Training, training, training... so many pictures

So far I have only written about the competitions we have been to. I have had to catch up, so have been neglecting the training that we do. So before I tell you about our most recent event, I'll give a brief run down of the prep I do before an event.

Two orange ponies out for a bush ride
Dakota's training began late last year when she showed me what she was made of (i.e. she decided to be a XC machine). Since January I have been focusing on her flat work, making sure all the basics are there. That started with installing self carriage. After a lesson with my coach where I got picked on a lot and given lots of homework this has improved greatly.

We have been to dressage and show jumping training days to get her more comfortable in a pressured environment. She handles this very well and while she is a bit tense in dressage, it is always improving.

Dakota is very safety conscious! 
We had a clinic with an amazing coach from Melbourne, Manu (she has changed my life! Totally awesome!) Manu is my coaches coach so even though she only comes out to see us 3 times a year, I can continue working on things with my coach. Manu got me working on sitting the horses on their hocks to get more energy in all the paces. This was done on a square, half halting in the second part of the turn.

We really focussed on Dakota's downward transitions from canter to trot, as she looses her self carriage and rushes. We got a really sweet bouncy canter, and I have been continuing with the exercises and we now go straight back to self carriage after cantering.
Token dressage photo

Since starting lessons with Manu last year, my dressage scores have improved dramatically. She is a coach who can watch you ride for 30 seconds and then know exactly where your issues lie, even if you don't realise they are there. My lessons with Manu are fantastic for my confidence as she is so encouraging with her criticism, you don't ever feel like you are doing something wrong.

We have also done lots of XC training. We are very lucky in Perth to have a number of courses for us to hire. D is jumping everything at 65 confidently and we have been training over 80 fences with the occasional 95 technical fence thrown in. So far Dakota has met every fence with enthusiasm and is always looking for her next fence. She makes it very easy and it's hard to remember to not rush her. Having a horse at a higher grade means that fences look easy to me. It has proven to be really great because I am not doubting her, or myself but I also have to keep telling myself just because I feel ready, doesn't mean she is.

80cm is easy
One of my main focuses has been to build up her strength and confidence. So loads of grid work in show jumping, hill work and when the weather was a bit warmer, swimming at the beach!

We all know horse training is a gradual thing. My horses education and fitness is built up over time, and we don't really do anything different the week of an event. Dakota is worked 3 times a week and Coolie at least 5 times, time depending.
Scary boxes are easy

Logs into water are easy
Our weekly schedule involves bush riding, flat work and jumping. I like to have a lesson as often as I can, but my coach is very busy so I haven't had as many as I like. luckily I am very good at homework and my OH can give me a hand with some things.

First time jumping 90cm... that's a bit harder
The horses are regularly checked for any soreness in their backs and legs. I do a daily leg check when they get let out in the morning and I am pretty thorough when I am grooming them. If I find anything I am worried about I get the physio out for a massage (she does me too, we get a group discount), or we go for a visit at the vet. My horses health is a priority for me and I am paranoid about things.

This week has been a dud week for us. I have worked late a couple of nights in a row and with it getting dark so early, the horses have both had some time off. Hopefully things get back on track before next week!
Seriously good view between those ears


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