Thursday, 12 August 2010


Well we are off to a clinic with Heather Moffett at the weekend (14th / 15th August) and am really looking forwards to it! Be prepared for a BIG update when I get back!,40767.0.html

Also there is a BIG Friesian event being ran alongside the Friesian gradings this year for FHAGBI’s 15th Anniversary – this is being held at Vale View in Leicestershire so not far from us so we have entered a couple of classes! WOOOOP! Im NOT gonna tell you what ive entered yet cos Ive been a bit crazy and now im crapping myself lol!! If anyone is going, be sure to come and say HI!!

Health Update!

After Antsje’s teeth had been done we noticed she was chewing her hay funny. Kind of making little twists with it like you were going to make a straw dolly lol! I got back in touch with the dentist and he said he would come and recheck her but couldn’t make it for 2 weeks. In the meantime the problem seemed to resolve itself but he still came out to put my (obsessed!) mind at rest lol! Nothing seemed to be causing a problem so maybe she just didn’t like that bale of hay! Who knows!

After doing a bit of trimming of her legs the other day I found some flaky skin in her feathers and also a ‘spongy’ area in the back of her heel. So since then I have been scrubbing with hibiscrub, combing out the flakes, drying the area thoroughly and using tea tree ointment / purple spray and sudocrem on the spongy bit lol! She also has an area on the inside hind that never grows any hair and can get quite dry skin. Ive always thought it was a skin allergy of some type but now I think it might be a strike mark from her other inside hind! So I thought I might experiment with some over-reach boots on her hind feet. All seemed to be going well until last night I noticed these had rubbed her foot on the opposite side! ARRRGGGGHHH! So not sure WHAT to do now!

Training Update........

Training Update!

God I MUST blog more regular lol! Where were we……..

Ok, so we have mostly been working on ‘forward into the contact’ and ‘power from behind’
We have definitely upped the anti this last couple of weeks and I think its been hard work for both of us…physically and mentally! For a start off, now we have a more powerful trot I am struggling to sit to it and can tell I am blocking Antsje and I rather suspect I have been for a while and this is why the trot has gone down to MY level and I suppose this has also suited Antsje lol! A bit humbling I can tell you when you realise its always the rider that’s stuffing up the horse lol! So I have been working more in rising trot to really free her up but she is grumbling about it a bit because now she has got to put a bit more effort in!
So I have been really concentrating on her reactions to my leg……….if she doesn’t react to it STRAIGHT AWAY and just lollops into trot, then she gets bought back to walk, ‘animated’ by use of my voice and a couple of taps with the schooling whip. We then do a succession of transitions until I can feel her really ‘waiting for it’ and once we are “there” a lot of things fall into place because she is ON THE AIDS! We had both got a bit DULL I think and Antsje was taking her own good time before she reacted to my requests and I was merrily accepting this!

We have had another lesson since the dressage tests too and the instructor had a little sit on Antsje too! It was good to watch her and I got good feedback on Antsje’s way of going. In the lesson it was just re-affirming Antsje being forwards into the contact, making sure she was reactive to the aids and we also played about with collecting and lengthening the stride in trot….done on a circle. We also did work on serpentines really asking Antsje for more suppleness through the changes of rein. I was very pleased at the end of the lesson ….. Antsje really does have a good attitude to her work which is more than half the battle (bad choice of word! But that’s the saying lol!)

We have also been working more on schooling the canter too and it is becoming just more ‘everyday’ rather than Ooooo shall we do ‘CANTER’!! lol!
The last couple of session’s I’ve noticed that although the contact is now very consistent and she still needs to be taking more weight behind and be getting that feeling of her rising up through the wither. We are getting moments of this and it feels bloody brilliant! But its time to move towards this being the normality rather than flashing glimpses.

So things I’ve been doing to help are:
Reinback to trot
Walk to canter
Shoulder in and Counter shoulder in
Leg yield to canter
Travers in walk and attempts (!!) in trot lol!
Half pass in walk and attempts (!!) in trot!

Although the travers / half pass in trot is pretty rubbish it is still having an effect of collecting her and bringing her together more, so I think its worth persevering with!
Fridays are her day off and she gets an all over massage with an electric massager which she LOVES. She worked hard last week so she had 2 days off with massages both days and felt loads ‘boingier’ on Saturday! And we also did a bit of jumping at the weekend for a change and some fun!

So its been all good! Oh, and for improving your seat, work without stirrups in SHORTS lol! Your skin sticks to the saddle and you gotta keep your butt in the saddle or it hurts lol!

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Mmmmmmmm :o)

Had a really EXCELLENT ride today :o)
First off, Antsje is working far more consistently at seeking the bit which is a really great improvement as she does tend to do this ‘holding’ thing and I can tend to be a bit ‘backward’ with the hand in response. Both very subtle faults, which can become a norty habit! But when she is really seeking the contact you can tell the difference with her way of going.

So now we have a nice stretch to the bit and also her still ‘seeking forwards’ when you bring her together more, we still need a little bit more OOOMPH from the back end ;o) We need forwards but not so much faster but more engagement so we start to get that lift through the shoulder. So Im having to get after her a bit at the beginning of the session as we get nice stretch but in her ‘comfort zone’ or we get a bit too rushy and tight neck! I suppose she does find it very hardwork to keep the tone through her body yet turn on the power!

I know when I do my running, at times I just feel so super strong and powerful with my body feeling ‘connected’ which comes from the abs / core I think……but although it does feel great, I do struggle to keep this ‘poise’ for extended periods of time. It comes and it goes. As I get fitter, It comes more often and it goes less – so I suppose this is a similar feeling that Antsje has………

Anyway, we got some fairly nice work today, esp on circles but we do tend to loose it on serpentines…. Or quick changes of rein. So I decided to really concentrate on ‘lateral flexion’ as I know when we get her round my inside leg properly her way of going moves to another level!
So I did 10 m circles and then as I came back to the track I changed direction but keeping the bend so we were in a counter shoulder in position which really helped me control the SI positioning and therefore increased engagement as sometimes in normal SI we end up drifting to the middle of the school lol! So say we did a 10m circle at E on the right rein, we would come round and as we come back towards the track I would track left towards A with the bend now to the outside.
She found this quite difficult at first and kept breaking out of the trot…..funnily enough she was better on the right rein! But she soon started to get the idea and by the end my god she was really flexed round my inside leg, really light in hand but IN hand, and her back felt great! I was riding practically off the seat and my hands were just forwards and recycling the energy as we did circles, serpentines and figures of eight! I let her do a nice stretchy trot to end on both reins and called it a day. So so so pleased with her :o)

So in conclusion, next session I am going to do stretchy walk / trot / canter quite quickly to get warmed up and then do this counter shoulder in work and see if it has the same effect of getting her round my inside leg. Sometimes I think I need more of a plan when I ride to make the most of our time!

Monday, 19 July 2010


Took Antsje out to Swallowfield equestrian on Saturday to do a couple of dressage tests (Unaff) and I was very brave cos not only did I do P18 but I also did N20..... our first attempt at Novice!!

Bearing in mind we haven’t done a test since Nov last year and that was at our livery yard, so I haven’t actually competed away from home for over a year......I wasn’t expecting miracles!! Since having a couple of lessons and being put back 'on track' the new work has also been a little inconsistent, so really, I had no idea how it would go lol! I hired a reader just to take that pressure off and went with a view of ME being calm and not getting in a flap

My sister, Amy and my niece all came along which was great because we all had a good laugh, which kept my nerves at bay!!

So, to cut a long story short........Anstje was a BL00DY STAR!!! When it comes down to it, she always knows when to 'switch it on' and she tried her little heart out and I couldnt have asked for anymore I made a couple of fluffs in the prelim by not preparing as well as I could, also she nearly broke in the canter so I sent her forwards a bit too much and then had a rubbish downwards trans lol!!
I went into the Novice not so under pressure as it was just a little play around at this level! So I seemed to get my head into gear a bit better and was a lot more helpful to her, I suppose because there is more to ‘do’ in a novice I really had to keep her together more whereas I think I needed to be a bit more ‘on the ball’ in the prelim lol!

They judged all prelim classes (3) and all Novice classes (3) together and in the Prelim I came 7th on 60% which I was really pleased about as there were 13 riders in all. Then in the novice I came 3rd!!! on 62% and we got a rosette!! I was just so chuffed as I think Antsje deserved something for her incredible attitude and generosity to her rider



Lots to work on I know, and I was happy with the judges comments :o) BUT…… a lot to like as well I think?? I mean…… I got 6 for canter!! HURRAH!! That’s a miracle in itself lol!

And my beautiful girl……..


Friday, 9 July 2010

Resistance is futile.............

But she's gonna have a go anyway hahahaha!!!

I think Antsje is testing out my commitment to the 'power trot'........ Two stubborn mares together = KABOOOM!!

Well after a days rest we had an absolutely AMAZING session last night!! I did some poll flexions before I go ton last night and she was quite resistant to start but after a few she started to soften up and relax her jaw. I also did a little girivolta work in hand just a couple of circles either way, but with my hand on top of her poll to encourage relaxation and flexion.

So I got on and worked on the lengthening the neck / bringing together / lengthening idea on a circle to really try and get her thinking of working forwards into my hand. I think I really need to work more on this ‘connection’ as I think we have just got into a little comfort zone with both of us coasting a bit!
Well she seemed to get the hang of it better and we did some trot in the same manner, working FDO and then bringing up and then FDO – trying to get it really fluid and Antsje not backing off the contact or my leg!
I also rode without stirrups for a while so I could stretch my hips and deepen my seat too.

We did a few walk / trot transition from this deeper connection and although the swing was quite nice it was a very sedate lumber into trot! So next time I gave her a flick with the whip and made a bit of a noise at her and she LEAPT into trot lol! All or bloody nothing with this mare lol! BUT! I clicked and treated the effort because I did want an immediate response like that – perhaps not quite so leapy though lol! So Next trans we did was blimmin fantastic – surged up into trot and you could just feel the lift through her shoulders. And the trot, god it felt like we were flying, just so much power and lift in it, I was just grinning like a fool! And we had this for the rest of the evening – consistent contact and powering from behind, into my hand and a lift from the wither………very addictive ;o)

We went on to do a bit of canter, and she does have a tendancy to fall in on the circle. My sister was watching and she suggested I rode or rather ‘thought’ SQUARE rather than circle and I have to say it worked so much better to think of riding her straight.
The downside in canter is that I feel like a bag of shite! I tense up, draw my leg up, go stiff and tighten my arse and therefore cannot sit nice and deep in the saddle. Part of it is because im trying so hard to stop her falling in on her shoulder that I feel like my body is contorting in an attempt to keep her straight. I think I need to do some canter work without stirrups to try and get out the habit of drawing my leg up and loosing my seat.

Other than that though I was very very pleased with her efforts and I can definitely feel the difference in the quality of trot and what we need to be aiming for from now on.

This mornings session was another matter completely! She was back to being resistant again and wouldn’t come forwards off the leg and seek the contact down. Grrrrrrrrrr! She would either rush off all hollow, of stretch down in the lumbering granny trot we had got ourselves stuck into. So after asking nicely in as many ways as I could think of, I ended up loosing a bit of patience to be honest and was rather firm with her that she got off the leg, and that she gave to the contact. Probably not very classical and I really don’t like falling out with her, BUT, it worked and when she gave I softened immediately and from then on we had some nice work and a nice ‘connection’ Is five minutes of ‘bossy riding’ better than half an hour of half hearted nagging? My gut feeling is is that she is just finding this work harder (I know I am!!) and she is seeing how committed I am to it!! Because when we have ‘got it’ I am not having to hold her ‘in a frame’ she is just ‘there’. Thoughts???………….

Well anyhow, I got some nice trot work and transitions and I left it there and gave her plenty of praise for the GOOD stuff.

I will just go out on a nice relaxing hack tomorrow so she can have a stretch and rest before our lesson again on Sunday. I know My hips ache today and we are both putting in more effort this last few sessions so I am mindful that although I want to be firm that this is the way its gonna be – I also want to be fair and realise she will need some recovery after these harder sessions.

So………..another mixed bag! Lol!

Thursday, 8 July 2010

A little bit hit and miss..........

So I have been working on the ‘lengthening / bringing together / lengthening’ and the deeper position of the neck and it just seems to take forever to get some consistency in the contact. I can feel a bubble of frustration in me partly because Im sure she understands my requests and partly because Im not sure what im doing wrong! All I know is that it’s a weird feeling when she is not accepting the bridle, and I can give her the reins or take up the reins but she not really **there** and the half halts etc just do not work! Because Ive only got a limited amount of time in the morning the frustration is intensified and I KNOW I am getting a bit ‘handy’ by nagging with the rein and I KNOW that this does no good what so ever because even if I do get her to give this way as soon as I ask her to take the rein down she doesn’t follow, she just ‘holds’ at the wither. GAH!
BUT! When we DO get it, its bloody fantastic! Maybe I have just got to accept that it will take a period of adjustment for both of us to settle into being more focussed and obviously working a bit harder lol! The annoying thing is, is that I just don’t KNOW how I’m getting it when we DO get it!! But I can bet my bottom dollar its summat to do with me! And most likely my tension lol!

Just to be sure I am getting her teeth checked at the weekend just to rule out any discomfort in her mouth.

I gave her the day off yesterday so Ill be interested to see if a rest will help tonights session. And I have got to CALM DOWN mentally and keep a lid on the old ‘frustrated perfectionist’ that is ever lurking just under the surface Grrrrrrrrrrrrr!!!

A bit of exciting news……….Ive entered two dressage tests!! My sister said she would take me as my Birthday pressie and I have finally got the courage up to do a Novice test as well as a Prelim! The trot is certainly good enough and well, you gotta start somewhere hey!! REALX and BREEEEATHE!!!! Lol!


I had a lesson last Sunday – the first in a few months! The lady rides at Intermediere level and has trained her two TB’s herself. She enjoys working with non-typical dressage horses and has a good eye for horse and rider ;o)

She picked up very quickly on mine and Antsje’s strengths and weaknesses and this gave me a lot of confidence in her instruction.
She was very complimentary about the work I have done with Antsje so far, so that was a relief!! She said I have done well in getting her neck out as so many horses like these are ridden too short in the neck and she was also happy with my position in general, which again was a bit of a relief.
She also picked up on my tendency to ‘tip forwards’ and Antsje not quite being ‘through’.
So we worked a lot on getting a proper and honest connection from back to front with Antsje, which meant her putting a bit more effort in lol! And also me being really strong in the core and encouraging action from the HQ’s and holding it with my seat and “not touching the front end” so Antsje was encouraged to be confident in the contact.
She also recommended working Antsje a bit ‘deeper’ to really get that connection over the back and into the hand. Now before you all go ARGH!! This wasn’t with her head on her chest!! Just a slightly lower position with the neck to really tie in the back and the withers as the energy can get a bit unconnected at this point. Its always something Mike has got me to do too, so I was happy enough with the idea. She also said that with a horse built like Antsje you will never have a problem getting the neck ‘up’ because of the way she is built so we can afford to ask her to work a bit lower without any problem.
So we worked on getting her to take the rein down, then bringing her together a bit, then taking the rein down again so we were able to keep the neck coming forwards fluidly whether we were in a stretch or more ‘together’ Once we had this feeling she got me to think ‘leg yield’ but not actually let her step over but just hold her with the outside leg and rein so in effect it acted like a half halt and encouraged her to activate her inside hind more. From this position we asked for a transition into trot and I have to say it was SUPER! F noticed that although our upward trans were good, the downward ones were not quite there. Once she got me pressing Antsje ‘forwards’ into the walk and me really raising my rib cage lo and behold we got some excellent downward trans too! So, if we don’t the horse to collapse – the rider MUSTN’T collapse lol!! Obvious hey!

In the trot we concentrated on asking Antsje for more POWER but not to go any faster or come out of balance. To do this I had to be really strong in my core and control her with my rising and just try and keep a consistent steady contact with my hand. The trot felt REALLY good and REALLY connected and I could see that now both me and Antsje have improved in strength and balance we need to move up a gear as we are both capable of it!!

F had a look at the canter and again was pleased with what we had achieved. She thought improvements could be made by again keeping this nice connection that we had going in the trot and not let her back off as she went up into the canter trans. So she got us working on a really strong powerful trot on a 10m circle, getting Antsje to really release over the back and through the neck, once I felt that nice powerful SWING I asked her to leg yield out for 2-3 strides and then go up into canter. It really worked WELL!! On the left rein we got some excellent ‘direct’ transitions and because she kept the connection over the back and through to the hand the quality of the canter was much better and therefore we also got some nice downward trans into the trot again. On the right rein she seemed to need a few strides to organise her legs before we got the canter transition, but she didn’t rush and she didn’t loose the connection and both me and F were pleased with her efforts.

To finish, we did serpentines in trot with a 10m circle each time we came back to the track. Antsje struggled a bit with this exercise and didn’t want to keep the ‘power on’ and we lost the connection a bit – although maybe we were both getting a bit tired too! F asked me to let her take the reins down but to still keep the connection and not to just throw them away! And we finished by doing a few figure of eights in a stretched out swingy trot which F said would be good to start and finish our sessions on as it gets that ‘forward neck into the contact’ attitude and also will really help stretch and unlock the top line muscles before and after the main work.

I was really pleased with the lesson and it has given us lots to work on! Im having another next Sunday!! Hahaha!

A few adjustments.....

Well after watching the videos a few times I have put some focus on my leg position and balance again! I put my stirrups up one hole and really concentrated in riding ‘off my knees’ and not off my feet ala JVT instruction! Lol!
It felt a bit awkward at first I have to say, and I could feel myself going back to the ‘tippy’ position with my upper body **sigh** It seems if the body is UP, then my legs goes forwards, if the legs come in alignment, the body tips forwards! ARGH!!!!! BUT!! If I really focus on riding from the knees AND lifting the rib cage it does come together – and im rewarded by Antsje going along beautifully! Practice makes perfect – but I am missing eyes on the ground :o( Cue a much needed lesson!

Sunday, 27 June 2010


Got some poor sod to video me in return for a drink down the awful hey!!! hahaha! The video-er needs training with the zoom lol! but heck, im very grateful for him doing it full stop!

I can see im still collapsing a bit esp in downward trans......
Also, when im trying too hard (lateral work / no stirrups) my arse gets tight and Im far too tense and it ruins my seat and therefore blocks Antsje. Things to think about....... ;o)

Walk to canter

Walk pirouette attmepts

Lateral Work (although not very clear angle)

Trot and right canter trans

Left Canter


As always - grateful for any comments / observations :o)