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 :

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!

Posted by: Sophie | March 21, 2011

Half flying changes?

So I had my lesson on flying changes yesterday. I got to ride Star outside in the sun, that was nice!
Star was impressive. Michael said she is a different horse. He even said that if she keeps going like this, we will put some sliding plates on her soon and try to have do some sliding stops and he thinks I should be able to show her in Reining next year. Who would have thought!!
All the people who have met that horse always said to me I would never get anything good out of her. Well we proved them wrong! I never doubted her, I just never thought she would ever get good to the point of wanting to show her. But today, it’s a whole different story…

So anyway, lead changes!
OK, so to make it short, this time we tried to have her change on a circle (last time, we tried to have her change on a diagonal). Start on a left circle, reverse bend her and change in the middle, go onto a right circle, move her hip, keep her shoulder from drifting to the inside, change, change, change, change…
The first few tries were a bit of a mess. Star was confused (and so was I, I imagine) so it didn’t work but I kept asking and I got something. At the end of the session, she was changing lead on her front legs…but not at the back! So she was ending up disunited, was breaking gait for a stride and changing her back legs.
She really made an effort. It’s a shame she wasn’t changing all 4 legs at the same time, but it’s better than nothing at all. She proved me she was trying to figure out what I was asking and for that, I was very proud of her.

So no real flying changes yet, but we are getting there, one step at a time. Funny thing is she was accelerating big time when I was asking her to change as I was kicking her hip and making it uncomfortable for her so she was running fast trying to find what I wanted from her. BUT, when she was back on the correct lead, I was sitting back and asking her to come back to me and lope nicely and quietly for me. And she did! Every time! I mean a few months ago, if she ‘d been running like that, she would have never come back to a slow lope, she would have been panicking and trying to tank off. This definitely is a different horse. Michael was impressed. And so was I.

I am so glad I found her. She is my everything.

Posted by: Sophie | March 20, 2011

Working hard under the sun

The weather in the South of England is very nice at the moment and we get to ride out almost everyday now. That is so nice!

Star is still doing great. Last Sunday, Michael offered to give me a lesson as he saw how much we progressed and he wanted to try and have us change leads. Star behaved beautifully and was really trying for me.
When I tried to have her change leads (we were on a straight line, counter canter), I asked for her hip to go to the inside, which she did without hesitating and her head to the inside too, which she did…but nothing happened. Mike said he’d never seen that. A horse that can have her head and hip completely on the inside but not changing lead! She is super supple that’s all! 🙂

So anyway, I got her to do a simple change and kept trying a couple of time for flying changes but it didn’t come that time. So we left it there and I’m having another lesson tomorrow so we’ll try again. Fingers crossed!

Today, I worked on having her loping quietly on some long straight lines down the outdoor arena and asking for her hip and she moves her hip very easily just by me shifting my weight and slightly moving my leg back. Clever pony!
We also worked on spins but it wasn’t a very good day today for spins. She just wasn’t putting much effort in them so it was a bit of a mess, but not too bad overall.

Posted by: Sophie | March 10, 2011

I have to share…

So proud of Star at the moment.

As the sun is out these days, we finally get to ride in the big outdoor arena most days (not today though, too cold, brrrrr…) and Star loves it out there. So do I!
So anyway, I was riding her out there yesterday and Michael and Bob were watching me while chatting and Star did so well, I felt really proud. And then Bob said to me she looked really good. I mean he’s never done any compliment on Star before – quite the opposite actually – so that felt good. And coming from Bob Mayhew, you know it really means something!

She finally lopes some circles so softly and so quietly and slowly. And she starts to be good at spinning too! So now I am working towards lead changes, I wonder how that is going to go! We’ll see…One thing at a time, no rush!

HAPPINESS is riding my horse. I love her!

Posted by: Sophie | March 10, 2011

Got it! :)

First Aid Certificate

And also received my 500 business cards, lots of fridge magnets, postcards, etc. to advertise myself as a riding instructor in yards and tack shops! World of Western here comes Sophie! 🙂

Posted by: Sophie | March 2, 2011

Skinny jeans

Star is in super health, she is very fit and she looks very good. All the people who see her (without her rug on that is) say how shiny and fit she looks. I am proud of that.
However, lately she has been losing weight. All the horses at the yard have been on haylage for a few months now, given it’s so hard to find hay in the UK now, and they all love haylage…All but Star! She leaves most of her haylage and it doesn’t seem to do her any good. So now I have to give her more hard feed.

She loves her grass nuts and sugarbeet and she gets two feeds a day, so now I give her lunch as well which makes it three feeds a day and still she looks a bit skinny.

So today I got her some haylage balancer which should give her all the vitamins and minerals she may not get. Hopefully that will make a difference.

Obviously she is not underweight but she has been losing weight slowly and constantly these last few weeks and I just want to keep an eye on that.

The fact that we have very little grass in the fields doesn’t help either so today I took her out for a walk and let her munch on lots of green long grass. She loved it!
I got her a new Apple flavour Likit too and she seems to enjoy it, but not for long. Likit doesn’t seem to interest her much… Oh well, worth a try.

So anyway, I rode her for the first time this year in the outdoor arena today. It was a gorgeous sunny day today so I thought I’d give it a try, given she’s been so good with me lately. I was kind of expecting her to go a bit silly as it was her first time out in months and the arena is surrounded by the fields so lots of distraction going on. Galloping horses, dogs running around, people…We had it all today!
But Star acted like an angel and was a pleasure to ride. We loped and loped and loped some circles first and then some long straight lines (all one hand, please! 🙂 ) and she was amazing. Proud of my pony I am!

Posted by: Sophie | February 26, 2011

First Aid

This week, I went to a two-day Equine Specific First Aid course.
It was very interesting.

I must own a First Aid certificate to be a WES Approved Instructor so there you go, that’s done!
I am going to a Child Protection course in about 10 days too, as this is compulsory as well.

I am getting closer to being able to get assessed to be an instructor, which is great.
However, I have already made my posters and have started posting some ads over the Internet to offer some lessons in the area. I have to go to some tack shops and livery yards to give my posters too.

How exciting! I wonder if I’ll get any phone calls soon. Wish me luck! 🙂

Posted by: Sophie | February 16, 2011

One-hand riding

Just a quick update to say that today I wasn’t planning on riding Star as I was working on my own at the yard and on these days, I find it hard to have time for my own horse. However, I got time during lunch so decided to saddle up and go for a ride.
And gosh it was a good idea! 🙂

Star behaved beautifully and she loped so well that I decided to try it one-handed for the first time ever (with her obviously) and it went very well. She was loping her circles, keeping her head down all the time and she was following my body weight without any problem. It felt amazing! I had a huge smile on my face and even started laughing!

We also did a bit of Trail and she just knows her job (she still tries to open the gate herself so I have to make sure she doesn’t take a bad habit of doing this!) so it was very easy.

And so I thought I’d ask her to do some flat circles (work preparation towards spins) and she gave me a whole 360 degree spin (she usually moves her back end as well as her front legs, but this time she pivoted on her hind legs, doing a proper spin) so that was it! I mean she gave me all these things in a short lapse of time and I was over the Moon so I thought of just quitting there but instead I took her out on a short hack. I thought she’d enjoy going out in the sun and I think she did. She was marching on as if she were on a mission and had to go see everything, she was looking around, eyes wide open. She loved it! And so did I 🙂

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