I discussed with Lizzie the difference I had noticed in Jing’s energy levels since dropping the Re-Leve down to 1.5KG, to control Jing’s bodyweight. Lizzie suggested that we tweak Jing’s ration to include cereals to provide some quick-release energy Lizzie suggested Enduro-100. Like the Re-Leve, the Enduro-100 is heavily based on fibre and oils, but unlike the Re-Leve, it does include some cereals.
By keeping the ration focused on fibre and oil , Lizzie explained we are catering for Jing’s stamina requirements, but the power she needs in her cross country and SJ is available in the cereals which provide the quick release energy.
“Lets bring out the inner dressage diva" Lizzie commented, as the Enduro-100 is actually the feed that Dressage supremo Valegro is fed on as to supply him with the stamina and the power for this work.
Despite the rain, we had the most amazing session with Francis at LMEQ, it was truly inspiring.
Francis initially watched us warm-up. Straight away he picked up that Jing was not sharp enough off my leg, forward into my hand, and when cantering, was too much on her forehand. The advice was more transitions, and he advised we needed a much more direct response forward. We practiced walk to canterensuring she responded straight away into more of a cross-country pace for at least 8 strides, then brought her back using asmall circle to help with impulsion and activity behind.
The key to this exercise was that the response and transition were instant, no niggling at her sides “requesting” the transition, I asked, she responded.
After a little while you could clearly see a difference and Jing was much more alert and listening to me. As we started to warm up over fences, Francis said there were three very important words to remember ....... “Balance, rhythm and control”…… without these, we were never going to achieve that smooth, effective, non-time wasting XC round.
We set out over a few fences, keeping the canter steady and balanced, then a few strides out I was tending to push her and flatten her into the fence. This was causing her to “chip in” resulting in a flat, awkward jump. Straight away Francis brought us back together and told me to trust the canter and myself and let the fence come to us. After stringing a number of fences together and maintaining a much more balanced rhythm I started to really feel that Jing was so much more attentive and actually listening to me. By improving her balance though the transitions, we were developing a rhythm and through this we had established control. Our shape over the fences was looking and feeling so much better and Jing was starting to pull me in to the fence and I wasn't driving her flat in to the base of the fence.
We finished the session at the water fence. Francis had us walk in and out several times, no jogging, no trotting just walking. Not only walking in and out on the flat but also down the drop in to water. Francis explained that he did all his horses’ water work initially in walk so that the horse is forced to think about what they are doing and not just "throw " themselves in. So often you see horses over-jump into water and scare themselves and sometimes fall because they are not thinking about what they are doing and where they are placing their feet. Once Francis had explained that, it made so much sense. I’ve been guilty of riding quite strong into water when schooling so as to prevent a horse from stopping but I have since taken the young horse schooling and adopted Francis's advice and the mare has been fantastic looking and being aware of where her feet go.