Tuesday, 31 March 2015


Life has it's UPS and downs.
You will never fully appreciate the ups
unless you have some downs

It has been a turbulent few weeks since my last post, packed full of riding, not riding, and plenty of peaks and troughs. 

The dressage clinic. Wonderful. Rio behaved impeccably, despite being absolutely shattered by the end of the lesson in the morning and refusing to go up into canter. He redeemed himself immensely when performing the test in the afternoon - 63.2% in our first test ever! Even though he dropped out a little early from the canter on the second rein. His trot was fab, he's got a lovely rhythmical trot which suits dressage very nicely it would seem. The day wasn't without it's drama however, as a friend's horse slipped whilst cantering a 20m circle, and went over, smashing her big toe. Luckily no broken ankle or leg, but it was horrifying to watch unfold (seemingly in slow-mo!)

I think he was pretty pleased with it.

Clipping was not such a fun experience. Despite having had a nice relaxed leg stretch after the fun at the clinic, and him practically falling asleep on the spot when we got back, those clippers still instil the fear in him. I may have to resort to him needing mild sedation to get this done moving forward, and save us all some stress. He is back to his handsome ways now though, and has undergone a full clip this time!

After a few days off, we had a lovely ride out in the countryside with a couple of friends. My gosh was it windy, but all four boys were very well behaved - even on the big hills where things might have gotten messy. Last Friday, after a few more days of doing nothing, Rio came in and we did some schooling. We are focussing not so much on a full contact, I am looking more for him to seek the bit out for himself, and working a little longer and a little lower. We will be working up and in from there. He did very well, and was wonderfully relaxed. As a treat, he had his whole field for the night, so he could enjoy some proper green grass!

Too much proper green grass!
The fun returned on Saturday morning, including (but not limited to) 
spooking at anything and everything possible
freaking out when I turned him around outside the gate to close it
running back into the field
being on his toes walking up - cue him being sent out around me in a circle for a few minutes
fidgeting every time I went to pick up a foot
standing on my foot
being a spooky sweetheart on the way back down to the field, with freshly picked feet, and his rug changed

When we walked back down, I imposed some in hand schooling to keep him busy. We stopped, started, walked, jogged, stepped back, and he did it all foot perfect. He's so lucky I love him to pieces! 

Last night, with carrot stick in hand, I made my way to the field to retrieve the boy - "I'm taking no prisoners tonight" was my text to Sarah! Of course, he didn't bat an eyelid at the gate, didn't dance about, and barely fidgeted whilst I got him ready and tacked up. Just another day... He got lots of cuddles and strokes. We went for a windy wander with Sarah and Franks around the field next door, and after a silly spook from Rio in the corner, where I sat tight - I took us off around the village for a proper leg stretch. It was trying to drizzle, but it wasn't too bad, and I felt much better for having taken him out.

Even better - we are having a pole clinic with a friend on Easter Monday, and I'm really looking forward to it. Watch this space! 

Monday, 9 March 2015

Stop, drop and roll

It's been a perfect weekend. I had a play with this lovely boy yesterday, and a tumble after a trip followed by a flying stirrup leather meant saving my seat was an absolute no-no. You'd be forgiven for thinking this would be a crippling setback in my recent progress. In actual fact, it didn't phase me at all, and I got back on and schooled him a little more afterwards. He was very sweet and spun away from me when I was down, and it was actually one of the most gentle and graceful falls I've had yet. Just stop, drop and roll! Despite the ground seeming hard, I'm pleased to report that the only damage I seem to have sustained is a slight pull in my shoulder where I tried to hang on to his reins. I'm getting good at this falling malarky... It's more a shame that he had just started to relax when he stumbled! 

On Saturday, Rio and I braved the wind all on our own and went for a hack up the lane. We encountered tractors, got blown around a bit, and I still managed to get lots of sense from him. The ground was quite hard in places, and very pitted, so we mainly walked. We managed a trot and canter up the track, and he was beautifully relaxed and listening to me all the way. He got a bit antsy coming back down to cross the road outside the yard, but I turned him in a circle, and he waited better the second time. Such a fidget bum.

We are on countdown to the dressage clinic next Sunday, so I could really do with getting a session or two in between now and then. I'm hoping to get a quick one in tomorrow evening. I've been advised that the test we are riding is prelim 12, which is a little daunting, given that we've never done one before. However, we will take it all as good experience, and not worry if we can't maintain the canter throughout! If he takes the attitude he had on Wednesday with him, then I'll be happy whatever the outcome. If not, we could be in for a challenge! Haha.

Saturday, 7 March 2015

Redressing the balance

Sorry for the silence from the Eastern front here, it's been a busy couple of weeks, and a bit of a tough time last week also. No fear, things are most certainly looking up, and don't worry - Rio is fine! I've just had to make some changes to my own routine, as it appears that the yard was slightly taking over my life. 

There has finally been a little bit of riding going on, in amongst all of this though! We had the farrier out last week, and he's said that if we are going to be doing more road work than we already are, that Rio will need to have back shoes on. I'm not so keen on that, so fingers crossed now that the nights are drawing out and the weather has been drier, we will be able to do some schooling and cut down on the roads! Although the school is also quite hard at the moment, with the sudden stop in rain. We just can't win haha.

We had a fab ride out the weekend before last, we found a new trail which involved everlasting rolling hills. The boys loved it. No sooner had we hit the bottom of the first hill, Rio threw in an all-four-feet-off-the-ground jump because he was so excited! Luckily it seems my seat has developed since the last time he did this, and with a few strides of walk, we were off again. I'm not a fan of going down hills, but a few more goes on this route, and I'm sure that fear will soon be gone. What was even better, was that he wasn't too hot and sweaty when we got back, and despite his sweaty face and eyebrows, his chest and shoulders barely broke a sheen. (With all those hills, it's no wonder! It was all push, push, push!)

He had 9-10 days off after that weekend, as it was hubster's birthday last Sunday, so he was left to chill out in his field. Sarah brought him up for me on Wednesday evening, as I need to do some schooling with him before the dressage clinic next weekend. If he can take the attitude he had on Wednesday to the clinic, I will be ecstatic. He was going off the leg beautifully, was responsive to my weight aids (however clumsy they are currently...) and we had a couple of nice canters. He still drops out of the canter, but they're gradually getting longer. This may be a bit of an issue on Sunday however, as the test we are riding is prelim 12, which involves cantering the long side, circling in the middle, and cantering around to change the rein across the diagonal. Hm. He even was coming into a lovely natural outline for a few strides at a time in walk. Needless to say, I felt much better after that session. Especially when he spooked 90 degrees off the track, and my bum stayed right where it was! Haha.