Monday, 22 April 2013

Brain Work to Help Combat Spring Grass.

I found this picture on pinterest and decided to use it for my latest blog post as i've hit a bit of a bad patch with Pea. As of last week he's started to be a bit naughty again, and with all that i've had on (a lot of uni work, job, family matters) I think it's hit a bit harder than usual, along with the added fact that he had been going well! But, as the picture states, either 'give up, give in or give it all you've got' and I plan on giving it all I've got as I'm not a quitter with things I'm passionate about! His canter is coming along, it's still a bit patchy which is to be expected as he has only just started again, but we are managing near enough a circuit round the arena and slowly incorporating smaller shapes, ie turning up the 20m line rather than staying straight as if in a dressage arena. 

Pea has lately started bucking again, and bad, although to be honest he has so far only done it once or twice and then settles, but when he does they are pretty big and cheeky! On Thursday I had a lesson and it nearly started badly as I was upset with how he had just been (he ran off twice in the field, the second time almost kicking me, then bucked refusing to go to one arena before trying to get me off in the other arena in front of a group of people who decided to stare!), however, Pea being the horse he is was so good in his lesson (he bucked before it started) and it was almost like I was lying! My instructor being the amazing person she is soon cheered me up and thought it was most probably the spring grass coming through giving him extra energy and with me being at uni during the week he wasn't getting to use it up so instead played up. This resulted in him being chucked out over the weekend with no rug on but as it was warm in the day it wasn't so bad, but during the night he would have to shiver some energy away (and hopefully slow down him getting a summer belly!). 

So with his naughtiness in mind, Emily suggested doing some 'brain work' with him to get him really thinking about what he's supposed to be doing rather than what he wants to do and I thought I would share the exercises with you. They really helped him to open up and slowly start coming into a more consistent frame.

Firstly, on a 20m circle I collected his trot up really short and slow so that he was really on his hocks. This is a lot harder than it sounds as you have to really use your legs and seat to keep the energy and the trot, but not too much to increase the speed, whilst also using the contact to try and bring him back! Once he was collected, I then pushed him back into a working trot. Once in working trot he started to stretch down and come into the contact, and the more we did, the better he got. We carried this out on both reins, although the left rein was harder as that is his worse rein so we spent a little more time carrying it out before moving onto the next exercise. 

The second exercise was quite similar to the first but instead of collecting the trot I brought him back to a near halt before sending him off again. This is like a good, strong half halt and really makes the horse come back onto their hocks before moving off again using their back-end, something Pea often forgets to use. At first it took quite a bit to get Pea to come back onto his hocks, but after a few attempts he soon got it and then when he moved on he went really nicely and I could definitely feel the difference as he stepped out more and stretched over his whole frame. 

Just when I thought it couldn't get any harder, it did. For the final exercise we incorporated leg-yield; so when I asked him to move forwards after the near-halt, I also asked him to move over. On the right rein this was relatively easy and he really stepped under, however on the left rein he found it a lot harder so it took a lot more leg and seat to get him forward and stepping over but he eventually started getting the hang of it and slowly started to stretch and give some inside bend. 

I now plan on keeping up with these as well as other exercises we have used over the past in the next couple of weeks to get him to soften up and stretch into a more consistent frame as well as starting to incorporate circles into his canter in preparation for the second round of trailblazers in May where we are branching out and entering both Prelims :)

Thanks for reading, 
Laura & Pea x

Thursday, 11 April 2013

[Monthly Review] March 2013

Apologies for the late post! March ended up flying by and now I need to try and remember what happened!

The month began with a trip back to Houghton Hall for their Winter Dressage Championship which you can read about here. After this, it was clear that his canter showed problems so the saddler was booked, unfortunately the earliest we could get fitted in was early April. 

With this being said, I didn't school Pea much as I didn't want to bore him with constantly just walking and trotting and also I was a bit paranoid that if there was something serious with his saddle I didn't want to then risk damaging his back so we stuck to simple hacking. Even hacking was clear there was a problem with him cantering as he would hardly canter out hacking which is rather unlike him, so I stuck to trying to keep him fit by walking and trotting. He has been going to nicely and being rather well behaved that it's such a lovely change. He's always happy to go out hacking, despite going two or three times a week where as in the past he would get argumentative if we hacked too often. 

As a change I decided to brave it and take Pea out on the roads, through the village with a friend. I was slightly apprehensive as Pea can be slightly spooky and also a bit funny about walking on the road but he was a true star. He never batted an eye at anything that went past, even the bus! In fact, it wasn't until we were coming back down the drive to the yard that he decided to spook at a bit of snowball that was roughly the size of a football! Silly horse! I have begun to realise that Pea is often better behaved out in new situations such a shows and out hacking out somewhere new! 

April has started off well. I have had Pea's saddle sorted so it now fits, and although at first his canter was still awful, after talks with my Instructor we believe it could be the cold weather causing him to be tense and therefore finding it hard to canter. This week, with the warmer weather I have found this to be true as he has eagerly cantered, and more than 5 strides! This means that my plans for this month are to get him to comfortably canter around the arena and circles. I hope to take him out to a dressage competition at the end of the month before heading off for second round Trailblazers in May.

Thanks for reading!
Laura & Pea x

Monday, 1 April 2013

Let's be Charitable :)

Hello! Apologies for the lack of posts lately! I haven't been doing much with Pea as his saddle doesn't fit him properly so I'm waiting to get it checked as I don't want to do too much and possibly make things worse (I do get rather paranoid!) I've also been really busy with University having two projects to carry out and an exam to revise for! Oh and there's the ever looming dissertation which I have to start planning for!

Anyway, I have decided to write this blog post as this Sunday (7th) I am joining Claire Lomas on her pre-cycle challenge around Rutland Water. I don't know what I have let myself in for seeing as it's either 18 or 26 miles and I have not cycled in ages! However, it's for a good cause, supporting Claire and Spinal Research as she aims to try and find a cure or further help for paralysis. I believe this is such a great cause, and I sincerely hope that one day there is something that can be done to help paralysis as it can tear people's live apart. Claire has come shown that paralysis is not something to let ruin your lives and she has done so well, completing the London Marathon in 2012 with a robotic suit and winning numerous awards such as the Helen Rollason award for inspiration and Tesco's Courageous Mum of the year award. I am also, hopefully, joining Claire on the beginning of her 400mile cycle, along with my University, as she sets off from Nottingham to Loughborough on the 22nd, so if you're in the area (outside Nottingham Trent City campus) come and see her start!

I hope to do other things for charity, such as finally persuading my yard/riding club to run a charity show which I have tried before to no avail! 

Do you guys do anything for charity? 

Laura & Pea x