Saturday 29 March 2014

Saturday Stills - Spring has Sprung

As always I hope to keep this word light, or at least I really should as it is almost 9pm and I have to be up again at 12.15am to be at a sports arena for 12.45 to show my support and walk for charity/cancer awareness as Lux undertakes the 24-hour Relay for Life.
My parents and I have a 3 hour window where we'll each take a 30-minute slot and end up walking an hour each...or jogging in my dad's case if his knee holds up.
I'm afraid I'm too lazy & unfit to attempt to jog! *blush*

I did get both girls ridden today as I spent 6 hours at the yard annoying them, I probably only spent a little over 30 minutes in each girls saddle all the rest was faffing around setting out poles, grooming, rinsing, putting away poles, turning out, sorting hay & water for turnout & cleaning know the drill.
More time is spent taking care of horses than actually riding them, lol!
Don't get me wrong - I LOVE IT! I can;t think of a better way to spend a sunny Saturday afternoon.

View of poles set up from top of arena

View of poles set up from below
Brilliant photo-taking skills on display from me here....

Both girls were good for our pole work despite them getting barely any saddle time of late and the same someone coming in to lunge the same horse for the same audience in the middle of my pole set-up so that I was forced to work on the outside track while she was there and not poles...weird as neither time did she say anything to me, so I have no idea what was going on.

The many faces of Kika as she patiently waits to start work

Poor exhausted and abused creature

"Why can't I scratch my itchy head?"

Kika earned her first shower of 2014 (it hasn't been warm enough before now) and sunbathing afterwards.

The following photos were taken in sequence as the girls sunbathed is hard, huh?

Click to enlarge the photos.

I should probably also point out at this stage that there was pony-stallion gradings going on in the arena facing them. Although they couldn't see in or get upset by fermones from where they were soaking up the rays. They could catch glimpses of activity to the left - hence pretty pointed ears.

Then it was Nancy's turn to get pampered while Kika scoffed her lunch in her stable- actually i think this post epitomises the reasoning behind my Pampered Ponies blogname...agree/disagree? ;-)

Some tidying required so I could hope to make use of my hands

Post-work baby #FoamFace
Some more awkward standing poses
And a gratuitous sweaty Nancy pic -
so that Kika doesn't get named and shamed alone

Oops it's almost 10pm, if I want to get any rest from this nap I'd best shut up and catch some Zzzzzzzs. I'll hopefully check in tomorrow, but I am as yet unsure as to whether I'll be in a state/mood to ride as it'll probably be 6am before we get home with the clocks going forward!

Friday 28 March 2014

Wasted Week

Title is possibly a little more somber sounding than it should be - but sadly it is kind of true. I have had to work late almost every day this week (4/5) I only got out of the office on time on Thursday and thankfully did get to ride last night and snap the photos that accompany this post - apologies to those who saw some of these yesterday on instagram!

I can't really complain too much though as I have a job, my health and two thankfully (I hope) happy & healthy horses. Plus I do get to see them most lunchtimes (again 4/5 - the Guru did everything Wednesday) on my mad-dash to turn them out - so that in itself keeps me sane as I do get to see & pet them however briefly.

L (the Guru) had Wednesday off as she is working tomorrow, so kindly offered to do everything for the horses on Wednesday including ride them both as she wanted to jump. Sadly her mare can no longer jump as she was diagnosed with navicular last year :( She is comfortable with trail riding & hacking, which L does prefer over arena work but knowing her horse is on "borrowed" time is undoubtedly taking its toll - I am only too happy to share my girls when L has the time/desire to ride them. If not for her I am positive Kika & I wouldn't be where we are today!
(See posts between end of 2010 & a fair chunk of 2011 for more info)

Yep - that is my Kika gear in background
I got a funny text from L when I asked her how the girls behaved; she said Nancy was great (only her second time jumping since moving to Lux) & that  K was true to herself for interpretation yes?
We discussed it last night and she said that she wasn't bad at all, didn't even threaten to stand up - which she is still prone to do with L as she has to work harder with her than with me and Kika takes offence & always has to have her say - but only threatens to rear now (knock-on-wood that i haven't just jinxed us) to see if we're really being serious in our requests and then gets on with things after potentially more discussions - chestnut mares eh?
Kika wanted to get to the jump at her own pace (aka warp speed) so L had her stick at it till she did it as requested, apparently K was white by the time they were finished almost an hour later...silly Kika - she will never learn and always has to try to have her say.
I am gutted that Wednesday are always my busy days at the office (didn't get out till 7.45 this week) as they are jumping days at the yard and I will be lucky if I can ever get there in time to have a spin over some fences! :(

Post-work #FoamFace
I did get some wonderful saddle time on Kika last night (Thursday), hence her tacked up pics & Nancys being of her 'modelling' her Amigo Lite sheet.
K & I worked in main arena with the wall of mirrors to help me and got some simplistic but good work done. We focused on transitions, keeping soft & balanced leading up to and after them as the transitions themselves aren't always as pretty as they should be - my fault undoubtedly but getting better when I remember to pay attention to what I my body is doing as well my requests to her!
Our trot work was good, any time she tensed after a change of rein or got fussy on a circle I remembered to implement the lessons I've gleaned from other bloggers of MORE LEG and she responded well. I mixed up our serpentines with walk transitions between changes of direction and we practiced halting, I knew from our Sunday session that the handbrake function worked as we avoided collisions with less-considerate riders (I seem to attract them);
* takeaway from halting, I need to maintain contact and help her understand that I don't want her to stretch her neck when we stop*
Our canter work was also good, well it got better - she cheated a bit the first time on each rein that I asked her to canter the length of the arena (bear in mind this is 65m long) breaking back to trot, but again my fault as if I had been riding PROPERLY she wouldn't have broken. When I remembered how to ride - we didn't have any problems with breaking to trot.

She actually looks narrow in this shot!
Angles & rug lengths really draw the eye differently huh, lol!
All in all, despite my sour mood at not getting the saddle time i had hoped in this week - the day I did get my butt in tack went well so I am a happy camper really. *nod*

Now one more thing before I sign off, I follow Noelle Floyd's updates on my blogroll and saw this one pop up today LINK - Horses in Central Park 18 - 21 Sept, I wonder how expensive it'd be to take a pre-Christmas trip to the big apple for some equine-related funsies!

Right - methinks I've waffled enough nonsense for one post, hopefully the pictures & NYC info makes up for the blabbering; it is after 8.15pm and I'm still in the office - printing like there's no tomorrow so that my colleagues who had today off don't have to face into it nest week...I think that makes me insane - but once started I couldn't finish half way through it'd just be too complicated to try and pick it back up on Monday!

Saturday 22 March 2014

Saturday Stills and Polework

Photos in today's post are a mixture of those left over from Thursday & a couple of shots I snapped today, although I forgot to take a picture of my pole positioning but I have done an "amazing" paint rendition.

Click to enlarge -
but be warned I am no artist!
I was a little later arriving at the yard then I'd hoped, but it thankfully worked out in my favour as I got an arena where I was able to put out some poles for myself and the girls.

She's not standing great & looking a bit chubby...more work in her future
I started with Kika and decided to try my luck and ride her without the flash, if feeling fussy she can play with getting her tongue over the bit and avoiding work but as she has been so good lately I figured I'd give it a shot and have the flash on hand in case it didn't work out and I needed a bit of help. Just as I snapped the poor body shot of her (above) a friend came into the arena with her mare who is rehabbing from an injury with walking and a bit of trotting.


K was an angel, warmed up lovely and soft and went through the poles without a fuss. We strung them together in  a course with lots of twisting and turning and changes of pace. I also got some fab canter departs immediately after the poles without an iota of fuss, she really impressed me with how she kept everything together even when we'd have to go from trot/canter to a quick poorly planned downward transition if I felt we would get too close to the rehabbing horse and might upset the apple cart. As it was at a friends party this evwning with this rider and she said I was one of the most considerate riders she has shared the arena with while rehabbing - which is always a lovely thing tk hear and one of ny major bug bears often bemoaned on this blog: inconsiderate arena etiquette.

Nancy was next and I was again blessed (initially) with the arena to myself, K warmed up lovely with some w/t/c before we tackled the poles. She was such a good girl and really responding to what I was asking of her that I managed to get a turn on her that I could never have gotten on Kika and she is too squirrelly, which I found incredibly ironic and Nancy can be a little harder to manoeuver than Kika who is more athletic but in this instance Nancy's slower pace and different center of gravity worked in our favour for getting a the turn that I would have had to fight tooth & nail with Kika to get right to tackle the poles - funny how things work out sometimes. (C set of poles on the right rein riding in the direction the "c" is facing in above awesome paint job)

Who is starting to look like a proper horse?!
N was so good, that I attempted canter departs after the poles at she nailed each one. Although unlike with Kika I didn't ask N for them immediately after landing from the pole line but rather after a few strides to rebalance and when we hit a corner to help us both out.
They are both such legends in their own way. #PonyLove
We were then joined by two girls and their horses who were walking around as N and I linked the pole sets together in two courses, ran through each once and asked her to re-do a line of three at one stage as she blew through my aids on the final pole set wanting to gawp at the other horses. I also rode her without her flash for the first time since I've owned her to see what she made of it. Although since she used to be ridden in a bridle without a noseband (because none were big enough for her noggin) I wasn't surprised that the lack of flash made no difference to her - I think I shall keep riding without in arena work to see how we get on for a while.

She's too cute in watching me - but makes for a poor confo shot
... not unlike Kika's above although K is also standing horribly
I shall now shut up my gushing and leave you with the left over photos from my previous post of the girls on turnout where I caught photographic evidence that proves Kika can play nice and share with Nancy when she has half a mind to...Mind you to see how narky & ratty K has been with both N and O in the turnout yesterday & today while I prepared the haynets, you wouldn't think her capable of playing nice with her shadow. Gosh she has been down right nasty towards them, ears flat back and threatening backing towards them if the others so much as look at her from over 2meters away. The only reasoning I can come up with for her truly nasty behaviour towards both of the others is that perhaps she is coming into season and hurting - but she is still being downright rude. All I can say is sorry to the other two horses and be grateful that K hasn't turned her foul mood on me & under saddle work - she has been a gem towards me.

N seems to be dwarfing K in this shot - funny what camera angle can distort

Love Nancy's eye in this

PS: I think after reading Hillary @EquestrianAtHart's Ogilvy post & the review posts she linked to in therein, I have been convinced to start saving for one or two of these pads. A Jumping one if it'll work for a GP & a Dressage one if there is a valid reason offered by research (i will do) as to why a jumping one won't also work under a dressage saddle. If this pad does as it claims and helps all saddles fit any horse, it could be a lifesaver for me with two horses with such different bodies types while giving me a bit more breathing space to save for saddles for them both. Either new or second hand - depending on what I can afford when push comes to shove and I can no longer make do with the GP & dressage saddles I have. As it is I can really only ride K in the GP & N in the Dressage saddle due to fit and how I am positioned in them on each horse. I sit terribly on N in the GP and am pretty sure Dressage saddle fits K too badly for her to play martyr with it much longer - so I don't ride her in it unless i absolutely have to...which is never unless a friend of mine is riding N - and not the Guru as she uses her own saddles on my girls. Which again is another reason for splurging on an Ogilvy as then all saddles will fit my monsters (in theory). Watch this space; if this pad can help finnickety Kika with saddle fit - you all know it is deff a winner, right?!
Well I can only speak for myself & I know I will most deff be convinced *nod*

Thursday 20 March 2014

Terrific Thursday

Pre-warning: this will be a photo heavy post!
Sunshine Snoozing
You should all know by now how much I love photos & as the sun was shining and I wasn't on a time-limit to play with my ponies I may have gotten a little snap happy! *blush*

K pre-grooming

I managed to get today off work as I had overtime and with all the Paddy's day stuff starting last week, I was feeling pretty tired every evening and so wasn't getting to sit on my ponies. Rather than whine &/or be miserable, I decided to be pro-active for a change & take the time to do something I wanted to do rather than whittle it away with flat-meetings or other silly things that are far less enjoyable in my opinion. ;-)

I got to the yard at 11am in glorious sunshine & didn't leave until haynets & water were filled in the field...I got home at 4pm. I then spent an hour ringing round insurance companies for quotes to finally insure the car I bought before Christmas and has been sitting in my parents garage since. *Le-Shame*

N post-grooming & riding
I am now all showered & presentable ready to go to Third Thursday Drinks a work socialising event which starts at 6ish before heading back to the yard between 8 & 9 so that I can bring the little darlings back in and settle them in for the night. (edited to add as posting this after the fact - I ended up phoning another yard friend to bring them in as I was delayed at work event)

It was glorious having no time limit on my yard time today & the sun shined to boot, so it was marvelous all around. I started by turning O out when I arrived as with her navicular she is better off outside rather than cooped up in her stable and when she is on her own I don't give her hay as unlike my two Horsey Houdinis; O stays in the turnout area without electricity turned on and without hay - such a novelty!

Pre- & Post-Mane pulling, although poor angle for photo
and sunglare unhelpful, soz
I then tied Kika outside and decided to tackle her mane, inspired by L @Viva Carlos & Amanda @Keeping it Low Key I had intended to braid it over as there is one bit that insists on lying on the wrong side; but in the end as I had the time and the weather was so nice I just pulled the sucker. I did get before pix, but sun was in wrong place for after pics & then I forgot!

"There's no place like home"
No better place to be on a day off
I got two wonderful spins on both girls despite them only having been ridden tuesday week & sunday. Perhaps my not being able to do so much with them at the moment is doing us all the world of good as I have no expectations nor hangover from previous spins niggling at me with things to correct & improve on.



Sadly I cannot remember any of the finer details as to what we worked on besides w/t/c cirlces, serpentines and changes of rein. I am sure I was far from picture perfect and prov spent more time with my heels up then down & hands down then up but I did try to catch myself and tried to remember to ride inside leg to outside rein and keep my inside rein soft & guiding. Had no one watching so can't say how successful I was, but that probably also helped me stay relaxed in my spins as no one "watching" me (not that people do normally I'm sure but my brain is weird and paranoid...I am working on it )

Kika's #FoamFace

Nancy's #FoamFace
My overriding takeaways from both spins was pure joy & happiness which as the end of the day is why we do this crazy expensive hobby.
I shall try to pay better attention to what we are doing in the next spins :-D

I cannot thank Lauren @shemovedtotexas for hosting the fab EquestrianCoach contest on her blog, I cannot believe I was one of the five lucky winners of a membership for a month. I hope to take full advantage and get lots of tips & tricks to incorporate into my "schooling" sessions if they can be called that ;-)

N making friends with
horse in the mirror
Still goo-goo eye'ing herself
While on the topic of contests be sure to check out @equestriantrend's Noble Outfitters Peddies giveaway.

Post-spin cool down & photo op

I hope all the pictures haven't been too much of an overindulgence - I have more for another post tomorrow as I just had too many to share today! *blush*

Tuesday 18 March 2014

Going Green - Paddy's Day Ponies

Hoping to keep this post relatively wordless... #FamousLastWords - I know I am incapable of keeping this short and/or sweet! *blush*
I had a play with the ponies & some Paddy's day decorations today.

 A little belated perhaps, seeing as St Patrick's day was yesterday. I've been on the go since last Thursday showing face & party planning etc for the events surrounding Paddy's day; it is tough being an Irish Expat at this time of year #exhausted

Kika was a bit more photogenic as she played ball posing as something grabbed her attention. Nancy was a bit more difficult as her colouring makes it hard to photograph her in poor lighting with my phone.

Both girls got a bit of spoiling & a de-fuzzing grooming session to help with shedding season.



Wednesday 12 March 2014

Viva Carlos' Magical Blog Hop: What's In Your Name?

The wonderful L @VivaCarlos has added another limb to her Magical Unicorn Blog Hop.
Like many of us she wants to know the story behind blog names - we often stumble across peoples stories (blogs) that are already established and may never find out the reasoning behind blog names. This makes this BH such a  cool question to answer. :)

What is the story behind your blogname/url?

My blogname/url has changed since I started blogging; initially it was just Kika & myself I was attempting to keep track of, so the url was her registered name of Lyssatra and the blog itself was called Kika's Kingdom: Living the Luxurious Life in Luxembourg.
However early in 2013 Nancy arrived to join our equine family and the blogname changed to Pampered Ponies - Living the Luxurious Life in Luxembourg; with the blog url (finally) changing to reflect this last month and is now

I am in no way overly flush with cash; the blog title itself is more about the alliteration with the L's for me, well that and the fact I realise that I am ├╝ber-lucky to be able to own not one but two horses and m truly blessed with where they are on livery.
Plus Luxembourg exists in a lovely bubble that we are lulled into a sense of luxury from our surroundings & by the wealth surrounding us - example the amount of convertible cars that only appear on warm weekends...That and the city/country itself is luxurious & stunning, lovely mix of old & new plus greenery everywhere in spring/summer - I always wish I was better at photography & could capture the beauty I am lucky enough to see.

While on the topic of names, I know my given name AOIFE is not a given for people outside of the Emerald Isle - in case anyone was wondering how it is pronounced; EEFA or when meeting people for teh first time I often say Eva - just to save on confusion ;-)
Fear not if you had something completely different in mind when you have seen comments from me; having lived the majority of my life outside of Ireland no-one gets the pronunciation right from seeing it written down unless they have met another Aoife which case they are cheating, :p

PS: Check out Lauren @Shemovedtotexas' super contest for EquestrianCoach Giveaway - although I am only bringing it to your attention, I don't really want you to enter as I WANNA WIN!

Google Images

Monday 10 March 2014

Wonderful Weather

I spent two glorious hours hacking in the woods yesterday with L on O, myself on Nancy & Kika came along with us like a  good puppy on a leash - she is such a pet to hack this way as she just dozes while strolling alongside the horse "ponying" her - which is lucky as it was such a beautiful day (21C - crazy for early March !!!) we met lots of people (mostly families with kids) and cyclists as well as other happy hackers from our yard while out in the woods. N bravely led the way past everything as L had Kika (she rides in western saddle for wood hacking and can attach K to horn) & the two dogs to keep an eye on without worrying about passing in front - Nancy is such a solid citizen I am truly blessed. *knock-on-wood*

Best way I could get us all in photo as we came home,
our turnout is trees in background & shadow on right of photo is myself & Nancy
(I wish I could have an explanation for my wayward foot - leaning back for photo perhaps *blush*)
 The weather has been so stunning that we have turned the girls naked (no rugs) yesterday & today and hopefully for the rest of the week if the weather holds as promised buy forecasters!

The ponios are getting pedicures this evening as we try a new blacksmith (for us), he is actually the yard farrier and thankfully speaks French (unlike our current farrier who only speaks German - not ideal for me as my knowledge of German is limited at best yet severely hampered when it comes to equine specific terms). The Guru's mare needs a special type of shoeing and this guy says he can do it for a considerably cheaper price-tag than the guy we have been using since last summer - so chances are he'll also be cheaper for my pocketbook with Nancy only getting pared & Kika - two front shoes.

I sadly will not be there myself as work has me slammed again (#sadtimes) and L & I won free tickets to a concert this evening so rather than stressing to get across town.
L offered to "mammy" the horses with new farrier and meet me at concert hall. I do not know how I lucked out with a friend like her!
We're going to see The 1975 ( ) - we saw them last year when they supported Two Door Cinema Club (a band I love) & I've been listening to the above linked songs on a loop while working - I really like the Happy-go-Lucky vibe to their music.
I'm sharing the video for their first single (I think) below - def one the songs that got them noticed in any case.

Tomorrow I shall be back in the saddle, might even half myself a half day as the bath I chose for the flat won't fit where we want it in the bathroom & I have to go back to shop to chose something else within budget. Oh the joys & I hate decision-making...this has been one steep learning curve for me LOL!