Jump for joy

"Those who don't believe in magic will never find it"
This view though...
Vallu seems to have settled into the new yard really well. He's been lovely to ride, lovely to handle and a right little cuddly bear every time that I see him ♥︎ He seems to like his neighbours (a mare and a gelding) and the other horse owners like him too :) All is good so far! We've done plenty of walking and trotting up and down the drive way, with the hope of eventually getting out of the second gates to go down the public bridleway. We just need to get him over his little problem/tension with gates...

Since there was no one else on the yard on Saturday lunch time I decided to see what Vallu would think about jumping over tiny tiny little cross poles.... And he managed to make it over them perfectly 100%. What a good boy :) Hopefully we can make this a weekly thing, so that eventually I might be brave enough to ride him over some jumps too :D 


No brakes!

"Breathe, forgive yourself, appreciate others, notice the good and do things you enjoy"
Turnout in a grass paddock first time in months
Despite my attempt at being sneaky and clever by riding Vallu as soon as he'd come in from the field, we had absolutely no breaks today when I rode in the indoor for the first time... But it was so nice to see how happy he was when turned out, totally chilled (apart from when horses walked past his paddock) Vallu even rolled and half way through stayed lying down to grab a mouthful of grass.


We've moved

All packed up and ready to go
 One of the reasons why it's been a bit quiet on this blog recently is that I've been getting ready to move yards. I had a lot of things to sort through and organise before moving, and the last week has been very busy. We've gone from having full livery to assisted DIY which means that I get to spend more time at the stables! :) Vallu gets turned out and mucked out Monday to Friday, but I get to do everything else. It's a bit like being back at home.
Vallu's new stable
 I've loved being at Vale View, and I don't think that I would have coped with the move here from Finland at the start of university as well as I did if we hadn't been at VV. But since I haven't been able to compete like I was planning to, Vallu deserves to be at a smaller quieter yard. We have individual winter/summer turnout, indoor and outdoor arenas, a horse walker and a massive long drive from the gates that is basically hacking out and once the hay is cut from the fields we get to canter on the fields :)

Alpacas... Which are obviously super scary 
Today we only went for a hand walk along the drive (very relaxed and not spooky Vallu...) and in the indoor and outdoors. I didn't think it would be fair to ride him, and by the time that I had moved all of my stuff I didn't really have the energy either :P I'll try riding tomorrow, it will be interesting what he'll find scary in the indoor - and he's got a big list to choose from: roller doors, jumps in the corner, sand pile in another corner and the door to barn where you can see everyone out of :D
Smallest holes in a hay net that I've EVER seen



In celebration of finishing my exams, I treated Vallu and myself to a new matchy set ♥︎

Eskadron AW'14 Next Generation cotton saddle pad in grey melange with the deep pink bandages to match the edging of the saddle pad, and then my new favourite Fair Play fleece in a nearly identical match to the deep pink.

LOVE! The fleece has lots of lovely little detailing that makes it look a lot more expensive than it actually is. It is very warm, and will be perfect for when we start transitioning from winter to spring.



Vallu has been very lovely this week, maybe it was his Valentine's day present to me ;) He was super good to ride on Saturday considering the fact that on Friday he had to do lost his near hind shoe so that we had to beg the farrier to come out asap. Happy Friday 13th to us...
You can just about see his purple toe...
"Totally innocent and have done nothing wrong" face

On even better news, you can really see how Vallu's tail has started growing back. Because he is so massive he rubs it when travelling long journeys on the lorry. You can see what 5 months of chia seeds (from Chia de Gracia) has done, the top bit is growing wonderfully. Vallu is also starting to change into his summer coat and so everything seems to rubbing him at the moment, but he doesn't look anywhere near as bad as he in previous years and I can only account this due to the fact that he is on Chia seeds. Come on spring 
We even saw some spring flowers starting to come through today on our hack out, spring is hopefully starting to spring soon ♥︎


Dressage lesson with Andrew Fletcher: Coping with a fresh happy horse

I don't know what was in the air on Monday but suddenly I was riding a very "spring happy" Vallu... He was SO FRESH and full of energy, and ended up giving us some of the worst and then later on the best ever work that he has ever produced.  A big thank you to AF for not staying calm at the beginning when Vallu zooming around in different directions and I was not at all in control. By the end of the lesson we got "well Vallu is feeling rather happy" and "he's such a show off" ♥︎
Sorry for the quality of the photos, they are screen grabs from the videos
To begin with we began working on a figure of eight trot - big trot, low frame and soft and flexible in the neck. Both doors to the indoor were open, and Vallu had a lot to deal with as there were horses jumping in the outdoor arena. Having an easy exercise to begin with made sure that we could try to get Vallu to relax and focus on working as quickly as possible, without stressing him out. I still find it difficult to walk on that fine line between getting Vallu to focus on me, but not making him work too hard on anything too difficult so that he'll get annoyed.
Those front legs ♥︎
Since Vallu was feeling very fresh, we kept the exercises simple in order to try prevent him from overheating :D It was like riding a ticking time bomb... Next we worked on a 4 looped serpentine, making sure that I rode accurately, that Vallu was soft and supple through his body and his neck, and that he was in front of my leg. It quickly became apparent that I really struggle with being brave and riding Vallu 100% forwards when he is hot and not totally listening to me - so still need to work on getting a bit braver in these conditions.

After a long walk break during which Vallu had started to chill a bit and come back to earth, we then proceeded onto improving the flying changes. Although Vallu is good at his flying changes (they're straight, forwards, and nearly always clean) and he can do tempi changes no problem, we need to get a bit more picky with the quality of the actual change and make them slightly bigger.  So a half ten meter circle to the centre line, then leg yielding in canter back to the outside and then once on the track a flying change. The leg yielding improves the quality of the canter by having a bigger crossing over of his hindlegs, and then we get better flying changes that are bigger.
Thanks WOW for making sit upright
One of the less successful moments of the lesson 


Know your tail ribbons...

Vallu is definitely purple, which one is yours? :D


Being positive

"To a rider, a horse is not a 'pet' and not a friend. Your horse is a best friend, a partner, a team mate. Horses do not care how many time you may come off, how covered in dirt you are, and at the end of they day: It doesn't matter what colour ribbon you got. Because it's your horse who will be there for you, to love you, and cherish every moment with you, to talk to you, and to listen to you."
Ever since starting training with AF one of the main things that I've learnt is the power of being positive, and how by focusing on being positive can really effect your horse.

The biggest difference in Vallu is his self-confidence. He's less spooky in nearly every situation, because I think that he believes in himself more.  If you've been following the blog for a while, then you may have noticed how our hacking out has changed quite a bit... Already hacking out in 2015 we've been confronted with several situations where last year it would have been the end of the world, but now even though the situation might be scary, we can cope with it and move on. Last Sunday we even managed a sane trot up the hill on the way back from our hack, which has definitely gone to the list of my favourite moments with Vallu. To get to this stage, we've had a lot of positive hacks out, and every time Vallu relaxes on a hack he gets a big pat and lots of 'good boys'.

Having a positive mind as a rider can also improve your horse's confidence in his ability to do his work - both the movements that they already know and are established well with, as well as work that is being introduced to them such as new movements. For us, it's the 'simple' things that Vallu often overthinks and then gets worried about getting it wrong. You'll often catch me giving him a big pat when we get a nice walk to canter transition, or a good halt and rein-back. Giving him positive vibes to help him figure out that he has been good, and makes us both happy :)

When struggling with the awful cycle of tense horse = tense rider, doing an easy exercise and doing a lot of patting and praising helps. With my own personal fear of riding in the scary outdoor, I've been trying to do this a lot. On a good day, we can now do a short, easy, sweet ride outdoors with no problems. And even on a bad day we can now do walk outdoors with long reins and even do some trot, because when we do plenty of walk-trot transitions and every time it's successful Vallu gets a pat and I try to breathe, and focus on the positive victories no matter how small.
"Don't let anyone make you pressure him." AF has often said this to me, and it has had the effect on our training sessions. With Vallu being quite 'different'/mareish/'quirky', I've heard plenty of people telling me that I don't work him hard enough, that I don't get the best out of him because I'm too kind to him because I let him take the piss out of me etc. Those maybe true but, but I will put my horse's happiness and wellbeing ahead of me looking good, or forcing him to work when he doesn't feel right. There is a reason why my brother didn't sell him to be a junior/YR horse, and that's because he knew that the horse needed someone to love him before he could perform.  When Vallu he is happy, he sparkles and I'm not gonna let anyone change that. 
I have a horse now that trust me, and knows that he is loved