Thursday 29 July 2010

Some Exciting News, My Chiro session and a bit of a Riding Frustration!

My new regime is proving to be a very good choice. Although I am actually working a few more hours than before I no longer have to commute for 4-5 hours a day 5 days a week and this has added some rest time to my weekly schedule :) I've also "booked" myself a day off next month which is an achievement ;)
For those of you who like statistics or are into industry analysis: I am now teaching about 39-40 hours a week plus 10 hours yard work a week plus around 3 hours (only :((((( ) riding a week (this doesn't include numerous pop on this pop on that during lessons and some odd schooling). I intend to continue like this till the end of the year but have some mad plans for 2011 which will hopefully let me ride a bit more. Right now I am throwing myself into improving all my riders and I'm trying not to dwell too much on limited training for myself.
Let's call it conscious cheating of ones subconscious ;)

The more time I spend on improving others the less I despair about so little riding time - a win/win situation. As a result my clients get a bit of a boot camp but it will hopefully take them where they would like to be.
One thing I've learned for sure is that if you have no financial back up you have to keep calm and carry on ;) If you're going in the right direction, the opportunities will come up your way...

One such opportunity has arrived in form of an offer from Horse and Country TV!!!

I will be writing a blog on their website on the ins and outs of the Academy. As I am setting the Academy up on a shoestring every promotion opportunity is great. I hope you will follow us there and I will post a link to Academy's blog once it's up and running.

While we are on the subject of promotion...If you like the idea of an everyday rider/ grassroots rider having an opportunity to train via holistic, progressive, comprehensive Training Programmes that don't cost more than an average riding school's voucher, then please join the Academy's Facebook Page on here: and suggest it to your friends. It will be much appreciated :)

I wish the technical tasks on the website could be sped up as I would love to put it live now for you all to see (and maybe send your comments and feedback :).

I might not be riding as much as I wish but I'm trying to focus on being riding-fit anyway. Part of my plan for this year is to sort out my shoulder/neck pain which gets worse after riding. I guess mucking out deep litter bedding in your teenage years, falling off a lot while backing young stallions and being put in plaster 8 times doesn't help your body to stay healthy. I am trying to fit in my sessions into my hectic lifestyle and Kari (who also works as Academy's chiropractor) came to see me today at my lunch time. We did a first part of prodding and poking which apparently starts diagnostic process. On a serious note, it seems I have much less sensation on the left side of my body and could have damaged some nerves but I will see Kari again for further investigations (I had to shoot off to teach and we didn't complete the assessment).
The funny thing is, my left side does feel less "connected" to me when I ride.

Kari's sessions and exercises have made some fabulous difference to some of my riders so I am really interested in seeing our method of combining on-horse training with off-horse very specific, personalised exercises developing and gaining popularity. It's not just professionals who can be trained in this way!

Pic: Kingsley still on box rest. Vet is coming again 4th or 5th of August.

The hardest bit is not to resent poor little Kingsley every time I see him; as much as I like him he reminds me all the time about the year of riding he has stolen from me. Naughty boy.
Seriously though, as frustrating as no-proper-riding is, what I miss the most is that everyday work with 1-2 horses and I fully intend to make it happen next year.

Enjoy your horse/pony - kingdom for a sound horse!

Friday 23 July 2010

Guest Post From Kingsley

So basically guys I'm still lame. I think it's funny that my mum Pauline and my aunt Wiola haven't really had a chance to ride me properly for a single time since they bought me and that's just about a year ago. My life is pretty cool apart from when the vet comes and sticks needles into my pasterns [what the hell?] and when I need to stay in my room for god knows what. I like going out and hang around with my gang so being grounded is just no good.
Just so it's clear I am displeased about all this 'stay in your room' business I make sure all the rugs and anything left in my stable is thoroughly mixed with shavings, hay and my poo. I see to that all right and if a rug has no rips on it I am right there to add some.

From what I gather my left foot is pretty much buggered. I *know* I move my left fore in a semi-circle before it hits the ground but I really don't think it's any body's business to tell me how to walk or trot or canter. I like doing things my way and it annoys me when these two-legged creatures think they know better.

It's my right to be pampered. When my aunt comes she always calls me "Hello Trouble". If she thinks I don't know what that means she better think again. Sometimes I decide to ignore her and pretend I don't see her so she goes and gets a treat - I trained her well.
Mummy is different - she buys me all the great stuff so I always have a good look when I hear her. It's easy to deal with Mummy, she basically does as she is told. I know I'm always right.

Aunty gets cross if I barge into her and although I know it's wrong I like to test her now and then. Plus, it's not her who has to stay in her room for days on end so really she is no position to tell me how I should behave!

I get to be groomed a lot. Now, that's rather cool and I like it. My aunt says I'm a lazy pet horse and my mum calls me a giant hamster but to be honest I find it quite offensive. Whenever I'm not grounded I have a lot of stuff to do, places to see and rugs on my friends to rip so I am no lazy hamster thanks very much.

My situation is pretty grim from what I understand. Aunty told me today that IF I ever get better I will have a lot of hacking to do as there is no way I would be allowed to do my own thing. That's fine as I like hacking.
I'm also told I will have to go to the Horsepital which I don't think is funny at all. My mum wants to know what exactly is wrong with me and Mr Vet said I most likely damaged my collateral ligament. And I also have navicular disease but that you knew.

Last week my physio, Anna Johnson, came (yeah I do get physio of course) and apparently I'm tight in the back and hamstrings - really? Try being lame for (at least) a year and not be sore anywhere else...good luck!

So that's it for now guys. I've had my left foot re-xrayed and re-medicated with cortisone injections and if I'm no better in the next 10-12 days I'm off to Newbury for MRI. The joys. I just want to go and graze some grass!


And this is how Kingsley looked on the day I first went to try him.

August 2009 at seller's yard

And now: end of July 2010


Wednesday 21 July 2010

Getting The Balance Right

Apologies to all who visit and see no new posts but hopefully I will be able to go back to more regularly scheduled waffle from now on :)
There is quite a bit to catch up with so I will attempt a little catch up.
First of all, we had a lovely time at Rick's mum wedding at the beginning of the month, the weather was brilliant and all gone well and cheerful. I somehow managed to give myself a weird neck strain/muscle spasm the day before we set off but our hotel room had a whirlpool bath so I spent considerable amount of time in there! One thing though you might want to remember - do not pour generous amount of Dove Bath Cream to a whirlpool bath...I succeeded in creating a giant igloo like cover for myself made of Dove Bubble!
The mini holiday over I started thinking about the possible changes in my working schedule so I could commute less and catch my breath. Coincident had it that one Centre I freelance for didn't need me as much on one of the days while the other offered me a raise and more hours. It confirms my belief that luck is nothing else but good timing ;)
Better still, this move decreases my commute costs and makes it all a bit more profitable (or survive-able in case of this industry!).
I'm still working 7 days a week but hopefully this little change will allow me to take a couple of days off next month.

The reason for this extreme business is of course the Academy project. Sometimes I wish I could just settle into a work at some cosy little yard and be fine with it, arrange for some training for myself and enjoy less hectic pace! This is not to be though as I obviously have the 'slow down' button broken.
Running of the Case Studies has been both interesting and challenging. There is a lot of fine tuning still to do but the more I work with the Academy scheme in mind the more convinced I become that this is the way I would like to follow.
Apart from the Case Studies, I have now signed up 3 riders to the actual Academy's Programmes. We are not officially live yet as far as the website goes (one more little section there to do and it will be out into the wide world web) but as the riders are keen I don't see why we should wait any longer :)
I will introduce the riders on Academy's blog which will come with the website.

The Case Studies Riders are being videoed extensively and photographed a lot so once their profiles are made up and ready to go live you can follow their progress.

Suzanne (pic above), training on the Development Programme with a Cleveland Bay mare Rosie from Barnfield Riding School has made a fabulous improvement to her canter work and general timing of the aids. She will continue the training throughout August and we will enter her and Rosie into a Prelim test at Dressage Anywhere . I incorporated Dressage Anywhere into Academy riders' training plans as it's such a good idea for a focus and competition opportunity for any rider without transport, on limited budget or simply one without own horse. It's low key, low pressure and fun enough to make less competitive riders happy but serious enough to provide re-assessment of the work.

Pauline is going through one of those remarkable weeks where everything seems to be clicking into place and she is reaping the rewards of hard work the weeks before. It's great to see and I'm sure even better for her to feel but it's not without a lot of sweat!
I wanted to put some videos from her lessons up but each contain variety of ideas that might not necessarily be suitable for wider viewing ;) Still picture will have to do.

Basically, Pauline has this habit of gripping with her thighs, push her looong legs onto horse's shoulders and raw with her arms which causes many rather comic reactions in almost all horses she rides. However, she's been working mega hard on this and yesterday she actually RODE the horse she is training with and it was a wonderful sight. If I didn't threaten to break her wrists and legs in my commentary then I would put the videos up for you. As it is I don't expect everybody to appreciate my dark humour that I save for my regular riders so I'll better get some silent footage for you next time (or swap my instructions for music when I have more time).
We've came up with a training strategy that transformed Pauline's riding and that is neither incredibly original nor costly AND anybody can do it :) Details on Academy's site very soon!

The girls on the Foundation Programme Case Study did their Training Day on the 10th of July. It was hot!
They both had a chance to test their skills on 4 different horses at Hall-Place Equestrian Centre where I run my Intensive Training Days. I so regret I messed up the filming as they did such a good job showing how much their jumping has improved throughout our little study. Bad camera skills on my part.

I sense I might be killed on Sunday for putting the above pic up but it just describes this rider really well!
The girls' Case Study is now completed and I will have to make do with whatever footage I managed to produce.

Annette and Pocholo, the gorgeous PRE gelding Case Studying the Development Programme were making some great progress too but we were worried about some contact issues. The teeth examination later and Pocholo is having his wolf teeth taken out! Once he is back in action we will continue with the training plan. Since taking on Pocholo and Annette as Case Studies I became more aware of a very strong notion towards Spanish horses in this country. It seems people either love them or can't stand the way they move! Pocholo had a very traditional Spanish training as a 3 and 4 year old which means he pretty much wants to carry himself in a Grand Prix frame while his back and hindquarters are more in a below Prelim level state of development. His lovely owner is very committed to going back to basics and the work he does now is very simple strengthening and building up training.

He has superb work ethics and although we are now schooling him as any young, low level Dressage horse I am very keen to get to know the breed more and see how/if the training needs to be adjusted.

I should also mention another of my riders who I started teaching a couple of months ago and who is now looking for a co-sharer for the horse she rides. Simon is a 13year old, Zangersheide bred gelding. The best thing about his rider is that she really does work on her "homework" AND it shows. Every time we have a lesson we can add a little thing here and there because the necessary work has been done. She has now started to build a very good relationship with Simon and that increased her confidence. The horse can be spooky so for the first couple of lessons we worked on being able to use movements like leg-yield, half-circles and counter-flexion which in turn allowed the rider to place Simon's legs where she wanted them to be. On our first lesson we had to spend 3/4 of the time on de-spooking Simon but on Monday we could work on rider's position and its influence on the gelding's way of going.

As many top riders/trainers will tell you, it's the little details that count. I listened to a HorseRadioNetwork's podcast the other day which started series on Inspirational People. The trainer interviewed was Denny of the things he said was something like this: ...riders need to learn to take their time with the basic training, we all know it. I go to a clinic - he said - and the rider asks me what she needs to improve on. I tell her she needs to develop independent seat. Everybody knows that this is necessary. The independent hand. Everybody knows the rider needs independent hands. I go back there for a clinic 1 year later and the rider still hasn't gotten the basics. Three years later, the same. The riders bring themselves down. We all need to put some effort into this basic training no matter how boring it might seem in comparison to a thrill of a competition.
Teaching S. and Simon reminded me about this podcast (well worth listening so click the link above if you have a minute). It's so rewarding to find riders actually putting in practise the things you work on in a lesson. Some riders treat lessons as necessary evil, the time to be shouted on and then they do the same old thing once riding on their own. I hope there will be less and less of riders like that. It's amazing how much any rider can improve when they throw their heart at it :)

Following my mission to "do it all" i.e. set up the Academy and continue my own training I squeezed in a few hours of tuition towards the BHS Stable Manager exam and the Stage IV exam on Friday. I have a sneaky plan to do with these two but I won't put it in writing yet as to not spoil said plan.

On Friday I met up with Jenny who is briefly back from Russia and we sat down for some pancakes and a catch up in Covent Garden. I hope she comes back soon and gets involved into some exciting horsey business with me :) Her mare, Kir Royal, who is currently eventing with Isobel Hudson of South West Eventing, has grown up and doing very well at BE100 level. She is being put up for sale...if you are a chestnut mare type person you should check this one out!

Straight after lovely time with Jenny I met with some of great friends from Barnfield RS and thereabouts for a long awaited trip to War Horse!
If you haven't yet seen this superb play you just have to go. It's all what everybody is saying and much more. The details that the actors have gone into to make it look and feel real is tremendous. I cried and cried as seemingly lifeless shapes came to life thanks to the cast behind it all. Incredible doesn't even describe it.
I am looking forward to the movie being made but somehow I don't think it would be the same kind of revelation as this play was.

Amazingly, someone has only told me today their good friend is working on the actual War Horse film!!! This someone is an actor (hopefully immensely famous one day so I can claim my acquaintance with a Film Star!) who learned to ride with me last year for his role in Henry VIII. Laurence has returned for some more equestrian fun to prepare for his next role...This one is set sometime in 1892 and he plays an Austrian Emperor... of sorts ;) The mission was to learn to dismount a horse in a style so I showed him a few and he settled for this one:

Laurence, if you're reading don't forget to send me the actual scene from the film!! :)

I most likely missed a thing or two out from this update but as it's already longer than any other post I better finish and catch some sleep. Speak soon!


Wednesday 14 July 2010

Amazing & Beautiful...


Monday 12 July 2010

Bad Blogger

Pic: Thirsty Kingsley. The 25-30C temperatures don't help the grass to grow...

There is a decent update coming very very soon. Right now I'm spending every waking hour either working or commuting or working. It's not fun. I'm tired and I had to change my alarms so they say exactly what day it is, where I'm going and what time I need to be there as I'm so out of it in the mornings I am pretty sure I would pop onto a wrong train going to a wrong yard.

Nearly 7 months of 7 day a week, almost non-stop work and dreadful commute has just about finished me off. July is the last month I'm continuing with this marathon and will be rearranging my work from August onwards.
Apart from trying to open my house door with my Oyster card, putting Kingsley's fly rug the wrong way round, waiting for kettle to boil while it sits on the kitchen counter AWAY from power supply, putting my face sun cream on my toothbrush and failing to video properly the Foundation programme Case Study riders on their Training Day (I managed to press ON for when the camera was not in use and OFF for filming)...well, apart from all that I'm doing great ;)

I'm counting days till the Academy website finally goes live so I can sleep again and rest again.
Proper update as soon as possible!

Thursday 1 July 2010

If all goes as it does I will need more motivational books than even Foyles can sell...

I should be packing for our departure to Cheshire now but I'm so tired I'd rather just waffle and update this blog ;) Tired seems to describe my general state of being recently. I wake up tired, work tired, eat tired and go to sleep tired. I *know* it's not good, believe me I do and I am perfectly capable of giving myself a telling-off pep talk. I then go off and get tired some more.
As you can guess this post is just a lot of tired waffle so you might want to wait for the next one to read any proper update on more interesting things.

Perhaps those of you who compete their horses and really love it can understand me here...I might not be competing but getting the Academy project off the ground feels like awaiting a big show. I know I should be resting and all but everything is just too overwhelming and over-absorbing (is this a word?). I can't mentally relax for all the ideas and "to do things" that play football inside my head.

To make things "better" I gave myself an enormous muscle spasm in the neck today. I took a group of beginners out and spent almost two hours with my head the wrong way round. It's no wonder that horses look lame and neurologically unsound if they have any muscle problems in the neck...
Amazingly, I taught a child in the evening whose mother is a Sports Massage Therapist (human ;) - OK, one lucky dip here! - so got a few tips on how to go about my new spasm friend. I'm therefore sitting here trying to drink lots of water, heat patch plastered on my neck and gentle stretches from time to time. I hope it goes by Saturday as I have to wear a dress and heels and I am not spending my second Sunday off this year with pain in the neck AND feet!

So this is all this post is about. Tired and quite sad, missing my family and...did I mention tired?
I'm hoping the next few days will revive me somewhat but the laptop is coming with me so I can finally finish the website content marathon.

Ricky's just announced my bath is ready so off I go. Speak soon!

This is how my evenings look like right now: video making, images choosing, txt choosing etcetera...
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