Friday, 27 March 2015

Day 85 & 86: Admin, interesting videos and a new haircut dilemma

Organising my weeks ahead. There is something very calming and relaxing in having everything where it is suppose to be. At least for a short moment before schedules get turned upside down, lessons get postponed, trains cancelled etc - the usual daily malarkey ;)

I came across a rather interesting series of videos recently and I think at least some of you might be interested. The videos are in form of discussions about stress in riding, happiness, biomechanics and dressage :) Check them out here: (they are free when you sign up for Karen's news (just scroll down the page for sign up button).

On subject of haircut, I admit to being very lazy when it comes to my hair (read: I have it cut once or twice a year ;) but I do feel like giving my hairdresser a little work this time!

So, I wonder if I should go for a fringe and maybe lighter colour (although not as light as below simulation, that's just for the cut itself):

Btw, this the before (although still current ;) Isn't it incredible how one can change one's appearance just by changing hair cut and colour? Well, and adding some make up I suppose. 

I am thinking of the bottom left as far as style of the cut as it seems to match my hair type closest and my own colour with some lighter touch - not going for the light blond, way too high maintenance!
If you fancy giving your opinion, comment away :)

Thursday, 26 March 2015

Day 83 & 84: Ex-racehorse to Event Horse in progress: 3 months flatwork training – comparison video

On Saturday evening and this morning I've been working on putting together some comparison footage as well as putting together homework for my riders. I still have good few to go through but wanted to share with you this stunning chap - isn't he one hell of an amazing horse?!
If he continues as he does and stays injury free he is going to shine out there very soon :)

No gadgets, no rush - just slow, patient training and a lovely rider to teach.

A little more about him on Aspire blog, here:

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Day 82: Timing and Feel

M. during her lesson having a taste of Aspire Development level (schooling of the horse)

They say "feel" is the most difficult aspect to teach but I find that most riders can learn that "feel" - what I personally find challenging (in a nicest possible way) is to teach timing and the ability to act on the feel.
When focused yet relaxed, most riders feel the movement and after practice and observation, can tell me exactly which leg of the horse moves, whether it is in the air, pushing off, reaching forward or perhaps going sideways. Most riders, even with eyes closed and on their first lesson, can tell me when each shoulder of the horse moves simply by feeling it through their thighs and knees. 
They feel whether the horse's ribcage bulges more one way or the other and whether the horse's way of going makes it easy or difficult to remain symmetrical through upper body.

Feel might not be easy but it is rather teachable.

Now, timing and ability to act on the feel comes with so many trials and errors, emotions (frustrations being one I see most), tension, trying-too-hard...

Good timing (of aids/communication between rider and the horse) makes movement look easy. Great timing makes movement look magical :) 

Monday, 23 March 2015

Day 81 Spring has started,,,

Some time ago, in a chat with a friend I shared some partially hilarious, partially impossible life situations I had found myself in over the years.
- I don't know how you do it - she said - I wouldn't have the courage.
Surprise. How differently is the courage seen by different people.
The infinite confidence in the future - I envy that on some level. How could we slog away, endure something we dislike, maybe can't stand even, for this ethereal concept of "later".

As the life awakens around us and continues its inevitable, predictable cycle, so short at times, how could we store so much confidence in the days that aren't anywhere near? Is it the belief in some form of after life that makes people so relaxed about not having the life they want here and now? ;)

I watch people hating their jobs, being sick from stress, hating where they live, depressed, studying towards a degree they never want to pursue, staying with partners they can't stand and I wonder, maybe it's me who is the coward...I simply follow what makes me happy. I don't feel very courageous at all.

Spring brings many new phone calls with it. I can't help but wonder, where were you in the winter, people? :) The sun is still deceiving - you wake up to warm windows and go out to the cold wind that makes your eyes stream and fingers freeze.

It's very late tonight but I'd been writing and lost the feel for time. Must catch some sleep!

Saturday, 21 March 2015

Day 79 & 80: A little plug for friend's Kickstarter project :)

If there have ever been a question of a little lady wizard actually existing, this girl was it. All gangly, 14 years old, always with a black cat under her arm or on her shoulder, singing something quietly, face almost entirely hidden under impossible amount of long, wavy dark hair.

Dreamy to the point of oblivion and driving us all slightly up the trees with it, nevertheless somehow managing to muck out some stables in between cat stroking, lead ponies for me surviving numerous tripping and out of breath breaks. Rarely complaining much, just gliding around the yard with her seemingly several meters long limbs giving her an impression of something between incredible laziness and wizard-y elegance.

That's how I remember Angela Tong's first months at a lovely little yard we both worked together from around 2009 to summer 2012. And look at her now - a real wizard lady :)

Although I will reveal she is still slightly crazy like the rest of the yard team ;)

September 2014. Driving little toy cars as you do. Myself on the pink one, Angie on the red one ;) 
Now dear lovely readers, do check this Kickstarter project Angela is involved in...and maybe support it if you like it :)

My own love of illustrations started with Thorgal 
- his adventures were my absolute obsession from age 10....onwards;)

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Day 78: Let's start again :) Teaching commitment....

Introducing new rider on Start Programme to his training buddy for the next 12 sessions - it's always a great challenge to teach those basic skills in a way they create a solid foundations to further learning.

I must say, I agree with this short post here:  , there must be commitment before there can be any proper improvement.

Teaching commitment - now, that's a challenge...

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Day 77: As if it happened before...

I am standing next to Merehead chatting to Emma post lesson, discussing some details.

- I've just fed the pigs - A. says as she passes us and with that single, short sentence she takes me back to a day that never was in which I am at the yard I never visited where there are no pigs that I know of. The day that seems, for this very second at least, both familiar and completely untraceable in time or space. 
Even now, as I write this, just a few hours later, I can no longer recall the same feeling of familiarity or any of the events with any clarity.   

Deja vu. Bizarre. 

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -- - - - - - - - 

I don't know whether it's the warmer weather or the fact that I'd now been back doing Aspire programmes for a full year after my break but I am getting more enquiries and having to fit more clients into my weekly schedule. I am also having to look for horses that are suitable for each rider. Time management is a good problem to have, good one indeed :) 

Somewhere in Hampshire 

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Day 76: Mostly awareness and perception today

Every several weeks I focus the Foundation programme lessons mostly on awareness and feel. Sometimes on the lunge, sometimes not but the idea is for the rider to train internal concentration, feeling how movement changes and affects their bodies, how much movement they can feel and how much they are able to act on that feel without unnecessary tension.

These are not easy sessions but they help the rider bond with the movement :) They help the rider make friends with bumps about the saddle and shifts of weight and even with some unbalanced discomfort.

They also teach joint motion and awareness of it. They teach throughness but to the rider :)
I really rate them and see huge improvement in the rider's perception and understanding of what feeling through the seat really means.

Riders who are a little too busy through their bodies, become more stable and quieter. Riders who are too loose and floppy, become naturally more organised in their bodies.

Training the rider is the key. Once the rider is good, the horse can enjoy the learning...

New boy has arrived for one of my riders on Development Programme. He is a one handsome cob! And oh so friendly :) 

Until tomorrow!

Monday, 16 March 2015

Day 75: Testing You Tube subtitles for my tears!

Subtitles can be a great learning tool. They can clarify the subject matter and of course, make the video easy to understand in your chosen language. Fabulous. I had a go with my today's videos and ended up crying with laughter ;)

Here are some examples - what do you think? Perhaps it's my odd accent that nobody can ever place - including You Tube it seems - that confused the translator? ;)

Well, that was fun but I probably won't be using subtitles instead of voice overs just yet.

Until tomorrow!

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Day 73 & 74: Working weekend, teacups and corners

These are no ordinary tea cups and this is not an ordinary walk with two cups of tea. This is a rider on my simulator/rider improvement session skipping along with two cups full of water building her awareness of what happens with her arms when her legs and hips canter ;)

Off-horse exercises are such fun, easy yet powerful way to build awareness and improve specific riding skills. There is a possibly very exciting little project coming up in my little head quarters in cooperation with another overseas professional covering this area of rider training so I really hope it goes ahead. Once I have some concrete information I will be blogging about it straight away.

The weekend training theme was outside aids control, self-carriage and corners. I chose to use a very simple exercise that help riders on both Foundation and Development programmes and it worked very well as even riders starting to understand the aids better and riders who compete regularly were both challenged and able to build feel, awareness and effectiveness. Love simple exercises that bring multitude of benefits.

All you need is two poles and you are ready to go :)
If you would like full description of the exercise let me know and I will cover it on Aspire blog.

Until tomorrow!

Friday, 13 March 2015

Day 72: Curious habits of Oxford and just some time with my dearest :)

Fun day today clocking in some well over due time with my dearest Richard, watching Oxford students do their thing (anyone know what's the occasion? ;) ), wandering around old buildings, cobbled streets, free museums, eating nice food, drinking coffee, reading and just generally enjoying spring and spending time together :)

I am now sitting here editing video for eventing series for Aspire blog. Sadly, my internet has its own agenda and even though I left the uploads running for a whole day, only a few files actually uploaded. Evenings are always better connection wise so I shall play with it now.

Have a great weekend! It's a working one for me :)

Thursday, 12 March 2015

Day 71: Green outside windows, chiropractic addition and teaching exams

Morning in Berkshire countryside :) The green is as green as it looks especially when the sun comes out and highlights the colours. It was supposed to rain today but thankfully, as many a time, the weather forecast was very much wrong.

Very interesting morning teaching a new client, a human chiropractor who is adding equine chiropractic to his skills and wants to learn to ride. Having a huge interest in biomechanics of movement I really enjoy working with other sports professionals, a very good challenge and a learning experience in its own rights.

Riding instruction as a whole is very imprecise, often contradictory to how our body is able to learn movement. It's always been a curiosity of mine as to why BHS teaching exams don't include human physiology beyond the very basics of how the rider should look on the horse. I don't believe riding instructors are incapable of learning a little more about joint function, spine care, musculo-skeletal movement patterns.

For those of you who aren't familiar with British Horse Society examination system, here is a syllabus of Diploma in BHS Intermediate Teaching of Horse Riding (to give you an idea - this diploma prepares you for teaching riders to a level that huge amounts of amateur riders never go above of: affiliated - Elementary level Dressage, Eventing to BE100 and Show Jumping to BS Discovery - 1m.

It's curious, don't you think, that there is not a single unit about human physiology, movement, postural issues etc ?
The syllabus hasn't changed much since I took the exam in 2009.

How does it look in your country?

Until tomorrow!

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Day 70: In need of sleep

Full on day today with lessons so instead of adding my post I should really be catching some sleep but the 365 project is relentless ;)

I filmed the next batch of videos of Emma and Shabby's eventing story today, hope to have enough time to have it all edited and up on Aspire blog by Friday evening.

I am still unsure of how to make a nice to watch story out of this, we are doing it the un-scripted, on the day kind of way ;) We shall see how it turns out. Shabby was very good today, they are doing a local dressage show on Monday to give him an outing before Goring Heath event so I hope he contains his excitement and relaxes enough to have a good time!

Until tomorrow,

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Day 69: The views on my way to work

I thought I would share with you the fauna and flora on my way to work today.

Until tomorrow ;)

Monday, 9 March 2015

Day 68: Like-minded Mondays and doing a driving licence

Do you ever get that feeling - I am "surrounded" by people who are not exactly like-minded?

I get that on some Monday mornings when I open my social media accounts and see my feeds flooded with variety of versions of  "I hate Mondays" posters, emotikons, statuses, vines etc

Dilemma - Do I remove/unfriend/unfollow all those people or ignore?

To me, a Monday means just another cool day with great people and horses. Have you heard about that theory which says that you are the combination of the five people you spend the most time with? What if we add the online world many of us work/play in nowadays and think our mindset is heavily affected by the first five social media messages we read every morning?

I often tell my riders not to use "I can't", "I don't know", "this is too difficult" etc because our words do become our actions. So yes, these were my thoughts on this little overcast but nevertheless lively morning on way to teach.

Another thing that was on my mind today was the case of a driving licence...Yet another delayed train today seemed to have suddenly made me determined to get more mobile.

This comes with costs...

The lessons: costs vary but I am told the best option is to take 2h slots at a time. In my area this means about £50 per session
As I have no option to practice with anyone, I would need to do all my driving in the lesson environment so I am estimating a minimum of 30 sessions (30 x £50 = £1.500).

The insurance: this is where the research "fun" started ;) Almost everyone says that insuring a car as a first time driver is expensive but there are also quite a few nuances to it. If you drive you are probably aware of this but as someone who really doesn't pay attention to much car related stuff, it's all rather new to me.
Thank goodness some stuff are very comparable to horse world ;)

The insurance depends on the make of the car [of course it does, same with horses ;) ]
The insurance depends on mileage you intend to do [let's think about it as of what discipline one wants to compete at]
The insurance depends on your experience as a driver [this doesn't apply really...- but perhaps it should!]

I found this useful site which lists makes of cars in relation to insurance costs - do you drivers think it's useful?

This is my kind of a car ;) Land Rover Defender  I am guessing un-insurable at any reasonable rate for me:(

A few years ago, Daily Mail delivered a nice piece of information about a teenager who was quoted £72,000 to insure his £600 Vauxhall Corsa (google it if you are interested). I have a feeling mine could be similar for the car above. Maybe.

To figure out even an estimated insurance cost is rather an undertaking. Most options ask you to answer several pages of questions about the car you don't have so it's a bit like solving a murder in Colombo but without Colombo.
The forums bring rather an interesting variety of ideas too ranging from £800 to £4.400 a year depending on the money grabbing insurer, make of the car and age of the driver.

As far as the age goes, I hope that since I am pretty much a geriatric in the world of first-time-car-drivers this will work in my favour.

The actual exam fees seem like buying a coffee in comparison:

Theory exam: £25
Practical exam: £62

The car...

£600-£2.500 ? 

Current savings for the above mission: £10 ;) 

And breathe...What I need now is a driving instructor who wants to trade driving lessons for riding lessons for themselves or their offspring(s) ;)

Until tomorrow!