Sep. 25th, 2017 06:38 am
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After a year or so of being stuck on the ground we kicked the week off by popping over to Brook Farm with some of the yard ladies to do some jumping! I think Dino really enjoyed it and it was a nice change of pace. Really pleased with how he walked onto the horsebox – no issues at all, even in the pitch dark car park on the way home!

The rest of the week has been pretty quiet pony work wise….not aided by him getting bitten by a horse fly on Wednesday. Apparently he’s allergic:

Vet wasn’t unduly concerned and it went down over the next couple of days but really don’t need any more of this thanks!

Dressage next week so we should get practising our test really:

Monday: Schooling with Equicore (poles if I can be bothered)

Tuesday: Day off

Wednesday: Lunge with Equicore

Thursday: Schooling / test runthrough

Friday: Lunge with Equicore

Saturday: Dressage at Brook Farm

Sunday: Field or hack ride

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Yesterday I drove out to Oxford to my friends’ yard to fulfil a lifelong ambition to have a go at side saddle!!! My mount for the afternoon was the super experienced Ted who was an absolute dude.

It was really interesting! You have no seat aids at all as the saddle is just too padded for the horse to be able to feel. It’s quite hard to sit straight, Michelle recommended riding bareback more to develop my own balance. It’s also a very different set of co-ordination challenges, with the whip in the right hand acting as your leg on that side. I’d certainly like to do more of it! I think my sensible next step is to get up to Contessa, who give lessons, and see if they are any good. You can hire a side saddle for a bit to see if your horse takes to it so longer term maybe we’ll do that….

Dino has been really good this week. I think the Equicore is helping him a lot actually. His trot is a bit more rhythmic and we have some canter going on. So hopefully this will continue!


Sep. 11th, 2017 11:18 am
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So yesterday we finally got out on our first hack since April!!!

Just up and over the golf course, but it was a pretty chilled ride. We had a couple of tense moments with cyclists (that Jake doesn’t like) and inconsiderate drivers (that Dino doesn’t like) but it was a good hack overall.

This week we’ve been mostly focussing on short bits of work with the Equicore on to start to get him work more ‘correctly’. He’s not stressed or upset by it, which is good, but we’ve just been doing short bits of both ridden and in hand.

Plan for this week:

Monday – Schooling (Equicore)

Tuesday – In hand (Equicore)

Wednesday – Polework

Thursday – Day off

Friday – Day off

Saturday – In hand (Equicore)

Sunday – Field schooling

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After our thrilling win last week we’re back to normal this week. I’ve been snowed under with work (again) so pony had a fairly easy week. And I decided to give him a week off from the Pessoa as he’s been working hard recently. Happily towards the end of the week the Equicore arrived! It’s great. It really is. I think it’s much better for him.

On Thursday I tried it on him, to get it fitted correctly. He only had it on a few mins but it seemed to be making him work so I thought he might like few mins loose in the lunge pen to move a bit. Well apparently he didn’t agree. He went galloping off round in one direction and landed up in a corner. Happened to be a corner where the fence was a bit lower…..and when I to ask him to turn? He jumped out of the pen and went hooning off round the field. Joy. Feeling ok then I take it?!

Scene of the crime:

I’m glad he’s feeling well I suppose! I did have a tiny jump on him myself on Saturday. He seems to be enjoying popping some fences, which is good as we’re off to Brook Farm for some course hire in a couple of weeks 🙂

Emma, our lovely saddler, was out again on Sunday. She’s pleased with his progress. She thinks he’s getting that muscle he lost back and is looking more symmetrical which is super good news. I feel like we’re back on track!

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2017-08-28 13.45.54

Super super happy with the pony yesterday! It was the yard summer show, and I had agreed with Meg that I would plait him up and turn him out and she could show him. We put him in three classes: blacks, bays, greys and chestnuts; handsome gelding and riding horse. Well, he is officially the Handsomest Gelding and the best Black, bay, grey or chestnut!


Riding horse didn’t go so well, but to be honest I wasn’t expecting much. He’s still not cantering well and Meg hasn’t ridden him in a year but it was a good effort. He was third out of four. But I was still really pleased with him and actually his trot looked ok!


Then as we’d won two previous classes we were entered into the championship and…. CHAMPION PONY!


2017-08-28 13.40.32

My Spanish plating was on point even if I do say so myself. And Cassy Gadsby herself agreed with me! So there.

2017-08-28 09.21.03

I was really pleased with him overall. He was pretty relaxed and happy, except when asked to actually move anywhere as it was very hot! But he didn’t get stressed or upset about the process and the judge loved him. She thought he’d make a good maxi cob if we ever felt like it but obviously I’m not hogging his mane!!!!

I think this week we’ll drop the Pessoa and try and introduce some pole work. Hopefully the equicore will arrive next week and we can start really getting that core engaged.

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Well, work continues to be exhausting so things with Dino have not been as well planned as one would hope. We still haven’t managed to go hacking which is super frustrating, but I’m hopeful we might manage it soon! I can’t wait to get back out. There’s a new livery at the yard who might be up for some mooching so maybe we can work something out soon. We have been working in the field a bit still though which is a bit of a break from the school at least

His regular Pessoa sessions, annoying though he finds them, are really helping though! Claudia came to visit today and she agrees he is carrying himself better than he was last year and moving quite well, although you can still see the stiffness in his hips and he could be more forward. We hopped a tiny jump today as someone had left one up in the arena and he was super keen and bouncy for it though which is really good. I need to find the time to start scheduling in a proper polework and jumps session each week!

The other problem we’ve had recently that’s new is that his lower legs are getting bitten to fuck by horrible blood sucking tiny black flies *cries*. I managed to find some fly-specific turnout boots at Ingatestone yesterday though and he kept them on last night so hopefully that will solve the problem for the moment and this fly season will end soon. Poor poppet. I think maybe I need to stop using super friendly fly spray and just get some damned DEET.

Right, let’s actually make a plan this week then shall we?

Monday – Pessoa, with some ST afterwards [Pessoa atm: 1 min walk, 6 mins trot each rein]

Tuesday – Flatwork schooling

Wednesday – Pessoa, with some ST

Thursday – Polework/jumpies

Friday – Day off!

Saturday – Pessoa, with some ST

Sunday – Hack, even if it’s just round the fields again.

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I’ve not updated for a couple of weeks! Things have been totally mad. The GBPRE show was a lot of fun but completely exhausting and work has been kicking my arse pretty seriously so there’s been limited pony time and no real capacity for me to learn new stuff with him at the moment. I just don’t have the brain power. So we’ve gone back to simple things which I would prefer not to use but can live with: for the past two weeks and the next while we’re using the pessoa three times a week for a short session. I’m still doing some ST work and smaller bits of CT but I just need to get him moving properly through that hip and build up some topline so the quick and dirty way to do that is to pessoa him.

Serious working pony

As I don’t like this I’ve splashed some pretty serious cash on one of these: https://www.thehorsephysio.co.uk/QuickShop/equiband/. It’s got some proper research done by RVC that says it genuinely does help and it doesn’t have the link to the bit that bothers me about the pessoa. It may not arrive for a while though so until then we’re sticking with the pessoa. I really want to get hacking but it’s just not been possible for a number of reasons. Trying to keep things varied and work in the fields and bit and stuff but I really want to get up to the Forest.

I will try and have a bit more of a coherent plan in a few weeks but I feel like we just need to hang in there for a bit at the minute.

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I think it’s probably back to the pub for the Autumn so we’ll be back at the Parcel Yard next month talking about ‘Lockstep’ by Karl Schroder. Please join us!

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David our osteopath was out to see Dino today. It’s been six months as we missed a visit due to the Strangles epidemic so this was a long overdue untwangling for the pony! Good news is: neck, shoulders, chest, thorassic spine are all fine. Bad news: pelvis and lumbar spine are not great. This is a continuation of his usual issues but it’s a bit worse than usual due to the break and him having been stuck in with no movement basically for six weeks. His left pelvis is tipped up a bit, and that’s causing the lumbar spine to be stiff (or the right pelvis is dropped – it’s hard to say for sure) but David did some loosening work. We need to get moving more! Start and finish on the right rein, lots of serpentines starting on the right bend and don’t worry too much about canter for the moment is the plan. Overall though he just needs to move more.

He’s had a bit of a quiet week. Work has been difficult and an accident on the A406 meant I couldn’t even get to the yard on Monday evening! And it’s been raining. Hopefully this next week will clear up a bit. Good news though – our hacking buddy, Jake, is back in work so we should be able to go for a mooch tomorrow! YAY!

ION: Looks like Tony has a new flock of chicks for the summer –

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As we were wandering down to the school the other day we noticed that Karen’s 7.5T ‘proper’ horsebox had the ramp down because people were using it to practice loading. Dino has never been in a large box before so we took the opportunity to have a go! He wasn’t hugely impressed with the idea but a bit of targeting and clicking and we got up the ramp!

We did it twice. He was reasonably content to stand whilst I was faffing with the phone to take a photo but you can see he’s not completely relaxed. There was no force needed though, I gave him lots of time to think and just let him come to the target so I’m really pleased he felt able to trust me enough to do what I was asking even though he was unsure about it. Clever pony <3

Other than that this week has been pretty quiet. He had three nights off in the end, one scheduled, one due to bad weather and one due to me being an idiot and writing him down to be turned out even though I didn't want him to be! I feel like he's improving though. His in hand ST work is improving and his ridden lateral work is beginning to come. We did a bit of cantering in the field on Sunday which gives a bit of a more forward canter down a longer straight line which I think is helpful to build some stamina so I think it's all going the right way. Still not managed to get our hacking as my schedule has been nuts though! Hopefully soon.

Plan for this week:
Monday - didn't happen as a traffic accident stopped me getting to the yard
Tuesday - ST/CT tonight I think. We did a brief session learning to stand on a mat on Sunday which I'd like to do more with.
Wednesday - day off
Thursday - ridden schooling
Friday - day off
Saturday - field/hack ride
Sunday - pole/jump work. We really need to do some jumping again!

Busy busy

Jul. 10th, 2017 11:44 am
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I really wish things would calm down a bit but I have to say it’s not really looking very likely. Another warm week, not totally scorching but a bit warmer than Dino really likes. And randomly yesterday RJ (another horse at the yard) gave himself heatstroke! Silly poppet.

This is what Dino thinks of the warm:

So this week we have:

– done one ST session, working a bit more on the HI and SI and trying to get rid of that push

– had a couple of schooling sessions: transitions, building up some canter and doing a little lateral work.

– had a ride in the field yesterday which got a bit more forward canter from him.

Seems to be going ok. We can get a complete circuit of canter on both reins and walk-canter is ok. Rein back isn’t very straight though, so we need to do more of that between some poles I think. But he’s getting some fitness back.

This week I think the plan is:

Monday: CT/ST kinda session

Tuesday: Schooling – maybe in the field

Wednesday: day off

Thursday: Polework – want to start jumping again!

Friday: ?CT/ST

Saturday: Schooling

Sunday: Hack if I can

Really need to get some hacking buddies. We miss going out and Jake has been off work so our usual partner hasn’t been about. Would be great to get up to the Forest again soon!

Cooler week

Jul. 3rd, 2017 11:53 am
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The weather has been a bit cooler again this week which suits us much better! We did one good straightness training session; he’s beginning to get a bit nippy again but the pushing is beginning to recede so I think that’s good. We also did a connection training session practising sending to and waiting at a cone and coming away when asked. He’s getting pretty good at this!

Our big achievement was a few steps of haunches in under saddle!! Only on the left rein, but this is good progress. We’re also getting a bit of shoulder-fore both ways which is also good. I had a private pilates session on Saturday (as no-one else turned up for my class) which was fascinating. We found I don’t really have much movement in my left hip. The muscles round it are very tight and so it’s quite restricted. This will not be helping the riding!!

Yesterday I had a bit of a schooling session in the field. It was nice to have a change of scenery and get a bit more momentum in the canter, hopefully we’ll get out hacking again soon. Lovely to be riding regularly again though and Dino seems to be comfortable in his saddle.

This week’s plan:

Monday – Straightness training

Tuesday – Ridden schooling: poles

Wednesday – DAY OFF (I’m going to York)

Thursday – Connection training

Friday – ? Might get an extra day off

Saturday – Ridden schooling

Sunday – Hack

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I’ve been wanting to do some gin tasting stuff on here for a while as I thought some of you might enjoy it, but it’s taken a while to get round to it! I received this gin tasting selection a while ago and thought it might be a good place to start, so one Friday evening I rocked up at EJ’s house and we drank it all. For science, you understand….

First up….Macedonia…?

Not a part of the world known for it’s gin making, this was quite an interesting gin! It was extremely juniper-y. Really quite over-powering. There were also some slightly sweet notes, a bit of fruit somewhere over the top but mostly it was shouting really loudly about juniper. I mean, that’s a thing with gin, I get it…but clubbing you round the nose with it isn’t always a good thing. Even in gin.

Just over some ice it was very sweet, the floral notes came through a bit more. Still juniper there of course but some of the other flavour began to come through. Once you added some tonic though…all about the juniper. It was quite a light gin overall, probably one for the start of an evening.

Our recommendation: a 50:50 g&t with the Fevertree tonic, as the stronger flavour of the tonic will take some of edge off the juniper.

Next up… Bulgaria? Seriously?

Ok so maybe they have some kind of excess juniper problem is Eastern Europe that they can only solve by making gin? Not a terrible problem to have I guess, but perhaps make more gin with juniper in each batch? Seriously. This was more juniper-y than the first lot! Also some sort of spicy hints. Over ice it was a bit middle eastern really, no aftertaste but retained that slightly spicy overtone. It was nice to sip.

In tonic….er, where did the taste go? It just vanished. Extremely mild and we should have been using something that wasn’t Fevertree because honestly the whole gin aspect was (surprisingly to us!) overpowered by the tonic! How weird is that?

Our recommendation: sipping over ice.

Next up: The Netherlands.

So we’re back on more familiar turf now and the juniper issue has subsided drastically. This was a very bold gin on the nose, quite heavy. Over ice it had a sort of toffee flavour, slightly burned almost but a more rounded flavour than the previous two. With the tonic that toffee became more toffee apple! It was nice, quite light not too sweet.

I had feared it was going to be all a bit Jenever but happily it wasn’t. It was much smoother and pleasantly light. T Fevertree balanced it well though.

Our recommendation: 50:50 g&g with the Fevertree tonic.

Back to…Kosovo!

And here we are again in juniper country being clobbered round the nose with the juniper bat. People. Yes, gin has juniper in it. That is indeed a key part of the definition. But seriously, it doesn’t need that much juniper. Weirdly this one also had some overtones that reminded us of diesel. Yes, diesel. It was a bit odd.

Over ice some lavender turned up, which was a nice surprise and it was quite sweet. Happily the diesel fucked off so no idea what that was about. With tonic it was quite complex, a fair bit of lavender but still a hint of an industrial feel. We wished we had some plainer tonic for it (like the Sainsbury’s or Waitrose own brands which don’t have a strong taste but also, importantly, don’t contain sweeteners!)

Our recommendation: a long g&t with a lighter flavoured tonic.

Last up: Italy.

This was really floral. Like a fucking bouquet of flowers floral. It was quite hard to pick which flowers exactly but it was quite green smelling. I liked it. Over ice the juniper came through, which balanced it up nicely but this one really worked with tonic. Some wonderful creamy, vanilla notes came out but it was a bit over-powered by the Fevertree so a lighter tonic is called for.

Our recommendation: a good afternoon g&t, with cake and a lighter gin.

I hope you enjoyed this! We certainly did. If you want us to do more of this, and bring in other seasoned gin drinks of the one and only #ginsquad then comment here and say nice things.

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Despite the heat we are making some progress I think. He’s getting calmer about saddling using the clicker to reinforce not nipping or puffing out behaviour. He’s standing much better to be groomed although his leg waving habit is very ingrained and will take a while to stop. He walked all the way to the arena yesterday, tacked up, without stopping at any point. So I’m pleased with all these.

The nipping is beginning to come back into the ST work, which is frustrating. I need to step back and take the pressure off again but I was starting to look for 2mm improvements. I think the LFS has improved, and the shoulder in isn’t too bad. The haunches in is still pushy so we need to go one step at a time I think.

He’s enjoying the connection training work so I think once session a week purely at liberty is a good idea. On the one hand this is a bit ‘chasing too many rabbits’ but I do think he enjoys the variety and the nipping and pushing comes back if we focus too much on one thing so I think I’ll stick with it for the moment!

That's right Dino, touch the cone!


Jun. 25th, 2017 08:07 am
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What a week. London hit about 34 degrees this week which is too hot for me or the pony! Half Spanish he may be but he was born in Kent and really doesn’t cope with temperature over about 25 degrees. Poor thing. He came out in hives!!!! They’ve gone now but it was a bit worrying in the middle of the week. I think it just a heat reaction and he wasn’t much bothered fortunately.

So we haven’t done much actual training this week. We did have a go at some Connection Training work though, targetting a cone and sending to it and coming away. He enjoys his clicker sessions. Here’s some rubbish video:

I did also get the SLR out again and take some summer photos. He really is my favourite of all his colours at the moment. He’s mostly a sort of deep mahogany to look at but in bright sunlight he goes quite orange!

Summer Dino

Handsome chap

Yesterday it was cool enough to get the saddle out and have our third ride since April! He was really good. It’s still pretty warm but we got some reasonable transitions and a few steps of both shoulder-in and haunches-in on both reins. I feel like we’re getting back to things. Need to arrange to do some hacking though!

Heat wave!

Jun. 19th, 2017 02:19 pm
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Man is it hot here. We’ve been around 30 degrees all weekend and it’s waaaaaaaay too hot for everyone. On Saturday in the middle of said heat wave the saddler came out! Poor Dino. Not been ridden since April and then I go and get on him in the middle of the hottest day of the year so far. He was not particularly impressed.

Emma had a super busy day and it was boiling by the time she got to us but she was happy and chirpy as usual!

Dino having a snog with the saddler.

Good job we saw her too: she had to bring the saddle in by an inch! We have been doing some work on being relaxed about the saddle and I think he’s getting better so this is all good. We did just a few mins walk/trot on Saturday and about 20 mins in total walk/trot on Sunday. He’s not as bad as I thought and Emma thinks he’s carrying himself a bit better. Hopefully we’ll be back to fitness in a few weeks!

We have also almost eliminated the nipping in ST work. This is a BIG step forwards and I’m super happy! I’ve been using clicker to reinforce wanted behaviour and it seems to be paying off. Need to do some 2mm stuff on HI/SI but the pushing is getting lessened I think so I’m feeling much happier about it.

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Ok plan for this week is a bit of clicker stuff mostly and getting him looser:

Handling stuff:

– grooming without nipping or leg waving

– being saddled without angry faces (in stages, so just saddle pad, then saddle but no girth, then saddle with loose girth and finally properly girthed – but this should be done over a few sessions)

Schooling: short sessions focussing on attitude as much as anything else.

Monday – In hand: walking, teaching ‘out’ & ‘back’

Tuesday – In hand: as Monday

Wednesday – Lunging: poles

Thursday – day off

Friday – Lunging: physio band

Saturday -day off

Sunday – Lunging: poles

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After seven weeks of Strangles hell we’re finally back out on grass. Safe to say someone was pretty happy about this!

From Saturday he was out overnight for the first time and we’re settling into the summer routine. So that’s stage one complete. Stage two is groundwork/lunging/long reining and generally getting a bit loosened up and stage three will be getting back in the saddle. As his shape has changed a bit I’ve asked the saddler to come out on the 17th and check it before I ride so that gives me two weeks to get him moving a bit. I’m also doing some clicker work to try and get rid of his leg waving and make him happier about being groomed and saddled.

So this week then I shall be doing some lunging/long reining. Mostly in walk with a few bits of trot but focussing on keeping him calm and correct. We shall see how it goes…


May. 26th, 2017 08:08 am
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I’ve just got back from a wonderful week in Venice with Peter, my first proper holiday in some time. It was really good to get away from work and all the Dino stress and just chill out in the warm. The photos from the trip are here: (click through to Flickr)

Venice 2017

We didn’t do the big ticket items: we didn’t go into the Basilica or the Doge’s Palace for example as the queues were too long. Instead we did smaller churches and generally wandered around some of the less populated areas. We started the week with a walking tour which was really good and took us round a less tourist filled area and then just wandered really. It was great.

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I’ve been away in Venice all week so the yard has been taking care of Dino, but I’m DELIGHTED to report that his Strangles test came back clear!!! He is not carrying it. And so he’s free to get small amounts of time in the field.

Here he was yesterday when I got back:

Pretty pony

The rest of the yard is waiting on test results which should all be in by Tuesday and hopefully then things can start getting back to normal, whatever that looks like. I need to work out how to get Dino back into work as it looks like we might actually be allowed into the schools in the next week or so!

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