January 30, 2011

Training weekend

Wiola with Fame and me

We have had a lovely training weekend with Wiola and Kari from Aspire Equestrian Riding Academy.
Wiola is a BHS Intermediate teacher, I suppose many of you know her already from her blog, Riding Instructor's Diary.
Kari is a human chiropractor, and together they had set up a very interesting schedule for the weekend.

In advance each rider sent in a form about themselves and their horse, what their plans were, and what they wanted help with.
We started out with filmed assessment sessions on Friday evening, followed by some pizza and going through the videos, planning the training ahead.

On Saturday the riders had a filmed riding session with Wiola and also a session with Kari where each rider's specific problems were addressed.
Again, a round-up in the afternoon, watching the videos and commenting.
Another short session with Kari on Sunday morning, followed by a private riding session with Wiola.

I have always been struggling with my seat and position, and been very envious of all those riders that just "sit there".
Some of my problems I have managed to solve, and some of them I still struggle with, after 40 years.
Very irritating.
Your bad habits kind of become good friends with your body over time. (Can't really remember inviting them?) Or rather like house occupants.
I needed some help to evict them.
In my form I had asked for help with my shoulders, as I round them.
I also feel that I lack strength in my core muscles.

Berit on Charlie, who found a new friend in Wiola 

I got some very good help from Kari with some exercises both to correct my shoulders (NOT by pushing my breast forward as that creates tension, did you hear that all riding teachers out there?) and to strengthen my abdominal muscles. Kari told me I had rather strong abdominal muscles, which really made my day, wohooo!...but of course they can get stronger. And the stronger they get, the better I will ride.

Wiola in action

So with all those new tips, I set out for my riding lesson.
It was very interesting, and I had several aha-moments in the interaction between me and Fame.
It was hard to keep my new body posture all the time, but now I felt I had the correct tools to adjust my body properly.
And we discovered a hole in the flexing of Fame which was a highlight for me, and something I believe will be a great help in my riding. Thanks Wiola!

The perception of a riding instructor might vary from rider to rider, but the ultimate proof lies with the horse. Horses don't lie.
It was so good to see the response of the horses during this weekend, as everyone was working better.

Barbara and Mazda

Barbara bought her horse Mazda this autumn.
Mazda is a former riding school horse imported from one of the Baltic countries, with unknown history.
She has some issues, and has an inverted shape of her body with a large belly and a weak back.

She either likes to work with a too high head position, or ducking behind the vertical.
Wiola did some very nice work with her on Saturday, and on Sunday Barbara did the best work ever on her horse. Mazda was relaxed, and much of the time she worked with a correct contact and position.

Wiola is working on flexion with Hjalmar and Tarzan

My favourite rascal Tarzan was also participating, with his owner Hjalmar.
I should not say "rascal" anymore, because Tarzan has produced some very nice dressage work together with Hjalmar the last year. After getting some extra help with a softer contact and improving the balance, the work was better than ever.
Hjalmar had the best comment of the day when Tarzan started to work those hindlegs: "Hey, there's something back there"...we all cracked with laughter!

Apart from the training, we had a very good time with interesting discussions and a lot of laughs.
We rounded up on Sunday in the club house with some food and discussions, and there was a strong wish for a repeat session end of May/beginning of June.
When I drove Kari and Wiola back to the airport, I believe they were happy but quite exhausted both of them!

I have made two new friends for real, not just blog friends, for which I am very happy!
Thanks once again Kari and Wiola for a wonderful weekend training!

January 24, 2011

Too much entertainment


Fame is recovering well, even if she is a slimmer version of her old self.

I have been walking my large dog the last week, not without extra entertainment.

The first walk of the day has been in the morning before I drive to work, around 6.30 am.
At that time the horses still have not had their morning meal, so I have to move around quitely and lead my horse out from the stable in the dark.
Outside it is also completetly dark.
Coming out of the stable door on Wednesday morning, I walk out first, then my horse.
When I turn around to close the door after us Fame goes bananas at my side, stepping into the steel wheelbarrows standing at the side and turning them all over.
I can assure you all of the horses in the stable were now wide awake.
Turns out we had stepped into a party of two moose, standing right outside the door, munching away on the hay.
Scared by the noise from the wheelbarrows they fled by jumping in and out of the outdoors arenas, only to stop a bit further away and look at us.
I checked Fame over, but it seemed as if it had been more noise than anything that had hurt her, so we started our walk. In the opposite direction from the uninvited guests.
Suddenly she freezes again.
Turns out that there is a third moose, perched up on the snow heap at the short side of the arena,  eating on the hedge there.
Ok, not that direction either...

On Thursday, I was to ride Charlie, my daughter's pony,  and I had this super idea.
I could warm up Charlie on a short hack while ponying Fame.
They are good friends, so it should be ok, even if we had not tried it before.
I decided that maybe it was a good idea to put a saddle on, something I have scarcely done the last couple of months.
The halter rope would be too short, so I had to take the longe line - a nuisance really as it was far too long and I had to have several extra loops that I needed to keep un-entangled from the reins.
Anyway, after some initial confusion we straighten everybody out of the tangle and off we went.
Everything went just fine the first 10 minutes.
It was nice outside, not too cold and a beautiful full moon.
I suppose you can guess what happened?
Suddenly a large, dark shadow materialised from the trees at the side of the path.
A moose, turning and walking towards us. Quite close too.
Charlie has a slightly more sceptic view on mooses than Fame. He believes it is a good idea to walk home if one meets a moose. One cannot be too sure what happens.
So I just had to keep him under control, because if he turned I would entangle myself and Fame on the small path as the snow was quite deep beside it.
I steadied Charlie and started to tell the moose off in my deepest voice. Didn't mince my words either.
At least he stopped.
I tried to bark like a dog.
No reaction.
Barked like a larger dog.
The moose started to eat from the bushes, apparently enjoying the situation....hmm, wonder what she will try next???
I could not turn, because then Charlie would have his suspisions confirmed, and also probably stress when turning. We just had to stand our ground.
I worked my mind hard to come up with some new interesting, scary sound to try out when the moose tires and turns around, leisurely walking off along the path. Not far though.
Time for a organised retreat.
Not much space to turn around, and neither of the horses really wanted to leave the path as the snow beside it was deep, but after some  pushing we manage to start on the way back - even with the right horse in the lead - hooray!
Charlie behaved well, some jogging to start with but he calmed down pretty quickly.

My parents were here this weekend, and they told a story about a 10 yo  in Sweden, when walking home from school suddenly met a pack of wolves.
They did not walk away, and he was very brave. He did not run, but picked up his cell phone and played some heavy rock, which did the trick!
I believe I have to download some music that creates an impact...any ideas?

On Sunday we had a lovely day, and I almost felt a tast of spring.
Lovely, lovely sunshine - and you could actually feel some warmth.
I rode Fame on a short and calm hack for the first time since she was sick, and we just had to stop to take a sun bath.
For the first time since autumn I rode without a jacket, only two pullovers.
Large improvements to -20C.

King of hunt is spending most of his time outdoors again

January 18, 2011


My horse is very dear to me, so the last days I have been in agony.

When I came home on Tuesday afternoon, Fame did not finish her hay. Instead she lied down.
Oh no.
I phoned my vet, and said that we might have a colic on our hands, and asked him to be prepared.
I walked her but she was not well and had a slight temperature, so I asked the vet to come.
He diagnosed a constipation (blockage? what is it called in English?).
After treatment she recovered well during the night, and as I was working from home the next day I could keep her under observation.
Everything was fine until 7 pm. When I came out to check on her she was lying down again.
Another visit by the vet.
Again she responed well on the treatment.
Loose manure, no temperature.
When I walked her on Thursday evening she was alert and hungry.
Went to work on Friday (of course a yearly large conference for the entire company), and got a call from the stable. She was lying down again.
Phone call to my vet - he told us to drive her down to the veterinary hospital.
The blockage/constipation was tough, and they said that the situation was depending on how she responded on the treatment, and asked me if they should phone me if it was necessary to do a surgical operation during the night.
I did not sleep much.
When I finally got a call the next morning with the reassuring message that the constipation had dissolved during the night, I could finally breathe again. She is a fit and healthy horse, and I have been very grateful for that because I believe it has helped her in the situation.
We could drive her home again Monday evening.
My well muscled 8 yo now looks like a gangly 3 yo instead, poor thing.
She was so happy to come home, and I was just as happy to get her back.
She is on a strict feeding regime for another fortnight, and I have to walk her three times a day, so it's early mornings for a period.

It has been more colics than usual this year, and they have had busy times at both of the veterinarian hopitals in Oslo.
It is probably due to the severe cold, as the horses drink less. At the same time more and more feed with haylage instead of hay, and it freezes in low temperature which also probably adds to the problem.
Here (as in most places) the horses has to do with snow instead of water while they are out during daytime as the water freezes.
That situation is of course not optimal, but not new - and has earlier not caused more problems with colic during winter time than during summer time.
Living up north for sure doesn't make things easier.

January 08, 2011

Moose safari

After two months with very low temperatures and not much snow, the situation has changed and we have been getting much snow but higher temperatures.
And when we get much snow, the animals get problems to move higher up in the mountains, so they move down to the bottom of the valley where we ride.

It was a lovely day yesterday with trees heavily laden with the new snow, and both sun and some fog which made a wonderful scenery.
As I got home from work a bit early, I decided to take Fame out for a hack.

I took her out from her food, so a bit on our way she tried to grab some branches sticking out from the snow.
When I told her "no" we suddenly had some commotion from the forest just in front of us.
Turned out to be three moose that had been standing watching us, without us noticing.

Luckily they turned around and ran off away from us.
Problem is that when we get much snow, the moose too wants to follow the paths or the roads as the going is easier, and then it can be a bit tricky sometimes.

Fame luckily doesn't worry much about moose, she is quite used to them.
She is curious though, and often sniffs the ground in their tracks, sometimes also wanting to follow their tracks.

She had a lot of excess energy after two days off, one of them unplanned - so we aired the system with some fresh canter for quite a while, uphill.
She has had some extra forage due to the cold, and it makes her more on her toes.

Even if she had had a real good workout, she was still full of energy on the way back with tendencies to some jogging which I don't like.
I had to turn her energy into some work instead, and that was why I did not see the fourth moose until we were just beside him.
He was lying down in the snow just beside our path - I would say only some 5-7 m off.
Anyway, we pranced on, he just moved some ears and past him we were.

Horses, not moose!
Moose are large animals, but I am not very worried about the moose when we ride out.

I have had many close encounters over the years, and no bad experiences so far. (But I do know of incidents where my fellow riders have been chased.)
When I do worry though is when I am out driving.
I see them by the road almost every day driving through the valley. If you get them in front of the car, the car hits the legs and you get the body straight up on your wind screen.
People here are killed in moose accidents every year.

My friend Anne, who is studying in Germany has gone English.
She bought a new horse a couple of months ago.

January 04, 2011

An exciting start of the new year

If one munches on branches, one might get a surprise....

My friend Anne who lives in Germany was home for the holidays, and we had a very nice trail ride together on Saturday with the horses.
The horses enjoyed themselves, and we too.
The weather was lovely, finally the cold has lost some of its grip.
Just a few degrees below zero, and sun in addition - lovely!

The very nice thing about the blogosphere is the possibility to make new friends.
I love to read about all my equestrian blogfriend's experiences and stories, but now I am very excited because we are taking this one step further:

Wiola from Riding Instructor's Diary is coming over to us to throw a weekend training together with her collegue Kari, who is a chiropractor.
They have set up a very interesting training schedule where Wiola and Kari will work close together to assess each rider's problems:

Nordmarka RSK invites to a training weekend with
28-30 January, Sørkedalen

”The horse mirrors the rider’s movements”

Most horse riders know what their own personal difficulties are, but many do not understand why  - and therefore feel like they are constantly struggling to correct it.
Biomechanical restrictions can easily cause some of the problems encountered by horse riders daily, such as a weak seat, inconsistent rein contact, locked hips, tilting the upper body and/or legs forwards, and collapsing through the waist.
If your horse is crooked, lacks impulsion, is tense or is going against the aids, the cause might lie with you as the rider.
Would you like to improve yourself?
The training will be a great help to get more insight in your own riding, where you will get help to address the problem that really affects your further development – how your own body influences your horse’s movements.


Friday evening Jan 28: 
Presentation and planning.
Riding in groups of 4, lenght 30 min, assessing riders.
We sit together afterwards and share some
pizza and look into each rider’s goals, issues and problems. Discuss what comes up, and plan the training for the rest of the weekend so each rider gets a tailor made program to address his/her issues.

Saturday Jan 29:
AM: Riding 45 min session, two riders pr session.  
Part of the session will be filmed.
Lunch: Looking at the videos, and discuss what each rider needs to work with.
PM: Each rider gets ca 30 min session with chiro Kari, with exercises that will address what needs to be worked on based on the riding sessions and the discussions during lunch.

Sunday Jan 30:
Each rider gets ca 30 min session with chiro Kari before the riding sessions start.
Riding sessions 30 min, alone.
We meet and sum up the training. Feedback and help to plan further training.

Wiola Grabowska BHS Intermediate Teacher, founder of av Aspire Equestrian Riding Academy
Kari Duglebby DC BSc Hons Chiro, Chiropractor and rider
Both come from UK, and are a part of the team in Aspire Equestrian Riding Academy,  who work with a holistic approach to horse and rider.
Wiola and Kari will work close together to tailor the instruction and treatment to each participant’s needs.
Read more about them on:  


I am really excited about this!
We had maximised the number of participants to eight, and it took half an hour after I annonced the training until it was fully booked! 

Let's just hope that the temperature keeps a bit over what we have seen here lately; we have had the coldest November and December here in the last 100 years!

And here, Wiola and Kari, is the venue.
Not very grand, and looks quite deep frozen, right?
Don't dispair.
You'll get a warm welcome even if the temperature is low!