Category Archives: Horsies

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Addicted to cantering


After a long break from riding (two months or so due to the school holidays) I was really excited to get back to the centre and “my ponies” in mid-February.  As you can imagine I’d missed riding and hanging around horses like crazy – and I’m not convinced the long break and lack of horsey-time didn’t exacerbate the seriously yueerk pain and unpleasantness I trudged through in November / December / January. 

My main “goals” for this year’s riding are just to continue improving my riding, my seat and position, core strength and general skill set, and also to master cantering.  I’d had a few canters in 2008 but didn’t feel I’d “got” the pace, the rhythm or what the heck my own body was doing.  During those half dozen or so canters I’d been mostly in a wheeeee state of mind; I wanted to get serious and (a) do a lot more cantering and (b) know what I was doing and develop a good seat and control in that pace, work on transitions etc.

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Riding wrap up 2008

2008 will be remembered as an exciting and happy year, regardless of poor health and pain issues and financial crises: we became home owners and I got back into horse-riding. 

I feel really pleased and proud of myself for what I’ve achieved this year in regard to horse-riding; for taking that chance and leaping into it, for working hard, loving it, and ultimately finding it so rewarding and fulfilling.

To summarise;  I got on a horse again for the first time in 22 years [give or take a year or so] back in March and was instantly as hooked as when I was 15, despite the physical challenges I faced this time around; both age- and health-related.

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Back in the saddle

After a two week break for school holidays and a nice rest for the gee-gees, RDA commenced Term 4 this week.  Wheeeeeeee.  The two week horsey-less hiatus was hellish, health-wise [but gee can I ever alliterate] so I was incredibly happy and bouncy to get out there for my first lesson on Tuesday afternoon.

Yay;  horsies!  I was so pleased to see my cranky pony again.  I gave him an extra-long grooming and he positively gleamed!  He’s lost the last of his winter fuzz and is sporting a sleek summer outfit.  Well, except for the thick 50 cm long mane and ground-brushing tailio … He went beautifully for me, so responsive and very full of zip.  Heaven.  Sue [coach] kept the lesson very slow and steady, so I wouldn’t over-do things after the break, but I was champing at the bit as much as L. 

Lucky me, though;  Marie – the other coach – let me stay on for another 15 minutes or so after the lesson, while getting the other riders off and the next class on, so I sneaked in some extended trot and serpentines, whee!  L. was just waiting for me to ask for a canter but I didn’t want to push my luck . . . After that Marie got me to help hose down L. and a couple of the other horses, it being a very hot day and everyone sweating. 

Hosing the horses down was fun; one of them really loved it and was bending his head into the spray and slurping out of the nozzle; L. being a big girl’s blouse danced around on his toes going “nooooo! Am a delicate princess!  Don’t let that scary water-snakey-thing near me aaiiieeeee” before giving up and standing with his head down like a fat old cart-horse.  And of course Marie and I did not get into a water fight, with hoses and buckets of water and sponges flying, I deny the mere suggestion!

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Horse riding update – September

Ooh do I get extra points for most imaginative title ever?  While riding lessons have been somewhat sporadic of late, both “my” pony and I are improving – and I’m having so much FUN.  I love my horsey time, from the moment I fetch the narky boy from the back paddock, to when I put him back out.  I’m not satisfied with “just” the riding; I need that entire time to commune, relax, breathe in his gorgeous horsey smell, feel something settle within myself.

He’s so much calmer in his stall now;  his MO is to chuck his head around, pin ears, stamp, tug at the lead rope, threaten to nip, et al.  I’m intrigued as to why he does this as he apparently came from a good trainer but has developed very bad ground manners over the past couple of years.  My personal hunch is that there are different volunteers grooming him in different ways, pushing him around and asking contradictory things of him, often with shouty voices, and he’s got nervy and spooky as a result.  Any ideas from the horse experts out there?

He recognises me when I arrive now, popping his head over the gate and pricking his ears – I even got a sort of whicker / nicker the other day.  He’s turned into a complete lovebug, very soppy and cuddly with me.  I take a long time grooming him and he’ll often bend his neck right round to nuzzle my shoulder or waist as I’m brushing, and drops his head so I can do his face and forelock.  He dozes off like a seaside donkey, all flop-eared with nearly-closed eyes when I comb and brush out his mane and tail, and he’ll even pick his feet up as soon as I ask – and doesn’t lean his entire weight into my hand when he does it!

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Pimp my ride

[Recent hiatus / lack of posting due to a couple of crap weeks;  major flare ups of pain and more Coeliac attacks WHEE.  Of course I missed a few lessons which is most upsetting; I’ve really come to rely on them as points to head for, to get me through the weeks.]

So I had a birthday a few weeks back – thanks for all the lovely birthday wishes in comments / emails, it means so much – and I was fortunate to get some pretty nice loot, some horse-related.

A brief tangent:  What’s your opinion vis a vis Gift Cards?  I’ve been told that they are mercantile, unimaginative and thoughtless but I think they’re FABULOUS.  Continue reading

Olympics 2008

Warning:  Rant Mode ON

Okay so like just about everyone, I’ve been watching – only occasionally mind you – the Olympics coverage in Beijing and Hong Kong.  I thought the pageantry and artistry of the opening and closing ceremonies was amazing, all that beauty and symbolism;  the organisation, coordination et al of the Games was sensational.  Most people were so blown away they even forgot about things like certain promises, environmental conditions [smog, algal blooms], and human rights aberrations.  Excellent PR for the People’s Republic of China.  [The UK has a hard, hard act to follow … especially given the starting handicap of a truly crappy logo.]

But –  and it’s a BIG but – I am so pissed off by the programming, coverage of events and commentators here in Australia  I could spit.

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Endorphin rush

I had THE best horsey ride this morning.  I had a couple of recipe-ish posts to post up but they’ll just have to wait.     I was on such a high afterward I thought I’d have to take some downers or something to get back to normal.   

I’d had a good lesson on Tuesday; I’d worked myself really hard, focusing on position and stability and just being as disciplined as I could [thanks for the advice Scary!].  It was a rewarding lesson as a result and I was quite sore afterward – sore in the good “ooh done some exercise” way.  I wanted to keep that progression and focus going. 

The Thursday morning ride is usually a bit tougher because of the time – like most people I’m not at my best in the morning; then when you add in the severe chronic pain “ouch” factor on waking it can be a bit rough.   This morning I moaned and groaned a bit but after missing both lessons last week due to shite weather and pain there was no way I was not going. 

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Riding the range …

Well it may not be romance we’re talking about here – at least romance between two consenting adult human beings – but it’s bloody fabulous to be back in the saddle, riding after the two week break for school holidays.

Last week was the first week on the new two-lesson-per-week regime and can I just say one thing?  OUCH everything huuuuuuurts.  Okay so it’s not as bad as I predicted, nor even as bad my “usual” level of aches and pains, but OOF. 

Part of it is not just the extra ride per week – and therefore less recovery time between rides – but that I’m really working myself hard.  My main “issue” is my sway back / pelvic misalignment, so I’m constantly trying to correct that by tightening my pelvic core [abs, PC muscles, lower back muscles], sucking in my gut, and tilting my pelvis forward.  Argh!  Whilst concentrating on my lower leg position, feet [my right foot turns in nicely but not my left foot oh no … ] and hands.  My hand position is fine but I don’t grip firmly enough with my thumb on top.  It’s so much to think about all at the same time!

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“Advanced” riding lessons

I recently changed to a more “advanced” group for my riding lesson.   It’s at 0900 hrs as opposed to 1300 hrs, and as the trip out is twenty minutes or so, and I need to be there at least forty-five minutes prior to the lesson to groom and tack up my own horse and maybe help out with another one or two, it means an early start.   I’m not at my best in the mornings, either, far more stiff and pain-y so I’ve taken to getting up even earlier – say 0600 – to fit cin a boiling hot shower and do some stretchies to get most of the creakiness out [and time for the morning dose of painkillers et al to kick in].

You may well ask, how “advanced” is advanced?   Well, not very, not exactly Grand Prix level!   Not at all, in fact … It means the class is made up of independent riders [ie, riders who don’t require leaders or side-walkers] who have ridden for a while and have a certain skill level, and can be challenged a bit further.   We do dressage-y stuff, lots of 10- and 20- metre circles, changing rein, serpentines, mostly at the trot so far. 

And gee, does our coach work us hard.   I love this, that even though we’re disabled riders with our personal challenges and limitations, physical and otherwise, we’re not let off the hook when it comes to correct position and riding style.   We’re made to really work at our back and leg positions, and in my case, given my sway back and core strength issues – “tilt your pelvis forward and suck in your gut tuck in your tummy!” ad infinitum.

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Horse riding as therapy

You know, I had a couple of non-horsey, food-related posts lined up, but couldn’t get excited enough.  Sure, finally finding The Secret to the most amazing, never-fail, heavenly fried rice [with char siew aka Chinese BBQ Pork mmm] is quite exciting, but my head is full of horseyhorseyhorseyhorsey and nothing aint gonna get done nohow until I clear some space in my brain.

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