Thursday, 31 July 2014

[Monthly Review] July 2014

I had only just bought him in! Lazy po!

I feel that Pea has been a tad neglected the past few weeks as I have been super busy finding somewhere for me to live and various other things. This has resulted in me not riding as much as I normally do, infact it's been like twice a week :( I hate not being able to ride so much and his fitness has definitely suffered which is so frustrating as he was quite fit before and going reasonably well. However, I do hope then when I finally get somewhere for him to move to (I am beginning a placement on Monday, you can read more here) and he's settled he will hopefully work better after his mini holiday. 

At the beginning of the month I decided to have a little jump on him and I always forget just how awesome he can be! I originally bought him to jump and potentially do BSJA but ended up losing so much confidence and I think he didn't have the confidence in me either. Now, his striding is so much better as he previously got in so deep which was horrible! I still haven't braved jumping fillers but I do end up raising the straights to 2ft6 or so, which may not be big but it's a step in the right direction. 

His schooling is still all higgedly-piggedly (technical term there ;) ) as one day he decides to just rush around not bending and I get frustrated, but I have learnt on those days to just ignore asking for bend and instead concentrate on getting him to listen. This means lots of transitions and leg-yielding as well as attempting shoulder-in, though in typical Pea style he pretends he finds it too hard only to do it perfect when he's having a tantrum about life... 

Lately, I've been a bit concerned about his back and pelvis so I think maybe once I move him I might get a physio or chiro to check him out. I did contemplate getting my current one out but as I'm hardly riding at the moment I don't think that it's going to be too great. He's been having great fun spooking at completely ridiculous things out hacking as well as scaring me on the lunge by looking like he's going to fall over his head in canter so I don't think it's too bad but definitely needs checking. He was also slightly mouthy on the lunge the other day which is weird as he's only just had his teeth done so I'm not sure what that was about!

Sorry it's not much of a great post, but fingers crossed once we get moved and settled and he starts coming into work there will be more to report on! 

Thanks for reading, 
Laura xx

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Starting the next chapter...

Source: Pinterest

Last week I was invited for an interview regarding a 3 month placement/internship and I was fortunate to have been awarded it. I start at the beginning of August, typically my 21st birthday! I am still yet to find somewhere to stay, cutting it slightly short I know, but I have one or two more flat shares to look at so fingers crossed! I did ideally want my own flat but as the contract is only for 3 months then I'm having to rent a room instead. Obviously I am also hoping to take Pea along with me, however I have not had the chance to look at any livery yards yet as I've been busy finding myself somewhere and I know I can leave him at home for the time being. 

I'm quite excited about my next 'chapter' but also slightly nervous, which I'm sure will intensify as it gets closer to me starting! I've always been really shy and whilst I have become slightly more confident during university, I sometimes wish that I could be more confident. However, with that being said I have realised that I do take more 'risks', if that's what you could maybe call them? I've also realised that I'm quite independent. I am the first in my family to attend university, and whilst I did not necessarily live there full time (in the first year I would come home at weekends for Pea after a month of having him at uni and him not liking the livery) or have the 'full university experience' it was still something that I would say was slightly out of my comfort zone. I have also done a few other things such as travelling to Blenheim Horse Trials and volunteering there for the week as well as working at Belton Horse Trials. I hope to do more volunteering when I move to give me something else to do at the weekend. With these things in mind it has made me realise that maybe I am slightly more confident that what I give myself credit for as I do go out and take 'risks' if that's what you could call them? 

So, here is to the next part of my life. It's quite surreal no longer being in education and having to go out into the 'real world' but hey ho!

Thanks for reading, 
Laura xx

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

[Book Review] Share and Share Alike by Hannah Hooton

When I saw a comment from Hannah asking if I would be interested in writing a review on her new novel, 'Share and Share Alike', I knew I couldn't refuse. I am such a book nerd; I will spend hours reading a good book - often staying up until the early hours of the morning or wasting a day away stuck with my head in a book. 'Share and Share Alike' is a racing novel following Tessa as she forms part of a syndicate, only to end up with the horse being deliberately injured. 

The story will make you play detective as you try and work out who the culprit is. I was so sure I knew who it was only to be completely wrong...good thing I don't plan on going into the police force or even law for that matter, I'd be rubbish! However, I love how the author makes you question everyone and that it's not predictable about the outcome or the reasoning behind. I get bored and annoyed when books become predictable, it just ruins the element of surprise, but this story definitely does not do that and I ended up so engrossed, promising myself just one more chapter, only to still be there an hour or two later - oops! 

Alongside the crime mystery there is also a romance story which I love. I'm such a sucker for good romance novels... Although this is slightly more predictable, I still got swept away in the story and found myself laughing and also crying (in happiness though!) which is slightly embarrassing, but it just goes to show that I got completely engrossed in this book!

The book caters for everyone as even if you don't know much about horses or racing you can still follow along with great ease as she cleverly gives explanations about aspects that might be confusing within the industry. For example, the purpose of the handicapper and weights is explained really well, which I really liked as, although I do enjoy going to the races, I was still slightly unsure about how this worked, but luckily, I'm now more clued up. 

So, if you're looking for a good book to get lost in this summer, I completely recommend you go and check out 'Share and Share Alike' as I'm sure you won't be disappointed. Just be sure to leave a few hours to read it, just in case you get a bit too engrossed as I did! 

Here are the links for you to be able to find the book:

Also, be sure to check out her website to find out about her other novels. I am definitely planning on reading some more! You can also find other methods of purchasing the book on here if need be! 

Thanks for reading, 
Laura xx

Saturday, 12 July 2014

International Helmet Awareness Day 2014

Today, July 12th, is International Helmet Awareness Day. To me, this is one of the most important dates for equestrians as I feel that there are still too many people who believe they are invincible and that they trust their horse, believing they will be fine to ride without a helmet, even if it's just to the field bareback. It is one of my biggest pet hates within the industry to see people riding without a helmet, even more so when I see pictures of people jumping without anything on their head, or a baseball cap - I mean seriously, what's a baseball cap going to protect?! 

Horses are so unpredictable, that no matter how long you've had them, or even if they're 'bombproof' there could always be a time when something unexpected happens. I remember years ago hearing about a girl local to me being killed because she went to ride her horse bareback into the stable from it being tied up outside, just a few meters away, but the horse ended up spooking and she fell off onto concrete, dying instantly. As much as it's a sad tale, it could have easily been prevented by simply putting a riding hat on. 

There are so many riding hats available now to buy - and I mean suitable ones which have the proper kitemarking and safety procedures having been performed before they are available to be sold. It's another annoyance of mine when I see supermarkets selling 'riding hats' cheap, these are not going to protect your head from a nasty fall! I would love to know how they get away with selling them because surely they are not suitable? I remember last year, seeing photos of Laura Collett's helmet when she suffered her nasty fall at Tweseldown and it makes you realise that if that's the damage done by a hat, imagine the damage your head could go through without one on! 

So, my advice is, please don't think you're 'invincible' or that your horse is '100% safe' because accidents do happen, and chances are they're more likely to happen when you decide not to put your hat on! 

Thanks for reading, 
Laura xx

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

6 years on...


I have had the pleasure of owning this little guy for 6 years! 

Looking back to when I first went and viewed him does sometimes make me wonder why exactly I bought him. When the girl rode him he just stopped and bucked so I don't think I really saw much of him and she hardly cantered. Then I got on him and he was as good as gold; I had a little trot and canter, but I probably should have done more! I didn't go back for a second viewing or have anyone else view him with me, just got him vetted and then my parents surprised me by bringing him home whilst I was still away on a school trip. I think I probably half fell for him due to the fact that he was well behaved for me - clearly in his mind he was set on me being his new mummy! Also, how can you resist that face? It's the same one that's got him out of trouble thousands of times when he's chucked me off, refused to load, or buggered off in the field when we're close to the gate (his field is enormous and normally he runs back to the very far end, not entertaining!). 

I have been through so much with Pea. At first he would just stop and do small-ish bucks, I couldn't even trot him round the arena without him bucking. After months of this happening, I slowly lost all confidence and began to question why I bought him. Somehow I persevered with him, only to have him then throw bigger things at me such as fly-bucking and the odd rear. He would also run out at fences at the very last moment causing me to always hit the deck - hence why I lost so much confidence jumping despite buying him to show-jump. This continued for around a year or more, making me question if I had bitten off more than I could chew and I started to contemplate selling him. However, he clearly started to sense this and slowly started behaving - nothing major - but I could slowly trot him round an arena without him stopping and canter without throwing in a fly buck. 

Since then, things slowly started getting better and now he's like a different horse. He's so
much more active and forward thinking and he seems to love his work now rather than constantly trying to ditch me. We still have the odd battle and argument but luckily he's finally realised that I always win! We may not have achieved a great deal as in competition wins or what level we're competing at, but I still (hopefully) have years ahead with him and the main deal is that we're now working with each other rather than against each other!

So, if I could go back, would I still buy him? I honestly don't know but right now I'm glad I
did. He has so many quirks which make him him and we may get looked down upon for not being flashy, or competing at high levels, or whatever - but to me, none of that matters. All that matters is that he tries his little heart out for me and I couldn't love him more. He has truly changed so much over the past 6 years and considering he never had a permanent home before or did much work, I think he now realises that he's here to stay - no matter how naughty he can be! He has also taught me a lot about myself and that giving up is not an option. So no matter how hard things get for you and your horse, just keep at it and eventually things will start to fall into place, no matter how long it may take! Just don't feel pressured because I think that's where things went wrong with me and Pea somewhere along our journey when people were making me jump fences neither of us were happy jumping causing us to lose trust with each other, but now, on the odd occasions I do jump him, he is so much more confident and I'm slowly getting there too. 



Thanks for reading, 
Laura xx

Thursday, 3 July 2014

[Monthly Review] June 2014

I swear this year seems to be flying by! Though, I probably end up saying that about each year... With University over and fewer things to fill my days up with, it has meant that I have been able to concentrate on Pea a bit more and work him more! I think it is definitely starting to pay off, but it's a still a slow and steady process! 

At the beginning of the month I had a lesson with my instructor, Cathy, as I was having a few control issues (you can read about the lesson here). Previously, Pea has been more of a backward thinking horse and a little on the lazy side, however, as of the past month or two he seems to have definitely found his inner rocket! So much so that I found myself losing control slightly when trying to school him in canter as he would tank off a bit, grabbing the bit and going onto his forehand thus not using his back-end. During the lesson, we worked on pole work and ensuring that I sit up and push him forwards still to utilise the energy properly. We seem to have begun to grasp this over the past few weeks and I definitely feel like I have more control in canter, though we do have the odd moment! We now need to work on getting him to relax more into the contact and loosen his body up a bit more in canter to try and achieve bend so I plan on trying the dreaded canter fan poles which caused me to ungracefully hang round Pea's neck in my lesson - but needs must! Hopefully this time I'll be better prepared and he'll start to find it easier the more we do it! 
Why you don't turn wet ponies out!

I have also been lunging him at least once a week using his side reins, though I'm yet to buy a roller - using his saddle is a bit of a pain, and I have begun to notice a difference in how he holds himself on the circle. Previously, he would often fall in on the circle, then go off in more of a straight line, and really not bend round well at all but when I lunged him last week he seemed a lot better at remaining on the circle. He is also happy to canter round a good few times and be further out on the line, where as previously he would slow down if he was far out on the line resulting in me needing to walk in large circles and chase him! The one issue we do seem to have is doing transitions down to walk and halt unless it's at the end...I often have to pull him in and still he tries to run off! So if anyone has any advice then that would be great! 

We have also been out hacking regularly and he is his normal silly self...trying to canter off when I ask for trot or spooking at the silliest of things, but I have come to learn that that is Pea and that is just how he will be! 

As I posted the yesterday, we went competing at the weekend and he produced some nice scores (you can read about that here). I'm hoping to get him out again this month but we're having a few issues with our trailer or tow bar - the lights keep playing up and we don't know which it is! Though I'm hoping that we might be getting a new trailer shortly as ours is really old (I want a small lorry but that's taking a bit more persuasion!). I also hope to maybe pop him over a few more jumps this month, though I jumped him the other day and realised he is definitely more dressage fit than jumping fit! We can happily school for 45-60 minutes (I'm amazed how I can do this now, previously I used to school for 30 minutes and wonder how people could do any longer but now I can't do any shorter than 45 minutes!) yet popping him over a couple of fences caused him to tire a lot quicker! Though the warm weather probably didn't help either!

What are you plans for July?

Thanks for reading, 
Laura xx

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

[Competition Report] Vale View 28.6.14


This is a few days late as I have had to wait for my second test sheet to come through as I couldn't stay until the end of the class on Saturday. Anyway, on Saturday we went off to Vale View for the Trailblazers Dressage. I love competing at Vale View, despite the large classes. You get a nice mix of people competing and it's just such a lovely place to compete with large lorry park, reasonable warm-up arena and indoor competition arena. We competed in Prelim 13 and 18. Prelim 13 is quite a nice test whilst 18 is a bit harder (well for us!) but has good movements in to really test you. 

In the warm up for 13, I did plenty of leg-yield and transitions to try and loosen him up as he's quite tight in his shoulders and so doesn't use his behind so well. He is slowly getting there, and being more active definitely helps, we just need to channel the energy better! Canter was our usual iffy-ness. He gets quite excited in the warm-up and with other horses around I always get a bit paranoid about cantering, I think I need to just get on with it more. However, I have found that just doing a short canter in the warm-up is enough as it means we don't get too stressy but gives him the warm up he needs. I think our test was reasonable, he definitely still needs to bend more but we are getting there. In canter, I rode a bit defensively to make sure he didn't buck which he had been doing in the warm-up, however, he didn't bend correctly though this is what he finds really hard! However, I wasn't too fussed about this at the time, I was just happy that he didn't buck in canter, he went forward nicely and did a reasonable test. Turns out we scored 59.79% which probably doesn't sound too great to many people, however, this was higher than what I actually expected to get so I was quite pleased! He mainly got 6's down the sheet, with two 5.5's, one for free walk which I need to try and work on to get him to stretch forward and walk out more, we tend to get one or the other. The other was for a circle where you canter the start of the circle but trot before X and he just fell in a bit so lost balance. He also got a 7 for his halt, which I'm pretty pleased with as although it sounds easy, Pea tends to either resist halting or turns his quarters at the last moment! The judge commented that he's a super horse who just needs to work a little more from behind, over a supple back and be accepting of an elastic contact. All things we are trying to work on, but it's a rather slow process with us!

We had half an hour to chill before warming up for our second test. Luckily we were the 4th on as I needed to get back home and also, I hate hanging around for too long between tests so often ask for them to be close together though that doesn't always happen! He was rather eager in the warm-up, and I could tell in trot he was just waiting to explode and spooked at everything! As soon as I asked for canter, he launched forward, sped off and was planning on a few bucks so I decided to do the opposite, pushed him back into a nice trot and eventually just decided to walk round on a long rein. Probably not what's best, however it works for him as he means he relaxes and he doesn't get any more exuberant! I was actually really nervous going in for the test as I had no idea how he would be for canter, and as mentioned, this test is a lot harder than the one before, I just hoped he wouldn't try to kill me! He was actually a super star in his test! Again, lacking bend but his canter was so nice! Didn't buck, or even feel like it! Again, didn't bend well and needs to be straighter in canter but still, I was over the moon with him! We left shortly after so I weren't sure how we scored but Dad reckoned he could here a lot of 6's and 7's as well as saying he heard the judge say at one point he had a nice trot and that I was a happy rider - more to do with the fact I was ready for him to buck! haha! I was shocked when I looked at the scores later to find that he scored 64.17% and came 10th! With some nice looking horses being placed lower than us! The judge commented that he was a very nice little horse who tried really hard but needs to work from my leg into the hand into a soft, round outline but he was quietly ridden! We scored a lot of 6's and 7's, even earning an 8 for our second centre line (there's 3 in this test) and two 5's for canter! 

I am so proud of how far Pea has come. I have had him 6 years next week, and although it sounds like we haven't necessarily achieved a lot, I just love riding him now and he honestly tries so hard! He has also qualified for the second round trailblazers again, and hopefully this time I won't forget to find out when the second rounds are! 

Thanks for reading, 
Laura xx