Thursday, 9 December 2010


I haven't been blogging anything partly because nothing is happening and partly because I haven't felt like it. Thinking about it, it could be considered a funny thing to want to put all this horsey stuff on the internet. I'm not feeling the purpose of it at the moment.

Quadi is very well. He's been doing next-to-no work what with the metre of snow in the field but the same snow is making him work quite hard to move around. To that end, he is building his own topline and looking a little snug in his rug. His rug is a generous fit (and it's a Premier Equine so made to fit broad horses) and despite being in more work last year, his shoulders and neck are filling it more this year. And he's not fat!

I've sat on him a couple of times but nothing to write home about, just a little time around the paddock.

Friday, 26 November 2010

Home Again

Back to home life after my brief trip. I only have a short-ish time here before I head out for Christmas and New Year offshore...

It's quite the contrast to arrive home to the bracing cold. And snow! Sadly, as pretty as I find it, said snow is hampering me from seeing Quadi. But, he's on good form and, as ever, is enjoying the best of care.

I had some mixed reports on him whilst I was away. I'll have to rummage through my emails to remind myself of the exact circumstances but the condensed version is that Quadi rudely reverted to Everything No mode on two occassions. Sometimes, he is a neep.

Thursday, 11 November 2010

"Quadi Says...

...trot work on top of lateral work is horse abuse!"

That was the email I got from Kate yesterday *lol* Here is a little more:

"He was a good boy, we did some lateral work in walk, including some half pass! He surprised both of us by doing a step by mistake, so I made him do it on both reins ;-)

Then asked him to trot, which he did nicely until we went past the stables, then he had a stroppy nap! Once he realised I wasn’t giving in though, he worked nicely again! I was then super cruel and made him walk around the field at the end too."

Can you imagine how miffed Quadi must have been, having accidentally taken a step of half pass? He's been well and truly rumbled now! I'm sure he felt very put-upon. I mean, trot work, lateral work and a cool down walk around the field, abject cruelty(!) He'll never truly ditch his Can't, Shan't, Won't routine but it's on the wane with every work session.

Now, I really must finish my packing. I'll leave a little space so that I have room to pack some sun to bring home(!)

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Breathe, Stay Standing, And Try Not To Fall Over

Whilst the delay to my work trip is irksome, it has meant I have been home for my physio's new pilates classes, which started this evening.

I started doing a bit of pilates way back at the start of the year, but have only really had two 1-to-1 sessions with Anna. The rest has been from books and just practicing the core exercises to work on. It was nice to be in class environment :)

We went over the fundamentals of pilates and into some warm up and warm down exercises. It was like learning something new on a horse. For example, the aids for new lateral work. I found it difficult to co-ordinate my body and breath as instructed. When working on some balance exercises, I almost fell over and felt rather silly, suffering a fit of giggles as I did so! This was mainly due to my gammy right ankle, which is still not 100% after a champagne-fuelled sprain in the Spring. As we progressed it all became a little easier, to my relief. What I struggled with the most was relaxing and trying to breath fluidly, I have a habit of holding my breath when I'm concentrating. I'm usually pop-eyed and blue-faced by the end of a showjumping round!

I'm pleased that the exercises Anna had given me a few weeks ago are becoming easier at this level (Level 1), and some of the new ones were very effective, especially in indicating just how stiff some bits of me are! There is one exercise called The Clam, we were taught this one tonight. There were several groans around the room after a few repetitions! I don't know if you've ever been tortured with a mounted exercise where you have to open your hip and lift your legs off the horse from the hip? If you have and you're not quite as pliable as a Cirque du Soleil performer, you'll know how brutal this feels, and how I felt in class tonight! I can barely lift my legs of the saddle like this at a halt, I believe if you're a superfreak it's possible to maintain this pose at a canter!

Some of the upper body exercises I had to really tone down my range of movement in order that I wasn't becoming sore quickly. More work required here too!

I'm hoping, but not holding my breath, that I'll be away before the end of the week, so will miss the next couple of classes. But I've asked nicely that I can be emailed further instructions each week. I dare say even if that doesn't happen The Clam is going to keep me very busy indeed! It's brilliant I've found a way of training for horse riding offshore.

No real pony news. Quadi's bedding had swirled into funny patterns yesterday, thanks to some hefty gales, and he deemed his stable floor much too dangerous to step on because of this unauthorised change to his surroundings(!)

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Softly Softly Catchee Monkey

Brr! The sun was misleading, it was not warm today! But, at least no rain so riding was in order! Just a play in the field like we were supposed to have yesterday.

Having gone through our new stretch homework from Liz, I attempted a little in-hand to start (Fin and Kate were already in the field schooling), but my hands were icey and I lacked both the feel and the co-ordination to walk alongside, ask for forwards and flexion, and correct as required. So I hopped aboard, at least I'd eliminate the walking alongside aspect!

Once I'd mounted, naughty Quadi thought it rather too cold and windy to stand still so that I could tighten his girdle a little. We walked around for a moment till he retrieved his brain from up his bum. Sometimes that appears to be where he keeps it, I'm certain it's not always between his ears! Immediately he was forward, soft and carrying his front end properly. Ready for work :) I didn't have to do anything, just make sure I was correctly postured. Not what I was expecting at all, especially considering he found standing for girthing such an unreasonable chore! This is solely down to the fact that Kate has schooled him a few times in a row now. She is very quick with correcting aids as she's that much more balanced and experienced than I, and the penny is dropping with him that it is easier to hold himself up and not be testing every single avenue every single step! I guess some of the credit must lie with Quadi for working correctly that little bit more with every session, and for trying that little bit harder each time we ask him to step outside his comfort zone.

We just went over some suppling homework, and in doing so we tested out straightness in between school figures:

Circling, all the while aiming for true bend - this was easier today. I was observing my aids, and I'm pleased that the majority came from my seat and legs. I can now isolate the inside seatbone, control the quarters and bend with my outside leg and sustain the tempo and energy with my inside leg, all without falling over or curling in a tense ball. My hands were only really supporting what the rest of the bits of me were asking for.

Shoulder in, slowly and on three tracks - not as good as we're managed before. My hands were the problem. When I remembered(!) that I have two long legs at my disposal, I was prone to gripping up with my heel, which is the equivalent of grasping someone and shouting in their ear. At this point Quadi would come to a polite halt, and quite right too, how rude of me! For my sake I took it back a step, looking ahead and feeling, plumping for a wider rein gesture with an open wrist since I was lacking the dexterity in my fingers. Once I sat up straight, really straight, and allowed my leg to swing along with his barrel, suddenly we were shouldering-in.

Turn about the quarters, always thinking forwards - all I wanted today was to sweep a couple of strides left and right from one move to another, without losing impulsion and the feeling that with every step we could march forwards. I don't think we're anywhere near the point of restricting the hind legs to marching almost on the spot for a pirouette without either a confused halt, trying to wriggle out a shoulder or going backwards. But we can move in the direction of bend about a very small space, and do so without any knotted knitting. I'd say we can go a quarter turn effectively, so with more practice we'll aim for a 180 change of rein.

Leg yield, not an excuse to wriggle - I didn't get so far as to playing with one of my favourite exercises, which is leg yielding in and out on a circle. I merely wanted to push the buttons to test how well we could do so without the supportive bend of a circle. He was more emphatic from right to left than vice versa, presumably because my right side is dominant and easier to apply. In any case, we could do so without bending away from the direction of movement. A pleasing little milestone of progress, and no attempts from Quadi to escape.

I also wanted to use the hills to walk up and down a few times, concentrating on straightness. He was at his wriggliest here, and on the first was trying to halt on account of sheep being in the opposite field. Since he'll happily graze this fenceline at other times, I didn't deem this a decent excuse and asked politely twice to move off. When I had to ask the third time I applied leg and stick (not hard of course, but I was serious about going down that hill without nonsense), and Quadi responded with a halt and a fly buck. I asked again in the same way and this time he heeded me. A big rub on the neck for him for that!

After this we went for a stretch around the field in Kate and Fin's company, we never came out of walk but I was happy to end on a positive note and not potentially spoil such a good period of work. Kate remarked that when Quadi walks out on a free or long rein he will carry his neck level and relaxed. Obviously not when he is in full Drama Llama mode ;)

Thinking back, there are lots of aspects of ridden work I'm finding so much easier. Last summer when we were on a livery yard, I remember arguing with Kate because I was finding even holding my hand correctly an almost impossibility. I had to constantly shift my pelvis to the correct tilt, and could never maintain this for very long. When I did, I was tense because I was concentrating so hard. Quadi was dead on the right rein and tried to find every escape possible from working correctly. It's all feeling a lot better. I think I'll ask Santa for a new camera battery for Crinklemas so that I can video what we're doing and compare it to last year.

I'd like to work on the in-hand and also some clicker work. As far as the latter goes, I have plenty of books and have dabbled for specific problems or exercises. I'm more interested in the theory but am finding books and articles hard going. I need to be shown. Becky Holden is up here regularly, we need to get along to her. She was worked with Quadi before.

After our work session, I swapped Quadi into a 100g rug with neck cover. I wasn't going to, but his Amigo rainsheet is too tight in the shoulder and pressing down on his neck :s I have to say the Premier Equine rug is looking a little more snug in the front than it did when I used it a couple of months ago. It's not tight, and was rather roomy before anyway. There are no fat pads, must be topline :)

I think this will be the last schooling session for a while, I am supposed to be flying this week. Shan't hold my breath of course!

Saturday, 6 November 2010

Time To Get Serious

After taking Oscar to the vet (all healing up nicely, still the same issue with his squeaky jaw sadly!), I arrived just in time to catch the end of Quadi's massage.

He seemed to be quite enjoying it. At one stage he had his head over the stable door and his eyes were shutting. He is a little itchy as he is dropping his summer coat so at times was a wee bit of a fidget.

Casting back to last time, we were all a little disappointed that Quadi seemed to have taken a reverse step in terms of how comfortable he was in his body. He didn't enjoy his massage and was tense in several spots. With hindsight, this may have coincided with some hoof issues rumbling away. I'm so pleased that this time he is where we predicted he would be. Not totally without stiff bits and lacking topline, but overall soft and pliable and ready to crack on with some serious work. In particular he was stiff in his sides (his intercostal muscles I think?), which is a new one and hopefully just an occurence of field antics gone too far. He's not 5 years old any more!

Liz commented on how much more square he is standing, and also on his current bodyshape. At first glance, you'd look at his tummy and be inclined to think he is overweight. But if, as per the World Horse Welfare guidlines, you split the horse into three sections, you can see he's spot on in front and behind, and that he's not carrying too much over his back. It's merely a lack of tone. I'm suffering something the same at the moment, so really we both have to work hard to develop some core strength. He's ready for it now, and thanks to pilates I feel that I can sit properly and be effective without 'holding' myself.

We have a little homework. Liz showed me a stretch she feels every horse should do, where you hold a treat low, nearly to the floor. You have the horse stretch forward and down but without moving his feet, and doing so get a really effective stretch over the poll. Quadi's actually quite good at this stretch, he demonstrates is at the base of trailer ramps when we try to bribe him with treats *lol* Also, I regularly use a stretch where you start at the head and bring the treat along and down to the hind foot. Liz showed me a more effective stretch along the same vein. You stand at the head and step out sideways so that the horse is stretching along his entire side and really opens out his shoulder. You then move back and down to the hind foot but this requires a lot of flexibility. It'll be interesting to see how quickly we progress with this one, I plan to try and slow the tempo when he does this, I feel he rushes through in order to snatch the treat out of my hand. We need smoother movement!

Sadly I didn't get to test out that feeling today. Kate and I decided that just a wee sit on in the field, doing some gymastic flexions from the saddle, would be enough post-massage. I trapsed over to my horse and he wandered off. Everyone got a little wound up with bonfires on the horizon and sheep being herded in the next field. We approached them a couple of times and each time they bogged off, bucking and farting as they did. Probably more physical exercise than they'd have gotten under saddle and when they have their heads up their bums it's more fun to stand back and admire clean heels flying through the air!

They have a Hay Hutch in the field, Quadi was particularly terrified as it rolled towards them, but Coffee (18 months old, compared to Quadi's 13 years!), showed him it was safe! Being very pampered boys, they also have new Hay Bars in the stable. The first time Quadi saw it, he didn't clock it straight away. When he did, he was hat-dancing in the opposite corner! I should point out that this was after Coffee had already been in Quadi's stable for a mooch without batting an eyelid...*lol*

Thursday, 4 November 2010


A technical hitch has left me stuck at home until next week instead. Typical, was rather looking forward to my trip, the long flight aside. Looking on course for early next week, better late than never. Hopefully I'll be flying after the Brazilian GP, don't fancy my chances of a hotel in Rio before or during!

On the plus side, this means I will be home for Quadi's massage with Liz on Saturday. Or at least part of it, as I'll be heading straight to the boys from the vet practice anyway. We have another broken body, he'll be having his post-op checkup on Saturday.

My battlecat, Oscar, has had two tooth extractions and also had to have a puncture wound in his hip stitched. He's doing very well indeed, except when it comes to administering antibiotics at mealtimes. Understandably he's a little fed up with the unwanted attention! I don't think he realises he has had two teeth out, as soon as he came home he was weaving round legs, giving everyone 'furry beets' and demanding his dinner. He looks a little more miffed that he has a bald patch on his side though *lol*