Sunday 31 January 2010

A Big Thank You and a Small Tired Note


To my amazing, wonderful riders and staff at Barnfield Riding School for fabulous birthday present! You're all the best :)
Here is what they got me: Ladies Deluxe Heated Body Warmer from BlazeWear.

It's been a very long tiring week. I actually feel exhausted and emotional and all! Majority of my time outside of work is dedicated right now. I *think* I've got the main parts of Academy's plan under control but it's taking hours and hours of gathering information, writing, market searching, reading and again writing to get everything into more or less workable shape. My days finish in between 1am-2am and, for the sake of my sanity, I hope I can magically complete the work-on-paper sooner than later. I don't think I've had a day without thinking about all the ins and outs of it for a very long time. It's both very exciting and extremely draining.
On top of that there is big new worry which is the increase in the livery charges for Kingsley. The costs went up just a percent short of 100%...Some thought will have to go into organising my work and time to be able to continue having him where he is.

The coming month is set to be full up too. I'm organising workshops to test-drive Academy's Programmes with some event and dressage riders and will be making a trip to Suffolk to teach in the middle of the month.
There is the next in the series of lectures with Andrew Murphy coming up and some more training for me.

Friday 29 January 2010

Much Better - Photo/Video Update

Pic. Turn out today. Waiting to come in. "Bored now!"

Kingsley is recovering slowly from his latest trauma. I decided against riding him today just in case but the hematoma is almost fully gone from the girth area. There is still some thickening to the muscles but the vet said it might feel like that for a long time if not permanently.

Anyway, following the 'picture says more...' here is a photo update of the last few days.

The day after the incident (happened on Tue between 3pm-4pm)

Pic. Near Side View 27th Jan [The moisture is the Arnica Gel I massaged into the swelling]

Pic. Front View 27th Jan

Pic.: Near Hind Pastern - cut + puffy swelling running up 3/4 length of the cannon bone/tendons [the white stuff is the MSM Cream I put on in the morning]

28th January

Pic. Near Side View; swelling barely visible from the side

Pic. Significantly reduced but still there

Pic. Rear View of the chest from underneath (you can clearly still see one side of the chest enlarged)

Pic. The cut has closed up; not very visible as I took the photo without removing the cream

29th January (Today)

Pic. Near Side View (the swelling moved from the left side to just behind his right elbow)

Pic. Off Side View

Pic. Near Hind cut - closed up and healing well; puffiness of the leg almost gone too.

I bandaged him for the last two days to keep the wound dry and protected from dirt but seeing it heals nicely I left it uncovered tonight.
He generally seems OK within himself but was definitely a bit stiff the day after the incident. Judging by the amount of mud on him and the rug he most probably fell over after scrambling over the gate. I am just hoping he didn't tweak anything in his SI again :(
He went out for 2.5 hours today and was certainly pleased...:




Wednesday 27 January 2010

Just In Case the SI Strain isn't enough...

...Kingsley got himself a brand new injury. He jumped over the field gate and ended up with hematoma in between his front legs/girth area. It's not overly big but large enough not to allow me to put a saddle on as the girth would lie just at the end of it.
He doesn't seem bothered too much when it's being touched so I massaged some Anica gel into the area gently. Just to be sure I phoned my vet but he said to just leave it be, keep him moving as much as possible and start riding as soon as it's possible to girth him up.
I took some photos but very cleverly I left my mobile on the yard! Will add them tomorrow.

Instead of walking under the saddle I walked him in-hand for 35 minutes, doing quite a few halt transitions and a few trot transitions. I am going to start long-reining him so I can practise all the transitions from the ground. His responses are actually very similar to the ones he offers when ridden. His halts were getting much better the more I've done them and I think he is starting to get the idea that he needs to yield to the rein pressure.

More worrying than the hematoma is a cut he has on the back of his pastern. With the mud as we have right now it's going to get infected in no time so he will have to stay in until the cut has closed up. I hate these type of wounds as they are so difficult to treat. His pastern moves constantly and the cut is where the skin creases naturally so it takes ages to close up.
I washed it a few times during the day with an anti-bacterial wash, slapped lots of MSM cream on and bandaged both of his hindlegs for the night. The one with the cut is swollen a little so the bandage will hopefully keep the swelling to the minimum as well as providing some protection for the cut.

Ah the joys!

Oh, and thank you HorseOfCourse for the cotton gloves tip! I got a pair from Boots yesterday and pop them on for the night and ta dam! It works! My hands are saying big Thank You :)

Monday 25 January 2010

Kingsley's Rehab Week 11: 21 minutes

His majesty managed to lose 5th pair of overreach boots in just as many months. The mud is so bad that they probably just got sucked into it. Winter like the one we have this year is of very little fun. The world fluctuates between beautiful, white and unusable and filthy, muddy and workable.
We are currently at the filthy state. All Kingsley's outdoor stuff is caked and covered with mud. Himself included. Not that he seems to mind. He would probably quite happily live out.

We are starting this week with today's 21 minutes walk + transitions work. He feels much stronger now then last week and only really tires at the very end. Even then though he feels less tired than he was last week.
The contact is still on-off and I've been trying a few approaches. The physio says his right hind leg needs to do more work but as he is very much in the right flexion all the time I have to deal with the following:
* he doesn't really take the contact on the right rein
* very little response to the left leg when used as an inside leg
* leaning on the left rein
* hindquarters always out on the left rein and in on the right rein

This considering I am first trying to straighten him as much as possible with limited exercises I can do while I am straight lines bound and no lateral work allowed.
I have to keep activating the right hind but as a result I have him constantly shying from the whip on the right and it's not helping when we are on the left rein.

The Straightness

I started off asking for outside flexion on the right rein. It's his better rein in that he walks much more forwards and happier on it. He has an inbuilt little engine anyway so I never really have to be strong with my leg to ask him to go forwards.
Very slowly I managed to get him to take more of the right rein which made a super difference to my control over his straightness. I wouldn't say he moves much straighter but at least now I can correct him. I also got him more responsive to my left leg by just touching him with the whip on the left side which again helps me straighten him and keep him on the track when on the left rein.
If anyone has ideas of exercises to do to improve straightness please let me know. Just remember we cannot: circle, half-circle, sharper turns, shoulder-in, any other lateral work etc and for those who only just read this he is treated for SI strain.

The Halt Transitions

They've been rather bad as he doesn't understand half-halts nor does he give in onto the rein pressure. In fact, he's got a bit of racehorse response, the more pressure you put on the reins the more he pulls and speeds up.
I started off by just repeating very short pressure on then immediately off if he pulled. This has worked to some extent but it makes him hollow, bring his head up and must be rather uncomfortable for him. I used my voice too and made ridiculous amount of fuss over him whenever he did stop.
After having his teeth done he improved and became a lot less protective about his mouth and started reacting much better to the pressure, still not great though.
Today we had a bit of breakthrough with two very reasonable halts, one being very good in that he halted from gentle on-off pressure on the rein almost instantly.
I find it quite difficult to correct him as I don't want to cause him pain but neither do I want him to think he can take one lap around the arena to respond to my aids. In a sound horse the decision would be much easier but I am wary of doing anything detrimental.
I am guessing some of his mouth behaviour is a learnt one and possibly pain memory related so I rode him a little firmer today and resisted passively when he pulled and it worked.
We finished on a reasonable halt and we shall see how we get on on Wednesday.

Trot Transitions

I am suppose to be doing a couple of those on each rein during each walking session. However, my gut feeling is to sort out the halts first. This is because he leans on my hands so much when I try to bring him from trot to walk that I have no proper steering nor track control. We are suppose to only do a few steps of trot at a time which without breaks is quite impossible. I CAN stop and turn by pulling him around but since we are trying to re-educate his aids response so we can straighten him better I think it would be a bit counter productive.
This in mind, I only did one trot transition on each rein. They were pretty bad but better than when we first tried them last Monday.

Stretches and exercises

He loves his carrot stretches and is becoming very good with them. He is also becoming increasingly mouthy because of them and tries to eat my hands all the time. Great!
He isn't keen on the leg-pull exercise, maybe I am not doing it very well.

Plan for the Week 11:

Mon 25th: 21 minutes
Tue 26th: Off; Turn Out all day
Wed 27th: 22 minutes
Thu 28th: 23 minutes
Fr 29th: 24 minutes of Off
Sat 30th: 24 or 25 minutes depending if walking on Fr
Sun 31st: Off; Turn Out all day

Sunday 24 January 2010


My Dad travels a lot with work and I just got these photos from him; taken yesterday. They have about -25C tonight. So stunning...

...and yet so impractical...

Saturday 23 January 2010

The weather, bibs, gloves, Equine Dental Technician and a cup of tea

Pic.above: Thanks to uncooperative nature of my Mobile's camera I have actually managed to take this rather interesting photograph. It was taken on my today's hack. Poor woodlands, soaked.

Work has returned to 80% of normal but there are some worrying forecasts about the snow returning again in February. I've never really been as tuned in into weather checking as I am now! Either way there seem to be no danger of climate deteriorating in the next 5 days and I guess there is no much else to do but to take it 5 days at a time!
Just so we don't get bored with uneventful weather we are given a constant supply of fresh rain water.
Kingsley puts his Premier Equine Winter Buster 450g to some extreme tests! I must say, many other rugs would be now soaked through and unusable but this one, although has taken a fair amount of dragging around, is still in an amazing shape. Would definitely recommend these rugs - super fit, good length giving generous belly cover and super materials, both inner and outer.
The Premier Equine rugs are also very well shaped around the shoulders which cannot be said about some other rugs we have. They rubbed his shoulders bare so I had a little look around and found this: Bossy Bibs. Pauline bought him one and he's been wearing it for the last few days.
This is his left shoulder before we put it on:

He's been wearing it since Wednesday and when I looked at the patches today I could see a tiny stubble of fresh hair regrowing. Quite amazing really. The material is silk like and very light. I will take another photo in a couple of weeks so we will see if there is any marked difference.

My hands are crying. No joke, the weather jumping from very cold to damp, back to cold, all the rugs etc being constantly wet (I seem to spend most of my days either washing something or hosing something down, de-mudding then again washing...). I try to always wear gloves of sorts but they end up soaked all the time (and please no one tells me the Mac Wets don't get wet...well, they do!). I don't remember it ever being so bad, my skin must be getting old and fragile ;)
Either way, I think I'm going to have a hand spa evening tonight! Anybody knows of some super gloves that won't get wet straight away but are OK to ride in, teach in and do horses in?

On Thursday Kingsley saw a dentist and having his teeth done was one of the best moves so far. He had very sharp edges all round but somehow managed to avoid mouth sores and ulcers. I read somewhere that sharp teeth can lead to poll pain which is interesting as he has had low level pain in that area.
The best thing about having the teeth done is an amazing, immediate, positive change in the way he accepts the bit now. He salivates and mouths the bit now, no weird neck twisting malarkey, no hard pulling when he is asked for flexion. Having said that, he still doesn't accept that well but the EDT said to give him up to 10 days to get used to new pain-free mouth before re-thinking the bitting.

Ok, that's it for now, I want to prepare a few things to work on for my Sunday riders. I am looking forward to my teaching there, not only do I have some super clients but I can sit down with constant supply of hot drinks which actually does wonders to my enthusiasm. Instead of constantly thinking how incredibly cold I am and how desperately I would want to have a hot cup of tea I can focus on my riders and everybody benefits from it ;)

Friday 22 January 2010

Ferdi Eilberg - Masterclass / Beginner

I am embeding this video as it has a very good footage of Ferdi explaining the use of aids, the importance of riding from the seat (and how to do it), how to ride the horse from inside to outside aids to improve its balance and how to work with a young horse.


Pilates For Equestrians - couple of videos to watch and DIY at home :)

If your money is tight and you can't quite make the fees for that first class Pilates training, the You Tube is the way to go. These are just a couple of videos of many available out there so have a good search and you should find something you really like. Pilates helps you with body awareness, flexibility and suppleness - the qualities you want from your horse and that won't be there if you don't have them yourself.

If you have troubles keeping your legs or your upper body in the correct position (does your instructor constantly remind you to keep your legs underneath you? upper body back? thighs down? heels down?) - the success to your position is in your pelvis - the biggest joint in touch with the horse. Your pelvis is what stabilises you on the horse (not your gripping inner things) so have a look at how to work on the neutral pelvis position that makes everything else a hell of a lot easier:


Monday 18 January 2010

Kingsley's Rehab Week 10: Physio Re-assessment

Today we were at 17 minutes walking under the saddle and second Physio re-assessment since sacroiliac injections.

Overall impression

I was told he looked much better within himself, more coordinated and happier to move.


Less sacroiliac sensitivity. Still some reaction.

Walk & Trot Up in-hand

Looks like little man is getting a little bit stronger. His front legs moved very wide at first assessment but he is now using them much better. He also placed his right hind leg straighter and used it better.

Ridden Assessment

Before I got on Anna placed a Proprioceptive tape on Kingsley's hind quarters as shown on the photo above. It was tried on him in the past but the tape just kept dropping off the moment he moved so I wasn't really expecting anything beneficial from this. Big mistake!
The tape Anna used stayed on him very well for a starter. The moment I got on and started walking I could tell something was different. He was even in my both reins and actually taking the contact which he avoided so far. At first I thought it was because he was getting stronger in general and as he had been ridden in rounder frame for the last 7 sessions and he was getting the idea.
However, the moment we took the tape off he immediately felt more wobbly and less coordinated, light (behind the bit) in the hand and harder to keep straight.
The difference was so pronounced I am converted to using it.
The idea behind it is that it stimulates the neuro perception and it makes the horse more aware of his muscles. In effect he is using them properly which in turn helps him move straighter.
I found this article on the use of taping in human rehabilitation and think it explains it very well: Neuro-Proprioceptive Taping for Rehabilitation, Pain Relief and Injury Prevention

In today's session Anna showed me what to work on further and we tried to improve Kingsley's use of hind legs.
The video below shows me trying to make the walk more active without speeding up (as he tends to the moment he looses balance which is often). He is above the bit here and the plan now is to help him stay active, over the back AND on the bit. He goes round, long - low fairly easily now but is not using himself well enough to strengthen the correct muscles and to step up and under with his right hind.

And here is how it looks when he goes crooked and quickens his steps when he looses balance:

He was very happy to move forwards and Anna said he is ready to start a bit of transition work towards the end of each session. After about 15 minutes of walking I asked for a trot. It felt really bad to start with but then he didn't trot under the saddle since early September last year! She wants him to step up into trot actively then come down to walk with his right hind leg active. We didn't continue trotting as such, just several strides, then back to walk. We repeated 2-3 times on each rein. I could feel improvement in the last transitions.

Rehab Plan for the next 37 days (next re-assessment 15th February):

Build up the walk under the saddle to 45 minutes (increasing 1 minute a day from today's 17 minutes).
Start asking for Walk to Halt transitions paying attention to hind legs' activity in both downwards and upwards transitions.
Introduce a few trot transitions per session, not the actual trot so only stay in trot for several strides.
Continue the stretches.
Continue with physio exercises. Here is a video of the one we need to add. It's very dark but towards the end I managed to position the camera at a better angle and you can see a bit more!
Anna gave me a running commentary describing the exercise so even if you can't see much you will be able to hear:

I really need a good HD camera. Wonder if my brother would like to get me one for my birthday next month...:)

Back to work and bye to Pip

Pic.left: Smartie wants to share my tea ;)

I've just came back from the yard where Kingsley had his Physio re-assessment. Exciting news - there is a little improvement! Full report and videos in the next post in a moment.
First a little catch up on the last few days.
Despite of general trend of bad Sunday weather I seem to get yesterday we were treated to one of the sunniest, warmest days since Xmas.
Saturday was less warm but equally enjoyable and the first Training Day of the year went really well. I feel we are getting some more consistent results with P. now and all her hard work is paying off.
To say I am relieved to have my working days back to normal is an understatement. There are some worrying signs of the snow coming back this week and I really hope the white stuff leaves South East alone.

Should the weather stay kind the week ahead looks pretty busy. I am off to meet with another "Aspire Academy team member" tomorrow morning to start putting together a plan of implementing the Academy's programmes into real life scenario. In other words it's time to think about pricing and financial side of things which isn't my strength at all! If I could I would do it all for fun and charge minimal amounts which is why I need a good business head to bounce ideas off with.

A little insight for all interested

The Academy will run 5 Training Programmes:

1/ Aspire Equestrian Start
2/ Aspire Equestrian Foundation
3/ Aspire Equestrian Development
4/ Aspire Equestrian Performance
5/ Equitation & Coaching Training for BHS Exams

Each of these Programmes is made up of a system of rather interesting modules. All this have to be now arranged into a brilliant business plan that will allow the Academy to be both affordable and sustainable. Easy to decide, not so easy to implement. We shall try!

Pippa's Leaving Do

The very sad part of this Sunday was saying good bye to one of my super young rider and staff member whom I've taught for the last 2.5 years and who went from an all-over-the-saddle kid to a rider I would love to have on my yard to work for me.
Pip is leaving to take part in 9 weeks course at The British Racing School and I hope she won't love it too much and I will be able to retrieve her for some work ;)
Seriously though, all the best Pip and see you soon. (Here is a link to a thank you video Pippa did for me in January 2009: VIDEO ). I will miss teaching her and having her crazy presence around the yard.

The Leaving Do was rather funny and I do have tons of photos but not sure if they qualify for publishing ;) D. decided we should play this game where you have to pick things up from the floor with your teeth without touching the floor with your knees, arms, hands etc. We started off with a Kellogg's box that got cut away bit by bit and we finally ended up picking up a tooth pick...I managed to get to the very end but my ligaments and tendons are now so stretched I feel I could probably go on and pick something up from under the floor too!
My excitement about being so flexible was short lived when one my riders, about 3 more decades older than me, also got to the last round and did it! Damn.
Some fun and games with Suzanne's gym ball followed and I don't think I have worked my core muscles more for ages! I really want one of those balls!

Good Luck Pip!xxx

Pic.: Pip as we all know!

Saturday 16 January 2010

I've never thought I would say that but...

Pic.: Kingsley and Pauline

...thank goodness for all this freezing rain! It's been fighting the snow slowly and as the roads are almost totally clear Kingsley could finally go out into his field. He was rather pleased to be out and after numerous rolls he had a good play in the snow.
It's a relief to have him out as he really needs as much turn out as possible now to keep his joints and muscles moving.
He is being put on MSM & Glucosamine supplements today and is back on his Baileys No 4. We've fed him chaff and hay only while he was stable bound.
I thought it was also wise to pop some mins&vits supplement while we are building up to the Baileys ratios which will offer him a balance diet.
In effect here is what he is on now:

Spillers Cool Fibre

Baileys No 4 Topline Conditioning Cubes (handfuls for now and we build it by day to his full daily ration)
NAF Garlic Powder
Dodson and Horrel's Daily Vits and Mins
MSM & Glucosamine powder

Info on MSM & Glucosamine:

All about Glucosamine and MSM
MSM for Horses

Friday 15 January 2010

My Dressage learning day at Bury farm and Patchetts EC

Thanks to a fantastic on-going opportunity offered to me by Anna Ross Davies I spent yet another superb day at Bury Farm and Patchetts EC observing all sorts of her lessons and training.
Considering my £0 budget for personal training at the moment I can't even start to tell you how grateful I am to be able to learn so much simply by being able to watch, listen and be around people who do Dressage for a living.
What I like about watching the training, both horses' and riders', is that I can think up my own corrections and what I would say myself if it was me teaching/riding and then confront it with what Anna is saying to her riders.
Sometimes I get it right, sometimes I manage to be on the similar track of thoughts. Many a times I am well off the mark though and hearing it immediately corrected works wonders for my understanding of consistency and continuity of the bigger picture of the training process.

My personal interest is very much in rider's performance and I try to log into my head all the position problems riders show during their lessons and how it affects different type of horses.
It seriously feels like a training experience on quality fast-forward when you can note so many different riders on so many different horses in one day.

It was very much a Dressage To Music lessons theme today with riders preparing for Music tests from Novice to Medium. As much as I love Music tests the whole floor plans plus well chosen notes are still a bit of a foggy area for me so it was great watching the work in progress.

The thing I really noticed today was what a difference riding a test a few times over and over again with well incorporated corrections did to horses' way of going. It might be that the riders had more focus on the quality of the movements, it might be that riding certain sequence of movements simply improved the horses' balance and acceptance of the aids but the difference in between first test-ride of the lesson and the last was substantial. Go on - ride those tests at home, the movements are linked together for a reason :) You might be surprised how much better your horse goes as a result of having to think about changing its balance in transitions and correct positioning in arena figures.

I hope I am making some sense here, I am well and truly knackered after 5am start and rather interesting travelling adventures! Can't wait for the next time though!
Running first Training Day of 2010 tomorrow and the rider will certainly work hard! ;)

Thursday 14 January 2010

Some more training and some thoughts on the future of this blog

It's been dreadful last 3 weeks work wise. Whoever is thinking about setting up as a self-employed instructor you'd better have a good winter plan b/c/d and e.

I am not even sure what is more desirable, having to work in this weather or not. Having managed some working hours a couple of days a week in the freezing cold I don't think I have ever longed for spring as much as this year.

BBC Weather seems to think the thaw is coming which is just as well or I might seriously have to look for another job.
Despite the cold I am going to go ahead and travel to Anna's yards tomorrow to watch her ride and teach. Very early start to the day for me, I got lazy with all these weeks of relatively little travelling.

Some like to say nothing happens without a reason and I'm just going to assume this lay off is here for me to have time to write the content for the Academy's website and really focus on developing the next steps for the project.

Talking about the Academy's is very likely I will be moving this blog over there too. I haven't decided on that for sure but it would make sense to concentrate on one online project rather than many. I also feel I should make it more professional and skip my silly waffle but then again, what would I write about if I didn't waffle? ;)

You see, part of me thinks that if I am to undertake this rather large project I should make sure I present myself sane and trustworthy...but then again, if I was sane I would be doing something earning me a decent income and setting me up nicely for a life on a secure pension.
But that's not very me...

Some thoughts will have to go into it and maybe a mid-solution will be found.
What do you think?

Wednesday 13 January 2010

Kingsley's Rehab Week 9: 15 minutes

I decided to organise all the posts that record Kingsley's Rehabilitation a little bit more so it's easy for everyone to revisit all the entries on the subject without having to read all my other waffling.
To do so, I will write all the notes on his Rehab in separate posts and they will all be labelled 'Kingsley's Rehab'. You will be able to access them either by clicking at the label below each post or by clicking Kingsley's image in the sidebar (top right).

We are half way through Week 9 since steroid injections and despite the dreadful weather we are trying to keep up with the walking routine.
He did 15 minutes under the saddle with me today and was relatively easy to keep round and low almost throughout entire time.
He still balances with the neck a lot when he re-balances his body even though I was making sure all our turns were very gentle. The surface in our indoor arena is very uneven at the moment as you can't really drive any dragging machinery around due to snow and ice.
Kingsley sped up or slowed down negotiating every single gradient and it seemed to cause him a few balance problems.
Although he does stay round most of the time I am not happy with the contact or lack of it rather. The whole idea of walking 'on the bit' is to help him develop correct muscles over the neck and back but at the moment he is tucking his chin in quite deep and being restricted to straight lines only I find it difficult to ask for connection into both reins.

On the left rein he has a tendency to bring his weight onto his left shoulder and tries to take more comfortable right bend. I gather that his right hind travels too much over and across which drifts him onto the left shoulder.
I experimented with very shallow shoulder fore on the left rein today and kept asking for left flexion in the poll and it seemed to help straighten him up.

On the right rein his balance and overall quality of the walk feels much better. He keeps the rhythm OK, doesn't change the size of his stride as much as on the left rein and feels happier in contact and stronger in general.

In-hand Flexions

I tried some flexion in hand once I'd jumped off him to observe what he does and here is what I saw.
Right flexion: every time I gently moved the right rein in a half circle manner, away and out, to bring his nose towards his right shoulder he would immediately tug on the rein and tried to twist his neck. I didn't change the pressure at all, just kept asking and I gave every time he twisted his neck in case it was pain related. It looked quite odd, and he also seemed not to like the pressure the bit put on his tongue (he's in a french link egg butt snaffle). He was chomping on the second I moved the rein to the right.
I decided to continue asking until I could understand why he was doing it. After about 20 odd flexions he accepted the gentle pressure with no fuss whatsoever. I repeated it a couple of times once he stopped twisting and chomping and he mouthed the bit calmly while softly moving his head few degrees to the right. Hmmm????
Left Flexions: I then went to the left side expecting it to be a similar exercise but he was soft and accepting from the first go.

I am still going to have his teeth and entire jaw looked at (once an EDT can actually travel in to see him) as I am not convinced he isn't in any dental related discomfort. I am also going to see if we can try a bit with less tongue pressure and what effect that has.
Considering horses are very quick learners I wonder if he just gave in because he found out he couldn't get away from it while some pain/problem might still be present anyway.
Then again, it could have still been some residual evasion after being draw-reined by previous owners.

Note on carrot stretches

I did 5 on each side and 5 in between the legs before I rode him and the same sequence afterwards. He was MUCH more flexible after walking.
I think all this time without any turn out is quite detrimental to his general flexibility but we will just have to wait for the thaw as roads are too icy to take him to his field.

Guess what

It's snowing again. Also in London. I was suppose to be out of the door 30 minutes ago but the tube trains are erratic so I am giving it another few minutes. The mission is to get to the yard, ride Kingsley for 15 minutes and turn him out (yes!!) for a couple of hours while I am doing his stable but I guess I will have to see how the travelling goes.
Proper update on last couple of days in the evening. See you then :)

Sunday 10 January 2010

Tribute to Moorland Totilas....Dressage Humour


Things to do in the Snow Time

Pic. left. This is a view my Dad had while on one of his business trips. It was taken yesterday in Poland. International Snow Time.

I can't help but think I would be better off doing some grooming and yard work rather than teaching. I guess lessons and training are the luxury goods for many riders while the horses have to be seen to whatever the weather...

There are some benefits of this weather of course. Apart from substantially progressing with Academy's project I've been also catching up with a lot of theory material towards my further BHS exams, the Stage IV and the Stable Manager's exam.
I watched more various training videos and read more about lameness/ correct movement in horses this last two weeks than in good few months.

Kingsley's Rehab

The fight with the snow continues as we try to keep up with Kingsley's rehab programme. We are at 14 minutes walking under the saddle with 30 minutes walking in-hand when we can't ride him.
I did the 13 minutes walk on Saturday and he started off quite weak but got stronger as we went. It would be great to have the physio-vet there watching as I wasn't sure how much to push him after that few days break and how much to insist that he stays round and long and low. He is not entirely comfortable in rounder outline and goes behind the bit as a result of previous owners' riding him in draw reins. I watched the video of the walk afterwards and there was a big, positive, difference in his balance when I kept him round and connected to when he was allowed to poke his nose and hollow.
Additional problem we are having is that the indoor school is now the only place in where to ride so all the liveries exercise their horses there. Walking a horse on a rehab that had no turn out for the last 10 days and is only allowed to walk is rather challenging with teenagers galloping around like mad.
We are ploughing through though. Pauline did 14 minutes today and said he was less hollow and easier to keep round.
Two days of in-hand walking now. Then I will do 15 minutes on Wednesday.

More snow is falling down as I write. My Surrey riding school made an extraordinary effort and rescued their sand school removing ALL the snow with shovels and spreading some anti-freeze material (salt and grit of sorts I believe) on top of the surface.
I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw it this morning, it was soft and springy and perfectly rideable. Grand relief.

I consider myself very lucky to have some very generous help in these hard times. I just hope I will be in a position to re-pay for it at some point with equal generosity.

Friday 8 January 2010

Winter Worries - freelancing with horses vs severe weather

Pics.above: one of the Centres I work at on the 7th January 2010

It looks stunning doesn't it. And yet, it is also killing my livelihood.
My private clients decided to give up the struggle trying to keep up with lessons & training and are basically just keeping horses ticking over. Even if I did get to their yards there is nowhere to have lessons at as arenas are either frozen or under a foot of snow.
My Centres are still operating but with severely decreased amount of lessons.
I am already about 2 weeks worth of wages behind. And it looks like the Great Freeze is staying for a couple of more weeks.
I am using this unwanted free time to work on the Academy's project and various workshops I have planned for spring. It keeps me busy and it helps to focus on something positive.

My normally very positive outlook on life is taking a bit of a back seat.

Together with Kingsley's owner we braved the journey to the yard yesterday to sort the boy out. We had to suspend his walking rehab as he has had no turn out or been out of his box for the last few days. I walked him in-hand for 30 minutes instead in the indoor school, he did the same today and hopefully we will find a window in between the overcrowded indoor's lessons to ride him for 13 minutes as per rehab schedule.
Such a shame we can't continue properly as with SI rehabilitation the longer periods of rest are counter productive. He needs to gave low level workload to start developing the muscles that will help him carry the body with more balance. At the moment he is very weak with no topline to speak of.

I hope the meteo people are wrong and some warmer spell of weather is on its way...

Pic. below: Kingsley's Yard


Wednesday 6 January 2010

The Time has come...

...for my probably most exciting and definitely the biggest project to start taking shape.
Please join us on here: ASPIRE EQUESTRIAN RIDING ACADEMY to hear about all the updates on the project as well as to be informed when the Academy's website goes live.
Keep your fingers crossed and wish us luck - it will be a difficult journey to get the Academy up and running properly and I will keep you all in the know about our highs and lows via this blog.

I am sitting next to my patio doors and, as I type, the snow is falling down with massive, fluffy flakes I am basically imprisoned in own house as almost nobody is riding and those who want can't get to the yards anyway!
Kingsley is put on full livery and having enforced box time too as there is no turn out and we can't get to the yard to walk him indoors.

Monday 4 January 2010

Working From Home

I had an office day today spent on putting all my Academy scribbles into a PowerPoint presentation that I can drag with me and show to the people involved. It's been over 6 months since the whole idea was born and it has gone through a lot of changes. This is all thanks to some fabulous friends who don't mind taking time to let me know their views.
It will probably change a lot still before it goes live but I think we are slowly arriving at a workable scheme that is both exciting and realistic.
What really needs to be addressed is the financial side of the project. I am never that great at organising the money, if it was my choice I would do it all just for fun. But as the world haven't found Fun currency as yet I need to sort it all out.

I went for a lovely meal with Jenny, Mariana and Little Daniel with an aim to brainstorm the Academy's ideas and polish up the parts of it that are going to do the job. Little Daniel decided that glasses of wine are there for his toy lion and toy train to submerge in so it was a rather entertaining dinner.

Writing the content for the Academy's website is a mammoth of a job. It will be online in 3 languages - English, Czech and Polish (or 4/5 - if I can bully my German/Dutch friend and rider to translate the content;) and will be advertised in all these countries.
Keep your fingers crossed for possibly the biggest and most exciting project I have ever undertaken!

On another note, I have just agreed another shadowing day with Anna R-D this month so I am very much looking forward to that.

Saturday 2 January 2010

11 minutes

Our 11 minutes of walking with Kingsley went really well today. He was eager to march forwards and as per physio's 'prescription' I attempted to work him on the aids, active and round over his topline.
Before we bought him he was ridden in draw reins some days and exercised with his nose in the sky on others so he doesn't really work 'on the bit' correctly.
I made sure his 'lazy' right hind was doing the job and encouraged him into long, round and low outline.
He has a habit of pulling on the bit left or right for a second or two as if trying to get away from pressure or going behind it for a moment which I noticed is a thing a lot of draw-reined horses do.
My method for now is to offer passive resistance when he pulls and give him steady, soft contact when he walks quietly as a reward. I want him to accept the bit in his mouth both immobile and when I use it to apply pressure when I ask for poll flexion.
Out of those 11 minutes half of it was more or less round and I was really pleased with him.
We are mostly straight lines bound for now so I didn't ask him to bend through the body as yet apart from some gentle sideways push into corners so we didn't negotiate them in a banana shape falling through inside shoulder. Let's hope we are on the right tracks and doing the right thing.

I am going to arrange for a dentist for him too just to make sure he isn't evading the contact due to sharp teeth edges etc.

Friday 1 January 2010

Get Good...waffling on some plans for the future

This is what Rick and I watched at midnight, albeit from a comfortable spot in Hyde Park, a nice distance away from all the shouting...

I couldn't help to think whilst watching the cheerful lightning that I would love to put all that fireworked money into my horsey business...;))

Either way, 2010 is here.

It's my third year of blog writing and a lot of things changed in my life since the very first post on the 3rd of July 2007.
It's been over four years since I ventured into working as a freelance riding instructor in the UK. At first I held two jobs, an office one, to keep me afloat money wise. The more teaching and riding work I got the less time I had for sitting behind the desk so office went into part-time mode.
Then, the turn of circumstances made a decision for me and I landed in a full-time self-employment. I am hoping my command of English language has improved over the years; reading some of my old posts made me cringe ;) However, I will probably have the same view on the current ones few years on!

With several days off work lately I've had a lot of opportunity to rethink my plans and aspirations for 2010 and beyond. Had I just sat down straight from the business of 2009 I may have given myself a completely different set of directions.
As I mentioned in my December post: Afresh, I do have a few aims for this year but I am otherwise focusing on just one thing: on getting good...

Not Good Enough

Since I remember I wanted to have my own yard. It was what I wanted to do in Poland and it's what I would love to accomplish in the UK too. However, somewhere along the learning curve I realised that even if I did set up my own yard right now it would not be what I want it to be.
Simply because, I am not yet good enough for what I want it to be.
And I want to get really good...

The 2010 will be for the Academy Adventure...

The Academy is generally a two part programme:

Part 1: will offer an alternative to once/twice-a-week lesson for those riders who still see themselves in a fun end of the market but who are focused on horse riding as a sport rather than leisure.
Part 2: will be for riders leasing or owning horses; grass root riders wanting professional, affordable and structured training both for their horse and for themselves.

For some of you who might not know, I was a bit of sports fanatic as a teenager. That has taught me to always look at a bigger picture and I like investigating directions in other sports to improve riders' performance in the saddle. The Academy programme is based on a system that can be scaled and applied to any committed individual of any level of riding experience.
Beginners to Advanced, elderly and children will go through similar core route. The difference is in load and intensity, not in content.
It's proven in many sports that the needs of " an Olympic athletes and our grandparents differ by degree not kind"*

I will post when the Academy is fully alive.


The 2010 will also be about rehabilitating Kingsley. We are taking it one day at a time and I am more than prepared for it to be a very slow process. I enjoy him immensely though. He is such a positive, cheerful horse. He started his walking regime yesterday. I did 9 minutes, then Pauline did 10 minutes today. He will wonder around for 11 minutes tomorrow, 12 minutes the day after and so on until the vet-physio team visit on the 18th.
General plan for him for the next 12 months is to make him more athletic and able to cope with moderate work load.

Closing Up...

2010 will be a year in which I want to make more decisions about directions to take. I have a very ambitious plan in my head so I will be trying to match my practical knowledge and experience with that vision.
I am hoping this will in turn improve the learning experience of all my riders and horses.

Here's wishing everybody a year that will make you happy.

P.S.: Rick has kindly refreshed my main site a little adding photos and a video to the Intensive Training Days page. Any feedback greatly appreciated:

*Source: CrossFit
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