Stadium Jumping Practice – 3′-11″ (1.2 m.) Combination

We did Stadium Jumping practice today to make sure that the height wasn’t going to be a problem for Gamble. While we knocked rails, he did the height without question. I’m very confident, now, going into our first event at Woodwind in 10 days.

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Speed Work – 6 x 1 km Repeats (1:30 was fastest)

Tonight we continued our cardio conditioning with some more 1 kilometre repeats. This time, we did them at the side of the cornfield behind the stable, rather than on the roadway. The advantage to this venue is that it is more like a real cross country course with turns and changes in elevation, plus it is somewhat softer ground on which to train. My goal was 1 km at 2:15 (Training level speed), another at 1:55 (Preliminary speed), one at 1:45 (a bit faster than Intermediate speed), and then three repeats at 1:35 (much faster than Intermediate speed). But I decided that it was going so well, I’d do my fifth repeat at a 1:30/km pace (40 km/h.). Here are my splits: 2:09 1:53 1:42 1:38 1:30 1:35 Gamble had energy to spare. I certainly could have done one or two more repeats — but at this point, it isn’t necessary. My longest distance next month will be the CIC * at Will O Wind — which should be 2600 – 3120 m. or possibly Woodwind’s Intermediate class (3300 m.).

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XC Gymnastics

Gamble was good as gold with our jumping gymnastics today. We did a lot of warm up and then went through a bunch of the trot-verticals, then at a canter. Then we did the 5 jump line (ending with the corner fence), looped back and did the prelim max-sized table fence — probably the best he’s ever done it. Finally, we did the 3 banks up and came around and did the 4’6″ bank down. No sweat. I’d say we’re ready!

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Tempo Gallop – 6 km with 2 at Intermediate pace

I was going to do some XC jumps today, but decided that it was just a bit too slippery with some light rain that we just had.  So instead I did a tempo run along Neil Road.  I was looking to start and finish with 1 km of trot, and for the gallop work it would be 1 x Training pace (2:15/km), 2 x Prelim pace (1:55/km), 2 x Intermediate pace (1:49/km) and 1 x Training pace again.  Here are my gallop splits: 2:22 1:58 1:55 1:47 1:47 2:15 So I’m pretty happy with these splits. We cooled off with a nice 1/2 hour hack.  I think he’s in good shape from a cardio perspective!  

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Dressage — I think we’re ready!

I just worked tonight alone practising a bunch of things that Tracy had me doing at our lesson a week ago.  But I must say, it went well — at least from my vantage point!  I finished off our workout by doing the CIC ** Test A and it went really well.  I don’t think I’d get incredible score if an Event were held tomorrow, but I don’t think I’d embarrass myself either!

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Speed Work – 6 x 1 km Repeats

Today was fairly cool compared to what we’ve seen in the past week or two. By the time I got out to ride, it was about 5 degrees C. But while that is cool for pleasure riding, it is perfect for speed work, which was on the agenda today. My goal was to do 6 one-kilometre repeats separated by a 2 minute walk break. My target pace per kilometre was 2:00, then 1:45, then 4 x 1:35.  Here are our splits: 2:00 1:44 1:34 1:30 1:36 1:34 That fourth repeat where I hit a 1:30 pace, I was actually doing about a 1:33 pace when a truck hauling a trailer came up beside us.  For whatever reason, Gamble decided we were in a race and kicked into another gear.  Before I knew it, our pace was 1:22 per kilometre — 44 km/h.  So even at a better-than-Intermediate-pace, he has enough in reserve to get faster if need be. He cooled down very easily and was barely breathing hard at the end.  We could have done another 2 repeats easily.  I may want to aim for a 1:30 pace for a couple of repeats next time just to make sure he’s working hard. Anyhow, it was a successful night.  Extra oats for Gamble tonight!

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XC Exercises

With just 3 weeks until our first event of the season, the conditions were finally good enough outside to allow Gamble and me to do some schooling over some XC fences. After a good warm up of trot and canter work, I trotted some 2’6″ and 3′ verticals. Then I gradually added more fences — an oxer, an angled coop, some rails — and then put it all together to do a 1 m. vertical with 1 stride to a 1.1 m. oxer to a 1 m. angled coop to some rails on an angle followed by 4 strides to a (skinny) corner fence. Gamble did everything I asked of him and appeared actually excited to be jumping outside again. Then we did the log-to-4′ ditch-to-skinny combination and he was foot perfect. Finally, the triple steps up and down, followed by the 3’6″ drop and then double 3’6″ bounce-drop. The only fences in our repertoire we didn’t do was the maximum height/width table, the 4’6 drop and something into / within water. But with 3 weeks left, we still have lots of time.

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Dressage Lesson – 3 weeks to go!

Tracy came out to give me and Gamble a dressage lesson today. It went very well and I learned a couple of things to boot! 1) When making a tight turn, you need to keep the bend to the inside but keep pressure on the neck with the outside rein. The problem is that you don’t want to be hauling him with the inside rein, but more guiding him. And when you guide him, your hands can become significantly displaced from one another, which looks disorganized. So I learned that I can use a combination of my wrist and my elbow to take up the slack when I’m making a tight turn. 2) When practising for the final 10 m. turn at a collected canter, work on making 90 degree turns on a larger square. You need him sloooooowwww to do these but he has to keep the bounce. 3) When slowing down from the medium canter, just “squeeze” him down to the downward transition so that it isn’t too abrupt. At the end of the lesson, I went through the CIC ** Test A twice and it went well. I have the test fully memorized now, and many of the movements are going very well, particularly at a canter.

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Hackamore- What, When and How?

In stereotypical Thoroughbred fashion, Oz gets bored with bits fairly quickly. As we’re focusing on different aspects of our training, I like to switch bits to help facilitate our training. It’s kind of like switching between running and walking shoes depending on what you’re training your muscles to do. I decided to share my research into hackamores in case anyone else is considering the switch! What is a Hackamore? A hackamore is simply a nose piece used to control the horse, rather than the traditional metal bit going through the horse’s mouth. Some call it a “hackamore bit”, but I’m going to reserve this term for the combination hackamore bit. Generally they work by applying pressure to the horses nose, and poll. There are several different kinds, with different purposes—just like any other type of bit. English Hackamore: Flat nose piece, with a short shank and curb chain. This hackamore is common for training purposes and is a great starter hackamore (it’s the one I use). It’s soft on the horses face, and can even come with sheepskin padding or without. Pros: Cheap, Soft, Good for moderately strong horses – Snail paced Cons: Can be hard to clean (sheepskin), curb & shank can be too much for some horses             German Hackamore: The german hackamore has longer shanks and, although fairly straightforward, has a bit more “breaking power”. Pros: Great take-and-give action for hot horses, soft steering Cons: Need super-soft hands (not for amateurs), can Continue Reading →

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Show Jumping Practice – 3′-11″ (1.2 m.) Oxer

Tonight we worked on show jumping at the height at which we’ll be competing this summer.  We worked up from a 2’6″ oxer to 3-9″, 4 repeats each.  We then put it up to 3′-11″ (1.2 m.) and I was going to be content doing it twice at this height.   It was a slightly sloping oxer with the front rail at about 3′-7″. I pulled out of my first attempt as I didn’t like the striding.  The second attempt went well, although we did it a bit long.  Then we did a third attempt and for whatever reason, Gamble wasn’t interested and put on the brakes.  But we went around and did it again and he was fine.  Unfortunately, we didn’t get that last attempt on camera. It wasn’t a wide oxer — just 2′ roughly.  But as we get more strength and confidence, we’ll widen it to 4′.  

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