Tuesday, June 12, 2012

thundering hooves

The boys are in our most distant paddock, it's our largest and sits on a steep hill. Tonight, standing at the top of the hill by the shelter, I whistled for them to come. Not a sign of them for a few seconds but then thundering hooves were joined by mad galloping Spaniards with manes on end and nostrils flared. It's a fine sight and lifts your heart, makes you happy that they are are so keen to be first to get there and see you.
After some serious bum scratching (they stand bum to bum in a V shape so I can do both at once) we played double clicking. I love the motivation of playing together. Chapiro can't even bear to be distracted from the task when he has competition for being top man! Polite distance, walking on, halting and backing and then goodnight cuddles.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Where does the time go

Where the heck does time go? I've been a rubbish blogger lately; must do better!
Sometimes the motivation just ain't there to tap tap one's horsey goings on and sometimes there just ain't any goings on!
I have been busy though, trying to sell the house means even more mowing and strimming than usual and I've written a baroque dressage test for Interdressage (big thanks to Karina Hawkridge for taking that one on), you can see it here.
The boys are rather 'soft' round the edges but when Lydia and I have had a chance to work them they've been total stars.
I shall try to be more active here again, it' a great place to get your head square so back soon.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Grand National Sadness

I'm trying so hard not to be reactionary here! As a kid I loved the atmosphere and attended many a NH race meeting with my Dad. Today I'm saddened yet again that horses die for OUR sport, it's just wrong. Nothing in life can be 100% safe but when only 15 from a field of 40 can finish (of which two had to be destroyed) then I just feel the price is too high.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

honest horse

In my head I have a plan. I see it clearly but I very much doubt my horse does. He comes to me with the honesty that is horse but sometimes it's so simple that I fail to see it.

Watching Lydia and Moo during their first attempt at clicker training tonight made me smile...it's so simple to see it when you can watch quietly from a distance. The horse knows what he is but it's our job to communicate what we want from the relationship. Please grant me the infinite patience required to communicate.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Thursday, April 5, 2012

still smiling

Lydia and Moo

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

the smallest things

Make me smile :-)

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

over and over

Well we've been busy working on the property, making it beautiful for someone else! Still managing to fit some time in with the horses and had a good week-end with Lydia riding Moo out on their first hack, me on shank's though!! Sunday I gave her a little lesson and she's coping very well with him, the rising trot is coming and whilst he looks like he's about to disappear at a rate of knots he never does, being a mum is tricky in these situations. I hacked Moo out a few times last week and he was a superstar, I just need to keep him fit enough whilst Lydia is at school so light school work and a little hacking should do the job. Chapiro and I have played with our liberty again! I keep going back over this work because there is a niggle. Trouble is I'm not sure what it is but it's there I just know it is. I've gone right back again to the keeping his distance but keeping tuned to me and going for mega clicks for the basics to really make sure I haven't messed up there. I had a lovely session with him yesterday, it felt like we could one day dance in a true partnership. Video shows us picking up some basics for turn on the haunches, early days but I think he's getting it.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

healing power of the sun

The new routine is working well, I admit to having been nervous about having just the two boys but I needn't have been. They are very calm on the yard, in the field and with just a minimal amount of calling when one goes out to work. Today I hacked out on Moo and Chapiro was very relaxed about being left behind, what a good lad and Moo was very relaxed in the lovely sunshine that has been a regular feature recently.

We have gradually upped Chapiro's work rate, he's so different to Moo and taking some time to get really fit but he's getting there now. We've been working on lateral work at walk and lightening up our transitions, very pleased with him. I'll attach some recent videos, Lydia and Moo winning their All Round Horsemanship at Interdressage (how well timed was that) Chapiro with some CT groundwork for the HT Challenge, some CT ridden work and some very laboured canter transitions from Chapsi but if I don't show the bad ones I'll forget once they're amazing!!!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Sleep tight Cacahuète

I've got to write this post but as I do I can feel the emotions coming anew so forgive it's brevity. Last week we said the final goodbye to Lydia's beloved pony. After three bouts of colic in as many weeks we decided to call it a day and let the little man be pain free and walk over rainbow bridge. We miss him like hell but the big boys have helped us no end and we are healing slowly. I'll be back to blog soon.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

he's not really a horse

It's school holidays and as Cacahuète is back to rude health he has been back to his gymnastic jumping, it makes me happy to see the little man on form again, he really is a superstar!

Friday I scraped the mud off Moo to get a ride and he made me happy too, just sitting up there, playing with some lateral work and then blowing the cobwebs away with a trot up the track was just what I needed, he has become my Mr. Fixit for those blue moments.

Chapiro! Well I'm now pretty sure he's not a horse. Chapiro is more Border Collie than horse. We have returned to playing with some liberty clicker work this last week and as always he seemed to love it. I threw the mat into the school and he literally ran after it to get on it as soon as it landed. I then worked on some new cues to send him to a target (big upturned bucket) and back to the mat and then off to another target, I was pretty impressed with how on cue he was even though I wasn't perfectly clear all the time (note to self about planning these sessions!!). I think fetching a stick will be next, only kidding!

Chaps enjoyed a free jumping play and a couple of in-hand/lunge and ridden sessions too. Thank goodness the snow has gone and lets hope it won't be making a return any day soon.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Melt

Finally the melt has started. Lydia off school for more than a week due to snow/ice and a poorly pony have made the last couple of weeks somewhat tiresome. Hopefully it has passed for the moment.

Yesterday I finally got to restart work with Chapiro, just  a little in-hand and lunging but it made me feel a much more whole person again, I hate not having play time with the boys.

The right rein shoulder fore is really getting very good, nice and relaxed in the walk and happy to engage the right hand under his COG but the left rein is now the tricky one! The left rein has a 'busier' walk rhythm, more tension and consequently more stopping for a couple of steps of reinback. Will be working on that over the coming weeks.

Reinback in figure of eights to finish, not the most perfect '8' s but hey this is new for him.

I'm all excited about what's to come again, just keep the cold away, please!!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

there's more

Last little reminisce (promise) unless I find the ones that are missing at a later date, moving every few years I seem to have mislaid quite a few years worth!

Eite my friesian the day I brought him home, boy did I wonder what I'd bought when he came off the lorry.

   but the boney bum filled out and he turned into a black swan (think I've already blogged these pics but I'll show them again)

and Sam my Gelderlander (seems I 'used' to like big horses)

and Sam and I during a regular lesson with Inger Bryant (list 1 judge and a brilliant trainer) I love how Sam was paying great attention to our feedback!

and some shots of  Fidge my first PRE when I first got him, very grainy as they were never on proper photographic paper and haven't scanned well.

  So that's it for now from a very snowy Aquitaine.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

wot plan???

Did I say plan? Ah, what I meant to say was .....


Lydia and I are on a mission to put all our 'photos on disc before we move and today we found some very old ones of me.
Sadly the days of digital arrived too late for my childhood and my early years on horseback are scarcely visible in our family album but what I have I'll share.

Aged 2 and probably the first 'sit on'

Aged 4 (nearly 5) and all turned out for an 'occasion'

Rosettes won, why I had to show them off next to a 'mushroom' is anybodies guess!!

friend and pony....

and 'off out hunting' on a bay NOT a grey (that love must have come later!!)

Friday, February 3, 2012

time to think

I realise many of you bloggers live in cold climes and usually I'm not one to moan but after the mildest winter in the last 8 it's hit me hard to be down into minus figures during the day.

The school is frozen solid and the tracks lumpy and bumpy so real work is out and my fingers just don't seem to work to even get some clicker going in the yard.  I really must invest in some wool, knickers and socks would be a good start.

The problem for me is motivation. The last couple of weeks I've been very motivated and riding most days but then a few days of bitter cold weather and I'm sidelined and frustrated. So this week-end I need a plan. Perhaps the plan should be to make a plan. I'll let you know what the plan is just as soon as I've worked that one out for myself.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

whoop whoop

Or not!

Chapiro had a couple of days off (well he had worked 8 days straight and I had a lot on) but yesterday we were back in the school and then walked down the hill to the bottom field. On the way back up we trotted on a long rein where we have cantered but he stayed balanced in body and brain, no rushing or anticipation. We continued up the lane past the house and he seemed quietly confident, didn't go far on my own but he behaved well. The only niggly bit being his trot transitions in the school which remained a little 'sticky'.

So today, in the rain (is this really me, riding in the rain?) we worked on keeping a really relaxed neck through the transitions and keeping his head a little lower than usual and it made a big difference. We ended up riding relaxed transitions on long, long reins but with his back working, it felt good.

So is my boy finally relaxing? I hate to speak too soon but this last week his confidence has emerged and I can count the spooks on one hand rather than on all fingers and toes! He is walking boldly down to the school and even me whacking by boot on the fence today didn't induce even the merest spook.

I'm thinking that when Steinbrecht said ''ride your horse forward and straight of shoulders'' he was very wise and that maybe when l'Hotte said the horse should be ''calm, forward and straight' it could have read ''forward and straight (by virtue of the shoulders) will bring on calm''! This certainly seems to be true of Chapiro, the straightening work is bringing along the gift of calm...or let's hope so.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Chapiro's week

It's been all work for the young man this week and he's been a good boy, taking it all in his stride so to speak. The flexion work is continuing to reap rewards and it's following through to the ridden work. We've clicker trained the transitions a bit and we now have a trot that flows, just need to build some stamina. The lateral work is coming on and we even started a little travers. We hacked down the track and trotted back up the hill a couple of times after schooling and all of a sudden stamina wasn't an issue, lol.
The canter is improving on the lunge and we've ridden a few transitions in the school but maintaining the canter in the school is going to require more stamina training (spot the trend here).
Tonight we lunged over some small jumps which he really loves, he maintains a nice balance in the approach and makes a decent enough shape over them so it bodes well for him and Lydia in the future.

Lydia and Cacahuète have been enjoying their jumping and he also seems to be loving it

Sunday, January 15, 2012

onwards and upwards

Chapiro has ended his light duties for sure and has been ridden the last three days, I think he actually likes to be back into 'proper' work. I've just been riding for about 20 minutes after and in-hand or lunge session as he won't be too strong yet, we'll build up over the next few weeks.

I've ridden either in the bareback pad or the treed saddle as I do need to get Lydia on board more now and the Barefoot is too big for her. It feels strangely unsupportive after the treeless but he seems very happy in it.

Yesterday he was very sparky on the lunge and spooking everywhere but when I get on he seemed much calmer (thank goodness :o ). We worked on sideways and keeping the neck relaxed and then some trot work which already seems more energetic than it did a couple of days ago.

This is our work towards giravolta, I need to work lots on me but he's a star and very obliging.

Thursday, January 5, 2012


I am heartened to say there is much talk on Enlightened Equitation of a plan to run baroque style online dressage tests. The idea of tests where lightness and artistry will be blended with correct gymnastic work quite excites me. I'm still saddened to read of folks 'holding' their horse together, driving aids and other things that are a complete anathema to me but perhaps if more of the good stuff is out there it will inspire others. I know I shall be working on my moves once this damned weather clears! No rain for months and then the annual rainfall in one month, or so it seems.
Today the boys came in and were happily munching on hay to the sound of rain hammering on the roof. They all had a brush and massage and Chapsi did some work on the yard; asking him to be more aware of my space, I didn't use 'click and treat' but 'good and scratch' (for those who fear treat giving it's a viable alternative), we had a few magic moments. Tomorrow the sun will shine!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

phew, that's done then

Regular followers will already know that I'm not a truly festive person and thankfully as I sit here on January 1st it's all but over. It's been a lovely quiet time for us as a family and I've enjoyed it more than I probably care to admit! We've cooked together, eaten and drunk too much together and enjoyed some nice time with friends along the way but I'll be happy to get back into my regular routine tomorrow.

Christmas being dry and sunny we managed to film some interdressage entries and some hacking and playing over logs in the woods. Helen and her family came over and of course Lydia and Ali overdosed on pony fun whilst Cacahuète got double the attention but worked pretty hard to deserve it. After lunch Helen had a play on Moo, she was impressed with him and how light he was, quite a compliment as Helen is a stickler for manners!

Cacahuète sneaks a mouthful
 Tyres in the woods
 Ali and Cacahuète with his warpaint
 My fave small person!
 Too busy to catch action shots but Ali made a lovely go of the tyres, take my word for it

Yesterday was wet and dreary but we made the effort to tack up a damp Moo and Cacahuète. Lydia had a nice canter alongside Moo's slow trot which is getting more and more contained and inspite of the drizzle we enjoyed our hack, certainly blew the cobwebs away.