I just wanted to share with you all a post full of photos of baby Bastitini, who I was very happy to ride both days of when I was back home for the weekend in Finland. This horse is so dear to me, and he makes me so happy ♥

Horse selfie ;)


Dressage lesson with Ian Woodhead: ride him like you're an advanced rider

So once again a great lesson! I truly am incredibly lucky to have such a great horse as well as super amazing parents who are willing to support me and let me stay at a great yard with lots of fantastic trainers. Thank you mum and dad
Kisses from Vallu
You know it's been a fabulous lesson when you feel your muscles aching already in the evening Like Henri always says, you haven't ridden properly if you don't sweat. So - this is the truly glamorous side of dressage ;) - a lot of sweating ensued from both Vallu and myself.
Tired pony ;)
I liked how even though during Wednesday's lesson we were focusing on Vallu’s problems e.g. spooking, Ian was able to keep feeding me snippets of critique on my position so that throughout the lesson, I was able to try to fix my position whilst still training and focussing more on Vallu. Most often I've found it's one or the other, where the trainer focusses on me or then on Vallu, but I really enjoyed it. Fixing my position throughout the lesson made sure that I really felt the effects of improving my seat and hands.

Main pointers: keep my shoulders loose especially after horse has spooked and definitely keep breathing! Always revert back to soft hands quickly. One of the things Ian mentioned was to keep my upper leg closer to saddle, and my lower leg more away from the side, so that it is ready to be used - but since it is slightly further away, then it is easier to keep away from Vallu's side so that I am not (unintentionally and sporadically) nagging him. This is why I believe in having eyes on the ground - good trainers pick up on even the smallest bad habits that you didn't even know existed.
Dressage rider's idea of hell today ;) riding in an arena full of show jumps
So onto creating a plan of action for me to deal with one spooky pony. 

Like Ian said, Vallu is too big to  not be in control and to be spooking constantly. Rule #1 when dealing with a spooky horse, make sure that your contact is not too loose and definitely do not allow it to go empty. This 'fake lightness' will just give you more difficulties in the future. An empty contact with a spooky horse means that you've got no chance of controlling the spooks. But on the other hand, don't have a heavy contact - is dressage difficult? No not at all! Since Vallu is a very big horse and you don't want to be pulling on the reins to keep him all together, he can do it himself and it's nicer for him if I'm not pulling against his mouth (quelle surprise...)

Rule #2. Always activate hindlegs, do not let them stay asleep back in the stable! Easier said than done. I seem to ask for some activity and but then never properly finish it through so that Vallu actually properly has to push under. If he doesn't have active hind legs, his front legs go up = a big front leg action and no hind leg pushing the horse forwards = no connection through the horse. No connection means that Vallu has time to think about other stuff e.g spooking.

1. Lots of shoulder in: focus on the outside rein keeping Vallu in pace, so that the trot doesn’t become rushed, and inside leg asks for Vallu's inside hind leg to be active and push across. Remember, the rein is not there for pulling.

2. Canter half pass in, leg yield out - never tried this before, but it is so good even though it makes my brain hurt. From the long side, 4 steps of half pass in towards the center line, then 4 steps of leg yield out back towards the long side of the arena, 4 steps half pass in, 4 steps leg yield back out. Everything happens so quickly that once I can ride this exercise I'm pretty sure that I can do anything with Vallu.

3. Walk - waheeyyy my most difficult thing to improve. Even though Vallu has started to get an ok(ish) walk, I still have to be able to make the walk good even when Vallu is tense and doesn’t want to do his best walk. (Again, dressage difficult? Noo..) I've got to keep riding his 'bad' tense walk in order to make it a good walk - alternating leg aids + into the contact.

So the main lesson learnt was for me to ride according to the rules, and to ride Vallu like as if I'm an advanced level rider! Easy, right? ;)


New riding boots

Aren't they gorgeous?!? I got my new Königs riding boots today. They are so comfortable, and are so so so lovely, I can't wait to ride in them tomorrow.

Finland Day #1


I'm off to Finland

On Friday morning I'm off to Finland for the weekend! I'm so so excited to be going back home, to see my family, dogs and especially the horses!!!!!
Horse stuff off to Finland
Vallu will be looked after and exercised by the girls at the yard, Friday he is being lunged, Saturday hacked out and Sunday on be properly trained, which I'm sure he'll really enjoy :)

Tired pony today after our morning ride
I'm now off packing and trying to get some sleep before leaving at 3.30am - which is way too early for me! 


We're on Facebook!

I was looking into how to create a Facebook page for a blog today, and then somehow ended up creating one accidentally?!? Huh? And people think that I'm good with computers and technology…
So we're now on Facebook! Please like the page, click HERE!

This weekend I'm going back home, so you can expect lots of photos from Finland and updates on all our other horses (especially Baby B ♥) Vallu will be looked after by the girls Friday-Sunday, I'll be back Monday morning to ride him!


Weekend fun!

My attempt of getting Vallu to relax whilst going out for a hack is working! On Saturday I took him for a walk down the bridle path and this time there was only one big spook after which we could continue our walk instead of having to turn back towards the yard. Yayyyy, I love it when I make progress with Vallu.

I do feel slightly funny taking Vallu to the bridle path in a lunge line instead of riding him, but I feel much more confident on the ground instead of clinging on for dear life. Even though I feel like I'm taking my dog out for a walk ;) V is just a very very big dog. 

On Sunday we had a very late night ride, after the dressage competition had finished. It ended up being so late that once I had finished grooming Vallu and putting all of my stuff away, I was the last person at the stables! Time flies when you're having fun :) It was great to ride properly, not rushing at all. Vallu was really fun to ride once again, I can't wait for our next lesson with Andrew, hopefully he'll see the  improvement as well.
Cute face :')


Blogger of the year award nominee

I’m so excited to announce my little blog has been nominated for the Haynet Blogger of the Year 2013 Award! I am so honoured to be a nominee, especially since I've only been blogging for less than a year, and I'm included in a list full of amazing blogs (really humbling) 

Haynet is a great community for horse lovers, not just horse bloggers. I absolutely love reading everyone's stories, successes and failures, throughout the year. During our move to Nottingham, I got lots of support from this community, 

If you feel like voting for my blog, I'd be so honored. You can do it from here!


Sunshine Award

Martine from Tails From Provence has given me the Sunshine Award! Thank you so much, it's really made my day!

Here's what the Sunshine Award means, 
“bloggers who positively and creatively inspire others in the blogosphere.” 

Of course all awards have rules for awarding people. The rules are below...
1. First, the nominee must thank the blogger that nominated her and link to her blog.

2. Then, she must answer a list of ten questions and post to her blog.
3. Finally, she must nominate ten bloggers for the award and let them know.

1. Do you prefer Mares or Geldings?

As much as I love Nelli, I have to say that I prefer geldings. I'm too much of a mare myself to gel with mares. I get along with mares and I love them, but I adore my boys.

2. English or Western?

English, I don't think that I'd very good at Western!! :D

3. Do you prefer “younger” or “older” horses?

Hmm… Younger because I love the challenge of bringing on young horses. Having Basse from when he was two years old, to still having him at home now has honestly been one of the greatest experiences of my life.

4. Have you ever trained a horse from ground zero?
Not entirely from ground zero, yet! This is one of my ambitions in life, I think it would be great experience to go through. I have worked with Basse from when he was 5 years old, but that most of the hard work was already done for me (I was 13 at the time so it wouldn't have ended well if I had started training him by myself when I was 11!!)

5. Do you prefer riding or ground work?
I prefer riding, but that is only because I have no experience in ground work. Ground work for me means playing around with horses when they are loose in the school, and just having fun. I really do see the benefits of ground work, but I would want to go a some kind of training before I tried practicing it myself.

6. Do you board your horse or keep it at home?
At the moment Vallu is boarded/on livery, but the rest of the horses back in Finland are all at home. Although I prefer having the horses at home, the people looking after Vallu at the livery yard are simply amazing. (Charlotte, Hollie and Daisy you are the best! ♥)

7. Do you do all natural things or commercial stuff?

Commercial stuff for now I suppose... I think when I can have horses back at home and keep them in the most natural way, then I'll move back towards the more natural way of things.

8. All tacked up or bareback?
All tacked up when training, but when having fun and messing about bareback is the best thing on earth! The amount of trust that is between you and your horse when you're bareback is something so great. I'm aiming for that with Vallu, maybe in a couple of years (plus he is so huge, how will I ever be able to get on him without using the stirrups?!?)

9. Equestrian model?

I know previously I've always said that my brother Henri is my equestrian idol/model, and I'm not going to do a 180 and no I haven't changed my mind, but I do want to include another person who is also my equestrian model, and that is my mum.
My mum such an inspirational woman, but she is also a model for everyone who is a "dressage mum". Mum knows exactly when to push me in order to make me progress, when to support and when to teach me about my mistakes. She has also done this previously for my brother. But the biggest thing she has taught me is the love for horses. If everyone loved their horses even a tenth of the amount that she does, all the horses in the world would be more than happy.

10. What’s your, one, main goal while being in the horse world?
I know some people want to ride a GP or go to the Olympics or compete at Badminton, I really just want to have our own livery yard where we could our horses at home, we could have some horses for training/selling and then I could do some teaching as well. That would be my dream come true!

Since this award has been going around since the beginning of this year, I think nearly every blog that I've read has been awarded with this, so I am now nominating everyone who hasn't already gotten this award. Have fun blogging!

What a difference!

TGIF!! I love my weekends, where I get to spend extra time with Vallu. Even during the week I try not to rush when I'm at the yard, but I know I still do, but on the weekend I so slow at getting everything done, but that's okay! 
 But seriously, what a difference in Vallu between Monday and today. Oh wow, I love making progress with horses.

Tonight we worked like we have been for the last few days. For me, this means soft hands that stay still, and for Vallu this means going forwards whilst being soft and flexible throughout the body. Everyday it seems to be getting easier, so I've come to the conclusion that continuity is key. We were flying around the indoor arena tonight!
Warming up included a long walk on a free rein, in both directions. Does anyone else seem to always ride their warm up walk in one direction? Lots of leg yield later, we moved into trot on a circle, getting Vallu to give in and be soft through his neck, and once it was good in one rein, then changing to the other rein, so in the end it became a figure of eight. 

One of the exercises set as part of our homework was leg yields and half passes in trot and canter. As the trot work is becoming stronger, and easier for both of us, I decided to start practicing them in canter. It's not like we haven't ever done half pass or leg yield in canter, but now, after the lesson, I can really feel when and how Vallu struggles in them and I can try to help him. It's amazing, it's like suddenly there's a much better connection between him and me.

After some canter work (we can still do flying changes - yay!) went back to trot to try and work on it a bit more. We finished on the best medium trots that I've ever managed to ride, and if I die now, I will die a very very happy girl.
Blurry photo; but happy rider + horse