Friday, 29 October 2010

Update on Kingsley

Photo: Getting ready for a yawn ;) Kingsley relaxing after his lunch - 24th October. Pauline went to visit him and will be going again this Sunday so hopefully more photos and videos to come.

Kingsley boy is continuing to enjoy his "rehab holiday" in beautiful setting of Rockley Farm. Nic has just posted a short video update on him one her blog:


Just the usual...NOT

Somewhere in between work, learning and a rest time I have finally found a moment to catch up on the last two weeks. The yard we were looking at in London unfortunately has been taken out of the market in rather unexpected circumnstances so the search for a London base is still on.

It is believed that we spoil at least 10 horses before we make 1 good one. Nobody seems to be saying about how a 1 good horse can spoil all the others for you ;)

In my early teens I rode all the standard riding school horses and ponies - crooked, stiff, rigid and unwilling most of the time, bored with my lack of skills and probably in discomfort from my lack of balance. I made do with saddles with broken trees, saddles that made you want to scream after half an hour with no stirrups and those that made it virtually impossible for the rider to sit in any kind of balanced position. In my late teens I moved onto my then trainer's horses - variety of stallions and show-jumpers at the Stallion Depot I trained at. That was the first time my taste in horses has definitely changed. To sit on a supple horse that bends both ways, that has a "go" button built in, that has a tack that doesn't make you want to get off right there and then and that helps you rather than fights you every step - it was an amazing experience.

To those of you who are thinking why do I keep mentioning the tack...I was quite oblivious to comfort in the saddle for a long time. Until I started schooling for 6-8 hours a day. Then my view changed very drastically!

Going back to riding school industry brought many issues back. The saddlery has certainly moved on from the 90's but one-sided, bored horses are still around. It's very satisfying to be able to ride them into a happier state of mind and I do enjoy schooling them to make them more athletic but it has nothing to do with actually enjoying the ride.

Last week I worked at Anna Ross-Davies' beautiful new set up (their website is now live and I definitely recommend checking it out if you are into Dressage and training: and I was pretty much taken back in time and spoiled once again by some truly lovely horses I got the training on. Not to mention all the riding in those lovely dressage saddles!
I think it's very much of a case of "if you don't have what you like, you have to learn to like what you've got" - you get on with riding sour horses, you get some pleasure out of making them less so and you chose not to think about how fabulous it can actually feel to ride and how much you still love it.

The last week was a 12h a day- sleep - back to 12h day sort of work but the riding was amazing. It helped me focus on my own riding problems for a change rather than scrutinising others all the time. I haven't ridden such beautifully produced horses for almost 10 years and it made me realise how much I miss it.
If you have a seriously nice young horse and are looking for seriously good backing/schooling services you should look into Ben Martin's offer.

Photos below are of me having a lesson on Ben's 4 year old - the horse I wish was for sale!
[I also wish I could turn my damn body to the right!]

Words just can't describe how it feels to ride this type of horses after years of struggling to feel again something you have a distant memory of but can't quite get the feel for again.

Back to reality and plenty of things happening here to keep me busy. I will probably have to yet again (!) re-think the organisation of my week/month work so I can accommodate more Academy clients as for now I am pretty much at full capacity.

A few interesting meetings coming up next week which may or may not bring more busyness...details soon as and when it all unveils.

Friday, 15 October 2010



Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Make-Shift Month

October brought many new challenges with it and apart from being rather stressful it's certainly not a boring month. My main mission has been to patch up that large hole in my income caused by the illness of the horses so I've been doing quite a bit of random teaching here and there. I can't wait for things to come back to normal.

The Case Studies work continues and it's very time consuming. I am hoping to finish video editing of the two already finished Case Studies today. There are some fabulous video editing software out there but I am making do with a free one so I doubt I will be very pleased with the result. It will hopefully be informative enough and motivating enough to encourage riders to enquire some more :) Once it's all ready I will first post the videos on my Horse and Country TV Blog as a preview so keep checking their site...

If you have a friend or a family member wanting to learn to ride you might want to send them a link to Academy's new blogger:

Jody Stevenson

Jody is learning to ride with me and as I found out she is also a writer (a film writer but that's just a detail ;) I asked her if she would like to guest blog about her riding experiences. She is funny, eager to learn and a pleasure to teach and I think her writing reflects all these qualities.

Some excerpts from Jody's blog:

“I’m scared!!!”O.K. I was excited before, but now I’m here, I’m just plain scared! There are two big strong horses standing in wait for me and my friend (who’s late as usual…). They’re both crazy beautiful – but soo big!…. So I’m feeling more than a little intimidated right now. As I’m guided onto my horse (his name is William and he’s apparently about 80 in horse years), I suddenly feel immensely privileged that this huge majestic beast is giving me a piggy back. I mean seriously, how many strangers would you just let jump on your back?.. Especially as he knows full well what the next hour holds in store for him! Namely, this slightly crazy girl flapping her arms and legs around in unfathomable patterns and expecting him to “do something”, whilst letting out the occasional excited and fearful squeal. Lucky for me, on top of having a fab trainer in Wiola I also have a fab trainer in William. He’s been doing it for so long that, he is mostly able to interpret my uncoordinated and clumsy movements and save my life by stopping when he knows I’ve lost balance.”

“Without the saddle I can really feel Honey’s movement. I learn to recognise the dip in Honey’s side when she’s raising her back leg off the ground, I also learn that a little kick when she’s doing this will propel her leg further forward and subsequently make us move faster. I’m pretty impressed with myself when this little trick works, until she start’s getting a little too fast, when I hang on for dear life.Now I have to think of my body in two halves, the waist up, which I should be keeping straight and strong at all times, is mine and the bottom half is an extension of Honey’s so should become one with her natural movement. So while my bottom (which really shouldn’t be bouncing all over the place) moves from side to side with her, my chest should move forwards and backwards. And my elbows should be by my side (which they never are). Oh easy peasy!”

Jody's Blog can be found on:

On a good work note I took on 5 days of work in Banbury next week at a new Dressage/training yard so I am looking forward to seeing the new set up! Although I will probably end up rather knackered at the end of that week ;)

Kingsley Photo Update

Photo by Nic Barker of Rockley Farm: Kingsley 13th October: Basking in the Sun :) More updates on Rockley Farm's blog.

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Kingsley Today

Integrated into the group and enjoying lush dinner with stunning views..Lucky Boy! (Kingsley is the first one on the right when you look at the photo)

Kingsley's Day 1 at Rockley Farm: Video Report

After about four hours of journey in a swift little horsebox, Kingsley, Pauline, Annette and I arrived at what I can only describe as one of the most picturesque set ups I have ever seen. It's safe to say I am now totally in love with Devon countryside.

Here is our journey in pictures:

And here is a little video report from the day. We were greeted at Rockley Farm by Nic, Andy and some stunning Hungarian Vizlas (plus a hound puppy! :)
Kingsley stepped down the ramp as if he was making these sort of journeys every day. He travelled fantastically and was so quiet we even wondered if he was there at all!

We let him have a little look around before taking him for some rest in a large stable with haylage which he promptly started to eat.
After a cup of tea and a chat in Nic's house (which has the views to die for) we went for a walk on the Tracks (to read more on what the Tracks do and how they help in hoof rehab please read Nic's explanation plus photos on here:

Once we finished the tour of the fields and Tracks we came back to the stables to put Kingsley through variety of movement evaluations.

1) This one was filmed to observe the general balance, the way the feet land on the ground, length of stride etc I videoed alongside Nic, the proper footage will be available on her website.

2) Trot Up on the hard surface (still in shoes)

3) Movement Assessment on the soft surface: Walk

4) Movement Assessment on the soft surface: Trot

Then the shoes went off:

And Kingsley was allowed to roam free on the Track for the first time:

Once he had a little look and a bit of a sniff around he got to meet Felix, the top man in the herd. They settled well into haylage munching. He was to be introduced to the rest of the herd one by one later and on Sunday morning.

Kingsley didn't just eat - he decided that exploring the surrounding is the ting to do. The water container is situated on top of the undulation covered with peat gravel so the horses have to put some effort into their daily whereabouts. I think he will like this!

We departed totally sure we did the right thing taking little man all this way. I will be updating you all on his progress and I hope to see Kingsley more comfortable on his own feet some time soon.

Even if Kingsley's problems are way beyond the navicular syndrome/disease I am sure rehabilitating his hooves is still the best way to go if he is to ever become sound.

For more videos of Kingsley please visit my You Tube Channel:


Saturday, 9 October 2010

Kingsley goes to Rockley Farm

Photo: Getting ready to leave and checking my hands for apples/polos/any food

Long journey from Reading to Exmoor done and Kingsley is settled in his new "holiday" home: Rockley Farm. All went well, he travelled perfectly like a pro and settled well too. I'm really sad thinking I won't see him for a long time but equally I am hopeful he will at last become comfortable on his own feet.

A few snapshots below and proper update with all the videos tomorrow as early Sunday morning for me.

Photo: More treats from his mummy

Photo: At Rockley Farm - Nic taking his shoes off...

Full update tomorrow.


Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Amazing and Less Amazing Times

I wish I could tell you all is going amazing and I am off for a little well-deserved holiday but if you've been reading this blog for a while you would know that of course that would be highly unlikely ;)
Instead, it's like pushing that big rock up a hill...every now and then you make a progress, then you slide a few meters down. And you start again.
One of the centres I teach at had to temporarily close for business due to illness of the majority of the horses. It's a very sad situation both for the horses and for everybody whose livelihood depends on that business. It is, however, necessary and responsible to cease any activities that might spread the illness elsewhere.
This means that from a struggling riding instructor I am now an immensely struggling riding instructor! It's a very hard to deal with side of self-employment in the Equine industry. What keeps me going is that every so often, on the way to that damn top of the hill I find that there is some fun to the rock pushing.

I like to have a plan, even if one to follow loosely but to be able to execute such plans we all need that minimal control over our environment.
Well, not here. Here we have a balancing on a tight rope act every day. There is something about people liking to live on the edge, right? Right?.... ....

Recently, I find myself thinking of giving in, grabbing a job that pays the bills, my food, holiday and a horse to ride and enjoy. Then I wake up and can't bare the thought of locking myself in four walls and giving up what I've worked so hard for.
The situations like this one proves to all self-employed instructors out there that we should look at our jobs as a business first. If you are anything like me you will consider many other things your priority - the horses welfare, the enjoyment of the riders you teach, the improvement of the horses and of the riders, pleasure of being with horses etc etc Business comes a very inconvenient last with all its paperwork, financial planning and an array of boring tasks you have to undertake in order to stay on track with all the income/outcome/profit/ loss malarkey.

The answer to my struggle is quite simple - I have to look at this job as a business first, the rest very close second. This is not enjoyable though. It feels like work!
Tough, I can hear you say. And you're right.

Business it is then.

As scary as it is I have arranged for someone to help me deal with the promotional side of the Academy project. The world of press releases and media relations is one I'd rather not venture into by myself.

My search for a yard base in & near London has brought an opportunity which might work a treat or might not work at all - I will find out on Friday. If it does I shall have a very jolly post for you!

The Academy Bloggers

I must introduce you to several fabulous bloggers who guest blog on the Academy Blog. It all started with just a couple of them but has since grew and there is more to come. I love the fact the word about their experiences can be spread for free and the feedback I received so far suggests many riders enjoy reading the posts.

Here we go then, new Guest Bloggers, more introductions to come next time or you can check them all by yourself on Academy's Blog.

Chloe Ammonds-Nutt - passionate eventer with full-time job

Hello I’m Chloe,I work 8.30am – 5pm all week but as soon as the clock strikes 5 I’m out the door, hair up, breeches on and in the car en route to the yard. I grew up around horses as my mother always rode, I was even named after a particularly good sjing mare that she used to own. I always thank my lucky stars I didn’t end up getting called Starlight or Merrylegs!I had the usual horsey childhood upbringing lead rein to pony club, and from pony club to school teams then onto riding club activities. I haven’t been hugely blessed with well bred or talented horses so have had to adapt my passion for competing to whatever sphere they were strongest in. This has in some ways been very beneficial because I have been able to experience polo, polo-crosse, showjumping, dressage, xc, carriage driving, gykhana games, and even a bit of the dreaded showing, but my heart lies with eventing.

Cassidy Sitton of C-Horse Eventing - another eventer with two jobs, one being a non-horsey one

"As a third generation equestrian, I’d like to think the horses are in my blood. I grew up in the saddle and began formal lessons at age 4 near my hometown of Cobden, Illinois (United States). The first barn I was involved with was an Arabian facility, focusing on Hunter/Jumpers. I didn’t have an Arab, so I just plugged along in the world of hunter/jumpers on my own.The first barn I was involved with was an arabian facility, focusing on Hunter/Jumpers. I didn’t have an Arab, so I just plugged along in the world of hunter/jumpers on my own. In order to compete, my family had to make adjustments and sacrifices, and I had to prove my commitment to the sport. From early on, I gained a strong education in the basics of horsemanship and learned early on my passion was working with green and troubled horses.
At thirteen, I grew tired of the controlled environment of the Hunter Jumper world and fell in love with the thrill of eventing. I joined her local United States Pony Club chapter, and quickly progressed through the levels, achieving my H-A rating at 16 (the youngest age allowed to attempt the rating)." Read Cassidy's full bio on HERE.

Judi Daly - you will like her posts, it's all about enjoying the horses! Judi wrote a couple of books on trail riding and has plenty of useful tips for you too.

"My name is Judi Daly, and I live in Cleveland, OH USA. In the world of horses, I’m just anordinary person. I don’t compete, I don’t work in the horse world, I don’t even have my horses onmy own property. Rather, I work a full-time job and board out my two horses. My budget is slim.I don’t even have a horse trailer.I am an avid trail rider, though, often riding over 1,000 miles a year.Our trails are in the suburbs of a large city—some of the most rugged riding you will ever find. We have to deal with planes, trains and automobiles as well as trucks and motorcycles. We share our trails with hikers, joggers, dog walkers, bicycles, baby strollers, fishermen, cross country skiers andwhatever else you may come across in a very populated area. That doesn’t even account for theweather and the wildlife! I like to ride on rainy days because it is the only time it is peaceful andquiet on the trails.I ride both my horses five times a week in all weather. I do keep my horses at a stable with anindoor arena, and that helps in the bad weather and dark winter evenings, but it still gets prettycold. Most winter days in Cleveland are well below freezing.In the winter, I work on the forever unattainable goal of the perfectly trained horse with theperfectly skilled rider." More on HERE


Monday, 4 October 2010

The Ups and Downs - My Horse & Country TV Blog

Here is my second blog post on Horse & Country TV - the insider's view of the ups and downs of the Academy project:

More news tomorrow!

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