Tuesday 31 March 2015

Windy Wonders

Apologies in advance for lack of self riteous mirror selfies to accompany this post. However it is not going to be completely devoid of media as i actually remembered to snap poor attempts at conformation photos on my own.
As the title suggests today was a massively windy day in the Burg. Forecast said winds of up to 100km/h - hardly a recipe for a good lesson with Kika.

Someone's beautiful dapples are coming through.
She is still standing too under herself for a proper
conformation snapshot; but she was standing still
& I had to snap it quickly as i had no one to hold her.

I started with Nancy, I spent a lot longer hand walking her than I normally would as she got herself a little worked up after the other horse in the arena left her ALL alone. We worked mostly on w/t transitions & changes of rein/bend with some of our new shoulder in thrown in on the right rein. She was good as gold and settled my mind to ride Kika in the lesson as the arena we were in was by far the least noisy - hallelujah.
Before I end with my Nancy tales though I have to share a funny anecdote from yesterday after our lesson. I hopped down and got the pooper-scooper to clean up after N. She typically walks alongside me/slightly off to the side behind me as i scoop the poop. Yesterday out of the corner of my eye i see her dolphin buck for no reason. I asked what was she doing and she stopped and looked at me with  her huge innocent butter-wouldn't-melt chocolate brown eyes. Horses eh?!
I feel I should add a PSA - don't try this at home kids.
But seeing as i haven't the foggiest what she was doing I'm not sure I'm best positioned to be preaching *shrug*

Taken post-spin yesterday; again apologies for lack of straightness
 but i didn't have another set of hands so i had to make do.

Kika was up next for some special lesson time attention. Again I spent a good bit of time hand-walking her as i was ready too early before my lesson start time. She was very good, even when the bit of wind noise that could be heard in that arena manifested itself she barely moved an ear. That reassured me no end that her brain was in situ & all should go well for the lesson.
Thankfully it did ☺

- Unsurprisingly we have many of the same issues as i have on Nancy. Namely her preference to not bend toward the inside or ride our corners while keeping a wary eye to the outside aka wonderfully contorted.

- I need to really focus on keeping my inside leg long and use it to stop her falling in on her bend/corners. - I need to carry my inside hand higher and again maintain more consistent contact with my outside hand; my fingers sneak open and i throw away the contact in a backwards brained reward system...some re-wiring required upstairs between the ears pour moi!

- Our first canter (like all of late) was a total cluster of mess with flailing, hollowing & lead switching in her hissy fit. It was beyond salvageable at that stage so we calmly came back to trot and asked again...much better from there. I have to really watch her bend that she doesn't sneak a peak to the outside and make things super hard on herself.

- When she does hollow and flail i have to lower and widen my hands to funnel her pea-brain in the direction we want.
*as an aside I'm thinking she's overdue an osteo visit & saddle check as she has been rather unenthusiastic about being saddled and groomed. At first I thought the brush might be too hard on her sensitive new spring hair (Diva) - but now methinks getting those things checked won't go astray to keep princess happy & front feet on the ground.

Utterly unrelated but how epic is this owl painting
 I wants it! 

That's all I can remember as i type this on the bus on my way to dinner - apologies for the thrown together post. Hopefully I can look back on it next week and take some tips from it. Two more lessons tomorrow and then the vet is coming for vaccines and i want her to check them both for worms and Nancy tends to have a bit of a coughing fit when we start trot work - nothing serious but seeing as vet will be there can't hurt to get it checked out.

Monday 30 March 2015

Learning Lessons

Nancy & I had our first lesson since he 16th of Feb today. It was ropey at best due to miserable weather on Sunday meaning no turn out for the horses yesterday. Leading to Nancy being wiggly and full of beans.
Before I go any further with my recap i wish to apologise in advance for the haphazardous & random shape this rambling post will invariably take as i try to remember what was said to me during the lesson. *blush*

First I rode Kika; I really wished focused on our walk / trot transitions and bending. However in true Kika fashion she was having none of it and every whistle of wind or noise from the stables attached to the arena we were in was a great excuse in her book for nonsense. We had good mixed with bad, every time I felt her relax and go with the flow of the movements she'd find something else to distract her pea-brain with. While rather frustrating in the moment the fact neither one of us allowed the other goad us into full meltdown was a testament to how far we've come this winter. To be honest the work that was good was really rather good, even if it was few and far between those are the glimmers of progression and hope that keep me plugging away when I can.

She is such a cutie! I love that her dapples are coming through

Nancy & my lesson was rather later than I had thought it was going to be. It was pushed back from 11h30 to 14h & the trainer was running a little late and we actually started closer to 14h30. As i mentioned above Nancy was wiggly & windy for her. She is usually my steady eddie and was still a lot less squiggly than Kika is but she was still far from her usual relaxed demeanour. The trainer S had me help her focus by circling her on small volts (10m circles) & semi-volts  (using half a 10m circle to change rein/bend).

Somebody got a haircut
S suggested introducing shoulder in work at the walk, particularly on the right rein as Nancy is inclined to swing her backside into the ring and S wants me to channel that power more towards the outside and help her learn to balance with her head more inside the arena. S has also said that helping her learn this skill will also help her learn that inside leg on does not mean shift up a gear. This is new fancy dancing to my amateur riding ability so we will have to chip away and work at this till we get it right at the walk before we move up to trot and/or canter eventually.

Someone wasn't overly enthused about our mirror selfie post spin
When she settled in walk we worked on the trot, S had me really focus on my hands and inside leg. Namely keep my inside leg on to stop her falling in on our circles and in the corners - we have a lot of work to do on her balance and i really have to ride our corners. I also really have to watch my hands, my outside hand HAS to stay quiet & constant. The inside hand has to be more active yet giving, she has to learn to balance herself without leaning on me and I have to help her get there.

Canter work was interesting at first, S actually had me let her canter and blow off some steam before we tried to work the canter as she was still full of beans with the wind & missing turnout. I had mentioned our recent issues with canter departs leading to bucking, flailing & dolphining. She didn't display these antics in our departs today and her canter was commended as being nicely balanced and improved since our last lesson.

"Oh selfies you say...we'll in that case I can pose" - Nancy

When we changed rein we had to do a few walk/trot transitions and some changes of rein to stop her pre-empting the canter transition. When we got her brain back she again gave us some lovely canter work with S reminding me to sit up straighter and not let N use her muscly neck against me.

"My turn tomorrow" - Kika
S complimented the work I'd done on my heels - although I don't think it is my improvement so much as the new stirrups working with me rather than against me. We'll have to see what is said tomorrow when Kika & I have our lesson in the GP saddle with flexi-stirrups.

Saturday 28 March 2015

Foam Faces

Apologies for the radio silence since my fist successful Wordless Wednesday - what a treat for readers that I managed to shut up ;-) - although I did leave Nancy talk for me teehee

All photos from Saturday 28.3.15

This week was another busy one & kind of low on saddle time although I did manage to ride Nancy Monday evening (no media) and despite our canter transitions again coming with some bucking & dolphin-flailing another yard friend was riding at the same time & she commented on how well she was going to which I scoffed and said I thought she was taking the mick out of me. Guess we looked better than it felt, in saying that though she was good for the most part. I guess I am a bad rider and focus on the negatives and things we need to fix. Although I do praise her in the moment when she is good it would appear I myself forget about it and only retain our mistakes and what needs more work.

I managed to turn them out Monday, Tuesday & Friday afternoons. Wednesday i couldn't make it at lunch time as i had a leaving lunch for a colleague who is retiring next month :-(
I spent Thursday at a driving center for a training day as the final requirement for my full license. Which was quite fun as they had 4 tracks set up with water works to test our reactivity in surprising circumstances in a controlled environment. I was luckily with a good group as it would have been an even longer day if i hadn't spoken to anyone for 8 hours!

I made my return to Kika's tack today (Saturday) and she was a very good girl. Some tense moments & our first canter was a bit of a shambles (as has become our norm) with front leg flailing, lead changes in front & behind as she hollows and generally acts like a muppet. When it becomes clear i can't save it and make a good attempt at canter from it we come back to walk and build backup again calmly. Thankfully all went really well after that ☺

Nancy was next and we had the largest arena to ourselves. Not having to pay attention to what others are doing made a positive impact on today's spin as we had much better work than our last three spins combined. Including lovely canters on each rein without a single buck or dolphin leap. Small victories & proof that I allow myself get distracted and probably subconsciously tense when riding with others. This too shall pass with more practice - we will get there.

First Steps to achieve better work is hopefully a stroll in the woods tomorrow and then lessons next week as I'm off work. One on Monday & Tuesday then two on Wednesday before I fly back to Ireland on Thursday for Easter weekend to visit my gran.

Tuesday 24 March 2015

Shopping Spree Splurges

Aka - spending accountability *blush*
I set off Saturday morning with €155 cash, a debit card, a visa card & a hastily tossed together shopping list which was saved in the memos on my phone and I will copy to here in keeping with my quest for accountability.

First purchase/splurge
gorgeous JFF black leather belt
for €19.95

"Bit for Kika
Query stable rug for Nancy with old closure if possible
(see earlier Equitana Epilogue post)
Equikozy socks
Gentle spurs
Boot bag
Schooling whip
Mane & tail spray

Stands to look at/chat to reps (if there)
PS of Sweden (contacted via facebook before going & knew they wouldn't be there :-( #sadtimes)
Ogilvy &ADE (would have been very pleasantly surprised if they had been there)

Modeling with my ADE breeches, I know it wasn't
on my "list" but i have needed a belt for the longest time
Sadly the only stand I saw from my 'to visit' list was CWD. I would have loved to get my chat on at the others if they had been there...perhaps if any readers have ears to whisper sweet nothings into we could get he ball rolling for a presence in 24 months time. Yep this indoor equine extravaganza only rolls around every 2 years!
There is a  "Open Air" option in the intervening years, but having been there last May I was rather underwhelmed in comparison to the event in Essen. Although maybe I am judging too harshly as I wasn't really looking for anything that day and only bought hoof balm *blush*

Kika's shiny new bit, tackhos please help me naming what kind of bit this is.
I'm afraid I'm clueless aside from its being an eggbutt.
I have been told it's gentler than a snaffle due to extra joint equaling less nutcracker action for tongue.
I prefer eggbutts to loose rings to avoid risk of pinching & increase stability 
Nabbed myself a 1m10 navy schooling whip for a fiver ftw
I scored a sweet deal on this Spooks.de jacket for €65, it may be a little long & seems to have been the end of a line - but knowing these jackets usually retail at €150 minimum i couldn't not nab a size Small.
Even though I am not a fan of wearing the Union Jack (and cannot understand why non-UK brands like Spooks & Eskadron amongst others plastering this flag on their merchandise) and would have preferred to buy a black jacket as I already have a navy winter coat...Sadly they did not have any size Small left in black. :-(
In saying all that I cannot complain though as I love the green check pattern on the collar & am super cozy when I wear it ♡♡♡♡

Tenner spurs - bargain ☺☺☺
I will wait for lessons next week with trainer
 to try them out under supervision
I also scored 3 Magic Brushes for €12 when every other stand I saw them on were €13 ;-)
I added these to my "list" after someone at the yard picked my green one up on Friday thinking it had been left lying around.
I told the girl that if I saw them on Saturday I'd buy her one. Now to see her again before it gets creepy long between sightings *blush*
My final purchase was also not on my official list, but I was keeping an eye out for a bargain & at €35 these qualify.
They are light aluminium type stirrup irons, not as light as Jin Stirrups but much lighter than the flexi stirrups I had been using and they have the awesome cheese grater step. Which has made a great difference to the stability of my feet in the irons on my two test spins with Nancy where she has been fussy in canter transitions including some flailing, bucking & dolphining.
These are Homer stirrup irons which I hadn't heard of before but am super happy with so far ☺

Whip & stirrups ready for road testing with Nancy on Sunday.
Although the whip had it's first outing with Kika before Nancy's spin.
Ok so many of my purchases weren't on my "list" but all were things I had in the back of my mind to snap up if I found a bargain & I feel great about each splurge.
For the sake of accountability - price breakdown: belt (€20) + bit (€30) + whip (€5) + jacket (€65) + spurs (€10) + brushes (€12) + stirrups (€35)
The stirrups were charged to the Visa ;-)

Total equipment spending = €177
Not bad going if I do say so myself, very reserved splurges compared to what I could have spent had I not haemorrhaged money over the last few months on apartment expenses & furnishing *sob*

Like the previous time I went my biggest gripe was with the price of food & drink! Especially considering your ticket is valid for one entrance only, so you can't even nip out to a super-market for some grub on the cheapo.
 €4 for a drink as Germany charges an extra 50c for plastic bottles which you can get back when recycled, great for the environment but not ideal if we don't live in Germany! Grrrr!

Was still the super tasty-times so i am not bitter about these bad boys!

Being there for almost 7 hrs I bought two drinks and a slice of Pizza which cost me €11.50 & the tasty potato chips I posted about were bought by my friend and she refused to take anything from me for them as she said she'd have gotten them whether I ate some or not lolz.
Hopefully if I am lucky enough to go again in 2 years time I will remember to bring my own food & drink!

Monday 23 March 2015

Sneaky Saddle Time

As previously mentioned I had a bit of a mental last week, in the hopes of recovering some & resting up ahead of Saturdays adventure at Equitana I took Thursday and Friday off work to play with the ponies. I was an absolute waste of space on Thursday and only managed to turn the girls out for the day while I lounged at home catching up on TV shows.

Sunday pre-work
Friday was a new day which dawned lovely & sunny, but made trying to see the eclipse a little awkward. It didn't get as dark as it did for the last eclipse (1999?) but the birds went quiet and the sky got kind of purpley. I have no idea what the girls made of it as I wasn't at the stable yet and they were still in their stables so I doubt they even noticed to be honest as neither has a window. Sadly I got no photos that day but both girls were very good for me despite neither of them having been ridden since the previous Saturday and only turned out Sunday & Thursday. I really have two of the most angelic & forgiving equines.
I ♡ them so much!

Clever clogs to stop the haynet swinging and eat moar
I started with Kika and we decided to tackle the main arena, somewhere we hadn't ridden in a few weeks. We had the run of the place and got straight to work. I have taken a new approach with Kika of late, when I get up we go straight to work at the walk. No more wandering around on a loose rein to "warm up" as she just takes complete advantage and spooks at everything she can, so I put her mind straight to work as best I can and then am better able to handle the silliness when it invariably does happen. As it did on Friday, there was one spot half way down one of the long sides that Kika found rather offensive going right handed for whatever reason. She did make me laugh as when I had her attention elsewhere she almost forgot about the spooky spot and had a half-assed attempted final spook. We did a lot of twisting & turning and changes of rein and paces within the gaits. Having lost my schooling whip last weekend I borrowed one for Friday, but it was marginally too long for K & I so I got rid of it for our canter work as I accidentally tickle her when cantering on a circle with a whip of carried correctly in my inside hand.
Our first canter was absolutely awful and took her a good 5 minutes to settle into a nice rhythm; but after that she was fantastic on both reins.

How not to eat quickly & to maximum effect
Nancy was next and again we worked in the large arena and wound up sharing with another rider who was warming up for her lesson. Our fishtailing was under much better control and we wiggled a lot less than we do in the smaller arena, perhaps for the moment we both need the larger arena to help us keep straight. Our walk was also much improved, still a long way from perfect but slowly we are making baby steps towards progression. Our trot as always was our better gait & our canter was really really sweet. I won't pretend that it was my riding, she was in a good mental space and I cheated perhaps a little and asked her for the canter with a vocal cue more so than actual aids *blush*
However the transitions were so smooth and controlled that I was overjoyed & opted not to drill or harass her. Again I will take all small victories.

Haphazard / guesstimated pole pattern
Sunday I had hoped to go for a stroll in the woods, but considering the mood Nancy was in when I rode her twas probably for the best ;-)
When I got to the yard it was grey and cold so I opted for pole work instead, I decided to steal the pole exercise I'd seen on someone else's blog. However I'm a muppet and cannot remember whose... O.o My apologies in advance if you read this please let me know as I tried to set the poles from memory & we all know my memory is awful so if you could please link me to your post I'll save it for future reference :-)

A bit BTV but better than her usual giraffe impression
Again I started with Kika and was overjoyed with her behaviour as she deff put her best hoof forward. There's nothing like some poles to grab both our attention and coax some better work out of the pair of us. She gave me some lovely bend work, something we typically struggle with as she gets fussy in the bridle if I get too handsy with her & rightly so - she deff keeps me honest. *nod*
Our first attempt at canter work, on the other hand, left a lot to be desired. I started with what had been our better side on Friday and it was pretty abysmal as Kika tossed her legs in every which way as she flailed like an octopus as I waited her out till she settled. As her head came up and the flailing shifted more to front legs and she wound herself up rather than settling. I slowed things down and started again. We changed rein at trot across the diagonals for a couple times to re-engage both our brains. Our canter work after the initial hiccup was markedly improved yet still has a long way to go for a cool calm and collected canter from the get go. Bless her little pea-brain, I think the presence of the poles messed with her composure a bit but thankfully she came back to me and was a great girl again as we continued transitions across all paces and worked on our halts which were so much better - no more neck stretching. In each halt she calmly waited for me to signal our next move without giraffe'ing.

Exasperated pony-face pre-work
Nancy was next & oh boy did Nancy get up on the wrong side of the bed this morning. She was ornery & awkward for 90% of our spin. She argued with me the whole time and made a general nuisance of herself. In saying that she is still Nancy and as annoying as she thought she was being she was not bad in anyway shape or form. She just pretended to be unable to walk or trot when asked. If I wanted her to walk she wanted to trot or squirm and fishtail; if I wanted to trot a circle she wanted to canter. There was a lot of head curling to her chest and balling up like a spring beneath me but only once did she throw a frustrated buck when I asked for a canter transition.
I don't know if she was pissy because she doesn't like pole work, or if she was annoyed that I put tendon & fetlock boots on her, or if she felt hard done by for her lack of turnout on Saturday...or maybe she was just having an off day. We will have to see how the week pans out from here ;-)
Whatever the reasoning behind the moodiness, I still didn't feel unsafe or out of control at any stage but when she coils like a spring beneath me I am acutely aware of the power she can harness when she wants to - thankfully she doesn't use her bulk for evil ☺

Sunday 22 March 2015

Equitana Epilogue

It was an early start to the day as I was a lazy sod the evening before and didn't shower before going to bed so I had to get up at 5am to do so and be at the stable for the bus' 6.10am departure time. I walked my sleepy self to the stable for 6am so that I could say a quick hello to two surprised girls and then met up with my pal S who had suggested we go on the organised coach trip from the stable. It was a fab suggestion as it meant neither of us had to worry about the 3 1/2-4hr drive each way ;-) We could chill out and chat without worrying about sign posts etc and enjoy being chauffered.

Even the traffic lights are horsey

Bus got stuck in traffic just as we arrived at the venue, so we were 30 - 45 mins later arriving than scheduled but that is no one's fault. This thing is massive! S had never been before, but I had been to the last event 2 years ago (Links to post I, II & III for posterity) so I had an idea to find my way around.
For once my pitiful memory didn't fail me ;-)

I was too busy shopping to watch the displays,
but this coloured cob caught my eye

We both had our shopping lists of what we needed/wanted and set to work. We had to be back at the entrance for 16h40 to go back by bus so that the bus driver could have the bus back at the depot within a certain time frame as per someone's regulations *shrug*
We stuck to the tack stand areas as S wanted breeches & rugs and I was looking to replace Kika's bit and the schooling whip & spurs I had carelessly left lying around in recent months so they had understandably gone walkies. I was also keeping my eyes peeled for a winter coat and stirrups bargain if I could find them and whatever else caught my eye. I also wanted to chat to Horseware representatives about stable rug options for Nancy as I don't like the way their new V-closure rubs her shoulders, I also wanted to talk to saddle makers to see who the reps for my neck of the woods are as I think it's about time I get Nancy her own saddle properly fitted to her. Plus my 30th birthday draws nearer everyday & I hope to use it to my advantage as furnishing the apartment has drained all bank balances & pay cheques! *blush*

Adorable standing area to eat
Now I'll shut up and leave you with snaps from the event and will share my splurges and the saddle time I've racked up in separate posts.

The zebra boots were actually hairy & really freaked me out!
I take it whoever buys these won't be cleaning stables or riding outdoors ;-)
Need more be said about this brand?!
After all the blog reviews I've read of late;
I may have specifically asked about retailers
in my neck of the woods *whistles*
Amerigo on left & Antares on right - two more superb saddle makers
Does fawning over the soft leather make me weird?! 
Two brands that caught my eye.
Left - Ikonic looks good, have never heard of them
Right - Ultimate Bitless which caught my eye for $900fb 

Silky socks with funky cool patterns - wish they had been a little less pricey per pair &
I wouldn't have been able to leave them behind me...
maybe in 2 years I'll have a bit more ca$h to play with
These were the super #tastytimes actual potato rinds
fried chips/crisp heavenliness
And that?s it from me for today - hopefully I can type up a saddle time recap for tomorrows post & then share my splurges in a post on Tuesday...yay blogging & doing stuff for a change!

Tuesday 17 March 2015

March Madness

Being an Irish expat during March is 100% cray.
Dog sitting & working as normally makes it extra hard!

I managed to ride both girls Saturday and had wonderful spins on each. I had hoped to get a more detailed post written, but didn't manage as it has been stupid busy in my life. I will just say that Kika started off with a silly spook and then worked like a trooper for a good 40 minutes afterwards & Nancy rode like a dream. Considerably less fishtailing than previous spins - not 100% better but definitely progress :-)

The girls being cute on Saturday afternoon
Sunday the girls got turned out for a lovely afternoon in their lightest amigo turnout sheets.

Monday was the start of the Cray-Cray,  work was mental which made me late for the Judges St Patrick's day party for Irish members of staff. I was barely there 5 minutes when I had to leave again to meet a friend as I'd won free tickets to cool aussie singer song-writer. Monday was also the first night of my dog/house-sitting for my colleagues three pooches.

Nancy's bastardised bridle with brown cheek pieces

Today wasn't any quieter, on my lunch break another work friend came with me to walk the dogs. Then I went back to the crazy-work-grindstone; my lunch sat on my desk uneaten as i just didn't have time to eat it. After work i had to go buy supplies for the Paddy's party we organised for tomorrow for 50-75 of our closest colleagues O.o
I managed to swing home after collecting my mother from a Paddy's day Embassy do, had a quick shower. Spoke to my dad before sneaking into barn 15 minutes before closing to check on the girls. They were so cute, Nancy was so surprised to see me she just kept staring. Then I continued on back to colleagues house to the dogs and am heading to bed now to hope to sleep.

2 of the three pooches being cute

Phew - am so glad I have managed to get Thursday & Friday off work to recharge the batteries before a yard organised day/bus-trip to Equitana Germany on Saturday.

Happy St Pat's all - i cannot wait to see my girls moar on Thursday & Friday on relaxed terms!

Monday 9 March 2015

RIP cheek piece

For the first time in what seems like forever i managed to ride a horse on a weeknight. Man how I've missed this! Kika got to spin on the walker while i had a longer spin on Nancy then yesterday.

"I'm an angel and would never break anything"

We worked in the largest arena so i could use the back wall of mirrors to see if i could see her fishtailing on the longside when we were going left handed. I don't know if riding in my tall boots for only the third time helped my leg position; or if being in the larger arena helped us get our shiz together; or perhaps yesterday's work stood to us - whatever the reasoning ... there was considerably less fishtailing today. Yay!

Last night's sunset

Nay - was our major struggle bus to sort our bend on the that rein to get a good upwards transition into canter. We got there, but the first one was a long time in coming and far from pretty when we got there. Probably 100% my fault as I was prob all kinds of crooked, but once we got the first one I must have sorted myself out and we fared better after that with some truly gorgeous canter work when we changed rein.
I changed back for one more canter on our new bad side and it was much improved. It's hard to know whether to start with the bad side or good side....i guess alternating is the best option to hope to balance things out, but really consistency is key. So i do just need to spend more time in the saddle.

Bye bye cheek piece
We finished off with some rather nice, balanced 4 loop serpentines and a stretchy trot to release any tension she may have been carrying in her neck after our initial left rein struggle bus canters.
Nancy's bridle got a bit of a bashing this evening. After almost every spin she insists on scratching her face off a front leg, every time I reprimand her yet it was obviously to no avail. She finally managed to stand on the reins this evening and thankfully didn't snap them as they aren't easy to find (thin with rubber weaved in and stops), the left cheek piece caved and the leather snapped off the buckle. Thankfully I don't think she hurt herself and in true Nancy style didn't even seem phased by what she'd done!
 I'll see if i can get it repaired but i have a brown bridle for her at the yard and two other old bridles of Kika's in my parents basement so I'm sure I can coble something together *blush* #hoarder

Shedding Season and Sunny Sundays

Apologies who have seen some of these photos on instagram already, I had a wonderful day in the saddle and at the yard.
Sunshine definitely makes everything better - long may it last! In fact I hope winter & the cold we've had this year is gone for good - one can dream & live in delusional lalaland if not I guess. My mental state is not the topic of this post ... so time to get back on track.

Miss Kika brought her A* game today. I have been smiling & smirking to myself all day at the total joy she gave me during our spin. We didn't do anything remotely fancy, but the basics we covered i felt went pretty well considering she hadn't been ridden in two weeks and that previous spin had been pretty darn poor due to a teeny tiny radio that she thought was her undoing.
For whatever reason today everything just ticked over nicely and worked - well so far as I could tell in any case. I hopped straight up without lunging or even bringing the lunging paraphernalia with me as i figured worst come to worst I'd make things work & we'd duke it out if necessary.

When I hopped up today, I decided we were going to go straight to work at the walk - no swanning around on a loose rein for a couple of laps in each direction allowing the brain gremlins to discover something to take issue with. So we walked properly, or tried to - she was all about avoiding the contact by trying to lean one but I kept talking to her in a crazy sing-song voice while playing with the reins and applied leg to get her thinking along the lines i wanted to work on. I was prepared to spend a half an hour walking if that was what it was going to take to keep her calm - but that wasn't the Kika that turned up to work today so on to work we did going through lovely w/t transitions i really tried to work with her to help her keep everything together and get her back on track when she tried to hollow or evade the contact. We did lots of circles and changes of rein before eve tally moving up to some lovely balanced canter work on circles on each rein.

They be shedding like cray
Kika - left / Nancy - right
What impressed me most about Kika today, was just before our canter work, an adorable little grey welshie + tiny tot jockey (well not tiny tiny but between 5 & 7 years of age I'd guess) came in with who i think is the kids mum holding a lunge line. The kid wasn't riding in a saddle, but was on "bareback" with a saddle pad and surcingles for side reins on the pony because the kid is learning vaulting O.o
I thought Kika was going to flip out when the kid managed to stand on the adorable pint-sized pony,  but K impressed me no end and didn't even give them the googly eyes *swoon*
Are you feeling the love i had for this horse today?!

Bringing back the mirror selfie

Nancy was up next and had some big shoes to live up to...we'll that's not fair. I don't compare them as they are two totally different spins and are incomparable in my mind as they are such different personalities and training levels; admittedly my training level and indeed riding ability is pretty poor at best - so i am never in a position to judge...but I digress (again)
However Nancy would have been judged had she tried to dump me - has only happened once in the two years I've owned her and that was our first spin on the beach when the waves lapping the sand blew her mind bless her ♡

I'm sure you'd have been aghast had Nancy even considered seriously putting a toe out of line as it would be completely out of character, so rest assured she has not become a Total Diva like her big sis and N put in a good effort for having had even less arena time than Kika of late; due to my allowing myself off the arena hook to go for strolls in the woods with her if the weather is in anyway dry at the weekend and my inability to find my way into the saddle on weeknights of late. I am honestly hoping to remedy that failure of mine starting this week as it really and truly is not fair on either girl!

Nancy wants the blogosphere to know
she feels over-worked
Nancy would have had to do something nigh on spectacular to dislodge Kika from her pedestal today & N wasn't bothered being sucker into comparisons so we continued our struggles with fishtailing on the left rein (is that when my left hand is on the inside, yes? I have completely confused myself with this of late) - particularly in walk. For whatever reason, she does it less when trotting - but no biggie with more saddle time i hope to sort myself out to help her keep straighter.
I had quickly re-read my last lesson report before going to the yard this morning and remembered the trainers tip about widening my hands and using more leg to funnel Nancy forward and help keep her straight.
Due to her Friesian blood i find this tricky cos I think she curls too much under me and I can feel her coil like a spring at times in her confusion to what i am asking of her but patience and consistency and i am sure we will be right as rain in good time.

Woohoo - rug free turnout

I worked a lot more on w/t transitions than I have I'm recent times and they weren't pretty but baby steps and we will get there. Dressage Queens we are not...but maybe some day as she has nicer gaits than Kika and she finds it easier. So with practice and training with the professionals i am hopeful of having a dancing Diva of my own some day.

Canter was our best achievements today, for the couple of circles we did. Only once did we miss our lead and all others were balanced and controlled with no excited bucking or dolphining to start which means I managed to not sure her with the transition.
I was also super proud of our work into and out of the corners and to change rein across the diagonals. I often struggle with preparing her properly for turns and supporting her through them, so I paid particular attention to these today and am pretty happy with the results.

There is plenty for us still to work on but when I get my shiz together surprisingly things start to tick along a little smoother *spoiler-alert*

I also wanted to say a special thank you to all who read and kindly commented on my previous post. Just getting all that off my chest helped immensely as did owning up to the mind struggles i had towards yard time. The sunshine today undoubtedly helped a great deal too as did the girls good behaviour in welcoming me back to the tack - i feel like I have rediscovered my riding mojo and hope this time it sticks around so we can have some fun as the evenings start getting longer again and hopefully the weather continues to heat up.

Thank you all very much for sticking with me during the doom & gloom of some of my blogposts this winter. I let external stresses spill over into my equine time and affect how i felt about the yard. I am going to refocus my energy on the things i can control and not let my happiness slip away on things outside the remit of what i can control. It may be easier said then done...but if i don't try i will never know right?!