Thursday, 7 January 2010


On Tuesday it was soooo cold, especially after i have been standing around for an hour watching a class. As I really want to improve Pintos fitness this year (I really must make an effort as he will be 16 in April) I thought I would just give him a quick whizz on the lunge.

Learned from everything I did on Monday and went with just his bridle with a bit clip and the lunge line. We were stuck at one end of the manege as there were some jumps left up from the class, but that was OK.

We started off really nicely, and Pinto is listening more and more to me now. He really must have thought "what is that mad woman doing now" as I was asking for walk/trot/walk transitions about every 4 strides *ebil mummy*

Ended the (very quick) session with canter transitions, just asking for the transition and then three strides then back to trot. Pinto was great.

Pinto had a rest last night (Wednesday), well at least from me.. Natalie usually rides on a Wed, so I gave the stables a miss... looking forward to a dressage lesson tonight.

So much for consistent exercise!

Haven't ridden since NY (naughty me), but last night ( Mon 4th Jan) decided to brave the cold, but chickened out last minute - we don't currently have a heated changing area and it was -6C outside... so decided to lunge instead.

I haven't lunged Pinto for months - it is not my favourite thing to do, and it is always in the back of my mind that he'll bog off, which used to be such a bad habit of his.

Anyway, he certainly hadn't forgotten anything when we had done in the past, and went of as soft as you please. We did just a little walk and trot, and walk/trot transitions, switching from A to C (which kept me warm!). We did have a couple of whoopee moments, nad for the first time ever Pinto stopped as he reached the end of the line - so he got much praise for that.

We did have one hairy moment when I asked him for a canter and he pulled away from me, and I just had to let go of the line. I'm still very afraid of falling and breaking my wrist again, or having it wrenched about by a (too) heavy horse. Anyway, bonus is I was able to catch him immediately, and he settled within 30secs of me picking the line up (in the past it had taken up to 30 mins for him to stop jumping around after he has been "naughty" - so obviously he doesn't now expect me to beat him up for being "naughty" but it is more of an ingrained response, which, thankfully, is getting less and less).

So we then managed another canter depart, three strides and back to trot before we finished.

I'm still debating on whether to ride or free school tongiht. I'm a wuss when it comes to the cold, and it's looking like lows of around -10C tonight brr.

A new beginning in 2010

Started the new year on a real positive note

After spending the night at my friends place I was feeling rather *ahem* delicate this morning, but I had promised I would ride this afternoon, so I did.

Pinto was going sooo well today, really nice and soft. Just playing around, we were walking on the inside track, and I had my hands quite high, but the reinds really long, then to ask for bend I would just vibrate my inside fingers. I must have looked a bit daft, but Pinto responded really well to the very light aids.

Moving on to trotting, his trot is eventually (after only 4 years!) becoming softer, and we are no longer pounding around the track. Moving onto the inside track we did some work again on transitions on the markers, first in rising and then in sitting trot. Sitting trot felt sooooooo goooood tonight.

Then we did 3 bars on the ground. Pinto was also playing nanny to Erica whose pony was being a bit of a spook monster so we did some follow-the-leader past the spooky corners, and we had some fun singing to keep breathing.

Then my most amazing success... I went over a 20cm x pole on Pinto It is the first time since I broke my wrist I have "jumped" with Pinto. Well I say "jumped", really it was just like a raised pole, and Pinto trotted over without a hitch in his stride, but it is such a huge deal for me (big wuss that I am!). In the end I went over twice on each hand then decided to call it a day while I was on a huge high.

Back track to Boxing Day 2009

Had a really good ride on Boxing Day. I had promised my friends daughter Erica that she could ride Pinto for a bit. Erica is 9 and has been riding for about 3 years. Only this year has she graduated from the little ponys to the big ponys/small horses because she is getting so tall! Erica is a good little rider, but does suffer with confidence problems at times.

It was freezing cold outside so I started off very gently, just in walk asking Pinto for correct bend, then for counter bend down the long sides of the manege. For myself I concentrated on dropping the weight into my thighs and having soft calves and not drawing my heel up to give an aid. While I was doing this I was keeping an inside track as there was another rider in the manege. I don't mind sharing, but I do wish people would use common courtesy. e.g. I was using the inside track because I was working in walk (the faster paces have priority on the piste), but the other rider who was kicking her horse into a canter (*bangshead*) then seemed to have no control over direction and her horse was all over the place. Fortunately all the horses know each other well as they are out as a herd, and Pinto is very easy going and tends not to mind being cut up or being presented with a bum right under his nose - however *I* find it terribly frustrating.

Anyway, once Pinto was soft and listening to me we moved up into trot, and basically concentrated on the same things. I had really nice "listening ears" and Pinto himself felt very soft and springy, if a tad lazy. Once we were moving out nicely I concentrated on transitions, walk/trot/walk on the markers... at least that was my intention! Pinto had other ideas, and was jiggy-jiggy-jog-jog when asked from trot to walk. then we had him stargazing and yawing his head, silly boy. I was really proud of myself though, and not once did I pull on the reins, I just kept asking with my seat and voice and eventually he responded. At this point he got lots of praise and scritches. Then we repeat... and repeat... and repeat. Eventually we made a very nice transition from trot to walk with no jogging at which point we changed the rein and started the exercise again... and again... and again

Once we could go from trot to walk without jogging, I then started on walk/halt. Pinto does stop so nicely - for a milisecond, then he sidles, steps forward, swings his bum out etc *rolleyes* Eventually we managed a nice, immobile, halt for 3 seconds and I called it a day. He got lots of scritches.

Then Erica got on. I was riding in my dressage saddle as it has the narrowest twist of all my saddles, but she was still riding with her legs sticking out sideways a bit lol. Not so amazingly (to me anyway) Erica didn't look too small on Pinto, especially in the dressage saddle with a nice long leg (for some reason all the kids are taught to ride with their knees up in thier armpits). She was a bit nervous at first and her mum walked around with her for the first five minutes. Pinto loves little kids, and he really does look after them. He went off into a very nice soft trot when asked to, and stopped nicely when asked to. I was then a bit evil, and asked Erica if she wanted to do some bars on the ground. Although a bit hesitant at first, she agreed, and after walking over them at first, she was soon trottinig over them like a pro. Being even more evil I saked if she wanted to do a small jump, and made a 20cm x which is just about as low as you can go (and definitely *my* sized jump lol). Well I think Pinto lifted his legs a little higher, but to him it was no different than a bar on the ground. We eventually got up to a 80cm x, and Pinto had a little canter (yes, Pinto... a "little" canter!) after it, and Erica was beaming from ear to ear

I was so proud of Erica. On her last jump, Pinto started to canter a little before the jump which scared her a little, and then he continued after it, but she asked him to slow down nicely without pulling on the reins.

Pinto then showed himself up after Ericas mum got on, as he just flew the jump almost at a full gallop and Megan fell off. Pinto was then really antsy and was completely hyped, so we spent a long time just asking him to walk past the jump nice and calmly, before going back to bars on the ground, then asking him to walk over a raised pole and eventually trot over a small x pole. By this time Pinto was really quite warm, so we untacked him in the manege and put his cooler on, before walking back to his box.

I eventally left the yard with Pinto all tucked up, knee deep in hay

The last ride of 2009

I didn't have a very good 2009 with one thing and another, so I'm just putting it behind me and looking forward to 2010.

Had a potter around in the manège. It was -4C and snowing heavily outside... I was pretty much frozen before I got on.

Pinto felt really well, and we were really striding along warming up. Once B and M joined us we concentrated on trot work, trying to instill calmness. Pinto is improving... he can now be all whizzy and silly without sticking his ears up my nose!

Then the YO brought the baby into the manege... Pintos eyes were on stalks! I don't think he has ever seen a baby before and he was practically bent in two trying to keep his eyes on her while we were moving around. At this time I was just asking Pinto to focus on me and what I was asking, rather than having *all* his attention on the baby pone.

We managed to calmly trot over the bar on the ground (achievement one for me - I haven't left the ground in a year, so I'm taking things slowly lol). Then the YO was able to lead the baby over the bar on the ground before taking her back to her box. She is going to be *big*! She is about 9 months old I think, and is already about 12/13hh! Her bum is about 4ins higher than her withers, bless her.

Once the baby was out of the manege B and M started jumping - I started practising my halts, or rather the immobility after a halt! Pinto will 9/10 stop nicely, but after half a second wiggle. We went from trot/walk/halt/walk/trot to trot/walk/halt/trot and finally trot/halt/trot. Direct transitions are a sure fire way of spicing things up, and after a couple halt/trot transitions I only have to ask very lightly and think *trot* and Pinto is leaping off like a springbok lol. I almost fell off the back of the saddle a time or two... probably not technically correct, but very enthusiastic transitions lol.

Of course once the jump went up to 90cm Pinto thought that was much more interesting than trotting and standing. He completely got his whizzy head on again, and I was left pinging around like an idiot... still we managed to avoid the jumping lane - though I did manage to suprise C who thought I was going to go for it... 90cm in a dressage saddle... roflmao! My next "jump" is going to be a raised pole!

At the end of the session I was really pleased with Pinto. Our direct transitions were really coming on, and he was staying soft and round most of the time, with only a teeny bit of yawning and champing occasionally.

By the time we came out of the manege we had 4ins of snow, which was very pretty, and meant that the temps had come up a bit which made life a little more comfortable!

Thursday, 16 April 2009

Yet more great work from Pinto last night :)

I spent an hour de-fluffing him and there is still loads to come out. Poor boy stands in his box sweating atm because it is so warm. Thankfully his summer coat is a nice bright white, and i may just have enough time to get rid of all the nasty yellow winter hair in time for the completition on 08 May. I don't know what I'm going to do with his mane and tail though! Talking of manes...

What do you think? Not too bad for my first attempt at pulling a full mane? Becky wants a trellis plait for the competition, (that's going to be fun on the Thursday night!) but afterwards I'll take it a little shorter so that it is all one length - then I can let it grow out again :nod:

Anyway, back to the riding... I dusted off my Fhoenix, and although Pinto was horrified to see a saddle two days in a row he stood nicely while I girthed up. I'm not sure though whether it's too far back - but that is where it "sits" - what do you think?

Again I'm always amazed at how well Pinto moves out in this saddle, but I find it such a faff to put on. It has to be absolutely straight when I girth up, and I have to do the girth up one hole at a time alternating sides else it sits crooked. I also have to do the girth up a lot tighter than I really like else it slips. To top it all off, it never stays in place once in on either. It always creeps over to one side as I'm riding as well. It usually takes about 1/2 an hour, but once it is crooked, I have to completely ungirth and start again - like I said I find it a faff!

Surprisingly though, for all it has been a long time since I rode in my Fhoenix it didn't take that long to get used to the set back bars, and I only had a few minutes of OMG no balance when trotting. The main problem I had was that I just couldn't get my whole leg on Pinto, I felt my ankle was dangling in mid air - however once my hips had stretched a bit ( :-/ ) I could manage a bit better.

I tried something completely different tonight. I made up my own walk/trot dressage test and rode it like I was at a competition... Cor Pinto was a bit sparky! It was almost as if he knew exactly what I was doing. it was good for me to, and gave me something to focus on, and made me more aware of my placement within the manège. "Having" to make transitions on the markers was good discipline for both of us. It made me much more aware of preparing for the transition - as daft as that sounds!

I did eventually get more control over my legs as the time went on and I felt Pinto worked really well. He was lower with his head carriage (and considering this is only the third time I havent used an elastique for months something of an achievement) and felt like he was reaching for the contact. Now I'm a bit more sure of myself, and hopefully Pinto is feeling better, I'll have to start asking for more definite curvation rather than just a hint.

We only worked for 20 mins, but it felt like a great 20mins so we stopped on a good note - fortunately for the dog obedience/agility club - who I had forgotten use the manege on a Wed night lol

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Very pleased with my gorgeous man :)

Pinto had a quiet weekend as I was busy in my garden, so last night I decided that it was time to do a little bit of work.

Luckily the 7:30 group went out on ballade so I could use the manège, I had planned on having lots of great photos, but unfortunately my camera battery died during the warm up. Possibly it was for the best as we were struggling with losing the light and the photos I did get are really grainy.

It didn't take Pinto long to settle, and the only thing which marred my evening (and how selfish is this...?) is that one other person was in the manège practicing for a dressage test so I had to keep one eye on her and her direction and I wasn't able to concentrate 100% on Pinto.

Anyway we did a bit of work on direct transitions, and halt/trot/halt is getting so much better, with real jump into the up transition and very little walking in the down transition. We still have to do a lot of work containing the energy though, and asking for halt from trot does not result in immobility (at the moment!) but quite a lot of sidling and stepping. I am quick to praise even a second to complete still ness and I'm sure it wont be long before we can stand still for as long as I want! At the other end of the scale, we positively bounce back into trot from halt which is great, but there is then the propensity to rush off rather than containing the energy for a true working trot.

I played around with a lot of school figures and tried some serpentines for the first time in aaaaaaaaages. I really need to get my eye in on the markers again though as my three loop seprentine was a bit squished at on end and fairly wide at the other. Pinto managed very will though with two half 10m circles B-E, though i was getting an awful lot of strange looks from the other rider, as it is not something that is done very often(!)

My highlight of the evening though was when I asked Pinto to take the rein down in a stretch, and he did, even maintaining a contact on a fairly long rein... I was so pleased, that I stopped there.

It was a great 30 to 40 mins, and I can't wait to repeat it :)