I didn't start learning to ride until May 2010 and for the entire summer of that year was injured. My first year of riding was not that solid but since April last year, I've not missed a ride. I can walk, sit and rise trot, canter, and have started learning transitions and diagonals on a variety of horses. Come and join me on my adventures with my horsey friends all done with no sight on my part. don't feel afraid to ask me any questions. being blind and a horse rider is new, interesting and very exciting. So I hope you can gain something from reading this.

Tuesday, 10 July 2012


This is a notice that from this point on, I will no longer be posting blogs to this site. Please instead go over to Ride with no eyes or simply type http://ridewithnoeyes.com into your web browser. Thank you for following me so far on this journey on this blogger blog but it is time to move on and make it a better experience for both my readers and myself. Hope you'll join the fun over at ridewithnoeyes.com Marie

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Quiet Ride

I was simply exhausted again this morning and was told I'd be riding Bella. This was more than OK with me as I haven't ridden her in a few weeks. The ride was overall quiet and very uneventful. Trots were good and minus her not cantering, she was being more than cooperative. Someone walked with me on this ride which I wasn't overly impressed by as I've ridden Bella independently for a long time. We didn't have our usual RI as she was off on an hour hack with two ladies and I suspect it was this reason more than anything I was stuck with a walker. Anyway, I got over that fact and as I said was a nice quiet, non eventful ride. On the back lane, I wound her up, by squeezing her and halting her to get her fidgety and then asked for a canter. She almost went then decided against it. Classic Bella! :) I felt somewhat deflated today and it wasn't really about the ride I don't think, not even sure what it was. I stood with Bella, giving her cuddles and then left feeling almost like, why did I just bother? Anyway, onward and forward. Will write more next week. Thanks, Marie

Saturday, 7 July 2012

Sunshine With Shadow

Despite the heavy rain predicted for today, we ended up having a gloriously sunny day, dare I even say almost summer like. It did mean I was sweltering in a waterproof coat. But anyway. I arrived and was asked to brush Shadow which of course I didn't mind in the least. I was brushing him on the fence as the girl looking after him had moved him there while she mucked him out. I discovered he is much easier to brush his face when he's haltered to the fence so actually got some mud off of his face for once which was good. Halfway through, we moved him back to his stable and finished off brushing and tacked him up and we were running late so I jumped on from the ground. I need to practice this much more as I still need a push from someone getting on a 15.3 HH horse. Once mounted, I followed another horse and was walking by myself again today in the glorious sunshine. My trots were fabulous and he was totally listening to me. Our contact was good and I felt so relaxed. We were on a ride with a lot of less experienced riders so I got to canter once on this ride. I was on my own, with one of the other girls running to the end to yell stop when I got there. I gave a squeeze and we got a few strides, then trot, then I squeezed again, another stride and another squeeze, another stride. But I was kind of pleased with this anyway, as he was going when I asked, just not staying and my sitting trot was pretty awesome. My RI was really pleased with me actually. She said I looked good and relaxed. I was reading a piece on Horse and country about heels down in canter and it seems I'm not the only one to have any of these issues. The strike off in the canter seems to be my biggest problem, or it has been. It possibly still is but I've not seen it for a few weeks. I'm just totally relaxed for some reason. More trotting and his energy was great. He did try to have a few snacks today which made me giggle. Nice try Shadow. Once back at the yard, I untacked him and gave him a few cuddles. Then was chatting to another girl and she had to jump off and take the saddle off of her horse and put it on a different horse so I offered to hold him and there was no hesitation or call for someone else, I stood stroking this lovely horse while holding him still. She'll not know what that meant to me. I was watching a jumping lesson before I left. My rI and I were chatting about para show jumping during my ride today and she had some really good and quite accurate ideas about how it could be done. I talked about the show jumper, Peter Charles recently leading a jumper who was blind around a show jumping course in France. He's done this before too, with Britain's first blind show jumper, who is also from my neck of the woods. :) It was good to hear her talk so positively about it. Just hope one day I can try my hand at jumping too. Anyway, that's today's ride and hoping tomorrow is another lovely, relaxed and enjoyable one. :) Thanks, Marie http://menmedia.co.uk/manchestereveningnews/news/s/1422548_leap-of-faith-blind-showjumper-represents-great-aunt http://www.horseandcountry.tv/ask-the-expert/help-how-do-i-keep-my-heels-down-canter

Friday, 6 July 2012

Could Technology Help Me in A School?

I've used an iPhone for three years now. Until recently it was the only product on the market with a built in screen reader, meaning I could use the phone, out of the box, with no further charges to me as a consumer. Sure, they're slightly more expensive, but if I had bought a nokia that could have run Talks or Mobile speak, the screen readers that ran on those Simbine 60 or 80 series, it would have probably cost me around the same price for an iPhone. I advocate mainstream products building in accessibility and Apple have done a great job with this. What does this have to do with riding you ask? Well, many GPS apps are out there now and some are pretty nifty in the way you can mark "favourites". I've used one particular app, designed for the blind to help me merely get to the yard. I don't use Bailey as you all know going to my current riding school, so I have to use the cane. There was a point I always would get lost on and end up taking the wrong dirt track to my riding school and getting lost. But Ariadni helped with this. There is a bush I have to square up against to get the lane that takes me to my riding school, I marked the bush as a favourite and also marked the path so I know when it beeps at me, I'm on the right path. I only needed this for a while, I can now do the route without my GPS app. Minus the bus stops but that's another unrelated issue. I had an idea while I was sitting here today. These apps use satellite navigation and coordinates in a lot of situations, and so if I went on a hack with someone, couldn't I essentially plan out the route with the iPhone assisting me. That is why I was asking about the Protecting your iPhone on Hay Net I would never try to ride alone unless there was a protected hack route on land I was totally familiar with. And that is a mile away in the future. But this idea got me thinking again. I'm not sure this is possible with current GPS apps, as the size of a school is not that big but could an App be developed to help a blind person learn the school? I'd love to try and see if the GPS apps I know of currently that support the favourites feature could do this but I highly suspect the area is too small for the app to map out, essentially a school and guide the blind user around from letter to letter to learn the school. Those people skilled at these things may have a better idea but I was just thinking to myself, could the iPhone, a piece of technology that has revolutionised my mobility life along with Bailey assist me in horse riding too? Could an app be designed to teach a blind user a visual area like a riding menage and map out all the letters of an arena or needed, skipping way ahead, help them judge a jumping course through feedback of a GPS app? Visualising for blind people is not that easy so we need cues from our other senses, in this case sound. As many have told me, blind riders get to know the school layout in Dressage with someone calling from each letter or someone telling you what letter you are at? But what happens when you're alone and practicing, you and your horse? Could technology then assist? I'm very curious of this idea. I know its all a little rambled but I'm just throwing curiosities out there. :) Thanks, Marie

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Compliments and carrots

Today was drizzly but that did not dampen my spirits as I headed to the yard. I chose to ride Kenny, the lovely coloured gelding that I don't ride that often. He stood nice and quiet as I put his bridle on and once I mounted him we waited for a while for everyone to get ready. I've always been slightly put off by this horse as he has a considerable bounce but since riding the pretty Welsh section D, my love for bouncier horses has increased. This particular horse is my RI's personal favourite. So if you do something wrong on him, you feel mighty bad on her watch. Well, I do anyway. We did the farm route today with my usual RI and we were following Shadow so had to keep half halting young Kenny as he was quite eager today. Our trots were forward and continuous which has been an issue between him and I in the past. I've struggled to get him into trot and keep him there but he was brilliant today. We turned onto the field, I didn't have anyone walking or leading me today, and we asked for a canter. First time, we didn't get one, second time we got a lovely one and my RI said she was very pleased with it. We turned around at the bottom of the field and cantered back up. He was so awesome and my heels were apparently down the whole time, I was totally going with him, and wait for it, I looked good on him! I was super pleased to get that particular compliment. My RI has never been one to say things for the sake of it and has always been good about giving me good, constructive feedback so for her to say those things made my day. More trotting, down the cobbled path and another trot and another canter on the back lane. On this last canter, felt the heels sneaking up, pushed them down and got back into rhythm. So happy about this as this horse has been, for me, harder to canter on because of his bounce but I'm excited on what is to come. He was pretty responsive today which was nice and not looking to anyone else for guidance, just me. :) as we were walking back to the yard, my RI said she was pleased with all of my canters, they were collected and very neat and I was really going with him now. I'd done a good job. So I was pleased. I dismounted and started handing out carrots after I'd put him back in his stable and loosened his girth and tied up his reins as he was going out on another ride soon. Kenny, Bella, Shadow and even my good friend Topaz all got to snack on some carrots. Shadow seemed to be a bit moody with me, maybe he's mad I haven't ridden him this weekend but I walked up to Topaz's stable and called his name and to the door he came. It was so nice! I love seeing their personalities come out when you're on the ground with them. So until next time, Thanks for reading, Marie

Saturday, 30 June 2012

subtleness, Bonding, and Confidence Building

Considering I only had one ride today, I learnt a great deal about myself as a rider, about my progress and about the horses I ride. I've thought for the longest time that my bond with Shadow was very great. The gorgeous, white friend first gave me a little indication of our friendship when I walked into his stable just over a year ago to brush him and I couldn't hear him munching hay, or moving around. I stuck my hand out of the door, as at the time he was in the corner stable to check I was in the right one and not actually attempting to brush a non existent horse. I quietly called his name and incredibly this gorgeous, intelligent creature touched his nose to my hand, almost to say, "hey, friend, I'm right here". I've only experienced this amazing feeling with my guide dog Bailey and my nephew who on several occasions now, despite his lack of communication skills verbally, has moved into my open hands when I was looking for him and touched my hand to a fallen farm animal toy on his play mat so I could return it to standing. The beauty of children and animals is their upmost nature of innocence. Their sense that something isn't quite right as you're not looking them in the eye as other people do and their cognition that takes that information and instantly knows that somehow, they need to attract your attention to them in another way. I guess some people would say what Shadow did a year ago was just a coincidence and I should stop looking too much into things. But every time I ride that magnificent creature, I feel a sense of care from him. He takes care of me on his back and I know most horses do the same for their riders but I know he knows I need him to be a little more careful with me as I can't use my own eyes to prevent dangerous situations. This has what made me think today that ground work with horses, especially for disabled riders is essential. If I hadn't insisted on learning to brush, tack and untack and feed the horses where possible, I don't know whether Shadow and the others would truly know. As if they were being mounted from the mounting block, it's likely eye contact would never be an issue. But that day in Shadow's stable, he knew I was looking for him, and he knew I couldn't see him so he stretched his long neck and touched my hand, so gently to tell me he was there. But he had learnt that while I was on the ground, not on his back. I'm bringing this old event up as something happened today that made me remember this incident and reiterate my beliefs about horses intelligence and ability to know things that some humans wouldn't give them credit for. I chose to ride Topaz today. I had my safe rides last week on Shadow and I knew that despite not feeling nervy about riding him again, the longer I put it off, the harder it may become to get back on him. It was a really sunny morning so I mounted him and we set off on the ride. I had someone with me today and the young lady who walked with us was great! I didn't ask for someone to come with me but in some respects I'm really glad that happened. We followed another horse and went on the road routes. I felt secure in the saddle today, not at all like the last fateful ride with him. His trots were beautiful and for the first two, my walker ran alongside me. By the last trot, I felt comfortable enough to trot by myself. My contact was incredible with him today. He has a very long stride so even though he may not be going very fast, he covers a lot of ground so half halts come in useful with him. My hands felt light and the contact springy. He was so responsive and this just proves the keyness of subtly with horses. I kept my hands light and the movement I was using was so slight and yet he responded far better than with a heavy hand. This also helped with my own relaxed state to. The girl taking this ride, as our usual RI wasn't there today, happened to be the poor girl who was on the last ride when I fell from Topaz. I did make her a solemn promise I'd do my best not to fall today. She was so glad I was getting back on him and said I was right to do it sooner rather than later. She asked, halfway through the ride if I was going to canter? It wasn't really a question but an I-Hope-you-are statement. I said I would definitely try but asked if my walker would come with me. I was glad she did, not that my confidence was half as bad as I thought it would be, but because I got some amazing feedback from her. I asked for a canter, and we got one stride. I know this both because I felt it and because she said he'd put a leg out to canter than stopped. Then another stride later on. The good thing was though that there was a good trotting time that I actually was sitting to the trot. I'd said before when after the fall, I'd gone on Bella and asked to do some sitting trots. They'd gone OK but I wasn't as in my seat and bounced about a little. On previous rides with Topaz, I'd often bounce around in the seat, especially as he has a significant bounce to his trot. But I didn't feel that today. And not once did I feel unbalanced, unsteady or even feel like reaching for his mane. I just sat it out. It was pretty incredible. I guess the fall really did make my bum sticky. I wasn't disappointed we didn't get a full blown canter. The fact he did two strides and I was sitting to the trot made me so happy. The fact I've done my first ride back on him and had a fantastic one was more than I could have asked. We got back to the yard and I led him in and untacked him. The girl walking with me, just stood back and let me get on with it. She didn't interfere and allowed me to get on with the job. I appreciate that so much. She commented how much he was listening to me. She obviously could see his ears moving as I spoke to him and she said for most of the ride he had his ears forward. Part of me wonders if the reason he didn't fully canter was him remembering our last ride. Maybe he needed a confidence boost with our partnership to. I think we both got that today. I feel in the oddest way, the fall off of him strengthened our bond not weakened it, if that makes any sense whatsoever at all. I truly loved being back on him today and he got a huge hug and just stood there being so quiet and patient as I dug out the polos. So thank you Topaz for a fabulous ride. I'll be back tomorrow as I'm doing another ride in the morning. Thanks for reading my philosophical dribble. Marie

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Hand in Hoof, a partnership

I was slightly anxious this morning, not because I'm afraid of falling off again but I'm afraid of making an idiot out of myself. Falling off twice in two weeks is a joke if you're just hacking so I hoped I wouldn't but was excited to get to the yard anyway. I wanted to get on Shadow this week, partly because he's my comfort zone and partly because I haven't ridden him much lately. Maybe I should have gone for a more risky ride but it felt so super nice to get on that gorgeous, tall, white friend this morning. I wasn't certain there would be much riding as we've had heavy rainfall and areas are flooded in our area but I had heard nothing so was relieved when I got to the yard and normal business was in session. Shadow was fidgety this morning. Even when I put his bridle on but I led him out to the mounting block and was sitting in that familiar saddle, knowing my stirrups were absolutely right and felt so safe. We did the road route first today which I haven't done for a few weeks so that was nice. He was so forward and really full of energy, it was a pleasure to ride. At the beginning of our ride, his foot was apparently on an edge so my RI pulled him away. I think it must have had something to do with the rainfall as I don't remember it ever being an issue before. Because no one would tell me what was happening, my hands tightened which made things worse and then once that was over and we were in our first trot, the relaxed hands were back and my contact was amazing with him. I think most of us have that particular horse we find is our comfort zone. They know us and we know them. I think I've probably ridden him the most and so it s the exact reason for it. He and I work well together. There was a lot of boggy ground today and on the ground we could have sneaked onto was very busy with people and dogs so we had a lot of trotting work which now I think about it I could have practiced sitting trot. I guess I was just so happy to be in the saddle again. Mr Shadow was being good but was a little difficult to keep him in line as there were a lot of parked cars so one of the girls would run with me during trot. She also came with me during canter as it was a chriss cross through trees and not very long. I'm happy to say, I got a lovely canter out of him and best of all, I think my fall has drummed into my bum that I need to stick it to the saddle during canter. I went with him so well today, feeling my hips move with the rhythm and not once feeling off set or off balanced. I'm so glad I got that canter today. I think if I hadn't, I may have lost some confidence but I guess making the choice to ride my tall, white, faithful friend was one of my better decisions. The back lane was closed due to the water so no amazing canters on this ride. I got back to the yard, after many walks and trots and him listening so lovely and asked if I could ride him again. I was told to loosen his girth, tie up his reins so he could grab a quick break which I was happy to do. Amazing how I'm trusted now once I get off to lead them in and sort out their tack and stuff. I love that. I waited outside his stable, chatting to him and when it was time to mount, I led him out and tightened his girth and up I went into my faithful friend's saddle again. He was much more fidgety on this ride. I had a very impatient pony. I seriously think if we'd had good cantering grounds today, he would have been off in some fabulous canters. We took the farm route this time and I was following another horse again with no leader. I love these rides. Not that the girls aren't lovely but it is just me and the horse and the sense of freedom I get from that is incredible. The decisions are all mine and most of the time I get those right. Our trots were slightly less forward for the first half of this hack but I highly suspect the route may have had something to do with it. I guess horses get as bored as we do. I know my guide dog, if we're doing the same routes, day in and day out, he's much more ploddy than if we change it up a little. I bet horses, being the intelligent creatures that they are get the same way. This hack had no cantering on it at all but I just enjoyed being with my lovely Shadow and getting some real bonding time. My RI was busy with a lot of the other riders as they were beginners and needed a lot of feedback whereas I don't think I got any corrections on this ride. I had a perfectly responsive pony minus the few times he tried to sneak a snack. Too bad Shadow, I know you too well now and can stop that before it happens. He didn't get one munch under my watch. heehee. I put him back in his stable and gave him lots of cuddles and felt the lovely warmth from my heart that I have for this horse. He's a pleasure to know and I just feel I have some kind of connection with him which is beautiful. I guess being around him shows me the beauty of what human and horse relationships are. So until next week, Thanks for reading, Marie

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Bouncing Back On Bella

So, after my fantastic fall, from the lovely Topaz yesterday, I hopped on my lovely bay beauty, Bella after filling in relative paperwork for dopey gits like me. I am glad, in he-insight that I rode Bella straight after Topaz for a variety of reasons. It meant my rides this weekend didn't end on the ground, but by dismounting the correct way and it also meant, my body could recover today. Oddly enough, the side I landed on isn't hurting at all but my God, right shoulder and hip are giving me some grief today. Anyway, my injuries aside, I mounted Bella, without hesitation and walked and trotted happily on her. She was raring to go which was nice. My usual RI took this ride and it was nice we could joke about my impressive fall. She says, I was practicing my rolling off horses. I laughed and felt easier about things. On our canters, or should I say attempted canters, she had me follow another rider but Bella was not quite there yesterday and in truth, maybe I wasn't either but she had a spark and I was pleased with that. I asked if I could practice sitting trot and my RI agreed and even gave some pointers how to sit in my seat. I had a little success but as we didn't have a lot of opportunity, I had limited chances to practice. However, what I achieved was progress so I was happy with that. I managed to walk back to the yard, being unaided by anything but my own ears and Bella was listening the whole while to me. I found it curious, whenever my RI would walk alongside us, Bella would turn her head toward her and head-but her. Yet, when she and I were alone, she walked beautifully. It's almost sometimes like the horses are saying, hey, leave us alone, we can do this. Shadow won't canter if someone's leading us and yet he'll canter off beautifully if its just him and I, unless I'm doing something to prevent it. I'd love to know what these amazing creatures think sometimes. I know what Topaz would have thought yesterday I reckon. Hey, where did my rider go. Oops, I lost her. Oh well, she should have been in her seat more. Serves her right. :) Well, I cannot wait to get back to the yard again next week and see what adventures I can get up to. Thanks for reading Marie

Saturday, 16 June 2012

I'm A Real Rider Now

It was definitely overcast and miserable this morning but not chucking it down so I happily toddled off to the yard, still in waterproofs, I do not trust this British weather. I was glad I did wear them this morning. I chose to ride Topaz first today. And just prayed it wouldn't rain hard if it did decide to rain on our way around the ride. I mounted, then someone realised he had the wrong saddle on. I did not tack him up I hasten to add so off I jumped, they changed the saddle and up I went again. He was pretty well behaved today and I followed other riders without a walker or leader which was excellent. I felt a little strange getting back into his rhythm but half way through the first trot, I had it in stride again. I always forget how bouncy this tall, 16.1 HH horse is. My contact in my reins felt so elastic today and I loved having that great contact with him! He was edging to the left quite a lot in this ride and I'm not sure why. Whenever I checked my reins, they were equal. I did feel though that my right stirrup was a tad shorter but it had been too long before we set off so I changed it. I'm not sure if this was effecting me and in turn effecting him. On the cobbles, he was slow but so was the other big horse behind us. Nothing too uneventful. He was listening and doing as I asked so a very pleasant ride and no rushing, just very controlled and happy. On the back lane, I confessed to the girl taking this ride, it wasn't my usual RI, that I didn't think I'd get a canter as the past few times I've been trying so hard so she just gave me a few pointers and off he and I went in a very forward canter. I was so pleased!!!! And then it happened. I'm really not sure how. Possibly that right stirrup, possibly me just not in my seat and over balancing too much but I tried to regain my balance, failed, and dropped from the 16.1 HH of cantering horse. It happened so fast, I heard him canter on a few steps then stop. I'm not sure if someone had caught him, or if he'd stopped in confusion. I hit my hip slightly and did hit my head on the floor but was up as fast as I was down. The poor girl taking our ride was mortified I'd fallen off while she was in charge but I reassured her I was fine. My main concern was Topaz. She was very concerned about me but I felt fine and not even winded in the slightest. She asked if I wanted to get back on, and I said I didn't think I could, not because I didn't want to but because he's so big. So she offered a leg up and I was quickly back in his saddle. I wasn't afraid or put off. It's a fact of riding I've long since accepted and considering I've been riding for two years and this is my first fall, I don't think I've done too bad. I did have to fall off our biggest horse during a very forward canter though, didn't I? ;) We got back to the yard and he got a lot of cuddles and polos. Nice hot soak for me tonight though. I'll split this blog as I did with last week's and catch you up with my second ride on Bella tomorrow. Until tomorrow, Thanks, Marie

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Super Soggy Part 2

I told you guys how my first ride went yesterday so here I pick up the tale of my second ride. Seen as I chose to ride the pretty mare first, I asked to ride my lovely Shadow for my next ride. Shadow and I are old friends and I rarely have someone walk with me on him any more. This was the case yesterday. We started at the front but I quickly got moved behind someone else which I personally cannot say I am surprised about. I cannot, without being able to see know where the straight line is on a hack and keep him to the centre of it. I find following another horse much easier. Evidently, Shadow and I were all over the place as I couldn't give him the direction he needed from me so another rider and horse went in front of us. Things improved considerably from that point onward. Our trots were lovely and forward. I love getting back on this horse every time I do as its like a familiar partnership that hasn't changed. He's responsive to me and minus the few times he was getting impatient and I had to ask him to stand up, he was very well behaved. We went on the field, only a narrow strip of it, and I didn't even click we would be cantering, so I asked for a trot and was made to come back. My RI, said it was rubbish, which if I'd realised we were supposed to be cantering, I can see her point. I laughed and said I didn't realise and had asked for a trot.So, we tried again and I got a little bit of one but was for some odd reason pulling back on him. We all turned around and tried again, I asked for a pet talk. Just to make it fresher in my head. I gave with my seat, gave a squeeze with my lower leg and off we went in a few strides. I know exactly what's happening with me and its annoying but I think I may have solved it. When I'm really thinking, must get this horse to canter, I'm putting pressure on myself and therefore physically tensing and getting nothing. With the pretty mare, who needs very little from me, I know that and am relaxed when I ask but some of the school horses I know sometimes I don't get it and so putting the pressure on myself is making the circle a vicious one. A few more wonderful trots and I learnt something very interesting yesterday. My RI was walking alongside Shadow and I and blew into his nose and he blew back, I thought it was cruel as you all know, if you have dogs, that dogs hate you blowing in their face but apparently, this is a lot how horses communicate. I love learning new things like that! So an another trot and off we went to the back lane. My RI said to wind him up a little and so I halted him and kept squeezing to ask for him to go and he immediately began to fidget. And off we went when I asked, in a beautifully, forward, canter. I felt like I was flying on him. I don't know how it looked but it felt great. Something my RI said to me yesterday, which was good, was that my upper body is looking great in walk, trot and canter, only if my heels come up do my elbows come out. So jelly legs need working on to prevent tension and no more pressure on myself. Just no thinking and lets go. That's what happened in our last canter yesterday. I didn't think and I just asked and he gave beautifully. I'm finally learning, that its more about feel than thinking with horses. :) Thanks for reading, Marie

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Super Soggy Part 1

If anyone, like me, saw the drizzly excuse of our British summer here this morning, and thought to themselves, I'd rather stay in doors, I cannot blame you. Those thoughts ran through my head. Do I really want to go riding in this awful weather? I've ridden in all kinds of weather and pride myself on not being a fair weather rider. I often tease my dad that horse riders are much tougher than golfers, as that's his choice of hobby as many Sunday mornings while the rain is pelting down, dad stays in bed while I trek off to the yard in water proofs. But despite my feeling of yuck, it's pouring with rain, I got ready and headed up to the yard, clad in my water proofs. It hardly relented the whole time I was there today. I was one of the first there so had the choice of all the ponies, when asked, I asked to ride Shadow, and then someone's voice, who I know to be the lovely Magic's owner said, "are you having a change today? You're not riding Magic?" I didn't know she was there so I asked if I could change. I enjoy riding this horse very much as she's teaching me not all horses are relatively well mannered school horses and she challenges me a lot. I'm still being lead quite a lot with her and usually by her owner which I find is quite useful as I gain an insight into this lovely horse's regular behaviours. So as the skies seemed to drain heavily of their rain clouds, I mounted and sat there for what seemed like forever waiting for all the other riders to be mounted. All I can say is, thank goodness for whoever invented waterproof clothing! Getting up the hill on the farm hack was more than a chore today. She was being very strong willed and despite using half halts, she was not being very helpful to our leader. Our trots were very nice although she seemed slightly half asleep on the first few but I highly suspect being cold and wet could have had something to do with it. Because they're saving the fields for hay growing, our usual big field is closed off to us so the only canter we got was on the back lane. It was very nice and collected today. Even though she was being a handful on the cobbles, rushing herself quite a lot and hardly listening to begin with, eventually there was some level of control gained by myself and the girl taking this ride as she took over from her owner, she was being so strong.But by the end of this ride, despite my hands in the beginning slipping a lot on the reins, I did feel I had better contact with her. I decided, as wet as I was, I'd do another ride today and save getting wet tomorrow too. Which in retrospect is probably a good idea as my riding hat is still soaked. I will blog about my second half of the ride tomorrow. Thanks for reading, Marie

Saturday, 2 June 2012

Enjoyable Ride

I decided to have a very relaxed ride and enjoy it thoroughly today and I was so happy that was exactly what I got. I rode the pretty mare today who I am falling in love with more and more each time I ride her. The nice thing was, today I had her owner walk with us. This pretty pony was not as excitable as a few weeks ago but she was still very forward. Trots were very collected and when we went onto the field so were her canters! It was a pleasure to ride her today. Even on the back lane where we have on some occasions failed to get a canter, had a beautiful one that was so collected and I was so in my seat I was ultimately proud of myself. Always nice to ride well on someone else's horse when they can see it as opposed to you riding very badly on their horse. Something I've been realising the past few weeks is the pure difference between riding school horses and non riding school horses. And I know which I prefer. When we got back to the yard, I actually filled a hay net by myself to give to Bella as she had little hay in her stable. I like to be useful and the more I do the more confident I feel about myself and the better I get about doing the things around the yard. I thoroughly enjoyed this ride today which was my main goal. Thanks for reading, Marie

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Happy, Sunny, Days

After yesterday's lovely ride on Bella, I chose to ride her for my first ride today. She'd just been in a jumping lesson but she was raring to go. I was following behind another pony today and didn't have a walker or a leader. This has helped to increase my confidence again which is great for me. Our trots were beautiful and forward and I felt she was really listening to me again. I had full control of her as I had no leader or walker so it was entirely down to me to get her to follow the other horses. We didn't get a canter but I was not dismayed in the slightest. My RI said the energy she had was great and I was doing really well on her. Once back at the yard, there was a vote on who I should ride next and Shadow won the vote. Yes, my gorgeous, tall, white friend is back in work and my goodness, it was amazing to be back on his back and working together. His trots were beautiful and even got him into canter. I was super happy. Even on the back lane where he didn't canter, which was more to do with me rather than him, I couldn't have cared less. I had two very enjoyable rides on two amazing horses who I hold dearly to me. The best thing was that Bella is listening more and more and Shadow and I seemed to just slip back to our old team work. Fabulous day and all under the sunny skies of England! :) Thanks for reading, Marie

Saturday, 26 May 2012

Beautiful Ride With Bella

It has been baking in the UK this week so I wasn't expecting much from today's ride except a lovely walk and maybe a few nice trots and lots of sweaty ponies. When I got there, there was only bella left which was more than OK with me but I did think to myself, gotta put extra work into little Miss this morning. She can be a stubborn mare at times and only do what she wants to. But how pleasantly surprised I was to ride up hill on her with forward steps and very little of my asking today. Our first trot started well then she decided we were done. I kicked on but nothing else was going to happen. I virtually was on my own with her today as I've often been. Another nice walk and a further trot then down the cobbles where she can be a pain. She wasn't. Tried to do her own thing, put my legs on and she realised we were not playing games. At the bottom of the cobbles, a great trot that lasted all the distance. I was so happy as she had been a pure dream for me today in the sunshine. On the back lane, I seriously was not expecting to canter. If you remember, she's the one horse famous at our yard to be difficult to get into canter. I rode by myself, as I have on most of that ride and canter we did. Admittedly only for two strides but this is only the second time I have gotten beautiful Bella to canter for me at all. I was mighty proud and gave her lots of cuddles when we got to the yard. I was going to ride again but plans changed so hopefully riding twice tomorrow. I'm looking forward to it as the weather has given good again tomorrow. Happy hacking! Marie

Sunday, 20 May 2012


I was very close to not going to the yard today. I did feel a little dispirited this morning over my riding. I didn't think yesterday had got to me but it really had. I just felt a pure lack of out of control yesterday and with my recent escapades with some of the other horses, I've felt a pure lack of confidence. But sitting in my kitchen, eating crunchy nut cornflakes, I gave myself a good talking to. "You are not giving up! You're better than that! You get back on that horse and show them you're in charge." A good few words from some great horsey people reminded me down times have to exist in order to appreciate the good and having a bad day is normal along with learning many different horses. Without all of my experiences, good and bad, I'd never become an all rounded rider. So I went and dressed and headed up to the yard with a positive attitude. I asked if I could ride Kenny, despite having a mixture of choice. Kenny's the lovely coloured gelding that I felt very unnerved on for some time. His bouncy gait used to make me feel unsafe. I put on his bridle and lead him to the mounting block. Once mounted, and off on the ride, following beautiful Bella. His walk and trot were lovely. Forward. The first trot was a little ploddy but I quickly got him forward which was nice. He wasn't leaning on my hands and despite a few failed canters, I got one eventually and I was so in my seat which pleased me greatly!!!! We headed back and I felt my spirits lifted and decided to get back on the lovely Magic and see if I could get her more together and listening to me today. She was a live wire today. Her walks and trots were collected and forward. I do love her trots so much. I had someone on hand but for a lot of the walk and trotting I just had someone around or running alongside which was a huge improvement. She can be very fidgety and something I learnt today was to relax my hands more with her as she is very soft in the mouth and my tensing was not helping her in the least. Once I got that in my head she was a little more calm and collected and not trying to go wherever she wanted. Yesterday, she tried to follow the girl I was with but without someone walking alongside us for some of this route, she was listening to me more and we were following another horse to begin with until later on when she decided it would be better to head in front which the RI okayed. The canters you ask? Oh well, they were speedy. At some points, I wasn't sure she was going to stop despite me putting the breaks on. Dude, where's my breaks kept popping into my head. But feeling bad for the girl running with us, I loved the speed and the feeling of her canters. I was so in my seat and I think that was part of the reason we kept going and going. That was a nice feeling but obviously her lack of listening during canter was not so great. My RI told me to use half halts as she was rushing herself. I swear a slight nudge may have made her go into gallop, that was one mighty fast canter, and I'll safely say the fastest canter I've ever experienced. The tough thing I found, was told today to keep hands relaxed and I know she's soft in the mouth and despite using my knees and thighs to try and stop her, she just wasn't willing to stop. Do others find this happens if the horse is in a particular mood? Anyway, our second canter, I was doing on, off,on off, with my half halts and yet she was still going, going, going, at some incredible speed. Another rider who was walking today with her sister who was riding, told me she didn't know how I stayed on. But I do. I stayed on because I kept going with her, stayed in my seat and kept my balance. After we got off of the field, we went for another trot and then just walked where we were now in front. The girl walking with me wandered to talk to our RI I think and the girl behind me who often leads but was on horse back today was chatting to me and directed me to turn right down the cobbles. I managed the horse much better today and she was listening to me more even when our walker was alongside me. Another great trot and then to the back lane where until yesterday this gorgeous mare had never cantered for me. But today was different. And the canter was collected and no where near as fast as before. We had a break into a trot, then back to canter which was amazing! I loved it!!!! Today just proved to me, push through it and you'll get there. I reeked the rewards and despite losing the breaks, it was a good experience. I need to work on the control in canter with her and work on my breaking technique with a horse that's sensitive in her mouth as she is. Too much tension on the reins and she gets narky and dances around understandably. I had fun though today and felt like despite our breaking issues I made some progress on this pony and even on the lovely Kenny who we all nicknamed King Kenny today as I have ridden him much less than the others at the yard. So a totally different feel today. Thanks for reading, Marie