Easy week for Corey, but I've been hard at it!

Brook Corey head shoulders website

by Brook Howells

Well Corey has had a relatively easy couple of weeks, mainly because he had his flu jab and we always like to make sure he gets plenty of rest after that. We’ve still had the opportunity to get some good training and fitness sessions in though.

We had our first jumping lesson of the year a fortnight ago and he exceeded our expectations that just a few small fences would be hard enough work for him - we were jumping 1m fences with real confidence and ‘ping’, which has set me up brilliantly for the year ahead. I have struggled in the past to keep my weight off his back and to make sure he maintains a good rhythmical canter round a course but we both seem to have come out of the winter stronger. I have minor panics occasionally when I can’t see a good stride too and my lesson showed me that that demon is one I’ve yet to conquer, but most of last year’s lessons have stayed with me. I’m really looking forward to my first jumping competition to put it all into practice again.

We live in a relatively flat area so fitness work can be difficult. We don’t trot on the flat on roads and only if the ground is good can we do interval training round our big field. It will come as no surprise to anyone that it’s too soggy for that at the moment, so last weekend we boxed up, went to the hills, and did 20 minutes trotting up there.

I’ve started focusing a lot more on my fitness too. I’m often quite out of breath at the end of a cross country course and therefore starting to make life harder for Corey - and in an attempt to resolve this I’ve taken up running. A good friend of mine who is a keen long-distance runner has created a workout plan of interval training and I’ve now completed 6 runs - only one of which (the latest, when I stepped up to longer runs) has been painful - and all of which have been quite satisfied. I’m feeling so motivated to keep this up I’ve even bought proper running trainers with the right support for my legs!

However, this weekend we learnt that trying to fit running, riding and an hour of cross country practice into two days is a bad idea not to be repeated. I had a fantastic cross country technique training session with Andy Heffernan on Somerford’s ash arena, where they have a great selection of solid obstacles in a big all weather arena, including a bank and a ditch. Andy was teaching about safer riding and really emphasising the need to have control into a fence. We spent a lot of time working on our rhythm into the fence - as applicable to me in my show jumping as it is in cross country - and I left feeling like I have a lot of work to do to get this right but a lot of confidence that I can achieve it. Jumping a skinny when the horse isn’t running through the bridle is so much easier, and whilst Corey is generally very honest and jumps whatever you point him at, I definitely prefer doing it with the added control!

After the fun of cross country in horizontal rain and hail, and conscious that Corey was feeling a bit ‘well-exercised’, I took the decision not to jump him at the riding club on the Sunday and instead go for a leg stretching walk. I wish I’d had the sense to give myself a rest too and not try and fit in an extra run, but at least the sun was shining and Corey and Danny were casting shadows instead of splashes in front of us!

Brook

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