Tuesday, August 31, 2010

I'm too tired to coherently put any thoughts down (as always I have lots regarding where this liberty work is going) but this was our latest session a couple of days ago. Yesterday spent with old friends passing through France means that I was too spaced to work with them today, caught up with field maintenance instead.

Saturday, August 28, 2010


The boys had their first encounter with the new shelter yesterday....it seemed to meet with their approval.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


This morning I lunged Moo; a little canter and lots of stretchy trot. Lots of clicks and treats and he responded very well....the hard work will help in the battle of his bulge!

Chapiro and I tried the mats again to start off and I just tidied up the earlier work so he understands that he has to have two feet fully on the mat to get the click and that he has to approach it at the speed I set rather than push through me and race to it. He was very attentive and so we took it down to taking single steps between the mats and some yielding of the shoulder when he threw his shoulder into me. If he raced ahead I asked halt and a step back which worked well. To finish (before lunging) we worked on some trot between the mats and for the first time ever in the trot liberty work he wasn't trying to get ahead of me all the time. I still don't have a plan and this is organically forming itself which I'm not entirely happy about, I think I'm supposed to have a list!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

more mats

A perfect morning for working the boys, not too hot and so less flies. Chapsi and I took a second mat down to the school and we played with some moving from one to the other at liberty. He was a little distracted to begin with but once he realised we had a new game he was upfor it. We did some head lowering and backing and then I got on.
Now forwards in the ridden work was initially a bit of an issue with him but we've gradually got the hang of it but the mats added a whole new dimension to forwards. The mats were placed at each end of the school (imagine a circle at each end with the mats in the center of each circle) and to begin with I just voice cued to walk to the mat, then to walk on and cued to walk to the next mat. I was absolutely amazed at his accuracy on the mats! Then we worked some figures (turns, 8's, diagonals) and stopped at the mats when it seemed appropriate. To finish we worked on trot transitions between the mats and he was very willing to go forward. A good session.

Moo was again stretchy and relaxed and we too worked with the mats (in-hand though rather than liberty) ridden we had some moments when it felt pretty good and less of the tight bits but we've still some way to go.

Monday, August 23, 2010

This was George (son of Chapsi) when newly born. According to the go-between he is already over 15hh at 2yo so he'll be quite a bit bigger than mum or dad.

Today all the boys worked well, including Peanut the pocket rocket who seems to have discovered fun with Lydia.

Chapiro wore the Barefoot for the first time and it sat very well, he worked at liberty (with saddle) for some mat work and then we lunged a short while to check out the saddle before I got on. I just worked on having good transitions from the halt to walk and then asked for him to walk to the mat...WOW I couldn't believe how he upped his energy and strode over to it, he was absolutely on cue until we got almost on the mat at which point he was a little unsure (I'm usually stood at the mat with him). I cued the mat again and he caught it with one foot so clicked and then we walked off on a circle and I gave the cue again and he was much more confident this time and we had two feet on the mat. I called it a day on this positive note as I had only really got on to check the saddle, which felt great.

Moo continued in the same vein as the last few sessions and was amazingly soft and stretching, it really is a lovely feeling to be able to vibrate a rein and get a relaxed stretch. The transitions up are soft but we're working on downwards with the help of clicker and some strategically placed poles.
Silly me thought he was so chilled that we'd have a little canter...cue mega-excitement but I guess well have to work on it.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

I fibbed

I was going to talk more on the clicker matwork and I will but not today.

The last two days I've ridden Moo we have had some real progress and I just want to get it written up before it disappears again.
The saddle is definitely OK, it seems to suit us both and is settling in well, maybe that is the difference. Perhaps he is finally getting it too? Well whatever it is he has been really relaxed and stretching down through all the walk and trot work. The trot can get a bit excited but generally with C/T'ing the halts and downward transitions he can contain it. He also responds well to constantly saying  'good' in the way that I do just before the one that gets a click, as if he's slowing it all down ready to stop for the treat, LOL I don't care what it is but it's a great feeling and one I can work with if he keeps offering it. He has also become much freer on the left rein stepping away from my leg which is a breakthrough at last :-)
I almost daren't think it might last but inside I'm really hoping it will.
Chapsi is having a couple of free days and just getting hosed down (a miracle of C/T too!!) in the intense heat we've had. I had a call last night to say the lady that bought his 2 yo (yep do the maths) son wants to trace dad. His name is George and he is, apparently, as handsome as his dad :-)

Thursday, August 19, 2010

clicker training mat work

I've been putting this off for a few days but I'm just going to have to get on and write it. It was not the time for the camcorder to die on me, so I can't even back up my words with video. It's quite likely that none of this will make any sense (probably not even to me) but I feel I need to record this progress as I'm quite excited about it.

A short while ago someone on the Enlightened Equitation forum was discussing mat work for expanding the clicker training work. Apparently it is something that Alexandra Kurland (one of the top CT trainers) has introduced to her British students and so I've been giving it a go with Chapiro this last week.
The work starts with getting your horse to approach a small mat (think car floor mat). The advice was to form a funnel of cones that arrive at the mat, this way your job is slightly easier (allegedly) in the beginning stages. Typically Chapiro thought the cones were target practice on the first run and took great pleasure in obliterating my funnel. It didn't take too long for him to work out mat = lots of treats and so he was pretty obliging.
OK I wrote that a couple of days ago, before I thought of doing a short video on my stills camera. So yesterday we worked in the yard (it was persisting down) and that in itself was a challenge, LOL, he doesn't usually get to snoop around the place at liberty so his attention wasn't great. Anyway, what follows is a short, goofy video but it gives an idea of where we are and how much we have to do (lots as always). More tomorrow on how this work will progress.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

trial saddle

OK this will be brief but for those who wish to try out their childhood french and struggle with my grammar I'll add my report to the saddle vendor at the bottom. The Baloun dressage saddle (flexi-treed) C1 is a beautifully put together saddle. It comes in a range of traditional and more modern colour arrangements and seems aimed at the compo rider. It was very comfortable for me and Moo seemed very happy and able to move well in it. The downside I guess for me was that it was just another traditional seaddle, made for some long-legged skinny bloke or wench and hence I had lots of panel in front of my knee and not enough at the back of my thigh. It has a changeable gullit arrangement and I'm sure will appeal to a certain market but it still falls well short, for me, of the perfect saddle.

I did ride in my 'new' Barefoot today and decided I'll go stirrupless for a while (omg think yourselves lucky readers that you didn't see me mounting with no stirrups!!!) and Moo went well and it felt very good.

Chapsi is back to serious CT (I'll blog more soon) and we are having BIG fun, what a boy hehehehe.

For anyone interested the Baloun write up;

J'avais déjà dit combien j'aime la qualité. Le design ressemble beaucoup plus à une selle de dressage traditionnelle mais avec une systeme moderne d'arçon. J'ai monté mon cheval Andalou et il a aimé la selle!! Donc pour moi les points forts....
1) pèse très peu
2) le 'look'  modern mais encore traditionel
3) la selle a pas bougé en montant et la même quand j'ai fait les mouvements sur deux pistes (comme épaule en dedans, travers) et quand nous avons galopé (dans la carrière et sur un chemin)
4) montage d'étrivières très facile!
5) siège bien profond pour une jambe très decendante  et les  panneaux (courts et souples) permettent  ('panels' en anglais mais je suis pas certaine, ils sont les panneaux en francais???)  les cuisses d'épouser la selle
6) siège très confortable
7) arçon très flexible/souple
8) le cheval a travaillé en tout tranquilité, tete en baisse (énchauffement)  et tete en haut ( rassemblement) et avec un grand souplesse
9) la selle offre la possibilité d'utilisation sur plusieurs chevaux
les points moins forts!!
1) pas d'anneaux d'attache (difficile d'attacher le tapis de dressage mais peut-etre Baloun offre une systeme speciale comme tapis)
2) le prix! Mais pour un cavalier pro ou pro/am c'est pas trop chere parce que c'est utilisé avec tous les chevaux.
3) étrivières pas amovibles, donc pour moi (sans les jambes très longues!) c'est un peu difficile de trouver la ligne classique d'oreille/hanche/talon)
J'aime bien la selle de dressage Baloun mais pour moi la selle Lexington est plus polyvalente (bien pour les balades et pour le dressage) pour un cavalier qui fait les concours la selle Baloun est plus adaptée. Je pense que fondamentalement cette selle est conçue pour un cavalier différent que les clients de Barefoot mais je l'ai trouvé assez satisfaisant.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

saddles are here

Just had a time to lunge Moo before we headed off to Limoges for a shopping trip. Bought Lydia a new body protector as she has outgrown the old one; she has decided to go up to 'double' ponies in her lessons at the club....bigger jumps= Mum's nerves jangling so a new body protector was essential, LOL.
The new Barefoot arrived and looks lots better if not quite perfect! The Baloun C1 dressage saddle arrived too and can be seen here.......Baloun

A very kind friend has translated the German for me and it's a flexi tree not a tree free, I'll give it a try tomorrow but it is beautifully made (should be at that price) and much moe 'traditional' than the Barefoot. I'll keep you posted :-)

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


All the boys played jumps today! Chapiro being the star. He's not going to make a GP showjumper but he impresses me with his calm approach and natural shape over 50cm hehehe; it was funny too that when we finished the liberty jumping he decided to go do one more each way of his own accord, LOL.
Moo just did bounces to get him picking up a bit better and he worked very well.
Then it was the peanut pone's turn! All I will say is my daughter has the utmost patience and the peanut ain't ever going to be a showjumper (21 years old and copd won't help either).
Good fun session.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Sunday, August 8, 2010


...of a day today. Haven't had a day like that in a while; had planned to hack with Lydia this morning but she was up half the night coughing and I could barely get a response at 6.30am so thought it only fair to let her sleep. By the time we all got up and started it was too hot to work the boys so I cleaned up an old saddle I have and got it on ebay, don't hold out much hope but it's not expensive and is in good nick so maybe it will go. Groomed the boys before turnout and then had dinner followed by scrabble; some cheating tolerated as Lydia liked to pop in the odd french word.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

moo, moo I love yoo

He,he,he my boy was a star this morning. Can't say the same about the camcorder as it is playing up again *bangs head against wall* and so I have no record but it felt good. I took him straight into the school after I brought them in and we got into the trot work after a short stretching session. I managed to keep the trot slow but purposeful (not easy bareback) and we worked on some halt/reinback/trot transitions. Short and sweet and no soreness now so I was pretty pleased.

Yesterday I rode Chapsi bareback after some in-hand work, then Lydia was legged up and I did some more in-hand with her on board, he was a very good boy. Then Moo was ridden bareback in his rope halter by Lydia, again I did some in hand and he behaved perfectly.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

the small unwashed one....

...was back to the club at lunchtime and seems to have had great fun. She had worn every item of clothing she had packed but had not even opened the bag with soap, towel, toothbrush and toothpaste!! After a shower she was off playing and had a  mate over for tea; sleep followed as soon as the head touched the pillow...not normal for Lydia.

Moo was much better today, started with stretches and then some in-hand and as he was fine I hopped on and just did some stretchy stuff. He rode absolutely fine so hopefully I've nipped the soreness in the bud. I videod for the sake of seeing how he was so here's some basic stuff for the record and typical I missed the trot work as the disc was full (it always amazes me how the time flies when you're working horses). A good, relaxed session.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

I'm blogging from an unusually quiet house as Lydia is off on her club's pony camp night. They ride a couple of hours to a farm and then play games, eat and camp with the pones. Unfortunately it's a bit dreary here today and I hope she's wearing all the warm stuff I packed for her; knowing her she'll be half dressed in her sleeping bag. One thing is a dead cert, tomorrow the tack room at the club will have that certain aroma of unwashed children and greasy ponies, LOL, but I'll still be happy to have that first hug!

Moo came in a little sore today so I invested all my time in him, a massage and stretches and then lunging/moving massage. He is so much braver about it all now, hope he's a bit better tomorrow.

I had a call from the saddle agent tonight, not only to apologise again for the wonky saddle but to ask could she send me a new dressage saddle to test! Apparently it's a treeless that she's thinking of stocking and she would like my opinion, LOL, it's a funny old world. It will arrive with the Barefoot next week.

My last 'pressie' arrived today...my Scholl shiatsu massage chair...it is THE business. Maybe I should get one for Moo!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010


The good news is that my wonky Barefoot is being replaced, yay!! They agreed (after some foot stamping on my part) to take it back to look at it and have now apologised for what they call a little 'setback' and are sending me a new one. It's hard enough to sit on a horse, with all it's imbalances, being a wonky human; sitting in a wonky saddle is just one step too far, LOL.
So today I rode Moo bareback again (I could shim my treed saddle to suit but as the new saddle will be here soon I think I'll do without) we had a good session. He is improving with the moving away from the left and I played with slowing the walk right down and then letting it out again. It's quite strange because bareback I only have to raise my toes/drop my heel and he halts and that even works with the reins on his neck and my arms in the air (yes I've been playing), I suppose this transfers from using a dropping of weight into the stirrups as an aid to halt when saddled. I have also noticed that the problem of the chair seat could well be down to my inner thigh! You know, the bit that some folk think you can pull out and back to get the thigh flat to the saddle! To be honest I can't tell what I look like bareback because my trusty camcorder has thrown a sicky and I'm working on a cure. When Yvonne was house sitting she saw me up bareback and said I looked straight so for now I won't beat myself up about the thighs and I'll just keep stretching it all in the hope that my legs may end up 5cm longer.

Chapiro worked at liberty to start, oh that boy is just such fun to be with and he makes me smile. The clicker work has helped his concentration enormously but he still has his baby moments but they are very forgivable. We finished on the lunge with some good trot and canter transitions and then some trotting poles to get him stepping through a little. A good day in all.

Monday, August 2, 2010

meaning it

This morning I went over to see Di and her lovely horses. Allegedly she needed some help with the gorgeous Remy and his in-hand work!
A coolish morning gave us plenty of time to look at the man in action and I was really pleased to see how forward thinking he was, this was a marked improvement since my last visit and it was clear Di had been working on the right lines. That's the thing with training horses, it's all there to see and there's no place to hide if it's not right...lucky for Di the only thing missing was a pat on her back!!

There were a couple of things that could be worked on going forward but really it's all about intention. Just like we are with our kids and discipline it's the same with our horses; if you're bothered enough to say it, MEAN IT. As long as you reward handsomely and define it well then meaning it is what works.

It was great to see Jim looking so much better and out in his veggie garden and he assures me he will be back blogging soon, hope so Jim as you always make me smile.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Well 6.30am came around way too fast! However! A promise is a promise and so I gently nudged Lydia awake, silently hoping she may say she was too tired to get out of bed! As expected she easily tumbled out of bed, into the bathroom and then into her riding gear so I followed suit.
The boys were duly brought in and Cacahuète and Moo brushed and tacked up. We enjoyed a lovely hack up the lane and on to the chemin up to Fouilloux and then back round and on to the chemin home. It was a new route and we only saw two other living beings, what a joy.
The promising dawn clouded over after breakfast so that gave me a chance to work Chapsi. I'm starting some of our school sessions at liberty, not because I want to develope this excessively but because it gives him such confidence and is good fun. I pretty much let him decide on the game, today it was targetting and then trot to target the next, wears me out but he loves it. Then we did some lunge work, walk, trot and canter in small bursts, moving the shoulders in and out on a circle and finally a mini jump!!! What a little star he was, trotting poles into a small jump (about 50cm) and he made a good enough attempt....he's no jumping star but then that's not a problem as I'm not either.
The afternoon brought storms and lovely rain, just what was needed!