Sarah & Jack’s Diary, Part 2 – Going Native at Hickstead!

Thursday, September 26th, 2013

1st September

Jack off for another day after Hickstead, but Doozer in the school today. We are working on his canter transitions being quiet and smooth, and he can be a little fiery for the first few strides. Have been using Alison’s Balanced Canter Transitions, which works a lot on the balance in the trot and encouraging me not to tip forward and let him run through the bridle.

It’s hard to strike a balance between allowing forwards motion without restriction and controlling the power, and that’s where my body control is crucial.

Jack isn’t out competing until the 14th September at Hickstead, so we are going to concentrate on getting him out hacking which is not his favourite thing!

5th September

Borrowed Verity Hindell for two days to take Doozer out with me and Jack. Doozer is very calm, and this helps Jack to keep his sensible hat on! I need to improve on fitness over the winter, and I am glad I have some good friends to call on to hack with, as my work schedule precludes me from hacking with liveries on the yard. Also went to help a friend of a friend at a yard around the corner. She has a lovely horse whom I know quite well, as I used to teach his loaner on him. He is a very sensitive type, and I have managed to persuade his owner to ditch hideous bits and gadgets and go for correct and sensitive training rather than tie him down.

Don’t get me wrong – I believe some gadgets have their place, I aim to have all of mine working in a snaffle and cavesson noseband, softly and correctly, rather than tying their mouths shut and relying on curb action to achieve a false outline.

6th September

Back in the school with Jack. Wow! What a difference it makes not schooling so often! Jack was really stiff and heavy in my hand, and took much longer to warm up than normal. Makes me realise the value of regular disciplined work, and I have made a mental note to alternate from now on.

8th September

Riding Novice 35 next week, which I have ridden once before. Spent the last two days doing lots of lateral work on a long rein in walk before having quick test run through, then a trot down the lane to loosen off again after.

9th September

Rachel, who owns Doozer’s half sister came to ride with me today. It rained torrentially, and we rode sitting on top of turnouts. Crazy. Went to Swanborough where Rachel keeps Ninja afterwards to help her run through her test for Saturday.

11th September

Alison came today to give me and Jack a lesson. He went beautifully, really light and swinging through his back. We had to think ahead, because you only have to do an exercise once before he starts to anticipate the movement next time we ask! Feel ready for the weekend now, will have a run-through to the “lengthened strides” download on Friday night as a tune up.

14th September

Hickstead today with Jack. He was second in the restricted section, and I was thrilled to bits with how he went. For the very first time, he felt resistance free and swinging through his back throughout the entire test. We feel he is now ready to work harder on developing his power. Natives take such a long time to grow and become strong, but all of the hard work is really paying off.

I am starting to really understand now what it is possible to achieve through correct training; when warming up today, I was in an arena with two large warmbloods who were both being worked in by listed judges. Horses like this, that are specifically bred for the job, and probably cost more than my annual salary, can breeze into the arena and have scored an eight without blinking because they have the breeding, the presence and the paces. However, a smart and correctly trained native really can compete against a warmblood – and that feels good………

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