October 27, 2009

Comfort zone to stretching zone

This weekend I have been to another dressage seminar, this time with Jan Brink.
Will write a separate post about that later. It was for two full days, plus a presentation Friday night, so lot of stuff to digest.

I find that it has been many posts recently about all and everything except life at home with horses, lol!

Well, first there has been some changes for me personally.
I have been working at the same company for 20 years, which is quite a long time.
This summer I got a job offer from another company which sounded interesting, and as a result I have resigned my old job and will start a new on Nov. 9th.
As I am moving over to a competitor, I have finished my running projects but been kept out of new ones so I have had some extra time off....nice, huh?
Which I have used on family and horses.

As I have stated in an earlier post time has come for Fame to start on flying changes.
I have been considering to get some help with it as I feel rusty after riding young horses the last years. Timing is so important, and as horses have good memory they learn what you teach them, whether it is right or wrong.
I prefer to get it right.

Now, as I had more time on my hands, I could get our instructor Annie to help me at day time, when she had time free.

I really like Annie's riding.
She is a soft and sympathetic rider, but has a good seat and get the horses to work very well without any fuzz.
Annie rode Fame three days last week, and two days the week before that.
She has improved the basic work and hind leg activity, and also done some flying changes.
A positive spin-off effect is that as she is learning to know Fame better, she will also be able to give me more directed help.

We have found out that I have been chicken riding. Hm.
When Fame gets going, I loose my seat slightly and have put in a halfhalt instead of riding through it. So she has been going in a slightly under-tempo.
I also feel that she gets too strong in the contact when she gets going, another reason for me to put in the half halt.
Annie wants me to ride through it instead, and let her soften through increased activity.

I feel like I have to push myself a bit out of the "comfort zone" to the "stretching zone".
(Haha, Jan Brink's words from the seminar....)
...which might not be too bad!

October 23, 2009

Shame on you Patrik

The Swedish dressage rider Patrik Kittel was filmed at the warm up pen in WC qualifier Odense, Denmark.

This type of riding has nothing to do with dressage, and it makes me sick at heart and ashamed as a Swede, and as a dressage rider.

Please, all you out there.
If we are to make a change, we have to make our voices heard.
Send a mail:

To the Swedish Equestrian Federation, Tomas Torgersen, head of sports section:
and ask if riders on the Swedish National team doesn't have to comply with FEI's code of conduct?

To the largest equestrian magazine in Sweden, Ridsport:
And ask them to have comments on this from the federation, and from the rider.

Or contact FEI:
as the Chief Steward was approached, but nothing was done.

Mails in English should be no problem.
If we keep silent, nothing will change.

Please sign the petition to the FEI:

October 19, 2009

Clinic with Christoph Hess, part 2

This is part two of my notes from the clinic I attended with Christoph Hess, head of the training dept at the German equestrian federation, and international dressage judge.
You can find the first post here.
Please again note that these are just my personal notes from the seminar, and take it only as that.
Pictures are not of a good quality I am afraid, I had only my cell phone...

#5. Intermediate, talented horse, worked in hyperflexion by rider.
Now, I guess that you know what I mean about hyperflexion, and consequently what I felt when watching this rider warm up her very tense horse, rider consistently napping on the inner rein.
Not good.
I was wondering what Mr Hess would do here.
He started out to ask her to let out the reins to work the horse in a longer and deeper frame, to “make the horse happy and relaxed”, and told her that the horse “needed confidence”.
They started to work with loosing up the horse in shoulder fore, with soft rein. The rider got constantly reminded to give rein and “überstreichen” (move both hands forwards towards the bit for a couple of strides). He kept asking for the rider to give on the inner rein, and instead start to work with outer aids.
The work got better, and the rider improved, but when they finished I still wished that he had taken a more thorough approach to address the rider’s way of working her horse.
Day 2, people.
This rider turned up with such a completely different approach in her riding, that I am convinced that Mr Hess had taken a private tête-a-tête with her the evening before.
I assume he did not want to approach her like that in front of the audience the previous day.
Day two we saw a profound difference, already from the beginning.
The rider started to warm up the horse low and long. When they started the work, it continued in the same way. Supplying work in a long and low frame, to get the horse to relax. Much work with shoulder in and transitions.
I was very happy with what I saw, and I believe the horse was happy too.

#6 Iberian (PRE) stallion, PSG-level?
When the horse started to work, Mr Hess said it was not in front of the aids, it was short in the neck and behind the vertical, and did not react enough on the leg aids. The rider was told to be soft on the hands, and to keep them still.
She was then told to work the horse in posted trot on the track and to give both reins and just ride forward.
Mr Hess wanted a relaxed horse in front of the leg.
She was told not to sit down to the trot until the horse was supple enough in the back. He wanted her to keep the long reins until the horse opened in the back and was actively seeking the bit.
She was to take him into a 20 m circle, still with loose reins. The horse was to stay on the circle and not to enlarge it. Mr Hess commented that the horse was either running or was behind the leg.
From the work on circle, he directed them out to the 2nd track to do some extended trot, still posting. The rider was told not to ask for too much extension which would result in the horse opening too much in the hind legs and loosing the balance.

Mr Hess commented that PRE/Lusitanos often were a bit stiff over the back, and needed
supplying work where they stretch forward/downward to loosen up.
The rider was asked to shorten the stirrups.
After this they went back to the circle where they worked with leg yield to get the horse to loosen up a bit more in the back.
Then back to the track and work with shoulder in at trot and canter, still on longer reins and in forward tempo. Back on the circle, reducing the circle only by using seat and legs. The horse was to stretch and keep the balance and rhythm. Medium canter, increase the circle again, followed by a reduction of diameter again and collection, only by seat and legs. After a few rounds, a transition to posting trot, long reins.
The horse was now relaxed and in front of rider.

#7 DWB, GP debut that weekend.
When this horse entered the arena I am afraid I thought it a bit pluggy and uninteresting being a GP horse. More of a schoolmaster type of horse, doing the exercises but lacking the flair.
They started out with transitions walk-trot-walk to get more impression in the trot, and improve the hind leg activity. Mr Hess told the rider (as he did to several others) to shorten the stirrups two holes.
As they moved on to more collected movements we got quite another impression of the horse.
It had a marked talent for the more difficult movements, and a very good passage-piaff, all which made Mr Hess so enthusiastic as to exclaim “London 2012” several times, lol!
The horse was a spitting image to one of my friend’s horses, which instantly made me call and tell her that she now had no excuses not to make it to GP (evil laughter)

#8 Younger horse, 4-5 yo?
The horse was running off a bit to start with, so Mr Hess asked them to work with shoulder in and to try and slow down. They then started to work with serpentines, again to try and reduce tempo and concentrating to keep the balance. He asked the rider to make the serpentines shaped like S-es, to watch the outer side with outer leg and to sit down in the saddle in the middle of the S, otherwise posting trot.
Followed by canter on a circle; medium canter on the open part, collection on the other half, keep inside rein soft.
Mr Hess stressed the importance of working also younger horse at shoulder in so they get straight. Sometimes you have to accept a shorter neck to help a youngster to keep the balance, as long as the horse is taking contact on the bit and is round over the back.
On the transitions from trot to walk he on the other hand, he commented to the rider that she had to watch that the horse did not shorten the neck.
After being initially a bit unbalanced (like a gangly teenager) the horse got more balanced and between the aids as the work proceeded, and also concentrating more on the rider.

My notes is mainly from day one where the work was to concentrate on the German educational scale, and was interesting as much was of a general approach, concentrating on the basic, but so very important work. Having a relaxed horse that is in front of the aids.
Day two was more preparations for the show to follow in the weekend, also interesting but aiming more on how to show each horse at its best.

All in all it was two very interesting days.

October 16, 2009

Sofa Princess in trouble?

During the summer our Sofa Princess has been on the pills, to avoid any unplanned family addition.
During winter time there is no need for it.
She has no inclination whatsoever to do anything but put her nose through the front door gap for two seconds, followed by a prompt return to a new nap in the sofa.
Or perhaps in front of the fire.

In September we stopped the pills as we actually planned her to have a litter.
A planned one, mind, with a male of the same breed.
Unfortunately it seems as if she has arranged the matter herself before we got there...

Mid September she was in heat, and for any of you that has not been around a female cat at that time I can assure you it doesn't go unnoticed.
We kept the front door shut, but as the King of Hunt opens the door whenever it suits him, she managed to escape unnoticed.

Opens doors, but doesn't close them unfortunately...

Take a roll with me?

Scratch my tummy, then?

When I found her she was just a couple of metres away from our neighbour's unneutered male, and even if nothing was going on at the time I found them, I don't believe any of them had waisted any time *sigh*

I'll take a roll on the stairs instead, so I don't get dirty...

she hasn't been in heat since
we believe she has gained weight
and today we also found her nipples were more pronounced. Maybe.

...the conclusion is?
Make your bets, ladies and gentlemen -we will see in a month's time!

Hello guys? Anyone around who wants to have some fun?

Oh well, it's all taken care of now.
Might as well take a nap with King of Hunt.

Thanks to my daughter for the photos!

October 13, 2009

Oslo Horse Show

First: Welcome Laura as a new follower!

Life has been busy lately, so there has not been much time neither to read or comment on blogs, nor write on my own.

This weekend my daugher and I visited Oslo Horse Show together with friends, and on Friday night us adults went to an Italian restaurant.
We had such a good time - my favourite combination: good food and wine, plus horse loving friends!

Some pictures from the show:

To the price ceremony, they used a true Norwegian equipage with four Fjords, and with the price awarders dressed up in "bunad", traditional dresses from old times.
Looked very stylish.
When they had the lap of honour, the carriage was standing in one of the corners looking Very Spooky.
The audience got some extra entertainment when the winning horses were passing...

Now, please look at the picture below.
This rider and her horse brought tears to my eyes.
Camilla (11) and her mother were involved in a car acccident.
Her mother died, and Camilla was very close to.
The pressure in her skull after the accident was too large. She was kept in coma, and was through seven brain surgeries. In the end the surgeons had to make a drastic action; they removed a part of the left side of the skull to keep her alive. Her father was told that she probably would survive, but they were not sure whether she would come back to normal.
Her skull was partially replaced with plastic.
Coming back to consciousness, she could not talk, and could only move her eyelids.
She spent 270 days in hospital and rehabilitation, all the time longing for, and after a while also talking of, her pony Laddy.
She had pictures of Laddy all over her room at the hospital, and everyone in the hospital staff taking care of her knew the name of her horse.
After very hard and dedicated work she is now almost back to normal, and the strongest motivation was to be able to ride Laddy again.
Camilla, now 14, had a dream to ride her horse at Oslo Horse Show.
On Saturday she did.
50 of the hospital staff were there watching, and I don't think my eyes were the only ones that were moist.

After both a family show, dressage and show jumping classes, Saturday's show ended with puissance.
Nothing for my nerves, and I am not comfortable with asking the horses to jump so high either.
They managed to get it up to 2.10 before ending.

October 02, 2009

Autumn joy

My daughter has taken the photo above.
I think it is such a beautiful autumn picture; the clear azure-blue sky, and the yellow leaves.
It is so beautiful outside now, and we have had some sunny days.
The temperature has dropped though.
On my trail ride last Saturday I rode in a t-shirt. Now, I have had to find my chaps and thick jackets.

After two days of intensive dressage traning, I took Fame out on a relaxing ride today in the beautiful weather.
Tomorrow the weather forecast says sleet, so we better take advantage of the nice weather while it lasts.

The disadvantage with many horses around is that the soil is washed away, and the stones creep up.

Fairytale forest, don't you think?
(Cabruze - no bugs, just moose!)

Calm and low water in the creek.

But on Wednesday and Thursday we worked hard!
Jimmi, the Danish trainer is here again.
On Wednesday he scolded us as he found Fame tight in the topline.
That is something that I always have to watch with her. She likes to work in a too high form which renders her tight in the back if "left alone".
I am aware of it, and work a lot with supplying exercises, keeping her in a low and round form.
But we had not done enough apparently!
He helped us through it, also riding Fame for a short while.
At the end of the lesson, she was much better.

She has been a bit more "antelope-y" lately though, I thought about it when hacking out today.
As I was riding bareback it was extra obvious...
I might have to adjust on her hard feed.
It is nice to have some energy, but if the energy is directed into spooking for about all and everything and getting tense instead of working, maybe the octane level is too high.
I will set her down a bit on the pellets and see what happens.

When we started out day two she was much better right from the start.
We continued with supplying exercises, and Fame felt good in the contact and with an improved hind leg activity. The trot in particular felt better than normal, and I was happy with the work.
Jimmi is a good trainer.
The things he comments on always feels right, and I feel Fame is working better.
The trainer can say nice things, deserved or not, but the horse never lies.

Now I am looking forward to two more lessons during the weekend.
It is very nice to get such an intensive training once he is here, as it will be a month or more until he returns.

My daughter also had a lesson this morning.
I had to act as translator as she has problem to understand Danish.
In the afternoon Siri and Hjalmar also had sessions.

And Jimmi was so lucky as to ride on a quality horse!