Tuesday 30 April 2013

Field Farewell

I was in Ireland from Wednesday 24/4/2013 till yesterday evening (29/4/2013) so have no newses to report on the girls other then they were good for the Guru in my absence and I saw them both last night and again at lunch time today and they are both in good form and actually happy to see me - i think.
Whickering counts as joy at seeing you right ... and not just that I am associated with turnout/feeding time! LOL!
Me loves you!

As the title of this post suggests today is the last time the girls will be in our winter turnout for 2013. As of tomorrow the three ladies officially get turned out until November 1st when they'll make their return to this winter safe haven.

O being cute - and LOOK finally some green to be seen!
The girls will be on limited turnout at first, a couple of hours tomorrow. We're thinking 11-15/16 o'clock - long enough for some photos in the am of happy-head-horseys then a lazy owner lunch at Pizza Hut on the corner, hopefully Kika won't join us there...And then back to the yard for perhaps some jumpy-jumping all going well! :D
Yay for May Day (1st of May - Journée du Travail) day off work!
For the rest of the week turnout they'll go out about 10-11am. The Guru has Thursday & Friday off work so no mad dash to the yard or stupid o'clock turnout for the girls on my part - 7am for turnout before breakfast is just mean or so they'd have you believe! The plan is to leave them out overnight as off Saturday, all going well with the other addition to the field...we'll have to see what Lady Kika makes of that, although she was turned out with this pony mare 2summers ago and O is used to going out with her so we'll have to wait and see where Nancy fits and what kind of pecking order will be established! Ah the joys of turnout & horse ownership...here's hoping there'll be no need for vets on speed dial!

I could have turned Kika out with O & N this afternoon, but I decided to be selfish as I know if I'd turned her out I'd probably be a lazy ass and not ride this evening...and I REALLY want a spin!

Monday 22 April 2013

Grazing Girls

Only a week to go till the girls can return to 24/7 turnout and I cannot wait!
Not only are they happier (well I'm going off Kika here - although she has been so chilled this year I think she may *finally* be at one with her life) but I can have my lunch breaks to actually eat lunch & re-connect with my colleagues or meet up with friends in town etc - Actually I'll probably pile on the pounds considering I won't be doing my mad-dash across the city by bus & foot to turn the little darlings out.
Anyways, sorry, I am waffling again!

Kika & my shadows from Saturday evening
In preparation for full time turnout we tend to take the girls grazing in the weeks leading up to May 1st. Unfortunately the weather has been so cold & grass growth so poor until recently that we haven't had much opportunity. So the rush is now on to try and up the grass intake for both girls by hand-grazing so that when they do go out on grass next week they won't be sick from all the freshness.

Nancy chowing down
I was so proud of Nancy on Friday evening when these pictures were taken (Kika's pics come from Saturday's grazing session) - it had been Kika's day in the turnout on; so Nancy had been inside all day and I was apprehensive as to how she'd handle grazing when she hadn't been worked or anything beforehand. In wonderful Nancy-style, she was not phased in the slightest :-D Even when other horses were ridden past and horse boxes cleaned out nearby - she just kept the head down and grazed away to her hearts content.

Bad Mammy leaving straw in her tail!
Saturday was a bit of a mad day, I turned O & N out about 1pm before heading into town to meet friends for lunch before Luxembourg's annual Rubber Duck Race! 

Extra water was added to help the duckies along
For those who haven't been lucky enough to visit Lux before, you won't know that there is a valley in the middle of the city, or rather the city center is surrounded by a valley. Anyways, it's beautiful & in the middle of the valley is a little stream (called river) - and this is where they held the Rubber Duck Race - it's a charity event where you can "sponsor" the ducks and depending on where your duck finished the race you could win one of numerous prizes. I got there too late to sponsor a duck, but last year a friend won a fireplace...yeah those are the caliber of prizes! Eek! :-/

Oddly enough, considering how long my family has been in Luxembourg (23years now) - this was my first time going to the Duck Race!

Finish line - re-capturing the duckies
Sorry - back on track with the ponios!

Had a wonderful spin on Kika Saturday evening as N was in the turnout for the afternoon, I really tried to concentrate on improving Kika's trot as the Guru had commented after jumping on Wednesday that it wasn't great again - that K was taking shorter strides. My fault for having spent too much time sitting trotting on Tuesday between our transitions, sitting trot bunches K up and shortens her striding. We had a few discussions when cantering as she took offense to passing one of the corners in the top half of the arena - but only in canter, the silly sod! So we worked at it until she passed it without jigging inside and losing her outside bend - she is still opinionated as ever and let me know in her own special way that she didn't appreciate the reminder that I had a crop in my inside hand when I asked her kindly to keep on the track I wanted, lol!

Grazing after our spin on Saturday
When i took her for a half hour grazing session after our spin, she was good as gold and once more exhibited her maturity by not getting herself all wound up grazing alone or when a horsebox returned from competition or when two other horses joined us to be grazed by their owners. At this time last year I could only graze K with the lunge line on as she'd take fits of joyfulness and want to play with passing horses/birds whatever moved basically, lol!

Nancy was next for a workout, I tried to put my instructions from Wednesday into practice - namely not using the whole long side of the arena at any stage, but to keep circling so as to avoid building up speed - not to be continuously trying to slow her down with my hands when she invariably did build up speed & to use my voice more.
I am struggling a bit with Nancy when I am in the saddle, as I know what I should be doing and what I shouldn't be doing - but we are having a negative effect on each other where we are being suckered into doing the things we shouldn't be doing. I think we just need a break from arena work to build up a better relationship out hacking or something - we need a change of scenery before i ruin her wonderful friendly approach to life.

Thursday 18 April 2013


Sorry guys, I haven't been the best at updating this week - but have been good & ridden at least one of the girls each evening.
Unfortunately I have no new pics to share since Sunday, but I do have one i forgot to include in previous post - so that'll have to be the only reward for all the waffle that is sure to follow...apologies in advance!

Monday: I had a lesson on Nancy from the Guru, it didn't go great. The mare was in a mad rush and no matter how much i spoke to her trying to slower her with my voice and not my hands she seemed determined to ignore me. We did get some nice patches of work, but if you asked me what I was doing when it was going well in the hopes that i could repeat it again - you'd find me at a loss. I hate when that happens, as if i could bottle whatever I am doing when things are going good I could replicate it and be less of a mess more often - baby steps and we'll get there I'm told. :p
Main issues appear to be twofold;
  • (a) I am gripping with my knees, BADLY, I have the bruises to prove it! This is bad for numerous reasons, mainly that my leg is then in the wrong position & I have little to no contact with her sides and of course the aforementioned bruises.
  • (b) I cannot seem to break my reflex reaction that when she speeds up my hands close on the reins in an attempt to slow her down which then results in her giving me the metaphorical finger and pulling against me - being the baby tank she is going to grow into, this is a fight I am never going to come out of positively.
I really need to get my head around these issues!

Photo bribe & reward for reading this far
Tuesday: Was Nancy's day in the turnout, so Kika got ridden in the evening. I had been hoping for a flat lesson on her, but it didn't happen - no biggie. :)
We worked away on our own on w/t/c, circles, figures of eight & serpentines. During which I noticed that our transitions were a little sticky, so the plan for the spin was cemented and we set to work on sharpening up our transitions while continuing our circles, changes of rein, figures of eight & serpentines to keep things from getting stale. I also did most of our trot work in sitting trot, I also tried to really work on our inside bend on the right-hand rein as she has also become a little stiff on that side (used to be her better side) but I guess after putting more work onto her previously bad side, the 'good' side got a little left out/under worked. Lots of small circles and focus from me, should help us get back on track.
Actually now that I think about it, we had a problem of over-bending slightly on that rein during the winter months...guess I solved that a little too well, woopsy, lol!

Kika's course - as always please forgive poor paint skills

Wednesday: Was Jumping day for both girls!
Yes, you read correctly, Nancy & I had our first pop together. *dance*
Kika was first up, I rode her at the same time as another yard friend, N, we jumped together. Warmed up over the pole and cross pole @1 of each rein and from either side continuing to canter on landing. The pole then moved to the other side from the above paint re-creation and we jumped it down cantering around up over the bounce @2 which also had a pole before the first jump.
We then jumped up over one, cantered down past 4 and up through the line @3 coming back down over the oxer @4.
Our final course of the evening, as it was a lovely 19C yesterday so both riders & horses were sweating, ;-) ... was to come down through the bounce @2, over the oxer @4, up over 1 (which no longer had a ground pole in front of it), down through the line @3 and finished back up over 1 again.
I was very happy with K as we got all our turns, which although a lot less twisty then previous courses we've had to do, I could see my lines better and felt like I wasn't dropping her into the fences or setting her up wrong for them - happy days!

We started Nancy with the above polework from the deconstructed fences that K & I jumped. As we were still having speed issues, the first few times through the poles were a bit messy - but we both got our act together and sorted ourselves out.

We then got a cross where fence 3 was for Kika with a  ground pole in front, the Guru had us go up over the poles at 1 (above) and come down over the pole & cross pole. No problem first time, so she raised the cross pole after another time through it and instructed me to keep Nancy cantering after the fence, even if she landed on the wrong leg - just to get her used to cantering after a fence.

She also had to continuously remind me not to tort or canter the long side of the arena as that is where we run into our speeding issues, she has told me that until further notice I am not to ride Nancy in a straight line down the long sides of the arenas - but to continuously break it up with circles and changes of rein.

The cross then became a small vertical, which L had me ride in the same way at the cross, however she told me I am not riding Kika and to not put my leg on at take-off, she said Nancy has to figure it out for herself when to take off for the fence.
First time into it she didn't take off and took the pole with her, she may have scared or possibly hurt herself a little bit as next time she ducked out to the left. back again, without the trotting pole intro this time and we got over it despite again bulging to the left before the fence - not pretty but we jumped...sort off. She again wasn't really getting off the ground and took the poles with her.
L then told me that, like Kika she isn't jumping so to put my leg on to cue her when to jump like I would Kika - but at this stage she was tired and probably a little rattled from knocking the poles, we did it once more where she did make the effort to jump but still brought the poles with her and tagged the vertical at 3 from a canter on behind which she jumped very well, so we called it a day finishing on that good note.
L hopped up to walk her around to cool off while I tidied the poles, as N & L had cleared away those that we had used for Kika so it was only fair that I do my fair share of tidying also.

I really have to figure out how to stop my reflex reaction of trying to slow her down/stop her when she starts to run on and rather than closing my hands on the reins and getting into a fight with her but letting go of the pressure and slowing her with my voice/seat.
Although the evening was very good with both girls, i can't help feeling a little deflated that I can't get a better handle on myself and help the horses out rather than hinder them - I am terrified of ruining Nancy before we even get going - the summer of hacking in the woods cannot come fast enough for me. I need to unwind outside an arena where there is no pressure on us to stay out of other people's way or feeling like people may be watching and/or judging - cos I mean come on...In a yard environment there is always some level of b!tchiness going on somewhere & while I don't ever partake in it or hear about it - I am sure it happens - it can't not when there are close to 100 horses on livery with as many characters associated with them.

Sorry as usual, this has gone on way longer than I had intended - I should run another reward contest just for whoever read this post to the end! *blushing*

Monday 15 April 2013

Super Sunshine & Contest Winner!

8.45pm last night - it was a gorgeous day!

 First off I want to say a mahoosive thank you to all who participated in the Celebratory Contest. I  had no idea we had so many anonymous readers, please don't be shy about posting comments in the future now that you have posted one - I LOVE hearing from readers!

And the winner is commenter number 12 -  Kathrin.
Congratulations, thank you for reading & commenting; I will be in touch to find out whether you would like a saddle pad or shirt & sort out the ordering of such. :-)

Right now that the official business has been dealt with, most will probably stop reading this post, but if you bear with me there will be more photos! :-P

If you're still reading I had a wonderful weekend, the weather was fabulous! Saturday was unfortunately a bit of a write off for me horse-riding wise though as I was out late on Friday night, I don't drink so not hungover just up way past my usual bedtime, lol. Didn't get to bed until about 4am when I am usually asleep at the latest by 11.30-12pm on a weekend!
After her quiet week of no work Nancy got a lunge Saturday evening, which in itself was a workout from me as she is a strong beasty and likes to try and go faster all the time - but we're getting better at listening to vocal commands and slowing down when asked. Kika was the lucky one and spent the day outside in the turnout area so I was naughty & didn't do anything with her on Saturday.

Ready for our hack
Sunday, the Guru & I had arranged to go for a hack in the woods in the morning - it was a glorious day. L & I were like 2 big kids, me more so than her as I am just a big child playing with my first "pony".

O & K playing nice on our hack

We had a blast hacking in the woods, both mares plodding along on the buckle. Kika & I even took the lead when we met cyclist, joggers & to go first up a potentially scary hill, hahaha. We had fun trotting side-by-side & with em behind - where Kika fearing ebing left behind resorted to pony-club still tiny steps in a vain attempt at speed - it was hilarious I could only laugh like a lunatic as i was fired out of the saddle faster then I could rise - what a bumpy ride! ;-)

Happy head - can you tell we were stopped under a long hanging branch?! Hahaha

We also got some lovely cantering stretches. Kika was a star to put up with my desire to splash through all the puddles that we came across.

O usually dislikes going through puddles as she can't see the bottom, but she followed Kika through yesterday. I think L's smile speaks a thousand words!
So now that you've an idea as to the puddles I was playing with - you'll understand why Kika's legs ended up looking like this...

I was on such a high after our 2 hour hack and feeling like such a kid that i couldn't resist attempting to do "around-the-world" on Kika. It used to be an exercise my aunt (who taught me how to ride) used to have us do as kids. Where you completely move around in the saddle, ideally someone holds the horse for you / but Kika was in good form so I chanced she'd stand still - which she dutifully did. It wasn't until I was facing backwards that I realised how long it has been since I did this particular exercise...my legs are considerably longer then they were then and took a lot more organising to sort myself out to get back the right way! *blushing*
Angel head after my silly around-the-wrold, getting too close as she wanted to nosy at phone
"Fine if I can't nosy at phone - I'll have to see what I can find on the floor...poor mistreated horse that I am"

Cleaned her up and turned herself & O out for a bit while I rode Nancy in the main arena, who got quite hot both in her attempts to canter when I wanted to trot and just hot in general as it was a gloriously sunny day - so she got her first shower since arriving in Lux and as with everything else we have done with her - she was an angel and possibly enjoyed it ... I know I'd have appreciated a shower by then, teehee!
Tied her outside for a few minutes to sunbathe & dry while I cleaned up her deposits from the arena, then swapped her for Kika in the turnout area and tied Kika up to sunbathe while I cleaned my tack & leather gear!

I think I've enough leather to be getting on with!
It would be embarassing to admit when my gear was last cleaned, but it has been ages as I am a lazy sod who like good weather to clean my gear so that I can sit outside and make it a pleasurable experience!

Nancy's clean bridle
L & I then walked her lovely pooches and decided to take Nancy & O from the field on the stroll with us so that we could let them graze afterwards. We do this every year to allow their stomachs & systems a chance to get re-acquainted with grass eating after the winter "indoors" so that they don't eat too much fresh grass when they first get out next month and make themselves sick!

Kika's clean bridle

Turned them back out while I helped L with pole work for another horse she rides (W), before going back to hang the haynets for today, refill the water in the turnout area and bring the girls in for the night.

Total time spent at the yard by me yesterday over 10 1/2 hours!
10.30am - 8.55ish woops! *teehee*

Saturday 13 April 2013

No News

No real news to report on the girls as we've had a pretty quiet week what with osteo visit on monday evening (LINK) which resulted in two days rest for Nancy and then the farrier came out on Thursday evening meaning new front shoes (well he actually put back on the ones she'd had on as they weren't too badly worn which is good news) for Miss Kika and a trim for Nancy.
All is well with her feet being barefoot & she was actually slightly less flat-footed which was great to hear; and we're going to keep a close eye on her over the summer months as we'll be doing a lot more hacking in the woods so we'll have to make sure she doesn't wear down her hooves too much.
I will of course pop shoes back on her if needs be -  I am not a monster, I will do what's best for my horses!

I couldn't deny this monster head anything - look at the he-uge ears! 
Nancy has had the quieter week of the two and two days back to back in the turnout area as her treat for going un-worked after the osteo...what a reward right?!
No work & more play-time!
Tuesday evening I ended up going to see Quartet in the cinema with my mother, which I loved...Think The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel but based around a gorgeous house in the UK for retired classical musicians & singers - it was a good laugh! Nice easy viewing for a wet spring evening.
The Guru very kindly brought the girls in and popped Miss Kika on the walker for me.

Loving her dappled summer coat - wonder how light it'll go and if she'll bleach if we get sunshine?
Wednesday I had made loose plans to jump Kika with the Guru's help, but as my work week felt like it should already be Friday I opted out of jumping for fear of falling off through tiredness and rode flat work in the main arena instead. For a horse that hadn't been sat on since Sunday she was a dream, and in fact had Thursday evening off work as well for farriers visit before being an absolute angel again when i had a sneaky quick spin during my lunch break on Friday - what a fab way to recharge the batteries!

Weather has taken a step towards spring this week and temps have come up above 10C during the day and not dropping much below at night...and we have been getting RAIN! I never thought I'd be so happy to see rain, but with the extended winter we've had this year (I mean seriously 5 months of ice, snow & COLD is wayyyyyy too long for me!) thee has been absolutely no opportunity for the grass to grow.
I was beginning to worry as the girls are supposed to be going out 24/7 from May 1st to October 31st - they prefer being outside & my bank balance prefers it too! *teehee*

Being the big mean owner that I am I made the executive decision to leave Kika naked as of Wednesday - figured it was time t rip off the band-aid and see how she coped. Her stable is in a sheltered corner and while the horse across the aisle has a window, her box is pretty cozy - plus if she was cold I figured she might stop making such a mess of her straw and lie in it to stay warm, making her stable easier to clean! ;-)
Nancy hasn't worn a rug when stabled as she wasn't clipped and I only popped the turnout on her when it was very cold, snowing or wet - she has a completely different coat to Kika at the moment so it will be interesting to see if it stays that way for her first full winter in Lux next year or if she'll come more in line with the fluff-monster that is Kika during winter.

Windswept on her first day out in the nip.

Before I go don't forget to check out my Celebratory Contest & be in with a chance to win a BLING saddle pad with thanks to Amanda @ Sweet Angel Equine - entries have to be in by tomorrow (Sunday 14th)!
I'll use an online randomizer & announce the winner on Monday - best of luck to all & thanks for reading!

Thursday 11 April 2013

Celebratory Contest

 Having reached 25 followers, small number for some - but we all have to start somewhere! ;-)

This post is to celebrate the increase in followers but also to celebrate Kika & I knowing each other 6 years! This is our owniversary week (post to follow I'm sure) I met Kika for the first time on the 10th of April 2007 & bought her/she arrived at my yard two days later - so extra cause for celebration!

I want to host a celebratory contest and promote a friends merchandise while I'm at it!
Amanda over at A Fat Girl & A Fat Horse makes lovely custom BLING saddle pads & custom t-shirts. I have a fab hoody of hers that i got a few years back & love, so I'm delighted to be able to promote her fab products by hosting a contest on my blog!

Links to her products: Sweet Angel Custom Bling Saddle Pads & the t-shirts are made to order so no images however here is a link to the designs available LINK. Unfortunately I am unable to view this page so hopefully it works for you guys - i think it might be because I am not an fb member!

To enter this contest simply comment on this blog post!

Each comment will be given a number and the one that the randomizer gives back to me from those parameters will win!
The winner will get a choice of a custom t-shirt OR a custom saddle pad, P&P will also be covered by me as part of your gift - so don't worry about it & chose whichever item you prefer!

Entries will be accepted until Sunday 14th of April, then we can sort out your order and get the ball rolling for your prize to arrive! :-D

Big THANK YOU to those who follow & read all my waffle. Kika, Nancy & I love having people to share our news with & offer us support, tips & advice!

UPDATE: You don't have to be a follower/subscribed to leave a comment or enter this contest. If you are a reader of my wordy blog you deserve a shot at a prize for perseverance!
Don't be shy, leave a comment to let me know if you'd like to be entered into the draw for the prize. Leave an e-mail address or something as well so that I can contact you if you are the winner! :D

Muchas Gracias!

Tuesday 9 April 2013

Osteo Opinion

Borrowed from Google images - no copyright claimed!

Osteo visited the girls last night, I was curious to see what Nancy would make of the poking & prodding as I don't think she'd been seen before she left Ireland.

Kika was up first, and I am delighted to report that she was 100% straight & didn't require any work at all!
Nice one for my pocket ;-)
Osteo commented on how good she was looking and that she had muscled up well - basically to keep doing what we're doing. Happy Days!

Nancy was next and has another admirer to add to her fan club.
Thankfully there was nothing seriously out of line. The osteo did ask was she better going right-handed then left, she is, and fixed a little something in her neck.
She then explained that it is common in most young horses to have an asymmetric alignment stemming from the foetal position they had in the womb, so she worked her magic some more towards her back-end and prescribed two days off from riding.

I asked would it be ok to turn her out and she said of course that the best thing for horses after treatment is movement - so Nancy is going to have the next two days outside, sorry Keeks - just saddle time for you I'm afraid! :p

Short & sweet post today - if only they could all be as concise!

PS: I haven't forgotten about the contest i mentioned a few posts back...I have something in the works and will post about it when I have finalised the gift arrangements. :D

Monday 8 April 2013

Happy Hacking

I had such a big grin on my face this weekend - Nancy & I successfully had our first hack in the woods on Sunday. I shouldn't be surprised that, as with everything else, she took the whole thing in her stride - she is one cool head!

In the turnout area after our hack - chillaxin'
Will start from the beginning of the weekend now that I have that first bit of exciting news out of the way.

Friday: I had a half day from work, thank you Easter holiday spillover!
I was a little late leaving work due to the place shutting up shop till today, so had to be sure everything was done before we left for the weekend. That had a bit of a knock-on stress factor for the afternoon as I had to get out to yard to put horses out, then be back in town for a driving lesson from 3 to 4 before going home again for a very late lunch.  Then back to the yard to lunge Miss Kika for the first time in weeks - maybe even months. cannot remember when I last lunged her! She was a super star.
Phew, it was a bit of a mad dash - I'll tell you that for nothing!
But the evening only got better as the Guru & I had decided the previous night to go check out the French film Jappeloup, the story of French show jumper Pierre Durand and his pint sized ride Jappeloup :)
Great feelgood film for a still horse-mad girl!

Looking quite well if i may say so in my completely *cough* unbiased opinion

Saturday: The Guru, her horse O, her two bearded collies, myself & Kika and another friend & C headed out for a sedate hack in the woods - but boy was it cold! I was very cheeky and put Kika's quarter/exercise sheet (which really shouldn't be seen in public till it gets  a wash as she shedded something awful this year!) on her so that I could fasten it over my legs when I got cold!
We had a lovely hack the three of us!
L, the dogs & I met back later that afternoon to take Nancy for a walk in the woods so that she could see what the story was while I was safely on the ground should anything become amiss.
Gosh does she have a long stride when you're walking alongside her for an hour - phew, only upside is when we went up hills she did most of the work for me ;-)
She called out twice, but other than that made no fuss whatsoever and happily took in all her surroundings.

Her coat is dappling as she sheds out more brown then black
Sunday: D-Day for Nancy & my forest adventure.
It dawned a glorious sunny day, a fantastic contrast to the previous freezing day. When we were in the sunshine we were lovely and warm as can be seen from Kika's sunbathing photos ;-)
L, O & the dogs were our companions for our first adventure. We started out following the same route we'd walked on Saturday, but branched off to make it a little longer before rejoining the trail to finish up. We met cyclists & people walking with kids & buggies all to no fuss, she didn't even look at them! We passed piles of logs, near the road with cars zooming along - she was a super star, not looking at anything! Long may it last is all I say - considering the other beasty would (and does) jump at her own shadow!
N & O then got to spend the day in the turnout, I did fill the haynets - they weren't left starving as the above photo might suggest, lol!

Then it was Kika's turn for a spin, we returned to arena work which she'd had a little deserved break from since Wednesday's jumping session. I would've liked to ride outside in the sunshine, but I wasn't the only one with that desire, so I opted for an empty arena and had a blast.
We warmed up with w/t/c, circled & serpentined. It was all so lovely and calm that I decided to try incorporate some of our lunge work from Friday, by cantering a decreasing in size circle before spiralling out again - something we often to in trot, but haven't tried in canter unsupervised before. We are much more balanced & she is better muscled now to be able to cope with this kind of work. We then did some more trot work, lots of changing of rein, figures of eight, walk/trot transitions, small volts in walk and trot (rising + sitting). Incorporated some more canter work and worked on some simple changes along the diagonals before circling while maintaining the canter. It was far from perfect all the time, we did get a couple of wrong lead strike offs but we quickly and calmly corrected this and finished on a very good note with one very happy rider! :-D

Thursday 4 April 2013

Bullying Behaviour

Title relates to Miss Kika vs Miss Nancy, not unexpected - but we'll get to that!

First off I managed to get to the barn earlier than usual thanks to Easter holidays, a lighter workload & less traffic on the roads. As Kika was out in the field I threw the tack on Nancy and made my way to the large main arena.
I opted for the Dressage saddle as I have decided to no longer ride in the Jumping saddle i had been trying and shall not be buying it as not only do my legs swing forward the whole time (probably more my fault then the saddle's - but it deff wasn't helping matters!) when i attempted to correct my legs and bring them back to where they should be my upper body would get pitched forward - thereby unbalancing the poor young horse, aka: Nancy.

Thankfully there were only two other riders in the arena, one of which was just finishing up with her lesson - again the quiet arena is due to a lot of people being either away on holidays or riding during the day.
I tried to remember to keep my hands soft & quiet and to slow Nancy with my voice when she inevitably sped up, which she did. Matters weren't helped by the other rider in the ring, who despite having most of the arena to work with as I stayed in the upper half near the mirrors so that I could keep an eye on myself and out of the way, insisted on on crossing our circle by riding diagonals etc and not giving anywhere near enough lee-way for my being on a young horse.
Now Nancy is an angel and doesn't freak out when other horses get too close - but still it never fails to amaze me how some fellow riders can be so self absorbed that they can't give others a bit of wiggle room! I do not mean to pretend that I am a saint and never get in anyone else's way - but I do always try to watch what others are doing and what horse(s) they are riding to gauge how to ride my own horse around them.
Ok, sorry, mini-rant over!

Nancy & my spin wasn't perfect, we spent a lot more time walking then I'd really have liked as she kept breaking into trot - however I was more conscious of my hands on the reins and really tried to stay soft & not pull at her head. We'll get there :)

Nancy scoffing from the haynet while O's back was turned

Untacked Nancy when we were finished & decided to swap her for Kika in the turnout area as O was staying out but i wanted to jump Kika under the Guru's supervision.
Easy-peasy in theory to swap the horses, only Kika & O aren't fools and know that the three of them don't get turned out together so one of them must have been coming in - usually this just results in Kika wandering off down to the end of the turnout area when I arrive with Nancy.

Not yesterday - the wagon!

She stayed put near the gate and allowed myself & Nancy to enter, probably lulled into a false sense of security/entitlement as on Sunday L had swapped O for one of my girls and they were out together for the first time while the Guru went for a hack in the woods.
I made the silly mistake of taking N with me to fetch Kika's leadrope and hang Nancy's, thinking while I did so that I should just use the leadrope I had for Kika and nab here while she wasn't running off.
The leadropes hang in the "corner" of the field near the hay storage area, so Kika turned her backside on Nancy, and by consequence me as I was at Nancy's head to threaten her & establish dominance. I let Nancy go when I saw this so that she could get out of the Wagon's way if need be - BIG mistake as all hell broke loose and the three of them took off. Nancy most definitely bottom of the pecking order.
It took me 10 to 15 minutes to catch any of them, unsurprisingly Nancy was the one to be sacrificed and allowed herself to be caught to escape the other two. I thankfully managed to nab Kika and get out without any further shenanigans although she was now blowing and had warmed herself well up ahead of our jumping lesson!

The jumping lesson itself went well, even if K was a bit lethargic...i wonder why! *rolls-eyes*

Please excuse my poor Paint skills - or lack thereof!

 We warmed up over 1 with a pole in front of it from trot off each rein from above and below, each time continuing cantering to the track after the fence. Once that was done a couple of times, we came down over 1 from a trot and cantered up over the vertical at 2 once or twice before tacking the pole on the ground and the vertical at 3 on the end.

To change things up a bit, the ground pole was taken away from 1 and we were asked to trot down through the pole, vertical, pole, mini-oxer bounce combination at 4. First time through it Kika forgot to pick up her legs for the first mini-vertical, so we fluffed our way through it. The second time was much better so we were told to tack on 5 & 6 after it.

Kika was getting well sleepy at this stage, worn out from her gallivanting escapades around the field chasing poor Nancy until I could catch them - so I said to L that she'd better not make the course too complicated as we were only going to get one shot at it, by which I had meant for her to not make it too twisty turny on me as i struggle to keep myself & horse together to make some of the turns she asks of us - I know this is my fault as I am still in the bad habit of jumping fences one at a time and don't plan my route around the course thoroughly so don't have my turns at the ready before i get there!
*Light-bulb* moment just there, as i haven't been able to figure out til now that that is why I have been struggling - but sorry I digress. Hopefully I can retain that nugget of information for when we next jump!

Our course was down through the bounce combination at 4, up over 5 & 6, down over 1, back up over 2, around to 3 down back up over 1 then turn back on ourselves to come back down over 2 backwards - I hit a sticky spot with the final turn back from 1 to 2...but other than that was very proud of the pair of us for negotiating the twisty course she set us. I think it helped immeasurably that Kika had taken the fizz out of herself with her antics running around the field so didn't have as much in the tank to fight me when I wanted her to slow for the other turns - that is where we typically run into trouble - namely who decides when we turn!

Cooled her out as L & N (another yard) friend put away the fences, thankfully not all had to be put away as one of the working pupils wanted to use them this morning. Did a rush job on the stables, thankfully messy Kika had spent most of the day outside so I just had to shake up her straw and give her some more hay. Nancy required some cleaning, but generally she is a much neater horse then Kika who makes an absolute mess of her bed - Nancy also needed some more straw & hay - the one minor gripe I have with yard I am on is that they don't get enough straw or hay for my liking, but as I can give them more as i see fit it's not a major bone of contention.

We brought Nancy & O in and gave them a quick inspection to see what damage they had wrought upon themselves in the carry on tearing around the field, as an aside to see the three of them skillfully dodging the trees & me at speed would've been impressive if it hadn't been for the fact i was trying to catch one of them!
Unfortunately Nancy didn't dodge fast enough at one stage and re-opened the graze she'd given herself a few weeks after her arrival - thankfully it's much smaller than the first time and I was able to clean it & cream it both last night & this afternoon before turning her out again.

I almost signed off without further singing the Guru (L's) praises, she was only working until 2pm today (meaning a nasty 6am start), she has offered to take Kika on a "leash" walk in the woods while she rides O and exercises her dogs - it is thanks to these wood wanders that Kika is now much calmer when hacking in the woods!
And then as if she isn't angelic enough, she has offered to have a spin on Nancy as the other horse she usually rides is being ridden by his owner - how good is she to me?!

Wednesday 3 April 2013

Aching Arms

My rides on both girls last night were less than stellar - might have been something in the air, or maybe the madams just conspired against me, although more likely the common denominator being me - it was more likely me at fault, ;-)

I rode Kika first alone in the main arena, she didn't feel 100% and was acting a bit of the clown leaping sideways when "something" scared her...what was scaring her is anyone's guess - I sure as hell couldn't see anything, but she was in a funny old mood and very heavy on me. She just didn't feel like herself so I didn't do much but finished on a good note. Checked her legs when we'd cooled out, after I'd dismounted and untacked, yet found no heat or any reason for her to be off...might just have been an off-day.

Random boots I saw at Equitana - I couldn't not snap a photo, the further boot was scaly like snake/alligator skin and the nearer one looked like a Zebra...I didn3t get close enough to see if it was made out of fur hide or not...I think that would have freaked me out more - Eurgh hairy boots! can you imagine the cleaning!!!
Next came my supervised spin on Nancy (after I'd sorted both stables for the evening), this is why my arms ache today...more so my shoulders then my actual arms though in fairness. She wasn't Bad-bad, but we had our communications problems where she wanted to keep going faster whereas that was not what I was asking for.  She was also cheating on her corners, we were working on a circle as someone else was riding in the arena above us. L had me attempt to keep her on the inside track, but being the greeny horse that she is if I put on my outside leg to stop her drifting out she'd try to speed up - hence my sore limbs today.
After about 30minutes of walk, trot and some canter transitions my arms ached, L asked if I wanted her to hop up - I said yes please so that she could feel for herself the weight I had between my hands - she put another 15-20minutes work into her and ran into the same cheating on corners and attempting to speed up issues I had - so it was slightly comforting to know I wasn't alone, however being a better rider than I am L could deal with these hiccups better then me - and hence why I feel lucky that she offers to help me :D
After she was finished, I hopped back to to walk Nancy around to cool off a bit, she told me that I am to go against my nature and under no circumstances am I to close my hands on the reins or pull against Nancy if she starts to pull on me. In typical young stubborn horse fashion, if I pull against her she pulls back harder - yet again ... the reason I have a sore body today, ;-)
I have been told that if Nancy insists on speeding up when I am doing something, i am to change what I am asking of her by either circling or stopping or changing rein. This is all stuff I know when riding young horses, but have foolishly been forgetting in the moment - I feel kind of silly now but shall endevour to do better and hope I don't ruin my lovely girl like I almost ruined Miss Kika!

For the BoT ladies who read the blog - I actually got a booklet of theirs which I've been meaning to read which details all their products, human, horse & dog :)

I have also decided against purchasing the secondhand Stübben jumping saddle I have been trying belonging to a friend & fellow livery. While it doesn't fit Nancy too badly (requires a small adjustment up front) it doesn't suit me at all. My legs are pushed too far forward and when I bring them back to near where they should be I feel like I am being tipped forward - which it has just dawned on me - cannot be helping with Nancy's need for speed. It'll undoubtedly all come back to me and my poor position *blush*

So as of this evening I am going to switch N back to the dressage saddle and attempt to cure myself of my poor positioning in the saddle.
The hope is to have a jumping lesson with Miss Kika if she is feeling better in herself then yesterday - it's her turn in the turnout area today, so we'll see if she loosens up enough for a pop tonight. :D

Also, I know Nancy is a young horse and that we will have more down then ups for a while, while we both figure everything out. Another lesson to remember from last night is soft hands and that I need to rely more on voice control with her for the moment.
Apparently, I can be handsy with Kika also - not in a mean way but that my reaction if either horse speeds up or pulls is to try to slow them down with my hands - I have to break this habit and learn to rely more on my voice and seat - namely slowing the trot myself by rising slower and talking to the little darlings.

Hope this post doesn3t come across too drippy or whiny - that is not my intention in posting this. My blog is to help me keep track of the progress or lack thereof that I make with my girls. The good & the bad must be shared & shared alike! :)

PS: I just noticed that I am now up to 25 followers and thought I might run a contest seeing as many of the blogs i follow are getting in the give-away spirit when milestones are reached. namely Kate at The Adventures of Lucy (LINK) and L. Williams over at Viva Carlos (LINK)
Any ideas as to what I could giveaway would be great - I was thinking a matchy headcollar & leadrope set in the winners colours or am open to suggestions for something within that budget range, ;)
Post a comment to let me know what you think!

Tuesday 2 April 2013

Woods Wandering

Let me start off this post by saying that I AM LOVING the longer evenings!
I will hold my hand up and admit to struggling a bit Sunday & Monday with the 'loss' of an hour's sleep, but the longer daylight in the evenings totally makes up for it - well that and the fact I had a five-day weekend.
Hurray for office being closed!

After 8pm Monday evening - long live the brighter evenings!
I happily got both girls ridden Saturday evening after spending afternoon food shopping with the Mammy - and we took a detour to Belgium to go horse-shopping/browsing for me - I needed to pick up a new pair of gloves, some Canter Mane & Tail Spray & a belated birthday gift for the Guru.

LOVE that stuff
Similar Polo Wraps to these only velcro fasteners are brown - happens to match almost perfectly the Equi-thème saddle pad I got her the Christmas before last!
Apologies for the images side-track, I rode Nancy first in the main arena hoping to get back to Thursday's great form after Friday's not so great spin. Unfortunately it wasn't to be, my legs felt even worse in the saddle - I could even feel how out of position they were, which means that they must have been very bad if I could feel that they were wrong! And Nancy was definitely not being cooperative - she kept progressively speeding up which didn't help my leg situation as they must have been creeping forward as I tried to slow down the freight train that she likes to pretend to be!
It is moments like that she not-so-sutbly reminds me that she is part draught horse (Friesian). The Guru happened to stop by arena and jokingly asked what time my train was at as N was rushing around like a bit of a loony, she recommended I focus on walk and to really remember to keep my hands further apart to show her the way with my hands as the closer/tighter i held the reins to more she tucked her head in and sped up. Did that for a bit and when she was calm we transitioned back up to some trot and then down again if she got too fast again. - no harm to attempt hammer home our transitions.
Finished up on a good note and went to collect Kika & O from the turnout area. The Guru & I rode together in the main arena and Kika was a star!
She has been such a pleasure to work with of late that I am really hoping to squeeze in a lesson with L this week before it all goes to pot as I've been left to my own devices for too long! LOL!

Neither girl got ridden on Sunday as I had made tentative plans with the Guru for a hack in the woods with Miss Kika followed by a lesson on Miss Nancy, however what I had forgotten when making those plans was that I'd been invited along with the parents to family friends for dinner - which was lovely but meant no riding for me - woopsy!

O in the turn out at lunchtime today with Nancy in the background

No harm no foul, Monday was a bank holiday here so another day to play with the ponies for me. The Guru & I managed to get out into the woods for a hack yesterday evening, which although bitterly cold when in the shade or when the wind hit us was just what the doctor ordered!
Kika reminded me that she is still after all still herself and can get up to her old tricks if given half the chance ;-)
I have taken to leading her down the tarmac until we get into the woods, there is a bench there that I use as a mounting block - downside is it is on a slight hill down and in order to stop Kika facing for home while I mount I have always gotten up from the "wrong" side when in the woods.
Yesterday, I decided sod it, we'll get up from the right side = facing for home - needless to say Kika thought "Yippeee - hometime" and was none to impressed when my fingers closed on the reins to say no - turn back around.
Cue her patented head tossing, prancing & threats to rear - i hadn't managed to get my second stirrup at this stage so didn't want her to go upright on me meaning she got a few strides on me  heading for home before I turned her around and tricked her into walking down a bit of a bank before she realised what was going on - however being the smart cookie that she is half-way down the bit of a bank she copped that we were no longer heading for home and attempted a half rear - she got a slap for her troubles and a pair of heels in her sides which encouraged her forwards and on down the trail into the woods. She half tried to toss the head and act the maggot a couple more times on our way down deeper into the woods but got the heels/stick treatment each time and then gave up - we had a delightful stroll on the buckle through the woods from then on.
It did us both the world of good not least because we got out of the arenas but because we both came through her attempted strop without my getting scared or wimpy and/or her getting her way!

She's never too good to try and get one over on me ;-) We'll have to wait and see what this evening holds for us when we get back into the arenas - which Kika will turn up to play ball :p

Peeping at me around the tree

Nancy also got yesterday off as L & I were frozen after the hack in the woods, and figured we'd tackle Nancy this evening when we have more time & more nimble minds/bodies after thawing!

So that is the plan for this evening, L is giving her girl O today & tomorrow off as she is working silly long hours but offered to help me out with my girls by giving myself and Nancy the once over this evening and depending on whether or not there is time after the jumping lessons for myself & Kika tomorrow evening for a jump school - or if not she said we'd do a flat lesson, so either way Kika & I will also get a lesson in this week - i am ridiculously looking forward to having someone to work with again/something to work on besides whatever my own brain comes up with!
Here's hoping I'm not an absolute shambles on either girl and that we can have some handy pointers to keep working on when L can't be there to keep an eye on us. ;-)

Bit of a tree blocked body-shot, the Monster is after growing since she arrived...am really curious to see what she's like come the end of the summer!