Friday, January 31, 2014

Clodaghs Capaills

Here I'd like to introduce you to the motley crew at Blackberry Stables. 
For anyone who is wondering 
'Clodagh's Capaills' is a term in Irish, meaning 'Clodagh's Horses'.

Tubs - The Grandmother
Tubs is a grand lady standing 14 hands 2 who is the overseer of everything that goes on in Blackberry Stables. She is the mother hen with a reserved temperament and a careful nature. She'll also make sure you don't fall and rider safety is her utmost concern. Tubs susses out her rider in seconds and knows the level she needs to put out for the rider on board, she's steady and true. However she is a mare and has her moody days too like any woman I suppose!! But she loves nothing more after a hard days work than to potter down the field and have a good olde roll.

Star - Speedy Gonzales
Star measuring 13 hands 2 never let it be said that he won't give the bigger chaps a run for their money. I've seen him win showjumping competitions while up against fully grown horses!! Star likes to do everything fast that's trot fast, canter fast and jump fast, he whips around the arena. One of the harder ponies to practice sitting trot on as he can trot at near canter speed. However he's a steady stable speed merchant. 

Arthur - Sir King Arthur
Named for his noble and regal appearance however in the royal court I feel he'd be more of a jester! His demeanor is more like a teenager that just smoked a doobie, doesn't fuss or stress always relaxed. However he will put the foot down if he wants a feeding, he'll start to kick his door to get your attention. This is when he turns into a bit of a Seymour from 'The little shop of horrors' FEED ME, FEED ME, FEED ME NOW!!!!! 
No pony here, Arthur stands 15 hands 2 but he has a baby face and teddy bear eyes and is only the tender age of 4, ahhhhhhhhhh.

Roman - Roman the Centurion
Just as his name suggests he is always on his guard. He's a real worrier, sometimes I look at him and its as if he is having a 'Wizard in Oz' moment, the part where its "Lions, and Tigers and Bears OH MY, Lions and Tigers and Bears OH MY!!!'. Though standing an impressive 16 hands 2 he seems unaware of his height and stature and is a real gentle giant. In the arena he'll make you work for your supper and definitely strengthen your lower leg. He loves his cross country but he'll hide behind you leading him up the field in case any of those Lions, Tigers or Bears decide to attack!!!

Oscar - The Dapper Gentleman 
Oscar is the gent of the yard always patient, kind, soft and mellow. Standing 16 hands 1 he has to be this height to be able to accommodate his Big Heart. Oscar has two different colored eyes however I feel this just adds to his gentlemanly persona, I picture him as one of those gentlemen of yee old times who wears a monocle and is ever so pleasant, always uses please and thank you. Oscar is always the utmost gentleman, for instance when your leading him through a gate its as if he says 'oh after you ma lady' with a gentle bow of his head as if mimicking a waving hand gesture to go with the sentiment. If your feeding him he will stand back in his stable as if waiting to be served and doesn't crowd or trample his waiter. In the arena he still holds his mannerly demeanor and once asked to do something he carries out the task with the greatest of ease and fluidity.

Scooby - The Gemini loner
Scooby has two personality's one in the arena and one outside. He's a horse that loves his own company and is happy staying out on his own away from the main herd. He easily gets bored and falls asleep in the arena but will awaken for a round of jumps and ping each one with the grace of an Arabian Stallion. Nicknamed 'Weight Watcher' by one of the ladies that rides him due to the amount of effort the rider must exert in order to get and keep him going!! At times he reminds me of a wonkie supermarket trolley that has a mind of its own and that you must be on your mint guard to keep it between the aisle and they're always that bit harder to push! However cross country? this is where Scooby shows his other side (being a Gemini) he's sparky and fresh and full of fun and will jump and canter to your hearts content.

Shadow - The Quick One
Just like her name shes like a shadow, here and then gone in a flash. This 14 hands pony is a typical woman a real thinker and over analyzer. You can see her wheels and cogs turning all the time. She is nearly 5 years old and is VERY inquisitive and down right nosy at times. Shadow is a very intelligent pony, one of the bi-products of her relentless thinking. Be it her youth or naivety she is as brave as a lion and will jump nearly twice her own height. She is very fast and can turn not only swiftly but sharply, as they say, she could turn on a penny. Her youthfulness makes her fun and she has a drive in her that is sparky, spunky and sometimes spontaneous.

Trigger - Del Boy 
Standing only 12 hands 2 don't let this ponies height deceive you into thinking he's cute and cuddly. He is a cheeky little pony but very funny and definitely has the pony version of 'wee man syndrome'. He is a real Houdini and a true escape artist with his side kick Bart always close to hand!!  Trigger is very clever and is a real opportunist (where escaping or food are concerned) and new age forager. While every other horse and pony are getting slimmer in the winter months little Trigs still manages to put on weight!! I have my own nick name for him as 'The Ridgeback Rebel' of Blackberry Stables, because of his renegade mohawk like mane.

Bart - Del Boy's brother in arms Rodney
Bart is very like the Simpsons character in his 'I didn't do it' attitude, even though he definitely has!! Another cheeky pony who stands 12 hands high. He has a strong opinion of himself and likes to do his own thing when the notion takes him, for example going the completely opposite way to the rest of the ride in a lesson. He can jump his own height and flies in canter. I always think this comes from his gangster lifestyle that he has had to run away from the police after committing some misdemeanor like the little juvenile delinquent that he and his partner in crime Trigger are!!

Equine Lingerie

I have recently found out a a monumental discovery which I wish someone had passed on to me. Instead I had to find out the hard way! Therefore I want to make my discovery public in order to save someone else the discomfort I have experienced.

In a rush one day as it was a beautiful day and someone asked if i wanted to go for a ride out. I changed from my 'normal' clothes quickly into my jods and riding gear. Leaving my 'normal' thong underwear on.
Big Mistake!!
How big a mistake I was not to find out until it was too late!! I rode for an hour and found my seat to be a little sore during different transitions on board. It was not until I was well finished in the yard before I realized that I had received friction burn in the most sensitive of areas................................................VERY SORE
I've had many an injury however I never expected to have the above affliction from horse riding or ever for that matter. It was only after the fact that I started telling other ladies in the yard of my predicament. They clearly had similar experiences and advised full brief underwear, boyfriend style briefs or shorts. However I would of enjoyed avoiding this particular injury hence why I'm imparting this important information on to you.

Do's Dont's
Wear Bridget Jones Style Underwear Absolutely NO Thongs
Wear Boyfriend Style Briefs Non Cotton gusseted underwear
Comfortable Seam-free Underwear Lacey Material def NO NO

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Pumped Up Pony Upgrade

Many's an hour has seen me practicing and trying to quieten my canter and on Tubs I've been doing well (as she is very forgiving). My bum has polished the saddle so much I should be able to see my face in the leather of the seat!! The transition from trot to canter is still tough as the two beats of sitting trot that you have to sit for are so tough to get right, with out popping out of the saddle. The funny thing is you need to fully relax your body in order to perform this act of sitting while trotting however my bodies natural reaction is
Not exactly the reaction your looking for when trying to relax into sitting trot. 
However I am still striving to get all the pieces of the puzzle that is horse riding together in the right time in order to create harmony and synchronicity.
So now that I can canter without bobbing up and down like a puppet on a string. Half way through one of my lessons Vincent asks one of the helpers in the yard to bring in 'Star' (another pony) to the arena . So I think that this gentleman is joining the end of my lesson however Vincent informs me "Clodagh Tubs is finished (and i go to dismount and lead her out of the arena) but not you young lady your being upgraded from the safe and reliable family saloon car to the to the fast and the furious sports car!!"  At which point myself and the yard hand switch horses and I continue to mount Star. After fixing my stirrups Vincent says now walk on. At which I applied the same pressure of my leg as I would if it were Tubs...........................................................................................................................
at that 
Star bolted from 
Once I gathered myself and Star together and managed to stay on and was surprised at how calm and collected I was (I put it down to naivety!) The surprise of what had just happened was far better reflected in the faces of both Vincent and the yard hand, who both first looked completely stunned and then looked at each other with and expression of 'I've never seen Star do that before!!!'

Vincent said that it was impressive that I stayed on and that I could ease off on the leg on this pony. 
So one up for Clodagh
I'm getting somewhere eventually!!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Fly like the wind - The Canter

After many a Bum Stutter and cursing frustration I feel I have it, I have mastered rising trot (well when I say mastered I mean I'm more in rhythm with the horse and less like a rag doll on board). So now I'm moving on to THE CANTER!!! Which is basically when a horse runs!! On a scale of how fast a horse can go its third on the list starting from the slowest. The different strides of a horse are:
  • Walk (self explanatory)
  • Trot (kind of like jogging)
  • Canter (running but not flat out)
  • Gallop (flat out running or sprinting)
I am still on good old reliable Tubs, Vincent my instructor deems me ready to try a canter. So firstly, he imparts the communication technique that I need to use in order to be able to convey to Tubs what it is I want her to do next. So to date we already have had the aid to (1) walk and (2) trot and now

3. Canter - To canter you must change your aid from trot in order to communicate to the horse that you wish to canter and you must repeat this aid in order to continue the canter
             The aid being - you put one leg behind the big belt that goes under the horses belly (the girth) and the other leg on the girth. Then stop rising trot and do sitting trot and tap your legs against the horse until they canter. Then to maintain the canter you must continue to apply the aid above. 

Sounds about as simple
as it was for me to perform the first time I did it!!!

Tubs being the dutiful stead that she is she knew the score of what I was trying to attempt when I wrapped my fingers in her mane to hold on for the canter, I put my legs in position and kicked on. The lady of the yard (that's Tubs not me) started a lovely soft canter in order to break her rider in gently. If I thought that bouncing in Trot was tough Oh My God I was bouncing all over the place in Canter but its scarier as your going faster and the rhythm is completely different and so is your seat. 
Seat meaning how you sit into the saddle for example:
  • In trot you rise out of the saddle every second beat 
  • However Canter you have to sit into the saddle and try and polish said saddle with your bum
So I'm back to my trying to pat my head and rub my belly type of action!! Which is so difficult as you've so many elements to remember and throw in a horse that you've to communicate with in the middle of all that. Tough stuff!! And let me tell you practicing this bad boy is a whole different type of soreness than the trot!!

As I relentlessly bobbed around in canter and held an iron fist grip on Tub's mane in some attempt to stop me from popping right off. Vincent would shout "Remember Clodagh you are suppose to be an extension of the horse, at the moment I can see a foot of air between you and that saddle". The minute I would feel like I was getting something right then something else would give and go to pot. Here are the various helpful hints being pointed out to me in the arena: 
  • Heels down 
  • LEG, LEG, LEG, Use your legs
  • Are you getting air-miles for being that amount away from the saddle
  • DONT lean forward, LEAN BACK, LEAN BACK 
  • Sit into the saddle                                                                                                                              (yea that's fine when the horse is standing still add movement and that becomes a much bigger task)
My aim is to be quite in the saddle when cantering and that seems a long way off!! However myself and Tubs are determined.

And here I am on-board cantering on Tubs: