Thursday, 31 January 2013

[Monthly Review] January 2013

Rain. Snow. Strong Winds. Oh what a great start to 2013 we have had! 

I have decided to start monthly round-ups. On my last blog I did weekly round-ups but found these hard to keep up with and if  hadn't really done much in the week then they were a bit boring if I'm honest! 

This month, due to the weather, exams and other various reasons I have not been able to ride as much as hoped. In fact, Pea is having yet another day off today after three days off and then a 20 minute battle in the wind due to the fact that my body feels more like that of a 90 year old as opposed to a 19 year old :/ However, the odd bit of riding that has been done has shown that Pea is like a changed horse and I really cannot wait to see what this year brings for us! 

New Years day I jumped him for the first time in a long time and really got him moving which resulted in him jumping the best he's jumped in a long time! We only kept it small as I've lost a lot of confidence and would rather get the technique and confidence good over small fences rather than jump bigger ones just because it 'looks' and 'sounds' better (incase you haven't gathered, it's a slight pet peeve of mine of people that jump big when they haven't got the foundations right!). Since then, we've not done any more jumping which is annoying as I'm hoping to get my confidence up again this year and start show-jumping again possibly next year! Pea's schooling is coming on so well and he's like a different horse! He's much more forward going and it's taking me a bit to get used to his new way of going, haha! He's so much more willing to work and is really starting to use himself and offers outline more often and doesn't with his head in the air as much as what he used to. Bending is still a slight issue but we're working on it by using half-halts and then applying the aid for leg-yield to keep him from falling in and also leg-yielding around corners has really helped. 

He wasn't too impressed with the wind!

Due to the weather, when I have had chance to get the indoor I've had to share with someone. Our indoor is tiny and it makes it hard to really get any work and with Pea's canter issues, we've had to just work on walk or trot as it's too small for him to canter comfortably, even though it's the same size as a dressage arena which he can happily canter in (I sometimes wonder how his brain works!). At first I was quite apprehensive about having to share the indoor, hence I hardly rode, but the times that we have had to share Pea has been like a different horse (I'm really starting to think he is!). He pays little attention to the other horse, completely focused on his work and what I am asking of him, even when I do transitions or half-halts by the other horse which used to give him an excuse to nap, but now he just carries on as if there's no one there! 

I'm so proud of how far Pea has come on and for February my plans are:
 - We have our first competition on the 6th doing Intro and Prelim so fingers crossed we do well
 - Get jumping again
 - Possibly start working on movements found in a Novice test. 

Whilst his canter is still an issue, I've found that trying to focus on getting it better, it's easier to accept it and just ask for canter without trying to keep pushing on more canter strides, etc etc and instead just sit quietly and let him sort himself out, after all he's happier to canter away from home in a competition when I'm not badgering him so maybe it will work at home! (He's not cantered for about 3 or more weeks so it could be exciting the next time we try!)

That's all for now! 
Laura & Pea x

Saturday, 26 January 2013


Image Source: Pinterest

So this post was going to be about my lesson today, but then I just received a text off my instructor which made me smile and then I thought 'hm, why not do a blog post on positivity?' 

Now, I'll be the first to admit that I'm not very positive about myself and always see flaws, but I suppose that's human nature. But today made me realise, that maybe I should be a bit more positive about myself, especially when it comes to riding. I always say that I'm not a great rider. I hate boasting and never really believe that the achievements I make are due to me...sounds weird I guess but I will always say that it was due to my instructor or even my horse. However, I have realised that those achievements have happened because I put in the hard work. Yes, my instructor is a true god send and has helped me so much but at the end of the day I only have lessons with her a couple of times a month (sometimes less because I forget to reply and book lessons quickly so the slots go!) and therefore she gives me the building blocks to work on between each lesson and I adapt and add more in the time between. I really don't want to start sounding like a bit of a big headed person, because I'm seriously not, but I think it's time to start looking at the positives about myself more and hopefully they will help pave the way to greater things, who knows?

My lesson today couldn't have gone any better really... As the outdoors are out of action with the snow (it best thaw out soon!) we can have the indoor in half hour slots and normally have to share with someone. I'm quite apprehensive about sharing the indoor given Paddy's past, so when someone asked if it was okay that she was sharing I was a bit worried in case Pea decided to throw toys out of the pram and get in a paddy and nearly kick her horse or something. However, Pea was amazing and never even considered napping! His trot is so forward going now that I'm not used to it! He used to be so backward thinking and it was an effort to trot, in fact when I first got him I could hardly get him to trot a long side of the arena, and now he just trots forward and is slowly starting to really use himself. We worked on using half-halts to get him to come back and then when asking to move forward again, apply the aid for leg yield to prevent him from moving his body  inwards. This was a really effective exercise and I could really feel him working and using the muscles in his neck and withers to start coming down into an outline which he is starting to offer more and more. We then progressed the exercise from just doing it at B and E to on a diagonal, asking him to half-halt before turning onto the diagonal and again before coming off the diagonal and leg-yielding round the corners so that he's bending the correct way and using himself round the turns making it much more easier. At first, I found the exercise really hard but once I stopped thinking it as each individual movements - ie, half-halt now, now leg yield the turn, now straight, now half-halt, oh corner - and carried it out as more of one fluid movement it became a lot easier and our corners were good and we were prepared for whatever next. 

My instructor has literally been a god send for me and Paddy. When I first started having lessons with her just over 2 years ago, we were at a bit of a cross-roads as previous instructors had made me lose confidence, faith, me and Paddy were fighting rather than working together as it was basically 'if he's naughty smack him, and keep telling him off until he's good' and so he was backward thinking and it was just a big argument all the time. However, Emily took a completely different approach and when he was naughty she said not to smack him but to divert his attention by turning in a different direction or asking something different of him. This then made Paddy wonder what was going to happen next and whatever argument we were going to have was soon forgotten. I'll admit that in the beginning I was determined on trying to do well and look good that I didn't focus as much on what would work for Paddy and slowly, after a few lessons with Emily I began to realise that I can't ride Paddy in the way I would ride other horses or how people expect you to ride, but to ride in the way that works for him and ever since we have grown as a partnership and he's now like a different horse. He still has his moments, normally in the first 5 minutes of work but then he'll work like a dream and the days he's 'naughty' it's not that he's stopping and napping, it's more that he's just 'away with the fairies' as I call it and does what pleases him, like trot around with his head in the air, spooking at silly things and forgetting he has legs that need to be picked up in order to move! Emily also likes to hand out compliments, which I'm awful at taking and never believe them which then causes her to come out with the saying 'who's the instructor here? so who knows best here?' and I grumble away! Today was no different and she used the opportunity to mention to the woman sharing the arena how good Paddy is nowadays and how it's all down to me, etc etc. Cue me trotting around pretending to be oblivious and focussing on Pea! haha! (also, the woman is one who had very little belief in me or Pea, just like many others). 

So at the end of the day, or this rambling blog post, I guess what I'm saying is that we should all try to think about more positives of ourselves or when we get complimented, take them on board rather than do what I do and think they're just saying that! Also, if people try to bring you down, ignore them. 'The less you give a damn, the happier you will be.' - This quote is true. I've found that since having lessons with Emily, she's also taught me to not care what people think and just do what pleases me and Pea and since then we've been placed numerous times out competing, he's even won his first prelim (I mean, we've won our first prelim) and we're both so happy that it shows in our work. 

I apologise for the rambling post, I'm not too good on these sort of posts and conveying what's in my head into words on 'paper' but I hope it helps you and please leave comments on what helps you, people that help inspire you, etc. (You can also tweet me at @Lauraaa_CB).

Laura & Pea x

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

The New Year


I have been meaning to do this post for a number of days now but not got round to it, so here it finally is! It's a bit of an update about what has been going on with myself and Pea as well as a few plans I have made for the next couple of months :)

Pea has been overall a good boy, but he still likes to have his moments! Just before new year I took him on a hack with a friend and as it was a last minute decision Pea was only in his snaffle...oh what a mistake to have made! It started off fine, and we went to go for a little canter as the ground was good but we only got a couple of strides before both horses spooked as it turned out there were people riding on the road the other side of the hedge which we couldn't see! This winded Pea up a little bit and we walked on, but when we tried to canter again, my friend went first which wound Pea up even more so instead of moving forward we were bronking on the spot, head between his knees with the odd little rear so we had to walk to join her as everytime I asked for trot I got the same bronking response...not good! However, a little later on I decided we'd try again, just trotting with Pea in front. This time he was so well behaved - I think not being able to canter before made him realise he had to behave! - and we did have a little canter as well which was controlled, though I could feel him starting to get strong and thinking about letting out an excited buck so just about to stop before the end! Next time he is definitely going in his gag! 

New years day I decided to pop him over a few little jumps. I hardly jump Pea anymore because I have lost so much confidence, however I'm trying to get more confident and slowly jumping more and then slowly increase the jump height. At first we started off with two cross poles, a relatively small one and another slightly bigger. The first jump over the small one was reasonable but he wasn't moving forward a great deal and so I really worked on getting him moving and then when we came round to the jump he had a more energetic canter and popped the jump nicely. I continued on the little cross-pole and then swapped direction before moving onto the bigger cross-pole. The first jump over the bigger cross-pole was so nice, he really used himself and did such a lovely jump over it! After jumping that one a few times, I changed the smaller cross pole into a little upright at about 2ft3 which he jumped so well. We still need to work on straightness with uprights but getting him more forward has really helped me as it has stopped him from doing his silly little half strides and getting right under the jump and it will slowly help me to feel more confident as he is no longer stupidly strong when it comes to jumping and he takes me to the jump in a more controlled manner so hopefully I'll be able to trust him more as before he used to just tank into the fence and occasionally ditch out last minute which is how I lost all confidence. 

I have also done some schooling with him and whilst his canter is a lot of work, it is slowly coming and he is becoming a lot softer and slowly more rounder in the trot - when he pays attention! He does like to start each schooling session with a bit of a silly moment - either napping and walking backwards up mounds and through trees or by rushing off in the trot on a long rein when I warm up! However, he does, luckily, come back and work nicely for the rest of the session so I don't mind his little moments!

I'm hopefully taking him out for dressage again at the beginning of February and we have the Houghton Hall Championships in March which we'll be going to. I really want to get him out more but with University during the week and work at weekends it makes it difficult, but we'll see what happens :)

Laura & Pea x

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

[Product Review] Kevin Bacon Hoof Dressing

I have done posts like this before on my old blog and so have decided to re-start them with the new year and share with you products that I have come across or used for a while that I love. 

The first is Kevin Bacon's Hoof Dressing:

This is a 'laurel balm for the care and protection of horse's hooves'. It is made from animal fat and laurel leaves, which probably explains why Paddy likes to have a lick from the tub when I use it! The website also states that the product does not merely give the hoof shine but also penetrates the horn, nourishing the hoof deep down, preventing the hoof wall from drying out and protecting against the wet as well as encouraging growth. 

I was first introduced to this product when Paddy's hooves were starting to crack and dry out. My then instructor suggested I use Kevin Bacon's as well as many others on my yard so I decided to try it out. I have to admit I do really like it and Paddy's hooves have improved no end! 

The only problem I really have with it is that in cold weather it can be virtually rock solid and in warm weather it goes really runny and has once leaked all over a grooming bag that I had! Also it can get full of mud from the brush I use but other than that it is definitely worth the £14 that it costs and has helped Pea's feet no end! I did stop using it for a few months as I ran out and never got round to getting a new tub and so Pea now has a crack in his hoof so lesson learnt and I've bought a new tub and hopefully get his feet back in good condition! 

It is also great to add to give a bit of shine before a competition :)

Do you have any good hoof products that you love to use? 

Laura & Pea x