It’s not about being the best, it’s about being better than you were yesterday

I always feel super my first ride at home after a lesson, I have that “don’t worry, I’ve got this” feeling when I get on. Honestly I’ve been having so much fun working with Arnie lately, time literally passes so quickly in the morning.

My day usually starts out jumping out of bed energetic around 5am knowing I have enough time to ride Arnie before I’m off to work. Best way to start the day.. Am I right !?! Don’t worry some mornings are a real struggle. I’ve put it down to these are the days Arnie has off and therefore not motivated to get out of bed. Arnie and I are most defiantly creatures of habit, we have a set time in the morning that we work. We are usually all over the shop on a weekend when our rides are in the afternoon, it’s just not part of the routine! We are both a bit lazy I guess you could say 🙂

One of the advantages to working Arnie straight out of the stable early in the morning is he has energy and lots of it, I just have to direct it! Without a doubt I have a bit of a laugh to myself when I ask for our first walk- trot transition its huge, it’s a power lift off see ya later moment. So, since my lesson it’s been great confidence boost to keep playing with the tempos. I have to be honest he pretends not to register what I’m asking for the first dozen strides. Then he soon comes back and listens.

I feel like we are in a good place at the moment with our training, I feel slowly we are getting everything together bit by bit. Can’t rush these things right!? The last few weeks have been a whirlwind, Arnie and I are going to be part of the life after racing display on Miracle Mile night at Menangle Paceway. Can’t wait I’m super excited! I got interviewed as part of an article coming out in The Land this week too! Oh My Gosh! I was so nervous I honestly cannot recall what I even said, so I’m a tad nervous to read the article when it comes out. I just hope I answered all the questions the best I could, I kept playing the questions back over my mind a few days after thinking geez I could have had such a better answer to that! It was my first interview I’m pleased the way it went, if I ever do another interview I have some great answers lined up now – lol!

Not only have we got the promotion of the life after racing happening at the moment, I decided to bite to bullet and enter for Equifest.. Why? Honestly I have no idea, I’m probably going to get the biggest wake up call. But the other side of my brain is saying, well why shouldn’t we enter. Arnie and I have been working super hard and everything is falling into place bit by bit each ride, each week I feel like we are getting stronger and getting somewhere, getting closer to achieving those scores I’ve been visualising about.  Nevertheless, it’s going to be a huge learning curve one way or another!

I just have to remember each day. It’s not about being the best, It’s about being better than you were yesterday. Such true words.

Happy Riding 🙂

Balance

I was so excited to have my first lesson for 2017 at the KTW Dressage Clinic run by Warringah Dressage Club at Pindari Stables. Thank you for the amazing lesson Kate, Arnie and I always feel like stars after our lessons!

I feel like Arnie and I have been working pretty well leading up to our lesson, I’m starting to branch out and feel more comfortable doing different exercises I wouldn’t normally do. However, there are a few rides that I’m sure everyone can relate. When you are riding alone day in day out you tend to fall into this trap where you do the same thing day in and day out. Not meaning too. For me it’s the shoulder in and leg yielding, I was slowly losing control over his shoulders even the more and more I tried to control them I kept losing them to the outside to the right! So, it was great I had a lesson when I did, as I was becoming slowly frustrated with myself…

It was super-hot on Saturday at Pindari, my heartrate on my Fitbit went into overdrive! I’m so fortunate I have a horse that is so willing to please and is more than happy to get the job done regardless on the weather.

Once Arnie was all warmed up we started to work him through a few exercises, we touched on our spirals making the circle smaller make him wait and keeping him balanced. I use to hate doing spirals it was my weak spot, but now I love them! I’ve realised the benefits they have in our work. I do them all the time at home now. It’s actually one exercise I’ve been working on at home in the canter. It’s a great exercise for me to focus on the line I’m riding as I have that awful habit on looking down!

It was great to go over our upwards transitions, walk-trot. This is something we will always have to work on totally our weak spot, also our transitions from canter-trot. Arnie just LOVES to throw in that hind leg into pace. We had a few nice upwards transitions from walk to trot, it does help when I just let him do the transition and I don’t have such a firm aid, it’s almost like he has to figure out which leg he will lead with, it’s that half stride in between the gaits where he thinks about what he needs to do… Slowly getting there, I’m happy we are improving.

I didn’t have a problem with his shoulders during our lesson, I’m so happy. At the same time, why have I been having so much trouble? BALANCE that’s why. I have thrown him of balance, I wasn’t supporting him. I was trying to correct his shoulder but I was making the problem worse, I was literally doing the opposite! Duh- don’t I feel silly!

At home, I was having the troubles to the right with our trot work, I was also experiencing our right canter not being as strong as our left. Same problem. Why? My body is turning left as I’m on the right rein, I’m cantering right but my body is saying let’s canter left Arnie. No wonder why he got a little confused. Arnie is probably glad I had that lesson on Saturday – lol!

We worked on our canter getting that active inside hind, wow he felt amazing during our lesson! Playing around with our tempo in the canter, slowly getting there. He is getting more confident in our canter work.

After a well-deserved walk break we touched on our leg yielding.

I’m so happy how we are progressing, however there are times he just wants to run across. I must say I wasn’t helping him with my shoulders being so unbalanced! The heat did get to me a little bit…  when I had to drop my right shoulder, and raise my left to even and make myself square… I did the opposite. At that point in time with the sun, sweat and determination to ride I completely lost bearing of my left and rights… how embarrassing! It’s ok I managed to fix it. After this I felt more square, which is something we went over at the intelligent riding retreat with Brett Parbery. Focus on yourself being square from the moment when you get on. For some reason my alignment must be out of whack, I honestly feel square but I’m not! Something that I personally need to work on to improve my riding.

As always, we finished in some nice stretchy trot, keeping the tempo changing it making him wait. Just because it’s time to wind down doesn’t mean we can forget about our tempo!

Such an amazing lesson. I can’t wait for Warringah Dressage comp that we have entered for later this month!Fingers crossed 🙂

More photos from our lesson… cause I’m so proud on how we went!

Happy Riding 🙂

 

 

Working off that Christmas belly!

It’s hard to comprehend that Christmas 2016 is done and dusted, new year is just around the corner and it will be 2017. I think the years are flying by too quickly for my liking !!

I trust you had a fabulous Christmas, Arnie enjoys getting into the Christmas spirit 😉 

I gave Arnie approx. 2 weeks off to freshen up, he deserved a mini break after all the hard work he has been doing lately. I was more then ready to start working him again yesterday!

I always start off lunging for a few days, depending on how big a break the horses have (and myself for that matter!).

An easy lunge over a few trotting poles, I love using the WHOLE arena. I set up 2 sets of trotting poles. One set (of 2 poles) for 1 stride in between and the next set I have set up for 2 strides in between. Arnie struggled with the 2 strides in between, but he managed in the end.

Today I tried something a little different, thanks to the Horseland sale just after Christmas I bought a nice new roller and a nice GREEN lunging lead. I warmed him up and then did a few different things with him today. I’ll be honest its been a while since I have used two lunging leads on a horse and worked on any in hand exercises!

It works well for my fitness too so it turns out! Arnie has a pretty big trot… I did have to step into quick jog to keep up – LOL !

We had a pretty fun morning, it was good to work on a few things like a bit of yielding, changing direction, figure 8’s and touched on bringing our trot right back focusing on the centre of gravity Was a bit difficult to master from the ground, but I’m very happy how we went today.

A few more lunging days and we will be back under saddle again chipping away at our goals!

The year that was… the year it will be

Wow I can’t believe in a few weeks I’ll be typing 2017, honestly it does not sink in! Only 2016 just seems real!

Did I achieve everything I wanted during 2016… nope… big fat old NO. Hopefully I’m not the only one. However, if you were to ask me did I achieve everything I wanted in the last few months… YES definitely YES. If only I was in this mind set at the start of 2016.

Finished off 2016 with a training day at one of our local clubs, I ran myself short on time warming up for our first test and it wasn’t very pleasant to ride. So, I would imagine it wouldn’t have been too great to watch!  I was honestly DISAPPOINTED in myself for it!

I made sure I had a better warmup that I needed for my second test…… I was really happy with my warmup and confident to go into our second test. We ended up winning 65.43% the Novice 2.2, even better we scored a 7 for one of our leg yields something I have to admit we STRUGGLE with!

 

Let’s reflect on that positive last few months, which have been amazing. I feel so focused, I feel like I have my goal in mind and its reachable. Each session I have whether I’m riding or lunging I want to have in mind that I am always training, I want to have a purpose.

It’s so damn easy to just go around in circles and not be in the complete zone and just be exercising the horse thinking what should I be doing next, what should I be working on. I’ve felt over the last few months that when I get on I need to focus on myself, my position before I worry about what Arnie is doing. Even when I’m working on different exercises and something isn’t going as smoothly as I have hoped I guarantee it’s my position or my aids that I am using not clearly enough or I am just over complicating it!

I love to read and learn a lot, I have that many books that I have purchased over the last 12 months, and that many links saved that I have watched or waiting to watch. I now feel now over the last few months that I have that confidence for me to do all these different exercises, push outside my own comfort zone to try something that little bit different, yes it might be ugly but hey that’s training! It’s helping both of us in the long run, in that bigger picture. Plus, I’ve been enjoying playing around with all the different exercises…. It’s kinda fun! GP here we come 😉

 

So, where will the beginning to 2017 be taking me? Well, I’m certain I will stay this focused for the start of the year. I want to keep training, keep working on my exercises, keep working through what I need to improve on to make myself better. I really hope to catch up for a lesson (or clinic) before Christmas and then again early in the new year before any of our next dressage comps.

Besides the training in the saddle I’m hoping to have all the things I’ve been working on behind the scenes ready early in the new year. I have this pretty new kick arse website I’ve been slaving over the last few months! It will be ready live before Christmas, I ALMOST have everything ready 🙂  It’s going to be fantastic! With the growing number of Standardbred’s out there in their new life after racing I feel it is important to have a strong support network within our Standardbred community, encouraging, motivating and supporting one another while we raise the bar and making this breed noticed!!!!!!

Till next time, happy riding 🙂

3 Things my OTT Standardbred has taught me!

Arniwho_Standardbred

It has been an amazing journey so far with my beautiful Standardbred boy, but I STILL feel like I have yet so much MORE to accomplish!!  I PLAN to accomplish so much more! Remember no such thing as “I can’t” !

I swear every 3-6 months I look back and reflect on our training and progress, I feel like I know so much more in that 3-6 months then the prior 3-6 months… and so on…it’s a continuing cycle of knowledge.

I honestly feel that Arnie is that “one in a million” horse for me, I’m not talking about scores I see on the result board (that’s a bonus). I’m talking about the journey as a whole, I have never come across a horse that has taught me so much & shaped me into a better rider and still continuing to do so… Also, he has that  “I wanna be human” personality that brings a smile to the stables every day 🙂 Yep he’s pretty cute !

Arniwho_ Standardbred

So here are my three things my OTT Standardbred has taught me!

1. Patience 
Yes patience, it might seem so simple… But patience! Teaching an individual his new career after racing in harness is exciting. BUT it also made me want to pull my hair out at times! In the early days when I just thought to myself… WHY, why can’t you just understand what I’m asking !?! It honestly can’t be that hard!?!
Why can’t you move your shoulders this way, why can’t you leg yield this way and why do you struggle so much cantering on this lead!?!
But as I have learnt over time bring it back to simple terms, simple to me means most effective!  Short and simple! After all it’s all NEW to him!
I have to say one thing to my fellow standardbred riders… DO NOT stress about the pacing, its natural. It’s up to you as the rider to teach them when to use it.
Think of it this way, I’m asking a question and he’s giving me a multiple choice answer. His first answer might not be correct but it’s up to me to let him search for the correct answer and reward.
It might take that little bit longer for him to understand how and why you want him to move his body in this way. But he will soon figure it out, the light will turn on, the penny will drop. It all takes patience, every individual is different, this goes for both horse and rider! Everyone has a different learning style. 🙂
2. Relax and enjoy the training and the progress
Relax, probably a thought far in the back of your mind when things are all going pear shaped. Those sloppy transitions, those pacing strides in between canter and trot…. But funny enough when you relax take that deep breath and think about what you are doing, the hose relaxes.  Just remember to SMILE, it helps 🙂 trust me ! He is only reverting back to what he feels is natural and what he feels is correct!
Thinking about WHY you are asking something and HOW you are asking.
Does he UNDERSTAND what you are asking, make it achievable & enjoyable.
Keeping the aims within reach each session and keeping it positive definitely helps boost his confidence.
For example for me at the moment leg yields and shoulder-ins. Don’t make it hard! Pick a few strides at a time, pick a line, choose an achievable angle, control the pace- keep the impulsion going in a positive way. There is always NEXT time round to start asking for more angle.
3. Reward, Reward, Reward!! KEEP IT POSITIVE !
I always want things to be PERFECT, it frustrated me not having everything “perfect”. . NOT everything is perfect really ate away at me…I use to dwell on my rides, It really did! All I wanted was perfection!  I wanted perfection without putting the hard yards in!HOWEVER as I have learnt over the recent years….nothing is PERFECT, no horse is perfect, no rider is perfect. You have to TRAIN and WORK HARD to make your self close to being perfection!I NEVER use to reward, crazy isn’t it. Such a simple training aid and I wasn’t even considering having it part of my riding!?! Needless to say I reward so much more now! As it has given me more positive results !Even the small things, for example an ordinary transition. Still ” gooood boy” followed by a pat, he tried.. the effort was there, the intention was there.
99% chance it was the rider (yes me!) not setting up and/or asking the transition correctly. As one wise rider (Charlotte, my idol) would say it’s the case of pat the horse slap the rider. BUT I will do the transition again, and again until we make progress or should I say I make progress and it reflects in the horse!?!
I ensure each time I make that effort to reward, rewarding to me is encouraging the horse, letting him know YES you are doing a GOOD job! You want to encourage him with his work, after all it’s a foreign language to him.
Riding isn’t suppose to be a chore, you are to enjoy the journey… otherwise how is your horse suppose to enjoy it!?
Happy riding 🙂
Arnie & I always enjoy a selfie 🙂
 Arniwho Selfie Standardbred

Intelligent Riding…

 

I have had the most amazing week!!
I spent 3 full on days learning from Brett Parbery’s Intelligent Riding Retreat ! Totally amazing!

Learning and listening to Brett & his A Class Team was inspirational.  A massive thank you to Brett, Nat & the team for organising the most incredible experience.

I have to admit I was more then a little nervous when I arrived, not knowing anyone else and spending a full on 3 days learning with everyone was exactly what I needed! Completely out of my comfort zone!
I am so privileged to have met another 13 lovely like minded ladies, no matter what level you are at everyone was so supportive!

I don’t think I have ever taken in so much information!
From inspirations, motivations, body awareness, training knowledge to road mapping goals & everything else in between I have NEVER felt so inspired and felt more on track and have direction towards my goals.

I have a clearer training system & I feel like my riding has been more productive.. I feel more of an intelligent rider 😉
I really enjoyed watching Brett ride in the masterclasses, putting what we have learnt together on the horse.

Plus it’s pretty amazing to see these horses & to watch Brett train!

I met the most lovely 18.3hh warmblood! PPH Zeppelin aka Led, just a gentle giant ! Was amazing to watch him work! A genuine, honest & VERY expressive horse !

I look so tiny next to Led!!!

 

I’ve spent the last few days back at home thinking and going over my goals, plans, motivations, and my training structure.
I’m very happy I have managed to so far adapt and implement what I have learnt with my own horses.
I feel like there is so much more I have learnt at the retreat I’m yet to reflect with my own training. Small steps… Small steps!! Nothing happens overnight !

For example one new training tool I’m going to be adapting ASAP, starting from today actually! Besides focusing on my own riding position and training individually, once a week I am aiming to have my Mum (who more then happy volunteered!) being my eyes on the ground watching and critiquing my training.
Hopefully videoing my rides as well to help me!
So yes I will hopefully be able to put up some more RAW footage of our training, just like it is to share with everyone!

In the meantime here is a little arena goals for us all!

Wouldn’t it be nice to sip away on some bubbly everyday !?!

Till next time.

Happy Riding 🙂

suppleness

What an amazing few weeks its been! Nothing is more satisfying then turning a corner with Arnie ! It was a bit of a last minute decision, I wasn’t entirely sure if Arnie was ready to compete but I’m glad we did decide to go to Castle Hill Show 2 weeks ago.

He warmed up a treat and worked very well in our Show Hunter classes coming away with 3rd Intermediate Show Hunter. We also competed in our ridden Standardbred classes, we came away with 1st Open Ridden Standardbred & Champion Ridden Standardbred.
Besides the results it was a win for us for the day to get out of Arnie’s comfort zone aka the arena! He really feels ‘safe’ in his arena knowing what tests we will be riding on comp day having run through them previously. The BIG space not being in the arena and asking to do a work out he hasn’t practiced before puts him into a bit of a spin!! So it was a very nice feeling to have him so relaxed and happily working around the ring 🙂

 

From Castle Hill we prepared for our lesson on the Thursday that week!
It is FANTASTIC to know how far we have come…Lots more of  connection its great which means we got to work more on suppleness! Yay, stepping up !

We worked on our transitions, which have been bothering me!! The canter- trot transitions I have been struggling with, it’s almost as if I close my eyes tell him to trot and hope for the best! Needless to say after our lesson I feel much better about them now! I always enjoy having a lesson, I always take away as much as I possibly can to work on at home & keep improving !!

We worked on a few exercises to help us, touched on spirals, leg yielding and shoulder-in to help our transitions. As we fall in on the circle through our transitions from canter to trot to the left (I have that feeling it’s both our weak side! )
I’m so happy our shoulder-in’s were going well during our lesson, something I’ve always played around with at home but have never been 100% confident with that work with him.
We left our lesson feeling VERY motivated and everything is falling into place in our work at home- thank you Kate! CAN’T wait to keep chipping away for our dressage comp at the end of November.

 

It was great to have a ride at home and work through the exercises we worked on during our lesson. It sounds so simple, shoulder-in along the quarter line – leg yield to the wall then shoulder-in down the rest of the long side. Sounds so simple but my brain was struggling putting it together ! I get so frustrated with myself when I struggle to wrap my head around things!

But….our transitions are coming together slowly 🙂

I have a few things in the pipeline at the moment which I’m extremely excited about!

One event I’m going to be MORE then happy to share with everyone in about a week! So excited, it really is a rare opportunity to expand my knowledge and help better shape my training & riding.

I’m also putting together some research with other people out there with their Standardbred’s. If you could be so kind to take literally take a minute to read & fill out !

http://www.dressagestandardbred.com/dressage-dreamers-team.html

Happy Riding!

knowledge

The last few weeks have flown! It’s actually not that long until Christmas, where on earth has the time gone !?!

I’ve slowly been bringing Arnie back into work, slow and steady getting him fit and strong, slow and steady wins the race right !?

Lots of lunging, lots of pole work at the trot.  Introducing the pole work at the canter, which he is slowly understanding & gaining confidence!  Encouraging him to engage his core, I always enjoy warming up and cooling down in the same manner. Stretchy trot, always encouraging him to take his nose out and stretch downward while maintaining the impulsion.
Touch wood and whistle everything really seems to be falling into place the last few weeks. I have really kept our training sessions, be it lunging, schooling in the arena or even working out in the paddock, I have kept it short and sweet. Always maintaining the goal and keeping it within easy reach every ride. He really gains a lot of confidence through my encouragement. We have a lesson coming up next week which I’m REALLY looking forward too !!
I’m hoping we keep a clear mind and achieving our goals for a training day at the end of November, realistically there isn’t many days left this year for competitions! Might have to take him to a sneaky hack show in between, for a Show Hunter and a few Standardbred classes ! 🙂

I have just included a picture I found in my news feed on Facebook, I think it really gives a clear picture! Love doing this working on a spiral and leg yielding out when we are cooling down. Arnie just loves it ! Next week it might be something else as our favourite ! 🙂

 

Also, as you might have noticed I have given a new look to my website ! Slowly, very slowly coming together I don’t think I could ever be 100% happy with any design, I always change my mind and like to update to strive for something better !
I have also included a sign up section to my Dressage Dreamers something which I have just launched. Up to date information on our training, training ideas & exercises (from my experience that I find most helpful along the way with my training with Standardbred’s) straight to your mail box !
As my aim (and always will be) sharing our journey with everyone and bring an insight to the ‘outside world’ on how fabulous the Standardbred can be for a life outside racing. Also to any fellow Standardbred riders, bouncing around training ideas that have helped me.
Guaranteed on a daily basis I’m scrolling through Facebook literally stalking the dozen pages I strongly follow for any new training articles. I love to learn, and expand my knowledge in the best way possible. I believe there is always something to take away as knowledge. I hope I can pass on my knowledge on a regular basis.

Till next time, happy riding !
🙂

BACK into it

It has been a fair while between posts ! Arnie has been having a break over the last month & a bit, it wasn’t a planned holiday. Arnie had a fall when riding & injured himself ! (has a slip an a trip in the wet weather!)
He is feeling much better now 🙂 To be honest I think the break did the world of good! BUT he was feeling rather left out around the 3 week mark, he doesn’t take time off well! I think its all the extra one on one attention being worked he was missing!
I have been focusing on my pony who is training & we have just had our first few elementary starts. All very exciting ! It’s also great for me to ride and feel the next level up on the movements, shoulder-in, travers etc. It’s really coming down to my riding, executing the movement correctly. No room for any mistakes at this level, it does play around with your marks! But after riding more at this level I am very much indeed looking forward to working more of these movements with Arnie !

Also, I have been focusing on one of our younger horses we purchased from NZ, Jak who has just turned 4! (arrived in OZ Nov 15) He has a very lovely trainable personality, working him slowly up and prepping him for a few led classes all for experience. He will (hopefully!) be my next up and coming horse under saddle. Arnie has set the bench mark of 10 starts & 1 win, so its up to Jak now to do that before he ‘retires’ although he seems to think he is ‘retired’ at the moment.. Enjoying too much of the good life I think!

Here is a photo of Kiwi Jak, he is just growing into a lovely horse! (Who also doesn’t like to stand still for a few photos !!)

 

Back to Arnie! I’ve been slowly working him up with his fitness & strength, working him over a few poles as well. Working super at by the way! Today we worked on the canter ( on top of a few rounds on the trotting poles) I’m very pleased on how he is progressing after his time off. Mentally & physically (besides a few little extra fat rolls!) he seems to be coming along nicely!

I’m hoping we will be back in the saddle for a few rides in the coming week, I’ll have a few more ‘useful’ updates then!! 🙂 But it is all the work in between that matters as well!

Jak & Arnie together 🙂

ups & downs

What a week, it’s hard to imagine this time last week we had a cold, wet & raining weekend!
We didn’t compete at DNSW Winter Festival, I made the decision not to compete as I felt we didn’t have enough preparation. My arena was quite wet & boggy after all the rain & things were just not going to plan when I got back in the saddle again! We were just a few rides short of ironing out our kinks in the tests. Between transitions not being sharp, dragging leg yields, and a sloppy canter I thought it was best we use this weekend & upcoming week for training in preparation for our next comp! Which we have this weekend coming! (Can’t wait!)

I’ve been trying to get a bit creative with our exercises to help me (yes help me more then Arnie!) as I have been struggling and quite possibly getting a tad lazy ! Not so long ago I discovered Amazon, in among all the amazing books & DVD’s I have purchased I found a great book called “Creative Dressage Schooling” by Julia Kohl, 55 meaningful dressage exercises. I do highly recommend ! I’ve been really struggling in our leg yielding, I’ve been hopeless at preparing for them & somehow I expect them to be perfect !

I have mixed it up a little bit (for my benefit), leg yield inside (I use the quarter line in the arena) to the outside (outside fence of the arena), leg yield outside to X, 10 m circle then shoulder-fore down center line to C (and also in reverse). I think my real struggle is the 10 m circles before the leg yielding, somehow I expect to just turn point and go across ! So for me I have to mentally prep way in advance ensure he (and myself of course) are balanced through the circle. I think after all the wet weather & all the reading it’s allowed me to digest a few issues I need help with!

Today was a great day, also from Creative Dressage Schooling we really worked on our canter transitions. On a 20 m circle more forward into a lengthen canter then back again into a collected canter, really focusing on balancing through the transition & making it a clear transition between the two. We have also been working on our walk-canter transitions, which I am really happy how we are progressing! Picking up the correct lead from walk (big pats for Arnold!), the downward transitions are coming along nicely as well! I really feel the more work we do on our transitions in the canter & our walk – canter it is helping our canter transitions for our tests (Canter – trot), much more balanced & confident.

Much more fun work to do this week in preparation for our competition coming up!
Here are a few snaps from today’s ride, can see him ‘waiting’ nicely in the canter. Very proud of our work ! I can’t wait to reflect back in a few weeks & see our progress.