Boot-camp Breakthrough - Amy's August Blog Post

August –

The start of what was to be a busy month for us! I had decided to move Woody to a new yard to help us develop and due to certain circumstances I made the big decision to leave there and then on a Saturday morning at the beginning of the month. I was already meant to be travelling home to Kent to see my family and friends, so I got straight up, packed everything (including Woody) up and moved to School Farm Equestrian. School Farm has amazing facilities (including a full size indoor with music system set up to practice freestyles, alongside a full size outdoor). The level of care that Woody has received since moving is second to none and within one week he looked like a different horse. It is so important with this harder work that Woody is receiving everything he needs; he is an athlete after all.

After just two days of settling in, without me, we set off for our first lesson with Jezz Palmer. I had decided to try training with Jezz to get another set of eyes on our changes. Jezz has a string of great accomplishments behind him including National and Regional titles so I knew we would be in great hands. The first lesson, I began riding and after a short amount of time Jezz got on. He uncovered that I had been battling for a very long time with serious problems that were stopping us from progressing any further. These problems needed fixing a long time ago, but with nobody getting on and feeling it, I had managed to hide them well. Thus, the start of boot-camp had begun… *HELP MEEEEEE*

With the upcoming Petplan Semi-Finals looming, we decided it best that I try to have two lessons per week until September when Woody would be heading to spend one week at JLP Dressage for proper boot-camp. I would drive Woody to Jezz after work and have a lesson in the evening during the week and then have a lesson at the weekend where possible. The first problem to tackle was the fact Woody did not naturally want to be round, so we began by making Woody much rounder and lower in his frame than we would have him in a test, whilst making him move forward. Woody had become numb to everything. He was numb in the mouth (becoming extremely heavy) and did not react to the leg aids or stick. With small changes to the way we trained, we noticed massive improvements in quick succession and by the fourth lesson, practically a new horse. Woody now works much more forwards and a lot rounder. When he becomes heavy, or comes up in front, we work on moving him more forwards to help engage his hind end and this in turn helps with the roundness in front. You can’t expect the front end to connect if the power is not coming from behind.. *hallelujah*, it all starts to make sense!

Even the dreaded changes have started to come together. After the first few weeks of training, we introduced multiple changes on a line. This exercise helped massively with making Woody quicker as he didn’t have time to think about changing & launch like a rocket. Our whole problem is the fact he is overly expressive with the front end and not so much with the back end; it’s all about containing the front end. To try and get clean changes from him, the quality of canter also needs to be improved, which means making him quicker.. not faster.

All of this work throughout August has led to Woody’s week at bootcamp.. he is already a totally different horse. Woody is now a lot more sparky and reactive. I must be the only person that pats and praises their horse when he bucks, bolts or spooks, any reaction is great at this stage. We can then work on channelling this energy later. 

Next month is going to be an exciting month with the Petplan Semi Finals and the highly anticipated launch of the Imperial Colt Leggings. Keep an eye out for me review on this gorgeous item. I for one cannot wait for September.

Until next time x

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