Today I travelled over to Blandings Farm in Suffolk with Flash and his owner, where we hired the facilities for the day and practised each of the three competition phases. We had visited Blandings previously a few months ago when we attended a competition, but today’s trip was very different as we could take as much time as we needed and there was no pressure to do everything perfectly.
The first thing that Flash’s owner did was to practise her dressage test – I don’t play much of a role in this phase so I sat at the side and took photographs, and set up the cones course next to the arena.
After the dressage practise was done I set up the camera, hopped on the carriage and we navigated the cones. My job here was to be the back-stepper to balance the carriage around the tight turns.
Flash becomes quite excitable in this phase so his owner was trying to encourage him to slow down and take it at a more steady pace – he managed this incredibly well today but we did have a couple of accidental canters!
Lastly we drove around some of the obstacles – again the aim here was to keep him steady. To begin with we just walked around the obstacles (a route had been planned for us in advance) and then progressed to trot. Flash became a little bit impatient at times and started bouncing, but for the majority of the time he behaved perfectly. His one issue is with upward slopes – it is easier for him to go faster up them and he has tendency to leap forwards into a very fast canter – being a strong horse it isn’t always easy for his owner to bring him back again…
Overall it was a good day and very beneficial to Flash’s training; having been helping with this horse since November and seeing him progress from his former crazy self to how he is now, I am aware of how far he has come and seeing his training has been very interesting for me.