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horseyculture

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

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.

 

Continue reading “Highs and lows of a show”

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.

 

Continue reading “Two blues :D”

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.

Continue reading “Time flies!”

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.

Continue reading “Lesson #2 with Ken Sudsbury”

Distracted dressage

Our latest attempt at dressage saw Abbey and I go to a venue we normally showjump at. Abbey’s always spooky and tense here, which makes it rather hard to produce a nice test!

By the time we’d finished, I think we’d looked at every marker and spooked at every corner.

Still we came home with a 62.88% and a 3rd. The percentage was higher than Sundays for the same test and we didn’t get any of the same comments that I could easily change. ( not showing the give and retakes well enough, for example).

Should I have been firmer with Abbey when she wasn’t listening? Or would that have resulted in an argument? I might try it next and see what happens! If it’s an unplanned dismount, we’ll know that it’s not the best way forward…

Stressage at the weekend

On Saturday we competed at Swallowfields in the 2nd round of the Trailblazers qualifiers.

All in all, it went rather well. We’d not done as much prep as I would have liked and Abbey isn’t as fit as she should be so to come home with 65.86% and 61.92% was quite an achievement!

The first test was Novice 24 and a warm-up class. As I didn’t want to tire Abbey out, I kept the warm-up very short – 10 mins.  This seemed to suit her and something I am going to try again at our next competition.

 

The venue was running a little late for the next test and there were more horses in the warm-up arena. So we warmed-up, then walked and stretched (having realised that we’d a little wait) and then did a couple of transitions before going in. Abbey started to get a little crabby, tossing her head in the warm up and pulling faces when another horse got too close (in her opinion, nobody actually got too close!).

In this test she felt more tense than in the first. I think I was rushing her while also trying to steady her, which made her cross!

Saddles and teeth

ATM I am not convinced either of Abbey’s two saddles (dressage and GP) fit. Really I ought to get the saddle fitter out but it’s only been a couple of months since she last came and it’s getting rather expensive.

I’m going to have a look at treeless saddles, they are supposed to be a bit more forgiving for horses that change shape regularly and I rather like the idea of Abbey having something soft on her back.

In the meantime though, we’ve not stopped schooling or hacking around the farm. I’ve put my brave pants on and started riding on a bareback pad. I’ve surprised myself and seem to have pretty good balance even without stirrups!

Continue reading “Saddles and teeth”

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