Friday, August 21, 2009

Roll 'em, roll 'em, roll 'em!

Show jumping day is lovely, bright but not too hot. Harry climbs into the trailer without hesitation, then is surprised - I think he hardly noticed loading until he was in!

We enter the 2ft 3ins class and are quietly confident, thanks to our great schooling session two days earlier. Too confident, it seems...we have the second, third and fifth fences down! "I'll just follow you around, shall I?" says the ring steward, collecting our scattered poles. Having pushed and pulled too much in the past, now I think I'm trying too hard to not interfere, so Harry makes very little effort at all. We're getting too close to the jumps, then rolling the poles on the way up - guaranteed to bring 'em down.

Our partners in crime, Jane and Red, perform brilliantly! They are in the 2ft 6in class, which Jane is slightly apprehensive of, but they do a lovely clear, then a fast four faulter in the jump-off, and are second!

'Why don't you take some tips from Red?" I ask Harry as I give him a cuddle before we head for home. He just frisks me for mints!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Jump to it

Harry's had a week off while I was on holiday, we're show jumping on Saturday - and haven't jumped for ages, eek! So today we have a jumping lesson with Fiona, our trainer. I always think 'trainer' sounds rather high powered for what we do, maximum 2ft 6in jumps, but hey, we can think big.

We do some poles and gridwork, which Harry loves, but he has a tendency to barrel over them like a steam roller, knocking poles flying. So Fiona changes the grid frequently – hard work for her, but it keeps Harry concentrating.

She builds some quite tricky sequences: three cross poles with placing poles and ground poles between the fences. They look quite daunting – all those poles glinting in the sunshine - but Harry tackles them with gusto. At one point he takes charge and meets the first completely wrong, I cling on for dear life and we jump through the grid with speed but a complete absence of style.

Then Fiona builds a double which looks nice and inviting, but tells us we'll be coming into the side of the double and jumping the second jump only, at an angle, then changing the rein and approaching the other, at an angle, before we can jump the complete double straight on. "Don't do the first jump at an angle and pass the second jump, or you'll teach him to run out," she says.

Well, guess what I do? Jump the first at an angle...really nicely, but wrong! We try again and Harry is an angel – he seems to love the challenge, popping over them all without attempting to run out.

Phew, thank goodness sometimes my horse is cleverer than me!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Tea for three

We're supposed to be going on a picnic ride with the Riding Club, but our hostess was, apparently, 'slightly struck' by lightening, poor thing! So Harry and I hack out with Jane and Red, our regular companions, plus Kelly, editor of, and her Portuguese firecracker, Alvito.

The last time the three boys met was out hunting, which Red and Alvito found almost ubearably exciting. Considering this, they are very good and more or less contain themselves for a fabulous, long ride over Hankley and Frensham commons.

Red occasionally gets his head down and his heels in the air, but with a few 'Get ups' and Oh, no you don't's', Jane stays in the plate. Alvito prefers going sideways when things get hairy, at one point hiting a tree trunk with an audible 'thwack'. Harry of course considers this behaviour a ridiculous waste of effort, and stays up with his colleagues. Occasionally he employs his amazing, super-fast trot when the others are cantering quite quickly. His feet hardly touch the ground and you hardly have to rise to the movement – I swear he must be part Icelandic!

We bring our picnics - what's left of them. The dog ate most of Jane's, Kelly consumed hers before she started and my one ham sandwich doesn't go far. The horse's sniff but refuse delicious fruit salad - pineapple, yuk!