Catch up with Natalie Povey

Blog for November and December 2016

As the year comes to an end I have been looking how far Fulltide has come in the last few months in her training and how much more confident she is in her work. Our partnership is much more established and we are learning to trust each other, she tries so hard to work out what I am asking her. She is such a kind mare and I feel very lucky that she found me, as she is perfect. I can do as much as I physically can with her so I spend a lot of time grooming her and spending time getting to know her – she whinnies when she hears the sound of my sticks on the yard and if she is in her stable she is waiting with her head over her stable door to greet me. She always makes you smile. At the moment Fulltide is stabled at night in her luxury extra deep bed and turned out during the day with her companion and best friend, Honey the Shetland.

After finding out last month that our para dressage tests are due to change in the new year I have started teaching Fulltide the new movements, some of which she hasn’t done before such as leg yielding. Teaching Fulltide to leg yield has been a challenge as I have limited use of my legs and seat so we needed to find away of teaching Fulltide different aids so she understands what I am asking her. We have found that by applying a little rein pressure to the side of the neck that she moves away from it so we have been using this aid to teach her leg yielding – it is far from perfect at the moment so is a working progress as I need to keep her moving forward and sideways without falling through the shoulder but at the same time being careful not to get her confused.

We have also been working on our bend on the left rein as I have no used of my left leg to bend her around on the left rein so we were both finding working on the left rein a challenge as she was slightly against the bend and wanting to bend to the right – it is something that I have been working on for a while but we now seem to have worked it out although it still needs some improvement we have made a lot of progress to where we were two months ago.

I have also been working hard to contain her trot as now she is fitter than she was when she arrived she is feeling rather forward but in a good way, I just need to contain the extra forward energy so she stays in rhythm and balance rather than running away. In the walk to help with this I have been giving her more to think about varying to the work from different sized circles, to teaching her shoulder-in and quarter turns. In the trot to start with I worked on this on a 20m circle then making the circle smaller and bigger again containing the energy by half halting as when working large she would get a little hurried. She soon understood what I was asking. Fulltide is quite a sensitive, clever mare so picks things up quickly but then I have to be careful not to confuse my aids as she always wants to please and try her best.

To finish our training sessions we have been working on her stretching in the freewalk and taking the contact consistently forward and down.