29 January 2009

Pointways ODE - Pre Training!

Did all the practising & downgrading pay off? Yes it did!

Took Flynn to Pointways for the ODE & decided to be brave & enter Pre Training.
The dressage was a disaster as he hadn't been ridden all week & was feeling more than a little "energetic"... We jogged in the walk, trotted too early & cantered in the 20m circle when we were supposed to only be trotting. We still managed reasonably ok marks though as the arena craft was pretty accurate & definitely helped by our 8 for the entry & centreline! Beautiful photos from Kate @ Geegee Photography. I have even just bought my first dressage photo!

Show Jumping was very difficult, you had to come down one line, pull on the handbrake, do a wheelie & then go back up next to that line in the other direction. We went clear, which I was very happy with as it was slippery & he has no back shoes. I just kept thinking "Show Hunter lines, Show Hunter lines!!" while I was going around the course, which definitely helped.

The Cross Country was great, he warmed up nicely, stood quietly in the start box & then slowly cantered up the hill. The only jump he really, really looked at was a white fence stuffed with fresh leafy tree branches, but after a bit of encouragement from 10 strides out, he actually jumped it really nicely. He jumped into the water jump from a canter with only the slightest hesitation, then straight over the trakhener & up the hill. The corner was decorated with more shrubbery on each side, making it quite a narrow space to jump through, but he just lined it up & went for it.

I have to admit I was quite surprised that he crossed the finish line & wasn't even as hot/sweaty as I thought he'd be. I had expected a bit of heavy breathing & white lather due to the steep hill & horrible stinking hot day, but nope, just a patch of sweat on his neck & that was it. Interestingly enough, I think he's fitter than I give him credit for. Whilst I was walking back from the finish line, I saw 2 different people fall off at the water and a few others have stops, so am even more proud that he jumped straight in, as the water is quite small & relatively well known for getting a few stops...

The dressage score had put us about 11th, and the clear Show Jumping and Cross Country put us into 3rd, so very proud of my pony!!

26 January 2009

XC Schooling with Karley & Mel

Decided it was a good idea to try & consolidate Flynn's new bravery (& mine!!) so joined in with Mel, and had a cross country lesson with Karley Windlebourne.

Flynn decided today was the day to show off his new elevated canter (think knees past his ears) & kept napping towards Cobs by throwing out his shoulder. After a few episodes of us not agreeing on the direction we were taking, I decided that enough was enough & gave him a smack on the shoulder. Well that got an unfavourable reaction from the ginga, so gave him another smack, which got a bigger less favourable reaction. So decided that it was prudent to win this one, so with a slightly smaller smack, we managed to complete the turn with no more acrobatics and carried on for the rest of the lsson with no more napping. I really think that I have been quite blissfully unaware of how his previous small episodes when ignored, can really turn into something a bit bigger now that he's older. Here is him jumping just after the little "battle of minds" as you can see he's still a bit pissy hehehe
So anyway, on with the lesson with the new & improved attitude from my orange sidekick.

Karley had us walking down the ramp into the water & just let him stand there & enjoy it, then we started jumping in & out. He did however have a bit of an oopsy at the start of the water jump practice where he biffed himself in to land on all 4s at the same time, however managed to scrape his leg down the wood of the water jump, which moved the boot up his leg & took off all the hair. He was fine however, so we carried on with the lesson. After a while, Flynn decided he was really happy with the water and ended up jumping in & out from where ever we asked him. We ended up doing a cool little combination with a jump 2 strides out from the water, dropping in, then jumping out. You could really tell when he was getting more confident and relaxed as the jumps in & out where getting tidier & tidier.

Jane got some lovely photos of Flynn & Cobs pawing the water, same leg, same expression, its definitely one for the wall!!

It was really interesting in that once Flynn's confidence in the water was 100% sorted, he really became quite the different horse out over the other jumps, he jumped everything I put him out, without hesitation. Karley ended up having us jumping a few open fences as well, which was a bit scarey but completely doable!
Pre Training Corner
Open Corner. Shame the grass is long, this jump is horribly massive!! I had 2 run outs that were rider inspired when I discovered I had left my brave undies at home! But once I changed my line into it, all of a sudden it wasn't a problem & we flew over it! Jumped it a couple more times to prove that it wasn't a fluke haha

Then it was on to another personal dislike of mine, drop fences! Luckily for me, Karley let me do the Pre Training one first, but after that was done, it was straight on to the training version. Geebers, I do not like drops! I managed to talk her out of me doing the open one though, which I was super relieved about!

Unfortunately during the lesson, Flynn managed to lose a shoe, however nobody picked up on it as he never once was ouchy or short. Karley said very nice things about Flynn, she even said he was quite bold, which had me laughing, I had to admit that was the first time anyone had ever called Flynn bold, so I am really starting to feel like I've done him a bit of a disservice with helping him be the whimp he was... I do have to wonder what he'd have been like with a bolder XC rider!

Unfortunately the next day Flynn had a back leg like an elephant, so we had to scratch from the registered Show Hunter out at Pukekohe.

25 January 2009

Pony Club Camp - Waerenga 11/12 January

Well I decided to continue Flynn's education and took him to PC camp to play with the kids. This year it was held at Waerenga, so meant that I could put more time into practicing the stream crossings that we had so many issues with at the Waerenga Horse Trial. We went down on the Friday night and straight away went out for a hack across the farm. Made Flynn jump into the empty water jump which he wasn't at all phased about. He was however still really not happy about crossing the creek. After about 10 trips back and forward through the creek, he eventually just started marching through them. About freaking time! Took him back in & gave him dinner.

The next morning we had games with the kids, we had a trotting race, onion & spoon race (no eggs), 3 legged race and barrel race. Was such a laugh watching all the adults trying their hand at the games (quite a few of our adult ride went down to camp this year which made it a whole heap of fun!!) Flynn decided he quite liked the barrel race & we came away with 2nd place behind a mentally zippy pony hehehe. I have to say, I do really love my horse, how many have one fast enough to be competitive with the ponies, yet still stand on the buckle dozing with horses galloping past them at the finish line?

We then had to the gamblers stakes. Only problem is that it was filled with scarey jumps, including a jump where the whole top pole was covered in balloons (about 12) & they were all waving in the wind. We were 2nd to go & I figured that that jump would be the one worth the most points, so decided to go straight at it first so that if I could get him over it, we'd then be able to do it a few times over the minute that we had. Naturally Flynn freaked out about the jump but after a few dithering seconds in front of it, realised that I wasn't going to back off & that jumping it was the only option. So he unceremoniously threw himself over it. Seems to be his new habit, if in doubt, do a really unstylish body hiff over it!

So we carried on with the course, jumped the single half barrel on its side, the line of 20L water containers, the tyres etc, etc & managed to do a great line of 3 jumps that were on the most extreme angle possible whilst still being able to not hit the jumps stands. The last jump of this line just happened to be the balloons which was handy. Then the 10second bell rang, so we went down the line one more time, with the balloon jump last. Only problem is that by this stage after jumping it a few times, Flynn was pretty lazy & took it out with his back legs, knocking the pole off & popping every balloon bar 2. Sounded like fireworks going off, which didn't even worry him. In fact, out of the 30 odd horses, only 1 old boy had a spaz & even then it was over & done with in seconds. Only problem is that they had no replacement ballons & with me being 2nd to go, nobody else had to do the hard version of the balloon jump so everyone merrily sailed over it with no problems. I was proud that nobody could match my 3 jump line though hehehe. We ended up winning on 76 points, with the next person on 68.

Was so much fun & again, I was so proud of the big change in Flynn, he would never have jumped the balloon jump a year ago, he would have created a right song & dance & spent hours telling me all the reasons why he couldn't possibly jump it.

Then that night we took the horses out for a light XC schooling session, including some big jumps in the fence lines and practicing the empty water jump again. By the end of it, I had Flynn jumping the pre novice water combination, in over the upright jump in front, jumping into the water, out of the water & out over the last upright jump. He didn't stop at anything, the only thing that was holding us back at that point were my own nerves!

The next morning we got up & went for a nice bareback ride around the farm, had a few canters and jumped the gamblers stakes jumps again. I do like bareback riding, really should do more of it on Flynn as he really seems to enjoy it.

Then it was home time for some much needed sleep!

Christmas Time - Flynn has another break

As we were off to Masterton for 10 days, figured it would be good for Flynn to have another break. As he is now on 4 weekly shoeing, I had to get him shod before I went away at 3 weeks as I am now way too paranoid to let him go to 5 weeks! So had my grazing owner Cheryl feeding him every 2nd day for me. Figured he could go onto resticted rations while he was not being ridden!

Henderson Valley PC ODE 21st December

Entered Flynn into the Intro class at the Henderson Valley PC. To this date, we have never ever done a clear XC, with constant stops at water & anything ditchy. Figured it was time to start from the beginning & see if I can fix what I've broken by pushing him into doing Horse Trials before he was ready. Shame as he's such a brilliant jumper that I paid no attention to actually doing any homework on bravery etc & dealing with the scarey jumps at the baby levels. At least with intro I can be a lot braver too!

Did our dressage which was just lovely, he did a super test, very responsive & light, we came away with 3rd equal after the dressage.

Went clear SJing (as I'd bliddy well hope!!!) but did have a moment at the planks when he went to stop & then threw himself over them LOL

Then it was time for the XC.

He warmed up really nicely & confidently, which actually surprised me as he can put in a silly stop at his first presentation at an XC fence. They have a lovely brown jump covered in coloured hand prints that he took exception to at the warm up last time we were there a year ago, however he didn't even blink at it this time. Just goes to show he's really starting to get a lot more confident. Quite exciting really!
Anyway, we went into the XC paddock where he started napping a little, he wanted to go back to the other horses. When I wouldn't let him & gave him a tap with the whip, I was treated to a completely over the top reaction of a full height rear, complete with one leg delicately stretched out. So once he came down he got another smack & was driven forward to the start box. Funny how they can be so dramatic sometimes. Quietly wandered into the start box & stood quietly waiting to be counted down. Had to do a big pony club kick to get him going, think he was tired out after the slow motion acrobatic display LOL

Well I have to say, he gave me the BEST cross country ride that I have ever had on him. He was forward (yes, time to change the bit again, he wasn't so keen on listening at all between the jumps) & actually locked on to each jump & took me into them. He didn't spook or gawk at a single thing, didn't even hesitate to go down the hills or over the scarey bridge out the back, even though there were spectators on sitting on the jump next to the one we had to do. Water was an option, you could either do the bank complex next to it & stay dry, or go down the ramp into the water and out the other side. Decided since the day was definitely for practicing and getting bold, we did the water. What did surprise me however was the fact that he just charged on in to the water. Didn't want to slow down & was happy to just have a look as he was going. Trotted in like he'd been doing it all his life! I had the biggest grin on my face by the time we'd finished, shock horror, I'd actually just enjoyed the cross country part!!

Ended up second, which was a lovely end to a very sucessful day in the personal best department, I was so proud of my pony, he really felt like he was starting to get the hang of it all. I guess being 6 now means he's a big boy after all?

Farriers Visit

So John came out & shod Flynn, agreed that the toe was too long & lopped it all off! He said that Flynn does have slightly uneven feet & he'd been trying to even them up a little, but will try & do that whilst keeping the toes short at the same time. So onwards & upwards from here. Flynn is loving the break, nothing like sitting around doing nothing & still getting fed every day!

Vet - John Ewen

So I got the vet out to give Flynn a once over, got bloods done to check selenium, magnesium etc. Had a chat about the oats and the over the top spooking and he said every horse can have a different reaction to different things and to try him off the oats & see how he goes. I then mentioned how Flynn was extremely hard to get going & that the oats were to pep him up a little & that we'd had a decent crash at the SH on the weekend, so what was going on?

He did point out that altough the levels in Flynn's feet were spot on, he did say that the toes were way too long. He proved it by doing a flexion test and Flynn spazzing out as soon as he started prodding and poking around.

End prognosis was extremely sore shoulders, and extremely honest pony for trying to carry on like he was, when he was pretty much walking on his heels and overusing the wrong parts of his body. I was mortified, but as he pointed out, Flynn was only sitting at 5 weeks, wasn't even due for shoeing for another week and that a lot of people do it. Didn't help but we put him on bute for a week as the farrier couldn't get out earlier. Time for a mini break for the McFlynder!