Welcome to my blog about horsey life in the North East - the good bits, bad bits, endless coffees and plenty of mud!

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Bitless Rodney and Stampy Cady

Our good weather continues, which may explain why this blog has been quiet...

That said, the past weekend was Phil's birthday and a big gathering of the families so riding has been on the back-burner. And I have missed spending time with the horses, which is a pleasure and a treat.

I did manage a short ride on Rodney on Monday evening. I keep meaning to change his bit and browband and then forgetting to do it so I decided to ride in his normal headcollar with leather reins attached. He was extremely good and responsive and relaxed about it. Did he prefer it? Possibly, and I'll certainly repeat the experience to see if that's the case.

I did notice that when I kicked my feet out of the stirrups he stopped. he doesn't mind when this happens on hacks but in the arena he seems wary about it. Something to practice/investigate. I suspect it's his careful nature checking to see if everything is ok? Please excuse my shockingly wonky legs in the photos. My leathers are worn out and I am crooked so I dropped the right leather by one which made it worse rather than better.

Cady is less enormous and less lame - tonight I may circle her and see how that left rein trot/hop is coming along. She's moved fields and got some new friends and last night when I was picking her feet out she very carefully and deliberately tried to put one down on my foot.
I was not very impressed with this mini rebellion and firmly told her to Sod Off, which is the technical term used in all good riding establishments.

Tonight I think I'll take Rodney for a ride around the farm. I am really enjoying his company more and more these days. He's always been lovely but I think we're really getting used to each other now. He went in a different field at the weekend with much more grass and still walked over to be caught.

He looks happy to me in this one

I relax...

So does he...

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Me n' Rodneeey....

....at Chopwell Woods on Friday. Photo is by Frances Charlton Photography - look her up on Facebook!

Monday, 12 August 2013

You can go your own way*

*Shameless excuse to incorporate a Fleetwood Mac song title, but also the topic of today's small but sturdy post.

Over the years I have watched people and their horses and wondered if I should be doing the same thing. Sometimes it's a clear and immediate No, other times I'm tempted, other times I enthusiastically climb onto the back of their wave and ride it.

Option three usually, but not always, ends in a dead end. Because I am not other people. And their horse is not my horse, and at the end of the day you have to do what's right for you and yours, even when other people think you're mad or awkward.

It's like yorkshire puddings - everyone likes their way the best.

Clearly it's great to have icons and to read their books (I love doing this) but if we over idolise these amazing horsemen and women then we can overlook our own experience, which I think is just as valuable.

Now I do as I please, and always try to pick the option I think is going to be best for the horses. I want them to have happy lives and not be subject to the whims and fashions of the horse world.

There's a lot to learn from the right people, and we all need inspiration, but we can still make our own decisions and if it sits uncomfotably, just leave it where you found it.

There are lots of different ways to enjoy horses - so enjoy finding the way that works for you!

Happy horsing everyone!

Chopwell Woods, Sedgefield Show and additional horsey craic

The weekend proved to be riddled with horsey goings-on, partly because the bf is super busy will essays so I felt it only fair to evacuate the flat and give him some peace.

On Friday a pal offered me space in her horse box to go to Chopwell Woods for a pleasure ride. Since Rodney has done next to nothing since I've had him I was slightly concerned about loading etc, and spent the afternoon beforehand thinking of excuses not to go.

Silly me, because Rodney was so perfectly well behaved I've been in a state of shock ever since. He loaded first time both there and back, travelled peacefully and was extremely good for the actual ride. It was a really, really lovely evening and I am just thrilled that he was so willing and tolerant (don't you think our horses put up with a lot when it comes to travelling and events etc?)

The pleasure ride wasn't a set route so at times we'd turn a corner and there would be 20 horses ahead. Rodney was really sensible about all this and we had a couple of good gallops too which was tres jolly.

On Saturday I was kindly invited to Sedgefield Show to see one of our friends show her three-year-old Andalusian colt. He is mega impressive and won a lovely rosette - hats off to his mum as he was quite noisy and excited about the whole thing but she has got it all running smoothly.
After his class we watched the fancy dress and a really good performance, I think by South Durham Pony Club (Zetland?) where they cantered about in formation without crashing.

Sunday morning started with a gentle hack around the fields and a teensy bit of schooling before I headed north to visit my friend who lives on a farm. We haven't seen each other for ages so had a thorough gossip about this, that and the other and then went to admire her favourite calf, who is rather beautiful and evil-looking. 

So very busy, very nice and now I'm very sad it's Monday again. For anyone who cares, Cady is a very happy field ornament still.

Happy horsing everyone x  

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Back in the saddle

I enjoyed a little ride on Rodney last night. We went round the block to warm up and then in the school for 15 minutes where we practiced staying straight, transitions and slowing down/speeding up the walk.

Other than sitting up tall and trying to keep my hands low and still I tried not to fuss too much about my position.

Rodney is really a very nice horse and I think we have got used to each other. We've had some small bumps over the last few months but now I find him very easy and cooperative to be around.

As a nice finishing note we've been invited to a pleasure ride on Friday so we're going to give it a go. He hasn't travelled since I've had him so if it's an issue I'll bow out and work on it when there's time. Hopefully though it will go well and we will have lots of fun.

Happy horsing everyone x

'Physical perfection not required'

I got some interesting responses to yesterday's post from my horsey friends. Even after seven plus years as a journalist I still get a surprise when people read what I write.

Mainly I got told off for moaning about my riding ability (!) but it raised some interesting ideas for me.

One friend suggested 'physical perfection not required!' and pointed out that for her, being a good horseman/woman is about doing your best to meet your horses' needs. Everything else being secondary.

I think this is helpful when you need to take a step back and see the bigger picture. For me, this translates as - "Yes, I have a wobbly right leg, but I have lessons, get my tack checked, and do everything I can to make sure Rodney is ok i.e - osteopath, shoes, feed, wormer, grooming, daily checks etc."

Another friend reminded me not to discount my efforts to improve. I think this also is an important point. Even if we try, and make a mess of it, there is at least an outcome to work on from or a lesson to learn.

So at what point do any of us feel like we're a 'good' rider? It must be a never-ending road. Unless you're Carl Hester ;)

Yesterday I did not ride because of torrential rain. It was a case of leaping out of the car and running past both horses for a swift leg count. Tonight looks more promising, my tack is in the car.

Happy horsing everyone x

Monday, 5 August 2013

In which I realise I am a terrible rider

That moment, that awkward moment, can be painful.

It happened to me on Thursday as I trotted up a gentle hill on Rodney. My right foot and ankle started wobbling like the fury and only a concerted effort stopped it.

And that's when it dawned in me, rather horribly, that I am a terrible rider, and all my efforts aren't actually working. In fact, I have gone downhill considerably. My balance is precarious, my position is 'sitting in an armchair' and my quirks (strange right hand, head leaning off to one side) are going nowhere.

And on that revelation, perhaps you can understand why there are no  photos with this post :)

But what to do? For now, nothing. I think the important thing is just to let it sink in to the point where I can cheerfully accept that I have spent many years doing something I have no ability for.  

Happy horsing everyone x  

Thursday, 1 August 2013

I go on holiday and the horses survive

I am freshly returned from a week of camping in the Peak District so horsey news is thin on the ground. However, I was delighted to find that neither of them have managed to maim or lame themselves any further. Rodney came over to say hello and Cady looks sound in a straight line so that near fore must be less tender.

Amazingly, despite the fact there is no grass in the field, she still looks like she's been eating lard. Tonight I'll see how she looks in the arena and then perhaps we can get back to work before she has to be crane-lifted to the nearest liposuction centre.