April 8th was a bit chilly and wet to start so I played hooky and Ann fed the horses. She turned them out when there was less rain while she went shopping.

When I arrived at the barn we mucked out. We muck out a little later because there’s not many functioning wheelbarrows and Mark’s staff have lots to do. After mucking it was time to ride and believe it or not the clouds had stopped weeing on us.

Of course as soon as I put my foot in the stirrup they started again. I swear I could be hired to bring rain to countries suffering from drought. All I have to do is get on for a gallop day and the skies open up. So we decided to skip the hacking and went straight to the school since the horses had been on the walker for 20 mins already. While we were flatting the weather stopped briefly so that was a blessing.

In the afternoon I got to see Dr Christiana Ober (who got straight off a plane from the World Cup in Sweden) to visit us and check on Woody after his long journey. Always such a pleasure to see Christiana who looked after us at team Canada for so long. She is brilliant and knows Woody so well plus she puts up with me so it’s a win-win.

Woody jogged and lunged for Christiana to see and get a baseline before heading into Burnham and Badminton. She thought his weight was good and his neck very supple. I was so happy about his neck as I have been working very hard to get his neck muscled up correctly. Christiana told me they have an aqua treadmill at Lambourn just down the road. I can use it in the afternoon after the race horses. I think Woody has lost a tiny bit of topline over his hips from the journey. Thank you to Christa Gandolfo-Prack and her wonderful facility where I took Woody this winter in Ocala to use the aqua treadmill that goes on an incline. Resistance training, low impact once a week and “poof” we developed a much improved topline. So I think I’ll see about taking Woody to Lambourn.

Ann and I went to the Plough Inn which is one of our local pubs. The pubs are still the same to me in the sense of atmosphere etc, but not oh boy the menus have improved. The food was awesome with a great menu and specials.

Selena's dressage test.

Selena’s dressage test.

April 9th I Googled my dressage test during a quick breakfast at Ann’s apartment. I had planned on running through the test. But I had such a good time in front of the mirrors that I decided not to take Woody out to the dressage ring. I practiced square halts and not just your average square halt. Yes I know shocking that you can improve on a square halt. This is why I need the greats like Christilot Boylen to teach me their ways! Making sure Woody halts without “dumping” AND has his hips and hind legs at a ninety degree angle. So dumping, I understand, means make sure the horses balance and outline stay the same while you do a downward transition. However, I had not been paying enough attention to the angle of his back legs and pelvis once halted. His hind feet need to be square and underneath him to the point that his hips are curled under him and his hind legs are at a ninety degree angle. Not so easy to do both at the same time.

Ann came to Jess’s house for a proper fish n chips dinner. The “chippy” as we call it is a proper truck that goes from town to town and serves THE BEST dinners. This one comes to Chieveley every Tuesday. I tried Halloumi cheese sticks (like mozzarella sticks) which were an excellent choice.

April 10th…YAY jumping! After chores in the morning and boys on the walker. We decided that Ann would have a jumping lesson first and then I would jump and gallop the Woodst⭐️r.

I went in the ring and set a few fences for Ann while she warmed up. Snow looked really good and they worked on the suppling we had done the day before. So we started with a small vertical with a plank underneath. Snow literally trotted over it numerous times. It was so good to see him so relaxed and happy. Then we started working on a bit of a course. Included a skinny, a gate and an oxer. Snow and Ann are doing so well and both are enjoying the process. Lovely smooth lines and rhythmical strides with no excitement and beautiful jumps. I’m very excited to see this pair out competing this summer.

Now it’s Woody’s turn. I took him on a hack first including a hill to help improve his topline. Then I went to the ring to warm up and Ann came out to set fences for me. We haven’t jumped since Red Hills so I didn’t want to do too much just a freshen up. I stared with DOC’s warm up fence for Woody which is placing pole to a vertical with a placing pole on landing. Plus I like to use “V” rails as guide poles to keep him jumping straight. Then Ann raises the jump for me as we hop back and forth over it a few times. Woody was so good, especially one time where I couldn’t see a distance and he did a huge leap to save my butt. ❤️🐴

Then I finished with a few fences in a course. Two verticals one stride apart, then five strides bending to an oxer with a Liverpool under it. There was also an oxer across the diagonal that Woody jumped really well. Last but not least there was a triple combo (two ones strides, vertical, oxer, vertical). I was working hard on not being too quick with my shoulders (getting ahead basically) and succeeded on the last trip. The first one stride was slightly longer then the second. That combined with the oxer in the middle I had to be careful not to speed up my shoulders on the last. Needles to say I reversed the Liverpool to vertical in and out. He jumped it so carefully and I kept my shoulders tall that we stopped. Then I switched Woodys boots from open front Armas by Shires to Boogaloos for galloping and headed to the rubber track.

I took Woody up the hill three times and continued around the track once each way. I felt with the jumping as well Woody didn’t need to do the full track all three times.

April 11th we started the day properly with an early trip to Wadswick country store. This is a two storey massive tack/clothing and feed store. We went last year and I wanted to show Ann. Better then that they are expanding! So Jess, Ann and myself had a blast wandering around as soon as they opened. Really I was just looking for poultice and perhaps a sweater. I didn’t pack as many warm ones as I thought.

After floating around the tack store for ages we headed back to the barn via the M&S shop (Marks and Spencer) for a yummy snack. Ann and I headed out for a hack before going into the ring. This time I warmed up in the mirrors featuring a few of the moves from my test. Then I went out to the dressage ring (on grass) to run through my test. Woody was really super especially considering it’s grass. The only thing we needed to repeat was the shoulder in on the center line. Always very difficult and then the square halts from canter and trot. I was so pleased with Woody. We turned the horses out again for an hour or so after their dinner because the weather was so sunny. I packed all my feed and equipment into the horde box for getting to Georgie’s tomorrow morning. Very kind of Jess Wilson to take me over to Georgie’s in the a.m. so Woody can catch a ride to Burnham on Georgie’s lovely lorry. I’ll follow in the car and let the games begin.