It is safe to say we have hit the ground running this year! After a little quiet time over Christmas, after Boxing Day it was business as usual. This meant that New Year’s Day I spent training both horses. Zeta was an angel as always & Woody produced a great line of four-time changes and an almost perfect line of three-time changes, just the way the year should start. I booked in for my first lesson and decided to brave taking Zeta over to Jezz for training. The lesson went incredibly well and Jezz built on both mine and Zeta’s confidence away from home. We worked on getting her moving and thinking forwards.

From this lesson, we had weekly lessons back at School Farm (home) and every week has seen an incredible change in Zeta. She is honestly the sweetest mare whose attitude to work is fantastic. We are truly developing a bond together now and she is flourishing. Our final lesson of January saw us working on her straightness on the left rein, developing more bend on the right and letting her come to me more in the contact as I tend to try and be a total control freak. I have a lot of personal problems to work on as where I am used to the way Woody works and having to be a driving force I tend to try to control too much. So, I have to work on forming a deeper seat, rolling my shoulders further back, keeping my elbows in and remaining relaxed to give my riding a softer appearance. Sound easy? Trust me.... it is a lot to take in! Equally I have to be okay with letting her find her feet and not automatically try and control with my hands, everything must be developed by my seat. The issue being that because of the way Woody moves, it’s a total opposite but we have a blank canvas to develop correctly and achieve the end result desired. We even threw in a few leg yields and shoulder ins of which she tried extremely hard. Over all an amazing final session and a LOT of homework.

Now although it may seem Woody has been forgotten about, I can assure everyone that we have been working hard and quietly in the shadows. I have continued to train him, working on activity, suppleness and the dreaded changes. I entered my first show of the year and got to work getting ready for it. Woody seemed as though he was super pleased to be back out doing what he does best; dancing. In the warm up I could feel that everything was a little more laboured than normal. He was listening intently on my every aid but his reactions were not as prompt as had been at home, almost as if he was slightly distracted and taking in everything else going on in the world around him. It had been a while since we had last been out. I knew that therefore I was more than likely going to struggle in the ring. When Woody lacks a little confidence he reverts to his introvert ways and completely drops my leg. This meant for a very testing ride round a not so easy Advanced Medium 98 and unfortunately meant that our changes were not as crisp as they had been at home. I basically carried all 785kg of him around the test and ‘just got through it’, so was not expecting a fantastic score. I was pleasantly surprised to receive a score just shy of 64%. I am very happy considering we have a LOT of room for improvement and lots to give. My main focus now is to get out in my tail coat and give an advanced a go with him. Watch this space!

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