Thursday, 31 May 2012

Stressage and the koff

Dressage is undoubtably an art.
It is also just the basic training for horse and rider.

Therefore, if I ride my horse, I should be able to do dressage.

Well, yes, in theory. But not if your horse develops a slight, but persistant, cough.


Max gets a holiday every year while I am insanely busy with my job. He goes to my coach's place which has the most awesome hills, and he gets to hang out with the Big Horses and also his BFF Dinky. This year, I thought of a Brilliant Plan and convinced Coach that she should ride Max in the Winter Dressage series. He needs to get out and do some stuff (you know, like actually canter and work properly) and she needs to get her competition brain in gear so she can take her warmbloods out competing.

But good ol' Goober starts to cough. And cough. And has a bit of a runny nose, but not really snotty. None of the other horses has any sign of a cough, but maybe it was already brewing and the stress of moving brought it on. He was still perky enough, and eating well (as usual), so it didn't seem worth calling the vet out. We just made sure he was warm, added a few herbs to his "feed" [chaff + minerals, ha! but it is in a feed bin like everyone else's, so must be feed, eh?] and waited.

That was six weeks, and two scratchings from the dressage series ago. He still has the "koff" although it doesn't sound as bad now. I put him out on the lunge on Saturday, and he coughed twice when starting, nearly pulled my arm off cantering around like an idiot, and coughed once more on the other rein. Hmmmmmm.

The grazing owner has heard him cough in the paddock too. I still don't think the vet will be able to do anything but it is starting to drive me cray-cray. We are entered for dressage on June 10th and I haven't ridden him for two and a half months. Might be interesting!

Thursday, 1 March 2012

February - goals/achievements

Wow, March already! And officially the start of autumn for us down here next to Antartica.

Not much riding got done this month, due to an exponentially growing workload and all-round crap weather. We have officially had a "stink summer" this year through all of NZ, and although the ground is still pretty good and soft, it hasn't been much chop for anything much. We've spent more time in the indoor arena than we usually do in winter. Okay, maybe not, but you know....

February Goals:
1 - Pilates for my position and core strength.

Success (sort of). We started a horse-focussed Pilates course with Max's physio (she's a Pilates instructor too, as well as a human physio) and we've done 3 sessions. Not much core strength, but some flexibility shown. Definitely wonky all round, but that's not unusual in our group so we all feel about as useless as each other.
I must do some practise though!

2 - Work on trot for both of us, and our fitness

Ummm....Fail. See above for comments on not much riding time. I've only had two riding lesson this month due to one thing and another, once Max had his back up and so we did lots of walking, the other time he was sticking me up, so my coach got on board. So he's improved but me, not so much.

3 - Canter work to improve balance and control. Refine the aids, ensure the correct lead every time

Fail. Ditto lack of riding, but this is an on-going goal so it just goes on the list again.

4 - Continue going on adventures out and about BUT no jig-jogging

Success. We went out solo around the vineyard and had no bolting, just a tad of jig-jogging which was firmly nipped in the bud. He was a bit stressed as they have started the bird-scaring (sparkly tape, bangers etc) and threw a tantrum went we got back to the float. We also went out to a friend's place and hacked for two hours over the hills. Just a little bit of jogging, and one fall (more later on that). AND we went to the Hunt Club's practise day for an outing, and he coped pretty well with the hooning about/whip cracking/lunatic ponies/killer water pump shed. Just one or two one-rein stops when he felt like he was going to leave town. A fellow green horse owner commented on how chilled out he seemed. But then that might be relative to her stroppy skewbald mare who was having a right old paddy!

March goals:
  • Work on trot for both of us
  • Canter work
  • (Hippo)Pilates, and practise!
Unfortunately, March is the start of our crazy/busy season at work. So Max gets to have a nice little holiday where he runs around on some hills, and I go into horse-deprivation. However, there is a sneaky plan where someone else might ride him in some of the Winter Dressage....

Monday, 30 January 2012

January - goals and achievements

I haven't specified any goals for us in the past. But I think I will start doing it now, especially as we finally seem to be getting somewhere!
(With apologies to Andrea at for stealing her format)

January 2012 Goals:

Rising trot (me) - doing it correctly and working on fitness and core strength
Success - getting better but I need to do more. Also need more pilates work, but our physio is going to do specific horse-rider classes this year! AND I need to sit on my fit ball while I watch TV.

Sitting trot (Max) - schooling with my coach to teach him to lift his back
Success! He looks like a real dressage horse and seems to have a good work ethic.

Canter (both of us!) - give canter a go without freaking out and panicking
Success! We cantered on both reins in Nicky's HUGE arena without tantrums or bucking, or hysteria on my part. We also had a few less-controlled canters around the cross country paddock at the Park. Almost-but-not-quite running away on someone's part, followed by "so you want to canter, do you????" from someone else. Both ended up puffing and exhilarated.

Go out in the world!
Success!We went to Nicky's arena last Saturday (about 15 km from home) with a few wrong turns, so that tested Max's travelling skills. Also this month, we have been out for a hack along the Tutaekuri River, and in a groupof about 6 at the beach. Unfortunately, Max decided he would jig-jog all the way home both times. So he isn't going out in a group again until we have that sorted.

Summer twilight dressage
Fail. The first one was just two weeks after New Year's and we hadn't done enough riding. The second one was last week, and still not enough riding, no canter skills and I'm over paying good entry fees just for an outing. We need to be getting out with the intention of competing.

February Goals:
1 - Pilates for my position and core strength
2 - Work on trot for both of us, and our fitness
3 - Canter work to improve balance and control. Refine the aids, ensure the correct lead every time
4 - Continue going on adventures out and about BUT no jig-jogging

That should keep us out of trouble for a bit...

Friday, 6 January 2012

A good horse is never a bad colour

From The Young Lady's Equestrian Manual (circa 1838)

"Of all colours presented by the horse, none is so rich and at the same time, so elegant and chaste, as a bright bay; provided the mane, tail and lower parts of the legs be black. A small white star on the forehead, and a white speck on one of the heels, are to be considered rather as beauties than defects: but much white either on the face or legs … is quite the reverse of desirable."

Ha! I'm finally fashionable. 
Only two hundred years or so too late, of course.

Monday, 2 January 2012

Christmas Ribbon Day 2011

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Yep, that is a first-place ribbon, and for the Turn-out class no less!!!

This was our first attempt at showing (also called "dolly classes" or just-going-around-in-interminable-circles) at the riding club Christmas ribbon day. Showing is not at all my cup of tea, it bores me senseless and I feel very uncomfortable with the whole beauty show mentality. I hate people looking at me and I would rather have a task to do - having a dressage test or some jumps to do suits my goal-focussed brain much better.

However, as we are not ready to do any jumping at this stage, there aren't many options for outings. And I figure it is good for both of us to go out in a crowd and experience a day at a show. I definitely need to do more practise on plaiting and figure out how to use my new braiding wires that are so much easier to get out than rubber bands!

Maxie was undeniably a star! He managed to keep his plaits in overnight and only rolled in the mud a little bit so it took longer for me to make myself presentable than it did for him. I didn't think we had a snowball's chance in a supernova in the turnout class, but figured we might as well as some of the others hadn't plaited. And waddyaknow - we won it! He does look gorgeous in the photo but I suspect the judge didn't look at my plaits very closely, and my gear doesn't match and so on. But a red ribbon is a red ribbon!

We also placed third in Best PARC Riding Club Mount, fourth in Best Mannered and fifth in Best Rider. As we don't yet have a steady trot, we definitely were not going to canter in a huge paddock, but that didn't seem to worry the judge.So, four ribbons out of six classes and I am more than happy to now retire from showing forever more!

He was definitely tired by the last class and kept turning his head around to look at me as if to say "Why are we still going around out here?" I suspect I have started to turn him into a bit of a nancy boy dressage queen with only riding in the indoor arena for less than an hour. Note to self - get in the saddle for longer! So we didn't do the games classes and he got to stand at the float and demolish a large haynet for a while.

After lunch, we dressed up for the fancy dress class - more on that soon!

I was so pleased with how my little guy coped with a very big day out (for him), behaved perfectly when the others were cantering around him, stood well at the float when I left him, and loaded up and went home like a champion. Other people might wonder why I didn't do the jumping as well, but I think this was quite enough for a green horse to cope with. My coach is a great believer in breaking things down into small do-able chunks, and so I think that throwing Max into a whole day would be too much for him. Maybe next year we can go jumping?

Monday, 26 December 2011

Happy St. Stephen's Day

As I missed the opportunity to wish the world a happy Christmas, I will send my thoughts to everyone for the feast of St. Stephen.

AKA Boxing Day here. Which is now the number one shopping day of all the year in New Zealand. And this year, even I found myself braving the shops with my Mum. Luckily, any of the shops I find interesting aren't open today. So my bank accounts were safe.

Season's Greetings to all.
(Next year, you never know, I might even get a themed photo to post!)

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

A week off

Lucky ol' Maxie Potaxie got a week off. I had planned for us to have a lesson but my coach wasn't feeling well, so she cancelled. I then spent most of the day watching the local dressage Champs (eek!) and so we just had a bit of a stroll around the paddocks. On the Sunday I had volunteered to write for forementioned Champs (double eek, as I got put in a Grand Prix class!). We had a little wander around the vineyard that afternoon but nothing like real work.

Then I was off for the week for work meetings, staying at our other site about 4 hours drive away. The fun of staying in motels and eating out all the time has definitely worn off!

One thing though, looking at the photo above taken on the Sunday, it sure has dried out here in the past week.