Sunday, 30 September 2007

Interesting reading materials

I have been browsing the Internet a little today, reading this and that - mainly equestrian related since I seem to be very much so addicted to the subject ;)
There were quite a few things that may be interesting to some of you reading so I rearranged the panel on the left and added some more links and blog links.
My recent pet subject is riding fitness and here is an article I have been reading today:

My particular interest in Pilates stems from the fact that various researches, coaches and trainers came to the conclusion that the better the core stability the better the riding. Pilates works primarily on your core stability.

What happens if you lack core stability when riding?

Above are a couple of pictures from yet another article which can be read in full on
Riding from the Inside out Thinking & exercising your way to better riding.
The article is written by by Lisa Champion, MSc (Exercise Science) and Anna-Louise Bouvier*, BachAppSc(Phty) MAPA Physiotherapist. In conjunction with Larissa Chadwick, Grand Prix Rider and NCAS Level 1 Coach.

Also, below, I embedded a couple of videos of lovely freestyle programmes - just because they are beautiful and I am fascinated by dressage to music :)

Anky Van Grunsven on Salinero & Andreas Helgstrand on Blue Hors Matine & at WEG 2006


Wednesday, 26 September 2007

Teenagers who think they know it all...

On avarage I really do enjoy having some teaching hours at riding schools but the last couple of days was not the best! Yesterday was not too bad and I managed to talk some people into learning a little more than just sitting there. I also got a horse to exercise which broke the afternoon nicely. However, today, I got a group of girls who ride regularly and help at the stables and I can honestly say I have not come across such arrogant riders for a while. I am not the kind of teacher who enjoys shouting and ordering people about and if someone does not want to learn then be it! The thing is they usually get to ride less experienced horses in order to work on them for clients which makes me feel responsible for their progress.
The typical conversation would be: 'Girl A, you are doing this, try doing that to work on your fault'. Reply:'No, I am not doing this'...I say: 'Would you like me to take a picture of you?'. She says nothing but later continues to insist she is right. We have a little conversation and I insist she tries what I suggest; surprise, surprise - the pony becomes much more obedient and tunes in.
You may say it is about respect and discipline and that was their first lesson with me but it is also sad that they are so immediately against learning more. They finally put their minds to the job and horses went lovely. I do wonder whether they even appreciated that effort though...
Oh well! ;)

Monday, 24 September 2007

A beautiful day:)

I am sitting here with some substantial amount of Muscle Rub Multi Action Pain Killer cream working its way through my shoulders and neck muscles and I really hope it works! Despite this opening I must say I had a very nice day ;)
Oh maybe apart from the very morning when I got woken up by the rain and realised that last night I left all my almost dry washing outside - nice.
At 8.30am I set off to ride Wilastra and Bob. It had been quite a while since I used the tube so early in the morning and the amount of commuters was overwhelming. Crashed into the windows all blurred from recycled breathing, squeezed into the seats, elbowing each other in silence broken only by the much too loud train's loud speakers, the people were just everywhere. Having travelled outside of regular busy hours for quite a while I almost felt angry at all those strangers on 'my' route ;)
I managed to read a little and one of the sentences in my current book was 'You simply cannot define freedom to someone who did not realize they were caged'...I was ever so happy to settle on a train to Bucks which great me with plenty of available seats :)
Bobby was his good self and worked nicely in trot, a little tense in canter. We tried some TREC movements and he seemed to remember everything rather well! Riding him first was a good choice as it warmed up my stiff muscles a bit!
Wilastra warmed me up even better...;) Full report on HERE. Despite the fact I will probably pay for this very intensive session with my movements limited to 50% I was really happy with the work she produced.

I took some pictures of milady before riding as it has been a month since I took last condition photo. I think she is changing beautifully building up muscles nicely and even looks like she grew a bit!

More pictures from today on HERE

I also waited to see Wilastra having her teeth done by an Equine Dental Technician. I remember my stallions having their teeth done and it was nothing like it is now! I also saw a one very bad display of dental procedures but the dentist who came to Wilastra seemed to be doing a great job as far as I could tell!

Full report on HERE (with more pictures and videos).

My way back to London was of familiar standard with trains and tube passages empty and so much more bearable as a result.
Rick and I went for a walk to the Gardens and I thought the light was so beautiful that it would be a shame not to snap some more pictures! September this year offers the sort of weather I adore in autumn - sunny, vibrant, fresh, warm and fairly dry.

Only one more day free from the office in front of me. After that I am back into the morning hamster wheel for a while...
Tomorrow I really do hope to finally do some housework before teaching in the afternoon and evening!

Sunday, 23 September 2007

What could this be about now? Horses?...;)

Horses indeed ;) Well, my lesson with Mette was cancelled but since I was already 'dressage minded' and had Columbus standing next to me with his angelic expression on a wide forehead I decided to make him go like a dressage pony. With the whole 17.2hh of him and 5'3ft of me it was probably as far from stylish as you can imagine but we managed to fit all the circles, canters and serpentines withing the 40x60 arena which I was very proud of;) Riding him is a funny adventure to me as there is no pressure on his performance really and we just go along step by step exploring the possibilities. More on our Thursday session HERE.
I discovered this nice little programme on my computer, called PhotoImpact and I am having a lot of fun playing with photos, adding frames etc Started with Columbus's pictures and continued on pictures that Ricky and I took on a day trip to Seaford on Saturday. It was my darling Monster's treat and we had a fabulous day :)
There is nothing more relaxing than seaside once the 'seaside season' is over!! Those empty stretches of pebbly or sandy beaches, the sound of the waves hitting against each other, the sea gulls crying out loud and the infinite beauty of the powerful water filling your eyes up to the horizon - a bliss!

In the Sunday morning, today that is, I set off to take Wilastra to her 'showground session' which was a great success, she behaved very well, was a brave girl 90% of the time and only spooked at a few things. All in all, a brilliant educational session - more HERE.
While wandering about the show ground I was really surprised at the amount of people who seemed to treat the outing as an exercise for own desire to go out and about regardless the horse's way of going. I have always been trained and have personally believed that a show or a competition is to literally show the best in your horse and test its schooling and abilities. I cannot possibly comprehend what can be gained out of chasing your horse around the fences, kicking the guts out of it and trying to hold for dear life. We went there to educate a 4 year old and it looked like a lot of people like to skip on this educational phase which is a real shame.
Well done Wilastra!

Now, a few things that I have been forgetting to mention! First of all, if anybody reading this is looking for a sports pony to compete and enjoy please have a look on here: Albion Elite.
I was asked some time ago to school and compete this stunning pony but as I have no time available at the moment I had to say no. If you like the pony and are interested, have a word with Ann - details on website once you click the link.

Also, a few days ago a friend of mine sent me this article to read - it is about the importance of alternating between the stretch and work (i.e. outline) during training sessions. Definitely an interesting read for anybody, also those familiar with the subject: Alternating Muscle Work to Optimize Training & Motivation (more article also available).

Thursday, 20 September 2007

Bitting the dust and enjoying the freedom from the office

Yes, Bobby Dazzler got me on the floor last Thursday! My most recent fall was I think in April or May of Kir Royale, friend's mare that decided rearing, spinning and bucking was good fun, and considering she threw me off twice in the space of 10 minutes, Bob's action gives me grand total of three falls so far this year For those who are interested Bobby has a 'thing' with show jumping. Some would say 'he has lost it', another 'plain naughtiness' etc. The fact is, he throws a last second stops at EVERY fence he doesn't know and sometimes also over those that he knows and jumped before. If you change one thing (and I really mean even one) the challenge starts all over again. It's fun but I am very grateful for the ever so soft surface in the arena Funnily, he jumps Xc jumps with no bother and when he actually jumps the show jumps his technique and scope are really good.
Columbus, Helen and Connie worked very well and I must remember to get some home work for Connie to keep her maintaining the hard work () as she will miss our lesson on Friday. Her horse Clarence is quite an interesting fellow. He is 18 years old and after a riding school career so he knows when he can slouch and when he has to work. I popped on him last Friday and he was just such a sweet boy doing all the canter transition from walk and then halting perfectly from a very long strided trot (wouldn't dare to call it medium in case some dressage divas are reading!). Cheeky beast he is!
Columbus is my dear massive giant and he knows it. He worked well and I am looking forward to seeing him tomorrow.

Sheila, my rider from Kent, has recommended me to some ladies from her riding club looking for an instructor and they phoned the other day. With regret, I had to say no as can't possibly fit any more hours in at the moment unless I quit the office. Now, that is a thought...

Wilastra gave me a nice ride through the Bucks countryside today - more HERE - and felt much better in difficult terrain than I remember her from a few weeks ago. We also discovered she does not like dogs that whine using high pitch noise!

Tomorrow will actually be an interesting day as I am on a leave from the office so can have a good sleep and stay in bed reading or just relaxing Then I will be off to teach which will hopefully generate a cover for the costs of travelling to Buckinghamshire and a lesson I have that evening. Mette, a dressage trainer who trains with David Trott, will be the one teaching so it might be interesting. I wish now I had gone to those Vicky Thompson training sessions more often! Oh well, let's hope I don't make a complete fool of myself

More news? Oh yes, our rent went up I find it curiously interesting that salaries don't go up every time we need to pay more for our leaving! Should I now charge more for lessons??
What else? My Olympia dressage tickets arrived! I can't wait, Olympia Horse Show is the highlight of my winter in London!
Oh, and my Monster is driving me crazy with his unwillingness to participate in anything remotely to do with horses. Very depressing
I have just had a nice glass of red wine to cheer me up. I guess those who said you cannot have everything in life were right!

Saturday, 15 September 2007

Hmm, Ingrid Klimke pulled out of the National Instructors' Convention

I was disappointed to learn that Ingrid Klimke, a rider I admire a lot for her riding style, will no longer come to the National Instructors' Convention at Addington.
Instead Christoph Hess will be joined by Christopher Bartle. You cannot deny Mr.Bartle the talent and teaching abilities so despite Ingrid pulling out I am looking forward to the Convention!

The Convention will concentrate on Training The Event Horse and rider from basic to 4* with the emphasis of the rider development being equal to the horse.

Commitment to dreams and ambitions

The advantage of travelling from one horse to another or from one pupil to another is that you have some time to think (even when it seems you are constantly on the go). Simple as this sounds, in hectic lives most people lead nowadays there does not seem to be much time put aside on some me-thinking time. I quite enjoy it; it is framed by my travel time and so safely enclosed within specific time scale. I know I can't do anything more or less and I know I will not be late for something or other just because I had been sitting and thinking.
Anyway, on Thursday, on my way to Wilastra (who was a true business girl on the day - more HERE) I was reading through weekly issue of Horse & Hound and came across Anna Ross-Davies' column. Anna, a British dressage rider, who finished 10th at the European Dressage Championships on the 2nd of September, must be one of the most hard working riders out there. Her commitment is incredible and if I wanted to match it my body would have definitely said 'no way', before I would have started properly. When I was younger I could ride eight horses a day, teach outside in -15C throughout a few true winters in Poland and in pouring rein in the UK and was still jumping up and down at any opportunity to compete; if I tried to repeat this now I would be begging for a break after a month!
Anna's article made me think of how much effort and commitment have to be ploughed into making it as a rider if you have no substantial financial support. Considering my body would collapse if I train and teach as much as some riders do, Ricky might go on strike if I spend 24 hours a day in various stables and I still like a thing or two outside equestrian world I really hope that this winning Lotto ticket is on its way! ;)

Bobby worked very nicely on Thursday. He had just had his shoes on and can sometimes be footy afterwards but he showed no signs of discomfort. In fact, he felt very loose and forward in his steps and despite his usual hollowing of the back in canter transition I was pleased with his work.
Columbus, although really made me work my socks off, offered some nice moments of good work and he is definitely getting softer and more willing. He is too big for me in general but I am enjoying the experience.

Helen and Connie rode very nicely and it is such a pleasure to teach people who really try. Apparently I will be a magician if I manage to cure Helen's jumping phobia so I am now thinking on the strategy and will definitely be taking on the challenge!

Monday, 10 September 2007

Tiredness kicks in

Friday saw me at Osterley, schooling Columbus (more HERE) and Rosie and teaching Connie on Clarence. I am very happy with Big Boy's progress and Rosie surprised me with a very nice canter work. I rode her through hundreds of transitions within 40 minutes and was going to finish on that but then changed my mind and went for a canter on both reins. And wow, did she give me a feeling of balance! She is a mare with a very long back, finds engagement a very hard work and has a tendency to be forehand heavy but all those transitions shifted her weight very nicely.
Following the rather hectic week spent on jumping from buses onto trains and back I had a lovely weekend ride on Wilastra in Oxfordshire - full report HERE.
It was a fantastic escape from smelly London's roads to open spaces of the Alden Farm land. I saw a farm house by one of the rocky roads, standing proud on its own, surrounded by green fields and it hit me how peaceful life must be when you sit in the garden and can't hear the noise of a High Street.

On Sunday, Ricky and I went for our usual walkabouts, visited a bookshop where I got William Fox-Pitt's autobiography and then we settled in 'our' gardens to drink coffees, read and relax.

Today I was really happy to see Wilastra 's sparkly eyes and the lethargy she showed a few days ago was not only gone but she was rather full of life! We had an interesting session that kept me on my toes but although it cost me some nerves I secretly liked it. Certain amount of stress seems to keep me on the straight and narrow ;)

Pony B. is my yet another challenge - I tried to work on convincing him that he doesn't have to be such a worrier and can just let go and relax. I can't say I was overly successful but his work was of a reasonable standard. There was about 15-20 minutes where he really was in front of my legs and I could relax and let him do the job. I am hoping we will get to 45 minutes of quality work some time soon.

Tomorrow and Wednesday I will be teaching until late. I think the tiredness is really catching up with me now as I felt rather lethargic on my modes of transport today! I am planning to take a few days off from my morning office job soon which will hopefully recharge my batteries!

So long and thanks for all the fish ;))))

Thursday, 6 September 2007

How do you do your teaching/riding when the tube is on strike!

Well, it takes a hell of a lot of planning that is for sure! On Monday, after riding Wilastra and Pony B. I came back to London only to find all the gates closed at the Marylebone station. It happened that Monster has had a contract nearby so we met up and walked back home through Hyde park. It is a lovely route for a walk but it gets a little tiring in riding boots and a big heavy bag over your shoulder! However, the sun was shining, squirrels were running merrily towards us to get their nuts and we entertained ourselves by saying that it could be much worse and we could have ended up walking twice the distance ;)
On Tuesday and Wednesday I did some additional trekks to arrive at Ealing on time for my teaching. Thankfully the Piccadilly line was working so I 'only' needed to get one bus to take me to the right station. The getting there wasn't that bad, the way back late at night was less amusing.
I was more than delighted to hear the strike was suspended and my today's journey to Buckinghamshire went smoothly.
Wilastra gave me a ride from hell making me think that maybe I should try to look for another occupation like collecting stamps or perhaps old books - more HERE.
Pony B. on the other hand, although his work was too tense to classify it as good, really tried to please and session with him was a pleasure. He has a habit of hollowing just before a canter transition and his reaction to canter aids isn't as good as it could be. He is also an incredible mind (muscle) reader and if you are complacent for longer than a second you are bound to be challenged! If, however, you really concentrate and ride with your senses switched on 100% he is incredibly receptive and tuned into you.
To top up the travelling joys of this week my train back was delayed 40 minutes which I spent browsing today's Horse & Hound - clever me buying it earlier! ;)

The schedule for tomorrow is to school Columbus and Rosie for Helen who is avoiding hard work and teach Connie on Clarence.

I hope Metronet stays away from striking!

Saturday, 1 September 2007

Jolly good end of the week

On Friday an unexpected and very welcomed new rider appeared to want to have a lesson with me on Pony B. The lady was a pleasure to teach and so I clocked in one more teaching hour this week!
Session with Wilastra was also good - full report on HERE.

Today I got up early and set off to Wilastra's yard to take her XC schooling to Deep Mill Farm.
What a fun day that was! Full report on HERE.

(More pictures HERE)

We arrived back at the yard in a record speed and I popped on Pony B. to give him a flatwork session. He felt a little sluggish which I think could have been a result of a very muggy weather yet he was wiling enough to make the session enjoyable. I worked on releasing his tension in canter a little. He had a lot of energy but seemed quite anxious and lacked relaxation in his steps.

On the train back I felt so tired that I set my alarm for the anticipated arrival time at marylebone and happily napped all the way there! It was a great decision as I stepped out of the train as if I slept for a few hours not 40 minutes. Got home, had a quick shower and dragged monster out of the house (his words!) for a cup of coffee, papers and some food in The Gardens :)
We saw some ridiculous amount of Princess Diana related posters covering the fencing of Kensington Palace...honestly, some people!

Anyway, what a brilliant end of the week. And there is still Sunday full of resting, reading and painting our new 'focal point canvas' to look forward to! I bought some lovely big ones and hope to create something interesting. I think painting a horse would be pushing it a bit too far though ...;)
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