August 2017

  • Vaulting camp
  • Holiday training in France

This is a little bit late because I spent a lot of August away on holiday. August therefore became the first month since last August that I didn’t have any competitions at all! That said, I was still pretty busy and training hard.

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…and posing for selfies with Dax!

Vaulting Camp

The month began with vaulting camp: four days of vaulting, riding, general training, mucking out, grooming, tack cleaning and any other kind of stable management work. It was good fun but rather tiring!

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Holiday training in France

The day after camp finished I headed off to France with my mum and Rosie (the pup!). Whilst I was away I was able to go riding twice at a stables called ‘Ranch des Baous’. They had lovely Pyreneean horses who were very responsive. The first time I went I had a lesson with a coach called Jacques, riding Saga. The style of riding required was very different to what we do at home – I was constantly reminded to hold my hands higher, higher, higher! I’m not sure how well Rolo would respond but it certainly worked well with Saga, despite my lack of control over my arms. Since my bar reins were at home in England, I attempted riding with two hands, but I found it really hard and I didn’t feel I could trust my left hand. I ended up holding both reins in the right hand but just having my left hand hooked in to try and make it feel easier for Saga. This wasn’t a good thing for my left shoulder so I’m not keen to try it again just yet.

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The second time I visited the stables I went for a lovely two-hour hack, riding a horse called Source (sp?!). We weaved our way to the top of the mountain and admired the view down to the Mediterranean. We had a few fun canters but since it was pretty hot even early in the morning, and since most of the time the terrain wasn’t easy, we spent most of the time in walk. Source had a bizarre habit of finding the scratchiest shrubs to scratch herself on, which meant that I came home covered in scratches and with various thorns sticking into my legs – it’s a good job I couldn’t feel it! It was a good opportunity for me to practise some lateral work, but for some reason the most attractive shrubs were always on the left, and my weaker leg struggled with that!

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As well as riding I went swimming every day and had fun working out some pool-based core exercises (I know, I have a strange definition of fun) as well as perfecting somersaults, handstands and backflips (all of which are much easier in water than on land!). I also followed a gruelling conditioning schedule which comprised various daily planks, tons of sit-ups and press-ups and other strength-building exercises – all made all the more challenging by the presence of my little niece who, at 20 months, is just about as heavy as I can cope with sitting on my back during planks and press-ups!

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I also did plenty of stretching for front splits and box splits. Having torn my right hamstring before vaulting camp I really wanted to keep on top of my right leg splits, and found a good-sized glass bottle to use as a roller. My ‘bad’ leg splits (with the left leg forwards) are still better than the right, but at least it hasn’t got worse.

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Finally, I discovered that, with a bit of imagination and a lot of care, a good heavy sun lounger works as a barrel – although my mum was less impressed than I thought she might have been!

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The reason it has taken a while for me to get round to writing this is that the first week or so of September has been incredibly busy – but you’ll hear all about that next month!

Joker: on vaulting camp we made an obstacle course based around some cross-country fences. I couldn’t do much of it (although I was pretty good at pole-vaulting, aka using a crutch to propel myself over a jump) so when the others had finished charging around I dressed up as a caterpillar – as you do.

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