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Matt Jenkins’ dressage diary: battling through the snowy conditions

I knew my last blog was tempting fate. When I said the quiet before the storm it sure was!

First of all THE SNOW! We all know how difficult it is to work with horses when there is a tonne of white stuff on the ground. Luckily with the indoor school we were able to keep the horses moving and exercised. Everything just takes such a long time — we cleared paths from the stables to the indoor and to the muck heap and kept them gritted, but with the regular snow falls this became a daily job! Some of the horses I ride on a freelance basis had to have an easy week, although I don’t think they minded too much. Normal service has resumed pretty quickly and a little holiday has done some of them good.

Just before the snow I decided to move Stig and Dalito to a yard just a few miles from Crown Farm — I will also be able to have a limited number of spaces for schooling liveries there too. Regular readers of my blog will remember a few months ago I took my horses for some lessons at The Dovecote stables in Churchill. I have now decided to move my horses there to further their training. Emily Baker and her company Equine Ethos run the Dovecote Stables. The facilities there are fantastic — there’s a large outdoor school, a heated gallery for clients and the indoor school has mirrors on both long and short sides, which is excellent for checking my position. There is stabling for 27 along with an extensive range of grazing and all weather turnout areas. The canter track keeps the horses fresh and enthusiastic too — I feel very spoilt!

Here I will also be able to benefit from the help of several world-renowned trainers. There will be four main visiting trainers, Jose Luis Valdes, Debby Lush, Dr Gerd Heuschmann and Carolina Hatlapa. All of which have years of experience in producing and training horses to Grand Prix. I am very excited to be able to work alongside Emily and her team and hope that combining this with my influences — from Crown Farm, Dan Greenwood and previous trainers — I will be able to set up a stable base to give both my own and my schooling liveries a well rounded, balanced education.

I have already benefited from my second set of lessons with Debby Lush. Debby was impressed with how much both horses had improved. Stig is already taking much more weight behind and is settled into a slower more active rhythm in the trot. This time we worked on really getting him to stretch and lengthen through his spine. Stig almost likes to go in an outline that is too advanced for his age — so, we are working on getting him to take the contact down and forwards as well as balancing his weight on his hind leg before we bring him back up into more of an outline that you would use in a test. We worked Dalito a lot on transitions, not only between the paces but within the paces themselves too. This enabled us to get him more through and connected to the contact. They both feel a lot more established as of late — time to book some shows! I hope to do some elementary classes with Stig and some novices with Dalito, as well as some five-year-old classes.

All the other horses have come on a lot too. Woody is ready to break out onto the competition scene, as is Ruby. They’ll be doing a few preliminaries to gain some confidence, and then onto novice. Maisie will be contesting some five-year-old classes as well as some horses that I teach that I will be competing in some prelims.

Now where is that British Dressage schedule?!

Until next time,

Matt

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