Monday, November 30, 2009

Repeating Myself Yet Again!

I know I say this alot but I am very lucky to have Sam. He shone once again on the weekend, twice!!!! On Saturday afternoon he was used as a 'school horse'. I started chatting with one of the ladies out at the paddock about the troubles she is having with a horse that she is riding. It isn't her horse as she doesn't have one to ride at the moment so the owners let her have free access to this horse. It is starting to buck and tries to bolt off during canter out in wide spaces. I asked what aids she was giving and what she does when he does this. It turns out she is self taught and has no idea on how, why you use your seat and legs. She relies totally on her hands. She didn't understand a lot of things I was saying so..........

I put her up on Sam so she could feel what it is like when a horse moves off your seat and leg. He isn't great but could give her a feel for what she needs to start aiming to. It also showed that she has no balance so we worked on her position. Sam did so well. He only did things when she asked correctly and when she lost her balance he started to speed up in the trot but then after a while he would halt. If she fell forward in the trot he would hit the breaks. This caused her to fall forward even more but it also helped her find a position that kept her more stable. I was very proud of him!

I took him for a canter out above the paddocks after that because I didn't think it fair for him to be cooped up in the round yard for the whole ride.

On Sunday I had big plans for Scott to come out and video me so I could see this new position I have. It turned out to be cold, wet and windy so I thought I would give it a miss. The afternoon when I went out to feed turned out to be quite nice so I decided to hop on for a short ride. I think he was happy to get out and stretch his legs. Even though he is in a paddock the ground is slippery and he does look after himself in that way. We made our way down to the large riding paddock to help another friend. I had to take photos for her to send to her horses previous owners. I took Sam for a canter on both reins first just to get the little 'fizz' out. I was able to drop the reins and put my arms out by my sides and he just cantered around at the same speed and listened to my body to turn! AWESOME!!!!! He then stood stock still while Bec cantered around us and I took photos. Even when she decided to start popping over a few show jumps he stood still and watched! He really is the bestest pony in the world!!!!

When we finished Bec and I decided to take them out into an area that I don't normally ride all the way around because the neighbours horses always gallop over to the fence and carry on. I was very nervous but Bec stayed with me and helped me through it. Sam once again was a rock. I was getting very nervous and worked up - horses were galloping around and whinnying - I was getting ready for Sam to just kick up his heels and join in! You won't believe what he did - stopped and had a wee!!!!! Not a short wee but a long one with groans! So as you can see he wasn't bothered at all! He was unsure of a log that we had to pass but after he had a look and sniff he didn't mind and continued walking on with a loose rein.

So even though I was so tense through my body he just kept plodding along. I know he takes a lot of confidence from the other horse we are with but I figure that we have gone around once now he should be pretty good if we do it alone!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Last Lesson of the Year

I had my last lesson of the year this morning. Jane is going away for about two months so I had two lessons this week. Today was a bad day. For some reason I was very nervous today. I don't know why. This frustrates me to no end. On Wednesday when I rode Sam was horrid - rushing not listening, spooky and it didn't bother me. I just sat through it all but for some reason this morning I was in a bad place inside.

We started off in the round yard and did relaxing exercises. Concentrated on my position. Sam really couldn't go any where so I didn't have to worry about him I could just think about breathing, relaxing my shoulders, arms, my neck. We worked in there for about 45min. Jane wanted to ride with me out in the big paddock. I really didn't want to go out there but knew I had too. We walked down with no problems. Jane's horse was playing up a lot and once again Sam just watched! We went up to an end that Sam and I have problems with and worked the horses around there. Up and down gullies, over small logs. I even trotted Sam over a few small logs. He could walk over them they were that small but I haven't trotted him over ones yet so that gave me a boost. I then pushed him up into one of his wonderful slow comfortable canters.

Sam of course was a gentleman and helped calm me down a lot. All in all it was a good lesson and I am glad I pushed through it. It was great because as we walked home Jane cantered off in front of us. Sam didn't even raise his head he just kept walking. What more could you ask for!!!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Lesson and Diet Question

I had another lesson yesterday. It was interesting. We worked just on me and my position so Sam got it quite easy. All he had to do was trot around with his little nose sticking out! Now that I have my lower leg just about sorted we moved to my shoulders. I hold them so tightly I usually hop off very sore. We did some one rein work so I could drop one arm down at the time and let it relax. It certainly helped.

Then we did lots of changing the rein in walk and trot but turning using only my body. I had to look and point my belly button where I wanted to go. It was awesome! I was amazed how nicely Sam turned. Isn't it amazing how much they listening to your position and seat.

Canter is my best position. I still get up into a 2 point seat to really stretch down through my legs and then slowly come back into the three point seat. I just have to work on not constantly driving Sam forward with my seat.

I then went for a walk with Sam and he started to get up on his toes and spook. He did a major spook - you know the ones where they rear and spin. I stayed on thank you to my new more secure position but I did loose a stirrup. I got Sam over to what was upsetting him but I then called it a day. I was mentally tired from my lesson.

My instructor said something that really struck a cord
'Collection comes from a really good halt and from the horse being light off your leg aids' If you have these two things really cemented in your horse then collection just happens. You know this makes sense to me!!!!! I will be practicing my halts from from all gaits and I want Sam really listening to my leg so he becomes light off my leg! I actually wasn't even trying but after we did a few transitions I noticed Sam had a lovely walk at one stage. Forward, round, soft, relaxed so it does work!!!!

I have noticed two new things with Sam. He seems to be a lot hungrier. I haven't changed his diet but his work load has increased. He hasn't lost any weight and doesn't need to put any on, I like him the way he is. He now trots over nickering for breakfast and dinner. Don't get me wrong I like that but I don't like the fact that he is obviously so hungry. The temperature is really starting to warm up and there is absolutely nothing in his paddock but dirt. Not that he ever really had anything in it.

Breakfast he gets 2.5kg - meadow grass hay
.5kg - lucerne hay

Dinner he gets 2.5kg - meadow grass hay
.5kg - lucerne hay
1.0kg - mixed oaten and lucerne chaff
.3kg - pellets
cup - herbs for hooves

What can I add so he doesn't put on weight or increase energy as he has more than enough of that? Should I just increase the meadow grass hay?

The second thing I have noticed he has been eating dry horse poo. Not in his paddock as I clean it daily but when I take him out for a pick if there is dry poo there he will eat it! Do you think he is lacking something? Should I add a vitamin/mineral mix to his diet? Should I go back to adding seaweed meal to his diet?

Horses diet - they give me a headache! He has a wonderful shine to his coat and his mane isn't as dry as it usually is so I thought he must have been pretty healthy?!

Sunday, November 22, 2009


OK guys take a seat, make a cuppa this is going to be a long one. :o)

Lets go back to last Wednesday. I had a lesson which went well. Jane rode her horse Mojo so we could ride all around the large riding paddock. We started by heading straight down instead of doing a little in the round yard. Jane took me a way down to the riding area that I don't usually go because Sam spooks in that area. I was apprehensive and Sam certainly picked up on that. He went to have a jig jog but I sat deep and he came back to a walk. We made our way over to the arena and Jane set up some cones so I could concentrate on keeping Sam on a 20m circle. We did really well, hardly any falling in or out. We worked on that for a while, both reins then we had a chat about the three buttons she has created on Sam's sides. I practiced moving his shoulders, his hindquarters and then his whole body side ways. I showed her our canter so I could practice that as well. Jane could see an improvement in my seat and position which made me very happy. I just have to concentrate on relaxing my shoulders, they are very tense at the moment.

We then went for a ride through the paddock and Jane sprung a trail ride on me. She took me out along the road. I am glad that she sprung it on me so I didn't have time to really work myself up about it, but I was certainly nervous. We took a dirt road that took as round some properties. We went the way she had already taken Sam so he was forward but content. It certainly helped having Mojo along with us. Mojo spooked badly at a letterbox so Jane had to do some work on getting him near it and past it. Sam stood and watched Mojo have a panic attack and was happy to walk on when Mojo was ready. We then pushed them up into a trot. Sam became tense and looky but was still controlled. I concentrated on my position and rising to the trot evenly. He was happy to come back to a walk. Further down the rode Mojo trotted off in front of us and Sam was happy to stay at the walk - this I was very impressed with. We trotted to catch up but I continued past at the trot so he didn't think we trot to catch up all the time.

All in all the ride went for 2.5 hours, I was tired and so was Sam at the end but I was really happy with how we went. We organised to go for another trail ride on Saturday morning.

Friday I rode again and Sam was awful. I had trouble with my position so Sam wouldn't settle. He felt strong and was leaning a lot on my hands. I just didn't have the energy or patience to really concentrate on it so we went for a walk and went up and down gullies. I was happy how I ended it and in the bottom of the gullies I practiced using my seat and legs to get him to follow the gullies twists and turns. We ended on a happy note which was the main thing.

Saturday morning arrived and I was so nervous about our ride. I didn't have a good sleep and sat on the toilet for a while if you know what I mean. My stomach had a billion butterflies but I got in the car and once I got to the paddock I was doing a little better. I got there early so I could warm Sam up before we headed out. I wanted to check what sort of a mood he was in before we headed off. We started off in the round yard and practiced our halts and turns then we made our way down to the riding paddock. Sam was very forward but listening. We worked for about 20min before I realised Jane and Bec where mounted and had made their way down to get me. I don't know how long they where waiting but I appreciated it.

The three of us headed out and down the driveway. When we came out onto the rode a large group of cyclists made their way towards us. Now Sam always grew ten hands, would stop and stare wide eyed at them when we were riding in the paddock. I asked if we could stop and let the horses watch as they went past but Jane likes to keep the horse moving and keep them doing what you already were. I decided to stop and let Sam watch. He coped really well. I think it all happened so fast he didn't have time to react. The others were a little way ahead which made him a little worried but again after and little jig jog he came back to a walk. Bec and Jane put us in the middle for while to help me calm down and relax a little. Sam grew stronger and braver with this and soon powered on in front with a really forward, strong power walk. I let him go and it took him a while to realise what he had done. He had put about 4 horse spaces inbetween us. I kept him going forward when he started to back off and wanting to wait for the others. I made him do a small circle and we were back in the middle. He went past running sheep, barking dogs on chains, squawking chooks, trucks hurtling past - he did all this with good manners, maybe a little tension at times but I thought he did really well for all the things that were thrown at us and for putting up with a very nervous rider.

We made it to a large open area where we got to do our own thing. Jane and Bec worked on their flatwork and canter, Sam was very tense and not sure what to do with the two horses working around him, behind him, in front of him. I concentrated on keep a gentle rhythm and he soon settled down. Still tense but more focused. We were able to have a little canter and then I gave Sam a rest. I dismounted loosened his girth and let him have a pick. By this stage we had been riding for about 2 hours. After a bit we continued on our way. The way home was mainly by a dirt pathway that people can ride their bikes, horses, walk their dogs along. It is a lovely part and one section is through bush with different size fallen logs that you can jump over. Jane and Bec event so they took this opportunity to practice some jumping. Sam and I stood to the side to watch. He was not happy about this to begin with. I think he thought they were going to canter off with out him but once he realised that they were staying close he was happy to watch. Once we made it back up to the road that leads home Sam showed how tired he was getting. He kept wanting to stop so we took it at his pace. Poor boy our ride ended up being 3.5hrs. A lot was at walk but he took in a lot mentally.

I was very proud of him and myself. That afternoon I had a very big snooze on the couch!!!!

Today was showering with light rain and then this afternoon the wind picked up. I wanted to take Sam out for a walk to make sure he wasn't sore from yesterday's big ride. We saddled up headed up to the round yard to warm up. He was happy. Then I took him out to a different area to ride. Trotted up a hill and walked out along the top. He was forward and in the trot I could feel he just wanted to let rip but he didn't - he came back to a walk when I asked. We worked around on the side of the hill for a bit and then I let him have a canter up the hill. I thought he might stretch out a bit but he was happy to stay at his usual slow controlled canter.

You know what - you just have to love this horse. He really is so patient with me. He looks after me and I really have to TRUST him more. I know I have said that before and I know it will come but he really is awesome. Love little Sam to bits!

OK well if you stayed with me for the whole post well done and Thank you!!!!! Have an awesome horsey day! Go and give your pony a kiss and remember to thank them for looking out for you! Maybe a carrot wouldn't go astray either! :o)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

'The Quarters'

It hasn't all gone through yet so it isn't 'ours' but because I am so excited I thought I would share some photos with you. We have named it 'The Quarters' because we are going to have a 'shearing shed' theme with the buildings. Also Muttons Lane - sheep related! :o)

This is Muttons Lane - you will turn onto this to get to our front gates
From the gates looking along the southern border. In the distance you will see a red mound - this is the side of the dam which is in the far corner.
This is the western border from the gates. This runs along Muttons Lane.
This is looking through the middle of the property from the gates. So you are looking to the north east corner.
There is a thick tree line along the Southern, Western and Northern borders. As you can see there is a lot of work to be done and I can't wait to start. We are planning on having boutique agistment and a Bed and Breakfast where you can bring your horse and dog. Of course all this will take many years to achieve but you need to have dreams!!!!!!!

Monday, November 16, 2009

More steps forward

Thank you to everyone for their support! Sam and I really appreciate it!

More steps forward today. I woke up and I wasn't nervous about riding. No butterflies even though he has had since Thursday off work. I went out, saddled him up and headed up to the round yard. This time I led him up because I noticed that someone hadn't cleaned the horse poo out of it so I cleaned it up before mounting. Sam just followed me around sticking his nose in the way and then snotting all over me! Gotta love them!

Did the norm in the round yard concentrating on my position and on our stop, go, turn. I then headed out to the big riding paddock. Sam was great, once again showed a little hesitation to go through the gully but after a bump he kept moving forward. He really wasn't as silly as I thought he would be. He did settle very quickly. He was doing so well we were cantering around on the right rein which is our stiff side and he was really listening. I would go from a 20m circle to a straight line then a circle back onto a straight line. No falling in or out. I thought I would try something due to him listening so well. I started to canter towards an area in the paddock that we have always had problems with. (Tension, looking around, really hollowing the back) When I felt him get a bit tense I circled 20m and when I came back around he was settled again so I cantered on straight and again when I felt a little tension come in I circled 20m. We both did so well. We got right into the heart of the 'problem area' I then sat deep and asked him to walk. He really pulled and ran forward into the transition so I asked for rein back immediately which he did and the moment he lightened I stopped asking and he halted. I gave him a long rein and he was happy to walk around, relaxed, looking, but still relaxed.

We did some trot circles, back to walk then we went through the gullies over that side of the paddock. He was just so calm. On our way back I decided to take him up a lane way that we normally have a lot of problems with. Even leading him up there he was always tense and grew another two hands. At first he resorted back to walking a very wobbly line. I insisted that he walk straight and with purpose and after two corrections he did. We got up to a part that had a flapping rug on the gate and an upside down wheelbarrow on the ground and he had to walk through the middle of them. I was expecting some hesitation - none! he walked forward like a pro!

On the way back Malcolm the owner of the Agistment Centre came up in his ute. Sam stood still for a good 10min while we chatted. Even though the flies were really bad he stood still and just nodded his head against those pesky flies! He really is a little marvel and I love him more and more each day - I didn't think that was possible! My confidence is coming back to what it used to be and hopefully it will get even stronger than what it was!!!!!!!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Float Loading Practice

Scott looked after Sam for me Friday arvo and Saturday while I went to Melbourne to go to IKEA for shopping! Had a wonderful time but missed Sam terribly! Scott took wonderful care of him of course and Sam was fine.

This morning I thought we had better practice our float loading as it has been a week and a half since our lesson. Scott came out with me to help load the float up and put it in position. I caught Sam, lead him down to the float so I could put float boots on him and apply some fly spray - the flies are really bad at the moment. He didn't get upset when walking to the float or standing next to it. I led him around because you know what they are like with float boots on - they walk like mongo's! I pointed him towards the float he walked up, stopped half way in, I tapped with the dressage whip and he continued to walk on. He stood there happily until I asked him to back out. I also stopped him half way out.

Scott put the divider back to the middle for me and on we went again. This time he went all the way on but just needed to go that inch more, another light tap with the whip and forward he went. After a few quiet minutes I asked him to back out and again half way out I asked him to stop and wait and he did.

Up we went one more time but this time I put the tail guard up behind him. He lent back, felt it went forward but still stood quietly again. I undid it and he didn't move until I asked. That was it I left it at that today. I thought he did it all so well in such a relaxed manner I wouldn't push anymore.

Next time I will get him to stand while I do up the tail guard and the put the ramp up, then I will go in the front and tie him up and walk away for a bit. Then I will practice unloading. If all that goes well the lesson after that I will concentrate on not walking up so far with him. I would like to get to the point where I can stand on the ground and he self loads. All in steps. I was just so happy and proud of him. It took more time to hook the float up than get him to load! :o)

Thursday, November 12, 2009


Where to start?! I guess at the beginning! Sam had yesterday off. He got some new shoes on. I like our new farrier but he takes an hour and a half to shoe him. Sam doesn't do anything wrong, he stands like a gentleman for the entire time but the farrier just seems to take his time. That didn't leave me with enough time to ride before work and the afternoons have been soooooo hot, so he had the day off.

This morning I woke up once again with butterflies - I think this is going to be a common occurrence for a while so I think I had better just get used to it. I caught Sam and he had a spring in his step being led down to the tie up rail. I saddled him up and mounted. I made him stand once I had mounted for a while. He did this without too much fuss. We made our way up to the round yard, we did a few turns, small circles on the way. In the round yard I just practised turning, stopping, going, my position. While in there Sam saw some horses out in the road - a good 500m away - he grew tall, tense and I will admit I started to get a little worried. We hadn't spoken about what to do when this happened in our lesson. I stopped, breathed tried to relax and asked Sam to do a lot of turns, moving away from the leg, turn on the forehand, hindquarters. I really didn't feel like I achieved anything. He did it all he was just as tense doing it. This I am sure will improve in time. Because of this incident I was questioning about going out into the riding paddock. I had a canter in the round yard and thought I would see how he walked down to the riding paddock.

We got down there not a problem. Once again he slowed right down once I turned him towards the gully crossing that leads to the 'arena'. I pushed him on using my seat and I had to give him a big bump, small reaction but at least a reaction. When we got over the other side I walked him over some small logs, used the tractor tyres as things to practice turning around, figures of eight etc. Roadworks were happening on the main road so that gave him yet another distraction. I pushed him up into a trot and just concentrated on legs forward, sit up straight, head back, relax those shoulders, one, two, one, two. I asked for a lot of figures of eights and concentrated on making them round, even, no falling out or in. After a bit I felt him settle, slow down and concentrate. Then an amazing thing happened. I thought I had felt Sam lift his back and work before but nothing like this. We were on the left rein working around all the show jumps. I guess it would be about a 50m circle. We were trotting and it felt very even and rhythmical. He was round and soft and I remember trotting around and smiling. Thinking this is what it is meant to feel like! This is what I need to feel all the time! Mind you this lasted for about a third of the circle. I was very excited! I could feel the power underneath me but it felt contained and safe!

I did feel this through out our ride but not for as long. But it was there!!!!!! We had a canter and the right rein was terrible. He was leaning on the bit but I found he listened when I half halted with my seat and started to really come underneath himself and start to carry himself. I also felt my position was better. I felt that I didn't have to work as hard and that Sam was no longer able to pull me forward. My shoulders weren't as sore so I am guessing I wasn't as 'tight' this time. I also took Sam home a different way. Through a gully I have never taken him through before. No problems at all!!!!!!!

I am heading off to Melbourne tomorrow night and won't get home until Saturday night so Sam will probably get those two days off as well. I am going to try and get up early and ride in the morning but not sure if I will have time. I am doing a first aid course tomorrow. Figured it was a good thing to have up my sleeve!

Happy Horses!!!!! :o)

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Light Bulb Moment

I woke up this morning with butterflies again! I was planning to ride and a little apprehensive about it - on my own - no one to remind me what to do. I headed out to the paddock, tacked up Sam and headed over to the crate to mount up. I mounted Sam stood still while I arranged myself and then something happened.............

I read peoples blogs and marvel when they write about all the little things they do when they ride and how they remember it to write it down - they are what I call 'thinking riders'.

I think I have become a 'thinking rider'. Instead of just letting Sam make his way up to the round yard, I decided how we were going to get there. I started with my position at the halt, then I thought about the process on how to get him to walk on. I kept thinking about every little thing I was doing. I wasn't too concerned about where his head was - up, down, as long as it was going in the direction I wanted to go. I thought in advance what I was going to do to get him around that corner up to the roundyard. Once we were in the round yard I concentrated purely on my position, what I was feeling, was I getting the response I was looking for - was Sam halting from my seat or was I having to close my fingers on the reins? WOW this is a whole new world. Once I was comfortable in the roundyard with myself I decided to head on down to the large riding paddock.

Sam's walk grew larger on the walk down there so I was able to sit deep for a stride and what do you know it shortened! I sat deep for two strides and I got two short steps. I relaxed then sat deep and started to apply pressure with my thighs and he halted. We walked on, past the puddle and then I wanted to go to the riding area through one of the gullies. I could feel Sam starting to slow, balk slightly, I drove with my seat and then bumped with my legs, legs forward keep that lower leg forward Nina. Release the reins when going down so I don't bump him, reins up the neck, lean forward and let him trot up the other side - relax!TRUST SAM! Up Sam trotted and then walked on! He felt a little 'looky' and normally I would be really worried. Sit tall, lower leg back, shoulders back, head back, squeeze your butt cheeks and Sam trotted on, slow your rising to slow Sam down. Not working - check position, still rushing half halt with the rein and there he came back. Concentrate on your position not on what he is doing to a point - Well what do you know with a few figures of eight and thinking about myself Sam started to relax and work a little softer.

I had a canter each rein but really concentrated on myself and made the effort to correct things. I made decisions on speed, where we are going, not drifting out or in on circles and I really noticed a difference in Sam, in his work ethic, he was concentrating on me, we had a job to do and we were doing it! MAJOR DIFFERENCE! I ended the session with walking to a part of the paddock that I am not comfortable with and went up and down a few small gullies. On the walk home I didn't throw my reins at him and tell him to take me home. We changed the speed at the walk. We moved sideways, we moved just the shoulders, we moved just the hindquarters. Nearly back at the gate and we turned back the way we came and started bending around trees, bushes, rein back, forward, sideways. Sam was really tuned into me and I felt for the first time he was really listening and concentrating on me. What a different ride!!!!!! He didn't fuss when I turned him away from home, he was happy to work.

I am really going to concentrate on being a 'THINKING RIDER'! I can't wait until I can ride tomorrow or can I ride two times in one day? :o)

Monday, November 9, 2009

The lesson - LEARN TO TRUST!!!!!

The lesson this morning was awesome. I couldn't sleep last night because I was so nervous. I had butterflies and was worried what Jane would think of me. Three weeks Sam has been in training, three weeks since I have been able to ride. Would Sam be calm for me? Will I understand the new aids? Will he now just be really forward and I will feel really unsafe? I was awake at 5am but didn't have to get up until about 7am. I decided to get up just after 6am, dressed, had a milo, checked emails, went through the pain of getting a boot on my foot and then headed out to the paddock. I got a little side tracked with the emails so left a little later than I had planned. I dragged all my equipment up to the wash bay to tack Sam up because it is in the shade at that hour of the morning and it was already hot. Sam followed me out happily and stood happily in the wash bay while I fussed around, brushing, cleaning hooves, tacking up. Jane arrived and I met her down at the shed to grab my caverson from her. I bridled Sam and led him into the round yard and waited for Jane...................

My heart was pounding so I begged in a whisper to Sam - 'Please look after me'. I took a crate in with me to stand on to mount - just to help that foot a little more as it was already pounding from being in my boot. Sam stood rock still and stayed there for a few minutes while we waited for Jane and while I remembered what it was to breath. In and out, deep, slow breath in, slow breath out. How stupid did I feel, why was I so scared? Jane came in and asked me to just walk around how I normally would. After a circuit she called me into the middle and started to change my position. She shortened my stirrups a hole and bought my lower leg forward. Straight away I felt deeper and a little safer in the saddle - I was sitting in the saddle. We walked on some more and she got me to sit back, straighten and to bring my head in. She said I was riding with my head sticking out so my ears weren't in line!!!!!! I felt very uncomfortable as you do when someone makes you change your position but when you know it is for the better you keep lugging away at it.

(Interesting everybody has always told me to lengthen my stirrups - if you want to ride dressage you have to have long legs. I mentioned this to Jane and she said that I have to feel secure in my riding before we look at those sort of things - I LOVED THAT!!!!!)

We worked on stopping Sam. This was done by sitting deeper in the saddle, then closing with the thighs, knees, hands. Most of the time Sam was stopping with my seat - Awesome! Next was to get him to go. This was done by squeezing my seat, using a forward motion with my seat then a bump with my legs. I still had to bump, I don't think I was using my seat enough but practice makes perfect. Next came turning. Lets say we wanted to turn to the left, turn my belly button to the left, inside leg on but keep him going forward, sit up straight, if he drifts out through the shoulder have the outside leg there ready and outside rein there ready for it incase that happens. Up into the trot, fix that position, concentrate on lower legs forward, sitting back, bringing my head back - make Sam's ears look further away!!!!! Belly button where I want to go. Don't grip with those calves. It was interesting as the right rein has always been stiff, I couldn't bend Sam at all. Well in the trot I was twisting my upper body to the outside! As you could imagine this also meant I was pulling on that outside rein!!!!!! POOR SAM! I turned my body to the right and what do you know Sam started to bend to the right! Inside leg on he stayed out on the circle instead of falling in!

We then ventured out into the large riding paddock. Jane rode her pony Mojo and we went for a walk around the paddock. I haven't been very brave going through the small gullies so Jane took me up and down gullies. Gave encouragement, reminding me to release my hands forward so I don't bump Sam in the mouth. All was going well and we were talking about riding and we just started to do trot circles, Sam was tense and I felt that he was going to 'go' out from under me. Jane got me to slow the trot using my rising, reminded me of my position so in the end I wasn't thinking about what his head was doing but concentrating on me. Once I had my position right Sam calmed down straight away and trotted around rhythmical, even, hardly falling in and out!!!!!! We continued to walk on. We got to a gully and I asked Sam to halt so Mojo could go first, Sam went to go a bit quick through the gullie. I became tense, and said 'Sam' in a strong voice. Jane turned around and talked me through it. She then made me walk down and trot up through the gullies. Over and over again. The aim - TO TRUST SAM!!!!!! He isn't going to buck, pigroot, ping off when we get to the top and I have to trust him!!!!!! He always came back to a walk when we got to the top! I think this was a key moment - TRUST!

I am so used to having a 'school horse'. That is what Sam reminded me of. A school horse that I always had to chase to keep going. Since being at Wagga he has been alive - interested in life, happy to go out for a ride. I should be happy that Sam seems happier and wants to go forward!

We then walked through the gullies, over logs and that was the end of the lesson. Jane was going over to the 'arena' to work Mojo and she invited me to join her if I wanted. I figured why not. I trotted Sam over to the where the show jumps are and concentrated again on my position. Everytime I felt Sam get a little tense I checked my position and it was wrong, fixed it he calmed down!!!!!!! Weird - I don't think so - Sam is just a smart pony! Up into canter and wow - I had always loved Sam's canter as I thought it was slow and even, how wrong was I! NOW it is a lovely three beat, even, rhythmical and straight!!!!!!! I could trot a straight line and canter a straight line! This is huge!

Jane has done wonders with him in helping him understand leg aids, helping to teach him how to balance himself and how to go forward but not rush! Now Sam certainly didn't look anywhere near as good as when Jane rides him but I was really happy with my lesson. I am going to ride again in the morning and PRACTICE!!!!! I am going to PRACTICE TRUSTING SAM!!!!!!

Sorry about the long post but I had to get it out! A lot of what Jane was saying about my position I knew but it helps having someone pick on you so you have to work at it. Also it really helped feeling the difference in Sam so I won't ignore my position as much now and actually really try to work on it because I can't ask Sam to work if I'm not riding properly!

You know I have been thinking lately about getting a more educated horse and I would semi retire Sam. Why - because my fear and anxiety have been getting really bad lately. Today I feel that I am getting a more educated horse and in the process I will improve, my confidence will improve, my relationship with Sam will improve!!!!! Sounds like an all win situation!!!!!!

Just a little...........

I have to bequick as I am meant to be on my way to work but I had a lesson this morning. Forst ride in three weeks and first ride after all of Sams training. OMG I will post details when I get home from work but it was really good. Great to have someone that can put things in a way I understand. Basically we can't work on Sam until she corrects me and I am more constant in my position. My nervousness has become so bad I didn't realise how hunched over and tight I had become. Sam was fidgity in the trot until I relaxed, sat up straight and looked where I was going. It was like someone had flicked a switch in him - calm, trotting around soft, no where near as much falling in and out!!!!!!!

I will fill you in on all the details when I come home. I don't think I am going to be useful at work as I am on too much of a high!!!!!!!!! :o)

Thursday, November 5, 2009


About four weeks ago I started a new job in our new home town. I have not been enjoying my new position so I have been on the look out for new job opportunities. Nothing had been presenting itself so I took matters into my own hands. Being that I haven't been able to do too much I sat at the computer and on Wednesday I sent out 25 resumes to different medical specialists around town (I have 10 years expereince in the medical industry). I also sent my resume to three local saddleries because of my passion for ponies but also three years ago I left an awesome job (due to my husband being posted so we moved 2000km north) working at a saddlery/feed store. I was very sad to leave and have been trying to get back into 'horse world' every since. I prefer working in a store than at a barn - I'm a princess and enjoy the cooling in summer and heating in winter :o)

Anyway I sent out 25 resumes and recieved about 5 calls from specialists with the offers of employment but a lot of them were as their typists and I don't really enjoy that sort of work, I want to talk to people! I had a phone call from the local feed/saddlery store with the offer of weekend work which I was going to go in and have a chat to them about but then Horseland rang me and we organised an interview for this morning. We had a chat and they offered me a casual position!!!!!!!! TO START MONDAY!!!!!!! I AM SO EXCITED!!!!!!!!!

I have just informed my current employer who weren't happy but they took it well. They have asked if I can still work next week so of course I said yes. I still have to get the all clear from my doctor with my foot. I informed Horseland that I couldn't start for a week and they were fine with that.

BACK IN THE HORSE INDUSTRY!!!!!!!!! Just wait Sam is going to be inundated with new gear! I will have to be very strong!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Double Post Day

Just got back from Sam's Loading Lesson. OMG I wish I had taken the video camera. With such little fuss Jane had Sam loading really well in about 20min. I had Sam standing at the ramp waiting while Jane and I put the head divider back in and he decided to come up and investigate. Just front hooves on the ramp but we thought hey lets work with this so Jane asked me to continue with what I would normally do. Once I actually asked Sam to come up he moved his bum to the side of the float which he always does and then only moved his front hooves and not his back. Jane took over at that point.

She put a 'war bridle' on him. If you have a look at the link (hope it works) it is the one that is described as the Indian Halter. I guess this just gave her a bit more leverage when he wanted to rear. She also used a dressage whip to stop him from moving to the side of the ramp. She didn't hit him hard just tapped him and once or twice gave a short quick flick that he very quickly listened to. It wasn't long before he was loading by walking on straight. After a bit once he was on she was able to ask him to walk forward if one back hoof wasn't quite on.

I finally got to have a go and it was great. I also learned how to back him up straight so that if he started to move his hindquaters the wrong way if I turned his head the opposite way I could straighten him up a bit.

It was just so lovely to see someone teach him that it doesn't have to be a big deal and to do it so he didn't have a major explosion a few minor hiccups but nothing major. It was also interesting to see that the first time I loaded him he was tense when standing in the float. Head was raised and body was tense. I asked him to back out and then loaded him again and this time he was more realxed. I have to keep practicing so few times a week I will get my OH to come out with me and we will practice so it becomes second nature. Jane said that next time he will probably play up and refuse but if I do what we did this morning he should settle down and walk up. But if I run into more problems I know Jane will be happy to come and help me again.

I have organised her to ride Sam another two times this week and hopefully I will be able to ride next week. If not I will just get Jane to keep riding until I can ride again.

I am feeling confidant that soon I will have a horse that I have always wanted. Not that Sam isn't what I want it will just be lovely to have a horse that is a little easier.

Thank you for all your well wishes over my foot and Shannon, I look forward to it never hurting again when a horse stands on my foot!!!!! The doctor rang this morning and thinks the bone maybe bruised. I will have to look up exactly what that means but I think it sounds like a long recovery!!!!!!

Another lesson

Thank you Kate and SprinkerBandit for your kind words about Sam. I really did feel empowered after I spoke to Jane. Yesterday afternoon she rode Sam again and this time we but a caverson noseband on him. I tacked him up so I made sure it wasn't really tight. I would prefer not to use one but if I do then I like to have a two finger gap between the noseband and their nose. Wow the difference was amazing my old Sam was back!!!!!!!! Maybe the other day he was just having an off day. Jane didn't ride him for long because he was doing so well. Nice rhythm, steady head carriage, not pushing his nose out into the bit in downward transitions. He is still jumping into canter but that will come I think when he builds more strength in his hindquarters.

Jane just phoned and wants to do a float loading lesson this morning so I will let you know how that goes. I can't do much with my foot so I will just watch and hopefully at the end I might be able to have a go.

I do agree with Kate though - trainers work for us. Sam is going to be in training for a little longer due to my not being able to ride so I am going to ask her to take him out on a trail ride along the rode and to ride him out around the large riding paddock and up and down lane ways just to really get him out, going forward, build his confidence.

The foot is unfortunately getting worse. Looks like my bone is bruised and the wound was a little deeper than they thought and they think it might have a small infection so I am onto antibiotics. I really want it healed so I can start riding again!!!!!!!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Sam and his training

I have missed two of four with Sam's training sessions. Last night when I got to the paddock I pulled into the driveway and looked over to the riding paddock and saw a horse cantering around, I thought too myself wow that horse looks nice, giving his rider a rough time but he still looks good. Would you believe it was SAM!!!!!!!! (They were a good 700m away)

I went down to watch the session and after watching for about 10min I decided to step in. This is a big thing for me. I don't normally step in and voice my opinion when it comes to my horse. I don't know why I guess because I am not confidant with my own thoughts when a professional is involved.

Just some facts before I continue. Yesterday was a really hot day - 42degrees so in Fahrenheit it was about 107.6. We have a dry heat but it was the hottest day so far after winter. Sam is not overly fit in my opinion, it was about 6.15pm, over cast so the heat was slowly going but Sam was drenched from head to toe. He didn't look like his liver chestnut colour but a dark brown, white foam even building in his nostrils. I do not like to see my horse like this.

Jane was working him at canter with transitions up and down. Also he falls out dramatically on the right rein. He looked like he was coming down in the canter transitions extremely tense and abrupt. She was giving him small breaks in between each canter but then was doing walk canter transitions. I hobbled over (will explain later) and asked what was happening, why did he seem so tense, what was happening with the transitions. I think I was overacting because she explained that he was falling onto the bit when coming down, hitting the bit and trying to figure out how to come down without leaning on the bit. I think Jane is very active with her seat and Sam just isn't use to it. He couldn't even stand still - this is not normal at all. Normally I can ask Sam to halt, drop the reins and he just goes to sleep. Jane asks him to halt and then he must hold himself in a frame without moving. This would be hard I understand.

I voiced my concern when it comes to my time to ride. He looks so alive and active with Jane on board. With me he is generally lazy and very quiet. Hopefully he will dull it down a little when I finally get to ride again. I have managed to find meadow hay that he will eat so hopefully that will help with the 'energy' levels. He has been on 7kgs of Lucerne Hay a day because there has been no other roughage around to feed. I will be able to cut that back to about 1.5kg and make up the rest with the meadow hay.

I was proud of myself stepping forward and voicing my concerns. I have never had a horse with a trainer before so it is a daunting time for me. I haven't known Jane for long, only been able to watch her ride and talk to another girl who had her horse in training with her. Jane is straight down the line very matter of fact and will put up with no nonsense which I like. She wants to do a ground work lesson with me as she thinks I am too soft on Sam and let him get away with too much. I like him the way he is and think he is easy to handle but he does stand right in your face and nudge you a lot and I have to stop him from doing that. I also am not allowed to let him rub on me anymore. Poor Sam doesn't know what has hit him - he can't do anything that he used too!!!!

He seems to be recovering well from his lessons though - tired afterwards but the following mornings he seems fully recovered.

Now about me hobbling. Last Thursday morning I went to turn a friends horse out, like I do every morning. I was closing the gate when her bum hit the electric fence, she lunged forward and decided to land directly on top of my left foot. She didn't get turned out that morning. I hobbled out of the paddock and rang my best friend Jodi thinking that she would be nearly at work so she could come and and pick me up - she had only just left home! Normally it would have taken her a good 45min to get to the paddock and she made it in about 35min. By the time Jodi arrived I had a cold bandage on the foot and the pain was slowly going. We dropped her foster dog off at the vet and we decided that she would drop me at the doctor surgery close to home so I could then catch a taxi home. Of course that surgery was closed for the day. Luckily my husband was able to get the day off work so he came and got me and took me to another doctor surgery. I got the wound dressed (she took bark off the top of my foot) had xrays (nothing broken) and I sat down for the rest of the day. So from Thursday to Monday Scott had to look after Sam for me - I still got to hop along and pat him :o) I went back to the doctors this morning and he has given me the rest of the week off - I can't get a shoe on and it is still very swollen. I have photos that I will post when I can download them! :o)