Monday, October 29, 2007

Grace is really improving

It has been quite a while since I last posted on this Blog as I seem to have been incredibly busy doing not much at all! However, I am now determined to keep this up to date because it is lovely reading how far we have come in 12 short months.

Since the Area Festival at Richmond, Grace and I have not really been out competing that much as she went quite badly lame after tripping coming out of the school. After three days of no improvement (and no change) I took her down to the vets and they mentioned that she could have damaged one of the tendons or ligaments within her foot because of the severity of the lameness, the lack of change and the fact that hoof tests were proving negative. So, we went away for a few days and awaited the farrier to come out as her feet had really grown and the shoe on the lame foot was now loose.

Unfortunately, the farrier was having van trouble and could not come on the day, so I ended up telephoning the vets and booking her in with a farrier there so we could then book her in for a lameness workup which would include nerve blocks and xrays.

As soon as her shoes were redone, she was much sounder almost immediately. The following days just showed such a big improvement that I decided to cancel the lameness workup and concluded that when she tripped she moved the shoe and it was then rubbing her and causing her pain. The farrier who shod her at the vets agreed with this as he found a small corn starting to form where the shoe was sitting. She is now to be shod every five weeks as opposed to every six weeks, and touch wood we have not had any lameness since!

I have been having regular lessons with Jo again since she came sound, and also two with Spencer Wilton over at Arkenfield. Between the two of them, we have really started to see a change in Grace’s performance both at home and at the shows. Her canter has improved so much that we now get comments saying, “Some lovely canter” and “Working well in the canter” whereas before I was being told she needed more ‘jump’.

Last weekend we travelled over to Manor Grange Stud in Yorkshire (where the pictures were taken) to compete in P12 and N21 (I think)! Grace travelled really well but was a bit sharp in the warm up as it was quite a spooky venue. She felt quite tense at the beginning, but by the time we went into the Prelim class she had started to relax and felt a little softer through the back. She came out with 68% and 5th place which I was really pleased with at a new venue. We had quite a wait in between the classes, so when it came to warming up for the Novice she felt a lot happier and more relaxed. In the test we had two mistakes which were largely caused by me... I didn’t check her enough in the medium trot so she broke into canter, and she was about to shy in the medium walk so I put my leg on harder than intended and she broke into canter!

I was amazed when she came out with 67.9% and second place!!!

Following on from this, I booked in to do the two Novice classes at Cockshot Dressage. However, just before my lesson with Spencer I realised N37 had a rein back in which Grace had not been taught. Spencer worked really hard with Grace and I to get the rein back started, but he did say that I should not expect it to happen at the competition as she was only just learning it. The following day though, Grace had is cracked and as I put the aids on we went backwards, but couldn’t stop!!!

I did not really do much rein back through the week because she was starting to rein back whenever I asked for halt... like a child who has learned a naughty word she would not stop doing it! So when we were warming up for the first Novice at Cockshot I didn’t even ask for it once.

N22 W went really well... She really worked, and as we finished the test the judge jumped out of the car (panic set in; where did I go wrong???) and said, “She has really come on!” So I left the arena with a HUGE grin, which became even bigger when I discovered she had been placed 1st in the restricted section and overall!

We then warmed up for N37 and I quickly put one or two rein backs in before we went in. The test felt a bit more laboured than the first, but I do think it is a more ‘elementary’ type novice so I did not expect her to do as well as she did. Her counter canter felt really smooth, the rein back just happened, and her medium canter work has just come all of a sudden! We ended up on 65% which I was thrilled with (I had said that if she did well in N37 I would try some elementary tests before Christmas!) and even more thrilled when I found out she had come 2nd in the restricted and overall! There were some stunning horses in the open section too going on to do the Elementary, so I was quite shocked she had been placed above them!

Our next outing is at Aintree International doing the Prelim Qualifier and the Novice Qualifier... I need a 1st in the Novice to get to the Regionals (a pipe dream) and a 1st or 2nd in the Prelim!