Dressage lesson with Ville Vaurio: Keep riding and then you'll relax

As much as I hate to admit it, 24 hours later I'm now incredibly glad mum decided to book me in for a lesson with my old trainer Ville Vaurio. At the start of the lesson I thought I would either pass out or throw up from being absolutely terrified - I've only ridden Vallu once since falling off for about ten minutes because my back hurt too much to do much more and I really didn't want my first proper ride to be at a brand new yard that neither of us had been to before! Oh well, nothing like being thrown in the deep end!!
Off we go!
As I was totally frozen with fear, most of the lesson was spent on doing lots of movements that were challenging in order to keep Vallu's brain busy and me thinking about how to ride the movements instead of thinking about what might scare Vallu. If we kept Vallu busy with difficult movements and working properly then he would have less time to react to his environment and would be less likely to spook. Knowing this would then help me relax and everything went much better. This is everything that I already knew, but needed to hear whilst having someone on the ground to tell me that everything is okay, I can do this and to push me to ride properly - not just sit there looking pretty and praying that nothing will happen.

After warming up on my own, we established a 'safe zone' e.g a 20m circle at A where I could mentally relax, knowing it was a place where I wouldn't fall off. The circle then got extended further down the arena and in under 5 minutes we had two thirds of the arena as a safe zone. And then throughout the lesson Ville would make me ride outside of this just to push me and to prove that I could ride wherever I wanted. Who says riding isn't a psychological sport?! Whenever I had to ride out of my comfort zone, I was to ride shoulder in as this would both of us busy, Vallu flexed slightly to the inside and around my legs so that the likelihood of him taking off with me is reduced. We also did a couple of flying changes which were all okay (tight, small canter and small changes because I was too worried about getting big bucky changes) apart from one from which Vallu decided to tank off and it took me a good 15m to get him to slow - but... I didn't fall off and we carried on in canter so I feel a lot more confident that I do still have the ability to stay on! A lot of pirouette work - again, slightly difficult as I hadn't ridden these in over 8 months but Vallu remembered how to do them and then some piaffe work where Ville had a short riding whip with which he very lightly tapped on Vallu's hind legs to give him a rhythm and bloody heck the last one was amazinggggggg! "What you felt there was pure power and it was great" #actualquote
Although the whole lesson was mentally incredibly draining, I am so glad I was able to have my first proper training session after 8 months off and after my accident with my old trainer who I feel so comfortable with. I think if it had been a new trainer the lesson wouldn't have been anywhere near as successful because I wouldn't have felt confident enough to go to a new place for anyone else apart from Ville. Unfortunately for me and a lot of riders over here, Ville is going to go work for my brother in Germany so my next training session will be with someone new but it won't bother me as much because of how well this one went! :) 


Please wear your helmets!

On Wednesday afternoon, Vallu spooked at a car speeding on the little road that is about ten meters away from our outdoor arena. Unfortunately, I had long reins in walk when he suddenly shot up in the air and tanked off so that I eventually got thrown off, but ended up thrown off into the arena's fencing before falling to the floor.
How much of the fencing my helmet broke
I have never experienced so much pain in my life as I did when I finally came round after being knocked out (I don't remember the falling off and by the time I came round mum had already managed to catch Vallu) and once I started trying to get up, I saw blood falling onto the ground and I thought I'd cracked my head open. Luckily, instead of my head (thank you Samshield helmet) I had an inch (2.5cm) long cut in the corner of my eye which resulted in a lot of blood all over my clothes. At the hospital several hours later, the scans and x-rays came back to show that nothing was broken! Two different doctors were totally baffled by this but I joked that I have magical bones. Everything is just bruised - my face, hand and wrist, ribs, stomach and my back and I have two stitches in the corner of my eye but it could have been so much worse if I hadn't been wearing my helmet. I was kept in hospital overnight for observations because I was apparently slurring my words and I couldn't remember much... There were moments of clarity when I even managed to message friends to tell them that I was alive but then were moments that I still today don't even remember.

In hospital before the stitches, you can see the cut in the corner my eye
Day after, eye totally swollen shut on the way to the specialist eye doctors
Today is the first day that I have been able to think coherently and look at a laptop screen for more than ten minutes before feeling terrible. My bruises are turning to so many different amazing shades and the swelling around my eye has started to go down so that I have 50% of my sight back. The day after I got sent to the specialist eye doctors in Helsinki to make sure that there was no permanent damage to my eye and luckily it appears everything is okay! Everything could have been so much worse and I am incredibly lucky to come out of this with just a concussion, two stitches and a lot of bruising. 

I have written this post not because I want attention or sympathy, but because in case anyone who reads this rides without a helmet, I'm begging you to reconsider and to wear one. I could still be lying in hospital or worse if I hadn't been wearing my helmet.
Two days later, back on! (only for ten minutes in walk because I felt too bad to stay for longer)


#rootd: Eskadron Platinum 2016

IT'S HERE!! The 2016 Eskadron Platinum Collection is finally here, and boy am I glad that I managed to get my hands on a set! Eskadron Platinum collections have always been the one that I have looked forward to seeing the most out of all their collections. There's just something a little bit special about the Platinum collections ♥︎

So our outfit of the day is
Saddle pad: Eskadron Platinum grey cotton big square
Bandages: Eskadron Platinum grey ornament
Over reach boots: Le Mieux black 

The attention to detail has been absolutely amazing. I cannot think of anything that I would want to change, it's that good! There is an engraved (I don't know how else to describe it) pattern on the bandages that I have never seen before! Although you can't see it from far away, if you are close you can see it quite easily and it's made me love this collection just that little bit more. The photos of the saddle pad don't do it enough justice, it's one of those pads that is so much nicer in real life when you can touch it and feel it. The big stripe down the side is leathery type material and has platinum edition written down it in sequins!! Love love love it!

I pre ordered my set from our favourite equestrian store Fur Feather Meds, check their website out HERE or their Facebook page HERE. (FYI, this is not a sponsored post at all. I have paid for this set and get nothing out it in anyway apart from the joy of sharing photos to you all)

 Anyone else love this?


Jin Stirrups

I'm so blessed to have such lovely supportive parents and grandparents who are still willing to buy me gifts that are horsey! I can't even remember the last time that I had something non-horse related as a present... For my nameday present my parents and grandparents bought me my own Jin Stirrups! ♥︎ Jin Stirrup stirrups are made from aluminium so are super lightweight and you really don't feel them. The wide tread helps to provide a secure feeling in the saddle - they are double as wide as my old stirrup irons! And my entire position felt so much better (and looked much better in the mirrors too) because my lower leg was a lot more secure. I've also found that the grated diamond tread of the base gives you a huge amount of grip. I hardly ever lose my stirrups, but there isn't a ride where I don't readjust the stirrup until I feel comfortable again but with the Jins I haven't had to do this once.

If you can afford the hefty price tag or ask for Jins as a present, I would 100% recommend them! I'm definitely going to be keeping an eye out for any second hand pairs that are on Facebook as I'd love to get another pair for my other saddle.


Monday Motivation: Olympics edition

Anyone else become utterly hooked on the Olympics? I have! So much so that I've tried to plan my days and riding times so that I wouldn't miss watching the most important tests. The eventing dressage was really lovely to watch, I was so impressed with so many of the rides especially our Finnish rider Elmo Jankari with his mare Duchess Desiree. A beautifully ridden test, shame about the slightly excited flying changes that DD decided to throw! I did end up trying to ride some of the movements that were in the test the next day on Vallu with varying degrees of success - but it definitely gave me a good old kick up the behind to start doing some more advanced work :)

 And goodness me, the cross country course was incredibly scary to watch, I'm glad Elmo and DD made it home safe and sound. But, what I'm looking most forward to obviously is the dressage! Starting on Wednesday, we have two days of the Grand Prix followed by the Grand Prix Special on Friday and finally the Kür on the following Monday. My brother is at Rio currently as a trainer so we're getting all these cool updates from him, and most riders there are being incredibly active on social media (Twitter and Facebook for sure, Instagram for some too!) so it's really easy to keep up to date with what is going there #JointheJourney #TwoHearts #equestriansports #Rio2016
Finnish times
(And most annoyingly my scheduled post didn't work for some reason and this didn't actually publish on Monday which is why I've had to manually release this on Tuesday morning when I realised what had happened!)


10 Questions for August

From the best that is Viva Carlos, of course! :)

1. What is your biggest source of caffeine that gets you through the day? (drink, not just brand): 
Coffee! Lots and lots and lots of coffee. Did you know that Finnish people have the highest consumption of coffee in the world, at 12 kilos per person per year!?

2. Do you honestly think your trainer is the best trainer for you?:
I don't currently have a trainer, but my trainers whilst I was in England Andrew Fletcher and Lili Brooksby Dalby were both equally fantastic and I couldn't have asked for better trainers! Both were incredibly motivating, talented at picking up my faults yet even more talented at helping me fix them and I loved every lesson.
When your trainer makes your horse look like this!
3. One token of advice a fellow rider/trainer/horse person told you that you still remember to this day.
Your riding position is the shape of a box and you shouldn't stray outside of that box.

4. If riding meant costing your family so much money that they’d be basically on poverty line, or making your family terribly unhappy (if they were not supportive or understanding, etc.) would you still do it?
No. As much as I would hate to give up horses and riding, I would if it would make my family happier. Fortunately horses make my family happy and everyone is very understanding about how horses and competitions come first, the rest later.
5. (Girls) would you ride while pregnant?: 
NO BABIES YET!! (for a while yet at least!) I think it would depend on the horse and how many times I'd fallen off. I would ride both Basse and Vallu as late as possible because I trust them both, but a youngster maybe not?

6. How do you tell when a horse likes someone/has bonded with you or someone else?:
I think it's very specific per horse as they are all so different, but with Basse I knew we had bonded when he decided not to kill me on the gallop track when he was 5 years old, and with Vallu it was when I got told by several friends that he appeared really unhappy whilst I went home to visit family! 

7. Are horses capable of loving, in your opinion?:
Yes I think so.
Public displays of affection 
8. If you could have one horse from your past come back for 5 minutes, who would it be, why, and what would you do with them in those 5 minutes?:
I'd LOVE to have my pony back for even just those 5 minutes and go gallop with him across the fields. I miss how fast that pony was and how he would gallop until he was done and there was no stopping him!

9. Should a trainer also be a friend, or should it be a student/teacher relationship?:
I've had both, and I've always been more comfortable when the trainer has been a friend or at least a closer acquaintance than just a stranger. When the trainer is a friend I've found it a lot easier asking for advice and for help and not feeling like a total loser when I didn't understand something the first time. 

10. One piece of advice/training you were given by a trainer or mentor that you look back on now and view it as incorrect?:
A physio had once told my trainer and parents that Basse should be pts as soon as possible because his back muscles are so sore and that he would never be able to carry a person, be ridden or have a happy normal life due to his slight kissing spine... Safe to say that Basse's back has improved, he's been happy and healthy and we never saw this physio ever again!


Too optimistic

It appears that in my last post about Basse that I had been too optimistic. A month later at our following check up, theres been no change and at worst there's possibly been further damage to the area :( Even though he is walking 100% sound and doesn't look like he's in any pain what so ever in walk, in trot he's still lame even though he's been off work since February!  
It is disheartening and worrying that he's showing no signs of improvement. The vet advised us to give him until winter arrives (weak ligament and ice and snow is very risky) and then decide to what would be best for him. I wish there was a miracle drug to cure him and make him better :( Unlike in England where we could just retire him in a field, the winter's in Finland are so tough on the horses' legs and there is no field turn out during the winter that it's just not possible. 

My poor boy :(