30.4.13

Inspiration

When times get hard, we all need a little bit of inspiration. Here's three of my absolute favorite videos for motivation and inspiration that I watch whenever I need to remind myself why I do this.




Mother went for an MRI scan last weekend and the results came today. She has one tendon that has snapped away from the bone, meaning that she will need to have surgery on it immediately to try to get it fixed. This means that she will not be allowed near the horses for the next 6 weeks and then after 3 months she can start riding again. This means that I will be looking after the horses and riding Vallu, Rama and Nelli by myself until mother has totally recuperated. Hopefully she'll recover as soon as possible! ♥

29.4.13

Vallu's accident

Horse accidents 1 - 0 Roosa's will to carry on 

Another awful freakish accident happened today with Vallu. Whenever I take Vallu out to his paddock, the first thing he does when I let him free, is to go and have a good roll. Always, no matter what. The ground is never too wet or too hard for him, Vallu loves his rolls. Today that morning roll didn't go exactly according to plan... He rolled too close to the fence, and then got his left hind stuck in the fencing = chaos and panic and a loose horse. In his panic he then decided to gallop off as far away as possible from the fence and into our woods. Vallu also decided to gallop through the thickest part of the woods, even though the was a slightly more open section 5m to the left of his chosen path...
First broken tree
Second broken tree (picture doesn't do it justice, it was massive!)
During his gallop up the woods, he managed to pull down two trees, and the second one has caused some swelling on his right side muscles around his ribs/back :( And when he walks and trot his right hind leg moves differently than the other leg.
Where Vallu could have ended up: on the main road
 Luckily Vallu decided to turn around just before the end of the woods at which he would have reached the main road. Thank God for horses being herd animals and making Vallu decide to turn around and gallop back down the woods to his paddock (more like the remains of his paddock)!

Luckily today we had both our farrier and our chiropractor coming to visit, so if anything good can be said about today is that Vallu chose a good day to get loose. If he'd lost a shoe our farrier could have put it back on and now that he hurt himself, Erika Torronen (our lovely chiropractor) was able to try to help him as much as possible. We couldn't be more lucky with our farrier and chiropractor. Our farrier always comes over whenever we need help for emergencies/lost shoes (and doesn't charge a penny!) is always on time and somehow always has a smile on his face and cheers us up. Erika is a very busy lady who is a very talented chiropractor, yet she still managed to make time to come check on Vallu again on Thursday.

Hopefully Vallu will recover soon, and if it looks like he isn't getting any better then we will have to take him to the clinic at Hyvinkaa to get him checked over.

On a happier note, spring has indeed sprung! Our crocus flowers have started to flower and our horses have been naked outside!


28.4.13

The outdoor arena experience

Switching from riding in our neighbor's big (20x60m) indoor arena to our own little (20x40m) outdoor arena is proving to be very interesting every spring. Today Nelli and Basse had their first ride on the outdoor arena this year, and Rama had his first outdoor ride ever! All of them behaved much much better than I expected to, and I'm really looking forward to being able to ride on our own arena from now on! 

I adore riding outside; after having been riding in the indoor arena for the last 8 months, being able to ride in the sun and breathe the fresh air is just one of the great things in life that you don't fully appreciate until you've missed it. (Photos also turn out much better when riding outside!!)

My favorite of Nelli and I
Riding outside for the first time means that we don't really work on anything, I just focus on keeping the horses working forwards but being calm, and trying to stay on when the keepthemcalm technique doesn't go exactly to plan!

Normally switching to an outdoor arena isn't a problem for me, but what makes the first rides rather interesting is that our outdoor arena is right next to the road, so the horses find the cars and lorries a bit scary at first. The horses do in fact get used to the cars, bikes, runners, prams, dogs and other horses really quickly, but we always have a problem with the lorries. Even though the road is very small and there isn't a lot of traffic on it, when the lorry goes past, the idiots drive incredibly fast (the limit on the road is 50 km/h but they drive more like 80 km/h!!) and the horses
 really don't like them, and to be honest I don't blame them at all.
 I love my facial expression when riding!!
Rama was a very good  boy today, and I was again blown away with how well behaved he is. Not only was this the first time ever in the time that he has been with us that he was ridden outside, Rama also did not react at all when one of the lorry-drivers with the biggest and nosiest lorry drove like a maniac on the road!
Totally in control!

27.4.13

Spring update

Spring has finally managed to properly arrive in Finland, with temperatures of more than +10C The first flowers have started to arrive, such as coltsfoot (above)
Niilo helping!
With spring comes the daily paddock poo-picking! The only person who doesn't find it boring is Niilo who thinks it's endlessly fascinating to dig up rocks and make huge holes in the paddocks!

The snow from our own outdoor arena has finally melted away and we're now able to start using it! I love our arena, the surface is just lovely, and it is great to be able to exercise the horses at home and outside! After 8 months of riding in the indoor arena, I can't wait to start working the horses outside. Unfortunately Vallu is at his worst when being ridden on the outdoor, he constantly spooks and does't concentrate, but I have decided this year to ignore his spooks and work him there all the time (unless it's pouring with rain/gale force winds - I am a bit of a fair weather rider!) until he starts to relax.
Basse being lunged on own outdoor arena
 

The arrival of spring has also resulted in all of our heavy winter rugs going to be washed. 14 rugs in 8 big bin bags nearly didn't fit in my little car, and I had a very interesting 30 min drive to the cleaners. I must admit that it is a bit difficult driving when you can't see anything out from your rearview mirror!

Niilo and I went for an evening walk in our own woods and watched the sunset! Finland is so beautiful in the spring!

24.4.13

Wild mare

Now that the nearly all of snow has melted away, our own outdoor arena (20x40m) can be used! Nelli had the honor of testing if it is good enough to work on (she won't trot if the arena's surface isn't good enough so she's perfect for this job) You can see how happy our little Nelli was in the video below...


21.4.13

Spring shopping

I know most of our horses go a bit crazy during spring time; with mares being in seasons and geldings thinking that they're stallions, but I didn't realise that springtime for me and mother means getting rid of all our winter clothes and buying lots of new riding gear and horsey products! Apparently spring does affects the human brain as well...

B Vertigo Camelot fleece rug


This rug is ideal for competitions and clinics, but it's also good for drying your horse after a wash as well as using as a warmer for before and after riding. The microfleece fabric helps transport moisture away quickly from your horse. I use mine for riding Vallu to warm him up before and keep him warm after riding. It is such a beautiful rug, the brown colour is very pretty and the fancy braid at the tail makes it look very posh! Apart from how it looks, one of the best things about this rug is how enormously big it is! Even when Vallu has his saddle on, the rug manages to cover his huge belly (which is no mean feat!)

Horze Avalanche Winter Rugs
Turquoise for Vallu 
Purple for Rama (although it's a full neck instead of a high-neck like in the photo!)
I think Horze's rug colours are just so awful that you just have to start to like them! One of the great thins about spring is when horse shops start to have sales to get rid of the old winter rugs. Horze rugs were -30%, so we managed to save over 70e!

Eskadron Brilliant saddle pad
Part of Eskadron's new Spring/Summer 2013 set, the green Brilliant saddlepad. The colour is just amazing, and this product is apparently flying off the shelves. I'm not normally a green person, but this is such a beautiful colour, and it looks fantastic on any horse. 

Pikeur Lucinda breeches 

Now that we have temperatures ranging at about +10C, it was time to ditch the softshell warm winter breeches, and go out and get some new summer breeches! I absolutely love all of Pikeur's breeches, but these just might become my favorite of all time. The full seat is in dark navy set in against a lovely slate grey. Grey is such a functional colour so all the dirt and dust doesn't show up immediately on it, but if it was just all grey I think it would be a little bit boring. The navy and grey go really nicely together, and the stitching work (as expected from Pikeur) is of great quality.

Have you done any crazy spring shopping recently?

20.4.13

Bringing a horse back into work

I have never before had to bring a horse back into work from such a long sick holiday. Vallu had 8 1/2 weeks off and he is now coming back into full work. The vet gave the green light on Tuesday 2nd April and we are now about half way through his recovery training schedule that the vet composed for us, and it has been full of ups and downs, tears and laughter and one pony who only wants to go very fast.

For the first 2 weeks, our daily trot allowance (as the vet put it...) was increased from 0 to 10 minutes. The first week was me holding on for dear life as Vallu sprinted, jumped and spooked. The thought of going slowly, being relaxed or responding to a half-halt seemed totally foreign to Vallu, and I felt like I was riding a three year old! Certainly not my best riding and getting through each riding session felt like I had survived an ordeal like the Hunger Games! Luckily the EquiCalm (calming feed) and the lack of energy started to calm Vallu and I got several good days where he was working through his back, and I actually started enjoying riding him again.

But then spring arrived, and Vallu's testosterone levels went through the roof. I know spring can be a hard time for riders who own mares as they come into season, but bloody hell Vallu seriously thought that he was a stallion again. So last Friday we had a huge argument and a clash of egos. Although Vallu is normally a very sweet horse who doesn't put a foot in the wrong place, it felt like I was sitting on the devil. Somehow I managed to be the winner, and from then on Vallu has managed to relax and start to trust that I know what I'm doing and that he doesn't need to try to get me off. Maybe every spring horses question their riders to see who really is the leader of the two?

During the third and fourth week, the daily trot limit is increased to 20 minutes, but so far we have only done about 15 minutes, because Vallu is starting to get a little tired and I don't want to make him angry or stop him from enjoying the work, so we're going day by day to see how he feels. His leg is looking really good so I'm hoping that by the end of summer we should get a couple of competitions in before moving to Nottingham.
Vallu: I refuse to get up if my food is in front of me
During the fourth week, we can start to do some canter work! I'm really hoping that Vallu won't go crazy like he did we started doing trot work, but even if he does I'm not going to complain (too much!) because at least I know that he is happy, enjoying the work and feeling good.

17.4.13

Dressage lesson with Kirsi Nevalainen-LaCorte: creating straightness and strength

On Monday I was lucky enough to have been given the opportunity to train with Kirsi Nevalainen-LaCorte, a Finnish lady who has lived in America for the last 30 years. She is a classical dressage trainer, and a U.S.D.F Certified Fourth Level Instructor. Kirsi was on a two week holiday in Finland and we were able to have her come over and give me a lesson with Rama.

It was a great lesson because we practiced nearly everything, and Kirsi was able to fix lots of little things with my position and also fill my head up with lots of great ideas and exercises for creating straightness and strength. 
Kirsi Nevalainen-LaCorte riding one of her own horses in USA
Because Kirsi hasn't seen Rama before, it was really interesting to see what she would have to say about how to improve him. Thanks to my work with Karita, Rama has come along tremendously and now is much straighter than before. But since Kirsi hasn't seen the progress and didn't know his background, it was great to get someone else's viewpoint and ideas. To improve Rama's straightness and strength, we began working on a 20m circle in walk where the idea was go along the 20m and have shoulder-in, resulting in Rama's hindquarters on a 20m circle and his front on a 18m circle. This activates the hind legs, and makes Rama actually use his hind legs instead of just running along without activating the muscles.
Blue circle is where the hindlegs are and the maroon circle is where the front legs are
This was done in both directions in walk, trot and canter and was actually a really difficult exercise for Rama and I. Because Rama is still weak from behind, he struggled to let go and push his hind legs underneath him and so kept offering everything from piaffe to canter instead of doing the actual exercise. During a very difficult bit in trot, we moved back down to walk and did a turn on the forehand to get Rama to really move his hind legs across.Although I only got some good steps from Rama during the entire exercise, the feeling was so strong that I know exactly what to work towards.

From this we moved on to some lateral exercises, which again are incredibly important for improving your horses straightness and strength. During our shoulder-in along the long side, Kirsi pointed out that I must remember to give him space with the outside rein, that even though it is important to have a connection on the outside rein, you cannot expect a horse to be able to move laterally if you don't give him enough space! And to improve your shoulder-in, using voltes at the beginning will give you the correct neck bend and activation from behind. Voltes are an excellent training tool, encouraging engagement and power and I really have to start using them more!

My two favorite exercises were both in canter. At first we practiced half pass in canter, which went fabulously well! I was so pleased with Rama, he really started to pick up and cross over his hind legs well! Then the other exercise was to ride as shown in the picture below:
It looks easy, but it's an incredibly difficult exercise for those who have wonky horses who like to show off their flying changes! Luckily the work we had done before this exercise had straightened Rama so that he didn't feel the need to do flying changes. The only way to get these perfect is to have a straight and collected horse who is listening to you.

Lots to think about! Has anyone ever done these exercises before? Do they work for you?

16.4.13

Life at home on the farm

No I don't live on a farm but we do have our four horses stabled at home, which means that we are more tied to our horses than if they were stabled at a livery yard. Because of this, our family has the most wonderful horse-related bonding moments ever.

I'm sure a normal non-horsey family has family nights together where they don't go and pick up hay from their hay supplier. And I'm sure they don't struggle to get all of the hay inside their trailer and due to a slight miscalculation, don't end up having to put four hay bales inside the car! And they also don't end up nearly crashing with this trailer load of hay, resulting in lots of screaming and hearts racing!


 Life at home also means that whenever your brother comes to visit, you must make him do all the dirty work, such as trying to clear away the snow from the outdoor arena! Luckily Tommi loves to do work with our mini-tractor so persuading him to visit isn't particularly difficult. Unfortunately this time Tommi tipped most of the snow on himself! Ahh, sisterly love, but it was the best moment of my week.

Having horses at home can also lead you to start to realize how the little odd things can cheer you up. When I broke my old fork dad bought me a pink one. And how a pink fork head can a person so happy is beyond me!

 A delivery from UK is also as if Christmas had arrived early... Polos, glucosamine and other great British necessities arrived and both the horses and us were over the moon!
Basse and his new Supalyx
And one of the worst things is having to deal with incredibly wet and dirty rugs that you have to take off, and then end up being covered in the muddy sand. Ergh, the only thing I hate about spring is how Vallu and the others manage to get their rugs absolutely covered in sand/mud/wet poo every single day.... Today was the first day that Vallu has managed to roll around (paddock has been covered in hard ice for the last six weeks and thanks to the recent rain and warm weather we now have soggy sand paddock. Very happy horses and not so happy owners!)


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