Tuesday, April 27, 2010

treeless try

Di brought over the Barefoot Lexington saddle that she is trialling and Moo was our model. I was quite pleased with the feel and once we got the knee rolls in place it was actually quite comfy in rising trot and very promising in sitting trot. Moo moved really well in it and apart from finding it hard to get my lower leg on (I had the same problems with Claire's 'Heather Moffett' part-treed saddle) I found aiding really worked well; I think if we moved the stirrup bars back by a couple of cms then that may be a help but to be fair Moo is pretty wide.Thanks Di!!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Look into my Eyes

Some welcome cloud rolled in around 5.00 pm and it seemed the perfect opportunity to work Chapsi. Started with some lunge work, just very basic circling and changing rein. It's really interesting, and something I've mulled over for ages, the way he tries to keep me on his right side. I am right handed and have thought for some time that this was the reason he circled  better to the right than the left when we do the liberty work. However, the more I think about it the more I'm not convinced by this. Surely my right side, being the driving side on the left rein, would be strong and quite able to send him forwards? This has brought me to the conclusion that he may be right eyed, just like we humans have an eye that does all the hard work it is allegedly the same for horses. It could perhaps explain why he tries to turn in on the left rein and seems to try to get me in his right eye; could of course be tosh! In any case he is getting better at the left rein.
I tried the driving/long-reining and for a first time he was brilliant. Totally cool about the ropes and walked out well. In fact he walked out so well that I couldn't resist a little sit on and he was a good boy, a bit hesitant to the first walk on but then he got the hang and even managed to change direction and halt. It's such a different way to start things, being pretty much on my own but I'm really enjoying it and he seems very content so far.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

It's been a good few days and with lovely spring weather to work in I've taken full advantage.

I've sat on Chapsi a couple of times more and we managed a little walk ('omg' he said 'walk with that lump on my back'). He has really amazed me with his calmness as he isn't the most laid back horse in the world. Now it's back to some in-hand, liberty and walking out with perhaps one day a week with a little lunge and a short ridden session. Actually I think I may concentrate on some driving work to help me when I'm on board,  mmm, that sounds like a plan. He has lost lots of coat this past week and he is emerging as a sleek, handsome boy.

Moo and I hacked out round the triangle on Sunday and I only had to get off once *roll eyes heavenwards*  I didn't want to get off but  with electric fence on both sides I really felt there was no option, LOL. I *almost* enjoyed our hack as the weather was just perfect.
Yesterday we had a lunge and he was a good boy and very relaxed and today I rode in the school and worked on everything but straight lines! He is remarkably light and easy to move about and it's a real pleasure to do any lateral work with him.

We've been thinking about the poor Icelandic pones on one of the forums, with all that *muck* in the atmosphere up there it can't be too good. Hope everyone is coping with the disruptions.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

my little pony

Good couple of days with the boys, sunshine does help! Rode Moo in the school and worked him in my newly customised bosal; I've covered the nose band with sheepskin (top and underneath) and it retains it's aiding system but everything is just milder. I've been working on flexions in hand combined with the moving massage and it seems to be paying off as his lateral flexion is now building into a rounder feel over his back and neck and we have moments where it feels really through in the trot work. We finished with a wander down the track and round the feel to cool off.

Chapsi lunged today; it's a bit weird with a line again but he picks everything up so quickly and today we worked on walk/trot transitions and moving changes of direction (basically just asking him to pass in front of me to change the rein).
To finish the school work I finally swung my leg over and sat on him, he didn't move bless him except to try and swat some pesky flies.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Joy of Horses

Today dawned clear and bright again and by 9 am the sun was well up when I went down to check the boys. Brushes in hand, I arrived to find the three of them lying lined up to catch the best of the early morning rays; like avid sunbathers on the med. I've never seen a more lovely sight and the mere fact that they seemed so content was the best way to start a day I could ever imagine. They all had a good brush and tick check; something that is now easily done as Chapsi has decided it's OK to let the others have some attention just as long as he gets the first dose!
Off out to lunch with some friends, good long French lunch (omg after the lunches I've been used to on my regime it seemed to go on forever) and some heated debate on the usual subjects...politics, the health service, retirement. We shared some good laughs;  slimming pills (the pharmacies here are full of pills to reduce the stomach, thighs, butt etc) and Sarkozy getting the best laughs.
Home in time for another groom and check and some lovely cuddles from them all; being out is definitely agreeing with all of us.
As I was finishing I noticed that Manolo, my neighbour's ned, was cavorting around the field like a mad man and quite obviously unhappy. I went over to check him out and found that he was having a reaction to something...puffy eyes, sheath swollen and little wheals all over his body. The vet was duly telephoned and medication received, we gave him a cortisone shot and then he'll have diuretics for a couple of days; hopefully he'll be fine by the morning. It does bring it home to you though, the importance of checking them regularly!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


Forgot to mention feet yesterday and really I must take some pics because Moo has improved so much. Gareth is very pleased with his progress...they're not the finished articles just yet (needs to be even more heel landing rather than the toe and more some growth will help this) but the lines are good and the heels greatly improved. When Gareth arrived I was riding back into the yard over the big stones and he could see what a difference there was, I'm pleased.

Moo went well enough today, I need now to work on not letting him drop onto my hands to take a rest, LOL but we had a canter and it didn't feel too awful; needless to say all he wanted to do afterwards was go very fast and canter some more!

Chapsi had a good groom and then tacked up, something we haven't done in a while. He was great and I was able to tighten up the girth with no drama and then put down the stirrups and stand up on the stirrup with my weight in it, leaning over him. It's a bu**er because I try always to do everything from both sides each time but my right leg is just not so good at getting up to the stirrup, partly because I don't often do it and partly because my right hip/lower back is always a bit tricky. Oh well, practice will help.

Monday, April 12, 2010

The weekend was good. The boys being out is making a big difference to my work rate and I've been able (so far) to keep up with topping the paddocks, no mean feat as they are growing at a ridiculous rate at the moment. Cutting and resting should result in some decent winter turnout so it's worth the effort, coupled with the fact that up and down the hills on the tractor is great for my core muscles! Which brings me neatly to the start of the week-end and my Friday weigh-in...drum roll...YAY I've finally hit my target of 60kg (with 0.4 to spare) and I'm  dead chuffed that I've stuck with it. Most of the soft bits are gone and those bits that stubbornly remain have earned the right to stay :-)

Saturday evening we (Bev and I) helped Di to celebrate her birthday at the local Chinese resto, it was somewhat bizarre talking French to Chinese folks but we had a good night and a much needed giggle; the horse world is well and truly set to rights!

The boys are very chilled and Moo has a had a few really good sessions;today we lunged and he is so calm to begin the session that I can really get into the moving massage with him and he seems to enjoy it (or at least tolerate it well). The canter on the lunge is much better, he's still bum high but with transitions it starts to improve. If we have a run of this fine (albeit with a cold wind) weather then I hope we can really get on with some consistent work. He is just a darling at the moment.

Chapiro and I are working on concentration and as always he is picking things up quickly, wish I could keep up, LOL. We tackled sideways again today with the shoulders moving away and he has showed up his one sidedness, harder to bend to the right and a little hollow to the left, but at least I know it's not my ham-fisted riding causing it!!  Like us it's probably in the genes but there are other thoughts...how the foal lay in the womb, the horses' dominant eye causing him to stretch one side more to use that dominant eye...being two I know of.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Cut the flaunting

The boys are living out now and it makes a huge difference to mine and their frame of mind. Of course they are happy as pigs in poop with all the grass coming through and seem to have happily slipped into the new routine. Chapsi no longer guards the pone all the time and the threesome seem content.
Yesterday we had a 'family' day with shopping and a  McDo in Linoges; by the time we got back there was only really time for a groom and foot pick in the field. Moo trundled up first and had some good scratching to relieve the itchiness of a shedding coat. Chapsi decided he was missing out so came and took Moo's place; no barging or pushing he just came over and Moo walked off. Chapsi was excellent and stood perfectly still for scratching and feet but when I wanted to move off and see the pone he wouldn't let me. Nothing sinister, no aggression, he just circled me and stopped me going to the pony. After a little impromptu liberty work I managed to extricate myself and give the pone a quick check over, no time to groom as Chapsi was back to claim me!

Today I worked Moo on the lunge. I worked without the whip because since doing the liberty work with him I've realised how 'big' the whip makes my loose hand aiding (loose as in the hand not holding the lunge rein). It's a bit like 'if you've got it flaunt it' and I was rather over flaunting it! I'm not decrying the thought that the whip is an extension of your arm or saying that I won't ever use a whip again; just that if you can use a hand raise to go forward then imagine how over-egged the whip raise is, it just gets magnified by the time it reaches the end of the whip.
Anyway, he worked well and was very calm right from the start; we began with the massage in movement for his neck and he was quite tight (as usual) near to the poll (well the atlas/axis to be more correct) and a gentle massaging in walk followed by a stretch down seems to really release the area. I'm sure that tension here may be the cause of some of his longer standing problems. I digress. The other thing I finally came to grips with was the 'driving' body aid on the left rein. I'm guessing that being right handed has helped make me less able on the left rein but today I could really feel when I lost the connection. I found that by focussing on a line drawn (imaginary of course) from his wither to his outside ear and lining my eye up with this line, I could keep him forwards into the circle on the tricky left rein. Really chuffed that I got that sorted. Doubt that's made any sense to anyone but me, LOL but just writing it down helps.

Oh too late for Chapsi  work write up, rattled on too long about Moo!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Will I ever learn (purely rhetorical)

I'm a baaad blogger at the moment and just don't seem to find time to sit down in the right frame of mind and put fingers to the keyboard. I'm not worried that I'll be missed so much as I miss out myself if I don't get all my thoughts down. So I've kicked my butt into gear and here goes.

I think part of the reason I haven't posted is because I don't want to whinge. Lots of fellow bloggers have had rotten winters and I'm not alone...however, it has stopped me working with my horses in the way that I want to and that gets me grouchy. Monday was a gorgeous day, been waiting for it for a while and finally the sun shone. Lydia and pone took a wander up the lanes and then back to the school for a quick lesson in turning. They are doing really well, Lydia is coming to terms with the bitless bridle and pone seems very happy to be ridden in it.

I then rode Moo and he felt like a lump, he probably felt I rode like one too ;-)
Then Chapiro in-hand, not a disaster but just didn't feel great...by the evening I think I'd sold 'em all and retired with dented pride to become a hobby gardener.

Tuesday, ah another day! Rode Moo and he was great. Light and responsive, totally getting the flexion work in the bosal and just trying so hard. Rode him down to the field bareback and he jigged down the steep hill and I giggled; I needed that!
Chapsi worked at liberty and was a star; we just recovered some of the earlier stuff, tidied it up a bit and enjoyed some time together...just what I SHOULD have done yesterday.

Lesson to learn....go at your own pace and ignore the rest of the world, they ain't you.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

It's been a disaster of a week weather wise, very wet again and howling winds. They've been turned out all day, every day and don't seem to care, unlike me. I've dodged the rain to work them most days and Moo is very calm and Chapiro very animated. I'm quite proud of Chapsi as he took it upon himself to be first in from the field a few days ago; Moo refused to help me out, LOL, so I took Chapsi. He was amazingly calm and just called when I left him to go back and get the others.
So not much to blog about, too knackered anyway as it's been a busy week renovating. New stairs went in today so it's getting there. Hope the sun comes back soon. Next time Bev says we need rain I'll tell her to stick a sock in it ;-)