Saturday 25 December 2010

Christmas Eve Spin and Snow Pictures!

No real update as such to post, just a quick video taken by my sister yesterday of K and I doing a spot of sitting trot. She had 30mins lungeing before i sat up after 2 weeks off work!

Please ignore the sound, I have no idea how to get rid of the knocking or my sister's encouraging words, *blushing*

So that was yesterday, now today for Christmas - well it wasn't Christmas for us so much as my middle sister could not get out of Ireland yesterday so we are waiting for her to get back to celebrate (open presents and eat turkey) - so today was a lovely relaxing day as Christmas goes, :)

Kika, on the otherhand, got to celebrate. Not only did she get to play in a paddock for the first time since October (pictures to follow - promise) she got yummy Christmas treats curtesy of my mother. Yesterday my mam insisted on going to the tack shop to pick up some treats for Kika so that she'd get a present today - she didn't want her to be the only horse at the barn not to receive presents and feel left out *sniggers*
So Kika got a slap up meal of: banana treats, red berry treats, carrots and apples on top of kicking up her heels in the snow!

(Pictures from my phone  so sorry if quality not great!)

Bit of a roll first!

The snowy face of her!

Then time to kick up her heels a bit!

She's gotta stretch her legs somehow right? *sniggers*

Thanks for looking and reading since I started this joyful endeavour!


Hopefully you'll stick with us for the rest of this year and then perhaps tune in again in 2011! :D

Monday 13 December 2010

First Foreign Fall

Title says it all really, after 8 months here, K managed to dislodge me on saturday!
Bless her I think she was just full of beans as I hadn't seen her since Tuesday, between the 20cms of snow that fell between 4.30 and 6pm on Wednesday which stopped me getting up to her and then Thursday there was the work Christmas Party and Friday I was exhausted and I am ashamed to admit couldn't face the walk up to her in the cold, let alone sitting on her.
Made my way up to her on Saturday, tacked her up and went into the largest of the arenas, there was 2 other horses finishing up as I entered. She started happy out walking around and we did a bit of trotting after the first horse left. But i could feel her making goo-goo eyes and looking for reasons to act the hound so i kept talking to her to keep the pair of us calm, but no go she just had it in her head that today was going to be "fun" (for her that is!).
Cue bucking, plungeing and play acting on her part. Kept her going twice, including her first attempt to dislodge me where she very nearly suceeded! Her nose was near the ground to facilitate the pluneging and bucking, and i was flat out down her neck (well I think I was, i remember sitting back against the bucks, but then last one i found my head beside her ears). Just as I was sure I was going to hit the deck, she seemed to realise where i was and stopped! She kept very still and allowed me slide back into the saddle and off we went again with her happy out almost skipping!
After a few more minutes she kicked off again, but having sat the first one (sort of, lol, had she not stopped and let me back up I'd deffo have hit the deck!) I wasn't as suprised when she threw another wobbly, squeezed the legs and kept her going forward.
At this stage we were on our own in the arena, but the last rider was just outisde the ring and picking ut her horse's hooves. As we passed the radio which was playing god knows what, i just had a split second feeling she was going to chance her arm again. But knowing it and preventing it was another thing, in the moment it took me to relise what she was "plotting" she had dropped her head and bounced about again. This time she succeeded and i flipped over her neck. Can't be sure exactly what happened, but I landed in the thankfully soft arena and still had the reins in one hand! I was the stretch of the reins away from her and pretty sure i was facing the opposite direction to which we had been going in, not entirely sure how i managed that. But i do remember felling her twist in the air (bronco-style), so god knows what we looked like! Probably like a doll being buffeted about on a bricking horse, *blush*
Thankfully I wasn't hurt, just pissed off with her for acting the maggot. I'll hold my hand up and admit i was starting to feel the nerves at this stage, but hoped back up and started walking around again. As I was making my first lap of the ring in walk another lady arrived to ride her QH, when she was at the door to get in i happened to be heading towards her, so i just warned her that my missus was acting the hound and checked that her lad was quiet so that if  K kicked off again it wouldn't upset him (I could still feel the mischiviousness in her). The other lady was lovely and said, not a bother that her fella was calm out.
As I finished my first lap in walk, with yourone still sufficiently on her toes, i heard the grind of metal as they opened the large arena door and the entrance gate. At this stage I was wondering was anything going to fall right for me that day, sure enough as i suspected a dude walked in and asked us to vacate the arena as it was the turn of the carriage driver. So i hopped down and led Miss K out to see which of the other arenas were least busy.
I didn't feel the need for an audiance with her acting the fool, but lady luck was not on my side, the only arena "free" had 2 people trying out saddles, with the saddler and at least 2-4 other people popping in and out, the lady and her QH who had left the main arena with me and another woman who had just finished lungeing her horse.
K was not going to get away with unseating me then walking around for a little bit and think that she was done for the day - not a lasting lesson i wanted to give her, teehee!
So I bit the bullet and went into the smaller arena with all the bodies and rotating spectators (people were coming and going). Hopped back up and walked around, deciding to stay in the top half of the arena and hopefully not get in the way of those trying out the saddles and keeping away from excuses for yourone to show-off her bronco tricks.
Think it stopped her messing, *rollseyes*, Not A Chance! I was feeling pretty tense at this stage, so chatted away to her to calm myself mostly and try to relax.
Walking around she was fine, first few smaller circles of trot she was fine, then out of nowhere decided to try another spot of broncoing. Didn't manage to dislodge me again though, and she tried at least another two times although all of her attempts in the smaller arena were moderate compared to her wobblies in the main arena before and resulting in my spill.
We worked away for a good thirty minutes and i suceeded in holding her attention between outbursts and actually getting some nice work out of her. Had it not been for her plungeing/bucking carrying on her other work was fab, including lovely collected sitting trot in a fab outline! But thankfully her misbehaviour was for the most part left in the main arena on! Any little bucks, bounces she attempted in the smaller arena didn't result in her getting to stop her work, teehee! Just got her a dig in the ribs from my heels!

Sunday was a much better day, back in the main arena, to exorcise our demons from the day before (mine obviously not hers!). Plenty of bodies about again, there were 2 in there when we entered, and 4 more joined while i was there while one of the two left. So there was 5 or 6 of us in total at the end i think, with a few bodies loitering around watching friends and stuff. She was a bit on her toes when we started, i could feel her thinking about looking to mess again, but I was a lot firmer sunday. I wasn't going to take the same messing as the day before.
Again i decided to work up the top of the big arena, as one of the others riding had her dog in the bottom corner by the entrance. And while he is good and doesn't bark or anything, he has been known to wander out of his corner and I didn't need K finding anymore excuses to shy ans i knew if she found something to be scared of the plungeing/bucking would start again. So we stayed up the top of the arena and worked away with only one half hearted attempt at messing before she settled and rounded into an outline.
The silly billy tripped herself when we were changing leads in trot, i had a feeling she wasn't really paying attention and she proved me right by falling over her front feet and landing on her knees before scrambling back up and trotting on. Thankfully she hadn't hurt herself, she had just been distracted by the two handsome black geldings coming towards her *sniggers*. I was very relieved when she contínued to work obediantly after this, as if her mood from the previous day had carried on I'd probably have found myself deposited again as she'd have taken advantage of the trip to decide to spook at something on the next corner, ;)
Our work including some lovely canter, albeit with a bit of messing threatening in canter - she did throw one big buck and tried to start plungeing when we were cantering after a good 25minutes work, one of my friends from the barn who was watching commented when we'd finished that she did a lovely lead change, teehee!

As usual a big long winded addition to the blog, sorry I write so much!
Fair play to you if you've read this far!

Tuesday 7 December 2010

Back in the Saddle

Well my weekend trip to Ireland did not happen due to plane being stuck in Spain and there being an 8 hour delay in take off which would meant we were going to miss the match, and therefore the whole reason for the trip back to the Emerald Isle! Thankfully as the delay was not our fault, airline refunded our flights there and back and we were able to cancel hotel reservation, only expenses were unused match tickets and the bus to and from airport. Turns out that it may have been a blessing in disguise as it got so foggy during the match that i doubt spectators could see much from the sidelines, watching the match from home you deffo couldn't see a whole pile on the cameras!
Silver lineing to all this is that i got an extra day to get re-acquainted with Kika's back, ;)
On sunday afternonn she got 20-30mins lungeing with her tack on before i sat up on her. There was a bit of messing on the lunge line when asked to canter, but I'm beginning to think that that is just her reaction to being asked to canter when lungeing (whether loose lungeing or on a lunge line, messing is still the same *roll-eyes*)
I was a bit apprehensive about getting back up considering what I'd been told about her misbehaving while i was away, bearing in mind that i hadn't sat on a horse in 4 weeks and she had not been sat on in 3 and a half weeks. But over the last few days she has returned to being the affectionate horse i know and love, I'm assuming going back to our carrot stretches in the stable has helped there as well as the three weeks off. Which considering she had been in ridden work since she arrived in early May was a deserved rest, and once i realsied this fact i could kind of understand her sullen behaviour (but still not an excuse in my book).
So i fixed my stirrups and hopped up and we walked around a bit, trotted a few circles and figures of 8, changeing reins and stuff. Then came the tricky canter... As usual i needn't have worried, she was good as gold. Didn't put a toe out of line under saddle and was probably wondering what all the fuss was about when i was so elated after the spin, patting her and 'good girling' her in my relief, *blush*.

The reason I didn't post this update on sunday night was that after that successful re-aquaintance under saddle, i had decided that monday i was going to ride without lungeing first and see how we got on - and thus hold of on posting a happy-go-lucky update until after that experiment.
I had monday booked off work as i was due to make a late return from Ireland on sunday (see above as to why trip was cancelle, ;) ), so original plan had been to tackle K on monday, so not to far off track (in fact ahead of schedule due to being able to get initial re-aquaintance done on sunday) and actualy better as yard is quieter during the day with most livery owners at work and/or in school for the younger ones.

So arrived to yard yesterday afternoon to be pleasantly suprised to see that St Nicholas had passed through the barn and left a parcel of goodies attached to K's stable door! Win!! :-D Silly billy thought it was for her and kept nuzzling at it, so i had to take it away and put it in my tack locker, ;-) After she having only had her teeth done last week, couldn't be giving her chocolate :-p (That's my story and i'm sticking to it! In fact i didn't even open the parcel myself last night when i got home, it's still sitting on the kitchen table!)

Tacked herself up and was hoping to ride in the quieter arena up the back of the yard, but someone was having a lesson in there, so bit the bullet and went for the "busier" one which is also bigger. There were two people in there when i arrived, a girl just starting to get a lesson (but she had a headset to listen to instructor so i wouldn't be disturbing) and a guy riding western style trotting and cantering, loping around the place. Not an ideal re-introduction, i'd hav preferred a quieter setting myself, but this was what i was being faced with so took a deep breathe and got on. I must looked like a right eejit as i kept soothing her (*ahem* me) as we walked around a bit till she settled. I'll admit the guy in the western garb careening around the place in canter did not help our case!
But sort of settle she did and she calmed further once we started trotting, and started circling down the bottom of the arena. I was glad to see that she hadn't forgotten everything we had been working on prior to her "episodes" and was willing to work in an outline and bend around me leg on our circles. Another girl joined the arena on a grey pony and K and i had a few disagreements then as to what we were doing. I wanted her to trot forward, she wanted to be a kangaroo! After a bit of prancing she moved continued down the diagonal to change the rein like i was asking her to do when she started to throw her wobbly. Then came a circle in trot, which she decided to test the boundaries again with a few more half-rear/buck type bouncing things. I'm not entirely sure what she was doing, perhaps plungeing?! But whatever she was at didn't last long as i got her head back up and continued on with our circle! We stuck to our end of the arena circling for a bit and changeing the rein down there, but she seemed to have decided that the battle wasn't worth it and just got on with what was being asked of her.
I guess familiarity is a good thing, she knows better than to mess with me as i can be bloody stubborn when I want to be, she always loses our battle of wills!
She settled back into a nice outline and got back to work, trotting circles, changeing rein, figures of 8 etc etc. Another young girl on a pony joined the arena (the cowboy guy had left) and she didn't even pay it any attention she was actually listening and concentrating for a change! So i braved the canter transititon, honnestly fearing a bit of fireworks, so i was sure to be well away from the other riders when i asked her to go up a gear. Ever the surpriser she changed up without an iota of fuss and cantered her circle in a lovely contact and bending correctly, calmly returning to trot before changeing rein and doing something similar on the other rein. I was so relieved and happy that i cannot express it correctly in words!
We continued working our paces (all three) on circles, changeing rein etc for close on an hour's work altogether.

To say I was a happy camper last night would be an understatement!!!
I was over the moon, I guess a bit of a holiday was all she was after, and in all honnesty i can't say that i blamed her. It had been pretty selfish of me not to have given her one sooner! Fingers crossed that this upward curve of good behaviour continues this evening and for the rest of the week. Will (hopefully) be in Ireland this weekend so she should get friday-monday off to recuperate.
I am so glad to have my happy ponio back and no longer have to face the sullen so and so that used to greet me when i arrived at the barn.
Long may it last!

Tuesday 30 November 2010

Good News...I think

Just back at work from the barn, I'll have to stay late to make up the time i've missed.
X-rays are clear for kissing spine and vet says there is nothing obstructing her spine in any case. *dance*

Good news in one way, downside is that it means Kika was being very bold/naughty for absolutely no reason in my absence! She's heading for some tough love when i get back in the saddle! Thats for sure! *nod*
Not sure what I'm going to do with her, i do not want her to be a one rider horse, what would happen if i ever had to sell her for whatever reason. She'd be impossible to move if no one else can ride her! Which in itself is ridiculous as i am not that great of a jockey!

I once leased a 12year old horse that had been so spoiled, that he knocked my confidence something awful. I DO NOT want the same thing to happen my horse! :( Going to have to hope that i might be able to find people at the barn willing to help me get her used to other riders as well as myself!
Just going to have to roll up my sleeves and see if people will help me by riding her with me so that she gets used to different styles etc etc.

Reckon I'll have to find some way to step up her work load aswell, as she may just have too much energy for her own good and be looking for ways to amuse herself when being ridden. Downside to more work would be fitter horse ... vicious cycle. But will find a way to work with it!

I'll probably give her the rest of the week off as am heading to Ireland at the weekend so won't get a good run at her before i go and no point in half doing it. As she needs to learn a lesson i need to have the time to teach her.
I've monday coming off work, so may roll up the sleeves then and attack her when the barn will be quite during the day!
Will update then, hopefully we won't part ways and i will be in a fit state to update. She will be getting a good lungeing session before i hop up, just incase she'd get any notions!

I am not one bit sorry I got her back x-rayed (although admittedly I am yet to receive the bill), but to have the peace of mind that she is not suffering the equine version of a slipped disc or the like, is worth the expense in my opnion.
Better safe than sorry - I think!

Monday 29 November 2010

Not great news... but not exactly bad news either...

Will hopefully keep this brief as don't really have a lot to report!

Kika's teeth and back were checked last week. I had her down for an equine dentist visit that was to do a few horses on the yard for last thursday morning, but after talking witha  few people discovered that equine dentists out here are not legally permitted to subdue a horse by injection. As K hadn't seen a dentist for over a year, I was fearing the worst going on in her mouth so called a vet that had been recomended to me who also does teeth. I was also slightly apprehensive of the fact that the osteo was coming friday morning and if K didn't handle the dentist without anaesthetic... Well I didn't want her any more stressed and tense before seeing the osteo the next day.
Now this vet has received glowing recomendations from three different sources, so I was only too happy for the opportunity to get on her books. So we arranged for her to come out on Wednesday afternoon and i took the afternoon off work (which fell nicely to allow me study for my German test the next day).
She showed me exactly what was going on in Kika's mouth and I'm glad to report that there was no extra problems to report than the general wear and tear teeth get from the way a horse's jaw works. It was fascinating, she could attach a little torch to the inside of the mouth piece (for lack of a better term for the metal thing that holds open the horses's jaw) and she could show me the teeth before and after. K was good as gold before and (certainly) after the little dose of anaesthtic, bless her.

So that answered one question, the back issues were not stemming from her mouth as I had thought.
The osteo came on friday morning, although it was afternoon before K got seen as i ended up last on the list that i had posted - go figure, yet live and learn ;-). 
After checking everything over, she said that there was something small out in her rump which she would replace but that that was not causing the all around stiffness she felt in her body, nor would that minor displacement cause her to behave as badly as she had in my absence. The instructor had spoken to the osteo before we went in explaining exactly what had happened when she was riding her.
The osteo - who is also a classically trained vet - suggested as i feared would be the end result that it would be best to get Kika's back x-rayed to find out exactly what is going on in there. She mentioned that she thinks it may be kissing spine which i googled and found the aforementioned information. Unfortunately the sympstoms listed sound like a roll call for Kika's recent behaviour, but I will know nothing for sure until the x-rays are done.... so i am trying to keep a handle on my imagination.

She has had two and half weeks off from ridden work now, and was in much better form this weekend when being handled. I have now brought a large bag of carrots to the barn and have resumed doing neck stretches with her and she is still allowed to go in the walker every morning and i give her either a loose lunging session or actual lungeing every other day to blow out the cobwebs and allow her stretch her legs a bit. Which more often than not results in some form of skullduggery or other, but that is also good to see in my books as it means she *hopefully* isn't feeling too sorry for herself or in too much pain. Although i'm now worrying that the messing (mostly bucking) may be as a result of her back being at her in which case i don't know if it is mean of me to make her move - but at the same time i know she needs movement! It would be unhealthy to only allow her walk and stand in her stable. She does seem to be enjoying herself when she gets to fart and buck around the arenas when lungeing, so hopefully it's skullduggery and not pain.

This as usual is going on longer than i had intended (I swear i meant to keep this short!), but just a quick extra note to say that the barn "Christmas" party was on yesterday. There was a jumping quadrille, a dressage quadrille (both to music) and the Riding School kids put on a flatwork performance to music. School ponies are gas! It was lovely and the owners laid out Gluweien, hot chocolate and cakes galore to entertain the liveries. St Nicholas also made an appearance with Black Peter, brought in by the old owner (his sons now run the yard) and his carriage horses. It really was a nice way to spend a sunday afternoon!

Wednesday 17 November 2010

Purplification of Ponio and new problems :(

I have shown these pictures to some of you before, but not everyone who may or may not read this will have seen them, so just so we are all on the same page!

Not as matchy matchy as as could be but something to aim for at least, ;)
And hey, it's a start, :p

A birthday gift from a very good friend!

Cranky puss not wanting to pose....

But she changed her tune when she realised she was the focus of the photo shoot, teehee!

PS: Sorry if these distort things, I have resized them to the photobucket large option (640x480pixels), hope that is correct, :/

Now for our issues:
We were doing well (for us - I think), I left her in bootcamp with my instructors while I was in NYC last week, to return and be told that she has big issues with her back and was completely resisting work in so far as she was rearing and/or bucking to avoid it. Saddle fitter was also out to do follow up on new saddle which he said fits fine (cynic in me goes - well why wouldn't he say that after selling me the saddle) and agreed that underlying back issues there are not pertaining to the new saddle. I've been trying to get in contact with the osteo to get her checked out, but had no luck getting through yesterday and haven't had a chance to ring yet today, will try now on my lunch break.
I'm also on the list for a dentist visit for her at the end of this month/start of next month, I've been wanting to get her checked for over a month now but last dentist cancelled so hopefully this one will be able to make it! I think her teeth could one of the main issues and causing her problems, sore mouth resulting in her tensing her back and knock on effect etc etc... But maybe I'm way off base!
Will keep anyone reading posted...

Thursday 4 November 2010

Fiesty Red-Head!

Following on from our lessons last week, she was a good girl in our flat lesson on thursday even though i couldn't make myself relax for fear that she'd act the maggot like she had the previous day. So of course she had to prove me wrong and didn't put a foot out of place! Friday and Sunday she worked beautifully for me (sat was her day off), best we've managed since arriving. We worked on what we'd been working on in the flat lesson, which was circling and striking off in canter when asked without rushing or running on. I even managed to relax and i felt really positive about those two days. :)
Monday and Tuesday she started doing a funny thing when we were circling in that she'd bend her neck correctly in the direction we were circling, but then cock her head in the other direction! *rollseyes*
It made me really uncofortable as i doubt it was comfortable for her, I've been meaning to get her teeth checked and had her down for the dentist but he cancelled, :(, so i must find another one, sooner rather than later!
So i tried to work on that on Tuesday by slipping her the reins and encouraging her to stretch out, it worked a bit but then i could feel her thinking about it again and start the head cocking, she's too clever for her own good i reckon!
I felt ill yesterday (Wednesday) so asked the jumping instructor if he would mind riding her last night (part of the service apparently, costs the same as my lesson which was too late to cancel and i would've had to pay for in any case so worked out alright). She had him off shortly after they staretd trotting she tried one of her spins, she sometimes gets confused and thinks she's a quarter horse/ballerina. I wasn't watching what she did, but out of teh corner of my eye i saw her spin and he landed on his feet. After the lesson, i apologised to him and he smilled wryly and said she didn't have him off that he elected to leave the saddle. I'll leave that one there seeing as i didn't actually see what she did.
The rest of the lesson was entertaining to watch from the sidelines! She is a very opinionated young lady,  she determendly fights the fiesty red-head's corner! She did what she was asked, but fought every step of the way, including a cheeky duck out between fences the first time she was asked to go through the double. It was 20mins into their 30minute session that she finally settled for him, although she hadn't been jumping badly for him... they were having a bit of a power struggle (which believe me i recognise, ;-) ) in that she wanted to attack the fences faster than was good for her and her jockey.
When he finished he said she was a good horse, she has a good canter and a nice big flowing stride, and a very capable jumper, but he knew this from the three lessons we'd had previously - he has always said the fences weren't her problem jumping was easy for her it's getting her to concentrate and listen to you is where the pwoer struggle comes in. He has said with more lessons we can continue her education and that in 6 months time she'll be a different horse. I have said all along that i'm more than happy to take all the time necessary to get it right as I don't want to mess her up.
Afterwards  did overhear him telling another livery that she is a "Gutt Paerd", meaning good horse so that made my heart swell a little. Now if only i can work on my issues and help her out we might one day make a good team!

There will be no flat lesson this evening as i am still feeling a little under the weather (although a lot better than yesterday so yay!) I won't be riding this evening as it's not fair on her if i cannot give her 100%. I am hopeful to ride her tomorrow before i head off to NYC for the week. Poor Kika won't know what's hit her while I'm away, she's going into Pony-Bootcamp with the flat instructor for the week and will be ridden by the jumping teacher again on wednesday. I'll then be playing catch up when i get back, but methinks thi sis a good option as it's not going to do either of us any good to try and learn certain things together. It'll be better if someone more experienced can teach her and then i can learn from her and with the teacher teaching em also. Plus after more time in her saddle the teachers will get a better feel for her and will be better equipped to teach us as a team...Or that is teh plan in any case!

Wednesday 27 October 2010

New Saddle, New Haircut & New Twist on previous Attitude

I will try to keep this short and I will post pictures, so hopefully ye won't be too disappointed if it does end up getting a little long. Afraid I have been known to waffle on (ref - my earlier posts).
Not entirely sure where I left off and I'm actually afraid to go back and look in case I think of other things to say (and then I'd be here all night!)
New Saddle
Anyways got Kika's saddle checked and as I'd thought it no longer fits and i was advised not to use it anymore, this was a saturday and he said he'd be back the following wednesday and he'd bring saddles for me to try out. True to his word he did, and on the wednesday he arrived with three jumping saddles each perfectly suited to herself so it was just up to me to ride in them and see which i liked best.
I ended up going for one that has velcro under the flap so that it can be a General Purpose Saddle and/or a Jumping Saddle with interchangeable leather bits suited to whatever discipline I am working on. So far I've only ridden in it with the jumping blocks in, as I'd a jumping lesson tonight (will get to that a little later), but once that was done I removed the leg blocks and stuck on the leather strips so as not to damage the underside of the flap and am all set for our flat lesson tomorrow evening.
Here are a picture I have taken of it (must remember to get a few of it on her back at the weekend):
(Sorry I had rotated it on photobucket, but can't seem to do the same here!)

New Haircut
Her not me, rofl - although I do need my haircut but that is not for discussion here, ;)
Didn't really manage to get (m)any before pictures as my old camera was broken (got a new one for my birthday yay!) so only have a few not so great quality ones and none with detail from before. But I did get some very nice after ones with my new camera toy!
A friend at the barn with clippers very kindly clipped her for me at a lower rate that the RI and helpers offer, plus I think she has done a lovely job!
See for yourselves!
Before I don't want to pose for a picture/cranky head (11.10.2010)

Oh Ok I'll make one happy face! (11.10.2010)

That was her lightweight stable rug which she just had to rip on sunday! *rollseyes* Thankfully to my untrained eye it looks salvageable. It's like she may have caught one of the belly straps when she went to get up and ripped a bit near where the strap is attached to the rug. Will see if i can get it repaired and clean to use it again come spring when weather starts to warm up again but stays cool at night...

This was taking just before clipping started, but with old camera so camera quality was bad (the lens/zoom had stopped going in and was all scratched and it was no longer that reliable in dim(ish) light - poor camera!) - 25.10.2010

(again rotation issue, sorry!)

Now for some purdy after shots taken this evening with my shiny new camera (that is so good dust mites make it look like it's snowing lol)! (27.10.2010)

"Oh - Flash means I must pose!"

"Look how nice my hair is now - no more sweaty sweaty for me!" (I like this pic!)

Last one just to show our new warmer RDS Special Stable Rug.

New Twist to previous Attitude mentioned in title is that in our jumping lesson and pretty much since i started riding in new saddle last week she has had more of a pep in her step and has found even more joy in acting the maggot! Any opportunity that presents itself for a buck/fart/jump/bounce type thing is taken!
Now if this is a reaction to how much freer her back feels from the old saddle i feel pretty darn mean for not having changed it sooner, but the masseuse was out and had said that it would be worth checking, she didn't think the whole saddle would require replacing as her back wasn't in too bad shape. She had just said that re-flocking might be in order as from her back it appeared to be a little low down and too much pressure was being put on her lower back.
But anyways thursday, friday, sunday, yesterday and today she found many's an opportunity to act the hound and go for a bounce/buck-type thing! Not entirely sure what she's doing as I am on her back, so guess i'd have to ask someone who's on the ground to describe it for me, lol! Saturday she was fine, we worked for a good hour+ without a peep out of her. I was very happy with her on saturday!
This evening took the biscuit though, she kind of jeapordised the jumping lesson to be honest with her messing and carry on. We'd go down into the jumps no problem, and the RI said my approach was very good and didn't warrant her reaction on landing - which was to drop the head and buck then bounce/pounce/jump about... She did it after three fences at which point the RI decided he didn't want to risk my falling off as it wasn't anything I was doing that she was just acting the maggot and so we changed exercise. Instead of tackling the fences he'd laid out he built another one for me to tackle on a circle. Which we did in trot a few times then cantered all the rest and on each rein with the cross pole size increasing every now and then. She was fine with that and he said her rhythm and my position / our approach and execution on the circle was good. She was doing good again until the last time we were to do the exercise when once more on landing she dropped the head and acted the hound. So after settling her again we came around again, on the same rein and jumped it a couple more times to make sure she understood that messing wasn't to be tolerated and to behave before we finished up for the evening.
Poor RI was a bit taken aback by her carry on I think, he kept saying how in our previous two lessons she had been so good and kind, was this normal behaviour for her. To which i answered no, not normal for when she is jumping, but that she has been known to act the maggot and look for excuses on other occasions. I don't like making excuses as I am of the belief that she should do as she is asked and not cause a fuss, but RI and i tossed out the ideas that the pair of us still need to adjust to the new saddle, that she may be more free in it and/or that it may be sitting differently on her (no excuse I know but perhaps sheds some light) and of course as she's a mare the typical 'perhaps she is in/coming into season' excuse was rolled out.
Still not plausible in my book, but we will work on it! I reckon she'll cut it out once i get to grips with the new saddle and quit riding like a muppet!
We've our flat lesson tomorrow evening, so that'll whip us into shape. I always ride better in the flat lesson as I've someone constantly in my ear keeping me out of my head...If that makes sense!

Wednesday 13 October 2010

So far so good...Fingers crossed it continues

I've been meaning to update this since last week, but time just kept getting away from me!
I'll start by saying I have an idea as to why Kika was so cranky before the last post, it had been an odd/rough week for her/us. She had been shod the week before and caught herself a couple of times with the new shoes, and as such wasn't ridden as much as she normally would have been, add to that the fact that she then proceeded to twist one of her new hind shoes, so I didn't want to ride her as it was very twisted and I was worried about the damage it might do to her foot if i'd ridden her, we all know how uncomfortable our own shoes are if not on correctly... I didn't think adding my weight to hers would do her foot any good, although thankfully she was not lame with it!
She twisted it on a friday, so spent saturday and sunday in the walker so as to get some movement. In an attempt to stop her getting cheesed off at the walker and continue to go in willingly I had decided to leave her out in the paddock for monday evening, under my supervision - In the hopes she wouldn't run around like a mad woman and do herself some damage! Pffft, she just had to prove me wrong and the fact that my presence does little to keep her from going loopy if the mood takes her! I usually don't mind her doing a little running as it works out the kinks and allows her to stretch her legs in a natural way, but when she started acting the real Doo-Lally and pulled the shoe I had to bring her in!
So between getting a new shoe put on (try as i may, do you think I could find the shoe she pulled in the field! No!), catching herself in the same spot again (yes - I am changing farriers after this) so she missed monday, tuesday without riding again. I rode her briefly on wednesday evening to make sure all was alright ahead of our lesson that thursday, which went well. She was ridden again on friday, left out on saturday and then we had all the fuss on sunday - which i think came to a head due to the rise in temperatures, her winter coat not agreeing with the heat and the lack of excercise she had had in those two weeks.

Since then, the temperatures are after coming back down (well since sunday evening/monday they have) and she is back in normal excercise with me again. Her attitude has returned to normal, so that is why i think the above reasons contributed to/but do not condone her awful behaviour that sunday afternoon and evening!

But on to happier things, the lessons last week etc! :)

Tuesday evening we had our flat lesson, which i felt went well and the teacher said she was slowly starting to come around. We both agreed once more that, she is going to take a lot of time to get to where we want as she has been so used (my fault) to not working 'correctly' for three years, that it is going to take time for her to understand what we want from her, for me to learn how to ask it of her and for the muscles to develop in such a way that she can correctly support and balance herself. So all in all it was positive comments and encouragement all around, :) I rode in spurs for the first time in a long time. I only used them once or twice before, but stopped as i felt i moved my legs too much and rubbed her slightly the previous time, after discussing my fears with the intsructor I agreed to try her in them again and she rightly pointed out that this prior knowledge could only help me to hold my legs quieter through the fear of rubbing her! Win-win all around if i got the reaction we desired without leg pumping and and if ultimately I held my legs quieter and used my other aids more effectively, such as seat hands and voice. Kika really was much better! Bending better when asked, and increase and decreasing speed in her gaits. I felt it went really well, and honestly did notice a difference in the pair of us. Although I will still only ride in spurs in flat lessons, I still don't trust myself alone with them yet!

Wednesday evening I had my first jumping lesson, since moving out here. We spent a good 5-10mins, walk, trotting and cantering circles with the teacher asking me to get her to flex her neck to the inside. He pointed out that she is much better going on the left rein then on the right and that we would have to work on this to get her softer on the right hand side. (Which i have been trying to do since then, hopefully there'll be a bit of improvement this evening). Then we got to the jumping, we're going right back to basics small cross polls and staight bars. I have to do less on approach and let the fences come to me, the horse will have no problem jumping them. I have to leave her find her way and guide her as calmly and quietly as possible to the fence, she will do the jumping! He has said that I will need to be patient and willing to work at it and we will get there...
I guess my 'have at it' attitude needs some re-examining, ;-)
I felt good at the end of the lesson, when i settled and stopped pushing so much, she settled and stopped pulling like a train into the fences ... lesson learned on my side.

Thursday, my flat lesson instructor said she would ride Kika to see what was going on under the hood, if you will. She wanted to get a feel for her, see what she was like under saddle so that she could get a better idea of what was going on so that she can be in a better position to teach me from the ground. I missed her on friday and over the weekend so only found out on monday how they got on. She reiterated what i had been thinking about needing to get her saddle checked (getting a saddle fitter's number this evening) and that she is very stiff on the right side - which the jumping guy had told me last week, so consistency is good. The fact that the same issues are being highlithed means all will be focussing on resolving the same things and not working against one another, :)

I rode her friday eveing and she was really good, the previous day under the flat instructor worked wonders for her. She was holding herself much better, whereas before i could only manage to get her working correctly after a while, she started working correctly on friday and was a lot more felxible. Highlighting (if i needed more highlighting, lol) my need for lessons as the things i now hope to achieve on horseback are just that little bit beyond me for now that i need to learn along with my horse. But it really does help to have someone better than me there to help out on the ground and in the saddle when needs be.

Saturday was a rest day, after being ridden everyday since monday (since moving i had set up a mini schedule for myself in that she would be ridden for three days, given a day off, ridden for three days and given a day off - meaning walker and/or field weather and space permitting). Although now that i think too much "rest" (due to twisted and/or lack of shoes) may have contributed to her cranky behaviour sunday week; I may revisit this schedule. Well that and the fact that now with two lessons a week (usually wednesday and thursday although the flat one can rotate), I'm going to have to do more riding just the two of us to practice what we learn in the lessons and still fit in a trail ride/forest hack on either saturday or sunday every week. I'm not giving up our change of scenery (plus i can still work on flexing and collecting while hacking in the woods - so homework is still being practised, ;-) ). When all of this is taken into consideration I may have to re-think my work three days rest a day plan... Although she will be getting at least one day off a week and her hack in the woods (which has to be a saturday or sunday due to darker evenings from here till spring)

Last piece of news update (I know this is after getting long, I'm sorry! But as you are reading this you already know i talk a lot, :-p)).
Sunday afternoon i took myself and Kika off for a hack in the woods as the weather was still very favourably warm in the mid twenties range (23ºC). We had a bit of a disagreement as to which way we were going to enter the forest, but after a yell and growl from me we reached an agreement which kept her four feet on the ground, ;-) After that all went well, we did a grand auld tour along the new tracks we discovered the weekend before and did a nice big loop without crossing our tracks once!
When i got back to the barn, I had hoped to put her out in a paddock till the masseuse would arrive at 5.30 (this was 3.30 when we got back from our hack). But as none were free i settled on giving her a thorough grooming and pulled her mane, ;-) She wasn't best impressed with that last part, but as she was standing outside with the sun on her back she got over it fairly lively! I also tidied up her stable while she sunned herself and we had a visit from a family friend of my parents who stopped by on her way back to Brussels.
When the masseuse arrived she asked what the problem was, I had spoken to her on monday to ask if she might have a look at her, explaining the cranky issues and that i thought the saddle might be causing an issue due to her shape possibly changing with the extra and more concentrated work she is now getting. So she had a look (feel) and highlighted two issue areas, she said the left side of her neck was tense and that her back was also a bit sensitive. She also agreed with me about getting the saddle checked and possibly re-flocked. So she proceeded to give Kika a massage which she enjoyed despite not wanting to relax completly, there wasn't that much going on around her, but just enough to pique her interest. The masseuse was happy to report that besides those two problem areas everything else seemed in order and that rather than giving her two days off like i'd thought she would be prescribed, I was told that under no circumstances was she to be left in the stable the following day. She was to be ridden for ten minutes in walk to loosen everything back up correctly and then worked as normal!
Monday she worked really well, so well in fact that friends from the yard who were about at the time i was riding mentioned how well she was going! I was very happy with her again, she was bending correctly and after warming up on her good side, she was willing to flex to the right and left in walk and trot. We are still working on canter and getting her to flex more regularly. It is all a learning curve and will require lots of practice from both of us!

Well that's me all caught up to today! We have our second jumping lesson this evening followed by a flat lesson tomorrow evening. Hopefully I'll get the next update done quicker and without leaving so much for me to report!

Monday 4 October 2010

Tempermental Temperatures

Yesterday was not such a good day for Kika and myself.
After sleeping on it I have come to the conclusion that the weather may be to blame for her downright misbehaving yeterday. She was in foul form, not so much when I was riding her (although she did have a few wobblers) but on the ground her manners were seriously found wanting, and in such an out of character way!
Although I think the temperatures may be to blame, it has picked back up to mid to low twenties during the day and this is looking like lasting the week if the forecast in the paper is to be believed. If this is the case I can empathise with her frustration, her winter coat has been coming in and she looks like a fine fluffy teddy bear. So I'm sure the temperatures picking back up yesterday did not do anything to endear her mood.

I don't want to list what she did online, as it was so out of character that and I am hoping a once off that I don't want her actions 'set in stone'. I'll be taking her out again this evening, then we have a flat lesson tomorrow night and our first jumping lesson on wednesday. I'm trying to rein in my disapproval of her behaviour yesterday and keep it in context, namely that this was the first time in 3 years of ownership that I have seen her act this way. So unless her misbehaving continues, I am hoping it might just have been a blip.

On a brighter note, our flat lesson last thursday went well. We are slowly getting there, I know our efforts are going to take time. Especially as for the last three years, I have been riding her without asking her to "work" correctly. This is because I myself have not known how to do it, to get her to use herself properly and engage her back end so that she can work in a correct outline. As this is all new to the pair of us it is a slow process, but one we are working on. I am the first to hold my hand up and admit that my own limited riding ability (for what I want to achieve with her) is contributing to our slow progress.
I have picked up plenty of bad habits over the years and must right these if i want Kika to achieve the goals i have set out for us. My goal for now is to get her to use herself correctly, from behind which will encourage her to work in a correct outline and responding to my legs and aids obediantly so that when/if we do return to competing I will have an obediant concentrating horse at all times.
Just a checklist for myself so that I remember what it is i have to work on with my own riding:
 - Heels down (more) and stop gripping with my knees, therefore popping my heels back up and making my feet loose in the stirrups.
 - Sit up straight with shoulders back
 - Stop looking down (getting better at this one, until we circle - working on it!)
 - Stop leaning around circles thereby upsetting our combined balance unecessarily
I'm sure there are more, but if i can get to grips with these, I'll be in a better position (no pun intended) and we'll be heading in the right direction!

Thursday 30 September 2010

Pampered Princess!

Just a post, about what a pampered little madam Kika is becoming!
The weekend before last Kika got a new neighbour in the stablen next to hers, another chestnut mare - I know what you're thinking "recipe for disaster" aaaannndddd you'd be right!
To say that Kika didn't get on with her would be a bit of an understatetment! The partition between the two of them got such a hammering, and embarassingly for me it appears to have been all one sided. The new neighbours partition did not have scuff marks where hooves had made contact! *embarrased*

On top of this the weekend before this "move", the two brothers who run the yard had *seperately* said to me that she kicks up a massive fuss at feeding time! Pawing her door till the feed gets to her, which is mighty annoying considering feeding could start at the opposite end of the barn (50 odd horses away from her!), but Miss (it would appear) has amazing hearing when it comes to the sound of feed! Yet if i walk into the barn and say hello to her, i might as well be talking to the wall... Go figure! *eye roll*

Anyways so chalk all this fuss down and imagine my discomfort at asking the owners if it might be possible to move Kika to another stable as:
1. I was changing her from straw to sawdust (straw was getting too wet as she was spending so much time indoors and the soles of her feet were being affected) and
2. I was worried as to how much more the partition between herself and the new neighbour could take.
I spoke to one of the brothers on friday to which he informed me that they had been planning on moving her ina ny case as the stable she had been in since arriving was not infact going to be her stable for the winter months! He couldn't tell me where exactly to which stable she would be moving to, but did give me the barn aisle she would be on so i could narrow down my search for her on monday.

So up I went on monday evening after work, looking forward in a childish way to my game of hide and seek ponio. Imagne my suprise to see her rugged self staring back at me as soon as i walked through the door. Not on the aisle i had been told she would be on, but simply 2 stalls down from the one she had been in and now the first stable in the row (right beside the hay supply - so that'll be one fuss sorted as she will be first fed with the hay each time so no door hamemring on that count), another bonus of this stable is that she now only has one neighbour and the partition separating them has some sort of rubber matting (similar to what's inside horseboxes) to stop her damaging the wood and/or herself is she ever does kick up a  fuss again. The other good thing is that her sole neighbour is a tiny little miniature mare, again chestunt, but I don't think that will be a problem this time, as for as long as I've owned her Kika has been incredibly broody and loves animals that are smaller than her! I think it stems from where she was before I bought her from her breeder, where she had obviously lived her whole life, and once she was weaned from the mare she was in a field with other young horses. So after her first year of life she was joined in the field by the next year's foal(s) and so on until i bought her at three. In the three years I have had her, she has always had a healthy obsession with small ponies/foals and adopted a protective stance over any youngsters that used to join the "big" herd when she was in Ireland!
And to see her reaction every time I return her to her stable makes me think that we shouldn't run into any problems with this neighbour. Whereas before when I used to return her to her stall, she'd try to turn straight to check for feed and/or eat her hay (this was a habit that was not allowed to form and she got over it pretty quickly but often looked longingly in their direction when returned to the stable). Now when she gets back to her 'new' stable, when released from teh headcollar, she goes straight to teh bars taht divide her from the neighbour and checks that the little mare is still there!

I also got an explanation (re:the change in stable) on Monday evening as one of the yard owner brothers was there ar the same time as I was. Turns out she had been moved to the aisle I had been told she would be on as those stables are ever so slightly bigger than the one she is in now (by like 5-10cms), but she kicked up such a fuss in there. Hammerig and pawing at the stable panneling that they couldn't leave her there for fear she would do herself or the stable damage! (Cue a very red face from me!) So she was moved back to her "orginal" aisle.

So here I am rather embarrased by how misbehaved my horse is being when stabled. But when I explained to the YO (yard owner) that she has to get used to being stabled and has to learn to be patient, he asked why? Turns out either i forgot to tell them, or they forgot that i had told them that this will be/is Kika's first time being stabled for any length of time. She used to live outdoor sin Ireland, taht combined with her age, has them looking upon her slightly more leniantly now! So hopefully she'll buck up soon and stop acting like such a pampered princess! ;)

PS: sorry if my spelling is atorcious, I don't have time o re-read as I'm running out to lunch before my first german class in 8 years! Scary, and yep - you guessed it, I'm freaking out a little! (*ahem* read: A LOT!)

Wednesday 29 September 2010

A Bit About Us (For Those who don't know)

Well I figured why not start at the beginning and have anyone who reads this on the same page as everyone else. This is a blog about my horse Kika and I's adventures since moving to Luxembourg from Ireland due to work commitments.
Kika is a Liver Chestnut mare who was born in May of 2004, purchased by me when she was going on 3 in April 2007! She had absolutely nothing done when we bought her, she couldn't even lead! With help from my mothers family where I spent every weekend and holiday while i live in Ireland (while studying at university); we trained her to saddle (and to lead - sort of!). Between injuries to her (minor ones, never more than 2 weeks break) and myself (more long term unfortunately and i was out of the saddle for 3 months then back for a bit and out again for 6 months!) we still managed to get around and try out a few things.
She tried her hoof at hunting (without me as I'm not a major hunting fan, but if anyone wanted to take her for a day out they were welcome to - she went down a treat), hunter trialing (we had one outing at a charity event which was great fun) and what we both really enjoy doing show jumping. We did a few competitions at 80cms, 90cms and 1meter classes before leaving Ireland. (Youtube link to our first double clear video, if anyone cares, teehee, you can see the rest of our vids there too!)
Anyways as mentioned above in January 2010 I was offered a job in Luxembourg, which is where I grew up incidently, for 3 months while a woman was out on maternity leave. After a month and a half I was told that the lady in question would not be returning to work and they asked me would I like to stay on for 12 months, to which i jumped at the chance!
As I had originally only been employed for 3 months I had left Kika in Ireland in the capable hands of my mothers family on the Livery yard they run where she had lived since i bought her! But now facing 12 months in Luxembourg and her still in Ireland and my paying livery, I figured why not see if i could bring her out to me. Which i obviously managed!
She now lives 10minutes walk up the road from where I am living and I get to see her every day! Which I'm not sure she is thrilled about, lol, considering while at uni i used to only ride her at the weekends and every day when on holidays. Now she gets ridden almost every day!!!

So basically this will be a blog about us and our adventures since coming out here. The yard I keep her at has amazing facilities (see pictures here); 3 indoor riding arenas, one outdoor, access to at least 17kms of forrestry, a walker and paddocks for turnout weather permitting. There is also on site instruction and extrenal instructors who come in either on special occasions for weekend clinics and/or there is a jumping instructor who comes in weekly on wednesdays.

I have been taking weekly flat lessons for about a month and a half now and was due to start jumping lessons today, but madam had other ideas when twisting one of her two week old hind shoes last friday and then proceeding to pull it off on monday before the farrier could look at her! Then yesterday after getting the shoe replaced, she caught herself with the shoes in the box or something (I wasn't there so can't know for sure) and so wrangled her way out of being ridden last night. So i cancelled todays inaugral jumping lesson as she hadn't been ridden since friday and she really does love to jump. So was think we might make a better first impression next week, when she hasn't had a "break" which would result in her getting all hot and excited at the sight of fences!
We pottered around this evening, to make sure our gears were still working ahead of our flat lesson tomorrow evening.

I guess that really is enough out of me for now, ;-)
I'll leave you with 2 pictures of Kika! The first picture taken of her in April 2007 and a more recent one after her arrival  and settling in period in Lux taken in August 2010.

That's about it for my first post, fair play to you for reading that to the end!
Please do check back for more as I hope to update as regularly as possible. Probably not every evening, but on eventful evenings/days I will!
To keep on top of our adventures on the continent!