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NSEA Ella's March Blog - A Month Of Two Halves

We started the month in good spirits, thrilled with how all four horses were feeling coming out of a tough winter and looking forwards to the season ahead.

The first day of March (and finally the first day of spring!!) was spent at Parwood BS with April and Sky. They both jumped amazingly with April finishing 4th in the 1m open and 5th in the 1.05. Sky took the win in the 1.05 and stepped back up to newcomers brilliantly finishing 3rd. It was a lovely day in the sunshine- made even better by coming back with a profit on the entry fees!

During the next week, Happy had a dressage lesson at Hickstead Showground. We have struggled a little getting Happy to relax on the flat in unfamiliar environments so we hired their dressage arenas to have a go at our tests for the coming weekend. We had a brilliant lesson and it was really beneficial to practice settling him in a different place. We then had a play around the all-weather cross country schooling facility for a bit of fun and had an amazing time with Happy making nothing of all the advanced lines!

Sadly the weather wasn’t kind to the team at Tweseldown so despite their best efforts it was abandoned and much to her disappointment April missed her party on Saturday. As originally intended we carried on to Felbridge unaffiliated dressage with Happy and Lexi. Lexi was perfectly behaved for her first outing for just under a year placing 2nd and 4th in her prelim tests in very big classes! She’s strengthened up massively after a winter of slow and steady work and has now started jumping and is feeling amazing which is really exciting. Happy did a novice and an elementary test finishing 6th in both. A couple of mistakes in each kept us out of the higher placings but I’m really pleased with the overall change in his way of going and how his attitude to his flatwork has changed recently.

The next week we were up to Valeview for two days training with Caroline Moore. We had really good lessons which definitely sharpened us up and we really enjoyed having a play with some more technical lines, setting us up for Swalcliffe BE at the weekend.

Unfortunately, after a late entry, April did not get off the waitlist for Swalciffe so we headed off early Sunday morning with Happy for the 100u18 after another brilliant dressage lesson the day before. The pre-event butterflies began as we arrived, along with some very heavy rain! After a very soggy course walk, we headed off to the dressage. I was thrilled with how Happy focused and was really pleased with the change in his attitude compared to last season. Being towards the end of the section the mud was nearly knee-deep by the time we got there so unfortunately he got a little stuck in it and dropped behind my leg for quite a harsh mark but I was really pleased overall. The rain kept coming and he jumped amazingly in some very testing conditions for a fab double clear which left us 10th against some very experienced horses, it’s easy to forget he only has a season’s eventing experience!

Sadly, after such a great start, I was gutted with the announcement of the indefinite cancellation of BE fixtures the next day due to the coronavirus pandemic. Completely the right decision in terms of fighting this awful virus but still very disappointing after a tough, wet winter and with all the horses feeling so good and ready to tackle the season!

A very strange week followed with the closing of schools and the cancellation of all external exams meaning I have officially left school (mad…!) but we were able to squeeze in one more outing for a dressage lesson with April and Happy before the complete lockdown was announced. April had a blast having a crack at some harder lateral movements and nailing her first attempt at travers and half pass and Happy was amazing, constantly improving starting to unlock some of his very expressive mediums!

Sadly, it looks like this will be our last outing for a while with the announcement of complete lockdown. Riding or not is a personal decision in these difficult times and I’ve decided the best thing for my horses is to keep them ticking over for now so we’re keeping on going with the training. We’ve even found a way of having a virtual dressage lesson using the app Zoom which is amazing! So we’re making the most of all our new spare time to hopefully come out even better in the future as well as getting on top of a long list of jobs as we’re very lucky to have the horses at home. Everything crossed we can get back out competing sooner rather than later but for now, we are keeping busy at home and are hugely grateful for all the amazing key workers working tirelessly to look after us all and beat this virus!

Until next time and hoping everyone stays safe,

Ella x

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