Saturday 28 February 2015

Day 59: Last day of #Barebruary, harmony, sugar beet and Genghis Khan

Andrew Marr's audiobook "A history of the world" is my travel and yard work companion at the moment. It's kind of surreal listening about Genghis Khan as a child killing a deer with a special sound making arrow that tempts the deer to lift the head and expose her throat on a train to Ealing Broadway. Andrew's fabulous story telling can make you almost surprised that upon exiting the train you are facing ticket gates instead of open spaces of Mongol land. It also makes for ridiculous delays to be somewhat manageable.

Last day of #Barebruary today 

Although not as amazingly sunny as yesterday, today brought some really good sessions, one of my young riders had a beautiful ride today with some elements of seat and feel coming together creating most harmonious work to date. New rider had a successful first session too although she is up for some drilling on position before she can relax a bit. Little habits creep in into everyone's riding when not watched and can make a difference between a good rider and a sloppy one!

I am also really enjoying my Saturday groundwork sessions, I am going to look into running more of those soon.
Finally we had our Aspire @ Cafe time meeting this afternoon and I feel it's going to be a really fun learning environment, very much looking forward to seeing how it all develops.

Fab little presentation from Gary on his sugar beet homework for today's Aspire Equestrian @ Cafe Time! 
I am behind on some emails and messages as my usual admin dates were spent on yard work this week but stay tuned all, I will reply as soon as possible!

Friday 27 February 2015

Day 58: Spring says hello

Well well well ;) After a whole day in the rain yesterday, today we had this!

Brackenhill Stud

Brackenhill Stud

Brackenhill Stud

Brackenhill Stud

Back breaking but very satisfying morning - yard mucked out, watered, hayed up and swept :) 
Full day of teaching in London tomorrow and then a working Sunday with a rather special new client!
Until tomorrow :)

Thursday 26 February 2015

Day 57: Mostly getting drenched and smelly today

Very bad quality photo I know but a snap of memory from today. A very soggy day in very soggy waterproofs waving forks, brooms, hosing off muddy horses, changing rugs and general yard work.
In case you can't work out the photo - it's a stable mirror ;)

Until tomorrow!

Wednesday 25 February 2015

Day 56: Balance

Rising trot  - the skill I work on a lot in many riders. It seems like such an elementary part of basic riding lessons yet there are many riders who ride out of balance in rising trot for years and struggle with many related issues. They have various parts of their body corrected during lessons but those corrections never last because the overall balance in rising trot is compromised.
If you have problems with hands or legs behaving badly - scrutinise your rising trot and overall balance of your seat...

Double lessons today ;) 
How lovely is this dog's trot, heh? ;)

As a side note, a friend of mine sent me a funny email today listing various products that have sugar in them. The reason it was rather funny was that they were pretty much all my favourite things to eat including fruit. It's OK, however, because I do not plan to kill all sugars out of my diet. I am only attempting to cut on added sugars i.e. those that were not initially in a product but got added to it by manufacturers/food makers.

If you buy a Mars bar you know you are eating a week supply of sugar but if you buy porridge you would hope nobody sprinkled sugar in it. Yet it happens and that's the kind of sugars I don't want.

I am not sure how much of an activity I will put on here in the next few days because I agreed to help a friend of mine with doing her 30 odd stable yard...I can already feel the ache ;)

Thank you for your feedback on Google comments - I will test them for a few more weeks and see how it goes. I also sometimes see them sometimes I don't.


Tuesday 24 February 2015

Day 55: Nuts, comments and deep seat continues

Nuts are quite all right as a snack indeed. Many thanks for suggestions!
Whether they will be enough when I am truly knackered with no food in sight that remains to be seen.

I am wondering about Google comments under each post - they seem to be a little temperamental and sometimes appear and sometimes not. Do any of you switched to Google comments and find them dependable?
I am considering switching back to Blogger's own if the issue continue as I really do appreciate your comments! The bonus of Google ones is that they arrive to my email and I can easily keep track of them as well as reply directly through email. It certainly makes communication much easier.

After a few days break I published Part 2 of the deep seat series on Aspire blog. I hope some of you will find it useful, the feedback I got so far is very positive but I am aware that this "investigative" format of the posts might not suit everyone...

Here is a link to the post if you wanted to read it:

It's probably the first series in which I allowed myself to simply and truly write the posts as I like teaching in real life rather than dress the content for the written content of the blog. I suppose I have to leave it to you all to tell me if it makes you think and explore or confuses you!

Until tomorrow!


Monday 23 February 2015

Day 54: Sugar withdrawal, bareback lessons and Aspire GetAway thoughts

Finding products that don't have added sugar in them is like trying to find a perfect horse ;)
if you ever tried, you know what I mean.
In the last several months I have been slowly weaning myself off sugar in drinks like tea and coffee as well as looking at amounts of added sugar on labels of various foods more closely. The damn stuff is literally everywhere and in everything.
I have never been oblivious to this fact but only until I listened to the below podcast around November last year that I decided to finally cut more sugar out of my diet.

If you would like to listen to the podcast, click the image link below (it's over an hour long but well worth listening...)

I won't bore you with my food choices but let me tell you, for someone who loves sweet things, this is a little bit of a torture. However, I am surviving and can now very happily drink coffee and tea with no sugar. Result :)

There is just one BUT. Normally, if I feel like I am running low on energy in between lessons or when going from one place to another I would just have a nice cup of sweet coffee that would give me a temporary fix. I am replacing that fix with bananas and other quick snacks but they really don't work that well...Anyone has a quick pick-me-up snack idea? It doesn't have to be sweet at all, I don't really crave sweets, it just they seem to be most effective ;)

The weather is being kind to me lately with just enough sunshine to last for a photo ;) I took the below one this morning for Aspire's #Barebruary series and love the light in it. The winter coat on the mare, the cold tones in the colouring of the sky and foliage and the warmer hue of the chestnut hair are such a lovely combination. The rider's outfit somewhat matches the colours of the background too!

To read Nigel's thoughts on bareback riding pop over to:

Today I received two out of three quotes from potential 2015 Aspire GetAway destinations and I have a dilemma. Not so much financial one but content of the trip wise.
As both locations come with some absolutely stunning trail rides I am wondering whether to re-focus this year's trip into more open spaces based option rather than run arena lessons as last time. Perhaps a combination of theory workshops with in-hand sessions and trail rides would be a good idea? My current potential locations are Spain, Poland and Italy but I am also looking at a "dark horse" one ;) All are in Europe though.

I really want the GetAway to complement the programmes we do on regular basis and as the training is heavily focused on arena work, technique, posture and biomechanics perhaps re-connecting with nature is the way to go! Ideally I would like to run two trips this year. Maybe I should look into western riding options too? The latter popped into my mind after reading Nina's blog.
Investigations shall continue :)

Until tomorrow!


Sunday 22 February 2015

Day 52 & 53 Pondering on social media for business, starting new learning group and general weekend waffle

Weekend post is here. I think I might do the double day posts from time to time to keep the content vaguely interesting.
Saturday was a mixed day with some really great progress being made but also one rider on the floor which is rarely a good thing. I, for one, hate having riders down and really can't stand this "you don't learn until you fall nth times" saying. Who knows, it might be true but I'd rather not witness them! Whether you can or cannot predict something, you still live with the weight of someone's injury on your shoulders.

Thankfully, nothing serious happened but it always casts a shadow on the whole day. Alas, over to the good stuff.

We had our little organisational chat for the London learning group I mentioned a few posts earlier and I am looking forward to seeing how this initiative develops :)
If you would like to learn more about it, click the image link below:

Now, I've been pondering on something recently. There seem to be more and more tweets and Facebook posts simply calling for more followers or Likes. Some want to reach "milestone" numbers of followers, some just ask "follow me please" or "please like our Facebook page". I might be wrong but to have 500 followers who just responded to that call for action is to me like being in a room with 500 other people who are only there because they got the tickets. They don't care what you are all about or if you have any idea what they do and what their values are.
I suppose, you can get to know each other and maybe network successfully but from what I see, the opposite is the case. People just learn to ignore vast amount of stuff...

When I did my marketing degree, there was no Facebook or Twitter nor much in terms of social media at all. Maybe that's why I look at it differently, I am not sure. What I do know is that I would much rather have 100 people on Aspire's Facebook page who genuinely have interest in what I do and who I can connect with than 10.000 who just clicked "Like" button and never read anything I post.

Same with this blog and Aspire blog. The former is simply for pleasure of chatting, sharing and for my own pleasure of writing things down. If there were 10 of you reading I would still write it. Now, the latter is part of my coaching job. I want it to spread the word about how I work, what my coaching values are and how I teach. It is my mission for it to reach many riders out there but not those who don't really want to read what I write...I want to reach those who might find my posts helpful. I want the audience to grow. However, I don't want it to grow for the sake of growing.

Then there is Twitter. It's probably my preferred social media connection tool after blogging. The calls to follow on Twitter do perplex me. I don't even know how I managed to get all my followers and I do hope it's because at least some are truly interested in my content but I am thinking that there are many ways of getting someone to be interested in what you have to say than simply ask for a follow?

Here is my view for what it is worth. If I am interested in what someone tweets about and engage in conversation with them, most of the time they follow me back at some point. If not, it's not a big deal because I am interested in what they have to say not just in whether they follow me or not.
Like  that I have a feed to read that I enjoy browsing through.

Then there are social media competitions...most of the time they are organised to collect email addresses for the business' email database. Again, I don't know if I see much point in this. Let's say I run a competition where 2000 people signed up and so gave me their email addresses. I then use those emails to send my newsletter or a promotional piece. How many of you would actually open the promo email if the only connection you had with me was some Facebook competition? How many of those emails would go straight to the spam folder in your email service?

Below is a screenshot of my Twitter profile. I have never pursued any follows yet my followers numbers is growing everyday - I take it as a proof that if for whatever reason, simply growing your audience is what you are after, it's still unnecessary to ask for the follows...Just chatting with people is enough.

I have an eclectic plethora of interests so follow variety of people but if they are not interested in horses, which is what I predominantly tweet about, it would be a complete waste of their time to follow me back.

I suppose in summary what I am trying to say through this waffle is that quality is always more rewarding than quantity. genuine interest in someone's content is always better than adding empty numbers.

I feel like I may have contradicted myself here with the amount of words I used in this post ;)

What do you think? Do you run social media accounts for your business/blog? What are your views?

Friday 20 February 2015

Day 51: The walk, the "deep seat" series and planning Aspire GetAway

To look out over the river and write - now that would be magnificent. To walk around the area is pretty good too and starting a day like this is as awakening as a cup of tasty coffee.

The parts for my little blog series on how to develop "deep seat" are now in motion - "sitting deep" is such a funny concept when you look at it with a beginner's mindset. I agree with Ride with Your Mind founder, Mary Wanless, that the equestrian language is full of oddly named actions and instructions that sometimes even instructors don't really understand properly. Take this "deep seat" phrase - I have met more riders who initially understood the instruction to "sit deeper" as "drive into the saddle" action than those who took it for what it is - an intricate harmony of two moving creatures.

It strikes me again and again though how incredibly non descriptive horse riding teaching language can be which I suppose is why myself and some other coaches looked towards imagery and visualisation of various feels we strive for when riding.

I am also more and more convinced that many bio-mechanical concepts really need to be figured out on individual basis under clever guidance and that we need to step away from those "now do x y z" situations. Sometimes I set certain exercises and say to my riders "I can't tell you everything, you need to figure it out".

This "figuring out" thinking was on my mind when working on the "deep seat" blog series, Part 1 is now live if you wanted to check it out..

It's also about time to get on with more concrete ideas for this year's Aspire GetAway so I'd been writing emails and contacting various places for quotes. There is quite a bit of to-ing and fro-ing when it comes to organising things but it's all worth the hassle in the end :)

I finally managed to finish the answers for one of the interviews I'd been invited to give for a website. It can be very thought provoking to put some more serious career thoughts in writing and answering the questions for the interview made me want to move on with some projects I am sitting on for who knows why for way too long :)

Until tomorrow!

Thursday 19 February 2015

Day 50: Struggling

I've been drafting a big blog post for Aspire blog for the last couple of hours. It's a post about developing a deep seat and I got into writing it after seeing this deep seat question over and over in my blog search section. If riders are searching for it, I want to try to write about it :)

Here's where my problem view on developing deep seat is not exactly compatible with the convenient notion of step-by-step manuals that many riders like to read. It's also damn tricky to put various thoughts and short, instructional visuals into coherent article so I am struggling people! But it's a good struggle not to worry, it's a brain challenge ;)

I'd been mostly learning today and working on a few new exercises that can give certain feels in the saddle. It's a good job nobody was around seeing me testing this stuff on chairs and with a kitchen towel. It will be ok in the end and it might help a person or two ;)

Then there is admin stuff that I needed to organise today, most of the things I managed to do, still some tasks to continue on tomorrow.

Not much else to report ;)

Until tomorrow!

Wednesday 18 February 2015

Day 49: A long beautiful day!

We worked for the last three months for this boy and his owner to have the session as we did today :) A little pocket rocket, ex-racehorse Shabby had his focus, his relaxation and his power on point today. On the photo above Emma and Shabby are in the middle of an exercise suggested by the McTimony therapist: halting at random moments over the poles, standing for 10 seconds or so, then walking on. It is said to improve horse's awareness of the hind legs and I must say it was very interesting to watch S. deliberately lifting his hind legs very high and watchfully placing them on the ground way away from the poles in the moment of move off. Proprioception upgrade :)

We did the same with the grey boy but in-hand as he gets very unnecessarily over-reactive still whenever he sees poles on the ground. He did the exercise very well and I can see myself using it more often with different horses.

The lovely, young mare I teach fortnightly and her owner are really doing their homework, makes my work so much easier ;)
One thing that hit me more than ever today is that we devise all these training methods and all these techniques but to chose the right one for the given horse for his given state of mind, physical readiness at the given moment whilst making sure the rider is able to execute it, understand it and react upon changes happening is truly an never ending art. An art that I am forever learning thanks to all these great horses and pupils.

Until tomorrow!

Tuesday 17 February 2015

Day 48: Seth Godin, London countryside and you know what day it is today ;)

Oh yes :) And I was well enough to have them too! 
There were four of us eating the above pile, I am not that greedy ;)

I had quite a few thoughts today that I really wanted to share on here but alas the day slipped away with things to do and places to be.
The weather was beautiful today with really warm winter sun, birds singing, river sparkling, the lot :)

Exploring London's countryside with my lovely client before a brainy/technical lesson :) 

Perhaps I will have more time on Friday for a longer post but I wanted to pop the below interview for you to watch...many interesting thoughts in it...

Until tomorrow :)


Monday 16 February 2015

Day 46 & 47: Rainy day recovery

I've had a couple of poorly days following some food poisoning I managed to pick up. I had to re-schedule a few lessons as I felt too weak to travel but the good news is that my today's dinner is digesting smoothly and except for some tiredness that is easy to deal with, I'm coming back to the land of nomads ;)

Editing photos for today's post on Aspire blog with a very wet Woody after our morning walk in the rain

Except of a morning walk, I've been writing at home all day today. I divide my writing time between the book and the smaller projects I am working on. I can't wait to share one of them with you, hopefully not long to go now. 
My problem is that I try to make things too perfect straight away rather than just let them go and tell me how best to improve upon the rough copy. However, if I sign my name under something, I don't want it to be too rubbish! Dilemma ;) 

It's Ealing Browadway trip for me tomorrow. The London riders are keen to learn more towards the British Horse Society exams so I decided to do a pilot meeting of the little lecture chats I'd been doing with a few riders at home. 
The Aspire @ Coffee Time meetings are all about discussions on horsemanship, equitation and horse care. I love running those as they bring together my enjoyment of coffee shops, sharing knowledge, learning from everyone involved and of course - horses. 
The ACT London Chapter will be trialled on Saturday so we shall see how we get on. 

For today's Aspire post I put together a few thoughts on half-halting in a light seat. I also edited a short video of myself riding a big, powerful mare that really benefited from being ridden both in full and light seat as long as she was kept in balance. 
Training on her - and she wasn't easy - taught me a lot about power vs balance. 



Here is a link to the post if you were interested in reading it :)

Until tomorrow!

Saturday 14 February 2015

Day 45: A very important message...

to you, dear Reader :) I just wanted to tell you that:

That's all :) Until tomorrow!

Friday 13 February 2015

Day 44: Reflections, Joker again, candles and tea (not exactly in that order)

My morning work companions ;) 
Do you like my morning set up above? ;) I spent a few hours today drinking numerous cups of teas and snacking on fruit whilst watching videos of my clients and making notes for next several weeks of lessons as well as reflecting on my own teaching. It's always slightly painful to have to hear myself talk over and over but without reflection the improvement is never as good as it could be.

What interests me most in coaching is finding ways to empower riders to do their thing, not to stand in the middle of the school and repeat the same instruction like a broken record. Some riders don't want to take responsibility for the course of their training or they don't realise that they are avoiding it so it's a good challenge for me.

It's a shame there is such a huge expense to equestrian sports because there are not many other sports that when put in schools could teach people everything they need to know in life ;) Look at the popularity of various Equine Facilitated Therapy programmes and Equine Facilitated Learning organisations...
Talking about those, Joker's owner - Helen - has been in touch with one of the EFL companies via one of my clients and it looks like there might be an option for Jojo's new career after all :) Nothing is yet agreed but have a look at this quirky website she set up for the boy - The Joker's On Me.

Scented candles can play with one's senses. For example, right now, there is this delicious, warm scent of spiced apple in the whole house but there is not a single apple pie in the oven. Mighty confusion.
Like this one - sometimes I write something for Aspire blog that takes me 5 minutes to think about, 5 minutes to organise somewhat into an article and a short moment to write down. I don't think much of it and the content seems ok, helpful enough but nothing amazing. It gets viewed in thousands, I get emails and messages with questions or thank you notes.
Then I think about something for days, try to put my thoughts into words, write it then re-write it to make sure what I wanted to say I did manage to say. I think how helpful it might be for many riders and I am excited to share it just for the post to have measly interest. Go figure!

This is the post I gave quite a bit of thought to: Three steps technique to help you progress from theory to practice. and was surprised by relatively low interest. Today at least.

Situations like that make me realise that even after 25 years of riding and 21 years of teaching I still know very little of what might interest fellow riders ;)

Until tomorrow,

Thursday 12 February 2015

Day 43

Today I worked on a little project that I can't really say anything about just yet so there is not much I can write about :)
Technically, I could write about something totally unrelated but my brain is a little singularly focused at the moment so there is nothing much else on it than the aforementioned project and stuff connected to it!

Housework. I did that, but you probably don't really need to or want to hear about that! The only way I can keep up with any house work is if I dedicate a one day a week that I have to do all the little things that keep everything tidy, fresh scented and just pleasant.

Who knows, there might be more interesting thoughts on here tomorrow...
Sweet dreams!

Wednesday 11 February 2015

Day 42: Bitter-Sweet Kind of Day

Morning vet check for Joker - nerve blocks
You know what's the most frustrating in equine veterinary medicine? Let me tell you - there are some amazing advances in diagnostic tools (at times at a price of an average monthly income, mind you, but there are available) yet treatment options are severely lacking in abundance.

It didn't come as a surprise to neither myself nor Helen that the improvement Jojo showed on his vet check was nowhere near good enough to warrant topping up of the work. His condition has been chronic for many years and with most likely diagnosis being osteoarthritis of multiple joints in both hind legs, the conclusion was that the best solution for Joker is to retire him to the life of a lawn mower. He is comfortable and happy to be out 24/7 which makes him an easy horse to retire even though he is only 8 and might potentially enjoy a large guinea pig lifestyle for another 15 years!

We were chatting through various options, however, and wondered whether he would make a good therapy horse for equine facilitated therapy sessions...he has a very interactive nature with clear wants, likes and dislikes as well as sure being able to teach what leadership means ;) I think he would make a grand "teacher" for some corporate training sessions. Do any of you dear readers have associations with equine facilitated programmes?

My late birthday coffee treat from Helen at
Maison Blanc, Henley-on-Thames
I will miss my sessions with Jojo but agree with Helen that it's the best solution for him. She tried everything she could to give him a healthy ridden life but sometimes due to a chronic nature of some issues, it is kinder not to pursue ambitions that simply harm the horse.

We popped Mr Joker out in his field with plenty of hay and set off to "celebrate" his early retirement and my late birthday treat at a little Cafe in Henley. You might notice that horses, books and coffee shops do and will feature rather often in these daily records of mine ;)

Indulgence experienced, we carried on few minutes down the road for my teaching day.
The grey ex-racehorse, Merehead, who two weeks ago had his first McTimoney treatment hasn't looked back since. There are levels of softness and bounce to his movement that he is showing us glimpses of and that make him very exciting to watch.  
Today he had his second re-check and was found by Sam from Back-In-Line to be improved greatly so we are on the right track with the schooling pattern. His next check up is in 4 weeks and if he works as he has had so far, I think we can make greater progress with his alignment and body comfort in that time.

The other little ex-racehorse machine, the bay boy, who has his first BE event coming up in March, worked yummy today too. He is a ball of tense energy so I focus his lessons on relaxation and obedience. He had his first check-up with Sam today which gave us some insight into his schooling challenges and it was really fascinating to hear about potential causes coming from skeletal point of view!

We have some exercises for both boys to add on to the schooling mix and the bay boy has his next appointment in 2 weeks.
The young girl with a little chestnut mare I started teaching recently did very well too - great end to a sadder start to the day.

Very proud of this rider, she has made some great improvements in her riding and works hard on her explosive, full blooded boys but don't you just love this guy's goofy face :-D Adore him :) 
Now, thanks to some re-scheduling of next two days of my work I have Thursday and Friday to catch up with my online projects and get stuck in my geeky tasks which I am very much looking forward to! Oh, and the lie in tomorrow ;)


Tuesday 10 February 2015

Day 41: If you like coffee and are ever at Ealing Broadway...and some subconscious riding skills

Waiting for my bus on way to the yard with this one delicious drink :) 
To all of you who love coffee - if you are ever at Ealing Broadway in London, you got to pop to this lovely little Cafe: They make the tastiest coffee I have ever tried! 
Perfect travel companion ;)

Well, now, here is how exciting my evening looks like - awaiting the mercy of my slow internet connection as I upload the videos from today. Very exciting indeed!

I am trialling an approach with Foundation level riders that I am preparing for the move to Development programme in the next few months. I run one session a month with very little "how to" instruction so the riders have to take responsibility for their actions and current skills. I take more video footage than usual during those sessions so the rider can watch and reflect on their ride later but during I encourage mostly feeling and letting the subconscious skills show up. 

This approach lets me watch and appraise my own teaching - what have I managed to teach and what I still need to teach so the skills we need to develop can develop :) 

It's very interesting to watch as well as the rider goes through not trusting own skills at first, acting unsure and reluctant even though I know they know how to do things better, letting the horse dictate the movement and make mistakes to slowly becoming more and more empowered to take actions and find their own "voice". 
I can feel these kind of sessions are here to stay in my programmes. 

Until tomorrow,


Monday 9 February 2015

Day 40: Getting a grip ;)

Joker awaiting his working session. The afternoon light was amazing today, no filters on that image :) 
I woke up feeling oddly run down this morning so it took some serious pep talk to get myself up and going. The overwhelming tiredness does get to me if I work more than 10 days on the trot so whenever it happens I just slap a lot of freezing cold water on my face and tell myself to get a grip ;) It usually works. Then I plan a day off as soon as possible and focus on the tasks ahead.

Today, I had a fairly technical lesson planned for one of my riders and we had some really great results so at least one task accomplished!
Then Joker who was a little challenging but overall his movement has improved a lot in the last 4 weeks. His canter on the left rein was so much more balanced today. Whether it has all improved enough to up the work and start proper ridden work again, I don't know. Visually, it looks good enough to me to add some saddle time in walk. The vet check up is on Wednesday morning so we shall find out what he thinks.

I had a few things planned for tonight with my online projects but had to switch everything off and grab a couple of hours rest before coming back to jot this post down. Feeling a little better now and look forward to some jumping fun for my London's rider tomorrow!

Speak shortly ;)

Sunday 8 February 2015

Day 39: Working Sunday :)

Until tomorrow :) 


Saturday 7 February 2015

Day 38: Horses, soup and Jim Carrey

Emma, my rider on Aspire Equestrian Development Programme with her loan, 4 year old Welsh D, Ted

Although this picture doesn't make it obvious, we had some splashes of sunshine among wintry greyness today ;) Great sessions, the London base is working well so far!

More riders from today - fab sessions, in case you didn't know, horse riding is awesome ;) 

"You can fail doing something you don't like doing - he said - "so you might as well fail doing something you love"...Couldn't agree more. Great, short video below!

From other random facts of today, have you tried the M&S Hot and Spicy Chicken Noodle Broth? I am just a little bit obsessed with it ;) Not only it's an amazing winter warmer after a day teaching but the taste is just a perfection!

Off to collapse in bed now, got a new rider tomorrow coming for an assessment session to possibly join the Academy programme so no day off for me. It should be interesting though :)

Until tomorrow!

Friday 6 February 2015

Day 37: Suppleness - Joker's go at shoulder-in

Starting the work on shoulder-in
It is believed that shoulder-in is one of the most important exercises in a gymnastic development of a horse. It is also one of the top suppling exercises on horse's shoulders and strengthening on the hind legs.
Here's Joker's attempt at it.

Left shoulder-in/left positioning is much easier for him as his left shoulder is much more supple than his right. He tried his best today though, I was very pleased with his attitude, concentration and willingness to have a go even though it must feel difficult with his degree of stiffness. Because of that, I asked him for a very slow walk in which I could control him more and in which it was easier for him to stay off his forehand.

The rein back, even though he drags his hind feet like a professional ploughman, was very obedient, willing and straight (he tended to throw his back end to the side whether I asked by the fence or not). Great session all in all. Now, I have the Aspire Newsletter drama to sort out (technology can be tricky!) as well as finishing off the content of an interview one website is doing with me.

I hope you're enjoying Jo-jo's adventures and having a good day yourself! :)

P.S. Check out this ingenious short video: Purpose of Dressage explained in 4 minutes 11 seconds...! 

Until tomorrow,

Rockley Farm: Living in the dark ages?

I can't recommend this post enough...

Rockley Farm: Living in the dark ages?: Horses and their owners today are incredibly fortunate in so many ways. Our horses are not kept in the harsh conditions which are the norm...

Thursday 5 February 2015

Day 36: Measuring improvement...

I like to search for cat-like qualities in horse's movement - the elasticity, the soft bounce, the fluid weight distribution between each limb, that joint softness and rebound . Every horse will have some degree of those qualities and when improving movement I like to observe how much of a cat a horse can become ;)
I don't know how long I will work with Joker for yet but regardless of where he ends up I decided to stick to my gut instinct and continue working on his suppleness first before I spend more time on top of him.
It's so easy to spoil a horse, so easy to encourage braced, hollow back and due to chronic nature of Jo's issues, he has way many more bracing instincts than release instincts.

Remedial schooling is like a turtle on a mission to get to the sea ;) Painfully slow, sometimes you stand still, sometimes you go backwards. Sometimes you question yourself every moment whether you should push harder or back off, prioritise activity or ease of movement, ignore certain behaviours or react upon them.

I generally trust my gut feeling nowadays. If I listen to it I usually end up somewhere closer than farther from the right spot. To fine tune that feeling, I stay open minded and learn every day. There is not a single horse that I could think "oh yes, this one is identical as that one so I know exactly what to do here". There might be similarities indeed but all issues are as individual as the horses are.

Following a very, very slow and tiny improvements in Joker's work, today the incremental jump was much larger. He was more expressing, more focused, more elastic even if in his terms this still doesn't mean a huge deal. However, I was very pleased and mostly happy that he showed more joy from the work.

The video below is a short footage that Helen took on her phone as I forgot my camera. He shows some negative emotions through his tail at the start but rest of the video is quite a true reflection of the general theme of his work right now: some nice steps with soft, relaxed neck followed by braced steps.

When changes are so small, I prefer to measure improvement by the level of enjoyment the horse has from the training. Today, he was awesome :)

My plan is to do some gentle lateral work in-hand tomorrow.


Wednesday 4 February 2015

Day 35:

Anyone who travels by trains will know the implications of such revelation on a morning of the day of the journey. It doesn't matter which particular line is most affected as those that interwork with it get affected as if in a game of domino.

Once I finally arrived at my destination, the day went smoothly in company of four interesting horses and riders.

I was really looking forward to seeing Merehead after his McTimoney session and I must say, the improvement in his general body comfort, calmness and ability to bend was marked.
I noticed similar improvement in a a big framed mare I teach who showed significant change in her basic self-carriage and as a result the rider could further improve her way of going as well as work on her own seat.

If this is a consistent result I might become a convert. If you would like to see Merehead (the grey ex-racehorse) having his treatment, the video of it is here:

Equine McTimoney Manipulation Therapy session 

I must sign off now and grab some rest :)

Until tomorrow!

Tuesday 3 February 2015

Day 34: Bloggable swan ;)

Swan is a one fascinating bird. Majestic, confident and very bloggable. Just look at this one that just casually strolled down the busy road bringing all traffic to a standstill this morning ;)

I wonder, if the way you know that the daily blogging is alive and kicking in your brain is when you see a swan taking a morning stroll on the bridge makes you immediately think, "quick where is my camera, here's a one fine bloggable swan!"

Would you like to see him on a short video? Here he is :) I think if he wore headphones, there would be an ambient music in his ears so that's the sort I added to this short footage. 

Another good day today continuing with my awareness and feel #Barebruary theme with Aspire coaching this month. 
If you would like to learn more about #Barebruary please pop over to Aspire blog and join in! If you incorporate bareback into your riding training or just love riding bareback, I would love to hear from you. I think, if used well, safely and within reason, it's a hugely underrated training "tool" that can make-over your riding position, effectiveness and ..feel of course :)

Mairi after her today's session: 20% bareback content.Read more about #Barebruary here:


Monday 2 February 2015

Day 33: Birthday Day ;)

Warming up with a hot cup of spicy tea after my morning freeze! 
First Great Western prepared a nice birthday gift of Cryotherapy for me today by shutting their waiting room/office at a small station in Berkshire. I was feeling very smug by arriving 25 min earlier thinking I would just wait inside for my rider to pick me up but that was not to be ;) Considering it was -2C this morning, that gift was really quite unnecessary! 

The training session went great though so I forgive FGW for this inconvenience. The gift was in a double version as I was 15min early for my train back (that was also a little delayed - triple gift?) so some more freezing was on cards. Perhaps it has anti-ageing qualities? 

Anyway, let me introduce you to this chap - love him : ) It's my little present from my boyfriend, I do love tea and so this little fellow was a spot on gift: 

It makes me smile just looking at him ;) 

Joker worked me hard today which was just as well as I sure wasn't cold. We did bending, flexing and transitions as well as some discipline/obedience tasks. I did carrot stretches with him but he is incredibly in love with food and can be very pushy about it. He was determined to check out all my pockets and so we practised some patience and distance ;) 

Joker: "ookkaay, I am not looking at your pockets, not even opening my eyes, standing here several steps away, not searching your pockets - can I have it NOW?"
Maria, a lovely friend of mine from Norway, sent me the below great quote with my birthday wishes today. I think it sums up my day (and probably many years ;) exactly: 

Thank you to my family and friends for all my birthday wishes and gifts, lots of love and big warm hugs to you all :) 

All the best and speak tomorrow!

Sunday 1 February 2015

Day 32: My kind of relaxing day :)

Books, coffee, cake and good company - one of a few perfect options for a fabulously relaxing day :) 

I can almost hear your surprised "whaaaat?!" but I really wish someone started making these lovely moist carrot cakes without icing. I despise icing on cakes and anything really and that comes from someone who does like most sweet things. There is just something, or everything really, about icing that is just simply unpalatable ;)

That detail apart, I had a lovely pre-birthday day today. There will be no time for mooching about in bookshops tomorrow so I made a full use of free time. I also did have Nutella toast for breakfast - oh yes.

My little present to myself is a tub of Eco Bath Epsom Salt Bath Soak for muscle and joint pain, I shall be testing it this month!
Two weeks working stretch in front of me now until the next free day so I am off now to make the most of this one ;)

Until tomorrow!

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