Posted by: Sophie | July 26, 2011

New addition to the family!

Meet Bilberry Belle, aka Billie, Border Terrier.

Posted by: Sophie | June 27, 2011

Smile!

Posted by: Sophie | June 20, 2011

No no I haven’t disappeared…

Sorry I’ve kind of let my blog down lately. Not that I have nothing to say, I just got a bit “lazy” about it.

A quick update then!

My Star first. She makes me so happy. More than I could hope for. We are in such a good relationship now. We trust each other and that’s all that matters.
She rides so nicely! Every ride is pure joy for us. she really tries for me, she doesn’t get upset if I try and push her a bit more and she looks relaxed.
I am thinking of putting sliding shoes on her this month but I feel a bit bad about it as I had hoped she’d never get shoed. However, when she tries to stop and can’t slide because she doesn’t have shoes on, I feel really bad. So I’ll have to make a choice. I don’t know yet…

As for the rest, well I had Little Jo back in training for a couple of weeks and he was lovely. I started him back in January I think and then he went home. His owner didn’t ride him at all for all this time and sent him back in training with us in May. He was very nice to ride, which was quite unexpected as he hadn’t done anything for so long. Cute horse, I very much like him!

At the moment, I ride a Rocky Mountain Horse. Sweet horse, but very hard to ride as he’s gaited and very green so he is very confused on what he’s supposed to do and gets stuck in that uncomfortable gait of his. I am not a fan of gaited horses, I have to say. But we are working well together.

And I’ve started to ride a Norwegian Fjord too. Not much to say about him. He’s nice enough. Just not my cup of tea..

Posted by: Sophie | May 4, 2011

So I’ve got a Reining horse?

Twice. That’s the number of times I’ve ridden Star these last three weeks. I know, shame on me!
In my defense, I am busy at work, my back is a massive mess and she loves the time off. So no too much shame after all…
So today was the second time. I was not planning on riding her but something made me extremely angry at work so I decided to ride her. She is the only thing in the world that calms me down, there’s nothing else. When I am sad, angry, stressed, confused, depressed, I go and see Star and I feel instantly better. she has a power :)

So I took her in the outdoor arena and wasn’t expecting anything in particular as she’s not done much lately but she gave me much more I would have wanted from her. Fast loping large circles with transitions to slow small circles. Yes she did!
And then she gave me a sliding stop. Well she doesn’t have sliding shoes on so that is something. Like 20cm! What a good girl!
And then she did some really nice spins on both sides.
Reining horse she is, I’m telling you!
So proud of her. After that, I wasn’t angry anymore, I was smiling and laughing. Well I am still mad at what happened but Star showed me there is no need to fight the lazy, the ignorant, the unfair, the stupid.
She is my little bundle of joy. I am blessed to have her in my life :)

Posted by: Sophie | May 3, 2011

Tired tired and more tired

We have many horses in training at the moment and work never stops, so I am quite exhausted I have to say. Which is why I don’t update my blog much, among other things.

So to do a quick summary…

Tink (the little mare I’ve started) turned into Miss Satan and became very difficult to lope (walk and jog are very good though), she throws her head in the air and then tries to squash me onto the wall at high speed. So much fun… And when I tell her off, she rears up. Interesting… she is off work for a few days though as she caught a bad cough and she can’t really be ridden in that state. So we’ll see how it goes when I get back on her.

I am still riding Wizard (a 3yo gelding who’s been a real challenge as he won’t make any effort and locks up all the time when Michael asks him to lope) and I am loving it, believe it or not! He trusts me and gives me a lot. He never locks up with me and he lopes nicely for me.
Unfortunately, as he will never make an amazing Reining horse, he’s probably going to be taken away from our yard soon and probably sold.
It makes me sad. But I suppose that is what that job is all about. You can’t really get attached to any of the horses because they all end up leaving.
I am going to keep enjoying Wizard’s company while I can. I like him, he’s a good boy.

Star is fine. She’s had lots of time off recently as I am so busy with the yard jobs and the other horses to ride that I barely have any time for her :( She spends a lot of time in the field playing, rolling and being mischievous, all of her favourite things! She enjoys her time off so it’s all that matters. I will probably get back to riding her daily when I get back from France at the end of May (Yeah, I am going to France for a week at the end of May. Can’t wait!!)

Well that’s about it for now.

Posted by: Sophie | April 22, 2011

An update

So yes we DID compete after all!
Star was great, she behaved very well in the crowd of other horses. Unfortunately, she got a bit shy in the show pen with all these eyes on her and panicked a little bit. We went through the whole Trail course but I had to stop a few times just to reassure her and tell her everything was fine.
I am proud of her overall, she did great and I couldn’t have asked for more. She tried and it’s all that matters for now.
Here’s a photo of the day.

Now for the rest.
Well, Tink (the little QH mare I am starting) is doing pretty well. Her owner is coming to see me ride her tomorrow for the first time since she’s arrived here so I hope she’ll be happy with what’s been done.
She can be a little feisty so let’s hope she behaves tomorrow…

I have also taken on another horse, a 3yo QH, that is not doing very well. He’s been in training with us for several months but doesn’t seem to be progressing at all, and even worse, he seems to be going backwards. He can hardly be ridden normally, he stops and doesn’t want to go, he looks confused all the time and prefers to stick himself on the wall or in a corner or rear up than moving forward… Not the easiest case to deal with but I said I wanted to look after him.
So today I took him in the round pen and played the 7 games with him. He looked surprised and he licked and chewed a lot.
Then I got on him (just with the halter and lead rope, no bridle on or spurs or any of that) and we walked around the round pen, occasionally stopping at a cone to touch it with the nose. Then I asked him to jog and he wasn’t sure at first so I kept asking and increased pressure by slapping my shoulders with the rope and off he went.
We jogged both ways and he didn’t lock up at all.
I’ll try more of that tomorrow and see if he is happier. Who knows…?
I gotta say I am ready to try many things because I just can’t give up on him.
I may try and ride her outside tomorrow. It’s never been done before as he is so unreliable and our outdoor arena is massive and has no fences. But hey maybe that’s what he needs. Maybe he needs space and a reason to move forward… We’ll see.

Posted by: Sophie | April 15, 2011

To compete or not to compete

When I bought Star almost two years ago now (Wow! time flies!) I said I didn’t want to compete. I just wanted to have fun with my horse and not get back into my old competitive days where the horse didn’t seem to matter so much.
I am naturally a competitive person and I know it. I don’t want to push Star into doing what she doesn’t want to do either.
When I started working for Michael, I wanted to do Reining with Star and it is a very hard discipline so I pushed Star more and more everyday and we ended up fighting. But she was trying to say something to me. She was not happy.
So I came to the conclusion that Reining wasn’t for her and I relaxed a little bit more and now she gives me so much more! I heard her and she thanked me for listening.

Tomorrow there is a competition at the yard where I work. It is only a practice show, which means points are not involved, it’s just a fun show before season kicks in.
Working here, I am expected to show my horse obviously. So I wasn’t sure what to do…Compete (just for the fun of it) or not compete?

To answer that question, I took Star into the indoor arena today and looked at the pattern for the Western Trail competition. I said to Star “We’re going to do this pattern and if you are happy and relaxed, we will show tomorrow. If you are not happy or stressed, I will leave you alone”
And she did great! So I guess tomorrow is our first show! I have not changed my mind, Star took the decision herself. Let’s see how it goes…

Posted by: Sophie | April 7, 2011

Hot days!

Spring has only just started but it already feels like Summer here in Southern England. It’s been really hot these last two or three days and the sun is high in the blue sky. I love it! There is not enough sun in this country, I miss it so I am enjoying it big time!

Little Tink is progressing well. I rode her with spurs for the first time today as she can get very lazy. Given her attitude, I was expecting her to be very unhappy about these bad spurs, but it actually went fine. She only did a small buck once. She is a nice little mare. She is funny. When you are on the ground and do some ground work or work her in the round pen, she pulls horrible faces, has her ears back, tries to bite, kicks in my direction to show her discontentment. But when I am on her back, she relaxes and is nice to ride and almost never disagree with me.

She does get confused sometimes and when she is she throws her head in the air, turns to look at my leg, puts her ears back, etc. but as soon as she understands what I am asking of her, she settles down and does it without a problem. Clever girl. If I could have several horses, I’d like to buy her I think… Funny, I don’t get that feeling too often about horses we start here. But I like Tink’s rebellious attitude. How unusual….Not! ;)

Posted by: Sophie | April 5, 2011

Very interesting article by Pat Parelli

…On the differences between “Starting” and “Breaking” horses.

Personally, I’ve always used the term “Start” but I tend to think it is because English is not my first language, therefore “breaking” a horse sounds wrong to me (as there is no reference of “breaking” horses in French language), whereas it is a generic term for the native speakers.

So anyway, here’s the article : http://central.parellinaturalhorsetraining.com/2011/03/the-difference-between-colt-starting-and-colt-breaking/

Talking of starting horses, my new “recruit” arrived 10 days ago. Her name is Tink, she’s a 4 yo sorrel AQH mare. She is very cute but a real Madam! I think her owner left it too long to get her started, therefore she thinks she’s still a baby and can do whatever she wants. She doesn’t respect humans, space or authority of any kind.
I worked her in the round pen for a few days, saddled her pretty quickly (probably on day 3 or 4) and I’ve been riding her for a few days now (I’d say she’s probably had 4 rides). I’ve walked, jogged and loped her in the round pen already and she’s actually doing quite well. I think she can potentially be a very nice mare, but she has to learn she can’t always have the last word! I’ll take photos later this week, when the sun is out :)

Posted by: Sophie | March 22, 2011

Interesting experience

Yesterday (Monday) was my day off but I was invited by Bob to go to the yard and act as a pupil for a lesson with someone who was doing his assessment to become a Western Riding Instructor (John, from Scotland).

Michael had asked Bob if he would be happy to have me as the pupil, given I want to do my Instructor’s assessment soon. That is a good way to get an insight to what happens when you do it. Nice of him to have thought of me!

So for two hours, I listened to what John was saying as I rode Baileys (Michael’s horse). It went pretty well, except that Baileys is a Reining horse and he made me do some Pleasure and some Trail! It was funny. Poor Baileys looked a bit confused!

Anyway I think he passed and that’s good for him.
Baileys and I were pretty good students though (kidding! :) )

Now I see what the assessment looks like and it really helps me to get ready for it as I know what they will expect from me.
Instructors Registry, here I come!

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