Thursday, 19 June 2014

My 5 Summer Essentials!

With the weather finally warming up here in England, I decided to write about my 5 summer essentials, for both myself and the horse. 

#1: Water
It is well known that water is important in water, and when partaking in any exercise and therefore it is important to make sure you take water with you when you ride. I am often down at the yard for around 3 hours or more sorting Pea out and riding and can get hot as well as thirsty - a sign that you're dehydrated. I now make sure that I take a bottle of water with me every time I go down to the yard, even if I'm not necessarily riding as Peas field is a bit of a trek anyway! It is also important to make sure your horse doesn't go without water for too long either! Pea won't drink from a bucket when he comes in, but I always stop at the stream on our way in and out from the field to see if he wants a drink, and when I've finished riding I take him for a paddle through the stream and offer him a drink. 

#2: Fly Rug
This one probably isn't as important to everyone, but if Pea gets bitten he gets a rather large lump form and therefore I prefer him to have a fly rug on to try and minimise this, and prevent any from getting in the way of tack which would result in him not being able to be ridden. I'm considering investing in a waterproof one as with this ever changing weather it means he can't have his fly rug on as much as I like as it gets wet and all the dirt transfers onto Pea - not helpful when you own a grey! So if anyone has any good recommendations, I'd love to hear them! 

The NAF fly tag
#3: Fly Repellent
Along with a fly rug, I invest in a good fly repellent in the summer. The past few years I have been loving the NAF fly tags which I attach to his bridle and they seem to keep flies at bay when we're riding as he doesn't seem to get bothered. You get two in a pack and they're really cheap and last 4-6 weeks each so definitely worth trying. I'm also contemplating trying the wristbands they do as well. 

#4: Dry Shampoo
This one tends to be slightly more all-year but is so important for me in the summer. My hair gets all sweaty and yucky after I have finished riding, so I keep a bottle of dry shampoo in my hat bag to apply to my hair after I have finished riding before I pop it back up again as it is quite refreshing on my hair and makes it look a little less yucky! 

#5: Treats and pulling power!
This one might be just me but in the summer Pea turns into such a sleepyhead and there are often times when I go to grab him in from the field to find him flat out snoring! The first few times, he's often okay at getting up, but from then on it all goes downhill. He'll sit up and look at me, wait for me to give him some cuddles and then try to get him up before flopping down with a sigh and refuse to get up for a long while. Normally tempting with treats can eventually work, as well as having inquisitive field mates who will either come over for treats or help me try to get him up by pulling on his lead rope! 

What are your summer essentials? 

Thanks for reading, 
Laura xx

Saturday, 7 June 2014

Lesson [6.6.14]


So yesterday I had my much needed lesson. As I mentioned in my May round-up (which you can read here), Pea has been a bit on the forehand lately, especially in canter. I mentioned this to my instructor and so she requested that I have a trot and canter round so she can see how he's going. She immediately noticed how much more forward he is which is a great improvement from my last lesson (which was at the beginning of the year). I also mentioned about him seeing the vet in April resulting in being told that he's a bit stiff in his stifle and how I need to do more pole work with him. She agreed with this and mentioned that I need to do it a lot more regularly such as once or twice a week as not only will it loosen him up but it will also give him a bit of fun rather than just doing ordinary flatwork. 

She set out some poles which we were to walk over first before picking up trot. She hadn't set them at any particular stride and told me to just ride him over them and let him sort himself out. The first time he was slightly hesitant, which he often is, and then the second he rushed into canter - again, a pretty normal thing for him to do. The third time, he slowly started getting the hang of it and the more we did them, the more he relaxed. She began to slightly alter them striding, making it so that he had to lengthen to go over them and despite having a slight wobble at the first pole resulting in him getting in a tangle for the rest, he did them really nicely on both reins. When we first started he was a lot better on the right rein and hesitant on the left but by the end he was equally good on both reins. I could also feel the difference in him when we were circling around to the poles as he was a lot freer in his shoulders than what he had initially been. 

We then progressed onto doing the poles as a fan. Again, the first time that we did this he found it hard to bend round the poles and ended up doing a weird straight line over them, but the more we did it the better he got. We varied which point to go over by using a cone as a marker for where to ride to for the first pole and try to maintain for each pole. It took him a bit longer to get used to this one as he obviously finds it difficult to bend round as well as lift himself over the poles, but he did eventually loosen up and feel a lot better. 

We then decided to attempt canter poles. I knew we might have issues here as he has lately learnt to love canter but leans on the forehand, added with his excitement of poles and I think he had a slight rocket up his bum. The first time we came into them, as I expected he shot off into the poles, but the more we did them the more he realised to steady up slightly. My instructor mentioned that I need to try and really sit up - something I find difficult at the moment - but also keep my leg on so that I keep the energy he is giving me but making him utilise it properly. As we progressed through the canter poles, we eventually started to work better together and had a much nicer rhythm. 

My instructor then decided to put the canter poles on a circle and I knew we were in for difficulty! We started on the left rein as he finds bending in canter easier on this rein. It was quite difficult to manage to sit up and push him forwards whilst going round in a circle but we managed. We weren't necessarily in the middle for each pole other than the first, but we did manage to get over each pole and hopefully the more we do it, the better he will get. We then swapped reins and this is where we really hit difficulty. Pea is currently finding it really hard to bend in canter on the right rein and instead bends to the outside, therefore, trying to get round a circle making him bend to the right caused a bit of an argument which resulted in me hanging on his neck after the last pole due to him letting out an almighty buck. Luckily, as much as Pea likes to buck and dislodge me, he did realise that putting his neck up would be a useful thing so that I could clamber back into the saddle without me hitting the deck! Always a bonus! I think my instructor was a bit shocked as although she knows of him being quirky, she hadn't yet seen him buck! He continued to be stuffy after the last pole and keep bucking but eventually we managed it once or twice with more of a skip than a buck! I also learnt to well and truly sit up with my heels down, kicking on prepared for a buck! We decided to stop the exercise once he did it a couple of times with less bucking as it was obvious he was finding it difficult so instead we focused on a 20m circle in trot, making him bend to the inside whilst leg-yield in on the circle and then out again. The right rein was a lot easier than the left rein and it will take a bit for him to accept the bend without me constantly having to ask with each stride but by the end of the lesson I could tell that he was definitely a lot more relaxed and open. 

The idea is to now keep working on the bend and make sure that at least once I week I include pole work. She also suggested incorporating a bit of jumping to keep him entertained so that it's not all dull polework. It is a bit difficult to do as I never have anyone on the ground with me but I am sure I will work out a way to solve it! 

Thanks for reading, 
Laura xx

(Ps. sorry about the lack of photos, really need to get someone down to take more!)

Monday, 2 June 2014

[Monthly Review] May 2014


May has been a fairly quiet month once again due to assignment deadlines and two weeks of solid revising before my exam which was the 23rd and then on Friday my sister got married so last week was spent sorting everything out for that resulting in Pea mainly being hacked and only occasionally lunged or schooled. 

Pea has been a bit of a bugger schooling lately as he seems to think it is fine to pay little attention to me when I ask for a downward transition...Canter he thinks it's hilarious just to pull and lean on the bit and therefore not bend or anything :/ I'm hoping that now I have more free time I'm going to crack on with his schooling and fingers crossed he'll drop the leaning habit. I might swap to his loose ring snaffle, as opposed to the hanging cheek he currently has in, to see if that helps in any way and I am also trying to book a much needed lesson! I was planning on getting him out competing a week on Saturday, however, I've been informed that I am busy that weekend, and the weekend after so maybe at the end of the June we might get out... 

Hacking wise, Pea has been pretty good. He still likes the occasional spook at something that's non-existent, or that when I ask for trot he secretly thinks I mean canter, but luckily he's never strong or anything and will stop if I ask - unlike in the arena! 

I am now officially finished university (well, I guess I am after graduation..) but now it's out into the real world! I have an interview lined up this week but who knows?! It does mean that I might end up relocating somewhere and have to sort out accommodation for myself as well as Pea, so exciting/nerve-wracking times ahead! 

Sorry this is so short, I promise June will be better!

Thanks for reading, 
Laura xx