Jingle bells, jingle Bells, jingle all the… I’ll pipe down now. I’m sure the neighbours will be wondering why their cats have woken up.

So the festive season is upon us. I hope you are all ready and have those extra carrots chopped up ready for the ponies on Christmas morning.

As per usual Stig and Dalito are being superstars.

I have introduced more lunging into the work regime, which has worked wonders. It has really helped to get them swinging and supple over their backs.

We are lucky at Crown Farm to have a purpose built lunge pen, so it does’nt churn up the surface in the indoor school — something us dressage riders are very fussy about!

I have managed to fit in more lessons with them recently as well, working through some movements so that in the new year we can get out to some parties.

We have been trying to get them more established at the level above the one that I want to compete them at. For example we are educating Dalito through the elementary movements but will compete at novice this year.

I like to do this with all my horses. It means that the competitions are less stressful and it encourages the horses to have fun, because the work they are being asked to do is not as challenging as the work they are already trained to do at home.

I was also lucky enough to ride on a clinic with Debby Lush last weekend.

Debby is a grand prix rider and a British Dressage list one judge. This was held at the lovely facilities of The Dovecote Stables near Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire and was run by Emily Baker and her company Equine Ethos.

Debby was very good at getting to the root of our issues straight away and worked a lot on the horses way of going as well as my position.

I’ve always known that my right side is slightly weaker than my left.

Debby gave me simple ways of rectifying this that I could take away and use whilst training my horses at home.

With Dalito we worked on getting him more through to the rein and supple.

And with Stig we kept plugging away at the hind leg in the trot and creating better balance. Most people know that you never stop learning with horses and a pair of eyes on the ground is invaluable when training.

I love having lessons as much as finances will allow, because I constantly want my horses to improve.

Woody is going great guns. His owner Jane came to visit at the end of last week and commented on how much his canter had improved — which is a bonus as that is what I had been working on the most.

I’ve also had a client’s horse in for a couple of weeks schooling.

PJ is owned by Samantha Lambie. I really enjoy riding him because he is such a great character and tries his heart out every step of the way.

He has such a talent for collection, but sometimes tension tries to creep in. With him its just about lots or repetition until he almost finds it not so exciting anymore. He’s such a smart horse and I have high hopes for him and Sam.

This week I also welcomed an old friendly face — Bandini. He is a horse I used to compete for Dan Greenwood and Jamie Reynolds as a five-year-old and has come for a few weeks schooling from his new owner Shirley Dwyer. I’m really looking forward to working with him and am so priviliged to have so many talented horses to ride at the moment.

At this time of year it always seems to be a time of reflection. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all of the people who have supported me through the past few months since I have gone freelance.

Although my name is always at the front of everything, there are so many people who are constantly behind me plugging away and helping me to train and care for my horses in the best possible way.

Finally a massive thank you must go to all the readers of my blog, how you put up with my endless drivel I’ll never know!

Wishing you all a fantastic Christmas and a prosperous New Year. Give all those ponies a kiss from me!

See you in 2013,

Matt