September 27, 2009

Wrong delivery

After all the work throughout the week I took Fame for a relaxing trail ride on Saturday, in nice weather.
We had a good time.
This time we took some smaller paths through the forest.

On Sunday it was our next show.
And on Sunday I regretted the calm ride we had had the day before.
I should have taken her on some tough canter interval training instead.

Had ordered: A relaxed, co-operative, nice dressage horse.

Got: A fearful antelope with too much energy. The type that always has to be on watch, and teleports three metres to the side. Knows how to run, but has difficulties to bend.


Adding spice to the stew they had mounted a tape band (you know the type that the police uses on TV at crime scenes) as a separation between the warm up and the show arena.
The wind came in strong gusts and suddenly that tape (three rows of them) came alive and attacked.
Yes it did.
An antelope must always look out, and stay alive.

The antelope's rider, however, was close to a heart attack.

My daughter on the other hand (we started in the same class), kept cheering me up in the warm up pen with comments like "Charlie feels SO fine today" and "He is quite nice on BOTH reins"

And the black cloud over my head kept growing.
Helloooo? Anyone wants an antelope today? They are on sale? No?
A daughter perhaps?

Needless to say, our performance at the show was not one to be remembered.

My daughter?
She did her best ride ever in that class (LA) I believe, a very nice program with a relaxed, but attentive horse.
And won the class!
I was a happy and proud Mum, and rode my antelope home.

September 25, 2009

Late update, and Friday's entertainment

Last Sunday we arranged a dressage show at the stable.

Saturday was needed to arrange all things for the show, print startlists, protocols, purchase what was necessary etc. (in addition to taking a fab trail ride with Fame, lol)

I have got some help with Fame lately.
Anna, who is 15 and earlier shared my daughter’s pony, is going to share Fame with me and ride her twice a week.
I thought she could start Fame in the class where the club championship was to be hold (LB) and I could start her in LA, same as last but this time with a saddle. Nice.

Just outside our "office" we got a new friend.
It was such a cute mouse youngster (are the spieces called shrews in English?)

He was not afraid at all, and kept wandering around us in the grass.
He finally decided that Elisabeth's leg was a nice place to be, so he started there.
Kept climbing though, so in the end he ended up under her sweater.
Elisabeth kept giggling, but was quite pleased.
I was a bit sad, because I thought to myself that he wouldn't last long, being so unafraid with the cats around.

And two days later, we had a present in front of our entrance door...
I know the cats are just doing their job, but sometimes I wish they could let be.

We have had a lovely Indian Summer lately, sun and warm weather (but cold at night) so we needed to irrigate the arenas on Saturday.
Shouldn’t have done that.
Of course it started to rain Sunday.
We had quite a lot of participants, first was 9 am and last was 3.30 pm, so it was a long day.

As we are a small club everyone has to help out and do their share of work.
Half of the day I wrote for the judge.
I find that very interesting.
I can compare what I see myself to what the judge is commenting and how it is marked.
As I often write at our shows, I also have the possibility to compare how the different judges are evaluating the rides. There are differences.

There were some huffpuff this time about the judge being strict.
Maybe she was, but that is how the sport is.
She was very strict about the correct execution of the exercises, and also that the horses should not be behind the vertical.
I appreciated that she was strict about the latter; I am frustrated to see that riders get remarks about the horse being too open in form when horses going behind the vertical is not commented, which is a more serious fault.

We had a lovely day in the rain.
My daughter won her class, and was Club Champion Pony.

Anna won her class, and was Club Champion Horse.

And the Geriatric rider remembered the program this time, and won her class too!

If the weather’s fine I will take an early ride on Fame and then watch the SJ show that is arranged at one of the other stables in the valley.
Sunday they arrange a dressage show, so guess where I will be?
And hooray, as it is the same program, I might remember it too!

Jimmi, the Danish trainer, is coming from Wednesday to Sunday next week.
Which will make me broke, but happy.

I wish you all a very nice weekend!

And at last, Friday’s entertainment.
You guys over there think you know what country music is.

Check this.

September 19, 2009

Beautiful autumn ride

Fame and I had a beautiful trail ride today.
It was a sunny, clear day, autumn at its best!
The sky was turquise blue, and it was warm; 19-20 centigrades.

Why don't you join us?

We cross the road and take the path leading into the (ex)forest on the other side.
Just a short distance down the path is blocked.
Great to have a 4x4!
My vehicle was a bit surprised about what was lying in our way as it wasn't there last time we were there.
She agreed with me that it was better to go around than to climb over it.
It was a bit tricky as there were a lot of branches lying around from the trees that had been cut down, but we made it through.
Good girl, Fame!

After riding through a short stretch of forest, we get out in the open for a while with a field of oats on our left, and then into a smaller forest section that stretches down towards the creek.
This is a favourite spot for the moose in winter time.
Lots of bushes to eat, and water nearby. Due to the current the creek often stays open even at winter time.

Coast is clear.
No moose.
The path winds alongside the creek, which is on our right.
Fame is looking out over the field on our right hand side.
One has to be On Watch.
We are to cross the creek where you see the end of the path in the photo below .

As we have had dry and sunny weather lately, the water level is low now.
Easy to cross.
I can feel that Fame wants to wander about some, but today we just ride over.
She can linger on our way home when she is warm instead if she wants to.

Reaching the other side, we continue on the path running there.
We trot a bit first, then canter.
Two pigeons fly up right in front of us, and suddenly we are at a dead stop two metres aside from where we were a split second ago.
Let's just say I am happy I did not ride bareback today!

After another 10-15 minutes ride, we come to our "destination".
If you look at the picture of our "new view" in the post below from yesterday, you can see a large mountain in the right side of the picture.
The road where we are to ride today winds up on the side of that mountain.
It is a lovely ride as you ride in the sunshine and get a marvellous view over the valley as you climb.
And it is super fitness work for the horses too!
So, here we go! A trot?

Unfortunately the picture below is not sharp (might have something to do with an impatient horse) but the bright red rowan berries were such a beautiful contrast to the dark green of the spruce.

Are you ready for a canter?
It does look inviting, doesn't it?

Climbing upwards, the slope at the side down towards the valley gets quite steep.
You don't want your horse to do something stupid.
It's a long way down.

And on the other side there are rocks.
We are looking downwards here, walking for a bit before starting next canter interval.

Climbing upwards, the view is really beautiful.
Unfortunately the trees have grown here too.
If you look at the photo below you might see the same creek as we crossed a while ago within the red circle far, far down below us .
(Sorry, photos from the cellphone are not the best. I could see it clearly in reality though.)

After a while, we stop and turn back.
I jump off Fame, loosen her girth and let her have some grass.
She has done a good job, she is sweat and slightly blowing.

We walk down all the way, with the occasional stop to have some grass.
All the way up the peace was unfortunately disturbed by heavy shooting from a shooting range below.
The hunting season on moose starts soon, and that is the highlight of the year for many.
I suppose we should be grateful that they practise...
Fame behaved very well. After flinching at the first shots, she just ignored the rest.

I just love when the sun filters through the spruce trees.
It gives me a fairytale feeling.

In a mossy hillside, we hear a sound in the fern.
What can it be?
A small animal?

Yes, it was.
An adder.
He was trying to hide as well as he could, and when I got nosy he finds out it was better to leave.

Then the battery in my cell phone went flat, so no more photos unfortunately...
We had an uneventful ride home.
Fame was relaxed but stretching out nicely in the walk.
I love the sense of combined smoothness and strength.
When we got home Fame got her shower and I let her out with her hay.
She was happy, and so was I.
When I got home my hunting husband had returned from the forest too.
He is a very good berries-and-mushrooms hunter.
Look at his catch!

A whole bag full.
We are gonna have a Very Nice Dinner tonight!

Thanks for keeping us company!

September 18, 2009

Busy week

You know, I really like our new view!

The week has been a hectic one.
Last Sunday we went to a dressage show with our daughter, and at the same day our club arranged a jumping show at the stable.
I was supposed to participate in the dressage with Fame, but she came in lame on Wednesday.
It was most likely due to a sore sole as a stone was stuck in her hoof when she came in. She was fine on Friday, but I gave her free over the weekend to be on the safe side.

But before going to the show we had some heavy hair dressing to do...
If you scroll down to previous posts you can see how wild the mane on Charlie had grown during the summer.
Can't have that on a dressage pony now, can you? Hehum.
So Saturday it was down to work, as we were leaving early Sunday morning.
I had to trim the mane before starting braiding.

Charlie is a good boy, and stands still while I am sweating over his mane and braids...

And voilá - Jungle Jim has turned into a dressage pony!
All left now was to cross fingers and hope he did not scratch all of it off during the night...

Some redecoration was necessary on Sunday, but not much and we left on time.
My daughter made a good ride, and ended 2nd in her class, but placed first in the Regional Autumn Dressage Cup as the rider placed first was disqualified to enter due to high percentage in FEI classes at national shows.

Happy rider, strong wind, blind horse.
(Isn't he the sweetest, just standing there?)

Returning home, it was straight to work at the jumping show.
We are not a large club, so all hands were needed.

Now here are some old friends: Tarzan and Hjalmar!
They did two nice rounds, and Tarzan was a good boy and jumped all obstacles this time!

I have had a very busy week at work, and as our club is arranging a dressage show this Sunday where I have the main responsibility, time has been a bit short, lol!

I wish you all a nice weekend!

Shhhhh, don't tell the mice I'm down here...

September 15, 2009

End of summer

Can you see what I saw when I came out to my car this morning?
Ice on the front screen *sigh*
I guess the summer is over now.

September 12, 2009

Heavy redecoration

We have had some heavy redecoration going on this week.
Just across the road from the riding arenas.
Lots of noise, and a nice training for the horses, lol!

Now, look at this "before" picture below, and try to avert your eyes from the beautiful brown horse and instead look at the background:

And voilà!
All of a sudden we have a view again!

When we moved here 14 years ago, we could see the mountains, and I loved that view.
As the trees have grown the last years, that has been all we have seen.
I am happy to have it opened up a bit, even if this probably will mean more wind coming in.

We have a small problem though.
They have blocked our path out to the forest from the stable....

This is the other path, we have two.
This one leads straight to the creek though, and we cannot cross that at all times .

We have for sure gotten more sunlight through though!

September 10, 2009

Prince Charming, and a new assistant trainer

This is my daughter’s pony Mac Gyver, aka Charlie.
He is such a cutie, a real Happy-Go-Lucky kind of character.
Always a smile on his face - the only exception being when you brush his belly (but if he is eating that's OK too)
He is 14 yo Swedish bred New Forest, and a perfect school master to our daughter.
He has not the most impressive of gaits, but he knows all the FEI movements and is happy to help the rider along.
He might on the other hand throttle the motor if the rider is not attentive, but hey, no-one is perfect. But he is very close to.
We all love him.

Yesterday I rode him as my daughter was not feeling well.
After some stretching and supplying work, we got down to business.
Once he got going, it was a treat to ride him.
He is very stable in the connection, and also in the exercises.
Starting up he was slightly stiff in the right side, but that loosened up during the session. Shoulder-in, half-pass, transitions – everything flowed quite effortlessly, he was such a good boy!

The trot work felt very good, in the canter work I had to watch those hind legs to keep them active.
He is not lazy, just checking me from time to time very subtly to see how much he has to work, smart thing.
Riding is so much about feel.
It is a privilege to ride a horse like Charlie when you normally ride a younger horse like Fame.
That way I can check out what it should feel like when doing it correctly, and compare it to how it feels like doing it on Fame.

Before this session I helped Anna out on my own horse Fame.
And today I got myself a new assistant trainer:

My daughter’s cat Simba.
He is a Very Macho Cat, mostly out hunting or sleeping the hard work off.
Yesterday he was following me around in the arena during the whole session with Anna, very sociable, stroking himself against my legs, curling up his back to get some pats and scratching.
Normally he might drop by for a short greeting and then take off again to check latest news on the mouse exchange, so it was a bit out of the ordinary.
He was very sweet, and I was flattered by all his interest.
When I was finished and walked into the stable, he even followed me into Charlie’s box (but disappeared quickly out again when Charlie wanted to say hi).

After checking on Charlie, I went into our house, still with Simba in my heels.
Then I understood.

His food bowl was empty.

Sometimes us Twolegs just don’t get it.

September 06, 2009


Kate from A year with horses talked about a book called "A horse's thought, a journey into honest horsemanship" by Tom Moates.

As my overloaded bookshelves still always can make room for another horse book, I bought it.
(Actually, that was a lie. Our books are drowning our small house, but I am not planning to stop buying...)
The book was nice, perhaps not as good as the ones by Mark Rashid IMHO -but there were some things that stuck to my mind.

One of them was the expression "With-you-ness".
I will quote the definition straight from the book:
"A way of the horse and human each responding to the other while participating in the same experience--both aware of, and being sensitive to, the mental desires, emotional balance, as well as the physical needs of the other, during which time there is no fear, anxiety, resistance, or resentment"

Quite a tall order, that is - don't you think?

But I love the word.
Like in "we like the company of each other ", "we feel good together" and "we trust each other".

I truly enjoy the company of my horse.
Like when I am grooming her and we just silently enjoy being together. I feel my stress leaving me, and I get calm and relaxed. Fame backs up her side or hind to have me scratch her, just there.
Or after we have been working, and she gets her hay. She is standing in the door opening, munching on her hay while watching me conditioning her tack. We are a bit tired, both of us, but happy and content.
Or out on trail, contemplating the scenery and the stillness around us -or blowing off some steam, laughing inside.
Or in those golden moments when we are working in the arena, and I feel I can just think of doing something, and then we do it, together.

While I cannot say that I am totally aware of Fame's desires and needs (that would be way too presumptious) I feel very close to her, often.
And I just love that feeling.
Maybe that is the true joy of having a horse.

September 05, 2009

A cultural thing?

”The joys of breaking through to a new understanding all along the horsemanship journey are incredibly exciting and strong motivation to continue the work” (Tom Moates)

I know I have just said it, but I find it so exciting to get all kind of impulses from different corners of the world, and different horse disciplines.
I read and digest, and mull it over in my mind. And I wish I could get you all guys together in reality, and we could sit together and have a marvelous discussion over a bottle of wine or some beers. (Thanks for the idea, Trudi!)
What a night that would have been!

We would for sure not have been in agreement over everything, but does it matter? I believe we all would have been a bit wiser. It is always good to look at things through different angles.

What I have mulled over lately is our perception of how the horse is to behave when he “is behaving”. What is manners?
Where does respect come in? And trust?
And how does our horse culture come into play?

Bloggers from the US are occupied about the horse not getting into your space, about signals of licking and chewing.
Important things, yes - but things that the average Norwegian horse owner doesn’t have a clue about!

The horses here might be unmannered out from an American point of view. But we do get things done here too without much problems or fuzz.

And then I just had to laugh, because I understand that many people around the world experience Scandinavians as a bit rude and uncivilized; too direct. No manners.
Maybe our horses are like us, ROFLMAO!

So dear readers, I beg you to please excuse my rudeness - it is a cultural baggage. I was born that way. Can’t be helped.
(nice excuse huh? I wonder if it goes for being unfit too? Sorry, was born that way...)

Now I am off to have some refill on my learning. New training here this weekend.
I am not participating, but I will fold out my big ears and see if I get some fish.

September 04, 2009

Clinic with Christoph Hess

"A relaxed and happy horse" – that might have been the heading.

I have been a spectator to a two days seminar/training with Christoph Hess.
Mr. Hess is head of the training department of the German National Equestrian Federation, and an international dressage judge.

Being the dressage nerd I am, I try to get to all seminars within an acceptable distance.
I’ve been to clinics with Salzgeber, Ingrid Klimke, Kyrklund, Helgstrand, Hoyos, Balkenhol and more – but I wonder if not this clinic was the best.
Hess is a very sympathetic and knowledgeable trainer. I envied those riders that got the chance to train for him these two days!
But being a spectator was not bad either. It was definitely cheaper, lol!

Each day 8 riders participated.
The first day was “The training scale in practice” and the second day was “Program riding”.
I believe the first day was the most interesting one.
If I should do a sum up Mr. Hess' philosophy, it was that the base requirement was a relaxed and happy horse, which he always kept coming back to.
He worked much with stretching the horses in a deep form but with contact to the rein, to loosen the back (and no, no overbending!) and to always keep the horses truly in front of the leg.

I will try and share my notes of the sessions.
Please bear in mind that these are just my personal, subjective impressions, and take it just for that.

#1. Was a very beautiful, good moving “International small tour horse”
They started to work much with transitions halt-walk, and then halt-trot.
The horse was to answer forward, and the rider to soften the hands when doing upwards transitions.
Canter work. Medium canter along the long side, followed by shoulder-in in medium canter while giving the rein, both hands. Using medium canter as a tool to keep a true three-beat rhythm in the canter and to get the horse in front of the leg. He wanted the rider to stay up in a light seat in between, to facilitate more forward action with three beat canter and to get the horse’s back up.
Then they started collected work in canter, with some pirouette work.
The rider was to take both reins in the outer hand, and decrease the circle gradually.
Mr. Hess did not worry about keeping the bend, the most important was self balance in the horse. He kept repeating “give both reins”. The rider was to look towards the centre of the circle to keep correct body posture.
Less hand, and get the horse truly in front of leg and in self balance was the goal.

#2. Was a GP horse, making the debut this year.
Not the best mover, but steady in the exercises.
It was not truly in front of the leg, so Mr Hess wanted more activity here.
They started out with warming up in trot and canter work at a forward tempo. Then shoulder-in at the long sides, still in a forward tempo with soft contact on the reins. Starting with half-pass and flying changes, Mr. Hess noted that problems with half-pass left and being one behind in one of the changes had the same cause, the horse did not truly respect the leg.
To solve this they started to work on diagonals, changing between half-pass, ride forward medium canter - half pass – medium canter. He made the point that this horse did not have a truly collected canter, just a slower one, and that this exercise would help.
Over to flying changes, one-tempi.
The horse was still one behind back in one of the changes, so he put them to this exercise: Medium canter through the short side, then going on the diagonal – 3 off three-tempi changes, medium canter again – new diagonal – 3 off tree-tempi changes.
He summed up that the horse needed to go more forward, and asked the rider to take off the spurs to next session. (Which was interesting)

#3. Junior/advanced level horse, 17 yo.
Started out tense, and tensed up against the rider’s hand.
They started to work for quite a while in a long and low form, to get the horse to be “happy and relaxed”, with improved contact to the bit and better hind leg activity through a supple back. When starting canter work Mr. Hess wanted a transition to medium canter from the rider’s inside leg, but the horse did not react on this. He wanted the rider to soften on the contact on the inner rein, but pointed out that the horse must accept the aid from the inner leg.
He asked the rider to straighten up and look forward, and then proceeded to work with long and low form, collection by opening up the body in front without using reins. Transitions trot-canter-trot on the circle, again without touching the reins.
Mr Hess thought that the horse did not accept inside/outside leg enough, so they started to work with increasing/decreasing the circle to improve this.
The horse got more and more relaxed during the work, with much better hind leg activity/swinging more through the back in the end.
They continued same kind of work day two.

#4. Talented 8 yo GP-debuting horse
This horse and rider were working quite well, so Mr. Hess mainly concentrated upon seat and position. He wanted the horse to be a bit quicker behind, and that the rider should shorten the reins so the hand came more in front of him. He also wanted him to think of keeping the small fingers towards each other as the rider had a tendency to place the hands like riding a bike instead of holding a glass. In the work with half pass the rider had a tendency to sit to the outside, so they also worked on keeping the weight into the inside leg, and look in the direction of motion. When working with the flying changes the rider also was giving the signal with the leg placed too far back, this was also corrected.

Will be continued....(but without a murder)