The next leg of the journey...
Monday 29th July:
Rosie has been coming on well in her training; the walk lateral work including shoulder-in is well established, although they can improve further and I have done trot leg yield and a few steps of trot shoulder-in. She has her moments though where she can make you feel you have taken ten steps backwards but that is the lovely Rosie and young horses in general. The other day she nearly spooked me off but I kept my cool and the next day she was back on the planet again. In the lateral work I always aim for a point in the school with my eyes, which helps me to keep my hips and shoulders in alignment with hers, now it has got to the point that when I just look at that point she moves sideways.
The other news is that Rosieís field companion Monet has somehow torn her check ligament so she is on box rest. Her owner Suzanne was leading her out for a bit of grass just as I was bringing Rosie back from the school; we stood and chatted for a bit whilst Rosie softly whickered at Monet in recognition. I am sure she was saying get well soon Aunty Monet, I miss you!
I also had Kirsty from RB Equestrian come out to check Rosieís saddle as she has changed shape and to see what she would recommend should I decide at some point to get her a new one (hubby had said he would buy me one for my birthday, he is a star!). Kirsty changed the gullet for me in Rosieís Wintec Isabell and gave me a list of brands that she felt would suit. To cut a long story short after much research on the internet we opted for a black Ideal Jessica dressage saddle with sued seat in a wide fit. When it arrived it slotted on her back and felt so comfortable for us both so I am really pleased, thank you Simon!!!
I am beginning to realise more and more how consistent I have to be mentally with Rosie and that is not easy. We all have our good and bad days due to outside factors but they do have to be left outside of the school. Rosie like most horses picks up everything from me; if I am mentally frazzled then she thinks she should be as well! For example I had a frightening experience on the way home from the yard. On the lane out of Slapton towards the bypass three vans came along. I pulled over to let them pass, the first two went on their merry way but the third one sidled up to me with the guy leaning out of the window saying excuse me. I thought he wanted directions but no he pulled out a gun and then squirted water in my face; I of course did not know it was a water gun!!! It really did put the wind up me, a feeling which remained for a few days even when I was riding.
To counteract any alarming rubbish filling my brain I began in the walk whilst breathing very slowly in and out (this sounds so easy but it is not as I instantly want to speed up my breathing). At the same time I try to make my brain completely blank (which is a bit easier as after all I am blonde lol) so that there is enough space in it to feel and sense the signals she is sending me such as bit stiff to the left, taking too much contact on the right, little tense, buzzy etc., that way I know which exercise she needs to release or I like to think I do lol! Try it yourself and you will be amazed at what the horse tells you! Busy brain means no feedback.
I read once that riding can be like meditation, at the time I thought what a load of cobblers as there is far too much going on to meditate. Thanks to Rosie I now understand and believe that statement completely!! If something brings me out of that state, such as Kamikaze pigeons on their undoubtedly important mission in the school, she knows and reacts accordingly but I have to remain focussed and calm as if without a care in the world. A good example of this was when one of the maintenance staff came in on a cherry picker to change a light bulb, I saw it and thought eek, then thought breath, focus and Rosie did not even look at it!!!!!!!! I have to say she is very good with all those kind of things but that particular piece of machinery she had never seen before so I was not sure whether to hang onto my hat or not lol!
Transitions from walk to trot and vice versa are getting a bit better i.e. she is not hollowing quite as much as she used to. There are some moments when it feels fragile and I find myself tittering forward in my efforts to give the hand in order to stop her hollowing. Then again if I give too much she feels abandoned and runs forward, take too much and she hollows, which then takes me a few steps of trot to reorganise. I like to keep the trot quite steady (quite a feat lol) because I want her to maintain her balance; I donít want to push her too forward which would take her out of balance as she is not strong enough yet to maintain a bolder trot.
Well the heat wave hit, blue skies, blistering sun, barbecues, and lots of sweating! I can remember saying during the cold weather I will never complain! But to be honest I donít fair very well when it is over 25 degrees, I am ok as long as I can just sit by a swimming pool drinking chilled wine lol! I decided, as Rosie has not had a holiday since she has been at Bury Farm, she can have this time off plus my back has been really painful so it seemed the sensible thing to do to give us both a break. She has coped very well with the heat but after 6 days off she seemed anxious to get going again so Simon lunged her off a head collar for the first two days; she was a very good girl, stretching nicely to the floor. He included some canter work and that was also good, both of us were very pleased. I was looking forward to riding her the following day whilst at the same time praying to the horse God that everything she has learned so far would still be there and that the heat had not fried her brain or somehow eradicated everything from her memory. My prayers were answered but there was one snag, she was too quiet and then as I trotted she coughed twice!! I was not unduly worried but thought I would get her checked out by the vet as I suspected she had a low grade viral infection, which seems to be everywhere at the moment. The vet confirmed my suspicions but after a blood test said it was minor but compounded by the dry weather and dust. He advised that it would be best to keep her in the fresh air as much as possible and light exercise until she recovers. So that is the plan for now! Poor little Rosie is looking a bit sorry for herself but she knows I will look after her and bring her plenty of apples, grooming and TLC! As the horses were in for two days worming I hand walked her twice a day. She loved watching the Apaloosa horses this week-end doing their western class, donít think she could quite believe what was going on but was more than happy to stand there in the shade observing. Her afternoon walk was made complete when one of the photographers gave her a scratch on her neck and withers. Rosie was in heaven, twisting her neck and pulling faces that made us all laugh. I turned her out today and as always she stayed with me for a while then she did not know quite what do with herself. She bounced on the spot, galloped off, bucking and squealing, doing sliding halts and then her magnificent Lloyds Bank black horse impression, 5 mins later head down and happily grazing although she did cough once during her explosion. Hopefully it will only be a few days until she has recovered but I will monitor her on a daily basis.
Oh I have also found another horse out there by Rosieís dad Ruben James; he is called Drifter III and guess what their faces look exactly alike! Drifter is ridden by event rider Catriona Kerruish and if you go on her website you can see a photo of him jumping. I love what she says about him! www.kerruisheventing.com/comp_horses.html
Until next time, Gill and RosieB...