Tuesday 29 July 2014


Am i Horse crazy or just plain crazy?

I may need my head examined after getting soaked changing the fencing on the girls paddock in a downpour with a sprinkling of thunder and lightning...

Sky just before the heavens opened this evening
I have been waiting for rain for the last week and a half as the ground was way too hard for me to drive the plastic stakes.

Nancy keeps an eye on me as Kika cozies up to N for her tail/fly-swat
I hope the girls don't spend the night stuffing themselves and get tummy aches 😕

Fingers crossed!

Photos are from Tuesday night as I picked 7 wheelbarrows of poop from other half of the field. I shall have to finish cleaning that side and collect whatever offerings they give me on new half of field.

PS: Kika's liver got the all clear from the vet so phew!

Sunday 27 July 2014

VCMBH - Chock Full of Advice

The magical genius that is L @VivaCarlos has struck again with another brain tickler of a question to get blog-tongues wagging & fingers a-typing.

What is the best advice you've ever received from a Trainer or another rider? What is the worse advice you've received from a Trainer or another rider?

The best advice I've been given was by my first riding instructor (my legendary aunt/godmother):
"Look up where you want to go, if you look down at the ground that's where you'll end up"
She is totally right, to this day, whenever I feel my horses drifting randomly underneath me - if I check myself and focus on where I am looking, usually not straight ahead of me (another nasty bad habit); as soon as I reprimand myself and get my eyeline where it should be the horse "magically" improves...honestly it's not rocket science - I just wish my brain & body would cooperate more.
Practice, practice, practice is the only answer here i think.

KikaChiquita from osteo visit on 22.7.2014 

The worst advice I have been given thus far was from a "professional" saddle fitter who i will NEVER EVER use again. It is such a pity he is the only Albion retailer in this neck of the woods *sob*
Long time followers of this blog will surely remember the troubles I had with Miss Kika & rearing. Well it turned out the saddle this guy sold me & i had checked by him multiple times, never fit & the only way she could let me know when i missed all the earlier clues was to full on rear.
Admittedly, she later took this evasion tactic further as she realised she had managed to scare me and could get out of doing things she found "hard" - the root of the problem remains that the saddle never fit her & it should never have been sold to me as such.
Because he was (is) a renowned saddle fitter, the one recommended by the main trainer at our yard and used by many other livery owners & riders at our yard; I persevered with the ill-fitting saddle not knowing it was ill-fitting as Kika got progressively worse and downright cranky & sour. I had her teeth checked, osteo out - they though it could be kissing spines, so i had x-rays done...thankfully cleared. I gave her time off, brought her back slowly etc etc yet the rearing problem persisted & I ran out of people offering to help me and I had to fend for myself till the Guru took pity on me and came to my aid.
Although I am far from the only person to have had a sour experience this saddler, and no one is perfect. No one professional suits everyone - this guy certainly did not help me despite my asking him multiple times to check the saddle fit as i wasn't sure it was working out - at the end of the day he is the professional...what did i know?!

Another Nancy shot from 22.7.2014
Sorry - i shouldn't have started on this topic, it is a big chip on my shoulder & cross of guilt that i must bear for potentially permanently damaging my mare whose go-to defence/evasion tactic became rearing thanks to ill-fitting tack. It makes me so mad that this whole thing could possibly have been avoided & that even professionals can't be trusted to have the clients best interests at heart ... just makes me sad. :(

Saturday 26 July 2014

Ogilvy Overload - Photo Dump

I finally played with my 3 month old Ogilvy for the first time today.

Apologies in advance for the massive photo dump accompanying this post, I got a bit snap happy in my desire to document our first foray with the Ogilvy.

I will do a proper review when I've played with it some more ;-)
Although i will say initially that I am impressed with how the OG starts out so thick and them compresses itself & moulds to your horse's shape. I know it says so on the tin - but to witness it in person is pretty cool. When i first sat it on her back I was afraid it was going to make her saddle fit way worse...and we know how sensitive Miss Kika is about her back being squished - a martyr she is not. Any whiff of a back ouchie and she will let me know about it by either rearing or threatening to.
First time sitting on it - prior to any girth tightening
As instructed i just closed the girth on the first wholes to keep the saddle in place while i got on. So that my weight in the saddle could help the pad properly mould between her back and the saddle.

I got off and straightened it under saddle after this photo was taken.
 We then walked around slowly tightening the girth as we warmed up before trotting a bit and tightening it to its usual closures.

Post spin...
Kika & I had plenty ups and downs during our spin, as per norm. We had plenty good moments, but lots of tense moments too where we had issues bending and getting choppy in our trot - although again better than yesterday...every little helps.

I need to center it better before getting on.
However at no stage did the toys get thrown out of the pram by either of us - which was great.
Maybe we are both finally maturing ;-)

Her giraffe impression due to flies bugging her
(no pun intended)
There was a moment during the spin where "old" Kika would've pitched a fit and either threatened to rear or full blown stood up.

Post workout sweaty abused pony.
A picture is worth a thousand words - that martyred face (top)

A long way from being slim-lined...
but getting better & a little less blimp-like
I don't know if she has fully matured or if the Ogilvy helped keep the pressure off her back.

Sexy Back?! Hah!
Sweaty mess more like - I shall have to ride without OG
& get comparison pix.
I shall keep playing with the pad & Kika to see how we get on with it.
Nancy got the day off to chillax in the field while I digest & mull over K's and my spin with the Ogilvy. I will say that when we started trotting I could feel a difference as the shock absorption worked between us. However as my attention more towards our work and less to cushion between my butt & her back as we got into random little discussions about choppy strides, tenseness & lack of bend - i forgot to focus on OG effect...She was far from bad - just distracted & not really concentrating on what I was asking of her, preferring to keep her gaze outside making it more difficult to soften and bend towards the inside rein - baby steps and we'll work at it, we both need to relax and roll with the punches.
Sadly we are too alike in our stubbornness and allow one to sucker the other into arguments - I am slowly getting better at letting go, changing the question to distract us both and relax again before re-trying.
One day - we might get better ;-)

Friday 25 July 2014

Friday Flashback V

It is hard to know where to start with this offering as I have a few different things i want to squeeze into this post #sorrynotsorry - consider this your warning before the impending waffly madness.
Abort now if you so wish - i will be none the wiser and you will probably feel much better for it ;-)
Photos in this post are part Friday Flashback - part my exciting new toys.

First photographic evidence I have of my jumping,
 circa Summer 1995
As those of you who follow me on instagram saw earlier my new helmet arrived today; and would you believe I am currently sitting here at the laptop in my parents living room wearing it while typing this post. Yes I am slightly cuckoo & could probably do with getting my head examined for this madness - but in the long run it will be protected, lol, mad or no...
I think i mentioned in an earlier post that I ordered it in a size smaller than I have previously bought my helmets -which was quite risky as I have never tried on a CO before and had no idea how it would fit. But (a) the store i was ordering from didn't have the size i would've ordered & (b) my two previous helmets got looser the longer i had them and would end up tipping over my eyes - so i took an executive educated (and mitigated as they didn't have the other size) decision and ordered the lovely Leather Look Ayr8 on sale as part of #mindyourmelon Helmet Awareness week.

All important question for my shy-selfie...
Do i look like a mushroom/melon-head?
Anyways, I decided to wear it around the house with the tags still on in the hopes of finding out if the size/fit is correct without dirtying it at the barn; so that if necessary I can send it back & exchange it for another size. So far so good, although I don't know how long i shall carry out this experiment....it all depends on how long i can stop myself from ripping off the tags & using it at the yard as i love it!
All going well I will do a proper review later...

In actual equine news:
I rode Nancy yesterday on my day off - she was excellent despite us only working on walk/trot/halt transitions while Kika spun in the walker - she was on Day-2 of her recommended Rest & Recovery (R&R) from osteo appointment on Tuesday. Sadly, I did not manage to schedule a lesson with the new trainer yesterday as she had too many horses to exercise ahead of her day of competing today. Which was a big pity for me, especially as she is going on holidays next week, so I will just have to bide my time & be patient - my time will come. Who knows this is probably a blessing in disguise as I can hopefully knock a few more pounds off the girls and get them fitter in the mean time...I spent my lunch break at the barn today (check out my #barnyardchic outfit of paddock boots & silk work skirt) as the vet came to take bloods from K for a check up on her liver - she is looking like a Chiquita Banana these days, which I am hoping is just sun-bleaching - but as her jaundiced look two summers ago was actually a liver issue (Click here for pix & back-story). I would rather be safe than sorry.

#barnyardchic no?
I went back to the yard after work and had the time to work them both in the evening. For a change of pace I started with Kika as I hadn't ridden her since Sunday's mini-pole work session. She was a super star despite not having spent an hour on the walker beforehand. She started out woefully uneven in trot on our bad rein - i loosened the reins to her and did a couple of big looping figure of eights to see if she would work out of it or if something had been pinched during her osteo treatment - thankfully she worked out of it and we had our best spin since coming back to the yard. Our previous spins haven't been bad, in any way shape or form - but this one was particularly good. We got excellent powerful short bursts of canter work on each rein and some flashes of nice relaxed trot work. Overall our trotting work was much less choppy than previous spins - after the initial awkwardness as we warmed up.
During this spin i realised that we have a lot of work to do on our walk full stop. The walk is something, I have never really focused on - I know BAD ME! But for so long K was so unpredictable that all i wanted to do was get her going and keep her going forwards without giving her the opportunity to stand up. We are now (knock-on-wood) hopefully passed that stage, or at least I feel better equipped to head her off at the pass if she decides to attempt that evasion technique.
So now i can go back to basics & focus on the walk and really try to get her striding in the walk like we have been working on her trot work - she has to relax in everything she does, let go and release her back. baby steps and we will get there, silly sod carries so much tension and resists working properly that she literally ties herself in knots.
I think we are now finally in a place in our partnership when (with the help of lessons) i hope to finally address these shortcomings and wholes in both our eq-cation and really get things going in the right direction once and for all.
Neither of these fab splurges have been near the yard,
but soon young grasshoppers...soon
Nancy was also very good, although I really could have used that lesson on her yesterday as my bad side & her bad side are teaming up and making things difficult for our communication while on the right rein & attempting to bend - mixed messages are happening & i want to sort it out on my end asap before i potentially sour her & or hurt her with my bad riding.
I know 95% of our problem is me - but she is also resisting and not meeting me part of the way...welcome to the teenage years of our partnership ;-)
Methinks a hack in the woods & just getting out of the arenas and our own headspace is on the agenda for this weekend if at all possible. We both need a change of scenery & Kika can come along for the walk as the more that girl can do the better it will be for her joints & belly-loss!

Wednesday 23 July 2014

Properly Pampered Ponies

"Us - Pampered? ... We think not!"
The girls have been thoroughly spoiled of late.
- Pedicures Friday (Pampering session I),
- Spa day Sunday (Pampering session II);
- Tuesday evening they both got a rub down, touch up, fine - tuning from the osteo.
They really have it bad...Poor dears

Hard Knock Life for my girls (not my image - LINK)
I called the osteo as under saddle Kika has been losing her back end randomly in arena work. I wasn't sure if this was due to muscle wastage from the months of little work earlier in the spring/summer or if she was after knocking something out in her hind end.

The osteo (B) assured me her back & hind were muscled enough to support work. I personally think there is an insulation layer of fat playing tricks on the eye of the beholder. 😜
B did say that one of her hips was skewed - Yay instincts standing to me. K got her whole spine worked on from poll to tail & has garnered herself a further 2 days "rest". She will however still be spending time on the walker when I ride Nancy as i don't want to leave her in the field on her own.

Nancy also got a bit of a rub down, although thankfully didn't have anything out or sore. She had so few adjustments that B said she can stay in ridden work - maybe I will be able to have my first lesson this week after all!
I had cancelled it as S (new trainer) is competing on Friday and with osteo visit last night i knew if the girls had work done they'd need 2 to 3 days recovery after manipulations. However I'm hopeful of getting Thursday afternoon off work and getting a lesson.
Fingers crossed!!


Nancy also cemented her place in another person's heart as B kept gushing over her calm & sweet disposition. N should run for politics - she would sweep all before her the way she wins people to her cause 😉
No photos of N getting worked on as she had so little done! Blink & you'd miss it type stuff...

(cos she's Banana yellow)

Finally, I'm shutting up after this - Promise!
Funny story, I have taken to plaiting my fringe back to keep it out of my eyes/face while i am growing my hair out. I fasten said plait with Kirby grips...I have lost THREE while doing the girls feet as they swish their tales at flies above my head and somehow catch in the clips and whip them out. I check their tales to try and find the clips but no dice!
I don't know what they do with them, flick them away like missiles at the flies?!

Tuesday 22 July 2014

VCMBH - Stalker

L. Williams & Thad the Unicorn set an impossible task last week - to pick one (max 5) of the bloggers I follow *ahem* stalk - that I would like to meet.

L's challenge: What Equestrian Blogger out there do you really want to meet? (If you have more then 1 I will allow you to list up to 5!)

Sort of - LINK

I am going to cheat just smidge and group my favourite neighbourly bloggers together in the vain hope of adhering to the 5 max limit :p
Without further ado - in no particular order:

The Californian Gang:
The chief instigator - L. Williams
Karley @All In, Kat @A Horse is A Horse
I would love to meet up with these guys for so many reasons - namely I'd be killing many birds with one stone, I really want to visit Cali & i have been stalking these three ladies blogs for so long I would dearly love to meet the main players in Ramona, Henry, Grayson & Holly! Not to mention I think their trainer Irene sounds scary awesome!

Those lucky Kentuckian based gals:
Allie @WovenWeb who i have known forever and have been dying to meet for years, we are totally organising a Rolex and/or KY Derby outing with L!
Hillary @EquestrianAtHart & K @KissMeI'mIrish go hand in hand for me, i would love to meet them Huey, Sonny & Timmers!
Lyndsey + Wiz & Amanda + Loki are also on the to visit list if i make it to Kentucky ever!
And although she is sadly no longer currently based in Kentucky I still think she is, so Miss Em & her gorgeous Haffy's fall into my Kentuckian dream team.

The "Racers"
These ladies have such an amazing cast of characters to their blogs, it would be a dream to be able to meet any & all of them! SprinklerBandits, Redheadlins & Jodi @RacingtoRide (would be awesome to stalk her from track to track)

There are so many more bloggers I would dearly love to meet - but i shall limit myself to one more group...The Texans!
Lauren @SheMovedToTexas, Amanda @900facebookpony - my latest obsession, although meeting her would deffinitely have dire consequences on my wallet! TheWorkingRider cracks me up something fierce - love following her adventures! Who could visit Texas without seeing Jenj, Paddington, Cash & the jousting Red @WynvernOaks?!
Bad Eventer is another of my Texas based blog-crushes!

I think I've done really well to limit myself to four groups *ahem*
And of course no trip stateside would be complete without seeing the following ladies - Beka @TheOwlsApprove, G & Prairie + family, fellow friesian lover @EquestrianJourney & Jess & her fab boys wherever the HopefulJumpers settle next. And of course who wouldn't want to meet the wise beyond her years Mare & Missy!

And lastly, sticking closer to home I would dearly love to meet the super generous C @EquestrianTrend - although like 900fbpony, SB, Gingham & Hillary - that meeting would be disastrous for my bank balance!


I know i have totally cheated - but i couldn't narrow it down any further - I blame it on my starsign!

There are so many more I would sell a kidney to meet - but I had to censor the list somehow!

Oops - i dithered too long and can't add my link to the widget - but here are the others who aren't indecisive slow coaches like me!

Monday 21 July 2014

Sunday Spa Day

Saturday evening
I got to the yard some time between 6 and 7 on Saturday evening, with no plans bar ponies for the night so I was able to take my time fawning over them.
Yay for the pedicures the day before & guilt-free saddle time!

If I don't plait N's mane she sweats like a mofo & my hands get tangled
Note to self - carry hands away from neck
Kika started off in the walker, as she is wont to do of late as they are just the two of them on the field. Rather than leave one out on her own i bring them both in and let Kika spin on the walker as let's be honest she seriously needs to shed some of her padding!

Sunday bath time Nancy's "Am i bovvered" face

I had a lovely spin on Nancy in the main arena, despite the heat!
Gosh it was like a furnace in there despite my having waited till the evening to ride. We had some trouble with our initial right lead canter (back to my old issues - they weren't long in resurfacing!) - here's hoping starting lessons will help me gain more perspective and control as to what i am doing wrong here. However one improvement we have made is that such a niggly issue didn't derail the spin thereafter - we even got some quiet decent right (bad) side circles in trot. Trust me, this is a major positive for me as previously when things unraveled at the canter it would spillover and have a negative knock-on affect on later work.
Nancy-belle was well sweaty by the time we finished - not overworked by any means, but the heat was suffocatingly humid. I really thought we'd have thunderstorms for the evening. So she got a shower and got to hang out in an empty stable (well there was straw on the ground and i gave her some hay) while i worked Kika.
I don't like putting Nancy in the walker as it worries her needlessly, she doesn't like it and as she doesn't need it (per se) i don't see the point in stressing her without reason when she is so angelic towards me.

Lucky girl got to sunbathe while i readied Kika

Kika and i had a blast as I put on my girl pants & hopped straight on without hand-walking around the arena with her. Would you believe me if i said i was warm enough :p
She was a super star, we covered the basics, walk/trot and some canter - with lots of walk breaks due to the heat and her lack of fitness. I don't want to break her. We only cantered one circle and length of the arena on each rein - really concentrating on returning to softer less choppy trot as quickly as possible. This was better Sunday than Saturday - but K is always better for more practice and bless her we have been woefully out of practice since April!
She was white on her neck & under the saddle pad when we were done, she may have been stressing a little and we did do a bit more trot work than earlier in the week - but really it was the humidity! So she too got a nice shower after our spin and for the first time in the 7 years i have owned her she sought out a facial hosing! She was priceless - if i hadn't been wielding the jet spray I'd have tried to nab some video footage or photographic evidence - instead you just get to see the drowned rat-like photo i shared of her on instagram.

Bath time #2
Sunday I decided to try & change things up a bit and put down three poles, spaced about two strides apart on the diagonal. I had hoped to be able to tackle them off both reins, but as usually my eye from the ground coordination was well off and i could only access them from one rein but both top and bottom, sorry that probably doesn't make sense - but hopefully when (if) i read back on this post I can have a flashback to what i did!

Not sure is harshness of rain captured in snapshot

Kika got to spin in the walker again while i prepped & rode Nancy. To change things up further I hosed her off prior to popping her on the walker hoping that it might help her feel better if she started out cooler it was almost unbearably hot this weekend.
Nancy & I had considerably more trouble getting our right lead strike off in canter on Sunday, I am sure this is my fault as I have been told before I am crooked as heck on that side, so my weight distribution must be all off. As we were working in the smaller arena we have less maneuverability to get things right for the strike off. I will work on this and try to sort myself out - in the mean time, a smaller circle to get her bending correctly helps immeasurably. My crookedness is probably also making it difficult for her to bend properly to the inside when we are on the right rein - I shall pay closer attention to what my body is doing & we will work through this - perhaps I will finally organise myself to see a chiro/osteo etc and get myself straightened out...

The girls' reaction to the torrential downpour - Once N settled

In saying all that we had lovely trot work through the poles & circling, serpenting, figure of eight'ing & changing reins holding our frame & tempo - baby steps! :)
She got a well deserved bath with shampoo! I was racking my brain (poor memory alert) and i think this is the first time i have properly bathed her since she arrived. Last summer they spent the majority of the summer months on a field off-site where we went hacking in the woods, no hose out there for washing! She handled it like the pro she is and the shine off her after - it is truly amazing to me to see the differences between her coat & Kika's especially as they get the same work, diet & turnout etc!

Continuing the Derp+theme

I finally rescued poor Kika from the walker, threw the tack on her and popped Nancy in the small lunging arena to wait the 20-25minutes I'd be riding Kika as the stable I had stored her in the previous evening had been freshly cleaned and hay'd so I didn't want her scoffing something meant for someone else. Plus as Kika is very much behind Nancy in the re-fittening stakes, I am not working her for a full 30minutes yet. She was very good for the work we did do, attentive and listening - might have had something to do with the fact I started the ride in spurs, but took them off as i felt I wasn't using my aids properly for fear of dawking her - plus they had the desired effect to that point which was to remind her to listen to my leg aid the first time i asked. There was no point in my keeping them on put not applying my aids correctly - she's too sensitive for me to mess with her mindset in that way.
Her trot was better than the previous day, she settled into it smoother than the Saturday. Our first canter was a bit hot and choppy, with some front leg flailing - but I remembered to apply leg and to support her which helped immeasurably.

Kika's dapples only appear when she is wet. She is looking very yellow again :(
Is it wrong for me to hope it's sun-bleaching & not liver problems back to haunt us...
I shall get the vet out for bloods just to be sure!

The first time we went through the line of poles, I lost impulsion coming off the corner and let her fall in so we lost the run of ourselves a bit through the poles and pettered out to a walk by the time we hit the third one as i had the tempo & timing all off through the first two. She is so much more squirrely & rubber-bally than Nancy despite having more training than N - I can better guide Nancy through turns than Kika who is very sharp through the turns whereas Nancy waits for me to show her the way. The rest of the time through the poles I made sure to have her just how i wanted and we glided through them - our last time she literally floated down through them actually using her backside - mission accomplished for the day! We cooled out and she too got her shampoo shower after i rescued Nancy from the mini-arena.

In the words of MBC from insta OOSHINEY
The heavens opened for a mother & father of a storm as the girls were tied in the cross ties, Kika was a saint considering the sound but N got a bit worried - long time followers of the blog...how is that for a turn up for the books?
I did have an internal giggle and figured i should've just turned them out and the natural power hose would've cleaned them for me - but the rain was really pelting it down, wouldn't have been remotely comfortable for them out there - so i was secretly "pampering-mama" style glad I had them out of harms way...

The two girls keeping an eye on me as i cleared a few wheelbarrows of poop from their turnout.
There is deff something funky going on with K's coat again - boo!

And last but not least - i may have taken advantage of my favourite tack site's 20% promotion for Helmet Awareness week & splurged on this new protection for my noggin. I got it a size smaller than my current helmet as (a) they didn't have my size and (b) mine has always been a smidge loose - fingers crossed i haven't gotten it too small and don't give myself headaches. Although if it is really too tight i will exchange it, but i still got it on sale. Smart shopping or not...we'll have to wait and see. I had hoped to try it on for fit on the shape of my head, but the nearest CO stockist to me is almost 2 hours away in Germany - so i bit the bullet...hopefully it doesn't now bite me in the ass!

Link to website

Friday 18 July 2014

Farrier Friday

The pair of them getting thoroughly pampered
Living up to the blogname
The girls finally got their pedicures today, despite  the flies doing their best to disrupt and the sun scorching for the day - I even had to call the yard owners to come put out a fire that started on the edge of a (thankfully cut) straw field.

Drama drama drama for my day off -
not news worthy terrifying but scary in the moment
We are not prone to randomly starting fires here - although talking to the farmer later in the evening. He thinks some muppet tossed a cigarette butt...scary!!! Some people are just so stupid! I cannot understand people still smoking with all the cancer research - but to toss cigarette butts when driving near stubble fields on the edge of a forest in the heat we had today = LUNACY!

Their feet were in a bad way - i be a bad mama
With their new kicks, the girls are going to get a rude awakening as saddle time gets stepped up a gear. The only problem with increasing their workload is that mine is doubled - the girls aren't the only ones who'll be getting a butt whooping in the fitness stakes. Their not being ridden means I haven't been riding so we're all pretty unfit!

More Derpy Kika-snaps
To help in that quest, I made contact with the new trainer on the yard today and arranged to have my first lesson next Friday. I can't wait - hopefully I don't completely mortify myself with my abysmal riding.

Already shared on insta, but had to share here too.
N would be less bothered by flies if she'd keep her mask on!