Thursday, 1 September 2016

Burghley Outfit [Day 1]

With Burghley on my doorstop I always try and make sure to get over to the event at least one of the days. Normally I go on Sunday with Mum but as she's in Australia this year and I'm working I ended up going today. Luckily, a last minute change of work days mean that I'm now also going on Saturday so I'll have to look for another outfit for then! 

White jeans are a classic staple for Burghley as they always look smart and go with so many things! I was originally going to wear my Jack Murphy beagle shirt but it was so warm today that I'm glad I went with this floral blouse which was a lot lighter! My longchamp bag was perfect as it fits so much in and looks ultra smart. I even took my Ralph Lauren tweed jacket in case it turned chilly but that didn't happen! 

Fingers crossed the weather stays warm for the rest of the week!

Are you planning on going to Burghley? If so, what are your staples for the event?

Thanks for reading,

Laura xx

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

[Schooling] Pole Work Exercise

I have a diagram copy of the above pole work exercise saved on my computer but I'm not sure where I originally saw it :(. (If it's yours or you know who it came from then please let me know!). I've neglected pole work with Pea a bit lately or tend to do the simple four in a row so I was looking at a new exercise to play around with and decided to give this a bit of a go. I've altered it slightly as if I copied the diagram exactly then the lengths weren't right for Pea so I've had to shorten them a bit, hence why the poles don't match up completely to look like two C's. 

This is a really fun exercise as you can completely play around with it however you want depending on your horses ability and fitness levels. The diagram gives great ideas of using the outside two poles as canter poles, circles round them, bending exercises, etc but I mainly stuck to trotting them with Pea and mixing up various ways of approaching and using them to engage him. 

Pea is quite stubborn (as I'm sure a lot of you may have realised!) and hates repetitive work. I can't school him two days in a row as he'll get bored and naughty, but adding poles gives him something else to think about. With the above exercise, I incorporated lots of circles and turns to really get him guessing as to what we were going to do next. The middle of the poles form four trotting poles, but as they are the meeting point, it's slightly more narrow so it's great for working on straightness as I've noticed Pea tends to drift sideways a lot. 

I also used the end/side poles to work on straightness and carried out lots of figures of eights going from one side to the other to keep Pea bending and encourage more suppleness from him as he's currently being a bit tight bending to the left. The two poles at the side which are slight further apart from each other (either side of the middle four) are great for encouraging Pea to lengthen his stride a bit to meet them both on good strides as he tends to be a bit lazier with poles further apart and will stumble over them instead. These can also be used as canter poles but I felt they might have been a bit too short for Pea but if I lengthened them then the middle four would have been too much of a stretch! 

I will definitely revisit this exercise time and time again as there's so many different ways you can play around with it and it's perfect for keeping Pea engaged and guessing what we're doing next. 

Thanks for reading,

Laura xx

Thursday, 11 August 2016

[Monthly Review] July 2016

Horses never like to make life easy...! Pea has been, in general, going quite well this past month, however, he also decided it was time he had a bit of a holiday whilst we were having a heat wave and pulled a shoe off so had to wait a few days for the farrier to re-do his feet.

I was on holiday for the first few days of July, but came back with a few days before work so Pea got in a bit of hacking and schooling. With work, I find it harder to find time to ride or have the same motivation and at the moment there's a lot of holidays so some long days but hopefully it'll all work out. I think the minimalist work does help Pea a bit as he's slightly less ill-mannered. 

As mentioned, Pea gave himself a week off after pulling a shoe and then me doing a few 14 hour shifts but it seemed to have done him a little bit of good. We hacked the first day and he was reasonably well behaved other than spooking at very silly things (such as a patch of grass!). I've also decided to forego lunging him before schooling and hoping for the best. It does seem to be going well, he still has one or two arguments which are to be expected but I'm hoping we can push through this and start working on getting him more forward on his own. 

We've also had a couple of lessons where one started off badly (as in Pea decided to well and truly deck me) but luckily learnt his lesson and went rather nicely afterwards! I'm now hoping to get him a bit fitter and working a bit softer (he's currently decided that he'll behave but it will be more on his terms and as soon as I ask for a better contact he locks against me!) and work towards getting him out to a few winter dressage tests. 

Thanks for reading,

Laura xx

Sunday, 7 August 2016

[Lesson Report] Super Shiny Halo

After last weeks lesson where Pea rather lovingly decided to launch me off, this week he decided he'd best polish his halo and produce some top notch work!

He started out with a mediocre walk so we worked on half-halting to get his attention and then relaxing and giving a sharp nudge with my leg to get a reaction. When he didn't quite give the reaction I was after, it was backed up with a sharp tap from the whip. Before long, he was moving forward with a lot more energy and felt that if I put the slightest pressure on then he would trot. 

We changed the rein and worked the same on the opposite rein before moving into trot. Again, he backed off slightly so we pushed forward and got a much better trot. We worked round the arena a few times and did some transitions before changing the rein. Again, he gave a really nice trot so we did a few transitions and there was one moment where he napped near the gate but I lifted his head so he couldn't buck and turned him round followed by a swift nudge and he soon decided to head back into trot. 

As he was giving such a forward moving trot, we then decided to see how the canter planned out. I think this was one of the most relaxing canters he has ever given me! We were working in the top end of the arena and there's one side where he always plays up on either rein but this was never an issue through the lesson and not once did he back off or tense. 

We then came back to trot and worked on some 20m circles, again pushing for a forward trot when he backed off. We also decided to try the canter out again as normally Pea finds circles in canter quite tough but he was seriously being out of this world throughout the lesson. Again, there wasn't any tension, never once backed off and gave some of the nicest canter I've ever had from him. 

Fingers crossed this behaviour continues and hopefully we might head out to some winter dressage! 

Thanks for reading,

Laura xx

Friday, 29 July 2016

[Lesson Report] Unexpected Dismount

Pea's slowly improving with his work now and starting to work more forwards and does less arguing, but today he decided to push the boat out by well and truly chucking me off! More on that in a bit...

We used to lunge him before riding but I've now decided to just hop straight on and hope for the best. He walks out well and starts trotting nicely but does throw in a quick stop and stomp at some stage. Luckily but holding his head up high and strong leg aids he soon gives in and moves off again with less arguments. Today was no different with a tiny stop but then moving forwards really well. We played around with plenty of changes of rein to keep him guessing and pushing him forward in the trot.

He then started to offer canter so I allowed him and pushed him into a working canter. There's one corner on the left rein where he backs off a bit and tries to throw in a bit of a buck, As we came round the corner, I felt him tense so I nudged him on, however instead of getting the reaction I wanted of him continuing to go forwards, he slammed the brakes on and threw in a massive buck. Needless to say, I did a rather gymnastics worthy somersault and ended up on the floor. I think there were a few swear words by both me and my instructor after that but luckily I don't think I injured myself much (though my arm is rather painful now)!

I hopped back on board and I think Pea knew he was in trouble and started to jog off! As he was trotting, I asked for a bit more out of him and he responded by cantering. Again, I asked for a bit more to have a proper working canter and we came back round to the corner where he rather nicely dumped me five minutes prior. I felt him back off a bit again so I sat deep and pushed forward, this time getting the right reaction of him shooting forwards and still cantering forwards! 

We came back to trot and changed rein to the right rein. As he wasn't giving me much of a trot I gave him a sharp tap with the whip and he went into canter instead. Claire
encouraged this but told me he has to really work in the canter so I pushed him forward down the long side and then came back to trot in the corner. Again he fell into a bit of a lack lustre trot so I asked for a bit more and he decided to canter again. I think we continued this for about three rounds of the arena before he finally caved and gave me a working trot! 

We then had a walk round so he could stretch his neck as we tend to work him with his head high to prevent him from stopping and bucking. Weirdly, Pea actually does some good work like this and stretches out more in his paces - he's always been an oddball! Typically it then started raining and so Pea got rather hopeful we were finishing but instead I gathered the reins and asked for trot. He had a mini grumble before realising I meant business and we worked on doing some 20m circles with him keeping a consistent rhythm. We then went up to canter again and this time he was much better behaved so we incorporated large circles. Normally Pea tenses when we try to canter a circle but as we kept them quite large and didn't ask for too much, he stayed quite relaxed and didn't back off at all - progress! 

As he had given me 20 minutes of really good work we finished him there whilst on a good note. It's a shame he was so naughty at the beginning as he gave me some great work towards the end! 

Thanks for reading,

Laura xx

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

[Product Review] Aztec Diamond Breeches

I bought these breeches last autumn/winter in one of Aztec Diamond's sales and this summer I have well and truly fallen in love with them! They are ideal for summer as I think they are my only pair where I don't feel like I've put my legs in an oven whilst trying to ride in the recent heatwave we've been having!

They are also super comfy and I can quite happily wear them all day. They have a stretch Lycra sock at the bottom of each leg which eliminates any bulky fastenings so no Velcro rubs on your ankle like some breeches. They have four pockets and the back two are a great depth that my phone fits in well and I don't worry that it will slide out whilst riding as well as hiding treats well ;)

I love the bird design on these as it's something different from them being yet another navy pair of breeches in my collection! Unfortunately, Aztec Diamond no longer do these but I am thinking of buying their aubergine coloured breeches.

Considering I bought these in the sale, delivery was really good as I received them 7-10 days after purchasing with an email saying that due to the sale it would take longer to dispatch than usual.

If you're after a new pair of breeches then I definitely recommend you check out their site. I'm also lusting after their baselayers!

Thanks for reading,

Laura xx

Friday, 15 July 2016

[Product Review] Canter Coat Shine by Carr & Day & Martin

This product is fast becoming my new favourite in my drawer of many sprays! I actually bought it on a whim (really didn't need any more sprays, we now have a bit of a collection) but I had ran out of mane and tail spray so thought this might be a substitute for a few days until I could get to a tack shop. When I first bought it, I rarely used it and could not get on with the new style 'equimist 360'. Needless to say it lived in my drawer and got forgotten about until a month or two ago. Now it's used nearly every day!

The product claims to help repel grass stains and mud whilst leaving the coat non-greasy and with an oil-free shine. I have to agree that it helps repel grass and mud as Pea does seem to be a bit cleaner when he comes in if he's had the spray applied which is always a bonus if you have a grey. The company also say that the spray can be applied to the chest and shoulders to help prevent rubbing from rugs. Pea wears a fly rug where possible during the summer and it does tend to rub at the front, however I have noticed that there are fewer rubs at the front after the spray has been applied. 

I also love how soft and silky Pea's coat is afterwards! It lasts for a few days despite him being out 24/7 at the moment and not always having the spray applied every day. It's not slippy so there's no issue with applying it before tacking up (although the same can't be said with his lightweight which slides off rather easily due to it's material). 

The Canter Coat Shine is a great product in my book and works a treat as either a last minute addition before a competition or for general every day use. 

Thanks for reading,

Laura xx

Monday, 11 July 2016

8 Years

8 years with this crazy bean! I think it's safe to say that it's been a roller coaster, and the past year has probably been one of the toughest. It even reached a stage where I seriously considered whether it was worth putting Pea up for sale but luckily we battled through and now he's going better than ever. Sure, he still argues and just this morning he very nearly launched me off after leaping over a pole and then slamming the breaks on but hey, he'd be pretty boring if he didn't do that, right ;)

Here's hoping I have many more years with the goofball. 

Thanks for reading,

Laura xx

Sunday, 3 July 2016

[Monthly Review] June 2016

If you live in England, like me, then you're probably fully aware of what a wash-out June proved to be! We had to reschedule lessons last minute when I got soaked getting Pea in and he was drenched from not having a rug on, we had to try and work round flooded arenas or get lucky with the indoor being free so it wasn't quite as productive a month as I envisaged. Luckily, I got to escape the rain for a week and jetted off to Tenerife where it was a lot warmer and sunnier! Pea had the majority of the week off, although my instructor did ride him twice for me, more on that later. 

Our lessons throughout June have been amazing. We tend to use the indoor as it's an enclosed 20x40 arena so Pea can't run off anywhere and if need be, Claire is close to give him a reminder with the lunge whip should he ignore me. Luckily, she's only really had to do that once when he seriously tried it on (no bucks, luckily, just ignored my leg and whip!). He's more energetic in his work and we're both far more relaxed in cantering round the arena and are now working on keeping us both relaxed in turns and half circles. 

Outside the lessons, we've had fun out hacking, free jumping and lunging. He's had the odd schooling session where we've kept it light and fun with pole work as we're still working on keeping the forwardness when Claire isn't there to help out. 

The last week of June, I went away on holiday and asked Claire to ride him for me. I got a text the first day to say that he had tried it on a bit on the lunge but soon moved forward well. Once she was on board, he walked out great, had a short forward and free trot before suddenly slamming the brakes on and bucked. Oops! She told me she bought him back to walk where he still tried it on a few times but she eventually got him forwards with his head high and he soon realised it was easier just to work properly! Friday she rode him again and it sounds like he was much better behaved! In a way I am quite glad that he did try it on on Monday as it means that Claire has also felt what he does and how it literally comes from nowhere! 

I'm now back from my holiday feeling much more positive about things. I'm hoping to make some changes over the next few months as I've done some re-evaluation of my life so fingers crossed I can ride more and also blog more! 

Thanks for reading,
Laura xx

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

[Lesson Report] 08.06.16 & 14.06.16

8th June 2016:

Due to long work hours, I hadn't done a lot with Pea in the two weeks before my last lesson so wasn't too sure how it would go. He was a bit reluctant to get going on the lunge at first, but after a swift tap with the lunge whip he soon realised to get his bum into gear! He only lunges for about 5 minutes now before being ridden as he's learnt that we mean business and that I want him moving forwards. 

We started on the lunge again and he had a small grumble and a lot of swishy tail syndrome (his tell for thinking about misbehaving), however a sharp tap with the whip soon made him switch into work mode and he went forward nicely. Walk is definitely his weaker pace in moving forwards as he will slowly creep into more of a shuffle so we worked on getting him to listen to my leg aid and produce a sharper reaction. 

Half way through, Claire unclipped the lunge line and we worked on getting him forward by listening to me more but having Claire on the ground as a back up. This was rather nerve wracking I found as we were in the indoor so Pea couldn't drift too far away from Claire in case he tried any naughty tricky, but having concrete walls around makes it feel very enclosed!! It didn't help that each time we went past Claire, Pea tried to shy into the wall and raise his head like he was ready to bronc! 

However, by the end of the lesson we both learnt to relax as I realised it helped to keep Pea forward and not tense and Pea realised that Claire wasn't going to flick the whip unless he didn't pay any attention to me! The first couple of canters on our own were slightly tense as I expected him to stop - not the right frame of mind! However, once I realised he wasn't going to try anything and relaxed in my lower back we had a much nicer canter and used more of the space resulting in fewer motorbike turns! 

14th June 2016:

I think it's safe to say that yesterday's lesson is the one that really made me remember why I've stuck with 'the spotty one' and made me fall in love with him all over again! He hadn't been ridden since last lesson due to me being ill and only got lunged once on Sunday when we did some pole work. 

As soon as I popped him on the lunge he was off and was the most forward he has been since starting lessons with Claire. I hardly had to ask for more out of him and he was so willing to go. We went straight off without being on the lunge first and he worked so hard! I'm now able to work out if he's giving me his all or if he's backing off a bit and needs a bit of a push. 

Our canters were so much more relaxed and I actually felt really comfortable cantering him which I haven't for a rather long time! We had a bit of an issue in the left rein walk. He was rather sluggish in his walk and despite being tapped a few times with the whip he didn't give me enough of a forward response. This was where Claire stepped in and ever so lightly flicked the whip causing Pea to do a very nice walk to canter transition! A short pat and relaxing my seat bought him back to trot and we tried the walk again. He still wasn't as forward as I wanted in the walk, but a small tap with the whip resulted in a very nice trot. Not quite what I wanted but as we're focusing more on getting a forward response, it's not something we're going to hassle him over!

We cut the lesson short to just half an hour as he worked so hard and was puffing a bit at the end (he's got a bit of a grass belly and needs fittening up again!). I'm so happy to finally have a ride able pony again and fingers crossed the rest of the year continues in the right direction!

Thanks for reading,

Laura xx

Monday, 6 June 2016

[Monthly Review] May 2016

May has genuinely flown by! I have been so busy with work as we were down a member and I feel like I've hardly seen Pea :( I have, therefore, decided to make the decision to get someone to lunge/hack him once or twice a week. There's no one in place at the moment and as Pea is so quirky I need to be 100% confident with who it is. I'm going to have a chat with my instructor next week as she might know someone or she's happy to exercise him for me. I don't think Pea seems to mind his easy life right now though!

May has bought some progress with Pea. We have been having quite regular lessons with Claire and he has really improved through the lessons. He's a lot more forward thinking now and we're starting to use my seat more to get him going up the gaits and down the gaits without using my leg/hands as much.

In between lessons he's getting much better at behaving! We can quite happily do thirty minutes of walk and trot work with no arguments. We've still got to work on canter as he gets quite tense and that's when we have the arguments. It's small steps but at least we're heading in the right direction!

Thanks for reading,

Laura xx

Monday, 23 May 2016

[Lesson Report] Claire Adams 16.05.16 & 23.05.16

After only my second proper lesson with Claire, I'm already so excited about the potential for the rest of the year! Since my last lesson two weeks prior, Pea's not done a lot due to me having to do more hours at work. All he had done was lunge three times, one hack and one schooling session (where the only arguments came in canter so major progress!).

I popped him on the lunge first to get him moving forwards and knowing what I expect from him. Without realising, I tend to let Pea go at a mediocre pace on the lunge so it's good learning that I need to get after him a bit more and seeing what he can produce! We spent quite a while on the right rein as he was a bit slow at getting moving. After a good few trots and canters we came back to walk and then ended up having another cycle of walk-trot-walk when he broke into trot rather than giving a better walk. A couple of times were a simple misunderstanding when I flicked the whip a bit too much so Claire explained that when I want a bit more of a walk on the lunge then it's a good idea to gently roll the whip so it slides a bit over the arena but doesn't create too much motion which he would interpret as going up a gear. Swapping onto the left rein and Pea was much quicker at reacting and went really well so we didn't spend as long on this rein.

I then popped on board and we kept on the lunge as it means that I can work on using my seat more and getting him forward but Claire's there for a bit of back up. He went really well in walk and trot and we had a few canters. I tend to tense in canter and have tight hips so without realising, I end up digging my spur in. This causes Pea to tense and buck as it's his way of saying that he doesn't like that. Claire said that if Pea was a sharp horse I would have worked out straight away that it was my spurs causing the issue but as Pea is a bit more of a backward thinker and backs off the spur it wasn't obvious that that was the issue. 

Once we took the spurs off, he was a lot more relaxed and not quite as tense in the canter. We finished it not long after as he worked really well and was starting to tire which would cause more issues if we pushed him. 

A week later and I had another lesson. This time we popped indoors as when I first popped him on the lunge the pollen was causing him a few issues. He's currently on a supplement which is, hopefully, helping to calm it a bit but as with any hayfever sufferer, some days are better than others! He was much quicker off the mark today than what he has been and is really starting to learn that once we start work he has to move forwards. We didn't spend much time lunging first before popping on board, again still on the lunge. 

We're now progressing to me giving him a sharp aid with the whip if he's not being as responsive to my leg as he should be. Before, he normally backs off from the whip and instead of reacting to it the correct way, ie by going forwards, he'd stop and buck more! Claire explained that he needs to respond to it as though it was an annoying fly rather than a horse trying to bite him. If' it's a sharp tap, like a fly, then he'll respond by moving away but if it's an annoying smack then he'll react as though it's a horse biting him and so retaliate. Pea's getting a lot better and moving forward when I want him to now but Claire's noticed that I'm tight in my hips which isn't allowing Pea to move forward as much as he should be. 

She asked me to drop my feet from the stirrups and explained that the tightness is coming from my lower back. If I relax there, then my hips will open up and my seat bones will be looser. She moved my legs around, putting them in front of the saddle, before letting them drop naturally so they hung loose at the side of Pea. This helped to loosen my lower back and hips and felt a lot different. We practised keeping this position round in walk and compared it to if I tense in my back where you could tell the difference. When I tensed, Pea shortened his stride and slowed, but as soon as I released he softened and stretched out more. We took my stirrups back and rather than having my stirrups on the ball of my feet properly, I end up having them more just behind my toes which causes me to grip with my toes and therefore hard to keep my feet in the correct position. By moving them back slightly, it was much easier to keep loose in my lower back and use my leg effectively without turning my feet out and using the back of my foot. 

We practised in each gait with me staying loose and contrast to what happens if I tense so I'm aware for when I'm on my own. We had a small buck in canter on the right rein where my saddle slipped so he reacted to me tensing for it. Claire explained that I wasn't sitting centrally and Pea didn't help by pushing me more to the outside. Once we came back to walk, I sat straighter and focussed on pushing my outside shoulder back so balance Pea better. When we tried the canter again, it was a lot more balanced and my saddle didn't move. 

Now, we've just got to keep putting it to practise when we're on our own! 

Thanks for reading,

Laura xx

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

[Monthly Review] April 2016

Somehow it has come to the middle of May and I've not written my monthly review! How is time flying so fast?!

April bought many questions and if I'm honest, I seriously started to doubt whether to continue pushing with Pea or whether it was time to think about selling or loaning him. Numerous people also told me that maybe it was time to let him go to a new home and find something I could go out and do what I wanted on. However, I want to say a massive thank you to those who told me what a stupid idea that was and pushed me to keep trying!

After having an impromptu lesson with someone (read about it here), May is bringing a new change with regular lessons and a fresh outlook on how to handle Pea. We're now getting him going a lot more forward and relaxing so that he doesn't feel the need to stop and be quite so opinionated all the time!

Fingers crossed that May's review will bring better behaviour!!

Thanks for reading,

Laura xx

Thursday, 5 May 2016

[Lesson Report] Claire Adams 03.05.2016

After Claire gave me a free lesson a couple of weeks ago, I scheduled in for a proper lesson with her to see how we got on and for whether to use her on a regular basis. I think that with all the issues I've had with Pea, it hasn't helped that I've neglected booking in lessons. I felt as though that it might be a bit of a waste with him playing up so much, when in fact, that's the ideal time! I originally booked a lesson with Claire for last Monday, but typically Pea pulled a shoe the day before and ended up being on box rest for a couple of days until he could see the farrier. He then also had the physio so had another day off after that and then weather and work got in the way so it wasn't rescheduled until this past Tuesday. 

We started out by popping him on the lunge for ten minutes with Claire starting on one rein to explain what we were after and I took over for the second rein. As he had gone well on the Sunday but still had a couple of stops, Claire thought it would be a good idea to pop him on the lunge first to get him going and learn that that's what we're after. It's good to see how she gets him going on the lunge as I think I tend to let him go at a more mediocre pace rather than getting after him and make him really work. 

I then popped on board and walked round a bit. She emphasised the importance of me letting my legs just hang and give him short, sharp squeezes and get a reaction from that. Without realising, I tend to keep my leg on which he ends up switching off to. When I then squeeze him forward, he should react straight away and when he doesn't, he gets a sharp tap from the whip to emphasise that he needs to move. Pea can be a quick learner and so he did give a great walk which was miles different to his normal work! The only issue with him is that he can also be reactive so if he decides to object to the whip, that's when we have the stops and stomps! 

We then progressed to trot and he had a mini moment of 'do I trot or stop' but luckily realised trotting was the better answer! After a few rounds, Claire asked how I would feel about riding him round on the lunge. After never having done this I was slightly worried as it's a very weird thing feeling like I'm giving up control and a bit sceptical in case anything happened. However, it was actually a really good learning curve for me as Pea went into a great trot that is vastly different from his normal trot and we even had some canters where I actually learnt to relax. Normally, I tense in the canter forever expecting him to buck, which of course, doesn't help! When we swapped to the right rein, I mentioned how I felt rather unbalanced in the trot so we came back to halt and Claire explained that he tends to lean a bit and pushes me to the outside. This causes my left hip to drop and my right hip to over-compensate which is why I feel off balance and as though I'm on a motorbike. We worked on me pushing my outside shoulder back a bit and imagining that I was pushing my left elbow into my ribs. I felt that this really helped and the trot felt so much better. We then did a quick comparison and it's amazing the difference I felt. 

We finished the lesson there as he had worked incredibly hard and it's always a good idea to finish on a good note. I now have another lesson booked in for next week which I'm rather looking forward to now! 

Thanks for reading,

Laura xx

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

[Laura Loves] New Look Unicorn Light

New Look: £9.99

How amazing is this light?! I spotted it a few weeks ago on New Look's instagram but unfortunately it was sold out online and I hadn't seen it in one of my local stores. However, the other day I was out shopping with mum and the store we were in had it in stock. There was no way I was leaving it on the shelf!! 

It appears that unicorn things are quite popular at the moment as New Look also had a small chalk board in the shape of a unicorn as well as on many items such as water bottles, air freshener & socks! Primark also seem to have jumped on the band wagon as they also had a unicorn chalk board!

Thanks for reading,

Laura xx

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

[Lesson Report] Rather Unplanned!

I set out today with the plan that I was going to get on Pea, handle any of his naughtiness, but hopefully have a half decent schooling session. Unfortunately, as often is the case with horses, Pea didn't seem to be on board with that idea and instead spent five minutes stomping, reversing and nothing was working in an attempt to get him to go forward. I had just dismounted and on my way to grab my lunge line when an instructor popped in with lunging equipment, asking if I wanted a hand. I accepted and I popped him on the lunge to check there wasn't anything physically wrong and to get him moving.

I went to swap reins and Claire stepped in and asked if I minded if she had a go lunging the other way. I passed the line along and she mentioned that it seems like he's not really moving forward enough, just at a mediocre speed and hence it may be why he plays up a bit. She got him to really get going forward and really bring his hind leg under which is something he often avoids. She got Pea to really move forward and flicked the whip every time he started to back off and slow down. It wasn;t long before he was really moving forward and with little encouragement (it was trying to stop that took the longest!). 

I then popped back on board and Claire walked at the side with the lunge whip trailing behind her. She noticed that I often keep my leg on, without really noticing, and so to relax and take my leg away, only giving a squeeze with each heel every now and then in order to get the desired effect of him taking note and picking up the pace a bit. We walked round with a long rein and let him walk wherever he wanted and if he wanted to change rein, then to act as though it was something I wanted rather than try to keep him straight. By doing this, it means that he's normally expecting me to tell him 'no, we're going straight' which causes an excuse to stop, but acting like it was part of the plan takes this away. 

We then progressed into trot, still keeping with a long rein and relaxed body position. Again, I didn't direct Pea in a certain direction and let him go round the arena as he pleased. Typically, he went down to the far end of the arena, away from Claire and I could feel him start to tense to stop. Immediately, Claire shouted to just relax, squeeze a bit with the leg but not make a fuss. By doing this, Pea realised there was no need to misbehave as I hadn't tensed and so carried on quite nicely. Each time he slowed a bit, I popped my leg on and if he didn't respond properly, Claire was there to gently flick the lunge whip as a reminder that he had to pay attention rather than just ignore me which is his usual response. 

We even had a short canter, although not asked for, when Pea didn't quite respond properly and had the lunge whip slightly flick him. This made him take notice and so moved up to canter. My initial reaction was to grab the reins and tense slightly but Claire said to just pat him and relax - something I find rather hard with canter! I explained my reaction as to the fact that he often chucks me off in canter by launching off but she explained how it's harder for them to buck when they're actively moving forward and if they do, it's a fly buck which is slightly easier to sit to but not something Pea is likely to do when he's a lazier horse! I agreed and said he does tend to slam the brakes on to buck! 

So whilst it was an unexpected lesson for me and Pea, I'm really grateful for Claire popping over as I feel as though I may have had a mini meltdown otherwise! She was really nice and did the lesson for free (I've never had her for a lesson before!) and I think I may be in touch with her again to book a proper one! 

Thanks for reading,

Laura xx

Monday, 18 April 2016

[Product Review] Rambo Dog Coat

A slightly different post as it's reviewing something to do with the dog rather than Pea! However, seeing as a lot of equestrians probably have dogs, I thought I'd share my review of the Horseware Rambo dog coat. I have a collie x who we rescued last year, and whilst she loves launching into the stream at the yard and running through puddles, trying to take her for a walk in the rain is something she really doesn't like! So, at Burghley, me and mum set out on a mission to find her a nice waterproof coat that suits her nicely and is easy to put on/take off as she can be a bit funny about things going over her head! 

As I am sure many of you are aware, Horseware is an iconic brand, especially with regards to rugs. Therefore, it's no surprise that they also come up trumps with their dog coats! Poppy has a lovely navy coat with red trim that fastens by Velcro at the front and also via a belly flap. The coat is waterproof and has a small filling so it's perfect for chilly days. Poppy has worn her coat out in the heaviest of rain and come back nice and dry (though she now needs a hood and leg warmers but Dad's not quite so keen (; ). 

Whilst the coat does have a bit of a filling, Poppy has worn it on milder days and not come back too hot at all so it's idea for those April showers! The waterproof outer material means it's easy to wipe clean and the reflective back stripes are perfect for winter walks in the dark. 

If you have a dog that's a bit of a diva about walks in the rain, then it's definitely worth having a peak at the Horseware collection! 

Thanks for reading,

Laura xx

Monday, 4 April 2016

[Monthly Review] March 2016

March has not been a good month. If you follow me on Facebook or Twitter, then you will most probably know that Pea has started to play up again quite badly. It's really frustrating as I felt like we were slowly moving forwards but now we've gone straight back to the beginning where I can hardly get a few strides of trot, never mind anything else. 

At the minute, it's such a struggle to really do anything with Pea. The other day, I went in the arena with the intent of just walking him over some poles and do various exercise over them to engage his hind legs. The first five-ten minutes weren't too bad and then as I went to change the rein, he randomly stopped and played up :( He did it a few other times and a sharp tap on his neck made him behave a bit better (after upping his bucking game first!). 

Therefore, there is very little to report for March as our acomplishments are being able to do 15 minutes of schooling with no stops! I'm not really sure what to do with him now so I think April is going to be a case of seeing how he goes and maybe having another chat with the vet and my instructor to see what the best course of action is. 

Thanks for reading,

Laura xx

Sunday, 20 March 2016

One Step Forward, Three Steps Back

This picture popped up on my pinterest at a rather fitting time! Pea has been going quite well the past few weeks and was progressing well with his schooling. He then had a couple of days off and a lunge before I was able to ride again. As it was a lovely evening, I decided to go for a hack and thought he might be a bit excitable but not too bad. That turned out not to be the case seeing as he got half way down the drive before slamming the breaks on, spinning round and trying to buck! 

No matter how much I tried to get him to continue, he wasn't having it at all and nearly slipped a few times on the road in his attempt to buck. Another horse went past and I thought Pea might be happy following but that wasn't to be the case! In the end, we went back to the yard, had another big fit when I tried to go in the arena and resulted in me fetching a lunge line to pop Pea on the lunge for a few minutes. He went firing off into canter and stayed cantering for a while before swapping reins and doing the same in the opposite direction. I then hopped back on board but we ended up having another argument so I popped off again and lunged him again for 10 minutes before getting back on. Luckily, he seemed to have learnt and we did 10 minutes of half decent schooling before I called it a day and finished on a good note. 

The next day I went a bit more prepared and put my spurs on as well as took the lunge
line just in case. He did actually do five minutes of nice trotting before stopping and trying to dig the arena up or see if he could get me off.. He refused to move forward and after a couple of minutes of not getting far at all unless we reversed or spun round, I decided to pop him on the lunge again for a few minutes. This time when I got back on board he was better behaved and we did a further 15 minutes before calling it a day. 

Friday morning when better as I managed to do 20 minutes of work without having to lunge him. He still played up a bit but didn't resist for long and wasn't really bucking as much, more just cow kicking and stomping. Although he only did 20 minutes, I left it there as it's better to do a shorter session where he behaves, than push him further just to end up getting into arguments. 

He then had a day off and today played up again quite badly. I had Dad come down to take photos and also pop poles out for me in the hope it would distract him but unfortunately he still played around. I lunged him for a few minutes after about the fifth argument where he flat out refused to move at all before getting back on board. Luckily, he wasn't too bad and although he had one or two bucks after, we did manage to get over the poles a few times on each rein. 

Someone at my yard saw him misbehave and asked whether it could be linked to the grass. This is something I have been questioning as he had been full of energy and now suddenly refuses to move and is very lack lustre in his movement. She's suggested looking into a gastro supplement as she mentioned that her horse used to be quite tense to the leg but since being on one he's been much better. So I'm not off to do some research and see whether it's worth trying one out on Pea! 

Thanks for reading,

Laura xx

Wednesday, 9 March 2016

[Product Review] Feedmark Activet

Around Burghley time last year, I was chatting to someone from my yard about supplements (funnily enough, she also owns a Paddy!) as I was thinking about maybe swapping Pea's as I wasn't sure that his current one was really helping. She suggested I have a word with Feedmark as she had done that the year before and was getting on really well with them. 

So, whilst shopping round Burghley with mum, I dragged her over to their stand saying 'it'll only be a quick word!'. Mum has very little knowledge about horses and her main contribution is to ensure that I don't put pink anywhere near him so whilst I was on the stand browsing supplements and asking her opinion, I didn't get much of an answer! Luckily, one of the team soon came over and asked exactly what it was that I was looking for, what kind of horse I had, etc. 

As this was still the time where Pea was misbehaving but we weren't getting much luck as to the reason behind it, I gave the woman the basics. I explained that he's always had a history of being naughty but that he had recently been quite stiff behind resulting in back shoes being worn and ensuring that we didn't pick his back legs up too high. I mentioned that he's only 14 but that I was after something to help his joints and also potentially muscle as we weren't sure as to whether the problem stemmed from. 

She recommended that we could either try their 'ExtraFlex HA with rosehip' or their 'ActiVet' and leaned more towards the 'ActiVet'. After reading the ingredients and hearing the benefits from them, I decided to give it a try. She suggested we get a 1.7kg tub which lasts about 30 days as it would take two weeks for it to be introduced to the feed and then we had two weeks to see how effective it was. 

ActiVet includes the below:
  • Boswellia: a herbal component which soothes older joints
  • Glucosamine HCl: a building block of cartilage
  • MSM: a source of sulphur, necessary for production of collagen and connective tissues.
  • Magnesium: to aid muscle relaxation
  • Linseed: a source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids. Helps to maintain condition.
  • Soya: a source of quality protein important for muscle tissue
  • Vitamin E and Selenium: antioxidants to maintain muscle health
It's suitable for horses in work and at rest helping to maintain flexibility and free movement as well as supporting joint structions and muscle functions. Pea has been on it since and I feel that it does really help him. I ran out of it for a few days and he did seem to decline a bit by not being on it as he became quite stiff. There is also a lot of great reviews on the product from people with elderly horses as well as younger ones so it's definitely worth a try if you have a horse that's a bit stiff!

I also have to recommend Feedmark as a company because they offer super speedy delivery. I'm absolutely useless at remembering to order more of the supplement when it starts to run out, often leaving it to the last minute when he only has a few days left. I placed an order last Monday for another month of the ActiVet, choosing the renewable bag (which I'm sure is way more than the original tub!), as well as ordering a large tub of garlic after continuously running out of that also. 20 minutes after placing my order, I received an email from one of their team to say that there was a delay in getting the orders out but that it should be with me on Wednesday. Considering that I wasn't expecting it until then anyway, I was quite surprised! Sure enough, when I got home from work Wednesday evening there was a lovely large box waiting for me :) (They also have free UK delivery!). 

I would definitely recommend giving Feedmark a look if you're thinking of a new supplement as they have lots of products on offer for all sorts of different things. 

Thanks for reading,

Laura xx

Sunday, 6 March 2016

[Spotted] Horse Ornament from George at Asda

Horse Ornament: £12

George at Asda is one of my favourite places to search for homeware items. They are super affordable and always have nice pieces in! They've recently released their Spring Summer collection which includes lots of rabbit themed items as well as sailing themes and flowers. The one thing I truly love about George is the amount of animal themes they have such as with cushions, ornaments, candle holders and bedding. 

This horse ornament didn't quite make it into my basket this time around but it is so nice and at only £12, what's not to love? I think it would make a great book-end or placed at the edge of a mantelpiece.  

Thanks for reading,

Laura xx

Wednesday, 2 March 2016

[Monthly Review] February 2016

February seemed like a short and sweet month and flew by with me hardly noticing! Things have started to look up with Pea and he is slowly starting to work better. There are still the odd days where he'll misbehave, but after seven and a half years, I've learnt that it's just who he is! 

I've been trying to vary his work load more so that he only schools twice a week and then we also lunge with side reins and hack more as well as doing various pole work exercises. I've also started to jump him again after more than a year which he seems to enjoy and the break from jumping seems to have done him some good as he's a bit calmer about it! 

I'm hoping to get him out to a dressage competition again in March, mainly to do an intro test but we'll see what his canter is like at home for whether to try a prelim. At the moment, I'm mainly focusing on keeping him relaxed in his work as when he does he goes quite nicely. He just prefers trying out a giraffe pose too much to stay relaxed! 

Thanks for reading,

Laura xx

Sunday, 28 February 2016

[Book Review] Chasing the Wind by Hannah Hooton

As some of you may be aware, I have previously reviewed two books by Hannah before as well as read the others in the 'Aspen Valley' Series and so when an email popped up from her in January asking if I would like to review the fifth, and final, instalment, I jumped at the chance. So, after a few fails at navigating how to download the book and it being in the right format for me to be able to read it, and then February flying by quicker than I expected leaving me little time, it took me a bit longer to start reading than planned!

This book took me a bit longer to get into than some of Hannah's previous ones but once it got going, there were turns everywhere that kept you guessing as to what was going to happen. The story mainly follows Lucy Kendrick, a young 'reporter' who is not what you expect! For the first quarter I was constantly trying to guess what her plan was. It soon becomes clear she's not what it's first made out to seem but when the truth is revealed, it's nothing I expected! There is also a bit of a shocker within the first couple of chapters which I can't decide if I like or not...however, I have to say hats off to Hannah for writing it! 

There's the typical romance side that accompanies Lucy's story which I always enjoy, although I did want to shake Lucy a few times! (Though, isn't that the same with a lot of romance's?!). There is also the story of Jack Carmichael who we've seen plenty of times before and we were fully introduced to in Book 1 which introduces Pippa and Aspen Valley. This time round, they hit a number of stumbling blocks which stem from the shocker I mentioned. Now, Jack is definitely a character you want to shake and yell at!

For some reason, I found it a bit harder to get into this one compared to others and it took me longer to read, however it is still a great story. There are plenty of twists and turns along the way which really keeps you guessing as to what's going to happen and whether there will be a happy ending or not. As always, Hannah does such a great job of captivating the reader and getting them sucked into the story so it feels more realistic and you really do feel all emotions in reading 

Overall rating:

                                                           Image result for four stars

If you want to give the book a read yourself then the links are below:

Thanks for reading,

Laura xx