Tuesday, June 30, 2009

feelin' hot hot hot

The boys were calling to come in this morning before 9 am, very unusual but it was already 25°. Way too hot to ride for me but I've only lunged the last few days; feeling apathetic after loosing Harri but needing to keep Moo's feet conditioning going.
So in spite of the heat and covered in fly spray we took to the school. Moo was a good boy and his lateral work is progressing really well now that I've worked out how to ride better, LOL. Worked on the entwickeln exercise, which I'm finding incredibly useful, and moving the 1/4's away and then re-positioning the shoulders which works well to slow everything down, especially in the trot.
Good storm would seem to be the order pretty soon!

Monday, June 29, 2009

twinkle, twinkle little star

No ,blogging this week-end as our little Harri has been poorly. She is now pain free as we took the awful decision to have her pts. After 13 years of loyal service it was the last thing we could do for her. We're all so sad but have many happy memories of our little dog, thanks twinkle.

Friday, June 26, 2009

model man

So here he is; Moo 's the man.....

Thursday, June 25, 2009

I'm probably getting quite boring

Do I care? If I'm being boring it's because I'm all excited, LOL. Another good ridden session today; good trot work and even a little canter to check the brakes. Moo is just like a *proper* horse now but with *beans* which is just perfect because I LIKE forward in a horse. We had some good transitions and lateral work and I probably had a big grin on my face the whole time. To think I nearly didn't ride as it was so hot this afternoon but I'm glad I did; I needed to for his feet rehab anyway so I'm feeling doubly happy. It is so nice not to have a head and neck acting like a snake on speed.
I do feel I can go back to my *turning* ramblings now, it all makes so much sense when you're bitless.....ummm, some clarity I hope. I still have a huge mountain to climb with regard to where all this might fit in with my belief system, oh dear I'm sure I'm too old to be starting back at the beginning again.
Here, for Kate particularly, is the type of hackamore I'm using, I forgot to take 'pics today but mine is way higher on the nose than this and I wouldn't ever advocate using one this low.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

bitless musings

Kate and Di are interested in why bitless might be better for Moo; me too!! I know that I may have mentioned some of this before but just to paint the full picture....
When I first bought Moo he was a brilliantly straight horse, so damned straight that he couldn't turn or indeed work on a mega large circle. I'm a sucker for a pretty pony and I guess I felt I could work some sort of miracle and so ,being nicely bred; I just took the risk. He had a very sore mouth when I saw him, corners of his lips red and raw. Please don't get me wrong, the lady selling him had suffered a personal crisis and was unable to spend the time she had envisaged with him, she wasn't an awful owner..far from it. I think the sore mouth was the result of an attempt at sorting out his steering in order to impress buyers.
OK fast forward a year and we're in France, new business and Moo here too (by the seat of his pants I may add) I sorted out some of the most basic problems in the UK before leaving (like how to turn) and now on French turf we got stuck in to some more serious work. At this point I decided to try him bitless to see if it cured his almost unbearable habit of head banging. A few months and he was doing OK so I put him back in the bit. Then he had two years off whilst we sold up, moved and settled in.
So now we come to the start of this blog and he started work in the snaffle. He is lots better than he ever was before, much happier and pleased to be working (I think) but still the head is unsettled. So we're back bitless and I have no idea where it will lead, I just know he feels better. In the past it's been in my thoughts that without a bit in the mouth I will not have that *finesse* and that ability to access the *soul* (or indeed the hind leg) of the horse. Now I think that could be bollocks but I'm not sure, watch this space.

Oh and boots Di, well he's measured and now I will wait a couple of weeks and re-measure and then hopefully get a boot that fits. It maybe that Claire brings them if the timing fits. I would say though that his feet look so much better already.

Monday, June 22, 2009

more progress

I was very pleased with Moo this morning, rode in the hackamore again but first we played in-hand.
Just because I had to know, LOL, I tried flexions minus the bit. Quite unsurprisingly the bit chewing isn't going to happen but I did try the sideways flexions and he happily enjoyed the stretch and did the down and out afterwards. I figure this is actually going to be a useful tool to get over the point of how the inside rein works, i.e. as I close my fingers he takes his head to the inside and if asked will then take that stretch down and out; we'll have to see.
He gives an even better rein back in-hand without the bit and his giravolta/leg yield was good too. Tried shoulder-in and the counter exercise, both went well but the travers was the best I've ever had in-hand, in fact the best I've ever had from him full stop!! So I hopped on (almost literally as my back is a little restricting right now, bummer) and rode the travers, pretty good but not quite as good as the in-hand.
On the whole a good session, I think my reactions are improving and my hands are behaving a little better. Moo is so much steadier even in the trot and I can't wait for the next session each time. We had a little play with some square work on the grass afterwards because we can't hack at the moment.
His footiness is a little better and his feet look so much better, not great having to cancel my farrier; in spite of the fact that farriers don't understand all the issues of barefoot, he is a really professional guy who was never late or missed a rendez-vous. Oh well I had to do the best for my horses.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

playing with my pony

Chapiro seems to change before my very eyes and I am slowly learning to love the little bugger. Like a child he stretches you to the absolute limits and probably teaches me more than I can ever hope to teach him. He delights and frustrates equally and today was no exception.
Being Father's Day we spent most of the day lunching out and taking in the tourist sights ofBrantôme, (something we rarely get a chance to do as we are hell bent on finishing our kitchen and lounge at the moment). Known as the Venice of the Dordogne, Brantôme is a tourist trap but in June it is still bearable (February is better still) and we had a delightful day.
Anyway, I digress, back to Chapiro. Mellow from my day out I took him down to the school and took off the lead rope and on the advice of an EE friend, Butterfly, I waited to see what HE wanted to play at. We just stood there, looking at each other until he broke ranks and came over to check me out. Seems he was happy to play. We played back up, follow my leader, target my leg, walk away in *that* direction (please) and scratch my neck Mum. He was a total star, following my body language and me saying nothing. I took out two poles and made an open *box* with them and the side of the school. He thought they were truly terrifying and avoided them at all costs. I was dead chuffed that within 5 minutes he would walk between them, stand inside the box, reverse into the box and (this was the hardest to crack and he kept walking around them) finally would walk OVER them. Then I turned him out and he chased the pony......argghh, oh well guess he just stretched me again.
I had a lovely time and he seemed quite content, tomorrow ,as they say, is another day.

Thursday, June 18, 2009


As Di asked so nicely!! I was really pleased with him again today, lots for me to work on with my position etc but what a good boy he was.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


Not me but Moralejo. As I had surmised he has sore feet, thin soles and no heels and so he is bruising easily. The good news is that my fab new trimmer (thanks Jane) can sort it with time. Bad news for Moo is that he should exercise as much as possible in the sand but no hacking until I sort out some front boots (oh help this is new territory and very bad news for my pocket).

Worked him today in the hackamore, haven't done this for some time and he felt really good...makes me aware of my hands as they are somewhat obselete in a bitless. The difference now is that he is so aware of my body turning aids that he does work pretty much *off* my hands. I need to video because it feels good but maybe it isn't. As always the *doubt* creeps in, LOL.

Monday, June 15, 2009

busy week-end

The week-end was taken up with ponies. As usual Saturday's lesson and then Sunday was the Fête du club at the equestrian centre. The kids got to play games with the ponies, the teenagers jumped (or rather fell off and jumped) and the grown-ups (I use that term loosely!!) rode a carousel dressed as clowns. It was a lovely afternoon out, especially for the kids, but my reward was finishing the day with a glass of knock out sangria and a table heaving with the most delightful *apero* snacks. It fair made up for having to watch some *clown* ladies banging down in the saddle with little finesse.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

friend to play

It was so lovely to see Di today, we played with Moo (Di sat on too) and she kindly shot some video for me. Afterwards we laughed lots and put the world to rights over a bottle of wine.

I've had a b*gger of a job with the video because movie maker seems to have uploaded it as lots of tiny clips of a couple of seconds each so I'm afraid it's the best I can do tonight.

Anyway, he wasn't quite right today and felt a little unlevel before he loosened up; after we finished and took him back up to the yard he seemed to be foot sore and I can only surmise that he is bruised.....so day off tomorrow and see him on the lunge Sunday.

He was, as always, FULL of beans and as you will see he tucks back behind and rushes on. However, it may be rather fast but he ISN'T leaning on me and it is slowly getting there.

Too tired to add anything constructive but thanks for coming over Di, great to see you.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

more transitions

Well today I tried to look at us through a spectator's eyes. I know exactly what I would say if I was teaching someone else so why not apply the logic to myself. Yes for certain one has to ride *up* into the downward transition. Up with the energy, up with the shoulder and forehand. Keeping the energy through the transition is part of the problem actually, not loosing it but containing it! I don't want him on my hand (chances are it will end up there if he hasn't got enough balance) and so where does one put the excess energy from the trot when you arrive in the walk?
OK I'm probably not explaining this too well so here's an idea of what happens. Whilst in rising trot I set up a walk transition with a couple of half halts and then slow my rising and deepen each time I sit and feel as if my seat is sucking up more and more energy each time; I keep my legs deep, my bum underneath and lift up tall through my core and upper body, my hands barely close. YAY we're in walk.....for a split second and then bouff...he's off into trot with KNOBS on, heehee. Now I don't want to ride something with no will to move forwards but honestly, he justs makes me want to laugh. I know that if Vicky reads this she will be smiling because Antsje has energy too.
It's getting late and I'm not going to tackle this problem in one night's post BUT I do think it's an issue with submission. To a degree he submits beautifully but when his brain gets fizzed he just can't help himself, perhaps I'm expecting too much too soon. So it's a multi-pronged attack!! In-hand he is great and that tells me he feels more secure with me *close* so I will be very strict with myself and lunging and ridden I'll use long periods of standing still (not necessarily close to me on the lunge) and maybe some inside bending into a stretch down...all in halt. Halts followed by a period of stretching down on no rein.
I remember being somewhere close to this stage before and I used to take him into the school and sit on him to teach, it really helped him at the time. So, maybe I'll take a book; shame I no longer smoke, lol, perfect fag break just standing still!! One way or another I think we need to learn that NOTHING is good.


Working on transitions today and will be for the forseable future, LOL. Upwards great, keeping soft etc downwards are not so great...I'll be trying some new ideas over the next few days. Big bonus that I have FINALLY got some length in my right leg, it complains a bit to start but then gives in, YAY.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

it's raining, it's pouring...

but at least the old man ain't snoring. To be absolutely truthful it hasn't rained for the last 12 hours but blimey did we have some before that.

As I was busy again in the DIY department I nipped out again and did some in-hand and videoed. Alas I ran out of card before we got to the spanish walk which has really come on.

He's never going to flex much through the hocks, he never has and is built so square that he finds the lateral stuff quite hard. However, enough excuses because I just looked back at the in-hand vids from a few months ago and he is so much improved. That's the joy of a blog, it's all there to refer to when you need to.

Monday, June 8, 2009

riders on the storm

Well actually *in-hand* not ridden. My god it was blowin' today. Brilliant sun and then a sudden howling gale with rain rushing in on it. So I had to pick my moment, which came whilst I was treating the oak beams in the soon to be kitchen.
Moralejo was great today and the in-hand was a delight, I'm finally managing to keep his shoulder up and out in the giravolta which is encouraging. We managed a whole circuit of the school in trot and he's really listening to the trot aid now and we had a decent rein back to trot transition too. Played with the shoulder-in into counter shoulder-in and just need to tidy up the transition a bit.
Finished with some spanish walk which I have avoided for a couple of months because he is a little to *eager* to offer it at every opportunity. Much more contained today, although the jambette is a bit paltry still, the walk and alternate lift is getting there.
Must video to see where I'm going wrong.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

soap box moment

It seems most of us got rained off yesterday (most unusual for me) so Moo had a massage, strapping and stretching session. Now he understands what it's all about he really seems to enjoy it. He does make me laugh when I'm strapping his bum because he lifts up his leg to let me know I have to scratch the bits he can't reach; bit like a dog.
Today was bright and dry so we went in the school to lunge. He was very calm in spite of the howling gale and we played with some trotting poles and it really gave him some *lift*. I'm also playing with the voice aid *up* and by clicking when he responds correctly I can now get him down or up on voice.....just need to work on the aids for mucking out and then I will have the perfect pony!!

So now....drum roll.....I step on to the soap box....

For those of you who have a working knowledge of francais then go to the link below on the French Federation web site. It is a dressage test for what seems to be the lowest *club* competition here in France. There isn't really any unaffiliated here, it's all affiliated to the FFE but this club test is about the level of prelim/novice in the UK (sorry those in the USA I don't know your levels).
I don't have any problems with the test, progressive transitions, working trot, 3 loop serpentine, 1/2 10m circle, leg yield etc BUT read the top. Snaffle bridle, GOGUE ALLOWED (yes I am shouting arrgghh) SPURS OPTIONAL (blimey I'm shouting again) is this the world gone mad??


Surely this is wrong, riding a test in a gogue (I have my serious reservations about them even for training). Anyway, I'm off to view some of the test in a couple of weeks as they have a *concours* at our club and interestingly there is a young lady I have watched in a lesson who seems permanently to use a Gogue...bet she'll be competing. Watch this space.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

careful what you wish for

Yes I did ask for some of the wet stuff but no, I didn't need shower after shower of *cats and dogs* proportions. Ah well, not going to moan as the school needed it badly; we had the outdoor tap connected yesterday so I can now sort out a watering system for the school before the next dry spell.

I rode Moo two days running (video above is the first one on Thursday) and worked him *up* as before. He is definitely finding his balance and is pretty light in my hands; he still drops on to my hand at the slightest loss of equilibrium but it's much more consistent and I'm really pleased with him.

I plan to ride him *up* at least twice a week with at least one session of him longer and out, this will give me the opportunity to work on *me*....goodness knows I need to. I'm trying to drop a couple of kgs before holidays and this will help me open my hips better, Moralejo is VERY wide and I struggle to get *around* him. With the opening of my hips in mind I have dropped my stirrups a hole, it's a little too much but it's working with the hip so we'll see how we go. I need to sit up more and connect my core but the sitting trot is feeling much better than it did in the last video so progress is there even if it's only small.

Oh yes, just a mention of the *high* hands; fully intended for the moment during the *up* stuffb mut they have lowered a little already and will do so further when I don't need to keep reminding him to adjust the balance backwards.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

bad girl

Me. I'm a bad girl because I plan so much and end up doing so little. I'm still not finished turning, lol, and already I have a *new* idea for my next project.
All this talk of Philippe Karl and his letter to the German Fed (lots of discussion on EE) has got me very interested in exactly what the original Decarpentry and Co. rules were and what has been changed (and why). Mmm, I feel some digging will be required.

It's so hot at the moment and Wednesdays always *disappear* too quickly for me to work in the afternoon anyway, that I worked first thing. Just some lunge work on a head collar and he was really calm and listening. I love moving him back and forth between reins and seeing how he loosens up. Maybe I need someone to lunge me and loosen me up?

Monday, June 1, 2009

happy and épuisé

You know that feeling, worn out but happily so. Today we brought our 25 round bales up the hill and rolled them into the barn. No working the boys as it is Patrick's birthday today and I really HAD to drink something fizzy on the terrace after he worked so hard at bringing up the hay.

This is an interesting link to PK's website http://www.philippe-karl.com/703; read it and sign it if you feel moved to. It is only a small start but together??? Who knows what may be achieved.