Friday, 24 July 2015

Day 203 & 204: The ups and downs of Dauntsey Horse Trials and Phase 1 of new project begins

Day 203: Wednesday

The ups and downs of eventing...

As long as the riders are committed and driven by progress I am very happy to drag myself out of bed at slightly uncivilised hours and make my working day rather long. Like today. I teach my Start Programme rider and then get in the car for a couple of hours journey with the eventing team of liveries/managers from Brackenhill Stud. We are heading to Dauntsey Park Horse Trials with three horses, all entered in BE100.
I am feeling quite confident about improvements in Shabby, Fig and their riders so I am really looking forward to some action!

Shabby warms up very relaxed if not flat for this dressage and we set an objective to improve the canter marks as he often loses connection and thoroughness in the test. He goes fairly sweetly and accurately, his trot work is just about satisfactory albeit worse than what he is capable of but they do indeed a better quality canter. The judges score him at 42 which I think is fair. 

Fig and Aimee warm up very well. I give them a little structure and form to the work so they can get stuck in and focus on each other. They are much quieter and more harmonious together now with Aimee’s aids becoming more refined and even though I still have a huge list of things to go through in their training, I couldn’t be happier with how she rode as we wait by the arena entrance for the final call. 

Aimee and Fig 


The test is much improved too with various glitches that we can work on but overall it reflects about 70% of what they can do at home which is good. 

Shabby warms up flat for show-jumping too but jumps well and clean not touching a rail. They go in and start well over the first oxer, he knocks the next two verticals and then jumps very well over the third, another oxer on a dog leg to a vertical. I’d been watching that line as it rode oddly putting most riders too close or too far off the vertical so I am a little worried as Shabby is way too creative for too many options to chose from. He comes in way too excited and knocks the top rail. As I automatically and quickly trace their line to the next jump, I see Shabby disappear behind the jump wings and fall launching Emma over his head. I stop filming and watch as they both struggle to get up for a moment - that kind of moment when everything feels in slow motion and even though it lasts a mere few seconds, you seem suspended in time space for an hour. 

The vets and ambulance crew come over immediately and the whole service at the event is impressive. They check Emma and Shabby over, he gets intravenous pain relief and we walk him back to the lorry park. He is slightly lame and shaken but brightens up at the trailer and gets on with eating and drinking. 

Shabby’s fall means automatic elimination for Emma so the mood is low. Once it’s clear Shabby is relaxed and happy to stay and rest, we wonder over to watch Aimee jump, they end up with 2 down and go clear XC, so is the third rider in the team Brackenhill which lifts the mood considerably. 

Dauntsey is a great event with many top riders around so plenty to watch. William Fox-Pitt rides a lovely dark bay over the 100 course which is big and bold here. I watch him over several jumps as he comes home - the horse’s canter is massive yet somewhat compact, effortless yet powerful and he is full of running upon passing the finishing line. Mental note to self: go for that in your next competition horse! Stay away from all the "problem" animals and get yourself one athletic beast!


Back home at 10pm and collapse in the pillows!

Day 204: Thursday

Today, my usual admin day becomes a teaching and a new project day…As I mentioned recently, I am working on putting together a new venture. The location is Brackenhill Stud in collaboration with Emma and Aimee who run the livery business there. Having made spontaneous decisions in the past and not always benefiting from that (quite the opposite in fact), I have spent the last several weeks thinking through the details of this venture. It made me think how, with so many start ups, successes and failures, what’s seen on the outside is just a tiny tip of an iceberg. At the end of this over a month long work behind the scenes, there will be a one new page on Aspire website with an announcement that will hopefully bring a very exciting opportunities to a rider or two :) 

In between today’s lessons, we are ticking off the things we want shown on a video I am making for the page. The video that has an important task of not only introducing what we have been working on but also somehow relay the atmosphere, feelings, dreams and goals…I feel the pressure! 


Filming with Merehead and Aimee (left) and Emma and Repo (right) at Breckenhil Stud

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Day 201 & 202: Not an eyeliner kind of girl and making things happen

Day 201: Monday

- Hi, have you had a chance to try our make up products? - I hear and when I look up from kneeling down at bottom shelf next to lines of shampoos at Boots I see a girl wearing Benefit shirt and a Benefit badge hanging off her neck - would you like to test our new eyeliner?
Now I look at her properly as I stand up with polite version of "I really have no time for this" formulating in my head.
- Thank you but I don't really wear eyeliners - I say and I am quite aware she is noticing I am wearing my riding clothes, boots and all and she probably wishes she didn't approach me ;) I also have zero make up on (bar a tinted lip balm - not sure if that counts as a make up?) which makes me think she maybe felt sorry for me and decided I should indeed wear some. Having just spent the morning teaching and grooming I certainly don't look or feel very fresh.

The girl insists I test the eyeliner to make my eyes "pop" and "open".
I try not to laugh as she is very serious and very passionate about her popped and opened eyes so I really try to be polite about it all and finally manage to convince her , I think, that I am really not her kind of customer ;)
As she walks away and I go back to my exciting task of finding a shampoo to replace my empty bottle back home I notice her stopping next to someone else and tempting them too with popped eyes. This other person hesitates but follows and lets herself be led to Benefit counter.
I am a little relieved because you know, she did try and she didn't give up after a horsey person covered in grey hair said no to her products.

The no-giving-up theme continues throughout my day. The lovely rider who I mentioned before had to give up my training due to change of work schedule writes to me to say she wants to come back. I get things organised straight away for her to ride on a different day that she can do and we are good to go.

Another rider who I couldn't fit in due to, this time, my schedule, has persisted and cleared some of her weekends and is now able to join in Aspire programme from August.

I do really like Mondays ;)

Day 202: Tuesday 


A couple of my riders today are up for a bit of a test. Mairi has a task to connect all the elements we worked on for the last 3 months - connection, feel through her seat and balance perception. I have a good think about what the best conditions for the test should be and go for bareback in the jump field. She does a great job, it's so exciting to see the riders progress from barely managing a bareback trot to being able to help the horse balance over undulated terrain.

Eve is up for her first jump but I don't tell her because I don't want the mare she rides to become too eager. We often undervalue the power of our own thoughts on the horse's mind - they are one of the strongest aids...Eve has worked very hard in the last few months to improve her stability and body control. As a result, the jumping itself is easy today and she concludes that jumping is her favourite thing now ;)

I take my Start Programme rider for a nice hack to cement the basic rising trot skills and short canters we worked on on the simulator yesterday and on the lunge for the last 12 sessions. One more session and I am moving him up to Foundation Programme :)

Early start for me tomorrow to run one training before setting off to Wiltshire for Dauntsey Park Horse Trials with Shabby and Fig.

Wx







Sunday, 19 July 2015

Day 193 - 200: Week Summary: Sunday to Sunday :)

Get some snacks and cup of something at the ready, it's a long one today ;) 

193 Sunday

This week is going to be busy so I am making a plan for each day today. I know I probably won't have the time to blog daily and publish straight away as I have some serious amount of brain storming to do in the evenings for a new project. Mostly rest day for me today.

194 Monday

It's 21C and it's misting today. I am not sure if anyone who has not lived in the UK can appreciate how unusual of a weather condition this is but for someone like me, who grew up knowing rain as a generally wet, soggy condition (with a drizzle being the gentlest option), I just can't get enough of this misting thing! I love the damn thing!
It reminds me of a very fine plant sprinkler my Grandfather used to use on his tomatoes that he grew in a greenhouse (I don't actually know if you are supposed to sprinkle tomatoes as they grow but I am still alive after eating the sprinkled ones so it definitely doesn't cause them to become poisonous ;) )

Anyway. It's misting and the morning training goes fabulous. I am introducing trot poles to Nigel and he rides very well today with more canter work than we have done so far. We have the use of the large arena which lets the rider cover decent amount of ground before having to turn (the arena takes in some three times 20 x 40 dressage arena easily) so it's much easier for Nigel to maintain the canter. Percy the horse is a gem too.

Back home, I have a few things to write, one of them being a review of a fantastic book I have just finished reading. The publisher and the author sent me a copy of the book for review and to offer as a give-away if I wished so that's what I decided to do.



You can read the review here (but it's too late to enter the Give-Away, sorry!): https://aspireequestrian.wordpress.com/2015/07/13/book-review-and-give-away-wordlwide-perfect-mind-perfect-ride-sport-psychology-for-successful-riding-by-inga-wolframm/

195 Tuesday



Today is an important day for Jasper who gets his feet assessed and his diet evaluated and tweaked by Kate from Stormybracken Hoofcare (if you follow my blog for a while you will have known Kate from my posts from a few years ago when she did the hooves of Kingsley and Pocholo; don't search for those now - I reverted most of them to drafts as converting all into a a little book).

Here are some snippets from Jasper's appointment:


Since I had a few riders having lessons before Kate was due to arrive, I suggested they stayed and learnt a little more about barefoot performance care (hence so many people surrounding Kate ;) ). There are so many horses out there that really don't need to be shod that the more people become educated about diet, exercise and management and their relationship with healthy hooves/healthy horse, the better.

The real life learning is always so much more educational and fascinating than studying books (although the latter is a good addition of course!).

Sad accent to the day - one of my riders is changing jobs and can no longer continue on the programme. I really hope she sorts her schedule out in near future with less traveling and comes back, I will miss her jolly presence dearly!


196 Wednesday

Very varied day today with some exciting developments in the pipeline of which I will no doubt write about on here.


Transition work trot-canter-trot for Shabby, which is his weakest link. He really tries his best as always. We are experimenting with various relaxation techniques with some marked results. One thing he does is dropping into trot rather than collect when Emma tries one of the release techniques we are testing. At first, I tell her to ask him to canter immediately after but the more I watch him the more I can see he is really trying to figure this thing out.
The less we chase after him if he drops into trot, the more he calms down in canter itself. I decide to give him a benefit of a doubt here, He is changing something, he is not ignoring the signals Emma is giving him, he just has not found the best answer yet. He is close though so we will continue with this work until he is calm enough that return to canter is less of a drama.

He is still too forward and too anxious in his canter work but although subtle, the changes are there and I adore him for trying. Emma does a great job staying calm and as emotionally neutral as she manages when difficult moments happen. Physical issues are one thing but mental power will eventually bring the best results.

Aimee The Jockey rides a lesson of her life I think and Fig goes the best he has yet. We work on bend and flexion which has a very good effect on both of them.



Fig starts to move in a much more natural, athletic posture rather than his usual "round neck and the rest of the body in the hammock" posture which I am loving to observe.

The next event for both horses is on Wednesday 22nd and I am looking forward to seeing the boys and girls in action!

Once I am done with all the lessons it's time for a little informal meeting to talk through a project we've been discussing for the last several weeks. We agree on a plan of action for the first phase of the project and I go home to work on it.

197 Thursday

Admin day, nothing bloggable happens and I can't yet tell you about the project on which I focus today. Patience needs to be employed ;)
I can tell you that part of the project demands a video script so I am browsing various videos and making notes for our own.

198 Friday

I start the day with two adorable little girls who are now positively pony mad! The morning comes and goes, I then teach Mairi, Eve and Moira. Eve starts her equine course in college in September so I am upping the intensity of her training so she gathers as much as possible of the feel and skills before she moves away to Norfolk. With Mairi the challenge is also up as I want to move her up a level in a few months and onto a share of Oscar whom I have been schooling this year. They both should be ready for each other around October time.

Moira gets a pole work challenge to continue improving and developing her balance and confidence in her seat. She does a great job, pole work is perfect for focus and accuracy.

As a side note, if you own a helmet by brand called KEP Italia, please do have read here: https://aspireequestrian.wordpress.com/2015/07/17/kep-italia-buyer-beware/ One of my clients drew my attention to this incident and I was truly shocked reading it.

199 Saturday

In pictures :) 










Sunday: 200

Rest day! 

Relax. Oxford :) 

Saturday, 11 July 2015

Day 192: Another year on with a difference and aristocratic problems

Left: 11th July 2015. Right: 28th July 2014
Today, as I give Gary his first ever lesson on his very own horse (Jasper is a proper family affair: catch up here on the full story) I wonder, if a year ago when he joined my Start Programme following his daughter's and wife's fascination with horses, he had a slightest idea what he was getting himself into ;)

Great lessons today, really happy with my riders and their improvements.

The only issue I have is that my feet think they were born to lead aristocratic life! I tell them every day that it is with some regret that I have to inform them this is not the case! If they just complied and be happy in lower range price of footwear and didn't require much care, that would be ideal, please.
I have no budget for soft leather sandals and some fancy soft trainers, lightweight Ariats or the likes which they seem to perform best in! I tell them to stop throwing sore tantrums because sports-cooling-special- socks are not coming their way and that they have to make due with bog standard ones.
We've been having this conversation on and off recently even though one would hope that a few decades of certain lifestyle would make them realise there shall be no upper class treatments here ;)

They ignore me repeatedly so I might have to give in and save up for some Ariats!

Wx

Friday, 10 July 2015

Day 191: Fun with little people, bareback lessons continue and passaging on Oscar

Beautiful day today!! :) 
Railway strike is on the cards today so my journey isn't as smooth as it could be but overall, there seem to be many additional helpers in fluorescent clothing around the stations who do their best to organise any chaos.

I arrive at the London yard about 11am and meet my two new riders - adorable girls below 4ft ;) I have not run my Aspire Kids programme for good few years now because I didn't have a suitable pony but now that I do I thought I might as well!

We have a couple of hours of trial session and I think they have a great time. Look forward to having them around for the next few months :)

Moira has some very good moments with Tilly bareback and I experiment with walking out of the arena and sitting outside so to switch off my influence on the mare (who is such a good schoolmaster she waits for my slightest cue). It's good for the rider to feel "just me and the horse" sometimes, it gives you a true feeling of communication and focus on one another.

There are some works being done on the farm and I really fancy a quiet surroundings so I take Oscar out for a hack all the way to the "gallops" (a large field so called as is used for blowing the cobwebs ;) ) and school him there.
The field is huge and and he is loving it. His trot is big in the arena but here, with grass as long as his knees, he feels enormous in his stride. I pick a line across the field and ride twenty or so trot to walk transitions and I swear the trot is feeling more and more passage like ;)
He is very keen here so I am watchful what I ask him to do as I know he is not relaxed through his back.
I wonder around for a bit until we find a good spot for a circle and practice yielding from smaller to bigger back to smaller circles. At first he seems surprised as if not quite realising it is possible to go side ways in this long grass out here in a field but gets on with it a minute later.

We have a nice canter around the field and I pick another diagonal line and ride another twenty or so transitions - the trot feels so lofty and light.

We go back leg yielding from one verge to another, halting and yielding the hindquarters and then the shoulders, repeating everything I school in the arena but out here on empty tracks.
He snorts and blows and relaxes and I am so glad I went out. It;s our last ride for a couple of weeks as Oscar is having a little non riding holiday which should do him good. I am a strong believer in letting the horse be the horse, even if it's just a week every several months - so important for young horses especially. I will miss riding him but I do think it will do him good and I am already looking forward to sitting on him after his break :)

Back home I am liaising with my Mum back in Poland as we are booking my flights and hotel for my UK rider for October clinic at Stajnia Sabat. We pop messages back and forth, get all the dates, flights and reservations sorted and we are all good to go for the weekend 9-11 of October!

Exciting :)

Wx

Thursday, 9 July 2015

Day 187 - 190: One year on, Oscar connects and Shabby actually show-jumps, lovely meals out and breakfast in the sun :)

187: Monday

Filming lessons for training feedback is useful for sure but there is also a fun factor to all the footage when you put some clips together and look back at the journey you have undertaken.

Today, I run an anniversary lesson for one of the riders and it is so rewarding to look back over all the little steps that has taken us to this day.

The full story is on Aspire blog here (ONE YEAR ON: From a very nervous beginner rider to 12 months later…) but here is a video itself:





188: Tuesday

Busy day today but fairly easy on commute front as I am being picked up and dropped off by my fab clients.
Oscar works the best he has ever done. He and his owner, Paige, did a Cancer Research UK sponsored ride on Sunday raising almost £1k with a few friends so I pop his pink bandages on to keep up with the theme and add some of my weekly schooling fee to the charity pot.
He is a little tense and distracted to start with so I do an extended in-hand session with him (normally do about 10 minutes but end up on about 25 today). Finally he stops watching the Horse & Country TV (as I call his observations of all the fields surrounding the arena) and I know I have his attention 100%. He is so relaxed he starts to snort and breather out pretty much from the moment I get on board, have a very nice first trot and feels more in control of his body. He definitely loves his outings!

The most exciting moment is when he finally trusts me with the bit and lets himself relax into it. He gives me the feeling of connection for the first time and we spend a few minutes in the connected bubble.


He still takes a moment to truly believe he can relax into a better posture and stay in balance but it is always such a pleasure to feel that all the patience was worth it and the horse comes to the contact and lets you ride him as a whole.

My today's riders do equally great work, I challenge them and we have a good day.





I hurry back home, have a quick shower, change into a dress and pop out for a lovely meal with Rick and his mum. I am so hungry by the time we sit to the table that the food tastes divine ;)

I go for Gnochi and pesto, ricotta cheese and some veggies etc which all together are just wonderful.



189: Wednesday

Today is my usual day at Brackenhill Stud and again one of my lovely riders picks me up and I start my first lesson at 9.30ish am and then carry on until 8pm ;)

The jockey and the ex-racehorse has made some great progress grin emoticon Some superb work today, great to see how a little patience can go a long way...Fig is a very distracted type of horse but when he enjoys his work he visibly changes, relaxes and his concentration is all of a sudden not so much of an issue. Never a saying that "good, patient training can solve most of the problems" been truer than when working with horses like him... 

finishing touches on Andrew's Start Programme - he was having to space out some of his 12 Start sessions so a few more to go before we move up to Foundation Programme smile emoticon


For Shabby we do the warm up that gets best results so far - move him sideways until he discovers his body is indeed connected ;) We do leg yield to shoulder-in to "half-pass" (which I call Sha-pass in my mind because it's not quite what would pass in dressage as a true half-pass). Even though highly imperfect, the action of "having a go" at it alone makes Emma more in charge of each part of Shabby's body (as well as her own) and he somewhat seems to enjoy trying to organise his little legs and his brain. 

We do all this in walk only for about 20-25 minutes.

The effect: even in both reins and happy to stretch through the top line like after no other work. We follow this with forward, stretchy trot on circles and serpentines, get his pelvis to rock a little and all the muscles to stretch gently and become more mobile. 

Once he looks cat-like in his movement rather than wooden like he can sometimes, we proceed with canter work and jumping. 

Today, I can safely say he is spectacular. He answers every question I ask him and Emma through simple but demanding jumping exercise and we get to the point when Emma can soften her hands, stop holding him back and take off without undue stress. 

He rewards us by showing us that his forearms can indeed bend and his cannons can indeed tuck under. Even though I know this exercise should work in theory and have seen it work with many jumpers before, I am still in awe at how much a horse with dangling front legs can alter his technique if rider's way of riding and quality of canter is tweaked....


You can never tell a chestnut mare!! wink emoticon Loving working with this pair, few months on and this young rider is making some great changes to her seat and handling of her sensitive mare.

A delightful, late evening session with dancing Freddie and Lou grin emoticon
A couple of other horses in between and I am again having a lift back home, just in time for an express change into non-horsey life and another lovely meal with Rick and his Mum.
We have a glass of wine afterwards and as I barely drink nowadays I am semi-comatose by the time I hit the pillow and I sleep like a baby until the morning ;)

Day 190: Thursday

A much needed rest day today with yummy breakfast in the sun at 10am after a nice little lie in.


We may have indulged a little when it comes to sweet stuff!

Resting, dog sitting, catching up with emails etc :)

Wx


Sunday, 5 July 2015

Day 184, 185 & 186

184: Friday


Today I try an exercise that I wanted to do with Mairi ever since I tested it. If you are curious about it, please see Aspire blog post with more info here: https://aspireequestrian.wordpress.com/2015/07/03/forward-thinking-hand-continued-exercise-with-a-bridleless-bit-to-improve-riders-perception/

Video:



What I didn't mention in Aspire post and what I think I love the most in this exercise is how it focuses the rider...as if all of a sudden it made a perfect sense that the hands are just a connection between the seat talk and the horse's mind...Look how attentive the mare is when turning at C down the centre line to leg-yield, how Mairi is careful not to go in front of the movement and how, a few steps later, she succumbs to her old habit of more inside rein than necessary and the mare loses her posture...

It's an ingenious method and I will be using it more for sure.

In the morning, I ride Oscar and he feels good. His owner and I set a little lesson so she can see what I work on and so we can aim at the same thing and not confuse the horse. It's always very difficult to have any lasting results with a horse if he is schooled differently one day to the other so I am over the moon at how our session goes. Oscar is able to do most of the exercises I do with him with his owner and they are both looking good.
I struggle to see sense in schooling any horse without training the owner so I feel happier now knowing we walk similar path.

Moira rides a new pony because I want her to experience his canter that is a rocking horse like, confidence giving and requires a little work rather. They do well and I look forward to seeing how a new feel transfers back to her usual loan horse.

185: Saturday

Focusing on feel and energy today :) Loving the results. Some concepts are so hard to explain, so hard to experience for the first time but once it happens, even if it takes 20 well focused lessons, it stays with the rider forever.

Developing the feel of independence between a "working" thigh and passive lower leg

Back to Start Programme for the next few sessions for Alicia. Here learning about weight and energy transfer from seat bone, through the thigh bone to the knee and understanding the importance of it 

Understanding pelvis and upper body position on circles, the relationship between the two and how that changes in relation to direction of travel 

Caitlin learning the basics of groundwork with Jasper - today: understanding passive energy to higher energy transitions within handler, changing directions, asking for quality walk and trot on circles and straight line, respect for space and acceptance of the touches of the whip so it becomes a tool rather than a punishment. Really great first proper session with both learning very fast :) 

The theme for Indra for this month is "re-discovering harmony with the horse" smile emoticon She swapped horses for a month with Caitlin as Tilly is the best bareback teacher there is :) 
Sunday: 186

Rest day!




Thursday, 2 July 2015

Day 183: The magic of an afternoon nap!

Today is my admin day and I decide to catch up with everything properly and sort out my diary for the next several weeks.
I go through my riders' training notes and plan my lessons for the next few days, watch some educational videos I have been meaning to watch for a while and reply to 80% of emails that I have to sort through.

The weather is a little breezier today but still the temperature stays at about 27C (as opposed to yesterday's 35C) so there is a little more freshness in the air.

I do some house admin too, washing clothes and other exciting chores ;) Wait for Rick to finish his work and pop to the shop, buy some Mediterranean style ingredients and make a huge bowl of cold pasta/salmon/olives/tomatoes etc salad.

My plan is to read the book that I mentioned a few days earlier but tiredness catches up with me and I have a first real afternoon nap since childhood ;) I make a mental note to do it more often! Feeling refreshed and so much more awake!

More admin stuff for a few hours and rest time.

Wx

Day 180, 181 & 182: Post clinic chillaxing, travelling blues and teaching in the heatwave

Day 180: Monday

Today I am mostly chilling with my Mum - ah what a bliss :) My day starts with mini pancakes with home made jam for breakfast in bed and moves on to various coffee lounging in the sun and dinner at an absolutely lovely Italian restaurant La Vende (check it out here). We order a goat cheese salad and I take a chicken tagliatelle with variety of spices. It's all immensely delicious and we have a good chat and a good laugh :)


Day 181: Tuesday

It's an early start to the day as I have a hair cut appointment to finally sort out my unruly bangles that grow at mental speed ;)
It feels good to be able to see again!

I catch my flight which is a breeze in comparison to the trek home from the airport. I can't believe how hot it is when I walk down the steps from the aircraft - the airport looks familiar otherwise I would have thought I took a wrong flight and ended up on some tropical island.


I take Stansted Express to London and use the travel time to go through hundreds of photos my mega Dad took during the clinic. I chose 40 odd that are interesting and catch the horse and rider in moments that show their efforts and work they tried to achieve or illustrate a point we aimed at.

London is even hotter despite the fact it's now almost 8pm. I take the tube to Paddington, now half asleep and listening to a podcast interview with Hans Günter Winkler (more info about him here). The recording's quality isn't great and it's a little tricky to listen to it in transit with all the sounds and train noises but the story is engrossing enough that I don't mind the flaws.

Different training systems are fascinating.

I take my final train and then bus and arrive home at about 9pm for hugs with Richard :)



Day 182: Wednesday - The heatwave continues

Wow. Dear England, you have officially become tropical! It's 8:30am when I leave the house this morning and already there is no air and the sun is powering down from a blue sky.
I have 5 lessons to teach today, all indoors and although at first I am wondering how we will cope, it turns out that having no direct sunlight on the skin helps a lot even though inside it is a sauna.

First is my Start Programme rider and we do most of the session in walk learning the basics of the seat in lateral work. Trot feels like a marathon challenge but we fit in some. So pleased with this rider's progress and can't wait to move him onto Foundation programme in a few weeks.

With Merehead, again we take it easy focusing on lateral work and improving quality and symmetry of the contact. He is ace and we finish sweaty but happy.

Shabhash has an event on the 22nd so we decide to run a fairly normal session despite the heat because he might have to compete in similar conditions so the more he acclimatise to it the better. The only change we make is that we limit the canter work to the jumping part of the session.

First 30min we spend on lateral work and throughness in walk. As soon as they trot I know we did the walk work well. He looks powerful, calm with good energy. Emma changed his feed to the one he likes so now that he eats his meals his condition has visibly improved.  I am reminded about the speed with which the right diet can change the horse in either direction. He has filled out a little in places and looks rounder the way he should.

He goes well. I set up rider-training exercises to keep attention on Emma's ability to read rhythm and stride length. I keep them on the right rein most of the time with a left rein jump now and then as a rest. We move on to 3 jumps on a 3 loop serpentine and work on Shabby's main issue after the jump - landing disunited and disengaging the hindlegs in the turn. I keep all the jumps low at about 80cm to save his energy. He jumps well, carefully, trying not to touch the rails.
To work on right turns after landing, I ask Emma to experiment with softer contact on landing and an outside leg aid to remind him about his outside hind leg. He lands united.

To finish off, I set up a larger oxer from a long approach on the left rein to give them something to go to more and to open up the stride after all the work on the turns. I ask Emma to pick the canter that she thinks will take her over the oxer with least effort. I want her to have that canter in transition already, not to build up to it. They canter and I can see it lacks power so I ask her to try again. This time the canter looks fab, only slightly bigger than the one she had before but it has enough impulsion and uphill quality to deal with the 95cm spread.
They soar it in style. We call it a day.

My next rider is a young girl with a very nice mare and we work on the mare's canter preference. She is very athletic and a natural jumper with a fabulous eye for distance. One of those horses that you need to learn to set up the rhythm, point, sit back and enjoy the flight ;)
Her training weakness, however, is crookedness and a little low work motivation so the rider needs to be watchful and tactful to get the most out of her.

I set them exercises to work on precision in canter transitions because I know the leads will sort themselves out when the rider is clear about her demands.

Again, I keep the jumps very low so we can continue without undue stress. They do very well.

Then it's a flatwork session with a lovely Freddie and his loan rider Lou. I really enjoy teaching this pair. I do a warm up similar to the one I did with Shabby and Emma to improve quality of contact. They do so well, I can just shut up and enjoy watching them with a few pointers now and then.

Back home just after 7pm for a blissfull cold bath ;)

Wx





Day 178 & 179: The clinic weekend in the sun

Alison and Gejzer over a simple cavaletti exercise in walk - he takes the "no touching the rails" very seriously ;) 

Agata and Galka - here in a self carriage exercise in a very short trot leg yielding towards me. Testing rider's suppleness and coordination of aids. 

Short session with 4 years old PRE mare 

Flatwork session with a lovely "heavy" horse who moved as if he had no idea about some cold blood crosses running through his veins :) 

Flatwork session with a lovely "heavy" horse who moved as if he had no idea about some cold blood crosses running through his veins :) 

My cousin, Karolina, working on similar exercises as Agata and Galka. Learning about being precise and accurate with shapes of circles and figures of eights to improve self - carriage. The horse chooses his frame to some extent but the rider has to maintain line of travel, tempo and rhythm.

Ola doing some fun coordination exercises to improve the feel for diagonal use of aids.

Chatting with Dominika about her super mare :) 

De-brief after flatwork session

The Sunday jumping session - working in a line that can be ridden for 3 or 4 strides depending on the length of canter stride chosen by the rider. Here Dominka went for shorter stride that didn't fit either option leaving Falkata to decide and go for a long one. Very athletic little mare. 

Myself with my lovely Mum and 4 years old niece :) 

Tea time :) 

More tea time :) 

Jumping session - understanding a feeling of "uphill canter" 

Jumping session de-brief

Karolina and I working on ironing out a postural crookedness through her upper body

Eye to eye with Krater. I am using the whip to touch Karolina when she collapses her upper body to give her proprioceptive reminder about where her seat becomes weak and ineffective. 

More posture corrections - here with one stirrups very short and the other foot out of the stirrup to wake up different feels through the pelvis in relation to back motion of the horse. 

Flatwork session in the sun :) 


Ania and Zarys. Jumping session - planning a dog-leg to improve rider's ability to ride a correct line and tempo - here ending up too close to the left wing. 

Jumping session - same line and exercise as with Dominika and Falkata.

Same dog-leg line as above - testing the ability to plan a line and tempo of the canter for most optimal take off before the second jump


Natalia and Jaron - flatwork session 
Fabulous weekend. I ended up doing 18 lessons in two days as we added a couple as we went and I am seriously considering investing in a portable sound system that I can use during clinics. We worked in a large outdoor arena so to limit my shouting I walked all the time which gave me a serious amount of steps per day in a rather deep surface ;)

All the riders worked so well and are so eager to learn, I wish I could teach them more often. Alas, next meeting is in October so they have plenty of time to practice what we did during the weekend.

Wx