Riding exercise of the month: serpentines and figure of 8s

 I tend to have a main exercise that I focus on every month and for the most of July I've been using serpentines and figure of eights with both boys as the first exercise after my warm ups.  I've found that having some sort of a plan/goal before going riding has been really helpful now that I've been riding on my own and I've not had any lessons for a month as everyone is on holiday! πŸ‘πŸ» It's been a great way of checking what mood they're in when they come out for work - if the serpentines go well straight away then I know I can ask for a lot more from them than if I struggle to get them on the bit and flexing correctly on tenth attempt! I've included both serpentines and figure of 8s as 'one' exercise because I think they are quite similar and I've alternated between them or then used both of them.


Rose plaiting guide

If you follow me on Instagram or the blog's Facebook page, you'll have seen this photo before a couple of weeks ago when I was helping out at a family friend's wedding photoshoot. It was SO much fun, I really enjoy being a groom and making the horse look perfect - I think the perfectionist side of me was in full force that day! πŸ‘°πŸΌπŸ’πŸŒΈ
The final look!
Using real roses worked the best with doing dutch braid style plaits and then sewing AND using rubber bands to secure the roses. Anyone looking for a good dutch braid plaiting guide should read this one by Austen from Guinea For A Guinness! This guide was the one that gave me the confidence to try out the fluffy dutch style instead of my normal button plaits.


Sunset ride

I've had a gorgeous few days off from social media and I have bloody loved it. I have been spending far too much time on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and twitter for the couple of months that I felt like I was getting some form of brain fog/burnout last weekend. It took me an entire day to just answer questions for an exciting 'thing' coming out in early September and after that I couldn't even think of anything to write. I tried opening blogger but I just stared at my laptop, I have 5 different posts in my drafts folder and an entire page worth of notes in my notebook full of ideas and plans, but I couldn't actually write a simple tweet or share a photo on Instagram - I was experiencing my first bout of social media burnout. Something that I LOVE had become totally emotionally exhausting so I took a few days to just ride and enjoy my horses, have family days out and lunch with friends and help my mum with going through my grandpa's war time medals. 

I know this isn't the best picture but what I love about this one is that Vallu's neck is soft and round and his mouth isn't open, my reins are short and my lower leg looks normal!


Trends to watch out for: Eskadron Platinum 2017 collection

Ta-daaaaaa, Eskadron's 2017 Platinum collection has arrived and ooh is it pretty! I do think this might  just be my favourite Platinum collection so far as I really like every single one of the colours, which is actually quite rare for me  ✨
Eskadron started doing the Platinum collection in 2012 and so far I've had sets from this collection in 2013, 2014 and 2016 so you can tell that this is a firm favourite of mine! Although Eskadron have always stuck to the more 'classy' colours of black, navy, grey/silver and brown with the Platinum collections, in the 2016 collection they were brave enough to bring a new brighter colour to the table (which was the coral) so I knew we were in for a treat with the 2017 collection too.


Rocking E Cowgirl 10 questions July blog hop

Rocking E Cowgirl returns with another great set of questions for the second blog hop! 
1. If you could trail ride anywhere this summer, where would you go?
TO THE BEACH! 🌴🌊 I have always dreamed of taking my boys to the beach and riding in the sea ever since we had a family holiday in Ireland when I was 12 and I got to ride one of the ponies at the beach. We also rode up a small mountain/hill but that was not fun for me! I can just imagine Basse stumbling and us all falling down the side of it.

2. Tell me your all-time favorite joke.
Well this is not a joke, instead it's a funny line from one of the Blackadder episodes: "I think I'll write my tombstone 'here lies Edmund Blackadder, and he's bloody annoyed" simply because I've said this so many times throughout my life when I've been pissed off but everyone has always just laughed which has now made it into my favourite joke-y line to say, probably because I grew up watching all of the Blackadder episodes!


Ignore the haters

Inspired by Confessions of an Average Amateur Eventer on Facebook, I decided that I needed to have another slightly ranty blog post about bullying and jealousy, simply because what these bullies are doing has actually made me see red. I CANNOT understand why someone would set up an actual group on Facebook, made purely to bitch about certain #horsebloggers and apparently entire groups were "set up specifically just to discuss (negatively, always) peoples pages, their journey and the way they write." No. Just no. To the haters: learn to act like a normal decent human being and for goodness sake if you have nothing nice to say, don't say anything! Keep your mouth shut and don't follow that page/blog if you don't like the person. I absolutely despise people who are bullies, so to anyone who is being bullied right now just keep going, keep riding and competing and show those haters that you are SO much better than them. Most likely their comments will be to do with jealousy that you are doing better than them, that you are working harder than them and achieving more things with your life. You have been noticed because you've worked your ass off and they haven't ✌🏻


Those damn tempi flying changes!

Ever since my last lesson with Ville, I've been racking my brain trying to find a way in which I can improve the way that I ride the tempi flying changes. Vallu has no problem doing a single flying change or the tempi changes, but his limit is three 1 tempis. I can ride the 3s and 2s no problem, but flying changes every 4th stride? Yeah no those are guaranteed for me to fluff them up somehow πŸ™„ THIS IS SO ANNOYING... I find it incredibly easy to ride the 3s and 2s, but somehow the rhythm of the 4s just gets to me and I start doing 'something' which causes Vallu to either change late behind, do really short/small changes or then change on fifth stride.
Then after a bit of reading on the good old inter web I found this AWESOME article on Dressage Today from 1997 and this quote from Uwe Mechlem made everything go so much better: "impulsion must be maintained during the change. If the horse makes short changes, the rider must think of extending the gait—going more forward—making them out of medium canter." In the 2s and 3s I ride a lot more forwards because I know if he slows down I won't get clean flying changes, but during the 4s I stop riding him as much, leading to over collection and a very short canter = very short changes = not clean 4 tempis. 


My favourite new breeches - Pikeur Lucinda Grip

Ever since I started riding at a young age, I've been using Pikeur breeches simply because they are known to last for years. To this day, they are still my favourite brand of breeches and even though over the last couple of years I have been experiment with different brands, I always go back to Pikeur.  This time, I've bought the Pikeur Lucinda Grip breeches in the colour night blue - you can never go wrong with navy! πŸ’™
Although they are more expensive than most other brands, I LOVE THEM. The material is great, they last and they look good. If you're anything like me, you'll spend the majority of your non-work time in breeches, so they need to be comfortable. Although these are quite plain compared to my Pikeur Piana breeches, I think they look really smart. I actually quite like the logo on the side, I know it annoys some people but for me it breaks the side up nicely!


HKM glitter over reach boots

HKM's hot news for the summer was the fact that they were bringing out these new glittery colours to expand their range of over reach boots !🌟I can assure you I was over the moon when I saw on Facebook a blurry video of their new glitter range sometime in February 2017. Gosh these are SO pretty, so of course I ordered some πŸ’ΈπŸ’ΈπŸ’Έ (I am well aware that some people will hate these, hahaa!) I ordered the black glitter boots but there are others colours (bronze, turquoise and gold) which are now on their website if you want to go have a look. 


Practise creates confidence and confidence empowers you!

I've recently been talking to several friends about the importance of confidence and positivity when you are around your horses and when riding, and it's inspired me to go on a bit of a positivity rant about this. This is a topic that is VERY close to my heart as I have been through a big learning curve during my time owning and riding Vallu and I wanted to spread a little bit of a confident/optimistic vibe out into the internet horsey land.
We all have weaknesses as riders and horse owners - I'm an over worrier and a perfectionist which you can quite easily see in my original riding style. I don't want to over do the horses in case they hurt their legs so I give them lots of walk breaks (some would argue too many walk breaks!) but then on the flip side I over ride with my hand, seat and leg aids and try to over compensate in my quest to become the most perfect rider. It has taken several years (and tbh I am still working on this and more than likely always will be) to start to zone and block out everything when I'm riding, to be a lot more quiet as a rider and focus on just the horse and I, nothing else. No 'normal' rider, e.g. an amateur like me, is going to be perfect so never judge yourself against professionals or those who seem to be perfect. I can guarantee that they will be struggling with something too.