it has been a fantastically enjoyable learning curve, and one in which I would do again in heartbeat. Louie is full of life, sass & cheek, and I ADORE him for it - being around or riding a horse that I feel is my horse of a lifetime, who is such a genuine person, wants to please, but still likes to have a laugh & enjoy life.

My biggest learning is to take things at Louie's pace - he was a very weak three year old, who couldn't really figure out how to control his power engine, wasn't aware he had to co-ordinate four legs in canter, and couldn't fathom why you would want to go over anything coloured. My patience is something that will remain - I am in no rush to achieve anything. My main goal is to have fun & enjoy him, from spending time grooming to competing.

What's our plans in 2017?

Well, as the above says, we will take things as they come, but it's always good to have direction, focus and set yourself goals & objectives.

In 2017, we're aiming for:
  • Become established at Prelim level dressage, and nearer the end of the year, look to affiliate to British Dressage, while stepping up to Novice unaffiliated
  • Take part in more riding club activities, including competitions, training & team activities, as well as unmounted activities too
  • Have a go at a few more unaffiliated hunter trials or one day events
  • Affiliate to British Showjumping Club & do more showjumping competitions towards the end of the year
  • Have fun!!

What are we doing right now?

Winter training is all go. I had hoped to be able to give Louie a long break at the end of 2016, however, his 4-week break in July while I was on holiday showed me that he enjoys a short break, but soon wants to be back in work, doing a job. So I give him more frequent, shorter breaks, which suits him down the ground - every 4-6 weeks, he has a week off. 

Without a long break in place, we're enjoying lots of lovely long hacks through the countryside on weekends. Unless we go on a very quick hack, our ride tend to be 8-9 miles, and mostly just at walk - I'm a big believer in long & slow is good for their general fitness.

In the arena, we are working at being obsessed with length - length of neck, length of shoulder, length of frame and length of stride. It's a new way for Louie to go, but he is finding it gradually easier every time, and last week felt like putty while schooling after work, he was SO easy.

In terms of jumping, I'm a big believer on the basics. Louie isn't put off by the height of a fence (& I don't get wobbly until about 95cm). So we're working on balance, straightness, my position, and remembering to keep my leg on, even when I don't see that stride (a habit I have which I hate!)
I used to be so apprehensive about jumping, but I love jumping Louie - he's so quick and adjustable, and is great at getting out of any stride when I really get it wrong. Our showjumping has been a hard working journey & it is now paying dividends the time we took (with Philippa) to make sure we educated him properly - he LOVES to jump now!!

What's next?

We've a couple of competitions planned in the next 4-6 weeks, as well as doing our usual training. I've also enrolled on unmounted showjumping training, with the first session taking place last Saturday (7th) and addressing the fundamentals of showjumping - perfect for me! The next ones are 'Problem Solving' & 'The Competition Day' so look out as to how we found them!

We hope you've enjoyed our journey and look forward to seeing how we get on throughout 2017 & beyond!

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