Saturday 30 March 2013

Tardy Tidings

With all the Equitana posts/photos I haven't updated on what the girls and myself have been up to so far this week...
I had Monday off work as I wasn't sure what time we were going to be back from Equitana on Sunday or how tired I would be - so i hedged my bets which also meant that I got another day off to play with my girls. They were both ridden almost everyday this week, bar Wednesday where I met a friend for dinner and didn't make it to the barn that evening - Bad Mammy = me!

However I think the girls forgive me as that meant a day off for them and as I was there at lunchtime to turn Nancy out (as it was her day) with O, I was able to give Kika her Farrier's Formula feet supplement & leave Nancy's in her feed trough for when she got in that evening. Happy Days :-)

I'll try to keep this update brief (although I may fail as I invariably tend to - apologies in advance) and pepper it with photos I took of the pair of them today...can you tell I missed having my smartphone to take pictures and be able to get them from my phone to the pc to share with you guys!

First up a Nancy photo as I haven't shared many of her lately!

Be forewarned - photo-wise this'll be a fairly Nancy-centric post!
Sorry Kika!
All photos taken today Friday 29th (posted this after midnight so says Saturday - but when i say today in this post...I mean Friday! Ack confusing!)

So Monday I got both girls ridden - nothing major to report, Tuesday worked 8.30 - 5.30 including a mad dash across town to let the girls out on my lunchbreak - I am very proud of myself as I managed to squeeze a spin in on each girl that evening. Nancy first as it was Kika's day in the turn out and then Kika got a quick spin when i hauled her in. Kika was a doll despite evil horse-eating cat loitering in a corner it isn't usually in - sneaky beggar. I really loathe that cat when I'm riding!
Nancy and I had our discussions - but overall it was a good spin. I always look for the positives in any work I do with my horses as otherwise if I were to only focus on the negatives I'd forever get myself down.

Only way to get a pic of me riding is to take it myself - post spin & in chillax mode!
Wednesday was a day off for the pair of them - then Thursday I had another day off work (office closed for Easter - Thursday, Friday & Monday...5-day weekend = loads of horsey time! WOOHOO!) so was able to get to the barn earlier then if I'd worked all day. Kika's day outside so Nancy and I buckled down to work in the Main arena (see pic of Kika & I) which incidently, bar the outdoor, is the largest arena and the only one with mirrors the whole length of the back wall - hence my photo op above.

Nancy rode like a dream!
There were three other riders in the arena with us, 2 arabs who are difficult to share the arena with as you can never tell which way they are going to go and two different riders on private lessons traded places while we rode.
I concentrated solely on walk & trot; as although improving our canter would've been difficult if manouverability around too many others were to come into play. Nancy, while getting much better steering-wise, is still very green when it comes to response times and would find it difficult when cantering with too many people in the arena.
We did transitions walk/trot, serpentines, large circles and figures of eight - also incorporating a bit more bend into our work. 

I was floored by her, she was such a good girl - she really listened and tried for me. She didn't fight me once or fuss with her head which she does in the smaller arena - which has led me to believe that it is possibly slightly too small for her at the moment until she develops the right muscles to carry herself and manage the tighter turns necessary in a smaller space.

Only way at the moment to get them in the same photo as Kika is a territorial nightmare when another horse is attached beside her - silly sod. Will hopefully get more of them together when they go out 24/7 for the summer.
Kika was also an absolute angel yesterday, I have been riding her in the GP since it came back from the saddle fitter as (a) the dressage stirrups are on the saddle I am trying on Nancy and I'm too lazy to chop and change all the time and (b) the saddle fitter advised i ride in it to see how it settled/shaped to her back/me after being re-flocked.
We worked on walk/trot/canter, circles, serpentines with & without volts, changes of rein - all the usual stuff. The Guru happened to be riding at the same time and told me afterwards that of what she'd seen we were doing quite well - I haven't had a flatwork lesson in what seems like forever (I can't actually remember the last one) - so her comments made me very happy. 
Well that and the fact both girls were such superstars - another livery also commented on how well Nancy went for me yesterday, saying she was very calm & straight for a youngster.

Making sure I didn't miss anything in my collection of her deposits after we rode this evening - she is so cute and walks alongside me without my holding her, like a giant lapdog, as I pick up the poop
Saddle fitter was due back today (Friday) between 6.30-7pm, so I planned to ride Kika first so that I could leave her tied in the saddle and nab Nancy from the turnout area and have her in ready to be tacked up when the SF arrived as I wanted him to check out the jumping saddle I have been riding her in that a fellow livery is selling and if she is willing to negotiate on price as she has hinted - I am seriously considering purchasing from her for Nancy.

Gave Kika a good grooming, she is still shedding but thankfully nowhere near as much, however she is getting a little patchy but where she was clipped is a gorgeous liver chestnut - I cannot wait for the rest of her foxy winter fur to fall out so her summer coat can shine through! Tacker her up and was in the saddle by my target time of 5.30pm - the aim was to be finished at the latest by 6.15 so that I could peg it down to the field to bring the other two in.
All went to plan - she continued in her current run of stellar behaviour. We even attempted some walk/canter transtitions, which although not instantaneous (as I have never done them before) but after no more then a stride of trot we were cantering calmly and on the correct lead - I am so happy with how she is going at the moment that I am just hoping the Guru & I can coordinate time for a lesson or two so that we can get cracking on tidying me up further and perhaps re-introducing lateral work for myself & Miss Kika. I know she is well able to do it as when the Guru rides her, they have no problem with it - it is just I need to learn how to ask properly. As I don't know how, I don't ask for it so that there is no mixed signals or confusion in what I am looking for from her.

Sorry a bit blurry
Saddle fitter checked Kika's GP and was very happy with how it has re-moulded to her following re-flocking. I also had him check out the second-hand Jumping saddle I am considering buying for Nancy. He said as I'd suspected that it was a little low in front but that it is something that can easily be remedied by sending the saddle back to Stubben in Switzerland (like i have done twice with Kika's GP). He kindly told me that if I do decide to buy the saddle to add this fact into the bargaining to perhaps drive the price down so that I can save the pennies and send the saddle to be made more suitable for N.
As you can see in the photos I have an old riser that I used to use for Kika in one of her old saddles which I asked the saddler to check to see if using it would help or hinder the fit of the saddle Nancy while I considered my options re:purchasing. He said that it went some way to helping, but it would only be a stop-gap. I am dithering over buying this saddle as it doesn't put me in the greatest position, my legs swing too far forward and I have to consciously think to bring them back all the time - which in itself is no harm to have me paying more attention to what my legs are doing - beauty of my dressage saddle is the knee blocks attempt to stop my legs creeping too far forward - although those darn things have a mind of their own sometimes and still manage to manouver over the knee blocks - which give me some nice bruises the next day. 
*Le Sigh*

For whatever reason, I couldn't get the lights in the main arena to come on when I wanted to ride Nancy. I have a feeling that whoever used the arena before me wasn't long gone & had turned them off as the left which with the longer-life bulbs can take them ages to "heat" back up or whatever when next person wants to use them, so Nancy and I ended up back in the smaller arena - which used to be my favourite to ride in but I am after getting more used to using the mirrors to correct myself and as such now almost prefer the main arena when not too busy! *Le Gasp*

My theory that that arena is a little too small for N at the moment was sort of confirmed as she was Miss Sassy pants, trying to run around with her head in the air being most unwilling to soften and bend even slightly for me. When the circles I was attempting to work on weren't getting us anywhere, I changed tack and tried working on smaller volts - possibly counter productive but I wanted to get her bending and listening to me without speeding up and running on as she was trying to do on the larger circles. We also worked more on serpentines to limber her up some before doing the volts - she settled better and we could return to the larger circles with more control & less fighting. Satisfied with this I decided to work some more on our canter - she has a lovely rocking canter  that is a joy to sit into - however she is still a bit ungainly and imbalanced on corners and circles. It doesn't help that she is also disinclined to bend on the bends - however I am pretty sure this is muscular and once we build her up better she'll find bending easier. From now on I am going to try and predominantly work in the largest arena to facilitate the corners & bends she has to navigate in an attempt to keep her more balanced and allow the muscles the time to develop - she really was so lovely, soft & willing on Thursday evening that I am hopeful my theory mightn't be too far off the mark.
We finished up with some serpentines with little volts on each bend to try and encourage her to soften up a little, we stayed on each volt until she did a nice one.
Again I am hopeful that the Guru and I might manage to coordinate a lesson spot for myself and Nancy as well, as besides being with me for the first 2-3 spins when Nancy first arrived - we haven't managed to schedule an actual lesson for either myself and Nancy or Kika.

Fingers crossed we can remedy this before I spend too much time working by myself and end up teaching bad habits that'll be harder to fix in the long run!

Yikes - fair play if you've read this far, I'm afraid to scroll up and see how long it is after getting! *blush*

Wednesday 27 March 2013

Equitana III - Saturday Night Showcase Part 2

Next stop was Camargue in France!

Then some more impressive fire displays - with shouting, stilts, fire twirling & horses.

This guys stilts were similar to those used by para-athletes so he could run and bounce

Almost forgot the three videos from the final build up of this act!



Then came Frédéric Pignol with his gorgeous horses!

Traded the stunning white horse for three gorgeous Friesans - Nancy watch out, your training might be about to change! ;-)

 Don't worry I have warned the Guru (who is a fan of long manes) that Nancy's will never be allowed get that long! N isn't the biggest fan of having her mane brushed & likes to lie in her own mess in the stable - so letting her mane get that long would be a nightmare!

The Funky Fjords were next - these were mad. The skills of the drivers was something else! There were so many of them going at such speed, it could have been carnage - not sure if the videos & pics do them justice to be honest - they were unbelievable. I Loved them!

And the Finale of the Festivallo show was none other than Lorenzo and his hareem of white horses!
There were 16 of them under his control at one stage! AH-MAY-ZING doesn't begin to cover it - photos & videos then I promise i'll leave you alone for today blogosphere!

He did make it over & under the bar after i made this video clip - but battery was beginning to die so I couldn't make any more videos :(

Hopefully I will get back in two years time! I have one or two more photos of stands for my BoT loving readers - but they can go in another post as I think I have done enough blogroll spamming for one day!

Equitana II - Saturday Night Showcase Part 1

The Saturday night Showcase, Festivallo Show, took us to different countries & cultures and entertained us with many different breeds of horses showcasing their talents in amazing ways. Showing strong relationships between horses & humans, dazzling displays with fire, music & moving "targets".

The show started in Brazil with carnival dancers & a festive spirit:

This was attached to a car and a moving target!

One of my fav photos!

Next came a lovely dressage Pas de Deux or Venetian type waltz on horse-back, it was stunningly done. Photos don't do it justice I'm afraid! Sorry! The male rider is definitely Frédéric Pignon (whose brother I was lucky enough to see in Dublin last summer!) I think the female rider is Magali Delgado.

FP rode bitless

We then kind of went to the circus - where we were entertained by youngsters on vaulting horses - which were huge...think 17-18hands! There was so much going on during this section of the show that i could only focus on the vaulting as the horses were involved - but there were also lots of other big drum type horses lining the arena and a huge troop of dancers/cheerleader type performers who were doing amazing things - which I didn't really watch as I was watching the kids on the vaulting horses!

Another lovely Friesan - I notice them more now since Nancy came into my life, ;)

Large vaultige horse alongside others.

Nice Ardennais horse!

All lined up for the vaultige

Sorry it's fuzzy - unfortunately I didn't manage to catch any of the amazing tricks the kids did!

On his own - no lunge line on this horse

Next we went to the Alps - i think, where a young lady showed us her horsemanship skills with her gaggle of cute welshies (i think)


Then under

We were then whisked off to Portugal!

Then the first fire display started!
Same rider from earlier post Baroque class

There was a silly display between these from an eejit who rode is horse in and out of a moving trailer/horsebox - this act made me feel really unocmfortable as the leader struck me as a real yahoo who seemed more interested in being center of attention and doing silly things than looking after the well-being of his charges - it all seemed needlessly dangerous to me - so no photos of that!

But the show redeemed itself afterwards with another fire display & trapeze act which was fantastic!

 This is getting long again - to be continued in another post!