Chloe Vell’s dressage blog: Squeezing every mark

  • It’s that time of year again when as horse owners we are running around finding thicker rugs, neck rugs and clipping horses. It also means that for those of us with entire horses, we are dealing with changing hormones that seem to accompany seasonal change.

    For Kaja it’s an unsettled time where for a few weeks she just seems irritated and argumentative. I’ve found that one way to help her deal with things is to keep her competing so we rode our first Prix St Georges (PSG) of the year last week and will be out again next week.

    This was the first time she has been out since the junior European championships in July and she produced some pleasing work but was a little bit on edge.

    It sounds strange but she seems to be more focused at home when she stays in the competing routine, as if she has better understanding of the purpose of her work. So I will need to organise a careful schedule through the winter as we aim for international selection in the new year.


    With my new horse

    I have also been fortunate enough to be offered a very talented horse to compete. He has joined us in Cheshire and has settled well. I am grateful to Bernard and Josephine Eley at Nibeley stud for this opportunity and I will be out and about on the circuit as soon as we are ready. I look forward to the future ahead with him!

    There are large number of pieces to the jigsaw of performance and Equifeast have been great at reviewing feed factors that may also help my horses cope with the change of season. Performance is not just about the horse but also the often overlooked rider.

    In order to iron-out a few of my own issues I now have physiotherapy support at ‘Physiofit’ who have given me a great programme to help my riding position and prevent the risk of injury. I’m getting newly acquainted with my balance ball!

    We often talk about straightness of the horse but how often do we challenge it in ourselves?

    With Kaja

    With Kaja

    On the topic of injury risk I was also very pleased this week to receive support from ‘Kask’ with hats for the new season; flying the UK flag as their first British sponsored rider.

    In terms of actual ridden work improvement, my lesson at Carl Hester’s this week saw Kaja produce some really good work in-between a few ‘mareish moments’. In the canter-pirouette work on a 10 metre circle Carl was reminding me to have the hind-quarters on eight metres and the front on 10 metres. Sometimes I have a tendency to put the quarters on a circle too small which causes a loss of rhythm. As always Carl had his eagle-eye on my riding position and accuracy, reminding me to have quality in everything. Perhaps Carl summed up all this week’s thoughts with the question: “Why get 7.5 when you can get 8?”


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