A Very Merry Christmas 2015

This is days late but I would like to wish everyone a very lovely and merry Christmas and a happy New Year! Here's hoping that 2016 will be very exciting - our family certainly has lots of plans for the upcoming year, and for me I will be moving back to Finland after my graduation! So it looks like it might end up being a busy year! Hope you all have enjoyed the holidays and thank you all for reading this blog ♥︎

Riding on our outdoor arena in late December - not frozen and no snow

Nelli's bahumbug face!


Dressage lesson with Brooksby Dressage: Filming with EquestrianPro.Tv

 So a while ago (in the midst of my essay writing craziness) I had the absolute pleasure of being involved with EquestrianPro.Tv through Brooksby Dressage. It was such an honour to be asked to do this again, originally we were meant to do this in the summer but with Vallu's shoulder injury that flew out the window and I thought the opportunity would never come round again. But it did! And I'm so glad that Lili gave me no warning, she literally texted me the night before going something along the lines of "we are filming tomorrow. You need to do it" because I did not have time to back out of it nor did I have time to overthink about it. 

It was one the best experiences of my life to be totally honest. Vallu was absolute star throughout the lesson, both myself and Lili were incredibly impressed by Vallu's near ignorance of the big ass camera and other camera equipment in the corner. I was mentally prepared for a nope not going anywhere near that spin run off and throw all toys out of the pram reaction out of Vallu. And what did I get?  Ears pricked when he spotted the camera, walked straight towards it, stopped 10 meters away from it to have a look, after which he tried to go have a closer look and nearly knocked everything over!? What a superstar.
 Throughout the lesson we did a lot transitions within both the trot and canter to get him properly engaging from behind and getting me to sit deeper and to be more effective with my hands. There's nothing like knowing someone is filming you to work extra hard! Lili has been berating me about using too much hand (rightfully so) so all I could think about for the first ten minutes was "keep hands still" Currently trot shoulder-in and canter half passes are my top exercises to play with, because of this lesson and just how much Vallu improved in the 45 minutes simply from these exercises. 

 If you would like to see the lesson, go to Equestrian Pro's website and sign up - there you can see tons of more useful videos and training sessions from some of the top pros in the country. And if you're not sure about signing up, there are plenty of trailers to give you chance to see what you would be paying up for! I'd like to thank both Mark and Lili publicly once again for this great experience, it was brilliant and hopefully we can do it again sometime soon :)

Just look at his little angelic concentration face!


Dressage lesson with Brooksby Dressage: You need to learn to let go

 Today we celebrated Finnish Independence Day by having an amazing lesson with Brooksby Dressage (Equestrian Training) Vallu was an absolute star today, he really listened to me, tried his best and showed that I can ask for more in both the medium/extended trot and canter without always having to fear him tanking off with me!

After warming up, we began with an exercise that I have never done before - something that Lili called a 'S line serpentine' - which is essentially a serpentine figure but instead of going straight across the arena you ride two shallow 10m voltes (e.g. instead of your classic straight line from E to B, you ride a shallow/slight ten meter volte from E to X, and then another shallow ten meter volte from X to B) The first couple of attempts made me squeal "the arena is not long enough" and "I don't know what I'm doing", which very quickly (once I got the hang of how to ride it) changed to "this is SO good" and "it really helps!" This exercise requires the horse to be straight, but still very supple to be able to do two voltes, and it makes you very quickly realise if you don't have control of the shoulders.  It was super helpful in getting Vallu to properly engage behind in trot, which is something that I often struggle with. And because you are constantly changing direction and flexion, it is much easier to get the horse to relax over the top line - or at least it did with Vallu!
Eskadron NG blue cotton set from Fur Feather Meds 
Lili and I also acknowledged the fact that Vallu is one of those horses that will also trot much better after he has a good canter session. I think this is because the canter work is just so much easier for both of us - and so working on transitions within canter, forwards and back, is an essential tool to help improve his trot work. Everyone knows how important and useful transitions are, but to be able to ride good transitions within a pace is something that I have only recently started to focus on. It's fun to realise how we have progressed - we have gone from doing basic walk/trot/canter transitions to working on well ridden and good collected/medium/extended transitions within canter (even on circles!) 

From this we then moved onto my personal fear of having to trust Vallu in medium/extended canter down the long side. This is something that used to give me shivers even thinking about, and is something that would make me withdraw inside myself and start to ride very defensively - even if Vallu had done absolutely nothing wrong and wasn't even in a 'spooky mood'. Having had to learn to ride such a massive and powerful horse had meant that over the years I have become a bit of control freak and giving up 'control' to Vallu in the mediums in both trot and canter has been difficult. My major lightbulb moment of this lesson had to be when Lili said that I had to learn to let go in those movements. Holding back Vallu to try to remain in control means that Vallu is only moving at 40% of his ability instead of 100%. Even though I am not nagging him with my hands or constantly (consciously) braking and trying to slow down, I am not letting him go. And so now I need to learn to let go, and to trust Vallu that one last bit in order to be able to get those movements as good as they can. 
LOOK AT HOW COLLECTED HE IS!!! And that hind leg actually properly pushing through
Hind leg working in canter too!
We have another lesson in the upcoming week, and Monday 14th we are taking part in the Charlie Hutton clinic. Exciting times ahead for us - hopefully I can carry on with this 'letting go' process to get Vallu finally as good as he could be with a pro!


Hay Net Blogger of the Year Awards 2015

Although this year I feel like I do not deserve this at all, I was very surprised and very thankful for the love that I get from the Hay Net community and was short listed for the Blogger of the Year for the third year running! How wonderful, and I am very gracious for this honour once again especially after having had such a difficult few months.

If you want to, you could vote for us HERE

Many thanks, and thank you once again for the nomination Haynet is simply the best ♥︎

Parents and Nelli

Ever since the devastating and heart breaking loss of Rosi, I have totally lost the will to blog about anything. So much has happened recently with Vallu that I could have blogged about easily, with exciting stuff that I would have happily written about at any other time, but I felt the need to mourn privately and didn't feel like trying to force write positive happy posts when I was feeling nothing but sorrow and guilt. However, these photos that my parents had done have healed my heart a bit. How lucky am I to have such beautiful photos that I will treasure these forever ♥︎

A massive thanks once again to the ever so talented Waris Worlin Photography Only she could manage to capture the beautiful love that my parents have with this special horse.

The rarely photographed lesser spotted long suffering father ♥︎


Rest in peace Rosi

God looked at the little angel
standing by his side,
and smiled as he whispered, you need a horse to ride.

So he looked the whole world over,
for one he trusted dear 
but to our utmost sorrow
the one he chose was here

Where God took this precious horse
there are pastures free to roam
and on the wings of angels,
he took this great horse home

Now on his back sits proudly 
a little angel strong and true
as they race the winds of heaven

Just watching over you

Rest in peace Rosi. You weren't just a pony, but a member of our family, you stole a piece of everyone's hearts. My heart hurts, and there's a little bit less joy in my life. I'll love you indefinitely and will see you soon at the rainbow bridge.


A fast Friday

Today we wore purple because it was pancreatic cancer awareness day.
Having not had a lesson this week I have felt really lost. Apparently in a few weeks I got used to someone helping me and giving me exercises to do... So today I decided to get my act together, go in the outdoor arena(!) and get a good, proper training session done. Unfortunately, Vallu had other ideas! It may not have been my most clever moment to decide to go in the outdoor where Vallu spooks all the time on the day where we had 70mph winds, and the horse had only been out for an hour before having to be brought in because of torrential rain.
 It started off so well. A good long walk first, with long reins. Then some collection, and riding a few squares with turn on the quarters in every corner to get the outside shoulder in control on both reins. Then leg yielding zig zags down the centre line, during which Vallu was quite literally hoof perfect - listening to me, changing directly immediately when I asked, walking with really good purpose. He's now had twenty minutes to warm up (and in the wind with no coat on, I've had twenty minutes to start going into a deep freeze) so off we pop into a canter, and then whoosh bum down, head up and straight into gallop down the long side....... #notimpressed 

Rightio. Gain some control, back to walk, shorten reins A LOT and try again. Little pony then lulls me into a false sense of security by behaving for five minutes. We got perfect squares, perfect canter-walk-canter transitions, perfect flying changes. I should have known that ears forward means that he was planning something. Lili always wants me to do some collected canter to medium to collected transitions within the canter to get Vallu properly engaged behind, and so I decided to focus on this. Baaaad move. Like seriously bad move. Every single long side, and I mean every single long side Vallu took this as an opportunity to show me that he really could have been a race horse/eventing horse - I'd appeared to have forgotten how quick this horse can go!! Lots of small voltes, lots of half halts and lots of transitions (and about 20 minutes) later we finally got to a stage where we could do a few strides of medium canter down the long side without Vallu turning into a fire breathing dragon. Cue lots of "good boy"s and "please lets never repeat that."

Apparently purple means go faster for Vallu? :D I'm honestly so glad that Vallu is feeling SO much better, and as much as I may moan I'm super chuffed that fat pony has come back ♥︎
Thank you Fur Feather Meds/Lili for letting me borrow this set :)


Dressage lesson with Brooksby Dressage: Stop riding like a fairy

There's nothing quite a Brooksby encouragement to help you get your brave pants on! :D "Stop riding like a fairy and get on with it" has now become my absolute new favourite. It's all about being an effective rider, because if I don't ask properly Vallu won't give 100% especially if I am feeling a bit nervous.
I was warming up whilst Lili was teaching someone else, so I ended up just doing trot and canter on both reins on the 3/4 line whilst focusing on turning in the corners all by outside rein and outside leg to get control of Vallu's outside shoulder. Once Lili had finished the previous lesson she watched us for a bit and then said that Vallu looked a lot better this week compared to our last lesson, a lot more supple, loose and just generally happier in his way of moving. 

I had several 'everything clicked and suddenly made sense' moments during the lesson. Firstly, in the shoulder-in I can't let Vallu go 'too deep' with too much flexion because it blocks his legs from moving as well as he can. When I don't ask him to go too deep it feels so easy and flows so much better.

In the canter, we did our first set of tempis since the summer, and gosh I cannot count to four anymore! Lili ended up making me count one two three four out loud until I managed four good fours down the long side :D We did the flying changes down the long side to get some help from the wall to keep us straighter, and amazingly when I keep my hands still they're a lot better ;) Funny that.


Happy Halloween!

What could be better than celebrating Halloween with a lovely little hack around the fields? After a few horrible rainy days, we managed to get an absolutely beautiful and gloriously sunny afternoon and we all went off for a little plod around the fields. Vallu would obviously live up to the fact that its was Halloween and that he therefore needed to scare me with his prancing across the field instead of walking on the track around it... Who would want a totally calm ride anyway!

Hope everyone else had a scary Halloween too ;)
So much love for Vallu and Zu #bffs