November 28, 2009

Once Upon a Time...

...we had sun, and beautiful colors.
And I took a wonderful trail ride with my daughter.
Now everything is dark, wet and grey.
It is just a month ago, but right now it feels like ages.

Why don't you join us for the ride?
I apologize for the quality of some of the pictures. My cellphone was not quite cooperative that day.

After crossing the creek and some fields, we are taking a gravel road leading further up into the forest.

We are so lucky to have some houses serving food in the forest.
Norwegians are very fond of using their spare time for walking and bicycling in summer, and skiing in winter, so there is a market. the people who live there have part of their income serving food, mainly in the weekends.

We go horse riding, much more fun!
We have packed up food for the horses too.

After about three-quarters of an hour, we leave the gravel roads for a path through the forest.

I just love the way the sun is filtering through the trees.

A bit of the path is quite stony, with bare mountain sides.
We meet some people with bicycles.
I don't like to ride on bare mountain sides with a shod horse, the horse easily slides.
Most of the path is OK though.

Below you see one of the most popular places to stop and have a rest, and something to eat.
It is called Kobberhaugshytta (Copper Hill Cottage).
You can also spend the night there.
We are moving on to a less frequented place.
Calmer surroundings makes it easier to relax with the horses.

Below: We are closing in on the way up to our destination, Finnerud.
Fame has been here before, and is looking up to the houses.
Feed Place is in there, Mum! See??

Here we are, this is Finnerud.
They used to have a "parking place" for horses , but a horse ran off with the tree trunk to which you tied them and unfortunately it was never replaced.

But we don't mind, we have a special corner, with some trees and our own table in the sun!
They have the very best ciabatta, carrot cake and waffles.
I was very disappointed as they were out of my favourite, the carrot cake.
But the waffles were not bad either!

Charlie can't find his pellets on the ground in between all the leaves, and is getting impatient.
(read: being a nuisance. Have you seen a horse get entangled in a tree? Well, he did his best)

My daughter has to help him relocate his food.
He has it well hidden under the leaves after trodding around and scraping up leaves with his hooves, stupid.

My princess Fame is behaving well as always (hahem) and is calmly looking at the surroundings.
She has hoovered the ground free from food.
Been here, done that.

Charlie suddenly gets a visitor.
He stops being Very Bored (expressed by un-relaxing exercises in different postures), and checks out what's happening.

The entertainment climbs up a tree.
I am waiting for an explosion from a "frightened" horse.
As food now is scarce for both two- and fourlegs, we decide to get on our way home.

When coming home, we had been out and about for around three hours.
Horses were happy, we were happy.
A wonderful ride.

Thanks for accompanying us!

November 24, 2009

All shades of grey

Att: CEO Weather Dept.
Re: Recent supplies

Dear Sir,
We just want to draw your attention to the fact that the warehouse stock of Water is now filled up.
To solve the problem we have been forced to store some of the recent deliveries also in other locations (fields, roads etc.). This is giving us some trouble as the premises are not approved as storage facilities.
Another problem is that we have a large number of orders for Sun, which we have not been able to deliver. The order intake last month has been high, but we have only recieved a two day supply.
Our customers are getting upset.
We have tried to calm them with Higher Temperature deliveries, but we feel patience is running low, especially with the shortage of Daylight Hours.
If supplies of Sun still poses a problem, some of our customers might settle for some Colder Temperatures with Snow.
We are deeply concerned as the trend curves from marketing dept. show a rapid increase in Gloom.
Please advice.

Awaiting your soonest reply,
Branch office, South of Norway

November 16, 2009

Jimmi training again

Jimmi arrived on Thursday, so Fame and I have been working hard this weekend.
On Saturday I was really tired, and contemplated an Absorbine-bath.

I thought an update perhaps was in order before going into details about the weekend.
Last time Jimmi was here, Fame was tense, a bit too high in the neck and not round enough over the back.
The problem had been sneaking in on me, and when working her the week before Jimmi came I had problems to get her to relax enough to have her to work as I wanted.
We concluded after the last visit that this was the main issue to work on, and I was a bit worried that it was something physical bothering her.

I thought it over, wondering whether to contact a chiro or try to solve it through the riding.
At the same time the details of my job change was clarified, and with some extra time on my hands I had a discussion with my trainer Annie.
We decided that she would ride Fame a couple of days each week for the upcoming 3-4 weeks.

It turned out to be a very good solution.
After just two sessions Fame was much better, so there were not any large problems.
What has been nice is that when Annie has been riding, she has also been commenting to me what she was feeling and doing, so it has been kind of a kinderegg solution – I have got my horse worked through, I have learnt more about what issues to address, and Annie knows my horse better and will be able to help me better when I am riding myself.

Nice, huh?

I feel that Fame is now working with a better hind leg activity both in trot and in canter, and Jimmi also thought she had improved since last time.
I was very happy that he confirmed what I felt.
I still feel that she is more antelop-y though, in general.
I have been wondering why.

I got a comment on an earlier post that lower temperatures sometimes can get the horses more agitated.
I thought about amount of hard feed.
I am not convinced it is any of the two.
I have asked more from her in the work lately, maybe that is a factor?
We have now a new riding hall 25 mins ride from us, light and nice and with a super surface.
A treat to ride in!
It was ready just this week, and Fame had only been there once before the Jimmi-training started.
Fame saw some ghosts of course. And as a funny coincidence, as she grew tired, the more ghosts she saw.
I reread a book of dressage by Carl Hester a while ago. In it he describes his horses.
I remember that he described one of them as a bit pluggy as a youngster, but it turned into a much more lively horse as a 6 yo due to the work and increasing strength.
Maybe something similar is happening to Fame?
Fame has never been pluggy, always lively – maybe it is just a bit too much liveliness coming out through her ears?
I was looking at her the other day when tacking up.
I believe she has put on some more muscles lately.
When you see your horse every day it is not easy to tell – but she looks larger.

Still, I hope the antelopiness is a passing stage.
I like a lively horse, but I also want to keep her with me.
Back to the “with-you-ness” we discussed in an earlier post.

I dressed her up before the work on Sunday. All orange!

So what did we work with this weekend?


Fame has to build strength to be able to do some more collected work in the time to come. I would also like her to further improve the quality of gaits.
When she gets stronger, she will be able to show some more expression.
So we worked with transitions within the gaits, and between the gaits.
Lateral work; leg yield and shoulder-in in trot and canter.
She is weaker in her left hind, which earlier gave me problems when asking for a left canter depart.
She tensed up, and wanted to float a bit outwards to the right.
She now gave me nice round departs within the frame, which made me happy.
We have another problem though.
When collecting canter left, she sometimes changes canter with her hind legs.
Jimmi said that we just have to keep working on it, stretch the limits, tap a little on her hind when asking for collection and ride out of it when I feel that she is tensing up.
Keeping her relaxed in the work, but asking for a little more day by day. I have to feel how much we as a team can handle.
Sounds good to me.

I believe I have to have some calm training sessions on my own with Fame, and concentrate on how I sit, and how I use the aids.
I earlier thought that the problems was my fault, but as she has been doing the same thing with Annie I believe it is (also) an evasion on Fame’s part, due to her weaker left hind.

In Sunday’s session we were a bit tired, both Fame and me, and the ghosts multiplied.
One of the corners was scary right from the start.
It contained a large opened door to the outside, and there were some jumping obstacles stored there. One could not see what might hide behind them.
As tiredness grew, the whole upper end of the arena turned scary. Tigers can jump far.
Which made the shoulder-ins a bit difficult to ride…
But I have a cunning plan.
When we are to ride there in the weeks to come, any break will be in the scary corner.
So, scary corner=place of rest.
*evil chuckle*

I must boast a bit in the end.
My daughter won the regional cup in dressage this autumn, class LA.
As she is not quite well she has not been able to train as much as she wants.
She was in second place before the final, with one counting show less than possible as she had been sick.
She managed to do a good ride, and get enough points to win.
We were all very happy for her.
Her pony Charlie is a sweetie, he is there for her when she needs him.
He got his carrots.

November 13, 2009

I am alive (if anyone wondered...)

It's just that the new job has been occupying my mind and time lately, and with the addition of horses and family there has not been much time for blogging.
I am afraid there will be a bit more infrequent blogging here for a time.

I am fortunate enough to be able to attend seminars from time to time, and they always are a great source of inspiration.

I am also fortunate enough to have access to good trainers.

I say "fortunate", and value it because I grew up in a small town without these possibilities.

I know that in many places around the world the distances makes it impossible to have the support of, and the inspiration of, skilled trainers and riders.

We do have the internet.
Lots of information is available for free.
Use it!

I have lately joined a site called
They have a lot of videos on training (all disciplines), stable management, showing, grooming, health, interviews - you name it.
You can try it out for free, then you have to subscribe for a reasonable sum - £15/year.
I like it.

Another source is youtube.
I found a nice video from Jane Savoie on youtube about the always important subject of straightening the horse. She here introduces a term which was new to me: "first position", which I understand is an even softer position of a shoulder fore.

I like her comment about the difference of resisting and evasion in a horse.
In the video we see an example of a well schooled horse evading, but not resisting.

I just have to smile when seeing this, because I experience much of the same problem with my horse Fame.
She also wants to drift to the right when I ask her for the left canter depart.

There is a saying in dressage that "the hind legs are attached to the reins".
We have to watch the contact on the reins. If the hind legs are not working properly, you will feel it in the contact.
(Read more about the crooked horse in an earlier post here)

So why is the straightening work important?
When the horse is to collect, he has to engage more with the hind legs, i.e. carry more weight by closing the angles in the joints and stepping under more.
If one hind leg is not strong enough to carry, true collection will be impossible.
So it is just to hang in there.
Patient work over time.

This weekend I am fortunate again -
Jimmi is here, and Fame and me we have to work haaaard.
On Saturday I will do my best to compensate for the fat I've burnt -then it's time for dinner with some horsey friends again.

Have a nice week-end everyone!

No kittens! The Sofa princess was in heat again last week.
Tricked us all.