Sunday, 26 April 2015

Day 115 & 116: Weekend, Hambleden Part 2, video editing and chatting by the river

Day 115: Saturday

Saturday afternoon. Richmond riverside. Coffee and chats with one and only Suzanne! 
Today was a rain and rainbow kind of day. Wonderful in so many ways yet sad with my Gran's funeral taking place thousands miles away. With everything happening so fast it was impossible for me to fly over and attend. I think of her often. I am not even sure about the whole funeral celebrations. Either way, I would have liked to be there for my Dad and the rest of the family.

I think she would have liked today...

Richmond, London - 25th April 2015

A lovely new rider got in touch for Jasper following my shout out for him on Aspire blog so she will be joining in on Development programme. He is a fab horse that I am very much looking forward to working with and seeing the pair progress and improve. Being a 4 year old and a very green chap, his work isn't going to be incredibly exciting but it should be a fun adventure in bringing on a youngster and teaching him all things ridden-horse-life.

Jasper and his new rider
I am also playing with the use of music to improve the feel of rhythm and focus in my two young riders. We started with some simple drill sequences last week just for me to check if they can multitask and remain safe. Today, I let them ride with an earpiece in one ear so they can hear their chosen soundtracks which they found themselves and matched with their horses' beat in walk, trot and canter.
We will now build upon this experience which went incredibly well for one rider (hugely increasing her relaxation and in turn, horse's way of going) and good for the other and work towards some very simple floor plans to give them an idea of a dressage to music training.

From June I will be re-focusing to jump training with them so I want to make the most out of the flatwork training until end of May.

Day 116: Sunday. Video editing and writing day.

One of the girls have now trained with me for a full year so I put together a 5.5min footage from her starting on Aspire training to current sessions. She is such a pleasure to teach and I am very excited about her progress and good things to come :)




Below is also a finished video from Hambleden Horse Trials with Emma and Shabhash.

I will write a blog post about the event on Aspire blog to discuss the day from coaching perspective. We now have one month to the next event and I hope we can address Shabby's tension in show jumping phase (and Emma's!). It was the first time I saw him over a course and let's just say, there is a lot to work on ;)

Considering his lack of mental calmness and general decreased focus on the rider at a show, he contained the craziness to some degree. He went superb and clear across country (albeit too fast raking time penalties) which is Emma's favourite phase. Now I just need to get her to fall in love with the dressage and jumping ;)





I hope you enjoy watching them :)
Wx

Friday, 24 April 2015

Day 114: Hambleden Horse Trials - Part 1


Since my internet connection makes it impossible to edit the full video from today while my eyes are still functioning, I am posting Part 1 of the footage and will write about the event tomorrow once full video has uploaded.

It was a lovely event and Shabby managed to stay off the last place in the dressage, knocked just about enough rails to still go to the next phase and had an awesome run XC to finish 30th overall.

Full report coming shortly, tomorrow or on Sunday, for now, a little intro teaser :)

Event website: http://www.symminternationalhorsetrials.co.uk


Thursday, 23 April 2015

Day 112 & 113: The book of significance and pre-competition thoughts

Day 113

In my teens I watched a movie called The Bridge on the River Kwai. I thought I forgot about it until a couple of weeks ago.
- I would really recommend this book...are you looking for something to read on your travels? - helpful Waterstones sales man is standing next to me handing me a book. For a brief moment I wonder how on earth does he know I am looking for a book to read on my flight and then remember about a little suitcase I am dragging along having just bought it.
- Ah yes, on my travels, yes - I take the book and try not to judge it by the cover. It has a soldier on it and I have just finished "The Storyteller" by Jodi Picoult which is a damn moving Auschwitz memorial (and which by the way, I totally recommend - fabulous read) so I am not really looking for another war related heart wrenching experience.


But somehow, even though I only skim read the back for some clues on content, my eyes land on one word - Burma. 
It's funny how our brain can work - in images. I see the movie's title in front of me in that one word even though the book and the movie are only connected through the fact, they carry the story of the specific place in a specific time. 

I buy the book. Fast forward two weeks, I read 90% of it and can safely say, I made a wrong choice as far as avoiding the heart wrenching literature goes. But it's one incredibly written book that makes you blink twice every time you put it away and re-connect with reality. 
I would like to believe that if this book was a must read for everyone, the monstrosity of the terror described there would not repeat itself. But I am not so sure. Either way, do read it. If you dare. 

Day 112

EARSIE. Wednesday Day 112: out and about in Oxfordshire on the chestnut powerhouse ;) 
- Are you taking a selfie for your blog? - asks Emma as I point my phone at the lush countryside in front of us. 
- No, just the world through Freddie's ears.
- Earsie! - she says and I am thinking it's a good word to make up for the situation.
- Earsie it is! 

The lessons went well. 
Shabby too worked fairly well although he is my worry with the unconventional tension and a list of creative ways he deals with everything he isn't sure about. He's got his first event of the season tomorrow and I hope he keeps his legs in sequence in the dressage and remembers to breath jumping. Cross country should be easy for him so I am not bothered about that. 
The dressage test is the BE106 (2012) which is a good one for Shabby as there are no endless rounds on the outside track but instead, questions keep coming which should focus both him and the rider. There is no huge pressure but I do hope they both do themselves justice as they worked very hard in the last few months and very much deserve it. 
Keep everything crossed! 





Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Day 111: First 1 for Thank you, second 1 for Spring and third 1 for The Back

1.

First of all, thank you for your lovely comments and virtual support following my yesterday's post about my Granny passing away. Let me tell you, she would not be having any of that. She would be in the kitchen making large quantities of tea ordering everyone to sit down and relax and stop fussing. She would force feed you cookies and whatever else she bought especially for the day.

But, thank you...Xxx

1.

In Richmond, London, the spring has turned the world into a romantic movie. Blossoms everywhere, wrapped around cute cottages. Bright sunlight bringing the rich colours in everything, from stunning sand brickwork to rubbish bins. Everything sparkles. Everything sings. Loves. Lives. Such an odd time to die at, such contrast. I think I'd rather die in the winter myself.

1.

As I school Jasper, a green, young horse today, a thought hits me. Some ages ago, I read this sentence somewhere: "An average rider rides the front of the horse, a good rider rides the hind legs and the great rider rides the horse's back".
I am thinking, I am only somewhere in between the good and the hallway that leads further on. I am thinking, that as I ride, I feel acutely aware of every push of the hind legs, every uneven power, I can sense the weight commitment before the horse fully makes a decision how to turn, I adjust my actions to how the inside hind leg travels under or on the side of the barrel. Everything I do, the way I sit, the way my inside hand goes up offering some help in turn, the way I let my legs sit quiet on the sides of the horse and let him find better rhythm, the way I wait for him in the turn so the momentum doesn't take him outward too much - all this I do with mental image of his hind legs even though I look ahead.
But I realise, as I ask him for simple changes of rein and frequent transitions, that only some of my awareness is with his back, that even though I sense his natural crookedness, the way his back drops ever so slightly on one side and remains tighter when we turn, it's not enough. I realise I need to focus on that much more. See his back move and yield and change shape in my mind's eye with much more clarity if I am to ride better.

So much to learn. I hope I have time for it. I damn hope I can make time for it.

Selfie with Jasper, the adorable green youngster

Until tomorrow,
Wx


Monday, 20 April 2015

Day 110: Maybe I won't come back, maybe I'll just stay there

- Maybe I won't come back - she says, her blue eyes a watercolour, like when you learn to paint and you add too much water in.
How does she know that. Why would she said that.


She said it before. So many  times. But she sits here, not quite smiling but not quite gravely either.

- Of course you will be back, it's just a simple operation, you won't even need an anaesthesia.
- Granddad had it easy - she muses - got up, washed, shaved, had breakfast and then, bang, just like that.
What do I say to that. Sure. Yes, he did. Easy.
Easy?
- You will be good, you've got to fight it through, you've fought harder things!
- Hmmm
- I'll be back in the summer. See you in the summer?

And as I hug her small figure, kiss her wafer thin cheek and as she gives me her watercolour, once watchful, now slightly distracted stare, I don't know that she is right, that she won't be returning from hospital and that summer meeting?...There will be no such thing.

Just like that you can have last conversation and no idea you did. Just like that, someone can leave and take a part of you with them.


R.I.P. Granny G. (20/04/2015)

_______________________


“Let us hurry to love people they depart so quickly” Jan Twardowski

Let us love people now they leave us so fast
The shoes remain empty and the phone rings on
What's unimportant drags on like a cow
The meaningful sudden takes us by surprise
The silence that follows so normal it's
Hideous like chastity born most simply from despair
When we think of someone who's been taken from us.

Don't be sure you have time for there's no assurance
As all good fortune security deadens the senses
It comes simultaneously like pathos and humour
Like two passions not as strong as one
They leave fast grow silent like a thrush in July
Like a sound somewhat clumsy or a polite bow
To truly see they close their eyes
Though to be born is more of risk than to die
We love still too little and always too late.

Don't write of it too often but write once and for all
And you'll become like dolphin both gentle and strong.

Let us love people now they leave us so fast
And the ones who don't leave won't always return
And you never know while speaking of love
If the first one is last or the last one first.

Day 108 & 109: Busy weekend

I need to catch some snooze time so instead of writing a post, let me share some recent spring photos with you - of people and horses who make my days fabulous :)










IN ALL SERIOUSNESS! ;))))


Until tomorrow :)
Wiola x



Friday, 17 April 2015

Day 107: What are you talking about...


Sunny Friday training :) 

The first thing most horse people know about horses is that they are certainly not people. I think we can all agree here? Then, perhaps we learn not to humanise horses so that we can treat them as horses.

And yet, we then spend years applying human logic to equine species. Because they are naughty, because they don't want to, because they are vicious etc.

What I find to be true is that human logic works for horses only in so far as clarity goes. When we know what we are talking about, when we are confident in our intentions and when those intentions are positive and applied with integrity, most horses are only too happy to oblige.

Sometimes we can create artificial clarity - if we want basic straighteners and natural motivation, we can do our warm up out on a short hack, let the nature work its magic.
We can repeat an exercise until we truly understand it - once we do, the horse usually does too...

If I try something and it doesn't work, whether I am riding or teaching, the first question I ask myself is this:

What am I talking about?

If I don't know then I am trying either to do the wrong thing or at a wrong time.

Wx

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Day 105 & 106: Succeeding at the right thing



I'm back and loving the weather vibe on the island! Lessons went great today, I went out and about to roam in the sunshine a little and my theory clients actually did their homework so it was a fab day on all accounts :)

Yesterday, I'd been mostly in transit. I use travelling for thoughts and writing and here is one of the themes that lingered on my mind thousands of miles above the bridlepaths...when schooling a horse or training a rider, we aim for a successful outcome. Sometimes, it will be a straightforward one, one that is visible and immediately recognisable.
Think: more ground cover in medium trot or more stable lower leg over an oxer. Then, there are successes that somewhat layer underneath those outcomes and as such are not immediately obvious. In fact, they might even be obscured and seem further away than they were before you even started.

Think: succeeding at becoming aware of a lower leg that drifts forward over an oxer. Succeeding at building the ability for minute collection for one step prior the transition before that medium trot can get better. 

Success no one sees at first. Successes that feel ugly and unrefined and raw and maybe even uncomfortable. Successes that make you feel like you are worse than you were before you attempted the refinement. 

Successes that are the building blocks. 

Then there are the quick ones. Using a little bit of the boot spray that creates the grip between the calf and the flap of the saddle stabilising the leg as a result. 
Pushing a talented horse into exuberant stride without creating the fundamentals for shoulder lift and hind leg activity in medium trot. 

Success, right?

What I am heading here at is that sometimes a success feels like a failure while we learn to navigate the steps. Sometimes, it is worth waiting so we can make sure we succeed at the right thing...

Wx

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Day 103 & 104: Spending time


Just spending time with my parents, coffee and chats with my Mum, catching moments :) Flying back tomorrow.

Wx

Sunday, 12 April 2015

Day 102: Family Affairs

Meet my God Daughter (squinting madly at the wind and sun ;)

Slightly silly pic but totally capturing a moment of photography in the wind and sun - just the right conditions to give you an odd hair and change a beautiful little girl into a squinting, highly unimpressed one ;) 

Today was a thoroughly lovely day filled with some obligatory church whereabouts and some great follow up dinner with family.
I also caught up with my Gran who couldn't make it to the event due to ill health so I popped over to her place to see her.
We had many a fascinating conversations including this one:

Gran: Why don't you and R. just get married so you can have a surname?
For a moment I don't think I am getting it.
Me: Gran, I do have a surname?? Same as yours in fact!
Gran: Well, that's not the same. If you have your husband's surname you could have all the rights.
Me: Gran, I have all human rights with my own surname?
Gran: But a man's surname...
Me: Gran, it's 2015, women have all normal rights without having to take another surname
Gran: *slowly shaking her head* It's not the same
Me: *staring at Gran incredulously and suddenly realising there is a century of a whole new dimension between us*

She gets a hug anyway. This lady can get away with murder ;)

Ahh it was great day. Now onto some relaxing!
Wx

Saturday, 11 April 2015

Day 100 & 101: Travel Time & Real Time

Day 100: Travel Time

Today, I am mostly travelling. I'm writing this offline on my phone so I can copy and paste it later on here.
One thing I learnt from my travels is that, if you want to remain relatively unbothered and stress free, get on the go as early as possible but only that. Don't go overboard, no five hours earlier kind of thing.
I leave about 45 minutes buffer for anyone who wishes to die on tracks today. It goes without saying that nothing bad happens, all trains are on time and I even make it to London Liverpool Street early enough to grab a sandwich and a coffee and catch the Stansted Airport train that is the one earlier than the one I planned.

It always goes like this when I am not at all in a hurry :)

The airport is in its usual always-something-being-improved state so it takes me a moment to locate Hamleys. I am headed there because I want to grab something for my niece and God Daughter To Be. She hates having her hair brushed but has long blond curly hair so I go for one of those funky tangle teasers in kids version that is smaller and hopefully perfect for her 4 years old hand to handle.

I chose one that is all gold and sparkly and I hope she likes it.

- Great choice - says the salesman - tried and tested.
- Perfect - I say as I look at his 2mm hair that definitely needs no brushing never mind detangling - do you use it a lot?
- Oh yeah, all the time.
We laugh and off I go with my stubble hair tried and tested mini gold tangle teaser.

The joke themed journey continues as I enter the plane. The guy who is looking after the passengers is determined to spell all our names correctly and greet us properly as if we were to be forever acquainted and perhaps even involved in intricate business deals rather than share a two hour flight during which we will be having no conversation what so ever.
I let him battle with my name without help for a bit of banter.

Half way through the flight The Guy Who Takes Care of Passengers has another great idea. As he starts the usual lets-play-this-lottery-and-donate-for-charity interval, he tells us his big secret:

- You know, you really want to play this lottery. I did it myself. Now, I am a millionaire and only here for a bit of fun. I don't have to work here at all.

The rest of the crew and we, the bemused passengers, have a chuckle. The little kid next to me doesn't laugh because he is too busy being incredibly annoying.

A quick thought occurs to me: I hope the Guy Who Takes Care of Passengers doesn't make us all laugh to cover up for some major disasters otherwise happening in the cockpit.

At last, the pilot lands incredibly smoothly and I walk outside into a lovely, warm, sunny afternoon of my home town to meet my parents :)

Day 101: Real Time

New hair! 
Today, I am mostly getting spoilt. I was not here for my birthday and my brother surprised me with possibly one of the most amazing gifts - a new laptop. My Toshiba - that was also a gift but from my boyfriend, I seem not to ever buy any electronic equipment by myself! - is now about 7 years old and when I go through all the check ins at the airports I am usually asked to open it myself while the guards watch ready to jump away. So let me tell you, this new little laptop is simply amazing and I can't stop using it ;)

I am spending the day with my Mum just catching up and strolling around a shopping centre. Neither of us likes shopping for any extended period of time and even if we jump at the task enthusiastically, we are both bored after a few shops ;)

I got my hair chopped today too which feels really good and I am enjoying the change. The only thing I am dreading a little is the maintenance of those bangles!

Now, tomorrow I am playing God Mother to my niece in a christening ceremony so god help me ;)

Thursday, 9 April 2015

Day 99: Boarding Pass

Just for the record, the trains were yet again delayed this morning. Someone jumped under yet again. It seems that death on the rail tracks is very alluring to growing number of desperate people.

Despite others throwing their lives away seemingly trying to stop me from travelling (is that too self-centred a thought do you think?), I made to my lesson location and all went very well indeed.

I also had my own personal drama (possibly over-reaction here) today that didn't really warrant the suicide measures mentioned above but nevertheless made for a *interesting* afternoon. Namely, I'd spent some hours trying to print my boarding pass for a flight I need to be on tomorrow morning.
Following a few unsuccessful arrangements with one friend forgetting to bring me the print out and other similar occurrences I finally managed to end up with a precious pass in my hand at 10pm (forever indebted to Helen and her husband for making this amazing thing happen ;) )

So, tomorrow I shall be reuniting with my lovely family but I will try to drop in with a few words and keep this daily ball rolling ;)
Before you leave, can I just say - my first purchase when I land back is going to be a printer.

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Day 98: Energy

One of my today's lessons
It might just be one of life's inexplicable twists. Or maybe just a wicked sense of humour. Or maybe nothing at all. But you see, I really sucked at Physics at school. I was in fact so bad at it, I failed my exams and had to beg my teacher to let me re-take them. Once, on way to school, I went passed the entrance and just kept walking for the two hours that the Physics torture lasted and went smoothly into Literature class where everything made perfect sense.

I think about it now as I watch my rider working in the field and I have to smile because as I observe I know I am not watching for all that equestrian coaching teaches you. Instead, I watch and analyse energy...The forces that make the green horse, that is schooling out in the field for the first time, drift left and right as undulation of the ground sweeps him off his feet. The forces that make my rider lean a little forward and hold a little with her knees instead of sinking into the saddle, letting the muscles elongate, receive the opposing pull and slide her seat bones closer to the pommel. I watch the energy as the horse produces too much of it and then rescues himself with exuberant bursts of unnecessary speed.

As I make the correction I don't think about an outline, rhythm or rider's seat as such. Instead, I feel like I am searching for ways to direct the energy the right way, take a little from here, add a little there.

Damn you Physics. I thought I waved you goodbye long time ago ;)

 P.S. How amazingly warm was today!!



Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Day 96 & 97: Hairy musings

It's the week of farmer's tan here in the South East of England - I am already sporting a few lovely patterns over my neck and shoulders which coupled with various bruises courtesy of a spooked pony don't look promising for the choice of outfit for a family event I am attending this coming weekend ;)


Horse hair is absolutely everywhere, coats being shed in carpets, whirling in the wind and finding their way into places where they really should not be! You might think that the clipped horses are somehow a respite to groom but their short. prickly, cacti like stubble is even worse than soft and long natural strands.  

And so it's spring. Maybe for one week only but I'll take it. Even though I am usually too immersed in my work to bother about the weather unless it takes my voice away or drenches me solid, the warmth of the sun and a soft, light wind made me suddenly realise today how I missed them both. 

Another thing I do miss is the connection you have with your own horse. I have given up on going back into horse ownership for a while and I don't regret it. It's not something I would want to do right now. But there are aspects of it I do miss. You can ride many other people's horses, help them iron out some issues, help them move better and derive a lot of pleasure from doing so. However, there is nothing that quite compares to training with a horse you've been riding for several years, 6-7 times a week, in all conditions, in various places, on various show grounds. Nothing quite compares to the feeling of absolute understanding and cooperation despite many mistakes made. 
Whatever makes them tune in to you, whether it's some primal need to move in unison to avoid being eaten or simply a heightened awareness and drive to stay balanced and safe, once that tune has caught you, that is it. You hear it in your head like notes of a favourite song that doesn't go away. 

Singled out, minute muscular effort that yields the response nobody seen called. A thought answered. Unspoken direction, executed. I miss that connection because you can't just have it. You have to earn it over time with consistent non verbal conversations until they become whispers and blinks. 

One thought for a canter. One longer blink for slower power. Miss that. 

Wx



Sunday, 5 April 2015

Day 95: Just the perfect one!

Sorry, it's nothing ground breaking but then nothing such had happened today ;) I'd been charging my batteries, you know, busy week ahead.