Monday, 28 November 2011

Fred Bod

What to do about Fred?

He is 24 has a clinical history of arthritis, caudal heel pain, impinging dorsal spinous processes and is missing a check ligament.

He is lame near fore, not laminitis doubt it is 'a leg' he seems happy enough but realistically what to do?

I think I'll get Liz out to give him a once over he deserves that but no box rest.

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Trainers on the internet

Is it me but I just don't get all these trainers who spend what seems like ages online and they seem to be everywhere and all they do is pick holes in the other online trainers.

Occasionally they throw a curve ball and we get a bit of a love in and A who previously had nothing good to say about B is now their newest and bestest friend.

So is the internet driving them crazy or is it because they are already crazy and ego driven they spend so much time online getting their egos massaged by their little band of devotees?

It isn't as if it is the the odd one I could name several some of whom I've had lessons with.


Spanish Riding School - Magical evening

Last week for personal reasons has been to say the least not the best of weeks, on Friday having heard of a possible glimmer of good news thought fcuk it I'm going to the SRS on Saturday as who knows when I'll get the chance again and if I learnt one this this last week it is that we have no idea what the future holds for us.

So went online and splurged on two tickets, being situated on the floor alongside the pillars row B. Sent txt to Pip to see if she'd like t'other ticket as early Christmas pressie.

Poor Pip talk about not giving her any warning but took view if she couldn't make it husband could come along. Luckily Pip was able to fit it in which husband was very pleased about as SRS not his idea of a gripping evening!

So caught the 17:45 and headed to Paddington got to Wembley Central at 18:20 and went and collected tickets from box office so far so good. Pip was on Jubilee line so supper before show looked go!

Went in search of Chinese following directions Pip had been given having walked round block still no Chinese so asked chap directing traffic and retraced my steps and went in opposite direction and found it!

Pip was now stuck on Jubilee line due to electrical failure, Alisan was full and Indian next door couldn't get us in and out in 30 minutes but as I walked out Alisan had emptied so went in and lovely chap assured me he'd get us fed in 30 minutes so went in search of Pip.

Found Pip on Olympic Way (how did we manage before mobiles) and went to Alisan had lovely meal courtesy of Pip's generosity :-D and then off to see the white ponies.

Found our seats and waited, show started off with Carl Hester on Donald and Lee Pearson on Mavis (?) the compère Nicky Chapman (who is she?) was just fcuking irritating. Yes I am fully behind making 'dressage' more accessible to Joe Public in which case explain what levade is before we see it in hand not after! Had seen Richard Davidson with Gill whilst on my restaurant search now he'd have been a much better choice as

1/ He actually has a clue
2/ He might have asked Carl something intelligent
3/ He wouldn't just woodenly read the auto cue / whatever
4/ He is good at this sort of thing

Anyway enough of my gripes the evening was magical, was so pleased Pip was there with me.

I have no idea if I've changed or if the SRS have changed but the first time I saw them was at home some 15 ish years ago (was at the Bensons with just Skunk so it was pre 1997) and I spent most of my time with tears running down my face I was so blown away.

They then I think did their first tour of the UK when I was at Calais Oak so Sept 2001 to Sept 2002 or around then. I remember thinking how tense the stallions looked but got told I had a lack of understanding.

When they next came over with the Mounted Police doing a display I thought the horses still looked tense and some of the riders seats weren't as I'd expected to see. Whilst still very good some for the SRS were 'below par' . Hence why I hadn't booked tickets when they announced the tour but with the bad news on Tuesday this week I am glad I though bugger it as it was a magical evening.

The horses this time looked relaxed and to be enjoying their work, lovely to see after doing some movements the stallions clearly looked pleased with themselves and showed their joie de vivre .

The riders were all excellent and it all looked so quiet especially in the changes.

So so glad I went :-)

Monday, 21 November 2011


I do wonder if Sue is a mind reader or maybe I just wear my heart on my sleeve?

Anyway driving to Arrow I did think I should really ask to go over steering as it was blindingly obvious from Pooh last week I don't own this part of the puzzle.

Had a good lesson on Blackberry as always a lot of laughs plus as always when we're alone some thought provoking conversations that let me examine my views and prejudices a little. SFO is now looking at getting more weight going down my leg and arriving at my foot. So lots of wiggling my legs and threats about hammers :-) and mobilizing my ankles.

Did work with the rope and softening left side and stiffening right while staying on seatbones. IIRC SFO said she is always amazed at how every-time she thinks the problem is right side it is really over dominant left IIRC. Also I get a better pathway to what I need to correct if I go through my left side and then go right side.

Onto Pooh perhaps it was because I strolled down to the school casually that SFO suggested a free (as in non lunge) lesson? Said I was up for this and wanted to do steering. This is actually kind of mad on my part as I know it is going to expose holes in my equitation but you know what I'm now OK with that. If I'm going to make lemonade out of the lemons then sometimes you might have to try a lemon and just get on with it to get out the other side.

I'm still amazed at the argument I had with SFO in the past that she had me back. OK I wasn't rude or personal but plenty would have washed their hands of me am eternally grateful she didn't. The other thing I really like is I can just ask her anything it isn't taken personally and I don't have to dance on a pin head. I also like her honesty as I find it works for me.

So overall summary SFO pleased with the progress we've made and there was a lot of goods but I need to own my collapsed right side. So many things to think about!

The following is my understanding with additional comments by SFO


Can break down into component parts in no particular order

1/ Turning
2/ Moving the shoulders
3/ Bend
4/ Flexion
5/ Moving the hind quarters

1/ Turning

To turn you use your bulk body weight to direct the horse which way to turn. Weight to right to turn right.
You can turn with no bend (so like a plank).
You DO NOT need leg to direct the turn. Legs should be used as a pair for forwards movement *if* required .

2/ Moving the shoulders

As part of turning you may need to move the shoulders to keep on the path you wish to follow/describe.
To move the shoulders the hands are used as a pair and they move across the neck of the horse in a straight line that is parallel to the pommel. (the hands move as a pair towards the turn so that the outisde hand is close to the neck and the inside hand is away from the neck)
Again you do not need leg to move the shoulders. Legs should be used as a pair for forwards movement *if* required.
Ask / release / ask / release - nudge the horse around not hold and haul

3/ Bend

Position left or right you may need flexion depending on the path you are describing (straight lines do not need much flexion ...)
Bend implies that the horse is bent evenly (preferably!) from nose to tail therefore the horse must be soft to the inside leg, at the ribs and the inside hind leg will have to bend more to stay on the curved line. look at most GP horses when they go through a corner and you will see a number of them step out with their outside hind leg because their inside hind leg is stiff and cannot bend sufficiently to stay in line with the inside fore. This is most noticable in passage.

4/ Flexion

Achieved with the hands, may or may not be even weight in the reins.
Ask / release / ask / release - as much as necessary as little as possible but release do not hold neck in flexion.
Flexion is a bend in the neck and may or may not involve the rest of the horse. It can be done at halt. A show jumper may flex his horse's neck left and right without any change in bend. Some dressage riders do the same in an effort to supple the horse. A horse with a loose neck (disconnected) is not a pretty sight and a real pig to correct. Normally a bending exercise would help supple and the engage the hind leg but with a wobbly loose neck, this wonderful yet simple exercise becomes virtually useless!

5/ Hindquarters

May or may not follow the path you wish to describe so adjust as necessary.
This is achieved by the legs as in a leg yield, moving the quarters with either a straight horse or with a little flexion/bend, or travers/renvers which implies that the horse understands bend.

Me: "I think I am confused about having counter bend / flexion whilst going round a corner. If I am on the right rein in left bend and I want to go around the corner. I should be in position left (because I'm in left bend) but I need to turn so I'd weight my right seat bone more to get the turn whilst staying in position left?"

SFO: Yes and no! My best way of describing it is "sit left and go right". Which seat bone to emphasise depends on what your horse is doing at the time. If all is well..... our seat bones will be 50:50 while you are in position left and your whole body goes with the horse in the direction of the turn.

Example - kid on a pony, in a "natural" balance (ie not thinking too hard but just sitting on his pony) is on the wrong leg, bent to the outside cheerfully unaware that anything is wrong and just rides around the corner, reins and legs flapping in the breeze!.

You could say "lead with your head" (Alexander) or "send your energy in the direction of the turn" or "turn your solar plexis in the direction of the turn" or "step into your inside (right) stirrup". Your body/bulk weight should go with the turn without you changing your position left. You may want to put a little more body/bulkweight over the right seat bone; the horse generally moves under your weight to "catch you".You may chose to emphasise your left seat bone and leg to "push" the horse to the right like a small leg yield. Either way, do not change the neck bend; not more not less, just the same

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Ride your horse forwards and straighten him

Yesterday I had a lesson with Sue and I think I may have felt briefly a straight horse.

The classical maxim is allegedly 'Ride your horse forwards and straighten him' which I've never really bought into as I think it is ass about or maybe I'm too literal?

If you do literally ride a crooked horse forwards what do you get? I think you get a crooked horse going forwards? I'm more with straighten your horse and allow him to go forwards. How can a crooked horse go forwards?

I'm as guilty as a guilty thing for not really doing what I say but under SFO you don't get to be crooked well not for very long unless you have cloth ears and no sense of self preservation.

So yesterday going large on a straight line away from SFO Pooh was reasonably straight and I could feel the power surge as he straightened under me.

Am going to need brave pants, fuller lesson report to follow :-)

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Scan 8

So scan number 8 steady but slow progress can now start walking around yard for few minutes to start strengthening left check ligament. Pen turnout too risky whilst left check fragile.


5th May 2011 - Stretched right check ligament, box rest but allowed out for pick of grass

1st July - Can go out in pen twice stable size for 30 minutes

1st August - Can start five minutes walking

4th August - Escapes from pen; reinjures right check ligament, injures left suspensory. Walking cancelled.

14th September - Does left check ligament in stable.

5th October - Supportive limb laminitis pick of grass cancelled.

18th October can go back out for pick of grass

Monday, 14 November 2011

London 14th November 2011

Went to town and saw four exbish:-

1/ Leonardo da Vinci National Gallery

Billed as the 'once in a lifetime exhibition' and in some ways I hope so as the queues were daft. Luckily having advance tickets meant we only queued the once. First time the two 'Virgin of the Rocks' have been shown together, for me the stand out thing that I learnt was that his rough draft sketches took only minutes.

Stand out image was The Burlington House Cartoon

2/ Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2011 National Portrait Gallery

Loved the Kiera Knightley

3/ The First Actresses: Nell Gwyn to Sarah Siddons National Portrait Gallery

A nice exhibition all pretty Gainsborough type stuff :-)

4/ World Press Photo 2011 South Bank

Brilliant photography but mostly illustrating all too well man's inhumanity to man

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Your Horse Live

Went with Marianne and met Gill and Sally for lunch.

Good stuff
Two tickets for £17.50 thanks to Gill :-)
Laura B demo
Spending time with Marianne
Claire Lilley demo
Observing the two minute silence hall went silent
Coffee and muffins from marquee
Husband doing ponies

Not so Good stuff
Lack of decent food from clean stalls
Somewhere to sit and eat said food

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Pom Poms!

So as always started with laughing on Blackberry.


Stand up in stirrups, turn belly button/shoulders/head sit back down, how do seat bones feel? Can you now change ratio of weight in each?

Connie cushions then can you feel weight all the way down your legs to your feet?

As always turning body whilst staying on seat bones. Easiest to turn shoulders when hands in riding position.


Pooh started off on lunge, without stirrups then with stirrups changing weight every three strides. Tractor started hedge trimming I spooked Pooh didn't :*) SFO went to get pom poms on basis if she occupied my brain I wouldn't spook!

So in rising trot have to hold the pom poms one in each hand and move hands holding pom poms up and down to the rhythm of the trot.

Sounds easy but not as easy as it sounds, then throw in walk transitions and have to move in new rhythm then as you move into trot.

Then pom poms over left knee for three strides, then square then over right knee.

Well it worked I was too brain confuzzled to worry about the tractor!

Then off lunge and walk free whilst SFO went for a comfort break.

Felt really spaced out and pondered getting off, wonder if it was the ear infection that had made me feel grim on getting up or just the extra visual stimulus of bright orange pom poms whilst going round on a circle?

Was quietly pleased that I stayed on board and did some leg yield, wonder if SFO would have been pleased with the LY?

Onto canter loose some good transitions BUT not so good at

1/ Turning *doh* :-)
2/ Keeping the 1/4s out on the right rein

So to improve 1/ on right rein need to think of riding circle as a decagon and at each point of decagon ask for flexion left then let go no leg needed to ask for flexion, then ask again and so on and so forth.

To improve 2/ just do it even if at halt and watch that right leg when on inside is activating.

Saturday, 5 November 2011

It is the small things

Went to see Peppa Pig today with Clare and her girls Maddy and Claudia, on getting out of the car needed to all hold hands to safely cross car park. Claudia aged two and half didn't want to hold my hand so Maddy had Claudia hold Clare's hand and Maddy held mine and Claudia's hands.

Amazing how such a small thing can speak volumes, such a small thing but a large act of kindness. Really touched me.

The show was lovely so nice to see so many small smiling faces.

How can you not feel hope for the future when you look around the theatre and see all those smiling faces loving the Pig!

Lovely lunch then back to tell Grannie all about it.

Such a lovely day and such a tonic.