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:


What I didn't mention in Aspire post and what I think I love the most in this exercise is how it focuses the 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.


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 ;)


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.


Friday, 26 June 2015

Day 177: Walk with us in Warsaw :) Video Post

This morning I pick up Alison from the airport and rope my brother in into a little tour de Warsaw. It's a fab day and if you would like to share a snippet with us, see the video below :)

My lessons are set for the weekend and the plan is as follows:

9:20-10:20 Lesson 1
10:30-11:30 Lesson 2
11:40-12:40 Lesson 3
12:40-13:40 Lesson 4
13:40-15:10 Lesson 5
Break 20min
15:30-16:40 Lesson 6
16:40-18:00 Lesson 7
Lesson 8

9:20 lub 9:00 Lesson 1
10:20 lub 10:00 Lesson 2
11:20 lub 11:00 Lesson 3
Break 20 min
12:40 lub 12:20 Lesson 4
13:40 lub 13:20 Lesson 5
Break 20 min
14:40 Lesson 6
15:40 Lesson 7

Let's the fun time commence! :) 

Thursday, 25 June 2015

Day 175 & 176: The ideas in the clouds and being spoilt ;) LONG post alert.

175: Before Landing

Best thing about flying is seeing the many different clouds - today's ones keep me entertained for a while ;) 
It's a nice, quiet flight. I have a seat far away from any screaming babies this time so I wait until we are cruising safely (using this word loosely here I suppose!) above the clouds so I can pull my laptop out and write about my little yesterday's epiphany...

For years I've been trying to figure out a business model for Aspire Academy. A model that is not a riding school model where horses have to work for their food. A model that doesn't rely on groups of riders riding in groups but one that relies on quality relationship between a horse and rider. A model that doesn't require one horse to be ridden by tens of different riders a week.

One that is financially viable, economically sustainable and most of all, creates something valuable for the riders taking part and for anyone involved in provision of the programmes.

For years I have struggled because I have a marginal interest in making profit...It's an odd thing but making money has zero motivation for me.  However, I care deeply about the success of my venture and I want the project to make money in such quantity that it can go on supporting everyone involved.

For a brief moment I considered running the project as a non-profit organisation but after learning more about it I knew that wasn't what I wanted.
I then thought about crowdfunding, seeking supporters, maybe applying for some funds or grants but there has always been an issue at the core - I did not have a vision for the structure of the business in the same way as I had it for the subject of the business. Why would someone want to invest/support something when the creator didn't clearly see where they were going with the their business...?

In fact, I even hesitate to call it a business sometimes as it really seems like a hobby with an income attached.

When I got back from Portugal in February 2013 I started searching and learning more. I have accumulated various ideas and actioned some aspects of the venture but there's always been something missing. This annoying feeling that if only you had that one ingredient all the others would slot into place.

And then, on Tuesday afternoon, while browsing shelves of Waterstones in Oxford, I stumbled upon that ingredient...

I know what you're thinking. Horse riding is as far from "most pressing human needs" as it gets but it's the core of Yunus' idea that gave me mine. 

As I speed read the chapters standing by the bookshelf I feel like in a sci-fi movie where you can see your thoughts as jigsaw on a computer screen. You find one that makes you realise the image you are looking at and so all the other elements spread around also become easy to fit in. Surreal! 

There is still quite a bit that I want to consider and a couple of people I would like to run my idea through. As I sit here looking over the clouds I think 'how on earth did you not think about it earlier you idiot'. Then again, I might still be taking idiotic chances with all this. I might even be thinking - do I really want to go ahead with this...We shall see! But I do have goose bumps all over my arms ;) 

175 After Landing and 176 in full

The biggest and most wonderful bonus of doing my training clinics in Poland is that I get to spend some precious time with my family. I always try to time it so I have a couple of days with my parents on both sides of the weekend and as I stay over at my aunt's place over the weekend I get to see her, my uncle, my cousins (one of which I injected with horse virus at the age of 4; she is still riding and is taking part in my clinic :) ) and my brother with his family as they live not too far from the yard. It's the sort of working affair I really love and miss it so much when I am in the UK grinding everything on my own.
It would have been so much easier to reach my various coaching dreams with that support on the island! Alas, some things just happen the hard way ;)

The being away factor brings me spoiling treatment each time I am back. I get breakfasts in bed, my wonderful Dad drops me off anywhere I need to go, and my Mum transforms into a SPA consultant ;) I am very lucky and doing everything on my own has truly taught me to appreciate them more than I ever had in my teenage years.

Dreamy little barn and paddocks opposite the cemetery 
 The day I land I go to sit in a shop with my Mum until she closes (she runs a swimwear shop) and we catch up on life while serving customers ;) I used to do a couple of days a week in the shop with my brother when we were at high school and feel like I could probably still sell a few bikinis now ;) My Mum taught us well ;)

Dad arrives and we decide to visit my the cemetery of course since she didn't keep a deal we did in April and didn't wait for my June visit. The evening is so perfectly sunny and warm. There is a cute little barn just opposite the cemetery gates. It's in the countryside in the village my Gran was born and where I spent many a childhood holiday.
We bring some candles, fresh flowers and water the plants. Sit there in the sun with her for a bit. It's sad.

The next morning I sleep until 9am and my SPA professional aka Mum prepares a breakfast in bed service.

Just in case you are wondering, no, this is not a typical Polish breakfast ;) My mum loves healthy lifestyle and "clean" food so I get these "vitamins on plates" kind of meals every time I am home.

We chill for the entire morning and then my Dad drops us off at a tack shop as I need some new boots - I managed to destroy mine with the amount of walking I do so didn't even bring them over since the sole was coming off.
I find a perfect and super comfortable pair and meet a young girl I taught a couple of years ago so we have a nice catch up while browsing horsey goodies. She is buying new long boots for her first higher level dressage test at the weekend with her pony so I tell her next time I am around I will try to watch her compete.

I ask her advice on the boots and she gives them thumbs up. Always trust horse mad teenagers with what's good and current on the clothes/equipment market ;) Apparently I chose the best boots (good job the price tag is as comfortable as the boots!)

Then it's off to my still living-and-well Gran and Granddad (who is over 90 now but doing well) for a dinner. Gran D. is a dumplings professional and so of course the dinner includes them. First course is a veggie soup which I used to dislike but I am quite fond of now. And then it's pierogi (Polish dumplings) with berries and greek yoghurt plus some cheesecake for afters. You can never just turn up for "something" at Gran D.'s. You get the whole shebang ;)

I chill again in the evening with my parents, catching up with my online stuff while my Mum watches some odd series set in Turkey five hundreds years ago...She loves period dramas it seems!

Busy day tomorrow picking up my UK rider from the airport and taking her for a spin around Warsaw with my brother :) Look forward to it already!


Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Day 173 & 174: #EquineHour and Racewood competition, preps for the clinic and one amazing epiphany!

173: Monday

One of my Foundation Programme riders on the simulator today. Really good session with some significant improvements. 

I am told a few "negative' things about riding simulators. That they don't teach you feel. That the movement is too artificial to create proper benefit. I am even told you can't teach rising trot on it well because there is no forward momentum.

After regularly using the Racewood dressage simulator for the last two years with variety of riders over different levels and experiences I know that all the negatives shared with me were wrong. 

It costs me dearly to hire this amazing piece of equipment but the results of training with it are fantastic. This coming Sunday, #EquineHour and Racewood Limited are running an exciting competition on Twitter...I would absolutely love to win it! Not sure if I will manage to take part though as it's during my clinic :-/ 

Day 174 Tuesday

A very different Tuesday today as my clients had to re-schedule so I after a busy morning I am in Oxford from early afternoon onwards and having a very productive online/admin day.  

First of all, I go through all my videos from September clinic in Poland as I am off there tomorrow to run another one over the 27-28 June weekend. If you would like to read more about how I prepare for serial coaching weekends/Aspire Grassroots Clinics, please pop over to Aspire blog and read my today's post: Through coach's eyes: Reflections before a clinic 
Second of all - I come across a book while in a book shop in a business section and have one hell of an epiphany! Since I will mostly be travelling tomorrow and nothing exciting is due to happen for most of the day, I will write about it in tomorrow's post once I have had a little think on how much I can reveal now. 
Suffice to say, it gives me this "how come you have not thought about this earlier, you idiot!" feeling ;) 


Sunday, 21 June 2015

Day 172: Addicted to pursuit

Treated to this lovely little indulgence - afternoon tea with some reading :) More sugar than I probably had in the last 2 months ;) 

"Day off" is such an odd name. I wish there was a nicer name for a day when things are maybe a little slower or just different than on other days.
I don't do any horses or teaching today but stay on stand by in case my riders competing at Farley Hall need me. All goes well and Emma rings with an update. I am delighted to hear she had a great day. Shabby had a tense dressage but managed 40 for it which is rather good. In a relaxed state he is totally capable of mid-30s but keeping him zen within the boards is an art in itself.
He jumps better too, has 3 down and at least in some parts of the course he is much more rideable. They have clear XC but with some crazy amount of time penalties and I think Emma must have literally flown it! The course causes some problems with many run outs and stops so it's the sort of event where Shabby can show what a special little horse he is. So very happy for them as they work hard on the details.

JTE (jockey-to-event-rider) does very well too. It's her first affiliated BE event and they have 39 dressage, 1 down show jumping and one stop on XC course, otherwise fly clear. Super happy for them too as they only just started and there is still so much scope for improvement :)

I read an interview with Mark Cavendish, the cyclist. He says of his sport "It’s a rollercoaster of pain, fear, joy, crashes, excitement, boredom and pressure. But I live for it.” He could easily be talking about horse sports ;)

I think of the motivation. It's not just the love of horses even though of course it's a huge element. It's not about pursuing recognition, fame or some form of competitive glory. It's the taste of pursuit in itself.



Saturday, 20 June 2015

Day 171: Beautiful day to remember!

10.38 am. I am on train to London and my phone beeps. Txt message: "Letter is in the door of the front passenger seat x"

It should be easy to pick it up. I am guessing I will sit in front in the car and pop the letter into my pocket.
I wrote it a couple of weeks ago after discussing the content with Tatiana and Gary and they printed it out this morning. All systems go for a surprise of a lifetime for their daughter and my pupil - a young rider I've been teaching since March last year.

The plan is pretty simple. I give the letter to the girl which supposed be a to-do list with some instructions for her non-ridden session today. We somehow get cameras going so we can video the whole thing.

The letter has no instructions. Instead it says:

Dear Caitlin,

It’s Jasper here. I know, it seems unlikely that I am typing this but let’s just say, I am a very special horse!

Here’s the thing. A few weeks ago, I’d been chatting to your mum and she said she would quite like to ride again. As you know, I have fabulous manners so I immediately said I would be more than happy to oblige when she is ready. 

She went away and thought about it and we chatted some more. You see, I am very young. Some call me green but you and I, we both know, I am dark bay, black almost, so let’s just smile about these colour blind individuals. It’s ok. I have perfect manners. I wouldn’t sneer. 

Anyway. I digress. So, I need education. I want to know how it feels to move well and in balance. I want to go to fun rides and sponsored rides and do a lot of hacking out. I would even like to do some arena schooling and lunging and in-hand work. 
I want to learn to trot over trot poles and jump little jumps - as big as I can and my conformation and type allows me. I want to go to little dressage shows and show all them fancy warmbloods what a well mannered cob can do! 

But most of all, I want to have an adventure with a rider who will teach me what I need to know to be the great riding horse I can be while having the time of their riding life with me :) 

That’s when we are getting closer to the whole point of this letter so I am getting a little nervous…So I will just say it. 

I am no longer Jasper Hill. I am now Jasper Thorpe! I agreed to be bought by your Mum under the condition that you will train me and educate me and care for me and love me until she is ready to ride me. It might take a year or more, you know. 

Even though you are only at the beginning of your equestrian journey and I am very young I have perfect manners (have I already mentioned that?) so I would be very well suited to learn with, you see.

I hope you are still here? I asked Wiola and she said she will help you train me and put an educational plan for me every month so you won’t be alone on this quest, I promise :) And Kelly will look after me when you are studying and learning for your exams and do other human things you might need to do. 
And I even spoke to Tilly because she was worried that now you have me you won’t ride her anymore but she mustn’t be concerned. She is a great jumper and knows a lot so she will continue teaching you so you can teach me :) 

But we need to have a deal here too - even once in a year or so your Mum is my main rider and when you have your fancy event horse and train over big jumps and do complicated dressage stuff, you will still see me and take me up the gallops from time to time for a great run! 

Now, let’s get on with it and make great things happen shall we? :) 
P.S. I promised Gary he can have an odd lesson on me too if that’s ok with you? 

Best Regards,
Jasper Thorpe

Yesterday I wrote of an "event" I needed to accommodate into my day. That was Jasper's pre-purchase vetting. I couldn't write about it in case Caitlin read my blog ;)

Absolutely perfect day. All the riders do super in their lessons and this together with the joy of uniting Jasper - the near perfect equine specimen, and the Thorpe family, makes me feel very lucky to be able to do all this for a living.

You would think, hey, it's just horses and yet they make so many amazing, fulfilling, heart warming situations happen :)

Here's to many wonderful years ahead to the lucky new owners! :-D


Friday, 19 June 2015

Day 170

It's 9pm and I just returned home. It's been a long day today with some amended schedule to accommodate an event that I will tell you more about tomorrow.
Suffice to say, I have to re-organise my day so to fit everything in I put my alarm for 7am. I write for an hour and do the video feedback for an oversees rider who is doing my virtual training programme.

I then set off to London and find out that an earlier bus is actually more pleasant and faster than the one I usually take. It's a big bonus as getting stuck on this route is something I don't relish particularly.

Moira has Tilly almost ready when I walk in so we start on time. Our main area of focus this month is feel for the movement and harmony with it. The second step is affecting that movement. We are working on independence of the reins in transitions yet remaining connected. It's a tricky task but I enjoy playing with this feel/reaction puzzle. We change up between being on the lunge and using seat only to then riding independently and experimenting with how much Tilly notices seat questions and how much she herself relies on the rein cues.

I also do various coordination exercises which are surprisingly difficult even if just minute movements are required :)

Then it's couple of hours of the event followed by me hoping on Larry, the new horse I'd been offered as a share horse for the Academy programmes.
He feels substantial despite his 14.3hh, has a nice solid feel and very kind nature. I walk, trot and canter him on a loose rein to check his reactions and to know what level of rider he would best suit to. I think he might be a great confidence giver and I am super happy to have him.

If you would like to join my coaching programme, please see Larry's details and the coaching offer on here:

He is also rather adorable, loves attention and is easy to do which is an added bonus and something I value in all training horses I take on.

Add caption
Finally it's time for Oscar and I decide to take longer time in walk and only proceed further until I am absolutely satisfied he is with me in walk. I normally give him a long walk anyway but today, I walk for almost 30 minutes.

It works. He is starting to feel like a whole rather than like riding a solid piece and an elephant trunk. I focus on each hind legs pushing evenly and feel the push come forward to my hands.
It works as when I finally trot, he doesn't try to disconnect and invert.

I do several canter, trot, canter transitions too. He is oh so angry in the canter but the moment I give him a pat his ears flop sideways and he tries harder. He really is people's pleaser even though he isn't finding his work easy.

We finish with some really rather nice feeling trot on the long rein. Very happy with him.

Snooze time!

Pic left: Oscar boy playing with the hose while I try to wash him off

Thursday, 18 June 2015

Days 166 - 169: High speed internet catch up on the last few days :)


Not a great day mostly spent on crunching numbers. I sometimes laugh that I take the serious parts of life like a dog - one day at a time and enjoy the hell out of it. My more life-planning side has to be brought up artificially. I literally have to make an appointment with myself the dog-personality and myself the responsible-adult-that-will-not-be-able-to-work-forever.
We meet and we chat.

- What's the problem? - the dog says - aren't you enjoying your days?
- Yes very much so - the adult says - but what contingency plan do you have?
- Uhm, well...might get run over tomorrow or killed by a horse, who needs that plan!
- No. You do need it. You will enjoy building everything further knowing it has a future ahead.
- Yes. You are right of course.
- Ok, so let's look at the numbers.

So we look and we analyse and we reflect. I don't mind changes, they are part of my life all the time. I end up with a massive headache but I know it's necessary. Standing still is not an option.


My mind is still in yesterday's mode but thankfully the option of a hack out presents itself and we go out instead of doing a training session in the arena. The weather is delightful, everything in abundance, including flies that make lives of the horses a little twitchy! It's good to hit the fields and I feel the stress evaporating slowly, mixing with a little breeze, a creative chat with my rider and warm sun rays on my back.

I have an interesting ride on Oscar. He seems to misinterpret my questions which baffles me a great deal. It's hot and I am not in the greatest form but his answers are so random I walk for a minute and have a think.
He doesn't do anything bad, but it feels like when you write on a computer you don't know and someone swapped all the keys around ;)
I decide to push on anyway and even though we continue chatting different languages I praise him a lot when we meet half way and work him quite hard. He steps up to the challenge and settles a little.

Most horses ask for a stretch when worked harder but Oscar always hesitates. I go until he really wants to release and when he does, make much of him and call it a day. There is always another day.


I start the day with my Start Programme rider and we focus the session on simple transitions. How to do them via passive resistance from seat and for the reins to be a finishing touch. He does very well.
Then I teach a young girl on an ex racehorse who travelled around the world to places I only read on Google ;) I've been teaching this pair for several weeks now and the girl has built a really wonderful partnership with this horse. We are working on her Pony Club horse trials test in preparation for the event she is doing at the weekend.
I particularly like how calm she is with all the corrections, I know many adult riders who don't have half of her patience! Really great to see such maturity in a teenage rider.

Then it's Merehead. He is working very well despite having a bit on/off training due to his exploits in the field. He is now sound and back in full work. His attitude is superb today.

Onto my jockey-to-event-rider aka JTE and Emma with her secret weapon - Nordic Run :) His canter transitions are becoming more and more civilised and he has some real moments of brilliance in his trot work. He loves licking his lips and I wonder what judges will make of that. I have never seen another horse doing that ever, he literally licks his lips like a dog and carries on ;)

I put JTE on the lunge and do various funny coordination exercises. She is a perfectionist. I like that but I know it can be a burden too so we keep things light, educational and purposeful.
We then go through her BE100 dressage test in preparation for her event on Sunday. The horse is very talented OTTB but is most settled when he can lean on the bit a little so I let her ride him slightly on the forehand which keeps him more relaxed and confident. Once JTE builds confidence in her ability we will get him out of this habit.

Next is Shabby and we focus on his confidence and Emma's eye for a stride with him.
I set a simple grid in a way that I can take the placing poles away until there is only one at 3 or 4 strides away from the jump.
Shabby's erratic canter makes striding difficult but overall he jumps well and Emma have some half halts there.
We experiment and decide to ride all canter in light seat pretty much up to the take off. We find that he quite likes it.

She makes me laugh when Shabby gets excited on the right rein and they miss the stride to the first placing pole.
- The pole was not on my stride - she says. We joke about it since it's a opposite way of seeing it. You would always say, I/horse was not on the right stride.
I tell her to put those poles and jumps on her stride. She does very well. I wish I could watch them competing this Saturday but have lessons commitments so I will just keep everything crossed for them at a distance.

He stretches well in trot afterwards and I feel like it was a good session for him. He is tired but content.

I arrive back home just after 7pm and enjoy the new fast internet connection in a semi comatose state.


Day off running about ;) I sleep/snooze until 9am and then some more snoozing/reading on the sofa. I think my fringe is growing wild, I feel like a sheepdog. Thankfully, I am having it cut back next week ;)

Then it's off for my monthly magazine browse and catch up with emails and various little online projects I'd been unable to do in the last 6 weeks of internet desert.

It's a hot day today so I have an iced green tea with mint and yes it is as deliciously refreshing as it sounds.

Until next time!
Wiola x

Sunday, 14 June 2015

Day 165: A full on day with sad news and various thoughts...

Star and Nigel

A good schoolmaster horse is for any trainer like the best partner on a mission to help the rider become the best they can be; like an old friend with whom words are not necessary because a small gesture, change of posture or even a longer sigh is enough to communicate a hundreds thoughts.

Teaching on a good schoolmaster horse who willingly sacrifices own comfort for a task it doesn't fully understand but applies to it all the effort and heart is like working with a teammate who works all the overtime with you and never lets you down.

Today, I lost one such teammate and Mondays will never be the same again. :( RIP super mare. One in a million doesn't even come close to describe this amazing horse. An absolute privilege to have her as a teaching partner who will be very much missed by myself and the rider.


I worked today as due to yesterday's event we moved our usual Saturday's lessons to Sunday. I am experimenting with more feel exercises at the moment and everyone who falls into the net of those experiments so far very much enjoys them and notices improvements in awareness and perception. It makes me want to search for more ideas and will definitely be doing so.
The young riders are doing very well too, I am slowly increasing pressure with difficulty and complexity of exercises for their jumping training as and when possible whilst keeping it all as confidence building as possible. Hopefully, like this, they won't even notice when the questions become much harder...

Young Jasper showed some spectacular work today mixed with very baby mistakes and balance issues but once he is done with his current growth spurt I will push his workload on more. He has all of a sudden become bum high so we need to wait for his withers to catch up but when he moves, he floats. Wonder cob! Big plans for this chap!


So many thoughts currently on my mind. Every two months I evaluate the direction in which I am going because three years ago I made a mistake of not doing so which was followed by hugely undesirable consequences. Tomorrow is my reflection day - and yes I do have to literally put it in my diary every couple of months otherwise my mind just wonders on a never-ending adventure.

An opportunity arose recently to create a second base for my coaching programmes. The London yard is great and I hope it continues to function well but I do need a second location with more scope...
It would mean building everything from scratch (except for the actual facilities which are already in place) from gathering suitable horses to finding riders close to/willing to travel to the location.

If I go ahead and this opportunity becomes a reality, I would be able to finally get my own little project horse or two...For a couple of years I have had no desire to take any horses on and I repeatedly turned away any riding jobs. There have been many reasons for that but slowly I accepted a few horses for schooling and addiction is kicking back in.
Financially it is impossible at the moment but then again, plans don't cost anything...

"Paperwork" day tomorrow.