Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Why do they say 'caught a cold' ?

Pic. above: Sunday. Boys learning to put boots on ponies before the lesson.

Shouldn't it be 'caught by the cold'? I have never had any intention of catching the bugger myself.
Isn't it interesting that when we are happy and jolly and everything goes well we rarely catch any colds?! Brain power that is. It seems to work on me anyway. Too much worries and I always succumb to some annoying flu.
I taught on Sunday but by the evening my throat was so sore I could just cut my head off if I could. Decided to stay in bed on Monday feeling guilty of not seeing to Kingsley but in reality I felt so bad I could barely move.
All seems a little bit better today after not so great night but fingers crossed it won't last that much longer. Have to be at work at 1pm today but the closer to the getting up and going time the more I want to stay in bed :(


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Saturday, 26 September 2009

Saturday

I am spending my evenings on browsing veterinary articles. Feeling tired I must say. Teaching packed day with all sorts of clients from private to group lessons and my throat is feeling the strain of constant talking, repeating, explaining and trying to fight with dust and distance. Took some of my lessons into one of our paddocks as indoor school became so dusty I could physically feel myself inhaling the particles!
The field was lovely but is massive. I tried to get the riders to come to me, set the exercises and then let them get on with them which helped a little.
Decided to clean and dry Kingsley's box in between my lessons which was an interesting organisational game. He was rather pleased to stand in the sunshine munching on hay and watching Saturday's hassle and bustle while I emptied his stable and let the floor dry out completely.
I then spend my lunch break washing his mane and tail from all the scruff and flaky skin he had and giving him a very thorough groom.
Grabbed some food with me and took him for a 10 minutes grazing in-hand. He was rather interested in my pasta but got on with the grass in the end.

I am much more into well balanced diet than supplements but gave in and got him NAF D Tox and Garlic Powder, mixed it with his evening portion of chaff and he ate it as if I had given him some deluxe feed stuffs.

A couple of weeks ago, one of the best Dressage trainers in the UK send me a message inviting me to spend a day at her yard watching the training and as my current luck would have it
her nearest available date is the day I run a Training Day for my very regular super riders which I just can't cancel :(
I will gamble my fortune and ask for other possible days :)
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Friday, 25 September 2009

Blood test results

One thing is sure: he doesn't have laminitis. At least that's what the vet said to me tonight after receiving the results from the lab.
He does, however, has an increased white blood cells count. I am told that the results mean that he has had an infection/inflammation of some sorts which most likely caused the filling of the legs. Apparently the results suggest the infection is now decreasing but I am puzzled as to how this can be determined since we didn't test any earlier samples? (unfortunately I had 100 questions in my head AFTER I put the phone down so I am going to write them all down and quiz the vet on Monday). Either way, the vet spoke to the sellers trying to find an information on anything that could explain the blood results and it transpires that the horse was fed cooked barley and that this could have been one of the triggers?
The vet's diagnosis for now is stress/feed induced intoxification and deep seated bruising to the feet.
I am really not too sure about the latter. The farrier is coming again on Monday to double and triple test the feet for the bruising. He will then speak to the vet and we will decide whether X- rays are needed.
Thankfully Kingsley is allowed out of his stable for short walk outs and hand grazing as he is getting bored. I lend him for rugging up demo for some students at the yard today as he loves attention and it gave him something to focus on while I was mucking his box out.
The blood was also tested for any pain related indicator and apparently there is nothing to show he is in any great pain. True to that he is very alert and happy in his stable, eats his hay with a passion and is interested in things around him.

Work wise I ran another Training Day and the rider loved it. It was F.'s second Training Day and we got into more technicalities learning about a true and complicated nature of a half-halt and putting it all into practice to improve transitions and general attentiveness of the horses. We also did a jumping session focusing on feel of the rhythm and the jump itself, staying with the horse's motion.
From time to time you get to teach people whose learning style matches your teaching style and they just 'get' every single instruction, metaphor and/or suggestion you make. This is why teaching F. is so enjoyable. She is one of those riders I need to say one thing and she knows exactly what I mean. It makes teaching so much easier and the progress so much quicker.
I am looking forward to teaching her again.
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Thursday, 24 September 2009

So we trotted for the vet

And it was as bad as bad gets. He was lame in front and uneven behind. Badly. Vet took blood to test for any infections, laminitis etc
We should have the results tomorrow. He continues to deal well with the confinement and is really easy to care for. Bandaging overnight worked a treat as there was hardly any swelling in the morning.
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Wednesday, 23 September 2009

It keeps going on

To my horror Kingsley's hind legs looked ballooned this morning. The swelling looked like on the very first day of this malarkey. Considering poor creature stands in the stable 24h a day I told myself not to panic and see whether it's just the puffiness related to this inactivity.
Took him for a 5 minutes walk around the yard as advised by the vet and sure enough even this little leg stretch brought the swelling down.
I had a very good look at the tiny scabs on his fetlock but I really don't think we can class it as mud fever and rely on this to be the cause of the problem.
Mucked him out at lunch time and took him for another 5 minutes. He is definitely 100% more comfortable walking in general but not entirely free moving. By this time the swelling went down further but I decided to bandage his legs and see whether that helps to stop the legs from filling.
It did. This photo was taken about 7pm and his legs are looking better than they had since all this started.


Now, the bad news is, he took quite a few odd steps when Pauline and I took him for his evening 5 minute walk...He wasn't lame as such but was definitely saving his right hind leg from doing too much work. It showed the most on turns and changes of directions. We didn't trot him as vet didn't mention anything about that but I am pretty sure that if we did, he would have shown hind legs lameness.
What baffles me the most is that this is the leg he is clearly cow hocked on and which I asked to be particularly well screened at the vetting. I used to ride some fantastic show-jumpers that were badly cow hocked and it never stopped them from performing well so I am not overly prejudiced about this conformational fault. However, if it is of significance and is causing the horse to be unsound then it's totally different matter!
Well, vet is suppose to come in tomorrow and hopefully we will reach some diagnosis (or at least start working towards one). I bandaged him for the night to see if it has any positive effect on filling.
I wish we did have something to focus on and start fixing him. Not knowing is what is most frustrating.
For now, I got him a snack-a-ball which he had a lot of fun with:

video
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Monday, 21 September 2009

Mr. Trouble's legs saga

It's been a nice day today. First of all I had a luxurious amount of sleep, then went out for a breakfast in the park with Ricky. Those sunny autumn mornings are just stunning. Organised a few things around the house, managed to do some washing and a bit of tidying up.
Then off to see Kingsley. Mr. Trouble was shod all round this morning and it certainly made a difference to his general feet balance, hoof-pastern angles and size of hooves.
The swelling in the hind legs went down by half, the off hind is still quite puffy though. Here are some photos from last few days. Most recent is at the very bottom.

Pics.1: Second Day of box rest/bute (2xday). No shoes behind. All four legs filled.


Pic.2: Third day of rest, bute. Cold hosed twice a day 10 minutes each leg.

Pics.3: Today. Last day of box rest and bute. Shod all round.


The front legs are looking very well, there is no swelling present there at all. Not sure if that can be seen from those photos but hind legs have much more definition to the tendons and the swelling is now greatly reduced.
I found a tiny scabs at the back of his fetlocks which resemble very low grade mud fever/cracked heels marks. It was suggested to me that the swelling of this sort and joint stiffness could be caused by mud fever so will add this to the possible causes and discuss with the vet.
He is walking out of his stable much better but still doesn't look 100% comfortable. He will have another day rest tomorrow, then start 10 minutes walk outs in hand for a couple of days twice a day. Vet will come down on Friday to see him again.
Fingers crossed it is all to do with something straight forward and we can mend Mr. Trouble soon.
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Sunday, 20 September 2009

Black Comedy



Pic. Lunchtime Snooze today.

black comedy
This is a dark comedy where a light humored touch is applied to very dark and serious subject matter in order to ease the pain or make some specific point by juxtaposing the humour and the sadness.

I know I'm in trouble when I have a nap on a train, wake up, it's light outside, we're still travelling and I don't remember if I am going to or from work...That's when I know for sure life is on a long play and I only have a short play function.
I have days when I over analyse way too much and dig myself a silly black hole. I tend to leave a doubtful pleasure of dealing with this part of my character either for myself to contend with or to very few close people. Ricky would know something about it ;)
Sometimes though, when you look back at the proceedings you just got to appreciate the comedy value in what seems like a tragic turn of events at a time. What is a comedy anyway if not a well timed laughter at life's mishaps.
So anyway, a few words on the last few days. I spent Friday and Saturday running Training Days. Both were very enjoyable and the riders seem to have loved the experience. However, as I haven't slept that greatly due to all the worries I had gone through those days in a light haze of an undersleeper (is that a word?).
I kept mixing up the names of the horses (which wasn't really that much of a problem), then mixed and matched my riders names too (bit of a confusion) but had to really give myself a punch when I started calling my riders using the names of their horses. No good unless I am under informed and Toffee is a legitimate female name?

My free time was dedicated to digging in materials on equine lameness. I watched some gruesome videos on You Tube after which Kinglsey seems sound as a pound and I wonder what are we making all this fuss about.
I've also been digging in materials on podiatry, trimming and shoeing and yet again watched some horrendous footage. This in mind, Kingsley's feet are just fine. In fact, we might win some rosettes if there ever were Feet Turn Out classes invented. We use this Hoof & Sole Naf product and it gives his feet a luxurious purple tint. Great.

I continue to spend my lunchtimes playing with the poo. It's somewhat relaxing and almost hypnotising however odd it sounds. We use Equizorb which seems to have been designed to take your mucking out experience to the next level. You spend fascinating amount of time fishing for yet more poos in a sea of never-ending masses of flour like particles of the product. I think it should be re-named 'Find Me If U Can'.
If you starting to get excited about finding that yet another bit of poo and getting it out of your horse's bed you know some medicines are due.

Kingsley takes to his confinement just fine, eating hay, bran mash and his lovely drugs. Tomorrow is his last helping to them so we shall see if there is any improvement. The puffiness of the legs went down considerably after I started cold hosing it twice a day. Pauline did him today and said there was even less swelling.
He seems happy and alert and interested in life. As you do when you're young and everything is done for you.

Today's teaching was as usual, on a Sunday, a very happy state of affairs. I got rescued by Suzanne in the morning so I could start the day on time. There is art in never being late when using public transport. I haven't mastered it as yet.
Having done some creative mixing and matching we created two group lessons for children which left a very needed slots for our regular adult riders. In fact, thanks to this manoeuvre we slotted in a couple of beginner riders who is hugely entertaining. Unfortunately, L. told me she had a look at my blog and added that if she ever sees herself on it she will kill me. Understandably I decided not to film any of her antics on horseback. This is rather sad as her lessons might be quite a treat for all beginners and prove that just anyone can do it.
L.'s boyfriend on the other hand is proving to me that my 14 years of teaching experience still isn't enough to teach him rising trot. More studying for me, me thinks.
I admit to having a bit of a snooze at lunch time letting the sunshine warm up my tired joints. Winter is what I never wait for. Which reminds me, I need to find and order some really good waterproof overalls. I am on the mission to avoid colds this year!

Baring in mind all the tiredness I jumped into a nice relaxing bath upon my return home in the hope to rebuild any intricate regeneration processes still present in my body. It helped a lot. I am now contemplating waxing my legs as due to me taking time to decide whether to wax or just shave I seem to have grown a nice coat on them. The thing with waxing your legs is that you have to tear and rip and it just sounds painful, doesn't it?

Anyway. I really ought to go and have some rest.
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Thursday, 17 September 2009

Update on Kingsley and trip to British Dressage National Champs in Stoneleigh


Kingsley is currently treated for concussion to his feet; is on 5 day box rest, will be seen by a very good farrier to discuss ways of keeping him comfortable and will be shod all round. Once all this is done he will be re-assessed. It is not to say there is no other problem than concussion but it's very difficult to address further investigation without eliminating obvious issue.

It's been sad few days and I wasn't sure if I would enjoy the trip to the Champs in such a negative mood. Hitting the road in a very good company does put many things in perspective though and I had a lovely time. My friend's talent in cheering me up and several hours of action watching got me back on a much more positive track.
Horses will always be unpredictable so I guess we just have to be patient and plan things as we go. It's easy to become depressed and frustrated when things go wrong and many a time it seems like nothing can be done. However, there is always some solution to a problem and at least for me it's always more difficult to find one when I am seeing only doom and gloom.

I'm looking forwards to seeing little Kingsley tomorrow and I am keeping everything crossed
he comes back sound and happy from his little rest. If not, there are still options to consider.
It should be a nice day as I am running a Training Day for a very nice rider.

Here are some snippets from the warm up arena at Nationals. I admit I find it way more interesting to watch the action behind the scenes and prefer to observe riders in the warm up than riding actual tests!

Hidden Camera ;)) :



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Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Lots of rain and none the wiser

We are officially having monsoon weather today. I stopped trying to remain vaguely dry in the middle of the day. Drenched has a new meaning in my dictionary. All the ponies went on the bridle. That is they tried to escape from the mad rain hitting their faces.

Kingsley was seen by a Vet No 2. He is officially classified as lame no question about it. The case is a bit complicated so he will be seen by a Vet No 1 (who did a 5 stage vetting originally) tomorrow. Depending on the findings we will decide what to do next.

I am staying over at my friend's tomorrow and then going to watch National Dressage Championships on Thursday so will post an update once I'm back.
As I can't really afford regular training I am trying to watch as much action as I can. Doubt I will be able to focus though what with the glorious last couple of days :(

Everything crossed for a positive outcome of any sort.

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Monday, 14 September 2009

Goodbye Poker



So you're gone.
The whole joyful presence of yours.
Your bad manners. Your funny ears.
Your little tail you always used with big love.
Your habit of punching with your nose when you wanted attention.
Your mad running after my horse. You almost chased him under a train once, do you remember?
You chewed my horse's best bridle. You had a wee in my friend's house but we didn't say anything.
I taught you to crawl like a police dog.








And now you're gone.
The large mass of scraggy hair all over the house.
When I brought you home you were so small I couldn't find you in my bed in the morning.
You would sleep curled up next to my face with your little head pressed firmly on my neck. All the palm size of you. You liked sleeping.
You were possessive. Cheeky. Full of energy. Crazy dog. And you knew you could get away with murder.
If I knew I saw you for the last time I would have given you one more hug. I would have sat with you for a little longer. Stroke your warm head.
But that's not to be. Now, you're gone. Sleep well my friend.

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Day (Not) to Remember

I rode Kingsley today and he wasn't right. At first it felt like some discomfort behind. I asked a friend to hop on him so I could see what was happening from the ground and there was definitely something wrong.
We took him onto the hard surface where he showed lameness on both front feet on both reins...
I phoned the vet practice to speak to the vet who did the 5 stage vetting prior the purchase but couldn't get hold of him and he still hasn't called me back.
Different vet is coming to have a look tomorrow. No idea what to think about it really. He looks uncomfortable through the shoulders/front feet but I haven't done any hard work on hard surface to justify concussion of any sort. He was worked 30 minutes 3 times on the lunge since I got him plus did some canter work and 20 minutes schooling session on a very good rubber track surface. Again nothing to really explain the problem. As far as I know he didn't have any mad galloping experiences while in the field and was off staying in yesterday due to a show at the yard and no turn out.
I am going to reserve the speculations until the vet gives his opinion tomorrow.

Horses really are a truly up and DOWN experience. And if you ever forget that they make sure you remember that asap.

To top it up I spoke to my brother today and Poker passed away. He had a heart attack at night.

Got a massive headache now and wish life was a bit smoother more often. Amazingly I managed to convince Rick to come with me to the stables today - of all days!
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Sunday, 13 September 2009

When a below average horse plus an average rider perform above average

...is what makes me want to do it again and again and again.
My regular riders rode so well today I just sat there and thought: those people and those below average horses are what makes me want to get better. To be able to transform something ordinary into extraordinary is what inspires me the most.

It's no secret to anybody who rides with me that I don't really do recreational type of lessons. Even if you are a recreational rider you get to be taught as if you were actually 'in training', whether you want it or not ;) Ok, I do make exceptions for a couple of my regular riders who I know just like to 'have a go' but other than that you just got to learn to ride correctly and well. This is so a) I stay interested in what I do and b) the horse is comfortable and happy. I admit, it might be a bit selfish of me to make sure I have a job satisfaction but just think what a nice workout you are having and how well your horse will feel afterwards ;)
On a more serious note...one day I would love to mostly focus on teaching/coaching higher levels committed horse owners on talented horses but right now 80% of my work is trying to get the best out of riding school horses who have 10 -15 different riders on them a week. They often have various soundness issues. Attitude issues. They are bored and fed up many a time. And yet, they keep trying. They are often "green" and have no idea how to carry themselves well/correctly.
I teach people for whom riding is just an hour in a busy weekly schedule that gets forgotten the moment they leave the stables. What keeps me going, however, are people who genuinely love it, whether they ride 30 minutes a week or 3 horses a day. It's the sport you have to have a passion for or you shouldn't do it. Might sound harsh but that's my opinion. The reason being - you cooperate with a living, feeling animal. You have to understand it, get to know it and be committed to ride the best you can to keep that animal happy.

Below videos show my two Sunday riders and friends. Both of them rode superbly today with Suzanne doing her personal best on that mare.
The second video is an example of a visual feedback tool that I've been testing since the beginning of this year with some of my regular riders. I film their lessons at random intervals and comment as they ride. They can then re-watch it and learn from what they see & remember. All I can say is they've made fantastic improvement in those last 6 months.
You will need to have the sound on but bear in mind I do it for their private use so I didn't really think about sounding mega legitimate ;) I am putting it up on here as I thought, if you are a recreational rider desperately wanting to improve you might want to ask your instructor to do a similar thing. Visual feedback is a powerful tool and it's amazing how much more the brain & muscles can learn through just watching.


Video Feedback Example (wonder if A. kills me for using this...;)). It's about 30 minutes into the lesson. The pony has a tendency to fall in/fall out in corners and circles through her shoulders, lean and loose balance, go against hand and balance with the neck up, go behind the leg and/or ignore the bending aids...the list goes on. She only learned to work round and on the bit not so long ago. She used to spend her lessons in a giraffe mode and was a bit unpredictable.

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Saturday, 12 September 2009

One of those GOOD Saturdays!



Today must be one of best days! Why so? Ah, let's just go back to the beginning first.
To be fair, it was actually rather tiring day but that's mostly because I hurt my knee a few days ago while trying to hold bouncy Kingsley on the lunge. With the knee like mine, any rapid movements cause the build up of fluid which only gets absorbed back quickly with rest so it doesn't help when you spend all day on your feet. The inflammation makes me feel a bit off. The fluid should go down in the next couple of days and I am trying to rest as much as I can. Thankfully, where I work on Sundays, they allow instructors to sit down while teaching...I do love my Sundays!

Now one of the reasons today was great is that Kingsley worked fantastically. He starts to be consistent in round and low contact in walk and only got distracted a few times. He reacted much quicker when I asked him to yield to the inside rein than how he did it yesterday so he is definitely a clever little chap. Our tempo in trot was half of what it was yesterday thanks to which I could keep him round and soft for much longer without him losing balance.
He moves wide in front and doesn't quite know how to arrange his front legs to be able to follow curved lines so our circles are still looking bad BUT getting better.
I rode mostly serpentine like patterns bending him with my inside leg or just moving him away from it to push his ribcage to the opposite side and help him to move around the bends correctly. I need to still be able to go much slower and with shorter strides but he's got more than two hoof lengths overtrack in his "medium" walk and similar in his current trot which I dare not call working trot. It feels like he creates so much energy with the hind legs and end up with such big movements that he then has no idea what to do with his legs and body.
I wish I could ride him tomorrow but I am teaching in Surrey all day and he is having a day off.

Now, another reason today is GOOD is that someone contacted me via Facebook with a fabulous offer which I am not sure if I am allowed to share so will just leave it like this for now. I would just like to Thank Ever So Much a certain Internet addict and a person who took the time to read my wafflings.

I only had the time for a quick brush for Kingsley before the schooling so I gave him a proper, thorough groom in the evening after putting him to bed.
Gleaming pony (colours are odd as my mobile camera doesn't cope without natural light):

Right, bed is calling!!
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Friday, 11 September 2009

Irrational Fear

I only taught for a couple of hours today but what a strange experience it was. One of the centres I work at runs series of courses for schools, colleges and universities and today was a first day for one of the courses for school kids. They were meant to be working on a programme based loosely on the BHS Progressive Riding Tests but...
Almost every single one (there were 16 of them) were terrified of horses to a degree. Some more than others.
They were not toddlers by the way but teenagers which, if it wasn't such a hard work to deal with, would be even interesting on some clinical psychology level ;)
Whatever happened to a teenage "let's just have a go" attitude? Throughout the summer we had all sorts of international schools coming for riding holiday. Most of the participants didn't speak English. It wasn't easy but they loved being around horses and trying things out.
This lot had a certain unreasonable almost fear which they couldn't even recognise. They had no idea what they were afraid of, or they just didn't know how to articulate it. It's sad that young people should be so under informed about animals to be afraid to such extent.
Another thing that really hits me now and then is how incredibly unfit many teenagers are. I understand we are not all sports people but not being able to lift your leg up to put it in the stirrup when you are young and healthy...just sad.

On a good note, almost everybody improved in attitude to horses 100%. They will be coming once a week now so let's hope we can inject some horse loving vaccine into more young people.

Work done I spent a lovely afternoon playing with Kingsley. I decided against lunging him beforehand as he just runs and runs on this small circle which is just no good for his legs.
So I got on knowing it will be a rough going to start with and I was right ;) The little horse has so much energy in his system that he was just miles away in his head from any of my aids.
So off we went for a canter play round and round the arena until he actually wanted to trot (which took A WHILE).
I am loving it though. Most of my work years ago was with freshly backed youngsters which he reminds me of a lot. he moves as if he was still in the field (with all the natural way of going in its full) so he doesn't understand that I want him to carry his weight on the outside legs and bend to the inside in the corners and on circles.
He softens nicely for two three strides but then tries to balance with his neck again which contracts all his extensors muscles. All this equals lots of balance loses and wanting to run forward to get it back. Same applies to transitions which he wants to do like a horse without rider would do, i.e. by lifting his neck and breaking with front legs. I started some work on halt transitions which aren't great but getting there. Once we have those under better control I can introduce him to half-halts which will give me this very much needed re-balancing tool.
The great thing is when he does soften and bends he feels really good. I am hoping he will be little more rideable tomorrow and the mission is to slow the machine down ;)

Schooling over I took him for a relaxing cooling down walk in the woods and he was really good. Amazingly, while walking around I got a phone call from Horse & Hound (!!!) - as you do!!! (Not!). Someone said they came across my website and would like to chat about my work and how I like it etc. Unfortunately, Kingsley spotted a bunch of deers and started prancing about so I thought it wise to ask for a call back. They haven't actually phoned back but Kingsley calmed down very quickly and we just strolled back to the yard.
I actually managed to make him sweat this time so we played with some shampoo which he sniffed with curiosity.

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Thursday, 10 September 2009

Let me tell you...

Kingsley is settling in brilliantly. Me, less so! ;) I am yet to return home before 9pm so my routine needs a serious tweak.
Thankfully, I am only teaching 2 hours tomorrow and will have more time during a day to organise myself and still be back at a reasonable time.
For now I'm mucking out and getting his hay, waters and feed ready during my official lunch time. As I am super slow with all this, it takes me an hour to have everthing done. Then ride him after 6.30pm when I am finished teaching. This is not ideal as it means he gets his evening feed quite late and it's difficult to ride him with all the evening lessons going on.
Now, I could ride at lunch time...The problem with riding at lunch times, however, is that I have to be finished by 2pm to go teaching so by the time I get him ready and allow for the time to do him after exercise I maybe have 30 minutes to work him. The thing is he's got so much energy in him that he would probably still want to power forwards after 1.5h...;))
My main aim with him at the moment is to teach him to carry himself in a better balance so he doesn't have to run everywhere 100 km/h. He is one of those horses that are fairly agile and very flexible so he is not too bothered about how and where he places his feet - his natural ability
to remain secure and stable in whichever position doesn't really help.
All this said, he is so much fun to work with that I am already looking forward to seeing his happy face tomorrow :)

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Monday, 7 September 2009

Another state of awareness


Day off from teaching.
Reasonable amount of sleep plus morning coffee with Rick is what makes the best start to the day.
I then set off to the yard and did a first 'work' session with Kingsley. He responded really well. Although he did perform some spectacular displays of agility on the lunge fly bucking and dragging me after himself, once I got on he behaved impeccably.
I spent a lot of time just flexing him and getting him to understand the bending aids as he is rather stiff and thinks pressure on the left/right rein means turning left/right rather than yielding to the rein.
He got the idea pretty quickly and I was really pleased with him. I was walking around and someone joked asking if that's all I was going to do and it made me realise how good it is to finally be able to work with a horse in my own time and to my own agenda. No pressure on doing things in any particular order or way or on/off without any continuity. Here is a blank canvas young horse I can take forward step by step, let him learn and understand and only move up a level once I'm sure everything is clear in his head.
Schooling horses is what I always considered my 'hobby' while teaching and coaching is what defines career to me. It might be because I don't like the pressure of speed schooling so popular nowadays and what I really enjoy in working the horse is to tune in to it and feel what he feels back. It's a bit like being in another state of awareness, being here and there and yet somewhere totally different in the same time. Sometimes it takes me a while to get to that place so no timetable is what I need.
I love getting to that place as it's where all you think about is every single muscle working underneath you and the more I can feel the more the horse responds back. It's where I allow myself to be completely introverted and just listen to the motion.
When it happens it's addictive.

Pic.above: I was filling in a bucket to sponge Mr K down and he decided that waiting is boring. Wonder what's in that room...

Spent the rest of the day with my dear friend eating some lovely food and playing with her puppy.

She decided to go back freelance and will work with me again soon so I am very much looking forward to that.

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Sunday, 6 September 2009

Organising continues and lovely Sunday

You will all be bored to the limits with all the little Kingsley updates ;) He is definitely calming down and we managed to lunge him today without speeding too much. I lunge him not because he isn't broken in but because I want to re-break him as far as his understanding of aids and balance goes. As you can see from video below he is very much upside down and being a naturally rather tense and excitable horse he works with tense, hollow back. Neither is he familiar with vocal commands which is so useful later when schooling from the saddle to avoid unnecessary pulling on the reins.
The plan now is to lunge him on a chambon to encourage him to stretch and move with a steady rhythm in a longer, lower frame.

About chambon:

5th Spt lunge session (chambon wasn't attached so you can see his natural way of going here):


I ordered Baileys No4 Top Line Conditioning Cubes for little man and he will be on about 2.9kg of those and 8.7kg of forage and we will re evaluate after 30 days to see if this combination suits him. He is also on Linseed Oil as although he seems shiny on pictures his skin is in fact very flaky and scruffy. It's getting better as he is having daily thorough groom now both from me and his new mummy.
I should add on here how very grateful I am to have this lovely little chap to work with and bring on. It would not be possible without Pauline who bought Kingsley and who hopefully will have a fabulous time with him learning more and more. I am looking forward to seeing both the horse getting better and better and Pauline to have the best of experiences with it. Big, big thank you to P. for everything xxx

While I was having one of my lovely Sundays with most of my regular clients returning from their summer holiday trips, Pauline spent a day pampering Kingsley and organising various bits and pieces for his stable. By the sound of it she had a super day too :)
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Friday, 4 September 2009

Kinglsey - first two days in new home


It's very much a world around little Kingsley at the moment while I go through logistical whirlwind of trying to work and organise everything for the boy AND be at home before midnight.
It will be much better once I have some sort of routine sorted and we have all the stuff gathered together. For the moment it's a lot or running around, borrowing things etc.
We are getting there though!
He seemed to have a good first night and judgeing by the new pooh pattern on his new summer sheet he had a lie in too.
I didn't want to turn him out on the first day as had some really bad experiences when trying that with my own horses ages ago so I am now being extra careful. I took him out of his stable every 2 hours to walk him around the yard and let him run loose in the indoor school. He wasn't too keen on leaving my side though so it took a lot of encouragement and sending him away to finally get him to do so.
Here is him playing:


I then lunged him for 20 minutes after work. I say lunged but it was more of him running around in excitement than any kind of lunge work. I let him get rid of some energy, then walked him in hand and that was his first day.

Today he was much calmer on the lunge but still it was more for him to move a little than any proper work. I put a chambon on him without clipping it though so he could get used to the feeling of all the strings without them actually acting in any way. I am going to give him a few days before asking for anything and this is because I think it's very easy to create a battle with a horse when he is tense, distracted and a bit bewildered. So for now I am just letting him take it all in.
We had saddle fitting at 1.30pm today and managed to find a very nice Albion dressage saddle that fits him well. Although he is only small he rides much bigger than he looks and is a good medium width as far as size of the saddle goes.

Considering he was running around the arena as if he was on fire I am glad we managed to get that sorted. He will also be fitted with a GP or a jumping saddle as he is certainly more of a jumper than a dressage enthusiast ;) I reckon his idea of fun will be XC but we shall see. I also tried a lovely event saddle which rode so comfortable but it was off his back too much and he hated it (refusing to go forwards at all).
However, the dressage saddle isn't too straight cut and can be used pretty much for anything.

Saddle fitting done it was the time to let the boy out for the first time. He was going out with another gelding and I was dreading it as really didn't want to see them both running mad and/or having a kicking fit.
Well, Kingsley behaved as if he had never been anywhere else but in that field. He just walked in, had a little look around and started grazing!
Now, E., his field buddy, was unimpressed so started prancing around and having a bit of a play. They both showed off for a moment, then settled within 5 minutes. I watched them on/off for the next hour and they just grazed calmly. Super.

Kinglsey meeting E.:

...




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Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Little horse arrived this evening :)



Kingsley travelled really well and settled very quickly in his new home. He is temporarily in the main barn so will have to get used to a busy yard life! In a week or so we will get a different stable available so he will move into a quieter "room".
He's quite a blank canvas, very under muscled and need to put a lot of condition on but that's actually quite exciting as I am sure he will look very different after the winter of good feeding and training. He will stay in today and tomorrow and on Friday will be introduced to his turn out buddy. I am hoping he won't run around too much giving me heart attacks!
His new mummy, Pauline, seems smitten by his character and I can't wait to play with him a bit more.

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