Strange horse!

Vallu says HELLOOOO to everyone ♥︎
Vallu is always a little weird after a day off, he's hyper and totally in my face and so excited to be going to work. I do think he appreciates his days off (who wouldn't? :D ) but he is always just a bit wild, like an overly excited kid in a sweet shop! He also spooked at something so badly that I nearly fell off him! Walking with long reins, followed by sideways spook and gallop down the entire long side towards the door. I lost one stirrup, and trying to stop a galloping horse with long reins does take a while, so I had enough time to think would it be better to fall inside into the sand, or try to stay on but then risk falling off outside? Thank god Vallu stopped a few meters before the door!
The one second when he stood still
Trying to be all artsy ;)
Riding was interesting. I had absolutely no breaks at all, so doing a half halts had no effect on Vallu, and I ended up having to do really basic canter→trot→walk transitions constantly, as well as incorporating pole work in order to try to keep Vallu in control ;) Wild pony! I can't remember the last time that I've had to work so hard on making him concentrate on our work! So to keep it simple, and to not be in the way of everyone else riding at the same time, I stayed in the middle. With this exercise, I got all 3 paces and transitions between them, and a halt too (you could incorporate rein back in too!) 
Walk (black) trot (green) canter (blue) with halt at X
Weirdest horse of the day award going to Vallu
Does anyone's horse does this too? He'll lick my hand and then try to get my fingertips in his mouth between his lips, not his teeth and just keep them there for a while and then start again...


New Kingsland stuff!

I was very excited when I could finally pick up my Ooteman delivery from the local post office, because these gorgeous things were waiting for me!
I've had my eye on Kingsland horse wear for the longest time, but could never justify buying them since they've been just too pricy! Thanks to Ooteman's special sale, the were around half price and at a far more reasonable price. I love the colour brown iron, but who just comes up with these names? I would have just called it light brown :D The contrast piping is also lovely. I'm definitely going to save this as a training set, so not for everyday use!
Kingsland Palermo saddle pad and bandages in the colour brown iron
Gorgeous KL logo and four little crystals in the crown
My new KL Dressage brooch 

It is so beautiful, a gold coloured brooch encrusted with clear white crystals and a pearl pendant ♥︎ I really like the little box it also came in, a very handy thing to store the brooch/stock pin in. Now I nearly have my competition outfit sorted out!


Calevo and Ooteman in review

If you ever have money to burn, or if you need to buy some new stuff for you or your horse, you're gonna LOVE these two shops. We've recently had a bit of a splurge on horsey stuff, and these two shops have been highly recommended to us, and now thanks to their quick delivery come highly recommended from me. We ordered from both website Tues 12th, and they arrived from Calevo on Monday 18th (super quick, considering the Finnish post doesn't work on the weekends) and from Ooteman on the 19th.

This is a very popular site to purchase horse stuff from in Finland. They had a great deal on Pikeur breeches, so if anyone in Europe is looking to buy new Pikeurs, this is the site to go to!! The range of products isn't that exciting, they've mainly got Euro-Star, Pikeur/Eskadron and Cavallo. But if these are your go to favourite brands, then you can find some great deals. We bough Cavallo overreach boots, Eskadron bandages and Pikeur breeches, and I think we saved quite a bit of money! The delivery was super fast, and the price of delivery wasn't even too bad. Definitely a good shop!

I found this site thanks to a few recommendations from people on Facebook, and thanks to their amazing sale, it's made its way into the list of my favourite sites to shop from! There is an amazing selection to choose from, both in rider wear and horse wear, including Animo, Anky, Euro-Star, Pikeur/Eskadron, Esperado, Harry's Horse, Kingsland, Scapa and BR. I love shops that have slightly lower prices, but what I really appreciate is a shop that has built a great collection of equestrian brands to choose from. Another great thing was the ability to track your package. Ordering stuff online is always a bit worrying, I dread that the package will be lost (especially when I've spent quite a bit of money) so to be able to track the package is a big bonus!
The two things that I'd complain about was the cost of their delivery to Finland, which was quite a lot. It was twice the amount that it cost to deliver to Sweden, and considering that is our neighbouring country, I don't see how it could cost twice as much! Also, it took way too long to arrive considering how much I paid for it. So if you're not in a rush for the products to be delivered, the order from here. Grr. Rather annoyed, it was delivered to my local post office on 19th, but I was only told this on 25th! I know it wasn't Ooteman's fault, but the delivery company (GLS) / the Finnish post took too long in my opinion. But at least the products are cheaper than nearly anywhere else, and I don't think I would have found Kingsland products for such a good price anywhere else.

If anyone has any other equine shops that are like these, let me know! I'm always looking for a bargain.


Dressage lesson with Sanna Siekkinen: Hands

Mum and T (Basse's lease rider) have been having lessons with Sanna, our neighbour who owns the riding school across the road for a couple of weeks, and since mine and Ville's timetables didn't match this week, I decided to go and crash their lesson. It's been fascinating watching their lessons for the last couple of weeks, it's all about body mechanics and how to get your body in sync with the horse's, and to lessen your body from affecting the horse's natural movements. Sanna is now a qualified Method Putkisto Peak Performance teacher, as well as a riding teacher, so her lessons aren't just about learning to ride.
Autumn is here! Rain coats on, and fleece rugs on...
For me, the lesson was all about my hands. How the hands can help the horse, or how your hands can also be incredibly detrimental. It was very interesting to have a lesson based solely on how your hands move, and I hope that I can carry on working on my hands and hopefully see more positive changes.
Had an exciting Kingsland delivery yesterday
I've always thought of hands moving with the horse going clockwise in a circular motion, but here I sometimes end up doing half halts backwards which slow down Vallu. This time, I had to think about moving my hands in a circular motion forwards and up so anti clockwise. This turns my half halts in to upwards half halts, and my hands are going forwards so that there's no accidental backward pressure which could end up causing Vallu to slow down. After the lesson I realised how much less leg I'd had to use, and Vallu was flying forwards! Thinking about my hands moving this way also seemed to improve Vallu's contact (he was so much softer in the mouth) and also made him able to move his shoulders much more, so we ended up getting much more front leg action and freedom in his movements. Like I said, it was all very interesting.
Awkward post training no make up photo


This week in pictures

This week has been so busy that I have so much to write about, but because of my lack of time, those posts will have to wait for next week!

If anyone wants to follow us on Instagram, it's @roosa_rantanen 
Absolute favourite set, Eskadron pad and bandages with Calevo patent bling boots!
Chunky monkey!
Supreme matchiness ;)
Long reining Rosi has got to be the highlight of my entire week
New supplement for Vallu, Chia seeds from Chia de Gracia 

Grandparent's summer cottage, on the pier with grandma and the doggies ♥︎
Niilo loving the sea air 


Introducing Chia De Gracia

Chia De Gracia is Finnish horse supplement company that has taken over the Finnish equine world by storm. One by one, nearly all of my horsey friends have been converted into Chia lovers, and the Chia seeds have thus been named as an "equine superfood" over here. Chia De Gracia followed me on Instagram and checked out my blog, and then contacted me asking if I would be interested in trying out Chia seeds on Vallu or any of the other horses. As I've said, literally every horse owner in Finland swears by these, so of course I wanted to try it out.
What I love about the idea of Chia seeds is that it is all natural and contains a ton of vitamins and minerals. Having done the Coursera online course on Equine Nutrition, I've been very interested in reading up about Chia. Chia has vitamins A, B, B1, B2, B3, B9 and B12, vitamin C and E, calcium, phosphorus and iron, so basically a whole bunch of goodies to make your horse feel better!

"Chia Seed is an ancient wonder food—a whole food source of balanced ratios of vitamins, minerals and Omega oils."
Chia has wide range of benefits: (* marks what I think would be helpful for Vallu)
- shiny and healthy coat *
- faster growth and stronger hooves *
- prevention of laminitis and insulin disorders
- boost for the immune system and resistance to disease *
- is good for respiratory system *
- calms hot and nervous horses *
- facilitates and regulates estrus cycle of mares
- promotes healing of joint and connective tissue damage *
- stimulates the nervous system, brain, muscles and bone development *
- repairs and maintains cell walls *
- anti-inflammatory effect *
- promotes wound healing
- supports heart function and blood flow *
- reduces effect of allergies
- increases metabolism *

In a 100g of Chia seeds, there is 400mg of magnesium, something which I have been feeding Vallu for well over a year now, just to take the edge off him. Magnesium also helps with the horses's muscles so that they don't get cramps after intense training periods (e.g. lessons and competitions) And the high amount of Omega 3 fatty acids is also meant to help with "calming the nervous system" so I'll be rather interested to see if it has any effect on him.
For those who can read Finnish 
So the product is promising a lot. If the Chia seeds happen to help Vallu with even some of these, then I will take my hat off to Chia De Gracia and start preaching to everyone about these.

I'll come back in a month and tell you guys if it's worked its wonders.

If you want more to read go check out Chia De Gracia's website HERE and here are some other articles that are rather interesting:
Holistic Horse article
Natural Horse Network


Dressage training with Ville Vaurio: Planning

"You've got to plan what you're gonna do, you can't just ride it and hope for the best" Err oops, so I might not have been the most motivated/attentive student during the lesson, but I did have an incredibly good lesson considering for half of the lesson I couldn't hear anything that Ville was trying to say thanks to the torrential downpour of rain which made so much noise on the indoor arena's roof!
Vallu tired even before the lesson
The lesson was very technical. And I adore those lessons, but they're always really hard and I struggle, but then when something goes right, the feeling is unexplainable. Although I've been riding Vallu for two years now (btw how does time go by so quickly?!?) I feel like only now have I started to learn how to really ride these movements. Finding the confidence of being able to actually go and try an advanced test is something amazing, and I'm so glad that we've finally gotten here.

So we began with working on the pirouettes. Instead of doing our normal work, with transitions between walk and collected canter, we did working pirouettes around Ville, which was a difficult change. It made it harder, but it also gave me time to fix things when they didn't go according to plan!

From here, we moved onto riding the proper line that's in most dressage tests, so along the diagonal, half pirouette, back along the diagonal, flying change. When a set of movements is difficult, plan it well. Ride the corner, straighten the horse, ride more towards A than X, slight shoulder-in, collect, outside leg back to ask for pirouette/half pass, collect, turn into pirouette, ride out of pirouette, straighten horse, flying change, ride the corner and then onto the next movement. (So easy, NOT!)
Happily hacking!
After this, the heavens opened. Vallu has never been very good with loud noises, and he always gets a bit hot when doing tempi changes, so I was filled with dread when it started to rain so much. Noticing that such a noise sensitive horse could carry on working when the torrential rain was so loud that you couldn't even hear yourself think was great, and amazingly Vallu decided to only tense up, and we didn't get a single spook or any running away! We did the usual exercise, along the diagonal, one single flying change, then thee four tempi changes, then four three tempi change, and finished with five two tempi changes. The two tempis had to be repeated a few times so that I could get them right.

Vallu was really tired, so we only did a bit of trot, and a good tip that I got was to improve the trot by doing leg yields so that you can control the shoulders/sides/ribs. Instead focusing more on how Vallu looks, I have to concentrate on making the trot big, which then tends to lead to a bigger, more flowing working trot.
My new Calevo loves!
And Vallu, if you're reading this ;) thank you. Thank you for being so brave even though I felt that you were scared you were amazing!


The self lunging horse returns!

At the beginning of the summer I ended up being able to lunge Vallu without a lunge rein. With his side reins on, he is perfectly content to do his work around me, and I've found that I'm able to change what he does with my body language. If I want a 10m circle, I'll move closer to him and his hind legs, and voilà, Vallu does a 10m circle. On our 20x40m outdoor arena, we can move from one end of the arena to other, just by me walking along the centre line towards the other end, and Vallu will follow me!
This is so cool, ever since I've seen mum do this with Nelli, I've wanted to be able to do this too. Obviously some times are better than others, but yesterday he was super and so incredibly focused on me. Considering this was his first time being worked on the outdoor arena for well over a month (we've been using the indoor to escape the flies/horseflies) I'm very impressed with his attitude! Good pony!

I love working with Vallu on this, it's just so different to what we normally do. It's so interesting to get the horse to react to your voice and body language. The next thing that we're working on is getting him to change the rein without having a hissy fit. He is still stuck on wanting me to stop him, pat him, and then turn him around to the other direction, instead of being able to change direction himself when he is loose and walking/trotting around me.


Dressage lesson with Ville Vaurio: Refining

Wooo, back at training again! It's been well over a month since I've last had a lesson, and although the break has been good for both me and Vallu, I am very happy to be back at training and learning more things. And I couldn't have asked for a better lesson. It was all about the little things, refining my aids in order to make our life simpler.

For a few weeks now, I've been struggling with the flying changes. They haven't been 100% good, V has been late behind or just not reacting to my aids or then just running away. To solve all of this, the canter literally just needed to be bigger and slightly more forwards thinking. Like that was it, and then we got perfect flying changes!  To get the canter better, transitions between working canter and medium canter were incredibly useful, to get Vallu going forwards and get him to be quick too. Once again Ville pointed out that I need to make sure Vallu is straight - something so simple, so easily forgotten and such an important thing!

The trot has become much better since the last time that we had a training session. There is bigger movement in the front, and Vallu is definitely pushing more from behind. I even got a "wow, that's really good" from my normally tight lipped trainer (for whom you have to translate ok into good!) Must be the hacking out and pole work!
In the trot half pass left, I must remember keep my right hand more to the outside, in order to encourage him not to fall out of his right shoulder (even though he's going left!) Having a bit more of an active right leg will help to make sure that Vallu goes sideways properly, and not just half heartedly!

In the half passes right, the right hand has to stay still, so that I don't bother Vallu's mouth at all. Hand still, but active fingers to make sure Vallu stays soft and round. (Why is my right hand always the problem?!?) This was a HUGE lightbulb moment for me, I've really been struggling with the trot half-passes for a while now and I am so glad that Ville was able to point out what was wrong. I really appreciate that Ville made me figure out what I needed to change, but he only pointed out that my right hand was the problem. It made the fact that it worked out right even more sweet as I myself figured out how to fix it! Yay!

Although shoulder-in is one of our easiest movements, I've got to make sure Vallu doesn't do it too steeply. When he does that then we struggle with going forwards, with movements afterwards and with Vallu staying soft in the mouth. I need to ride it "less" so that when Vallu is trying too hard and I'm riding it less, then the end result tends to be good, somewhere in the middle of these two :)
And finally onto piaffe! Considering we had only had a 40 minute lesson, we got so much done! We practised our normal walk to piaffe transitions, and although I'm getting much better with not dropping my reins/contact, I now need to focus on not letting Vallu fall behind my leg. As soon as it feels like Vallu has fallen behind my leg, then flex to the inside and ask for forwards to get out of the piaffe. One of the really exciting things was when we tried a new transition, from trot to piaffe, and we got baby passage!! So cool! Only for a few steps, but it's all very very interesting and promising! By doing the trot to piaffe transitions, piaffe became more bouncy and more through his back :) 
Photographic evidence of post lesson foamy mouth!
The new bit seems to be working, Vallu still had a foamy mouth once we were back in his stable. He also seemed to keep his mouth closed more than with the old bit, so I'm hoping he feels happy with this new one. I'm very pleased with this pony right now! ♥︎


EAH Blog Hop: Equestrian Wardrobe

Luckily after Viva Carlos finished her incredible blog hop, Equestrian At Hart decided to pick up the reins, so thank you for that! I love reading other people's blog during blog hop, just cos I'm so nosy ;) I've also found a lot of great blogs to read, so I really recommend everyone checking out these blog hops! 
The first topic in question is actually a spin off of L's final hop. Hillary wants to know about what you ride in and why? Show us your Equestrian Fashion choices and tell us why you wear them!

Breeches: I've always had a pair of Pikeur breeches, because they fit well, last well and the fabric is the best, but becoming a poor student made me have to branch out onto new cheaper breeches. I now have a navy Cavallo pair (lovely, but the material is a lot thicker than Pikeur) and a bright light blue B Vertigo pair. I absolutely adore the B Vertigo pair, the colour is amazing but it seems to clash with just about everything! Arrgh. For a matchy maniac like myself, this is super annoying ;) I'm really fortunate that my parents have ordered new Pikeur breeches for me, a Lugana contrast pair that is called "bronze-negro" Hmm... I will be very interested to know what colour they are, hopefully in some shade of brown! I also have my treasured pair of Pikeur breeches that are white and saved for competitions, but I think I love them most out of all my breeches.
B Vertigo breeches and my old favourite Roeckl gloves
I have a variety of polo shirts, because apparently you can never have enough shirts. My two absolute favourite brands for riding shirts are Tommy Hilfiger and Horze. There's also a couple of HV Polo shirts that I've been given as presents or I've found them in the sale in Germany for a far more reasonable price than normal.
L to R: Joules, Horze, HV Polo x2
My new bling love is my Euro-Lite Hat, I really like the bling and the faux crocodile skin. It's been great in the summer too, the air vents in the middle keep my head nice and cool. It doesn't get so sweaty as my old hat, and it's not a pain to put it back on when riding the next horse even on a really hot summer day. And I'm another "Roeckl only" glove girl. Nothing else is good enough, I seem to hate the material of any other brand of gloves. I have three pairs of them, so that they last longer. Navy with white piping Roeckl Two Tone Light Grip, black Roeckl Light Grip Swarovski and a new brown pair that are the Meredit Michaels Beerbaum summer gloves, which are great for summer! I do also own a traditional white pair for competitions. (Glove addiction!)

Socks: Kingsland Kingsland Kingsland. That's all I'm gonna say. I have the lovely thin ones which are amazeballs <3 Brown set, black set and the navy set, I am a very happy girl.

My winter wardrobe is far more extensive, lots of coats and gillets/vests, and hoodies, but taking photos of them would take forever! Horze coats, Kingsland and HV Polo vests and hoodies. I just layer up as much as possible in the winter to stay warm.

And last but not least, my boots! I have two pairs of Königs boots, my old pair are over 6 years old, and have been very faithful to me. Last year I got a new pair, and I'm trying to save them as much as possible, so I use them mainly for training and competitions. Königs boots are great, they last forever and the price isn't too bad. The option to personalise the boots is an added bonus.

Equestrian At Hart, thanks for the great blog hop, and I hope you do more!



"There are only two emotions that belong in the saddle; one is a sense of humour, and the other is patience" - John Lyons
Vallu has slowly been coming back to normal, the stiffness caused by the swelling in his hind leg is totally gone and he is much more happy to go forwards and work with me. After a few really easy days, I've been working on flexibility and transitions in order to get him to respond quicker to my leg aids, and get him to move through his back. During the easy days, we spent a lot of time in the woods, with the end result of both of us being able to actually relax there! Major achievement!!

Giraffe anyone?

I plan on carrying on working on our hacking, I really want to get him to that stage where we can just canter around like it's no big deal. Right now, trotting around isn't overly exciting for Vallu anymore (which roughly translates to Vallu isn't going a 100mph like a trotter pulling the reins out my hands by blocking his jaw and lifting his head high in the air) so the next final challenge is to get him to relax in canter. We have managed to canter 20 meters already but it is literally like sitting on a ticking time bomb, he's just sooooo excited to be cantering that I have absolutely no ability to control him. I think that he's having so much fun that he forgets that he's carrying a rider too! 


Double bling boot and spur strap! I'm sure at one point in my life I will "what was I thinking?!?" but right now, I am totally and absolutely in love with these boots. Hi my name is Roosa and I have a bling addiction :D Blinged out boots, spur straps, gloves and hat, I'm doing well!

I couldn't resist sharing this photo with everyone! Every now and then Vallu will do these random 'spook and take off's when he's full of energy and wants to go fast, but so far no one has managed to capture it. This is the "leap forwards" stage which comes after the first "shoulder drop and spook", which is then followed by gallop down the long side of the arena. I'm surprised at how I don't find these scary anymore, it's just his way of showing off his speed to everyone ;) There's been so much personal progress after 2 years of riding Vallu, it's astounding what some TLC can do to a horse, and how he has made me trust him as well.

Please excuse my hands, I'm in the middle of shorterning my reins!

Now only a further thousand transitions and a few hundred lateral movements to do, after that I think I'll have a pretty flexible and responsive pony ;)