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Chokolate 10-12-2013 06:13 PM

From Cocoa Bean to Cadbury
I thought I'd finally start this journal as I constantly find myself dreaming up what I would say if I had one :lol: so, here it is! I don't expect anyone to read it or be even remotely interested, but if you want to leave a comment, feel free! I'll try and post pictures when I get them.

OK, here comes my first entry! (excuse me if it rambles, I am a world-class rambler)

So, recently I've been working on riding bareback. My instructor is HUGELY for bareback riding, and after doing it twice in a row I definitely agree with her (well, I would anyway, because she IS my instructor :smile: ) This week, nobody else was booked in, so I rode for half an hour on my own instead of the usual hour. Normally I ride with two other people but one of them only comes every two weeks and the other broke her toe :(. So it was just me.

I rode Pita, who actually I haven't ridden for a while, and never bareback. I would normally have ridden one of two other horses, but both of them are currently off, one is lame, and one is having a break because she had a very busy week. Pita was probably NOT the best choice for learning bareback because you always have to be on top of what he's going to do as well as what you're doing yourself :lol: but I think it really has taught me more than a horse that just goes around the arena whenever you ask. Plus, he's not one of those lazy horses that's very slow and you have to constantly remind them to wake up and stop dragging their feet - he responds to very light aids, usually.

I walked and trotted without too much problem. I was a lot better at this than last week because my instructor gave me a hint which REALLY worked - put all your weight into your hips. This helped me sit back and be a lot more secure so I wasn't bouncing around everywhere.

The thing about Pita is, he has two 'tricks' which he thinks (thinks) gets him out of work. He doesn't realise it really WOULD be more pleasant for both of us if he just avoided doing these things, but no. Horses :smile: . The first thing he does is swerve across the arena. And he has the bendiest neck I think I've ever seen in a horse, ever. It's quite a lot of work sometimes to pull him around and send him back to the outside. This has gotten a LOT better since he first came to the riding school a little over a year ago. He used to do it constantly, but now it's quite easy to shut that one down.

What's a little more tough is his new-found love of running into the corners. He is a VERY clever horse and knows how to get there, too. Normally, this is easy to stop, with a saddle on, so you're very secure and can put all your effort into stopping him. However, when he runs into a corner, he usually goes PAST it (so you think he won't do it) often with his head down, going around nicely, and then he'll spin and run back. This can be quite hard to stick to, if you're not expecting it - or even if you are expecting it - and so you can't put all your thoughts into stopping him. However, I did manage to stop him (for the most part) eventually, by squeezing the inside rein, holding the outside rein, and using a lot of outside leg to stop him going into it.

We also did a little cantering, although when he was reverting to his corner tricks we didn't because it was hard enough to fix them at a trot. Cantering is a LOT easier to sit to than trotting - way, way easier, probably because it's a lot smoother. It also felt quite strange, because you can feel their legs and muscles moving underneath you heaps more than you can with a saddle. I was quite proud of myself in my cantering, because I kept him from going into those corners or swerving around and even when he did spin and run to a corner I was ready, I didn't fall or lose my seat and I stopped him quite quickly. He also put his head down (not sure why) while we were cantering the opposite direction and was trying to drag the reins through my hands - being a pain - but I stayed firm and didn’t put up with that either.

Afterwards it was time for a nice warm shower for Pita in the wash rack, and time to pull all the white hairs off my legs :lol: . One of the boarders was grooming her absolutely beautiful horse and really did make my day when she told me I had done a great job. It just made me warm and happy inside. So I told her that her horse was absolutely gorgeous and she fell to pieces and told me how much she loved him. Aww… Horse owners are so proud of their steeds :).

Yeah, sorry, that was really long. But I had a lot to say! And a huge, enormous, BOWL of cookies, with icecream, cream, and lots of chocolate if you read all that! (you deserve a medal if you even tried)

Feel free to leave a comment/advice/etc. just please, be constructive. I am still learning and I have a great instructor. Thanks :)

Chokolate 11-02-2013 06:52 AM

Well, the last two weeks I've been back to riding Nugget, the awesome Appy, as usual (with a saddle :) ) and we've been having a great time!

Last week we did circle work. To anybody who DOESN'T understand what we're doing, it looks very silly, plodding around at a walk fiddling with seats, and legs, and reins :lol: but it was quite difficult to get them to be working from behind and balanced in the circle (which was what we were ACTUALLY trying to do.) Once we'd got the idea in the walk, we were allowed to trot, one at a time, to try and get them working the same in a trot as they were in the walk - balanced, on the circle, spine curving in the direction of the circle, and all that which I'm sure most people on this board already know about :)

Nugget is a very well-trained horse already so he was pretty much a pro, but I think I did a reasonably good job as well. My sitting trot is often a bit dodgy and Nugget took it as an excuse to surge forwards, but I held him back and got him balanced (back legs crossing) pretty well in the end. The other two did a great job as well!

Then this week, we had a 'games day,' which are always fun :D. The activity was the 'red light, green light' warm-up (with an orange light too, = sitting trot.) The idea is to get the horses listening and responsive to your aids, so a green light means instant trot while red means instant stop. We had an elimination round, which K won after Boots stopped too slowly and Nugget walked off after we were supposed to be stopped.

After that, we did a cantering activity. To warm-up our canter, we did a normal lap first. Nugget was amazing, responsive to my mere suggestion and didn't falter the whole way around…and he's got such a lovely canter :) and then it was time for the twist - a rolled up saddle blanket under one arm, to stop our arms going everywhere. It was pretty hard, partly because it was really slippery, partly because my arms aren't the best, and partly because I had it on the outside arm - I was very busy using that arm to balance him with the outside rein! However, we made it around our lap without too much hassle. The others did well too.

Lastly, it was time for barrel racing, which we were all looking forward to. Seeing as the arena isn't full size, the pattern is heaps smaller, plus we're in English saddles, but we don't gallop or canter it or anything fancy, we did it in trot with a canter from the end barrel back to the finish line. Nugget did awesome again, he was in great form, and we kept the trot the whole time during the first two barrels and got a canter to and from the last one :D.

In the end, we added up the points and found that K and A had tied on 2 1/2 points each and I had come first by a whisker at 3 points! We all did a victory lap and our amazing horses didn't even care when we put our reins in one hand and raised the other above our heads :D gotta love kid-safe horses.

I didn't want to was awesome. I feel like Nugget and I really get on well, we both understand what the other means (most of the time :lol:) and I hope I keep riding him for a long time :).

Cacowgirl 11-02-2013 07:18 AM

You are learning lots & this is giving you a good foundation to become a good rider-it takes so many hours & so much practice. I don't understand why so many think it's hard to read long posts-my favorite books run over 300 pages-I like detail!

Chokolate 11-02-2013 04:51 PM

Thanks for the reply!

I don't find it hard to read long posts when they're well written. When it's a bit jumbled up - well, then I may have some difficulty :lol: . Most of the posts in the Member Journals are pretty long and I don't mind reading them at all!

Chokolate 11-15-2013 04:07 AM

I hope riding is on this week...last week I had something for school and it's raining right now so I hope it stops in time for tomorrow's lesson! I need my horsey fix!

Chokolate 11-16-2013 06:00 PM

Today it was a little wet in the arena but we were lucky enough with the weather to be able to go for a trail ride! It was pretty relaxed and we mostly walked with some trotting due to the condition of the trails which were also pretty soggy. It was nice to be able to enjoy the scenery and a ride on the horses without having to worry about whether they had impulsion and if they were carrying themselves correctly. I rode Nugget, first time I've ridden him on a trail, and he was a real gentleman. Somehow, even though he moved forward when I asked him quite happily, he managed to make any pace slower than that of those around him :lol: what a cute boy!

We didn't see any animals like we usually do, probably because of the wet ground (normally we see a few wallabies and once we saw some kind of python and a huge 1+ metre long goanna which we had to wait for it to climb into a tree so we didn't spook the horses or get attacked 0.0 ) but we did hear the beautiful calls of the birds from somewhere in the trees.

faiza425 12-22-2013 12:18 PM

Your posts are clear and easy for me to understand, and I enjoy the detail that goes into them - it seems like you retain a lot from your lessons. As you improve your riding you will appreciate coming back and remembering what your initial problems were with certain aspects of riding, different exercises you did, and how far you've come. Subbing! :-)

Chokolate 02-14-2014 12:41 AM

So, I've been going well in my riding lessons, rode Pita once and Dixie a couple of times, and I'm going riding tomorrow :D.

However, I thought I should update this because something very interesting (for me, anyway) has come up. For school this year we have to do a community service program, where we can volunteer for a charity. I thought about what I wanted to do, and of course almost immediately thought of volunteering at a therapeutic riding school. I basically dismissed it because I doubted that there would be one that I could get to easily (don't have a driver's license and I don't want my parents to have to drive me around everywhere) and looked up about the RSPCA instead...didn't really strike me as something I'd enjoy...idly Googled about therapeutic riding schools in Australia...

...was directed to RDA, the Riding for the Disabled Association Australia...found their riding school locations...

...there is one literally FIFTEEN minutes away from me. And they take volunteers of all skill. The only requirement is that you're over 12. This is brilliant!

So I'm going to make some inquiries in the next few days, hopefully this weekend.

And also, off-topic, but this is my journal, right? I can write what I want :). It looks like there is a likelihood that I will land a place in the student exchange program! It's definitely not certain yet but there are only a couple more people than the number of places, and I have pretty good marks and have never had a detention. So yay!

Chokolate 03-07-2014 08:23 PM

Well last week was an unmitigated disaster, it started pouring two minutes in and we had to stop halfway through once it became clear that it wouldn't ease. This week, however, was absolutely great! The weather was nice and warm (despite more predicted rain) and we had a great time, all of us riding on white ponies :lol:

I was on Pita, my absolute favourite horse to ride, and he was great. I think I've finally found the secret to a sitting trot, sort of, you sit on your pockets and breathe. It took me so long to work it out! Instead of leaning forward and pinching I sort of sat down and a bit back, and relaxed a lot more. It was also super helpful that Pita has a fantastic slow, smooth trot (when he wants to xD) and he was behaving really well today! We were in the larger grassy arena which I hadn't ridden in for ages either, which gave us heaps more room for longer stretches, straight lines, and big circles. I also got a very nice halt to canter (not exactly halt to canter, more like fidget fidget walk to a few steps of trot to canter, but still very very good for both of us).

Circle work was hard, especially on Pita, but we started to get the hang of it. He wanted to drop his head a long way down and move his super-flexible neck around, but he got the idea eventually. I was super proud of him :)

Can't wait for next week!

Chokolate 04-12-2014 07:50 AM

Today was awesome!! Both A and I did very well!

I was riding on a horse named Nugget, which was a little worrying at the beginning as two weeks ago I'd watched him race ahead to catch up with Pita and throw A into the fence, but the instructor explained it was because he has a very strong herd instinct and wants to catch up with the herd - when the first one goes he wants to race with them - so we wouldn't be cantering together (but we did walk/trot).

I went in with a confident frame of mind despite this, as Nugget has never been anything but a gentleman with me (if not somewhat lazy), and that really helped. I do know that the attitude is very important but this really confirmed it, because I did much better than if I had been frightened and he didn't do anything wrong at all! We completed the warm-up walk/trot - I stopped for a crop as he wasn't responding well to my legs but didn't have to use it much - and then it was time to do cantering for me and trotting for A who was on Pita; he was testing her doing the swerve-in thing because he thought he could get away with it.

Nugget is the perfect teacher. I asked him to canter and he did, but the great thing is that unlike many horses he'll just keep going around the outside without too much guidance so you can really work on your own self and not worry about him. Especially with his canter, which is very long and loping, I was working on sitting up and still, as I have a tendency to move around quite a bit (sort of moving for the horse, pushing them forwards with my seat too much) and to lean forwards. I also let my lower leg swing quite a bit, but once I started thinking more about it it stopped and I gripped a little more. It was very helpful to be able to practise this as the last few weeks I've been on Pita and it's been more about him than me, as I have to be constantly on his case and I can't work on improving myself technical-wise as much. My riding helped with Nugget's canter too, and it became less 'draggy' and more smooth and flowing, which is probably the best feeling in the world, when you and your horse are moving properly together! It only lasted about 5 or 6 strides, but it was awesome.

Afterwards we did some jumping, which was really fun. I hadn't jumped from a canter for quite a while as we'd been doing other things so it was lovely to work on striding and positioning and all of that. I had to work on getting Nugget more forwards as he sort of pulled himself over it in the last few strides and he tried to stop after we'd jumped it. In the end, we got a lovely jump and ended it on a great note!

Happy Easter, everyone!

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