Wednesday, 25 April 2018 10:51

Does Your Horse Have A Best Friend?

It is not one of my strengths to keep friendships going. I actually suck. That might be due to the fact that I like spending time on my own. Enjoying the amenities of online shopping, I would not even have to leave the house if there was no Hafl making sure that I get out from time to time (sure, going to work is a must, too).

When Waliento arrived at our barn in late 2017, I had no idea that he would become what I would call Hafl's best friend. During winter, they spent their winter turnout together and watching them play showed that they really like each other. Whenever they can, they play and tease each other, run around, squeak and bolt. Hafl is like an older brother for Waliento now, teaching him not to panic when on a trail ride, showing him how to behave while cantering in the great wide open, making sure he is not shitting his pants when we put obviously dangerous objects into the arena. Hafl even seems calmer than ever before just like he is thinking: need to be brave, little brother is watching.

back of two horses heads on road with fencing and shadows in sunshine


two ponies greeting each other in indoor menage

I guess Hafl had best friends before. It all started with my other horse back in 2009, a guy he really liked. After selling him and moving for the second time, he met Wax, a friend's horse and together they explored the world and even made it to the sea. After we parted and moved to other barns, Hafl did not seem to have a particular horse he liked until Waliento showed up.

dark bay horse on the slope of a snowy field with haflinger horse

Hafl and PE, back in 2010


two horses wearing blue rugs greeting in snowy field

 It is really fun to see such a relationship even though sometimes they take it a bit too far. Turnout season is right ahead so I am already wondering whether the grass will be more important than playing with this friend.

two horseback riders laughing and holding hands wearing a red jacket cantering on haflinger ponies in snow

Haffie best friends

Does your hose have a best friend?


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Inspired by this week's videos of animals drinking in a zoo, we made our very own: Hafl drinks from a water bucket video. And Hafl is too sweet - see it for yourself:

Dressage Hafl


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Tuesday, 25 April 2017 10:03

A Beginner's Guide To Horse Riding

One of the best hobbies or sports to enjoy (and that I am obviously a big fan of) is horse riding. Not only do you get to enjoy social time and bond with your horse, but you get to enjoy time outdoors and also get pretty strong and fit in the process. It can help to grow your confidence, as well as help you to develop new skills, self-discipline, and perhaps even carve out a career path for you. So if you think that horse riding might be for you, read on.

Why Get Into Horse Riding?

Some of the reasons why have been outlined above; it is fun, social, active, and gets you outdoors. Horse riding is a really unique activity. It can be a really beneficial sport both physically (mucking out horses is hard work, as well as riding them), and mentally. The bond you can have with a horse or pony is unlike any other. Getting out in nature can help with mindfulness, as well as relaxation. So can be good for anxiety sufferers and those with depression.

Who Is Horse Riding Aimed At?

The wonderful thing about horse riding is that it is suitable for a whole different variety of people. You can start as a young child, or take it up as an adult. You might be seeking to have a relaxing hobby, or prefer to have a hobby that taps into your adrenaline junkie nature. All of these things can be said of horse riding; how much you do will just depend on you.

Isn’t Horse Riding Expensive?

If you want to get serious with horse riding, then it can prove a little pricey if you are thinking of getting your own horse, or looking at steel building prices to house your horse or pony in your own stables. But there are many different options, depending on how involved you want to be. Group lessons at an equestrian centre are the most affordable option. Then if you become passionate about it, it does become a bit of a lifestyle change. So the cost doesn’t seem high as you are always at the stables or with the horses.

How Much of a Workout Do You Get?

If you’re looking at horse riding as a pretty relaxing way to get outdoors, then you do need to bear in mind that horse does not do all of the work! You do get a pretty good workout out horse riding. The main areas it works are your legs, thighs, abdominals and glutes. It does really get your heart racing, though. So if you think you need to lift weights to workout; you’d be wrong.

How Easy Is It To Go Pro?

There are a lot of competitions for all horse riders. So whatever level you are at, there will be competitions for you to enter. Then you can see how things go from there. If you take a real shine to it, then it would be fairly straightforward to become a professional (along with lots of hard work and determination, of course).

Re-published with kind permission from Dressage Hafl|Blog

Published in Trot On Blogs say I love you... Really?!

I mean what if Hafl could call me? You have to know, with my new job I am travelling a lot. I posted before that the haflsitters are taking care of him very often lately. So I was wondering what if Hafl would tell me if he could call me?

When I went to Mobile World Congress in Barcelona earlier last month, I met a Romanian couple and they told me on day 1, that their two girls kept calling them over and over again. On day 2, they told me that they stopped calling as they obviously realised that they were in a pretty good situation with both of their parents thousands of kilometres away...

I guess Hafl would do pretty much the same. And he would probably have and do the following:

1. Hafl would for sure use an Apple iPhone. Apple. What else?!

2. Hafl would call to say: Hay girl...

3. Hafl would not use facetime as he would not brush his mane and tail for days.

Bad hair, don't care

4. Hafl would text me that I need to bring more treats.

I am desperate for treats, human!

5. Hafl's most used smiley would be the roll eyes.

Shaking your head in disgust

I guess it is good that horses have no phones...but maybe I could install a camera to see my boy every time I am away... <3 he="" like="" not="" p="" sure="" that="" though="" whether="" would="">...

Re-published with kind permission from Dressage Hafl|Blog





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I have a new job and it is definitely the one that I wanted to do for years.

Still, as we are acting like a start-up company, right now it takes a little more time than usual and combined with travelling, I lack a little bit of time for Hafl. And I feel miserable about it.

Conditions in the middle of snow melt do not allow for huge turnout sessions and so he keeps getting super bored when I cannot show up due to longer days at work or being somewhere else. It was some days ago, I felt that I had to do it all and I definitely didn't want to ask for help, but I realized that there are times where you simply have to ask for help. It is okay to say that you cannot make it. It is okay that you are busy doing other things. It is okay to let others help you in taking care of your horse. You will still feel miserable, you will still feel guilty, you will still feel like a bad horse mom.

After my trainer rode him...

But asking for help is definitely the way to go. So I summoned up all my courage and asked my trainer to ride him once when I am away and identified to more Haflsitters for lunging, walks in the park and hacking.

It feels strange to hand over responsibility in this way, and the lists and photos I sent them to tell them how life with Hafl works definitely top million dollar machine manuals, but I wanted to make sure that nothing can go wrong. But honestly, they are all horse people, they know how to handle a little Hafl. And they won't do him any harm and he will love to see some other people from time to time. With the right amount of carrots, he will definitely be convinced that I am not a bad horse mom. That I truly care and only want the best for him. And luckily, I have found the best Haflsitters that can be. I am so grateful that they immediately agreed on helping and after reading all the instructions carefully and calling me in case they are not sure along with sending hundreds of pics to emphasise that he is still alive, I am sure that this is a viable solution.

Thanks to my Haflsitters, Hafl and I are extremely thankful for your help!

Today, a little late night walkie talkie

And a nice after rolling selfie...

Re-published with kind permission from Dressage Hafl|Blog




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This show season is special. Usually, shows start in March or April, but this year we decided to start the season off at a winter show. And with winter we mean a winter we haven't seen for 30 years. It is freaking cold and it was windy as well close to Vienna (like almost all the time as there are no mountains). It was not a lot of snow but it was freezing at night giving the stable management a hard time trying to keep the water lines from freezing.

The show took place at Magna Racino, not only a racing circuit but also home to several hundred horses. Several hundred fixed stalls make it a very comfy show facility where you do not have to carry water buckets around or have to prevent rain dripping into your box.

Hardly any stable in Austria has two arenas which is the main reason we normally do not have shows in winter. But this facility has all in all 4! No wonder that world's number 16, Jessica von Bredow-Werndl decided to come, too. Soon I realised that we were going to compete against her as well as she, her brother, as well as some of her stable riders brought several horses and entered different classes. Pretty obviously, she won most of her classes and I was just happy to be able to see her in the warm up and ride next to her. Sometimes I could even hear her helping her riders in the warm up and seeing how they work. What a great experience.

Talking about our performance, we saw some improvement in overall suppleness and roundness. Of course, there were still too many mistakes but we could improve every day. Now we have almost two months before the next show to go and I really hope that we see higher temperatures such that we can go outside and train in the big arena as I realised that I need more test training now. Here are many many pics of this special show:

Pre-show tack cleaning madness

The indoor Thursday night after arrival

I would love to have a truck like this

Enough of space to go for walks

Hafl, again the horse with the most equipment

Morning walks

Ready to show

At least, it was warm in there

Late night ride on Friday, close to Midnight

Hafl doing some yoga stretches after his test while relaxing in his magnet therapy boots

Another view of the outdoor arena

Can I eat that?!

Well, that is a lot of paddocks

The food was good, too

One of the driveways

Dressage diva dream breakfast





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2017 is going to be a totally different year. I know, I know, everybody says that in the beginning of a new year. It seems like that New Year's Eve is a new beginning, a chance to stop and reload. So no wonder that many people use these days to set up lists of New Year's resolutions - just to realise shortly that they never happen.

This year is different for me as there are no resolutions. I have made some decisions last year and started to work on my new plans already - so I did not need 1st of January to start a new chapter in my life. The only thing that I need to do now is to stick to my plans. Yes, there are plans, there are goals and all of them are well on their way already on January 9.

The most important thing is not to have a long list of resolutions, goals or whatever at the beginning of the year, but to actually DO it! No matter what it is, go out there and do it!

I was complaining about my weight and fitness for ages and just last quarter I started to workout in the gym. It was tough in the beginning but now I already feel bad when I cannot make it to the gym. I have lost weight already and plan to do some more, I feel better than ever before, my skin is glowing. I changed my diet, I take more care about myself. All that is necessary to reach my ultimate goal: to become a better rider.

The only thing that will stay the same like in all the years before: I am trying to do more of what makes me happy!


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Tuesday, 15 November 2016 12:59

My Happy Place

happy place

NOUN North American
(With possessive adjective) a place which a person associates with happiness, visualized as a means of reducing stress, calming down, etc.; (hence) a happy state of mind.

1990s ; earliest use found in The Ottawa Citizen. Source: Oxford Dictionary

Not only when the days are getting shorter the barn is my happy place. Every day after work I can go there to come down, to charge my batteries, to simply be there and think of something else than work, money, life. The barn seems to be like a whole different world, where only horsey people meet to do only horsey talking. Most memories I have regarding barns are positive ones. Sure, sometimes bad things happen there, too. But you will never feel depressed there. Not only you can do what you love (e.g. horseback riding), there is also somebody waiting for you.

Last week, when I was on holiday, I missed to go to the barn. I wasn't unhappy, of course, holidays are great and doing a little sightseeing is a treat. But coming back always feels like coming home. I am lucky enough to have Hafl in a barn that is more than gorgeous and the common rooms are as comfy as my apartment. So I really enjoy to be there not only to have great training sessions but also to just hang around and chat, watch Hafl graze, do some barn chores or whatever I feel like doing.

Happy places come in all sizes and colors and you can have more than one. According to professor of psychology Christopher Peterson happy places are easily accessible, neutral and without penalty. What's more, he emphasizes that happy places are always contributing to the meaning of our lives.

I am pretty sure that everybody has his happy place, but just in case, here are five things you need to do to find yours:

Recall places you’ve been where you appreciated the sounds.

Summon the places where you’ve enjoyed the imagery.

Choose a place where you can experience the elements that contribute to your happiness.

Remember where you were when you experienced deep contentment and meaning.

Stay open-minded.

Re-published with kind permission from Dressage Hafl|Blog

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...but most of all, surround yourself with those who see the greatness within you, even when you don’t see it yourself. Edmund Lee.

Two weeks ago, I probably made a  life changing decision. I forced myself to sign up for the gym. You are right, I also thought that hell would freeze or chocolate would be calorie neutral before that would ever ever happen. And still, I went there, told the guy that I actually do not want to be there but that I have to. And so it started. Since then, I kept a real positive attitude towards going to the gym. As I am working towards fourth level, I feel the urge to do more, to support Hafl in whatever movement. I need to lose weight, I need to grow stronger. My core needs to be stronger to keep my hands softer, the excess pounds need to go.

I could run, I could ride my bike. Honestly, I only ride my bike when I do some breakfast grocery shopping on Sundays. And it is not too late. Or too early. And it is not too hot, but also not too cold. And I need to feel like going. Actually, it happened only THREE times this year so far. Nothing solid to build my fitness on I guess.

I tried running. Once. Ok, twice in the last two years. Last year, with barn mates. Once. And this year, alone. I saw people looking at me and I felt that they felt sorry. Actually, I did not only run, I walked and run. I walked more than I run.

So what to do? Doing more yoga and stretching at home did work to a certain extent. But then I felt alone in my struggle to increase fitness, lose weight and become a better rider. The only choice and thing left was the gym. Actually, I probably would have kept emphasizing that I needed to do more without doing anything then.

One day a fortnight ago, my trainer said that she went to the osteopath and she told her to go back to yoga. And that is why she signed up for the gym. At this specific one, which is actually in the same village as our barn, you can do also courses like pilates and yoga. What's more, there are always trainers around that (if you want to or if they feel that you would a) simply kill yourself or b) never come back) help you. The good thing is, that there is a certain circle training which consists of strength and cardio training. All the weights and resistances are stored on a little personal chip card meaning you do not have to adjust anything just put in the card and go. And the trainers set up your training plan. I guess that helped me to get things started. This week, we will start split training where I will, in addition to the circle training, start with specific core training. My trainer obviously believes in me.

Last year, when I decided to move Hafl to my trainer's barn, was one of those crucial decisions that would change our future forever. While I was more or less at second level (sometimes more less than more more), we are now on a good way to a proper third and one day, fourth level.

Sure, the chip card at the gym and the good hay at the barn help a lot. But what is way more important is that I started to surround myself with the right people. People I can learn from, people who have goals, who are motivated, people who do. Of course, I was boarding at a barn where there were riders who showed before as well but most of them were eventers. Some of them were serious about riding, some were less serious. Some were happy with the level they were at, some strived for the next levels.

Today, I have aspiring Grand Prix riders around me, people who show regularly, people who win, who work hard in their daily business to afford this expensive hobby. They do whatever it takes to keep their horses healthy, they work together with vets, farriers, therapists to have happy athletes being able to perform at their best. They changed how I work with Hafl, even Hafl changed. He became much more self-confident, he is building up muscles and strengths better than ever before. He improves and so do I. My trainer constantly keeps an eye on us, the regular training pays off. I have learned so much in the last months and I keep on learning as there is always somebody around who is at least a level better than me. They inspire me, they lift me up, they support me. And they believe in me and share my dream of becoming a real dressage rider with me.

Dressage Hafl

Re-published with kind permission from Dressage Hafl|Blog

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Tuesday, 06 September 2016 15:21

5 Times Your Horse Has A Better Life Than You

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be YOUR horse? I mean, it might not be as good as being your CAT but still, there are seemingly hundreds of things that makes your horse's life better than yours. Here is a list of at least five of them.

1. Work

YOUR HORSE: You would work an hour a day. Maximum. You would do a little dressage, a little hacking, a little lunging. Your human would praise the slightest sign of good work. You would hear the words GOOD BOY hundreds of time and would feel great. And there it is again. Good boy. You have no idea what you have done right, you just put your left front on the ground. AAAAAND yes, that was worth a treat! YUM! More treats. And that was it. What a great job!

YOU: You work from 9 to 5. Or from 7 to 7. From Monday to Friday or even on the weekends. You are lucky if you have only one job such that you can afford a horse. You work your ass off. Loads and loads of work every day. How often does somebody praise you for being a good girl? You call it a good day when nobody shouted at you.

Who has such a beautiful place to work? Hafl has!

2. Spas and Treatments

YOUR HORSE: There is a daily spa routine consisting of a massage, your hair being combed, you get a little fly spray here, a little coat shine there. And mane spray. Your hooves get polished regularly and you get a good roll every day in the field. After work, you get your legs cooled and your sweat hosed off.

YOU: You do not even know how to spell the word SPA as you a) do not have the time or b) do not have the money to enjoy a weekend including all spa treatments like massage, manicure or pedicure. You are lucky when you manage to get the dirt off your fingers at night before going back to work the next day. You are lucky when you go out of your apartment and do not have horse hair or shavings on or IN your clothes. Manicure? Nail polish? You must be kidding! No matter what the beauty industry tells you there is no such thing as long lasting...

Who has regular full body peelings? Hafl has!

3. Food


YOUR HORSE: A calculated amount of grains split into three portions over the day decorated with some small pieces of carrots - not too small that they could get stuck, not too big such that you do not have to chew on them too much. A little amount of oil for a shinier coat, other supplements that help your joints or building your muscles. And hay. TONS of hay. The best hay that you can imagine! No mold, as little dust as possible. At least in the warm months, fresh grass, well looked after and handled with care such that you can enjoy it during the majority of the year. The hay is all organic, you can even call it handmade. A little warm mash when it is cold, not too warm, not too cold. Paradise!

YOU: As you spend another big portion of your income on horse feed, you are fine with eating cheap sandwiches, pasta and whatever comes in handy. Your microwave is your best friend, you hardly ever see the organic fruits and vegetable department in your local supermarket, let alone have you ever been in one of those gourmet temples. You eat whatever is at home - no matter if it smells strange - as long as it is not moving, you can still eat it! While you keep checking the small print on your horse's feed and know all the nutrient factors of every supplement, you do not even dare to look at the back of your convenience sandwich that might easily be older than yourself.

Who even gets a treat for his cute face? Hafl does!

4. Health Care


YOUR HORSE: A detailed vaccination plan, automatically scheduled farrier visits, nothing you would give a thought about. The dentist checks your teeth while the chiropractic finds that odd spot the osteopath could not find. A Reiki master passes the mike to a Kinesio tape specialist. Whenever you feel the slightest soupçon of discomfort, you just put on those tiniest wrinkles around your eyes and you can be sure that an armada of specialists will take care.

YOU: You visit the dentist only if your teeth fall out or fall apart (whatever comes first), you do not even remember when you last had your tick shot (even though you live in an endangered area). Regular check ups? Never heard of. You go see a doctor when your leg falls off - but only if you feel like the second one might do the same shortly.

Who has no reason to feel uncomfy? Hafl has!


5. Leisure Activities

YOUR HORSE: Majority of the day, you spend in the fields. You run around, you graze, you have a little chat with your friends. When you are in your stall with paddock, you can decide if you still want to chat with your neighbors or if you want to wait for the full board service. Your very own parlor maid makes sure that your stall is clean and you never have to think about barnwork. You sleep when you do not eat or do not want to talk to your neighbors.

YOU: Leisure activities? Like meeting friends? Sleeping in on weekends? Not since you have a horse (and/or decided to show). Friends either come to your barn or see pictures of you and your horse on Facebook and the rare time not spent with your horse and not being at work is split between trying to get your relatively cheap apartment (compared to your horse's square meter price)  rid of horse hair, hay flakes and shaving and wash your breeches, saddle pads and horse blankets such that you can use them the next day. Let alone that you then also need to wash your work clothes - always hoping that not too many horse hair, shavings and hay flakes did survive in the washing machine. As there is no full service for you, you do not only have to buy your own food, no, you also need to make sure that there are enough supplements and treats at the barn.

Who enjoys huge fields of best green grass? Hafl does!

And who gets a fly sheet such that flies can be easily ignored? Hafl does!

On top of that all, everybody who passes by your horse's stall tells your horse how sweet he is and many many people have treats for him. How often do people pass you by and tell you how sweet your are, cuddle your face and put treats in your mouth?! Okay, whenever that happens: RUN!

Who gets to hear that he is a great boy hundreds of times? Hafl does!

Dressage Hafl

Re-published with kind permission from Dressage Hafl|Blog

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