Monday 26 March 2012

Sunday Spin

We had another glorious day here yesterday (think 23 C), however I remained craven and shunned the outdoor in favour of "my" arena where Kika and I get on best.
I put down some trotting poles and The Mammy came to make one of them a cross pole for me when I was happy that Kika and I were on the same page.
Our canter work is still very iffy on our previously "good" rein, we can't seem to get on the same page for striking off - am sure this is predominantly my fault as I'm probably forgetting a step and/or just plain doing something wrong. I was thinking about it last night and realised we ahve also developed an issue with staying on/near the track when riding on this now troubling rein. I have come to the conclusion that i must be forgetting my legs!
As Kika and I are working better together with what I hope is more of a mutual understanding and more of a relationship rather than a dictatorship from me. She is obviously going to start relying more on my aids which must come up to par with the work we are now trying to do.
I had this epiphany as we worked on our trotting poles, she was so good - really waiting for me, maintaining our outline and waiting for the poles to come to us ratehr than rushing at them and them tripping herself up.
Happy days!
This thankfully did translate to when we tackled the cross pole, nothing major and no course, just a single cross pole to see what we'd make of it. Previously Kika would see a fence and rush at it in her excitement - the gem in the crown of the work we have done since last autumn/winter is that she now does not and again waited for me and my aids. Which again will need to be brought up to par as I found myself still anticipating the rush and initially didn't have a good enough trot going into the fence, that and my eye for the stride was out of practice. We sorted ourselves out however and got a few good pops off each rein.
Our good work came crumbling as I wanted to attempt the fence in canter, think i could get the canter i wanted?
I decided to ask for canter on a circle to get her going well before getting anywhere near the jump, but any improvements we had made the last few days with our strike-off on our "previously" good rein went right out the window again. So i didn't tackle the jump from canter at all and instead went back to work on striking off correctly from the canter.

Both Kika and i need to make the mental ajustment that just because we have fences we cannot forget our flatwork!

Unfortunately there are no pics or mini-videos, The Mammy was distracted in watching and didn't think of photo-taking! She did report afterwards that our trot work is about 75% whereas our canter is down at around 20% - I know this though and we are working on it.

Although we ended on a bit of a sour note in my book with my inability to get the canter i wanted to jump from it - we didn't end on a bad note I did go back to work on our canter and get it as i wanted before finishing up.
Highlight of my day was that The Mammy sat up to cool Kika down as I tidied away the poles and fence.
I was a happy camper!

Saturday 24 March 2012

Bare Naked Lady

I have left Kika without her rugless for tonight, hence the title,  
We had an absolutely gorgeous day today and indeed all week (think 20+C still after 6pm)  so I didn't want her overheating and then getting crabby.

No real news to report, Thursday was her day off after having been very good under saddle since Sunday (see previous posts). Farrier was due at 8am Friday morning, but hadn't arrived when L (The Guru) got to the yard to let the girls out at 10.30am before she went to work, so I asked her to leave Kika in and told her I'd swing by at lunch time to pop her out after she'd hopefully been done. By 1pm there was still no sign of the blacksmith so I left a message on his voicemail to say that I'd popped her out to the field and that I wouldn't be able to come back to bring her in until after i finished work at 4pm. Fearing that he was en route and hence unable to pick up when I rang, in which case I was gone back to work and would be unable to bring her in to have her feet pared.
I needn't have worried, received word that evening that it was actually his birthday and his kids had surprised him with a trip away for the weekend - how sweet is that! So he was full of apologies and re-scheduled for Monday - but there was no need, who could be mad at someone on their birthday!

So Friday ended up being another day off for her as I'd forgotten I'd arranged to meet the parents for dinner, so the time I had set aside to lunge her melted away in a three course meal, yay for gift vouchers!

I let the pair of them out this morning in the fabulous sunshine at 10.30am and L brought them back in about 4pm as she was heading out for a hack in the woods. I managed to get to the yard before feeding time (roughly 5pm) and was in the dressage saddle so missed that kerfuffle of stamping/snorting...get the food to me faster carry on of a large yard of horses.

Was very happy to find my favourite arena to ride in empty so set about my usual 2 laps in each direction on foot to let the saddle settle on her back and contribute to her warm up period. By the time i was getting up three riders had joined us - funny thing is i'd wager the 2 other indoors and outdoor were probably empty, but what the hey - company is fun.
I had decided in the essence of the dressage saddle to see how Kika and I would get on without a martingale/breastplate for the first time ever! I have never ridden her without one - thought never crossed my mind before. Thankfully this fact escaped Kika's attention and while she was more prone to lifting her head then in recent weeks, this may have had more to do with there being more riders than usual in the arena and lots of changes of direction/lopsided circles as we all tried to work around each other.
We did nothing fancy, I avoided the leg yielding as no one on the ground to tell me if we're doing it right or not so don't want to be teaching/learning wrong!
We did however do lots of canter transitions on circles starting with what had previously been our "good" rein but in recent lessons/schooling sessions had been our worse side, as I've typically been starting on our "bad" side to get fresher work that way - which has had the knock on effect of making me more tired and less together when attempting to get good canter work on our previously "good" side. So today I made the conscious decision to alternate and regular intervals the direction and work both sides as best i could.
We started with our previously "good" side as that's the one we'd been having most problems with of late - took a couple of circles to get ourselves in the right frame and bend for correct lead strike off, which thankfully we managed and K came down nicely into an outline for a circle then as a reward I came back to trot to rinse and repeat - this is where we often run into issues of anticipation and then wrong bend so wrong lead...Took us a couple of tries but we got there and when I got two correct strike offs with some nice outline in a row I changed direction and tackled our previously "bad" side - thankfully she was still better on that side so it required less work and we were able to change back to focussing slightly more on the other rein.
I am really happy as things feel like they are coming together and she might actually be starting to carry herself better and work from behind - her last few canters today I could really feel a difference on the circle and power coming from her backside - although with no one on the ground to tell me, I'm not sure if what I was feeling was right! Will have to watch this space and see if I can get the same sensation some day in a lesson to ask The Guru if what we are doing is correct or if Kika or I are cheating in some unconscious way...I wouldn't put it past us!

Unfortunately I finished up shortly after that as one of the other riders in the ring took a nasty spill after her pony took off bucking on her and from where Kika and I were as she landed it looked like he may have trod on her once or twice. As the pony was loose, myself and the other rider (her sister) hopped off and she caught him - thankfully their mother was there as well as the Yard Owner so all was well under control. The mother hopped up on the pony as he really did just take advantage of the poor girl in spooking at nothing, the brave little soul sat for a few minutes then asked to get back up. So hopefully she hasn't done herself a lot of damage although if as it appeared the pony did step on her she'll be undoubtedly sore tomorrow, poor pet!
While all this was happening with the girl on the ground I walked Kika by hand and loosened the girth a few holes as she was blowing a bit and i didn't want her to stiffen, when we got the all clear from the mother I hopped back up and got Kika moving again (trotting) to get her to stretch a bit and then came back to walk and cooled her off. We could have done more work but as she'd been good and not spooked herself when the other pony was acting the utter maggot, I decided to call it a day and gave her a thorough grooming (by our standards) after a roll in the sand.

Plan for tomorrow is to see how the energy levels are as I'm taking the graveyard shift (3.40am to 7am time change alternating on 30-40mins shifts) on the "Walk For Life" cancer charity fundraiser relay.
It should be good fun, it's held in the national sports hall running track - inside track is for runners/joggers outside track for lazy sods like myself who only want to walk.
Basically there are teams and each team must have a member on track for 24hours, so we all get allocated shifts depending on how many team members there are. I'll be walking for Team Canada (colleague from work is Canadian) and Team Ireland organised by the Irish Club of Lux. It's not a national thing it's all down to the organisers of the teams, there are also teams from schools, banks, groups of friends etc etc.
The atmosphere is great as there are always a load of people "on course" at the same time, there are local radio DJs spinning tunes the whole time to keep everyone motivated, food stands, drink stands etc etc it's a pretty big event all things considered!

L is very kindly letting the girls out in the morning and has offered to bring them back in depending on what time she's heading to the woods for another hack with someone else tomorrow and is waiting to hear from them as to time. My plan tomorrow is go to bed when I get home and then exercise the mare late afternoon/early evening. Ideally I'd love to do some pole work under saddle and if energy levels and behaviour permits - I'd love to pop a fence or two...but that will also depend on if i can have someone on the ground to fix up an obstacle or two for me.

Right I'd best shut up typing and go to sleep as it's now after 10pm here and I've to be awake and ready to walk 4ish hours - yikes! This time change is messing with my mind, wish the organisers of the event could've picked any other weekend...Oh well, I'll hopefully update again tomorrow and if i do get to jump it'll mean I'll have had a helper who may play photographer if we're lucky!

Wednesday 21 March 2012

Lesson Update

Last night I rode in my altered GP saddle and despite an initial discomfort where I felt my stirrups were too short (despite them being as i always rode in them before) and feeling like I was shooting out into space the first few strides of rising trot - all settled back to normality as L gave me a lesson, :)
Kika was good as gold, and we got great work done on our "bad" rein and only mediocre work done on our typically good rein - more than likely my fault more than hers as we worked on the good rein after the bad rein so I was probably tired and less effective in the saddle.

I can tell you right now that my brain and limbs were not cooperating as The Guru tried to have us work on lateral movements from the center line whereby i was to brake/hold the rein with my outside hand and squeeze with my inside leg to have Kika cross her legs and move sideways (dancing as i call it in my non-technical/untrained moron lingo) - unfortunately as I said my brain and limbs weren't understanding one another so our dancing was very stop-start, practically non-exsitant - but we did manage to squeeze a few criss-crossed steps with help from L on the ground with my crop backing up my weak leg aids - so i did get the feel the sensation of what it is to feel like for when i finally manage to master the proper requesting process!
An added bonus is that despite the mixed messages from me which will undoubtably fluster and confuse any horse, Kika has resisted the urge (so far) to show me her displeasure by rearing or even bouncing her front legs in her threatening way. Touch-wood we can keep that phase behind us!

All in all I'm super happy with how we are working together, in both saddles - I intend to ride in the dressgae one this evening and perhaps alternate spins in each saddle. As typically i try to ride two days in a row, so might as well mix it up with saddle styles while I'm at it, ;)

New on my to-buy list along with new larger winter rugs (still on my shoping list have done no purchasing yet, as was unsure what size to go for - now think i'll get a 6ft6 and see how she likes that as current purple rug, see pics in previous post, is 145cms (6ft6) and is deffo a better fit than the 6ft3 ones she ahs been using this winter. However when I measured her from withers to tail she is 147cms - just between sizes as next rug size is 6ft9 = 155cms, which i think will be rather too large!
What to do, what to do?!

Anyways, sorry - got sidetracked!

The latest item on my to purchase list is a black bridle as the new-to-me (secondhand) dressage saddle is balck and my bridle goes with my very non-black mahogany almost GP saddle. Plus I've been swayed by diamontes (slightly) and am looking for a black gem browband - nothing to flashy but a bit of bling all the same. Sure if Kika and I are going to start dancing, we'd best look the part - even if when we do start to move people will fall about the place in fits of giggles.

So currently on my equine shopping list:
- 6ft6 Stable rugs, MW & HW
- Black bridle (understated black bling browband optional - longe finger dream)
- Gaiters and Jodh boots, may order more Mackeys as these ones have served me very well since 2008.
- Newmarket Fleece Rug/Cooler linked in an earlier post.

Plenty spending coming my way from the looks of things!
Was just googling to see if i could find a black bling browdand picture like what i'm hoping to find, understated and not too in your face or tacky (IMO - obviously not shared by everyone!). What can I  say I'm quite conservative at heart. Well i found this website that looks promising, Bling My Bridle, they have a nice black stone wave browbadn, but it has 3 rows of beads i think whereas I'm more on the lookout for something with one row of gemstones if possible.
If anyone reading this knows of somwhere that might have this i'll galdly give them my custom!
I had a quick nosy at Pink Equine, and while i love their stuff and still have my eye on the Royal Blue saddle pad there, they don't have the browbands with black gems I'm after!

Tuesday 20 March 2012

Pleasantly Suprised

@ myself in actual fact - a horse is only as good as it's rider and on Sunday I was very glad that I kept out of my head.
Our Sunday Spin wasn't as good as Saturday, but it was nowhere near as disastrous as the last time I'd had a good spin on my own and then attempted to follow it up. Look at me, growing and maturing and most importantly learning from my past mistakes! About Time - i hear you sigh,

The Mammy came to watch us and she was most complemntary of our improvements, admittedly it went more along the lines of "What a pretty girl you have become" - aimed at Kika, not me.
She did say that I'm fidgetty, more active with my hands in sitting trot and that I need to work on keeping them more still - constructive criticism, I like it! And hopefully something I can work on that shouldn't cause too much difficulty to get under control, Happy Days!
Our canter while still not perfect in striking off, again an issue of mine not Kika's, we are now finally getting a more rounded canter and the giraffe impression is lessening - thereby less back hollowing/blocking and better work - more Happy Days!

I lunged Kika last night in our altered-to-hopefully-fit-better GP saddle in the outdoor to see what she thought of it. To be honest it was hard to tell as she was on form and bucking/messing whenever a passing car/motorbike made a sound speeding up of the nearby motorway. Of course she had her maggot acting skills in full flow when there were other horses in the arena, another girl lungeing and someone riding. She is such a show off ... but this is not news to regular readers.
Of course she settled down to some nice work once there was no longer anyone to impress with her acrobatic skills. So it's full steam ahead for a lesson with The Guru this evening in the GP to see what we make of it after our couple of weeks in the Dressage saddle - I hope any good position habits I may have picked up in the Dressage saddle will transfer back to the GP...

Anyways that's us up to date, as a reward for your loyal following of my waffle here are two new pictures of Kika taken on Sunday as we were trying on a secondhand rug i bought from N ages back as it was too big for her girl. It is lighter than the stable rug I had K in and as spring is coming I thought it best to change as hopefully Madame will be going out full time on the 1st of May!
I know the Mammy was watching us ride, but she arrived after we started and I didn't get to give her my phone to ask for pictures/videos - sorry!
But i did snap a lovely post work (rug-modelling) bonding moment between Kika and Grandma

Thanks for reading!

Saturday 17 March 2012

Better for a bit of a break?

I say a bit of a break as last week Kika and I worked quite a lot toward the end of the week with lessons with L on Thursday, Friday, day off Saturday, lesson Sunday and L rode Miss Kika on monday. With it being St Patricks day toay, as an ex-Pat living abroad this is a busy week for us, add to this that my Guru was away on a mini-break from Tuesday to Thursday and we have a quite week for Kika, 

Tuesday herself and O got loose schooled, Wednesday I lunged Miss Kika in the outrdoor over three poles, she went very well. Thursday another friend N let K and O run in an arena as i couldn't make it at all due to having organised a Paddy's day party at work. Friday was such a glorious day (21 C) i couldn't face bringing Kika in from the field and take the sun off her back, so she was out there all day sunbathing 
Then this morning dawned considerably less warmer than yesterday (boo hiss - why is it always better weather when i've to be in an office!), down to 11 C - but that is not really relevant to todays tale...

Arrived at the yard about 10am, took off Kika's rug had a quick chat with N who was waiting for her farrier. Spied that my favourite ring to ride in was quiet, so brought herself out of the stable and went about grooming and tacking her up in MY new dressage saddle.
Yep, signed, sealed and delivered, i paid N for it n wednesday evening and it is now all mine!
Happy Days!

Up we went to the arena, there was one other person riding but no biggie. Started my handwalking, typically i do two circuits of the arena on foot myself in each direction with herself. Hopped up and did another circuit or two as a way of warming up. She was well calm in herself - our arena companion even asked had she been in the walker prior to tacking up as she was nicely settled. 
I started asking her to pay a bit more attention to me and coaxed her into an outline while keeping the legs on to try and encourage everything to work simultaneously. We moved up into some trotting and immediately got nice sedate, concentrated, calm work. We circled (properly as i'd been taught last weekend), changed rein, circled some more and then a couple of serpentines before working on some walk trot transitions and some more circles. At this stage my arena companion departed and we did some sitting trot, circles etc before moving up into canter.

Yep you read that right, I voluntarily cantered on my own!

First time we struck off on the wrong lead, completely my fault as I'm a muppet and was asking for canter with the wrong leg, so technically Kika was in fact doing as she was told - it was just me riding like a clown! 
Got a nice steady trot and tried again, correct lead this time and i pushed her forward with my legs and seat while staying on our circle. Low and behold she came down into an outline and released her back! Such a difference from our usual cantering and needless to say I was over the moon. Came back to trot after our circle and moved down to the other end of the arena and tried again down there, success! We managed to repeat a balanced canter and moved out to use the whole arena for a circuit. Came back to trot and L showed up, so I beamed at her and said I was over the moon that we'd managed some good canter work on our good rein. She congratulated us and then smiled evilly and said..."Show me"
So I circled down her end of the arena and at C asked for canter - SUCCESS, same as when I was on my own our transition up went without a fuss and after a stride or two she rounded underneath me and we came back to trot when we got back to our start point to a happy head from L.
I changed the rein across the diagonal and immediately at A asked again for canter, first time on our "bad rein" - changed nothing about my request of attitude, treated it like before et voila! As at C, struck off and rounded aftrer a few strides - to say i am over the moon is an understatement.

L said she was going off to ready her horse as she had to go for dinner with her folks at 12 (and this was almost 11), she left us to it. I picked back up a nice trot and asked for two more canters on our "bad rein", although you wouldn't have known it today, then came back to trot and let her stretch out.
I came home with a big happy head on me after tossing herself out in the field for the afternoon with her rug back on , , smelly cold weather back again - unfortunately someone was telling me during the week that snow is forecast for this coming week!
Boo Hiss!  

Now we're not going to win any Prix St George's or anything, but even the smallest victories need celebrating in my book!  I was pretty happy with how i rode and am over the moon with how Kika went, it actually felt like our lessons feel but almost sweeter as it was all on my own!

Fingers crossed we can repeat it tomorrow and I'll feel like i've accomplished something 

I'll see if i can get The Mammy to come with me tomorrow to take pics/film on my phone - although i can't promise i won't ride like a pillock as i'll still be on a high from today - that's usually when i end up riding like a plank for a few days before i get the Guru to whip me back into shape again,

As a thank you for reading, here is the little video (only 10seconds or so long) of Kika in the field that i mentioned in my previous post.


Wednesday 14 March 2012

Lunchtime Hookie

Well not quite as I'm now back in work, but I just had to quickly post a few snaps taken of Kika today as I let her out on my lunch break. Weather is fab here!
Was joking with my friend who goes to the barn with me at lunch time that it's a crime we've to go back to work, she said we should ring in and say we've a medical reason not to come back....I suggested Vit D deficiency, but we chickened out
In any case, the Judges host an Irish Staff invite only Paddy's day party and that is on this evening, which is always good to show face at so would be a miraculous recovery from my ailment when i turn up there with a sunburnt face!

I also nabbed a teeny tiny video of Miss Kika who heard me filling "her" ball with carrot pieces from the other end of the field, the head on her when she gets to me is priceless, need to hook into the wifi at home to upload it so shall do that this evening, and share it with you tomorrow I guess

Anyways without further waffle out of me (for now), here are the pics of Kika and her ball taken in the lovely sunshine this lunchtime - NO RUG, yippee!
Please excuse the quality they were (as always) taken with my phone!

Hopefully those aren't too big and/or distorting the forum!

Not too sure what I'm going to end up doing with herself this evening, as I mentioned above I've a party to attend from 5pm, won't be staying long as have to get home to bring the lovely ladies in before it gets dark - so hope to get up to them about 6.30-7pm.
I know that whatever I do it will be lungeing, but whether I lunge her under saddle (my altered GP came back last night and my saddle fitter checked the dressage saddle I've been using and says its a very good fit so have told my friend I'll buy it off her - which works out well as her new saddle arrives tonight! ) or over poles (tackless) or with the pessoa ... I could ride but I won't be able to do anything with her at all tomorrow and Wednesdays are always a very busy day at the yard as the jumping teacher comes in and uses the arena I prefer to ride in ... that and she was ridden Thursday, Friday, Sunday (lessons with the Guru) and Monday (the Guru rode) so I'd rather mix it up a bit with a lungeing session to keep things varied.

Tomorrow is the Paddy's day party I've helped organise after work (Open to all not just Irish staff, ) so that'll go on till all hours (if last year is anything to go by) and as I'm an organiser have to be there till the bitter end to tidy the place up etc,

Right sorry, enough waffle out of me for today!

Monday 12 March 2012

Lateral Lessons

Kika and I had another lesson yesterday evening with The Guru.
Again I chanced my arm riding without lungeing and thankfully all went well again!
I had resolved before sitting in the saddle that I was going to be more possitive and pro-active in my attitude to riding and try harder to work on the tips L has been giving me. To make sure all was well before I got up I always (when not lungeing) hand walk Kika a couple of laps around the arena to see what kind of form we are in and to try and gauge if there'll be any sticky situations from horse-eating monsters hiding in the shadows. After 2 laps in each direction I hopped up and walked a couple more laps slowly bringing Kika into more of an outline and encouraging her to calmly get her mind onto working matters. When L arrived we started working on our circles at walk first, she rightly called me on my shambolic attempts at circling and reminded me how to ride a proper circle, keeping K bent and moving forward in a smooth manner - easier said than done, especially as Kika is quite maleable and my legs are weak so our circles can often look more like rectangles or squares.   Again, my fault as I mentioned I've weak and don't always give her the guidance she needs to get it right, of the same token she doesn't always go out of her way to make it easy for me as to do it right means more work for her,
We moved up to try and tried to keep the same smooth circles going, and now that I knew what I was at they improved somewhat, when i was concentratin solely on them in any case - when I had other things to think about aswell - they could get a little lopsided again...but baby steps and we'll get there! 
We made a smooth transition from circles to a couple serpentines, keeping the same principles in play - tension in outer rein, guiding and re-inforcement from legs and smooth non-rushed bends around the corner - thinking back on it now they were very smooth serpentines where we managed to keep very balanced for us - still far from picture perfect but we are slowly getting there!
Mixed it up with a couple more circles with lots of rein changes along the diagonal, another thing that i need to work on. Thanks to circle work we'd been doing I was getting a better bend and giving her more time to come around the bend, but we'd loose ourselves going straight as my legs would just hang there doing nothing so she was inclined to meander her way along the diagonal, looking more like a buzzing bee then an on target arrow - again my fault not hers!
We did some work on our canter, with my backside still in the saddle - not awesome for her but apparently easier for me then when I was "en suspension" as I wasn't unbalancing her by flopping all over the place like a fish on a hook above her back! When I got all my aids right we got correct strike offs, when i was a little off - she struck off wrong - so it really is all down to me! She is too such a senstive soul, Bless!
Oddly for us, the side we struggled most with our strike off was our typically best side - i guess on some level i must have subconsciously taken it for granted that because we managed on our "bad" side without problems that the "good" side would come eaiser and perhaps i stopped working as fact knowing me this is most likely what happened

We then tried some new "fancy" stuff!
(Fancy for us, mundane and boring probably for established equestrians!)

L asked me did Kika know how to reserve/back up under saddle. I said i used to be able to ask her to do it when we lived in Ireland, but that since coming here and she'd become more prone to rearing I was less enamoured with giving confusing signals while restricting head movement. But as I'd dropped my stick earlier in the lesson and L had picked it up she said we'd work on it with her on the ground tapping K's chest with the head of the whip to encourage her backwards. After establishing the correct aids, we attempted it and got a step backwards but a bit of a headtoss and fussyness when a second step back was looked for and she took it begrudgingly, so no worries we got what we wanted and praise and reward was given.
We moved forward and L asked did i know how to ask Kika to cross her legs, I'm sure there is a proper term for this but I don't know it!
So she had me turn Kika down the center line at C and having explained the aid to me, helped my first attempt by standing beside us and tapping with the stick.

Success we got a few crosses - so heaped the prais on Kika then came back down the center line at A and I attempted to give the aids on my own - not as good but may have managed a few steps - then back to C and L asked that i coax her the other way - easy in theory...Not so much for my brain! I had the hands right but my legs were getting the same message and both were squeezing, poor horse! Talk about mixed messages - even when i realsied what I was doing I was incapable of correcting myself - If i knew how my brain worked i'd be much better off!!!  

Rather than frustrate the poor horse with my oddly malfunctioning limbs we went back to some trot work, on the positive side our-up-a-gear-to-trot work has come on in leaps and bounds, it is now a much smoother transtition and Kika and I are staying together better and maintaining contact and outline - Happy Days. This was when we but in the extra work on our diagonals and attempting to straighten them.

Plenty new ground attempted and some improvements all around - i ended the lesson a very happy camper and much more positively than on Friday - mental attitude really does help. So many influences to horse riding - and people think it's easy...sit up, point and move!
As a thank you for reading all this, and just cos I think she looks fab (in my completely unbiased opinion - as if that exists!)
A few pics of Kika taken on my phone after the lesson, her roll in the sand and some pampering to clean her up before bedtime!

Door behind her is into small lungeing arena
And two practically identical ones, but i couldn't chose between them!

Thanks for reading! L has today off work and has offered to ride her for me this evening as the friend who i borrow the saddle from wants to use it when i would normally be riding and as it is her saddle i care not to kick up a fuss as she very kindly lends it to me all the time!
I've to ring my saddle fitter today and see if my saddle is back with him, or on it's way back as a representative from Stubben is supposed to be coming to the yard tomorrow - so fingers crossed they have altered my saddle! I'm also hoping to have the saddle fitter check the dressage saddle I've been borrowing as I hope to buy it!
Fingers crossed!

Saturday 10 March 2012

Negative Notions need Nipping in the Bud

I got myself a telling off from The Guru this evening (Friday 9/3/12) after our lesson.
Kika was very good and L said I rode well and am improving, she gave out to me as I was being negative and bemoaning my (IMHO) rubbish leg positioning and unwilling-to-stay-down-heels.
She basically told me to quit being so hard on myself and to sit back and take a couple of minutes to take stock of what we'd achieved in this evenings lesson and indeed the spins I've had this week...

(1) This evening I worked Kika without lungeing her beforehand - and she was very good! Fingers crossed it lasts! The Guru highlighted and tried to hammer home the fact that if i wasn't riding well the horse wouldn't have behaved ... as Kika is a sensitive soul despite her pomp and pretend tough exterior and really does feed off the rider in positive and negative ways (namely if you're not 100% she i guess rightly believes she shouldn't be either )
(2) Kika and I have been very good this week, both in lessons and monday when i rode on my own - i myself feel that we have made progress, again mostly my honing in on mistakes i was making and trying to cut them out has helped Kika with consitency of contact on the reins so she now has a better feel for what is going on. Even if my heels continue to sneak up of their own accord and my leg attempts to wander back out of position - I need to be stricter with my lower limbs!

(3) L reminded me that I am still getting used to riding in a different type of saddle and that having ridden in GP/jumping saddles my whole life it will require an ajustment period to get aquainted with this different style of riding and the body positioning that is to go with it.

Our transitions were better, I am slowly coming around to the notion of squeezing with my calfs and not nudging with my heels to transition up from trot to walk (when i get a better grip on this i should also be better able to keep my heels from sneaking up  , I hope!).
As well as remembering to keep my leg on while transitioning down to walk - this one will take more work...but baby steps!
Our canter while better than yesterday and deffinitely better thanw hen we were in the smaller arena last saturday is still far from an oil painting. Kika and I face a bit of a conundrm when it comes to cantering, as apparently I ride/sit the canter better when my backside is in the saddle - whereas she goes better when I can ride "en suspension" - which it turns out is even harder then I thought last night as I actually wasn't doing it exactly right! 
I thought I was to ride in a jumping position, backside out of saddle and weight balanced over withers and light hands. Although L has been having me keep reins short as we tend to work our canter predomantly on a circle expanding out to the whole arena when we are going well - so as not to jar Kika's mouth I have been cheating slightly and resting my hands up her neck.
It turns out what I was supposed to be doing and had to attempt this evening is to basically stand straight up in my stirrups - it'll help keep the weight in my heels and stop me unbalancing the horse by tipping forward - plus if she throws her head/neck up (to hollow her back and avoid the harder work) she won't hit me in the face.

Simples one might think, until we remembers I am still coming to terms with the dressage saddle and longer stirrups...

As always plenty to work on and I'll probably find myself fairly stiff tomorrow after two flatwork lessons on consecutive days - but it'll all come together in the end. L's biggest complaint about my attitude this evening (and i know i should know better) was to remember that it all takes time - i just get particularly frustrated with my heels and legs as really they should be better behaved!

But must be better and focus on the positives...we are improving! 
Slowly but surely...I hope!

Sore legs might be a bit of an issue tomorrow as I'm supposed to get myself dolly-ed up and wear heels to the Rose Ball tomorrow night, giving Kika tomorrow off as she's done something each day since Sunday. Then L has offered to give me two more lessons on Sunday and Monday before she heads off for a few days to a friend of hers in France for a stage/clinic of sorts...she was supposed to go to this with her mare O a few weeks back but didn't end up going due to adverse weather conditions and road worries. Unfortunately there is no stable for her mare this time so she's going alone for some spins and lessons on her friends horses, she has said next time we should organise ourselves so that I can go with. I've told her to take her time, not sure I'm ready for others to see me riding yet, 
Thanks again for reading and to everyone who has given me feedback on my posts to date! I really do appreciate it, and hope that this addition doesn't undo any postive thoughts you may have had for me after the other updates this week...

I did try to convince the Mammy to come with me this evening to make mini-videos of the lesson in the hopes of (a) watching myself to see what I can see to work on and how my riding looks myself and (b) to share with you loyal readers of all my drivel! Will see if i have better luck coaxing her around for Sunday's lesson - Fingers crossed!