Dressage training with Jenny Eriksson: waiting hands

On Friday I was super fortunate to have another training session within a week, this time with Jenny Eriksson! Vallu had been having a very easy week since we had a lesson last Sunday with Ville  and I didn't want him too tired for this one. It is very rare for me to have two lessons within a week as I am very picky with who I train with and those who I would like to train with tend to either live in Germany or then are travelling around the world judging at international competitions. So I can't even describe how happy I was to be training twice within a week!

At the start of the lesson I told Jenny how fantastic Vallu had been at our previous lesson and how good he had felt to ride. In hindsight I probably shouldn't have said this because Vallu decided to throw me a new curveball today and be impossibly light in his contact... πŸ™„ Like there was nothing there for me to try to create a contact with!! In the last five years that I've ridden him I believe he has only been like this less than ten times so as I was warming up Vallu I said to Jenny that I don't really know how to ride him when he's like this. If I just shorten my reins all I achieve is getting him terribly behind the vertical and opening his mouth but if I leave him alone I have absolutely no contact with him and he'll still curve BTV. I think those previous times I just gave up after warming up and went for a hack but this time there was no option but to learn how to ride him when he's like this!
What he looked like after the lesson... #sweatypone


Acavallo anatomic gel pad review

For the last couple of weeks now I've been using the Acavallo anatomic gel pad with Basse. These have been on my radar after reading rave reviews about them since last year, but I only just bought one recently when Basse's saddle seemed to need something less thick than the Mattes sheepskin pad he has but he wasn't 100% without anything underneath the saddle. He's a very difficult horse to fit a saddle to as he constantly changes shape (like they all do) but he's so sensitive that he react immediately if he feels the slightest bit uncomfortable... I still think that the WOW saddle is the best one for him and, but I just wanted to buy something to make him feel a bit more comfortable.

After researching many different brands and styles of thin pads, the Acavallo ones came out as the clear winners. Others, like Ogilivy memory foam pads are nearly €200 and I would have had to wait 3-4 weeks before it would be even shipped to Finland. This Acavallo one was €60 including delivery and I had to wait less than a week!


Dressage training with Ville Vaurio: bend around the inside leg

I had been looking forward to this for SO LONG! I don't know why, I think it's because Vallu has been so good for the last few weeks since our lesson with Jenny and I was super excited to go training with a horse who was in good health and going well! I was a bit worried about going to a new place for the first time, even though we have visited this place a few weeks ago to support a friend of mine who was competing there. I think it's because at home it's so lovely and quiet whereas I knew how busy this place would be and I was freaking out about everything that could possibly go wrong... πŸ™„ However, turns out I was nervous for no reason - Vallu was a total star, he didn't put a hoof out of place, he totally ignored my 5 minutes of being a worry fart and stayed chilled! I'm SO proud of him 🌟


Tempo and rhythm

Have you ever found that you've read an article and somehow so many things suddenly made sense to you? πŸ’‘This happened to me a few day ago when I read this Dressage Today article about the difference between tempo and rhythm. Heather Blitz answered the question about the difference between tempo and rhythm where she explained that tempo is the rate or speed of motion or activity whilst rhythm is a strong, regular, repeated pattern of movement or sound. One is sequence (rhythm) and one is speed (tempo) - I loved this article since its a personal bugbear of mine because you cannot have a 'fast rhythm'! 
There were 2 really tips in this article. The first one was to do with extended trot where Heather points out that riding trot extensions should not allow the speed of the horse’s steps to change. Just to  extend the frame and length of step, whilst keeping the number of beats per minute the same as in the collected trot. Although I have ridden plenty of medium and extended trots in my lifetime, this point made it incredibly clear of what us riders should be aiming for! Heather also recommended using the corners of the arena to help by asking for a few steps of extension in the trot, and then come back into a collected trot when coming into a corner. I did this yesterday and it really improved Vallu's mediums (it was too hot and humid to even try for a proper extension!) 

The second great hint was to ride with the help of a metronome, which you can get an app for at least on iPhones. Set the metronome to be the same as the horse’s collected trot and then see what will happen when you extend the trot - the aim is to keep the same tempo and to lengthen the stride rather than quicken the tempo but it’s much easier to simply get quicker. I did this and it's super interesting to see what happens... πŸ€” After a few times with Vallu I realised that I need to be super clear about asking for the same tempo rather than rushing myself!
This was my face when I managed to ride well enough to improve his medium trots!
If anyone is experiencing difficulties in improving their medium or extended trot I really think you should try these tips, I think they could help you too! πŸ‘πŸ»


It's here! Double bridle from EquiWare UK

A few months ago I wrote about the fact that I had ordered a double bridle from EquiWare UK and this week it arrived! I was super excited for it arrive just before we have a training session on Sunday so that I can have a few rides in it and then see what my trainer thinks about it. 

But holeymoley isn't this pretty?! The best things are the padded and anatomically shaped headpiece, the anatomically shaped noseband (which is patent too!) and that the throatlash and cheekpieces made from rolled leather. I think it weighs about half of the old bridle so I'm pretty convinced that it feels much better for Vallu. My first ride in this was incredible! Even my mother commented on the fact that he looked really content and happy, so I'm actually over the moon. I just want to have a happy horse who feels comfortable.
Add Noseband is also really cut away to take away pressure from those important facial nerves

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