Sunday, 27 April 2014

Parelli Play

Today was a great day. Rio tried out his new leather headcollar, and looked so very smart. When we got to the parelli play day, it was changed for a rope halter and long line. The above is the first attempt and demo of how I was to play the Friendly Game. Rio was unsure of what to make of it all at first. He wasn't worried about the carrot stick and didn't move away when asked, and then took a few rounds of "lunging" before he settled. 

After a little while of playing Friendly, he soon got the idea. It's as much of a learning curve for me as well as him - if not more so for me! He's such a clever boy. Holding the carrot stick in the appropriate position, dropping your energy, and slumping when they've responded correctly - it's a lot to think about! 

We learned about moving off, and trying to drive from zone 3 (much harder than expected...) this took some effort initially but that was more down to me not grasping the concept to begin with. We tried to mix this in with some target touching, which had some mixed results, but he achieved so much in such a short space of time, I really was so pleased. 

Standing at ease with no grass munching! You can see him watching to see what we're going to do next. There were so many photo opportunities today, and he had his ears forward so much - I was too busy having fun to play photographer even though I had taken two cameras. It's no wonder Rio was all sweaty - we worked and thought hard!

Before lunch we had a little play in the arena with a tarpaulin, and he didn't bat an eyelid at it - he thought it was great fun following it around, and barely moved when I put it over him. He did have it up higher than this but I didn't get a photo, and he was happy walking with it over him too. Brave little man! We left both boys loose in the arena when we stopped for a spot of lunch. Whilst they have travelled together a number of times now, and been out on adventures together, they've never been in a field together before. They were having an awesome time in the arena, but sadly as soon as we headed over to try and get some footage, there they were like butter wouldn't melt! 

With all of the larking around, and once Rio had become a little acquainted with the big bouncy ball, we played with it some more, and I managed to get him to walk into it a couple of times to push it along with his chest. After a little more work on the ground, and with almost everyone else taking part in the barrel racing, I headed over to tack up and hop on for a little 10 minute ride to ease back in. Little did I know that this would be an impromptu lesson with Sarah, and with Rio very relaxed and paying attention, the pressure was on me not to let him down! 

We did walking over poles, and then some trotting over poles, which threw me a little as it was the first time of doing 4 trot poles in a row and I'd never experienced him truly picking himself up like that. He even was offering up odd strides of canter, so Sarah said it would be a good time to try and get an established canter for a length of the arena. The only problem with that is my hands! I don't think it helped that I've been out of the saddle for a couple of weeks now, but I know I do it anyway, I ALWAYS throw my hands away when I ask for canter. If I'm not throwing them away, I'm snatching them back when he goes to boost off into canter, and therefore blocking him. He "springs" into canter and in a schooling environment, it still catches me off guard. 

Luckily I have a neck strap and it has proven today to be a great addition to Rio's wardrobe. By looping two fingers through the neck strap, I was able to keep my inside hand down, and in turn my loose outside hand stayed much more still, and gave me the control I needed to keep him out. With a little bit of pony club kicking and some dodgy sitting trot, we made it at least half way around the arena a couple of times! He dropped out of it on his own, so before we finished, we had a canter on each rein where I ensured I was the one to ask for the downward transition. It was great. I was starting to feel like I was letting him down, but thanks to the neck strap and some positive guidance from Sarah, we made it!

Ride safe x

Friday, 25 April 2014

Spring in our step

Looking good! Rio has been enjoying the spring grass in his new field. It doesn't help that I've still not been riding, as I've been waiting for the infection in my foot to go down. The good news is that it's looking much better so I'm hoping to get riding again next week! The bad news, is that he's only been worked twice in the last couple of weeks by my friend, and although he looks rather lush in the picture above, this is the reality!

Belly's gonna get ya! He's a round mucky little chubster! I remembered to grab some dettol when we went shopping this evening so I can at least give him a hot wash this weekend. We're off to a parelli play day on Sunday to see if we can't teach him something new and stimulate him a bit after a quiet couple of weeks. I'm a little nervous and a little excited, and a little dubious of being in my boots for several hours and on my feet, but I'm quite sure it will be worth it. We're taking Archie the goat again, and I'm hoping to get lots of photos too.

I've also had a bit of a play with a couple of the photos from our shoot last week, have a peek!

Ride safe x

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Finally got the photos!

There was a beautiful sunrise waiting for me when I arrived at the yard on Friday! Despite not having had an alarm set for the last week, my body clock has woken me up without fail at 5.40am to get down to the yard. I decided that as I was awake, I would head down and get some bits moved over to the summer fields and do my usual morning jobs. 

I left Rio with lots and lots of hay in the hope that he would fill up on that and therefore not eat constantly when he was moved to his summer grazing. It's crazy green down there! He had a hearty breakfast too, and by the time I went to get him, his field was clear of hay.

Other ponies usually get excited by moving onto new grazing, a bit flighty, chomping at the bit to get away. Rio stood and fidgeted whilst I took his headcollar off; no cantering around with tail in the air, no cheeky glances. His head went down, and that was that! This morning his belly was a little rounder, but nowhere near as bad as I was expecting. I was very pleased to find all of his poos together too, which made it so much easier. I'm having to do everything in dolly shoes at the moment as my foot does have an infection, so I'm now half way through my course of antibiotics, just bored of sitting around so have been very bad and not really rested it as much as I should have...

The sunshine finally came out when we had some time to spare so we grabbed the opportunity, loaded the boys up and went to get some photos with the bluebells and the gorgeous yellow fields. I got over 320 frames, and am so pleased with some of the shots - I will post some on my next entry! On the way back, my foot was getting a bit sore, so I had a leg up from my friend and rode Rio bareback for the first time. He was a little gem, and although we did have a little trot which was a bit nerve wracking (I admit I bundled him into Franks' bum to make sure he stopped - I had him on a loose rein at the time!) it was actually very good for my confidence. Even in the few strides of trot, I was more balanced than I expected I was going to be, I know that a lot of my issues with my riding are in my head, because I expect I'm not capable. Luckily I have friends who can help me overcome my fears!

The path wasn't quite wide enough for my friend to get a good shot and this one doesn't show it in it's glory, but Rio was in a beautiful outline again. I had the biggest grin as we walked back to the trailer, I just can't even explain how good it felt. 

Please note, I do not recommend riding without a helmet! Safety first. 

Ride safe x

Monday, 14 April 2014

Birthday blog!

Rio is FIVE today! What a lovely, adorable, clever little man. I felt absolutely terrible this afternoon though, I had a tattoo on my foot last Wednesday and it's been swelling up on and off, and was very very warm this afternoon for a bit. I have a doctor's appointment tomorrow morning to check all is ok, as the last thing I want is an infection! So it means that riding has been out of the question since... I'm sure Rio is enjoying his time off munching hay and sunbathing. Luckily I have wonderful friends and one of them very kindly poo picked for me this evening when she dropped his hay in for him! 

Here's the tattoo!

 It's in memory of Jazz, a pony who I was going to take on but sadly got very ill due to a foot abscess which would have cost thousands for the surgery required. He was a beautiful Haffy cross, always itchy and appreciative of a good scratch under the neck, on his shoulder, belly, or just about anywhere you could reach! He was cheeky and rude, and allowed to get away with whatever he wanted. He charged around outside the field when you tried to lead him to the barn, and would not let you catch him again unless you ganged up on him or used food to bribe him back to his field if you were alone. Despite all of this, he had the biggest heart, and I was so looking forward to working with him. In the end, he had to be PTS as it was the kindest thing we could do. In the two weeks he was at the vets, I was sure to visit several times to groom and talk to him so he knew he wasn't alone. It was a 40 minute drive each way, but I couldn't leave him in a box on his own wondering why he'd been left there. He deserved my time. Seeing him on his last day was heartbreaking, and the moment that we walked him from his stable to the box where it happened was awful. The first time he got to walk out of his box for 2 weeks and it was to go to that... So that's what this tattoo is for. 

To remember and to remind. Horses have given me back that quiet space, helping me to find myself on difficult days. Rio gives me something to work on, to give me focus, and to just lose myself in when I need it. 

Anyway, back to the happy occasion - HAPPY BIRTHDAY RIO! Here's to many more!

Ride safe x

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

On top of the world

I earned it!

Mum came to get me from the field this afternoon, I was expecting my tea time hay, but I didn't get that until later! I figured that I'd been cheeky the last few times coming up, so I gave mum a day off and walked up with no argument at any of my favourite "stop spots". I enjoyed my cuddle that I got for being good too. 

Everyone seems to be unwell at the yard at the moment, so I've been doing a lot of walking when we've gone out with them. That's why I fancied a canter into the yard on Sunday, I just had to stretch my legs a bit! Mum said she was thinking she was going to have to bail me into the muck heap. Sounds gross - maybe I'll have to avoid doing that again just in case she actually does. 

Mum felt much more relaxed when she got on today, she gave me my head from the start, and it was nice. We chilled out together, and I decided that I would seek the contact for the first time, which mum got very excited about. She asked her friend how I looked and apparently I was "spot on", whatever that means. I had a good walking workout and pushed through from behind instead of pulling myself along. It was nice to keep B company whist he's strengthening up again. I hope my buddies get better soon so we can go out cantering together again!

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Adventures with Archie

So I was super excited when I stumbled across a link to my blog post on Haynet this week! It is currently featuring in the "Blog posts not to be missed" column. Awesome.

I was feeling a bit lethargic again this morning, we had a lovely ride out yesterday morning around the village and I spent the rest of the day chilling at the yard with friends. I had more or less accepted that I was probably not going to ride today, and had taken up a comfortable spot sitting in the barn doorway chatting. Sarah arrived not long after me, and quickly said she was going to go and get her pony in to have a mooch around the village. 

I decided that I should be a good pony mummy and take Rio out as well, and duly wandered down to the field to collect him. He's been a bit cheeky again just recently and was up to his games again coming out of the field today. I am still keeping hold of my schooling whip when bringing him in to use as a last resort encouragement. He's getting a little better, but he just plays silly when he feels like it. Darn this spring grass coming through. He will be coming up a couple of mornings this week to have his breakfast outside the gate to continue to try and encourage him to come out a bit more easily.

Well our mooch was a little more eventful than we had initially thought it would be, both boys were on their toes as it was a bit windy. We made it to the top corner of the field and they both spooked, including a bit of a spin and trying to bolt, silly boys. Sarah and I both thought we were in for a gallop across the field, but thankfully they listened and that was that. We made it around the village with little trouble and a bit of jogging (that's going to have to stop!) but decided it might be safer to split the boys up coming back across the field as they were still both jogging along. Rio settled a little once we got around the top corner so he had a longer rein so he could walk out the rest of the way. All was going well, we ended up a little way behind Sarah as we went the slightly longer way, and we saw her go past on the other side of the hedge down the drive. Turning on to the drive, we had a pleasant walk going, then all of a sudden we were cantering full pelt onto the yard... I still don't know what set him off, but that was certainly one of our more eventful rides to date!

See the spike in speed right at the end? Haha. I'm absolutely over the moon to say that I honestly feel my seat is developing, I didn't have my usual "blind panic mode" setting at any point today, and didn't feel at any point I was coming off. Woot woot. 

Once we had gotten some nibbles to sustain us, it was Archie's turn for some fun! Parelli style. He was such a superstar, here are some photos so you can see him being a total dude:

Ride safe x

Friday, 4 April 2014

Beat the weekday blues

Step One
Plan a run of the mill hack out around the village with a couple of friends after work

Step Two
Rush out of work excited to go for said ride, and arrive at yard, get changed, and prepare to get pony in

Step Three
Be confronted with decision between run of the mill hack around village with one friend, or small road trip out to the local spot we visited not long ago with the other...

Step Four
Apologise to friend and skip down to field to retrieve pony before loading him on to the trailer (where he waits for his friend as he knows he surely can't be going alone??) before walking all the way up the ramp

Step Five
Rush around grabbing various essential tack and equipment

Step Six
On the road! Tack up, ride out, and explore. 

Step Seven
Take a route your friend hasn't done before, and encounter a ditch that must be jumped to reach the desired destination. (Yes, we jumped our first ditch! Exciting!) Duck and dive to avoid several branches, including ones that are flying at you from where friend has been through them.

Step Eight
Mix it up. Put your horse in front of your friend's who doesn't like being behind most of the time. Have a nice few minutes before a train comes past and gets him excited, causing him to headbutt your horse in the bum and your horse to pop forward in shock a few steps. Take the sensible option and go back behind.

Step Nine
Walk over a fallen tree that's almost too big to just walk over. Almost. Be pleasantly surprised when he doesn't opt to jump it. 

Step Ten
Take a nice casual walk back through the woods, including tackling a short but steep hill (going down!)  and feeling very pleased when he doesn't rush it. Untack, wash off the sweaty ponies, bribe pony up ramp with hay when he decides watching traffic is more interesting than loading, and head home feeling like it's the weekend! Turn out for first time with no rug because of the sweatiness... Forget that it's Friday tomorrow!

Best Thursday :) 

Ride safe x

Wednesday, 2 April 2014


I find I am struggling a little bit at the moment, so apologies for the interlude since my last post. I've been in a routine of get up, see Rio, nap, go to work, see Rio, eat, sleep. There hasn't been much thought of doing any more than that. This morning I feel a little more like me again though, so hopefully it's just the end of the Winter blues rearing their ugly heads before the Summer arrives.

Rio seems to know that his 5th birthday is coming up, and thinks that this means he rules the roost a bit at the moment. We've had a few arguments over leaving the field - he took a "dislike" to the electric gate again last week, and we were back to square one snaking up the field to get him out. I hasten to add that this time it is not fear, it is just him trying it on. He's stood right next to the gate since starting this behaviour again whilst I have waved it around him and not flinched the tiniest bit. So anyway, we've been having breakfast outside the field so he has to walk out nicely or he does it again (he's been very good so far though, and not had to repeat!) I'm trying to do it every other day or 2 days in 3 and next week will just do it 2 days out of 7. The intention is to keep him curious as to why he's coming out, and whilst he's not completely food orientated, it does seem to be helping at the moment. That and just having my schooling whip in my left hand for small encouragement if needed.

On Saturday I got up early and rode before anyone else even got up to the yard. That was also a trying incident. Another gate that he's not keen of! We did 20 minutes of schooling in the grass school arena, trying to get him up to the top end of the school gradually as he really doesn't like that end at all. I had to admit a bit of defeat as we didn't manage a full circuit going large without him walking sideways at that bit, or cutting in completely. However, I will take great pride in the fact that I did win the determination award. When we had schooled for a bit, I decided it would be nice to finish on a good note, and that we would go out around the field before I got off. The only problem with that was that Rio was not going to walk out of the gate from the school...

Now, I don't know people's views on neck straps, a couple of friends were bemused when I opted to add one to my tack stash a few weeks ago, but on Saturday it proved its worth! I have a bad habit of crumpling in anticipation of something bad happening when Rio is being a bit of a sod. Not this time. With two fingers looped through the neck strap, I sat up and in, and felt like I was glued to the saddle. Result. 

Rio decided that he wasn't going to walk anywhere near that gate - he took a couple of steps backwards. Light bulb moment, if he wants to go back... We're going back. We backed up almost half way across the school before he got bored and dropped his head. When I asked him forward, he walked almost without hesitation through that gate, then we had to negotiate our way through gate two, and again across the forecourt of the car park. We made it to the main gate where he stopped again. Now by this point I was getting a little frustrated, so I gave him a couple of minutes to recollect himself, and have a look around - so he started to go to eat the grass! Well, that was it, he got a sharp kick, I gathered him up and off we went. Absolutely fine after that. And we had a lovely canter out there.

I'm clearly too soft.

Ride safe x