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NSEA Jenna's March Blog - Looking On The Bright Side

March has been quite different from previous months for everyone. I was looking forward to riding Stitch at one-day events, side saddle, my first BE this year and riding Darcy and Cash at shows, but that might not happen now that we are on lockdown and our shows have been cancelled due to the coronavirus. Looking on the positive side, lockdown does mean no school and hopefully being able to see Dellas foal being born, who is due on the 1st of April! But there are also some cons, no more shows, I won't be able to see my friends and family for a while and the school work I've been set to do from home is quite a lot... I can't seem to concentrate as I'd rather be with the horses! I really hope this terrible virus is under control soon and no one else becomes infected and ill.

Before lockdown, I did manage to have a few lessons. I had a lesson with Amelia Bevan on Shirley and Emma Didlick’s horse Darcy. I practised my dressage test and started to think about a show for the intermediate classes. Amelia said I would enjoy the individual shows I could do in the intermediate class as I could show rein back, walk to canter and 3 loop serpentines. After the lesson, I had a ride on Cash and I worked on getting him long and low instead of being all tucked in and tight.  After lots of attempts, he finally realised what I meant and he really stretched over his back in walk, trot and canter!   

On the 6th I had a half side-saddle and half astride lesson with Amelia Bevan on Stitch and in the astride part of the lesson we had a massive breakthrough. I really concentrated on relaxing my knee and leg to stay in position and deeper into the saddle. Stitch can rush in the canter but as soon as I relaxed my legs his canter went really slow and balanced and really controlled and it felt amazing. This exercise then helped me in my side saddle and Amelia said my body was more still when he was cantering and he was relaxed, calm and balanced. Stitch also gave me a really active extended trot which is not usually natural or easy for him.

On 7th March we rode Snip and Magic for Mary out on a hack. Mary had some new Acavallo Opera stirrups and my mum was riding Snip and said that they felt good. I really wanted to try them so when we got back I asked if I could ride Snip in the menage briefly. My dream came true and I then got to have a jump on him. Snip used to be a showjumper before Mary bought him and he knew exactly what to do. Mum put the jump up and he locked on and cleared it, next minute it was 95cm and Snip made it feel like 60 cm. Snip is such a lovely horse, he's a bit spooky sometimes, but all the best ponies have quirks!

Emma and Shirley bought Cash and Darcy round for exercise. I rode Darcy in a double bridle as Amelia had advised this might suit us better. He was a really good boy and was very supple and listened to my leg much more. I rode Cash and warmed up by doing some long and low stretches again and he hadn't forgotten, he did it like a pro! We then did a little bit of jumping to finish and practised our show and my dressage test again.

On the 8th, I rode Stitch at our first ODE of the year and we entered the PC 90cm. We did an amazing dressage test and Stitch was a really good boy. I think it was the best dressage test we have done! The things I need to work on is the inside flexion on the left rein and the halt at the end but I was still really proud. The showjumping felt like the most amazing round I have ever done getting perfect strides and clear! My nan had travelled up to see me compete and she thought I looked really professional. Cross country was amazing, there were some tricky fences and some lines that were in the 1m. The course was still set up from the BE course the weekend before, so we jumped around our first BE 90 course technically! I was particularly impressed as Stitch went straight over the ditch like it wasn't even there and I was so proud of him. I was taking it slow as last time I did a hunter trial at Poplar Park I was way too fast, but then I ended up being 19 seconds too slow. I didn’t realise that we were allowed to wear watches so I couldn’t see the time - fingers crossed I will get one for my birthday!

Now that we are on lockdown, I have been researching different exercises to do with my ponies and I have tried three so far, bounces, poles laid out in a fan shape and skinny trot poles with changing distances to make the horse change their stride through the pole work exercise. Stitch found the bounce work quite easy on the right rein but found it more tricky on the left rein. Tess found the bounces easy on both reins but struggled to do a short distance between the bounce jumps. The poles in a fan shape was tricky for both of them. Stitch thought it would be easier to jump 3 poles at a time but that didn't work very well! Tess found the trot poles very easy but couldn't shorten her stride for the canter poles so kept breaking into trot halfway through. Stitch also found it hard to adjust and lengthen his trot stride but he was amazing at the canter poles and was very good at shortening and lengthening his canter strides.

I am very lucky to have my ponies at home so I can keep them ticking over and see them like normal. It just means we can't go to shows or have lessons. Hopefully, the coronavirus will go away and we can get back to normal soon.

Take care everyone and stay at home 

Jenna xx 

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