Taking your own advice and not being happy with anything less than you deserve..

So I’m back..

Straight to business, I’ve had a few emails from people pulling me up on my bad grammar and spelling mistakes in my blogs..

As I have said before, yes I know my spelling isn’t great but that’s me!! And I actually like the fact I make mistakes, we are all human aren’t we?!?! For me the mistakes prove theses blogs are me and all me.

So if you don’t like me, my blogs, warts and all you can kindly shut the door as you leave.. Right anyways..

On to why I’m writing this blog – Jimmy Shoo.. As I told you in my last blog, Jimmy was fab round Burnham Market Advanced.. The dream of Burghley was alive again!! But fast forward a week after Burnham Market and Jimmy had finally beaten me………

After Burnham Market we were all so excited, Jimmy was clearly starting to be more on side – or so I stupidly thought!!
Off we went to Withington advanced, after a pretty good dressage and a great SJ round I was full of confidence for the XC, Jimmy was going great guns until the water fence two thirds of the way round when having jumped in well he decide to not jump out even thou he was on a good stride to a fairly straight forward brush fence..

I tried again to get him over but there was no hope – after all when Jimmy says no he means it.. I honest thought walking back to the lorry ‘I can’t do this anymore’
You see I was doubting myself, questioning my riding and my decisions whilst riding him..

I mean I just couldn’t understand what I was doing to make him suddenly stop going. Anyone who knows me will tell you I am probably the most positive and decisive rider a cross country you will find..
This is not me singing my own praises, I have never believed I am a good rider but I know I’m a brilliant passenger and an even better positive and decisive cross country rider..
I’m always thinking and kicking forwards – or I always used to be I should say.. It’s what riding fantastic cross country horses early on in your riding career does for you, same with jockeys.. It makes you believe, makes you ride every horse like it will come up off any stride, ride like every horse is a star and as I always say ‘you believe and they will too’

The other thing I often say when I’m teaching is ‘don’t be so grateful’ I hate seeing people being so grateful for every nice thing there horse does for them.. Frankly if you look after, love and make sure your horse has a great life then he/she should bloody try his/her hardest for you!! It’s nothing less than you deserve and should expect from them..

So back to Jimmy – I was a little at a loss at how to feel after Withington, but I knew something had to give and give quickly.. We were entered for his first CIC3* at Houghton just 3 weeks after Withington. Last Saturday (2 weeks after Withington) we took Tigger (a son of the wonderful Little Tiger, more about him next time!) cross country schooling.. Jimmy and Tiggers owner came along riding Jimmy to save her legs following us around on foot around the cross country course..
Tigger is very much his mothers son and was a super star. After we had finished with him I took Jimmy for a canter and decided to pop a 3ft log on the way back to the lorry after cantering. Well blow me down if he didn’t throw the towel in and stop at the log!!!!
Now Jimmy has never ever shown this side at home or schooling and at an event the 3 allowed slaps just aren’t enough to get him going.
So I knew this was my chance – time for a square up, I mean not even I am stupid enough to think he can’t jump a 3ft log with his eyes closed!!! Although I am ashamed to say the first thing that flashed thou my mind when he stopped was ‘maybe I didn’t set him up properly!’

Needless to say I soon got a hold of myself!! I mean come on – an advanced horse with his scope doesn’t need to be set up for a 3ft log. So I set about him, I could soft soap this and tell you I gave him a couple of hard smacks and he backed down and off we went happy as larry – well he didn’t and we didn’t..
He kept coming back for more.. He was basically saying – I know you’ll run out slaps in a minute and give in. So I got as serious with him as I needed too, jumping a 3ft log wasn’t much to ask was it?
Anyways after a battle I won and we jumped loads of stuff and he was mega, so on to the water we went – now Jimmy has never ever had a problem or had a bad experience jumping in to water but guess what? Yep you guessed it!! He didn’t fancy getting his feet wet!!
So I set about him again but this time he wasn’t up for as much of a fight – he jumped in and out really well but I was being doubly strong, I was making him believe that him jumping every fence I put infront of him was a given not a choice, he is superbly looked after and I try to ride him to the best of my ability so it’s no less then we deserve is it? That he tries?

I would never ask a horse to jump something they aren’t capable of but that is not and has never been what I’ve asked of Jimmy.

I am a great believer that not all horses need a slap, I would be the first person to take my time with a horse that had a genuine problem and that needed a pat and to be given a chance..

I came away from that cross country session like a new woman.. Or more I should say like the old me.. The penny dropped there and then – I have been allowing Jimmy to creep round courses in the hope that if I danced to his tune he would jump round.. I was being grateful for him getting round even if it was in a creepy fashion when deep down I knew he was better than to just ‘get round’
My horses have never and should never just get round cross country courses.. I inspire them to be bold, brave, flashy and to take chances cross country because I believe and ride them like they are stars in such a way that makes them believe they are too.. Simple fact was I had lost my way..

I had let Jimmy change my way of riding and that was the thing that had to give and it had to give at Houghton!!

So on to Houghton – the dressage was a bit blah!!! Showjumping was actually pretty good, 2 very unlucky poles down but I rode him very forwards daring him the whole way round.. Setting the trend for the cross country.. When walked the course I wasn’t sure if we would get further the the first combination.. That was fence 4ab & 5!! As we walked on I decided I was going to having to be at my best (which isn’t very good!!) to get him round clear..

There were some serious questions as well as a very strong water. But the old me cross country has that slight dumb attitude that everything will go if I kick hard and believe enough.. So that was my plan.. I was going to make him believe, Jimmy was going to go clear XC because that is what my horses do. Simple.

I came out the start box full of it.. I was riding a star so why wouldn’t I be full of it? Having jumped 3 fences he started to drop off me, I could feel him saying ‘nah not for me today’ Before I’d have given him a pat, tried to kid him along.. Today was different, he got two hard slaps down the shoulder and told to get the f**k along.. We had a cross country course to be jumping clear round and I wouldn’t be having any of his crap. So just around the corner was the dreaded ‘4ab & 5’ I gave him another slap down the shoulder just before and attacked the combination and he honestly made it feel like a simple 3ft grid work exercise..

But no resting on my loral’s, he after all is a proper thinker so every time I thought he even so much as wavered off the job in hand he got a smack and told to cop on. If he jumped a fence well he got a well deserved pat but he also got a kick that said ‘yep good job at that fence but the job isn’t done, head down and keep trying’ and I can honestly say he made every fence feel so easy it was untrue..
Again I’m cross at myself for allowing him to creep round places like Burnham Market when I should have been driving him in to every fence giving him confidence in his own ability even if the only way to do that is to be forceful with him. Some horses need a pat and to be kidded along to get the best out of them – Jimmy is not one of those horses and I should have coped on and done a better job with him.. I have basically made a bit of a rod for my own back..

4 fences from home Jimmy had to stretch and work a little to get to a second corner in a double of corners.. It wasn’t even a bad jump or a bad stride it was just a slightly awkward jump in a round that until then had been foot perfect.. Guess what he did at the fence that followed? A simple, straight forward and very small log (the smallest fence on the course for sure) Yep you guessed it he stopped.. Not even my kicking and my slap down the shoulder worked..
He said NO.
When Jimmy said no he means it doesn’t he? Well this time it was different.. I mean how dare he? Who the hell was he to let me and his loyal loving owner down? Because that’s what he was doing, he was letting us down..

So rather than half heartedly trying to get him over it I made him dame well aware of just how disappointed in him I was..
He is a class horse and that is just not cricket and I wouldn’t be having it – I ride horses that are stars and that show everyone just what stars they are..
I don’t ride horses that want to show everyone that they aren’t stars.. And to my amazement he went second time..

I promise you all that this really is the first time he has ever gone after stopping.. I cant remember him having any penalties XC since he was a 5/6 year old, he either goes or doesn’t. But blow me down if he didn’t think about pulling himself up at the very next fence, 2 simple steps up!!!
But this time I just pulled my stick thou and he was gone!!! He flew up the steps from a walk making nothing of them or the fence just 2 strides after the steps then we went straight on to a massive open ditch to a skinny combination..
I really thought he might try and pull himself up, I mean if he’d tried it at a tiny log and then at some steps up there was no way he was going to jump a wacking big open ditch was there?!?!

But I was wrong.. He jumped it like the star he is.. Just total and utter class.. Then he stormed off with me to the last and came up out my hands winging it like a super star that is full of confidence..
He landed and as he galloped thou the finish I said to myself ‘he’s starting to believe’

So after today our 4* dreams are genuinely back on track.. Barbury and Hartpury CIC3* are next on the agenda and I will be making sure we are a dame sight closer to the leaders after the first two phases..

Never again will I be grateful for anything less than I deserve..
Never again will I doubt myself on a horse I’m riding cross country..

Remember if someone’s so called best isn’t good enough give them a option, they shape up or ship out because life is to short to be around anything or anyone that gives you less than you deserve or makes you doubt yourself..

Putting the gun to there head and telling them to cop on will either make them raise there game to your level and if it doesn’t do you really want things and people in your life that aren’t stars? I know I don’t..

Life is to short for Vanilla..

Over and out…