Friday, April 27, 2012

Warm up exercise

I found this warm up exercise that I am going to set up tomorrow and try -

Form of Warm-Up Exercise
One of the most beneficial warm-up routines is to lightly massage the neck, shoulder and hind quarter muscles for 10-15 seconds on each side.
Then walk the horse on a lead (already geared up) over 3 parallel jumping poles spaced 4 metres apart on a flat surface, at an angle of 450 to the poles, in a figure 8 pattern for 4-5 laps.
This exercise helps to flex the upper body and spine, strengthen the sacroiliac and lower back area, stretch muscles on both sides on the figure ‘8’ turns and encourages the horse to lift its legs and lightly flex the tendons.
Then a walk to the arena, mount and walk 60 metres up the centre line in a zig-zag pattern, turn at C and lightly trot in a zig-zag, shoulder in movement back to A to warm and limber up for the day’s training exercises.
Lateral movement pattern to strengthen sacroiliac ligaments to assist
recovery and reduce overall risk of sacroiliac sprain.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

No Gillis

Gillis won't be joining our family. My instructor was able to do a little more research on him and his previous training. She was able to speak to his current instructor as well who believes he is a great horse to learn on but is only really a prelim/novice horse and I am looking at reaching higher levels. So I have cancelled the second vet check, cancelled the horse transport company and will start searching again.

I am glad we were able to find out more but really disappointed. I really liked Gillis, his personality, he made me feel safe, I always had a smile on my face when I rode him both times but I am also looking for a partner to learn from/with and to move up the grades with and if Gillis wasn't going to go on that journey with me then it is better not to start I guess.

But more about the star of the blog.............................

Sam is a show jumper!!!!! On the weekend I set up a small jump in the back paddock to shake things up a bit. The ground is very soft at the moment due to our rain so I was happy to do this even with Sam’s pedal ostitis. We jumped about 50cm high and of course we felt very professional! I warmed Sam up by starting with trotting over the trot poles, then I made it into a cross rail so I guess it was about 30cm high and then straightened it up to make it 50cm! Sam happily cantered into all of them, although not very straight – a lot of left leg was needed to help keep him straight and our judging of distance isn’t very good but we made it over! On the right canter lead he would pick his hooves up but on the left canter lead he would forget to pick them up and struggled more with the distance.
I have no idea how to help them with distance so I keep them forward into the jump and let them figure it out. I figure I am not going to compete or jump great heights so I shouldn’t over whelm him too much. I few times he started out a little early so the jump was huge and long but I found I was very good at my release so not to catch him in the mouth. 

The main difference I noticed was that he was listening a lot more, sharper to my aids, and tracking up! The tracking up thing thrilled me because that is what I have a lot of trouble with in the arena. Now I know it was something different, in an open paddock but how do I get that in the arena!!!!!
On Sunday I rode in the arena and we were back to not tracking up – I tried to ride like I did the day before – asking for things assertively and trying to be more precise but this didn’t help. I did get some foaming on the left hand side though – THIS NEVER HAPPENS! I took him back out the back paddock and wow Sam was tracking up so much I thought – I wish I had but bell boots on! The canter transitions were fantastic. Our down transitions were a little abrupt – I wasn’t riding them forward enough but he would listen to go straight back up a gait again. So nice! Now I need to be able to sit to it! Sam really isn’t all that comfortable at the sit trot, even when he does give you his back!

It has turned really cold here. Temperature wise it isn't too bad but the wind chill factor is freezing!!!! Sam has blown his coat and is now a fluffy pony! We really need to get the hot water organised to the washbay!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Gillis's vet check

I haven’t posted about Gillis because I am a little unsure at the moment. He was vet checked last Monday. The vet who checked him is very high/well known rider and judge in Australian dressage and I have heard she is very picky and really takes her time and checks everything – fantastic! I told her who the first owner was and who had really set his foundations and she knew them and agreed they were very good with cementing the basics well into a horse. She really liked his temperament and thought he was a nice horse. In the flexion test he failed on his left hind. Trotted out lame, improved on the way back. When she did the flexion test on the right hind he trotted out sound on the left. She then put him on the lunge and he showed up lame in that left hind again. Only at the trot. Not major, just stepping a little short by about a hoof length. She couldn’t tell me why without nerve blocking, xrays. She couldn’t palpate anything. She wondered if because he is not in full work he had some muscle soreness.

 I then had a look at my videos. The first visit I had I couldn’t see anything. On the second visit I think I can it on the video. Have a look here and what do you think? Am I just searching for something because I was told he was off? I feel bad for now riding him for as long as I did but I honestly couldn’t feel it. A couple of times I thought he may have taken a bad step.

I thought long and hard about how I wanted to proceed. The owner is devastated and swears he has never had a lame day with her. I have requested for him to have a week off and then he will be seen again on Thursday. If he fails again I will let the owner decide on how they want to proceed with investigations. It is so slight I wonder if I am being too picky for a 13yo, very heavy set Warmblood but Sam is already a little scratchy and I really didn’t want another ‘scratchy’ horse. If it is a muscle thing I have an absolutely fab chiropractor but then I don’t want to spend a lot of money on purchasing Gillis, having him treated by the chiropractor to find out that it wasn’t a muscle/out of alignment thing at all. 

Lucky I have a Super Sam to keep me sane!!!!

Saturday, April 14, 2012


Last night was the longest night of my life! I was awake before the alarm went off. My stomach was doing somersaults, I felt sick, nervous, unsure. I was on my way to see the beautiful Gillis again!

We arrived early and waited with anticipation. Finally Gillis turned up and I was able to see how well he travelled in the float and unloaded. He happily came out and stood tied to the float as he was tacked up. I rode him from the beginning this time. He seemed to have a spring in his step and was a little 'looky'. So we put him to work. Within half a 20m circle he started to concentrate on the job at hand. His work ethic is amazing.

I got the walk forward, round and loose so we had a fiddle with leg yielding, shoulder in, renvers. If I asked correctly it was a breeze, if I didn't, nothing happened! I found him a lot easier to get going this time and felt that I didn't have to 'ask' as much to keep him going. The trot work was better and I was able to get him working in a nice frame quicker. I did quite a few walk trot transitions and found this really helped get him up and going and motivated.

The canter was harder to keep this time and I found it really strung out. I tried to do a few across the diagonal and change the canter at 'X'. This was hilarious. The transition down to trot was huge and threw me around that much I couldn't get my seat back to ask for the other canter lead and I was laughing too much to ask as well!!!!!!!

At the end of the ride I took him for a walk around a grassed area and to areas that he hadn't seen before. He took it all in his stride. I gave him a warm hose down, cuddle and helped get him ready to go back on the float. I was able to load him onto the float which he did with ease.

The long drive home was spent discussing do we or don't we add another addition to our family. Weighing up all the pros and cons. Gillis ticks just about every box I have, except for the cosmetic things which really aren't that important. He has:
Great temperament
Solid foundations
School master
Good education level
Rhythmical in his paces
Great manners
He can help me move forward with my riding by helping me ride correctly
Sound? - Only a vet check will determine this

So I have made the decision to buy Gillis, pending vet check. After about 6.5 long years of looking, I have made a decision. So fingers crossed he passes the vet check. I have confidence that he will. I only have one concern and that is on both his front knees there is a small soft movable lump.

So soon hopefully Gillis will be on his way to his new home!!!!!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

I think I have found him!

I think I have found him.
Last weekend I met Gillis. A Warmblood, 16.3hh (a very big solid 16.3hh), 13yo, bay gelding. It was love at first sight. He is not pretty or handsome but I thought he was beautiful! His head is huge!!!! His cannon bones are huge!!!!!! He is huge!!!!!!

Gillis is trained to Elementry level dressage and I found him very difficult to ride. I don't like how I look on him - I look like a beginner rider because I don't know his 'buttons'. After a while I all of a sudden got a light, forward, up in the back trot and OMG it was amazing.

We are going to have a second ride on Saturday. This time I am going to do a lot more transistions, leg yeilding and have a go at shoulder in. I hope I will be able to ride him better. There are a few other people interested so I need to make a decision on Saturday!!!!

This is his ad:
Gillis is a 13yo bay 16.3hh Warmblood gelding of Contact & Grannus breeding. I bought him when I was coming back into riding after 10+ years off and having had children. He has been the best confidence builder and has competed with me in Prep, Prelim and Novice and training Elementary. We won Shoalhaven Dressage Club reserve Prelim HOTY 2009 and he was Novice Champion with previous owner. Good on trail rides and can jump. Great to CSF. No vices. Selling as concentrating on daughter's riding

This is the link to me riding Gillis.

What do you think?

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Our Lesson

I have been having a lot of trouble with my saddle since the saddle fit so at home I have been using my all purpose saddle so at least I am balanced in the saddle.

Yesterday we travelled down to Albury (about an hour away) to have a lesson and my instructor was very kind in letting me try her saddle a Keiffer Ulla. OMG it was so nice and really let you sit deep and drive with your seat.

My lesson on the other hand was certainly hard. Not that they are ever easy but boy did she work us. About 45min of sitting trot! I have been having a lot of trouble at home and it certainly became apparent pretty quickly what it was. Every lesson I am told 'forward' 'get him more 'forward' but it wasn't the speed it was the activity in the hindquarters that she was after! DUH! At least the 'forward' that I had at home meant that Sam listened a little more when we asked him to be rounder and more active!

It took a good 45min of hard riding to get Sam to relax a bit more through his back and really let himself swing.

His canter was so much better, the activity in his hindquarters was amazing. He can be very ‘rocking horse’ like and it was great to feel the forward impulsion!. I think this was because we worked so hard on the trot it really helped the canter. As my instructor says at the moment we are ‘pretty good’ but we want GOOD! So more to work to go on with but we are slowly improving, each month we are getting it a little more together!

At the end of the lesson I went rising and I slowly let out the reins and Sam stretched down, his back came right up and that little engine from behind powered on! It was just fantastic!

The Keiffer Kurr that I mentioned in my last post, they didn't have it in black in stock! :(

I have found a new demo Keiffer Ulla in my local saddlery so I am off to see them tomorrow to line up a deal I think. Saddle shopping is expensive and a pain but it was really good to have a really decent ride in a saddle to really get a feel for it. Sam was happy in it and didn't seem sore after at all.