Tuesday 27 December 2011

Spinny-Spin-spin...No real news, but photos :-)

As title says I've no real news to report, which in itself is good news as 1) it means less for ye to read and 2) Kika has been behaving herself - WIN!
Had some lovely work from her last week, including a lovely two hour hack in the woods on Christmas Eve with L, her horse O and her two bearded collies - lovable mutts!
Christmas day fell as a holiday for Kika after having been either ridden or worked for 6 days straight and getting out to the field everyday so she has been in great form. Not much eating left on bit of land we're being lent so ordered some Horselyx Original lick to keep the two from getting escapologist notions - I'm sure O can be trusted to behave, it's my wandering nosy-moo that would cause the trouble - what with the grass always being greener and all that!

Anyways as promised photos from our spin today! (Finally - I hear the chorused sighs ;-) )

Be warned, my sis came to barn with me today to act as photographer and she took over 300 photos on my phone - rest assured i have whittled it down to fifteen! But still eek!!!

Hopefully these capture what we have achieved and still show Kika in her quirky light. Please excuse my horrible position in almost every photo!

First things first, we have to show off her new saddle pad which was mentioned in previous post - love the colours!

As we walked a bit my sis played with the settings for a cartoon effect photo, hahaha

Dunno how the panoramic shots will work here, but here's link if bigger viewing sought - LINK

Probably my favourite picture of us to date (although my leg still needs a lot of work, darn heels creeping up!):

Some more panoramic - again may not be able to view properly at this size...LINK

Some cantering from our bad side - please excuse the giraffe impression and of course my position leaves a lot to be desired! In fact that most deffinitely does not help with her issues cantering on this rein! I've an awful habit of gripping with my knees which pulls up my heel if i could sort that mental block out i'd prob help her more!

Some more sitting trotting shots - cringe at my potision / sorry! Despite there being a mirror in the arena i never remember to look at it to correct myself!

Good rein cantering

We can do better

And after all that we still have our discussions...

Then back to some nice trot work

Just to prove she can still resemble a good giraffe when the mood takes her (more than i like)

Then two final nice shots

Hopefully you are not completely appalled by the awful riding displayed within these photos!

PS: I've just realised how to get the photos the same size as on my photobucket account so now you can all be horrified in full force at the awful position I have when riding *hides-muttering-to-oneself-about-posting-photos-for-all-to-see*

PPS: I'm hoping the photographer might get up early tomorrow morning with me and hopefully get a few jumping snaps if arena available! Must take advantage while i've someone to take pics, ;-)
Haven't jumped since October I'd wager so hopefully Kika doesn't get herself too excited, although we'll prob only be doing cross poles...

Tuesday 20 December 2011

Fancy Feet - Weekend Report

Unfortunately no pictures in this update, so no incentive to continue reading as no reward... basically if you don't fancy reading a novel best not to get your hopes up that this will be short! Sorry - I'm not known for paraphrasing ...

Saturday was a good day riding wise, especially considering she hadn't been worked since our first understated spin in the new bridle on wednesday evening (see previous post for pictures/update). Thursday was my work Christmas party so i did not get to visit Kika that evening as it was on straight after work and i didn't get in till after 1am - lights out in barn at 10pm so figured best not go out in torrential downpour that raged for Thursday and Friday as a storm passed overhead and wake everyone up up there at 1am, ;-)
Friday, although i don't drink I was too wrecked to get up to see her - SHAME ON ME - I know! But i'd still put in a full days work and aforementioned storm was rotten, high winds and torrential rain did not an enticing 10min uphil walk to the barn make!
L had let her run / loose schooled her on Thursday evening and she goes in the walker every morning so i knew she wouldn't be too badly off for my lazyness! Although not excusable at all!
Anyways got there on Saturday and had been planning on doing some pole work, but arenas were not free to allow me set myself up, so just decided to do some flat work and lunged her first - as we hadn't done much on wednesday and she hadn't been worked Thursday or Friday, so to be on the safe side i decided to lunge to get her head right before i sat up. Typically i needn't have worried, she was as good as always on the lunge and when i hopped up we still did a good 20mins flat work - walk/trot and some very nice canter work which i was very very happy with!

Sunday dawned all white and powdery as we had our first snow of the year. Fun for most, but not ideal for me I'll admit! It was far from as disruptive as last year's first snow where 20-30cms fell first go, but Sunday was the day L and I had organised to let the two ladyships off in the "field" piece of land we've been given the sue of for the winter. I wasn't sure what would happen on that front till after i rode and L arrived, so figured i'd play it by ear and see what concensus was re:releasing them for some fun-filled fresh air.
I arrived at yard early for me, shortly after 12pm and thankfully found arena i wanted "free" - a couple were handwalking their elderly horse (ripe old age of 27 and looking very well for it!), after checking with them that it was okay to put down poles as they walked i had a grand old chat with them as i set up my polework in the same formation as the previous time (one/two weeks ago...I can't quite remember now! - again ref: previous posts - basically i'd a pole at 12, 3, 6 and 9 o'clock and then two other poles vertically down the center line combined with 3 and 9 o'clock to make for a large cross although not actually touching - plenty room between them for manoeuverability).
As previous spin had been so good i hopped up without lungeing and all went well, we had 2 or 3 moments where she lost the run of herself when something moved or something caught her attention out the corner of her eye and necessitated cat like leaps/half-rears as she attempted to tank off but couldn't. But all in all i was overjoyed with her as even though she sufefred from abovementioned "moments" she settled back into work good as gold and actually gave me some lovely work, including some very good canter work despite being tired.

This is getting longer than I'd planned (again) but in a bid to wrap things up relatively quickly L arrived and we decided to proceed with "operation turn out" as otherwise Christmas'd be upon us and the lovely ladies still wouldn't have gotten to make use of the land we'd been offered for winter. So we rugged up and wandered down to plot of land which another friend and her partner had helped us clear (he's a horticulturalist and had all the equipment etc required). We let the two ladies off as L and i worked to fence up the front correctly as stakes were driven too deep in the ground so we ended up having to use the trees, as front/gateway is straight out onto a "road" - which thankfully is no longer used since recycling center shut down but still the odd car can drive up/down as access to woods for walking etc. The two girls had a grand old time especially as two ponies are on the neighbouring plot as one can no longer be stabeld due to health issues and needs to be walking as much as possible - some sort of heart condition i think. Anyway the lot of them had a grand old time winding each other up, the plot we have is surrounded by big Christmas type trees and offers them great protection. There are also young trees growing in the middle of the field which we've wire surrounding to protect from trampling so unfortunately not much grass but plenty of obstruction to mad galloping/ground digging!
The goal of letting them out for a few hours each day is really just to get them some fresh air and stretch their legs - they get plenty to eat when in tehs tables so lack of grass is not a major concern for us. L's work shifts have been very convenient so far this week and she has been able to let them out about 2pm and bring them back in around 4 before it gets dark. She said they were good as gold yesterday - not a single run out of them when she released them, which is the main thing! She had to laugh at them as the apir of them were at teh gate as if waiting to come in when she passed to walk the dogs and then were there again with big sad faces on them when she was bringing them in.
Tomorrow's work shift means that she can let them out in the morning and then I'm going to make my way to barn on my lunch break to bring them back in - either that or i'll ask my mother with "Puppy-dog-eyes" to bring them in for me. Hopefully she'll be only too happy to as she has beena  vocal contributor to the "Get-Your-Horse-Into-A-Field" campaign ;-)
Gotta love a Mammy!

Plan for this week is some pessoa lungeing this evening, all going well a spin for some flatwork tomorrow evening, polework lungeing thursday evening, (first day of my holidays) friday daylight spin and then Saturday also hopefully. I think all going to plan Chirstmas day will be a day off work-wise as knowing our usual Christmas day I won't have time to get away to spend my usual 2-3hours at the barn when riding so she'll get her Christams treat from the Mammy who loves spoiling her with treats and goodies ... then telling me she's spoiled rotten with the amount of  rugs and numnahs she has! Speaking of, have ordered one that i think will look lovely on her and is outside my usual Purple Comfort zone! I ordered the Green and Pistachio one of THESE yesterday, have ordered the Orange and Cinamon one as a suprise for L, as she loves orange and I think the colours will look really well on her girl O - see previous posts for pictures of the lovely creature that is O.
All going well the girls will continue to get their couple of hours of turn out a day and we'll be able to keep a calm + happy head on Kika for this winter - although truth be told she is such a vast improvement on the ratty & cranky horse i had last winter that i am uber-thrilled with her and by proxy me and what we've achieved so far! Namely the fact that we've been able to keep working under saddle as of the start of November last year until Christmas - Kika had managed to wrangle her way out of work and through every test under the sun from, teeth to back to new saddle etc etc including x-rays!

Fingers crossed that all continues to go well and that my happy-go-lucky mare is here to stay!

Thursday 15 December 2011

Beautiful Bridle

As you are aware i purchased a new saddle back in August - lovely unsual brown colour - kind of mahogany i guess you'd describe it as...

Reminder pic (cos i love pictures!)
Anyways my good friend L decreed upon purchase of above-pictured saddle that i'd simply have to alos buy a shiny new bridle...after the money spent on that saddle and vet fees/osteo etc after Miss Kika's unfortunate kick during the summer (all discussed in detail in earlier posts see May-July additions) the purse strings were a little tight for matchy matchy bridle purchasing, especially as Stubben bridles (saddle make) retail at over 100euros easily! Long story short L was adament (and i wholeheartedly agreed) that i was not going to spend that kind of money on a bridle and that we'd find a reasonably priced one to match.The only time i honestly looked for one was at the Equi Expo in Germany a few weeks back and we found one with reins and a matching breastplate (which i had also been on the look out for) for money i was happy to spend on it.

And you guessed it, I have photos of the Spoiled one modeling it!


LINK Sorry I know the last one is a bit Fuzzy McFuzzerson, but she had her ears forward and was looking all pretty it was just the photographer's (me) hurry to capture the moment that it all went shaky! Woopsy!

Anyways it is the same colour brown and has white stitching on the nose- and browbands, shall take a pic of it hanging if anyone would like to see a close up ;)

Needless to say that i did ride in it last night, i wasn't sure how she'd react as i also changed the bit. I've always ridden her in a snaffle (when we used to go cross country i used to change it to a three ring snaffle on the snaffle ring), however the go-to bit here is softer and has more links in it...can't remember the name! Shall also get a pic for tack experts to fill me in due to my lack of knowledge! It is also not a steel bit, but one that is made from a sweeter metal which is supposedly tastier for the horses and encourages chewing of the bit...salivating.

Long story (as usual) not so short...she went like a dream! There were two others in the arena with us, one lungeing in the lower half and a girl hand walking her horse so i stuck to the top half of the arena  which meant no cantering for us as it isn't the worlds largest arena and as Kika's canter still needs a lot of work and is difficult for her i didn't want her to be turning so tight. But her trot work was really good (even if i do say so myself) especially by our usual standards! Friend who was handwalking her horse said how good she was, nice and calm despite the winds, rain and noises going on around the arena - personally i think this had very little to do with me and a lot to do with her standing in the middle of my circle with her horse chatting to me as i went around, teehee!
I had had great intentions of placing a pole in each corner of the arena on the diagonals to work on our canter but with all the messing with fitting the bridle it went clear out of my head until i was in the arena with the horse which made moving poles from the outside in decidely implausible!
Office Christmas party is tonight so shan't be getting to see her ladyship (L has offered to let her loose to blow off some steam - she's a godsend that girl!). Friday i shall be flatworking (or at least i intend to) and Saturday I'll set up the poles like last week but spend longer working with them. Had to cut my probatory session short last week due to other engagements. Sunday will depend on the weather but might see if i can get out to the woods for a hack...if not shall deffo be trying with L to get our girls out to the field we've been offered and had tidied up so that we can get the initial trial run over and done with so that i can start popping to the barn on my lunch breaks and letting teh girls out for a bit during the days!

As usual more waffle than inteded, but there ya go...I'm sure at this stage you know what you've signed up for when you start reading a post!

Wednesday 14 December 2011

Monday Night Lights

We'll start this update off with the "reward" a video of Kika enjoying herself letting off some steam in an arena with her buddy O.

The last few times i rode her I felt she was getting herself a little hett up, hot under the collar and fizzy when asked to trot. So saturday i changed our schooling a little and placed poles around the whole of the arena - 12, 3, 6, 9 o'clock and then two vertically down the center line so that we could work on them on circles as well. This had the desired affect and concentrated her mind on other things and kept her from fizzing - my other thought was that the schooling on the flat i'd been doing had become slightly predictable so had to mix it up a bit!
When i mentioned this fizzyness to friends, they suggested i let her loose to let off some steam as she is no longer getting turn out. I have been doing this anyway, and she gets let loose after riding/lungeing to roll while i do her stable - but above i did manage to catch some of her antics on film on my camera phone - sorry for poor lighting!

Here is another video of herself and O partaking in some synchronised rolling, teehee!

And finally some pics to round out the post!

LINK (If want to see larger photo)
And last but not least, I managed to purchase myself two cheek pieces in the same colour as the bridle i bought (which was missing a cheek piece) to go with my saddle. Haven't used the whole ensemble yet! But hoping to do so this evening so expect more photos - yippee!

Friday 2 December 2011

Where did i leave off?

I haven't had much to report of late - yet am sure this post will still manage to be ridiculously long! Apologies in advance!
Let's see since i last update the oseto came to see herself for a check up where teh friend who was helping me out by being there (I was away in Germany at an Equi Expo - where i bought a lovely new bridle amongst other things, unfortunately no photos as yet as a cheek piece is missing and i've to buy two new ones!) reported back that Kika's back and arse-end were alright, one minor manipulation but that the main problem area for her was her head/neck, she hinted that damage to that area may have contributed in some part to her rearing - it may do but i reckon rearing is just her go-to defence to discomfort as since we know she isn't muscled enough for certain requests we have kept rearing to a minimum which is great in my book! My friend M who was there with her also commented on the fact that she had never seen a horse being treated react so indifferently to what the healer was doing, Kika was way more preoccupied with anything and everything that was going on around her then what was being done to her - something i may have eluded to in previous posts when she's being massaged, she's not one to relax and enjoy it (but then again neither am I so perhaps the link is there! Woopsy, more that is my fault/doing!). The osteo also said that there appeared to be a disconnect between Kika's brain and what her legs were doing - which led me to ask another osteo friend if this meant my horse was somehow "retarted" - she laughed and said no that sometimes this comnnected with horses being more clumsy/lazy - words i have previously used to describe her Ladyship. She advised pole work on the lunge and from the saddle to increase herself's awarness of where her feet are and what they are doing! The osteo that visited advised me to concentrate on long and low work to muscle up Kika's neck and stretch down through her back - another thing we are working on but Kika get's herself all strung out distracted by anything and anything else that she tends to spend more time imitating a Giraffe that stretching her nose to the ground - we are managing to work consistently in an outline these days so it's getting ehr to relax further and stretch is being worked on, although typically i can only get her to do this after "proper" work - but baby steps and hopefully we'll get there some day! I have also re-started work with the pessoa once a week/ every two weeks depends on time/work and changed the setting i use it on so that it will encourage her to stretch down into the movement - thereby (hopefully) building up the neck/back muscles! I have a few videos of L lungeing her like this for the first time last friday for me to see how it's done properly and learn from/aim to replicate. However I don't want to kick upa  fuss with anyone who might read this and disagree with the use of lungeing aids - however i have found that this works for me and my horse in the past and she actually enjoys the work she does in the pessoa, or believe me she would kick up such a fuss as to let you know she was having none of it!

As for actual riding we have had a few good sessions, one over trotting poles wedneday week (23.11.11) where i rode for the first time since before our holidays without putting her in the walker or lungeing her first. Not only that but we also worked in the arena she typically behaved worst in and thankfully had no problems! She stelled and worked away like a dream, :-)
Saturday (26.11.11) was our best session just the two of us in a long time! We got lovely calm and controlled walk/trot/canter and worked on our serpentines with volts on each bend, figures of eight, rein changes and increasingly smaller circles when she was well and truly warmed up - we got our tightest circles today without any issues on both reins! I was so happy and proud of her and myself by proxy!
Other spins since then took place wednesday and thursday this week (30.11.11 and 1.12.11), wedensday i lunged for a good 20mins before hand as she hadn't been ridden since saturdays good session - we had worked with trotting poles on the lunge on monday but then i had to miss tuesday as i was unwell and stayed at home in the toasty house - shame on me I know! :-(
Think Madam would settle on the lunge? - not a chance, someone else was lungeing in the small arena at the same time and they were in the top half so we went down by the door - well if Kika is to be believed it is the scariest door in the world as she was incapable fo passing at at walk/trot or canter with anything but scared bug-eyes fixating on it and lopsided un-even circles! Anyways we survived and i went into the "big" arena where one other person was working on his recovering fiesty horse (poor fella can only to a max of 10mins trotting and the rest he has to walk - this is a horse that is so full of beans he literaly explodes occasionaly!), thankfully Kika paid no attention to the one explosion that occured while we did some walk/trot canter work - although I'll admit the canter was woefull and my fault as i just wanted to get the canter in that arena over with without upsetting the big black fella so as not to set him off, so i really did Kika no favours there! But i did come away knowing that she is well capable of behaving and working without a fuss in the biggest arena (I tend to stick to the smaller ones as they are usually less busy)
Last night we attempted to work in the big arena as the evening before but without lungeing first, usually wouldn't have been a problem - only rain was intermittently hammering off the roof, the length of the small side mirror was completely fogged up and there were three other horses in the arena with us, one of which was the fiesty black fella from yesterday spontaneously exploding/buck/cat-leap/farting about the place - all of teh above combined to put both Kika and myself on edge so i bailed before we got into trouble and went to work in a quieter arena. We did get some nice work in the second arena, but she was very much still on edge and i couldn't quite get msyelf to relax either so once we'd had some nicely trotted circles i called it an evening and let her loose in the small luneging arena - if proof was needed that tehre was something off with her she stuck to the door eyes on stalks when i let her loose and wouldn't move anywhere but up and down the small side along the windows and door of the littlest arena. So i grabbed her headcollar and walked her round and around (coaxed her for the first round and avoided being trampled as we got the the terrifying scary corner with the other door which had caused such issues in luneging the previous evening) till she calmed and was walking happy out quiet as a lamb beside me. So i let her loose once more and went about cleaning the stable and sorting her feed. She still wasn't quite right as she stuck close to the non-threatening door but was no longer terrified looking...very odd behaviour if i may say so myself.
She did relax enough to have a roll for herself, typically just as i went to bring her in secretly delighted that she wasn't going to bring half the sand out of the arena with her for a change...not to be. I'm not complaining tough as she stood good as gold to get her feet washed, herself de-sanded and brushed and her rug put back on without necessitating my having to tie her up in cross-ties.

So that's us all caught up no so swiftly as per usual. Fear not as i have a bit of a reward for your perseverenc ein teh form of a snapshot i captured after our polework under saddle session last wednesday (23.11.11) as i left her loose in teh arena we'd been working in and L added her horse O and another friend C tossed in her lad E who Kika had shared the field with during the summer...Here's the reunion fo the wall, ;)

LINK - if it's too small for viewing!

I'm off back to Ireland for the weekend, L is going to help keep an eye on K and possibly give her a lunge/spin if she has time. I will be returning to the yard i use dto keep Kika on in Ireland - as it's owned by my motehrs family and where we stay when we visit, still odd to go there and not have Kika. But i'm not sure if they'll have anything for me to have a spin on or if i'll have time...We'll see!
Thanks if you've read so far, very sorry yet again for the length of it! (oh and apologies if spelling mistakes - afraid my fingers can sometimes go faster than my brain can keep up!)