A place where I record the adventures of myself and my Irish Sport Horse mare, Kika. Who I purchased as an un-backed 3yr old in 2007. This blog follows the trials and tribulations of first-time horse ownership since moving from Ireland to Luxembourg in 2010. UPDATE: as of 2013, Kika is being joined by Nancy a Friesan X ISH mare bred by my family who I had my eye on since she was a foal and have been lucky enough to buy and add to my equine family.
Despite my attempts to be in Ireland to settle her back into life at "home"; it wasn't to be and Kika & I were like ships passing in the night. Sadly i had to leave the yard at 10am this morning to make my Flight back to Lux and she arrived about 3pm.
Thankfully despite her delays en route, they really were in her best interest and despite a little sweating on arrival and a bit of a rub behind where she obviously sat back while on the truck she arrived in fine form.
Now to try to organise to get myself back again asap so I can see her for myself and have a spin or two before coming back to "real life".
I have had word from the transporters that Kika is travelling well and they are taking their time with her as they noticed she isn't keen on urinating while in transit. So her journey is taking a little longer than initially estimated, as she handles slightly shorter trips better than spending too much time on the road.
She spent Tuesday night in the Netherlands, then crossed to the UK on Wednesday where she has been since. She will cross to Ireland tomorrow morning and then come down to her final stop on Sunday. A little unfortunate from my perspective as I have to fly back on Monday to return to work on Tuesday. However if she arrives in good nick I will be so happy and not care about the slight delay.
I have been distracting myself with the cuties shared in this post. My aunt has 8 foals in for sales prep, so I've been helping walk them, groom them and clean the stables arc. So no time to be worried, all the fresh air is keeping me out of mischief as I wait for Lady Trouble 🤗
Oops I now have Donkey from Shrek singing that song in my head now as I write this post
My dear Miss Kika headed off on her adventure this morning. Collection was pushed back from 8am to 9am due to bad weather en route - but it was actually closer to 9h30 when the mahoosive truck pulled up.
When they informed me last night that they were coming in an 18-horse truck i started to low-key freak out as to how on earth they were going to turn or even find a loading area for such a large truck around our yard.
I was nervous about how she would load as not only had she only left the yard twice in the 7 years she had been here. With her last off property adventure being back in 2013!
The only other time she had been on such a large vehicle, she had not initially gone on all that willingly. Apparently when she left my aunts yard in 2010, she didn't do so without making an impression. Just as she was being lead towards or on to the ramp (I'm not 100% as I wasn't there, have only been told the story), Miss decided she wasn't going. She got away and hightailed it back up the drive before jumping a closed gate and knocking a bit off it 😅
Needless to say she was caught and got on the truck at the second attempt - but this may have been playing on my mind as I prepared to load up.
They very cleverly to my mind reversed into the entrance and parked on a slight slope which thanks to having air suspension in the truck they could stabilise and level it off so that the ramp up was considerably less steep than it might otherwise have been.
Clever and all as the truck itself is and the amazing driving capabilities of the drivers to get the beast of a machine into such a position. My unease around loading was further impacted by the fact that not only did I have to lead Kika past the flapping leftover tents that hadn't yet been put away after Sunday's competition at the yard; but the field across the road is where she had spent her spring & summer and wouldn't you know that we had an audience of very interested parties the form of Nancy, O & F - the three amigos.
Taken after I gave them each an "I'm sorry for sending your friend & fearless leader away"
Once again Kika completely bowled me over with her handling of the situation. She got a little antsy as we approached the flapping tents. But as we stood waiting for the truck to get into position (how I got the pic) she settled right down when I chatted to her and patted her neck. She alternated between keenly watching the truck, looking across the street at her buddies and when she relaxed mouthing the top of the whip (i had it in case a bit of coaxing would be required).
I was pleasantly surprised when she resisted the urge to scream in my ear, thankfully she mustn't be in season as when she is there is definite screeching.
My mama came to say cheerio and wish her ladyship safe travels
Kika floored me with her trust. The driver and handler offered to load her if I wanted. I said I'd try first as she knows me but if it got hairy I would gladly hand her over to the professionals. I needn't have worried, she walked to about a stride away from the ramp and stopped to gawk. I gave her a pat and told her to take her time to suss it out. She took a step forward on her own, curiosity winning out and raised a foot to test the ramp. She put her foot back down but didn't back up. When I praised her and asked her to come forward with me she meekly walked up the ramp with me 😍🦄😍
Having her first and last gawk out the window this morning
I could not be happier with her or the transporter who not only remembered me from having delivered Nancy 4 years ago. But he also recalled (unprompted) the conversation we'd had about my other horse (Kika) who hadn't travelled well with another company - he brought it up and made the connection himself so knew to keep a close eye on her water consumption. I also gave them the bottle of electrolytes in case she needs coaxing to drink.
On her way
Any outstanding nerves I may have had about her travels had been lessened by my experiences and I cannot wait to see her when she arrives in Ireland. Now to figure out what clothes I can bring based around fitting a saddle pad & my helmet into my carry on luggage 😊
I may also be bringing my Ogilvy pad and will attempt to convince anyone who may ask that it is a new fangled neck rest and all the rage dahlin'
I have washed the cover - fear not 👍
So far thankfully Nancy hasn't seemed particularly upset, but perhaps she thinks Kika is being kept in a couple days like she was earlier in the summer when she was injured.
She is such a cutie pie
I will keep you posted via insta (@lyssatra) and here when i know more. The tranporters this morning said it would be Friday or Saturday at the latest when Kika will arrive back to her Co. Cork home.
Apologies all for the radio silence, it has been a very quiet summer for me horsewise. I had a couple hacks in the woods with Nancy, PL still comes three times a week so no fear of Nancy chunking out.
Taken Sunday before we went hacking in the woods
Kika however is a different story *sigh*
She got injured after a kick in the field in early June, just before I had to go to Ireland for a wedding. Which resulted in the largest (knock-on-wood) vet bill to date as where she got kicked on her back leg was at an awkward angle and required her wound cleaned and bandage changed every 2 days. The positioning of the cut meant it was a two people job as cow kicks were possible if too ouchy, so the vet came every two days and Kika's adoptive mama, L (the girl who valiantly helped me through Kika's rearing tantrums back in the day), very kindly looked after Miss Kika while I was in Ireland for 10 days.
Taken this evening
Finally got my autumn leaves snapshots that I've been meaning to take since she arrived in 2010
Needless to say after that she took a bit of time to come right, and indeed possibly longer as weather and or owner laziness kept hampering her getting back to fitness progress. There was one memorable evening where she hopped around on her hind legs like a kangaroo and squealed for no apparent reason at the time, however later that evening a massive thunderstorm rolled in so as always she was ahead of the curve.
Other than a couple spins after the clinic (Eurgh I still haven't posted about lessons 3 & 4 yet #bloggerfail) at the end of May and one bareback spin of a few strides back to the field post lunging one evening. K did sweet FA for the summer only get chunky as you'll see from the photos in this post. She has been practising as tomorrow she will make the return trip back to Ireland and next spring she will hopefully be visiting this boy for a baby-Kika in 2019 🤞
West Coast Cavalier
I've been toying with the idea of breeding from Kika for years as she has a nice mix of continental and good Irish lines, alright confirmation imo & a great maternal instinct if the way she obsesseses over foals/yearlings/animals that are smaller than her, is anything to go by. When she was younger, in the early days of our partnership, pre-blogging days and we both still lived in Ireland. I'd often catch her standing on the bank that divided her field with all her buddies and the neighbouring field which on these occasions had foals, weanlings or yearlings in them and she used to spend hours on the bank engrossed in what they were up to. Never dared tackle the electric fence keeping them apart, which says something in and of itself for any long time follower of this blog knows only too well her Houdini qualities...late night trip to Pizza Hut anyone?
Such a chunky monkey - but tbh I'm glad she's travelling a little heavy as hopefully she won't arrive skeletal
PS - cleaned up her mane & tail after these were taken
She will officially be 14 in January and not getting any younger. This combined with our loss of the winter turnout and my inability to get consistent saddle time helped me to decide to bite the bullet and look into sending her home. I didn't want to mention it on here till all the plans were in place in case I jinxed things. But boy have they snowballed.
A few months back I floated the idea of breeding her to my aunt (who bred Nancy and runs a foaling unit on the family farm) asking if she could recommend/keep her ears out for recommendations of stallions producing animals with great brains that could add little height to Kika's 165cms. Initially she suggested going down an Irish Draught route, which will be my back-up plan for foal #2. But then she mentioned the above boy who she had come across after a TB mare she bought with a foal of his at foot turned out to be a cracker and sold as a 2year old from the field for €3,600 (a return on a €500 stud fee).
So glad to capture her soft eye
vs mischevious glint
So my plan at the moment, all going well with Kika's journey home will be to breed Kika, hopefully to WCC in spring 2018 pending my actually seeing him in person and meeting some of his youngsters. I have been shamelessly stalking the studs facebook page for updates and drooling over all the pics they share.
All going well with her taking and foaling in 2019, i'd like to cross her with a draught or friesian next as a back up in case the first foal ends up a little hotter than what I'd be hoping to bring back to Lux as my next riding horse in 4 or 5 years time!
The hope would then be to sell whichever one doesn't suit my needs when the time comes - but those are all hypotheticals considering she hasn't even left Lux yet which brings me back to the snowball effect.
I knew that Kika should be back in Ireland before spring next year to give her the best chance of recovering from the journey and adjusting back to life in Ireland before visiting a potential bf. However, it didn't make much sense to pay the increased winter livery here, not truly knowing how she would adjust to no longer being able to go out for the afternoons and then having her travel during the riskier months of Jan-April when the weather would be worse and sea crossings choppier. To get from here to Ireland, she has to make 2 sea crossings. 1) to get from mainland to UK and 2) to get from UK to Ireland.
So I made the tough decision to send her back before November 1st, when the summer 24/7 turnout ends at my yard. As per the livery contract I signed with the yard owners I have to give 2 months notice which I did at the start of September and hoped to move Kika at the end of October so Nancy would go straight into her new stable (she's moving boxes to a brighter area of the yard near her current field buddies) and hopefully not suffer Kika's sudden disappearance (in horsey terms) as she'd be distracted by new surroundings and window box out which she can watch the world go by.
However when travelling by shared load, beggars can't be choosers on the travel dates and when the wonderful transporter who brought Nancy to me a number of years back said they'd be passing through Lux from Switzerland and could collect her en route i lept at the chance to send her with someone I have worked with before and took great care of Nancy.
I got confirmation Sunday night at 10pm that Kika could be collected first thing Tuesday morning. Cue excitement and panic at having nothing truly ready to go, not really the horse nor her belongings. After a fitful night of attempting to sleep, but getting up to gather the things I'd need by the front door and making a list of all the things I had to do today. I managed to miraculously tick everything off my list from booking my own flights & car rental to be back in Ireland to meet her and hopefully ease any disorientation; to buying electrolytes on my lunch break in the hopes of staving off a repeat of the dehydration scare she gave me after her trip over; cleaning Kika herself up, pulling her mane, trimming her tail; cleaning 2 saddles and her bridle and bagging her turnout rug and liner, plus tagging everything with the key rings with my name and her destination address that I put together at 3am last night/this morning lest i forget/not get time today and actually lunging and riding her for the last time in Lux despite not having properly ridden her since May! She was an absolute legend this evening, I now cannot wait to climb back aboard when she gets to Ireland and re-acclimatise her to her old home.
Not to be forgotten or outdone
Nancys look of Eagles...
or as close as her gentle soul gets
It has been a busy 24hours and I will have a nervy start to my day tomorrow hoping and praying she loads without issue despite not having left the property since we went to the beach (plus next two posts chronicle ourtime @beach) in 2013 - no time for practice run. Also means there is no time for panic to set in to derail me. I'll have a nervy wait while she spends tomorrow evening in the Netherlands, before staying in the UK on Wednesday night then hopefully heading back to Ireland on Thursday.
I fly out Wednesday and have been blessed to be able to take until Monday to stay and help out around the yard (they are up to their eyes with TB sales prep so hopefully I can snag some pics of the babas) and settle her back into life in Ireland.
Last photo of them together that I love as it sums them up perfectly and my inability to hold their focus or get far enough away to snap the cute pic they made just before this :-)
I hope to get back at least once a month to visit her (and my family obvs) and ride from time to time. I am not 100% ruling out someone there riding her in my absence, but will be vetting and checking up on those who wish to very carefully. It has been a long road with my special little snowflake - we are in a good place now where I can leave her almost feral for the summer and hop up without issue after a couple spaced out lunging sessions which bar tonight in her tack were all done in a headcollar! No lunging aids to get her brain back in...i am so glad that she will be on full turnout during the day when she gets back to Ireland.
Last photo perfectly captured by
her adoptive mama L as she said goodbye for now
The only doenside to Kika's sudden impending departure is I am going to wind up paying the livery for her here and in Ireland simultaneously. I'm pretty sure the above picture sums up her thoughts on that matter.
Oh wells, the peace of mind knowing she is travelling with a company I have used before and got great en route updates from while Nancy was making the trip. Paying two field liveries for a month really is a small price to pay.
I honestly do not know where the time keeps slipping away, by the time I actually finish recapping these lessons it'll have been weeks since the clinic!
Hopefully there are still a few peeps out there that are interested in watching these videos and more importantly I hope the info therein will help others as much as doing the clinic has helped me.
I don't know if I mentioned that this clinic ran over 2 days with 5 participants, one person couldn't follow the same set up as the rest of us as she has a young family and couldn't spare the majority of each day, unlike the rest of us lucky duckies. So she got a private hour and a half lesson & theory combined both evenings. Those of us that were lucky enough to take full advantage; each had a 45minute solo lesson in the morning, followed by lunch and group theory where the morning lessons videos were watched and dissected (see previous post for first lesson videos). The four of us were then split into two groups for an hour long combined lesson, which was basically mini-solo lessons where we each got 5-10 minutes of individual attention and then we went away to work on things alone while the second participant got some individual attention.
I really liked this set up, although admit to having had a bit of information overload by the end and my brain legit stopped working as you'll see in the videos. This second lesson was recorded for us to expand upon the info from the earlier lesson, add in the theory and practice under expert supervision. However these second lessons were not dissected in the theory sessions the following day.
Quick refresher, the above video starts off with Kika & my worst side (I am bad at both, but this is worse trust me). EB had helped me by providing a visual of a screw/linchpin at the top of my right leg (where the limb joins my body) to remind me to support Kika with right thigh and lift my knee to stop her falling in so much - all the while placing more weight on my left seat bone to help both of us straighten up.
Left handed is slightly better for us vs right rein, in the above video I am trying to learn the feel to encourage Kika to spend more time putting weight down her left legs. She is right-side dominant and tries to get back to putting more weight down her favoured side faster. I found this exercise quite challenging (even more so when we did it in trot) as I hold my hand up and admit I don't have the most natural ability to feel what the horse is doing. It will be a work in progress as we both learn to rebalance and shift everything slightly more to the left. I shall have to sing that one line from the Beyoncé song to myself as I ride.
In fact I am secretly delighted to have thought of that little gem, here's hoping I can now ingrain it in my brain and sing to myself as I try to ride.
On to some trot work, boy does my inside heel make me cringe in the video above. While Kika looks alright, if not 100% stepping under herself I look like a hot mess and we unearth my biggest bugbear in trot work. I have somehow managed to master putting my legs on as I rise rather than squeezing as I sit. AKA - I am asking her to speed up while rising but then slowing her immediately back down when I sit in the saddle. Another friend who gave me pointers before couldn't figure out how I had managed to teach myself that nasty trick, but hopefully with EBs help I can start to undo the ingrained bad habit. This will be where the snow plow will come in, whereby I hope to over exaggerate (to my mind which means by the time the message actually gets down my limbs it won't be too loud) the skiing movement required to stop. Namely lower legs off as I rise, almost thinking toes in & heels out to stop me from using them.
Trotting checklist includes:
hips forward to reach balance point
hands have to be out of the way (aka forward)
lower leg off for rise
You'd think by now these things would be
but what can I say - I'm a slow learner and this is compacted by the fact that I have remembered wrong. I don't doubt I was taught correctly however too many years riding alone have given me mucho bad habitos.
The above is a very quick clip for comparisons sake so that I can see what straighter looks like. This video actually also reminded me that I forgot to mention at the start of the post that for this lesson I lowered my left stirrup by one to help me lengthen my leg and sit more left in the saddle. Something I am still riding with as I attempt to retrain my body.
For comparison, picture from earlier lesson - considerable right overhang visible
Actually acute video watchers may have noticed an adorable guest in the corner (aka my marvelous mama) who came along to watch the lesson and was blown away by (a) the difference in my riding and (b) the great ways Elaine was able to explain what she wanted and why. My mother rode horses when she was younger, and it is actually her sister who bred Nancy and now runs the farm where both Kika & Nancy lived before joining me in Lux. When she drops in to watch me ride from time to time, she had been mentioning that I was over to one side but didn't know what to suggest fixing to fix me - we are both super glad for EB.
Some more trot work in above video on our bad right rein, despite my floating outside leg I am very impressed with the strides we have made in this video. It is great to see the improvements EB has had on me and wish I could ride more like that every time I climb aboard.
The above screenshot with my awesome paint skills is hoping to illustrate some of the points I shared in the General Takeaway post I shared first - LINK.
Horse is down on the forehand when their chest is lower than the mid point on their belly
Horse frame/legs in trot should form an M shape. Outstretched
foreleg should be under horse's nose and other foreleg should meet hind
under the rider's seat bones and the space between both legs should be
Her nose is a little BTV and she isn't quite stepping under herself and we won't even comment on wtf my hands are doing (or the fact that a bus could be comfortable driven between them) but as the red line shows her chest is not lower than the mid point of her belly and while she could still step into her tracks a bit better; the triangles that form the M of her legs are pretty close in size.
The green arrow I indelicately added is to highlight what looks like a shadow - this is a clue to how the horse is using themselves.
I cannot remember exactly what it means, but I think it shows the use of a muscle that means they are lifting their ribcage and working over their backs comfortably.
Two other RWYM theory stalwarts that I have thus far forgotten to mention can be explained with the help of the above screenshot.
* The rider is in a good position if it looks like they would land on their feet/upright if the horse was magicked away
*The horse is working well if they land on their belly when their legs are magicked away. A horse down on its forehand would tip forward (arse-over-tit) without legs if it's chest is lower than the midpoint of its belly.
You can probably see she is beginning to tire, and let me tell you she wasn't the only one! Neither one of us have ridden twice in the one day for a long time - I'm actually not sure she ever has been ridden twice in one day & definitely not in a clinic setting where the concentration levels are considerably higher than on any other given day.
However in saying this can we take a moment to remember that the previous two videos are of us trotting on our BAD side - compare these to the ones in the previous post which were taken earlier the same day and I have to say I am super impressed with the changes - now to maintain them without the excellent coaching.
The end of this video makes me lol as you can see how we lose concentration just as I reward her, I know this is more my fault that hers - but this is Kika's character to a T and makes me smile every time.
This video shows us both tiring more, she gets heavy and a little sticky like she's pulling her feet out of muddy ground - but considering the concentration this all requires neither one of us can be blamed.
EB rightly calls me out at the start of the video for getting too "busy" in the saddle out of desperation and goes on to run through the laundry list of things I am supposed to be thinking of as I ride. I shall type them up here so that I can refer back to them myself at a glance, however my sheepish "yep" in answer to her query as to whether I have all that was a testament to my tired mind and in actual fact I was concentrating on keeping her from stalling more than my laundry list. #shame
heels away as I rise
leg off as I leave the saddle
leg on as I land on the saddle
thighs wrapped in and on the horse (so that I (a) support her and (b) can't use my lower leg #doublewhammy)
careful not to grip with thigh or tighten the back of thigh/buttock area as if I did I would land too heavily when thigh constricted
Right seat bone close to her spine (aka middle of saddle)
right hip light (translated to right hip forward in next day videos)
left hip down on saddle and left seat bone clearly felt
I feel like the above "simples" image should be reused here - but I think this post is going to be long enough without repeating imagery.
In the above video my brain was really lagging, it takes me ages to answer as I honestly couldn't even tell what my legs were doing #mortified
Kika is a trooper to put up with me, she truly outdid herself - I honestly thought the toys would be pitched out of the pram but at no stage the entire weekend did she threaten any untoward behaviour. Amen says I, and long may it continue - she has been so good that Nancy's leasee doesn't believe the stories of our past disagreements and tbh i hope she never witnesses them as I most def do not wish to retread that terrain!
In the next and final video (phew I hear you sigh) my brain had legit checked out. I may be talking, but I can honestly say that my brain had no idea what my legs were doing. I was in such a brain fog by that point that I couldn't even tell you where my feet were and that is probably why EB rightfully giggles at me and my utter lack of coordination #deserved
And that was Day 1 one of the clinic done and dusted.
These videos just go to prove that if you can get the basics right things just improve exponentially - the differences between the videos in the previous post and these blow my mind. I am under no illusions that the crux of the problem is me and I am miles from having this stuff down, but seeing what a difference a day can make has given me the boost to plug away at the basics and remedy my terrible habits. If I can make this kind of improvement in one day - what might we be able to achieve if we can get permission for EB to come back for another clinic?!
I will try to not take so long in sharing the videos and info from Day 2!
(Videos have been uploaded to youtube - hopefully they can be viewed)
I hope you guys are ready for a media tsunami unlike anything I've shared on the blog before. I actually feel a little uneasy about dissecting all this info and still don't really know where to begin. Not to mention the fact that this is really laying it all out there, these videos really highlight the tip of the iceberg in my weaknesses as a rider, admittedly i am an absolute amateur and only hope others might benefit from seeing where I am going wrong and hopefully the tips being given to me might help others.
Apologies to those who don't like watching videos, if it's any consolation the longest clip is 2 minutes and most are under 30second snapshots of the lesson.
EB was awesome at explaining the ideas and concepts to the rider and then recording before, during and after instructions to give the rider something to look back on and check in with to help with the information overload. I will try to nab some screenshots to share, but honestly the videos are so short and packed with info & tidbits. That despite the relative shortness in run time, they are infinitely better at divulging information than anything I could ever hope to write.
I feel a disclaimer should precede the videos ... I had meant to make myself and Kika more presentable (aka pull her mane) but time got away from me as I played hostess. I did manage to braid it for the Sunday sessions, so at least in the later videos she looks slightly more presentable.
I also deliberately left the reins a little long for this first lesson as I knew I would be concentrating a lot on me and my seat in the saddle so didn't take much contact with her - perhaps unfair, but considering the bombardment of info my brain took on in this fist lesson, I honestly wouldn't have been able to concentrate on more.
Screenshot of chair seat as mentioned in video above
I'm not quite sure what is the best way to share the mountain of info for this post, as not only is there the information being shared in the videos but there is also the theory I gleaned from watching these videos of this lesson as part of the group theory. I think I'll let those who want to watch the videos and then share the general notes I made during theory at the end of the post and hope it all makes some sort of sense to those reading. Even a week later I am still digesting all the information and as you can tell from this post, I am no closer to being able to share it coherently. This is really a gathering of intel for myself so i can check back in on it all in one place over a couple of posts.
The two videos immediately above and the screengrab below, illustrate the bones of what we worked on over the weekend. Between Kika and myself (chicken vs egg we cannot know what came first) when the right hand is the inside rein, Kika bulges out and my core collapses in, making her a right banana (pink chalk drawing below). I lose my right seat bone into the hollow she has created by bulging her ribcage out making my right leg longer on that side despite the stirrups being the same length.
One of the main things we work on in these videos is getting me to sit more on my left seat bone, so much so that I end up feeling like I might fall off the saddle on that side!
However as you can see from the screengrab above (left) more of the detail on my breeches design can be seen to the right of the saddle, so there is still plenty room for me to sit in the tack once I straighten myself out in the videos to come.
EB is an advocate for each rider creating their own personal checklist for what they have to get right at the start of the ride (and indeed periodically check in with during the ride) to best help their horse and get the best out of the spin. My checklist is created during this lesson and I will address it better in the later post that will deal with the Saturday's second lesson & videos.
The video immediately above and those that follow start to delve into helping me correct myself in the tack. It is amazing to me, how much EB can (a) see from the ground and (b) know how to correct with what seem like tiny suggestions, but that have immediate effects. It truly has been a mind blowing experience for me and I am so glad to have these videos to watch over and over again and hope to train myself out of my nasty habits - here's hoping i don't over compensate and go to far the other way!
I feel I should probably also address at this stage that I know my hands/shoulders & upper back are atrocious however EB rightly opted to concentrate on my seat area first and work up/down from there as appropriate. She did also recommend I go to a chiropractor to straighten myself out just to be sure I am not throwing us both out of balance and I have every intention of doing so. However after having received all these instructions while I'm "out of whack" I am going to work on them for a few weeks/months to straighten us both out as per these instructions and if/when EB can come back in the autumn I will go to a chiro before her return and hopefully the work we do between now and then will help re-balance my right banana and muscle the right side of her back.
EB had me use the mirrors to establish my checklist and check our straightness, seems obvious, but I am always terrible for using the mirrors to look at what the horse is doing rather than what I am doing on top of the horse - I hope to correct this going forward and to pay closer attention to what my body is doing and how it might affect the horse! Above shows me still crooked and below shows a slight improvement - small changes for immediate effect #mindblown
Above was our first trot of the day in all its hideousness as my reins are atrociously long and heels nudge and annoy her - honestly these videos highlight to me what saintly creatures I have! I cannot believe how they put up with me.
Trotting on our slightly better rein above, and below a close up tutorial for what I should be doing in rising trot and where the balance point is. As seen in previous post, it is considerably more forward that I had previously thought. Also eurgh, is that an unflatering rider angle - but very useful video footage for me going forward.
Below is an interesting video to me, well they are all interesting, but this one really captures a moment of satisfaction/relief from Kika when I get myself into a better rising trot position and rhythm around about the 0:45second mark.
Screengrab for those anti-videolites. I'm still far from perfect, I almost seem to be grabbing
with my knee and deff still have a hollow back but she looks good even if not quite stepping under herself.
Above and below is our worst side for some trotting video, I know you must be thinking how could it get worse?! 🤗
The video below also introduces me to leg yielding, I haven never learned/been taught how to do lateral work so I typically tend to stay away from it. Although I have always wanted to learn to do it and am hopeful that with EB's continued help I may finally straighten myself out enough to learn correctly so as to not confuse the horses by asking when I am utterly out of balance.
Now for the notes I was given during the theory portion as we viewed the videos; I will try to list them in bullet points as hopefully they will make sense after viewing the videos - not to mention the fact that this post is verging on novel length already.
Nose, chin in line with zip of top & mane of horse = central axis
Left leg my toe turns out
Ski/Snow plow position to wrap my thighs around horse // don't pinch knees
Core collapses right - right hip is lower than left - put more weight down left seat bone to balance saddle. Seat bone does not mean down stirrup/leg
Drive left seat bone down and lift right hip
70% weight down left seat bone and have right seat bone closer to her spine
Left ear down
Kika stays longer/lingers on right front leg - I have to work slightly against her and place more emphasis on left fore leg lingering
Sleep lying in my left side = 8 hours of practice 🙃
Also sit on chairs with left seat bone hanging off the side
Suggested ball excercise - sit on ball as if on horse, use thigh to pull leg up & forward and ease back down while keeping shoulders slightly forward for balance
Following this theory lesson, there was another riding lesson where I attempted to put all this info into practice. However I'll deal with that in another post - hopefully next Tuesday!
Massive thanks to those who viewed and read this far, apologies for my poor post construction. Hopefully you can still get a feel for the teaching method and can take something away from it. There is plenty more to follow, I just need to find the time to get it all from my phone (notes) & memory stick (videos) into something resembling a post format, even if only for myself to have a collected place to check back in and refresh my memory of what to do when riding by myself.
I still have so much to process from the weekend that even three days later I am not sure I can really do justice to everything that was said. Apologies if the posts on this topic are a hodge podge of thoughts/notes, I really just want to get them down somewhere I can refer back to them as needed.
ear > shoulder > hip > heel
I figured I'd start with some general tidbits/takeaways I got from the weekend that don't necessarily apply 100% to me but that I found interesting as an equestrienne in my quest to improve. I also snagged photos of the blackboard section of the theory which can reside in this post and not overwhelm the already media heavy posts to come.
I feel I should first commend the set up of this clinic, there were different options available for how we wanted to participate in the clinic. We opted for individual lessons in the morning, joint theory after lunch and then a group lesson in the evening with 2 participants. All riding sections are filmed for comments in the theory and posterity sake for the riders. My videos will appear in posts later this week/over the weekend.
Elaine was (is) amazing. She has so much knowledge and insight to share and no matter what questions were asked she had answers/thoughts/ideas/exercises to help both rider and horse. Not only could she answer every query, but if we didn't understand the first way she explained she could rephrase it numerous different ways with many different visual and/or key word examples to help us remember going forward.
I found this interesting as dressage saddles with their deep seats
can work against us if we're not careful to keep our seat bones plugged in straight
The theory section was not just watching the videos of the morning rides nor blackboard explanations; it was 100% interactive with each participant taking on the role of the horse - legit on all 4s - and rider to demonstrate the correct and most common incorrect ways of sitting on a horse. This was eye opening to feel from the horse's point of view just how much our balance/seat bones/position in the tack affects their way of going & ability to move. #mindblown
This was not the only interactive aspect to the theory section of the clinic, there was an exercise ball present upon which we could simulate riding a horse without damaging each other 😂
We were all recommended to invest in our own exercise balls and given different exercises to help strengthen our weaknesses. Needless to say I was useless at balancing on my own on the ball without my feet on the ground (the videos will better show part of the reasons why) also hammered home my need to build some semblance of core strength - hello planking in my immediate future. 😅
Now for the actual tidbits & general takeaways I managed to make a note of:
Horse is down on the forehand when their chest is lower than the mid point on their belly
Crooked horse - chances are it is weaker on one side, to help it strengthen that side ride only the legs on the weaker side over poles and/or cavaletti
Horse frame/legs in trot should form an M shape. Outstretched foreleg should be under horse's nose and other foreleg should meet hind under the rider's seat bones and the space between both legs should be equal triangles.
Not perfect but illustrates what I am trying to explain
The rider's balance point in rising trot is further forward than we think and something I work on in my videos. Rider must almost clear the pommel of the saddle with pubic bone as thighs work in a windscreen wiper action. We should use the front of our thighs and open our hip angle to pull ourselves up not tensing our butt muscles
Make sure to carry hands up and forward so that we don't hit off them when rising
Still not perfect but better
We have to carry our arms from the core and hold them as if reading a book
Elbows should be in front of jacket seems as if holding a book to read // shaking someone's hand
To stop hands drifting loop twine between dee rings on saddle or wrap bits of mane around little fingers and if hands start to get too wide the mane pulls on fingers
If break at wrists (I do) eat a few magnum ice creams and use sticks inside gloves to help keep wrists up
If hands face down (puppy paws/pushing a pram) it changes the bit placement in the horse's mouth and can make the bit push down on the horse's tongue
Reins are for emergency // horses can be slowed & halted from seat by stopping/slowing the movement in our seat bones
Think toes up vs heels down as forcing heels down pushes foot forward
The transition up think "up" - sit up, breathe in and confirm with request from legs
Look for two sausages (above left) either side of horses mane means that the horse is working properly over its back and balanced
If horse hollows don't drop hands // add leg and give with hands to allow them to move forward. The horse hollows because it looses engine/back end push
Rider is sitting in the right place in the saddle if there are the same amount of fingers width between rider's body and front/back of the saddle when hand held flat in front & behind rider.
Rising trot need to come from hip/top of thigh not from the knee. When it comes from the knee it pushed the horse back. When the rider uses hip/thigh to pull ourselves up it brings the horse's hind end forward with us
Downward transitions DONT'S:
Don't pull reins
Don't lean back
Don't pinch knees
Don't pinch bottom/grab horse with seat
Don't hold breath
Don't sit taller as it leads to hollowing, looses seat bone connection and pushes horse forward
Downward transition DO
Do breathe out but don't let go of muscle tone
Woah/Moo (like a cow) as is goes down to pelvic floor
Do stay plugged in with seat bones but don't grind into horse's back
Do close thigh a little from outside in to make sure legs don't bounce around
Do stay vertical with a neutral spine
Do stop movement in seat bones
Left to right balance points for:
jumper, hunt seat, dressage, everyday
and bottom is race jockey
Is a feel/energy change
If horse needs a bit more instruction (aka doesn't heed energy change) - close little finger on outside rein
If horse still doesn't respond close little fingers on both reins
Don't pull reins back to hips
Don't pull & kick (sometimes an instruction given to riders)
Best time to ask for canter transition from walk is when inside foreleg is moving forward thereby freeing inside shoulder to lift up as outside hind pushes off the ground and up into canter
In an arena setting max canter work on a circle is 2 turns/circles as horse cannot balance for longer // dressage tests never ask for more than two consecutive canter circles in a test without changing rein or going straight between. Even GP only max ask for 2 pirouettes consecutively
I know this is a lot of info in one post and the wording may not make sense to those who haven't followed a similar course before, but hopefully you can still take something from these tidbits and won't be too turned off ahead of the verbal vomit/media heavy posts that will follow as we delve into my actual riding lessons!
While I have every intention of sharing multiple posts about the Ride With YourMind clinic from the weekend. Hopefully sometime this week as we rode 4 times and had theory inbetween so there is a lot of info to digest and breakdown - I hope to whittle it down into readable chunks.
So for today I'm going to share the fun photos I nabbed from @equigeo's visit today. I feel privileged to have been able to help her add another country to her impressive list of places she's ridden. Check out her awesome blog if you don't already follow it, She has made it her goal to capitalise on her job involving a lot of travel to ride in every new country she visits and/or neighbouring countries if she as already ridden in one. Such a fab idea and has deffo inspired me to start riding on my travels...whenever I get around to international adventuring again lolz
Her visit was perfectly timed as a stroll in the woods was just what we all needed after the weekend clinic'ing. We were truly blessed with the weather too - it really was glorious. I can only hope she enjoyed it as much as I did.
Between the ears shot of the "grand canyon" as I call it
Don't worry I haven't forgotten my Equitana post, I just didn't get around to it last week and then we had the clinic at the weekend so I'm hoping to write about that while it is all still fresh in my mind and after I get the copiess of the videos...hello media overload 😈
I'll hopefully have a more detailed post tomorrow about my weekends adventures at the mahoosive equine trade expo I attended in Germany on Saturday. Until then here are some pics of adorable Mules that were there 😍
The next one may remind you of someone 🙈
Three friends from the yard that were there (one with me the other two we ran into) said the same thing without prompting! I was a little put out as you'll see from the next picture the body isn't exactly a flattering comparison - But they did each specify that it was purely the head and to a lesser extent the colouring that prompted their perceived similarities.
The mules were there to participate in displays with the army. I'm not exactly sure what the performances entailed as I sadly didn't get to see them. I was too busy patrolling the stands for new and exciting things and/or talking myself out of the big purchase I wound up making.
Full disclosure I have so far failed to meet the few goals I set myself in my last post in the first three months of the year. Fear not however i am hopeful of rectifying that fairly sharpish.
I started following that post with great intentions of getting Kika going again under tack after her mini-hiatus since some time in November (shame on me for not blogging and therefore losing track), we lunged a couple of days in a row with and without lunging aids to get her brain back to working mode. She passed with flying colours not giving a flying flute about going back to work so you'd think I'd have hopped back up following those successes. However due to my aforementioned woeful blogging I can now not remember why I didn't hop up on her after that...whatever my reasons I'm sure they were pitiful. So the darling dear returned to daily turnout and little else to stimulate her beautiful brain.
I hopped up on Nancy a handful of times after PL rode during the week and played with her a little bit and actually rode her for a full 30-40minutes one evening PL couldn't come - I had to regain my own sealegs before braving the Kika.
Weather has been fab so the girls have been "naked" all week
Last Friday I decided to lunge her again and see where we were, bear in mind I lunged her in just her headcollar as I was aiming to ease her back into lunging before reintroducing the pessoa and/or tack. She started out a bit bug eyed as she listened to other horses walking outside the arena but then settled delightfully without once putting a paw out of place. We only lunged for 20 or 25 minutes as I didn't want to push her too hard after she had been out of "work" for so long. Saturday didn't quite go to plan for me, i didn't wind up riding either of them and it was Sunday evening before I decided to sod it. I tacked Kika up and brought the lunge line and whip to the arena with me and figured if things got hairy or we wound each other up I'd pop off and lunge her.
I needn't have worried, homegirl is a trooper and despite my terrible track record of keeping her working the last few years she didn't hold it against me and went straight back to work with w/t/c, changes of rein and mucho transitions as I played with the buttons to see what we both remembered - answer all the good stuff. Another boarder was lunging in one half of the arena so we worked mostly on a circle which can sometimes annoy K but I somehow miraculously managed to keep things different enough that neither of us got bored (long may that last).
Monday she had another day off and Tuesday I rode her in the large arena at the same time as PL rode Nancy. This time we stuck to w/t work with more of a focus on my part on consistency, transitions and tempo. Again K rose to my challenge without putting a toe out of line. I almost fear saying it, but I honestly think with her 13th birthday approaching in May we may be in the best place we've ever been in our almost decade long partnership. Yesterday the three of us went for a stroll in the woods, I rode Nancy and Kika came along on a lead for our first forray into the forest this year.
We've a busy few weeks coming up, PL & I are heading overnight to the absolutely awesome Equitana (the mahoosive equine trade fair that takes place in Germany every 2 years - LINKS to my previous posts 2015-1, 2015-II, 2013-I, 2013-II, 2013-III) for the last weekend in March. Then the following weekend we've organised a Ride With Your Mind clinic at the yard (my first time ever doing anything like this) with Elaine Butler a practitioner of the Mary Wanless technique who PL has ridden with a number of times. I am super stoked about this and hope she can help me straighten myself out once and for all!