Wednesday, April 22, 2009

E's Show Jumping Lesson

My friend E had a show jumping lesson this morning and I decided to tag along to watch. Her horse Tom is a cool guy, this was the first time I really saw him in action.

Here are some of the photographs I got from the lesson. My camera is old, and pretty lame. It takes the photo a second after you press the button, so timing a jumping photo is a art. It's also a gamble whether you get a fuzzy action photo or not. So some of these are a tad fuzzy. Isn't he awesome though? The very last photo is E and Tom jumping 1.35m and the corner in the 2nd photo is 1.3om.

On the way home from the lesson, E let me drive the float home! I was stoaked as I've been wanting to learn how for ages. I went nice and slow and drove nicely. E said I did great! So now I feel pretty confident about driving a float when I get one :)

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Hot to trot

I love early morning rides (apart from the waking up at the crack of dawn part). The sun throws its morning light over the paddocks, the horses are eating quietly... and the arena is free. Jack was on fire this morning and it was wonderful. Even the cold air biting my face couldn't wipe my smile away. As soon as I was on him, he was walking out with big strides. He usually plods along like an old cart horse when I first get on, not your typical hot thoroughbred behaviour, but its how he is. He broke out into a beautiful, ground eating trot when we reached the hill below the arena. It was forward and his strides were long. His first trot normally is a short, choppy affair but Jack was showing his dressage potential... and this was all before we actually got into the arena.

I didn't want the amazing trot to end, so I trotted him straight into the arena and we went to work. (We had walked a good 5 minutes from his paddock before this in case you were wondering). We did serpentines, figure 8's, transitions and straight lines all over the place and he rocked. On the bit and light in my hands, he was showing me what he can do. Since his trot work was going so well, I moved onto the canter. He's been having trouble with his left lead recently, I think it was because I was acting more like a passanger then a rider. Instead of giving him clear aids about what lead I wanted, I would just ask him to canter. So today, I made sure I was VERY clear about the lead I wanted and he got the correct one everytime. We practiced simple changes on the diagonal too. We will be doing test A4 in the trial and last time we did this test, our change was terrible and dropped our marks down a lot. He did really well today and was quick and precise with his transitions.

After about 45 minutes he started getting lazy and falling behind my leg. Since I didn't have a whip with me, I had to give him a good couple of kicks to keep him moving forward. Once I got a nice forward trot I asked for a walk and then cooled down. I will have to get moving on that conditioning program... he looks like hes going to need it.

Naming horses (and other animals)

Solitaire Mare from A Good Horse wrote a great post about naming horses and what those names mean to the owner.

I have always loved naming animals, especially horses. Luckily my best friend's family breeds a number of horses and I've had a couple of opportunities to name some of their horses.

My first horse, Red, came with his very unoriginal name. Since he was 14 already, I decided to keep his paddock name. We looked up his racing records and found out his racing name was Tin Solider (and that he also had not won any races). Again, I wasn't impressed. If I was going to compete him, I wanted him to have a name that meant something to me. I thought about it for ages. I considered putting Red somewhere in name... Red Sunrise, Red Sensation, Red Robin. The Red Robin got me thinking and I remembered Christopher Robin from the Winnie the Pooh books. I used to love the books and movies as a child and my it also was special because my mum used to always call my cousin (with whom I grew up with) Christopher Robin (his name was Christopher) and used to quote "Christopher Robin is saying his prayers" to Chris often. And so Red's competition name was Christopher Robin.

When I got Jack, I also kept his paddock name. It suited him and I didn't think it needed to be changed. His racing name had been "Jack's Back" which I thought was pretty lame. Again, I thought about it long and hard. Jack is impressive to look at and commands attention. I wanted a strong name. Sometimes I looked at him and thought he looked like a battle horse, and he has a couple of scars on his leg that made me think of battle scars. So I started playing around with names with 'Battle' in it. I came up with 'Battle Cry' which suited him amazingly. He is very vocal and it fit well. I haven't registered him with the New Zealand Equestrian Federation yet and it may be that that name is already taken, if that is so I am going to put my second and third choices down as War Cry and Battle Master.

My cats also have names that mean something to me. Chucky, our first cat, came with his name. He was ginger and was named after 'Chucky' from the rugrats.

Muffin was named by my brother (i'm not sure why). It has been my experience that if you name cats after food, they get fat. It might night be scientific, but its what I have seen. Muffin is fat, and so was my cousin's cat Donut. My friends cat, Chrunchie, was also a fat cat.

Next, Ellie came into our lives. Her real name is Al Queda (if that offends you in any way I am sorry). She used to terrorise the other two cats and also us, when she was a kitten. The name was given to her as a joke and we call her Ellie at home.

I got Forrest last year, and had named her before I thought I was going to get her. She looked like a cat from the Forrest, and I also love Forest Gump. It really suits her, so it stuck.

How did your horses and pets get their names? I'd love to hear.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Our First Training Event Planning

Jack and I are competing at our first Training Event in 3 weeks time. I am a little nervous but my friend E has convinced me that I will be fine, and that Jack is more then capable. I find that planning things really helps to make me feel prepared and ready for such a thing as this.

So I have made a plan to do which includes a mixture of dressage, show jumping and conditioning. Hopefully we will be able to get at least one Cross Country training session in at one of the local pony clubs. My friend is going to give me some Show Jumping lessons and hopefully my other friend will be able to give me a dressage lesson or two.

The trial is at Arran Station, in Takapau, Hawkes Bay so if anyone wants to come say hey, feel free.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Quote of the Week

Where in this wide world can man find nobility without pride,
Friendship without envy,
Or beauty without vanity?
Here, where grace is served with muscle
And strength by gentleness confined
He serves without servility; he has fought without enmity.
There is nothing so powerful, nothing less violent.
There is nothing so quick, nothing more patient.
-Ronald Duncan, "The Horse," 1954

Saturday, April 18, 2009

I'm Back!!

I don't know why but I couldn't stay away. So here I am, ready to get this blog back up and running.

A Girl and Her Horse has been renovated. What do you think of the new look? Is the black background too dark?

Its glorious holidays at the moment. My body has decided to rebel against me and has crashed making me need to head to bed at very early times. Most of the people from my hostel have gone home from the hoildays but I have had to stay in Palmerston North because of Jack. I don't mind this because it gives me alone time. Alone time never happens in the hostel so its been a welcome change. I love people but sometimes it can be too much. I do miss my parents though. Hopefully I will be able to spend a few days in Auckland next holidays.

All this spare time has given me a lot of time to ride and spend time with Jack. I have given him lots of grazing time out of his paddock. He loves grazing up and down the grass verge by the paddocks and I let him wander freely while I muck out his paddock. I've taken to listening to audio books on my ipod while I muck out his paddock. It takes my mind of the job and it makes it go a lot faster.

Today, my friend E and I took Jack and her horse Tom to the beach. The beach we went to is huge and long, and perfect for riding on. Jack came off the float and immediately went hyper. He was very rude when it came to brideling and it took me awhile to get it on him. He jig-jogged for the first 20 minutes when I was on. This behaviour is unusual for him but he settled down after awhile. Tom and E haved been to the beach a few times and led the way. I haven't been to the beach with Jack before and found that he was petrified of the waves. I encouraged him and he followed Tom into the water tentatively and then jumped all over the place when the waves hit his leg. I almost came off a few times but thankfully managed to not fall into the drink. Since Tom's hooves are a little sore at the moment, we didn't do any galloping. We did a lot of cantering and trotting and found some awesome logs to jump. We went a long way down the beach and it took ages to get back once we finally decided to turn around. By the time we were back, the horses were covered in sweat and sea salt. We loaded up and went home.

Jack and I have our first Training Event in the middle of May. I have some work to do on my Dressage so will have to get cracking on that, hopefully I will be able to get a lesson before it.