Monday, 20 September 2010

Pilgrim's Progress 19.07.10

Had a good session yesterday, did what will be our regular Sunday hike up the road to the school, the mile and a half (currently in hand) is a great way to warm her up, prepare for the fact that we have a schooling session and keeps me fitter!

Loads and loads of cars out as the gardens at the big house were open so good traffic training on the way ...all ignored completely!

Got to the school and discovered all of the C end under water with the sprinkers on full whack...cue much eye popping and snorting, but I lead her down and we walked around for a few minutes just out of reach so she could see and hear the sprinkler but wasn't going to get an impromptu soaking! I find that If I remain completely workmanlike and ignore stuff she's generally picking up and that and taking confidence from it :-)
She was much better about the mounting block this time, but she's still not happy about it - odd when she's so good every where else :-$
Anyway hopped on and B was very forwards so popped her straight up into trot and worked on big shapes - changing the rein, serpentines and big circles. Have to watch her escaping out of her right shoulder!

Only had a few minor steering failures and some wibbly long sides...but discovered that she responds far better to a leg aid on the girth to straighten, than taking my leg back to move her was quite a dramatic difference! I could also use the same aid to ask for a couple of steps of leg yield back to the track. To change the aid for a turn around the inside leg I deepen and lengthen my leg with a defininite rock forwards of my inner seatbone

Again I have to be very mindful of using my legs evenly in transitions - a couple of times B reacted to my stronger right leg and skewed off to the left. But we didn't have any pawing, when I asked for halt that was what I got!

I'm have a major wibble about contact though. I'm very conscious of keeping my arms connected to my body and keeping elbows and wrists loose and moving with her to let her take it forwards, but she doesn't - at the minute we're getting some nice moments, but there's a lot of fussing / head moving and it's very hard to reward the good moments as they are followed by a curl or her head going up. I know it's a balance issue on her part....but I wonder if by always following her movement I'm not being constant and offering enough of a steady contact to reach into, so it's a vicious circle of wobbliness...does that make sense?

Don't get me wrong I'm not asking for any kind of outline, just for her to stay between my hand and leg as quietly as she can at this stage and to take a stretch down to release her back when asked

Becky E is coming down to give us a couple of short lessons, so hopefully she can give me some pointers.

Thought we'd finish off by just asking for a hop up into canter from trot on each rein to see what we got and although she ran into it a little (note to not drop the contact forwards!!!) she gave me a lovely steady few strides with a correct strike off both times and nicely back down :-D Until she's stronger that's pretty much all I'll be asking of her in the school. The majority of any ridden canter work will be out hacking.

Walked her off and stood her over by the mounting block whilst I had a drink and she stood like a lamb bless her!
The we hacked back down the road and she was good...another wibble at the same gateway as last week, but she let me pop her quarters back in and walked past without much of a fuss.

All in all really pleased with her progress, but really looking forward to a lesson so I can check we're on the right track!!

Hacked Off 16.07.10

Well we went out hacking completely solo yesterday (in a howling gale again lol!!)

I did the first 15 minutes just hand walking with her, up the lane, past the scary fishing lakes and then got on her from a random fence as we turned onto the cricketfield bridleway (have treeless will mount from anything I can stand on...or get horse to stand in!)

Bally was nicely forwards and although a little looky at things she wasn't overly spooky which was great considering we hadn't been down that particular bridleway before
Had a lovely trot and she came back nicely without any bother, then we got slightly lost and ended up in a lightly harrowed bit that used to be a pathway...and had a lovely lovely canter along the edge where the ground was softest.
Ended up in a bit of a dead end and had to turn back and sadly when we got back onto the bridleway and headed for home Bally blotted her copybook a bit!

She tried to jog off so I halted her with my seat, asked for walk on...jog...halt...sideways evasion.... HALT with neck rope and seat...walk on..jog. HALT..foot throwing, re-applied halt aids and ooops up she went :-o

Cracked her once on the backside to get her forward as I simply will not tolerate that antsy tantrum behaviour then asked her to halt again. This went on for about ten minutes and it was extremely hard not to to be tempted in to take a pull on the reins and just keep my halt from body into a steady hand, although we did have a one rein circle at one stage as she was flinging her head at me and bouncing up again :-$

It was a bit of a battle of wills and I'm actually quite chuffed that I stuck to my guns, remained calm and just repeated my halt, walk on, halts everytime she did anything other than what I was asking for and didn't let her get to me...her frustration was understandable but not acceptable and I just wasn't going to get into an escalating fight about it

It worked thank goodness and she gracefully walked on, accepted a couple more walk, halt, walk transitions (with much less aiding applied) calmly and so on we pootled.

Stayed on her and rode onto the lane and presented her with the challenge of walking up the lane between the scary lakes, past a car disgorging a couple of excited children feeding the ducks.
She stopped and baulked a little and I let her have a breather and take it in then asked her to walk on, then trot past and she did, nicely straight no spooking what a good girl!!! YAY

Back onto our little lane and I let her take the rein a little longer, then hopped off half way down so we in hand walked the last five minutes to let her have a wind down.

So a good ride despite the shenanigans, nice to know that we can deal with them and move on as I'm sure there'll be plenty more!

Little schooling session 14.07.10

Really nice short ridden session last night. Just in the corral but with saddle and bridle (and hat if hubby is reading!) I used the drop noseband (no headcollar) and B was happy in her mouth, nicely mouthing and steady.

Started with a bit of flexion work ....or boot nibbling if we get a good side stretch lol then on just to work in walk at me getting my positioning, seat and aiding clear so B can respond easily and correctly - aiming for softness.

I think we worked really well. B is now starting to reach for the bit and take it forwards so long I'm asking from my leg and keeping a strong flexible core. It's blatantly obvious when that strong core becomes a tense leg or seat though as Bally just grinds to a halt underneath me (oops!)

Much better turns and circles last night with the occasional flash of harmony as I got the aiding spot on and we glided around on just a seat aid!

We worked on getting good square halts without any sideways wibbling and she got it best if I concentrate on remaining central, straight and even when I put my legs on....then I lighten my seat and bingo up she steps beautifully square :-D

So what did we learn...well I cannot get away with any sloppy riding for a start lol!! and if I'm clear in my body and mind what we want...we generally get...hey she's bright that girl

Proper schooling 12.7.10

It's been far too hot to subject the pair of us to a three mile round walk, plus schooling time but it was much nicer and breezier yesterday afternoon so we trundled off up the road for a session.

B was in a lovely mood and nicely marched out with me as we made our way up the lane (on foot at this stage) I'd gone back bridle and headcollar with reins attached to both for stability and B was happy with this arrangement.

Met Gi on his bicycle and B was happy to walk along with the bike at her side which bodes well for bigger hacks out.
Got to the school and she had a bit of a hissy at the mounting block. Odd as she stands pefectly happily next to fences and gates for me to plonk myself on from. She was a bit rude at one point and kicked out at the whip as I asked her move her quarters over from the ground as she'd swung away from the block as I stepped on it, so she got growled at!

After a bit of groundwork I got her where she should be and she stood nicely so I could get on :-D

Interesting session, I rode for about 20 minutes in all doing nice big shapes to change direction and bend and getting transitions on markers. We still had some banana issues, but had more success asking for a little flexion, then straight and repeating.
There was little issue at the top end of the school with birds flapping in the hedge and initially B was a bit tense and spooky up there, but I worked on ignoring it completely and B was able to take a lead from that

Bally was super in her mouth, no signs of irritability or discomfort at all so I do think it's a support issue and that a drop is going to the best place to start, then try a different bit if that doesn't suit.

She was also very nicely off my leg with good crisp transitions. One halt was a bit of a disaster and was down to me not being straight...I sat up and closed my legs on and suddenly found myself leg yielding across the school :-o

I wasn't 100% happy with her trot work, we seemed to veer between a rushed choppy trot and a slug impression as Bally struggled to find her balance within the pace. So I worked on getting her forward, then introducing the idea of using my seat to slow and lengthen and gave her a longer rein to reach forward to. Had a couple of nice circles with a much better rythmn.

Stopped there as pleased with how well Bally had worked and hacked her back all the way down to the field with Gi following on the bike to keep an eye on us
Had one moment of uh-oh as she took a bit of an exception to a driveway and crabbed sideways bum out into the lane. I turned her around and walked her back to it where she had a bit of a dither and I just sat until she relaxed then asked her to walk on and she did YAY!!

I felt her tense right up as we approached the big house as they were having a rather noisy game of tennis behind the hedge, but again just gave B a scratch and vocal reassurance and she walked past no bother, clever girly!!

Best bit of all, we had a little trot on the big raised verge on the little lane, I gave her an extra nudge and we had our first canter :-D

It was as lovely as I thought it would be, only a few strides, but she came back immediately when asked and she was beautifully light and balanced which bodes well for the future!!

In-Handy Stuff 07.07.10 pt 2

Repeated similar work last night but altered the height of the bit in her mouth first..actually put it UP and popped my drop noseband on her, loose in case she is sore and so that she can still mouth (able to get three fingers under easily, but adjusted so that it could give a small amount of support to the bit.

Came to the conclusion that Bally really objects to me working her inhand directly from the bit but is much happier if I put myself further back and hold the reins as if I'm riding...and is even happier on longlines. If I was being really hamfisted I'd have thought it would be the other way round??

Anyway she was steadier in her mouth, not great, but nothing like as irritated as she was before, so a small step in the right direction.

Walked her up to the corral and popped on her again. Did a little work on reinback from a legs back / lighten seat aid accompanied by the verbal clunk I use on the ground and lot's of praise when she moved her weight back

She got it straight away :-D

Then we just did five minutes of working on walking straight with halt transtions added, trying to keep her channelled straight throughout.B was much better with her mouth and head ridden, I just tried to keep a soft elastic even contact and she took it forwards and was settled by it. I'm obviously doing something seriously wrong inhand!

We ground to a halt a couple of times as I got grippy with my thighs, entirely my fault and good in a way because at least I know my holding aid to step up into halt works.

I'll walk her up to the school tomorrow night to see how we get on on a nice surface rather than rutty potholed grass....I'm hoping I'll be even more pleasantly surprised by her.

She's such a lovely willing calm girl who really seems to be enjoying her work, but I worry she's not thinking forwards enough which is imperative at this stage, so lot's more hacking out on the cards

In-Handy Stuff 07.07.10 pt1

Bally had Monday off after all the fun on Sunday - it was quite a long day for her - I was up at the field at 7, walked her home along the bridleways, bathed, plaited, loaded hung around and wandered about the showground, did a class, went for a ride around the showground and then back home by 2pm...phew!

Still her behaviour was exemplary and you really can't ask for more than that :-D

In an odd mood last night because of the sad news about my lovely girl Leyna, went up to the field and ended up having a good weep. Bally, Dee and Bonita stood with me, then over me as I sat and bawled my eyes out and gently whiffled my hair and nuzzled my shoulders. Bless them

Decided to do a little bit of in hand flexion work with B. Very unsettled with any sort of contact and I had to be almost whisper like to get her to mouth and not yaw at the bit or throw her head around.
I'm going to have to either rethink bitting / noseband or go bitless for a wee while as she's teething. She's much happier and steadier when the reins are attached to the bit ring and the headcollar so it feels more stable in her mouth (I use a Neue Schule loose ring bit) so if she's happy with the mouthpiece she may need a drop noseband just to support the bit & hold it steady in her mouth of maybe go for something like a half / full cheek..... Not sure will probably have a play and see what she's happiest with.

Well after I'd manage to get some nice calm and soft in hand work I walked B up to the corral and popped on her for a little bit of ridden walk work

Bareback :-O

There aren't many just backed babies I'd even think about doing this with but B has been so like Safi in her fabulous attitude to being ridden (and maybe I'm feeling a bit fatalistic atm due to recent body protector or hat either :-$)

She was lovely, definitely better with flexing to the left after working her inhand, although still has a tendency to banana to the right whilst going straight - seems to be her default position and something I have to be very clear on correcting every time she starts it

One teeny nap by the fence where the rest of the gang had grandstand seats..she didn't move straight off my leg when asked to walk on from a got a double nudge and a voice command...then a tickle from the whip which did the trick.

I've been holding off riding her on my own and only actually sitting on her once a week when I could get Gi or Jen to help me, but after her being so wonderfully amenable tonight I think we'll be fine so, as long as I can keep her comfortable in her mouth, we can crack on and start hacking out a bit more and have at least one school session a week on top.

I really have missed riding!

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Show Time!! 04.07.10

Took Bally to a local show today..turned out to be much busier than I envisaged as not only was there a horse show, but also a dog show, and EBG 12 mile ride setting off all day and a big driving competition on site so masses to see and a really buzzy atmosphere :-o

B was just brilliant, took it all in her stride and was very chilled, so decided what the heck and entered her into a was choice of Riding Club horse / pony or prettiest mare :-$

Well we went into the RC horse class as I didn't want to deprive all the pig-tailed little girls and their doe eyed ponies and she was like an old pro, totally calm, stood up when asked without a hint of a fidget, walked out in the lead for the whole class, didn't flicker an eye at some behaviour issues from the mare behind her. Did a lovely individual show, trotted out beautifully around the ring and was just an absolute delight to work with.

Competition was stiff as there were two winners and a couple of second placers from previous classes in the ring with us, plus three of us the judge hadn't seen before.

Well blow me down we were pulled in second behind a stunning and immaculately turned out pony YAY!!!!!!

Afterwards I tacked B up and we had a ride around the showground. Got Superhubby to lead us through the lorry park for safety sake as I could feel Bally was on her toes a bit, but we went up into the showground proper where the rings were and other horses were working in and rode her around - just a bit of walk and trot and she was so good - no napping or silliness, but a very apparent lack of left bend when not in the confines of an arena! (homework ahoy!!)

Back to the box and we still had a couple of hours to wait for the inhand championship we'd qualified for and I decided to forgo our place and come home as I didn't want to make Bally stale and spoil the fabulous day we'd had.

I LUFF my gorgeous girl :-D

Lots of photos in this album

Going solo with video evidence! 27.06.10

The whole gang are all happily back together now, and seem to have slotted back into herd like perfectly amenably

Well once again Ballyboo has been an absolute star today, she is just so laid back about this being ridden lark and she's such a joy to ride

I took her on her first proper solo / off lead hack, in fact she was never on the lead, Gi and Spuddy dog came with us and were supposed to be leading, but in the end she was so chilled out I kept a hold of it in case it was needed but nope, the girl was going solo with a vengeance

She stood stock still as I threw myself at her off the fence and we went out the gate and off up the lane for about half a mile, past the fishing lake, the (thankfully parked up) diggers doing the car park there, the wheely bins and then turned down the woody bridleway. She was a teeny bit cat creepy to start but as well as using my legs in time with hers I used my whip on my boot as a back up which worked really well. Once she got the idea she marched out wonderfully :-D

Once we got to the bit where the bridleway goes into the village I turned back as didn't feel quite ready for the main road just yet !!! Then we had a few little trots and she was nicely off my leg and easy to bring back down too, clever girl. One tiny baby stroplet when I asked her to stop and wait for a minute before moving on again, this brought on a minor fit of the Kevins in the form of foot scraping ..norty!!!

Happily pootled on when I asked her to, back on to the lane and home again, no fuss, no bother and big, BIG grins all round

On the move - 24.06.10

Finally the girls are back down road at the 20 acre.

Got left in the lurch and ended up walking the pair of them the mile and a half down the road by myself.... Not something I would contemplate normally, but I just wanted to get them back out of the incredibly lush pasture as it was really damaging their feet!!

Popped every bit of hi viz gear I possessed on the three of us and just got on with it. Couple of spooky moments from the little one, and 3/4 of the way down the road she decided she'd absolutely walked far enough Thank you and wasn't taking another step :-o
Took some pressure / release work and a bit of wheedling to get Little Donkey Dee moving again lol

Bally was a star and just got on with it...she's definitely taking life as a grown up very seriously!!

Got them settled in and then Polly and Bonita magically appeared today, not sure why the boys haven't come down, but the girls were all getting on quite happily together...phew!!!

Rasp Ahoy 22.06.10

Bally had her teeth done this morning and she was a superstar

Brought her up on the the yard and let her have a good sniff at Gary's tools, the she pootled behind me into a box (first time in one since December and no hint of the panic she had when she first came to me and I put her in her new stable! )
Gary made his introductions to her and put her and me completely at ease then got on with having a good look, Bally was so calm and accepting of the whole process, nothing more than a bit of eye rolling at the rasp and popped her head higher when she had the gag fitted, but a little tweak on the rope and she relaxed and lowered it again.

She had a good tidy up and four baby teeth / caps taken off all on a loose rope with no sedation, what a brilliant first time !!

He's recommended that she has her wolf teeth out as he rightly assessed that she's unsteady on the contact. He said to see how she is now she's been rasped as that might be enough to make her more comfortable, but he did think they'd need to come out at some point, especially if I ever wanted her to have a bit seat.

A far cry from the last dentist I used who almost left the yard with his rasps up his doodah he was such an arrogant unfeeling and abusive G*t and the vet who sedates them if they so much as flicker an eyelash

Highly recommended !!

We measured B for the first time yesterday too....I chased a snorty Bally in a few circles until she realised the pokey stick thing wasn't going to kill her...and .....first measurement was over 15.2, which I refused to believe and next was just shy of 15.2 :-o
My old YO always maintained she'd make 16hh but I couldn't see it at first...when I first saw her last year my first thought was OMG she's looking well lol...closely followed by OMG she's really diddy!!) Safi kept growing till she was 8, so I think B's got a fair bit of growing to do still!!