More Highs and Lows of HumungaHorse, Brigstock CIC**

Baydale

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I think we've all decided patience isn't my strong point
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, but I have had the biggest message from God this weekend in this regard. I have got a huge and very lovely horse, he has an attitude to die for and bags of everything needed for an event horse other than maturity. So why oh why do I not just listen to him and stop trying to be so bloomin ambitious?
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Here's how it went:

Stressage was on Friday in the searing heat. I learnt the test the night before, remembered that I haven't done travers or rein back for ooooh, about a month or so, and they weren't that good before anyway. I'd had bloods taken but not got the results back at that point so I didn't know if I had a sickly horse or not.....warming up I decided he was either ill, bolshy or fresh and my methods of dealing with any or those certainly weren't working so we did some wrestling and went in, dripping with sweat and at loggerheads.
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It felt like I had a double handful but managed to wagon him round with a face like thunder (me, not him
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), more or less doing stuff in the right place - 60 x 20 feels v small, and I'm going to suggest to BE that bigger horses have bigger arenas.
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Obviously his shininess and bounciness covered a multitude of sins as you could have knocked me over with a feather to hear I got 47.8 (and was in the lead (don't get too excited, I was 8th to go with nearly 60 in it
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). The judges (Gill Watson and Andrew Downes) were within 5 marks of each other, so my average was 68.1%.

I washed him off and went to walk the course, mouth agape at the meatiness of it and bearing in mind I'd only done Aston on him and JP had done the meaty Burnham and Belton runs. I did wonder if it would be a step too far for him, but walked it again in the morning when it still looked big but not half as big as it had every time I woke up in the night thinking about it.
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His bloods had come back fine, so he and I had no excuse for not having a go: he hooned out of the start box and we set sail, and I realised at fence three (big wide thing to skinny log on a turn) that my polite, easy-to-turn horse had gone and I'd got a loony heffalump with no brakes.
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He had a look at the first step into the water at 5 so I stoked him to the log into the second one at 6 and he leapt, pinging me out to the right a bit as he landed and locked onto the skinny barrel off to the left - "hold on Kermit, I'm on the case" - I gathered up my knitting and off to the gate, skinny hedges on a turn in the arena - I ended up showjumping all the technical ones as his size and exuberance made them a bit more tricky than usual. He was a bit hesitant off the bank (bounce up, roll top off), one stride off the next bank and three strides to a big skinny triple brush. Any other horse would have stopped as he was way too deep to it, but not HH, he dragged himself over it taking the flag out and set sail again. We got into a better rhythm once we were out into the open and he ate up the yawing ditches, popped through the coffin, road crossing etc, but I went the long route at the Y-shaped tree as I wasn't convinced that a) another drop was what he needed and b) his tummy and my feet would get through that small a gap.
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I did the two steps up one stride to an upright at the "castle" as I guessed he'd be tired by then and over the house to finish. I was so chuffed with him as he proved he is brave as a lion but something akin to a Great Dane puppy, slightly clumsy but always enthusiastic and up for it.

Which brings me to the showjumping.
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He'd whacked his stifle on the triple brush and was sore, but loosened up ok and trotted up fine, the vet was happy with it too. I walked the course and thought I'd struggle with that before the xc, never mind after: long distances in the combinations (treble walked 9 of my strides, and I haven't got short legs, honest
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) and all the oxers were square. He warmed up appallingly (ask meardsall_millie, she had the embarrassment of it) yet went in there and tried. He feels like the back end rolls/waddles and he gets v tense and overly-sensitive - you can see where this is going can't you?
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- I took a check after three and he practically stopped in his tracks, crashed through 4 and got so tight so had the first part of the double at 5 and then the related distance after that. We got it back for the triple bar, wall and oxer, then to the treble: he jumped in short and had the oxer behind, tried to chip another one in ("chipping in" and "17.3hh" don't go together), but then jumped the oxer out well and the planks to finish. So a massive five fences down and time penalties too.
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After much navel-gazing and a good night's sleep I've decided to not plan any more eventing until I've got the showjumping sorted, so expect to see me at a BSJA show near you soon (yep, I'm really looking forward to that....
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.)

Coffee and Red Bull if you've got this far and feel anything like I do today (EarlyStartsRNotUs
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), any suggestions for big horse strengthening exercises much appreciated.
 

kerilli

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oh hun, i really felt for you, he looked so fab and jumped the first few sjs SO well, i was thinking "Yes!" But he just doesn't cope when you are the teeniest bit deep to an oxer (not deep-deep, just not comfortably off it enough for him to get his huge Great Dane legs out of the way). It looked a lot better than it felt, I bet. Treble was a shame, but he pinged out great.
I was thinking about him last night and came to same conclusion as you have. He is SO fab in 2 phases, he has scope to burn but just doesn't have the adjustability in the sj at the moment, and then because he hates to hit one you can see it go downhill once he has.
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he is going to be a MEGA eventer, but I think it is going to take a bit longer...
 

SpottedCat

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I do hate how your 'rubbish' dressage is always a good 10 penalties better than my version of 'rubbish' dressage! I feel your pain with the 5 SJs down, I had a similar day yesterday (with my 'owner' hat on) but we went one better with 20 on the XC too.

He is going to be seriously unbeatable when you get the SJ sorted, you seem to forget that a) he is lacking in oxygen at that altitude and b) it is a loooong way from his brain to his feet - he'll get it eventually
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Bossanova

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Well done with the dressage and such a good xc, very good stuff. Sj afterwards is always a big ask- and for his first time at this level and him being still so young, I dont think he disgraced himself.
 

MysteryGirl

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Well done, shame about the SJ but I think you have the right attitude in taking a break from eventing him until you have got this phase sorted. I used to have a big horse and they do seem to suffer from a bit of brain delay when it comes to jumping, I'm sure some practise at BSJA will make all the difference xx
 

only_me

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well done! Sounds like a lot of horse to manage!
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Brill dressage and xc - at least the sj is easier to fix than probs on xc!
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what happens sj if you just leave it all to him? Just an idea i have forming
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Thistle

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Well the dressage and XC are fantastic

I'm sure he just needs to grow into his huge frame (bet he is still growing) he still has a lot of filling out and strengthening to do then will become easier in the SJ. JP could do it because he is stronger and more able to hold HH together.

I'll look out for you at Manor farm over the summer then!
 

jules89

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I wouldn't beat yourself up too much, still sounds like it was really good especially after everything !

Interesting what kerilli says, had a few of these types myself
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he sounds cracking and I am dying to meet him in the flesh.

Have fun with the BSJA just remember that you aren't allowed to turn into a SJer or cut his mane to fit in
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hehe
 

BBs

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Honey, (((hugs))) please stop doing this to yourself, you try so hard and when little things dont go right you think youre rubbish, when you truely are a great horsewoman.
HH is awesome, I adore him and can see him at Badminton in years to come! he will grow (in strength - before you get worried
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) and he will produce those clears.

Im pleased to hear youre going to give eventing a bit of a back seat with him just to establish your SJing again.

Honestly, having watched you both at Aston, neither did anything wrong, it was just one of those things.

Sometimes we as riders just try too hard and then it goes a little bit squiffy
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I was only saying to HalfStep yesterday, when she came out and was beating herself up about her dressage test, its only because we put EVERYthing into it and a tiny thing goes wrong it then continues to fall to pieces (or least we think it does). When sometimes we need to just shrug it off and actually it all comes right again.

Does that make sense of have I had too much sun??
 

kit279

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And there was me getting all excited at jumping round 75cm!! Well done anyway. I sometimes wonder whether because he's so physically big and bold that we forget that he's only 7?

OH (brain scientist) had some rather interesting things to say about how the horse learns to adjust his movements - it was very technical but the jist was that the less they *think* about the showjumping with the higher bits of the brain, the more they use the lower bits which are more automatic and better for fine adjusting. So if you think really hard consciously, you over correct because you're overriding the brain's natural movement control. So maybe the key is to practice, practice, practice until Ross is on autopilot as it were. Disclaimer - I know that sounds like waffle but he does (on this point at least) know what he's on about!

On a slightly more helpful note, Lordsbridge has really lovely BSJA on grass in the summer - maybe HH would appreciate his brain reprogramming in a nice big open space instead of a shoebox-sized arena??!
 

kirstyhen

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Hen reckons SJ is difficult enough when your 16.3hh, so goodness knows what it's like when your 17.3hh!
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Do BE Officials not know that bigger horses need special dispensation in the Dressage and SJ??
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Was disappointed not to see him strut his stuff on Friday, but lazy OH would only get out of bed once he had consumed his own body weight in Crossaints and Coffee
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I had Polos and everything
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Didn't envy anyone riding in that heat, my friend must have lost 2 stone in sweat!!

Hopefully HH will get so fed up of having to do SJ without getting to go XC after that he will buck his ideas up, and learn how to manage his lanky frame!
 

meardsall_millie

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Well done. He is a star (if a little bit of a girl about his grazed stifle
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). The warm-up wasn't fab I admit but if he was half as scared as I was with all those Pro's whizzing round with VERY scary trainers and grooms snarling if you so much as looked at the practice fence, then I'm not surprised!
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Also, tbh, the only ones making a really good job of the course were the little pingy pony types. It was a huge ask of a big, young horse, on a very hot day, after a tricky XC round.

I do think you need to stop beating yourself up about it (pot - kettle - black??
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) because it really wasn't that bad. Oh yes, and when JP said you've got a Badminton horse there, he's right, he just didn't mean in 2010 - so chill out!

Look forward to joining you in sorting out those SJ demons complete with white jods and appropriate bling
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kerilli

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kit, that's really interesting. i don't know about horses having "higher bits of the brain" (well, we know HH has, otherwise there's nothing uptop at all!) but I know from teaching and riding that trying too hard is really detrimental, and that if you think about something totally different it's amazing how easy it can become - is that sort of the gist of what your OH is saying?
Now, how do we train HH to sing Nelly the Elephant to himself as he goes round the sj...?
 

kit279

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Yep, Kerilli - a good example is catching a ball. If I just lobbed one at you, you'd catch it without thinking and probably catch it well. If I told you I was going to throw it to you, you'd try really hard to catch it and probably miss because you're using your cortex rather than your cerebellum and the movements are therefore much more jerky and less well controlled.

The cerebellum can process the ball's trajectory much faster than the cortex so you get a much smoother and more controlled movement. Same principle here - if the horse's cerebellum is trained by repetition to showjump automatically, he will be able to react and adjust much faster to any dodgy strides. If the horse is looking at the fences and thinking 'I must concentrate' then he is much more likely to have it down as the brain circuit is genuinely longer (3-4 neurons instead of 2) so he can't react in time and make the decision to pick up faster in front. You can train this kind of reflex quite easily - that's why you get better at catching balls the more you do it. On average, you need 4-5 repetitions before the cerebellum 'gets it' and the movements become smooth and flowing.

*Nerd alert*
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LEC

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I find sports science fascinating particularly about the best ways to learn and adapt the body so something becomes automatic rather than thought about.

Even though Elton John thought sorry was the hardest word I would have to completely disagree and think patience is. As someone with no patience I can understand the emotions you are going through. It sounds like he has all the tools but time will teach him to use them better. Keep going it sounds like it will be worth it. It would be interesting to see if Mckinleigh/Biko had similar problems at the same age as all similar in height.
 

kerilli

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N, what about loose schooling him? have you got a nice indoor school near you that does it?
there's a lovely one 15 mins from me along A17 (towards you), i can see if she'd let us use that one, really fab surface (v similar to yours i think, expensive one!), smallish arena. was seriously considering it for Katy anyway.
 

TableDancer

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I think that is the most tremendous performance for his age and stage
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Sounds like he went on trying till the bitter end, bless him, I can close my eyes and see his huge, earnest face looking a teeny bit worried in the SJ
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I reackon you are doing the sensible thing and looking at the bigger picture (always a necessity when HH is around
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) There will be time enough for the big man to open his legs and show his class, as they say
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I'll PM/call you tomorrow for a parlay
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BTW, how many of MY strides do you reckon that double would have walked??
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Sarah_Jane

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He is going to be great but he is still relatively young for the level you are doing and considering big horses take a lot longer to mature he is doing brillantly. I doubt he will ever be ultra reliable SJing but there will be a huge improvement with time I am sure. Concentrate on the huge achievements he has made and the rest will come.

Just I have the good showjumper but with your dressage score you can still have 5 down and beat me easy!
 

Hattikins

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Really well done Baydale! SJ a real shame but the dressage sounded pretty decent
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and his XC sounded absolutely awesome and the SJ can always be worked on as much as us eventers hate it
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connie1288

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Well done with the 2 amazingly good bits, and do you fancy a big white elephant (aka Tink) to take showjumping as well
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!!!!!
 

Fiona

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Well done HH for the dressage and XC.

BD - It probably isn't any consolation at all, but looking at the Tattersalls SJ results from today there were horrendous amounts of faults, so you aren't alone by any means.

Quite a few had 32, and time as well
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Fiona
 

hannahkirkhill

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Thats amazing for dressage, I wish my dressage had been as bad as yours
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Really well done for the x.c, it was so tough, a couple of people said if they would jump round there they would jump round anything
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Shame about your show jumping...hope you enjoy your BSJAing
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Baydale

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Oh my goodness, so many replies. Thanks everybody, I feel quite emotional and no, I haven't been on the Pimms (yet!)
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K - I know what you mean about the oxers but at Aston he was rolling them behind when he wasn't deep enough, so it's not that simple. I know it would be helpful but I'm not sure I can teach him to sing Nelly the Elephant, apt though it is.
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SC, it certainly is a long way from his brain to his feet (and if I had a pound for every person that commented on how big he is I could give up work
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) but I think it's more that the harder he tries the tighter he gets.

Which brings me onto the verrrrry interesting nerdy
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kit279 stuff: that does make a lot of sense and I think for my sake too, I need to get him and me out so that canter canter canter jump becomes second nature. It's so easy to want to change something when it's not going right, whereas actually you need to just keep doing the same thing repetitively until the penny drops. I'll see you at Lordsbridge then, and Manor Farm.

m_m - ah, now I know JP didn't mean next year I've got an extra year to sort the sj out, thanks for clarifying that.
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We need to cultivate our "scary pro/groom" look before next time, definitely.
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I'm on Ebay looking for anything Kingsland as we speak, so I'll see you at the next Arena UK show. *Baydale tootles off to get blonde hair extensions and blingy tack and clothing.*

BBs, yep, that does make sense, or I managed to interpret it so that it did.
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I know what you mean, but it's a fine line between trying hard enough to be effective yet still staying chilled. My head hurts.
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lec, I was thinking of Supreme Rock but McKinlaigh and Biko are good examples too. Maybe someone nerdy on here will know?
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TD you are so right about the expression on his face, it would have been comical. That double would have walked 9 and a quarter for you....was that the right answer?
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S_J, Hattikins, Marymoo - I like a challenge so I've just got to - as TarrSteps would say - suck it up.
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Fiona, at least I only had to go an hour down the road to embarrass myself, not get on a ferry etc. Saying that, the craic at Tatts would have taken my mind off it.
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Baydale

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[ QUOTE ]
In Pippas book she says Supreme Rock started to mature aged 12

[/ QUOTE ]

Great, I'm not sure I've got that much patience. Anyway, I'll be collecting my free bus pass by then.
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