March 31, 2009

Queen of canter

"Thousands of years ago, man tamed the horse, and as a result, we experience thrills and pleasures that few advances in technology have been able to duplicate"

"We never reach our goals in riding. Riding is like shooting a moving target, and if, and when, we hit the bull's eye, the thrills are incredible"
(Charles de Kunffy)

I love to train with my horse.
Most of the days things are working OK, with some ups and some downs.
Some days things are not working at all.
But SOME days, SOME days I dance with my horse.
Yesterday was one of those days .

I get all warm inside just by thinking of it.

Monday is my fun-day as I have my dressage lessons.
I am so happy for our instructor.
She is knowledgeable, explains things well, is sympathetic and pushes me a bit - just enough.
I need someone to help me strech our comfort zone.

Already from the start of the lesson Fame felt good.
She can tense up a bit, but yesterday she was all soft and with me from the beginning.

My instructor explained that the task for the day was to work with canter-walk-counter canter on the circle.
We agreed that in the counter canter Fame sometimes can get a bit fast and long, and that she is strong enough now to maintain the round form and keep the rythm, I just have to sit and collect a bit more.
She also said that we are now approaching the time to start with flying changes.
(I am not sure that I was totally with her there, but - we need someone to push us!)

So we started the work.
And this evening my racing queen from last week had metamorphosed into the queen of dressage canter.
I just sat there working with a huge grin on my face.
I don't know if it was the treat sessions from last week or what, but she was round and balanced, collected well, took right lead every time and with good canter departs.

The transitions canter-walk went well, transistions counter canter-walk was balanced but not always straight to walk. I have to perfect my aids there.

At the end Ingrid thought we should try a flying change.
My grin disappeared.
I haven't done them since I retired my old gelding, and that is 7 years ago.
I felt rusty to put it mild.
We first did half pass canter and then tried to place the change when returning to the track.
Fame kept the counter canter.
(Yepp, I am a good girl, and know what I am to do even if Mum does some stupid things up in the saddle. I'll just keep my balance here and maybe some treats are showing up in the end.)

So we changed tactics and tried from counter canter on the circle instead.
And we almost got it. A step of trot in between, but the change was clean.
And lo and behold. A carrot piece appeared. Or two.
(Might actually have been three, when I think about it.)

Salinero? Satchmo? Who's that?? This is just THE best horse in the world! Period.
A totally unbiassed conclusion from the happy owner

March 29, 2009

My funny horse

I finally figured out the only reason to be alive is to enjoy it
(Rita Mae Brown)
Hello? Anybody home?

Those of you who have read earlier posts on my blog know that I use treats when I train.
A while ago we were working to get the trot extensions to function better.
They are now coming along nicely.
As the spring is approaching, so is also the show season.
I decided to ride through some of the program exercises on Fame on Wednesday last week.
Most of it worked out OK, but every time we were to lengthen the canter on the diagonals she happily kicked in the turbo and turned deaf when I asked her to collect at the end.
So what should I do?
She clearly wasn’t listening.
I don’t like to get rough with my hands.
So I opted for a positive approach.
Next diagonal when she took off I took hold of the reins and planted my seat firmly in the saddle, but once she had listened and stopped she got praise and a treat.
Repeat, repeat.
And the result was still turbo on the diagonal, but collection and stop at the end.
No rough hands, no tense horse.
Could still be better, but a large improvement from where we started.
So we rounded off for that day.

Next day we also worked in the arena.
When I started to warm up in trot/walk Fame offered canter several times.
I scratched my head and wondered why.
And then I got it.
She got treats while training canter yesterday!
And don’t tell me that:
1) horses are stupid
2) treats doesn’t work
I just had to laugh out loud. My funny, wonderful horse.
So we did some canter that day too.


We had lovely weather in the weekend, so I took Fame out trail riding again.

We still have lots of snow, and we got some more on Friday.

Crossing the creek

The gravel road on the other side of the creek in the bottom of the valley is having a long strech open to the sun.
It was bare from snow, and soft on the surface.
Fame and I looked at the strech in front of us and were of one mind. So we happily cantered away. Sun was shining, and the wind was mild - it was springtime for sure...
After that we had a short detour up in the hillside for some more canter work, and on the way down we met my daughter and her pony on the way up.

What is she doing up there?

Yes, she is riding in a T-shirt, stupid thing.
I was riding in wool underwear, a fleece pullover and a down vest.
No comments.

Look at my sleepy turbo-horse in the sun, lol!
Charlie is having his optimistic looking-cute-and-maybe-it'll-turn-up-some-carrots-look on his face...

I used much time in the weekend to look for a good deal on a new computer as my old one is beyond rescue.
I finally found one Dell computer that they had a very reasonable weekend offer on, so I ordered it.
Downside was that I won't get it until April 10th, which they didn't inform me about until the order was placed.

March 26, 2009

Friday's entertainment

To all you pony lovers out there...

I had a funny session with my horse yesterday, I'll try to blog about it during the weekend.
My old PC at home took it's final breath yesterday, so I will have to sneak myself into my daughter's.
I tried yesterday evening, but she had changed her password, little sneak...

As I have heard that it has been problems to leave comments on the blog, I have changed the settings for the comment field.
(It might have been the pop-up blocker settings, so I hope it will help. )
Check it out if you want to, I am very happy for all comments!

And have a nice weekend everyone!

March 24, 2009

Amsterdam in spring

..sounds real nice, huh?
Well it was.
We arrived on Friday afternoon, and took the train into Amsterdam.
You can see the central station in the background.
As the hotel was placed a 10 min walk from the station, we walked there.

In the evening we sat outside a pub with a beer and just watched people passing by. Talked horse.
A bit chilly, but gave us a marvellous feeling after the winter.
We had Rijsttafel in a restaurant in the evening.
It is an assortment of many small Indonesian dishes and something that is famous in Netherland - a heritage from the colonial times.
It was very nice, and also very much.
Conveniently the hotel was not far from the restaurant...

The next morning we had breakfast in the loveliest breakfast room ever:

And the breakfast was just as nice as the room.
Lots to choose from.
I had a dessert with waffles, hot cherries, hot chocolate sauce and whipped cream. Fresh fruit.
And a café au lait.

After breakfast we walked to the station to take the train to s'Hertogenbosch, where the World Cup was to take place.
Normally it is a train ride of 1-1.5 hours, but due to some work on the rail road (we believe) the ride took 2.5 hrs, the extra time unknown to us before we started out.
Luckily we had started off early!
We got to see some of the countryside.
Canals everywhere, with a lot of transportation barges.

Finally we arrived.
Outside Brabanthalle where the show took place they had this cute tuk-tuk to transport people with.
The driver was even kind enough to stop it so I could take a picture...

We had possibilities to see the warm-up some minutes before the class started.

At the show it was free seating and we had some friends that had an early start that morning - so we got really prime places at the first row!

Here is Minna Telde/Don Charly.

Isabelle Werth/Satchmo won the class , with the new Dutch star Adelinde Cornelissen/Parzival second and Anky van Grunsveen/Salinero on third.

In the evening we traveled with our other friends to Utrecht, halfway back to Amsterdam, where they stayed.
We had a very nice evening. First in a pub with a large assortment of Dutch and Belgian beer, and then in a Thai restaurant.
I love Asian food!
Chicken packages as a starter!

On Sunday our flight didn't leave until late, so we had the whole day just to stroll around and enjoy the nice weather.

The flower market:

Some of the merchandise is a bit exotic to a Scandinavian:

In Amsterdam there are lot of bikes everywhere.
You really have to watch out when walking as they are difficult to hear, it's easy not to notice when they come from behind. People here are considerate and use the bell to warn you, so it helps.
I believe there are twice as much bikes as cars. There are bikes parked everywhere, and at the central station even in two levels.

And not all are in standard execution.
Nice delivery service?

After walking around for several hours, it was nice to sit down and stretch the legs.
Got thirsty too, hehum.

Finally we had to return to the hotel, pick up the luggage and return home.
But it was a very nice trip. I'd love to do it again next year!
Amsterdam is really a nice city.

March 19, 2009

Dramatic Thursday

We had some action at the stable today.

Christina went out to train one of the race horses during the day.
Riding down the path through the forest she encounters three moose.
She starts yelling to get them going, but one of them instead of running away flattens the ears and starts running towards them.

Christina and her horse agrees very quickly to turn and get going in the opposite direction.

Problem is that we do not only have exceptionally much snow this year, it is also turning mushy - rotten - through the mild temperatures the last days. The packed snow on the narrow path is the only place that can take the weight of the horse.

So when they turn and get the speed up, her horse trots outside the path in speed and falls.
Christina manages to hang on, but in the mayhem when the horse tries to get up she loses her balance and get a punch in the back. Her horse is stressed and somehow manages to bolt out in the field.

Christina gets on her feet, and get to her horse. By this time her horse is stuck in the snow. It is deep and heavy.

Somehow she manages to get him out of the snow, back to the path and home, with his bridle in two pieces and an aching back.
The moose has (luckily) disappeared in the meantime.

I was a bit apprehensive going out on the ride today.
Two moose, but none attacking TG.

Tomorrow I'm leaving for Amsterdam, to watch the European final of the dressage world cup.
Have a nice weekend, everybody!
(I sure will, bwahaha!)

March 18, 2009

Springtime part 2

It was lovely weather today as well. Even our little sofa princess wanted to get some sun.

Another unfortunate consequence of the sun and the mild temperature is that the surface on the outdoor arenas is getting bad.

And as the afternoons are getting lighter I took Fame for a trailride after work. Wonderful!

And did I have one eager horse!
She was jogging down the path through the forest. As the snow starts to get rotten she had some mishaps with trodding through the snow at the edges of the path where it wasn't so hard packed. Didn't upset her though, but I got a bit frustrated that she couldn't watch where she was going.

We got through the first forest part and over the creek, coming up to a gravel road on the other side. The sun the last days had melted the snow so the road was bare in patches.
We had a long, nice strech right ahead of us.

Fame jumped, spooked and shied.
She was about as relaxed as a racehorse before the race. Thoroughly overjoyed with spring and the possibilities to let off some steam.
After trotting (and skittering left and right) for a while, I let her move over to canter. I was a tiny bit worried that she would take off totally, but she was eager but manageable.
We kept a high tempo for a while with trotting and canter.
I was hoping that she was going to relax a bit when she got tired, but today it seemed as if she had unlimited resources of energy.
It was getting darker but the warmth still lingered a bit in the air. You can really feel that the winter is letting go.
Finally we slowed down to a walk.

When turning home again she was able to concentrate on where to put her feet on the path.
Just before coming up to the stables again we rode into a moose.
I didn't see him first as it had turned quite dark, and Fame didn't see him at first either.
He just turned quickly around and headed back between the trees again.
Marvellous ride.
Marvellous with spring.

March 17, 2009

And finally - SPRINGTIME

According to the meteorologists, today the 17th of March is the official first day of spring in Southeast Norway.
The average temperature is above 0 centigrades.
But I believe we have to wait for a while before we get rid of the snow....May, perhaps?

But it was nice weather today.
Blowing a bit though.
Elin came with me to take some pictures of Fame and me.

Hi Mum, where have you been? Going in now?

No, you have to wait two minutes before eating, and show yourself from your best side...

Happy springtime everyone!

OK, Elin, I'll throw in a picture of Charlie too:

Charlie also says Happy springtime everybody! Give your horse a carrot today!

March 15, 2009


Half of the mane is lying on the floor, and I'm in the middle of braiding.

We'll tie up the braids on Sunday morning, otherwise they have to be redone anyhow.
We don't have time to do the complete braiding Sunday morning.
Braiding stinks.
Sometimes I'm wondering if we should have a go at show jumping instead.
But then I think of all that material that has to be carried on and off the arena.
Maybe dressage isn't that bad after all?

Jungle-Jim finally starts to look like a dressage pony - yippeee!
(I've no fingers left)

The worst is the front one.
Strange that they never want to stand still?
Or stands still at first, and then takes a major shake when you are almost finished.
Yippee again. Not.

Sunday morning comes.
Rise and shine at 6.30.
At 8 am it's ready for take off.
Charlie looks like he is not quite ready to come along.
Hey, guys - maybe we should stay at home instead? Munch some hay, and stand in the sun? Whadayasay?

Another hour and a half we have reached our destination.
Elin starts to warm up.
Charlie lookes fine.
Elin has to remember to keep contact on that outside rein.
They work with collections...

And extensions...

Finally it's time for Elin.
They make a nice program.
Charlie looks active behind, but at some occations a bit open in form.
The canter work is very good.
The trot extensions are OK, but they can better.
Turn on the haunches looks good.
One of the canter-walk-canter transitions was not that good, Elin put some leg on and they got a step of trot or two. But the other was very nice.
All in all - a steady program.
Elin walks Charlie, she is the last entry in the class.
And the result is...

Third place!
And a nice percentage as well, 63.8%.
Not bad for the first time in this class (LA).
So the return home is a happy one, and Charlie gets lot of extra carrots....
He's such a sweetheart.
Oh, and all the good, clear and funny pictures are taken by my daughter. The blurry. bad ones by me.

March 14, 2009

Spring cleaning

Spring has arrived (I hope? It keeps snowing but the days are getting lighter) and with it some extra work.

My daughter is to start this year's first show on Sunday. She is stepping up a class, so it will be exciting.
When riding through the program at the training Monday it looked very nice.
My daughter has had quite a lot of problems with migraine lately, and have been sick during the week. I meant it would be better maybe not to start, but she got very dissapointed, so we are going ahead.
I hope she will be alright.
But look at our little Show Prince above!
He is no show prince anymore, he is Jungle-Jim.
We have some serious hair dressing to do today to dig out our show pony again.

But it's not only him.
My daughter's cat Simba get a fantastic winter coat.
It keeps him warm and dry during the winter which is good as he loves to be outside in all kinds of weather.

Problem is that he refuses to be brushed.
*Yac, girl stuff.*
I can almost hear him.
He wrings like an eel, and gets bad tempered.
Which of course is really stupid as all of the winter coat is to be shed when the spring comes. He gets large lumps in the coat.
So every spring I have to bring him to the veterinary clinic, get him sedated and then I am able to clip and brush.

In the end it looks like half of the cat is lying in the heap of hair at the side...
He is very content afterwards, stupid thing!
Our other cat Sweetheart loves to be brushed, that is one of her favourite things. Another favourite thing is to sleep in my lap when I'm sitting by the computer.
As I can't resist to cuddle with her the result is a lot of cat hair on the keyboard.
I can live with that.
A soft, warm and sleeping cat on my lap is one of my favourite things.