Sunday, 9 October 2016

Sunny Sunday

I have been both a bad blogger & a bad rider of late.
I think it has been 3 or 4 weeks since I last rode Kika 😶

I have haphazardly hopped on a friends horse that is rehabbing from a 9month layoff due to injury just to walk & trot as he can be fiery with her. Although knock-on-wood he didn't try anything the times I rode him. He is kind of cob sized & his stride is much choppier than what I was used to, but he's a fun sort. Very willing and takes correction better than my two. I guess that's the joys of geldings over mares - less drama 😂

I finally got around to lunging Kika in the pessoa yesterday, I prefer the re-engage her brain with that training aid than risk undoing things by hopping into the tack without making sure the marbles are where I left them 😁
She was brilliant on the lunge, despite an interupted warm up to give someone directions as they'd come to the wrong stable and then once we got going with the pessoa rigged up we wound up having to change arenas and work outside to finish off and she was ace. Good as gold to change arenas & didn't bat an eyelid once we did. She went straight back to work without fuss.

Nancy has been kept on her toes with PL coming three times a week to ride her & in fact a friend of PLs  (who funnily enough has the same first name) and has been helping PL on Sundays with lessons has expressed an interest in coming one day a week to ride. She is a better rider than I & once K is running again will have the choice of riding Nancy or Kika once a week so long as it doesn't clash with original PLs chosen days. But the one day a week leasee will pay as she goes as she does have niggling injuries and may not be able to ride weekly so we'll just play it by ear and see how things go.

Eep - sorry this is getting wordy again when really I was just posting to share a video of Kika & I "jumping" a fallen log in the woods today. I am all over the place in the dressage saddle, so please forgive me Kika - but it was fab fun & hopefully I'll find some time to pop her over some poles in an arena again soon. I don't think we've jumped in prob close to two years 🙈

Also, as of yesterday I have become obsessed with Words with Friends!
Do any of you play?  😇

Saturday, 3 September 2016

Facial Features

Mine...not the horses. Kika's noggin made contact with my schnauzer last night as I was going to give her a kiss when she got a fright and caught me with an almighty wallop in the snout. Having never broken my nose I worried for a few moments that I perhaps now had & wondered how I might know for sure without having to go to A&E.

"I meant no harm!
Your face just got in the way of my fear"
- Kika
As darkness was falling & I was on foot, I decided to go about my business and give them their hay for the night before making my way home and seeing how I felt in the morning. If i had trouble sleeping and/or panda eyes when I awoke I would make my way to a medical establishment. Thankfully despite some swelling I do not think it is broken, perhaps a little sensitive and I'm very glad to have contact lenses and not have to rely upon my glasses for sight as they are a little uncomfortable when I put them on.

All photos taken today
I have to admit that I had never realised how much ones nose moves at every twitch/eyebrow movement/smile & I have to admit I fear the need to sneeze!
Thankfully I was not prohibited from a delightful hack in the woods on Kika while PL rode Nancy. We even discovered a new trail that I had never taken before which also branched off with other new trails which I hope to venture onto soon 😊

Lest we forget her adorkable
 face without mask

All going well with the beak tomorrow I hope to play with Kika's transitions in the arena while PL has a lesson with Nancy. Having been inspired last week by a Horse Listening canter article I read about using transitions to improve the horse's gaits. Neither the horses nor my fitness would be up to the 10 transitions suggested, so I shall aim for 5 between halt-walk/walk-halt, walk-trot/trot-walk & trot-canter/canter-trot. We didn't quite manage 5 in each direction last weekend as it was super hot, but those we did manage were a mixed bag of nice & fussy. In saying this however, i did notice that my concentrating on setting us up better for the transitions meant little to no flailing in our canter work. Here's hoping I can improve upon them tomorrow - funny how paying more attention facilitates such things 😆

Thursday, 18 August 2016

Stellar Surprise

My family are awesome and sneakily organised for my aunt/godmother/Nancy's breeder, her husband & kids to come for a surprise visit for a week. I had hoped to sneak in a lesson with my aunt, but we got up to too many other things. We did go for a tour of the stables & they loved having a poke around getting ideas and seeing the two monsters again.

Fancy Nancy this evo
Also surprising is that I have managed to log more saddle time recently. The family arrived Monday evening and surprised me at the stable as i was finishing up with the girls. Nancy had spun on the walker for her day off while i lunged Kika in the pessoa.
Tuesday, PL rode Nancy while Kika & I got reacquainted under saddle. She was grand but looky at a drip falling from the ceiling 😬 which lead to some shenanigans when we cantered - but one dolphin leap and no flailing is a win in my book as she pretty much settled down again after if you discount her speedy gonzalez/road-runner canter on the next transition...but I chalked that up the shenanigans hangover. Thursday my cousin & I went for a delightful stroll in the woods - see pic below, before a family outing to the WWI battlefield memorial @ Verdun in France

Tandem trail riding ftw

PL rode Saturday & the barefoot trimmer came to tidy up their tootsies. Sunday I had hoped to sneak in a lesson on each from my aunt but it wasn't to be as we toured the city and then watched the Olympics SJ so still horsey *ahem* 🙊
Monday PL had her lesson as it was a bank holiday here so yay long weekend & she rode again Tuesday evening. Wednesday was a day off for Nancy & she repaid my generosity by breaking out of the field and proving my suspicions right about the lack of power from the fencer. 😲
Luckily a fellow boarder happened to be walking her dogs, witnessed her bid to escape & called the stable hands to help fix everything back up. This is after, Monday evening when the pair of them busted the fencing on the "winter" turnout which i actually also use in the summer afternoons to offer them shade on hot days as their summer turnout field has none.

Worse photo of me, but Nancy is still cute

PL had to cancel this evening so I got to have a go and see if I could put some of my Olympic dressage inspiration to good use...the answer was sorta 😶
The two nice photos shared in this post were taken at the start of my spin so it started off nicely but then we hit a bit of a rocky patch after some canter. This is not unusual and I was perhaps a little mean starting with canter work on her harder side while she had enough pep in her step/energy to somewhat carry herself. The arena had also been recently watered; I'm not sure how I keep managing to ride in it soggy at the moment. It is deff not Nancy's favourite type of footing, but after plenty walk breaks and mini-circles to re-engage Nancy's brain at the trot we finished with some lovely floaty trot followed by a stroll and a catch up chat with a friend around the property 😈

Monday, 15 August 2016

Mute Monday - Mini Monster No More

Nancy's "fear" of the Mini-Monster is
hopefully no more now that they are buddies

Monday, 8 August 2016

Don't Eat the Fern

"Don't eat the Fern" was one of the more common refrains I used while hacking Kika in the woods on Saturday. PL took Nancy and the four of us went for an hour and a half stroll along trails i hadn't been on for quite a while.

An adventure of sorts as it would take me till each next bend to remember if I'd been on that trail before. However I figured so long as we kept turning in the same direction we'd eventually get back to something I recognised. #mapgoals
I obvs inspiring confidence hacking options with moi 😈

First casualty
Failed artsy sunset pic

Saturday, 6 August 2016

Building Blocks

The girls gave me such good spins yesterday evening, neither was foot perfect but both had wonderfully floaty moments that reminded me why I need to ride more...although maybe by riding less I find my motivation/drive to ride better when I do climb back on board. Pfft psychological self-analysis who has time for that!

I'm going to have to teach Nancy how to
pose...but the lure of grass is too strong for this one 

I put Nancy on the walker and started working with Kika first. The main arena had been recently watered, which meant that one of the long sides was a little sloppy. This is unusual in itself and now that I think about it when I rode Kika last week (at least I think it was last week - gargh memory why do you fail me more often than brain this is why you should actually update your blog! #memotoself) the arena we were in had also been watered and the upper 1/8th of it was a slop. I think the watering system was prob left on too long 😔 I'm deff not complaining though, heck, I'm super lucky there is a watering system in place and that the arena sand gets turned over daily to keep the ground in good nick.

Oops gone way off topic!

Kika was very good about downsizing the amount of the arena we were using, unsurprisingly lol - covering less ground means less work right?! 😅
She did get squirelly when we ventured in to the slop, that is one thing I've noticed with both girls is harder for them to get traction in goo.
We went through our paces with some nice walk/trot transitions. We even managed some lovely swinging walk through her back - something I have been working on with her in the pessoa. Love when things slot together like puzzle pieces & good pessoa work has a positive knock on effect to under saddle work. Now to build on that and try to get it more often, then more consistently and then from the beginning #goals.
Rather than ask for the canter like I usually do on a circle which leaves me with an inverted banana kangaroo hopping when we hit our first corner. First canter, then we *ahem* I usually manage to iron out the kinks. 😁 Last night however, with the sloppy long side adding to our potential canter woes,  I opted to ask for the canter down the other long side and then circle smaller when we had a modicum of control & no flailing. She was amazing! Not one flail or inversion from Miss Kika....perhaps straightening us both out for the canter rather than circling first has its merits #noshitsherlock I'm obvs all kinds of crooked/leaning when I ask for canter on a circle #needtobesomuchbetter
We finished with some lovely floaty trot work where she was really working over her back. This is probably where I should ask for more and/or really get into better work with her, but neither one of us is realistically fit enough at the moment. Let's not forget she can still be a tricky customer when she wants to be and/or I'm not on my A-game (lolz most riders M- or S-game), so I take those lovely floaty supple moments and rest on them. I can feel the positive knock - on effect on our earlier work and the nice floaty trot at the end now goes on for longer than when I used to first get it. We can now sustain it through circles and changes of rein. 😊 Building blocks and with more consistent work on my part (aka not only riding her every other week *sigh*) I'm sure that lovely floaty trot will be the start of better work for us in no time. #moargoals

#awkwardhorseselfie fail from last week
to break up word vomit a little
Nancy was super awkward when I hopped up despite being "warmed up" from her time on the walker. She was being so squiggly, (we hadn't even reached the sloppy bit of the arena yet & she hates squidgy footing more than Kika) that I picked up a dressage stick! Something I rarely ride with when on Nancy, but she was blatantly ignoring my leg aids so the extra incentive was welcome.
Walk/trot/canter transitions with some really rather nice serpentines thrown in for good measure (in trot we're deff nowhere near canter serpentines work yet), even if I do say so myself. We had one moment after a rein change on to admittedly my bad side, where the toys were being threatened to be tossed out of the pram. For Nancy this means retraction of the neck, ears up my nostrils, arse swinging and generally being wiggly while refusing to go forward...I'm not sure what it looks like from the ground but it sure is frustrating to ride & straighten back out. On very bad days it results in pony club kicks from me just to get a step forward and then I give and praise with lots of wither scritches and she releases the tension immediately. I'll give her that, she doesn't hold a grudge like Kika but she does slam on the stubborn faster. 😇
I realised that I was probably all kinds of crooked on her back, so took my time on a long rein walk to slowly straighten myself out and gently pick back up the reins. If her head came up and/or she got tight/tense in herself, she got wither scritches to relax her and we baby stepped our way back to shorter reins and a more working frame. The transition back to trot took a couple attempts with more hand-holding wither scritches to smoothen it out but we got there.
The slightly frustrating thing about that breakdown in communication was that just before it we had such a gorgeous powerful trot with her really carrying herself, light in front and pushing through from behind. It felt amazeballs, I'm sure my face looked like 😍 & our canter work had been lovely and adjustable. So i then got to work to try to replicate the sensation on the other rein - admittedly both our bad sides, so while she was a little heavier in front we did manage some rather nice work in that direction too. I'm going to try to remember start with that side next time so that I can reward with the easier side.

Great to have felt that sensation though - now to try and replicate it on both girls...oh yes Kika, I'm coming for you too! If Nancy can do it you can do it 😈

Friday, 5 August 2016

Sweet Itch Saga

This post has been a long time in the making, apologies of it gets longwinded as per usual. Some may remember my mentioning last year that I was afraid Nancy had developed some form of sweet itch. Sadly I have since learned that Friesians can be prone to it, the poor pets - a side effect of their gorgeous flowing locks I guess.

#sorrynotsorry for sharing
 this snap again
This is Nancy's 4th summer with me here in Lux (sidebar - eek time flies!). The first few she spent in fields without access to something to itch off so for all I know the poor dear was suffering in martyred silence. Last summer the turnout field they were on ran out of grass after a few months - the monsters were eating it faster than it could grow 😂
So the YO put in a metal hay "dispenser" (for lack of better term) - LINK to post with pics from last year.
Nancy had an ideal scratching post and made great use of it last summer by massacring (sp?) her lovely long locks. 😢 This led to me giving her a buzzcut when being clipped for the winter to give her mane a chance to grow back at the same rate & the scabs she had given herself a chance to heal properly. It was odd to look down when she had "no" mane during the winter, but it grew back into a cool mohawk & eventually flopped evenly on both sides in a random cute middle part.

Sadly however, as I am learning with research sweet itch gets worse before it gets better *ahem*
This summer Nancy went straight to the itching post (hay dispenser) and massacred the mane growth she had managed, giving herself a nasty welt & bald patch at the base of her neck. Fly sprays weren't helping (obviously) and popping her under the shady trees for hot afternoons just gave her more itching posts to chose from in the form of trees. When she seemed incapable of stopping herself from itching herself painfully bald I took drastic measures and assaulted her with different oils & creams (see pictures) and had the hay dispenser removed from the field. Sorry gals - you're going to have to go old school and eat your hay off the floor like animals *gasp*

The orange oil deff smelt the best
 & that cream was by far the worst 😖
I alternated the oils & creams applications, using plastic gloves for application as the cream stinks and the oils are super sticky 😶
I rinsed the affected areas every evening before reapplication of the different products which were combinations of itch soothing & encouraging hair regrowth if i remember correctly. Needless to say Miss Thang got stubbornly ratty in her Nancy way as she doesn't like wounds or ailments being fussed over - but all in all she was a good sport about the whole thing. It was really only treating her ear which caused her the most consternation... bear in mind she's still Nancy so she'd just lift her head up and try to get her ear out of reach. Sadly for her I'm sneaky and taller than she thinks, so I typically managed to get the offensive products on her ear first try before she could stubbornly raise her head. And if I didn't, it wasn't a big deal and I'd get a step 😂 - sorry poneh...I'm more stubborn than you! 😈

Right - before treatment 16.7.16
Left - after 25.7.16

The ouchy ear which I actually think
she was scratching off the water trough
 but I cannot have that removed so fly mask
 with ears it is sunshine. I know you don't like
 it but if you can't be trusted to mind yourself
 I have to take matters into my own hands

I also bit the bullet when I saw that the awesome Divoza were having a sale on fly sheets & snapped up the Horseware Sweet Itch Hoody I had been eyeing since last year for a steal @ €99 + taxes but free shipping 😇 As a bonus, the delivery service they use leaves my parcel at a nearby petrol station for collection if I'm not there when it's delivered & because I work full time I'm never there during the day 😂 I ordered on a Wednesday and the parcel was delivered on Friday morning and ingot my grubby greedy little hands on it by that evening.
When I opened the box I was super pleasantly surprised to see it came with a fly mask - extra bonus.
I 😍 that store so much it's dangerous! TG my financial sitch atm means I cannot go as mad as I'd like...but one day Divoza your site will seriously benefit from my trigger finger.

Mama, why you play me like dis? - Nancy

Sorrynotsorry for photospam of the latest green alien to land in Luxembourg!

Another yard friend mentioned a product called Bye Bye Itch (which my brain initially misheard as Bye Bitch & I gotta say I prefer that name 😆) which is a combination of feed additive and application product which has helped his wife's Arab live out in his retirement 24/7 without any flare ups. I'm going to research this option for next year as it's a treatment that ideally needs to be started in February. I could double dose her now but I feel confident that I have it under control for this summer with my lotions, potions, rug & removal of itching post. There is also apparently an injection she could get but when I broached the subject with my vet last summer she wasn't overly enthusiastic about pursuing it and suggested I give the rug route a try first.

Sorry not sorry instafollowers for repost,
 I love this awkward horse selfie.
It's super hard to get the three of us in a photo

In under saddle news, same old same old here. I'm not getting into the tack as much as I'd like, but that's pure lazyness on my part. PL comes three times a week to ride Nancy & I clamber aboard for the odd stroll in the woods. Although this evening I plan to ride both in the arenas & hope that Nancy's peeing tendancy from last week was connected to her being in season and not a thing she has now decided to do every time. She urinated once more with me & at least once with PL since my last post...hopefully I'll remember to post about this evenings spins tomorrow 😅