Horse Riding and Dystonia. Progress Report 27

Progress Report 27. Hmm. Progress? Perhaps not quite the right word. As the weather’s been so good, I’ve spent a lot of time out hacking, mainly due to extreme nagging from the Offspring who likes going in the school as much as a dose of homework.

However, a parental edict has been issued to the effect that “this has got to stop and we need to get back to doing proper 20m circles with the boards up, rather than 30m eggs in a field”. The Offspring’s response to this was to show me a disappearing back, horse’s bum and four clean hooves as she motored off into the distance. Guess I’m doing that on my own, then.

All is not lost though. It is still possible to do schooling exercises out hacking. Someone has started putting up fence posts in one of the fields we use – a good long stretch of them, all nicely spaced. And they’ve proved quite useful for doing different ‘bending exercises’ in different gaits. It is handy to have markers. Hence the point about circle sizes. I’ve found it very difficult to judge a 20m space in a flat, 10 acre field, so I’ve tried to think about the angle of bend, rather than guess the size of the space.

With September fast approaching, it’s time to get another competion entry planned. Life events have intervened in recent weeks, but it’s never too late to get back on track.

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View From The Balcony

Puerto AventurasHaving had a crazy few weeks, full of ups (cantering across fields with the Offspring) and downs (family bereavement, crazy work position), Team DG have decamped to Mexico, to try and pull ourselves back together. We’ve been here nearly a day, and the well tested recipe of sunshine, palm trees and no work is already working it’s magic.

This year, we’ve moved further down the coast to the section between Playa del Carmen and Tulum. It will be interesting to see what the surrounding area is like now, as we haven’t been here for many years.

Things started well with a surprising, and unusually easy, transit through the often chaotic, Cancun airport. Our basic plan for this ordeal consists of “Get off plane, get through border control, get bags from baggage reclaim, then RUN to Customs as fast as possible”. Woebetide the poor person who gets their bags off last (Customs staff have been known to take F..O..R..E..V..E..R to clear all the passesngers off an international flight). Once Customs cleared, brace yourself for the onslaught from the assorted collection of vociferous airport porters who try to grab your bags. This time we got lucky. Wheeled suitcases formed up like a Roman “Tortoise”, we barrelled through their massed ranks (shouting “No gracias”), like a hot knife through butter. We burst out of the airport and got straight into our minibus. With no-one else to pick up, we hammered down the coast road as fast as our driver could go.

Hasta luega amigos.

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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.]

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