Monday, 27 November 2017 10:37

Keep Dreaming

When your dreams come true, sometimes they don’t look quite like you imagined. Years of yearning can mean that reality can be a little harsh, and the inevitable complications that come all too often with horses can be challenging. I spent twenty years learning to ride on riding school horses and having other people’s horses on loan, but during that time I dreamed of a horse to call my own. It wasn’t until two years ago that I was finally able to buy Archie, but it wasn’t all smooth sailing…

In the early days Archie was a scrawny 5 year old who was full of potential but also full of quirks. He refused to lead, regularly planting himself on the yard and steadfastly refusing to move. The embarrassing sweaty argument that ensued was miserable for all involved and often meant it could take ten minutes to walk the twenty metres to the arena.
A dirty, scrawny but beautifully dappled 5 year old Archie once we finally made it to the arena!

A grey who is scared of water sounds like a terrible idea right? Indeed it was! He was petrified of the stuff, and being the worst colour of all a bath could easily take up to two hours with a sponge and endless reassurance. He was also scared of the hose and spray (spray bottles being an issue we still haven’t quite cracked!) so washing off legs and summer rinse downs were challenging.

Being young and fairly inexperienced I knew I had work to do on his schooling, and our first challenge was the  left canter lead which Archie didn’t know existed. He was always  more balanced on the right and he would chose it every time no matter how many different ways I asked. I was also stronger on my right side which made everything more tricky, and it took weeks of work to get him to even think about cantering comfortably on the left.

Apart from a fear of spray bottles most of theses quirks have now been ironed out. We have had a whole host more problems since then but we have worked on our differences and we understand each other better. A lot of hard work and even more love has meant that Archie has become the horse of my dreams; my horse of a lifetime. I’m lucky because I know it doesn’t always work out that way. When I first realised this dream it didn’t look quite like I expected it to, but two years on it is everything I imagined it could be. Keep dreaming, and one day your dreams will come true!
 
 

Re-published by kind permission of Journey of an Amateur Eventer|Blog

 
 
Published in Trot On Blogs
Wednesday, 11 October 2017 11:44

Simply Easy

Riding horses. In theory it's so simple. Easy some might say.

We've all heard the rage inducing comment from non-horse riders;

"Don't you just sit there?"

Someone once likened it to buying a lottery ticket, just pick the right numbers and you'll win. Sounds effortlessly easy, however we know it's anything but.

Breaking down a problem that feels complicated when you're trying to fit all the parts together is a technique that good trainers use. It allows you to build back up when you're on your own, which helps to create an independent focused rider. There's no point having endless lessons if you can't do the job when your trainer isn't on the ground with you.

In a recent lesson, this is how jumping was broken down for me. There are three essential elements that you need as your building blocks;

1. Be straight
2. Be in balance

3. Be energetic

These three things, which appear to be no trouble at all on paper, in reality take focus, commitment and a lot of energy to achieve!

Whilst Archie is learning to change his way of going and work in a more balanced uphill canter, I am having to work harder. When he understands what I'm asking I hope that he will be more responsive to my aids, allowing me to be the one working a little less hard. At least that's my goal! But it's a conversation that we are having, where often I need to have little more authority, following our motto of "Be More Yorkshire". 

Flying round the cross country is exhilarating and exciting but it can be easy to make the mistake of flying flat out between fences and then asking for focus and attention when the fence is approaching. This is a mistake many of us amateurs make, as we compete and train much less frequently, but one that can be easily rectified. 

In reponse to the earlier question which is often asked, I find the best answer is to put those people on a horse. They soon change their tune...!
 
 
Re-published by kind permission of Journey of an Amateur Eventer|Blog
Published in Trot On Blogs
Thursday, 31 August 2017 17:30

To Give Up Or To Give It One More Shot?

With every challenge or obstacle in life, there is always the underlying question as to whether you should give up or give it one more shot when times get tough. I recently read ‘Forever Amber’ by Katy Dixon, and as it so truthfully says

“When the impossible is your reality, be prepared to fight harder”.

Whether you are a child trying to learn to ride your bike and can’t quite grasp the concept without stabilisers or you’re trying to perfect your canter or jump your biggest course, there are times in life when giving up feels like the only option. It’s impossible, I can’t do it. It’s just easier to walk away.

Now this isn’t a sob story, oh no, see I want this to be a motivational post to anyone whose facing a difficult time or situation and just feels the need and want to give up. I want everyone to realise that there is always a glimpse of hope in any situation and that this should be your foundation on which to grow. As most of you will have seen on my profile, I recently got a new horse called Freddie! He’s 16’2hh with the biggest pony personality and honestly one of the kindest horses I have ever met. He’s such a food addict for a thoroughbred but we could work with that, after all it’s better than a worrier! So the countdown began from the 21st May for my new superstar to come home once I’d finished my A Level exams. However a phone call on the 15th June was one of those heart sinking moments where to give up or give it one more shot became real. 

Freddie was staying at the racing yard he’d retired from which is a stone’s throw away from where my horses are kept now, which meant I could still visit him even though he wasn’t with me full time. On the 15th June 2017 I got a phone to say that Freddie had contracted a swelling on his near fore tendon. I was heartbroken and so worried as a suspected tendon injury as we all know could jeopardise a horse’s future and wellbeing altogether. It was also awful timing with a history exam the very next day! But nevertheless the vets were contacted and Freddie was due to be scanned the following week. 

Wednesday 21st June Freddie travelled down to Whitelodge Veterinary Clinic. He got off the lorry happy as larry, even in the sweltering heat and was such a good boy standing impeccably the whole time. I was so proud of him. We had the best man on the job, Phil our vet is honestly the best in the South West, especially anything leg related, his advice and verdict was to be crucial. After carrying out the X-ray Phil confirmed our worst nightmare, Freddie had injured his superficial digital flexor tendon. To be precise he had created a complete hole, more than likely caused in his last race but had come to the surface a few weeks later, Phil classed it as a 3/10 injury. I was heartbroken, my darling Freddie was injured and there was nothing that could be done. I tried to remain positive and held onto the thought that Freddie was not lame or actually feeling any pain, he was as happy as ever eating away, not a worry in the world! Phil explained a rehab plan which included:

4/5 months of complete controlled rest 
Ice treatment for no more than one hour at a time for around 2/3 weeks until swelling reduced
Bandage both front legs- gradually after 3/4 weeks begin to take bandages off for around 4 hours and then if no swelling or heat appears keep bandages off for longer etc.
NOT complete box rest- a controlled environment (small paddock + stable) – must not gallop! 

Walk him gently and gradually 

 A lot of discussions were now needed with my parents as to what we were going to do.

This wasn’t the same as purchasing your average horse. Freddie has lived a million stories, he’s battled through the good and the bad and having been at a national hunt yard from age 4-9 and then the point to point yard for the last two seasons, he sure has given it his all. Freddie was a horse that deserved this chance, no it wasn’t ideal, it sounded completely obscured to most people. But from the very first day I met him I had the biggest dreams for him and they still stand, I know he will be a superstar. My amazing parents agreed that I could give Freddie this chance and after agreeing it with the owner of the pony which I ride and where Freddie would be staying, the countdown began again! 

 

14th August 2017- 84 days since my countdown began back in May, after trying and falling in love with Fred, he finally made his way home. To say he was excited was an understatement! Being a 4 minute walk down the road to his new home, it was much easier than fussing about with travelling! After over 8 weeks on confined rest, he saw his bridle and thought “Yeehaaa!” So I walked my 18hh+ stallion home clinging to the reins for dear life and thinking “Oh dear god what have I done?!?!” But Freddie being the Freddie I knew settled immediately, happily snacking away on his haynet and poking his head out to talk to his new friends! Definitely time for a cuppa by this point! 

Freddie has been such an angel since, he’s been walked out in hand, behaving so, so well and has begun to go out by day in his little paddock. He’s as happy as anything as his ‘all-inclusive holiday’ has continued! Not sure when to warn him he’s not retired …!! I honestly feel so lucky to be able to keep my boy with my other best friends, they all get on so well which is so important. For now its lots of care for his leg, lots of good food to keep him looking and feeling well and lots of kisses and cuddles! (He’s getting bored of these already!!)  

I know Freddie will be a superstar, and I have the biggest of dreams for him. One day I hope everyone will have heard of OHIO GOLD, for being the true champion he is. I love him dearly and can’t wait for the real adventures to begin. But for now, that’s our story, chapter one I like to call it of a book that I am sure will be a rollercoaster journey but whether it be up or down, to have my lionhearted best friend by my side means the absolute world to me. 

 
Stay tuned for more updates! 
Kaitlin & Freddie xx
Published in Member Blogs

Lady Gaga adores horses.

It all started when Gaga first moved to California, and her record label gave her a mare for her birthday.

“I guess, when I moved to California, the sunlight was really good for me — I was happy. The sunshine helped to keep an optimism in my music. And while out there, I developed a special connection to horses. It began when my record label gave me a horse for my birthday: an Arabian mare named Arabella.

"I had never taken a horse-riding lesson. I literally did not know how to ride a horse. But I just grabbed her by the mane and rode her bareback."

Any equestrian will tell you that that's a amazing feat. Arabella, Gaga's first horse, was so well-trained that it inspired the singer to get her a boyfriend, a stallion named Tigger.

" With him, I have to ride with a saddle. When I ride him, it always makes me feel so powerful, because he is so powerful. There’s no pressure. I just get on the horse and go. It’s sort of a metaphor for all the guys I’ve been with.”

“My body’s been through a lot over the years. Riding has forced me to be fearless pretty quickly. It’s all about down here, in that woman area. Balance, strength, persistence.” 

Gaga seems to have found strength and inspiration from riding.

“I go on trails, ride, gallop, I’m not a ‘planning’ type of horse rider. I wake up, write songs, go for a ride.”

READ MORE: Lady Gaga Strips Down - V Magazine


 
Published in Trot On Blogs

A few weeks ago I posted a wonderful video of our three boys enjoying life and coming when called.

Since then Joe has joined our family. It’s been a month of hell with us almost losing him by a nasty gash in his leg.

I am thrilled to say he made it and now he joins the other three ‘inmates’ in a daily run!

But first he had to go through some major crossing-creek training.

Initially the idea terrified him, but with patience and trust, we finally got there. This is the first time he did it by himself!

He's one clever boy!


 

Published in Trot On Blogs
Monday, 24 July 2017 10:23

It’s a Ball Game

There are certain issues affecting guys that us female riders tend to forget when we suggest that our long suffering other halves learn to ride. The Better Half decided recently that he wanted to improve his riding and so he took himself off for an week's intensive course with plenty of speed and jumping to keep him interested! Amazingly he was still walking by the end, albeit wide legged and hobbling. He's been moaning about a few things since then, in particular that of which boxers will provide the desired level of support, something which according to him has been insufficiently researched! Rather than me putting words in his mouth here's his take on the issue...
 

Learning to ride sounded like a great idea. You can go fast she said, you can learn to jump she said, and all that was true right up until the moment when I landed a 60cm cross pole onto my nutsac. Desperately trying to keep my cool despite the tears filling my eyes, I carried on cantering round the arena and completed the course with one stirrup, one rein and zero composure. It was at that moment that I decided that if I was going to carry on with this something had to change, or risk almost certain infertility.

So began an internet search for the best solution for my bruised balls. After reading hundreds of forums looking for products and ideas I found that there were simply NO male riders commenting on the subject. There was a huge amount of female speculation and recommendation, including absurd suggestions such as wearing tights and using adhesive tape to pull them out of the way! I didn't fancy a back, sack and crack wax and I thought that the wife might start to ask some interesting questions if she found me wearing her tights...

I had a long hard think, and decided that I needed plenty of padding, and decent support; enough to keep the bags in the baggage area. I hit up Amazon and ordered a variety of padded cycling shorts; some with foam, some with gel and all with impact protection. The next few trial runs were painfully unsuccessful and subsequently I've invested in sports boxers which hold the boys up and out the way. Now it may seem excessive but with three pairs of boxers on; one supportive, one really tight, and one with padding, the boys are finally safe.

I'm a fairly tough nut but it's been a rough road discovering the best boxer solution. I recommend you try the triple approach but its up to you, the balls in your court.


joae150As it says on the tin, this is a personal blog about the journey Archie and I are taking in discovering the world of eventing. Archie is a 6 year old Irish gelding, and I am a 26 year old horse addict. I didn’t grow up in a family with horses, and Archie was the first horse I ever owned, having loaned for over 20 years. I hope that we can show other riders who perhaps don’t feel that they can achieve their dreams, that anything is possible!

Re-published by kind permission of Journey of an Amateur Eventer|Blog

Published in Trot On Blogs

Team GB gold medal-winning cyclist Victoria Pendleton has swapped her bicycle for a horse as English Heritage campaign for jousting to be recognised as an Olympic sport

Following in the footsteps of medieval knights, she donned armour weighing 45kg (99lb) and galloped towards her opponent at 30moph with a 12ft lance in hand.

The gold medal star was put through her paces by English Heritage’s expert jousters at a training session at Kenilworth Castle, Warwickshire, to try “England’s first national sport”.

After launching English Heritage’s “Medieval Knights Season” by becoming the charity’s latest jouster, Victoria Pendleton fully endorsed English Heritage’s campaign for jousting to be included in the Olympics.

Victoria, 36, said: “It’s just as physically exerting as competitive cycling and jousting definitely deserves its place at the Olympic table.” ...READ MORE


 
Published in Articles
Friday, 30 June 2017 09:57

The importance of thinking laterally

“Think laterally.  If you do you’re sure to be successful in whatever you do.”

This piece of advice was given to me recently by a lady very successful in her career, and it got me thinking about how that can be applied to riding.

As riders we use the word ‘laterally’ a lot.  In training we talk about working our horses laterally (i.e training horses not only to move straight forward but also in sideways movements).

A Country Lady

But what about us as riders, are we thinking laterally? Thinking laterally is the ability to use your imagination to look at a problem in a fresh way and come up with a new/different solution than perhaps the most obvious.

As Victoria Pendleton CBE said when comparing her new riding career with that of cycling:

“Riding is not a sport that can be calculated, predicted and plotted; it’s a sport that can be totally unpredictable.”

It’s for that reason we need to be constantly thinking laterally and thinking on our feet.

A professional rider will be one who possesses the skill of lateral thinking and who can practically apply it to their training and competing:

• Show Jumper, Luca Moneta, dubbed ‘The Carrot Man’ (for constantly rewarding his horses with carrots) may have been criticised initially for his unusual training methods, but he has developed a highly effective method of training his horses, which are revolutionizing the sport of Show Jumping.  It’s by thinking laterally and doing something different that he attributes his success. (See video above)

Patrick Gracey , also known as ‘The Horse Shrink’ is an equestrian I personally find very inspiring. He helps traumatised horses overcome issues such as loading. By looking at things differently and by not using conventional methods (such as picking up a stick), Patrick builds the confidence of the horses he works with.  He finds completely different approaches which have great results.

These are just two individuals who are using lateral thinking to do something differently.  As horse owners, we are always going to come up against hurdles, whether it’s a young horse not wanting to load, or a horse who doesn’t want to jump that ditch.  At those times, I’d urge you to remember to step back and think around the problem, you may be surprised just how beneficial it can be!
 
Abi xx

 IMG 1373 150x150A Country Lady is a blog devoted to equestrian fashionistas around the world. Run by UK based amateur Show Jumper, Abi Rule.

 

 
Published in Trot On Blogs
Monday, 19 June 2017 13:49

Equestrian First Dates

Equestrians are a special bunch, but undeniably they have certain qualities which make them pretty epic on a first date. Assuming that is, that they don’t meet you for dinner in their jods, boots, whip in hand and with a faint whiff of horse in their wake. I promise you you’ll be impressed.

A key fact to remember is that they are used to controlling a 500kg animal with their thighs, so trust me, you, are no trouble at all. Not only that, they can compete and perform to a high level despite little sleep, as early morning competition starts often require. That means you’ll never see them hanging around outstaying their welcome in the morning as they will be up and off to the yard sharpish. Plenty of hours in the saddle and plenty more of yard work gets you toned and fit pretty quick. A necessary amount of exercise when you see the skin tight pale jodhpurs needed for competition, which are incredibly unforgiving no matter how slim you are! Equestrians have no choice but to squeeze themselves into them on a regular basis.

Equestrians are no stranger to managing difficult personalities, although they may be less patient with you than with the difficult pony on the yard. People generally come second to horses. Conversation however will never be a problem, as in the case of running out of something to talk about, once on the topic of their horses they can go for hours.  It might not be your cup of tea, but all that is required of you is to feign interest and make a few encouraging noises here and there.

Just something to take note of, before you launch in for a goodnight kiss, remember that  you will always and forever be second fiddle to their horses, your weekends will disappear into the black hole that is competition life, and spare cash becomes a thing of the past. You will however, be immensely happier for it! So if you’re brave enough to enter into a second date, get ready for a crash course into the equestrian world…!


joae150As it says on the tin, this is a personal blog about the journey Archie and I are taking in discovering the world of eventing. Archie is a 6 year old Irish gelding, and I am a 26 year old horse addict. I didn’t grow up in a family with horses, and Archie was the first horse I ever owned, having loaned for over 20 years. I hope that we can show other riders who perhaps don’t feel that they can achieve their dreams, that anything is possible!

Re-published by kind permission of Journey of an Amateur Eventer|Blog

 
Published in Trot On Blogs
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


 
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