Let me begin by explaining why it's been a bit quiet on here recently. For the last week, Vallu hasn't been quite right. Nothing major, there was no lameness and nothing that anyone else spotted at first - he just wasn't enjoying everything like he normally does, it was as if the sparkle had gone out of him... After two days of thinking over everything that it could be, I had nearly everyone at the yard looking at Vallu, and the general consensus was that he was taking a shorter step with his left hind leg. Not properly lame so we didn't call the vet and Vallu got two days of nothing but turn out. But trying the natural route of give him time to heal himself didn't work. He was still not right from behind and looking a bit uncomfortable in his skin. More light work just to keep him sane, more turnout and I attempted more massaging and used the solarium everyday to try to help him. It's a very helpless feeling when you just don't know how to make them feel better.  
 By the end of the week/beginning of the weekend, he started to even out. Still not better but feeling more like himself. I kept him in very light work, lots of straight lines and long and stretchy work. Luckily our new physio came on Monday to look at him. She's a McTimoney chiropractic and I immediately liked her. 

For those who don't know what a McTimoney does, "a McTimoney chiropractic will align and balance the animal's musculoskeletal system, so optimizing the individual's dynamic flexibility and helping the nervous system to function at its highest level. By adjusting those misaligned joints throughout the whole body whilst paying special attention to the spine and pelvis, health, soundness and performance may be restored and maintained." (taken from their website)

 She thinks Vallu might have slightly twisted his pelvis either in his stable or in his paddock, and this resulted in him taking the shorter step with his left hind leg and also twisting it slightly as he walked. And then because it hurt he overcompensated with his right side, which would explain why there was more tightness on the right side than the left. Vallu was very reactive to all of her work and you could immediately see a difference in the way he walked after her treatment.

So now Vallu gets two days off, then two days of light work where we only do straight lines, long and low walk and trot work. By the weekend I can start introducing slightly more collection and canter, and then next week back to lateral work. She said not to worry, no saddle issues (as had been suggested by some) and that he was good otherwise and his immediate improvement suggested that he was already feeling better. She is coming again in four weeks time, and hopefully he'll be much better by then.


Bouncy lunging session

When your horse knows that there is a camera taking photos of him and instead of being good and looking all fancy like normal, he decides to show his bouncing and bucking skills...  Never say that big horses can't move quickly ;) Luckily he's not like this normally. And for those of you who might be worried all of these photos are from a single twenty meter circle, it was too much hard work to carry on :D

And finally at a slower pace ;)
My current laptop background 



And I mean proper hacking, like on bridle paths and around fields, across a wooden bridge and through puddles - although admittedly we went through brambles and hedges instead of having to go in the puddle. But very nearly like proper normal horses do! I'm very proud of Vallu, his attitude to everything new and/or scary was to stop and look at it and then carry on. No tanking off, spinning or leaping sideways. A very grown up attitude which I am so happy is starting to come through, soon we can extend the hack to include a bit of road work (which we are already good at from our time at Vale View) so that in the end we can go out for 1.5-2hour hacks. He really deserves to go out for a wander when he is working so well at the minute, it is nothing but good for his brain and as long as he is brave enough and it is safe for us and the people/horses we hack out with, I can't wait to do this again :)

 For these photos last week we also had a first, of trotting and cantering along the fields - and once again he was perfectly well behaved. I really think that this horse just needed someone to prove to him that they love him and want the best for him, and now that he has "his human" and is learning to trust me 100% I think he's ready to let me take charge and trust me ♥︎♥︎♥︎

Vallu using the opportunity well ;)


Spring photoshoot

“If you want to reach a state of bliss, then go beyond your ego and the internal dialogue. Make a decision to relinquish the need to control, the need to be approved, and the need to judge. Those are the three things the ego is doing all the time. It’s very important to be aware of them every time they come up.” - Deepak Chopra

Here is the first set of photos from my lovely couple of days of photoshoots. Love them, I'm so grateful that my parents were willing to sort this out for me. Another set of brilliant photos and great memories ♥︎♥︎♥︎


Liking the shoes too :D



 Had a lovely little ride in the outdoor, trying to get back to feeling good when riding not in the indoor - something that I struggle with every spring time when it is time to start riding outdoors more! Big thank you to my yard friend G for taking time out to take some photos for me :) Vallu has been really good, just a bit spring happy which has taken me by surprise - like every year. But I am so pleased with how well he has settled into the yard, and how good is he being otherwise.
Doesn't look half bad ;)



Dressage lesson with Brooksby Dressage: Up your game

Lili made me laugh when she said that "this horse has got you SO sussed out" :D Well yes Vallu has had three years to learn how to get what he wants from me, and so now I need to up my game.
 Although, what a difference 6 weeks at the new yard has done to us, and you can really see it/feel it even just when we are warming up. Vallu is much more happy to go forwards and be in front of my leg, and also a lot straighter. I've also learnt to keep my hands more still (it's better, not 100% yet but getting there) and make sure that Vallu stays soft through his neck.

We then moved on to checking that the gears within canter worked. Because Vallu has got such a lovely canter, it's very easy to just get stuck in his lovely collected canter and to not actually be doing a proper working canter. Every time I thought I had a good working canter going, Lili said more because it had only improved by 1%, oops. And then when I used my spurs a bit to get a proper working canter going Vallu decided to say no and did some very nice broncs and leaps in the air with the result that my back is killing me :D Norty pony. Doing transitions within canter is not a new exercise for us, but nowadays it is about getting it perfect. When coming back to collected canter I simply have got to make sure that I don't over ride it and end up getting pirouette style canter, as there is such a fine line between the two.
The next thing to work on was half passes. Every test at advanced medium has half passes in them, so it was good to try and perfect them. Vallu finds half passes very easy and as I can feel how easy they are for him, I don't ride them as well. It also doesn't help that both half passes are different and have to be ridden differently in order to get the best out of them... Although the main aim for both directions are to get the horse parallel, in the right half pass my left leg (outside leg) asking him to move his quarters over more and to not overreact and bugger off sideways, whereas in the left hand pass I need to use less of my right leg (outside leg) as Vallu tends to go quarters leading. Not confusing at all :D

Originally we started with a full diagonal half pass, but Lili decided that we should only half a diagonal - so either from the centreline to E or B, or then after the corner to the centreline. This made me focus better so I rode better so the quality of the half pass was better - very logical ;) The half passes to the centreline were incredibly difficult at first because once you reached the centreline, you had to carry on it, and Vallu thinks this means changes and going in the other direction. So that forced me to sit deeper and straighter and to not shift my weight around so that Vallu wouldn't start doing tempi changes on the last half of the centreline. Another good pointer from Lili was that when doing half pass is to make sure you are sitting on your inside seat bone (e.g. left half pass make sure you sit on your left seat bone) 
Cheeky pony but again I've learnt so much, Vallu is such a good schoolmaster and I think he's going to be teaching me to ride properly right until the end ♥︎ Another Brooksby lesson soon, fingers crossed!


Cross country training!

No don't worry, of course Vallu didn't go cross country training ;) On Monday as everyone had the day off I tagged along with my camera and we went to Newton for a bit of cross country schooling. It's so nice to be at a yard where you have all different areas covered from dressage, show jumping and eventing to team chases and hunting! This weekend two of our yard friends are off to a hunter trial where they are doing a cross country course in pairs, and I'm going with them to take photos so this was great timing for me to brush up on my photography skills.

 Spending the hour at Newton Cross Country course really made me want to get a horse that would like to jump, it looked like so much fun. You'll be pleased to know to that no one fell off and that we only have two run outs, so both ponies were incredibly well behaved. Hopefully this means that the hunter trials will go just as well and there won't be any drama :D

Someone liked the water