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Friday, 11 January 2019

A story of making progress in showjumping

While browsing Twitter over the first weekend of January, after a busy few days back in the office, I came across a tweet that just for some reason really resonated well with me... It showed a dark bay horse jumping a small cross pole and plank, contrasted with a less calom looking photo from 6 months earlier after going over a pole on the ground.

I read the tweet and found out that the rider had managed to jump her horse over some small jumps without a dramatic scene on the landing side. For anyone who has followed min and Louie's journey, or even just taken a flick through our 2019 goals, will know that our showjumping is a work in progress. Perhaps that's why seeing progress like this struck me so much more than usual.

Here's the tweet I'm talking about...

I reached out to Kerry and after a couple of tweets back & forth, I realised there was a great opportunity to showcase that LOTS of people have "issues" with the smallest things. That we all have different ways to deal with then and improve on them. But that even small successes are worth the hardwork and sharing with the world for everyone to see. Who knows, it may even motivate others that are struggling in similar sitiuations...

I've welcomed Kerry onto the blog as a guest to share her story with Ice so far, so sit back and find out more about it! Their adventures are also on their Instagram and Twitter accounts, so if you don't already, make sure you head over and give them a follow.

Showjumping progress comes in all shapes, sizes and when you least expect it...

Having had a run of bad luck with horses since my show jumping shire retired, looking for my new equine partner proved a difficult task. Type in your budget with your preferences into the search criteria and the results return empty or indeed a very limited selection of horses for sale. Added to that, sadly a lot of advertisers do not tell the truth, so if it sounds too good to be true, it usually is!

I am not quite sure what attracted me to the advert for Ice as I was adamant I wanted something slightly older & one that had done a little so I could get back out competing. The advert was about four lines long with the words ‘green’ and ‘project’ in it with no ridden pictures, however he was local so I rang up and arranged a viewing.

Ice was a recently backed rising 4 year old & I tried him in an indoor school - I loved his attitude. He had a tendency to buck at the start going into canter, but it seemed nothing malice, & he settled after. At no point made me feel unsafe.

He was everything I wasn’t looking for so I made the obvious choice and bought him!

Ice is a Trakenher x Oldenberg so can be quite sharp - it took him at least 6 months to relax and start to trust me. Unfortunately though his default response when stressed or found something hard was to throw his head around and threaten to bronk but when I compared these to his growth spurts, I noticed patterns of when this response became worse. I would make adjustments to his work according to how he felt each time I rode.

Ice, being an opinionated horse, made it quite difficult to start knowing when it was just his own attitude causing the behaviour, or he was feeling uncomfortable due to his body changing shape.

Below is a picture of him taken when I first got him and 18 months later, so you can see the huge difference in him.

When Ice & Kerry's partmership began

After 18 months together

Roll on nearly two years of stopping, starting, bucking, bronking, tears and happiness... We have now ventured out to different venues for lessons, hacking, had overnight training stays, each trip out he improves and grows in confidence making me one very proud trainer of this young horse.

It hasn’t always been like this though...There have been moments when I doubted if we’d ever be able to leave the safety of home. 

You have to just ride what you have on that day, you cannot hold onto what happened yesterday or push for what you want tomorrow.  It is vital you move at the pace that is right for your individual horse, which can be VERY different to the pace that you wish to move at. We only cantered on one rein for three weeks as he would nearly buck me off on the other rein so we didn’t do it.  

He had an issue with the right rein, getting tense and would overreact to my leg aid, resulting in an explosion. Once I took the stress of not expecting anything on the right rein he relaxed and then I was able to just sneak a canter in every now and again with no overreaction.  

The same happened when we started jumping - a massive overreaction on landing. So we went back to just poles on the ground & stayed with just poles on the ground for months until he would happily go over them without any change in his was of going. It's a lot of hard work and there are times when you think you'll never get any better, but then you have a breakthough. 

He is a very sensitive horse and if something upsets him he holds all of his tension. He can’t be rushed - I’ve learnt this as bucking into canter had become a habit and took so long to get him out of it.

This is a video of him going over a tiny plank on the floor.

Eventually after lots of poles, raised poles, groundwork and heaps of patience thrown in too, we have started jumping! I am thrilled as he is relaxed, not rushing, balanced and generally enjoying his work. The perfect way for a horse...

It may have taken me a long time to get here but I am proud that Ice is now working with me and looking forward to the next stage in our training, both on the flat and over fences as he gets stronger and begins competing.

About our guest author

Kerry is based in Wiltshire and has a four-legged partner called Ice, an Trakenher x Oldenberg, & have been together almost two years. After experiencing the highs with her previous showjumping shire, as well as the lows, and just how unpredicatble equestrian sport is, Kerry took up triathalon. During an extended period out of the saddle, she found it a great way to maintain fitness, but as she sat back in it, realised she had improved so much without even riding! Towards the end of 2018, Kerry achieved qualification for the 2019 Weert ETU Standard Distance Triathlon European Championships, so she's a pretty dedicated sportswoman! Kerry is also kept busy looking after the Bentham Ryeland & Dorset Poll Pedigree Flocks and Ruby Red Devon suckler cows...so Ice isn't her only four-legged friend! You can read all about Kerry's adventures over on her blog.


  1. Thanks for the opportunity to be your guest blogger! Hope you enjoy the read

    1. It was fantastic to hear about your journey and find out more about you!! Really enjoying pulling it together with you :)

  2. Fantastic progress for Kerry and Ice!

    1. Brilliant story and what a lovely partnership that they had formed!

  3. Ah this is fantastic to see! I think everyone needs to share their bad moments as well as the good moments.


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