Monday, 30 November 2009
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.
Friday, 27 November 2009
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.
Thursday, 26 November 2009
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.
Wednesday, 25 November 2009
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!
Tuesday, 24 November 2009
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!
Monday, 23 November 2009
To book one for yourself or to just check out what is it all about go to:
Sunday, 22 November 2009
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.
Saturday, 21 November 2009
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 in his new box being a model for Kiran's stable management session: 'Getting a horse ready for turn out' :)
Thursday, 19 November 2009
The Programme included:
- Sports Psychology with Sandie Chambers
- Nutrition with Stuart Chambers
- Rider Fitness with Jon Pitts
- Tim Stockdale's speech
- Equestrian Edge with Dr David Marlin
- Motion & Performance Centre
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:
- core stability
- brain: concentration, focus, confidence, memory
- cardio-vascular (CV)
Quality of Repetition
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.
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.
(10xW) + (6.25 xh) - (5xa) + 5
(10xW) + (6.25 xh) - (5xa) - 161
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:
Visual = rapid processing
- physical involvement
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 :)
Wednesday, 18 November 2009
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
Monday, 16 November 2009
Sunday, 15 November 2009
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.
Saturday, 14 November 2009
Thursday, 12 November 2009
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.
Wednesday, 11 November 2009
Sunday, 8 November 2009
Friday, 6 November 2009
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:
Listen Now, Download or Subscribe:
Thursday, 5 November 2009
More links to the Conference info:
1) http://www.bhs.org.uk/Training_and_Qualifications/Training_Events/National_Conference/BHS_National_Coaching_Conference.aspx2) http://www.yourhorse.co.uk/Your-Horse-News/Search-Results/Event-diary/August-09/Aug-12-BHS-National-Coaching-Conference-NOV-09/
Tuesday, 3 November 2009
So what do you think? Would you like your 30 Animoto - seconds of your Intensive Training Day memories?