We’re heading into the month of May so I thought I’d share a little update about what we’ve been up to and where we are now. If you’re not familiar with Giselle and I, we both suffered set backs last year due to injury. We’ve spent the past 5 months committed to flatwork and dressage training to build both of our strength back up.
We have been training under the watchful eye of HSI level 2 coach Simone Hession, of Woodlands Equestrian Centre. Simone is the only level 2 HSI Coach in the region, specialising in Dressage. Slowly and progressively with her guidance and expertise we have been getting back into riding shape – literally. I initially started by having lessons on Simone’s competition mare, Donna. Riding a different horse helps me focus on my own abilities and plus I only love the opportunity to ride new horses! This has helped me personally to focus on my strengths and weaknesses and not just Giselle.
In early February we booked a place on a dressage clinic with Gisela Holstein, a list one dressage judge. Gisela instantly loved the look of Giselle but once we got working she identified a couple of issues. She suggested we take a new approach to our flatwork regime in order to build Giselle’s strength back up. I must bend my elbows… I must do the “physiotherapy riding”! It was time to get stuck in and start bringing Giselle to our weekly flatwork-ass-whooping in Woodlands.
Based on Gisela’s feedback and Simone’s assessment it turns out I was collapsing my right hip. This was effecting my ability to ride straight and get a proper position. Funnily enough, Giselle is weaker on her right rein then her left – coincidence?? I think not! Aware of the effects this can have on Giselle’s way of going I decided to investigate further by making an appointment for myself with an osteopath. Turns out my right hip was higher than my left, my shoulders were out of balance and my pelvis was tilted. Not to mention the pain in my lower back. No wonder it was physically difficult to get out of bed in the morning. It was such a sense of relief to know that there was a reason why I was feeling a little like Zoolander – only able to turn one direction! I’ve had several sessions since. I feel stronger, more supple and I’m beginning to feel the results in my riding.
By late February we had entered our first Dressage Ireland show. Our first test went surprisingly well and we came out with a score of 67.5% – the red rosette that came with it was a complete surprise. Our second test was less than impressive. A tense and fed up Giselle left us on a score of 54.35%. In hindsight I could have retired but seeing as I had traveled 3 hours to get there I was determined to finish the test! Take the good with the bad, right? Every day is a school day!
March came and following my own appointment with the osteopath I gave Equine Neuromuscular Therapist Debbie Bendon a call to work on Giselle’s niggles too. From this session Debbie suggested there may be an issue with my saddle. So a quick call to Lauren’s Saddles and Miss G was fitted with her new Albion Crosscountry saddle.. more room for her shoulders and a better fit over her back. Goodbye old saddle – hello beautiful!
Since then we have continued to train weekly. We’re being pushed out of our comfort zone, and I’m loving the new challenges in our flatwork sessions. April unfortunately has been a bit of a write off as it was a very busy month work wise. But we have our sights set on a couple more Dressage Ireland shows, with hopes to qualify for National Finals in September. Now that we have all our ducks in a row our eyes are on one or two ODEs during the summer. We need plenty outings now at this stage and Giselle desperately seeks showjumps every time we enter an arena..
Luckily it’s a bank holiday weekend here and we’re very excited to be getting a day out at our first riding club show of the year. Fingers crossed all goes well!!
I’ll keep you posted 😉