Friday 31 October 2008

Videos of the first WorldCup Dressage Qualifier Odense Denmark- Frestyle


Thursday 30 October 2008

I've got a cold :(

I'm a very pathetic person when it comes to illness - just can't stand it! When I work I'm fine (think I must have it after my father, we are both a bit of workaholics ;) but when I stop the reality of my blocked nose, raised temperature and annoying cough drives me crazy.
Hope it won't last long.

On a good note, I won an E-book by Heather Moffatt - Horseriding Right From The Start; same e-book that caused a bit of a stir in the BHS world. I am reading it now - many true words in it...

Tuesday 28 October 2008

It's half-term so guess what I've been up to today...

...yes, you are right! Spent hour after hour teaching Pony Days kids in a freezing cold - I do love my job really ;)))
I am considering getting a maxi size microwave so I can stick myself in it every evening on a de-frost setting.

2010 Radio Show Episode 9

This episode of the 2010 Radio Show is brought to you by the Horse Radio Network.

If you plan on attending the 2010 World Equestrian Games, now is not too soon to begin planning your stay. We speak with Krista Greathouse, Director of Events for the foundation's housing partner Short's Sports and Events. Plus there was some exciting pre-event news announced this week. If you are planning on attending the 2010 Games, don't miss this episode.

2010 Radio Show Episode 9 - Show Notes and Links:

  • Don't miss next week as we begin to look at the disciplines that participate in the games.

  • The World Games 2010 Foundation announced they will hold a series of test competitions to prepare for the 2010 games. The competitions, each named “The Kentucky Cup,” will begin in 2009 and run through the 2010 Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event. Read more...

  • New addition to the Hall of Champions at the Kentucky Horse Park, Alysheba will be moving in to John Henry's stall. Read more...

  • New Trade Fair Manager announced for WEG is Horse Power, Inc. out of Denver, Colorado. Read more...

  • Gold Shield selected to provide the exclusive private car and limousine service for drop off and pick up on the Kentucky Horse Park ground. Read more...

  • New linear park to be built between downtown Lexington and the Kentucky Horse Park. Learn more...

  • Interview with Krista Greathouse of Short's Sports and Events about lodging during the event. Sign up to be sure you get a place to stay at the The official home leasing company for the games is


Monday 27 October 2008

My Life with Horses - Episode 7: Year 1996/1997 Meet Fetas - My very first own horse

Episode 1-6

Everything I know about show-jumping I learned from this horse. There were others of course but Fetas taught me how to fly and although his navicular syndrome and RAO problems stopped me from reaching my dreams with him he will always have a very special place in my memory.
I first started riding him at my trainer's yard - Boguslawice stud and didn't even plan buying him. He was a show-jumper with an FEI passport which meant he went places I hadn't even dreamt about yet.
We didn't get on very well to start with. I liked horses quick over the jump and he was really slow and careful. I liked fast powerful canter, his was elevated, ground covering and intimidating. I couldn't see a single stride on him to start with.
On our first training we had to jump a long grid with no reins and no stirrups - he carted me through it and proceeded to rear at the end depositing me onto the ground.
Half a year later we were jumping over 1.20m and I knew I had to have him.

Fetas, 16.2hh, 13yrs old Trakehner stallion - the first day at my yard (1996)

My joy was short-lived as Fetas was a horse that didn't stay sound for long. He was 13 yrs old when I bought him so not overly old as per today's standards but he felt his age. It took us a while to figure out how to manage his RAO.
The best life for him would have been one based on living out 24/7 and doing dressage - unfortunately he came to me - a show-jumping mad teenager at a yard with no turn-out...
We did try our best to find him as many grassy patches as possible and he did go out whenever possible. At one of our training camps I even negotiated a little space for him behind tennis courts; it wasn't really designed for horses but he loved walking around and watching everything. The below video shows him on the last day of the camp - you can see he is ever so slightly unlevel in front - his navicular again - he had a month off work following the camp.


Not long after Fetas was bought, two other girls and I moved yards to be closer to our trainer's base. We ended up at a lovely, small livery yard where we basically had whole infrastructure to our disposition.

The building behind me on the above picture was our indoor school where I learned how to ride the most tight of courses! Grzegorz Kubiak would set an 6-8 fences course in that tiny space but boy did that teach us to ride our turns correctly! There weren't tiny courses either - we jumped up to 1.30m there.

Showing off ;) Yes, we did jump that :)

Fetas's lovely trot

I rode in draw reins a lot in those days, partly because I could not connect Fetas from leg to the hand and partly because that was what my trainer and every show-jumper on the block did. I have since learned that you really don't need them and am keeping mine in the bottom of the deepest cupboards.
To be fair we were never allowed to ride horses too deep and round and as you see on the photo above, Fetas is in a rather long outline and is allowed the freedom to stretch his neck in this 'extended' trot. Oh, how I wish I wasn't so stubborn and tried pure dressage with him...

We continued to ride our trainer's horses too and competed a fair bit. I loved going places and if there is something I really miss in my instructing life it is those away shows. The atmosphere was always great and apart from having loads of fun we also learned so much by watching numerous classes throughout the days.

And here is one of the pages from my teenage diary ;) No laughing please! I used to draw every course we jumped so I could learn on my (frequent!) mistakes. The comments below say that I forgot about keeping good rhythm (I mentioned that a few times in that little text ;).
The write up is from an equestrian magazine called 'Konie i Rumaki' - I was so proud of Fetas to be placed out of 51 horses. I guess you can compare it to being mentioned in Horse & Hound!

Good old days. Shame they didn't last that long...

Above: some pictures from a show - one of many, not really sure what I won there but we were placed (standing & waiting for decoration in between chestnut and a grey).

It must have been around autumn 1997 when I dislocated my knee yet again, this time really badly. Ended up in plaster for 8 weeks, was told I should give up show-jumping and riding in general too and prepare myself for a long and painful rehab.
Well, the day my plaster was taken off I went back to the yard and rode my horse - not something I should have done but I never liked being told what to do...

To be continued...

Vivaldi and straightness

As I cannot seem to have much luck finding a suitable horse to buy as a project I end up riding various peculiar creatures in an attempt to retain at least some of my riding skills!
My latest challenge was to get something out of a big woolly mammoth mare, who by the way is actually quite a sweetie and quite fun (she bucks for England in canter and does flying changes every second stride). She was checked by a vet by the way and there is no health issue underlying her ridden behaviour; she is however severely lacking in balance, straightness and general schooling etiquette ;)
There is a rather substantial amount of patience required while schooling that sort of horse (who has all the evasions you can imagine well practiced) I decided to have a go on her with music ;)) For those of you who haven't read some of my old posts - I love schooling with music.
All I can say is that Vivaldi seems to do the trick for me! We got some really decent canter work out of madam and managed to keep the trot rhythm under more or less passable control.
Her normally very busy head carriage steadied as a result of that better rhythm and she was actually pretty rideable!
I got off realising I actually enjoyed riding her.

Now, the thing is, horses like woolly madam above makes you realise all your weaknesses in an instant. I borrowed this interesting (and very entertaining too!) The Funnell Factor dvd from a friend and watching it made me really focus on what I was doing today. Although I am normally very critical about what I do in the saddle sometimes it is so easy to become annoyed with a horse that is so stiff and uncooperative it takes the pleasure of schooling away.
However, the truth is, when you really persevere, switch off all the distraction and concentrate you get the results you didn't think were possible.
Someone once said 'There are only two emotions that belong in the saddle one is patience the other humor" - how very true.

As mammoth madam was so all over the place she reminded me how weak my right leg is in comparison to the left (but then considering it was in plaster 8 times already it isn't much of a surprise) . Riding extremely crooked horses really makes you realise how much strength you need to straighten them and help them to work both their hollow and stiff sides equally.
It's world apart from schooling a green youngster!

Friday 24 October 2008

And a few words on foreigners...and why I might actually finally go for owning a car...

This is something I was thinking of writing about for quite some time but didn't feel pushed enough.
BTW, There is no question about me being a foreigner in the UK so I guess I can use this 'great' term freely...

Right, where do I start...I don't drive and don't own a car because it's impractical in my current position but I have been witnessing situations which seriously make me re-consider possibility of car ownership. And it is NOT a general inconvenience of public transport.
A few weeks ago I was sitting on a train, two young women behind me discussing this or the other and at some point I hear them saying '...fck***ing Poles everywhere, my neighbour's bathroom is being done up by them now!'...
Cue me thinking: 'If any of my Polish friends calls me I am not picking up' - silly but hey, who likes to be starred at ;)
Anyway. I try to pay no attention to those things. Usually I am fine but not if I hear conversations of this sort a little too often.
On my way to work a couple days ago an older couple in front of me chatted away in the similar lines to those young women with one difference that they used more civilised language.
Then some young people again on a tube on my way home today.
Last night before I entered the venue for the Monty Roberts' talk my first thought was (not joking): 'I hate socialising' - which isn't stricte true, I just seem to started to dislike it and awaiting some 'where are you from?' questions.
I don't really see much solution for this. I *know* I shouldn't take notice but believe me, you do.

So as I've recently also spent good few hours being picked up and driven places I just thought, hey, that was good, no 'foreigners talk'!

Getting a car will only be an option once we move out of London though...

The fun of ponies and Monty Roberts talk

I am aware that I haven't really posted on my whereabouts for a while (apologies to my far away friends and family and all those who read my waffling) so here we go, a little insight into my last couple of days.

Actually, yesterday I had one of the most hilarious days while taking one of the ponies xc schooling. I laughed so much I almost fall off when the pony put last minute breaks down at one of the fences ;) He started rather apprehensive but once he realised this wasn't another I- am-a-child-and-am-so-afraid-of-jumping ride he grew wings and flew everything making it all feel like nothing!
I think I missed a lot of fun riding horses in my childhood and having very little chance to discover the ponies!

I then spent the evening at a talk organised by The British Horse Society Oxfordshire featuring Monty Roberts as a guest speaker. From all the natural/intelligent horsemanship ideologies/thoughts/ways of dealing with horses, Monty Roberts' one is the only one I do actually believe in and see the point of. There was nothing said that I haven't known already (oops, that sounds a bit arrogant ;) but I've never really heard Monty speaking live and must say, no wonder all those horses listen to him. He certainly has some magic tunes in his voice!

And this is a "lovely" picture I took simply for the sake of taking it - you can just make out Monty far up in front standing up ;)

In the afternoon I had a chance to hop on a horse so took my stirrups away and tortured my balance a bit - really need more riding, I am getting worse instead of better. Once I have done my Stage IV Care in December I will need to seriously top up hours in the saddle.

As I didn't come back to London last night, arriving at Paddington today gave me a bit of a shock. It doesn't seem to affect me that much when I come back every night but whenever I stay away the last thing I want is to see those crowds and manic rush again. On top of that the train was delayed which meant I had to endure the crowds for longer.
I think I need to work harder on convincing Ricky that the move out is a good idea!

Ok, now all I need is a bath full of hot water and some rest. I had about an hour sleep last night and helped to muck out a couple of stables in the morning (haven't really done any manure shovelling for good several months!) and my muscles are not impressed! ;) Pathetic as it sounds ;)

Wednesday 22 October 2008

2010 Radio Show Episode 8

This episode of the 2010 Radio Show is brought to you by the Horse Radio Network.

Gina Miles on the left with her silver medal.

Olympian Eventer Gina Miles speaks to us about what life has been like since the Olympics and her hopes for the 2010 World Equestrian Games.

2010 Radio Show Episode 8 - Show Notes and Links:


Friday 17 October 2008

Apparently I just can't relax...;)

I can though! I just can't relax very well when doing absolutely nothing. One of the things that are my relaxation therapy is painting.
Tonight, I got my brush onto my friend's mare - Kir Royal aka Kiri. Very naughty and very quirky madam who is also a very talented jumper with fantastic bascule.

Step by Step painting video:


The colours are a bit different and an angle is funny but you get a picture ;)


Wednesday 15 October 2008

Bizarre Training System

I found this while browsing today. It is always interesting to read and learn about new training methods but this one puzzles me, especially the way it is used with foals...I find it on the verge of inhumane...
Have a look and see what you think:

Official website (including an interview with a vet who discusses the use of the system in researching musculo-skeletal injuries in horses, the orthopedic issues and cardiovascular fitness in horses - look in Media and Scientific Comments): Kurt Equine Training Systems.

And a You Tube video:


Monday 13 October 2008

Selection day

Here is a link to: How I ended up going to this selection day.

After recent dramas with my alarm clock refusing to work I made sure there were two of them on this morning so I didn't oversleep my train time. Got up well on time only to find out (through Journey Planner website which is a life saver of mine) that the tube was experiencing delays (again).
Spent good few minutes soaking my face in ice-cold water to wake up properly, put my riding stuff on, grabbed my bag and off I went to catch a train to Sutton from London Victoria.
Victoria station welcomed me with Katie Price's face cuddled into horse's neck and beaming from massive The Times billboards - she certainly knows how to attract publicity! I really don't think I have ever seen a horse (maybe other than Lloyd's bank's one) on any billboard in London - Katie goes to HOYS and here we go!

Anyway, I digress. I got to one of those Fast Tickets machines only to find out there were about 5 different Sutton stations - great. Phoned the person who was to pick me up and after establishing the correct Sutton off I went.

The selection day took place in a charming place called Orchard Cottage Riding Centre - lovely yard. There were 13 of us short-listed for the Hendelah Waley Equestrian Fund and we met in order to have our riding skills assessed and to be interviewed by a panel of people from the industry.
Riding section took place in a lovely, warm indoor school with BIG mirrors. It was all quite relaxing and I really enjoyed the experience.
Then onto the interviews. I felt mine went well although if I had a second chance I would probably have said more of what I wanted to say.
We all went one by one so it lasted a couple of hours!

Here are a few pictures I took while awaiting decision of the fund.

Rosie - the horse I rode - very sweet mare

Painting in the office showing artist's impression of the stables

Some old photographs on office walls

After a long, long wait we were all told the results. The panel decided to split the fund and chose 5 of us to receive the grants - I was one of the lucky ones!
Lady who ran the day then took some pictures to be sent to Horse & Hound.
The way it works means that none of us got the money in hand, we now have to decide who we would like to train with and the Fund sends the money to our chosen trainer.

I am going to email Kyra Kyrklund to see if she would take me on for a few days of training! If not, I have two more options on my mind.

What a fab day and what a pleasure to meet people who really want to help you! :)

2010 Radio Show Episode 7 - What’s Ahead with Mayor Newberry of Lexington, KY

This episode of the 2010 Radio Show is brought to you by the Horse Radio Network.

The mayor of Lexington, KY (home to the 2010 World Equestrian Games) joins us today to speak about the preparations being made in the city of Lexington for WEG. Plus, we bring you the other news of the week including a new partnership between the USEF and the University of Kentucky to study safer construction techniques for cross country jumps for three day eventing.

2010 Radio Show Episode 7 - Show Notes and Links:


Sunday 12 October 2008

Keep your fingers crossed for me tomorrow...

I applied and got chosen for the selection day of:

It's tomorrow and starts at 10.00. I will have to teach, ride and answer some questions. That's all I know!

Friday 10 October 2008

Equine Sports Coaching - new book on the market

Thanks to Manage My Horse competition via which I won £400 worth of vouchers of my own choice (I chose £150 of them to be Amazon so I can stock up on all the great books I wanted to buy for a while) I am now book shopping - yay!

This is one of my next reading projects:

I will post a review once I've read it. Amazon says:
A vital book for equine coaches. Drawing on tried-and-tested coaching practices used successfully in other sports, this book provides an introduction to coaching specific to the equine environment. The coaching process as a whole is addressed for both the horse and rider. The UK Government Coaching Task Force highlighted the need for the development of coaching across all sports, which led to the introduction of the UK Coaching Certificate (UKCC). Soon any coaching of horses and riders will need to be done by qualified individuals only. "Equine Sports Coaching" is ideal for those studying for the UKCC or other qualifications in equine sports and leisure coaching. The key features include: in line with UK Coaching Certificate qualifications; covers performance analysis, periodization of training programs, sports psychology, and communication skills; and, advises on the personal development of the coach to support career development in this field."

About the Author (from ): Alison Lincoln has a BSc in Equine Sports Coaching, and has taught on Sports Science and Equine Science courses at several different colleges in the UK. She has over 10 years experience as a Pony Club instructor, as well as experience in business performance coaching and life coaching.

Thursday 9 October 2008

Call me sentimental but...

...didn't you just love little Theodore O'Connor?!!


Wednesday 8 October 2008

Rebel One - a whole new saddle...????

Hmm, came across this...looks very un-horsey to me but would be interested in having a go!

More Info on this rather peculiar looking product can be found on :

Tuesday 7 October 2008

Working with horses - how do you decide what do do at 16!

This morning I met with a lovely family with a 16 year old daughter who would love to work with horses but she has no idea where to start.
They read an article about me in an online magazine, phoned me up to ask whether I would meet with them and as I happily agreed we went through some decision making process.
At 16 yrs old, I knew exactly what I wanted to do, I have never (at least as far as I remember) had to go through agonising dilemma as to what to do with my life, where to go and how to go about it. I always had a plan and some dreams to go with it.
This girl has a whole life in front of her and many unanswered questions in her head.
I hope I managed to give the family some overview of possibilities the girl can try. We went through all the routes from Apprenticeship through BHS training, NVQs, Foundation Degrees to Equine Science degrees. Sometimes, the wide choice is more of a nuisance than help. They will also come to one of my day-long courses at some point for her to get more of an idea what working with horses REALLY means.
To me, if you want to work with horses and want to do it well you just have to be 200% committed, you have to get the buzz out of it, love it and live it. Otherwise it drains you.

My afternoon and evening was spent on convincing myself that I am not made of sugar and those buckets of water coming down my head weren't going to kill me.
I am now back home, all cozied up and content that some nice work was managed to be done despite awful weather.

2010 Radio Show Episode 6 - Ariat’s Commitment

This episode of the 2010 Radio Show is brought to you by the Horse Radio Network.


2010 Radio Show Episode 6 - Ariat's Commitment

An interview with Ariat (WEG's newest big sponsor) is the highlight of today's show. We also review this week's news including the hopes of Lexington's real estate market leading into the 2010 World Equestrian Games.

Show Notes and Links:


Monday 6 October 2008

World Equestrian Games 2010

From this week onwards, this little blog will bring you media coverage on the the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games in Lexington, KY!
I am teaming up with Horse Radio Network's 2010 Radio Show (All About 2010 Radio Show) and will be posting regular updates on their podcasts. You will also be able to listen to the podcasts right from this blog by clicking on relevant icons.
The Promo Video

The World Equestrian Games are held every four years and are made up of the world championships for eight different equestrian sports - show jumping, dressage, eventing, driving, reining, vaulting, endurance and para-equestrian.


Episode 5 - Halfway There
All the news from the “Halfway There” Press Conference at the new indoor arena at the Kentucky Horse Park. Lots of exciting news out of Lexington, KY this week.
2010 Radio Show Episode 5 - Show Notes and Links:

Episode 1 - The First of 106 WEG Episodes

Episode 2 - Tickets and Kentucky Horse Park Update

Episode 3 - WEG Merchandise, Hotels and a Word From The Boss

Episode 4 - First Community Forum by 2010 Games Foundation

Sunday 5 October 2008

Sundays In Life of a Freelance Riding Instructor

A couple of weeks ago I was chatting to someone and they said that I should post some more pictures from work. Well, I thought about it and today I decided to take my camera to a place where I knew I will get a lot of fun shooting! I could have gone for my private clients, some competition horses or BHS exams' student but my Sundays are such a little gem in my weekly schedule that here we go:

First lesson of the day, 9am, good coffee and a shelter is a must!

Sunday are my days of organisational paradise! When you work freelance you go to various places to teach or ride, you have very little to do with how these places are run and managed, you have no idea where everything is, where does each horse is stabled at the time, what mood are the horses in, if they have any injuries/soundness issues you should know about, whether their tack is due to be re-fitted, whether any incidents happened since you last taught at a place etc etc and this list is endless.
The way you end up doing your job depends significantly on the staff at the place, how they organise the running of the day and what they tell you upon your arrival.
Having worked in a rather few places already I can tell you this: you can have excellent horses to your disposition and have most dedicated riders as clients but if the organisation machine is badly oiled all you get is constant grind...

So why don't you grab a coffee, sit back and I will tell you a little about my Sundays, days when all I have to worry about is how to improve my riders...

Barnfield Riding School is a tiny place, 15 minutes hack from stunning grounds of Richmond Park. I initially started working there to speed up the process of logging in of my PTT hours, of which there used to be 500 to be done (the system is now changed). I planned to stay there for a few months. That was a year ago...
Why did I stay? Three reasons: they have the best freelance-instructor's-customer-service I have ever came across at any other place, their clients barely ever miss a lesson and they treat their horses as if they were most precious competition prospects.
At Barnfield the horses truly come first and riders all seem to understand that equestrian sport isn't like any other - you don't just rent a sports equipment and play, you deal with live animal that might hurt, feel bad, be of need of rest.
I am always given my own printed day plan and Sunday staff gives me full report on any issues of every horse I am using on the day. We chat and make any changes necessary to allocation of horses or lesson plans.
Ladies at the yard make sure all my clients are mounted and prepared to enter the arena on time.

Free coffees and cakes (eek!) are brought to me in regular intervals! I am being well spoilt there ;)

Some images from today, very very wet day ;) I will add a little slideshow at some point (when I have the time to upload all the images!).

Discussing how to ride Prelim 10 - good job DressageDiagrams do laminated dressage tests ;)

On the left: Suzanne, who is a great help with all things horsey and always rescues me if London Transport fails!

Can you see the jump? ;)

Over the poles - Wendy gets the best out of this little horse

M. with all her determination - Smarty has a complicated brain...;)

K. who had a blast on that pony (check out the pouring rain!):


And some pics of my regular little people. I strongly believe everyone should start by learning to balance on the horse first. We do lots of riding on the lunge without reins, bareback riding plus various exercises to get to the point when the rider, regardless the age, is as independent of the reins as possible: Ch.'s first ride off the lunge: speed seems to appeal ;)

And H. whose stories are just out of this world! He keeps me on my toes - you just never know what will happen next:


All important cuddles - Wendy (the cakes lady!) and Bella (new pony)

Mr.Z.'s first ever riding lesson. Mr Z. learnt rising trot in 20 seconds - now, that's something! Watch this space - this is very much a 'before' picture as I am sure in a few weeks time you won't recognise this rider...

Slideshow with more images to follow some time soon.

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