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Matt Jenkins’ dressage diary: keep your dogs under control

The sun has got his hat on, hip hip hip horray! And about time too. I really do hope the weather stays like this all summer. It makes everything so much easier on the yard. No heavy rugs, no muddy feet to wash off — and on a Bank Holiday, too! What have we done to deserve this.

So the dressage annorak in me suddenly realised there was an event called Badminton going on. I was too busy to go this year, but when I was younger Mum and I used to make an annual pilgramage there for the four days. It’s only about 10min from my hometown of Chipping Sodbury, so it always felt like the natural thing to do.

It is quite extraordinary how you can fill all four days at Badminton. By the time you have walked the course, sampled each and every stand in the food tent and walked around the shops twice a day, every day, there is barely anytime to see any horses!

On a serious note though, there was an incident on the cross-country, while Andrew Nicholson was doing his round. A spectator’s dog ran out on to the course towards the final element of the quarry while Andrew was in the air, which could have caused a nasty accident.

Now I know even the most well-mannered and obedient dog can suddenly take flight, but incidents like this shouldn’t happen. It would be a shame to ban dogs from events such as Badminton and I fear that as a result more would be left in their owner’s car. It rarely happens and the majority of dog owners are very dilligent, but please just spare a thought. If I had been riding through my canter half-pass to my flying change during my test at the nationals and all was going swimmingly until a dog ran out in front of me… I’d like to think I would be as professional as Andrew was, but in reality I really dont think so

A couple of times when I have been out hacking recently, I’ve turned a corner to meet a trio of dogs hurtling towards me, barking at full volume and with no owner in sight for a good few minutes. Luckily, my horses pay no attention and just carry on, but often the dogs choose to follow me rather than the owner. Many thanks to all of those dog owners who believe having control over your pet is all part of dog ownership. Lets just hope that those who are a little slack on the issue get the hint soon.

All the horses are going really well at the moment. Stig and Dalito are so much stronger and the spring grass has helped them to fill out (prehaps a little too much in Stig’s case!) They are both cracking on with the more advanced work now, shoulder-in, half-pass and changes. Woody has returned for a couple of weeks and is also starting his changes, which are VERY EXCITING!

I also have a grey New Forest mare in for schooling. She is owned by Lara Goodfellow who I met through her sister Elena — a livery at my trainer Dan Greenwood’s yard. The Goodfellow’s are a very experienced horsey family. Elena had great sucess at pony and junior level dressage. She is a smart little horse with a bright future.

Last week, I took a client’s horse to a show. Caramac is owned bu Chloe Hayward and I have been training them for about a year now. We often have trouble with Caramac concentrating in his tests. We used this show as a schooling excercise and concentrated on working more forward than we usually would and round into the bridle. He was a lot more settled in his tests and produced two good scores, despite the surfaces being particularly deep, causing many competitiors to have difficulties. He is an older horse, but his “Barbie” pony looks often make spectators think he is a lot younger (and also makes him think he can get away with a little too much). Chloe and Caramac have come on in leaps and bounds since I started teaching them and I think the best is yet to come.

Have fun in the sun everyone and remember to even out those tan lines. My glove marks are something to behold!

Till next time,

Matt

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