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Jenna's October Blog - Conquering Ditches

October has been a very enjoyable month and again pretty busy, especially during the school holidays. I have had two lessons with BHS Accredited Coach Claire Pettitt which was really helpful and we worked on the flat with Stitch and then did some jumping. Claire has taught me to remain a lot more upright when jumping so that I can recover more quickly after a jump and be ready for the second part of a double or the next fence. It is funny as at one point I was thinking that I needed to fold more but actually, now the jumps are bigger and more technical I need to be more upright to be ready for the next fence whilst in the air over the last fence! We also did some grid work with Stitch, which really made us think about lengthening and shortening strides. 

On the 13th of October, I rode Stitch at Stratford Hills as there was a Pony Club Hunter Trial. Rebekah Nicholson and I rode in the 85 cm pairs class on Stitch and Misty. They are both grey Connemara ponies and now seem to be very much in love since doing the pairs class together!  We came 7th out of 24 pairs, Stitch went clear but unfortunately when we were jumping a dress fence together, I didn't leave enough room for Misty to jump next to me and she ran out to the side. I also rode in my first 90 cm class at Stratford Hills, which was only our second attempt at a 90 cm course. Unfortunately, we had a stop at the ditch, which is something Stitch is very suspicious of and I knew this was something we needed to practice.

The following weekend, it was my friend Florence Mattock's birthday party and her mum had organised a party schooling at Stratford Hills which was super handy. It was a lovely sunny day and Stitch really did well and didn't stop once at the ditch! He really felt much more confident over the ditch and now I am finally feeling more confident jumping scary ditches too! After the session, we were all invited to stay for a birthday sleepover, which was great, but didn't involve much sleeping!

On the 23rd of October during the school holidays, I took Stitch to a group lesson with the Olympic Rider Jeanette Brakewell at Easton and Otley College. We got to jump a few times, but there was a horse that kept napping in the group, which took up a lot of Jeanette's time. The following day it was our last PC rally at Ickworth Park and it was great to see everyone dressed up in Halloween outfits. Caroline Day was my instructor and in the morning we concentrated on flatwork, improving transitions, and keeping the rhythm steady in all 3 paces. At lunchtime, we really thought the rally would be cancelled as the rain was so heavy, however, somehow it managed to continue and, in the end, the rain stopped. We all practiced over the cross country course and Caroline helped again with ditches and jumping down steps. Caroline recognised that Stitch needed more experience stepping down off steps, rather than doing a leap and jumping off them. We took the time circling and slowly walking down off small banks and steps it really helped him understand there was no need to jump off. The same with water, he was happy jumping over a pole into the water, but not so confident just stepping down off a bank into the water.

On Sunday, I rode Stitch in our 3rd 90 cm cross country course at Poplar Park PC Hunter Trial.  Again this was my first time doing the 90 cm course at Poplar Park and I was so thrilled that we went clear!! The ditch was not a problem and we came 8th.  I was 15 seconds too fast, which is better than last year as I was always too slow! However, I now need to work on practicing judging our speed. Another brilliant part of this day was when I met Gracie Tyte (pony_nuts) who has 331k followers on Instagram and has a huge following on Youtube.  I couldn't believe it when she parked next to us, Gracie brought her horse Bella and then we asked for a photo and she was lovely enough to happily let me have a photo and a chat with her. She was really chatty and kind and was happy for me to share our photo in my KBIS blog. 

Finally, to finish off October I had a side-saddle lesson with Amelia Bevan. It was my first lesson since the Side Saddle Nationals in August.  Amelia has been busy at the Horse of the Year Show and it felt like ages since we had both been free for a lesson. Stitch was utterly amazing and we were practicing 3 loop serpentines in canter. He was so brilliant and Amelia said it was the best I have ever ridden, I must remember to keep my elbows close to my sides at all times though. It felt great being back on the side saddle. November is looking like it will be the start of some local NSEA events so I am looking forward to competing in them as well as some more lessons with Claire and Amelia.

Take care,

Jenna 

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