Thursday, 28 January 2010


Well this morning was fun!! As I hadn’t done any canter work for the last couple of days I thought we’d do some today! We started of walking circles making sure that she was stepping ‘out’ onto the circle at all times and was bending around the inside leg and not off the inside rein. I always start off in this way, on a circle, both reins in my outside hand and a long schooling whip in my inside hand to either tap her HQ’s or Shoulders over as necessary. We are correct from the start then and it seems to form the basis of GOOD work. In the right rein to start with every ¼ turn of the circle I can start to feel her come in on her shoulders and move her neck towards the outside, but if I tap tap tap her shoulders so I feel her pushing back out and filling the outside rein then activate her inside hind we get that ‘leg yieldy’ feeling again and also inside flexion WITHOUT having to use the inside rein!

We moved up into trot and today the right rein felt far more consistent and I really worked on achieving the same work as I did on the walking circles. Then I played a little bit with bringing the trot as slow as I could using my seat and putting her on a 10m circle without her falling back into walk and after half a circle of really slow trot send her forwards again on a bigger circle but trying to keep the activity of the HQ’s generated by the slower trot. She tried really hard with this and I was pleased with her as she was very submissive to my seat and I really only had to use the rein to re-balance her now and again but NOT to stop her tramming though my hands!

So finally we moved onto canter………………and………….she was very forward!! Lol! Although I did walk to canter we didn’t get the same kind of slow controlled canter that we had at the weekend………….BUT………she did not get any quicker and it actually felt quite balanced in the fact that she wasn’t motorbiking round the corners and weighting her inside shoulder. She was reaching for the contact at all times and was round and relaxed through her back, so it was actually quite comfortable to sit! :-D Nothing like when she is rushing and braced through the back and neck.

Onto me! For some reason I just didn’t seem to have much strength today so although I was effective in rising trot when I went sitting I could tell I wasn’t quite there because I was tipping forwards and drawing up my leg gggggrrrrrrr!! I think this may be why the canter was more forward too as I just couldn’t keep her on my seat! The odd moment I DID get my seat right she slowed down! So although she was perhaps a bit more forward than late I do think that I was part of the problem as I couldn’t dictate the tempo so she did instead hahaha!

So not a 'perfect' ride but not awful by any means – in fact I was quite impressed that Antsje was able to balance herself in canter so well in a longer frame than we have been working in. I have seen the time she would have fell on her nose – or at least had her ears up mine hehehehe!!!!

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Ramblings and Musings......

Another productive ride this morning :-D We did very similar work to yesterday morning to reinforce the flexing at the poll. One thing I did do different this morning was to do the little poll flexes in hand before I got on. This entails standing in front of her head, with my hands either side of her poll and just flex her poll either side so the the crest of her neck ‘flips over’ each side. I do this practically each time after I ride nowadays and I do believe it releases any tensions in the poll area which is an area where she holds significant tension if im not careful. I can tell it works because after a few ‘flips’ to each side she starts chewing and blowing through her nose ;-) It is also interesting because it is easy to flip the crest to the left but harder to the right, where she will try and bend more through her neck rather than make that little flexion right at the junction of the poll. Im not sure it is any great issue, other than just natural crookedness because after a few goes it becomes easier for her – she just seems to find it harder to isolate this spot on the right side for some reason.

Whether this had an impact on the ridden work its hard to say, but she definitely found it easier to flex on the right rein today – not perfect, but better and BOY can you feel the difference through her whole body when she has that ‘genuine’ bend rather than relying on the inside rein for support – FANTASTIC!! It somehow unlocks the inside hind and the back and she feels ‘buoyant’ to ride. Im experimenting how I can achieve this flexion under saddle as it really is just a tiny flexion right at the poll – I find it more difficult to isolate this area from the saddle as she does prefer to bend her neck!! But raising the inside rein up and out slightly seems to be having an effect – in no way does it work if I pull back!! She is teaching me well lol! I also find that she doesn’t ‘fill’ the outside rein on the right rein for, im guessing, much the same reason. Going back to the one handed girivolta work I always find it harder to get inside bend on this rein until I figured out that I need to move the shoulders over. I am almost trying to get that ;falling out of the shoulder’ feel on the circle on the right rein and then I seem to get that correct bend without the use of the inside rein.
Its all fascinating stuff and we are brave enough to leave the ‘head’ alone and let the horse make their mistakes it gives us valuable information on what and where we need to address to get the horse straight and balanced.

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Back to morning rides! BOING!

We had a nice session this morning although I have got to get back into the mindset of short productive early morning rides after such a lay off from them!! I didn’t want to get off this morning and subsequently spent the rest of the morning dashing around like a lunatic so I wouldn’t be late for work Eeeeeeek!!

We didn’t do any canter today but stuck to walk and trot, particularly at obtaining a nice flexion through the poll. Antsje find this hardest on the right rein and will get a bit onward bound in an attempt to resist this. I did a lot of warm up in walk on a circle both in Shoulder in and then travers (can you tell I’ve been watching PK again lol!) so I got her really supple through the body and in a correct flexion to the inside. We did the same exercises in trot and she even managed a few steps of baby travers on the circle which I was pleased about as she finds this difficult.
To finish I did what I call my ‘prelim riding’ which involves us riding the whole arena in test like figures, thinking about forward activity and a longer frame in her body concentrating on her reaching for the contact at all times but also STAYING WITH ME!! You can go round in a lovely trot only to realise that when you ask for a downward trans she is about 3 miles ahead of you hahaha!!! I always do this in rising tort as she is more relaxed and I never seem to get sitting in such a short space of time! So we go down the centre line, do 20m circles, frequent changes of rein, trot / walk / trot transitions, serpentines and really think about the accuracy which is always an eye opener to whether she is falling in / out or tramming! Its actually good practice to ride a test as part of your schooling because it does highlight any problems that you don’t realise you have when you are merrily tootling around the school!! At first she was a little too quick on the right rein, but soon got her rhythm and I soon had her bent nicely around my leg without having to overuse the inside rein (big fault of mine!). In fact it felt so lovely I overran my time limit by a good ten minutes! Oooooops!! She did look mildly amused at my frantic mucking out and running around the yard as she casually munched her brekkie though hahahaha!!!

Sunday, 24 January 2010

Walk to Canter VIDEO!! YAY!

today my daughter Amy rode her and did some jumping!! which she thoroughly enjoyed! They were getting a bit high for my nerves though and I could barely watch Eeeeek!
Afterwards Amy took a bit of video of me and Antsje as I have just started doing walk / canter transitions with her and I wanted to have a look and see what they LOOKED like as they FELT pretty good! :-D They are not quite direct yet, particularly on the right rein, but it IS helping the canter slow down a bit and therefore helping her balance
Amyway - see what you think! As always im very grateful for any input.........

Trot on both reins

Slowing and containing the trot:

Canter Left:

Canter Right:

WOOOWOOO All aboard........

the steamtrain that is Antsje!! hahaha!

After the last couple of nice rides I got back to my first 'early morning ride' since Xmas on Thurs morning and we had a bit of a 'tramming' session - she was going nicely but it wasnt until I went to make a downward transition I realised she wasnt really 'with' me but about 3 miles ahead lol!! So I tried some up and downwards transitions and she started to get a bit strong and against the hand. Maybe she was feeling it a bit after a lay off and two good sessions or maybe she just needs a blast! In the end we did get some obedient work although it wasnt as contained as we have been working, I was just pleased that she walked when asked etc so I left it there - esp as I dont have time to mess around in the mornings and by now I was running LATE!! ARRRGGGHHHHH!!!!

Yesterday she worked much better in the respect of being with me and obedient to the aids but the times I asked her to stretch into a longer frame and lengthen and stretch I could still feel the pace quicken and her get a bit onward bound. So I decided to take her round the fields for a blow out! and OMG! did she blow out! I dont think ive ever felt her go so fast! But it seemed to do the trick and afterwards she was quite happy to walk round on a long rein - although the walk did have a certain strut to it as I think she was rather pleased with the galloping hahahah!!!

Wednesday, 20 January 2010


I rode!!! YAY!!!

I think the rest has done us both good as Antsje felt very relaxed and supple and I seemed to be able to absorb the trot better the an normal too :-)

During the break I have been watchin my Bettina Drummond 'work in hand' videos and feel re-inspired to do more of this work so before riding I did 10 minutes of basic giravolta type work in hand, really asking for a stretch down and her stepping away from me with her shoulders as well as her hindquarters. We then moved onto leg yielding from the centre line to the long side and then into shoulder in, finishing with her circling around me in a stretch position as a reward. We did this on both reins. Then I did a little backing up and moving forwards and backing up again - really concentrating on her stretching her neck forward and down (FDO) throughout the exercise.
When I got on she immediately felt nice and soft and light and we did some nice large circles in a forward rising trot in a forward out and down (FDO) position, changing reins frequently and working on keeping the same rhythm throughout.

We then did some backing up exercises while mounted and this always really helps to supple her back as when we went back into trot, her back felt much stronger and 'up'.
So using this, I began to collect the trot up slightly and took sitting trot and worked on 10m circle going into a few steps of shoulder in and then back onto the 10m circle down the long side - we did this on both reins. I also did a bit of leg yield work concentrating on her keeping her hindquarters in line more as she does trail them somewhat esp on the right rein. The quality of her self carriage is becoming quite lovely on the left rein, although I do have to be mindful that she is actually reaching for the contact as sometimes she can collect the trot up but just back off the contact slightly, so when she does this I like to go rising and send her a bit more forwards down and out (FDO), before slowing and containing the trot again.

Then I decided I would do some walk to canter transitions today as she was feeling so good! I was so pleased with her efforts - she is still fallin in a bit and balancing on her inside shoulder but with the walk to canter trans she was able to maintain a slower canter and I was able to ask her for a few leg yield type steps on the circle to try and encourage her to get off the inside shoulder a bit more. Today she really rounded up her back and felt distinctly different and more controlled than I have felt her before :-) We did the same on the right rein, doing a couple of walk to collected trot first to get her off the leg and more forward into the contact as when she anticipates canter she can get above the contact to make the transition but then her back is very braced. As she isnt as strong on the right I didnt expect such a clean transition and accepted 1-2 very cadenced trot strides but I was happy with that as she did stay round and took off on the correct leg. The effect was still the same though and she was able to keep the canter much slower and controlled and again I really felt her lift her back. I clicked and treated and got straight off and made a big fuss of her.

I hope to get some more video soon as she does feel improved again since the last lot :-D

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

grump grump grump................

ARRRGGGHHHH!!!! Snow stops play!!! I havent ridden for over a week now, im dreading to think how crap ill be when I get back on, coupled with the fact that Antsje has been stabled during this weather and is like tigger on crack :-0 OMG!!!!

She has been getting increasingly 'hyper-sensitive' during her confinement and Interestingly today when I touched her poll she snapped her head up JUST like she used to when I first had her. In fact, the more and more I think about it, the more I believe this is where Antsje stores 'excess tension' from whatever may be troubling her. For me this has become a barometer on her 'well being' and although I thought it was due to tension build up from ridden work and also (shamefully) over use of the hand I can now see that its not JUST due to that. Being stabled for a week has obviously caused a build up of energy and this has most definately had an effect on the relaxtion of the poll. Not much I can do about the confinement until this weather clears up, but its been an interesting observation nevertheless ;-)

And just to stop me getting too fedup about the weather and not riding I thought Id share this clip. ONE DAY I'LL SIT LIKE THIS!!!!!!!

Monday, 11 January 2010

Uldrik 457 Crowned World Champion in Leeuwarden!

Recently approved stallion Uldrik 457 was yesterday crowned 2010 KFPS Champion at the annual Stallion show held in Leeuwarden. The beautiful son of Dries 421 was approved late last year with record breaking performance scores. Runner up was another young stallion Norbert 444 whose first offspring performed consistently well at the foal inspections during 2009.

Uldrik 457 (Dries 421 x Tsjerk 328) is the first son of Jasper 366-son, Dries 421. Uldrik is a very correct built, developed stallion. His strengths are primarily in the excellent use of the hind leg. The driving and riding tests resulted in an unprecedented score of a 9.5 for the trot, and for the use of the hind leg he also gained a 9. Uldrik is a stallion that is very consistent.

Uldrick is from Stam line 12 but does share some family resemblance with Antsje as Olof 315 is his great grandad who is also Antsje's Damsire and his grandad is Jasper 366, Olofs son and from the same Stam line (27) as Antsje and also last years Champion Maurus 441!! We are in good company :-D

A little video of Uldrik 457............

Monday, 4 January 2010

A New Year........some NEW VIDEO!!! YAY!

Got more video yesterday!!! She was a little bit “tramming” yesterday and running through my hand a tad – especially when I was rising the trot. You can see at the end of the first video what I mean **rolls eyes** Now I know my sitting isn’t perfect by any means, but I still seem to be able to ‘hold her’ with my seat better despite this! The absorption problem still affects my hands more than id realised although she doesn’t seem terribly put out about this?? Perhaps I am still holding with the reins in sitting trot and this is why she is more contained? Although it doesn’t **FEEL** that way – and Im sure my hands don’t look as backward as the last set of videos?? Her mouth doesn’t seem overly busy / gapey which is a sure sign when im HOLDING her with my hands? So guys……………..what do you think??
I do think there is improvement from the last set of vids. Antsje trot rhythm look less disturbed than before and I do think my position looks better? BUT!! I can see Antsje still looses balance at times and I can see that I still need MORE strength through my core plus I am not absorbing the movement quite right either in sitting. I am belly dancing and still tending to tip forwards slightly. Back to the drawing board!!!!

ps - canter is still a work in progress lol!!!





Antsje "The Guniea Pig"

Emily came over today to have a play with Antsje to give her some tips when working with her own young mare. Antsje was a superb guinea pig and Emily practised some in-hand work / lunging, clicker work and the ‘one handed riding’ to really get the concept of moving away from pressure both on the ground and ridden and also to understand the importance of the inside leg to outside rein concept when ridden.

I was really pleased with Antsje as I haven’t lunged her for several weeks but she demonstrated her lunging skills very well albeit a tad enthusiastically at times hahaha!!! But at least Emily could see how well the clicker worked to motivate and also for instant feedback when she did something well **smile**
Then I got on and was pleased to see she had still remembered yesterdays suppling work and was very light on the inside rein. I demonstrated the one handed work and also the girivolta type steps and then Emily had a go too.
I was really impressed how good Antsje was at ‘teaching’ – lord knows why! She has been teaching ME for years HA!!!

more reflections of a Dressage Junkie!

So after watching the video, I have been working hard on a genuine bend on the right rein. I can see that I am using the right rein for the bend and it is disrupting the quality of the trot. So I spent a few days really trying to get Antsje to bend from the inside leg – I went back to two exercises that always help ‘unlock’ her, and that I always seem to forget about lol!!!
One is reinback, for whatever reason this really seems to release her back. When she gets blocked somewhere and I rely on the reins and I do this exercise she seems very ‘stuck’ to start off with, but if I persevere and keep asking her to back up – even the length of the long side – all of a sudden instead of her neck raised she will round up and I can feel the difference in the quality of steps and also a different feel to her back. So I repeat this exercise several times on each rein until she is backing up softly without any resistance.
THEN the next thing I did was a “girivolta” step on a circle with the both reins in my outside hand. First on the left rein I asked her to do leg yield steps with her facing INTO the centre of the circle, then I asked her to change position and face out of the circle. At all times moving away but bent AROUND my inside leg. Then I rinse and repeat on the right rein. Now on the left rein, she is more bendy through the neck but lack engagement, so I keep the neck a little straighter and touch her HQ’s with the whip to ask her to step under more with the inside hind.
On the right rein she steps through better with inside hind but struggles to keep an inside bend through the neck. Now I had a eureka moment as I asked her to move the shoulders over and hey presto, bloody inside bend!!!!! WOOOHOOO!!!!

The when I returned to a normal circle and asked for trot it was so much lighter off the inside rein and when I felt her leaning I just tapped her inside shoulder with the whip! So I think I may have just figured out how to sort the problem! Well for now anyhow lol!