Wednesday, 9 November 2011

If your horse was a film character..

If your horse was a character from a film who would he be? 
Garth my jumper is definitely a Tony Manero, John Travolta's character in Staying Alive. Picture him swaggering around in his tight white flares knowing all the girls are swooning over him. That's Garth when he's not had enough work. Last week was deadline week at Scottish Field, the magazine I work on as a designer. It is a monthly glossy lifestyle magazine run with a small team on a tight budget so it is all hands on deck when we are putting an issue to bed. When I get home after a long day in the winter I am more interested in going up and kissing the kids in bed before settling for a glass of vino in front of the fire than venturing out into the dark on a horse. It must be a middle age thing although I still think that that phrase has more to do with kings, queens and knight of old than me. My horses are all tucked up by Julie, fed, rugged and munching haylage.
So last week Garth just didn't get enough work even though he was ridden on Thursday and then had a hard  flatwork session with  Eric Machechnie on Friday.
Eric's lessons have been a wake-up for me on the flat. I am sure many of you that school on your own like me most of the time, ease the throttle off without even noticing don't work quite as hard as you maybe could. Eric is challenging not only my riding but my brain too with new ideas and exercises.

If Garth was a film character he's be Tony Manero strutting his stuff!


Flying along..
This time we did a great flying change exercise which Garth loved, into and out of counter canter. He adores flying changes as he finds them easy and you can feel his enjoyment. I used to have to get right off his back when it was weaker and he would change late behind or put in a huge buck. Now he bounds into them with gazelle like enthusiasm, I just have to sit still so I don't get punted out of the saddle.
So he worked hard but not enough to make up for a life of Riley week so going showjumping on Saturday wasn't the best idea I've ever had.
I did swither about going as I knew he would be fresh but as the venues around me seem to be holding less or no bsja showjumping you kind of have to go when you can. I realised I probably should have stayed at home when even our warm-up became a diplomatic exercise in containment.

Exterminate....exterminate...
We went into the ring, I gave him a pat, the bell went and woosh we were off . Over one and two then we shot past fence three, correcting that we missed a tight turn to five, Garth was in a world of his own enjoying himself hugely unlike his rider. Exterminated - we left the ring.
I had only entered a 1.05 as I knew I might run into trouble. Ronnie Brady, a great rider and now trainer whom I have known for years came up and gave me some sound words of advice. He suggested I went in HC and told me not to pull against the horse when he pulled me into the fences by bridging my reins and holding and them low so that when my hands were pulled forward they ended up on the horses neck basically making him apply his own brakes. Not something I have tried before but it worked a treat. Garth set off with fire in his belly ready for round two of fun and games but found that when he pulled I didn't take him on but the reins anchored against his neck. We ended up jumping a nice rhythmical double clear.

Work, home, riding, balancing it all....
I am sure all busy amateur riders get to this point in the winter. How to balance work, family time and riding time when the light and weather are against you. Since Saturday I have worked Garthyboy's socks off so next weekend we should be fine but I know we will be in this position again this winter.


What a beautiful day, hey hey...
I had planned to go back to the show on Sunday but in the end the sun was shining and it was a truly beautiful day so instead I went for a hack with Julie on her TB Jerry. I rode Amelie and we ambled along chatting, Julie has a busy new job and we haven't had a good gossip for ages, then set the horses alight up a canter track to the top of a hill with the most stunning views back over what is known as the Bow of Fife. Few things beat a good gallop on a gorgeous day.

Tara has recovered from her bad shivering episode and is happily back in work. I have eased her back in gently and she is working in the school again, I have learned a lesson and she will now be the last on the box whenever we go anywhere and the first one off for a walk around.






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