Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Poorly pony

Selfie with the hubby!

There's lots going on at the moment, and it's starting to get dark and dismal of an evening. I took the plunge and invested in a visit from Donna Blinman for Rio last week. I had a niggling feeling that something wasn't quite right with him, as he's been getting more and more reactive in his spooks, and had been getting less attentive whilst playing on line. Boy was I glad I went for it!

So it turns out Rio has problems with his stomach. It could explain his spooking, and why he can't control his adrenaline and bring it back down when he does spook. It could also explain why he's been uncomfortable backing up, and brushes behind with his hind feet. It may be the reason that he's been stretching his head down to the ground when I've been mounting him to ride for the last few weeks. My poor guy was pretty sore - Donna was quite surprised we had been out riding, and spent most of his appointment working on his stomach. He's been such a trooper and barely showed me he was in pain, but I'm so glad I followed my gut instinct. 

He's now on green clay, and out of ridden work for a few weeks to let him get more comfortable again. Fingers crossed it all starts to come good again soon!

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Misty mornings and lush hacks

Misty mornings are upon us, and the temperatures are starting to drop overnight. Rug season is here, and yes I rug my Welsh Cob!

We had a fantastic ride out at King's Forest a couple of weeks ago. 2 1/2 hours of unadulterated forestry and tracks, and the most awesome canters. Rio was a total superstar and really surprised me with his stamina. So much love for this boy!

He wasn't so impressed with his hair 'do' when I took his plait out though, teehee.

I also went to Burghley for the XC phase again this year. We were at the crossing when Andrew Hoy was unseated, but luckily didn't see any of the other tumbles! My lovely hubby came along for his first experience, and I think he almost enjoyed the day. 

And to finish off - a bit of 3 way boy love after a pleasant hack out around the village with the girls whilst Franks and Sarah were away in the New Forest!

Monday, 24 August 2015

Catch-up on fast forward!

Stubble fields.

Boy love.

Overcoming scary objects on wheelbarrows. At liberty :)

Sunset stubble field hacks. The world's longest stubble field, and Rio actually tired himself out completely. We had the best canter, after I was initially not convinced. Both boys came off the trailer and were very antsy at the start of the hack, but by half way across the first field my worries were gone, and by the third, I was up out of the saddle able to give his back the freedom he needed! Franks with his long legs and better fitness motored off whilst we slowed to a leisurely trot and then walked to catch up with them - what a good boy!

 Misty beautiful early mornings.

More boy love.

Observing at a Silke Vallentine Level 1-2 clinic on the weekend and taking away some interesting and useful hints and tips.

Not having my phone on the one day that Rio ends up brown and brown because he's caked himself in mud!

Treating us to new Le Mieux navy sports boots - to match the numnah of course.

Replacing the waterproof coat in the nick of time - today was a washout!

Monday, 3 August 2015

Blasting away the cobwebs

The cruise was fab. It was the perfect break that we needed at just the right time. If you ever get an opportunity to sail on a Clipper, absolutely go for it! 

Back to real life, and I'm getting back in the swing of things with Rio. His confidence has taken a bit of a hit under saddle, and he's been a bit spooky, but on the plus side he's much improved in hand. Yesterday we went for a ride around the village with Millie and Bailey and finished with a little canter up the field which was interesting. It's been a while since he's had a proper leg stretching canter out on a track. The first half was very much a rocking horse gone mad, with his head between his knees! There was nothing malicious, but he was certainly happy to be out and moving some. 

This evening we hit the track up the road for a proper blast to try and clear some cobwebs. The wind was pretty gusty, but I wasn't about to start down that "nervous in bad weather rider" road. We tacked up, mounted, and headed off. We were so busy chatting away that I barely even noticed the wind. The ride was pretty relaxed all the way, and we had a fantastic canter up the hill and across the fields including a little bit of a gallop across the top! He was very responsive, keen and I think we both had an absolutely fab time. He's a little star, and I'm so pleased to be enjoying him again. 

Thursday, 9 July 2015

Thinking time

I am pleased to say that today I actually wanted to ride again. This afternoon Sarah and Franks accompanied us on a ride up the track, and we had a fab trot from the bottom up all three fields. Rio needed the leg stretch, and I needed the mind-clearing time. 

I'm off on holiday for a week on Saturday - we are off on a cruise. I thought that as the grass is growing so fast at the moment, that I would bite the bullet and open up the super long (dying) grass in the front part of Rio's field. He now can choose whether to eat the short sweet stuff, or the longer bulkier stuff. I'm hoping that I will be riding again a little more so he can then maintain a reasonable weight. I was happy with him this evening as he didn't jog at all - possibly the first time I've ridden without him jogging around in months! 

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Keeping myself to myself

I'll keep this short and sweet, and make it pretty with some pictures of Rio and I, developing our bond at the recent play day at the end of June. Sarah also kindly put him through his paces up the bank, which he loved. I am very proud of him, Parelli really seems to suit us both. Anyway - more on that another day.

This should have been a happy post, but sadly my husband and I have just been through a very difficult time. Last Tuesday we were expecting to announce the due date of our first child, but instead we found out that we lost her in the early weeks. 

We are keeping busy. Rio has been a beautiful field ornament for the last week or so, but thanks to our groundwork, I'm confident that this shouldn't be too much of an issue as soon as my head is in the right place to get back in the saddle. 

Saturday, 20 June 2015

Head rubs

We've been continuing our ground work and I am feeling very good about it. 

We had a very rewarding session early on in the week where we worked on the circling game, and he was much more relaxed. He is rushing less, and maintaining better, which is lovely to see. He's getting a bit clever and trying to guess what I'm going to ask of him before I get to asking it, so it's a little tricky! I have to make sure I try and change up the game a little and keep him guessing. One of his favourite tricks is stopping with his front feet over any and every pole. I've had to work on this to make sure that he isn't doing things I'm not asking. To try and rectify it, I decided it was time to up the ante. It took a few minutes to get the result, but as you can see above, we managed to work out how to stop with left feet on one side and right feet on the other! 

Mid week he was far more tense. He came up and was finding it hard to focus. Everything was a bit scary, and when he managed to zap his nose on the electric, that was the end of any fruitful work for the night. He managed some good circling in trot, but was by no means relaxed. 

Yesterday I had a water issue to deal with! Not my favourite sight...

On Thursday it was lovely and quiet, and Rio was much calmer. I decided that I would change things up a little and ride. He was much more relaxed outside his stable, where he usually fidgets and stresses - this may have been because Franks was in his stable 3 doors down, but even when Sarah took him away to go back to his field, Rio wasn't spinning, calling or fidgeting like normal. I opted to take him out to the ramp to mount as that's where I used to get on before he moved stables, and I know he is more comfortable there. I wanted to keep it as stress free as possible. He stood beautifully, waited to be asked to move off, and listened when I told him it was OK to walk past the scary rubbish skip. 

We stuck to walking, but focussed on getting an attentive, good quality walk, with a bit of roundness. It wasn't 100% but I was happy with his efforts. Especially considering he's not been asked to come down and round for some time, and that it had been a week since I'd been in the saddle again. He was fairly relaxed, and it didn't take too long for him to blow out, confirming he was more settled. 

This evening we just had a small groundwork session in the field. We played some friendly game, including swinging the carrot stick around our heads, and although he took a few steps, I was able to disengage him very easily and continue. We moved on to the circling game, and it was the best he's done yet. He kept up a perfect rhythmical trot, and despite a few excitable frolicking strides of canter he was very well behaved. He even picked up a fantastic collected canter on the right rein, which he impressively maintained around me for a circle without losing his footing! This is progress. His balance appears to be much improved, which I'm hoping will also go towards building his confidence. 

All in all, I couldn't be happier with my boy. He's my absolute superstar. To round it off, he's getting more comfortable with me rubbing his head between his eyes, which he has never ever been very comfortable with. Hopefully soon he will accept it as a form of affection instead of seeing it as a bad thing! 

Thursday, 11 June 2015

Treading new waters

I'm falling more and more in love with this boy. 

On Tuesday evening in the wind we came up and did some groundwork. He was lovely and responsive and relaxed. His claustrophobia behind is developing, and he managed to back up over a pole much faster than the other day. We then worked on our circling game, where he relaxed faster, and ended up walking nicely with a good stretch on both reins. I was super excited when I managed to ask him to stand with both right feet one side of the pole, and both left feet the other side! He's really gotten the hang of stopping with his front feet over the pole, so I felt it was time to step it up. It wasn't easy, but after a bit of patience and perseverance we made it. 

Today the weather was warm but with a cool breeze. Sarah kindly waited for me before getting Franks in to ride, so we saddled up and joined them for a gentle mooch up the track. It's the first time I've ridden in almost two weeks, Other than his usual habit of being a little joggy on the way back, he was good as gold. I just need him to relax a little more and not feel he needs to rush on the way back! It's hard, because I think it must be partly something I'm doing, but I just don't know what. I've been much more relaxed in my riding over the last few months, but perhaps I'm still overthinking it.

When we got back, with all of the jogging, he was very sweaty. He stood very nicely whilst I sponged him down (of course he rolled when we got back to his field!) and I was super pleased. When we got back down to the paddock, I decided to do a bit of ground work (mean mummy I know!)

We did some work on backing up from the first gate to the second. Then I asked him to circle - left rein, lovely. Straight out, nice and relaxed, and stopped when I asked him to. Right rein - well, it was far more lively. I'm not sure if I have a stronger send with my right hand because it's my dominant hand, but I found this evening that he responded better to no carrot stick being used on that rein. His disengage was much improved, which was a big positive. 

All in all, I'm so pleased with my gorgeous boy. If I can really stick to my ground work, we are absolutely going to be rocking it in the future. And I will stick to it! 

Monday, 8 June 2015

Growing trust

Riding has taken a very back seat at the moment, and we've been sticking more and more to ground work. I'm determined to get Rio more confident, as it has become clearer that he really is lacking in self assurance. 

We went up for a play at our friend's again on the weekend, and got to collect our brand new Parelli rope! Now our mission is to get rid of that shiny bright white and get busy with it. We learned more about backing up with sideways adjustments this week. Due to his claustrophobia, we have been working around poles and trying to get him to back up to a single pole. The first time we tried, he was having none of it, so it was rewarding this time when after a few minutes of trying, he managed it. 

There was a moment where he was clearly in two minds and was just staring straight ahead in concentration. My friend made it so easy to pick up and learn, and I value her time so much. As soon as he blinked, and was "back in the room", we continued. It was quite funny to see him resist to the point that his front feet were backed right up to his back feet before he finally got his hind feet backed over it. His little face once he made it was priceless. More work to be done on this!

We then did some work on learning the circling game. As we are not riding much at the moment, I wanted to learn how to do this so that I can at least get him moving and try and keep him fit. The other benefit is that it gives him responsibility to maintain his pace. He relies heavily on being micro managed. Rio is a clever boy, and I'm sure he can count. He started out by taking off at a canter, and stopping at the start point! He developed on to trot two rounds before stopping where he started. I soon got the hang of a stronger send when he was doing this, and we ended on a very nice 4 circles before I disengaged his hindquarters and allowed him to stand. 

Rio was a very sweaty boy by the time we had finished. It takes a lot of brain power for him to achieve these things, as he thinks about everything so much. In some ways, he is a bit too clever at times! This is also a downfall for him, because he will often over think things, but that's why I'm so keen to work on our relationship on the ground. I'm truly looking forward to our future together.

Thursday, 28 May 2015

Then and now!

I've finally gotten around to having a look at comparing my photos of Rio from last April to this year's shoot! He's grown up so much in 12 months, and I couldn't be prouder of where we have come from and where we are going.

I've been feeling very tired recently, so there have been some questions raised over the lack of riding I've been doing - I've taken preference to developing our groundwork and riding for a shorter length of time. I'm sure that some people think this is crazy, but I'm happy. Let's face it - Rio is an opinionated young man when he wants to be, and he's a half ton of horse to take on when he's got his mind set on something. If taking a step back is what I need to do at the moment, then so be it, and we will work on getting to know each other better! 

The pole clinic went well. Speaking of attitude, Rio took some of that with him that day. After going to move him into a field away from the arena and him going to trot off around me, we took to playing on the ground. 40 minutes later, with lots of backing up, driving, playing with obstacles, and getting control of his feet over a pole on the ground, and we mounted up with a renewed understanding. 

The morning session resulted in a light, forward going and responsive ride. The fear of the end of the arena was almost gone, until his brain was a little overloaded by the end of it, but I was absolutely chuffed with his efforts. 

The afternoon wasn't quite the same story. Unfortunately I think he blew his mind and left his brain by the trailer for the most part. I ended up getting my instructor to ride him, and it was a pleasure to watch him in the end. He tried his little heart out, and although he totally lost it on a few occasions at the scary end of the school, he really made up for it in the end. 

Onwards and upwards!

Saturday, 23 May 2015

Sluggish start

Having spent all Winter complaining about the ground being wet, the wind being cold, and not being able to ride, I am now in prime riding season and feeling so tired I'm really not making the most of it!

That said, the little bits that we have done have been positive. Trying, but positive. The third time of going to walk Rio out of his field after our first session, and he's walking up to it with no issues. I'm still leaving him to graze in order to close the gate a few yards away, but the panic is not as set in as it was before. I am hopeful that a few more sessions will crack that. 

I brought him up on Thursday evening and gave him a good brush down, before I hopped on and took him into the outdoor arena for some schooling. He was really not very attentive at all, and when my friend left the school with her horse, he was very tetchy. I decided to see if I could test his senses a little outside of our usual routine. Sylvia Loch has recently moved into the local area, and classical dressage is something that I would like to further explore with Rio. I think that with both done correctly, that CD and parelli will work nicely hand in hand. Both intend on creating a bond with the horse whereby a tiny movement or suggestion speaks volumes. 

So I decided that I would try simply dropping my inside leg weight slightly more into the stirrup, and see what happened. Now, Rio is still quite young (yes I know he's six now!) and is quite attuned to weight distribution. Something that I'm keen to utilise and not lose. I was pleasantly surprised that whilst keeping my line of sight straight through his ears, not moving my hands and reins to steer, that he started to turn. A little more weight in the stirrup, and he turned a little sharper. What magic this is. The basics are there for us, I just need to learn how to develop them.

For now, we will stick to small tweaks, and we need to do a lot of bending to ensure those corners aren't taking at a 45 degree angle to the ground when we make it up into canter. Moving forward, these little things are what give me the belief that my boy really can do anything, if only I can help him to learn!