Was this the last of the autumn..

..sunshine.  Saturday was a wee bit cold and biting.  Sunday however was a bit warmer and we managed a hack in the morning and then polocrosse in the afternoon.  The polocross was pretty busy with 16 people training at it.

But the weather has just turned very wintry since then. It’s not cold. In fact it’s quite mild. It’s just very wet and windy and the clocks changing make it dull and dark at 4.30pm so the lessons are being run in the twilight. The 5.30 lesson was run under floodlights last night and it seems like only last week when I was happily realising that my monday 7.30 lesson could finish at 8.30 without the arena floodlights going on.

Oh well I suppose. That is the nature.of an outdoor job. You do get to notice these things and on the bright side it’s only a couple of months to the shortest day and then the days all start getting longer again.

So Tuesday night was team jumping at Pony Club and we did a team chase around a showjumping course. We have been doing quite a bit of jumping in our lessons recently as alot of our older riders had applied to ride for their schools in a team showjumping competition this weekend. We were planning to take the lorry out and 6 horses were heading to Howe of Fife. Unfortunately it looks like only one or two are doing it now as the competition has been so hugely over subscribed that entries for schools are being restricted. The practicing has been fun though…

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..and so we have decided to run a flash mob gymkhana on sunday. I went online today and bought 5 pairs of blue jump cups and 5 pairs of pink ones…

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..hopefully we will see these more clearly around the arena and be less likely to lose them. I have also been fixing jump wings and making jump fillers. Tomorrow I am making another set of fillers and some jump numbers so we should have a full on show jumping course ready for Sunday morning. Now we just need to get the competitors booking in.

So tomorrow is Friday and we have a couple of lessons during the day and one after school lesson. We usually run the showjumping clinic after that but are going to have to let everyone doen tomorrow as we are all going to Auchterarder to listen to a talk on equine biomechanics. It’s going to be fascinating and give us lots to talk about in the blog tomorrow.

posted by shaun

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Was this the last of the autumn..

The final day of camp 2..

..and it was rosettes and chocolate galore.  Chocolate from the chocolate pairs showjumping challenge and rosettes from the games and jumping competitions.

The wind was blowing hard and for the first time this holiday it felt and looked like a proper autumn day.  The strong winds last night have blown quite a few leaves off the trees so the trees were bare and the ground covered.  It brightened up in the afternoon and the sun shone in a blue sky which made the day seem a bit warmer.

After camp we had some lessons on.  Mollie had her individual lesson and we had a slightly depleted 4.30 lesson.

And so the school holidays are almost over and we have had a blast at the stables.  Today (friday) was the showjumping clinic and we had a huge range of riders from novices to experienced riders.  The morning was spent with jumping lessons.

My group worked.on their technique of single jumps and them moved onto moving between jumps.  Mollies group got the big guns out and jumped pig fillers, oxers, planks and the water tray.  She threw everything at her group  and they all rose to the occasion.

In the afternoon we had a showjumping competition and more chocolate pairs..

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..and the horses were all flying around.  Well almost all…

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..but who was this mystery rider.

posted by shaun

The final day of camp 2..

Day 2 of camp and we had a blast..

..Katies group followed on from the cross.country they had done yesterday and took it a bit further riding up the front field hill and over the bund and down over a couple of 75cm jumps. I didn’t get any pictures of the jumping ad I was also teaching but I did however take these pictures..

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..of some of Katies group doing a bit of cross country practice around the arena.

My group were working on the accuracy of transitions. Particularly their downward transitions from canter to trot. It can be a bit hitty missy at times but we are seeing improvement. I am trying to get them to realise that horses need to behave themselves in both directions and that it isn’t better or safer to have a horse that responds more quickly to downward aids than upward ones and that we need to make sure our horses do what we ask them to do immediately and so we need to work on asking correctly and asking authoritatively without being mean ķor bullying or horses.

Unfortunately right at the end of the day whilst we were mucking out our stables Pacman got kicked on the leg and it cut an artery. Anyway we quickly got a pressure bandage on the arterial bleed and called our vet out who was down in no time.  She took the pressure bandage off which consisted of rubber pad cotton bandage 12 paper napkins one tea towel two layers of cotton wool and a vet wrap bandage carefully cleaned the wound out stapled the skin and re bandaged.  Once Pacman had calmed down he started walking soundly and so we think that there probably isn’t any serious damage.  Phew.  However we will need to re organise horses for the riders at camp on day three.  Pacman spent the night in a stable with hay and water and company and seemed quite happy.  Unfortunately we were all so busy getting bandaged I didn’t get any time to take a photo of the cut for the blog which is probably just as well.

Then in the evening we had Pony Club. We had a new boy try pony club out last night and they came second in the individual games and almost won it. It was down to the last race but Bobby Brown triumphed over Sally (aka team speed).

And finally. Hamish has been working hard in australia and we have all noticed that we haven’t had a blog for 3 or 4 days now. For some reason he thinks that not many people are reading it. So next time he posts a blog can you all go onto the WordPress blog and like it (click the star) and put a comment in for him letting him know how great you think it is. As a rugby playing scot in Australia he’s needing the love right now. But then again aren’t we all after that disastrous decision that cost us a place in the semi finals.

posted by shaun

Day 2 of camp and we had a blast..

Camp 2 is underway..

..and started with a visit from the farrier.  We had 5 horses needing some shoeing.   So Ru and I went out at 8 to catch them and at the same time we brought in all the horses that get fed.  This means that we don’t have to go and fetch 9 horse tonight after camp is finished.  Yippee!

So once again we have two groups at camp. And so far on day one my group have been working on controllability. Our horses have to go when we ask and stop when we ask and go in the direction we ask them. I had a great time explaining to my riders that even if they are nervous of going fast they need their horses to move off the leg straight away otherwise their horses won’t know that they also have to stop when asked as well. Whilst our horses are clever they can’t quite work out how the rider feels about going up the gears and going down them. In the afternoon group got.a bit of jumping practice in ready for Thursdays gymkhana…

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Katies group were working on core muscles and balance and body control in the morning. It seemed to involve alot of standing balanced in stirrups and stirrupless work. In the afternoon they put on body protectors and went cross country around the arena. Freya said she loved it but was terrified at the same time.

posted by shaun

Camp 2 is underway..

Another sunny day…

..on the yard and everyone was outside and over heating.  So maybe it wasn’t 37°C but it was very warm for the time of year.  Which, incidentally, is great.  So lessons began at 10.45 today because it’s the October holidays and lots of our early riders were on holiday.  This meant that the girls and boys had plenty of time to clean the yard and the feed room and muck out boxes and get in the polocroase horses and skinny ponies and feed them before any riders arrived.  So the yard was sparkly and horses were fed and turned back out.  It’s was so great we are thinking of starting at 7am next Saturday so the helpers can have a clear 2 hours before lessons start to get organised tidied up and horses fed!!

Of course we are about to start bringing horses and ponies in at night which means that I will be feeding them at 6am anyway.

So lessons today were great we did a good.biy of cantering and Lucy was lovely in her first lesson really helping Ben to get his canter seat and then was naughty in her second lesson deciding to terrify Vicky and Sally and Blaze.  Mind you the three ponies deserved to be terrorised as they were refusing to do anything their riders asked.  Sally kept crossing her jaw and pulling round to the back of the ride as quickly as she could.  Poor Ilya must have terrifically tires arms tonight.

So we did some jumping in the afternoon and Freya was riding her new pony Turbo…

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And we also finished off the day with our new beginners lesson.  We did a bit of trotting with our helpers and then heaps of leg exercises followed by some steering practice all by themselves. I set up some jump wings without the poles around the arena and the riders had to steer their ponies through the jump wings.

posted by shaun

Another sunny day…

The first week…

.. of the holidays is almost over.  Camp was great fun and hugely successful with massive improvements in everyone’s riding.  The gymkhana on Thursday was huge fun and everyone went away with a couple of rosettes and more importantly the chocolate pairs competition meant everyone had a chocolate bar to eat at the end of the day (except Mollie and I).  Mollie even had her group practice ticking cartwheels…

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..she wasn’t very good at that though.

A special bravery award is to be given out at camp after one of our riders fell off Peppermint and broke her arm.  She was sooooo brave despite the pain she was in.

So today is an Accumulator Day.  For anyone that has been to one of these this is a competitor  where we run three different activities. Today it’s mounted games followed by Waterloo and then showjumping. Riders accumulate points in each event depending upon their place and then we add up all the points and then present rosettes based on this points. Easy really.

And while we were all grooming our ponies and tacking up I snapped this photo of Iceman being very swag and wanting to ride for the Zambian Polocrosse team…

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Great fun this week with the camp and next week we have another camp with a showjumping day in the Friday and we just hope that the weather stays as fabulous as it was this week.

posted by shaun

The first week…

The yard is a bit..

..quieter now Hamish has gone to australia. Last Wednesday Katie and I drove him down to Heathrow and he got his flight to Melbourne. We left at 4am and took a little detour around the village we ised to live in called Chalfont-St-Giles and still had plenty of time to sit at the airport and chat. Hamish had already checked in on line and when we arrived to hand over his luggage he was offered an earlier flight. As he had 5 hours to wait at Hong Kong airport anyway we thought it would be better to sit with us at Heathrow rather than have more time to kill by himself at Hong Kong airport. Anyone that has read his blog will know that he probably could have used that extra time finding his way round the 500 gates at Hing Kong and arriving at his departure gate with a bit more than 15 minutes to spare.

Since then we have been entertained by his Aussietrips travels blog. He has now started his job breaking Australian Stock Horses and sounds to us like he is having a blast.

So Katie and I left the airport and headed home but exhaustion took over and we had to find somewhere to stay. Eventually getting a room at the Stafford North Travel Lodge. Who would have thought that motels would be so busy on a Wednesday night we were very worried that we might just have to drive back without a rest.

So we got back home Thursday just in time to teach the 4.30 lesson which took our kind off Hamish being on an airplane somewhere in the southern hemisphere.

Friday was another showjumping clinic with riders working over three jumps set out with turns between them so we needed to change reins. Unfortunately the lights in the outdoor arena were shorting again so it got a bit too dark to get any nice photos and we managed to have enough natural light at 7pm to finish jumping. These Friday showjumping nights are proving to be really popular and we already have some people booked in for this week.

The weather on saturday wasn’t great but picked up on sunday and we had a great evening of polocrosse training with a group of 6 minis and then 9 “biggies”. We ended up playing some mini training chukkas with the service on session which was a nice change. We did have to do a quick swap around with horses though as Sploge came in from the field with a very swollen eye. We got the vet out straight away and whilst I was running practice Katie and the vet checked her eye. She has banged it and it’s swollen and so she is in a box and having atropine popped in her eye for two days and chloramphenicol as well.

So Monday was the first day of our first October camp and we have 10 riders in two groups. Mollies group were jumping an 1m wide spread yesterday. My group has been working on cantering. The weather has been lovely with sunny skies and Tessa loved sitting by the arena watching the lessons…

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..and the arena lights are currently being fixed so tonight we will be able to play Waterloo in the outdoor arena at Pony Club.

And as promised I have now loaded the video of Majik going out with the ponies for the first time onto our YouTube channel and here it is…

posted by shaun

The yard is a bit..