Monday 4 February 2013

Felt Like Flying

I had an amazing weekend with both girls!

Saturday: Started about 10.30 when I turned out Nancy & O in our turnout area with their haynets. Then decided while I was at the barn I'd ride Kika, as I wanted to be home for 1.30 to watch the Six Nations Opener between Ireland and Wales - turns out Game didn't start till 2.30 our time, but that's beside the point, just meant I got to catch up on Greys! Anatomy! ;-)
Saturday mornings are always very busy at the barn as yard lessons still run in the morning and most people want to get their own horses ridden for a clear run at the rest of the day I guess. I usually prefer to ride in the afternoons/evenings to avoid the crush in the arenas, but swallowed the bullet this weekend as I knew after the rugby game I had shopping to do, the little darlings need their food! 3 bags of muesli were purchased, so fingers crossed stores will hold for a while! :D

There were four riders in the main arena as K and I were working, so plenty navigating, testing of brakes and steering followed - I cannot tell you all how happy I am with Kika. We had a wonderful spin, without an iota of fuss from either of us. Lovely calm, cool & responsive work from Miss Kika and myself, everything just felt right!
It was a lovely change from Thursday's spin when I shared the same arena with one other rider, but she is one of the worst riders to share an arena with. She is a very good rider, but is just difficult to work with in the arena as I never know where she is going to go - so I was pretty frazzled on Thursday and called it quits early as I was just getting frustrated which wasn't going to help the good building blocks Kika and I have put together in the last months/year.

Fed her ladyship and tossed her back into her stable with lots of hay for munching, then I cleaned Nancy's stable and headed home.

Returned Saturday evening with the three bags of feed, a new schooling whip a new pair of gloves and a bag of carrots - shopping is dangerous!!

Brought N & O in from the field, tacked up and with moral support from O & L; Nancy & I braved the main arena which she hadn't been in before. The odds weren't in our favour as the darn yard cat was loitering around the dark corners and one row of arena lighting didn't want to turn on - which was odd as it had been on less than 30 minutes prior. So I led N around and around until she settled and I was happy to hop up, as always she was good as gold. We walked, trotted, circled and changed reins - baby steps. her personality is coming out more now under saddle, she can be inclined to set her jaw and try to fight at times but when I remember to relax my hands and not fight back we get back on track without any major issues.

Sunday: Was Kika's turn to be turned out, which L did in the morning. Plan for the day was to do pole work with both girls. I am delighted with the pair of them, we worked with Nancy first. She was so cute as I led her around the arena before getting on, she is not a spooky girl, she does look but doesn't refuse to walk past things and if allowed to stop for a nosy she is curious but not silly about "scary" things - all bodes well! We walked through one series of 4 poles so that she knew they wouldn't eat her before I got on.
Apologies for poor artistic ability!

 However getting on was a bit of an ordeal yesterday, I don't know was it new/young horse testing the boundaries and/or stubborn Friesan side shining through - but do you think she would stand alongside the mounting block when I went to get up - silly sod kept taking a step back as soon as I removed my hand from the reins by the bit to hold the reins by the saddle. With L's calm help we navigated the issue and got on board. Walked around and over a single pole on a circle in the upper half of the arena, then rinse and repeat in trot - aiming for the middle of the pole. As people used to working with young horses know, this can be tricky when developing a new partnership...but we'll get there. :D
When that went well, we trotted over the single pole towards the four poles, then up over the two poles a couple of times. Eventually we worked down the diagonal of three poles and up over the four before coming down the two again, as well as other variations & combinations of poles.

The main things I have to remember are to anticipate more, give her more time and guidance to make the turns, aim for the middle of the poles and keep my hands slightly wider then when I am riding Kika to help guide N in the right direction. Lots to work on as always, but plenty positives for the quirky lovable lady!

Now for Kika, we worked over the same poles although L left me to myself to work out how I wanted to tackle them and corrected me where necessary. Namely to try to pay more attention when trotting and to really try and feel whether I am on the right diagonal or not - I am terrible at noticing and need to watch her outside to shoulder to check that I am rising when her leg stretches forward. We worked more on transitions after the poles, trot/canter and trot/walk to keep everything ticking over and not allow anything become predictable.
Then came the flying! :D
L had us canter over the single pole and change rein asking for a flying change over the pole.
First effort was a fail, but for every time after that we managed it and I felt like we were flying - my first time actually asking for a flying change, we knew she can do them as she changes by herself when cantering courses so it was just a case of me learning how to ask and her recognising the signal change and listening - it was magic!

I had such a smile on my face at the end of yesterday, both girls were just amazing to work with. Nancy is quirky as we get to know each other and lay out the boundaries & Kika is just heavenly at the moment. She is such a pleasure to work with that I can almost overlook her terrible manners when demanding food by using her front feet against the stable door or scraping her feet in impatience and standing in the crossties while being tacked up...I did say almost! We are still trying to hammer home the fact she CANNOT do those things, but she is an opinionated lady and will take some convincing. ;)

PS: Sorry this (as always) has gotten so long & for the lack of photos. I'll try to think to snap some this evening, although make no promises. It's Nancy's day off, I'll be heading to the barn shortly to turn her and O out. Kika will work on the lunge this evening to change things up a bit.


  1. Your artistic abilities are fine. What is the Six Nations??

    1. Kind of you to day L, but I know my artistic skills leave a lot to be desired, ;)

      The Six Nations is an annual International Rugby tournament which pitches the Northern Hemisphere "home" Nations (England, Ireland, Wales, Scotland), France & Italy against each other over a series of matches home & away in alternating years.
      For example this year we (Ireland) have France and England coming to play in Dublin, while we travel to Cardiff, Edinburgh & Rome to face Wales, Scotland & Italy respectively. Although not necessarily in that order.

      We beat wales in the opener this weekend but have to welcome England to Dublin next Sunday after they beat Scotland in their opening game.
      Italy caused quite an upset in beating France yesterday in Rome - France & England were probably tournament favourites prior to the opening matches...sorry I'm waffling it's a fascinating tournament that can ebb & flow, some years a team dominates and wins the Grand Slam other years there are surprises and/or upsets most weekends!

      Sorry Rugby (watching) and horses (participating) are two of my biggest passions - i could waffle on for hours!

  2. Sounds like a fantastic weekend. I love rugby too.

    1. Thanks Ruffles, it was a great weekend.
      Rugby is the best - although knowing where your from it's more like a religion there than anywhere I've ever come across...and it's a pretty big deal in Wales & Ireland - but not a patch on you guys!
      And rightly so!


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