Competition Success

Dressage in the rain.

Dressage in the rain.

Pouring rain and the news that my chosen ride for this evening’s dressage competition had been withdrawn by the owner, were not the best of things to kick off proceedings.

Fortunately, trusty Tosca came to the rescue and we did a very creditable test and came third out of a class of ten or more. So, well done us.

Actually, it’s a miracle, for more reasons than one. Normally, our school holds it’s competition activities in it’s indoor arena, but across the summer, things move outside. So, if it’s raining, …. you get wet. And yes, we got drenched.

Aside from the weather, darling Tosca was just not up for dressage this evening. Hit by sudden onset of ‘Leaden Hooves’ Syndrome (Friday night dressage? You’re having a laugh!), the poor old girl seemed very upset by another horse in the collecting ring. I was just upset by the rider of same.

This particular nag had arrived outside the warm up area, on it’s own, tack in a mess having galloped from the car park. Not good. It looked slightly distressed and out of control. I saw it next in the collecting ring where Tosca and I were trying to work through our standard warm up routine of transitions and flexing. Tosca couldn’t take her eyes off it. And rightly so, neither could I. It’s rider proceeded to ‘motorbike’ the poor thing round and round in a fast canter while shouting at it. Having nearly run us over, I decided that Tosca and I would be safer out in a paddock. Once we were away from the mayhem, with grass under the hooves, things started picking up. Until, of course, we were joined by Motorbiking Rider and her unhappy horse…oh boy!

Whilst I feel that Tosca and I did a good job this evening, there’s no doubt that ‘my’ (she isn’t mine) lovely girl won’t take me any further down the dressage route. Everything about how she holds herself needs work. Alternatively, she would be a great hack. Kind, generous, gentle and sensible. If I could afford her, it would be lovely to buy her for the Offspring, who would proceed to spoil her to bits.

Oh well. I’m off to open the wine, wring out my clothes and thank goodness, that I don’t ride as badly as I thought.

Have a good week.

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To Split or Not To Split? The Blogger’s Dilemma

Two blogs, too much?

Two blogs, too much?

I’ve been writing my blog now for over a year and, looking back at my ramblings, what conclusions can I draw?

Firstly, being inside my head is scary. If my blog is an accurate reflection of my general day to day thinking, then it’s time to lie down in a darkened room. Or start meditating. A lot.

Secondly, in common with other bloggers, I’ve found that my blog has morphed and grown, changed direction and developed in lots of ways that I never expected.

Thirdly, analysis of my posts shows, amongst the general random chaos, a number a regular topics. Each of these subjects are likely to appeal to quite different groups of people, who, if they’re generous enough to follow this blog, have their Readers filled up with stuff they’re not bothered about, on a regular basis.

So, split the blog, or just hope I can find another horse obsessed, family friendly, film watching lover of books who happens to have dystonia and likes blogging?

[picture credit ?. If this is yours, please contact me and I will credit or remove]

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Horse Riding and Dystonia. Progress Report 26

Great fun, but where's F, A, K, E, M, C, H and B?

Great fun, but where’s F, A, K, E, M, C, H and B?

This week, our equine activities have been confined to hacking, swotting horse flies and watching polo. Interesting mix, but sadly none of these have been remotely useful in terms of getting “competition ready” for next Friday.

I am definitely entering something, but I’ll wait until tomorrow to decide what. It all comes down to what horse I can get, so it might be walk/trot intro level or novice!

All of this brings me neatly on to a possible solution to my (as opposed to the Offspring’s) horse (or lack of) problem. Your Horse magazine is running a competition, which has, amongst other things, a horse as the prize.

Leaving aside the ethical/moral issues that such a prize offering presents, the possibility of winning the cash and buying support to buy the perfect horse, is, without doubt, an amazing opportunity.

Sadly, I think that the magazine will be looking for a photogenic, young lady, with an established competition pathway, as a winner, not a broken old wreck with a child.

I’m now busy eating my BHS stable management books for breakfast, lunch and dinner, which is useful, regardless of any competition outcome.

If the Your Horse route to horse ownership fails, I’ll have to start saving up and the Offspring will have to go out to work.

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Horse Riding and Dystonia. Progress Report 25

Disaster and hope. Something of a mixed week, then? Well, yes.

Firstly, the disaster. Having taken the aimiable Tosca out again, the general consensus is that we have given ourselves a massive hill to climb, over the next three weeks, to get the team fit enough to do Prelim Test 4 (2002).

Admittedly, it has been very hot, so perhaps not the best time to be trying to get the old girl to ‘shift it’, but even with plenty of breaks, I’m only just managing to get her to canter around the arena or do a 20m circle and the Prelim test we are aiming for requires a full circuit of a 20m x 40m arena, followed by a 20m circle, both in canter. So, I suppose we could consider that we’re half way there. I’ve no wish to push her to do something she can’t so, the jury’s out on her fitness currently.

As a back up, I’m going to see if Wonder Nag can do the test. Assuming he can, then the only question is whether he will behave himself in the collecting ring.

This is where people with their own horses really do have the advantage over us poor non-horse owning folk…I have the choice paying to get someone else’s horse fit or, well…

On a more positive note, my poor, long suffering other half came down to the school with us, oestensibly to see the Offspring ride, but also to take some photos of me in the saddle. The pictures are waiting go be transferred off the camera (and I will include them in a post), but whilst my riding position is still not great, there has been a marked improvement in the position of my head – it’s more central over my body. It will be interesting to see how long it remains like this. My bike riding might be helping. Who knows?

Have a good week.

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Horse Riding and Dystonia. Progress Report 24

imageIt always makes me rather cross when (usually) non-horsey folk say “You don’t have to be fit to ride. The horse does all the work, doesn’t it?” Er, no. Actually.

By my reckoning, to ride a good, variable training session, you need to be as fit as a footballer and as flexible as a gymnast. Just like your horse. OK, maybe a slight exaggeration, but if I could only get part way along both of those requirements, I would ride a heck of a lot better.

Take yesterday, for example. When I arrived at the yard, I was met by a mixture of friendly kids and instructors. One of the children immediately started asking me about the school’s competition schedule and was I going to enter again in July? Foolishly, I said yes.

Oh. Right.

Back on Tosca, problems became immediately apparent. Having spent the last few weeks having fun (or what my instructor calls “messing about”) with Wonder Nag, I need to go back to basics with Tosca and start correcting up all her usual problems. The biggest one being her desire to fall out of canter after half a 20m circle. With just four weeks to go, this means we won’t be doing anything more exciting than a Prelim. test.

The other great challenge is the current fitness level of the combined team. Both of us have been on holiday. And it shows.

After 30 minutes of trotting (shape check) and trot-canter transitions on a circle, to start breaking the ‘fallout’ problem, my back protector had turned into a mobile sauna and the inside of my hat was not a nice place to be. Add to this, the fact that I needed oxygen and a stretcher and you get a feel for what needs to be done.

Basically, you need to be fit if you want to school your horse properly.

Since getting my absolutely fab dystonia friendly bike some weeks ago, I’ve being doing about 3 miles a day on it (weather permitting), but I don’t feel that I’m getting much fitter. My riding instructor suggests that I need to do interval training and I think she’s right. I’ve been meaning to go back to the gym, but frankly I’ve loved riding the bike so much, I’ve kind of …. not bothered. Clearly, this can’t continue.

So, the challenge is on.

Four weeks to get fit (and hope that my heart doesn’t chuck another wobbly and that my dystonia symptoms stay calm) and cure the red lady of her bad habits.

Can we do it?

Who knows, but we’re going to give it a shot.

Have a good week.

[Picture credit ? If it's yours, please contact me and I will credit or remove. Thank you.]

Posted in Dressage, Dystonia, Horse Riding | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Postcard From Valletta

With bright blue sky overhead, we set off this morning for the blue, blue sea and the Sliema-Valletta ferry. For a just over €6 (return), you can secure a very pleasant, 10 minute trip across Marsamxetto Harbour, saving a good 30 minutes on the same land journey, by bus. And, let’s face it, it’s far more fun.

Off the ferry and into Valletta, which is very attractive. The streets are laid out in a fairly easy to navigate grid, so you can soon get orientated.  First stop, coffee in a little cafe, under the trees. Then, St. John’s Co-Cathedral, with it’s ostentatious interior, it’s chapels dedicated to the various Langues of the Order of St. John and, perhaps most importantly of all, it’s Caravaggio.

The Beheading of St. John the Baptist was painted around 1608 and it’s a truly awe inspiring and clever picture. It’s also huge. In fact it’s probably one of Caravaggio’s biggest canvases and it’s well sited in the Cathedral’s Oratory.

Culture needs sustenance, so a pit-stop is required. Suitably filled with gelato, we then started off for Fort St. Elmo, which proved to be closed for restoration. This is unfortunate, as the fort is well worth a visit, particularly if you’re interested in the Great Siege of Malta (1565).

From here, we headed back along Republic Street, before turning our attention to the souvenir shops. A short walk to the ferry, left us with 10 minutes for a coffee in Cockneys, before the ferry arrived (punctually) to take us back to Sliema.

All in all, a good day out.

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The Joys of Travelling With Children

Safer on the ferry?

Safer on the ferry?

Malta is proving to be a very child friendly place to be.

Children are welcomed into restaurants and are generally treated with warmth and humour.

Our Family Unit may challenge all of this.

In the last twenty-four hours, the Offspring has managed to:

  • Fall, fully dressed (in smart dress and jacket) into the hotel’s swimming pool.
  • Get bitten by a horse.
  • Fall flat on her face after slipping on a wet floor in McDonalds.

So, when she sat down at our lunch table and said “Guess what?”, we immediately started through a list of horrors:

Me:  You’ve been to the toilet, broken the tap, and the Ladies’ is now flooded?

Husband: You’ve been banned by the staff in the hotel’s reception, from taking any more boiled sweets from their open bowl for guests?

Me: You’ve broken the free drinks dispenser and the reception area is now awash with broken glass, ice and orange juice?

Offspring: No, can I have some ice cream, please?

Phew!

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