Sunday, 23 February 2014

The Half Term Holiday (also known as the week we will never speak of again)

This week has been a bit shit if I'm honest. It has also been Half Term. In the space of one week we have had:

1 x  disastrous trip to IKEA - daughter got very travel sick and vommed up onto the restaurant floor (there are no words to describe that moment) Also, the main thing we went for wasn't in stock.

2 x trips to see family, which was nice.

2 x trips with the trailer, which went very well despite getting stuck in traffic for 30minutes (seems amazing that the mare was cool about it, considering the travelling stress we've had with her)

2 x dressage lessons - very grateful for these, and I have learnt a lot, but also made me feel a bit useless. Well, I made myself feel useless, but I'm working on that, it is just a slight inferiority complex.

1 x outbreak of slapped cheek disease -technically two cases (both kids) and both my husband and I feeling a bit ropey. Probably wasn't travel sickness at IKEA after all....

2 x fantastic hacks.

1 x husband away for the weekend at a course.

1 x hour spent with the kids falling off their bikes.

1 x car crash - in which I realise why I love my Tank as much as I do.

Also, several hours of Wii and kids television, extortionate amounts of bribery, cakes, sweeties (and calpol)

Thank God they are back to school tomorrow!

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Dressage Boot Camp (and a huge wake up call)

This week is half term here, so a month or so back I decided to kill two birds with one stone. As well as take the kids to visit family, I would take the horse too. This way we could see family spread out over two days instead of crammed into one, and I could get some much needed tuition at the same time.

My grandma, aunt and great aunt are all amazing riders, my grandma and great aunt are also riding instructors. They are all really into dressage.

Now, the mare and I can trot around looking pretty, but it is far from correct. I have been working really hard at riding her with my seat and leg, and trying to leave my reins alone, and I thought we were improving. It definitely felt better. But dressage is our weakest phase.

But by the end of our first session with my aunt I honestly felt like I had never sat on a horse before. My reins are always too long, so I was made to shorten them, and put my hands more forward and opened wider (I am guilty of keeping my hands pretty much in my lap) this immediately made me feel unbalanced. I was nagged about my right heel creeping up constantly, my inclination to just push the horse forward at all times (and so unbalancing the horse) and you don't want to know what was said about my canter transitions!

Day two saw an improvement, and we did things I didn't think possible - travers, walk to canter off a demi pirouette, shoulder in etc. Don't get me wrong, none of it was pretty, but now we have some extra exercises for schooling which was the plan. I felt enthusiastic and couldn't wait to see the videos!

Well, that was a bad move. The videos looked nothing like it felt. I looked like a sad sack of potatoes, and yes my reins are way too long, and my poor horse looked like some overworked nag from Victorian London (ok, one that was finally tracking up, but still) I can't believe the weight and muscle she has lost since our jumping lesson a few weeks ago (I compared videos) it is truly baffling! She is getting more food that she was(fibre based) she is so full of energy that I have decided to try her on the gelding's magnesium supplement to see if she relaxes more. I can't understand how she has lost so much!

So the plan for the next few weeks is to work on my new exercises in walk and hope it builds up some muscle and helps us both to become more supple, and take her out for walks around the summer paddocks for grass and more slow exercise in the afternoons.

So all in all, the dressage boot camp was a bit of a wake up call in more ways than one.

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

A spanner in the works.

So I made the mistake of thinking things were going well.

We are now possibly looking at having to move yards, and as every horse owner who has ever had to rent somewhere knows, there is little that is more stressful.

There is somewhere quite perfect, two spare stables, 2 acre field with year round turnout, excellent arena with a good jump selection, one of my best friends, and several other horsey friends, good hacking. Perfect, except it is half an hour away.

Do you jump at the chance and accept time will be tight for the next couple of months until the kids finish school for the summer (have I mentioned that our favourite National Trust property is only 10mins from this yard?) And that horsey outings will be limited in order to cover increased fuel costs? Or find somewhere else more local, and hope you find one of the rare good ones?

A year ago I would have been content with a field and a couple of stables, or even a decent field shelter, but now things are starting to happen, I'm giddy at the thought of a real life decent arena without an almost year round water feature!

If the yard I am at was going to stay the same, I would never leave. But there are rumblings from the powers that be and we are all uneasy. When the longest standing members of the yard have put their names down on the waiting list of the local all singing, all dancing livery yard, you know it's time to worry!

I sense some sleepless nights ahead.

Saturday, 8 February 2014

Bumbling along quite happily

Things have been going pretty well here at the moment. Busy, but in a good way.

The mare and I have been really enjoying our schooling sessions. Well, I've been enjoying them and she has been going well, so I'm guessing she isn't too bothered at the very least. We actually had a jumping lesson last weekend due to the showjumping being cancelled (weather related) and it is starting to feel like we are actually improving. By that I mean that I'm improving and the mare is starting to listen to my opinion occasionally. She is looking very fit at the minute, despite the fact we haven't been doing any fast work yet, so my plan for the next few weeks is to try to bulk her up a bit before we start the actual fittening work towards the end of February.

The gelding has got a new love in his life. The girl from our yard has taken over exercising him while her horse is on extended box rest. She rides him three or four times a week and he adores her, possibly because she gives him attention (and carrots)

The weather is starting to take its toll a bit here, but we are lucky compared to so many others. We may have to keep our horses in their boxes more, but at least the boxes are dry! We can also still see our paddocks, so a few warm and windy weeks should see a return to the grass for our beasts. Spring isn't far off now.