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horseyculture

My journey with Abbey & other horsey bits 'n' bobs

Little Sh*tbag

Today’s lesson did not go to plan. Abbey will be affectionately know forthwith as little sh*tbag.

Out of an hours lesson we had 10mins of good quality work. The other 50 minutes consisted of looking and spooking, resisting and arguing.

I don’t know what was up with her. There’s wasn’t anything obviously scary outside of the arena and she was perfectly chilled yesterday. Maybe she’s coming into season.

They say every cloud has a silver lining and today’s was getting Sam‘s advice on how to do some damage limitation and get Abbey back to work quickly.

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First attempt at half pass

Lessons with Sam Twyman are continuing to go well and on Tuesday we attempted half pass for the first time!

Sam has had me flexing Abbey a lot, to build suppleness and encourage her to lift her withers.

We’ve also introduced outside flexion – in the stretch work and when we’re working in a more developed frame.

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Yoga; a perfect practice for horse riding

At first glance yoga isn’t an obvious complimentary fitness activity to horse riding. But as I’ve discovered over the last two months, it’s a perfect way to build strength, physically and mentally, and develop awareness (and therefore control) of your body.

Every pose and sequence in yoga requires core strength. From the moment you hit the mat you’re asked to engage the same muscles that are critical to securing a good dressage position.

Many poses increase flexibility, particularly in the hips. They also stretch your hamstrings. If like me you’ve struggled to open your hips, bring your legs back or lengthen them, check out the appropriately named, “hip opener” poses.

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5 reasons why boats are like horses

Apart from the massage course, horses have taken a backseat while I’ve been spending my ‘holiday’ helping the OH look after his boat.

While I was sat varnishing, it occurred to me how similar the two hobbies are. Here’s why:

1) New stuff – whether its a new matchy matchy outfit or a navigation system there are always items on the wish list.

2) A problem – like a horse, a boat is never perfect. From the electronics to the rigging, there’s always something that’s not quite right.

3) Opinions – trying to mend something? Thinking about going sailing? Looking at a new bit of kit? Everyone has an opinion and are willing to share it.

4) Tea and biscuits (or beer) – the most popular person at the marina/yard, is the person with drinks and snacks.

5) The chat – it’s not just the amount of chatting that takes place (and the severity with which it is defended!) but the subject of it: how are you? How’s your horse/boat? Have you taken your horse/boat out? Where did you go? The patterns of conversation are exactly the same.

*edit: the OH just added the 6th and probably most obvious: expensive!!

Getting hands-on with a charity massage course

It’s been an intense day full of learning with Sue Palmer, aka The Horse Physio (and who’s husband, Simon, is a partner in Ethical Horse Products).

Designed for horse owners, the course consists of introductions (met some lovely, interesting people), introduction to physiotherapy and massage, some anatomy, some massage techniques and practice on both people and ponies.

All the group members came for different reasons; from developing relationships with their horses to keeping their horses free from tension between visits from a professional physio.

I’ve tried learning the names and locations of different muscles before but they’ve never stuck. This evening, however, I can name 7. I can also find them on a living horse and know where they attach to bone. This is in no small part due to ‘Dollar’, my new equine friend:

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“Hey!”

After studying pictures and scientific drawings in the classroom, we headed to the stables to practice identifying the muscles on real horses (by drawing them on in chalk).

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“Very funny. You’d best not have drawn anything rude on my bum!”

After lunch we learnt some massage techniques and practiced them on ourselves, other students, and finally the horses. I think Dollar enjoyed some of it!

At the end of the day we’ve all come home with new skills, more knowledge and a routine to use on our beasts at home.

Together we’ve also helped Riding for the Disabled Association support two people ride horses for a year.

Big thanks to our tutor, Sue Palmer, and to Stourport Riding Centre for the use of the ponies and facilities.

Check out this video to find out more:

Highs and lows of a show

 

Clever pony came home with a 3rd and a 4th from today’s show. Weird, but the frillies don’t have much bearing on how I feel about the day.

The highs and the lows stemmed from all the other bits.  Abbey’s impeccable behaviour in the ring made me enormously proud but the frustration of not being able to tie her up got me very frustrated.

Abbey continues to be calmer about traveling and, for the first time, I left her on the van while I did my entries. A fellow competitor who kept an eye on her said that she was just fine :D.

However (you knew that there was a ‘but’ coming!) when I uploaded Abbey she spied something either in the hedge or the other side of the hedge, I don’t know which. I do know that she spent the next half hour snorting at said hedge. Twice (when I went in the horsebox to get into my show attire) she decided it was all too much and made a run for it. She snapped the twine she was attached to and, I am sure, would have run home had she not been distracted by the lush long grass within 6ft of the horsebox.

This meant I was stuck holding the end of Abbey’s leadrope. I couldn’t reach her tack, nor anything else I needed to get ready. I had to call for reinforcements. The OH dutifully arrived and held piglet while I ran round (now late!) getting us both ready.

Our frustration levels were not helped by the lack of breakfast…

….anyway that is enough of the ‘lows’, which less face it, aren’t really that bad.

When it mattered, Abbey was a superstar. She was attentive and responsive throughout the ridden class. Unlike our last show she stayed ‘with me’ throughout the group walk, trot and canter, even when a competitor over took us in canter.

 

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Two blues :D

Had a cracking outing on Sunday.  Abbey was a superstar coming 2nd in both a prelim and a novice classes with 67.69% and 66.96% respectively.

We got good marks for everything we’ve been working on in our lessons and there was only one comment on Abbey’s suppleness (a word that normally litters our score sheets).

It felt lovely too. Often I am fighting for Abbey’s attention and feel like I am hauling her around the circles. On Sunday there was a lightness and a flow which I’ve not had in a test before.

Overall I though my position was better. I was sitting up straighter and on both seat bones. I am still working on keeping my pesky toes in.

 

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Time flies!

Can’t believe it’s been a whole month since my last post!  From lessons and competitions, to hacking and interval training, Abbey has been a busy girl.

She’s starting to loose a little weight. Abbey is now doing at least an hour of work 5 times a week, including interval training. We’re up to 5 miles of trot/canter work and she’s finally burning more calories than she’s consuming.

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Lesson #2 with Ken Sudsbury

Ken Sudsbury teaches ‘fusion dressage’ (a mix of traditional classical riding and modern training sometimes called ‘neo classical’). Last time I caught him at the end of his English tour of teaching but learnt so much I made sure I was on the list for his first visit of the season.

The lesson didn’t disappoint!

We started off in walk. Ken like Abbey’s walk, it had bounce and purpose but, he said, it could have a little more ground cover.  He observed that I was restricting her movement and asked me to relax the contact a little – just by giving with my 4th finger, Abbey gave…

He also observed that she was a little tight through her shoulders and introduced us to two exercises that would help improve her suppleness.

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