Monday I gave Woody a well deserved day off. He got the magnetic blanket and a good grooming plus the hot walker in the morning while I did his stall. Then he went out for the afternoon to graze and get dirty again.

I did get to ride Amira again (the jumper mare). She was very good after a nice day off on Sunday.

Tuesday was a very windy day and not exactly warm either. After I did morning chores I quickly got Woody groomed and ready to Pessoa. The round pen had been repaired last week. It needed a new drainage pipe around the center underground. So I used it for the first time and it was very helpful to keep Woody straight and a bit more engaged behind. Then he got a good grooming and the mag blanket before going outside. In the afternoon Dr. Andre Buthe came to work on him a bit. Chiro and acupuncture after a long trip and tuff run at Belton was very helpful for Woody’s tired muscles.

On a more exciting note, I got to have a ride on Fozzy the 6-yr-old horse that Mark owns. He is by Chilli Morning and he competes novice (prelim) at the moment. He is a lovely 17hh bay gelding who loves attention. He’s so friendly you can’t get anything done with him in the stall. Reminds me so much of my 6-yr-old Benny. Big cuddly babies. ❤🐴

Not only did I get to ride him on the flat I got to jump him as well! On the flat he is really quite good at the lateral work and light as a feather to ride. So easy on the body. His bum is built quite underneath him so he handles like a sports car most of the time. Luckily he had Mark to train him because he must have needed a core of steel to help him balance during transitions etc. while he was learning. Even for me I had to work hard at keeping my position during the first few downwards transitions as well as keep him supple in front.

Fozzy is the sweetest.

Fozzy is the sweetest.

When it was time to jump I could hardly believe I was being asked to jump him. Mark set up a vertical with a ground line and placing pole (10ft) and then I noticed he put a wing on the right side of landing. So around we came in canter and as he took off I realized why….he has a pretty strong drift right over the first few jumps you do. 😳

I’ve seen Mark jump him and never even noticed, that’s how strong and secure Mark’s position and aids are. We almost landed and bounced over the wing. Thank goodness we managed to avoid crashing into it. I felt really bad for allowing it to happen so the next time I came off the right turn and that helped keep us straight, plus I was more prepared for it.

After we jumped that a few times a little higher I got to jump a line. (Short two strides between verticals and then a quiet three strides to another vertical.) Mark said just leave him alone and ride straight so I did and boy what a jump he’s got. It feels like what gymnasts look like when they use the spring board to vault. He literally just hops and skips into the air light as a bunny! For the grand finally I did a bigger vertical (with planks) across the diagonal after the line and the roll back left to an oxer. What a treat!

Today I had a dressage lesson on Woody with Mark. ANNNND the sun actually showed its face! It’s a blazing 20C here and everyone’s melting except me. 😉 I only JUST took my fleece long underwear off this afternoon.

Mark asked me what I wanted to work on and I started off explaining the lower marks we got at Belton and then rambled on about quality of my gaits and the usual underlining of the words “suppleness of the back” and “engagement of the hind quarters” in our collectives. As I drifted on to more things we needed to work on like “extended trot” he said “wait a minute let’s not let the list get too long.” 😂
I said “ok, ok you’re right let’s just stick to quality, engagement and extended trot.”

So I had a fab lesson in the sun with Mark Todd on Woody (the best horse in the universe) and we worked on his canter first. Making sure there’s enough “jump” in the step and uphill balance but round. We did that by moving on 6-7 strides, getting a quick response from the aids and then collecting over a few steps with some flexions to keep him softer in the neck. Then a bit of haunches in and 10m circles keeping the same “jump” joined with some half pass. We did our changes too and Mark said he’s very good at those. 😃

I was very happy to hear Mark thinks his canter is quite good. I just have to be careful to keep working at it so it’s an 8 and not an easy 7. (Scores)

After a short walk break we did canter down the centerline (looking on those fabulous mirrors) and coming back to halt. I usually do the first centerline of our tests on the left lead. Back when Woody was starting advanced we used the left lead because it was a better quality of canter and also he was tempted to do flying changes when you didn’t want them on the right lead. Yet no matter how much I practice going and collecting as well as halting he still can put his haunches to the right during the test. For instance at Belton he put his haunches one way in the first half and the other way in the last.

So we tried it in the right canter and viola! Straight as an arrow and square. So I think we might do that for Badminton we shall see. Then off into the trot work we go. Steadying him in the corners and small circles then touching him with my leg remembering not to have him against my hand at that moment so he steps up. That way we get more and more suspension in the steps. I feel kinda sorry for my coaches sometimes because they must get sick of saying the same things all the time. But I do listen and try to practice with ALL the tools in the trunk so the horses don’t get bored or frustrated.

Once we got the quality of the trot we did some of the trot work from the 4* test B. Half pass right to centerline, 8m circle left then shoulder in left down centerline and turn right. Initially the half pass was a bit short and tight looking so I went rising sometimes and pushed for a little lengthening within the lateral work. Same on the other rein and threw in a few mediums and extensions not letting him get fast. If he did then collecting again till the suspension returned and go again. I find doing the collecting in a straight line difficult because I end up shortening his neck, not really making a difference behind. If I extend and use the corners to collect it’s more effective or if I do a small circle to collect I can keep his neck the length it is and work on his hind feet.

Mark says the overall picture is very nice so not to panic and change everything (gosh it’s almost like he knows me😬). Just to keep working on the quality of the paces and make sure the shoulders are leading in the half pass so he can travel a bit more across and I don’t need anymore bend.

Another suppling exercise he mentioned would be good for woody is leg yield off the track a few strides and half pass back (back and forth repeatedly).

So a good gallop tomorrow is in store for Woody and who knows what else I’ll get to do ?!?!