Sunday, June 21, 2009

Will Spring please hurry up??

So i'm suffering from a lack of motivation at the moment. Nothing to do with Mr Horse - he's just great - it's more to do with the darkness and cold/wetness of Winter. It's the time when I really begin to wish I had taken up a sport that didn't require me to slip and slide around in fields in the dark to try and hunt down horse (who's taken a liking to hiding in the furthermost corner pretending he's not there) to bring in to ride. It's also the time that I wish I didn't have an almost white horse who has a liking of deep mud baths....

I've become one of those "fair weather riders" that I always tutted at. Suddenly having mud everywhere all over the tack, the car, my clothes, and inevitably everywhere, isn't so attractive.

So sorry Melbourne - I am not rain dancing or welcoming Winter in open, frozen, goose-pimpled arms. I'm praying for Summer to come so that I can battle flies, sweaty horses and snakes. That's much more least I think it is?

Monday, June 8, 2009

Inspirational riding

So just got back from the Melbourne 3-Day event and, aside from the painfully-cold steel seats and average food, it was so motivational! I actually managed to pick-up some good ideas from the riders and it was nice to see a few of them obviously enjoying the competition with smiles on their faces as they took part in the show jumping and cross-country. My goal posts have now significantly moved from pre-novice EFA to 1* CCI - perhaps one day i'll be at Melbourne too and have the biggest smile in the competition.

Well, here's hoping... In the meantime, i'm going to need to step-up the training and have a little tete-a-tete with the sure he'd like to know about my plans for us. Or convinced of them more like. It's time to get a plan to action together for the next 5 years and to enter some competitions to get us started.

"A goal without a plan is just a wish" ~ Antoine de Saint-Exupery

* picture is of Megan Jones - 2008 and 2009 winner of Melbourne 3de - my idol! :)

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Bad manners and back-scratching

Now my horse (we'll call him "Mr Horse" for anonymity purposes) is excellent to ride. He is calm, patient, mostly forgiving and with a great education. The only thing that lets him down are his ground manners. After a month of being pushed around, fidgeting, biting, not standing still I decided to seek help from a Natural Horsemanship clinic in the local area who specialised in "ground manners".

The day didn't start so well - "Mr Horse" was really not happy. After being labelled the "naughty horse" from the very beginning (I didn't realise that other attendees in this "group session" would have had prior training....and impeccable manners) he was off to a bad start. Not helped further then by kicking over his water bucket three times; winding up the owners horses (so they fled to the back paddock); eating the fence post and then trying to pull a cord out of electrical socket. 

Things started to look up as we eased into things. I managed to get him to stand still and yield in both directions (after copious bribes of back scratching as a reward). Mr Horse was looking up! Maybe he could be the star pupil, this was good! 

Sadly the day ended abruptly when he didn't take to kindly to the "horse whisperer's" methods of submission. Lets just say it involved rearing, bucking, striking and bolting. There went my prize dressage horse bolting across the fields with a 15m rope dangling between his legs which he could have tripped on at any second. I couldn't watch. Just at that moment the other half arrives to find me, head in hands, eyes closed. Meanwhile, ponies and owners stood a gasp whispering about my crazy horse and holding for dear life on to their ponies in case mine came back and violently attacked them.

It was time to go home. Mr Horse sloped back over to me and we packed up and took him home to his paddock - albeit a lot sweatier and tired that he had started out. He is now a lot happier in his paddock and hasn't bitten me or pushed me since. He's no golden child but he's my horse and I can cope with his brain spasms for the great time he gives me when being ridden. I'm never going to get him to stand completely still, or drop to his knees and roll over on command, but we have a better understanding after that day. And the most important lesson I learnt? A good back scratch will get you everywhere with Mr Horse. Deep down, he's a simple sole of small pleasures. And I love him for that.

For some natural horsemanship tips from the probably the most well-known guru see Pat Parelli's problem page.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Introducing the beast

Meet my beast - oops I mean worthy steed. Not of a beastly nature, just of a monstorous size.
He's 17.2H and knows it. So big I need to get on a step-ladder to wash his face. Never mind getting on (mounting) with my inflexibility, it's a sight to be seen. Note to self - must buy bigger jodphurs so that I have some "give" in the butt when getting on him....could end up pretty embarassing for spectators behind.

He has a lot to teach me....and will show his frustration at my ineptitude in a number of somewhat amusing ways...He has a fantastic nature though but sometimes a bit too much of a brain. He likes to get one over on me that's for sure. It's always an interesting ride!

Get over what...?

Horse riding is not just about getting over jumps - it's also about getting over fear and lack of confidence. Starting to ride again is an adult is somewhat frustrating, difficult and unfortunately often pretty scarey. Luckily, it is also rewarding and addictive. Follow my journey as I try to get over my fears and inferiority on horseback to become a more confident and assertive rider and person.