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NSEA Ella's February Blog - The Final Countdown!

Despite spending most of a very soggy February soaked to the skin we've had a very productive month making some final preparations ready for the beginning of the event season!

February started at Wellington British Showjumping with Happy and Sky. Sky jumped two super speedy double clears to finish 3rd in the 1m open and 2nd in the 1.05m amateur class feeling great. He also picked up a second-round qualification for the 1.05m which is very exciting as I’m hoping to jump him at the National Amateur Championships at Aintree in the winter. Happy just jumped the Newcomers with 2 down in the jump-off where he got a little too enthusiastic towards the end of the track but still felt great!

The next day we had good fun with April and Happy out cross country schooling on grass for the first time this year at Tweseldown. Despite some very fresh horses, I had two fab lessons with the South East U18s with all three of us brushing off some winter cobwebs getting our eyes back in over some tricky line. We had a great time!

The next week was dressage bootcamp time for Happy - we’d been making huge progress with our flatwork, however, I was still struggling to get through to him enough to achieve complete relaxation so I was lucky enough to be able to send him to my instructors down the road for a couple of days of intensive sessions! We had a lesson on the weekend when we went to pick him up and Duncan had done an amazing job with him, getting over some of the little problems we’d been having and allowing us to start working on the finer details. I was thrilled with our lesson on Saturday and looking forwards to cracking on with the dressage.

After April’s party being rained off by storm Chiara, we were back for another dressage lesson with Happy on the Tuesday. I spent the majority of the lesson with no stirrups on the lunge and found it really beneficial to be able to focus entirely on my position which helped Happy hugely - although I couldn’t really walk the next day! It was great being able to focus on the basics and I really appreciated the positive impact this had on Happy’s overall way of going.

Half term started with yet more rain and unfortunately storm Dennis called off our plans to go cross country schooling. We did, however, manage to get to Felbridge with April and Sky on Tuesday to compete in our Pony Club team showjumping competition. Despite being soaked to the skin (again!) both horses jumped brilliant double clears for Sky to win the class by 6 seconds, helping the team to 1st and April was 5th individually, helping the team to 3rd.

After a quiet day at home, we headed up to Valeview for two days training with Caroline Moore. Happy had a show jumping lesson on the first day. It was great to have a proper jump after a couple of weeks focussing on flatwork however he definitely found it very exciting! After working on establishing a more consistent rhythm and having a play with some more technical lines he had another brilliant lesson on Friday morning reinforcing what we’d learnt the day before and he was great. April was absolutely incredible, having a play with some technical cross country lines and some very skinny arrowheads (in the video) as well as some bigger showjumping tracks. She then had a dressage lesson on Friday morning which was very beneficial to tie up what we’d been working on over the winter. Friday was a very early morning with a 4am alarm and April’s dressage lesson at 5.15am and Happy’s jumping at 6am - I did wonder whether I was slightly mad when we were packed up and ready to go home by 7.30am!

To finish off a busy half term we then took Sky to the SEEL arena eventing championships at Petley. He jumped brilliantly, with a speedy clear in the 1m leaving us in 3rd. He then had a go at his first 1.10m since his injury, jumping amazingly. Unfortunately, I was having far too much fun and managed to sail straight past the penultimate but can’t complain considering we thought he may never jump again after his injury, he’s just so special!

The next day we went to Hickstead with April. She was in need of a gallop and having missed her cross country schooling session due to the rain, we went to test out the new arena for a bit of fun and fitness work! It’s an amazing facility and we had an amazing time, despite getting soaked yet again…

To finish off February, we headed back to Duncan’s for a dressage lesson. Having had two weeks to practice what we’d learnt, I was thrilled with the progress we’d made, Happy felt like a different horse and hugely exciting for the upcoming season. I can’t thank Duncan enough for the improvement in both Happy and I, after working with him for such a short time, I’m looking forwards to putting it all into practice out eventing very soon!

With the summer in sight and all three horses feeling incredible I’m feeling very optimistic for the coming season. I feel like all our winter training is starting to pay off and we’ve worked as hard as we can the last few months so I’m looking forwards to putting it into practice. We’ve got plenty of exciting things to look forwards to, now we just need to hope the weather’s kind to us over the next couple of weeks - I’m sure everyone’s had enough of this weather!

Until next time,

Ella x

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