Although we were coming away from most events with frillies and smiles all round, we kept coming away with 3rd and 4th place and I know that I said I was just happy to be competing after the traumatic experiences we had with Millie but I knew Red could and should be winning and I knew I was letting him down.
We went through a long phase of having one pole down in every class, regardless of height, although he did seem to jump a lot better when the jumps were bigger (or maybe I just rode better)
I knew my reins were too long (despite my mum always being ring side shouting ‘shorten your reins’) and I knew I didn’t use my leg enough (despite my mum shouting ‘leg on, leg on’) and I also knew I was so focused on remembering the course and so thrilled just to be leaving the ground that I forgot to actually ride once I was in the ring and Red thought ‘if she’s not bothered why should I be’ so I went on the hunt for a jumping instructor to help us out.
Luckily we only had to search 3 miles from the yard – we started going to clinics at Goodnestone Equi Training with Alex Hudson (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Goodnestone-Equi-Training/192922240778471) who started to sort us out pretty quickly. She saw straight away that Red was meandering around aimlessly, that he wasn’t using himself properly and that we didn’t have the required energy to jump a course successfully. Alex got us working on 3 canter gaits, positioning into a jump correctly, how he should be cantering in the turn leading up to the jump and how to ride him away from the jump and set him up for the next one.
We also attended the grid work clinics at Alex’s which were fab for getting Red to use his eyes and improve his athleticism – Red got the hang of these grids better than I did bless him.
After a few months we started to put all this practice to the test and woo hoo, we started winning. I started riding properly, Red started picking his feet up and the allusive red frillies were rolling in 🙂 thank you Alex!