Wednesday, December 29, 2010

on board

Today was warm and I couldn't resist a little sit on after a lunge. It felt so nice to be back on board and he was pretty chilled, finished with a short trot (a bit rushed ).

To work on...strengthen with some more lunge/in hand and light ridden work so that I can push the nose out a bit in the stretching down work. Promise I won't be boring with vids every time  it's just good to capture this new beginning.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Moralejo works too

Now for Moo's turn  Cheesy
I was more than slightly worried about turning him out for a few months with no work, no massage or general pampering  laugh well I needn't have worried as I don't think it's done him any harm at all. He hasn't really lost much weight (in spite of the lack of growing grass and just a small hay/lucerne nut ration) but his gut is less erm beer belly and more recently given birth belly whistle so not too awful.

He is a 'square' type, more baroque than elegant and has a bit of a dippy back and is slightly croup high. He is less wonky than he was last year and today after doing his stretches I felt he was really a lot more even than this time last year  thumbs

All we want for Moo is too keep him as fit and well as possible, join that big @rse to his front end and so build a decent back....anything else will be a bonus.

Here he was yesterday, titles say it all. Oh and sound still on as I had a COMPLAINT about the music  laugh well it was pretty dire; how do you get decent music to put on youtube vids??

At last some 'horse' to talk

Yesterday went from good to better  Cheesy the boys came onto the yard in the afternoon and were de-rugged (pone isn't rugged), it wasn't a  Shocked more a  wub in Chapsi's case and Moo, well let's say he's lost a few kilos but not necessarily in the right places  rolleyes.
They all had a good groom and Lydia took Cacahuète in the school for some liberty and in-hand play whilst I tried to ignore my two who were bleating after him, a little herd bound after a few months of being inseparable  rolleyes Anyway I did some anti mugging CT stuff just to get started and some head down and neck massage.

I'm not sure who slept in their beds overnight but it sure as heck wasn't them  laugh it hardly looked like they'd moved which will probably be the last time they look like that. I put them out in the dark  Shocked which I'm sure they appreciated (I certainly liked being up at 6.30, not) so they got plenty of time out and came in around 3ish to work.
They all worked really well for their first time in a while and the herd seemed a little more chilled when each one went down to the school  thumbs OH took stills yesterday to do a conformation pull apart but he hasn't 'produced' them yet  rolleyes so that can wait for another day. This is a  'snap' I took while Lydia lunged today (no we don't usually lunge in bridle it was a slight mis-communication on my part).

I haven't uploaded the vid of Moo but here's Chapsi. We worked for about 15 mins after a few minutes mat work (I couldn't believe how well he remembered it) we did a little in-hand, moving shoulders and haunches and some gentle lunging. Loads to work
on but no horrid surprises either. The plan is to work him lightly a few times a week until he builds up his back (and his thighs which are weedy) and work on some hock flexing via reinback and hill work. I won't be on board again until spring I don't imagine, could be me but he seems a little bum high (could the midget be growing again??). Anyway it's nothing special just where we are on day 1.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Wishing all of my friends a very Happy Christmas. I shall be starting back to blogging during the holidays and will be 'refreshing' lionhearthorses or maybe even starting anew! My boys will be wending their way into the yard after christmas, to start back to work and I shall be blogging purely on the joys of is after all the 'thing' that gets me going.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

snow in November

It seems winter has hit early and we have already had a decent covering of snow. The boys are still out and currently none of them working as the weather seems to have been against us on all but a couple of days this month. November has always been the month I dislike most and so I doubt it's doing any harm having a quiet time and at least I have caught up with lots of non-equine chores jobs that needed doing.

This last week I started to feed and hay morning and evening and the boys have settled into a good routine, each content to take their bucket of feed in the field and  with very little argy bargy during the process.

This was yesterday's ad hoc hay trip due to the snow, by evening they were happily picking grass through the snow.

Yesterday I saw a 'first' that I have read of but never seen...Manolo my neighbour's horse was eating snow! It's a fair trip down a steep hill to their water source and a good distance from their shelter and hay and presumably he thought the snow would be a short term solution. I believe a horse has to eat at least five times the volume of snow to achieve the equivalent volume of water so I do hope he took the trip to the water before too long.

Sunday, November 14, 2010


Yesterday brought a reprieve from the perma-rain! The temperatures having dropped last week I had put the boys rugs on, by friday it had climbed to 15° C at 9.30am so I  derugged three sweaty neds; I truly hate rugs! Today, although it's still not cold, the rain is back with a vengeance. As well as hatred for rugs I also have hatred for November so it's unlikey they'll be working much for the time being.

Just for the record here is Moo looking, erm filthy LOL

Chapiro wanting to play with me!!

The sheltered corner at the bottom of the field

Pony's eye view of the sheltered corner!

The resting paddock that they will be able to graze when the perma-rain passes.

The paddock that we'll use for daily turnout when they start to overnight in the stables (hopefully not until after Christmas).

Cacahuète sunbathing.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

the past (what to do on a rainy day)

The weather has been truly miserable this last week (in fact since I promised to go over and play pones with Di!!) and so I've made chutney from my last green tomatoes, cleaned the house, raked up leaves and generally been a stepford wifey :-o

Yesterday I began to get my books in order (reading ones that is not financial ones) and amongst the horse tomes I found that I had secreted away some ancient pics of previous horses.

 These shots are of Eite, my Friesian horse that I bought in 1998 as a barely touched 5 year old.
The advert in Horse and Hound had stated suitable for dressage and the guy on the 'phone failed to mention this was just a hope and not in any way reality! So off we went to see my first ever Friesian. Eite was what one could describe as an 'eyeful' of a beast. The guy selling him had never ridden him only long reined him but assured me he had been ridden out in the field by someone at some point! I have always had a rule that I never get on a horse until I've seen it ridden, well this wasn't going to happen in this instance so it was rule break or go home. Of course rules are made to be broken and I rode Eite who was greener than green but very kind and very reactive to seat and weight. The rest, as they say, is history and the big man was duly delivered to us.
Anyone that has worked with a friesian will understand that canter had it's problems that we did conquer in the end but lateral work and collected work was a joy to teach him. During this period I was competing and also had a huge moving Gelderlander and an lighter framed WB but Eite had a lightness that was more like my current Spanish boys and a desire to work with me that was so different to anything I had experienced before. The photos were taken not long before I sold him, I was 6 months pregnant with Lydia and had to downsize the herd. He is the one horse I really wish I hadn't sold, especially now with all the bitless and liberty work I've learned but I think Patrick may notice if I tried to sneak a big black beasty onto the premises :)

Monday, November 8, 2010

ducking out

Sunday's jumping lesson with Lydia and Cacahuète heralded a real breakthrough. We've been working on little grids with poles and very small jumps. The pone when too tired or lacking in sufficient confidence to actually jump will usually just stop dead in front of the fence. This week, however, he produced a magnificent duck at the last minute and ditched Lydia out of the side door. Wow I was so proud of that pony, he had the energy to actually duck and run when he thought he couldn't make it! I was very proud too of Lydia who just climbed back on and rode straight at the fence with none of her confidence dented and in a much better rhythm he managed the 50cm easily, LOL. The thought often crosses my mind that I should spoil her with a 'proper' pony but I think Cacahuète still has a thing or two to teach her.

Here's Moo at the weekend working on softness in the reinback, he's getting there but boy is he filthy. It's cold and wet today so they're all rugged up which frustrates me but the pone's too old to be getting cold and wet.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


It's quite strange but I'm struggling to blog! Since being inspired  by Claire to start blogging I've really enjoyed it but just lately it's been a bit of a chore. Di asked was I too busy to do the boys but no they've been working away well and making good progress, especially Moo. They are living out still with no rugs and as yet no need for hay, they have gorgeous fluffy coats and as long as I don't work them too late it doesn't matter that they get a little hot and sweaty. So on the horse front it couldn't be better.

On the renovation front we have practically finished indoors, how good it feels to have a home again you can only guess but it is making a big difference to all of us to be free of builders dust.

It's been toussaint holidays here and it's been great to get out with the family and enjoy the mild autumn weather, duck feeding at Brantôme is so good for the soul!

So I think it's just a phase, I will be back blogging regularly soon but maybe I'll get my arse into gear and write some stuff in my other place.

Friday, October 29, 2010


I'm cross. Bloody cross. I thought I was good at looking away, not seeing the difficult stuff but no I'm afraid that seeing a lion and tiger sat in the back of a caged lorry, paraded around our village to advertise the travelling circus made me see crimson. I just felt the bile rise. These wonderful creatures just deserve so much better. France is my adopted home but sometimes.....

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

What a glorious day, bright and sunny from the outset and full of feel good factor. Lydia played jumping and Cacahuète played alongwell. Moo had a fab ridden session in the school and then we went for a rather excited gallop up the hill :)
Sadly my French cooking course scheduled for Friday has been cancelled due to lack of participants, I guess it's another casualty of la crise.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


Not the weather but the need to keep warm, the cold wind sucked all the breath out of me yesterday but by late afternoon I succumbed to the sunshine and got the boys in for some work. Moo is doing some sterling work and seems in rude health and even Lydia couldn't resist a zip around the place with Cacahuète to keep them both warm.
Patrick carved Jack and so now we can keep warm by eating pumkin soup.....yum.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

all that jazz

Mr Frost finally made his appearance but the ensuing sun earned him instant forgiveness!
Moo started in hand, working on the travers/half pass with some good results. Lots of rein back and transitions on the lunge to finish.
Chapsi walked out inhand for the second time this week and we went just a little further into unknown territory, he behaved perfectly and I shall be doing more of this over the winter, combined with some fittening lunge work and the occasional sit on to monitor progress.
I finished the day with a jazz dance class, I think I may have come home with the wrong legs! Great way to exercise and will be going again if I can find my legs!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


One of those bright crisp autumn afternoons found the boys loitering in the field shelter (I finally relented and let them in) away from the flies. They all seem so content right now, me too!

I worked Moo in the school, concentrating on lateral work; it's time to get picky! The shoulder-in is pretty OK on both reins now but the travers is better on the right rein than the left, no big surprise as moving from the left leg is our bête noire. Played with moving between SI/travers/renvers and finally some half pass exercises before moving on to trot. Finished with some half step work again; this will be a long journey for Moo as he is so fearful of getting new things wrong and tension abounds. We finished off with a walk down to the bottom field and for the first time we took the direct descent, blimey that is steep but he coped and then tried to wizz home when we came back up; kept him calm and we just walked.

Monday, October 18, 2010


The promised overnight frost didn't happen but nonetheless it was a nippy day. No work for the boys today as Di and I were keeping warm and dosing up on the caffeine....we talked plenty about my pet subject in horse training of FORWARDS and I'll probably pen some thoughts on the subject either here or my other place. Keep warm all.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

autumn rolls in

It's turned decidedly autumnal this weekend and with the impending overnight frost in mind I gathered up the remaining tomatoes, peppers etc from the veggie plot; I also dug up the lemongrass which I've divided for friends and will keep warm over winter so we can replant nexy year when it warms up.

As so often I have lots of training thoughts in my head but I'm enjoying playing ponies too much to find time to commit to words. Both Moo and Chaps worked hard inhand, lunging, jumping over the weekend (in spite of the stiff breeze and hunter's horns) and I'll write it up tomorrow if I can(only so that I have a record for me).

I set up a diddy grid for Lydia to jump today and Cacahuète excelled himself, now remember he ain't no jumping pony but he managed a raised trot pole to a bounce cross pole and then a canter stride to a little upright...boy did she have a smile on her face and he had a certain 'swagger' to him....

Thursday, October 14, 2010


It's still dry and sunny, cooler but that's fine as there are less flies. Yesterday Lydia and her mate had me messing about with the pone and we played all sorts of games; felt like I was a kid again and we had great fun. Cacahuète is an absolute angel and behaved perfectly for the girls, this prolonged period of being out in the field has really helped his COPD and I've never seen him so fit.
Today Chapsi and I got to play, a little in hand then lunging and then wheeeeeeeeeeeee jumping! He seems to love it and I put the jump up to nearly a metre and he just kept going....his confidence astounds me, even when he rattles them he comes back for more.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

back on

It was wonderful to work the boys in today's glorious sunshine. Good liberty/lunge with Chapsi and then down to the bottom field with Moo where we practised our lateral work along 100m or so of straight-ish fence line. Leg yielding uphill is a great exercise as is leg yielding to the fence (with a little bend) and then 1/4 pirouette away from the fence, then continue leg yield and then again 1/4 pirouette and so on and so on. Great 30 mins after no riding for what seems ages; bloody cold (if I was a bloke it would be flu!!) thank goodness it's on it's way out, onwards and upwards.

Friday, October 8, 2010

friday night fajitas

As part of my quest to be a more perfect mother I made fajitas tonight, we still have an abundance of coriander growing in the garden and a few mexican herbs thrown in with the chicken and veg makes an easy, healthy (yet amazingly child friendly) friday supper. Having enjoyed a good balade with the club tonight Lydia is now set for tomorrow evening's pizza and bowling session to celebrate her buddies birthday; we shall eat scallops and no doubt sup a drop!
Had a good lunge in-hand session with Moo today, the rein back to canter makes me want to cry (good tears LOL) when I think how awful a simple trot/canter transition was a few months ago. More work on shortening the trot into half steps; he's such a trier these days.
Chapiro had his first proper massge and stretch session, not sure what he made of it but he coped well. Followed this with some flexion work which he's starting to respond well to.

Thursday, October 7, 2010


Another glorious day and I took the oportunity to ride Moo in between touching up the paintwork and vitrifying :(
I started with some stretching and then on to lateral walk in work (shoulder-in to counter shoulder-in, travers to renvers) on a square. Then on to the slow trot work, again working some lateral work (shoulder-in/travers on the circle) before allowing the trot a little more through. To finish I shortened the trot and rode lots of transitions (rein back to trot, trot to halt etc) and then just the teeniest bit of work towards half steps, he tends to tense but then anything new has that effect, hopefully he'll relax when he gets the hang. Finished with a stretchy walk down the hill and a rather whizzy canter up the field...wheeeee.

Chapsi got the hang of the double mats straight away today and so I gradually moved them so that they were touching and he had to make an effort to step under with his hinds. I won't push any more until this becomes easy for him, it made me realise how easy it would be to teach straight halts with two mats though :) finished with a little lunge.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


Well yesterday the rain had subsided and at times chinks of blue were letting the sun through but still pretty windy; that’s autumn I guess. The veg patch is slowing up and only a few tomatoes still ripening, still have peppers to harvest but they are slowing down and the chillies are still managing to ripen. Sadly my aubergines  are plentiful but very late and I doubt they’ll make full size unless this warm period keeps going. The lemon grass, coriander and basil have done very well and will be a definite for next year.

Thanks to Di tempting me with videos of liberty work I decided to have a liberty day with Chapsi. I noticed in one of the videos how when using a pedestal to stand the horse on became like the exercise ‘goat on a mountain top’ which has been very beneficial to Moo. Basically by asking a horse to stand all four feet close together you get an incredible stretch over the back whilst maintaining the connection of the hinds underneath the stomach.

So to begin with I thought I’d try just getting him to stand with his back feet on a mat rather than his fronts, LOL, no way was he going to halt with his hinds on there, in fact he was actively avoiding even treading on it with them by swinging his 1/4’s. Plan B, I placed two poles parallel to each other the width of the mat apart, the poles kept him straight and by asking for the walk on with one foot at a time I managed to get him to stand with his back feet (sometimes only one) on the mat. Finally I added a second mat so that he could comfortably stand with all four feet on mats, this we conquered and all in a very calm manner, the aim being ultimately to get him to stand with all four on ONE mat! We’ll see.

After the mat work I did some liberty lunging and then some lunging from the cordeo, his left rein is very tight to stretch and we’ve been working lots on this in our flexion work and I tried to follow this through into the lunge work. This is obviously a natural one sidedness and is something I want to address off rather than on-board, I think with a bit he would be more compelled to release to the left, not because it is a tension in his mouth/jaw it is, as so often, tightness in his neck but perhaps the bit would be less easy to ignore than the bitless? However the bitless flexion option should hopefully have less side effects, that’s my hope.

Moo was ridden in the school and we had some great moments in the trot using the system of slowing it right down, he feels much stronger now and in the rein back to trot transitions he was really together and up through them. We cooled off with a lovely stretchy walk down the track to the big field, he let me know he was up for canter but I asked him to stride out in the walk instead which he accepted with good grace.

No riding today as I’m coming down with a wretched cold, no big deal and hopefully gone in a day or so but I really don’t have any energy to work the boys. They are however in the stables, away from the flies and the gorgeous sunshine, think I’ll get a book and sit in the garden.

Monday, October 4, 2010

rain and brownie points

Finally some rain after a cracking storm (hardly surprising after the warm week-end temperatures). I left the boys out as it was pretty 'fly free' in the rain, they repaid my kindness with multiple rolling; luckily I had shelved all plans to work! I directed my intentions instead on gaining some brownie points from himself and applied vitrifier to the new chestnut floor and rubbed down and stained some doors!

Hope I'll be back to work tomorrow as I'm working on flexions with Chapiro and it's just getting interesting, mind you the odd day to think things over isn't a bad thing for either of's just whole weeks at a time I get twitchy over!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

warm n' windy

An unseaonably warm (24 degrees!) but windy day today. This morning I spent some time teaching Lydia the finer points of French equitation (allegedly) because she is constantly being 'nagged' at the club about how she rides (of course being biased I think she's brill); after team silver in the dressage (at the WEG in Kentucky) and tonight's gold in eventing I can safely say that British equestrianism ain't that bad Mme Monitrice!!! Well we did a little turning with the nails skywards and the inside rein opening and a few slight adjustments to her leaning back (mmm, that may get her in more hot water as they lean back a lot here) and she made a good little picture by the end of 30 minutes. To be honest I hate to teach her, I'm fully aware that I obsess about position and I want her to have fun not be a dressage queen.
Chapiro and Moo both worked well in hand and gave me a lovely sunday feel.

Thursday, September 30, 2010


Fun day today with both boys lunging over jumps (well that IS stretching it slightly as my 3m rustic poles on top of the mounting step or a big bucket hardly rate as proper jumps) but the boys don't seem to care. We started with poles, then X-poles and then little jumps of about 60cm with a stride between them. Once Chapsi got the idea he was really keen and even pulled over to take the jumps when we were lunging on a circle, bless his cottons. Moo is slightly more reluctant but once suitably encouraged with some click/treats he was flying. Chapsi was shattered after we finished and was soundly dossing in his box as soon as we got back, Moo on the other hand had bags of energy left so we worked on lots of canter transitions which seemed much improved; perhaps as a result of the jumping.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010


Another sunny autumn day had the darned bot flies out in force; Chapsi has BIG problems with them and whilst I was poo-picking he had a massive tantrum and high tailed it round the field for ten minutes! It's pointless trying to catch him when this happens as he is so unconcerned for his own safety that it is pretty dangerous. Eventually he came to me for help and in trying to swot the damn thing for him he caught my hand with his hoof while trying to do the same! No lasting damage but I got him up to the stables pretty pronto for a shower off and a snooze; didn't work him as he had already had plenty and in case we found more bots.
Moo on the other hand doesn't care about the flies, good job as he's a bit of a magnet for them. I had a good session with Moo, after starting in the same 'up' slow trot as yesterday I then let the reins out and sat it out :-o  lots of turning, circles, rein changes etc resulted in a quite stretchy trot, still fast and at times unbalanced but I gritted my teeth and stuck with it for 25 mins; boy do my legs ache tonight! He is so wide that sitting for so long in a fast trot is a real killer BUT I think this is my way forward. To finish we went for more canters down the field and this time I came up the steepest part and he flew and that's after an hour in the school!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

This afternoon I started with Chapsi in-hand, some flexion and head down and then into the walk on. I don't want him sniffing sand but just enough to relax his neck and stretch over his back; he's getting the hang of it and it's transferring to the ridden work now. Today I picked up the schooling whip once on board as I've been working on desensitizing him on the ground with it; he didn't take any notice even when I changed hands and it's not even a riding whip but a pretty long in-hand one, so I was pretty pleased with that. Lots of transitions and working on the forwards energy, as you could see from his spook he isn't that energetic about things and I feel the Iberian in him is hiding for now!!!

Moralejo worked on slow, slow, slow in the trot and lots of rein back. This is by no means collection work, purely slowing the trot and keeping him off my hands so that at SOME point, if we keep progressing, we will be able to develop the trot into something worthwhile. I have to say it's not always easy to keep patient through this work as it isn't consistent as yet but he just feels so much better. There's a tiny bit of vid here and for comparison here is an old vid (for my reference) of a broken pone earlier in the year. After 30 mins school work we went down the field and cantered up the field a couple of times :-) both canter leads felt strong and we both enjoyed the feeling!

Monday, September 27, 2010


My fave TV show is on tonight and a cute one from Chapsi today! I had long reins chilling after work and the tarp blew off the leveller (it was quite breezy this afternoon) I was pleased he settled back straight away.

Sunday, September 26, 2010


Chatting today with Di I realised how much I miss having a trainer. It's not that there are no trainers in our parts, there are plenty but it's having a trainer that one trusts and those are as rare as hen's teeth! I can quite ably 'help myself' with video but it's not in the present, the here and now, so it takes longer to adjust the picture and get results. I guess it's pointless to wish for what you can't have so I'll just carry on the best I can and enjoy the process but one little wish surely wouldn't hurt?

Saturday, September 25, 2010

whose turn to buy the sweets

Well it was Lydia's turn last night! In the UK we bought cake if we tumbled, here it's sweets and last night Lydia took Haribo as she had been 'flung' by Darcos the week before; no lasting damage.
Yesterday the boys both worked in-hand and on the lunge, good work from both. I need to work Chapsi a little harder now, in our ridden sessions he's quite tired by the end of the trot work so perhaps a more serious lunge programme will now be in order if we ever going to ride the canter in the school and not just on the track. He really has a lovely balanced canter (so different to Moo) it's lacking a little 'jump' but it's a great canter to start from.
Moo is almost there (as in like a baby 'there') on the lunge, lots of canter trans and rein back/giravolta in between, he is still mega on the forehand in the canter but at least he can now maintain it; I'm so looking forward to being able to work 'within' the canter as I'm sure that will help.
Off to Limoges later to buy some winter gear for the pone and Lydia and I...the debit card is already trembling.

Thursday, September 23, 2010


Gareth came today to trim the boys and it was good news all round! Cacahuète and Chapiro have always been fine but Moo has proved more tricky, he has taken a while to thicken his soles. Well it would seem that the hacking and consistent work are paying off because Gareth was very pleased with his progress. I'm such a numpty that I didn't take before pics so you'll have to take my word for it but they have changed lots. Today Patrick had a quick lesson on a maintenance file so that we can keep Moo even better between trims.
After lunch I rode Moo and Chapsi, both went well but Moo just feels so much stronger and able to carry himself in the trot work (of which we did a good 20 mins). After schooling I took Moo down the track to have a canter up the field and again he felt strong over his back and was not leaning on the rein, about the best canter I've had from him in a long time.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Only had a short session with the boys this morning but pretty satisfactory with both. It is wonderful having both to work with now and the ideas seep between the two (pretty helpful). Both worked in-hand and of course Chapiro had the 'over' theme of calm, part of his lack of calmness is his worry over the whip; of course I don't HAVE to use one but it is extremely useful to be able to touch the haunches in the right places when necessary so I would like him to be more accepting. He has never been hit with a whip as far as I am aware, never with us and I can't imagine his breeder having used one as he was very lightly handled and she was very gentle with him. I'm not sure but I think it's akin to his fervent hatred of flies; for one it's the noise (if it brushes against me, the sand, the saddle etc)  and then it touches him in a place that is alien to where I am stood (ie his hind foot when I am at his head) he's already greatly improved but today I started with him at liberty and me sat on the mounting step. A little targeting of the whip and then some backing and walking on from aids given through the whip whilst I stayed in place on the step. Then on to some foot lifting from cues given by the whip, well we'll have to start piaffe training at some point :-) finished with giravolta and shoulder-in on the circle (after a conversation Di and I were having about the differences between the two I thought I'd work through them to highlight the difference.

Moo worked a little on spanish walk, giravolta and shoulder-in and was uber relaxed (he like many boys has his special way of showing this!) loads of long rein backs on straight and curved lines; he makes me smile.

Trims tomorrow, must remember to take pics.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

flex and relax

Another gorgeous day, warm and sunny (dare I mention our need for rain) and chores all out of the way by the afternoon so time for the boys again.
Chapiro has spent lots of time working at liberty but he's finding it quite hard to make the transition to 'proper' in-hand. He tends to rush and almost panic when I try and control the forehand (slow it or move it). Today I started the in-hand in a shady corner of the school and just worked on relaxing his neck at the same time as asking for inside flexion (using the inside rein with a light constant feel). Once he flexed laterally in his neck I released the feel and let him stretch down (pretty much like the bit flexions but without a bit). He responded really well so hopefully in a couple of weeks we'll have the in-hand work cracked.
Afterwards I rode him and concentrated on a relaxed neck and good transitions and started to ask a little leg yield.
Moo had a lunge session interspersed with in-hand (worked a little again on spanish walk and giravolta tied into the long rein backs) and today the canter was really free, still not perfect but progress for sure.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Another cold, crisp start and a warm sunny but fly free (well almost) afternoon. I rode Chapiro in the school working on sharpening up the transitions. The downwards are actually too sharp and so we worked on smoothing them by staying in the rising trot and slowing it with the seat whilst keeping a little 'forwards' feel with the legs until a good walk transition was arrived at. To get him up and off into trot from walk more sharply I used some click/treat which always appeals to him. Some good work followed by a pootle down the track and round the bottom field. The video is from last week, just a few seconds of what's happening at the moment.

Moo and I went up through the hamlet for a hack and for the first time in a while he backed off. To be fair we met a generator running a plaster shooting nozzle wielded by a chap in full protective gear and full on NOISE! So I hopped off and led past and he was fine, got back on and no more problems even on our return when we had to come back past; of course we were headed home and he now knew it wouldn't eat him. To finish off we went down the bottom field for a nice long canter, he was very contained and stayed relaxed on a light rein :-)

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Moulin de Fouilloux

Another sunny autumn day to play ponies! Chapiro had great fun playing over poles and a small jump and then this afternoon Lydia and I took Cacahuète and Moo on a new hack to the Moulin de Fouilloux. It was a very quiet afternoon and we hardly saw a soul in the hour we were out; it's a lovely route (once through the scary farm yard mentioned in a previous post) through woods and up and down some decent hills, we turned back but if we'd had more time it can be done as a circular route but we may need a pique-nique for that one .

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


Well another gorgeous day for working so taking full advantage I rode Chapsi in the school. Having levelled the school yesterday I had removed all the 'toys' so I took in the mounting stool and one mat and left it at that. We did a little in-hand to start and really concentrated on transferring the halt aid to the rein. So to begin with I raised the inside rein AND gave the verbal cue 'whoa', clicked and treated lots and then began to remove the verbal cue and work off just the physical cue. At the same time I was asking him to slow down to my pace and not keep trying to rush me with his shoulder; we need to work more on this but he's getting the hang of it.
When on board I worked large in walk for a couple of circuits on each rein, just letting him relax and stretch. Then worked on the exact same thing as we had in-hand, taking away the verbal cue from the halt; really good halts on a very light vibration on the inside rein and lots of treating! Today's problem wasn't the halt but staying halted, as soon as I went to sit up after giving the treat for halting he would be off! Now I'm not averse to forwards but as he has always been so good at standing it was a bit disconcerting. After about 4 attempts at staying halted after the treating I finally got my brain into gear...doh...everytime I sat up my seat said go (as we have been practicing, double doh to me) so off he went, LOL. Easily dealt with by verbally cuing 'stand' whilst I gently recovered my position and then asked for the walk-on. I guess next session we'll go back over this but I think he got my point.
We then worked on turning in walk and working proper baby corners; then same in trot and had some better changes of rein today. Then IT happened!!! The first spook LOL! For a sharp pony he's been lacking in spook juice and I'm happy it's been that way (my last WB baby could spook so sharply that I could be left standing in the sand with him facing the opposite way!) but today he kicked a fallen apple out of the school and it ricocheted off the bank making it zip back into the sand with venom! Well bless him he did a neat wiggle to the inside and then just carried on...oh please let all spooks be so balanced! We cooled off (well aside from a little canter) down the track and I was pretty chuffed with him today (can you tell??)
Moralejo had a good lunge session; lots of canter and long rein backs, he is slowly joining up in the middle, one day soon he will be a 'whole' horse!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

same ole

Moo and I took off for another wander down the track, round two different fields and then back up through the hamlet on a hack we haven't ever done before...big test for the boy and he was just brilliant for almost an hour.
Chapiro was ridden in the school where I made a smaller area (by laying out poles)  in the centre. We worked on some 'proper' circle shapes, changing the rein within the circle and tried some turns on the forehand. It's very basic stuff but with a pony like a bendy bus it's got to be done and having no fence to lean on makes it even more beneficial! Then we worked large in trot and warmed up before coming back into the circle work. The trot is really getting energetic and he's pretty quick off my aids, something to work on is changing rein in trot as he gets a little wobbly through the change and stopping from a rein aid and not just my voice. There's lots of good things going on but more to work on; this has to be the best time with a baby.

Monday, September 13, 2010

happy hacker

The boys have worked for the last three days; Moralejo started first on Saturday with a great in-hand/lunge session. I was really pleased that he was relaxed and free flowing after being 'left' in the field for a week. Worked on the 'big' rein back (half the length of the school each time) and it seems to really help engage himself better.

Yesterday Lydia and I took off down the chemin for some hill work, bless Moo he kept a steady canter in the lead even with Lydia whooping like a cowgirl bringing up the rear! We did three circuits of the big field, walking down and cantering up the hills and then went up through the village and hacked round the triangle route, walking down the hills and trotting up. Both Moo and Cacahuète seemed on great form and behaved impeccably. On our return I took Chapsi down to the school for some in-hand and lunging...had some lovely canter transitions and he seemed not to have suffered from the time off!

Today Chapsi was ridden, after some in-hand work with the mat, and we worked on transitions and keeping the trot more free flowing. We finished with some gate practice and wandered down the tracks and had a gentle trot back; what a wonderful lad he is maturing into. Afterwards Moo and I repeated our hill/hack of yesterday but this time of course we were alone! Remarkably he was just as relaxed on his own and didn't even raise an ear at the noisy (hidden) tractor in the woods; blimey, I even enjoyed it!!

Friday, September 10, 2010

bunkin' off

Well what a lovely surprise! On the anniversary of twenty two years of wedded bliss I was given the day off! I caught the boys up and brought them in for a good groom and a lot of cuddles and scratches, couldn't resist a Lydia like leap on to Chapsi for a 'proper' cuddle....omg are horses good for the soul!!! I was then taken to St Jean de Cole for a pucker lunch and an amble around it's delightful cobbled lanes. I'm now listening to a Maroon 5 concert whilst typing this (missed it last night, thank goodness for the iplayer) and will leave shortly to take Lydia to her first 'double poney' lesson at the club, BIG PONIES Chapsi is already lost!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

nearly done

The painting plan is coming to an end, phew, so the boys will be back to work. I've noticed a neat idea that Kate has of keeping a work diary on her blog and I think that's something I should aspire to over the coming months. In spite of being a whinge bag about having enforced time off I'm realising that perhaps 'planned' breaks could do us all good. The big problem during winter is working in an outdoor school can lead to unplanned breaks!
It's been a lovely day and Lydia and I at least found time to wander down to the boys tonight, they seem quite  happy and obviously blissfully unaware that work will shortly resume.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

kick up the a*se duly administered

Sorry about that, I've recovered my sense of humour and my body seems to have finally accepted that 8 hours painting per day is within tolerance. The boys are out (well they do have their shelter) in the wind/rain/sun/night/day and seem unperturbed; no doubt they'll be a tad reticent to come in when they finally do!
I'll not have anything much to report until next week but painting leaves a lot of time for thinking ;-)

Monday, September 6, 2010


I hate to write pathetic, self indulgent, too tired, fed up with painting, haven't worked the boys for three days, need more sleep (did I mention tired) sorts of  posts ;-)

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 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 Scholl shiatsu massage 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!

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

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

second gift

My second gift (trade off with Patrick who has had new camera gear) arrived today; the Lexington (remember I tried Di's) is a treeless, yet another venture into the dark for me.

I've been thinking about all the new information I've been processing these last months and wondering if it's all been a positive experience? I sometimes wonder why one would want to change at such a ripe age and if indeed it is possible to change? I think I can and have changed in many ways but I think I've given up some confidence to pay for it. I don't mean confidence to ride fast, get on nut case neds etc.because  to be honest I've never had that sort of confidence; I mean the confidence to know where I'm going and what I'm doing. It's a hard path I think I'm taking because I'm not sure that it will take me anywhere; I'm not after sympathy because after all it is MY choice.

Ah well the next stage is set, the saddle is prepared and tomorrow we'll begin.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Well having got the new laptop set up I thought I'd be back to regular blogging....nah!
Couldn't get the new message page to load *bangs head against a hard place*
Yesterday was a bit of a write off after the previous day sat in the sunshine sharing wine and barbecue with Di and Chris; rather too much wine I'm afraid. Still it was a lovely day in spite of the next days hangover.
Anyway, I digress, the messaging problem; turns out that the kind people at Firefox have a great blocking system so I used it. Said system also blocked me from downloading my new message page!!! Smell a GOOGLE adsense rat??? I think so.
 For a total tech idiot it's taken me so long to sort this semmingly minor problem out so it's just a couple of pics tonight.

Chapsi at liberty.........

Patrick getting the hay in....

Thursday, June 24, 2010

normal service may well be resumed

Well I finally caved in and forked out on a new laptop. Although not the only reason that I've struggled to blog recently, it is certainly the main culprit; I've been lucky to get a minute to check forums and blogs but hardly enough time to actually be productive. So now I have no excuses.
I have ordered my Barefoot Lexington and it should be here within the week. I need to get the saddler out again to re-adjust Moo's saddle as he has finally started to change shape and whilst I intend to use the Barefoot on him I would like to keep the treed saddle in case I can ever convince anyone to hack out with me!

Both boys had a few days off last week a I was back in the UK to sort out some family things but we've picked up the threads again with some in-hand and lunging. Moo's canter on the lunge is now established enough that I can work on the quality and he seems very happy in the work. Chapsi is also lunging well and finds the canter pretty easy, his trot is somewhat ordinary at the moment but shows moments of brilliance...thank goodness the trot is so able to be improved. Lydia sat on him bareback the other day and I think it won't be long before she tries to steal him!!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Thursday, June 10, 2010