June 29, 2009

Honest scrap award

Once Upon an Equine (love that name!) has kindly presented me with Honest Scrap award.
I love that name too!

Thanks for the award, Once Upon!

Once Upon an Equine has a very nice blog where she describes her life with her two equine partners, Misty and Marley. As Marley is a Norwegian Fjord horse I find it extra entertaining to follow a countryman abroad. But what I love most is her wonderful sense of humour. I always leave her blog in a good mood. She also has lovely pictures in her blog.
Go look for yourself on Once Upon an Equine.

When you receive The Honest Scrap award you must stick to some rules:
Recognize your award presenter and link back to their blog in your post.
List 10 honest things about yourself that others might not now.
Present this award to 10 admirable bloggers and link to their blogs.
Leave a comment on your recipients' blogs to let them know to visit your post to retrieve their award.

Here are 10 honest scraps about me:

1. I am addicted to my mp3-player.
Yes, I listen to music too, but mainly to audio books.
I sleep very light, and had earlier problems to get back to sleep when I woke up, but not anymore. I just plug a book in the ear and voilá! Sound asleep within 5 mins.
No, the sleeping books cannot be too exciting...best is one that you have read before, so if you lose a bit here and there you know what happens anyway.
Apart from that, you have always a book handy even if you are in situations where you normally couldn't read. Driving, cooking.
And it weighs less than books too.
I also enjoy the extra colour you get to the story when it is read by someone that does a good job. It is like a portable bed time story by a professional.

2. I don't mind insects. In fact, I try to save them by carrying them out of the house when they have lost their way. I draw the line with flies and mosquitoes though.

3. When our daughter was younger she used to twirl my hair between her fingers to get to sleep. In the end I had very little hair left on one side. Lucky there was a lot to start with.

4. I love to read. Always have. I was definitely one of those that pretended to be sound asleep at bedtime when I heard one of my parent’s footsteps, but turned on the bed lamp once they had checked. My favourite books are like good friends, I read them over and over again.

5. When I was a child and woke at night, I was convinced that there were wolves under my bed. I had to stand up in the bed and take a giant leap out of it (so the wolves couldn't lock their jaws around my ankles) and RUN over to my parent's bed. Funny, they never had any wolves under theirs.

6. I am very fond of a traditional Swedish dish that is called "Janssons frestelse" (Jansson's temptation). It is a potato gratin with onions, anchovies and cream. Sounds funny, but tastes very good. Especially with a cold beer. And I won't say no to schnapps together with it either.

7. If I get bad weather when we have our summer vacation, I get depressed and stressed. We have a short summer, and if I feel that the few days that I am free will only be rainy and grey, I start to hyperventilate. Entering the dark and cold period without a summer is hard. The salvation lies in cheap flights and kind family and friends that can take care of our cats. South of Europe is sunny, TG.

8. When my parents told me to clean up my room as a child, I always got VERY tired and sleepy. Now I am 46 and I still get very tired when I am to clean the house. I believe I have an allergy. I keep my horse tack clean and tidy though.

9. I love apple juice. Not the sweet, slightly artificial ones you get on cartons, but the slightly sour juice that is pressed and bottled. When I was a child and visited my grandparents, I always got my grandfather's apple juice (the local gardeners shared a small juice press and bottled in the autumn) and my grandmother's cinnamon buns. I love cinnamon buns too.

10. I am Swedish, but have been living in Norway near half my life. Even if the countries have much in common, there are some differences. Problem is that I am now losing touch with what is happening in Sweden. When I am home with my parents the TV screen is full of new faces. So I guess I am a little in between. Swegian.

And now I have the pleasure to pass on this award to 10 other bloggers.
You have to excuse me; two of the blogs are Scandinavian and thus a bit difficult to read for people outside Scandinavia - but on the other hand it might be a good idea to spread the award outside the English hemisphere?
I would like to make a request to the Scandinavian bloggers though - if it doesn't feel too awkward, would you mind writing your post about the award in English, please?

1. My first on the list is Helen in UK at New Beginnings. I am a bit ambivalent in awarding something with "scrap" in it to Helen as she has nothing of the kind in her blog. She lost her lifelong partner a while ago and makes a very honest and brave attempt to write about how to go on in life. In addition to learning to live with the loss, she has to take care of a farm by herself now and deal with everything including learning how to drive. And in the mid of this she has a lovely sense of humour! Please take this as an encouragement, Helen - I hope you do!

2. RuckusButt at Food, life She likes food in addition to horses and dogs, and hands out some nice recepies too which I appreciate as I love good food. Thanks RB! She also rides a Norwegian Fjord sometimes, so that was how I found her. Her blog is a nice mixture of everything.

4. And then Irene in Sweden at Disco Dancer, which is the name of Irene's beautiful horse, a 5 yo SWB. Her blog is in Swedish, and she writes mostly about her horse life. She has made a blog series about her horse life as a child/teenager that I have enjoyed much. Even if we don't know each other apart from our blogs, her pictures bring back memories to me from the same age.

5. Anne i Hannover. Anne is a good friend of mine who has moved down to Hannover, Germany to study to be a vet. She is a dressage nerd too, so a positive bonus is the central location to major shows. If she gets time to leave the books that is. Her blog is in Norwegian.

6. Sage beasties. She writes not only about her horses but about her cats too, and being a cat owner I enjoy her stories. Nice pictures too.

7. ~C at Go, Diego Go. ~C has an endurance horse called Diego, and her blog is about training him. I believe she has been really unlucky this last half year with accidents. Keep hanging in there, ~C!

8. wilsonc at Canterbalance. She fulfilled a dream and bought her horse as an adult, and has a very nice blog where she shares her horse life.

9. Stephanie at the Aspiring Equestrian. She has an OTTB, and she likes dressage, just like me.

10. Now I know that some of my favourite blogs have received this award earlier. So on the last post, I just want to say that I enjoy your blogs and give the award once again to you anyway.
To share :-)
You don't have to pass it on once again!
Grey Horse Matters
Nuzzling Muzzles
A year with horses and
Highland Hooves.

I believe the award is a good way to get to know other readable blogs, so thanks to Once Upon once again, and also thanks to the original inventor of the award!

(Stillearning, I will post something over the weekend. It has been lovely weather here so I try to stay away from the PC to enjoy the summer days that we get…)

June 26, 2009

Summer break

Vacation period has started.
We put the horses out on pasture on Monday evening, and moved out to our summer cottage.
I have this wonderful feeling inside me every summer when we take off the halters and let the horses free on the green grass.
It does them so good, both physically and mentally.
I am convinced it keeps them sounder in the long run.

When the temperature goes up, when the ground gets hard and dusty and the flies starts to multiply I find that it is nice to get a horse break too.
Suddenly I find out how other people manage to get all those things done that I never seem to get around doing normally.
Cleaning the house.
Get a haircut.
Wash the car.
So now I'm looking forward to enjoy the summer, without the horses. The weather here has been really nice the last week, and it seems as if it will stay that way next week too.

I wish you all a superduper extraordinary relaxing and enjoyable summer!

Can't play photomodel now. Gotta eat, see. Hmmm...Left? Right?

June 14, 2009

Clinic with Helgstrand

Before Andreas Helgstrand started to work for Blue Hors, he worked at Stall K in Kongsberg, Norway.
He has been returning to throw clinics there even if his schedule is very tight, which of course is a treat for a dressage nerd as I am.
Tuesday this week he was here again.
And guess who was there? Lousy pics I know, but all I had was my cell phone (Sorry Anne, was so stressed so I forgot the video camera too!)

On other occations he has instructed Norwegian riders as well as been riding himself, but this time he did all the riding himself.
And it IS a treat to see him ride.
He has a seat to die for, always in balance - even through youngster jumps and tricks - and he is a very sympathetic and soft rider.
(Dear Santa, on top of my wish list for next Xmas is a Helgstrand-seat. Please, please?)
Together with the Norwegian horses shown (ranging from a nice 4-yo stallion to a GP horse) he brought his new star, Laetare. It is a 5 yo stallion (Bundeschampionatwinner I believe), which he bought at the PSI auction to the nice sum of 520.000 EUR.
And what a talented horse it was.
Still a gangly teenager, but in balance in spite of much movement and much legs (though I believe this also requires a talented rider) and they played with movements like flying changes, even in some series, half-pass and collection. It will be very exciting to follow them.

Andreas works very much with transitions within the gaits, and is always returning to the basics; to keep the horse in front of the leg, to work with a soft and steady hand, and get balance and hind leg activity by collecting with the seat and then soften and ride forwards again. And again. And again.
He plays with the horses and the excersises. It doesn't have to be perfect. If the horse has a talent, he might try a flying change or some collected steps towards passage even at an early age to see what happens. And at every seminar I've seen him ride, he just magically produces the most amazing results in all of the horses.
He is just one VERY talented rider, and it is a treat to see him work. I get very inspired and much of it is of use even for us mortals.

It has been a busy week.
Tuesday we first went to the hospital with Fame to have her tooth checked.
The result is that the tooth is not damaged enough to be removed. One piece is missing, one root is definitely good but they are a bit more worried that there might be a channel up to the other root, the x-ray wasn't clear.
The tooth sits firmly however, and as the removal is a bit tricky they don't want to remove it until it is absolutely necessary. She doesn't seem to be troubled by it so far.
We just have to follow it closely, and if it seems as if she has any problems we have to return. She is put on antibiotics for 5 days though. They didn't think she is bothered by the bit, so I can ride her as normal.
I will continue to use the sidepull as a change to the snaffle though.

Tuesday evening was the seminar with Helgestrand.
Thursday and Friday I was off with work, and on Saturday we arranged a regional dressage show at the stable, which required much work in advance in addition to a busy and long day on Saturday.

Today I could relax, and I decided to try out some of the Helgstrand things on Fame.
As I am still waiting for X-mas, things definitely didn't come as easy for me as for Andreas, but we worked with transitions and to get Fame a bit quicker off my leg. I believe we got some OK work out of it, and we'll continue in the week to come.
Jimmi, the Danish trainer, is coming this weekend again and I'll try to squeeze in two sessions before travelling to Sweden on Friday.

June 07, 2009

My favourite horse-y things

I got an idea today.
I would like to share some of my favourite horsey things, and I would love to hear about what kind of favourites you others have.
So here comes mine:

Last autumn my wellies had taken their final breath, so I had to buy a new pair.
I have seen the Muckboots as in the picture above, and when I found them in a booth at Oslo Horse Show, I decided to buy a pair.
The seller said they would keep my feet warm even in wintertime.
"Yeah, sure" I thought, "there is quite a difference between English winters and the winter conditions where I live. Duh."
But they were good to walk in, so I bought a pair. And didn't expect that they would keep me warmer than my old ones. Good to have in the muddy autumn season though.
But they DID keep me warm. Even when it was real cold. They were warm and comfy - and I was so happy that I bought another pair, the riding boots to the left, so I could ride with them too!

I condition my tack every time I have used it, so I get through some packages during a year.
This is my favourite.
It both cleans and conditions, leaving the leather smooth but not greasy. In addition it smells good!

And here are my two working mates when it comes to cleaning Fame.
I use the rubber thing (whatever it's called in English?) first, to remove loose hair and mud, and then my favourite, an old fashioned brush of the type I've used since my childhood days.
It is made from 100% horsehair, and does wonders with any coat if you put some effort in it.
In the old days, we used to have competitions.
For each stroke on the horse, you cleaned the brush on the rubber thing. When you've done one side of the horse, you empty the rubber thing (might be made in a metal material) by knocking it on the floor.
The thing was to have most emptying marks on the floor of course!
And the horses got real shiny.

So - what are your favourites?
I am passing on a non-comitting challenge to my blog friends. Write something in your blog about it, and let us others get a good tip or a laugh!

June 06, 2009

Bitless, part two

I am very grateful for all help and input I have got on my bitless-quest.
~C, Mugwump and Sydney all recommended a sidepull, so today I went shopping.
I checked out shops in advance, as western tack is not the most commonly used here, and found a shop 3/4h drive away from home that had one model in stock, and that wasn't too expensive.
It looked all right in size.
It was produced in India, and the leather was a bit dry but not thin, so I bought it.
All my other tack is black (being a dressage nerd obliges!) so a very light brown will definitely not fit in - but the major thing was to get hold of one and try it out.
So I bought it, and once at home I found the leather balm and got to work to get some grease on it.
I also found some padding to the nose band, as I was afraid it would chaff, or be too uncomfortable for her to take a contact on.

Dressage gone Western. Git girl! Hehe.

So how did it go?

As ~C said, I could hardly feel a difference from the normal snaffle.
I am super duper happy!
Now we can work, and get some sensible work done too.
Today was more of a try-out session, with supplying exercises and a shorter session in the end with some more serious work - but all functioned well; lateral signals, release and contact, both in a supplying, lower and in a higher, more collected form. Fame seemed to relax in it too.
We will probably need some time to fine tune things, but so far it looks very good.

So once again - thanks all for your input!

June 04, 2009

Today's entertainment

As a cat owner, I just love this cartoon.
Have a nice weekend everyone, and special greetings to you, Helen!

Bitless bridles

Fame and me regaining breath after a training session...

As it seems like I have to be riding without a bit for a while, I have been searching on internet to check out options.
What I am looking for is an alternative which I can do dressage riding with, and something that (hopefully) won't give me any disadvantages compared to riding on a snaffle.
So I am looking for a solution that will:
- give a good "feel" i.e. functions well with small signals, and also has a good release
- lateral signals must also work well
- the horse must be able to take a contact, and in that position it must be comfortable to the horse.

What I have tried out:
- mechanical hackamore. I don't believe this is a good option as the lateral signals doesn't work well, and it is not easy to ride with a contact. The horse comes easy behind the vertical.
- Bitless bridle type Dr. Cook, or crossover. It is a better alternative, but the release does not work well and Fame got chafed under her chin from the crossing straps.

One option that might be an alternative is a sidepull, but I have never tried it and I don't know anyone who has.
I am a bit worried about how it will work. Will the horse take contact on it? And if so, what kind of contact will I get? Will it be like with the hackamore that if the horse takes contact it is uncomfortable, and thereby invites the horse to work behind the vertical? Hm.

Then I found another option: the LG-bridle.
The comments I have found on Internet have been positive.
What I like (looking at the pictures) is that it seems to be lying in a stable position, doesn't seem to be a severe bit, and it seems as if your lateral signals might function well as well as a release. And you have a possibility to adjust the function of it depending on where you attach your reins.
All in all it looks like I might have most of the functions I am looking for.

Now I am very curious - is there anyone out there that has any experience with it?
Or has any comments/suggestions in general when it comes to bitless solutions?
I am very grateful for any input!

June 02, 2009

Early summer

The weekend and the days after have been wonderful, with summer temperatures.
Both horses and riders are enjoying the possibility to cool off in the creek.
In the photo my daughter and her pony are enjoying themselves.
When I later came home I found her boots turned upside down to dry out at the entrance, and I guessed what had happened...she had "accidentally" taken a bath.
Not much "accidentally" involved there, if you ask me.
The grin that followed her statement confirmed my hunch.

I took Fame out hacking again on Monday.
Due to her damaged tooth I used a bitless bridle, but I am not satisfied with the function of it.
The crossing straps below the chin don't run as smoothly as they should through the rings, so they stay too tight. She actually got a bit chaffed on one side afterwards. Might be that a twisted strap caused it, but anyway.
I worked her in canter intervals up to the top and in spite of the warm temperature she was forward and happy to work.

At the top I got off, loosened the girth and walked her down. It is green everywhere now, so Fame enjoyed some grass stops along the way.
I got warm though.
Come to think of it, I actually prefer riding in the winter to the summer.
During summer time it is too warm, the ground gets dusty and hard, and the flies and mosquitoes are not making things better.
We put our horses out on pasture each summer, and get some time off from training all of us.
We have no grass available at the stable where our horses are kept, so I have a major happy moment each year when we let them loose on grass. The horses get so happy, and I get all warm inside!

A bit of the path leading back to the stable is washed away by water and rain, creating a ditch which is getting wider and wider.
We usually jump over it on our way back.
Fame was willing, but surprised over how wide the ditch had become - which created a frog leap over.
Frog leaps are a bit awkward to handle in a dressage saddle , so when we landed I was a bit off balance, and at that moment she threw in a giga buck, happy with herself to have crossed the scary ditch.
Guess who was an inch of getting recoiled out of the saddle at high speed?
Somehow I managed to hang on, growling a big NO! to prevent further happy demonstrations.
She behaved, and just cantered on some meters before I regained balance and could slow her down.
Silly thing.