Thursday 19 September 2013

Arena Awakenings

A yard friend was at the arena at the same time as me last night and agreed to snap some photos & videos of myself and Kika as we played in the arena. She has been a dream to work with, I sat on her for the first time in three weeks last Thursday after her Cinderella theatrics in losing her shoe on week 5 of our 6 week shoeing cycle - for the second time in a row. One would be forgiven for thinking she does it on purpose, ;-)

Apologies all slightly blurry & my hands and heels are awful!
This is why I wanted the pictures & videos to see exactly what I am doing and hopefully attempt to fix it!
She was wonderful on Thursday evening, straight back to work in the arena after her summer strolling in the woods and three week prolonged vacay as Cinderella, ;) I was so happy with her I smiles all evening and indeed most of the next day.

Eurgh not sure what my upper body is doing here,
but I LOVE her floppy concentration ears.
I rode again on Friday, I didn't think it was going to go very well as before I sat up she hollered in my ear as she tried to call out to her field-buddies, who couldn't possibly hear her - but the poor sod was obviously lonely & heartbroken and my presence did nothing to assuage the feeling of abandonment...perhaps I am projecting slightly here. Anyways my worries about bad behaviour couldn't have been anymore unfounded as again she worked like a dream!

The vet came to see Nancy on Friday (before I rode Kika), I think I forgot to mention that N had a bit of a growth on the underside of her jaw during the summer, I thought it was a fly bite so kept an eye on it and tried to keep it clean - but when it hadn't gotten any better after our holiday at the beach (I really must get those photos from my friend!) I had the vet out to her in August, she thought it might be an infection from her teeth that was after coming out the underside of her jaw, cue mortified me that she must have been suffering something awful - but she never displayed any unease about her head or mouth or dislike towards being bridled or ridden! Vet prescribed antibiotics which N received twice a day for 4 days and had me go to chemist for a cream that would draw out the infection. This was two weekends before we made our return to the yard. The growth was after decreasing slightly in size, but as it hadn't disappeared completely I asked the vet to come to check on it again last Friday.

Brief pause as someone else joined us in the arena - hence Kika's interest & pointy ears.

Vet & I had a proper look in her mouth, Nancy had to be sedated as the flies (now dying) bite and aggravate the horses something awful when they are inside. Even with the sedation she was a bit of a pill and kept tossing her head & making a general nuisance of herself when we tried to examine her mouth - the stubborn Friesian side made an appearance, she decided she didn't want the vet examining her gob so she made it work for us to make it so. Gargh!
Thankfully the thorough examination was good, and after an initial scare that one of the back teeth might be fractured, once cleaned and examined more closely verdict was no infection in mouth and all teeth looked good, however Nancy did get three milk teeth removed at the front of her mouth as her new teeth were starting to come through behind them - so I now have three of Nancy's teeth which I must clean up and find somewhere for safekeeping.  
Any of you wonderful creative & artsy blog-readers have any tips as to what I might be able to do with them?
Following this, I decided to give Nancy the weekend off to chillax after her "ordeal" - or she'd have had me believe it was an ordeal for her with her carry-on.

Nice soft Kika - gargh my heels!
Plans for a hack in the woods with the Guru & her dogs were scrapped as the day was miserable and wet, so ponies got checked over in the field and two buckets of carrots just cos they are spoiled!

Not quite so soft Kika, she had an eek spell where it took me a good 5 minutes to convince her the arena-monsters weren't going to eat her.
Sunday the girls two field buddies went away to a rally (kind of like huge off-site hack we did in May LINK but instead of foody-pitstops there were games & challenges for horse & rider...think pony club games like walking on overturned buckets while leading your horse etc).
I did feel kind of bad leaving Nancy all alone in the field, but she got used to it before and I didn't want to leave tied up to be devoured by the flies while I rode. So she got a bucket of carrots all to herself to assuage the feelings of abandonment, however judging from the dried sweat when I returned Kika to the field after riding, my guess is she exercised herself on my behalf.

Click to enlarge
Hate me in this,
but had to share as Kika lost a foreleg - LOL!
Again Kika was a rockstar under saddle on Sunday where we worked in the big arena, just the two of us - she made me giggle as when walking she called out a couple of times, presumably to answer Nancy and probably drive her batty running around the field - but Kika didn't put a foot wrong while being ridden. In fact the friend who took the photos and videos in this post (from yesterday) passed as we were working and commented on how well Kika was looking & riding - she said she has never seen her going so well and wouldn't recognise her as the same horse!

K watching the horse below in the mirror,
but makes for fun snap.

Checking I let the girth out right.

Monday & Tuesday were miserable wet days, where the poor girls were too wet to even attempt to do anything bar checking legs in field on Monday evening and make a vain attempt to dry them off on Tuesday by popping them in the walker in the hopes that I might get their Amigo Hero Lite's on them from my Horseware Ho shopping splurge in the summer - however another friend whose horse is also on 24/7 turnout said she'd lunged her girl for a good 30mins and not made a dent in drying her off, so after a spin in each direction for N & about 30mins for Kika I caved and turned them back out in the rain. Boy did I feel bad about that! *bad-horse-mommy-conscience*

Don't know why - but there is just something I love about this shot

It was Nancy's third time ever on the walker and while she wasn't bad, she didn't relax into it like Kika does. In fact if Kika could she would fall asleep in the walker and regularly walks so slowly that the back bar rests on her backside so she can slow the whole thing down! However Nancy stays up near the front bar and sways back and forth looking for a way to get by it, I don't know if she will settle better with more walker exposure - but i don't think I am going to test the theory and potentially scare & scar her (mentally) as she doesn't need to go in the walker - she can be pulled out of her stable and ridden straight away, unlike Kika who used to need the time on walker as warm up time to get her head in the game before riding - we shall see if this will still be the case this winter or if she has mellowed enough in herself to also be able to be ridden from the stable - although this point may be moot as hopefully we will still have the winter turnout & this year the three (my two + the Guru's O) will go out together every afternoon!

Prob my fav photo of the night!

Sorry, went off on another tangent there! I guess I should just update the blog more regularly and then I wouldn't have so much to say! Although I feel bad updating without pictures, hence the overload today!
Anyway all of this waffle brings us right back to square one and my spins last night, the photographic & video evidence documents Kika and my spin last night in our least favourite arena hence the tension - she has been riding a lot more relaxed than this of late - but our preferred arenas were too busy.

Mirror shot from arena

Close up after work, as always Nancy wanted to snuggle

After the quick Kika spin & photo/video-shoot, I managed to have the time to toss her out and haul in Nancy for her first spin since coming back to the yard last Wednesday. We were alone in the main arena (photo from mirror above), it is the largest arena and although I turned on the radio for some background noise, N was still on edge and antsy. So we stuck to walk & trot down the lower half of the arena to ease ourselves back into "working" mindset after our summer of forestry hacking. While far from perfect and nowhere near relaxed - we both survived and I managed to not stress her out any further like I had been doing prior to our summer of hacking - fingers crossed I can keep our happy hacking attitude when we play in the arenas and our fantastically fun summer in the sun & woods will have totally paid off if i can transfer our relaxed work out there to an arena setting! :D

Videos now - posted in the order they were filmed, as always apologies for sound - I have never figured out how to edit videos and7or remove things like sound & background noise.

Watching this first video on my computer screen has me questioning her soundness at the start, is it just me or is she head-bobbing at the very beginning of the clip? She didn't feel uneven last night - but now I'm worried as I'm not always the most perceptive! *another-bad-mommy-moment*

The second video is the longest at 3mins, features left-rein cantering. Watching it enlarged on my computer screen I can no see why the Guru is always telling me to sit into the saddle when cantering, I swear when riding I don't feel as loose as I appear in these videos - another thing to add to hands & heels on the laundry list for working on - am loving watching these videos as I need them to see where I am going wrong, i honestly don't know the last time I saw a video of myself riding - I'm sure it's on this blog & prob back in December when my sis was home for Christmas!
Coming up to the 1m30 mark, when we change rein, Kika decided that the arena going in this direction was scary and had monsters lurking & hiding down one side - hence more walking then trotting or cantering to get her to settle again. 3m20 mark is where someone asked to join us in the arena - worked to my advantage as K (like any horse) is happier when there is another equine in the vicinity, herd animals, eh? ;-)

Right rein cantering - our more difficult side -although this was a lovely soft canter to ride. Much more relaxed then her previous left-rein canter from previous video.

Final video, my poor attempt at walk to canter transition, there are a couple of trot strides - but on the positive side we have a  correct lead! At the end of this video, my friend turned the camera to finish video, however we can't really flip our computer screens so either tilt your head or stop watching lol - don't want to give anyone motion sickness!

My initial take-aways after watching these videos for the second time are:
- HEELS (as always), I absolutely have to stop lifting them and niggling her with them, it is tipping me forward and looks awful. I really need to strengthen my legs and work on squeezing with my calves & not niggling with my heels. Gosh talk about CRINGE - i didn't know I was this bad!
- HANDS (again as always), I am carrying my hands too low and again niggling at her with them, eurgh! I need to make more of a 90ยบ angle at my elbow and carry my hands, they are practically sitting on the pommel of the saddle. I also need to shorten my reins - Lord, where am I going with them at that length!
- SEAT, I need to sit my ar$e into the saddle, i have been told this before in lessons with the Guru when working on canter, but i honestly didn't feel like I came out of the saddle like this videos are showing me - methinks if i can get a handle on my heels and stop lifting them, I'll stop compensating and gripping with my knees which will hopefully help me keep my bum in the saddle.

I am sure there is much much more for me to work on that is obvious to others that I am failing to see, so please CONSTRUCTIVE criticism welcome - and of course for longtime followers of Kika & my story any improvements will be welcomed...if there is any!

Again sorry for blurry/grainy videos & photos - I forgot to tell my friend that if she taped the screen the camera would focus again. All images taken with my camera phone - so again quality not super - but shows me what i wanted to see - namely what we need to work on!


  1. I love all the pictures, your girls are so cute!

    1. Thanks hun, your crew are gorgeous as well!

  2. That was a looonnnng post, No she doesn't look lame to me. I'm also not a vet but she didn't look like she was bobbing her head.

    1. Yeah, sorry for all the words - the first line of the post should be "WARNING: lots of blabber & some photos".
      She didn't feel lame under saddle last night, ans she didn't look sore in the rest of the videos - I think the first video was just Kika being Kika and letting her opinion be known...I do love her as she's never going to be push button and will always have to have her say, but so long as she tells me nicely like this and doesn't revert to trying to scare the bejaysus out of me - I'm one happy camper! :D

  3. Replies
    1. Aw thanks Lauren, that means so much!
      It is always pretty nerve wracking posting pictures/videos of myself online - but if I want to improve I need all the feedback & help I can get - positive comments always most welcome ;)

  4. Oh her tail is AMAZING!!! Henry needs some of it please!!! :)

    Love seeing video and pics cause it makes me see what I am really doing and not just what I am feeling.

    Looking great!

    1. Aw thanks lol, I actually need to try and encourage Nancy's tail to grow a bit more - her mane is so thick yet her tail is considerably lighter. Hopefully a winter of TLC will encourage it to grow fuller - although I dunno if that is even possible, lol.
      I must pull Kika's mane as well actually, I let it go feral for the summer so that she could have proper ammunition to rid herself of flies on 24/7 turnout, but flies will be gone soon so the mane comb shall have to come out! They'll both probably get clipped when they "come in" in November so will tidy her mane up then too. :D

  5. I thought the videos looked very good. As most riders are, I think you are much more critical of yourself than others will be. :) It's good to watch videos of yourself, though, and see the areas you need to improve.

    1. Aw thanks Amanda, we riders are very self-critical. Always striving to do & be better. Another blog I read, happened to recently have made a post about how we forget to look back to see where we've come from - I am most definitely guilty of forgetting to look back to see where we have improved and am always looking ahead at what we cannot yet do.

      I love having people take videos and/or photos of me so that I can see exactly what I am doing vs what i think I am doing. To say it is eye-opening is an understatement, I had no idea my hands & heels jiggle so much - poor horsy is a saint to put up with me.

  6. Gosh Kika's a bit cute, isn't she? She can live in my paddock anytime :)
    She doesn't look lame in the 1st video to me, just short due to tension maybe.

    1. Cute as in Irish'ism, meaning she's cheeky or cute as in world definition of nice-looking?
      Eitherway, I think she is both lol, cheeky and nice looking...but I am biased!

  7. Definitely an update! Haha. Can't watch the vids right now but glad you've gotten some saddle time! :)

    1. Yeah sorry, my posts should come with a health warning for length!
      Please pop back and let me know any tips and/or comments you have if you do get to watch the videos. Would love to hear your opinion. :)

  8. I agree, she doesn't look lame,just like she needed to stretch out a bit and get those hinds under herself a bit more. I love seeing/reading all the good posts with Kika, you two have come so far, and now you have lovely Nancy as well! You and I both need some weights to hang from our heels lol!

    1. Thanks KittyKat, i am so glad to have had you along for the ride and see us come out of the figurative woods (the bad times. I have honestly enjoyed every ride I have had on her for the past 12months, she is such a pleasure to play with these days - if you had told me two years ago that i would be so looking forward to riding her every day again i wouldn't have believed it possible as my confidence had been completely shattered and i was scared of riding her!

      I'm really hoping that i can do right by Nancy & carry our relaxed approach to hacking into arena work.

  9. I hear you about the heels and hands too low issue. I have no idea why I do that, but it's good to put the issues right out in the open to strive to move forward and remember to fix it. Easy to get complacent, unless reminded!

    And gosh, Kika has really grown up and matured out nicely too. Love the photos.

    1. Aw thanks sweetie, she def has grown up mentally if not much height-wise. ;-)

  10. Oh wow she looks so gorgeous!! She's much bigger than I thought. And I agree, she did look a little short in maybe the right hind? But then she looked fine trotting- I see lameness in EVERYTHING though! I'm the worst, haha. I'm always afraid my pony looks off. :) She really is very lovely.

    1. You may see lameness in everything, but you have also previously said that you are usually right! Will have a closer look at her this evening...
      She's no midget but she's not overly tall neither, 165cms at the wither when measured 2.5-3years ago when she was 6. So I don't thinks he's grown since then, although has probably filled out - I'm not super tall though at 172cms myself, ;)

      Thanks for your very kind comments, Nancy is after growing heaps over the summer also, she towers above Miss Kika now and scary thing is she's not finished yet. She's still a bit bum high and will probably fill out a lot more too - eep. When i decided to buy her she was def smaller than Miss Kika!


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