February Update From Amber O’Neill


November was a busy month for us, starting off with an On-Foot National Young Drivers meeting on the 19th with a brilliant talk on Sports Psychology at the Unicorn Trust in Stow-on-the-World.

The talk was given by Nicola Kentzer on training for excellence and staying motivated. The day was great and I came home full of renewed enthusiasm and with a better understanding of how to remain motivated through the long, dark winter months.

On the 26th we had our second Indoor Event of the Season. Unusually for Novice Pony we were one of the last classes to go. After some very lively behaviour at home while loading up, we decided that Jasper was feeling rather fresh. We increased his warm up, focusing on relaxing him and allowing him to take it all in.

This was a success as he then did the best Paces & Precision test he has ever done; with his lowest score of 27.0! This was immediately followed by a clear cones round, despite picking up a few time faults to leave us in joint first place after the first two phases. I was delighted with his way of going, and how calm he was after his earlier antics! Unfortunately he is still not extending and collecting very well so this is still our main focus in his training at home.

After lunch we drove our obstacles, which without a doubt were the best he has ever done. Several people commented on how flowing and forward he now is and it is very gratifying to see our hard work start to pay off.
He has started to grasp the technique; in future I can push him a bit faster. By taking the time to properly educate him we are seeing his times improve at every event and I am so thrilled with his progress. We finished the day off in 4th place and won Best Junior again.

December is the only month of the year we do not compete so after having Christmas off and spending most of my school holidays with the flu and mountains of revision to do we then started to bring Jasper back into work!

January 21st was our first Indoor event of 2012 and we were back to being the first competitor in the arena and scored a respectable 36.0 in the dressage, followed by a clear round in a very tricky cones course. Despite picking up on some time penalties we were lying in third place after the first two phases. We then did our obstacles, which were great fun and had much faster times than we have had previously to hold onto our third place and Best Junior.

On January 29th I went to another BYD on foot meeting at Unicorn Trust, Stow-on-the-Wold, for another excellent sports psychology talk with Nicola Kentzer on Team Building, where we learnt several techniques that we will be putting into practice in our upcoming outdoor season. This is particularly relevant as the British Young Drivers are starting the selection process for the Junior World Trophy and for the first time, the FEI Junior Championships will be run alongside it in Austria, July 2012. This is very exciting as I hope to put myself forward for selection for the FEI team which will mean attending various selection events and training clinics over the next few months.
Jasper has for the first time in several years been holding his weight well this winter, and his coat is incredibly shiny, despite being completely clipped out. My January exams are now over and I am looking forward to the lighter evenings so I can start driving after school again. Our next Indoor event is on February 5th and we are planning on traveling up to the Thames Valley region to compete there in March before the Indoor Championships.

Thank you once again for your continued support.

Best wishes
Amber

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