Sunday, 17 May 2015

Day 135 & 136: Shoulder-in and switching on senses

Day 135: Friday

One of the easiest ways to understand what happens during shoulder-in is to go on all fours in your living room and walk it as if you were a horse. Do with your body what you know the horse's body is required to do and notice what you need to do with your weight through each knee and each shoulder, how you manage to travel forwards yet somewhat sideways and how the energy flows within your body.

Go for at least 7-8 steps and if your living room isn't big enough, well, you might want to give your neighbours something to talk about during birthday parties and do some all-fours games in your garden.

Now, if you can ride a beautiful, balanced shoulder-in with great benefit to your horse please feel free to completely disregard the outrageous advice above ;)

Day 136: Saturday 

My current travel book companion is a spy thriller Kolymsky Heights. A very unique novel, brilliantly written and very hard to put down! Just as Porter, the main character and the spy extraordinaire, arrived into icy chill of Siberia, my train pulled into a little windy Ealing Broadway.
Thankfully, the weather for today's training sessions wasn't as critical for me as it was for Mr Spy (minus freaking fifty degrees celsius over there) and we had some really interesting learning experiences.

The big jumping field is finally open for play so I will be starting the jump training with the young riders in a fortnight. I have one more session sets planned for them to work on some technical aspects of their riding before we set off into an open space.

The warmer aura also allows for some enjoyable practical sessions so we played with the awareness of balance and the feel for half-halt using each other and poles on the ground...

It takes time to go over these details but it really is worth it. Sometimes riders have their light bulb moments straight away, sometimes many months later but there is never a question of if/whether a better awareness leads to better riding but when :)

Switching off particular senses or instincts in order to switch on different ones is one of my favourite areas of training. A simple act of removing a bridle and encouraging the rider to connect with the horse through weight aids, seat and legs can be a very powerful and empowering experience. Below is one of my young riders at Foundation Programme having a go at 20m circles, serpentines, changes of direction - she did fantastically well on a wilful little mare by planning in advance and turning the horse's neck rather than head...


Friday, 15 May 2015

Day 132, 133 and 134: Doing vs teaching, watching warm ups at Windsor and final preps for next event

Day 132: Tuesday

You know this saying - those who can, do and those who can’t do, teach? I wonder who came up with this first and how did that thought occur to them? Were they a frustrated underachiever taught by a cynical teacher who liked to put them down? Or perhaps they were a talented but impatient pupil wanting to climb faster and higher before their teacher thought they were ready?
It really makes me wonder because in riding, many a time, the doing is the easier part. Horses learn so quickly, so genuinely. It’s the training of the human component that’s the difficult bit!
Even more so, the riding skills, intricate and complex as they might be, are yet easier to teach than the mental side to riding is.

When I dissect some movements in order to understand what I am doing and then try to devise a way to teach it to a particular rider, I often hit a brick wall. I ride something over and over again and I think, how do I teach this to someone who have never experienced anything remotely similar? Anything they might be able to relate the feel to?

You can watch many things. You can observe riders and horses. But to see, to truly see what you are watching - it’s not easy. Maybe it’s not possible to both do and see to the same top standard? Maybe if all your senses are focused on seeing, the parts of your brain responsible for doing no longer develop as well?

I don’t know. But I think it’s easier to ride well than to teach well. The former only requires you to master yourself, the latter asks you to not only master yourself but to empower the student to master themselves.

Day 133: Wednesday
Windsor Horse Show 2015

On subject of observation, today I was doing mainly that by planting myself in between the warm up arenas and the main show-jumping and dressage arena during the first day of Windsor Horse Show. One of the main reasons this show is firmly on my favourites list is exactly because it is possible to watch pretty much every single rider working the horses in before the round or a test. There is also plenty of going on as far as showing goes and although I have zero interest in showing itself, I do like to watch the working hunter classes and see what judges like about each horse, how they go and behave and what’s the winner’s conformation is like. 

In the jumping warm up, I like to observe what type of horse is being ridden and how and then compare those observations to their performance in the class. I like to watch as if I rode each horse myself and think how each issue would ride and feel. Like this, you can “ride” hundreds of horses in one day and learn a lot about different ways of dealing with different issues. 
Similarly in the dressage, I like to see how riders cope with their horses’ stage freight - many issues in dressage is due to lost concentration and relaxation. Some horses warm up beautifully and foot perfect just to make simple mistakes in the test a few minutes later. It’s a great mental game, dressage, and so again watching different techniques and strategies can be very educational. 

I wish there were more shows nearby with this sort of set up and so many classes and disciplines within one show ground.

Windsor Horse Show 2015: checking some new tack out, little champagne sip and lunch in the sun :) 
Day 134: Thursday

Awesome day today getting final preparations in place with Shabby and Meerhead before their run at Aston Le Walls on Sunday. Shabby did the best test-test we have ever done with him, if only he could retain his calm during the event so he can do himself justice! His trot work is becoming so much better, when we started back in December he had this pony trot going nowhere unless he could go hundred miles per hour, he now has so much more length to the stride when he is focused and relaxed. 

Merehead is learning basic lateral work - he is a very clever boy :) 

I also had a pleasure to meet Emma's new ex-racing project who is very exciting indeed, tortured an ex-jockey into a dressage seat and worked a young rider rather hard but everybody is so much pleasure to teach. Great day :) 

Monday, 11 May 2015

Day 130 & 131: Dog sitting and pondering on training companion magazines for non-horse owners...

130: Sunday

Spending the day with these two adorable critters today :) Woody (the piebald ;) is a permanent house fixture, Basil (the skewbald) is a visitor, I look after him from time to time.

131: Monday

I'd been browsing the usual monthly equestrian magazines (Your Horse, Horse and Rider, Horse) and it strikes me how much of the content seems to be aimed at a more "amateur-professional" areas of the market. Many training features are done by UK's top riders and trainers on some seriously smart horses (to be fair, there are some nice grassroots examples of riders too but all very much competition minded).
It made me think - what are the actual learner riders reading? Or do they? I often ask my riders what they tend to buy horse mags wise but most don't buy any. Some read Horse and Rider and Your Horse.
Maybe it's just me but do you think there is still a huge gap between a riding school rider/non-horse owner rider and owner/grassroots competition rider as far as magazine market buzz goes?  When you look at other sports mags they cover pretty much every niche you can think of.

Riding has pink pony magazines with stickers for girly girls and then some decent mags for an ambitious amateur horse owner...
Is it just me who has trouble finding some learner-rider magazines out there to recommend for my learner riders?

Why would you buy a mag? Any mag? I am thinking - to fuel your passion, see what others are up to - how they cope with that lost stirrup in canter or stiffness in arms or uneven rein contact or [input own issue here]; to learn what might be good to learn share experiences...?

If you know of some good titles that can be an interesting learning-to-ride companion, please do let me know! You know, a good pick me up type of read for people without own horses who want to improve their skills and work on own seat, confidence, understanding of training and healthy development of the horse. Learning to train and training to train level of rider, not training to compete level of rider...On that note, neither do I mean a read for someone who prefers hacking/trekking to schooling and training.

The current monthlys are great, they really are, and I am sure many riders enjoy them immensely but I feel they are not enough.

I try to browse all horsey publishing at least every couple of months but to buy it all to read through is out of question :-/


Saturday, 9 May 2015

Day 128 & 129: The choices and the wi-fi hunting continues

Day 129 - Saturday


OK, you know when you are at someone's house and you have no idea how to find something and you think, shit, why can't dogs talk for crying out loud!!
So, I am looking for the router so I can input password into my laptop when prompted for it and I can't find it. I follow every cable in the living room. Like - follow it. On my knees. Begging the dog to tell me. H., if you are reading this, don't laugh.

My friend said, it will be by the plants so I am looking for the plants but you know when you have an image of something and that something really doesn't quite match up to reality? That. I think - PLANTS - lots of them, maybe even with fruit or flowers you know. It's spring after all.

I look at the dog - hope can kill you you know. Finally, I give up. I will have to go and upload the videos tomorrow from the hotel again. Hopefully they won't mind me occupying the seat for several hours, again! I pick up the keys, the dog is delirious with happiness and bounces all over the place.

Ok, ok we are going and you can poop as much as your heart desires and...then, I spot it! Next to the smallest plant - a single plant - on a little table. The router.

Thank you, thank you, thank you!

I set the videos on upload and take the dog out for a quick walk. Come back. And wait, And wait. It is ow 21:14 and 8 out 26 videos uploaded (today's lessons went great, really happy with all the riders :) ) . I started around 6pm. Well, it is not my week for this internet malarkey, that's for sure.

Out and about today

Day 128 - Friday - The new order has been chosen

Some of you might be aware that besides Badminton Horse Trials there have been a fairly important event happening on Thursday with results being given today.
I am probably as a-political as one gets but I would like to express my relief in writing - it is good to know that the Xenophobic UKIP didn't go too far. However, I would also like to express my terror upon hearing 3.8 million people voted for them. Scary.

Thursday, 7 May 2015

Day 125, 126 & 127: Writing further afield, keeping the beat and WiFi hunting

Day 125: Tuesday 5th May

I saw it a few days before the deadline and sent my proposal....


Putting aside the wonderful opportunity to connect with like minded people around the world. there is one more thing that makes me want to keep on writing, even if I am sure some, if not majority, of my written English must be rather lame and grammatically challenged.

I would like to try to share with you my reason.

Apparently, you can't teach anyone anything until and unless they made a decision (subconscious or conscious) to learn that very thing. Isn't that an incredible concept?
Say, if I would like to teach someone to change the way they ride - get them to use the reins to help the horse to shift his balance rather than to dominate the animal through learnt helplessness - they need to first abandon their previous beliefs, assume yours might have something in them, acknowledge a potential in the new technique, allow themselves to put trust in what you are saying, and finally then allow themselves to learn...

Now, that's a long way from instruction/suggestion to action...

So, you might say that the learner needs to somehow arrive at the learning path by the means of their very own idea...Somehow, the seemingly disjointed pieces of information have to form a vision of a bigger picture in which it becomes possible to place our very own puzzle.

You know, the "if you can see it, you can achieve it" sort of thing...

I feel like, if I write and share my experiences, somewhere someone might place them on a map of their own reality, look at it one day and see, that by adding some landmarks, some mountains, some woodlands, some cities...they now see a new path from A to B that they hadn't allowed into their vision.

I feel like, if I write and share my experiences, I too will find those new paths for to write about something you need to make yourself understand it, explore it in ways you maybe discounted before, see it not only as if with own eyes but with the eyes of others.


In that light, I am honoured to have been chosen to blog for Featured Team on HayNet :) I hope you will visit my posts on there, I will pop the links as and when they are published but in the meantime, do check the other bloggers chosen. A very interesting bunch of people who I am very much looking forward to following:

Day 126: Wednesday 6th May

Work with Shabby continues. The other horses work well too. We are mainly working on the rhythm, on keeping the beat, on finding the canter in which Shabby feels most confident, balanced and rideable.
I am using more "rider training props" like wings and poles to trigger rider's technique and thinking.

Day 127: Thursday 7th May

Today I am mostly hunting wi-fi connection since the one I have at home is malfunctioning badly and leaves me unable to keep up with online part of the Aspire world. I resigned myself to just assigning the whole day to catching up with all the crazy amount of emails and video uploads and feedback due accumulated since Saturday when the connection died. I have planted myself at a hotel lobby with this catch up mission. Could be worse. I have a nice view on the river and a reasonably fast wi-fi. Way to practice one's patience ;)


Monday, 4 May 2015

Day 123 & 124: Quick catch - up

My internet connection is currently taking the mick and I am stranded in between a lot of loading information and trying to sign in and failing miserably.
Sunday was a bliss of rest. I finished the Hunger Games Mockinjay and I am now half way through the book I picked up at random at a tack shop last week. It's a life story of Lars Sederholm told by his daughter, Tina Sederholm, and a great insight into a life of a very successful coach. I will write more about it when I finish reading it.

Sunday with a book :) 
Today brought some successful training in the morning. I forgot it was a Bank Holiday today and was somewhat surprised by the quiet aura at the station until I remembered and the thought occurred to me that there might be no trains to my destination at all.
Then, the ticket machine decided it didn't like the £20 note I was trying to feed through it. I tried several times oblivious of the man at the machine next to me until he offered a swap.
You know when you are in the middle of something and someone asks you a completely unexpected question and you look at them as if they just asked if it's ok if you rob a bank together? That.
When my brain computed his offer I agreed and swap my tired note that had spent some time crumpled in my pocket for his brand new one that felt as if he had ironed it especially for the occasion.

As I slide the note into the machine, the thought occurs to me that perhaps he just gave me some false, Monopoly money. No trust in humanity ;) It's ok. The ticket pops up and the train arrives.

Frustratingly, the internet connection continues to play up back at home, showing up for a moment to disappear the next and I am stuck in a loop of downloads and uploads of the now back logged videos from Saturday onwards.

I hope it's temporary as usual.

It's 20:34 right now as I hit the publish button, I hope this little post manages to slide in between some narrow openings between the working and failed mega bites.


Saturday, 2 May 2015

Day 122: Silent conversation

With my young rider on Aspire Foundation Programme today
I stare at a page in a book and then at my Mum who is resting on a sofa bed with her own book and I cannot fathom how is she doing it. I look up at her and all I can see is that she stares at the book. She doesn't move her lips like I have to in order to mouth the words and bring them to life. She doesn't make a sound.

- What are you doing Mum?
- I'm reading...

Her eyes scan the words left to right, left to right. I do the same but the words just don't come alive.

That's my earliest childhood memory to do with reading - the inexplicable inability to read simply with my eyes. I must have been about 4 years old because my Mum taught my brother and I to read very early. I don't remember being impatient or annoyed or frustrated but rather bewildered at the fact I could not do it.
Then, I remember being absolutely determined to understand how reading with one's eyes was possible and I also remember the overwhelming curiosity and the need to figure it out.

Of course, I have no idea when and how I simply became able to read without saying the words out loud or tracing them with my fingers but what I do remember is the incredible pleasure in doing so. To this day I find myself searching for ideas and experiences that make me stop and think and drag me into the state in which the the act of figuring things out is the main one.

Teaching is revisiting that moment in which I cannot comprehend how something can be done. Searching for clues in the rider's movements, in horse's reactions, in confused lack of awareness. Then putting some observations together, weaving them in and out, trying to put them together in various combinations until all of a sudden, they come alive and I no longer have to say much.

It fascinates me to watch how at first the riders have to verbalise things loudly, the words rugged, uncertain, until suddenly - they can read their horse silently, with their feel only, without the need for tracing the horse's movement anymore...

Rediscovering harmony. Creating silent conversation.


Friday, 1 May 2015

Day 121: In pictures

Now and then it's good to pause in our pursuit of happiness and just be happy. 

Guillaume Apollinaire 

The world is best seen through a pair of fine ears ;) 

Warm welcome to the newest Aspire rider joining us today :) I have never thought I would meet someone who would analyse every moment of a ride as much as I do but I was very wrong for I have met one today ;) Very much up for the challenge!

Thursday, 30 April 2015

Day 120: That Thursday feeling ;) Is it normal?

Lunch time on Thursday is just a whole different thing ;) For non UK readers - the equestrian weekly, Horse & Hound, comes out on Thursdays. I really do enjoy what they are currently doing with the magazine, the new format is way more interesting than the previous one.

I am sure you can't not notice my amazing fruit and yoghurt bowl of goodness ;) I shall share my food related thoughts soon, you might remember my sugar avoidance attempt, which is going quite well, and the trying different stuff quest, which also is going fairly well. Inadvertently, I picked up a book a few weeks ago which turned out to be some sort of nutritional sensation but I didn't know it at a time. I bought it because of...well, more about it another day!

From time to time I watch this series of videos from a travel obsessive who films various aspects of his adventures. He is a popular video creator and understandably attracts many comments each time he hits the publish button.
One of the comments drew my attention - someone, let's call him Ed because I don't know any Eds, said he had found that he couldn't quite relate to what was being shared on the videos.
"I have a normal 9 to 5 job - said Ed - and none of this stuff seems possible for a normal person. I would love to do these things too but I've got all the normal stuff to do..." (I paraphrase Ed here).

Can I just ask you Ed - how is a 9 to 5 a normal job? How are you a normal person? It's a funny thing when you think about it. Are all non 9 to 5s abnormal? Is normal when 31% of population does it? 82%? And population of what? Where exactly?
Is it normal to make no time in your life, Ed, for some abnormal things you really would like to do?
Is it normal Ed, that you waste your time on watching abnormal videos showing abnormal people doing things you will never make time to do in your normal life?

You won't read this Ed but I would like to share my 'abnormal wisdom' with you. There is no normal. There is no abnormal. Just you. Just me. No need for normalising anything. Just go and make your own travel videos :)

Following my heavier reads in the last few weeks I went for an all change with my next book (although I can't really call it a light read exactly!):

It's a rather engaging story. I even wish my train journeys were a little longer so I can read more ;) I find it very hard to simply get back home and sit with a book that is unrelated to horses or coaching but travelling is like borrowing time, no internet, nowhere to go...
The only worry is that while engrossed in the book you pull into the station, look absentmindedly at the station's name outside the window, wonder why it seems familiar and then realise it's familiar because you have to get off at it!

I'd been working on some new exercises today that I would like to test on two of my riders with canter issues and tomorrow there is an interesting day which includes a new rider coming for an intro session to check if they like my teaching enough to join in on Aspire programme with a pony that recently became available for share. My London team is expanding rapidly!

Hope you're all having something good in your day today (and you too Ed if you are reading this ;) )

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Day 119: The Puzzle (ment) Game

Emma and Shabby today - working on staying calm, relaxed, supple and confident 
Shabby must have read the training scheme I prepared for Emma because he took the relaxation theme to heart today ;) It really is so rewarding to see this little horse work things out and learn.

In the world in which vets "prescribe" working horses in pessoa to "develop" "correct" muscles and where training often is an equivalent to sophisticated bullying, I find that the best thing you can do to not go crazy is to question everything and observe the horses as if you have never seen the buggers before ;)

It's like a puzzlement game of sorts, all this is, and if you don't dig deep with spades of common sense, you find yourself covered with soiled pseudo facts.

When I posted a little overview of the journey of Shabby's training on Aspire blog yesterday, I got a "helpful" private email from a reader describing how best to attach draw reins when jumping to gain control over Shabby's erratic stride and hollowing and how to teach him to bascule better...

The sad part is that it was actually a very well meaning advice by someone believing in the benefit of that sort of approach.

Gah. Sometimes I feel totally alone in this slower paced training I chose to go by. Selfishly, I wish there were more people brave enough to question the status quo, brave enough to question what we do to horses' mouths and bodies and how we train them because then it wouldn't all feel like such a lonely quest.

I am vaguely aware I am repeating myself on this subject but hey, that's my thoughts today. Perhaps not very original.

I am thankful though for the riders who share the same values because they do make it all worthwhile.


Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Day 117 & 118: Sensation seeking

Possibly one of the greatest quotes I have had pleasure reading! 

I am having a rather easy week travelling wise with all work close by and my regular "further away" clients being, well, away ;) I'd been using a surplus of time to catch up with my writing, put together some posts for Aspire blog as well as sit down and organise a few clinic dates later this year. The first one I wanted to sort out is a summer clinic in Poland at Stajnia Sabat which is now provisionally scheduled for the end of June so at least one date is done.

By the way, have you ever heard of Sensation Seeking?

According to Wikipedia...."Sensation seeking is a personality trait defined by the search for experiences and feelings, that are "varied, novel, complex and intense", and by the readiness to "take physical, social, legal, and financial risks for the sake of such experiences."[1] Risk is not an essential part of the trait, as many activities associated with it are not risky. However, risk may be ignored, tolerated, or minimised and may even be considered to add to the excitement of the activity.[1] The concept was developed by Marvin Zuckerman[...]"

I have a feeling I might have traces of that personality ;) Damn them - the mysterious them - labelling everything and everyone. There is an online test you can take to check how 'sensation seeking' you are. Mine was pretty conclusive I must admit.
I wonder how many sensation seeking bloggers are out there? Could writing be classified as adding to the varied and complex experiences? I think it might do...depending what you write...

I must stop rambling.
Speak tomorrow.

P.S. Listening to this song on repeat  - love it :)

Sunday, 26 April 2015

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

Day 115: Saturday

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

I think she would have liked today...

Richmond, London - 25th April 2015

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

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

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

Day 116: Sunday. Video editing and writing day.

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

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

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

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

I hope you enjoy watching them :)

Friday, 24 April 2015

Day 114: Hambleden Horse Trials - Part 1

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

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

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

Event website:

Thursday, 23 April 2015

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

Day 113

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

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

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

Day 112

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

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

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

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


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

But, thank you...Xxx


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


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

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

Selfie with Jasper, the adorable green youngster

Until tomorrow,