Stuck in a rut...

I try to keep this blog positive, even though there's always something to moan about and I really don't want to, but not having a post that explains what's going with us at the moment means that I won't be able to blog at all..
So last Saturday we got stuck in the thunder-lightning-hail storm which resulted in Vallu losing a shoe and me really hurting my back, it's now been nearly been a week and I'm still on painkillers. Otherwise we managed to escape from a very scary situation without any major problems.  But then... Vallu got his shoes done on Tuesday and managed to freak out during the shoeing, so that he managed to push to farrier over onto the ground (farrier is luckily okay!) and then step on the shoe so that the clip went into his hoof = blood and one very sore foot... 

Riding in the outdoor arena on Tuesday was just us walking because I didn't want to make Vallu work with a sore hoof and with my bad back it's not the most enjoyable feeling. A bruised hoof and a bruised back means that we're not the best combination at the moment :D Luckily the hoof is looking good and today I rode properly in the indoor school and he was moving fine! So maybe we might get through this with just a scare.
On Thursday we have the dentist coming, and since it's been such a long time since Vallu's teeth were checked (I know, very bad horse owner) I'm pretty sure that will mean a couple of days off for Vallu to recuperate. Because of this, I've decided to cancel my lessons and test riding clinics for this month, and just try to get us back to normal. Hopefully by the end of the month everything will be back to normal, we'll both be feeling better and we can go to the lessons and hopefully then starting competing...
Can your horse be your best friend as well? Vallu is good at posing!
Dry pony before the ill-fated hack out on Saturday
Night time walk on Sunday with Casperlee ♥ 

Good pony today!
If everyone wants to send us positive vibes, that would be great!


This week in pictures

As this week was my second week of exams, I don't have anything to properly write about, but I did want to share with you all pictures from this week! :) Vallu has had a pretty easy week, only one proper riding/training session during the week when I didn't have an exam and then the rest of the days he's been on the walker, lightly ridden or lunged or hacked out. I think he might think that he's retired now ;)
Foxy "gimme sweets"
Aspen "gimme sweets too!!"

Evening walk during the sunset

Cutiepie ♥
Our week didn't end very well, on Saturday we went out for a hack, and after getting about 100 yards from the gates of the stables, we got stuck in a hail/thunder/lightning storm which was pretty petrifying. I won't go into the details of how scary it was, I am just super proud of Vallu for being so brave and getting us back to stables in nearly one piece - he lost a shoe and my back is killing me. But still, he was a Super Horse. Never again am I trusting the British weather, if there is even one dark(ish) cloud in the sky I'll refuse to go out. 


Happy hackers!

Vallu has been such a super good boy this week, we've been out twice this week and Vallu is well on his way to becoming a happy hacker! Next week hopefully we can hack out again a couple of times, I'm sure Vallu is loving this as much as I am :)


Exam break

I now have a 2 week exam period, so Vallu gets an easy couple of weeks with no proper training whilst my brain tries to cope with remembering ridiculous amounts of politics information. It also means that my blog will be going on a short break as I won't have any training to post about. But in the mean time we will be very happily hacking out around the village!
We'll see you all in a couple of weeks ♥


Hope Valley Saddlery delivery and fun with Vallu

I love January sales, especially equestrian sales! Since I got so much horsey stuff for Christmas, I haven't found anything super special or exciting that I could claim to need, but Hope Valley Saddlery had an amazing deal on horse rugs, and we ended up buying two 150g Amigo Mio stable rugs for £40!! The normal price for one rug is £40, so it's like we got one for free! With 4 horses, these rugs get used a lot (spring and autumn) and so it was a good purchase. Hope Valley Saddlery has super speedy service, I ordered the rugs and Friday 3rd and they were delivery on Monday 6th morning?!

Vallu had the physio come and look at him on Tuesday, and after doing lots of work opening up the tight spots in his back and neck, she recommended a day off, then two lunge days and light riding for the weekend before starting training again next week. So I've been having lots of stress free time with Vallu, and one day when I decided to lunge him over some poles. You can see from the video below how much fun Vallu was having ;)

And we can proper lunging too! ;)


Dressage lesson with Andrew Fletcher: making you brave

During this lesson I learnt that riding is a very psychological sport. We had awful weather again yesterday, the winds reaching 25-30mph, and I really thought that the indoor arena's doors would fly off. So you can imagine that the rattling and banging of the doors, walls and roof didn't make for a very calm or relaxing setting for our lesson. So obviously the lesson would be centered around Vallu and I being made to relax. 
How we looked after the lesson :D
The main idea was to ride Vallu forwards and in front of the leg even when spooky, and that when he takes off, strong half halt, give reins and pat. This is awfully scary! It goes against all your natural reflexes, but it was totally worth the scare because Vallu started to relax much quicker and be more confident once I started riding like this....
How riding Vallu sometimes feels like ;)
Andrew says that as soon I start (even unconsciously) tensing up, I hold onto the reins and stop riding him forwards, and so Vallu starts tensing up, sensing something is going to happen soon. And then once he spooks I hang on the reins for dear life and trying to stop him. I've got to now change my whole natural reaction to his spooks, and just learn to fully trust him. New mantra: trust him and be brave!
Vallu with his favorite neighbor 
The other things we worked on were a big trot and canter. Oh goodness me, what an amazing feeling.  It doesn't even feel like it's a struggle at all for Vallu, it's just super easy for him. He really pushes from behind and lift his legs, but I have to ride him in front of my leg! And must remember to ride like that all the time, don't let him fool you into going slower. Big trot = big points!!!

We also did some flying changes, but they were so so so easy, that I didn't even feel that he had changed a couple of times! It seems that I have to make my bum more sensitive ;) And also learn to trust that Vallu has done a flying change... but the only way to learn this is to practice practice practice. A great exercise that I've completely forgotten about is doing flying changes on the 3/4 line. This is especially helpful if you're going towards the mirrors, you can see exactly what happens when you change. During the lesson the changes were very straight, thanks to the big forward canter that we had. The more forwards and uphill your canter is, the more likely it is that you will get a good straight flying change.

There was a woman looking at us during lesson who afterwards said that Vallu is stunning (whoever you are, thank you!) and I'm lucky that all he does is just gallop off, doesn't buck or rear or try to get me out of the saddle. This was a lightbulb moment. Being wrapped up in my little world, I'd forgotten what other horses do and what Vallu could do, but doesn't. He's just afraid, he's not bad or naughty at all. 

Trust. Making that final leap of trust in our relationship will be scary, but I'm pretty sure that the results will all be worth it.

Found some old photos of Vallu the other day...
As a 5 year old at a competition!
Baby Vallu, makes my heart melt ♥


Awful timing: dressage vs exams

After my previous post 2014 goals I have now properly caught the competition bug again... All I want to do is buy myself a new competition jacket and white breeches, learn the movements and tests, and enter competitions when really I should be revising for my five politics exams, coming up in less than 2 weeks. Talk about bad timing?! Luckily one subject is already revised and done, so only four more to go.

Vallu has obviously enjoyed his Christmas break, and I owe a big thanks to Hollie and Daisy who kept him ticking over and very happy over my winter holiday. Super massive thank you to Hollie who dutifully gave Vallu his daily apples and sugar lumps, and his Uncle Jimmys lickit on Christmas Day. During the 12 days that I was away Vallu was hacked out several times and ridden properly as well just to give his brain a workout too ;) I now have a very happy and healthy horse, ready and waiting for spring and the competitions to arrive!

Fat pony still on a diet, but looking better already!
I'm very much looking forward to my Andrew Fletcher lesson next Monday, hopefully we will get another fantastic lesson. In preparation for it, the last two days I've been working on the same exercises as we did during the last lesson (you can read the recap of that here!) So lots of trying (and sometimes successful  3 tempi changes down the long side, as well as walk and canter pirouettes. My warm up with Vallu now consists of doing walk, trot and canter and going down the long side a few meters inside the track in order to make sure that he is totally straight (body and neck) and to make sure that he is listening to both my legs. And Vallu has been super good, I'm really happy with the way he is going :) 

New Christmas present rug
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