Tuesday 31 July 2007

An update on things equine :)

Just so I stay on top of things here are a few lines on current state of affairs! My today's lesson with S. was quite a test as she was in a very negative mood. We managed to do some work which was not bad but well below the standard she is capable of. I popped on the horse and found him very wooden in his mouth so spent 20 minutes in transitions and some lateral work trying to lighten him a bit. I was pleased with the results and our last canter-trot-canter transition was very satisfying. I finished on that and there is a lot of work in front of S. as the horse does unfortunately gets very tense and wooden if the rider doesn't stay on top of his balance and coordination.

Yesterday, I had an interesting little trip to Barnfield Riding Centre, a BHS approved small riding school where I was invited for a little chat on current and possible vacancies. The lady who runs it breeds absolutely gorgeous dogs :) Anyway, the vacancy I was after happened to be already trialed by someone else so we decided my name will be added to their books and I will act as an reserve Instructor in need ;)

Two more horses were also added to my schooling repertoire: 17.2hh pure bred Cleveland Bay (pictured being dressed up) and a 15.1 ish hh, Irish bred horse on my current client's yard. Considering I am hoping to do my Stage IV next year I am very happy with any/all riding additions :)

Saturday 28 July 2007

If you fail to plan, then you are planning to fail

Ask any of the people I teach or ride horses for and they will probably tell you I am mega organised ;) In fact, I am a total opposite. Hmm, maybe not exactly. I do organise things because otherwise I would be doing nothing!
As a result, all the people who ride with me are provided with training plans as I like to torture them;) (read: I like to make sure they progress!). It doesn't matter whether I teach them for 4 weeks or 14 months or for an unlimited time.
By the way, I got an email from someone saying: 'You may be pleased to hear that my abdominal muscles are aching' ... . It seems I was right then using the word 'torture'.
I also like to write training plans for horses, working backwards from whatever goals I have for them, from very simple to a little more difficult.

I should really go to the point now. Today, I sat in a bookshop browsing through a Peter Jones's book (the Dragon's Den man) looking for some inspirations (no laughing please) and it made me think about my own long -term plans and goals...
Below I listed some aims which I would like to accomplish by the end of 2010:
1) Pass BHSI certificate and maybe a UKCC for equestrian industry
2) Do a British Dressage Judge Training and qualify as, at least, a List 6 Judge.
3) I will have been well in progress of acquiring a decent competition record in all three disciplines
4) I will be in a position to start looking for own yard which is yet another project all together! My plan is to have a decent training yard a'la small riding academy for clinics and lessons.

You have to be positive and have dreams (Mr. Jones says ;) ). And plans.

Thursday 26 July 2007

Decisions and some current waffling

The last couple of days was spent on teaching and trying to stay sane in the office as a newly employed person left after two weeks! As it is easy to imagine a two people's workload in a busy office is rather exhausting not to mention I only have three hours a day (as working there part-time) to sort everything out. Fingers crossed for the next bunch of interviewees :)

Teaching is going well. I am catching myself on being very focused at the moment and finding non equestrian distractions (like office work in the mornings) mildly annoying.
This current state of mind is very enjoyable though.

Tuesday. I was very pleased with lady S.'s progress in Kent. We worked quite hard on re-aligning her seat and using her legs properly and practised Novice 21. . At the end I decided to ask her to ride the test without a bridle to make her really influence the horse with her body (if you plan to do a similar thing at home make sure your horse is suitable!). She was rather shocked at first but they managed to ride most of the movements!
I then had an hour with a friend whom I teach temporarily. She events at pre-novice level and I am helping out with some position and dressagey issues.

On Wednesday at Ealing R.S. I gave a lesson to an autistic man which reminded me how much an average beginner rider grips and tenses hindering their progress. This man seemed to have a very little comprehension of what I was saying and his coordination was far from perfect. However, when we trotted, he just sat there with a smile on his face, completely relaxed and centered, tuned in to the horse's movement. I found it quite incredible more so because his position in walk was far from secure. Apparently, according to his carer, he loves his riding sessions. The lack of communication though is quite disturbing...or maybe I should learn to let him get on with it!

The decisions in the subject relate to my little dilemma. I was offered an opportunity to teach at one of London's biggest riding schools in return for training towards Stage IV and BHSII which is great BUT my teaching hours would not be paid for :( The things is, if I want to pay for the training it will cost a fortune. If I work for free I won't have the money. Anybody smart enough to solve this??

Another issue to deal with is the quiet season at the LEC. They no longer have hours for me at the weekends and weekdays are questionable due to a long commute. I found an advert in today's Horse & Hound for a part-time instructor closer to my daily paths though so I am going there for a chat on Monday.

Now, I must look up the programme for Olympia 2008 and order some tickets! If I don't my friend, who is coming especially from Chicago to stay while all the action is on, will probably be mortally upset and kill me!

Monday 23 July 2007


After hesitating over the costs I gave in and advertised on HorseMart. I do wonder whether it was a good or bad idea and whether I will receive any response.

Link to the advert

Thursday 19 July 2007

And one more new weekly client :)

Due to having rather hectic few weeks I ended up arranging for a meeting with a new potential client over the emails only. The night before I realised (well, to be fair it was R. who pointed this out to me saying 'Have you even spoken to her? Do you even have her phone number? Are you even sane?) that I have no mobile number to that person, never spoken to her and she might as well be a serial killer trying to murder all freelance instructors in London. Or at least that is how my darling R. portrayed the situation to me;)
Nice person as I am I duly re-started my computer at midnight and sent an email asking the girl to call me before 1pm. She did, bless!
She has a 14.3 ish pony which needs a serious diet but is nevertheless a nice mover; has good walk and correct trot. She is 7 years old but could as well be 3 as far as schooling is concerned.
There is a lot of work to be done there!
We decided to meet once a week and see how it goes. The girl rides nicely, she needs some overall polishing and correcting some bad habits that crept in but most of the hard work will be done by the cheeky beast.

Training Project!

I must say, I was surprised by how many people replied to my advert on BHS website! If you look for the horse don't hesitate to advertise there :)
I had to choose as there is absolutely no way I can fit more than one horse into my weekly schedule at the moment. Funnily enough I went for one that was stabled the furthest and while on a train I was thinking 'This is way too expensive a commute to be done on a regular basis...I would just have a look...'.
I am so glad I did because I ended up meeting a great owner and her promising young mare felt just 'right'. You know when you ride a horse and you click with it straight away...now that was the kind of feeling that mare gave me and the moment I sat on her the commute issues were in the bottom of my worries ;)
I am very excited about bringing her on and competing her when the time comes. It is unsure whether she will be a keeper or whether she will be sold but whether I will have 8 or 18 months with her I am determined to produce her the best I can.
The mare is 4 years old, KWPN with Ferro and G Ramiro Z lines; backed two months ago so still very babyish and green but that is exactly how I like.

I am working on a little training plan for her so might publish it when it is ready.

Saturday 14 July 2007

New addition

On Thursday I had a pleasure to meet my new client from London/Middlesex boarders and who will now continue to have lessons with me on a weekly basis. There is a lot to work on as both the rider and the horse haven't had much of a formal tuition in the recent past and some nasty crookedness has crept in!

I have also started gathering as much information as I possibly can on Prelim tests and its unique challenges so I can give my best during the end of summer rallies. I think I will combine elements from P18 and P10 or P13.

Saturday 7 July 2007

Teaching in the sun and exams' results :)

Don't you just love the return of the sun??? :) I spent whole day teaching in the glorious sunshine and it gave me such a boost I am still full of energy in the evening! Last few weeks saw me soaked to the bone most of the time and all that kept me going was a thought of a hot bath in the end of the day!
Another great news of the day is that I passed my exams! I don't know the individual marks yet but it looks like I am a proud achiever of 60 credits ;) The modules I passed are Coaching Theory, Animal Nutrition, Horse & Rider Performance 1 and a half of the Biological Systems in Sport module (I still have one element to pass to close that last one so a 20 more credits in the pipeline!). Passing those exams feels great, it is just a shame I would not be able to continue next year. Unless a miracle happens...;)

Friday 6 July 2007

Teaching to feel the roudness and thorougness

This has been on my mind forever and I am constantly looking for ways to expand my teaching repertoire so I can get through to the minds of my riders and help them to learn 'the feel for the horse'. I got to the point that I would ride a particular movement myself and then dissect it in my head so I knew exactly what I had done, when and for how long. It is not always easy as there are moments that my subconscious tells me 'you half-halted' and yet I feel almost no reaction in my body and plenty of reaction in the horse! That is how I differentiate the most difficult elements to teach from those that are passable. If I cannot do an inventory of reactions involved in a particular movement/ aid I classify that aid as highly skilled and almost always self-taught. If I can, then I would insist on all the riders to learn it through hard work!
I am currently ploughing through Human Anatomy and physiology books which seems to help when it comes to explanations. My favourite anatomy focused equestrian book is called 'Balance in Movement' by Susanne Von Dietze - could be read over and over.

Now, if only I can get R. away from in front of the TV so I can watch show jumping Super League from La Baule, France I would be well pleased!

Thursday 5 July 2007

Tuesday & Wednesday & Thursday

Tuesday evening decided to surprise me with its hot sun spells followed immediately by massive rain falls! I went to Kent where one of my dearest clients lives and we worked on the Novice test she is due to do this coming Sunday. It will be her first go at a Novice test and I am probably equally determined she does well as she is herself. After winning a Prelim Riding Club Championships with 70% last month it was only fair to up the challenge. There is still a lot of work to do, especially on the rider keeping the horse's roundness and impulsion throughout the test but I am really pleased with the work so far. We are working around the training diary I have been writing for the combination since September last year and I think we are both happy with the progress. One of the goals for the 2007 is to achieve (and maintain) 62% in unaffiliated Novice tests, trying to keep Prelim results on 68% and above and to try an affiliated Prelim test in the end of the year.
Our session was a hard work but I know the results will reward them in the end. Poor rider got drenched at some point but when we looked at the sky a minute later there was an amazing, full rainbow resembling a magical bridge that dreams use to go from one side to another.
I managed to stay fairly dry thanks to my big brolly - of course I used it to accustom the horse to spooky objects...;)

Wednesday evening saw me teaching at Ealing Riding School. What I like about this place is how peaceful it is. Tucked in in between block of flats, little cottages and surrounded by greenness of Ealing common, it feels very unique. It is far from a modern yard with immaculate facade and beautiful buildings and yet teaching there feels good. It is rewarding and encouraging seeing smiles on faces of the people who decide to go back to riding after a long break.
I do hope Ealing will need me for a while ;)

Today I arranged for seeing my possible training/competition project - 16.2hh, 4 year old KWPN mare, backed two months ago. I am planning to go on the 16th July, assess the commute, see the horse and chat to the owner.
I also received an email from someone about a Connemara pony...being only 14.1hh might be a little on a small side but might give it a go :)

Oh, and we didn't win Lotto today! But - we went for a lovely, very rainy walk to Holland Park where I browsed today's Horse & Hound and just enjoyed the evening.

Pictures from Spillers International Eventing Forum - March 2007

A few months ago I had a chance to go to an interesting Eventing Forum where top UK event riders shared their views on training methods. Attending clinics of this sort is always an educational experience and observing the best must be one of the great ways to learn.
Spillers Report on here: http://www.spillers-feeds.com/en-gb/international-eventing-forum/577/media-2006/Top-riders-wow-the-crowds/

Tuesday 3 July 2007

A few words on current situation

Ten to twelve hours a week is the amount of teaching I currently do. It is not enough and I aim at 20-25 hours a week. I started to advertise on various websites to see whether I can count on any interest and I was pleasantly surprised! To be honest I thought I would have a little chance to attract clients since I am not exactly a well known rider/instructor in the area.
My biggest regret (which I guess I should just finally stop moaning about) is that I didn't do my AI while working with horses full-time. It is quite a challenge now to gather 500 hours on a freelance basis. I have about 70 in my book at the moment, so yes, it is not even one fifth of what is required. I shall plough through though.
Thanks to my little online activity I am going next week to see someone interested in lessons and her friend is also willing to have a go.
Another exciting news is that I decided to look for a competition/training project. The fact is that if I am going to improve I must go back out there to compete and train. If I find a horse(s) which I could affiliate and compete it would hopefully raise my profile...that is if I don't go out there and make a complete fool of myself!
My advert can be found on www.projecthorses.co.uk & on the British Horse Society website and the content is as follows:

Ref 1270: Horse Wanted - London
INSTRUCTOR LOOKING FOR A COMPETITION/TRAINING PROJECT (LONDON)I am a 28yrs old freelance Instructor looking for a project horse to bring on and compete in affiliated competitions (BE,BSJA,BD). My aim is to raise my profile via good competition record but I am committed to sympathetic training methods. I never rush young horses and enjoy seeing them develop.Ideal project would be 4 yrs and over and 100% sound but other than that no preferences and any issues considered.Conditions to be discussed and various arrangements considered. I can train you as well as your horse, part loan, other. If you own a talented but maybe quirky horse who you don't want to compete yourself but would love to see him/her out there please let me know. If I was able to reach your yard with ease then I would be happy for a horse to stay there. Otherwise he/she would need to be stabled on one of yards where I teach at. Please contact me at: ridinginstructor@gmail.comMore information about me can be found on my website:http://www.equestriancoach.co.uk/.
Exp: 30/09/07

I have a few people replying so far and might go to see a promising young mare one girl offered.
The biggest problem is the distance to be travelled as it would be a nightmare to commute for ages. I am hoping for a miracle to happen!

Yesterday: A lady I teach in Kent has asked me whether I would be interested in taking some rallies at her Riding Club. I was of course delighted to hear that and I am looking forward to the offer developing into action.

Five days left

On the 9th of July I am officially going to be a part-time office worker with 9am-12pm working hours and there will no longer be a comfortable salary flowing into my account. What there will be though is the time to finally expand on my teaching and riding.
Up to this time and for the last few years I have been juggling a full-time, flexi-time employment with freelance teaching and occasional schooling & competing. It goes without further elaboration that the teaching time was rather limited! When I first learned that my nice flexible position in a little e-learning company was going to be transformed into fixed hours contract I was not impressed. In fact, I was sad. Not because I enjoyed the long hours behind the desk but because the flexi time employment allowed me to take up part-time studies on BSc Equine Sports Science at Hartpury College only a year ago. The changes meant that I would have to either suspend the course or quit all together. For the record, I have not yet done anything in this department! I am waiting for the exam results which are supposed to be made known on the 6th of July. If I passed I will research suspending; if I failed...I will think about it again!
There is always a chance that this Lotto ticket R. and I bought at the weekend is the winning one and we might move to Cheltenham Spa (which is close to the College) for a while ;)
I love Gloucestershire. It is one of those counties where horses are something as natural as the air.
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