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Sooo.... August 24 2013, 0 Comments

At the end of last weeks blog, I promised to give you an update on how things went with Jack after he had a two week break, and a play in a paddock with lots of green grass. Well it was interesting to say the least.

The silly boy got himself into a tizz even before he got on the float. He decided that he would much rather stay home, so he gave me a little bit of a challenge when it came time to get organised. This challenge consisted of tearing around the yard he was in at a million miles per hour...big mistake considering how slippery it is at the moment! But I won, and he was caught – nice!! Mind you he was in a lather of sweat, which is no mean feat considering it must have been about 3 degrees outside in the wind, which was blowing a gale!

As always, he spent some time on the lunge, and it was even commented on how calm and almost lazy he was...wolf in sheep’s clothing? Towards the end of our little session on the lunge he did decide to show us how good he can be at getting his back legs in the air, but settled so quickly that at the time I didn’t even think twice about it.

Hopped on, and off we went. At times it really does seem that we are going over the same things over, and over, and over again, but I accept 100% that this is my doing. If I could get my brain to switch on, I know that I would be aware of what I have to do to get him into a nice working frame of mind. But happily I’m switching on a little quicker every lesson.

Canter really isn’t such a scary thing anymore, in fact it is wonderful. I love the transitions into canter. For the most part they are smooth, gentle and just something I could sit to all day. He is also getting stronger and stronger, which means we can actually think about other things, like my stupid right leg!!! (Yep, I have a dumb lower leg with a mind of its own...it’s a disagreeable thing too)

So off we are going in the canter on our right rein. Jacks right rein is his “stickier” rein, but again improving. I always seem to start our canter work on the right rein, knowing that our “finish on a good note” will be a lovely canter on our left rein. This is exactly what we were doing last Thursday...we came out of a pretty nice canter circle, and my instructor asked me to change rein, so I chose to take a short diagonal...so off we go...trot, trot, trot....ping, ping, ping!!!!! The pings were NOT fun. He just propped and went for it. I know I was probably cramping his style, and I kick myself at that, I really should have just let him trot out like I know he wants to.

Anyway, I think it was the third “ping” and I was off...but I was off with style!!!! Miraculously I landed on my feet!! I think I was just unconsciously not wanting to get arena surface on my breeches. Some people say that coming off a bigger horse means it gives you more time to think about the landing – I wasn’t thinking about the landing, but I did notice I had my watch on, and really didn’t want to bust my watch!! The things you think!!

I think all 3 of us, Jack, my instructor and I, were a little shocked. Jack just stood there and I could see his thoughts “Oh Mum...what happened???” My instructor was thrilled at me landing on my feet, and agreed that my new found love for martial arts training was doing wonders for my co-ordination and balance. And me, well I was just shocked that it didn’t happen sooner. I probably should have been spat off plenty of times before...a lot of luck happens in life sometimes.

Anyway, I grabbed hold of Jack, and at that point my instructor asked if I could get back on, and just trot a circle or two. She knows that I have a lack of confidence, and knows that sometimes little things can put me off, so she was a darling and just asking me to do something small and manageable for my silly brain. However....I wanted another canter, on the left rein J  Back to our “finish on a good note”. At least that’s what I was hoping, and I got it. And I’m super proud that I did. My hands and legs were shaking when I was standing on the mounting block, but I was on, in control and more than happy to give it a whirl. As always...a lovely canter on our left rein. Hooray for me...I was so pleased!!

 

Sunday was Adult Riders Rally day, and it was one of the dirtiest days we’ve had in a while. The wind was horrid. It was one of those days that makes you feel uneasy about doing anything outside, let alone floating, then riding a horse. But once again, I overcame another of my demons...I did both. Go me!!

I’m not saying the riding was all that spectacular, in fact I was bad...really bad. I was tense, unsure of myself, I sadly had not much trust in Jack and that his reaction to things might be. I was so concerned that if something blew across the arena, or a small branch fell on the roof, then off he would go...but he didn’t, and it was only in my mind that it was possible for this to happen. He was wonderful. He was a little tense, but considering I was wound up like a coil on his back, I don’t blame him. Finally, after a fair old time, I just said to myself “OMG...just DO IT, you stupid, stupid woman”...and so I did. And guess what...we worked beautifully. He was able to use his amazingly flowing trot, our canter work was “da bomb”, and he was happy. The fact that he was happy made the day a success.

I really don’t give him enough credit, but sitting here thinking about it, he deserves such praise.

So what’s on for today??  **sigh** He has had an abscess come up over the past few days. I’m soooo not impressed, but what can I do? It’s winter. So I just treat him like royalty. Do what I can, and hope, cross my fingers & toes, rub my lucky rabbits foot, pray to the Anti-abscess Gods...anything I can to make him recover as quick as I can...we have to keep this good mojo going!!!!


Where's my Jack pony? July 30 2013, 0 Comments

 

Where is my Jack-pony..who took him????

Well I don’t know who I was riding on Sunday at my riding club rally, but it sure as hell wasn’t Jack!!!! He certainly looked like Jack, and came out of my paddock, but nope, wasn’t him!!

My goodness, the horse I was riding, or trying to ride, was a piece of work. This horse, let’s call him “Butthead”, was an absolute monster.

Thankfully, the instructor for this rally was my usual instructor, it was such a comfort - super glad I booked her!!  

Butthead wasn’t at all calm or attentive, instead he was boorish, had no concept at all of manners, wouldn’t listen, had no idea of any work I’d previously done and loved the feeling of having his back feet around his ears...to be honest, he worried me.

But he taught me so much 

I learnt that I can keep calm.

I can apply the concepts that we had previously worked on.

I discovered that I can also really ask for a response and get one.

I understood, at long last, how important it is to have a soft, supple horse.

I learnt that I have a really sticky bum!! Some might call it good balance, but I think it was more the sticky bum

I learnt that sometimes the horse you get out of the float, isn’t the horse you are going to ride...somewhere in between horses are swapped.

I learnt that I can breathe, even though my jaw is clenched shut so tight, I wake up the next morning with an ache.

I learnt that I can actually be quiet during a lesson...never thought I could do that...I’m a chatterer!!!

I learnt that sometimes taking the horse out for a 2 hour trail ride in the pouring rain the day prior doesn’t actually mean a nice quiet horse will appear the next day.

I also learnt probably the most important lesson of all, and that is to never doubt not only what I’ve learnt over the years, but also my own abilities. I got through that hour, and even though I was at times incredibly unsure of what I was capable of, and also what my horse was capable of, I did it...I finished that lesson with a canter on both reins.

That doesn’t mean I didn’t get off pretty quickly at the end of the lesson, I was off like a shot, but I didn’t bail half way through, and that is a massive win for me.

Funnily enough, as soon as Butthead was rugged and popped into a yard, Jack suddenly appeared...like magic (bloody Black Magic!!!!)

 

So after Sunday’s event, I was a little hesitant to climb aboard on Tuesday. I know they all say that you must ride the horse that comes out of the paddock on the day, but that is sometimes a little easier said than done. There is always a little bit of trepidation.  But I’m super glad I did “suck it up” and get on...what a dream horse!! It was a massive relief to get back on the horse I know, although there were some things I didn’t recognise this time, but they were very pleasant surprises...he was perfect from the start.

Geez he’s a superstar!!


An Interesting Week. July 25 2013, 0 Comments

 

What an interesting week it has been! And in so many different ways! 

I’ve come to conclusion that I am in fact doing something right. Jack is going amazingly well, even if we still do have our little “bumps” (or as I like to call them “learning bumps”)- I’m learning how to stay balanced and calm and not fall off!!

I’ve really made a concerted effort do go back to our groundwork sessions before each ride, and the results have been a real eye-opener. I had really taken for granted the importance of asking him for his flexions from the ground, and asking him to re-balance and extend his neck, but after one lesson where I was able to refresh my mind not only as to what to do, but also re-enforce in my own mind that I was doing them correctly, the results are speaking for themselves. 

So I had a “groundwork” lesson a couple of weeks ago, then in the week following I  worked on the techniques at home before a ride, but then when I came to last weeks lesson it was almost like I had a different horse. We were almost able to get a full lap of the arena in a lovely, soft and long frame – at the trot. Jack was just swinging along nicely, and it was an absolute pleasure to ride to. Our canter also benefitted, which is no surprise. I even shocked myself!! I remember sitting there, and thinking “Oh my lordylordy loo!!! Look at me!!!!”...at least I thought I was thinking it, in fact I was saying it out loud...thankfully my instructor agreed that it was pretty good!! 

When I think back 18 months ago, and I remember the new, very green horse that arrived at home, I’m really amazed at his transformation. He was a typical “teenage boy”, he was so disagreeable...if he was human it would be like taking the X Box off him, but now he is really becoming a young man. He is starting to fill out in the places he needed it, his legs don’t look as gangly as they were and he looks just ace...if I wasn’t so biased I’d say he is one of the most handsome beasts going around. Considering that last year he really didn’t have the chance to get regular work due to my illness, I think he has really proven what a good boy he is...most of the time ;) 

I’d love to find the courage to take him out somewhere into a more challenging environment, and I know I will one day, but I still have those moments where I think about it, and then feel my heart starting to beat just a little harder. Funnily, it has nothing at all to do with what I think his reaction might be...I’m more than happy to admit that it is all me, my insecurities. On the surface I come across as someone who is very confident, but underneath? Hmmm, maybe not so much. It’s all bravado. 
Perhaps I should mix some “bravado” up with some “Dutch courage” into a cocktail shaker and see what happens...that’s gotta be a good cocktail!!! 

 

Also over this past week, I have seen a few things which make me terribly sad and even a little angry. It seems as though this season is really proving to be a very difficult season for the oldies and even those younger horses to cope with, especially if they don’t have anyone in their lives to care for them...they are owned by someone, but not cared for...not by anyone’s standards!!! We all know there is a shortage of hay at the moment, it seems to be the topic of conversation in every feed store and every saddlery store in my area, but the thing is, that there are options for those who are having trouble sourcing hay. I know that sometimes it means that there is a little bit of wheeling and dealing and running around, but there are options and I just wish that people would explore those options before they decide to shut their eyes and pretend their horse doesn’t exist. There are just too many bones poking through dull coats on horses with sad eyes at the moment, and like I mentioned, it makes me terribly sad and angry. 

We chose to bring these creatures into our lives, they didn’t ask for it, so I just believe that we should do all we can to keep them comfortable. I’m not saying that every single horse owner needs to get silly with the care of their steed, I just think that the steed needs to be respected, and of course a part of that is to provide it with the basics...water, adequate feed, shelter. Surely that isn’t too much to ask? 

So what am I doing to help those in my area who seem to be struggling? Well, I’ve decided to make myself visible to the owners, even if I may not actually see them. By that I mean, I do something to hopefully make the owner take notice. Last week put my farriers business card into a snap lock bag, and tied it to the gate at a paddock where a lovely old grey gelding lives. He is in a really terrible state, and for a long time I’ve felt for him. He just looks so unloved. So I tied the card to the gate, left and just hoped that someone would pay attention to it. I drove past two days later, and noticed that the business card was gone. I knew it was impossible for it to have blown away, so I just hoped the owner saw it and collected it. I’m seeing my farrier tomorrow, so I’m hoping we can chat about his “new client” and the old grey gelding! 

I’m not saying that we need to become busy bodies and poke our noses into other people’s business; I just want to see all horses treated with dignity, and if that means I need to drop a hint every now and again, then I’m ok with that.