Monday, 30 May 2011

Monday 30th May 2011 - Our 2nd Ever Solo Hack!!!

OK, so the goal for 5 weeks from now is to be able to hack out around the 1 hour route and include some cantering, but to do all of this without feeling any fear.....

So this morning's job was to hack out alone around the 30 minute hack route and stay in walk. This is actually a lot trickier task than it sounds, as 85% of the route is across large grass fields, and most horses would want to tackle them at a much quicker pace. But, to Kermit's credit she only jogged forwards 3 times and came straight back to me the minute I checked my outside rein and asked her to steady. I made sure that I kept her on a pretty long rein throughout so that she didn't feel like she had anything to fight against.

I have to admit, I was pretty nervous leaving the yard but just kept thinking of Robert Pattison and my blue circles and explained to Kermit that if he could see us he would be very proud, and that if she knew who he was, she'd understand why the thought of him smiling at me and praising me was a very good motivator!!!! The more I thought of this the more I smiled, and the more relaxed I became, and the longer the time spent in the saddle the better we were both feeling.

She hesitated a few times, and I even had to use the kick and 3 gentle taps once, but after that she was great and I think she was reassured enough to know it was all ok.

We continued on our ride very calmly and it was great (although pouring with rain and very very windy), but interestingly, I only really became aware of this when we got back into the yard. When I had woken up this morning and seen the weather, the gremlin on my shoulder launched into a whole host of reasons why I shouldn't ride out today, but luckily my new pain to power attitude shut him up!!! I reminded myself that if I didn't ride today, the pain I would feel at not moving forwards would be far worse that the fear I would feel whilst out on the ride....and it worked!

I felt so so powerful when I got back to the yard, but in a really quiet, gentle and contented way. I need to bottle up this feeling and sprinkle it over myself tomorrow morning before my lesson, to wash away any doubts or fears that my gremlin may talk to me about. Alternatively, I could just drown the gremlin in it???!!!!

Sunday 29th May 2011 - Kelly Marks May Masterclass

Kermit had a day off yesterday which wasn't in the original plan, but I thought it would do her good to have a day thinking about her schooling last night. And Charlie left early to go to Twickenham to watch the rugby, so I was home alone with the girls...

This morning Charlie hacked Kermit out on his own. Again, this was different to the plan where I had scheduled a family hack, but as I knew I was going on a solo hack tomorrow I thought it would be good if he took her out first, as she hasn't been out for about 3 weeks, due to her lameness....They had a great hack and included a long canter (homeward bound.....need to discourage him from this!!!).

This evening I've been to the Kelly Marks May Masterclass which was fantastic! It was great to see her riding and having so much fun. And it was also a great reminder about keeping your emotions out of situations, controlling your breathing, taking small steps and only increasing when both you and the horse are completely relaxed, standing to be mounted, body language, how to ride around spooky things and more!!! I took pages of notes which I can build into my planning for this week.

Friday 27th May 2011 - Nervous Nellie Plays 'Riding Intructors'

One thing I stumbled across last week when I was giving my husband a bit of help was that playing the role of the instructor can really help to boost my confidence. I found that by having to think of how to instruct someone else through a situation, boosted my own confidence in my abilities, as when I instructed him to do something that worked, it helped me to realise that I did actually know how to do things myself! So, included in this week's plan was to give Charlie a lesson.

We went out on Friday evening and K was her usual joggy evening self.....either she finds the light a bit spooky or she's protesting at having to go out to work when she thinks she's been brought in for the evening to munch (I suspect it's the latter!!!). I asked Charlie to focus on repeating small patterns in walk, and set him a route through the poles and around a square, always coming back in to the middle to halt. K definitely had the hump, and was jogging and shaking her head in protest, and napping back up towards the gate. Charlie was starting to get quite frustrated by this and so I asked him to concentrate on his breathing and keep looking straight ahead, no matter what. After about 10 mins she had settled down and was walking round nicely. I also taught him how to do the small circles that Lisa had taught me earlier in the week, and how to ask her to take responsibility for walking forwards herself.

I then suggested that we try the same in trot, with the goal of having a consistent balanced trot on either rein for one lap of the schooling area by the end of the session. Well, this was apparently all too much for Kermit who proceeded to buck at every opportunity. We tried small trots, long trots, pattern repetition, everything I could think of, and still she continued to put her head down, shake it about, buck, shoot forwards etc. Charlie and I had both got the giggles now as it was so ridiculous but we were both determined to end on a positive. Rather than traditionally reprimand her (as I know some people would have told him to do), I suggested that we view her in the same way as we would our toddler, and ignore this behaviour and just keep asking for her to do the same thing. This went on for about 30 mins with various rein changes etc. and then finally they did it - two laps of a steady, consistent, balanced trot on either rein - result!!!!

Charlie was absolutely over the moon, as was I, and it felt like a really good team effort. He had been really brave, calm, patient and focused, and I had tried really really hard not to totally piss him off!!!!

We decided to leave it at that, and end on our positive, and walk back to the yard. Kermit, however, decided it would be much more fun to jog however, so we spent the next 10 mins asking her to walk back to the gate, and backing her up each time she jogged forwards.

What was great about today was the calmness about all of this, and the focus and determination. I just kept thinking back to the 6 week plan and really didn't want to fall back a day, but to stick with it so that I would be closer to achieving my goal.......

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Fired Up!!!!!! - Thursday 26th May 2011

Day Two of Six Week Plan.....

Riding through bucks with leg on, determination and absolutely no fear, whilst returning to a balanced steady trot........Feels like we've made it, look how far we've come now baby.......

Result! This riding every day lark is sooooooo good for me and K - she was completely non-spooky today even though it was blowing an absolute gale, again!!!! We worked on small patterns and gradually increased the distances in walk and trot. Towards the end she tried to nap and bucked a couple of times, but without any tension or fear. I felt completely confident about putting my leg on and riding her forwards, which definitely gave her something to think about! She tried it again and I did the same, and this time she actually turned her head around and looked at me in disbelief!!!! We then did two laps of the schooling area in the best trot we've ever done.

I can honestly say that I wanted her to buck and nap again - just to prove to her that I can do it a 3rd time!!!!!

Am completely buzzing and now have Mumford and Sons cranked up on the stereo and dancing about!

Having a plan and specific exercies to work to is just brilliant - I know its back to that age old cliche that if you fail to plan you plan to fail but its true!!!!! Thx Lisa for getting us to buckle down xxxxx


Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Wednesday 25th May 2011

Day One of the Six Week Plan.....

just got in from day one of training

charlie only got back in from work at 8 so i managed to get 40 mins of schooling in and gave him a demo of what i learnt yesterday (minus the trot).

its the first time ive ridden kermit so late in the evening and she jogged into the paddock and then humped a few times in protest when i asked her to move forwards and get into the schooling area so i decided to just take it steady.

it was great having charlie there as i talked him through what i was doing and lis - keeping her occupied from the off was fab and like yesterday, she settled down very quickly

charlie was v impressed by the tiny circles and i practised by circling around him whilst he sat on one of the water containers. the aim was for my inside leg to keep brushing him which i did just by using that high up inside rein and no leg - really good!

she was also responsing so well to the leg and most of the time i only had to give her one quick kick and she would move forward straight away - what a fast learner. and she only stopped in mid walk twice which is just a miracle considering i was using no leg - this feels like such a great learning achivement already!

we zig zagged in and out of poles and walked around the big circle on both reins and i kept my reins equal and parallel and focused on steering by looking where i wanted to go which also worked brilliantly.

i decided to leave it at that point as it was going dusky and v windy and i was determined to leave it on a high note for both of us. i untacked her and took her for a much on some long grass for 10 mins which she definitely appreciated - brilliant!!!!!

feeling really pleased as i was def out of my comfort zone tonight as i was out so late and she was def twitchy to start with but really pleased that she chilled so quickly - hoorah!

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Tuesday 24th May 2011

Well, sorry its been so long.
After an amazing two weeks with the roundpen we had 10 days of fantastic riding, including my first ever solo hack!!!!!!!!!

Unfortunately my mare then got a respiratory infection and was off for 10 days, was then OK again for 5 days, and then went lame for another 10!!!!

So riding started up again last week and all has been going really well, but today was a BIG turning point......

Lisa Venables, my Holistic Horses confidence coach, came to give me a lesson for the first time. It was great to have Lisa over to meet my mare and see me ride as she is a key part of my learning journey and knows everything about my emotional state when it comes to riding - and lots of other stuff too!!!!

Last night at our strategy meeting we worked on a six week plan and so today we went about setting up wek one's activities to facilitate the plan.

Within minutes Lisa had my 'lazy' mare who hates schooling work walking around happily with me having to use hardly any leg, she showed me how to get her to stop immediately in trot so that I was in full control, how to ask her to turn on a sixpence with very little effort, and I feel that in one short hour my riding has already been transformed!!! Both my mare and I really enjoyed it and I can't believe how after one hour with Lisa such a dramatic change can occur. I really can't wait to try it all out again tomorrow!!! And by the way, it was blowing a gale and none of us batted an eyelid! Result!!!