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Thread: extreme pony squishing - SJ with the Shets!

  1. #1
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    Default extreme pony squishing - SJ with the Shets!

    ((and some big ponies too, I guess they deserve a mention ))

    Thursday was a public holiday and the nearby riding centre hosted a training show. Back in March when it was publicised, my boss’s mum Penny joked that we should take Pif & Paf along... well she should know me better than that, I replied in all seriousness that I would really love to take them! I had a “proper” jump on them at home back in the autumn in a borrowed saddle & discovered that they both not only had a great little pop on them but seemed to really enjoy it too. Their first driving competition is at the end of May so we knew they’d be fit enough by then, so why the heck not

    We also decided that it would be a good place to take Twirl – one of Penny’s New Forest mares who I backed in February – for her first outing now that she is up for sale. So far she has done a few hacks, a bit of flatwork, ridden obstacle courses, and spent a lot of time in the field doing nothing! We only jumped her twice at home to prepare for the show – just to teach her the basics and make sure she was mentally ready too. We did a crosspole session on one day and then on Tuesday moved to small uprights, starting with plain poles and then introducing a double, fillers – a red wall, an orange plastic banner and a rainbow – and our water tray, none of which phased her in the slightest.

    Pif and Paf were clipped on Monday, and on Wednesday they had their tails washed and Pif had this unruly mane thinned out a bit. I think you can tell from their faces how keen they are about being tidied up











    On Wednesday night when I was putting everything in the trailer, I had a bit of a giggle to myself as I casually picked up my saddle by the handle and slung it over my shoulder Am I really a 26-year-old who can fit in a cub saddle and is taking Shetland ponies showjumping? Why yes, apparently I am, and dead excited about it too

    We started bright and early on Thursday so we could get all the mucking out done before we went off to the show. There were 3 of us jumping horses in the afternoon as well, so it was going to be a very long day! Forgetting the riding part, our first challenge of the day was to cram all three ponies into a 2-horse trailer – Twirl went in first, and stood quietly and patiently while we attempted to cram Pif & Paf into the other half. Neither of them were mightily impressed with being packed in like sardines and they kept trying to go into reverse, but we just about managed to get the ramp up before they both backed out Then my boss had to climb over the partition into Twirl’s half in order to get out, needless to say Twirl was totally unphased.

    We got there just after 9am and met up with Mad Tam’s younger sister Tea, who has ridden Twirl at home and had offered to come and help with the ponies. The crosspoles had already started and I watched a round to learn the course while Penny put my name down. She came back saying there were only 30-odd entries – 3 of which were me – so we had to do very quick changeovers between ponies. Luckily with the Shetties you can tack them up without moving your feet as you can reach every bit of them from the same spot

    Obviously the boys are used to competing, so the show atmosphere wasn’t an issue, but they are used to doing it all side-by-side in the carriage and working as a team. Now they were being separated and being asked to work under saddle surrounded by lots of other ponies. It was certainly a big change from what they’re used to! The warmup was in the indoor arena too and neither of them had been in one before... I had a feeling they’d be okay, but you never know with these small ponies do you

  2. #2
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    Paf was up first. He was very fidgety while we got him ready, and once I was on he jogged down towards the warmup calling to Pif the whole time. He wasn’t sure about the indoor and we had to do a fair few laps in walk before he’d stop shying at the boards, and he also wasn’t mad keen on ponies whizzing up behind him. However, once into trot he started to settle down and then we popped over a few crosspoles and he was much quieter. Just before we went into the ring a Pif-alike passed by and Paf tried to shoot off after him, then hit reverse at high speed and we had to be led in

    But once we were in there Paf just got down to business like a true pro! – here’s the evidence ((Check him out over number 4, the cheeky little devil even took a stride out!))













  3. #3
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    Quick switchover onto Pif and back down to the warmup. He was fine about being indoors and didn’t mind the other ponies, and he wanted to zoom around like a lunatic – but I didn’t want him to wear himself out so we just popped over 1 crosspole before we went into the ring. Like Paf he took it all in his stride and he was actually getting rather strong in places, to the point I even took the longer option into number 8 because I didn’t think we would make the turn My toes actually touched a couple of the poles, but luckily not hard enough to knock them down and we too went clear













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    Then it was baby Twirl’s turn and I graduated from Shetlands in cub saddles to a 13.1 in an adult saddle, I am going up in the world I knew this would be fun as well, but I was also feeling a bit of pressure because of her being a baby and I wanted to make sure I did everything to help her get round nicely. A whole load of firsts for her too – first trip in the trailer that didn’t end at a field, first public outing, first indoor arena, first SJ course. Luckily I had her natural calmness and good attitude on my side! We were the last to go in the class so had to tack up very quickly, but Twirl stood quietly and made the job easy. Once I was on board she started to get a bit fidgety but I just walked her around for a few minutes to let her soak up the atmosphere. Then we headed down to the warmup.

    She didn’t need a long warmup in case she got tired before her round, she just needed time to let everything sink in. She was a bit looky once inside and didn’t like having the other ponies passing so close and often at canter. She jogged a bit and called continuously – yet she also listened to me and did as she was asked. We mostly walked around, then did a few laps of trot on each rein, left canter out completely and popped over a few poles. She jumped them the same as at home and I was feeling happy and confident as we went into the ring.

    I told the judges that she was a youngster and it was her first time out, and they offered us a few minutes in the arena before they rang the bell. We trotted around the perimeter so she could have a good look at the people along the fenceline and get used to the noises, and then I showed her a couple of the jumps so she could see the plants and so on, but she was calling out a lot and a bit distracted so I signalled that we were ready to go.

    Excuse the sloppy riding – the aim was to get her around without error, I wasn’t bothered about looking pretty! Kept in trot so I had more time to straighten her up if she went wobbly, hands wide to guide her into the centre, talking to her constantly to keep her mind on me.











  5. #5
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    The next class was 50-60cm. Since Twirl had found the crosspoles easy enough we decided to enter her and see what happened – it was a training show after all and you were allowed to finish your round even if you had had 3 stops or a fall, so my boss would come into the arena with me and we’d use it as a training round. Tea walked Twirl around in the car park while I walked the course – same as the crosspoles but with a double in it and a few more added at the end – and from the glimpses I got I could see that the pony was plodding around looking very chilled out.

    I remounted straight away and managed to get my name down to jump first, so that Twirl didn’t have time to get bored from hanging around. Back in the warmup she was more settled than the first time and we managed to get in a bit of canter too, before popping a crosspole and a couple of uprights, the first of which she overjumped massively and nearly had me off over her head

    Twirl was more settled in the ring this time and had stopped calling out. I showed her the yellow wall and the 3 fillers that had been introduced but she wasn’t even bothered enough to look at them! She had fully understood her job by this point and as we set off she asked to canter and I decided to try and canter it all to encourage her to jump a bit bigger. As you can see the height was hardly a problem We had 1 jump down, she drifted towards the exit and lost focus and didn’t quite pick up her back legs, but I was mega impressed with her behaviour and there is clearly a good jumping pony in the making here




















  6. #6
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    Back at the trailer the boys amassed a bit of a fan club They always get a lot of attention at driving competitions anyway, but this competition had so many kids around and a lot of them wanted to come and admire them (and who could blame them?!). Once they’d dispersed I had a quiet moment to cuddle the 3 ponies and thank them for being little superstars.





    And to finish off, here’s a little clip of our not-so-BHS loading method

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jQKIb...feature=relmfu

    Boss attempting to get out! Note the lack of concern from the baby pony



    Paf not mighty impressed about having Pif shoved up his backside...


    Should probably also mention the afternoon’s jumping, though it didn’t quite go so well for me We went back after lunch to do the 1m-1.05 – me on Jam, Mad Tam on Picasso, and Boogie ridden by his owner’s daughter Anna. The course was quite technical, well up to height, and the arena slopes downhill which I also find quite intimidating whilst doing big jumps – so I was feeling stressed and not very confident to be honest. Jam was fab in the warmup and it went well but as soon as I got into the arena I looked at the jumps and felt my remaining confidence seep away!

    And, erm... basically, I boogered it up! Didn’t set off with enough impulsion, crashed into number 1 and had it down When he clouted it we almost caused Mad Tam to fall off as she waited for her turn – Picasso gets upset when he clonks a pole himself, and apparently just the sound of it was enough to set him of broncing and rearing ((They went clear btw, had 1 down in jumpoff and finished 7th))





    Anyway I jumped number 2...



    ... but wasn’t looking at number 3, I let Jam drift towards the exit and we had a runout... Cleared it 2nd time of course as my boss’s mum told me off from the sidelines




    Downhill to big spread at number 4, I chickened out and we had a refusal... Jumped it second time, then through the double and over number 6...





    Jumped number 7, then there was a tricky boomerang-shaped turn downhill to the planks at number 8. I chickened out at the very last moment, Jam slammed the brakes on, and this happened –






    Wasn’t hurt at all as I landed on my feet but it’s the first fall I’ve ever had while jumping and I was a bit shocked to say the least I was allowed to finish the round being a training show, so boss legged me up, gave me a telling off for sitting like a lemon, and sent me off again. We cleared the jump and went on to finish the course without fault.




    Although we finished, Jam was overjumping and I wasn’t following him at all, it felt awful and really wasn’t pretty Worst round I’ve ever done! Ponies are way better... slinks off sulking...

  7. #7
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    I think jumping 50 cms on ponies ... to 1m on big horses is a pretty big leap! So you did really well.

    However, I think you should take Pif and Paf to things more. I them and the reports are far more entertaining than boring big horses
    Only when things do not interest one, can one give a really unbiased opinion; no doubt the reason why an unbiased opinion is absolutely valueless.

  8. #8
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    Brilliant report. Fab ponies You ride them very well

    Well done landing on your feet
    Native pony addict!

  9. #9
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    What great pics!!

    Pif Paf!

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    Smile because it happened.
    Jimmy 2003-2011

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