Weekend birthday trip to England!

I'm so looking forward to retuning to England, even if it is only for 3 days! I'm going back to my old yard because Lili is hosting the FFM Fashion Show for Equine Market Watch. I'm going to help out at the event and to be a model ;) ahaha! But it's going to be so much fun and it's for such a good cause that I'm really grateful for my parents for buying me my flight to be able to go and have fun on the weekend before my 23rd birthday!

There are loads of amazing prizes to be had so even if you cannot attend, you could always buy some raffle tickets to be in with a chance to win! The last time I checked there were 52 prizes to be won. Raffle tickets are £2 each.

I'm also doing a lot of shopping from Fur Feather Meds (obviously...) #happybirthdaytomefromme and therefore am going over with an empty to suitcase that more than likely will be too full with everything that I am trying to get! Even the mothership has gone wild and decided to buy a Kingsland coat (drool...) and a burgundy Le Mieux set.

100% Euro-star set in the colour emerald that looks like the most amazing turquoisey colour that I have ever seen!

HV Polo training top to go with the RAF blue saddle pad and bandages
Vallu is also lucky as he's getting a new set of boots thanks to naughty Rama destroying the ones we had! I'm going to try the Le Mieux fluffy croco ones, they look so comfy and hopefully will last as well as my BR set did. I think I'm going to have the best dressed horses in Finland when I return ;)


Dressage training with a judge?!: what judges look for

Last week I was incredibly lucky to have a lesson with one of the best (if not the best best) judges in Finland. Tiina Karkkolainen is a 4* judge who has judged internationally and is constantly travelling around the world judging, which means that going for a lesson with her was such an amazing experience for me!
I was expecting to have to do some advanced level tests and practise test riding (as this is what several judges in the UK always offered to do) so when Tiina told me to go on a big circle in the middle of the arena and we started working on Vallu's paces and way of moving you could say I was a little shocked - in a good way! During this lesson I had so many light bulb moments that a 45 minute lesson felt like she had been teaching for over two hours. The main things we focused on were throughness and suppleness, rhythm and balance - all the things that judges look for in a test no matter what level. Simple things that every rider especially a dressage rider will have heard a million times, but this time they got engraved into my brain and way of riding so deeply that over a week later it's all I think about when riding!
I once went with Brooksby Dressage to a lesson with the great Jennie LC who then said to ride forward when they are spooky and this has stuck with me since then. It's worked really well with Vallu who shuts up and gets on with his work if you tell him to go forward when he's wanting to spook/has spooked. Tiina mentioned the same tactic for Vallu but it was more constantly riding forward not just when you think they are about to spook. I've focused so much on just kicking forwards when spooking but then at the same time have ridden far too conservatively and too much backwards to try to stop him spooking that I have totally forgotten about riding him forward ALL the time softly as a tactic to get him to not spook. How can a horse like Vallu have time to think about spooking when he's having to use all of his body and brain to work properly? And it really has made a massive difference in the way that Vallu has been to ride since then. Sure we have days when he's going at the speed of light and I have no breaks and I wonder what I'm doing, but then we have days when he's a 100% with me and it feels wonderful because he's not even considered spooking!
Through just riding a big circle in trot and canter (big trot and big canter always thinking forwards) with some leg yields in and out on the circle, Vallu changed his neck from tight and behind the vertical with a non existent contact to a totally soft neck and through the back in just ten minutes just from my quiet hands and getting him to be active behind! Sometimes it's so simple but just so hard to know what to do and to know what feeling to look for. I feel like sometimes I have no idea what I'm trying to achieve but for the last week every time that I have ridden I've been trying to get 'that' feeling again!

We are hopefully going to be going back at the end of next month for another lesson and I'm so excited to have another chance to train with her!


Improving the basics

With the possibility of several training sessions/lessons coming up in the next two months, I've been trying to improve the basic things (once again!). More suppleness, more softness and a straighter horse and rider. There's been a lot of inside leg to outside rein whilst riding a circle and then a square both in trot and canter. I've always said to people that I have helped that it's all about the shoulders, if the shoulders are even then the horse will be straighter but for the last few weeks it's all that I've been thinking about.

Sometimes we just need to take a step back and focus on something easy. I've really put all the fun advanced movements on the back burner and decided to focus on making everything just a little bit better and easier (for both of us!) Vallu has not forgotten any of the tricks, he'll still turn on a sixpence and do a canter pirouette no problem, but the quality of the canter is now better than before because he's straighter and more balanced.

Squares and riding on the three quarter line have been fantastic exercises in improving the way Vallu moves. With these, both the trot and canter look better as I can focus on the quality of the movement instead of praying to the gods that we could go in a straight line. It's so much easier to ride a horse that is balanced and straight than one that is constantly falling out of his shoulder or leaning on either rein!

This photo! :)
And what a difference this has made! Although I shouldn't be surprised, I'm really pleased to see how much straighter Vallu is and how much easier it is to ride a diagonal across the arena when I just have to ride the movement rather than trying to get Vallu to go straight instead of a wobbly line. Seeing the difference in videos and pictures has made me really happy :) There's always room for improvement and we are not perfect, but it's nice to be able to see how you've improved in a few weeks.


Handy Cures' Super Pulsed Low Level Laser

We've been using the Handy Cures' Laser for over a month now and I've been really impressed with how it seems to be helping every single one of our horses. I've been using it a lot on Basse in an attempt to try to help his injury heal at least a little bit more so that when we have the next scan we could have better results. 
For those who don't know, Handy-Cure is a small and portable device that is based on Quantum Medicine technology which combines four different energy sources, each is known for its therapeutic effect. The combination of low-level pulse laser radiation, infrared radiation, visible red light, and static magnetic fields are meant to provide therapeutic effect. It's designed to relieve pain and treat wide range of symptoms including acute and chronic pains, improving blood circulation and reduce inflammation. 

The most visible results so far have been when there's been a little bit of visible swelling which has disappeared after 20 minutes of the laser! Mum has even used it on her own foot and she says that after using it twice her foot feels less painful and I can see that it's less swollen. We've both used it on the horses' backs too, when the muscles on the back have felt really tight and painful the day after using the laser their backs' have felt much better and a lot more normal.
They are quite(!!) expensive, but after our physio recommended one as she uses on most of the horses that she treats, I think it has been totally worth the money especially with it being used on a daily basis and being beneficial to every horse. If anyone is considering investing in a laser, I would really recommend this one!


Hello September!

Ahh don't you just LOVE autumn?! I adore the autumn season as I prefer the slightly cooler weathers, the amazing colours that the season brings with it and the nights drawing in slightly earlier! ♥︎
 The arrival of September also meant the end of my 3 month long holiday and the start of my master's degree at the University of Helsinki! Having survived the first week of orientations, I'm now actually looking forward to getting on with my studies. It's so very different from Nottingham but I think it might end up being even better! My ability to fit studying for a master's degree and riding two horses and not dying from lack of sleep is still not guaranteed, but I'm hoping that once everything settles down into the weekly routine it will get a lot easier. 
And finally since my last blog post about our lesson with Ville, I'm so pleased to have finally gotten my riding mojo back with Vallu! Every time that I have ridden him since falling off I've felt better and more confident but until yesterday there hadn't been that feeling of trust and connection. We'd had good rides, bad rides and fun rides (with lots of pole work!) but I hadn't felt 100% back to normal. I don't know if my brain just needed a few weeks to get back to normal or I needed a certain amount of spooks that I managed to control and not fall off so I that I could get my self confidence back, but it felt SO good to finally have the ability to ride normally - we even managed our first set of  three tempis since I don't know when maybe before Christmas?! 

We have a couple of clinics and lessons lined up for the next two months which I'm really looking forward to, it will be nice to get Vallu out and about so that it becomes less daunting for me in case we possibly manage to make it to a few competitions next season!