Jess – February blog
Dreams do come true…
February already hurrah another step closer to spring!
So for us February is all about stepping up our preparations for the winter regional championships that we qualified for in… Our everyday training programme starts to include elements of the test I will ride at the championships, as I find this helps to ensure my horse and I are familiarised with every movement. Plus I learn where to put in half halts, where to start movements and where to finish them, what I need to do to set up for a movement and how much time I need to set up for the next one etc. It also means that we are riding it in a ‘training’ frame of mind so that the weaker areas can be discovered and worked on without worrying about being marked or having to perform the whole test in one go. Basically there is no pressure and you can ride a movement again and again without any unhelpful negative thoughts creeping in!
By preparing in this way you take away the fear element of ‘the test’, and rather than trying to make it perfect straight off, you train it to be as perfect as you can get it. You give yourself every opportunity to know where to help your horse and basically make it feel like a comfy pair of slippers. Therefore, when you get in the ring you can focus 110% on riding every element without having to worry about where you are going or letting any nerves creep in. You can just ride, as at the end of the day it is just another centre line!
The week before the competition I rode through both tests a couple of times from start to finish, both by myself and with my trainer, so that we could put the final polish on any bits I had overlooked.
In the meantime, Diporto B aka George is home! He is everything we hoped and more, he has always been a phenomenal moving horse but until you really get a chance to spend a bit of time on them you don’t know for sure if the movement will transfer under saddle. A lot of young, big moving horses lose a lot of movement with the weight of a rider and struggle to find their balance. George, however, moves even better (yes I am pinching myself!!) he takes even more weight behind, particularly in the canter and maintains a quick active hind leg. This gift comes with a responsibility as a rider to nurture and train this talent and not rush or abuse it. Regardless of natural talent, I am still working with a young and developing body and mind and it is important to work at a pace optimum for growth and well-being and not be greedy, otherwise this could easily lead to injury and/or bruising the enthusiasm of a young brain. So this year will be about quietly training and starting to see a little of the world by introducing training away from home and perhaps a few little shows.
So back to the regionals, well what can I say, I am still buzzing, what a horse Santo Hit is, a true professional and talented athlete, I am thrilled to say we are Double Regional Champions at both Medium restricted and Medium Restricted Freestyle.
We arrived Monday evening and I worked him lightly and quietly under my trainer’s expert eye, just making him supple and through with stretching and a few training half passes. He felt fantastic and we were both happy. Having ensured Santo Hit was comfortable in his stable, we settled into bed for what turned out to be a wild night!
I woke at 4am with what can only be described as serious torrential rain, it literally sounded as though someone was throwing buckets of water at the lorry windows! I laid there thinking about the disadvantages of an outdoor warm up at Merrist Wood and eventually dozed off as best you can with… the spaniel on my stomach and … the collie at my feet. At 5am, when it was time to get up and begin getting Santo Hit ready, the rain had stopped – phew!
Our first class was the medium restricted; test no 75 at a hideous 6.47am. We warmed up well and went for a nice clear round, I didn’t ride for spectacular but instead a correct, accurate and mistake free test.
Well, mission accomplished – he was amazing, rising to the occasion like the true professional he always is, he was with me throughout the whole test. It’s a magical feeling when you really feel a partnership in a test like that and this was our best execution of medium 75 yet, so I was thrilled. The scores came through and we were on 71.30%, which I was over the moon about! We performed our best test possible at our current level of training and I felt we did everything we could. It was rewarded with a super score so I went back to the lorry ecstatic, Santo went back hungry and wanting breakfast! So before long we were both content!
The next few hours passed and we remained in the lead, I couldn’t quite believe it, I know it sounds ridiculous but I was already thrilled. We came to ride the best test we could and we did but having only ridden ten mediums before with a top score of 70% I really hadn’t come with a view of a high placing, rather it was just for fun and experience. It shows that good preparation and training hard can bring superb results. I was also so relaxed and enjoying myself that there was no need for nerves, which I think as a rider always gives you a big advantage.
We remained in the lead, I must admit that when I was waiting for the last few scores to go up I did start to get a few butterflies in my stomach! Suddenly here I was in with the chance of winning my first regional title eekk! Suddenly it was real, I hadn’t even daydreamed about it, as it wasn’t on my radar, we had just worked hard and done our best. Well our best was good enough! We won – BD Winter Regional Medium Restricted Champions – Santo Hit and Jessica Wilson, weehee!
It was lots of fun doing the prize giving and Santo Hit loved showing off to the small but clapping crowd – he is such a showman! Then it was a quick change from bandages to boots to warm up for our freestyle!
I was really looking forward to riding this test. It was only our third dressage to music, but they are great fun to ride and we had lovely music and a well suited floor plan. In all honestly I was a little distracted having just come out of the prize giving. I remember riding round the top corner thinking omg, omg, I have just won my first regional title, then thinking bugger, focus, come on Jess, now is not the time!
I had a lovely ride and we both enjoyed it thoroughly, although Santo was starting to feel a little bit tired he stepped up and gave me 110% and we danced our way to nearly 75%! So once again we started the wait and without meaning to sound ridiculous I went through the exact same process of disbelief and then butterflies again! We stayed in the lead again and took our second regional title!
So off to get ready for the prize giving – it is so lovely to do mounted prize giving’s, not only as a rider but because it really makes the horses feel special and proud of themselves which they deserve, for without them we are nothing.
On that note, those 24hrs really made me realise the importance of enjoying your training and competing, for it could be over at any time. I am also blessed with a super support team, as the rider you take the praise but without your support team you would not be there, my trainer is also one of my closest friends and his support and genuine enthusiasm for our success is greatly appreciated. It’s also really nice that Jamie can now watch my tests and enjoy them without being so wracked with nerves on my behalf!
I came to enjoy riding an exquisite home bred and home produced horse and we left Double Regional Champions!
February has been a good month!
Roll on Hartpury and the Winter Champs!Follow us Share this