Lightbulb moments,the truth is out there and home improvements

'Your legs,idiot.Try using them properly....'
‘Your legs,idiot.Try using them properly….’

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My 13 year old superstar horse-he just does it right,despite his humanoid handicap…..
Published by Eventing Connect 

I have spoken before in other blog posts about the importance of being self aware and listening to your horse. Sometimes it’s a good idea to practice what you preach….

My son was a year old last Monday. A YEAR OLD. I have no idea where the time went. The last year has been the most monumental adjustment phase and a lot of it has been pretty shit,but we are surviving and for me,my horses are a large part of managing to….well…manage? I had an emergency C section and my horse had an interspinous ligament desmotomy about 10 weeks later (A what? Kissing spine surgery!!) so our combined recovery and weight loss meant that it was September before we were back in action. I felt pretty good when I got back on,strong enough and fit enough (from Mo Farrah-ing with the horse in hand-the ‘Rocky’ theme tune,anyone?) and we collectively made good progress. I then had a spectacular and stupid accident which resulted in a long fracture of my sacrum into the right sacroiliac joint. The only place I was comfortable was in the saddle so I kept riding,but I was (meant to be) on crutches the rest of the time. Oddly, since that fall I have taken on a blancmange quality in the saddle-I don’t know why? Anyway-I get away with a lot with Mist. He’s 13, and the ultimate professional. He doesn’t pay much attention to my flobulating around asthmatically,he delivers the same polished and beautiful work every day and he only objects if you are being a total fucktard. The other day,I jumped him and noticed he has drifted left in the air. He’s a bit of a physical train wreck so it could have been for many reasons,but I put it on my mental memo. Two days ago,he kept changing legs whilst doing canter poles on the left rein-this does periodically happen,but when I went to a light seat and a loose rein he was fine. Hmmmmm.

Today,I was working my 4 yr old over canter poles on 3 and 4 strides,and down a 1 stride grid. I noticed that no matter which rein she was on over the poles,she was drifting to the outside. I’m obviously not riding the outside shoulder around and straight,which explains a few other things I’m having trouble with just now.  The beauty of young horses is that they can’t and won’t absorb your shortcomings-they will expose your flaws because they depend heavily on each and every step of the command process being clear and exactly what you want. My older horse might think ‘For.Fucks.Sake. Could you be any more stupid? Just shut up,SHUT UP and leave it to me’. My younger horse is far more likely to think ‘ right so,go over the pole and then drift to the outside? Yep,cool’.  So it’s on me,really. Once I sat up and rode the outside of the horse-TAADAA-it went straight. Rocket science. So then we had a go at the grid. Same thing,control the shoulder and get straight or you’ll be jumping the 1.50 end of the cross pole. This young horse in particular is very deliberate,and it occurred to me that I was starting to jump ahead of her. Easy fixed,I just kept my shoulders back for longer and asked for more ‘oomph’ in my trot approach so she could carry us both. It’s a while since I had an intense lesson,so turning the outside AND staying straight AND waiting with my position was a bit taxing for my pea brain but the horse jumped-oh gosh did she jump-so I knew I was at the very least,out of her way and delivering her to the fences straight and strong.

I am lucky to be experienced and self aware enough to make corrections sufficient enough to educate the horses properly,but it advertises the need for regular training and also for taking care of yourself-I am about to embark on some physio and training myself so hopefully I can get to the bottom of why I’m so sore and crooked,and keep doing my job in the saddle well.

See? Horses tell you everything, if you just listen to them!!!

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Brain worms,the ultimate buzz and cash in the bank

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Blackhill Inspired,by Colin Diamond. Now showjumping in Sweden.

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Gizmo. By Calypso D’Herbier. Now a broodmare in Kilkenny.

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Kim,the very first horse I had to sell. By NC Amiro and Now jumping in Scotland.

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Outfoxed. Now eventing successfully in Northern Ireland.

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Stracomer Sunshine,currently here with me.

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Blackhill Border Fox. Eventing successfully in Northern Ireland.

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Vector M2S. By Ekstein out of a Calvados mare. Showjumping internationally in Italy.

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Fireball Sally,by Overbury. Doing racehorse to riding horse classes.

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Cooley Nothing Better B. Homebred by us. Now eventing at 2* level in America.
Published by Eventing Connect 

I love finding and producing young horses. I have a system that serves me well and it’s about as unorthodox as can be. Firstly,I never actually LOOK for horses. They tend to float into view and then drop into my lap. If I’m in a position to investigate further,then I do. Secondly,if I do take a good look at the horse and I can’t stop thinking about it,il probably buy it-especially if it’s a mare. I like looking at them when they are raw and hairy,and really thinking about what they might make into. I get a feeling from the ones I buy,and I just KNOW with every fibre of my being that the horse is going to be good.If the horse becomes a total brainworm,I can’t let it go. I have been right every time so far-apart from that one time,when I learned a really big lesson……

Gizmo was stunning. She was French bred and she was fabulous. I had bought and sold a few with some success,so I was getting a bit big for my boots-so much so that I decided to not ride her. She was an 8 year old and she looked awesome on camera,so I’d  just buy her-sure I knew it all didn’t I? No. No I did not. The first time I sat on her,I knew I had made a terrible mistake. She had been tortured with draw reins and instead of teaching her to shorten her frame,she had been taught to canter like a rabied 12.2-legs akimbo and brain on fire. Horrible. A couple of weeks after this,I found her losing her mind in the stable one night. We treated as for colic,but I had a hunch it was more than that and I had her scanned the next day. She had a massive ovarian tumour and bleeding into the peritoneal cavity. Fucking marvellous. She had surgery and I don’t know what I was expecting,but a reformation it was not. Out of desperation I took her in hand showing (is there anything more tedious??) but she was far too fancy and glamourous for the traditional judges,so we bombed at that as well.In the end I gave her away as a broodmare. Lesson learned and fortunes lost-try buying with your brain……I must have had my head in the microwave that day…..

I like to buy horses that are unbroken-it’s not that I enjoy the underpant-soiling delight of being the first man on board,but I get to do things my way from the start. I absolutely adore watching horses think,and when they join the dots in training  it’s just so satisfying. I prefer to buy mares where possible,and I don’t like spending too much cash on them. I don’t mind splints or scars,but the limb confirmation needs to be as good as can be. Any hint of psychosis is a no,they must have a good eye and an open expression-I have done my time at the whackadoodle coal face.

So there you have it,My recipe for success-about as non scientific as it’s possible to be. Life is short,buy the damn horse……especially if it’s me selling it!