Dante’s Diaries – A Lesson with Sue Byrne

As you’ve (hopefully) read in my recent blog post about behaviour issues with Dante, we have had numerous amounts of lessons, some bad, some okay but never any lessons where we finished up saying, woo we finally cracked him. He always performs well, bless his 3 & a half little white socks but there was always that worry at the back of my mind as to why? Why is he continuing to keep all his habits, why is he not progressing!?

Enter Sue Byrne! What a saint to put up with my constant giving out & wanting to stop and walk cause I cant cope with exercise, she has been amazing!! I know her probably two years now and have done a lot of lessons with her before I owned Dante. She has improved my riding so much! Our friendship has even gotten got to the stage where Sue would randomly send me texts at 10pm telling me she was thinking about me haha!! On a serious note though, they were because she was always thinking of ways to improve Dante & I. She is such a helpful person & so generous with her knowledge! 

Anyways moving on…. The day after I got Dante back from boot camp we had a lesson! Outlined below are our lesson details, what we did & how in awe we were of his progress. So in awe that it was worth writing a blog post about!

What We Did

Dante was lunged for approx. 20 minutes before I rode. Sue was kind enough to show me a few of her own lunging tricks which were extremely helpful. Lunging him before I ride really helps to take that little bit of fizz out of him, which makes riding him all the more enjoyable. We even done a bit of de-sensitising work with him which I will cover in a separate blog post in the coming weeks! 

Into the arena we went, and straight away Sue instructed me to get him working into a forward trot. As I learned from his boot camp, keeping him moving forward is key to getting him working properly.  I now ride Dante in draw reins as they give me more control and assist in encouraging him to use himself properly. He is awful for throwing his head up in the air, and we found that from the last few lessons we had done without them, we spent the majority of the lesson trying to keep his nose down. I am still getting used to riding with the two reins, so every so often I would get a shout from Sue to keep the contact on both my reins. Something I am much better at now a week on from the lesson!

Serpentine’s

After we established our forward rhythm in the trot, we moved onto an exercise which I quite enjoy, Serpentine’s. Sue had suggested to do two loops instead of the regular three, missing out on the turn through X’ in the arena just so he could get used to his body turning, and give him the extra space he needs. He rode this exercise very well he really relaxed into his trot, but we found the turns onto his right rein were a lot harder for him and not as free flowing as his left. I realised that riding this exercise in a consistent forward steady rhythm is more important than trying to make sure you’re riding a correct diagonal through all the change of reins. 10-15 minutes into this exercise I began to take him for granted he was doing it so well, responding to everything correctly, so I subconsciously turned everything off and unfortunately the worst happened…we had a fall!! 

The Fall A Rider’s Mistake

We were finishing up on the last bend of our serpentine, I left my diagonal change until after x, which didn’t give me enough time to give the correct aids to bend around the corner which threw him off slightly. He was veering towards the left and I wanted him to go right, it was a total miss-communication and BAM I fell on my arse! See a clip of the fall in the video at the end of the post. I was fine, he was fine, I got back up and did the exercise again and finished off the exercise by completing a full serpentine of the arena and back through where we had our scene’. I had been taking some of the bends quite tightly, as if I was trying to ride them at a 90 degree angle, so when I got back up Sue advised that my turns don’t have to be perfect. The exercise is about him bending correctly around my leg so I should ride everything on a curve.

Top Tip: Just because your horse is doing something well, never stop giving the correct aids. I learned that the hard way!

Transitions Trot to Canter & Canter to Trot

OMG, my position has gone to poo!  I have found it very difficult to sit properly into a downward transition, I find myself flopping all over the place (I actually really genuinely feel bad for my horse). During this part of the lesson, we focused on trying to achieve neat downward transitions from canter to trot, and then back up into canter. Getting his trot going at a forward pace and making sure I was on the correct diagonal was the best way of ensuring a clean transition. I find Dante gets quite wound up and flustered if I over-exaggerate the canter aids or make too much of a fuss when asking him to transition up.

Once the canter is achieved I cantered him 6-7 strides as instructed by Sue, then asked him to go down into trot. This is were I began to get sloppy. I would drop my shoulder and both of us would almost plonk down into the trot. Instead Sue instructed me to sit up tall as I begin the downward transition and keep my leg on to ensure he keeps moving forward in his trot. The most important thing for me to remember with this exercise is to make sure I am trotting on the correct diagonal & at a steady forward trot before transitioning up into canter, doing all of this incorrectly really puts Dante off balance. Over time I hope this will become better for us, I have been practicing ever since! 

Jumping 

We finished up our lesson with a few jumps. Always good to end with something he loves to do! I wont lie, I haven’t jumped properly in what feels like a year, so I am slowly building up my confidence again and with Sue’s lessons I will be back in no time! We began by trotting into a small straight fence with a placing pole in front to help set him up to the fence. He has slight problems with straightness and tends to veer towards the right when he approaches fences. After a few attempts at the jump with the ground pole, which he jumped well, Sue placed V Poles either side of the fence to help with his straightness. This kept him focused on the center of the jump, and you could really begin to see improvements as he approached the fence a few times afterwards! Overall his jumping is always improving, he used to rush a lot on his approach to fences, but he is slowly realising that is not the answer. Practice makes perfect, right?

Below I have included a short video clip of our lesson. Have a look!

What to work on for next Time

  • My DIAGONAL I need to keep an eye on keeping the correct diagonal! I can be dreadful at times especially coming towards the end of a lesson when I tend to be in bits!! 
  • Canter to Trot transitions, sitting up tall instead of flopping down into his trot.
  • Try not to fall off…. Again!
  • Keeping the contact consistent, gaining a proper contact back again after he stretches in walk, before I ask him to do transition back into work.
  • Lunge before riding. 

I feel that Dante & I are finally back on track. Hopefully the progress continues to show in my riding and in his.

With the help of Sue I’m sure we will be there in no time!! 

Have any falls caught on camera? Tag us and show us! If you cant laugh at them afterwards is it really worth it!?

Darielle

#NeighNSlay

Keeping them Busy & Getting the Stride Right ~ Lessons with Coco

(I didn’t get any pictures or videos from this lesson so enjoy some old images I have of Coco which help to demonstrate what I’m talking about 🙂 )

Where we left off

In our last lesson, I was left with 3 things to work on with Coco; her head tossing, getting her to stretch down in walk and get rid of the bunny-hopping in her canter. We had made some headway in 2 out of 3 issues!

  • Her head tossing had completely stopped in walk and trot but was still an issue in canter
  • She rarely bunny-hopped anymore in the canter
  • We still have some work to do in getting her to stretch her neck down

So..on a rainy Friday evening, I kicked off my second private lesson with Sue Byrne. Being a proud mammy, I was looking forward to showing our progress since the last lesson.

We started off with getting the fizz out of Coco (as per usual) so I went for a few laps of the arena. Once that was done we started on some flatwork exercises…

Trotting Circles

I put Coco onto a circle at the C end of the arena. In trot, we worked on gradually bringing her in on a tighter circle and then gradually pushing her back out to a larger circle. This helps improve her balance and also gets her listening to my leg aids.

Trot on Circle

Standard Flatwork Exercises

We then moved on to doing a variation of different schooling exercises; large 20 metre circles, figures of 8, transitions and walking on a long rein. I found the long rein particularly useful as the aim was to encourage Coco to really stretch herself out over her back.

A Basic Dressage Test

Eventually we put it all together to make a basic dressage test. Sue called the movements out to me as I rode and we found that Coco really enjoyed herself! The variation of exercises kept her sharp and it meant that she couldn’t anticipate what I was going to ask her so she had to listen to me. We were then tasked with finding a dressage test which we would have to practice and then show to Sue in our next lesson.

Screen Shot 2017-06-08 at 22.01.00
Part of the dressage test I’ve chosen to learn for our next lesson

Polework

Next we moved onto some trot poles which were set up in the middle of the arena. We trotted over them on each rein, changing rein each time she did these much better than last time! Sue then removed the middle pole to make it a canter exercise. When we started this, Coco’s head tossing came back into play as it always did with canter work. The exercise was then elevated to a jumping exercise…

Polework
Check out our blogpost about this exercise

Jumping

Sue set up a jump using the current set up a small upright and placing poles either side of the jump. Coco always gets a bit fired up when it comes to jumping and her head tossing gets A LOT worse although we discovered that she was tossing her head when she was unbalanced so Sue advised I should pick her up and move her on which did help. Once we fixed this however, our next issue was me..I just couldn’t place her to the jump. 

FullSizeRender 4

Getting the Stride Right

As I’ve mentioned before, this is something I have always struggled with. I have days where I can get it right nearly every time and days where I just can’t pick it. It’s incredibly frustrating and even more so when it’s a youngster I’m riding. They rely on us so much to get it right so I end up feeling really guilty when I mess it up. 

Anyway, to help with my problem Sue suggested the age-old solution of counting the strides out loud. Of course this is something I have done so much in the past but for some reason, when I count 1, 2, it completely throws me and I end up missing the stride completely. So instead of counting 1, 2, we counted 1, 2, 3, 4 (I’m not entirely sure what the difference is in my own head), and it worked a treat. As soon as I started doing this Sue could see the difference. As I counted, I was subconsciously able to keep Coco in a rhythm by slowing her down when I felt her get fast which meant I could read my stride and place her perfectly to the jump. And with that, we finished the lesson for the day. 

What to work on for next time:

  • No more laps of canter before a session
  • Learn & practice a preliminary dressage test nail that walk on the long-rein
  • Head Tossing in the canter

Despite the weather I had a good, productive lesson with plenty to keep both of us busy until our next lesson with Sue.

Make sure to keep an eye out for my blogpost on Coco’s 3rd Private Lesson…it’ll be an interesting one!!

Orla
#NeighnSlay

Coco’s First Private Lesson ~ Lessons with Coco

Where we were before the lesson

Before my first private lesson Coco had developed a bit of a head tossing issue. I’ll go into more details about this in a Head Tossing post but essentially what started out as a problem with teeth turned into a habit to avoid doing work. So this was something that I really wanted to get a professionals help on as the last thing I want is a heady horse unwilling to accept the contact. Coco also has a small napping issue when she first gets into the arena. It doesn’t happen all the time but if she’s in that mood it can be very irritating to push her out of. She also has a bit of a problem with picking up the correct canter lead on the right rein and tends to get excited by polework. This is just what I can think of right now but as you can see, we have a lot to work on but that’s why you get lessons right? Enter my new instructor, Sue Byrne, who came highly recommended by Darielle and some other friends. She absolutely didn’t disappoint.

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The Start Getting the baby out of the way

I arrived into my lesson, excited and rearing to go as I couldn’t wait to have a lesson that was solely dedicated to me, my youngster and our problems. I mounted up and wondered if today might be the day that Coco would behave herself. This was wishful thinking as Coco proceeded to nap towards the gate and start her bunny hopping in protest of the work she was about to be asked to do. At the advice of my instructor I pushed her out of it in a light contact until she started moving forward. This was something I had been doing to stop the napping so I was glad to know that at least I was doing something right. After that Coco decided she didn’t want to just walk and she didn’t want to trot, she wanted to go fast. So with the go ahead from Sue I set off for 3 laps of the arena in canter (which unintentionally accelerated into a full on gallop down the longside) with a light seat. Once I felt her tire, I put her on a large 20 metre circle until she was ready to stop. And from there my horse was ready to work.

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Exercise 1: Walking on a circle 

Probably the most simple and basic exercise you can do but one that’s never to be underestimated. I walked Coco on a circle while keeping her on the contact. Any time she tried to toss her head, she got a quick chug on the inside rein to remind her to listen and keep her head still. When she relaxed into the contact I would give with the inside rein to tell her that yes, that’s what I was asking for. From there it was all about getting her to stretch down. 

IMG_1348

Exercise 2: Trotting Poles

Next we tried some trotting poles. Something I had done with Coco numerous times before but definitely needing more practice. Sue set up two sets of 3 trot poles on the diagonal, either side of the arena. We did a figure of eight from one set to the other trying to keep a rhythm…trying being the operative word. When Coco got to the first set of purple poles, she would pop into canter. No matter how relaxed and steady she was going in, as soon as she hit that first pole she would break into canter. When it came to the other set of yellow poles on the other side of the arena she was much better. 

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Exercise 3: Canterwork 

Coco’s canterwork needs a fair bit of, well, work. At the moment she has trouble picking up the correct canter lead on the right rein, she’s also very bunny-hoppy and she tosses her head quite a bit so with all that, we decided that what we wanted from today was to get her into a nice flowing canter. To do this we started a series of transitions from trot to canter and back down to trot again. I asked for canter out of one corner and then brought her back to trot at the next corner, then asked for canter again in the following corner. When doing this on the right rein we didn’t worry about what canter lead she picked up as the focus was on getting her to stop bunny-hopping and to keep her moving forward. Once she relaxed into the exercise she gave me exactly what I was asking for and she started picking up the correct lead too! 

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Exercise 4: Canter Poles

Next we moved onto some canter poles. Sue set up a simple exercise. Two poles, one stride apart. The first few times we did the exercise Coco got quite fast and bolted over the poles. After doing it a few times she gradually calmed down and started coming back to me.

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Exercise 5: Jumping

Before this lesson I hadn’t done much jumping with Coco, just the odd small cross pole here or there so I was really excited about doing some proper jumping. We started off with a small upright with a placing pole one stride out. The first time we jumped it, she met the placing pole ok but was a bit flat so she knocked the pole forward and when she got to the actual jump, she kind of didn’t even realise it was a jump. She treated it more like a canter pole so barely lifted her legs and cantered through it. We did it a few more times and got in or around the same result each time. I really struggled to place her correctly to the jump, it’s always been something that I’ve had problems with. We tried it on the other rein a few times and finally we started getting somewhere. I was able to read the stride better and Coco got a grasp on the fact that we were jumping and not just going over canter poles. Her last jump she jumped perfectly so we left her at that.

3 Things to Work on for next time:
  • Getting Coco to stretch her neck out long and low in the walk to help her relax
  • Sue advised that to help stop Coco’s head tossing, I should give a quick little chug on the inside rein every time she went to throw her head. Once she drops her head I then need to give with the inside rein. 
  • For Coco’s canterwork, I need to not worry too much about making sure she’s on the correct canter lead, but more of achieving a flowing canter with no bunny-hopping.

All in all, I really enjoyed my first private on Coco. It was exactly what we needed to get our arses in gear.

Keep an eye out for my blogpost on my second private lesson. Coming Soon!

Orla

#NeighnSlay

Tatts 2017

Darielle here!

This weekend, is Tatts weekend! We here at No Bucking Way are so excited, neither myself or Orla have been before so we have no idea what to expect. So with that, I have done a bit of research about what is happening and have listed our top 5 riders to watch over the weekend. But first…

Tatts, What Actually Is It?

Tattersalls International Horse Trials & Country Fair (aka. Tatts) is taking place the 31st May – 4th June 2017. An annual event, it is one of the biggest sporting events held in Ireland.  It combines three equestrian disciplines Dressage, Cross Country and Show Jumping. However, the event itself caters for more than just the typical horse lover, it also has a shopping village, (I will be sure to splurge a little there!) it has a kids zone, this includes train rides & pony rides and a waggliest tail competition for the dogs!  We have decided to attend on Saturday which is Cross Country Day! From speaking to a few friends that go every year, one of the best spots for watching the Cross country is the picnic area as this is normally located near the water jumps. We’re considering bringing rain jackets!

7 Things to Know before you go: 

  1. The Hound Parade takes place on Sunday in The Irish Independent Main Arena
  2. The Novelty Dog Show takes place Saturday @ 2.00pm and Sunday @ 12.00pm. Competitions include, most waggly tail, dog with the best trick, best fancy dressed and so much more!
  3. Walk the course. This year it is deigned by FEI Cross Country designer and former Olympian Mr Ian Stark.
  4. This year the XC course got a total make-over, competitors will no doubt be doing a lot more course walking than most past years.
  5. The Water Fence Bar. This can be found beside the water fence complex in the Mitsubishi Picnic Square and open on Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 12-6pm.
  6. The Shopping Village! Open from 10am-7pm each day (woo-woo) it has up to 90 concession stands, a seating area & food stalls
  7. Buy Tickets online for 20% discount off regular price!!

Tatts Tickets (Kids under 12 go FREE)

Click To View  Tatts Daily Timetable

Click to view the course Map 3* Course Map – XC

Wanna have a go at one of Tatts dressage tests? FEI 3* 2015 Test A Give it a go!! See if you have what it takes!

So without any further delay, below I have outlined who I will be keeping a keen eye out for over the weekend, a mixture of Irish & British riders. Have a read below!

SARAH ENNIS (IRE)

Another great Irish event rider, Sarah is based in Dunboyne Co. Meath so will be returning to her hometown for the Tatts event! Sarah has been a member of many International Irish teams, with a HSBC World Ranking of 18th, she has years of experience in the business and with that amazing background and recently having great success at Belton International Horse Trials, she makes the list as one to definitely watch.

JONTY EVANS (IRE)

Another Irish rider to watch (we are just so talented)! Very excited to see this pro in action. Having finished 9th in the 2016 Olympic Games, the best placed finish for the Irish that year, Jonty recently went on to set a national record at four-star level in dressage on the Friday of Badminton 2017 with a score of 37.2 penalties. Wonder if he’ll be able to set any new records this weekend!

ZARA TINDALL (UK)

Across the pond we go! Zara (Phillips) Tindall, granddaughter to Her Majesty the Queen – she has such an amazing eventing track record! Zara was a member of the two British teams that won silver at the 2012 and 2014 Olympic Games where she placed 8th individually. It will be spectacular to watch how she tackles Tatts! 

RACHEL ROBINSON (UK)

Eventer Rachel Robinson what an inspiration, she seems to be superwoman having a full time job, children & having the time to compete, I aspire to be like her like how does she do it!!! With that in mind I definitely want to see what she’s made of competing this year at TATTS from looking at some of her pics she looks like a badass!!!  

WILLIAM FOX-PITT (UK)

He’s coming to Tatts!! I think literally every horse crazed person has heard of this man! One of the most successful event riders in the world, he is a LEGEND!! His most recent competition was at Houghton where he placed 7th so I am super excited to see how he does this weekend! 

Amongst a number of other riders to keep an eye out for include Mark Todd, Tim Price & Ben Hobday!

I don’t know about you, but I have gotten myself so excited about the weekend and our first trip ever to Tatts! I hope to get a good few pics & follow ups on my top 5 riders above!! Keep an eye on our Instagram page, we plan on walking the Cross Country Course!

#tatts2017 #seeyouthere

Last but not least a huge Best of luck to all Irish Eventers competing this year!!

Darielle

#NeighNSlay

Summer Bargains

It goes without saying that everyone loves a bargain, I personally would much  prefer spending hours in a horse shop than shopping for myself these days.

Such a Guilty Pleasure!!

As we come into the summer season, whether you are travelling out to shows or staying home in your yard, the change in weather will mean a change of rugs, and a change from using certain things that scream out winter.

I will run through a few necessities, click to link in blue to be brought straight to the sellers website so you can lap up the bargains going around!!

May Bargains Online & In Store

waterproof rug
Waterproof Rugs!! Ideal for summer in Ireland, these are very light with loads of space so perfect for popping over tack while you warm up before any big events. They retail at €50 and go up to size 7’0. To Buy Click HERE!

 

fly fringe
Fly Fringes! They look hilarious, but they do help your horse keep the flies away. They are also only 99cent per fly veil!!! available from Holmstead Saddlery – Fly Fringes
plus vital
I don’t know about you but with the warm weather lately, I have really been looking after and caring for the horse’s feet! Hoof Care is so important. Coming into the summer their feet tend to get very dry, as there is not much moisture in the ground from sunny spells!! Lash this Plusvital Hoofcare once a day and their hooves will be looking fab!! Retails from €21.99, regular hoof oil/conditioner does the trick also! Click To Buy!

 

 

saddle pad
TRI Show Season Special!! Buy any Turfmaster Saddle pad from €29.95, and you can buy the matching veil set for €9.99!! Offer ends 26th May, call in store to avail of this AMAZING offer!!
cooler
Not only the perfect cooler, but perfect for travelling also! Lots of sizes still available on Sports Direct, very reasonably priced from €39.90 Click To Buy
76704403_l
Travel Boots!! Some people swear by them, some people hate them. Available in black or navy these travel boots from Sports Direct are a steal for only €36. All sizes available Click To Buy

 

01492902_l
Another cooler rug for an amazing Bargain from Sports Direct, at just €30! Matching travel boots are also available, I may have splurged on this one!! Click To Buy

 

s-l400
Fly Rugs, these have been IMPOSSIBLE to find!! I tend to turn to Ebay or Amazon when I cant find anything, as long as you buy from the UK they tend to only take 3-5 working days to be delivered, this retails at £25.99 but reviews look great, I will definitely be buying!! Click To View

 

 

Hopefully some of you have picked up a few new bits from looking at the above. I know I did! Next on my list is a new set of tendon boots!!

We feel its only fair to share your bargains when you find them so we’ll be doing monthly Bargain Blogs! Feel free to share your bargains in the comments!

Peace Out & Happy Shopping!!

Darielle

#Neigh&Slay

Tips to Slow down a Fresh Youngster

Being a hot blooded mare, Coco can be a bit fired up at the beginning of a session. It used to make it quite difficult to get any work done as I ended spending most of my time in the saddle fighting for her attention. So I needed to come up with some new ideas to control my speedster…

Give them a lunge

An oldie but a goodie. Lunging is probably the most obvious answer. If your horse is feeling a bit fresh, give them a 10 minute lunge to get some of that energy out before you hop in the saddle

Lunge_bucking

Take a few laps
If your horse isn’t settling sometimes the easiest solution is to let them run. Coco has a habit of bunny hopping, napping towards other horses and running into canter when she’s feeling a bit fresh so when she’s like this I just let her canter. Keeping her on the outside track, I go into a light seat and keep her in a controlled canter until she feels ready to stop. Works a treat every time…

Gallop Gif

Keep them moving
Horses like Coco need to be kept thinking. You have to stay one step ahead of them so for the first 10 minutes of your session do plenty of circles, loops, changes of rein and of course plenty of transitions. Keep them guessing.

keepmoving

Poles, Poles, Poles
Poles are my best friend. They are the perfect tool to get your horse focused and listening to you. When Coco was going through her very difficult phase, poles were the only thing that gave me a sense of control. I would set out three trot poles and focus on these and these alone. I would walk over them and between them and then trot them straight and eventually work up to figure of eights around and between them. You both need to concentrate to do the exercise clean so its perfect for getting your horse focused on what you’re asking them to do.

poles

Hopefully you might find some of these ideas useful. If you have any of your own tips, please share in the comments. I’m always open to new ideas!

Orla

#NeighnSlay

Horses & Young Kids

Why hello lovely horse friends, as many of you may be aware, I have a 4 year old son Scott! Until recently, he was not too fond of the idea of coming up to see the horse when I would, he would come up to the yard with me and want to stay in the car or would sit across the yard away from the stable just to keep himself out of harms way. I am not sure if it was his age but over the last two months he has really grown into himself, he has gained this confidence boost and to my delight he finally wants to get involved with “Mommy & her horse”!!

As many of you reading this may have had the same issues as myself, I have put together a few pointers below for ways to get your children active & involved with yard duties!

Give them a ‘Special’ Job

When I muck-out Dante’s stable, its very time consuming, there is nothing worse than having Scott standing outside the stable door (do keep in mind that I never have Dante in the stable while I muck him out while Scott is around) asking how much longer is it going to take so I being extremely clever invented the best idea EVER, I gave him the most important job any little boy could have, he had his own special thing that only he could do. He sweeps Dante’s stable floor!! This is his thing, the thing he can do the best! Making kids feel like they are great at something boosts there self esteem, and well sneakily saves you from doing the job so give it a go! Assign your kids with there own ‘Special’ job next time you bring them to the yard, make them feel important!

Make Everything Fun

Wheel-barrow rides. YES I said it, and Scott loves it!! To my benefit it helps me squash the straw into the wheelbarrow when he sits on it so that I can fit more in instead of making two trips!! Who doesn’t love a good bit of fun, make games out of the simple things! It will only make the jobs more fun for everyone!

Involve them

Involve your kids. Let them help make up your horses feed, let them pour in the oil or help with the scoops, even if it is something as simple as mixing it up in the bucket any help is good help! It will also show your kids that it is important to look after animals, that they need to be fed & cared for. (Saves you from buying a pet fish!!) Scott picks up on the smallest things,  its crazy! If he sees Dante’s water bucket empty he will without thinking say Dante needs a drink. Its amazing what young kids can pick up on!

Don’t Force them to do anything they Don’t want to do

Don’t push your child to do anything the don’t want to do let them figure it out themselves. Just because you love horses and being around them doesn’t mean your child will also! This also goes for horse riding lessons!! Everyone learns at their own pace! Let your child decide what they want to do, Scott has decided he will start horse riding when he is 5, that’s what he will tell you anyways, no doubt each year it will continue to drag out. in my opinion, there is no point in forcing him to do something he doesn’t want to do!

So to conclude… As much as I love bringing Scott up to the yard, it also petrifies me having him up there, like OMG if anything ever happened. Dante is great with Scott, he stands still while Scott pets his nose/screams in his face, he has a great temperament but I would never trust him 100%. Always keep those eyes on the back of your head open! Kids are curious and you never no what they could get up to especially with other horses around!

One last thing, set some rules for your child/children for when they go up to the yard, I have 4 simple rules that Scott goes by;

  1. Never Walk behind a horse
  2. Don’t Shout or jump around when your near a horse
  3. Be Gentle
  4. Do what Mommy/Daddy says!

Thanks for reading & do remember, just because you have horses and you love being around them, don’t automatically assume your kids will too!

If you have any more pointers on keeping your kids amused up in the yard, please do share!

P.S. As the Boyfriend isn’t fond of the horse, all of the above applies to him also!!

#Neigh&Slay

Darielle

Youngsters, a constant learning curve

We’ve pulled together a fresh batch of tips & tricks we’ve picked from some recent experiences…

It’s ok to go off plan

We’ve all been there; you’ve set out a session plan and put out your poles. You mount up only to find that the ready-to-learn youngster you had the other day is nowhere to be found. Instead you have an unwilling and stubborn baby who is not in a cooperative mood. And that’s ok because that’s young horses. They’re not always going to want to do what you had planned so sometimes you need to go off script and do something else. And sometimes that something else is hopping off and trying again another day.

Don’t measure yourself against the 4yo next door

If you’re in a big yard there’s bound to be at least one other youngster among the herd of liveries (in our case there was at least 4 at one time). When this happens there’s always the temptation to judge your horses progress against these other horses why isn’t my horse jumping a course of fences yet?” or I’d love to be able to bring my youngster to their first show too” but this is never a good idea. Every horse is different and needs to progress at their own pace. For example, Darielle & Dante did their first show a few months ago whereas Orla & Coco are yet to attempt a course at all. This is just how it goes sometimes, if you start rushing your horse to do things they’re not ready for, you risk scaring them off completely and giving yourself a world of difficulty to get them back to where they were. Just remember to go at your own pace and you and your horse will get there when you’re ready. 

Max. 2 days hard riding per week

This is so important to remember when you’re bringing on a youngster. It’s so easy to forget that your horse is really only a baby and too much hard work can result in them turning sour and becoming unwilling to learn. To help avoid this we recommend: maximum 2 days hard work, 2 days off, and 3 fun or easy days mixing lunge work and hacking. You really need to be strict with yourself when it comes to this but it will pay off in the long-run. 

Hack in the Arena

Given the nature of young horses it can sometimes be difficult to get out for a hack. Maybe your horse won’t hack alone just yet and you can’t find a willing partner to join you or maybe you just don’t have safe roads or a track to venture out to. If any of this applies to you, there is always the option of hacking in the arena. This is something that never occurred to me until my last lesson but I’m so very grateful for it now. All you do is walk around the arena for 10 or 15 minutes..and that’s it. Don’t be tempted to pop into a small trot or anything difficult just walk. If you have a horse like Coco (easily exciteable by other horses/spooky/quick on her toes) this has so many benefits. Not only does it teach them that the arena doesn’t always mean work but if you’re doing it in a busy arena it helps your horse to realise that they don’t have to be doing what all the other horses are doing, that they can be chilled and do their own thing. It also gives you the opportunity to work on getting them long, low and relaxed in the walk so they can really stretch their back muscles which is always a good thing.

Sometimes you’ve just got to let them canter

This is such a simple and seemingly obvious idea, yet you’d be surprised how many people don’t realise how much simpler their life on their horse could be. Coco is a pretty buzzed horse a lot of the time and no matter how much lunging I do before I ride, she will still arrive at the arena with an abundance of energy. Ill bring her into trot and after a few strides she will attempt to pop into canter. I learned very quickly that fighting her when she’s like this is pointless and tends to result in a full blown tantrum. So I’ve discovered that the best thing to do is to let her canter. Do a few laps around the arena in a controlled but free canter and your horse will let you know when they’re ready to stop. Just be sure to warn your fellow riders of what you’re doing before you get going.

We hope you found our few pointers helpful and as always if you have any tips of your own please share by commenting below!

Orla & Darielle

#NeighnSlay