Laura Barber’s Blog: Clinics, cantering and XC!

Laura Barber and Tally are in full swing already, and showing lots of dedication for a fit and fantastic 2015 season! Find out what preparation Laura and Tally have been doing (both together, and separately!) and how it’s paying off …

“Well 2015 has certainly well and truly kicked off for Tally and I now, and it’s safe to say Spring is on the way! I’ve been working really hard in the off season to make sure that we start eventing ready to go, as before we know it Badminton will be here.”

“Our first taste of XC on actual grass was mid-February, when we travelled to Swalcliffe for a clinic with 4* eventer Bill Levett. The ground was fantastic and we were able to get back in the swing of things – usually Tally starts off a bit spooky but he was confident from the outset and we came away feeling really happy. Bill had some great advice and a nice calm manner – I would definitely recommend him for lessons; my friend and I both got loads out of it and our horses managed not to embarrass us – bonus!”

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“I’ve also been working really hard on mine and Tally’s fitness ahead of the event season. Tally has been interval training every 5 days, and I’m really starting to notice a difference in both his stamina and condition. In the wetter weather we were confined to doing laps upon laps of the school, so it’s much nicer now everywhere has dried up a bit we can actually go for a proper canter. I’m lucky enough to have an XC course on site, and the owners have kindly marked out some distances for us to practice our speed on – hopefully one day we’ll get less time penalties! I’ve also taken up running, and although it’s safe to say I’m not a natural(!) it’s definitely helping my fitness generally.”

“Last weekend was incredibly exciting as it brought with it our very first event of 2015. We made the long trek to Isleham in Cambridgeshire (made even longer by road closures – nightmare!) to compete in the BE100 on Saturday. Thankfully we had midday times which was very kind of the organisers and much appreciated. I made the decision to go to Isleham as they have a reputation for great ground whatever the weather, and educational courses. Fortunately the weather recently has been kind, and we competed in beautiful sunshine – the ground was perfect and the course had a few questions which required some riding.”

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“Tally was very happy to be back at an event and thought hacking past the XC warm up to get to the dressage was a bit too exciting! He warmed up very well, just dropped off my leg a bit in the test, but still did everything in the right places. I was disappointed to come out with 37 as watching it back on video it looked fine, however the judge has used his full range of marks for the section (26 to 56!) and seemed quite hard to please.”

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“On to the jumping phases and I’m pleased to report that Tally jumped a lovely double clear! He wasn’t at all spooky and left me feeling like he really knew what he was doing. We lost a bit of time on the XC as I tend to slow down for the technical questions, which I can afford not to do now we’re getting more experience at this level. That being said the course caused a fair few problems so I’m just really happy to start off with such a good run – hopefully we can continue that onwards and upwards with our next event at Swalcliffe!”