Wednesday 30 May 2012

Getting Back On Track

I've been very lax about riding the last few weeks!
Between Kika getting turned out full time, thunderstorms then a sort of heat wave (by comparison to the rain during the thunderstorms) as well as friends visiting for weekends - Miss Kika has had very little riding, but I justify this to myself by the fact that she moves herself while grazing around the field and she is not cooped up in her stable 24/7 - Bad Mammy = Me ... I Know!

Anyways in the hopes of keeping this from turning into an essay, I did get my lazy backside in gear and rode on Saturday evening, Monday morning and Tuesday evening.

Saturday and Tuesday we worked in the dressage saddle, focussing at the start on getting a better walk with her carrying herself better aswell as bending better on the corners, circling and serpentines focussing mainly on myself to remember to give her enough time to know what I am asking of her and to allow her to do it without losing her shape - we are making some progress on this front ... I think.

Rinse and repeat the excersises in trot - all the while I've to keep telling myself to prepare the pair of us properly for turns etc and use the right aids/balance to help us keep together and not make things sharp resulting in loss of balance and loss of shape...bread and butter to most people - still baby steps for me!

Monday, I set out trotting poles for us - varying the striding (space between the poles slightly) and number of poles - the thought process behind it was to get her stretching and collecting slightly while keeping things fun.
We had run of three poles, 5 poles slightly further apart than the three poles and then 4 poles a little further apart again. The 3 poles were on a short side of the arena, the 5 were on a diagonal and the 4 were on a longside - all were inter-connectable with loops and turns to make a sort of course out of it to keep us twsiting + turning, balancing and to stop things getting repetitive.

Walk and trot were again very good - although this may only be in comparison to my poor canter work. Here I hold my hands up and recognise that it is short-commings of mine that are resulting in our poor canter work on the left rein, as the right rein works considerably more smoothly than the left - where Kika goes around with her head in the air most uncomfotably for both me and her.
I tried really hard last night to figure out where I was going wrong ... to little success unfortunately - I have asked L (The Guru) if she can help me out someday she has time. We've pencilled in for this coming Friday.

In my self-analysing last night i think i have figured out part of where I am going wrong, I was conciously trying to soften my hands and keep my leg on while attempting to lengthen my leg to put my heels down and sit my backside in the saddle - however i am still inexplicably gripping with my knees - making the rest very difficult and resulting in me bopping around on my poor horse like a huge uncoordinated sack of potatoes! :-/

Through all this experimenting and self-analysis Kika was an absolute angel (despite my awful attempts at riding canter) - she struck off on the correct lead each time, not once resisting or complaining that i was hurting her - which I must have been as I swear it cannot have been comfortable for her at all - and conscious of this when I knew I wasn't going to crack whatever I was doing wrong she got a whole heap of praise and "Good Girls" accompanied by lots of patting.

Thankfully and rather oddly we don't have these issues cantering on the right rein - which typically used to be our bad rein. But now works a gazillion times better, who knows how my mind works ... I know I don't but sure do whish I could have a guide map!

Today is a day off for Kika and myself as a colleague is having a going away meal this evening, I'll try to limit the damage I do on Thursday before hopefully having a lesson on Friday and perhaps getting some answers/making some headway on my poor left-rein canter. If not we'll just keep working on walk and trot mostly and wait till we can sort out the canter so that I don't go doing any damage by riding awfully!

Bet this is after getting really long-winded on me again - APOLOGIES!

Friday 25 May 2012

Happy Birthday Kika

Today is Kika's official 8th Birthday - to celebrate i decided to snap some pics in the evening sunshine @ 8pm as it so happens!
First up some blinding sunshine ones to get the gist of how lovely the last few days have been - uber Happy Days that it's a long weekend again! Yippeeee!

Same angle but without blinding sunlight interfering ;)

And then a few happy head shots as she got treats of some dried bread and an apple ... I know, I know - I went all out and really do spoil her! *sarcasm*
But hey - at least she appreciates it - teehee

Bread chewing happy face
Nom nom apple scoffing happy face - witness drool
How Miss Cheeky McCheekyson deals with the drool & what she thinks of theory that "age brings maturity"
Happy happy head to say: Thank You for the Birthday Wishes

Monday 14 May 2012

Getting Back in the Swing of Things

Made a successful return to the saddle on friday evening - we are still far from setting the world alight, but of the same token we ran into no major issues. I got a good 45mins of walk/trot/canter work done, circles/sperpentines/figures of eight and always rein changing to keep things interesting - while also trying to remember to keep the weight in my heels, squeeze with my calfs (not lifting my heels), more constant leg contact and less niggling with my heels (connected to previous point) and calmer + softer hands - more spongeing less sawing. Don't know how i picked up that nasty habit - ashamed of that one, my poor pet!

She then had saturday and sunday off as the Dressage competitors moved into the yard. Thankfully weather was lovely and sunny if a bit cold - I ended up missing most of saturdays activities, shame on me really as that was when most of my fellow liveries were competing! I did manage to see the RS kids classes on Sunday and the Kur, dressage to music class - it was at Level M, which is one rung down from S which from what i understand is below Prix St George/International level...but please don't quote me on that I really am not sure how the level systems work out here as i have not competed myself. I think it goes A, E, L, M, S, International...but i really am not sure! If i ever embark on a competitive career out here I'll find out and fill in the blanks once and for all - including the licensing procedure!

Anyways i snapped two photos of the Kur prizegiving.

Chestnut on the end is Le from our yard, only 16 years old and riding at this level!
And this next photo is to introduce you all to Alfie a fellow livery who partook in the prizegiving! He is a yearling now i think!

Le on Chestnut above was joint 4th in this class of 10 - 3rd from right in this pic

Got myself back in the saddle this evening (monday), on both occasions i opted for my general purpose saddle out of pure lazyness cos La (The Guru - not 16year old in photos) kindly lets me store my Dressage saddle in her locker as mine only has one saddle rack whereas hers has 2.
Anyways worked on mostly the same things as on friday, we had a bit of trouble with our canter on the right rein - the side i tend to twist on. I noticed Kika was all twisted underneath me, so i shifted myself to make sure my shoulders were in a line with hers and Ta-Da, lightbulb moment our canter was immediately better!
So glad i figured that one out on my own!
She is responding better to my leg now that i'm consciously trying to be less niggly with my heels and I'm trying really hard to keep my hands soft and sponge to as not to be at her head all the time. When I feel she behaves well it gives me more opportunity to refine myself and worry slightly less about her potential antics - fingers crossed we can continue on this path!
My hope is to ride in the dresage saddle tomorrow evening, then hopefully be able to use the jumping course that will be built for the lessons on wednesday - once they are finished with it.
Shall report back whatever we end up doing, :D

Also just so Kika doesn't feel left out of her own blog - here is a pic i snapped this evening of the Diva in the Solarium after her rinse this evening. I think I'm going to have to try to get myself organised and ride earlier now that the weather is heating up a bit - or else ride outdoors more as the indoors are getting quite stuffy and poor Miss Kika is getting quite sweaty during work. As we have to be off the yard by 10pm in the evenings i wouldn't have had the time to walk her off to dry after her shower this evening (no shampoo) - plus it was getting nippy, so i spoiled her with 15mins under the lights. Only her 3rd time under lights since moving here 2 years i don't really spoil her too much!

Classic OMG-Something-Moved-Out-There pose

Thursday 10 May 2012

Move-aversary & Bath Time!

Two years ago yesterday Kika arrived in Luxembourg - quite the worse for wear for her travelling. The photos still upset me greatly, so i don't feel like doing a before and after this year...I may have done last year so feel free to go back into the archive if you wish...but be warned they make me look like a bad owner! :(

On happier news today was a gorgeous scorching day - still 27C when i was heading to the yard after was a heavy heat, the kind you get before a thunder storm breaks. With Kika not having been ridden in over a week and a half and not lunged since monday week...she had two days rest after the osteo came to see her two days ago and recomended two days rest.
There was nothing really wrong with her she just wasn't 100% on the lunge and was having difficulty cantering under saddle. Osteo said she had a block in her chest and had managed to contort the first bone in her tail and her last lumber join...she couldn't fathom how she'd managed to manoeuver them so...but sorted her out and said she'll be right as rain again in no time.

I had had great intentions of riding Kika this evening, till i got to the yard and was sweltering - outdoor is all set up for a competition this weekend (photo to follow) so I didn't fancy my return to the saddle out there and new the indoors would be stifling - so i settled on lungeing Kika who was also pretty un-motivated by the heat.

Outdoor under prepartion for weekend's Dressage Competitions
Despite the lack of motivation the heat did conspire to make her pretty i took advantage of the long evening and glorious sunshine to give Kika her first bath of 2012!
I forgot to snap shots as the washing was underway...but here are some after shots as she dried a bit more following our stroll and her intro (in a headcollar) to the scary fancified outdoor above.

Something caught her attention away fom me obviously!
So being the photo lover I am...had to swap sides while she was posing.
Headshot I
Headshot II - Full Frontal lol

Plan is to make my return to the saddle tomorrow after being lazy last week to allow her to enjoy the new found freedom of outdoor 24/7 field existence and allow for osteo's visit and recovery time without my exasperating the situation prior to her visit with my sucky riding.
Saturday and Sunday she will more than likely stay in the field and out of trouble with all the fancy dressage riders descending on our yard for the competitions - 2 days. Shall try to remember to take photos/videos if anyone is interested?
Depending on my mood in the evenings and the business of the yard i may try to squeeze in a few spins...although in previous years the competitions have gone on late on the Saturday night as a Jur (dressage to music) is performed under the stars - I missed it last year, but do not intend to miss out this year!

Friday 4 May 2012

I Love My Horse Moment

I had a real I my horse moment last night!
I had a smile from ear to ear, it really is the small things in life that can make all the difference in the world.
As you will have seen from my post above, Kika got to go out on grass this week. In preparation for spending the next 6 months out there stuffing herself,
I have been trying to monitor/stagger her grass intake so that she doesn't give herself a belly ache by eating too much too fast, so I have been bringing her in at night and leaving her out for longer periods of time during the day.

Yesterday I turned her out before 7am before i headed off to work and was back about 8pm last night to bring her in.
I saw that her field buddy, P, was already in as her sharer had ridden her and was chatting to the girl whose horse is on the neighbouring field (the horses can talk over the wire), and she was saying how Kika and her horse W were now best friends. We were having this discussion as i saw P being returned to her stable so i realised K was on her own and explained why she was so buddy buddy with the neighbour
V (my friend - W's owner) said they were just going out to bring in W and her field buddy F - so i said, right well i better go get my madam so that she doesn't go loopdy-lala and through wire for fear of being left alone...what can i say she's not the most sociable/friendly horse when in the stable (that's her territory - equines passing get nasty looks) but when out she doesn't enjoy her own company so much

Sorry this is turning waffly again! 

Power walked down to the field in the hopes of getting to Kika before V got to W's field - not the easiest thing as K's field is further away from the barn, , and I knew she'd be down the very end grazing near the neighbours so I wanted to get to her before V got to W - so that K wouldn't have to deal with her abandonment issues by chasing through the fencing to follow W in!

I was 100% sure I was going to have to walk to the end of the field to literaly haul her in as she can be stubborn as a mule when she doesn't want to be lead...we had many issues when i first bought her as she didn't know how to be lead!

Low and behold my utmost shock and pure joy when she saw me at the gate and trotted towards me of her own accord!

She got 3/4 of the way down when she heard the others start calling as V reached the field to bring them in, W has taken a dislike to being brought in and runs around like a lunatic. Bless Kika she turned to look at them, so i started walking towards her saying "nuh-uh - you are comin in this way deary!"
More shocks in store....she turned back to me and CONTINUED WALKING TOWARDS ME!

Boy was I ever glad i had brought a treat with me as she thoroughly deserved it IMO

Sorry - this turned into a novel, wish i had some sort of photographic reward of some sort for those who have read this far!

Made me so happy in a gooey-happy/proud-owner-moment.

Tuesday 1 May 2012

Field Frolicking - First Day Out

Quick update to share 2 videos and 4 photos taken of Kika this morning as she experienced her first turn out of the summer with her new field buddy P.

Now for a couple photos

And finally last video

All taken on my phone so sorry if quality not great. Also have no idea how to remove sound so apologies for chitter chatter in videos!