Monday, 24 August 2009


A couple of lightbulb moments!!

On thursday I did some schooling in the outdoor school and in general had a good session. Antsje was good today, I was slightly off form :-( Just one of those things, i was on an 'off' day and just couldnt get the strength of connection needed in my core to be as effective as I wanted. But that was me just being picky lol! Despite this, Antsje did her best to listen to me and work off my seat although it wasnt as consistent as Id have liked. But I was pleased that Antsje seemes to have settled to this new way of going as she could have easily have 'taken over' this session if she's have wanted to. So for that Im pleased and just a little bit grateful hahahah!!

So the lesson learned from today is that to be effective I really have to get this 'core connection' established because as soon as I start relying on the reins for speed control it just make her faster and tenser and therefore makes my position even weaker. I f I loose it, I am best to come to a walk and start again rather than over use the reins and get the 'tramming' that I know and HATE! I also have to accept that **I** will have off days and so will Antsje - and I have to work with this positively rather than get in a funk about it!

Yesterday I did a 5K Fun Run in the morning and felt a little bit tired by the time I had poo picked the paddock! So we went for a short hack - which we both enjoyed :-D It gave me plenty of time for me to think about my position and I have realised that although I have been keeping my lower leg in a much better position from Janes lesson, my thighs were not quite right. I didnt realise it until I had a little wriggle around and felt much better when my thigh rolled 'in' a little more than it was, I definately 'felt' the difference and as we did a nice steady trot home, I could actually feel my thigh deepen a little more each time with the rise! The position felt much more secure and because we were just going in a straight line and up a slight incline in kept Antsje's rhythm steady which made it easier for me to really concentrate on the 'feel' so I can try and re-create it again next ride!

I also took a few piccies of her this afternoon just because she is looking so gorgeous! I was bringing her dinner down to the field so Imnot quite sure she appreciated the impromptu camera shoot lol!!!

Hmmmmm!!! DINNER!

MUUUM!!! Hurry UP!!!



Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Another GOOD ride!!!

I can hardly believe it! ANOTHER good ride! and in the outdoor arena too!!


So what did we do? TO start off with I concentrated on the inside leg / outside hand connection while in walk by doing lots of circles and leg yielding steps. Then we moved up into trot, and right from the word go Im finding it much easier to keep the connection in rising trot. One throwaway comment Jane made was to be brave with your rise and 'go to the top of the rise' which must have lodged itself in my brain somehow and it has proved to be really useful.

Trouble is, I have been so focussed on not getting flung about, I havent really been following through to the top of the rise as Im so paranoid about getting my arse back into that saddle! Trouble is, ive been coming back into the saddle at the WRONG TIME! Something ive really noticed about getting the rise 'right' is that when I sit, her back comes up to recieve my seat, rather than her back being hollow when I come down too early. Its very subtle, and its by no means standing upright in my stirrups! its just more a matter of letting my hips follow the movement to its full extent which I wasnt allowing to happen before.

I have also taken up running again - something I havent done since a child! and I do feel that this is also really helping my fitness, particularly my aerobic fitness and being able to keep strong in my abs rather than feeling puffed out and going floppy! I will take this opportunity for a shameless plug as Im running to raise money for Macmillan Cancer support - so if anyone fancies donating a pound or two you can find out more about it in my new blog Reason2Run ;-)

So after some nice circles in trot being VERY concious of what my inside hand is doing, we did some work along the long side and changes of rein - as this normally highlights our inconsistencies in balance! And actually we did pretty well! When we got down to the far end of the school, Antsje became a little distracted by new 'surroundings' but I was pleased how quickly I managed to regulate the trot again without 'fiddling' by really concentrating on my rising and 'refocussing' her attention back to the matter in hand lol!

So feeling quite brave, I asked for canter on the left rein and got quite a nice transition, we did a complete circle and then came back into trot again and actually the trot was NICE as sometimes it can be a bit gung ho after a canter! So then I asked for right canter but out of walk - we got CORRECT LEAD!!! Again we did a complete circle and although it was a bit motorbikey I was just pleased with the correct strike off. Again we came back to a sensible trot.
To finish I asked for a serpentine down the school as sometimes after canter she can get over excited and 'anticipating' and i just want to really get her tuned into my seat even in exctitable situations ;-) And yes! we finished with some nice relaxed trot so I jumped off and just led her round to cool off.

What I did notice was straight away she was better into the outside rein on the left - she is SUCH a quick learner as this is what we finished on, on monday Morning. Its just ME that has to be more observant of my naughty habits lol!

We ended with some poll release work in the stable which i think she is now finding quite relaxing :-)

Monday, 17 August 2009

Quick Update!

Went for a hack on Saturday and BOOHOO!! the fields are now ploughed! So not quite as much galloping as we had been doing! But we found a new track to go down and canter back YAY! And because she is SOOOO eager homeward bound we had a really lovely walk to canter transition :-)

This morning we rode in the indoor school. First circling in walk and asking for a bigger circle by leg yielding out to try and get that inside leg / outside rein connection. Then we did some trot work and on the right it was quite nice! But on the left it felt really rubbish - I had nothing in the outside rein at all and was falling into the trap of fussing with the inside rein. So I quit the trot work, got a long whip, put both reins inthe outside hand so I couldnt faff with the inside rein and worked on activating the inside hind with the whip until I felt her come into the outside rein give me an inside flexion without using the inside rein ;-) Once I had this, I did a little work in trot to get the same feeling - inside bend without the inside rein!
What a difference it makes - much better feel to it. So ended on a good note :-)

Must practice the one handed riding more often, the difference it makes is really obvious.

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Stop the Rollercoaster! I wanna get off!!!

Up - down - up - down!!!

So this morning was better! much better! We rode in the indoor school so not sure if that made any difference or not - I just dont know what the ingredients are to a good ride or a bad one!
But it went much better this morning and I held the core connection more often than not throughout the ride :-) I dont have as long to ride in the morning so maybe this is better as both of us dont get the chance to get tired - maybe I just keep going to long when Im not running to a timescale? I still came off very pink so its still obviously a good workout even though im not riding for so long :-)

I just need to be able to apply this connection consciously, rather than just 'getting it' by some miracle lol!

Monday, 10 August 2009

I lost it, I lost it! :-(

Not a good session tonight! Started of well, should have ended it there! but oh no, I had to keep going and then just kept drifiting in and out of the connection :-( Antsje went back to her rushing and I just got pinged everywhere! Seriously disheartened :-(

I just dont think I can do this.................


I got it! I got it! I got it!!!

Can you tell I got IT! Hahahahaha!

Had a great ride on Saturday – Antsje is definitely getting the hang of this now and we are getting much less rushing and far more relaxed swinging!

But the best thing is I really got the core connection thing going on and was able to really sit and rise under control and by doing that was able to keep antsje in balance and bring her back to me just by my rising! It felt great :-D

I am hoping I can re-create it again tonight when I ride – fingers crossed. It helped me to think of a connection between my hips and elbows – I have no idea why this worked, but it just seemed to get me in the ‘strong’ position somehow!

When I get it right instead of me feeling like I am sitting down into Antsje, it feels more like she is coming up to meet my seat! Does that make sense?
Looking forwards to tonights ride! Lets hope this mornings rain stops a bit as she is out unrugged Grrrrrrrrrrrr!!!!

We are still continuing with the poll release work and flexions - id like to think this is helping. She is certainley becoming more relaxed about it. One nice thing I noticed is that she is softer and more flexible AFTER the ride than before - obviously the muscles are warmed up after exercise but I am hopeful that this indicates the schooling work is beneficial rather than causing more tension?

Friday, 7 August 2009

Relinquish - How much can we really ask for?

WARNING!!!! Some musings of my mind hahahah!!!!!

I have noticed that Antsje never really seems to have a wet mouth after riding. She has always been very tense / resistant in her poll – even on the ground! She is quite reluctant to give me her head willingly. Even though we have worked with clicker, she will put her head down on cue for a click and treat but it’s a learned behaviour not really a willing ‘I will give you my head’ action – does that make sense?
So I have been trying to work on some ‘poll release’ to try and see if I can remove some of the tension there and get her to trust me with her head! I have always known this is her ‘holding point’ both mentally and physically but I still haven’t found a way in yet. I can get it by ‘tricks’ like clicker, and also if I stick my finger in her mouth and make her ‘chew’ it automatically releases the poll area and I can bring her head down – but none of this is a mentally giving thing from her!
So Wednesday I spent a long time ‘playing’ with relaxing her poll, head and neck and we did start to get some softness and release. And she did start chewing of her own accord and sighing. She wasn’t 100% there – she wasn’t even 80% there, but I think it’s the best genuine, non contrived response Ive had from her. The best exercise I found was standing in front of her head, with each hand placed on each side of her poll and just moving her head from side to side in a way that it made her crest ‘flip over’ each time she flexed to each side. Normally when I moved her head from side to side, she is still very fixed in this area and although the neck moves that little flexion in the poll doesn’t happen.

So this morning, before I bridled up, I did this same exercise and she was definitely softer and more willing to let me move her head gently from side to side, flexing the poll. There is still resistance there, but it was less – I have to wonder if this had a bearing on her being altogether softer when I rode today? We will see!!! Iwill continue with this work – my gut feeling is this is an important key to unlock.

I have to have a rueful smile to myself – me and Antsje are so alike! And Im asking her to do something that I struggle and resist to do myself – and that is give herself over to me completely. She does trust me, that I know for sure, but there is still that bit of self preservation there, that little bit that she just cannot let go of! Maybe I have no right to ask that of her! Maybe ‘IM’ just not ready to receive it yet, maybe she feels I still am not worthy of it – and she perhaps has a point! I still get far too frustrated at times! I don’t think personally I have ever given that last 10 % either, to anyone! – I don’t know if I can either! I understand how she feels ;-)
Maybe I should be content with what we have lol! After all its not a bad place to be :-D


For a GOOD RIDE! Well, the lord has thrown me a lifeline hahahahaha!!! This morning we have had a really good session with Antsje listening and being soft At all times. Yes there were moments of unbalance where she came against the hand – BUT – she listened and allowed me to rebalance her through the seat rather than do her panic and rushing off routine YAY! We have had so many rides where I have had to get quite tough with her and it has been very argumentative and I HATE it – and even though we end with some nice work, I really do not like having to fall out with her to get her there.

This morning she tried really hard and when we went into trot she stayed soft and relaxed which allowed me to get into the zone and therefore KEEP the nice trot! On the right rein she is still balancing on her inside shoulder a bit and tending to flex to the outside, so I worked on exercises in walk to help engage the inside hind. We did some Shoulder in on a circle and then we worked down the long side doing a little shoulder in, then half pass to the ¾ line and then keeping the bend leg yield back to the track and then continuing in shoulder in. Then I asked for trot again and it was much improved. I was then able to get some leg yield steps to the outside of the circle and ask for inside flexion by turning my thumb over and knuckles down and when she flexed I returned my hand to the normal position and tried to keep the bend from the inside leg. When she is working in the correct flexion the trot feel really nice! We did the same exercises on the Left rein, but this time instead of focusing on the inside flexion, I concentrated on her staying on the circle by controlling her outside shoulder with the rein and my outside leg as she tend to naturally fall out on this rein – which is good for the engagement of inside hind and inside bend, but she is not really working properly.

The main thing that is frustrating is ME!!!! Even with her being submissive today, I am still struggling to keep my arse in the saddle! And if she wasn’t so co-operative today, she could have easily just threw me about and we would be back to the whole argument again of her rushing, me having to overuse the reins, her rushing even more because she HATES feeling hemmed in, and so on and so on! Wednesday night I got it! I could really sit into her, but this morning I wasn’t quite there – it wasn’t terrible, but I wasn’t effective with my seat. I know I tend to collapse my tummy, round my back and stick my bum out when I try and SIT DOWN and it is just such a crap and useless position to take! But its now become a habit, and I feel really horrible when I try and change it. I find it difficult to engage the core without getting stiff and tense everywhere else which then makes me ‘ping’ I know I have to have a certain amount of relaxation in my body as does Antsje, but I haven’t got that strength yet to turn it on in certain parts of my body and keep the rest relaxed. Its so FREAKIN frustrating, I cant tell you!!! And even when Antsje is working nicely like today, it is one hell of a movement to absorb! I suppose its just practice, practice, practice – but with other life commitments like work and kids, I just cant fit any more riding time in! I can realistically ride 4-5 times a week, which isn’t bad I suppose, but I wonder if its enough with a horse like Antsje?

So things to work on:
Engaging the right inside hind
Keeping the inside flexion to the right with the inside leg
Varying the tempo in trot so Antsje learns to ‘come back’ to me from my rising
Getting into the zone with my rising and SITTING!!!!!
Being aware of my hands!! They are tending to be a little ‘backwards’ for my liking!! But since we have this ‘lighter contact’ I can at least recognise it and this will help me STOP IT!

Things that were GOOD!
Antsje listened to my seat today!!!
Antsje stayed soft in my hand which made it easier for me to ‘feel’ any blockages and therefore help to correct them
Antsje was using herself much better in trot today and it was nice and swinging
The lateral work was much better, less resistant and more fluid :-)


Thursday, 6 August 2009

Mown Fields =


We have some great off road hacking here and to make it even better they have mown the fields so it is a pretty seamless YEEEHAAAAAA from start to finish lol! It is a great way of clearing out the cobwebs, feeling exhilarated, getting fit and most of all having FUN! For both of us :-)
I have also used the opportunity to concentrate on my position whilst out hacking :-)
The last time we went for a blast, I made sure Antsje was on the right canter lead before letting her 'go' as I really want to try and strengthen the right side and thought this might be a good way to do it. Not much to add other than I forgot just how necessary a good blast is for the soul!

Has been a bit of a mixed bag :-S It starts off not so good and eventually ends up with some nice work. Im still struggling with how we get there though! I still feel like im fumbling around in the dark - at least I can feel WHEN its good now, and when its good and I can normally keep it :-) But I cant seem to get past that period of frustration where it feels crap / resistant / lumpy / out of balance :-( And I STILL dont know what im doing to get it to the good stuff! HO-HUM another lesson is required I think!

I still have to wonder if im fighting as loosing battle sometimes though - perhaps with the rescources available to me namely time and money and the fact that physically me and Antsje are not an ideal match - I am just NEVER gonna get there and I could well do without the frustration of an unobtainable dream!

Maybe I should just write this year off and stick to more hacking. But I seem to be writing more years off than on! BLEUGH! this is why Im not writing much at the minute, cant seem to think of anything positive to say and I HATE moany old whingers lol!!!