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It has been a while since I published a blog for a variety of reasons-a move, mud-fever and general winter issues!

I was told just before Christmas that I had till the end of February to find a new yard as the current owner decided to close down the livery yard. With three horses, a limited budget ( I can only afford three with DIY), a requirement of an arena which needs to be lit (I ride between 5:30-7:30pm) and hopefully turnout (with a 5 and a 6 year old its necessary!) I was concerned. Luckily I was offered a slightly different set up back where I originally was when I first moved to the area. A new 40x45m arena had been installed with lights and the boys had outdoor living in a corral style yard. A date was set for half term to move them, husband had the week booked off work (😊)and luckily it has all gone smoothly.

Tinker had to have a month off during January due to severe mud fever, and Kasper had an issue with his saddle that I had to wait till half term to get sorted so he had a good three weeks off. It was all eyes on Gilly who I have started having lessons with Nicola Cooper up in Shipham. Gilly had always rather tagged onto lessons with Kasper and I felt it was about time if I wanted to get 70% or have a decent attempt at Elementary regionals we needed refinement. We went back to basics establishing straightness and engagement. We lengthened his neck more in the warm up and developed his up-hill competition frame which has allowed me to contain his bigger paces that he pulls out the bag in a different environment. He won his last competition (alongside snow and -5 winds) on 67%+ at Elementary which is progress especially as his first test is always usually a bit cautious, so I am excited to get some more training in and be consistent at the high 60s going into the Summer. We also tried some Medium movement in our last lesson, definitely wobbly in places but nearly there. So the focus is to gain our final 1 point from a qualifier, work towards the harder elementary tests and aim for Medium after the Regionals. Tinker who is fully sound and raring to go got a lesson last week. I was really pleased with how he just picked up from where were before the New Year and ‘mud fever gate’ so I just need to get out to do some low level unaffiliated competitions and get more organised for the Summer-luckily its Easter holidays soon. Kasper has his PSG booked in for mid-April that has had to be postponed since December. He is feeling fitter than ever however strong minded as hell so hopefully a few training sessions beforehand will get us up and running.

With a new saddle for Gilly and the qualification period for Summer Regionals open, I entered two elementary tests with Gilly. I was supposed to compete Kasper in a PSG on Saturday but with a twilight (working till 6pm), a Parents' Evening till 7:30pm on Thursday and Tinker booked in for a lesson on Friday it was never going to happen, so I withdrew at the beginning of the week and entered Gilly. I was pleased with our results, a consistent 65% in both tests with a mistake in the first and a rather sweaty and tired horse in the second due to desperately needing his THIRD clips this season. I was torn between clipping him on Saturday and risking a frisky naked 6 year old or a slightly sweaty horse; sadly I should have chosen the first option so it is another weekend of clipping.

Tinker also braved the cold winters' night to have a jumping lesson at Jayne Smarts. With her excellent training, he has come on leaps and bounds which has given us both so much confidence. Jayne also asked me about my 'long term plan' which made me think about the season ahead for him. Our aim is now to to be jumping confidently courses of 80cm unaffiliated to progress onto BSJA in the Spring and enter some Hunter Trials which will put us in good stead to enter some BE80s. The reality of whether I can maintain all three elements with enough fitness will depend on the Winter and how ready we will be by Spring- however we will do our best!

Last weekend I was supposed to take Gilly out to our local venue Badgworth to do two elementary tests. The qualifying period for Summer Regionals has not opened yet, so it was going to be a perfect dummy test ride with no pressure. Unfortunately, a shoe half on half off prevented this-note to self always pick out your feet first, not just before loading when you have plaited up, got your better half and unpaid groom to clean all your tack and clean your boots. Never mind that is horses and part and parcel of winter!

This weekend was more positive; with new shoes for all, Gilly was boxed up and taken down to Taunton to test some new dressage saddles. With his conformation and round tummy causing my old saddle to be constantly pushed forward, I took the plunge to get an adjustable Albion which should change and develop alongside him. With an ergonomic girth and an Acavello pad underneath his numnah, he felt extra springing and freer in his shoulders so I am excited to break the saddle in first then get out again!

With Gilly pushed out into the field Tinker was pulled in and boxed up. I saw mid week that Leyland Court were doing a clear round with their Eventers' Challenge from 1-3pm, this would be perfect for Tinker. He had not been XC before and had only done one other clear round. With not many people around and the opportunity to jump what I wanted, it could not have been a better experience for both of us, Tinker jumped tyres, roll tops and wooden fences like he was not even bothered. He was also sensible, forward but not pulling like a train and jumping the fences like they were 70/75cm not 1m. He did seemed a bit bored with the height, but it was a perfect example of positive trip out and him just needing an education in XC and a visit to another venue.

Kasper is booked in for a PSG next weekend so fingers crossed for a drier week, as I have a Twilight after work on Monday and a Parents' Evening Thursday, so I will need to other days to be fine to allow me to ride.

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