Saturday, July 31, 2010

staying cool

Well we've all had a day off today and the boys stayed cool with their fans on and we stayed cool sitting in the lake at Ruffiac. Of course we had the usual pique-nique to begin and as we were leaving one of our neighbours turned up with her little boy and asked if Lydia would like to stay on longer with them...result. Hoping to get up early and hack out with Lydia tomorrow, not too hopeful though as it's so hard to get her off to sleep in this weather so getting out before the flies maybe tricky.

Friday, July 30, 2010

getting in to the swing

Well the work ethic is well and truly back in place and both boys worked well this morning. I was truly amazed that my legs/hips didn't hurt after riding Moo bareback so today I decided to give it another go (the saddle is on it's way back to be 'investigated'). I did a bit more trot today and it felt quite good, the lateral work in walk was fine but he still avoids opening the right hind  to allow the left hind through when moving away from my left leg. I picked up the scooling whip so that I could just touch where I expected him to move and he responded well, I think if I continue in this way he will be get the hang of using it properly.
Chapsi was back to one cool man :-) and so I hopped straight on and worked on clear signals for walk on, halt and turns; all part of the 'tidying up' process so that before we progress further all this basic stuff is truly in place.

Thursday, July 29, 2010


I'm currently trying to finish one of my holiday reads, Moshe Feldenkrais' 'Awareness through Movement'. I'd like to say go out and buy it but it's truly quite hard work, not the content but the dry feel to the writing means I have to re-read pages again and again.
The book is, however, littered with some wonderful life observations and there are quotes in abundance. I was worried that being forty years old the contents could be a little out-moded but nothing could be further from the truth.
Something I've become increasingly aware of in the last couple of years is that I'm not happy to follow tradition any more and this has led me to question many things in my equestrian world. Feldenkrais talks of the strata of developement that occurs within an activity and this could just as easily apply to riding as any other activity.
The first stage is the natural way, in riding this would be kids hopping abord bareback grasping some mane and just letting it happen.

The next phase is individual developement where we improve our technique from just hanging on and being a passenger to actually getting a sense of what to expect and developing our feel for an activity.

The third stage is the setting down in stone of a professional method, so now we feel the need to conform to the ear/hip/heel alignment, the two point seat etc BECAUSE someone 'professional' tells us this is correct (I'm not suggesting these are not correct just using them as illustrations).

Even forty years ago Feldenkrais believed that the creation of the third stage (professional) of an activity was not particularly advantageous because it actually puts people off trying to progress past the second or even first stage. I guess Feldenkrais put into words, such a long time ago, something that has been dawning on me for a while now....equestrians are no longer encouraged to have any natural feel and if they do it's often knocked out of them by the professional system.

On to more mundane thoughts; both boys worked today, Moo was ridden bareback for 45 minutes after some in-hand warm up. What a star that horse is :-) and he is teaching me to improve my stage two personal developement very nicely. So many things become obvious when working without a saddle and the lateral work was just a revelation.
Chapiro worked hard on the lunge and this is something he needs to do more of, he moves shoulders and quarters at the pointing of the whip and so it's relatively easy to rebalance him when needed. Lots of canter trannies and then some pole work to finish, pretty good session.
Off to bathe my aching muscles (you try riding Moo bareback for that long).

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Catching up on the boys now. Both started work again on Monday, Moo was a little stiff coming in (I think he always will be without the regular work) so we started with some massage and stretching and then in to the school for some in-hand and a lunge. I didn't push him too much and just concentrated on getting him relaxed and working through. Yesterday it was so hot when I got chance to work him that we settled for massage and stretching and then today in-hand and lunging; he worked really hard on the lunge and gave me some pretty good canter work so I reckon he's worked through his stiffness OK. I'll probably sit on him bareback tomorrow as my saddle is currently being replaced (I hope) due to a slight problem (I'll explain when it's resolved).

Chapsi worked at liberty and then on the lunge on Monday and was a good lad, I've decided to go back and cement in the earlier work as I still can't do much riding down to the saddle issue. Yesterday we had some spook busting...bags and boxes with rustling and shaking, used clicker and he was good. Then we went up the lane for a walk and took lots of stops to just chill and get him used to not rushing. Today I rode him in the school and he was very forward, LOL, usually he's so calm but not today, he managed not to be daft though so all in all not bad.

I'm still working on me! I bought a replacement gym ball yesterday (last one had a fatal meeting with the log burner) and I'm really trying to open the old hips and stretch everything. My right shoulder is a bit 'stuck' at the moment but I'm working on that too....broken horses and broken humans; what a life!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

roll up, roll up

....for all the fun of the fair. Well we had a lovely break on the med (photos later) and now we're back home and getting back into the swing of things. The boys got back to work yesterday and I'll update horsey things tomorrow.

Last night we headed off to Oradour Sur Vayres and met up with Di and Jim at the funfair. Lydia adores fairs and this one was no exception. I was extraordinarily pleased that Di took up the offer of a 'scary' ride with Lydia as I am a great big wuss in that department. We ate 'naughty' food; chips, churros and long gooey sweets, drank beer and then sat in a field watching a fabulous firework display.

The girls starting out at the House of Horrors

can Dad look good in a pink hat??

Line 'er up Jim

Di and Lydia at high speed

and slowing down!

feu d'artifice

Tuesday, July 13, 2010


Gosh time has disappeared again! We're off on our yearly holiday at the week-end and it's always hectic getting everything sorted before our departure. The boys are working in the cool of the morning and on sunday morning Lydia and I hacked out Moo and Peanut Pone, I was filled with trepidation as Moo can be such a twit! However he rose to the occasion and was the perfect Mum's lead horse...only faltering once as we passed through the 'funny' farm which is literally strewn with 'stuff', machines, bags, animals and two friendly human faces peering out of the front door to with us 'bonjour'. At this point he wavered for a second and Lydia sensibly pushed on and Moo took the pone's lead and continued. A good start to the day and one which we'll repeat when back from hols.

I'm still working on 'the seat' out of the saddle as much as in it. I'll formulate my exercise plan whilst away and post it up here when I'm back.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The Impossible 1

For some time now (since Christmas actually) I've been trying to turn my middle aged (yep, I know hard to believe LOL) body around. I've lost 8 kgs of 'soft bits' and have self diagnosed my awful wonkiness. I am aware I can't actually turn the clock back but I am also aware that I have wisdom on my side, surely that has to count for something? I digress, as always!

Now I've kept Moo sound for a year and hope with the correct work he will stay that way (rushes to find some wood). I have begun the ridden work with Chapsi things are going quite well. So now <> it's time to work on me. 

My new saddle arrived last week and now I have it all 'sorted' it's time to get on with things. I'm not sure if it's because of my back that my posture got to be so bad or that the bad posture caused the back to get bad but either way somewhere along the line I lost my seat. Today I took two pics to show where my arse wants to put itself and where it 'can' go when I make it!

My biggest problem is my conformation, I'm stocky in the leg and this means I have strong quads. At pilates classes I was always the one with the tightest quads! The tight quads encourage my pelvis/hips into a naturally 'chair' position rather than the desirable classical hip/heel/ear alignment and if I argue with them it ends up in a hollow back. Couple this with the width of Moo and it seems I have a tough road ahead. Ah well,  I'll take video on Friday when I ride and describe some of my exercises; feel free to throw some thoughts in.

in my 'chair'


Sunday, July 4, 2010

Pompadour CDI ***

 Friday morning dawned sunny and so it seemed the perfect opportunity to go to the GP at Pompadour. Some gorgeous neds, well and badly ridden. Notably Amy Stovold for GB and Hayley Beresford of AUS riding her scrummy PSL, did a pretty good job. A Brazilian sitting on the cantle and leaning back so far as to defy gravity and a Frenchie pulling and pushing were the other end of the scale!!
You can find the results here note that 4 of the top six were PRE or PSL (the Spanish are still in the world cup and Nadal won Wimbledon...notice a theme)

Here's pics from Patrick, sorry to those who already saw them on EE

Hayley Beresford and Relampago
 Hayley Beresford Relampago

Head shot of Judy Harvey's horse

pompadour 2010

One of the gorgeous Spaniards

pompadour 2010

A polished German performance

 pompadour 2010