Sunday 29 April 2012

100th Post & 2 photos

Have to say I am pleasantly suprised to hit my 100th post on this blog - who'd have thought i could say so much while doing so little! ;)
Please don't get me wrong I am not be-litteling the achievements and progress Kika and I have been fortunate enough to make since i started keeping this blog, I just mean compared to more actively competitive bloggers we haven't achieved anything on that front!

Anyways I promised two photos, so here is the first one - both were taken yesterday as i hand-grazed Kika on the lunge to re-adjust her belly for grass consumption before she gets turned out for the next six months on Tuesday (May 1st) - Woohoo!!!!

Last week was very quiet on the riding front, in that i didn't between Saturday and yesterday (saturday). However Kika was worked in some way most days to prevent cabin fever setting in seeing as she would no longer stay in the turn out area I had organised for her and she was no longer going out!
Monday and Friday she was worked in the pessoa, Tuesday she got some loose lungeing with her ex-field buddy O - always easier with O as O loves to run and loose schools herself so Kika has to keep moving also with minimal encouragement from me in the center of the ring, ;)
Wednesday L (The Guru) had the day off work and offered to excercise Kika for me, as I wasn't going to have time that day - very generous of her. She rode her in the main arena with 5 other horses working at the same time, she said she was pleasantly suprised (as I would have been) with how good Kika was. She agreed with me that something is however off with my dear girl and that the oseto should come back to see her.
Kika has not exactly been lame when luneging/loose lungeing the last few weeks - but she hasn't been 100% sound either. However under saddle she has been very good - bar for the cantering issues we've been having. So to be on the safe side I have contacted the osteo and waiting to hear back from her now as to when she can fit us in for a visit.

I finally had time yesterday to hop up for a spin - I had hand grazed Kika (when photos were taken) yesterday (Saturday) midday for a good 45mins. Shortly after these pics were taken, Kika displayed her acrobatic acting skills in mimiking a spring lamb and leaping about the place with legs going in all directions. Thankfully I had her on the lunge so all was well, she settled back down to the serious task of stuffing herself.

Left her alone then for a couple of hours in the stable before going back to ride her in the dressage saddle for a while. As may be evident from the pics, yesterday was a gloriously sunny day after all the grey and rain of the last few weeks, however it was also incredibily close, heavy and sticky. So we only worked for a grand total of 30mins, L stopped by for a bit to offer some pointers and tips - all much appreciated and Kika was very good despite us both getting very hot and sweaty - nasty rider!
To cool off I decided to be brave and ride Kika in the woods as L walked her dogs alongside us. Bearing in mind that this was our first forray into the woods since our disasterous "Frosty Morning - Frisky Mare" post a few months back now.
All went really well with our stroll including passing a campsite with camper-vans and tents & a house with barking guard dogs ... until we were looping back towards home when Miss Kika spotted O across the fields. She started her head tossing, front leg throwing and bouncing in her I'm-still-capable-of-rearing way. Whens he does this i loose all control through the reins and she is only hanging for me to use my legs so she can propell herself forward - so we do a bit of a dance where I attempt to get her to stand still so i can slither shamefully to the ground. Why she insists on this carry on when we are riding on road/tarmac feeds my fear. I lead her prancing and acting the maggot until she settled enough for me to get back up - this carried on till we'd passed O in the field - which she had passed quiet as a lamb at my side.
So i hopped back up - no sooner had my backside hit the saddle then she was off on one in her special prancing way which was just in time for me to realise that i har forgotten to close the chin strap on my helmet after my stroll beside her!
Thankfully I kept L's words in mind of leaning back and not forwards and using my weight to slow her not my hands as she uses the excuse of fighting rein pressure in these scenarios. L rightly pointed out to me after her first outburst that i should never lean forward as that just encourages her to go faster - which logically negated my argument of i lean forward so that i don't fall off backwards if she does rear...sounds silly now, but as usual my self-defence mechanism is bad riding, so shall keep this in mind should such an opportunity arise again - which knowing Kika as I do more than likely will.
Long story (as usual) not so short, I ended up hopping off again as she had spun away from the yard and was prancing her way back down the road towards O's field, so I managed to stop her before she got there, hop off, turn her around and march her back to where she'd spun from and where L and the dogs were waiting. She got a couple of "Remember-I'm-The-Boss" slaps from the stick as we walked back along the road - I didn't hammer her or anything abusive like that, just a timely reminder that we were to keep going in the direction I wanted!
L held her as i hopped back up and kept the stick on the ground touching K (not hitting her) to keep her going forward as I used my legs and seat - we got around her this time and I learned a fvaulable lesson about my defence tactic which I hope I can now correct should the situation arise again...which i still secretly hope that it won't - but know that it more than likely will. :(
Because that is the nature of the intelligent beastie - she knows I have a slight weakness when riding on tarmac and she knows how to take advantage - my knowing this helps me though so hopefully I can work on it and not be bested by her while remaining safe!

We rode back to the yard without any issues, including passing one of the YO's mowing the lawns without any issue whatsoever - silly horse acting the hound.

Washed her off and hand-grazed with O and L for another 30mins or so yesterday evening.

This morning (Sunday) I hand-grazed her alone for 20mins or so this morning without any lamb-like misbehaviour. Then I joined L as she turned out O before we walked the dogs together and then headed off to another yard to watch jumping classes for the afternoon. Got back to the yard after 6pm to set myself up some trotting poles. I had decided yesterday to only work Kika in walk and trot until osteo comes to have a look at her specially as canter has been so problematic of late under saddle and i don't want to do any lasting mental or physical damage by trying to force things - we aren't aiming for anything in particular so I'm quite happy to take my time and do things right.
Polework went really well, as did outr walk/trot transitions which l reminded me yesterday need to be sharper - I cna be inclined to let her stall down to walk from trot whereas L keeps reminding me that i need to keep my leg on and maintain the power in walk as well as trot.
Rinsed her off again, sorted out her stable for the night and tidied away the poles as she dried - as she was still a little damp we went for a stroll and a bit of a graze, however as she showed enthusiasm for cavorting and I had her without the lunge-line I decided against condoning such carry on. Stood in beside her and marched her back to the yard after only 5mins grazing. She was still a little damp so popped her under the solarium for 10mins before returning her to her stable for the evening.
Silly sow makes me so mad at times as she doesn't know how good she has it and ruins things by acting out - spoiled creature!
What make sit worse is (a) that I know she is spoiled rotten and (b) that it is my fault! :(

On the upside however, arena work has been great - she'll be going out for good until November by the end of this week and this i'm sure will have a soothing effect on her current carry on.
Officially they can go out as of May 1st, however rich spring grass could lead to upset tummies if left at it 24/7 so shall ease her into outdoor life for first few days by progressiviely leaving her out for longer periods of time during the day, but still bringing her in in the evenings.

Sorry, this ended up considerably longer than I'd intended!
Thanks so so much for reading if you got this far - sorry if it got a bit whiney at the end. Despite our minor tussles yesterday and today, I couldn't be happier with her work under saddle and the lack of rearing - there were only minor threats, she didn't actually feel like she was planning on rearing at any stage - so all positives in the grand scheme of where we've come from, :p
Fingers crossed all can continue to go well and that yesterday and todays messing are just little blips/bumps in the road.

Saturday 21 April 2012

Purple Power

Sorry for the double update but the previous post was a Then & Now photo op - this update will also have photos (yay) and a bit of an update - will probably get long - apologies in advance!

First up another mini-before & after lol, of the state of Kika's stable when I got to the barn this afternoon...I swear she thinks she's a bird and required a nest!


Please don't think me a mean owner...she has another pile of hay in a corner off screen/camera! All of the hay on the first picture was salvaged!

In other news our week was pretty quiet as I tweaked my back a bit last weekend so pessoa lunged Sunday, walker & loose lunged on Monday. Tuesday I was good and rode...although did 20mins work with her in tack on the lunge prior to getting up as I wasn't sure how my back was doing...rode for a further 20mins then in walk and trot - back was alright.
Wednesday she spent in the walker as I'd arranged to meet a friend that i hadn't seen for a few months for dinner. Thursday i lunged her with only her headcollar and just wanted her to move and run to blow off some steam - she is a lazy creature and does no more than deemed necessary! I did more runnning after her than she did on the end of the lunge! Thankfully it was just the two of us in the arena - no witnesses, ;)

Friday (yesterday) I popped her on the walker for a bit while i sorted her stable and got our gear ready. Tacked her up in the dressage saddle and then spent a further 10mins hand walking her around the arena as she was in funny form when i first went in. Hopped up and worked away for 30ish mins in walk/trot/canter - circles/figures of 8/serpentines with and without volts etc etc

Saturday (today) was GP saddle day and L had offered yesterday to help me out - so I said i would like to do some pole work. Our fellow friend N and another girl A on a haflinger pony also joined our pole work session.
All went really well with regard the trotting poles themselves...our canter is again after going to pot!
When L helped me last saturday she highlighted the fact that i was being too severe with my hands in canter and to be softer on the reins when cantering...result is that now Kika seems to be incapable of cantering in any form that does not resemble a three-legged giraffe looking outwards - so like an awkward S.
Back to the drawing board for this one methinks!
However L did say that our trot work has come on in leaps and bounds and is looking very good - so much so that towards the end of our pole session she actually started to work from behind and engage her backside! HAPPY DAYS!
Now to try and get this to happen more frequently and in such a way that i can learn to recognise and feel it when she is working correctly so that I can know when we are not and strive for better!

Don't worry - when I promised pictures, I didn't mean only of the mess Kika keeps her room in, :p

Here are a few snapshots I took of Miss K as I got her ready for our spin and is the inspiration for this posts title!

Impatient as always

Abashed after being told off for stamping
Proper Purple Poser!

I also snuck a sneaky snap of O's "knight" fleece rug - it's the one I wanted for Kika but they only had one left & in O's size not Kika's so I went for the Navy/Red one (picture posted a few posts back - but i will share it again, :p)

O looking lovely in browns & cream

Kika in navy, red & cream
Plan is to ride again tomorrow, if i can hand-graze her without getting soaked I'll try and nab some more pictures as also have before pictures from 22/4/2007 when Kika was lunged for the second time ever! Sorry for trips down memory lane...but not all readers will have seen "Kika - The Early Days" as they pre-date the blog.

5 year Owniversary - Then & Now Photos

I think i mentioned in a recent post the story of how Kika came to be mine - nothing extravagant...but it is our story nonetheless. In any case, the first day i saw her after buying her was this day 5 years ago.
So I had to get pics of her today for a then and now Blog Special, ;)

First up 21/4/2007 - Fuzzy McFuzz-Monster

Happy Head

And now 21/4/2012 - hopefully any differences are positive, although i couldn't get shots from the same angle as they aren't out yet here! And these were taken on my phone - so sorry if quality a bit bad!
Prepare for overload!

Other side's turn

And then last but not least two that made me smile...Reminding me that she hasn't really changed that much! ;)



Monday 16 April 2012

Weekend Report

Saturday L kindly offered to be my eyes on the ground as i rode and gave me plenty more pointers to work on. Kika was under saddle for a good hour, L said while I've improved a lot, i have started twisting again in the saddle, my hands are too hard in canter which is why Kika can't always relax into the movement and I've to stop gripping with my always useful tips to work on when I attempt to school myself.
There was a complete disconnect between my brain's requests and what my legs were doing (or not as the case may be) towards the end so L hopped up for 15-20mins to help Kika finish on a good note as I was pretty useless at that stage and didn't want Kika to finish off confused with what was wanted from her.
Another lesson for me to work on is continued contact with my legs - so much of my poor riding revolves around my lack of leg use. I still rely too much on my hands, not to self - must strengthen my legs!

We then took Kika, O and L's two dogs for a hand-walk on one of the wood trails, then hand-grazed the beasties for 20-30mins in preparation for them going out full-time next month.

Sunday I had hoped to do pole work with Kika in the dressage saddle, however I'd slightly tweaked my back jumping on Wednesday and the lesson on Sat had kind of aggravated matters so I decided against riding yesterday and gave Kika a spin in the pessoa as we hadn't had a lunge session for a what seemed like ages but was probably 2 weeks tops.

I let the big dummy loose in the small arena for a roll while i sorted out her stable for the night, only to find the silly sod cast when I got back 10mins later to bring her in!
With help from bodies around the yard we managed to help her sort herself out and get back on her feet. I led her around for a little bit to see that all was in working order, brushed her off and popped her back in the stable.
Thankfully she remained calm and let us help her sort herself out!

I'll be heading out to the yard now at lunchtime to let O out and check that Miss Houdini is alright for the afternoon - she is now under Stable-Arrest as I can no longer trust her to stay in the field...Plan is to ride this evening, but this is pending how she moves today and how my back feels after the day's work. It's not great now, but hopefully the movement of dashing to the barn and back at lunchtime will help loosen things out - that and usually a quiet spin in the saddle helps me unwind in such situations - but shall take care of myself and Kika. We have all the time in the world as we are not aiming for anything specific so a few days to make sure we are both right won't hurt us as much as forcing things when we are wrong!

Saturday 14 April 2012

Unlucky Friday 13th?

Well it kind of was for Kika only she doesn't really know it yet!
I'm going to tell this tale interspersed with pictures of Kika and O as L and I hand-grazed them this evening in preperation for them going out for the "summer" (actually 6 months I only wish we had that long of a summer ;-) ) so that they won't give themselves tummy aches when they do get out by scoffing too much grass.

Looking like lovebirds
So now for my tale as to why Friday the 13th has stayed true to superstition and been unlucky for Miss Kika.
Long story short the wagon once again got out of the field - but if you want the whole story please keep reading as it is actually kind of funny as the Maggot literally wiggled free right before my eyes - talk about BRAZEN!
Bloody Brat!

A bit of a lover's tiff? ;-)
Anyways if you're still reading, i popped the girls out to the field shortly after 3pm, sorted them out with some of our hay stash and provided them with a new 10KG Horselyx Original - plenty to keep them satisfied one would imagine, right?

Things are strained between the ladies - lol
Wrong if you're Kika!
First off the pair of them were hooning it around the place like eejits, up and down the field squealing like little kids in a playground - admittedly Kika hasn't been turned out since her last breakout on Monday, but she has been ridden all three days since.
So i left them at it having turned on the current on the front of the field so i knew they wouldn't go through there and out onto the "road" (it's really just a tarmac'ed slip way/backroad). While I busied myself fabricating a barrier of broken branches and old Christmas trees where I figured Kika was slipping out under the wire.

"Don't worry" they said, "we're still great friends - just the grass is greener here"
Once the quit their hooning, O settled on chowing down on some hay while Kika came to investigate what I was at. She followed me as a gathered some more fallen branches and came for a closer look at my man-made natural barrier. She sniffed at it a bit and decided it wasn't worth worrying about picking apart - she can pick apart our man-made barriers, *roll-eyes*, she picks the branches up with her teeth and tosses them around the place to amuse herself - i have seen her do this, the muppet.
I'm half afraid of the day she takes her eye out with her carry on!

Camera shy
Just because Kika thought better of breaking my barrier does not however mean she decided against the grass being greener on the other side - oh no! My Brazen Madam walked less than a meter from where I was making my "barrier", took two steps back, dropped her head and sprinted (in trot) at the wire.

How much damage can this face do?
Head under the wire, she lifted it as she passed under so that she passed the wire over her withers and was under the wire so fast i couldn't believe it! My disbelief was two-fold (a) that I caught her in the act and (b) that she was brazen enough to do it not 1 meter away from me - talk about a carefree rule breaker!
I followed her straight into the field grabbed her headcollar brought her back to the gate of our field and put her leadrope back on to bring her back to the stable - the maggot has had her last outing in "our" turnout area for this year, she will not be let loose again until she goes out for the summer at the start of May...I'll hand-graze her in the mean time, but i cannot trust her to stay put with that tempting grass field next door so she's now to stay inside!
I left her in her stable and came straight back to the field to check that O was ok, thankfully she has a healthy respect for fencing and doesn't attempt to take it on despite all her trumpetting as i brought Kika back to the stable. The YO's wife had returned her two ponies to the field on the otherside so I knew O wouldn't be too lonely and I chatted to her for a few mins as I kept an eye on O till she settled. C (the YO's wife) was telling me how Kika has kept her entertained while she's tended her ponies over the winter months. She said there isn't a day she's visited or a moment where Kika hasn't been at something or looked for ways to amuse herself - she said that she is one intelligent animal.
Lucky me eh? ;-)

Last photo is one I'm not mad to share as I think i look a state and didn't actually realise I was in the photo (L was taking them), but despite my looking like a gimp I like all photos of my Mischiveous Maggot so here we are:

Estimated time-span spent by Kika in the field - less than 45mins!

Thursday 12 April 2012

Return to Jumping & Anniversary

First off today is the 5th Anniversary to the day that i first met Kika - although she was an unnamed scragga-muffin then. I went to view her on this date in 2007! I had spent Easter Weekend at my mother's family farm where my aunt now runs a foaling unit and we had decided to view this 3yr old filly on a detour route on my way back to college. It was potential madness really as it was dusk/getting dark when we arrived at the yard of her breeder - he had her in a corral type area with a headcollar and leadrope and another pony/cob which he could catch before catching the flighty filly that has since become our Kika. When the other mare was put away again Kika ran around the breeder for a few circles calling for her companion, my first thought was - yikes! No way, she's completely unhandled!
But she then settled down and stood quiet as a lamb as we asked all our questions and checked her legs/limbs etc. Her big kind brown eyes and calmness (after the initial confusion) won me over - an offer was made and a deal struck, she was delivered to my aunt's place two days later. However I didn't actually get to see her myself again till the following weekend as I was away that first weekend and college work prevented me from going down during the week.
Here are two of the first pictures I  took of her on the 21st of April 2007 when i finally got to meet "MY" horse!


Add caption

I must actually remember to do a then and now post on the 21st of this month with new pictures also taken on that day, :p

Last night we had a Jumping session with The Guru L on the ground to keep me on the right track.

Unfortunately I got no pictures or videos as my phone battery was dying and refused to even snap one little pic of Kika all glammed out in purple finery - she had purple tendon & fetlock boots (a christmas gift from L getting their first outing) and the purple saddle pad that i posted pics of ages ago (a birthday present from one of my best friends). I was suprisingly also colour coordinated - i'm typically a bit of a multicoloured shambles, but last night i found myself in brown jodhs, brown & beige Horseware socks and my new brown soft shell jacket which i again forgot to take a picture of - so i tied in nicely with Kika's tack, lol!
I swear it wasn't planned!

I happened to go to the yard at lunch time to let O on her own - Kika is still on stall arrest until i can find a way of (a) keeping her in the turnout area or (b) being at home while she's turned out so that at most i am 10mins away and can bring her back in if she goes wandering again! So after turning O out, S (the friend who works near me and gives me a spin to the barn) and I handgrazed our horses for 25mins or so. I sorted out Kika's shambolic stable, S likes to joke that K is trying to dig her way out as everyday without fail she manages to make a bare patch in the middle of the stable by pushing all the shavings to the side; I topped up her hay supply to keep he rquiet for the afternoon and went back to work.

When i got back in the evening i popped Kika on the walker for 20mins while jumping lessons were finishing up so that she wouldn't be too fresh when ridden after not being turned out. Sorted out her stable again - as yep, she'd re-dug her "hole" - silly horse! No wonder she has back troubles when she insists on slipping up and down in her stable! I must look into rubber matting!
Tacked up and did my usual trick of leading her on 2 laps of the arena in each direction before hopping up and starting to warm her up in earnest. One of the riders who was in the final jumping lesson was chatting to L as Kika and i worked around them and the fences. My circling was very lopsided due to the fences positioning so our canter was very bad compared to recent efforts - most likely my fault as i cantered her on our "good" canter rein first and then couldn't get a correct strike off on our bad rein afterwards - I was quite disappointed with that as the last 2-3sessions we've done we got our correct leads without a fuss...guess I was possibly trying to hard with L watching or else just let other silly things get to me - who knows, it wasn't a concious decision to stuff up on my part so shall put it behind us and see what tonight brings.

The jumping itself went really well. Or at least Kika jumped really well, I took some time to get back into the swing of it as i was folding to soon and then ending up left behind - it felt awful, but couldn't tell you how it looked!
We started in trot over a  pole on the ground before a cross pole - did that with three different fences from different directions. Then I had to canter on landing and take on another fence then come back to trot - took us a couple of times to get this right. Working our way up to a course in canter including a double - nothing especially challenging height or line/striding-wise as it was our first time jumping supervised (so properly schooling) since some time back in September/October - and I've only jumped twice since then. Once around Christmas time taking myself and Kika around a course set up for the lessons and then the other time a few weeks back where I did some pole work and my mother was watching and fixed us a cross pole.
With so little work done over fences in so long i was really really happy with how Kika behaved and how we got on overall even if it did take my body a bit of time to cop op and go with the horse.
I shall endeavour to try again next week - and hopefully improve! :)

Wednesday 11 April 2012

Put through her Paces

Kika and I worked in the dressage saddle last night with our new blue saddle pad - happy days (pictures below, ;-) ).
Due to her escapologist inclinings Sunday and Monday I decided against turning her out yesterday as I am back at work and as such cannot get to the barn at the drop of a hat to bring her in if/when she gets out. L let her mare O out about 2pm and said Kika pitched a fit in her stable, trumpeting like an elephant and making a right old scene in her stable - wonder if she'll learn a lesson...probably not, animal brains don't work like ours! She'll just think me mean for not turning her out :(
My latest order of Horelyx Original arrived yesetrday, at 10KG i couldn't carry it up last night so I'll bring it up tomorrow and see if that combined with hay and carrots in her "ball" might keep her in the field tomorrow - that and L isn't in work tomorrow afternoon, she has an early shift - so if the Wagon does go wandering someone can be there within 10mins to bring her in.

Back to last night and these promised photos...I was very happy with how we got on :-D
L had popped her in the walker as she went to bring in her girl, Kika spent about 15-20mins in the walker before I tacked her up and headed off to "our" arena which thankfully was empty by the time i hopped up. Worked a little more in walk at teh start then I typically do getting her to carry herself properly for full rounds of the arena, a couple of circles and some changes of rein before moving up to trot which i am now asking for in correct outline from the start - I don't always get it, but within a stride she is how i want her - so baby steps and we are getting there.
Lots of circles, changes of rein and some serpentines tossed in. We had one or two moments where she thought about arguing with me - but we ploughed on and no "real" argument arose and work continued smoothly - HAPPY DAYS!
Some sitting trot later and back to rising always circling, figures of 8-ing, serpentining and rein changing - with all going well I changed my mind about not cantering and started my sitting trot circle - making sure i had her head/neck bending to the inside so as to ease her transition up to canter. I always ask her for whichever side hasn't been working so well first so that the hardest part will be out of the way and then the easier side can be a reward.
I needn't have worried yesterday, the correct strike of was achieved first time and a few strides later i got the shape i wanted so extended my circle to the whole arena - and while our shape was fluid, meaning it wasn't perfect the whole time she did relent and stop her giraffe/back hollowing and work properly every couple of strides then we'd hit a corner so she'd pop her head back up then settle again. Again far from perfect but we are getting there...I think!
I was then cheeky and changed rein in trot, but then changed back onto the same rein after a circle/serpentine and asked for canter on a diagonal - I got the correct strike off and she went into the shape i wanted on our circle! To say i was happy with our work on our current "bad" side is an understatement I was extatic.
I did a bit more trotting work changeing reins back and forth then asked for canter on our other rein (hope you can follow this) - the other rain used to be our bad rein but of late has been our better rein ;) Go figure! :p
Anyway my joy was compounded as we struck off on the correct lead and maintained our outline in the transition and kept it going for the circle I was on!!!! We lost it slightly as we navigated back onto the main track, but got it back - happy happy schooling session out of me! We then did a bit of walk/trot transitions and then came back to walk and stretched down in walk before walking around for another 10mins to cool off.
Pictures taken (as always) on my phone after all work was done - she was following me around like a puppy dog so although i had a lot more pictures these are the only two where she is not on top of me, lol. A noise caught her attention so i snapped quickly, ;)
Sorry a bit fuzzy
So there you have it, finally the infamous dressage saddle makes a picture appearance and it's accompanied by my long sought after royal blue saddle pad.
Now to get someone to come with some time i'm riding for some pics of me using it, or any ridden pics for that matter! I want to see if i've made any improvement or if it's all in my head! :/
Plan is to pop some poles this evening, asked the RI to leave the course after the jumping lessons this evening - so hopefully she doesn't forget, ;)

Tuesday 10 April 2012

Wandering Wagon part II

Title says it all, I am raging at Kika!
She only has to wait till the end of the month to be out full time for the next 6 months...but NO! She has had a taste of spring grazing and now cannot possibly stay where I put her. She got out again yesterday, only an hour and a half or so after i turned her out!
Thankfully I was at home, I had decided against turning her out while I was at the Equi Expo in Belgium so only tossed her out on our return and gave her some hay in the hopes that she might stay put - which she did till she had scoffed all the hay and then went wandering!
In turning her out I walked the boundary where she'd gotten out the day before and figured that she hadn't jumped as I'd orginally suspected but that the wagon had shimmied under not one row but three rows of wire fencing! The neighbouring field is permanently fenced with row strands of wire and we have one row on our side at the same height as the neighbour's lowest row - if that makes sense.
Anyway super-brainy (to my horror) Kika realised that none of the strands of wire is electrified and snuck out under it - now she is 165cms at the withers and the lower strand of wire cannot be higher than 90cms-1m. I'd love to catch her at it to see how she is doing it - bloody Houdini!

Anyways, enough about that! Here are some pictures of yesterdays purchases!
I played Barbie-Dress-Up with Kika, teehee!

A new turnout rug - which I'll admit she didn't really need but it was 50% off, has a removable lining and is much warmer than her current turnout rug which if the winter we had this year is any indication for years to come she'll need thermal layering!
I finally found a Royal Blue saddle pad at the Fellini stand - so depending on how it works out I may be paying them another visit when they hit up the RDS in August! As they had so many lovely colour combos...

And last but not least, a new fleece rug/cooler type thing - which again she didn't really need but it was 15euros down from 75, so how could i walk away from it?! I think it makes her look like an oldschool war horse from Knights & Maiden days...but that may be more to do with my reading The Game Of Thrones series at the moment...

Am hoping to ride this evening in my dressage saddle and tomorrow evening have a chat to the instructors and see if they can leave the jumping course up after the lessons for me to play with...Shall update with pics if i can find someone to take them for me, ;)

Monday 9 April 2012

Happy Easter!

Let me start off today's hopefully brief update - emphasis on "hopefully", we know i can prattle one...apologies in advance if this turn into another novel! - by wishing any and all who read my blog a HAPPY EASTER!
I hope loads of chocolate was received by all and that there are not too many upset tummies after all the scoffing!

Unfortunately I have no pictures or videos from my spin yesterday or today, which really is a pity as we got on really well both days! Admittedly that doesn't necessarily go hand in hand with my having ridden well!

Yesterday I rode in my GP saddle and worked with trotting poles. I had nine poles out in total; 4 trotting distance apart along the long side, three along a short side and then two down the center line which were intedend be be used to work on canter circles when laid out - but in the end i decided against canter work so just trotted over them for the start/end of my serpentines (depending on where i started them top or bottom of the arena) as they weren't well positioned for circling after all. I also worked a good bit in sitting trot and crossed my stirrups infront of the saddle to work without them for a while also.

Today was dressage saddle day and started well when i got down to the field to bring herself back in to see the two ladies tearing down towards the gap at full speed - upon closer inspection it was evident that Kika was in fact hightailing it around the neighbouring property!
Kicking her heels up on the fresh grass before attempting to scoff as much as possible before i caught her! Thankfully no damage was done either to herself, the land or the fencing - in fact i think from the carry on of both herself and her field companion (namely O was not in a state of utter abandonment) that Kika had only just jumped out as we arrived to bring them in - luckily too as the field she jumped into's gate was open!
Serves me right for doing trotting poles the previous day i guess, huh?!

I was a bit wary after this adventuring of hers that ridden work today could end in fireworks - however i needn't have worried. In fact it was one of our best sessions to date - although we have been having a good run of late today made me really happy with regard to the canter work we've been struggling with the last few weeks. The arena i usually like to ride in (my comfort zone) was busy with two horses lungeing, so i went for the main arena which was empty and is the largest - as i was worried about her escapologist carry on spilling over from earlier I wasn't overjoyed at the thought of riding in there but figured if worst came to worst more people pass that arena and would see her careening around like a mad yoke if we were to part ways, ;)

Thankfully, however as I mentioned above I needn't have worried! We got on great (I think) and worked awa happy out in walk, trot and canter! Yep - you're after reading correctly, we managed to get the correct canter lead striking off each time (bar one) and she settled nicely in her work into a lovely outline, really using herself and the arena - I need to put more work into keeping my backside in the saddle when she does this and of course my heels down!
I felt awful when I'd ask her to come back to trot as I'd realise i had been gripping with my knees (as always) and in transitioning down from canter to trot wound up imitating a sack of spuds as opposed to a rider!
I interspersed our canter work with more circles and serpentines in posted and sitting trot as well as rein changes and walk/trot transitions - to keep her head calm and active rather than allowing her get herself hett up about cantering. Plus when we can get the canter right first time I don't have to do so much of it...if that makes sense - I am a firm believer and adhere to the theory of: "if it ain't broke - don't fix it".
And today it was far from broke - so I was very very happy indeed!

Tomorrow will be a day off for Kika - or maybe I'll lunge her in the pessoa tomorrow evening ... she hasn't had a pessoa session in a while and after her Harry Houdini impressions this evening I'm not enthusiastic about turning her out tomorrow as I'm heading off to an Equi-Expo type thing (trade stands etc) somewhere in Belgium with L and N from the barn - so I'll be a long time making my way back to catch her if she goes gallivanting tomorrow.
The more i think about it the happier i would be if i were to leave her in her stable tomorrow (a) to remind her that her turn out is a priviledge not a right - although i seriously doubt that she ever learns that lesson as to date her "incarceration punishments" (lack of turnout due to escaping from enclosure) have always coincided with cold weather which meant staying in her stable was a happy occasion for her then, (b) I have heard mixed reports that snow and/or rain is forecast for tomorrow (which i know may result again in her being happier to stay in and hence not really be a form of negative repurcussion for todays "break-out") and (c) I don't want to get a phone call when I'm hours away to say my horse is after going wandering again!

As always this has been far from a small update - sorry to any and all who have read this far!
On my potenttial shopping list for tomorrow's equestrian trade stands are:
- Jodh boots and gaiters (if cheaper than brand i like and can get online)
- Rug prices as she still needs a new collection for next autumn/winter/early spring due to outgrowing all those i currently have ... speaking of I sent the bulk of them off today for cleaning before i sell them/put them away till next year - I had 3 stable rugs, an insulator, an excercise sheet and a cooler as well as two numnahs ready for cleaning! I have hung on to her turnout rug just in case predicted snow turns up I don't want her getting cold! But seriously - I didn't realise i was after making that much of a collection!

Thursday 5 April 2012

Happy Camper

I have such a smile on my face this evening I'm like the cat that got the cream.

I haven't ridden since Sunday. I've been looking after O while The Guru L was away for a few days, she came back last night. Work was being done on two of the arenas in the yard so space was tight the last few days...So my lazy ass too the easy and less congested route of loose schooling the two ladies together on Monday evening, then popped them both on the walker Tuesday evening and then naughty me did nothin with them last night as Wednesday night is Jump lesson night so another arena was off limits.
I know I'm spoiled rotten with having a choice of arenas to ride in and shouldn't be shunning them because they are busy, but I know I work better when i don't feel like the world and their mother is watching me and as such the mare works better. I no longer see the point in "working" her just for the sake of sitting on her - I'd rather have a good session then a lacklustre one because I'm distracted!

So now that that covers the bases and explains how little work Kika has done since Sunday - you will understand (I hope) my excitement at how well our session went this evening.
First off I'd like to point out that there was no lungeing or walker activity prior to mounting up, we just did our usual 4 rounds of the arena with me on foot to make sure saddle settles comfortably on her back.
I started with some nice walk, encouraging her into an outline, changeing rein and circling, she was lovely and responsive - not perfect, God forbid anyone think we were perfect but markedly improved on her usual Giraffe (head in the air) / Snake (looking from side to side) impressions when we walk - we did manage to get some calm correct carriage.
Moved up to trot and continued altrenating reins and circling, incorperating serpentines and smaller circles as we met the track. She was very responsive and concentrated on me - a friend came into the arena to clear her horse's deposits as we were working (the friend whose dressage saddle I bought and rode in this evening), Kika didn't lift her head out of position to gawp or skirt around her when it came time to pass her poop-a-scooping. N very kindly complimented me on how she was going - I told her it was all in the saddle, teehee.
We continued with our trot working having moved into sitting trot circles, serpentines and of course rein changes and were considering moving up to canter circles (still have to ask on circles till we can get consistently correct strike off - my fault and i'm trying to work on it.) when another livery asked to share the arena to lunge her young mare. Of course i welcomed her in and she worked in the lower half of the arena while i circled above her - Kika was a star. Even when her horse was messing on the lunge (she's only going on 4 so plenty pep in her step) Kika didn't break stride or look in her direction - she remained calm, responsive and supple in her work - including when we did move up into canter work...which I'll admit was a mini-ordeal in itself - we still have a lot of work to do on canter transitions and indeed the canter itself. But we are better then we were 3 months ago and even 2 weeks baby steps and small victories :)
S (the other livery) then left after a short while and we moved our circling down to the lower half of the arena nad changed rein to canter a circle on the other lead - which was our old bad side but had become our better side but today was back to our bad side...never-ending cycle for the moment my canter woes *sigh*
I'm sure it is something I'm doing - so will see if I can corner L to have a look and give me some tips/correct what I'm doing wrong.
Speaking of L actually, she had suggested helping me this evening but didn't end up coming up to help out - no biggie i figured she'd got distracted chatting, turns out the sneaky sneak mcsneakerson was spying on us without my noticing. She found me after we finished and apologised for not coming to help like she'd said, but she said she'd been spying and that we were getting on well so she left us at it.
I'm still hoping I can coax some help out of her at some stage this long weekend as i haven't had a lesson in a few weeks now and while things are going good i don't want to get stuck in a rut or slip back into bad habits!

Tuesday 3 April 2012

Shadow Puppets & Update

Snapped a few pics while letting the girls out on Sunday morning, I shall intersperse them through my waffly round-up of last week, teehee

My fav picture, Kika is on the left and O on right
Myself and Kika had a wonderfully agreeable weekend after her lazy-ish week. I rode her Tuesday, only walk and trot transitions as we were in the main arena and more people would be likely to see our shambolic attempts at cantering! I didn't want an argument and really wanted a good session to bring back up the happy factor; so we worked mostly in walk and trot - changes of rein, circles and serpentines with small circles as we meet the track. We are after getting a good deal better at these if i may say so myself, I am meeting a whole lot less resistance on my smaller circles as we meet the track then i used to, we can now keep our frame 90% of the time and when we do lose it we stay on our small circle until we get a nice one and then continue on with our serpentine which means coming out straightening and getting ready for our next bend.
We did nothing on Wednesday as i was knackered after the days work, despite great plans to have a pop around the course set up for the jumping lessons after they finished up. I was just too exhausted and ended heading home. I didn't think riding when I was so mentally drained would have been beneficial for either of us, so while things were going well i figured I'd leave well enough alone.

Thursday I loose lunged very succesfully if i may say so myself - was very happy with the transitions we worked our way through and the quality of the work therein. We moved up and down through walk, trot and canter, changing rein and requests to keep this interesting and keep Miss Kika guessing as to what would come next hence focussed on me. I was very happy that there was no messing, she is very Zen these days - the afternoons sunbathing outside must be good for her mental well being.

Friday was another rest day as farrier pared her feet in the morning and she was out till after 8pm as L and I chilled out chatting to other bodies around the yard before bringing them in, teehee

Kika acting disinterested and O shyly curious, can you say Peeak-a-Boo?

Saturday I got a lovely 45mins or so session in my dressage saddle in "our" arena. Started out with someone lungeing below us but they left after about 20mins so i expanded our work to the whole arena. We got some lovely serpentines and circles and ... yes... I even braved cantering again and while still a long way off perfect and she started hollow with her head up, at least we have got the correct strike off first time again! Phew - there's always something to work on, We kept at it till she rounded down as i know her well capable off and then we returned to trot work as I was very happy with her canter (once we got it right a couple of times). We did a lot more work in walk then I would typically do, she was carrying herself well and listening to my aids so I ploughed on with it - she can often distract herself easiest in walk and mess with her head, so while we were on the same page i figured we'd chance our arm on work in walk for a bit. We did a couple circles and serpentines then as she was feeling maleable and attentive I tried someting I haven't really done before and am not sure we did right but i got what I wanted so it'll be up to L to correct me at a later stage if the way i am asking is incorrect (which lets be honest it probably is ).
Anyway i kept her in walk and had her bring her head to the inside as we kept moving forwards along the longside on both reins, and then I tried a few sides alternating between head inside the arena and head facing the panelling but I didn't do too much of this as she typically keeps her head slightly out rather than in anyway so i only tried that to see if we'd manage and changed back to encouraging her to look/bend her neck inside. Happy with our work in walk we moved back up to trot and tried it a few times on each rein, I'd meet a bit of resistence on our "bad" side, but then she'd settle back and do as i asked before we'd meet the corner so I ended our session a very happy bunny.

Another nice one

Sunday I was back in my GP and had hoped to do some pole work, but the arena i wanted was busy so we rode in the main arena despite it being a little hard for my liking (becoming a wuss so i am) but as i had her in tendon and fetlock boots due to my intentions to do pole work i figured she was as well supported as i could have her. We worked on walk, trot and canter in circles and serpentines (trot not canter - that'd be way to advanced for us at this stage!) and after a few botched attempts we did get very nice rounded canter circles - the botchiness was not in the strike off so much as in how she would initially carry herself with her head in the air and resisting the bend but I kept calmly circling till she did as i asked, so I was a happy camper again and returned to sitting trot work on serpentines and circles which were lovely and controlled and as such easy to sit
Wound down then as a third person joined the arena, one of the RI's was already in there on her horse when i started although she did a lot of walking and then kept stopping to chat to the others as they passed by. I called it a day as i was fresh out of ideas and happy with what we had done.
O doing a great Giraffe impression

So this has obviously once more gotten way longer than i had intended, sorry!
Once i start writing at all it all just come sspilling out despite my best intentions to keep things short!