Friday, 23 August 2013

Skysie goes to school.......

This week there was a stage up at the stables which Ali wanted to do. As Polo was going up there anyway, we blagged a lift in the trailer for Sky to see how she'd get on in a new environment.

Rather well, as it turns out :-)

Here's what she did.....

That last one is the jeu d'éperviers, a bit like British Bulldog on horseback. She also did a bit of dressage, a bit of TREC, jumped the odd pole, went for a gallop, wasn't too happy about being shut in a box to be saddled and fell in love with Carole's Arab, Idaa.......and all without a bit.

She's come home now for a rest. Love her......

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Seraphina and some thoughts.......

Just got back from a couple of days away visiting Seraphina and her new owner, Sheila.

It was lovely to see Fina and Sheila's Camargue mare, Lucie, so settled together. Ali rode Fina in the rope headcollar for the first time in ages and needed a lesson from Sheila on how to do it properly first....

She needs to stop being so quick to reach for the reins and to think about using her bodyweight, seat and position to influence Fina more. Take away the bridle and the gaps in her "traditional" lessons at pony club start to emerge. With no bridle or bit, Ali needed to come up with other ways to hold Fina's attention and ask her to do what Ali asked rather than just going with her own ideas such as getting her head down for grass or going out the gate back to Lucie.

Sheila is an excellent teacher, very calm and considered. Ali of course responds better to other teachers than her annoying old mother. But being Ali, she is often away with the fairies, and this lack of intent is of course picked up by the pony and results in hesitancy, as you can see from this video clip:

Once Ali decided to pop her over a little jump and therefore had a clear aim in mind, things went a lot better (although being Fina, she ran out at first and Ali had to rethink her strategy, which she did admirably)

We need to do the same with Sky at home I think, as well as more groundwork, something else that doesn't feature much in lessons at the club.

The next morning we went for a lovely walk in the woods, Sheila has some excellent hacking round and about. I got to lead Lucie some of the time and it was really interesting dealing with an unknown horse who spent a fair amount of time testing me to see what she could get away with and whether I was up to the job of being in charge!

Ali went off for the odd hooley or two and found a handy fallen tree to jump and thoroughly enjoyed herself :-)

Miss that little yellow pone, but really glad she's got a fab new home :-)

More about that on Sheila's blog here

Monday, 12 August 2013

A post actually about my horses......with a teeny tiny rant

The girls were full of beans this morning, Ali rode Sky in the "school" (or front section of the field as it's more accurately known) intending to try a run though of a dressage test (the Club 3 one she might do at next month's comp although it won't be on Sky as it has to be in sitting trot - why, FFE? Why?  ) just doing it all at the walk to practise bending and circles.

But Sky was a bit full of beans and shot off at the slightest touch of her leg so we let her get it out of her system and Tari joined in too and surprised me with some moves, bit of extended trot and even a flying change at one point chasing the dog!

After a while we got her to concentrate a bit more, with Tari still in tow for most of it....!

Must print off some arena letters though, I can't get my head round the 60 x 20 ones at all, why can't they do simple tests here with just the 40 x 20 ones I can remember? All King Edward's Horses Can Make Big Fences, easy. But fitting in those extra S, V, P, and the other one I can't even remember off the top of my head? Impossible! Who came up with such a random system of letters anyway? A quick Google reveals that no one really knows for sure, although according to this blog post we can probably blame the Germans.

I mean, look at this:

Horrible. Oh, the extra letter is R that I couldn't remember, which means I suppose you could remember those as RSVP but that still means you have two sets of acronyms/mnemonics or whatever. And as for the middle letters, well, I can usually remember where x is and that's about all......

Oops, this appears to have turned into another little rant. Hey ho......

Reckon this would be more like it though ;-)

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Beasts of burden

So I have just finished reading Joe Camp's book, Soul of a Horse. A very interesting read, all about how Joe and his wife first started sharing their life with some horses. This bit really made me think:

"Dr Matt was right when he said that until recently horses were pretty much just beasts of burden. But I believe many of them still are. Just different burdens. Instead of pulling a plow or wagon, they're jumping fences. Or racing. Or doing heavy-handed dressage ballets."

(He's American, so we'll forgive him for not being able to spell plough.)

Last year I remember seeing this promotional video for the Hickstead jumping on Sky. Lots of slow motion footage of the jumping. And lots of big bits, tight reins, heavy studs and leatherwork. Anybody else think these horses do not look happy?

Some of the dressage horses I saw at London 2012 certainly didn't either.

As for racing, starting a ridden career at two is, in my humble opinion, not good for any horse. I also don't like the way most racehorses are kept, little turnout, lots of concentrated feed, rugs, shoes, all the things we do to horses for our convenience, these things certainly aren't convenient for them. A huge percentage of them develop ulcers from the stress of their unnatural lifestyle, hardly surprising is it?

So why does all this happen? Same reason we've been using the horse as a beast of burden for thousands of years, because it suits us and because it makes us money.

But this abuse of the horse's trusting, compliant nature doesn't just go on at the high end of competition. Every time I go to a show here I see unhappy horses and heavy-handed riders. Kids wearing spurs. Ponies in gag bits. Tight nosebands. The infernal de Gogue. Horses getting hit because they didn't understand what the rider wanted of them. The list goes on.......

You don't have to take my word for it. Here are some pics I have taken in the last year or so - and these are just some of people I don't know, plenty of others I could include but this blog gets me into enough trouble as it is ;-)

The human race doesn't have much to be proud of really, does it?