31.1.15

Back to work

First week back at university for my second semester, and I'm already tired. We have a module about designing political research which no other university does, and it looks great... But it involves a lot of work, (which is disproportionate to the length of the essay and the amount of credits that the module is) and then on top of that, I've been made group leader which means more organisation, emails and bossing people around :D
Love the university campus
This is what competing with Vallu will be like I think ;) 
Vallu has had a very easy week, because of the constant snow. Monday was a light ride in the afternoon, Tuesday off because I was at uni all day, Wednesday lunging in disgusting storm conditions (got lots of pony point for being very well behaved) Thursday off because of the snow so we only hand walked outside. Friday we had a proper training session, but the first twenty minute were spent arguing about what we were going to do - I said shoulders in and walk pirouettes, Vallu said galloping and doing medium trots down the long side... Saturday we hacked out and walked up the big big big hill (woop woop) because Vallu's BFF Ginger is back at the yard, and hacking out is much more relaxing when Vallu has Ginger to protect him from the invisible monsters that are hiding in the hedges ;)
After Friday's ride... ♥︎

Lots of snow - for the UK ;) and lots of things to look at

We have some very exciting things happening in the middle of February, and with university attempting to drown me in work I've come to the conclusion that I'll try to keep Vallu in light work so that he stays sane - but I won't feel bad for giving him two days off a week or if he only gets properly worked in the school twice a week. As long as he stays happy, then I'll just keep him ticking over then.
Vallu sends his love to everyone :D
Is anyone else struggling to balance work and horses? This always seems to happen to me at the beginning of every year until spring arrives... :(

26.1.15

TOA Blog Hop: Worth 1k Words


Worth 1k Words.
Let's share our favorite photos of our stud muffins.  No limit.





Bless this weird horse ♥︎

20.1.15

Perfect

There is nothing better than rewarding yourself and your horse with a good long hack around the village after a really hard lesson the day before. I didn't want to give Vallu a day off because he'd worked so hard last night, but I also didn't want to go in the indoor and work. It was such a cold crispy and sunny winter's day, which is the perfect weather for hacking out.

Dressage lesson with Andrew Fletcher: Easy and sweet

It feels like I haven't done a lesson wrap-up in ages. On Monday we were fortunate enough to have our first session with AF of 2015. I think this is one of those lesson reports that I will be constantly be coming back to, because these exercises were so effective and useful.
Pre-training session scratches #happyhorse
We had a very basic warm up, just trotting on big circles, around the arena and long diagonals. The idea was to just let Vallu be a bit long, but remaining round and soft. He is allowed to be a bit on the forehand, just as long as he is moving forwards and soft, we want to keep it easy for him. Don't ask for anything else, keeping it easy for him to keep him sweet.

AF has on many times highlighted how all of our 'problems' or our weak areas are to do with his back and shoulders. To improve this...

Walk pirouettes - start on a small 15mx15m square, in each corner do a 1/4 pirouette and make this smaller as you go on to end up in a full on walk pirouette -> right is better re his hind legs, left have to focus on making sure his left hid leg is active "ride that hind leg"

Halt and rein back to release the back. All of our halts were super, square and relaxed. SUCCESS.
It's good to alternate between 4, 6 and 10 steps back. In order to improve our rein back since Vallu's quarters tend to come in, do rein back in shoulder fore. I did do a small squeal of "really!?!?!" when AF said this. It sounds impossible and unhelpful, and it did take us a few attempts to figure it out but it worked so well. The rein backs became a lot straighter, and we got control of both the shoulders and the quarters.
Ride day before lesson, just worked on going forwards
And oh my goodness, that trot afterwards was to die for. Knees up, hind legs under and properly through the back. Felt like we were floating.

And a lot of trot work in shoulder-in, alternating between the wall and the 3/4 line changing the tempo. SO EXCITING and we've never done anything quite as hard as this. Whenever I asked Vallu to come to collected trot, he responded to the lightest half halt and was nearly passaging because he was so through and collected. Starting with doing half of the long side shoulder-in in collected trot and the second half in working trot - had to move forwards from collected to working trot is more difficult for Vallu than collecting from working trot. In the end, AF was very quiet, and asked me to come over for a chat and very quietly went, "I have nothing to add to that, it was very good." YAY ♥︎

To improve canter-trot and trot-walk transitions, try to do the transitions in shoulder-in, horse has to be properly through in the shoulder-in which makes the transition so much better.
Snugglespony
We did the same exercise in canter next, and struggled a bit. Really had to make sure that it wasn't pirouette canter in the shoulder-in but collected canter, there is a big difference!!!! Again, the first half of the shoulder-in along the long side of the arena in collected canter and then going forwards to working canter in shoulder-in. Make sure we don't 'get stuck' in pirouette-esque canter, and make sure that it is more 'shoulder fore' than shoulder-in, because this more difficult for the horse.

It was just another fantastic lesson, I really cannot thank AF enough for these lessons. I feel like I have learnt SO much and have so many more tricks in my toolkit. Thanks for all the "lovely image" comments, they make my heart sing as I am so proud of Vallu. It felt like Vallu really enjoyed the lesson as well, our constant patting and "good boy"'s gave Vallu the self-confidence and confirmation that he was doing everything correctly - which he was :)

Our next lesson on Feb 9th, and until then we will be working on getting those knees up, hind legs under and control and strength. I love it when it feels like we 'move up' the difficulty level, and focus on new exercises that we never could have been working on before. It's so exciting :D

And to treat him (more like me) we have a new matchy set coming... #sorrynotsorryatall #realmenwearpink ;)

14.1.15

Blog is 2 years old!

Vallu's face explains how we both felt
 In honour of my little blog recently turning two years old, I managed to convince my lovely friend to come take some photos of me and Vallu ♥︎ Please excuse the quality of the photos, the flash was on but for some reason they still turned out quite dark.... 

HIS SERIOUS TROT ♥︎

I also forgot my proper riding boots so had to ride in my old winter Ariat boots, and it was SO freaking cold, even in the indoor that there was no way I'd be willing to take off my coat for the photos. Super good horse for behaving considering the last time that he'd been ridden was Saturday. After so many days off, the only thing we worked on just exercising his brain so that he'd get mentally a bit more tired in the hope that tomorrow we can go for a hack (weather permitting)




12.1.15

Exam stress

What better than riding to try to combat exam/revision stress? :D 
Thank god for horses! ♥︎
Vallu lives to entertain all those that know him...
Which I thanked him by hand grazing him even when the weather is appalling..
How do people without horses cope?!?

8.1.15

Brave, brave horse


We've been so so brave this week! Not only have we have dealt with a JCB digger that moving sand in the other outdoor arena whilst we were in the scary outdoor arena in the dark after two days of no riding, we have also gone for our first hack of 2015 by ourselves ♥︎
And an absolutely massive thank you to the drivers that slowed down or even stopped before overtaking us very slowly (I know these people won't be reading this but still...) The cars and the vans are my biggest worry when hacking out, you never know if they're going to zoom past you and potentially hit you, especially on Vallu who can suddenly jump 10 meters sideways. All the cars that we met today kept a big distance between us and passed us calmly, and made my day. Another victory for us :)

4.1.15

Start as you mean to go on

 First day back from Finland and I was greeted with snow in Nottingham, I'm sorry but no thank you. I do not like snow in England at all, especially because I've got a tiny car that doesn't have winter/snow tires and is not a four wheel drive, which meant that my normal 20 minute drive to the stables took twice as long because I didn't want to die. Luckily the snow only stayed for two days, and now we're back to the normal sunshine/rain/gale force winds that I have started to appreciate.
Beautiful pony in his new bridle, thank you mummy

Super speedy pony nearly managed to throw me off on our first ride when some snow fell off the roof right above us. Massive points to the WOW saddle for helping me stay on a horse that zooming around the indoor, despite the fact it was only my third time riding with it. And although I was a bit annoyed with Vallu's speeding off, the moment I stared losing my balance and feeling a bit worried, he stopped! Good pony.
And the first two rides of the new year have been fantastic. If the rest of the year goes like this mornings ride, 2015 will be AMAZING. Working on a lot of transitions, and some flying changes and eventually my hyper active, and thoroughly well rested horse was back to normal. And by the end the week it's seems like I've even been forgiven for disappearing for ten days. Now just to get ready for our AF lesson and to also start getting back into hacking out, we haven't done that for ages.

Hope everyone is well, had a lovely Christmas and New Years and all ponies/horses are ready for another year :)
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