Monday, 30 November 2009

The only place success comes before work is in the dictionary. Vince Lombardi

And work I did this month - can feel it in my tired bones.
Following some substantial amount of snoozes I managed to get up at 6.50am on Saturday morning, plastered some ice from the freezer to my eyes to wake up enough to be able to find my wardrobe and just made it to my first lesson at 9am.
Watching all those lessons yesterday made me look at the riders with fresh set of eyes (if still just a little sleepy).
I ran a Training Day for one of my beginner riders who normally rides with me in Surrey. We devised mutual understanding with Lindsey where upon she provides me with a lot of laugh therapy and I teach her riding ;)
I am following the belief that beginner riders have to first learn as much as possible about balance in motion so we do a lot of riding which might seem like plenty of fun (which I guess is a great bonus) but there is a lot of thought going into it.


Kingsley is feeling rather well within himself and decided to show me that keeping plastic containers inside his stable is out of order.

He is also being very playful still with his field mate and we are having to re-think the turn out arrangements as the two of them play Ascot Racecourse in their paddock . I let him free in the indoor school at lunch time and he had a little trot around there. I watched him trying to scrutinise any and every odd step he made but he looked much sounder to me that I've seen him for ages. There was definitely a marked improvement in front legs movement but I am not totally sure about the hind legs action still. There were some steps where I could tell he was choosing to pop himself into canter instead of making a little effort to turn in trot - whether that's just weakness or something more, I wouldn't be able to say.
We have Anna Johnson coming to Kingsley to do physio session under sedation on the 14th December so hopefully she will be able to determine whether there is any improvement in his neck/back/hindquarters muscular spasms.

"Long suffering" Lindsey who only had about 10 or so lessons braved through entire day rather well and then drove us both back to London. She dropped me off at Suzanne's where I had about an hour to scrap all the manure off and get myself to more or less presentable state as we were due to appear at the RDA (Riding For Disabled) charity/fundraising Ball.
We got there just in time and the whole thing was one hilarious event by another. We indulged in some sort of dancing which would probably classify as pogo and ate all that was put in front of us but I was too tired to make any sense of any conversations ;)
Back at Suzanne's I slept like a baby and didn't wake up until just about 15 minutes before I was due to appear in the arena at my first lesson. Suzanne let me sleep till the very end and we arrived at the yard with perfect timing.
I decided I had enough of rain and tested the ponies by sitting in my corner with a massive garden parasol above me. Ponies behaved just fine but I got drenched anyway taking hack out in torrential rain and thunder followed by lunge lessons (where I thought the parasol might be pushing my luck).
It's been a hell of a tiring month but I've learned a thing or two and it feels good.
Today I've been spending time with my dear Rick whom I have barely seen this past mad week. I feel a little bit rested and almost ready to face more rain and mud tomorrow. Bring it on December.
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Friday, 27 November 2009

Shadowing the best

Thanks to someone's Internet addiction I ended up being given a fantastic opportunity to shadow Anna Ross Davies - an international Grand Prix dressage rider and trainer. Anna invited me to spend a day with her watching her working her horses at her base at Bury Farm in the morning and teaching variety of clients there and at Patchetts Equestrian Centre. The riders today ranged from serious amateurs to professional riders to children trying for/or already on FEI pony teams.
I had a lesson with Anna a couple of years ago and both my riding and my teaching improved dramatically afterwards so it's no wonder I was absolutely delighted to be able to learn more.
Although, as perhaps most riders, I am very much a kinesthetic learner, I also noticed that watching good quality training challenges and develops my teaching skills far better than any hours of riding.
I like to relate what I hear to what I see and observe the rider's reactions to certain corrections which seems to create a real brainstorm in my head - in a very positive way.
Another great thing I noticed is that in the same way as a video feedback helps the riders to improve their perception of good and bad moments in their training sessions, watching a very good, skilled rider can improve your own riding without apparent effort.
If you dig well enough into sports psychology you will probably find some scientific explanation to this phenomenon but I tend to think about it as a children way of learning ;)
A 6 year old can "learn" rising trot just by watching another rider doing it. You put a child on a pony and say "do as that rider does" and more often then not your little rider will correctly rise to the trot rhythm. Sure, you will need to tweak the technique later on but the basic skill is there.

Some time ago, when I was out of action for months on end with my dodgy knee, I read about this top Olympic skier who happened to injure himself right bang in the middle of his Olympic preparations.
He took part in a physio-rehab programme that involved watching videos of his own best performances and it was found out that you can "exercise" the muscles through watching and active imagining of participation in the training.
He did go to Olympics and his physio noted amazing rate of recovery and much faster return to form the athlete had prior to injury.

I can't quote statistics and I am too tired to search the Internet for some academic papers on this but I know it works for me. I ride, teach and think about training much better after watching quality teaching/training.

What I really like in Anna's teaching and riding is that there is clear method to it, whether it's a talented young dressage horse or a pony with shortage of legs and talent. It's like watching lots of elements of a puzzle being put together. Sometimes the riders try to cheat inadvertendly and force some pieces together but they never get to finish the picture like that. It's the undoing what was put together wrong and trying to put it back together in a better way, finding the pieces that do fit and those that don't, is what I find fascinating to watch. It makes you pay attention to details, quality of basic paces and self-carriage of the horse you are riding or teaching on.

I had a chance to watch morning training of Anna's horses and 8 (I think!) lessons she gave afterwards. They all involved very different riders and very different horses. The Prix St George horse, one was putting together her Elementary freestyle to music, then a green 5 year old (that was super to watch), some more Elementary level horses, some work on improving changes with Advanced Medium horse, some contact issues, back stiffeness, basic flexion problems etc etc I personally found sessions with the young/green horses most interesting but I also had a chance to watch Simon working on piaffe in-hand with Anna's advanced horses which was rather impressive.
And the kids - they were all fab little riders. Amazingly, many many PTT or even some AI instructors I have seen in training have less feel and work ethic than I saw with those young riders today. They transformed these ordinary animals into rather special dressage ponies, they listen and try their best to correct what's wrong and you can really see improvement.

I'm knackered now but it was so worth it. It's not often, if ever, that you get help when trying to get better in whatever you do and I am ever so grateful to Anna for taking her time to share her knowledge and experiences with me.
I mustn't have caused too much problems (I did try to control that cute, fury, active dog of Anna's with varied luck!) as I am invited again and I sure will make some time for another day like today. Minus the COLD!

Now, I must remember to set off my alarm for multiple (read: hundreds) snoozes as have to be in Berks at 9am tomorrow.
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Thursday, 26 November 2009

Why is it that...

...horses that are apparently so unsound and so incapable of moving without looking lame are yet perfectly able to gallop flat out round and round the field when turned out??!!
Kingsley gave a mild coronary today when he decided to play a race horse and have a fight with his field buddy. They tested how fast can an equine travel around relatively small field which ended in Kingsley falling over and hitting the deck rather hard :(
Both horses had to be caught and taken out of the field as they would not stop running and I then spent good 15 minutes walking Kingsley in-hand before he started breathing more or less normal. He was absolutely covered with mud, not to mention he drenched his rug and boots too. Thankfully, he seemed to be in one piece. I checked on him every hour or so to see if his legs stayed tight but there was no swelling or heat when I left just before 8pm.
I told him he is a silly man and his body will never feel better if he keeps playing like this but all I got was a lot of nuzzling and sniffing and checking for food.

He will be going out tomorrow with some immensly lazy pony that will hopefully ignore every invitations for a mad run.
I am hoping he behaves as I am not at the yard tomorrow and I always worry he comes up with something when I am not around.
Ok, sleep time as 5am start to the day tomorrow, off for some dressage training.
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Wednesday, 25 November 2009

One of many days

Reading University seems to have a rather active riding club which meant I spent entire day teaching uni riders. As we are having an additional new outdoor arena built on site at Hall Place and massive machinery goes forwards and back all the time, all the day time lessons were indoors so I stayed dry and my voice was saved from battling with the wind. Good.

The world around me has all of a sudden become very Xmassy. All the decorations are up and all the shops seem in the festive mood already. I think I'm looking forward to this year's Christmas a little bit more than the last but I am still rather sad I won't be with my family.
I am hoping that one day this feeling of being constantly torn in between the two lives will finally lessen in intensity and I will be happier with things I just can't change.

You know, all I really want is to have a demanding, inspiring job, horses to ride, homey cosy place to live in and have all the people dear to me close by.
And a dog and a cat ;)
My friend's puppy is currently benefiting from my dog love whenever I see him although he did wake me up at some ungodly hour when I stayed over last night. He thinks that placing a well chewed sock on my face is a good idea and will definitely make me wake up and play. Okay ;)

Kingsley is also being very playful and very cuddly. He rests his head on my arm and shoulder while I scratch his face which he absolutely adores. I am giving him chaff only with a sprinkle of Baileys No.4 at the moment as he has way too much energy when out in the field. He does have a lot of hay to keep him busy and I am keeping everything crossed that some healing is taking place in his sacro-blooming-iliac joint.

Right, mission for today is to grab some decent rest!
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Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Medical Approach to Teaching = the evening with Andrew Murphy. The mud and comforting cup of tea


It's the winter that's always the hardest in this job. It's not even the cold and the rain and short dark days, it's the tiredness that comes with it. I feel shattered and organising everything so it runs more or less smoothly seems like a grand effort. It's even worse when one or two things crop up unexpected which means whatever managed to be painstakingly planned ends up upside down and inside out.

I spent last evening in Hampshire on a first in a series of lecture-talks with Andrew Murphy, senior instructor at TTTTrust (Training The Teachers of Tomorrow Trust).
The lectures are to be loosely based on training/bio-mechanics subjects as well as being driven by whatever the participants want to focus on which is great. Andrew shared his view on training horses and riders from beginners to Grand Prix level and is mostly focusing on Dressage.
He advocates a medical approach to teaching where problems are diagnosed and found cure for and where pinpointing and treating the cause is more important than patching up the symptoms. The other thing he mentioned was the importance of understanding and being able to explain why, as a rider/trainer do we correct this thing not the other and why do we do it this way and not the other.
Bad riding is born out of frustration and frustration is born out of bad education.
When training the horse we should first see an animal with its instincts, needs and impulses. Then, we see the horse. And only after that we see our pet, The CutiePie. Not the other way round.
Andrew went even further stating that horse trainers should understand that horses have predominately two states: Pain and No Pain. All problems we have with training stem from the horse either being in pain, remembering the pain or anticipating pain.
However, subscribing to this thought would also mean acknowledging there is no such thing as a happy horse...Not sure if I want to burst my bubble.

The next meeting is in January and I will definitely put myself down for it.
My attending those various courses and talks is not only to gain as much knowledge as possible but also to learn about...all the different ways of learning.

Straight from Hampshire I went down to teach in London till late evening and I am now writing this drinking super sweet tea, alike one my gran always makes. It's way too sweet and you wouldn't be able to tell what variety of tea you are drinking but that's how I like it on those cold, muddy winter evenings - hot,no milk and lots of brown sugar :) While I am drifting somewhere in between where I am and where I would like to see myself being, this super sweet tea tastes comforting.

Here are little insights into my week ahead: Wed/Thu regular teaching in Berks, then roll on Friday - I have some super training arranged for in Bucks and Hertfordshire. Sat - running Training Day in Berks for a fab beginner rider which should be lots of fun. She will then drive me back to London and I will have an hour or so to scrub up to to an annual RDA ball organised by one of the riding schools in Surrey. Sunday - will try my best not to fall asleep in the arena!
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Monday, 23 November 2009

Photo Movie from various Training Days up to November 2009



To book one for yourself or to just check out what is it all about go to:
http://trainingdays-equestrian.blogspot.com/
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Sunday, 22 November 2009

Odd kind of Day

You know those days when you think how much you know about how little you really know? That's my day today...
Thankfully, a fabulous trainer I was contacted by last month seems to want to let me learn from her so I can't wait to grab that chance.
Sometimes it feels like life is too short for what I have planned to do with it.
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Saturday, 21 November 2009

Someone has too much energy...

...and it's certainly not myself. Little Kingsley has so much vigour after being allowed back into the field that I dare to hope he is feeling slightly better. However, if he doesn't stop running around he will probably make it all worse!
Today was his second day out and he spent a lot of the time playing with his field buddy which he hasn't done much of before.
Yesterday, he was way too full of himself and ended up pulling front shoe off. After 20 minutes of walking around the field I found the shoe sitting nicely in mud. Good, one fee less to pay on the list of never ending expenses' list.

The weather was relentless today - rain followed by heavy rain. I feel like responding to one of those adverts looking for riding instructors in Dubai ;)
My today's Training Day rider braved through and had a great day despite being drenched most of the time!

Kingsley happy to be out after 3 days on box rest following injections:

Training Day in The Rain:

Kingsley in his new box being a model for Kiran's stable management session: 'Getting a horse ready for turn out' :)

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Thursday, 19 November 2009

National Coaching Conference 2009 Summarised
















The Programme included:

  • Sports Psychology with Sandie Chambers
  • Nutrition with Stuart Chambers
  • Rider Fitness with Jon Pitts
  • Tim Stockdale's speech
  • Motion & Performance Centre
The Conference might have just been a perfect day for BHSAI instructors/coaches preparing for their Intermediate Teaching exam and/or anybody training others for those exams. In terms of development or improvement of my own knowledge I wouldn't say there was much I haven't known already. Having said that, there were little things here and there that I either never heard about or forgot about. Additionally, it was a great day in terms of consolidating the knowledge and re-focusing on the bigger picture. It was good and I enjoyed it. I might be wrong but I think it would be great if all the material was presented with plenty of practical examples of using it in every day life or training riders. There have been moments when the info seemed a little too dry and classroom like.

Let's start from possibly the best session in my book: the Jon Pitt's Rider's Fitness in Coach's Perspective. It was perhaps the only lecture that thoroughly engaged the audience in terms of being both educational and interactive as well as fun.
A few scribbles I made during that session:

Equestrian Specific elements of focus for coaches:
  • balance
  • core stability
  • brain: concentration, focus, confidence, memory
  • co-ordination
  • brave
  • reactions
  • cardio-vascular (CV)
  • weight
  • strength
  • suppleness
Jon Pitts underlines the latter - suppleness - as one of the most important. He also mentioned that suppleness is often misinterpreted as flexibility. Suppleness, he said, has nothing to do with flexibility. Flexibility is for example, an ability to touch the floor with your fingers without bending your legs. The suppleness is the ability to absorb the impact of movement without tension.

Coaching Points:

Quality of Repetition
Simple Steps
How many instructions (human brain is consciously capable of absorbing only 5-9 bits of information at any given moment)

Jon Pitts: www.jonpitts.co.uk

Tim Stockdale gave a vary amusing and inspiring talk about how he isn't sure whether he really should be joining the BHS ;) He underlined the importance of quality coaching and correct tuition from the lowest of levels and encouraged everybody to keep coming up with initiatives to make the training more productive.
Tim certainly has a talent to captivate his audience with variety of stories, the enthusiasm and very apparent passion for what he does.
His speech focused on:
  • riding schools, the facilities vs quality of teaching and how it's not always going hand in hand
  • ways of teaching; he condemned constant bellowing often observed in riding school's arenas
  • he encouraged to understand the pupils' needs and tailor each instruction making it specific to particular rider
  • goal setting/progress cards/initiatives to make training effective
  • college vs qualifications vs experience - Tim wondered why are the colleges and the BHS aren't doing enough to make equine courses/degrees more practical and industry relevant. He compared what is happening in equine education sector to Law graduate becoming hairdressers. More equine students should be prepared/ready/happy to join the industry they trained to work for.
The subject that always grabs my attention is Sports Psychology. Unfortunately, the speaker who discussed this subject was simply reading from her notes that discussed very basic information which most PTT (BHS Preliminary Teaching Test - the first exam on coaching ladder) students should know already and she was so monotonous I virtually fell asleep! Sorry!
I'm afraid that from what people were saying during the first break I wasn't the only one who felt like a nap during that lecture. To be fair though it was the first session of the day and I was mega sleepy having gotten up at 4.30am AND there were stars displayed on black curtains behind the screen ;)

Stuart Chambers' Nutrition lecture with his off the notes presentation was way more interesting. I haven't really made any notes here though as most of the subjects were either common knowledge or I have covered them while at Hartpury on Rider's Performance module.information at any given moment)

Stuart also made us do a very simple exercise to prove how much our brain and body get used to certain habits and movement patterns.
Fold your arms in front of you. Are you feeling comfortable? Which hand is showing? Now, fold your arms so your other hand is on top...feels awkward? Apparently it takes ten thousands of repetitions for the pattern to become comfortable and a second nature. If you always ride with your left hip collapsed a little and right stirrup longer half a hole, centering your position will feel uncomfortable and odd to start with. So persevere.
Edited here to pass on a comment from Stuart Chambers from Horse and Hound Forum: The point I was making was that we are creatures of habit and changing a habit feels awkward at first but then becomes more comfortable, just like changing the way you fold your arms!
Fold your arms in front of you.

One thing I did note is how to estimate your REE (Resting Energy Expenditure) to then be able to estimate how much calories do you need to maintain basic functions of your body.

Women:
(10xW) + (6.25 xh) - (5xa) + 5
Men:
(10xW) + (6.25 xh) - (5xa) - 161

W-weight (kg)
h-heigth (cm)
a-age

In layman terms, knowing your REE helps to plan your diet in a way that protects your muscles from being eaten by your own body ;) Muscle tissue is the first one to be used for energy. If you don't provide your body with enough good quality nutrients it will start using lean muscles' tissue to produce more fat.

Another subject that is my personal favourite was:

Dr David Marlin discussed Digital Video Analysis and its usage in equestrian coaching. There are some fascinating software available that allows coaches to see details seriously superior to what you can see yourself in real life with bare eyes.
It is most likely the fact I am very visual learner myself that I have always rated video feedback. However, it is proved that:

Hearing = slow processing of information
Visual = rapid processing


Improvement depends on better retention of information. This can be achieved by:
  • repetition
  • reinforcement
  • physical involvement
The last lecture of the day was Motion & Performance Centre's (MPC) presentation which we didn't stay on as we had to hit the road and go back. I am going to a series of bio-mechanics lectures though starting this Monday so hope I will brush up on whatever I might have missed.

What I think is the best about Conferences like this is the inspirational factor of them. The brainstorming and ideas generating effect it often has on people. I certainly came back with a few more :)
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Wednesday, 18 November 2009

British Horse Society (BHS) Coaching Convention

Just a quick one today to say it was a very enjoyable day - proper update either tomorrow or on Friday. I got up at 4.30am today and it's been a busy busy day!
On the amazing note - I came back home to find Ricky bought me a new, shiny, fantastically fast and reliable laptop so I am Over The Moon :) :) :)
Speak soon! X
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Monday, 16 November 2009

The spine X-rays later and...

Every time I get Kingsley out of his stable I hope for some miracle to happen. I hope to see him moving with no sign of discomfort, loose and supple like any healthy, sound, happy 5 year old horse would. But of course, it's not as easy as that.

After a lot of lost time with previous vets we went for a completely different Veterinary practice and Kingsley is now in hands of a back/spine focused vet.
Richard thinks Kingsley shows very classic signs of Sacroiliac (SI) disease/strain but because of high level of pain in the poll area as well as neck muscles and rather distinct way he carries himself over the back (extremely one-sided) he needed to rule out Kissing Spine disease first.

X-RAYS RESULTS

The Poll

These showed a tiny bone chip just behind the poll, in between the ears. On the image it looked like one of those little cork board's pins pinned onto the bone. Apparently some horses' polls do look like that though and it could be a normal thing to have. However, it could also be a result of rearing and hitting the head and any similar trauma injury. Considering how sore Kingsley is on palpation and the only a very slight abnormality of the x-ray, the vet concluded it is probably mostly a soft tissue problem after an old injury.
We will be treating this with physiotherapy sessions under sedation in about 4 weeks time.

The Back
All his thoracic and lumbar vertebrae look great. There are wide spaces in between them and all looked nice and healthy from radiographic point of view. The sacral area cannot be X-rayed with a portable machine as it's not powerful enough. The amount of muscle tissue in the loins and hindquarters doesn't allow the rays to penetrate deep enough.
However, Kingsley is mildly back sore and extremely one-sided and if allowed to stand in preferred position he will always move one or the other hind leg underneath his barrel and if you look at his spine from above he holds himself in a bit of an 'S' letter with a lot of body mass bulging to the right.
A bit like in the below photo but the other way round:

This we will also treat with physio in several weeks time.

The Sacro-iliac/pelvis
To be able to X-ray this area we would have to transfer Kingsley to Vet clinic. The soreness of the area is not a secret (he almost goes down as you prod around the pelvis). He also displays following clinical signs: unlevel pelvis (ever so slightly but still - apparently can be normal but not if pain is present), intermittent hind leg lameness, the stance with one hind leg always propped forwards, avoiding square stance, strong reaction to palpation, unbalanced movement, rushing in all gaits or refusing to move properly forwards, dropping into four beat canter, back soreness, and the list goes on.

The diagnosis
The current diagnosis is: sacroiliac disease/strain, poll and neck soreness due to an old injury and way of going caused by sacroiliac (i.e. front leg unlevelness shows up as a result of a horse compensating for the pain in the back and pelvis).
The sacroiliac problems could have been a result of competition/ridden/field injury in the past, been unnoticed when horse was in rest and resurfaced when horse was brought back into work.
I was also told by someone who exercised Kingsley in between the day of the vetting in Aug to the day we picked him up in Spt that he was always ridden in draw reins and lunged in pessoa. Now, I am not going to get started on both of these but as I have spent a while reading up all I could find on sacroiliac injuries it seems that they do become aggravated by pessoa lunging gadget. If he was sore in the back and pelvis but had his neck snapped down by draw reins could he have developed muscle soreness in the neck in an effort to alleviate the back pain?

The Treatment
Either way, Richard the Vet suggested cortisone injections which are basically steroids injected into sacroiliac area in between tendons, soft tissue and joint. Their role is to kill the inflammation and pain and help the healing process. It seems that even if he was taken to the clinic for bone scan to fully confirm the severity of the problem, the first thing that is being done now in cases like his is to inject anyway.
Injections are basically both the treatment and diagnostic tool in one. If the horse improves, it definitely has sacroiliac strain/disease/problem whatever you want to call it. If it doesn't then the bone scan is the only way to take diagnosis further.
So we went with injections.
However, they are steroids...and some horses might develop laminitis due to injections. That and various allergic reactions too.

The Rehab
So we are now on (providing he doesn't get worse):

3 days of box rest post injections followed by
2 weeks of limited turn out daily followed by
1 week of slowly bringing back to work on the lunge followed by
Richard coming back to assess the level of improvement before walking under the saddle starts.

Providing all goes well with that he should be ready to have more rehab done on his muscles and will have physio work done under sedation on his neck, poll and back.

So I stayed with little man until he was fully awake from sedation, munching on his hay. He's got a dressing on where the mahosive needles went in and it's to stay on for 48h. There is a slight possibility of infection as always with any under skin invasive procedures so I asked friends to keep an eye on him as I am not there tomorrow.

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Sunday, 15 November 2009

For the smiles



I had to pull a couple of horses out of lessons today which didn't seem very well welcomed by the school's owner. Considering there is only a few horses to play with, the team on the yard had rather difficult task to keep everything ticking somewhat. On top of that, the weather is wrecking the arenas and we couldn't do much at all.
It's hard to find an economically viable solution to so many problems that need resolving...for now, I am in it for those smiles:

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Saturday, 14 November 2009

A-Z of Last Two Days


Working outside is current weather is rather interesting. It seems that glorious, sunny and warm October was sent down to make up for what is happening now.

A is for Absorption exhibited by my clothing. Generous of it but seriously unnecessary.
B is for Books read in a hot bath while recuperating after A.
C is for clients. Super Training Day today with a pleasure-to-teach rider not bothered by W, R and H.



D is for Dash the puppy playing an alarm clock with empty bottle of Lucozade.
E is for enjoying the madness of W,M,H and R as well as V.
F is for Farmhouse Yogurt Apple and Cinnamon at 23:16 while writing this post.
G is for achieving goals.
H is for Horses being wet, muddy and not impressed with W and R.
I is for a giant, fabulous, amazing Indoor Arena I dream about having every single winter day.
J is for juggling life, food, mud and manure without losing sanity.
K is for Kingsley's new lycra hood :)
L is for Loving life and Leaves - the wet, soggy yet beautiful autumn/winter leaves.

M is for Mud. Bloody mud that makes me slip and rip my favourite Gore-Tex coat on a barb wire!
N is for Never enough sunshine
O is for Overtrousers. I am loving my Toggi Extreme.
P is for Pub meals while rain is pouring outside.
Q is for Question that needs good answers.
R is for Rick's jokes and for Rain, bucket load of it!
S is for Staying over at my dear friend's house when it's too rainy to go back home
T is for Too many soaking wet numnahs, rugs, boots and bandages
W is for Wind. 70 miles per hour or it. Not. Nice.
U is for Underwear & Pyjamas shopping because of S.
V is for lack of Visibility when cantering in W and M and R.
X is for ...who knows. eXtraordinary events some time soon?
Z is for Zzzzzz - sleep needed.


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Thursday, 12 November 2009

Thursday Words of Wisdom

The one thing all famous authors, world-class athletes, business tycoons, singers, actors, and celebrated achievers in any field have in common is that they all began their journeys when they were none of these things.

Yet still, they began their journeys.

~Mike Dooley

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Day Off

My teaching was cancelled today, one of the things that are rather unsettling when you freelance, especially that the cancellations very often come day before and not much else can be arranged for in such a short space of time.
I thought it would be a good idea to do some resting but I am not convinced one day of rest is so beneficial. I actually feel my bones and joints more! Must be ceasing up. After half a day leisurely in bed I played a very very good housewife and spent good few hours spring -winter cleaning the kitchen and catching up with washing. Things I never have time for.

I am now trying to draw a site map of the website for riding academy I am working on so Rick can have an idea what needs to be built and how extensive it will need to be. I am aiming at a decent amount of content which will include not only the information on the actual services I and the others in the academy team will provide, but also various interesting articles on horse and rider training. To give you an example, one of my riders is a professional fitness trainer managing his own studio and I am roping him in into writing a series of articles on how to work on different muscles to aid riding progress.
I know it's going to look great. And it must do as I have some more plans connected to it.
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Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Horses...who would've them...The saga continues...

Whoever is responsible for heating in my office is doing a really bad job! The winter is here and surely this should now be taken care of...there is also a lot of mud and rain and cold. Hmm.

First, some jolly things so I don't sound too grim throughout the entire post. I had a fab time at my darling crazy friend's birthday, laugh therapy is certainly one to go for. We also ran a rather hilarious 'Have-A-Go' day today for some uni students who have never ridden before. I thought I was going to roll on the floor laughing, it must have been some post bad news trauma release! Either way it was funny.

Now, onto the bad news.
Kingsley. I wanted to give you an update yesterday but I was so tired and so upset by the results of physio and vet's visit that I thought I'd better leave it for today and write it all down without feeling so emotional and too dramatic about it all. Especially that we are still awaiting the diagnosis.
So here we go. The physio found no improvement after a month of TENS and walking. He is still oddly uneven in trot on all 4 legs really. She suggested the symptoms make it look like some sort of neurological problem that might improve via rehabilitation of movement patterns. She suggested a series of exercises and rehab programme to follow to aid balance and improve motor skills.
However, my gut feeling was that there is something seriously wrong as since I got to know him more now I can tell there is a lot of things about the way he moves that are way out of normal. The chance had it that one of the other liveries needed a vet for some quite dramatic back problem and was going to have a vet specialising in such I thought it was wise to share the visit. After having a chat with P., the owner, she agreed it really was the time to get a totally unconnected vet to have a fresh look at the symptoms and take it from there. The vet came yesterday and unfortunately he was rather concerned about little Kingsley.

Looks like he is uncomfortable to varied degrees along his entire spine, from the poll to the tip of his tail, the poll and sacroiliac joint being the hot spots.
He will now have his poll, back and sacroiliac x-rayed on Monday to make a proper diagnosis a little bit more possible. If X-rays don't show anything, then he will be referred for MRI.

I really am trying to stay positive but hearing about cortisone injection in a 5 years old just doesn't make my day. That little horse is ever so lucky to have such a fantastic owner like P. who will do all there is possible to fix him.
And I am very lucky too that she has this wonderful attitude as the entire situation makes me feel dreadful.

So we are now waiting for the results of the X-ray and hope that whatever it is it's not the end of the ridden life for little man.

Some links to various resources on Sacroiliac Pain and Injuries in Horses:
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Sunday, 8 November 2009

Hunting in Ireland and religion...

...got summed up to me in one sentence today. I taught this American woman who told me how many years ago she went for a hunting trip to Ireland. I asked her what she thought of it and she said:

'You know, if you are not a Christian in the morning of the hunt you definitely are one in the evening!"...;)

I had a weekend from hell travelling wise with ALL my tube lines' options out due to engineering work. I spent considerable amount of time walking vaguely towards home from the train station because I couldn't be bothered waiting for overcrowded buses.
Then today I must have had a ride on board of about 8 buses and I am positively worn out.

Kingsley is being reassessed tomorrow at 12pm. All the hope in the world that there is some improvement...

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Friday, 6 November 2009

2010 Radio Show Episode 63 - The WEG Equine Village

Culver Academies Black Horse Troop

A number of guests join us to speak about the Alltech 2010 World Equestrian Games. We take a look at the 2010 WEG Equine Village, get and Alltech update and hear about the natural Tennessee Walking Horse. Listen in...

2010 Radio Show Episode 63 - The WEG Equine Village:

  • Hosts: Samantha Clark and Glenn the Geek

  • Guest: Susanna Elliot, PR Alltech, gives us the latest on Alltech's preparations for the Alltech 2010 World Equestrian Games.

  • Guest: Andrea Ohnstad of Silver Phoenix Ranch speaks to us about the Natural Tennessee Walking Horse demonstration that will be held at the 2010 WEG. Visit her blog at http://forthetnwalkinghorse.blogspot.com.

  • Guest: Kathy Hopkins, Director of the Equine Village, speaks to us about all the activities and entertainments planned for the 2010 World Equestrian Games.

  • News: Professors at Georgetown College are manning the phones for the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, making sure volunteer applicants have done their homework in French and Spanish. Called Language Proficiency exams, every language service volunteer applicant must complete these tests in order to become an official language specialist for the Games. Language Specialists are expected to facilitate communication for officials and athletes in more than 12 languages during the Games.

  • News: Colorful, creative benches will appear again on the streets of Frankfort in the summer of 2010 as part of an effort to beautify the community for tourists attending the World Equestrian Games. The project - “Horsin' Around Frankfort” - is one of several designed to make the city more attractive, enliven cultural activity and increase tourism to the capital before and during the games at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington.

  • Please support our sponsors because we would not be here without them:

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Thursday, 5 November 2009

Bonfire Night and Horses don't quite go hand in hand. Or do they?


It was rather unusual day for me today as for one reason or another various clients didn't make it to their lessons and I spent most of the time on the yard. I also did a Birthday Party which was rather amusing as I had to "employ" mums as leaders as had no one to help me (where are all the helpers when they are really needed?! ;).
Did Kingsley boy at lunch time and as our RDA group uses indoor school I had no choice but to do his 10 minutes walk outdoors. He behaved impeccably but was much more on his toes than normal. I tried my best to feel whether his walk is any better or worse but it seemed just fine to me. No odd steps or "dipping" the hind leg, his strides felt confident. Whatever was causing unevenness in walk seemed to have improved but the truth is that the worse unlevelness showed initially in trot so that's what we will really have to wait for.
The physio is coming on Monday for reassessment but as it's also my friend's birthday and I am staying overnight at hers I will update you all on the outcome on Tuesday. Keep everything crossed that there is at least some improvement.
The only lesson I taught today was a late evening one and we had a spectacular view of multi-coloured fireworks popping up on the black sky like lights on a Xmas tree.
Kingsley was a little unsettled by the noises so I took him outside for his evening groom and amazingly he just stood there watching bonfire display like hypnotised. I normally have to make sure there is nothing around he can chew, throw, step on or get entangled in but he stood like a sculpture.
He was so still I tidied up his mane, did his feet with hoof hardener, gave him a brush all over and he didn't budge totally starring at pinks, reds, blues and greens splashing all around him.

I managed to tear him away from this sparkly movie, tucked him into his new warm winter pyjamas in which he reminds me of Santa and set off back home.

Received my ticket for the BHS Coaching Conference today, one I wrote about some time ago and I am very much looking forward to going. One of the Centres I teach at paid for my ticket which I am very grateful for as would certainly not be able to go otherwise. Topics will include sports psychology, nutrition, rider's fitness. I am especially interested in presentations by Equestrian Edge ("an Equestrian Performance Analysis Training and Consultancy company that provides expert world class training courses and services in a number of modalities relating to Equine and Rider Performance.")

I am now further brainstorming myself on the content of Academy's website and enjoying the warmth of the indoors.

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Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Visual memories

I'm searching for ways to create slideshows/videos from the Training Days and I love this site I've stumbled upon: animoto.com.

Here's a test video. I don't like the fact the quality of the photos goes down (you can keep the quality if you go for paid service) and I am still to get the hang of all the settings but I think someone had done a fab job creating Animoto.



So what do you think? Would you like your 30 Animoto - seconds of your Intensive Training Day memories?
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Monday, 2 November 2009

Just some waffling thoughts on the month that passed

To write or not to write? That's the question of the passed month. I've had so many thoughts in my head I was sure my cells would just burst at the start of one of the gorgeous sunny mornings of which we had plenty in October.Add Image
Writing this blog has become such a giant habit for me, one that I really enjoy and I'm glad it helps some of you to stay in touch with me, allow some of you to have an insight into a struggling life of a riding instructor, lets others of you learn on my mistakes and maybe avoid some stupid decisions that I've made too often.
Those decisions and those crammed thoughts were the reasons I haven't been posting as much as I used to. That and immense tiredness...the tiredness that I could normally overcome with equally immense work satisfaction but I have been a little short of that...

You know that saying which goes, if you don't have what you like you better like what you've got? Well, I've never quite learned to go with that advice!
The most precious gift I have ever received from my parents is the inexplicable belief that I can do whatever I want in life. This is not to say, I think I can do anything I want well. This is to say, I have every confidence to try to live the life I want to live.
Some people might call it arrogance. Some might call it naivety. To me, it's the most powerful protection I have against the depressing, samey conformity.

Blind obedience to certain conventions irritates the hell out of me but I seem to be less emotional about it as I get older.
I get annoyed with myself too if I lose the courage to make changes necessary to keep planting the right kinds of trees.

Making one's mind supposed to be the start of decisions making. Some time over this past couple of months I realised I have made up my mind indeed.
Following that, I also needed to make further decisions for the future. As if on cue, life came up with events that always seem to happen to me when I turn the right way.

So, the time has come to change some of my teaching arrangements, leave some places, join some, be brave and try to jump up a level.
I was delighted to hear again from a lovely rider whom I taught at my Intermediate Teaching exam in the summer. She is coming with her horse to train with me for 5 days of hard work so I need to organise the ins and outs of it.
Hmm, if only I could find more riders up for that I would be rather happy!

A lot of materials I had ready for the Academy's website got lost when my computer went on strike but I have kept enough of scribbles I did old fashioned way on paper for it not to be too much of a tragedy.

Sunday consisted of a lot of laughter and some displays of determination on part of my riders. It's been driving with rain most of the day.
Seeing some of the riders were in less than fighting spirits I had no choice but to waddle through the mud with them and encourage them with my usual repertoire of demanding strictness ;) Amazing what a drop of nagging brings out in people!
Sometimes I must admit, I give up to the natural elements and can't really find much enjoyment teaching in impossible conditions but less severe meteorological distractions spur me into making the riders work for the goods...
We did a little of theory on flexion and bend under the roof after rider's hoods had filled up with several inches of water and visibility had gotten worse but other than that we braved through.

One of my Sunday riders made me my No.2 favourite cake - a tiramisu! I have to say, I am cake total and if I didn't like to make sure I eat more or less healthy I am pretty sure I could easily survive good few weeks on apple pies and tiramisus!
Today is sunny. At least at the moment. I am off to do Kingsley, then back home to do some washing, floor cleaning, hoovering and all the jobs I wish I had a herd of friendly gnomes to perform for me. I could even get them a few gnome size ponies as a reward...surely there must be a poniesforgnomes.com?
Yummy! :)



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Rollkur or Riding Deep...either way, where is the sports horse training heading to? :((

Rollkur explained: http://www.sustainabledressage.com/rollkur/how.php
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