Saturday, 27 June 2009

Tickly toes on open grass!

Still here. Here being not at home! I shall be away possibly until August. Perhaps I ought to have brought one of Himself's brushes with me to sniff...

I'm a little strung out with work and other issues right now so I feel blue. Away from home and everyone keeps telling me they miss me :( I think I will go to the gym because it always makes me feel happy, and it should help with the work-related nervous jitters I have. I have developed a twitch between my shoulder blades too :o Shall be digging out the sensible trainers!

I think Kate has cracked the saddle quandry, he seems to be happy in an Ideal Jessica she has procured for her mare. I haven't seen exactly what I want on eBay because I want havana, but will keep looking. Naturally would rather buy one second hand in case he changes his mind by the time I get home!

He is going well. His last schooling sesssion was fab from what I hear. Still having trouble lifting his back when he goes forwards from trot to walk, but that will come with time and strength.

He has had a couple of mooches around the fields too. First go he was inattentive but a good boy. Today...naughty Quadi thought he was going to dictate range, bearing and speed! More manners required for schooling in open fields methinks, so definitely a summertime task. Apparently front and back feet left the ground, mercifully not at the same time! After much discussion, it was decided that the rider should be in charge for everyone's safety :D I don't think he was terribly happy about it but tough!

He has moved fields today so perhaps a little on his toes...he'd better pull up his socks though, I don't think he realises how lucky he is to be looked after by Kate!

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

In other news...

A Quadi update :)

No massage for him beacause the therapist was sick, now on again for mid-July :)

After an enforced mini-break (isn't it annoying how life in general gets in the way of horsey business?!) Quadi was worked last night and I got a very good report from Auntie Kate :D

Even before the Pessoa he was reaching forwards and down, which is great to hear. I will have to keep up the good work once I get home. Lots of praise for when he does this, we might get to the point where the Pessoa won't be needed very much at all. Right bend still evades him, so more in-hand work showed him the way and bend was achieved very quickly. Even strides of trot. All great to hear. And Kate is fitting various saddles to him whilst I'm away. Hopefully it will mean all I have to do is try one or two once I get back. It's great to have a groom...*lol*

I'm afraid nothing interesting from me. I wasn't seasick on this transit just gone, which is great. I might, however, have to work into late July. Need the pennies!

Here is the view at about 5am today as we sailed in. Only from a camera phone sadly...

And some real sailors!

Saturday, 20 June 2009

Seasick :s

All my shift last night. Several sprints to the loo and the remainder of the time I had my head on the desk, quietly weeping and braying to myself into the fake grain of my grotty desk.

I managed to hold down a few Ritz crackers and some rice. A considerable truimph. Must remember seasickness pills for next time. I stupidly thought I'd be ok...which of course means I shall be punished every time we are corkscrewing through swell.

Today all that remains is a throbbing headache. Partly from not eating and partly from not drinking enough water. My decreased water consumption is somewhat deliberate. I can't bring myself to use the loo downstairs too often :x Ick!

My joints ache a bit from lack of movement, I really do need to dig deep and find some motivation to get to the gym. Of course, I just want to go to my OWN gym and see MY horse and ride MY bike! How childish *lol*

I am making do with regular viewings off all the Quadi pics and vids I brought with me. I have been watching the videos of my riding a lot, I am starting to see where Kate sees what I'm doing wrong. I suppose there's hope for me yet.

I also have some Monty Python with me to cheer me up :D Simple things for simple people!

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Too lazy to even blog!

Not only have I not been to the gym, but I haven't even been energetic enough to blog that information! Actually, in my defence, the internet connection here is tricky...

I've only been away a week mind, and was quite seasick the first couple of days. Hopefully in the next day or two I'll feel like it.

Quadi is having a week off whilst Kate is away. She has been riding him and has noticed that he is blocking through his shoulders and instead of giving true bend, he is twisting at the poll. What a puzzle he is.

There is an equine massage person/body worker who comes to the yard and has been working with Quadi's physio, I'm thinking Himself might benefit from some massage. See if we can't loosen up his butch shoulders!

Mind you, when I have my shoulders round my ears most of the time, I can hardly expect poor Q to unclench!

Massages all round when I get home then. Ooh err missus!

Monday, 8 June 2009

See you soon Professor!


Last day with my favourite boy today :( I'm not due away until Wed but I've still no wheels and buses/walking will take up the entire day, which I won't have because I have to pack!

What a lovely evening to spend with him though. I decided earlier today that after the hack yesterday lunging in the Pessoa would be plenty work! And a good decision this was, a bit of a sleepy boy this evening.

Warm up wasn't the best we've done, but he was a bit 'lumpy' and tired. Not bad at all, he just found it a bit tricky. His head sometimes strayed above the forward and out shape that I like him to be in at this early point. Inside bend evaded him now and again, and I had to push him away from me. I think if I'd have allowed him to, he'd have spiralled straight into me looking soppy :)

There was a horse in the school next door who had a buck and a fart on the lunge, and Mr Fin was in with us working on canter. Quadi never flinched once, he really is a Professor!

Once I he'd shown me he could walk and trot on both reins with sufficient energy not to fall on his face, we tried again with the Pessoa. On the left rein he was great, he was seeking the bit and his head and neck carriage was, dare I say, moving into a slightly more advanced position from the novice outline I'd be happy to take at this stage. And he's really starting to engage his bottom, this Pessoa thingie really works for this sort of rehab. He was still being a bit slow off the aids at this point but I did encourage a cheeky canter for one circle. Halt to trot too. I was more than pleased with this so we switched to the right rein.

He curled back a bit, and since he was warmed up, I asked for trot. What a lovely trot, I'm so pleased! I didn't have to drive him on so much on this rein. I know he was probably tired and it was hard work so I'm not complaining. Another circle of canter and demonstrating a lovely square halt into an energetic trot. I called it a day and gave him smoochy kisses and a treat. He always gets a treat after work :)

We went up to help Fin with some light jump work in the field, Quadi was very good and stood with me on Pole Retrieval Duty, which we didn't even have to do once :D Lots of fuss and more smooches and back to the field.

I will miss him so very much, I am taking photos and video of him to cheer me up on the days I miss him. Kate will be looking after him in my absence (Thank You!!!) so I'm sure I'll get plenty of updates. For the next couple of weeks it'll be a gym diary from me again with a smattering of Pony Reports.

Sunday, 7 June 2009

Operator error

Another funny day weather-wise, thankfully we were all done when the heaven's opened.

I wanted my riding filmed today so I could see when I got it right and when I got it wrong. I'll post the links in a bit.

I got on, once again without lunging. He was somewhat distracted on account of another horse in the school and jumps being put away. Not an excuse really but I found it hard to be more interesting to him than the other happenings around us.

So I called him to a halt and tried some flexions. An unsuccessful attempt, culminating in my crying again! Mostly frustration, I wanted to be better than yesterday and instead I was worse :( I was doing everything the same as yesterday and it wasn't buggering working!!!

Kate stopped me and gave me a kick up the arse. I'm not allowed to be on a horse if I'm not happy, so I either had to get happy or get off. After more crying I decided I ought to get happy. But I needed help. It's obvious I was blocking Quadi in some way. We now know he is more than happy to comply with correct requests.

I took my feet out of my stirrups to relax my legs, took a couple of deep breaths and tried my hardest to smile :s

Anyway, I attempted gentle flexions from a halt. He complied almost straight away (if I was cynical I'd say he was doing it to show me up but we know it's me not him, it's never the horse!). So we moved off into walk. He threw his head up but we worked on correcting that. Kate had me tell her what I was doing. When it wasn't working, I had to explain why. It felt like he was solid through his inside shoulder.

And why was he blocked here? Because his muppet rider was clenched in the exact same place! More deep breaths and things got better from there.

There were moments where I could maintain his head carriage for almost a half a circle, but more often than not he was pokey-nosed. Sometimes he curled behind but we are still finding where we are comfortable.

After what was only a brief session it was hacking time!

How much better he was for being in company :D I think to begin with we were a little up Fin's bottom but we settled down. Quadi's pretty reliable in traffic, but on his own fast-approaching vehicles are a bit of a worry to him. Thankfully we were in company and most people slowed down. As Quadi settled he settled into a rhythm and stretched over his back, which was really nice. On the way home we were approached by lots and lots of cyclists, all heading in the same direction as us. Apart from one boy trying to overtake us as a car drew level with us in the opposite direction, no drama. But such a lot of bikes, I'd be impressed with any horse to stay settled due to the sheer number of them. Not the Tour de France, but about 40 or so and lots of kids! Quadi's lack of hacking fitness was evident by the time we'd ascended the hill up to the yard. He wasn't puffing, but he was sedate on arrival back home! A big kiss from me as it was a nice hack despite my getting a bit cold!

I wasn't finished yet! I was summoned, yes summoned, to the school to play on Fin.

I hopped on and almost fell off! My legs and bum just expected there to be a much wider horse (Quadi-width!) than there was, very odd feeling. Once I'd gotten my balance and gotten Fin going forwards, the objective was to swing my hips in time with Fin's walk. I found it quite hard. It shouldn't be, all I have to do is let his hindlegs swing me! Very hard work and I could only 'get' it for a couple of strides in all. I could, however, feel a great difference in Fin's walk between getting it right and, well, not so right. He stopped a couple of times, probably wondering what the hell I was up to! Driving with the handbrake on again. He got his own back, he stood on my foot good and proper!

Here are the video links. Comments are always welcome as long as they're constructive, I'm aware of the mountain I have to climb!

Saturday, 6 June 2009

Rider issues

Not the best weather given we are supposed to be into summer now, but there was no hail so I shan't complain!

I decided to have a bash at riding Quadi without any lunge warm up. The poor lad always thinks he's finished after lunging, I feel a little guilty saddling him when he thinks he's all done!

He was very forward and marched off keenly. I think he was interested in the jumps being put away, I hope he doesn't get any ideas about jumpies too soon (although he did depart the field the other morning, we can only assume he went up and over as there were no open gates or disturbed fencelines!)

First things first. I got myself sitting up straight. Asking for flexions wasn't working at walk, I was really very cold (my hands and feet don't work so well in the cold!), so I halted. Same as the other day, just very gently asking for some relaxation of the jaw and lifting of the back. Once we'd established this we moved off into walk again. I didn't 'get' as much as I did the other day, I do blame my frozen hands, they were finding it easier to move backwards rather than vibrate fingers, which is obviously not desirable! My left is much weaker and less dextrous so my homework is to use the mouse in my left hand whilst offshore. I had to work hard to let the weight of my arms down to my elbows, instead of hiking my shoulders up! And I should also probably try to breathe more often, when I concentrate I hold my breath as if I'm swimming *lol*

I'm hoping to get some video tomorrow because I'd like to see when it looks right and when it looks wrong. I'm having trouble knowing when I've got enough flexion and when I can ask for a little more.

The great news is the problem is me, not Quadi. Kate had a little sit on for me and is far better placed to bring him on over these next few weeks. I have too many wrongs to right! I asked her if she'd bring him up to trot. At first it looked like he might not be ready for it, but once he's stopped looking for a battle he was soft and forwards and in a lovely outline. He was so funny, once he'd agreed to this way of going, I think he was surprised at how easy it was, just like me the other day! Whatever schooling issues we have now, they are no physical. Once he gives up trying to put up and fight and just gives a little, I think we'll be over the biggest hurdle. It seems the work so far has agreed with him, he looks fab :D

(I promise he was worked on both reins!)

Friday, 5 June 2009

The kindness of friends :)

What a day!

I was a bit late on leaving today, much DIY going on in the house which means must tidying!

I also stuck around at home to see if the rain would go off. Thankfully it did. I even wondered if I was going to be too warm under all my layers. Halfway there, I was battered in a hail storm! Soaked to my knickers :o I can't say it was terribly pleasant the rest of the way there. I was so grateful to get into my (dry!) jods but I can't begin to describe the difficulties I had wriggling into my jods with damp legs! I tried drinking an electrolyte drink for the ride out and it seemed to help a lot, I wasn't so tired and recovered very quickly. I really felt the difference in my legs, they didn't give up on me!

Quadi went well today and worked very hard.

I cracked on with his Pessoa lungework, warm up was ok apart from lack of attention, he does insist on trying to bend to the outside. Fine on the left rein, but not so much on the right. When I pushed him up into trot he flung his head in the air and therefore found coming back to work very hard indeed.

He didn't curl back as much hooked into the Pessoa this time, and really worked hard in it. We had a circle or two of canter on each rein, the left was better than the right as to be expected. On the left he was uphill and on the correct bend, on the right he was more on his forehand but little by little he's getting there. I had his back working for a lot of the time, much progress there. He was a little bit of a pest to keep out on his circle, I hope when he is being lunged in my absence he will cease and desist his shenanigans on that front!

Polework was ok, he's still stepping on them and knocking them and generally fumbling a little bit. In walk he wiggles and does his best to avoid the poles, naughty pony! I pushed him up into trot and it was much better, but still this head-raising as soon as he's left the final pole. Better than it was, I'm hoping to see an improvement again tomorrow.

The poor love thought he was finished but we had other plans! Just as he was being tacked up, the heavens opened with another hail shower. We took cover in the hay shed which wasn't quiet and had the boy a little on his toes! Once the shower had passed I mounted up and Quadi promptly escorted me straight back to the barn via a tantrum and paddy in the car park! Not forgetting the rear-and-throw-ourselves-through-the-door technique...

We had to dive for cover again in the hay shed so we worked on a little bit of flexions and jaw softening, and my position.

The shower soon passed and we were in the school. My job was to get my backside under me and lift my pelvis straight. We are talking pelvic thrusts, not sure how I'm supposed to practice them off the horse without seeming like a pervert...

I struggled for a while but then I got it, and I knew I got it because everything suddenly came together with ease. Once Quadi released his jaw and accepted the contact, we worked on the same thing in walk. I have lots of homework! I musn't saw my hands. I don't do it in an obvious, jaw-breaking way of course, but I do move my hand when I should be flexing a finger! Also, opening the rein rather than moving my hand; inviting him into my hand and the space I'm allowing him to be in. And open my wrists out, riding palm-down is another thing closing him off from me.

I did some figure of eights and simple school shapes and we managed to maintain an outline for a circle. It was great to feel his back lifting up, even for that short space of time :) I can't believe how little of an aid I need for him, but also I am relieved that I can hold the reins rather than wimping out and not taking up any feel at all.

The Myler full cheek that Kate has loaned us seems to be helping a lot, it's very stable and very clear, I think we both need clarity at the moment.

A very full day for Quadi, hopefully it wasn't too much. I gave him a nice rub-down after work and told him what a good boy he is for working hard for me even though I almost never know what I'm doing!

The cycle home was really good, I really pressed on and managed to cycle up a couple of hills I used to have to stop midway up, and I am coping with higher, more difficult gears now. Once again I did it in 45 minutes, I wonder if the electrolytes are helping? Slightly knocking the shine off my day, disaster struck 30 seconds from home and my front tyre went totally flat!!! My friend and her OH cycle competitively and they are going to come and repair it for me :D

Tomorrow is a busy day as I'll be on the ground helping Kate with Fin and jumping, and more schooling for Quadi. Camera will be charged!

Thursday, 4 June 2009

By jove, I think she's got it!

I was much too sleepy after a big day yesterday to update, lots of happenings :)

Yesterday’s cycle out was leisurely as I didn’t head out till 2pm. The wind was strong again :( but it was in a different direction to the past couple of weeks, so they run out was just as hard but in different places! I had to stop more frequently than I like to. I’m fit for the distance but not for the hills, and being ever mindful of the fact that I have to sustain another cycle home, I tend to stop and rest my legs. It’s not so much the hills as the wind. Because on the trek home I blazed a trail! I only stopped once, I motored up all the hills and although it was tiring it wasn’t soul-destroying. All thanks to the fact the wind had died to a whisper. I was home in 45 minutes and it took me an hour on the way out. I was very pleased.

Sadly for Quadi, yesterday was Muzzle Day. I thought, since he’s worn one before, I could just head up to the field with a pocketful of treats and pop it on his head. Er, no! I should have more carefully considered what I was doing, I was trying to save time, which of course didn’t work. He was, in no uncertain terms, about to let the Face-Eating thingie over my shoulder anywhere near his head! I had to trek back for a headcollar, convince him to catch and bring him in. No time saved. Larri, you were right, the Shires isn’t great. I bought him a FS and it’s too nippit around his nose. He can open and cloze his mouth to graze but it is pressing each time. So I’ll use it for muzzle training but I think he’ll need a Best Friend’s one. I don’t actually think he’ll need it until he moves field, his workload is about to increase to normal levels soon. And he’s unrugged.

Poor boy was miffed at having to wear it. Once turned out, he proceeded to try and pick a fight with the horse’s in neighbouring fields, by trying to box their ears over the fence. Luckily I was poo-picking in order to supervise him and roared at him from across the field. One very indignant piglet then saw fit to chase his newest field companion, a muzzled little pony, round and around. I think he wanted someone to undo his muzzle. He probably should have asked someone who wasn’t also wearing one!

I opted not to lunge him since Kate was coming up and she’d brought her spare Fhoenix for me, which is working well for us until he is a more consistent shape and then I’ll get a treed. I think once I sort out my seat too I’ll put a lot less pressure on his lower back and a treed will be a better option.

Well, it didn’t start well. There was only one set of stirrups and since I wouldn’t be coming out of walk I went without. Quadi was great in that he didn’t try and scuttle around hollow as an immediate response, but we ended up there anyway on account of my riding. I was micro-managing and he ended up in a very slow, stilted walk whilst I fiddled too much with the front. The good thing was that when I ‘got’ it, his head carriage was immediately consistent. And I gave him frequent walks on a longer contact, which opened his walk up three times what I had before. We moved on to letting him make big circles in the school whilst I concentrated on following with my pelvis and back. I started to hurt. When I was on the cusp of calling it a day, Kate offered me her stirrups (I think she’d done well not to say anything to me before now, I know what I must have looked like!).

I couldn’t install the leathers under my leg on account of my disproportionately large thighs! When I dismounted poor Quadi thought we were done. Despite this he was cordial and continued to work happily once I remounted.

Instant comfort! Especially since the leathers were shorter than they ought to be for someone of my leg length, but they were entirely correct for my current riding ability.

But still, I struggled. My middle back was absorbing all the movement that my pelvis and lower back ought to be. And due to the tension in my seat from trying to stay upright, we slowed down to scuffed strides of walk.

Kate said I need to tuck my seat under me, which I already know but it never seemed to make a difference because my body (and the Fhoenix) would always throw me back into a hollow position. But I tried it. At first I looked very exaggerated in that I was collapsing my back and my shoulders slumped, in an effort to tuck under. But after a few strides I straightened up and, well, how bizarre! It felt odd but easier. I was under the impression I would have to work twice as hard as anyone else on account of my conformation.

I felt like I was in a chair seat, although I’m assured I wasn’t. My back felt much relieved. For the first time, I am aware of what my core should be doing. It was even rather pleasant to absorb his walk this way. If I’m honest it feels like I’m cheating, who knew it was supposed to be this easy?! I have to give myself certain markers in the school to remind myself to straighten my pelvis. Naturally I can’t keep the same posture for a long time without slipping back to old ways, but it’s also not something I should think about all the time. Worrying about everything at once only ever lands me in trouble!

I’m rather sad that my seat has caused my horse to move in a way that would have anyone think he lacks forward momentum. But onward and upward. He was brilliant from this point, it was so easy to ask him to relax his jaw and he maintained this for whole circles. Which is pretty pathetic by most people’s standards, but between he and I it’s really rather good.

I gave him his last Cartrophen last night. Most of it ended up bulging under the skin, but I think, through sheer luck over any sort of skill, it ended up in the muscle. Those sweat patches returned on his off side after work. He might be rubbing off of something in the stable though, I will have to pay close attention tomorrow and see if I can catch him do it.

I think I’d better stop here lest this turn into a very boring novel. But I’m pleased, still on a horsey high!

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Could do better

Today was rather muggy but there was a har so it wasn't at all sunny! I really didn't relish the thought of cycling, and since I had the day to myself I decided to get the two buses out to where the yard is, to see how that would be. I also woke to a Killer Cramp in my right calf. I thought walking might be better than cycling for it...

The distance from the bus stop to the yard is about 3 miles I think, maybe a little less. So I walked 6 miles just getting there and back. It cost me £6.40 in bus fare, so not something I'm about to attempt very regularly. Besides, it seemed a false economy to walk in terms of saving energy. I'm absolutely shattered! Halfway to the bus stop, homeward bound, my legs ached and my back went from yawing pain to numbness, not good really.

Back on the bike tomorrow :) I might have to get ibuprofened up to do it thought.

There were two farriers working on horses by the time I brought Quadi in. Chaos reigns! Quadi was temporarily displaced into Fin's stable whilst I set about the field with my barrow and fork/scoop. Nice and quiet again when I returned. I stood about chatting too much though, with all the walking I did I hadn't as much time as I usually would have. It took just under two hours each way, door to door, which is a big chunk of the day!

Once I'd stopped nattering and started paying my poor boy some attention, I noticed he had some unusual patches on his neck. On his offside. It looked like blood, or mollasses, or droppings. Naturally both myself and YM rubbed the area to find out which it was. None the wiser, and unable to find a wound, we assumed he'd rolled in a poo pile (three ex-entires in a group of four makes poo picking easy!) or someone's wiped their mouth on him.

He was anxious to get out and get going today. More keen than I was, I had half my mind on the clock ticking away. Even though I had nowhere else to be, I was distracted. Warm up was fine, but he is insisting on bending to the outside. If I take a firm (but fair) contact on the lunge line he spirals in on it. If I give him more slack the circle ends up very wobbly.

If you can picture in your mind's eye the standard BHS image of the handler in the centre, the lunge line and the lune whip forming a triangle to the horse...

I end up nearer his hind end, driving forwards, using the whip parallel along his body to keep him straight, when we go straight, or pointing at his middle to give me a blessed bit of bend! And the lunge line becomes a sort of permanent open inside rein, like you would with a green horse when riding. He gets it, of course, and tries to hold it, but it's hard work. And he'd rather not work too hard of course, that's an unscheduled waste of energy!

Once warmed up I hooked him in. Starting as ever on his good rein, his left. He was grand, a couple of transitions were slow and drawn out, but overall he was very attentive and when the transitions were good they were great! I am finding that with the warmer weather I am tired and therefore quiet. I'm not giving him the verbal praise he needs when he 'gets' something. A lot more passive. I'm sure this isn't helping. It's silly, I need to look and sound as though I'm having a great old time in there with him, I even canter with him to get him 'up' in front instead of drilling circle after circle. I'm sure I look like a total loon, but the past few days haven't been so great in terms of progress, which ties in with the heat and my tiredness.

The right rein was tricky to keep him out and away from me, he's starting to try and turn in early. Really not like him, he is an old professor on the lunge, he knows better than this. I guess my body and handling is signaling to him.

I am wondering if I will have a play with working him on his bad rein first, see how he looks. Just this once, I think it'd be a good barometer of whether this work is helping. Of course it's necessary to work him on his good rein first, let him feel what's right when it's easier and then ask for more in the other direction.

Didn't do poles today, bit of a lazy Tuesday all round. But I did ask for a couple of revolutions of canter on the Pessoa.

I got his muzzle and the D&H Right Weight pack today. I think I'll assume he should be the weight of a Connemara, since the don't give an option for Iberians! Reading the condition score sheet, he really isn't as fat as I thought. It's lack of tone. Will try and take a full body shot tomorrow :)

I also lunged Fin today. He's 100 times more sensitive/switched on to posture and voice and handler control. I'm not sure if I've desensitised/switched-off my horse or whether Fin was really on his toes. He was much more the hotblood today :D

I went back to groom Quadi post-work and found that he hwas more wierd patches on the other side of his neck. They looked like sweat. He wasn't hot and he wasn't wearing tack where these patches were. I rubbed them with baby wipes to make sure there was nothing there, and cold-hosed his neck and shoulders. He was then turned out in the school to have a roll. By the time I'd come back from fetching his boots, he was tearing up and down the school. So unlike him! He was in a real pickle. Absolutely intent on cantering out of the school back to the fields.

I managed to bring him down to earth, when I turned him out he went haring along the field. Stopped. Neighed. And stuck his head down to eat. Most bizarre. The YM checked him for me a couple of times this afternoon and this evening and he's just fine.

There was something genuinely bothering him but I'm stumped as to what it was. Fingers crossed for a more chilled day tomorrow :)