Introducing Bob (new horse!)

A lot has changed since the last time I wrote on this blog – I have now officially moved back home from Manchester, begun learning to drive and I’ve also started a new job, which so far I am really enjoying.

I have also been doing a lot of horse riding: things are really starting to come together with it now and I am becoming increasingly excited about my future with horses.

One thing that I want to avoid now that I am back home is riding the same horses all of the time. Whilst I am continually making progress with Dusty, in order to keep improving I really need to be gaining experience with a variety of different horses.

A few weeks ago I began searching for a potential horse to part loan… so, allow me to introduce Bob.

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He is a Welsh cob cross standing at 14.2hh and is probably about nine, although his exact age isn’t actually known.

I am very fortunate that he is actually kept at a yard I know well (the same yard where Flash, Buddy and Leon live) where there are lots of friendly people who I can ride out with and go to for advice.

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I have only ridden Bob four times so far and am still getting to know him, but I thought that I would talk a little about what he is like and how I am adjusting.

Due to his owner’s pregnancy, he has only been doing light hacking for the past few months and is fairly overweight at the moment. Unfortunately as a result of this, his actual saddle doesn’t fit him so I am having to exercise him in the one pictured below… I guess it is sort of like a bareback pad, only with a bit more support (and stirrups of course). It isn’t particularly comfortable and does tend to slip (we had a funny incident with that the other day where I had to do a quick dismount) but I suppose the upside to this is that it will work wonders for my balance!

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He’s been well schooled and I am starting to be able to encourage him into an outline, but he’s very soft-mouthed and doesn’t like the reins being held too tightly. If my reins are too short on him he over-bends, which I really don’t like to see, but at the same time I can’t have them too long as this doesn’t get us anywhere! I’ve been working on finding the length that he is happy with.

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I was warned that he can spook quite badly: so far I haven’t really seen this side of him – we’ve had a few instances where he’s taken a look at things but apart from that he hasn’t done much except for spooking at some chickens near the school. However to be on the safe side I won’t hack him alone until I know him better.

He has been pretty fresh when schooling, and often when I sit to change my diagonal he tries to break into canter. This is something that I need to be prepared for so that I can prevent it from happening at all – at the moment it is sometimes taking me a good half circle before I can get him back to trot. Due to him being so soft-mouthed, this is where I am really having to ride with my seat more. I have found that a combination of small amounts of pressure with my thighs, a tiny bit of extra pressure on the reins and me talking to him keep him in a consistent rhythm.

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I am excited for the next few months with Bob: I think that I can learn a lot from him and it will be great to spend more time on such a friendly yard.

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Thanks for reading!

Training at Blandings

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.

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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!

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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.