Sunday, 23 February 2014

Jedi Barefoot Update

I thought it was about time I post an update about the lovely Jedi's tootsies. It's been an interesting month of watching and worrying about the sensitivity he's experiencing on any one day. The structure of his hooves appears to have strengthened quite a bit, judging from these new pics, and the soles of all feet have been very busy peeling big chunks of dead sole.

I managed to take some pics as he was eating tonight, so only feet on ground at the moment, not any underneath photos at this stage. Just for interest's sake, he's now eating Hygain Ice with a small amount of lucerne chaff, 15g of MSM and one scoop of Equilibrium. They have a round bale of meadow hay in the paddock at the moment as they're in a sacrifice paddock for at least another couple of weeks to let the grass recover from our long hot dry summer, so he's on ad lib quality hay and it shows.

At the moment (as in, today!) he seems to be not too sensitive. I'm keeping a close eye on his 'footiness' with a couple of comps coming up in a month or so. But they're looking pretty good, as you'll see below:

NS Hind. You can see the old bruise above the little re-section that's working its way down. The foot isn't quite balanced yet, but the flare isn't as bad as before.

Same foot from the side showing a far more correct angle starting to happen. There is a clear ridge a couple of centimetres from the coronet band where the new hoof is growing down.

The hind feet from the back. The O/S hind is clearly still unbalanced with the outside heel higher but getting better. Both feet are much more correctly using the heels.

NS fore (forward while eating). Always the golden child of the four, looking very solid and balanced. The ridge halfway down is really clear and shows where the new hoof is growing in.

Same foot from the front. Interesting how the ring of new hoof lifts up on the inside, showing there was a bit of flare under that line.

NS fore (back while eating). Starting to look a lot better, heels coming up.

The re-section in that hoof is growing out and the seedy toe appears to be clearing up nicely. The flare is growing out well and the hoof above the ridge is tightening up really well.
So, onwards and upwards! Next comp is Canberra in three weeks, followed by Berrima the week after. I've decided to just stick with Intro for both, rather than push it with Jedi too quickly. No need to rush and I think he needs to build a lot more confidence before we make the leap (pun intended!) to Prelim at Albury. That's the plan!

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

'Charlotte Arms' and no, it's not a pub.

I am exhausted. Again! Manu Mclean came for a clinic yesterday and the day before and we were lucky to get a private and a shared lesson. And she made me work!! And poor little Jedi, who was a bit out there for both days. Very, very tense on the first day, then just tense yesterday!

Lesson 1....

Jedi was very short and choppy and a bit reactive. It was quite humid but not windy so I wondered whether his feet were a little sensitive after the trim he got on Sunday. Unfortunately, it stormed and poured during the trimming so no pics, sorry!

Manu had a chat with me about Lucinda's clinic and what she calls 'Lucinda arms'. Lucinda has a great technique for when you're riding a coffin or a trakehener or something equally demanding and the horse wants to really get his head down and look in that ditch (or agapanthus in Jedi's case), so you let the reins run through your fingers to allow him. But then you need steering as his head snaps back up to jump! So rather than lose your cool, you just open your hands wide and take up some of the slack with that big angle. Genius.

Then Manu started talking about 'Charlotte arms'. Manu is a great fan of Charlotte Dujardin (Olympic golden godess and generally considered one of the ones responsible for the resurgence in classical dressage training, along with her coach and sidekick Carl Hester) and really likes the way she holds her arms and hands. See this video for a good idea of what she does:

So, reins shorter, hands very forward, arms quite straight and don't pull back. The rule for Jedi, being not great on the contact at this point, and "quite tricky" was if I felt like I wanted to pull, widen my hands. The second part to 'Charlotte arms' is rather than leaning back to slow or stop, try sucking in my core just below my sternum. The result was quite impressive. Manu came up and held my rein to demonstrate as she pulled like Jedi would. Using 'Charlotte arms' I was pulled into the saddle. Without, I was just pulled forward. Amazeballs. But it's really hard work to start with!!

It was quite a technical lesson and I came out of it both a little overwhelmed and happy with the results. I really, really need to lose weight, though! I am getting there slowly, but I feel quite unwieldy and Jedi isn't a big horse. My fitness isn't actually too bad but yes, poor little dude could do without carrying ten extra kilos!

The big standouts were:
  1. Push his head down with my legs, don't pull. Whenever I felt him ignoring my leg give him a pony club kick or trot him (if we're walking). There is nothing to be gained by continually nagging him with my leg. Self-carriage is the goal.
  2. Push him til he's 'towing me forward'. Jedi has a tendency to duck behind the bit and avoid the contact, which leaves me with nothing to work with, then he chucks his head around when I'm trying to slow him. I had to keep kicking until it was all too messy and quick but only to start. Within about ten minutes he was doing a really nice long active trot and I had a consistent, solid contact. This will help with our crappy canter transitions too.
  3. Use Lucinda's idea of 'plugging in'. Lucinda talks about using your two seat bones and your pelvic bone like the plugs of an electrical socket and imagining plugging in to the saddle. It's quite a nice image and does help with that seat stability.

The next day was quite a different lesson and focused more on Jedi. He was quite spooky as it was windy and this lesson was a private so he was on his own. Manu had me go through the '5 repetitions' training in the corners where he was really freaking out:
  1. First walk through is LINE. His front legs must remain on the line I choose (ie as close as possible to the edge of the arena including deep in the corner). If he moves off that line I halt and move his shoulders over onto the line, then walk forward. This is done at a very controlled, slow walk.
  2. OBEDIENCE. He must maintain the line, though it can be a little stop/start. There must be a willingness to maintain the line.
  3. RHYTHM. He must walk on the line in the same rhythm, no slowing or speeding up at all.
  4. STRAIGHTNESS. His poll through to his quarters must be straight. No bending the neck or three track work.
  5. CONTACT. He must maintain a steady contact with no ducking above or behind the bit.
If there is a failure to attain the goal during that repetition, do it again until that goal is met. Ie, if he was obedient but then kept changing his rhythm, we need to do it again until he has rhythm. It was amazing how effective it was. Time-consuming, yes. But once we'd done the five reps he was absolutely solid in each corner. I asked Manu if I would need to do this every time I rode in that arena and she said to test him each time. He may come in at level 4 or 5 some days and 1 other days. Just have to be aware of it.

We worked on a great exercise involving using indirect turns across the diagonal (this was great because it is effectively the loop in the Prelim 1 eventing test). Get into a nice trot (that took a few minutes!), then come around the corner, start towards X (from H, say) and aim for a point 5m before X where you start to push your inside thigh across to move him away and change the bend. In this case it would be starting on the right rein with the idea of doing a loop through X and back to K - two changes of bend required. Left thigh pushes over and he starts to bend to the left. Ride through the turn and aim for a couple of metres before K. 5m before K start pushing with the right thigh to turn him right and he will change the bend, as you change your diagonal. By the time you hit K you've got a lovely bend to the right ready for that corner, and right in front of the judge's car! Tears of joy sprout from the judge's eyes!

It was a lovely exercise and after a few repetitions Jedi felt quite gooey and supple. Really nice. Manu has commented both this time and the last time she saw us that his hamstrings are quite tight so I'm looking into some massage techniques that might help. We did some leg yields (really nice ones apparently!) and she said that would help too.

The last exercise was canter. Manu kept reiterating that, whenever I wanted to, or felt I had to, change something, whether it be his way of going, the gait, the speed or the tempo, I needed to change my body first. This was a real lightbulb moment but really hard to do. Once I started being more aware of that Jedi became a lot more relaxed and switched on. It's exhausting though. At least, for now!

The canter was no different. "Canter your body", she says, so I do and he canters. He still runs a little but a lot less than usual. And he was always on the right leg. Gold. Then, "slow your canter bum" and I did, and he slowed. He found it hard and broke a few times but was quite unfazed and just picked up the canter again when asked. He used to run and chuck his head and get fizzy, but with the 'use your body' technique he started to understand. I guess it gives him a lot more clues and warning. All good things!

Both Jedi and I were pooped but I was really pleased with him. For a green ex-racehorse with only a couple of months' work under his belt I think he's doing super. He tries very hard and a lot of things have changed for him lately! I'm hoping the choppy striding (it was noticeable in the canter too) will fade away with a bit of time for his hooves to recover from the trim. I know Kirsten is leaving more wall than she normally would but I wonder if we need to leave even more. Only time and experience will tell! Luckily, we've got just under a month til Canberra for the wall to grow in. Pics next time, I promise!

Saturday, 15 February 2014

Lucinda Green hits Canberra

What an exhilarating, full-on, exhausting, amazing and sometimes dream-like couple of days I've just had. I have just finished my first ever Lucinda Green clinic and it certainly lived up to the hype! For starters, I got to meet and hang out with an absolute hero of mine, a rider I absolutely adored (and still do!) as a Pony Clubber on my little QH cross, and who I love hearing on my Burghley and Badminton DVDs. I couldn't believe I was breathing the same air, frankly!

But, when I got over my excitement (though it did flood back at various times during the clinic!), I learned an incredible amount in a way that I really enjoyed. As did everyone else I spoke with, young and, ahem, older. Lucinda, it turns out, is a seriously generous and encouraging human being who never once spoke down to anyone and treated everyone the same, whether they were sitting on a 1* horse or a green ex-racehorse.. And the riders responded in kind, really making an effort to lsoak up everything Lucinda had to offer in a way I haven't seen much before.

It was a very tiring couple of days - riding and organising a clinic is a ridiculous thing to do! Luckily, I had the great guys from the NCHTA providing the logistics like water, snacks and the equipment, so it was less stressful than it could have been.

Jedi was super and behaved just beautifully. After Robyn the bodyworker gave him the once over the Monday after Wallaby Hill, she said he was quite sore around the girth area where the buckles of the H girth sit. I tried a normal short elasticated girth on him for the first day of the clinic (first ride since Wallaby Hill!) and he was really happy in it. No tension or humpiness at all. Interesting!

Deep breath, let's dive into everything I learned (and retained long enough to write it down!) from Lucinda Green....

Lucinda has a strong belief that 'modern eventers' are over-controlled - she used the word 'dominated'. She thinks there is a real balancing act between control over all aspects of the horse's speed and direction, and the horse's own natural brilliant instincts to get over the jumps safely. She thinks we're being taught to get things perfect, get the stride right, set the horse up so he just has to lift his legs up, basically. But when things come unstuck and we make a mistake the horse has no skills to get himself and us out of trouble. We essentially leave him out to dry and Lucinda believes that is a big reason why eventing has seen the spate of fatal falls in the last ten to fifteen years. Horses are simply over-controlled and can't get themselves out of trouble when it goes wrong. So they crash.

Lucinda in full flight

She also wants to get us sitting back a hell of a lot more coming into the jump. Not interfering, just supporting and waiting for the jump to come. Letting the horse get his stride, not pushing, letting him 'tow' us into the jump - but not rush. We practiced 'bombing' (as she called it) into two fences (showjumps on the first day) and letting the horse meet the fence as he wanted. It was hard not to see a good stride and push/hold for it, but soon we were all trusting our horses and doing well.

I though I'd got it and was happily bombing away, sitting back much more than normal, letting Jedi work it out, then we nearly came a cropper and I got a good yelling at from Lucinda. Jedi just stood off and nearly landed in the middle of the oxer. Lucinda just kept jacking them up so we were jumping a good 90cm and it was not a nice moment. I realised on reflection that I had not sat up and kept my legs on and Jedi had lost his nerve and took a blind leap. Lucinda talks about feeling like your horse is in a tube between your legs and his eyeballs are attached by strings to your ankles. I didn't feel the tube and that mucked him up.

Lucinda started delving more into this idea of focusing your horse on the fence, how important it is with the technicality of the jumps we now face (skinnies, triple brushes, curving lines to arrowheads) to get the horse's eye on the fence early. She had set up what we thought were the most impossible lines - a wide apex and a bounce but not to be jumped that way. The idea was to jump one of the apex poles straight on then on to one part of the bounce, more than a 45 degree angle! It got a bit messy, but we all got the hang of it surprisingly quickly.
The set up. The idea is to jump the green/white on the right, then the black/white on the right. And vice versa.

An idea of the angle.
 Next minute, Lucinda had set up a little skinny (1.2m wide) for us to jump a few strides before the double. We were astounded how easily how horses all  the horses did it. No guiding poles, no walking over it on the ground, just getting on and doing it. Interesting....
Lucinda with one of the skinnies behind her

We put it all together in a bit of a course, practicing these pretty basic ideas of sitting up, holding, putting them in the tube, not interfering with the horse's ability to get over the jump the way he wants to. It was amazing - we were jumping pretty damn big, the biggest  most of us had jumped on our green horses, that's for sure! It was so much fun and Lucinda was so confidence-inspiring.

It's funny but I only really started to get it when I watched the two other groups. It's hard to assimilate the information while your horse is doing it at the same time, so I was much more clear on what Lucinda was getting at when I heard it two more times!

She is also a big believer in trying out different bits. This was a bit alien to me as I had always thought it was an issue with my training if my horse was not as responsive as he could be, especially cross country. But Lucinda sees bitting as a helpful tool, and thinks that a horse's personality and anatomy play a huge part in their ability to understand and obey the stop and turn aids. She was trying out bits on a couple of the horses with some positive outcomes.

Day two was really exciting after the day before. After a bit of a warm up and a bomb over some simple jumps we headed to the water straight up, for a 'play'. Lucinda had set up some white blocks at the edge of the water and, after a bit of a paddle, she sent us up the smallest bank at a walk. This was the first time most of us had even considered you could walk up a 70cm step from the water. Lucinda had us make sure the horses walked up the bank, on a loose rein (hands apart just in case they tried to piss off) but letting the horse work it out and scramble up completely on his own terms. She was adamant that the more we hold and push the more freaked out the horse will become, especially if he makes a mistake and leaves a leg. She said a horse that gets scared jumping up steps/banks is very difficult to re-train. Better not to set that up in the first place.

Anna going up the little bank.

Jedi was super-cool and found the whole thing quite ok. We were soon jumping out over the blocks  quite confidently, then halting in the middle of the water, turning left and trotting up the step then pushing on over the roll top a couple of strides away. Then jumping in over the blocks, through the water and up over a little roll top, up the little row of steps, halt at the top, turn around and come down at walk (Lucinda's emphasis). Then cantering over the roll top and down the drop into the water, out over the blocks. This is the playing Lucinda was talking about. Just setting up challenges, making sure the building blocks are solid before stepping up the difficulty. But she pushed our young ones pretty hard and they rose to the challenge. One of the mums of the girls in the last group said, 'they'd never let us do this at Pony Club!' And she's right - we really don't push ourselves and our horses like this as much as we probably could.
Maddy going over the blocks into the water.
On to the ditch. A very similar approach - walk over the ditch. The horse must be allowed to lower his head to look, as much as he wants. But he must not step back or try to piss off sideways. Hands wide to keep control and a good push or kick to keep him thinking of going over it. Lucinda was very disapproving of hitting the horse when he's looking at a new obstacle and working it out. She says it's completely counter-productive and makes horses frightened. This is quite different to a dirty stop at a straight-forward fence. That earns a fat smack.

Within a short time Lucinda had set up first one, then two skinnies - the same ones from the day before, one on either side of the ditch. This made a fun skinny-ditch-skinny combo that the horses had a bit of a challenge getting over. Jedi went really well. From over-jumping the ditch to comfortably jumping the skinnies and the ditch literally took two repetitions and no more. Other horses had more issues, including a lovely big showjumper who simply down tools and refused to move whenever things got a bit hard!

Lucinda had us link together a number of jumps to make a course for ourselves, getting us to practice putting our horse in the tube, letting them work out the different jumps. I made another mistake by not riding properly at a wall with a big drop on the other side and Jedi put in an enormous jump that nearly got me off. Lesson learned. Again. Sorry Jedi!

It was a truly thrilling lesson and we were fanging over some serious jumps for a horse that's only been jumping for a couple of months. I now wear spurs and Jedi wears a martingale on his breastplate, both of which improved our way of going. My confidence is sky-high after my lessons and we're on track for another Intro start at Canberra, then a shot at Prelim at Berrima the following weekend. Bloody wicked.

I was pleasantly surprised by Lucinda. Yes, she's opinionated and sure of herself, but she is absolutely not arrogant or belittling as many coaches at the top of the international game can be. She is quite self-deprecating, very funny and quite interested in us all. I loved ferrying her around and having funny conversations with her one on one. What a privilege. She said one thing that I thought was very interesting - we were talking about coaches who've come to Canberra in the last few years and the prevalence of coaches who teach us to be in 2-point seat coming into jumps, to be essentially with the horse's movement. She believes this is dangerous for 99% of riders, especially female riders and is a style of riding only advocated by men. Interesting huh? We women are not physiologically as capable of resisting the forward momentum of the horse if he were to chuck in a dirty stop or catch a leg, whereas men are stronger in leg and upper body and have more chance of hanging on.

So interesting. And really affirming. I found I already did a lot of what Lucinda teaches but was not conscious of it or why it works. This makes it easy for me to be convinced to abandon it. Not anymore. Back to my tried and true way of riding - sit in the saddle, leave the horse to do the jump, give him his head and neck whenever he needs it, be prepared for anything, keep the horse in front of my leg so when I give him a kick he always goes. Sounds easy, right?

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Wallaby Hill

Wow, what an amazing weekend was had at Wallaby Hill Farm! I was quite nervous when I set off at 7:15am on Saturday morning, having got up pre-dawn to plait poor Jedi up. He is crap to plait up, it turns out, and insisted on moving and doing some aggressive hay removal from the net just to keep me on my toes. He has a thin little mane too so his forelock looked like a rat's tail. Charming.

Never mind. He looked pretty handsome really! Crap, forgot to take a pic! Next time....

The drive was pretty uneventful and I arrived only slightly later than I planned. I had been given a pretty nice draw - 10:30 for dressage and 12:00 for showjumping as I was judging from 1:00pm to 4:00pm. A long day!! And I was really nervous by the time I arrived - first event since I stacked off Tux last year at Canberra, and first event for a green ex-racehorse!

He warmed up pretty well, considering how tense he started out. There were quite a few horses around so he got a bit freaked whenever one came a little close at anything faster than a trot! And he started trying to put in some good bucks when I first asked for canter. Little bugger. But he started doing some really nice work and I decided not to peak too early, especially given the heat was starting to build.

I had Coby Brinkman as my judge, a lovely local Canberra judge and very good with the green horses and riders. Jedi pulled off the best test he could do at the stage in his education and I was really chuffed with him. He generally kept a nice round outline, cantered on the right leads, gave the stretching circle a red-hot go and even did a decent long rein walk. Though, I've decided I need to start riding in spurs. No dressage whips allowed in eventing dressage, so no back up to my leg, which he chose to obey only intermittently!

I scurried back to the float, past the scary horse-eating storm drain, hearing 'Intro riders, you're needed at the showjumping, Intro riders!' So, I just chucked the jumping saddle and boots on Jedi, hauled myself onboard, butterflies going crazy in my stomach and headed off to the showjumping. I realised as we walked along that Jedi and I had really not jumped much more than 70cm together. We had each jumped much higher but not as a team. Butterflies turned to Bogong Moths....

I also hadn't had a chance to walk the course. I didn't have anyone to hold Jedi while I went and at least stood to watch, so I just parked him next to the course (it's a little obscured by lovely trees, if you haven't been to WHF, so not exactly a clear view!) and watched a couple of rounds. The course looked like a pretty straight forward Figure Eight. Sorted. Heh.

Warm up was interesting. He was actually really calm, but did a couple of his massive leaps over the tiny cross rail. I pulled my shoulders back, told him to wait and jumped a couple really nicely. Well, i thought, the height doesn't faze him. Should be ok!

And it really was. He jumped a lovely round - good rhythm, good striding, listening well. And clear! I was so pleased I nearly had a little weep. Probably sheer relief more than anything! We survived!!

Then off to judge on a very hot afternoon. I had stupidly thought Robertson would be balmy rather than scorching, so was wearing a polo shirt and jeans with boots. Idiot. Should've gone with the bikini! Lovely class, though, with some really quality horses, well-ridden. By the time I started, the throng of horses had thinned somewhat:
Such a beautiful day, just that bit too humid and hot to make it perfect. But I was well looked after by the Wallaby Hill team and must have downed 5L of water in the 3 hours I judged!

So, after a great dressage (from our point of view, anyway!) and a perfect SJ round, we were sitting pretty at 8th place. A really amazing start for our first event together. I felt justifiably proud as I headed to James Arkins' place for a bit of a sleepover. The crazy Rosthwaite Farm boys were heading back from Nowra Show (where they picked up a bit of coin with the 9 horses they took!), only to do a lightning fast costume change before heading off to Sydney for a schwanky party in their little lexus convertible. Shoulda been a showjumper. Sigh.

I helped their poor groom (Bob the incomprehensible Frenchman) put all 9 horses away in the gathering dusk with a pounding headache and desperate need of a shower and bed. Which I duly had, settling down with some greasy pizza I picked up from Moss Vale and the Winter Olympics. Life did not suck that night. Until James' crazy old dog started barking his head off at 3:30am....thanks mate.

Sunday dawned hot but very similar weather to the day before. Jedi was a little tense but held it together until we entered the warm up for the cross country. It was a fairly small area with a dam on one side and galloping horses starting and finishing the course on two other sides. Jedi started to quickly have a meltdown in that very race-like atmosphere and started trying to do his bucking-rearing number. I was having flashbacks to the last event when Tux just about reared over on top of me in the XC warm up at Canberra and found myself getting really scared.

I decided to shelve plans of cantering and practice jumps during the warm up and tried to just keep his lid on as we walked and trotted around. He basically kept it together but it was a huge relief to head up to the start where it was at least quiet. So, Jump 1 was our first practice jump! Not exactly ideal, but it was what it was.

The course actually rode fairly well, considering he was super-spooky for the first 4 or 5 jumps and he simply ground to a halt at 4A, where it turns out a lot of other Intro horses also downed tools. We got passed by the next horse to go just after that (we were trotting til that point) and the sight of that horse seemed to give Jedi a lot of confidence. We were completely fine from there on. Ditch? Check. Double of logs? Check. Tricky double of open corners? Check. Water? Check. He went really well and got braver and braver as we went. Lots of good feelings to build on.

Of course, with a stop and a minute of time penalties, we ended up dead last in our class. But I actually thought that was pretty ok considering it was his first ever event. First dressage test, first SJ round, first XC round, first comp. And he even got to hang out in Alex Townsend's schmicko stable while mum was off melting in a car. Stupid mum.

Lucinda Green clinic starts tomorrow and I'm super-excited! Good timing, really! Will blog both nights if you're interested.....

I'll leave you with a gorgeous pick of the valley where we live about a week ago....sometimes I just love riding first thing in the morning:

Saturday, 1 February 2014

"Is it hot enough for ya?"

This has been the hottest, nastiest, driest and most exhausting weather I think I've experienced in my life. And, thanks to climate change, I'd better start getting used to it!! It's been over 35 degrees at our place for at least 80% of the past month and I, for one, am dead over it.

Anyway, horse-wise, everyone seems to be coping ok. Poor little Uno seems a wee bit depressed, though, and just stands or lies around, sweating, with his big ears flopped out to the side. Come to think of it, that describes most of the little herd. Except Jedi, who seems to take the heat in his stride and just wanders around grazing in the baking sun while everyone else is under a tree. I even came out today to find him flat on his side in the sun - I thought he was dead! It was 38 degrees.

This week has been a good week. After having a few more stress-related freak outs where he starts trying to be a buckjumper after I saddle him up, I've taken to just leading him down the lane and going over to Gay and Larry's place over the road. I am strict on his pace and direction and do lots of halts and slowing so that he sticks with me, but I am finding he is calmer and calmer each day now.

Considering I'm getting up at 5:30am I want some quality riding and we're starting to get it, finally. He's still prone to typical TB fizziness for the first 10 minutes or so, and needs some very firm instruction about stopping, going and turning, as well as a lot of 'squishing'! But we're starting to get roundness and suppleness, starting to get a little lengthening when asked, starting to get reliable canter transitions. It's all starting to solidify. Starting.... :)

Hoof-wise, he's still coming along in leaps and bounds. After his footiness at AEBC, I was a little worried I'd overdone it with his thin soles, but he seems to be better than he was when he went down there now. This hot weather has one upside at least! The dry ground is hard and encouraging good growth. Also discourages seedy toe and greasy heel.

I had a great lesson this morning with Gay (over the road) who had just returned from a George Morris coaching clinic. How lucky was she!! And how lucky am I to get the benefit!!

We worked on lateral suppleness and obedience as well as the basic stop and goes. Turns on the forehand are a big favourite of George's and now we tried linking a turn on the forehand to a leg yield. It was quite good actually.

When we started jumping it all went a bit awry from Jedi's perspective. He was getting a little hot just trotting into a cross rail and was really jumping way too big over it. And again and again, just not settling and popping it. So we did a little honesty jumping where we stopped him a few metres out and then allowed him to pop over it from a trot or walk. Seemed to settle him a little. But then we we went back to trotting over it again he just reverted to taking off on a very long stride and overjumping it.

Then Gay noticed my position and my tendency to lean forward and throw myself over the jump first! Yeah, that was the problem, it turned out, and with a lot of reminders to "put your shoulders back!" and "keep your hands up!" he started jumping quite nicely. Phew. Just have to work on that!!

Wallaby Hill next weekend and I'm actually pretty excited. First comp of the year and it's always so lovely. Then the Lucinda Green clinic after that which has been so exhausting to help organise. Nothing more disappointing (and embarassing?) than putting on a very expensive clinic, sure it'll be popular and well-attended, then having difficulties attracting the numbers. Not really sure why Canberrans haven't jumped at the chance to do the clinic....they have certainly not embraced Andrew Mclean! His clinic is set to be cancelled due to lack of numbers. So disappointing. Think a lot of people could have learnt a thing or two from Andrew!

Anyway, off to lie in front of a fan!! Keep cool and hydrated out there in Ozzie land. :)