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Latest Blog from Julia Paterson on her ‘Route to the Mitsubishi Grass Roots Championships at Badminton’.

Happy New Year!

Julia Paterson - © Daryl Bush Photography

Julia Paterson – © Daryl Bush Photography

Well hello again everyone and welcome to my new series of monthly blogs. As you know from the introduction earlier this week, Marvin and I have qualified for the Grassroots Championships at Badminton Horse Trials in May which is extremely exciting and the final piece of our ambition jigsaw. Our training is in full swing and we have lots planned to get us in peak condition for May.

Since August, Marvin has had a six week holiday to coincide with Neil and I moving house and our summer holiday. The weather during his holiday was still fantastic so he was basking in the sunshine for nearly four weeks.  Then when the season changed I popped his rug on to keep him warm at night but he was still living out and happy as Larry.

As with any horse who has had a break, I put together a work schedule for Marvin and he came back into work mid-October. He completed two weeks of walk work then gradually trot and canter work until we were back up to jumping in December.

We have resumed our dressage sessions with Claire Dryden and started working on the more advanced movements such as pirouettes to help Marvin lift and stretch from his shoulders and half pass, linked with our other movements such as shoulder in, travers and leg yielding every stride, basically stretching work in all three paces to help Marvin become even more supple which is working. To put our work to the test, we ventured out and competed in two Elementary tests at Richmond Equestrian Centre at the end of December. Marvin worked really well, his warm-up work was excellent and he feels so confident now we have a great bond and it shows as we won both classes but more than that was the fact of the difference in marks. We had increased by 5% with much more conviction in our work.

At the end of December we had a two-day show-jumping clinic with Susie Gibson which could only happen thanks to my fantastic friends, Jacqui and her daughter, Sophie, who provided space for us to stay with them at their farm in Carlisle.

Greenlands Equestrian Centre is just over two hours away from us but Susie teaches there every two weeks so I wish we lived closer. But Jacqui is an amazing friend who wants to do anything she can to help us in our quest for Badminton and so has said they will provide a bed for the night for us both anytime we book in for the two-day clinic! This is absolutely amazing and means we can progress at a much faster rate as the clinic demonstrated.

On Day One we were very rusty in achieving Susie’s high standards. Our issues were our changes in canter left to right, as I struggle to push my right hip forward and rush the change, but the good points were the fact that Susie had us jumping around fences of 1m and more, with big square oxers (my Achilles heel).

On Day Two (with a sore right hip) I really worked on slowing the changes to the right to help Marvin make the change easier, and lightness of the rein contact which was another lightbulb moment.

The following week, Susie was back in our region so I took Marvin back for a sharpener lesson which was fantastic. Susie was over the moon as everything we had taken away from our two-day clinic had been ratified in this session – the perfect finish for Christmas for both Susie and us. Roll on January for our next clinic!

So to finish the year off we went to Janice Mews’ show-jumping held at Stainsby Grange and really upped our game. After jumping a warm-up class at 90cms we entered into a 1m 05cms and Marvin didn’t disappoint. He jumped an amazing clear round and I then decided to try the jump off at 1m 10cms, but this was out of our comfort zone and in hindsight we should have withdrawn. I felt Marvin just draw back as the first fence was a very wide Liverpool oxer and Marvin hit the back bar and I felt this jolt in his confidence. I should have ridden the fence with more power. He did jump the course but knocked a few more fences and I could feel his confidence dropping. It was a great learning curve and Marvin loves his jumping so I knew he would have his holiday and come back to cover this with Susie, so looking forward to our next clinic….

So January will be a month of MOTs – getting our saddles checked and a physio session booked as Marvin’s shape will change in terms of muscles building back up.  I am always keen to ensure his muscles are repaired with a good feeding regime and physio sessions to prevent injury to ensure that everything is ok before we start to ramp up his work. We have some dressage and show-jumping lessons planned and   will then come out again to compete at the end of the month. So until then, bye for now.

Julia.