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NSEA Ella's January Blog - Winter Training

January has been a slightly quieter month due to the unfortunate outbreak of the EHV-1 virus however we’ve managed to fit in lots of training and I’m really pleased with how things are shaping up looking towards the season ahead!

We started the new year the right way with two great show jumping lessons with April and Happy as part of the U18 British Eventing training programme. Having trained and competed with the U18 program since I was 13, I’ve made many good friends and learned loads through it. It’s something I would definitely recommend to anyone looking to start out eventing- it’s hard to believe it's my final year this year!

We then spent the weekend at Wellington Riding for their BS show with all three horses. Sky jumped a very speedy round in the 1m to finish 2nd, followed by an unlucky pole in the 1.05m with what was otherwise the fastest time - really couldn’t complain though as it was his first pole in 7 rounds! Having ridden him since I was 12 years old and after having such a long time off, it’s amazing to have him back out having fun again. He’s now 18 and has been in the family since a 3 year old, he’s a very special horse! April jumped the Discovery and the 1.05m feeling amazing. It was the first time I’d really let her handbrake off in the jump off and we had an annoying pole in each but she was great. It was Happy’s turn the next day we jumped the Newcomers and both of our first Foxhunter together. A great round in the Newcomers was followed by a couple of poles in the Foxhunter where I let my nerves get the better of me a bit, but he felt amazing and I’m looking forward to getting some more experience round the bigger heights together.

Making the most of the last week of the Christmas holidays, we headed up to Valeview for two days training with Caroline Moore the next week. The first day both horses had brilliant show jumping lessons, with some very useful exercises focussing on rhythm and straightness. It was then very early to bed as Happy had a dressage lesson at 5.45am the next morning! After Happy telling me I was mad as he was tacked up at quarter past five in the morning, we had a very productive lesson which was very much worth the half-past four alarm, again working on straightness and how the principles we’d talked about the day before could be supported with good flatwork. Later that morning both horses had cross country lessons on Valeview’s amazing all-weather facility. It was the first time we’d cross country schooled since the end of last season and they both loved it, making some 3* level questions feel very easy!

Unfortunately, after such a brilliant start to the month, we heard the devastating news of the EHV-1 outbreak at Crofton Manor nearby. Although it wasn’t in our immediate vicinity we decided it was best to be cautious, and with most show centers around us closed, we had a quiet fortnight at home. My thoughts are very much with those affected and thankfully Crofton did an amazing job of containing the virus so, with everything reopening we were back out by the end of the month.

We had another trip up to Valeview, this time for the day which did mean another 4.30am alarm but Happy was brilliant and we had another great lesson, having a play with some trickier lines and some very useful cavaletti based exercises - not a bad way to spend my 18th birthday!

We had a very busy weekend to finish off the month, starting off at Felbridge combined training. Unfortunately, we didn’t manage to get an entry for April but she came along for an outing anyway and jumped brilliantly round the clear round. Happy did a very pleasing test followed by two good jumping rounds, just rolling a pole in the 1.10 and the 1.20 but he felt amazing!

Happy then had a dressage lesson on Sunday morning. We’ve been working carefully with our dentist recently to help improve Happy’s mouth conformation which has had a big impact on his flatwork. We’re very lucky that he also competes to a high level on the flat so we were very lucky to take Happy to his yard for a lesson and we had a brilliant time, really making a lot of progress. I am really grateful for all of Chris and Duncan’s help recently and I can’t wait to go back again!

We’ve had a very productive month overall with all the horses feeling brilliant. With the bulk of the winter training out of the way and goals set for the year ahead, I’m very much counting down the days until we can get back out eventing again. It’s looking like it's going to be a very exciting year!

Until next time,

Ella x

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