Equestrian Gold Coast Club – 30.04.2017

After months of rain and a working roster that wouldn’t quit, I saw an opportunity to take my Freddy to a Dressage Competition. I had been training the Canter long enough and it was time to see if he could handle Preliminary Dressage.

And besides a trip interstate is always a good thing!

I decided to drive up the day before and camp out in my float, I figured this would settle Fred and I would wake up full of energy for the Sunday.

1480468656428

This was also a grand opportunity for me to use my Earlwood Equine Show Rug for the first time! He looks so handsome in it!

This was also the first time I had been away competing since my PTSD diagnosis in 2014, so I wanted to go. I wanted to challenge myself mentally and physically on this weekend away. 1493457654059

It was so cold in that float! Even though I had a camp bed and a sleeping bag there was an hour or so there where it was freezing! I was happy and positive though as I ate my dinner surrounded by hay.

I had made sure to pack a Fleece Rug and a Waterproof Winter Combo for my Freddy; but I had a single sleeping bag!

DSC_0244

Any horse rider would know that is typical, the horses always get the best of things.  The next day I woke so excited and yet nervous at the same time.

Our draw times were Preparatory C at 07:51, Preliminary 1:2 at 08:26 and Preliminary 1:1 at 09:49.

I had my game face on at 7am as I mounted my trusty steed!

It was so cold still when IMG_0024we did our Prep C test, but it went well and Freddy tried so hard for me.

The Prelim 1:2 and 1:1 was a success. I was stoked!

My goals for this show were simple; get the correct canter lead in every test, every time.

We accomplished that and I was so proud of his efforts.  Freddy was patient when I was unbalanced at times, and he showed me nothing but respect the entire weekend. He was no trouble, didn’t fuss, never spooked and had my back throughout the whole weekend.

I felt he almost knew I needed him to support me; and he did.  I am truly blessed to have my Freddy as my equine partner in this journey.  

So… now to the scores. DSC_0254

We ended up coming 8th in the Preliminary 1:1 on a score of 59.32%, 9th in the Preliminary 1:2 on a score of 57.21% and 6th in the Preparatory C with a score of 58%. That meant we were taking home a gorgeous ribbon!  I was so proud of Freddy and me! 

We drove home, making it through the “Tick Gate” at the border unscathed and I just kept smiling. New goals now, more Dressage, more confidence building and more smiles.

It was truly a big step to even consider going and to be honest I wasn’t sure how I would go. I am so proud of myself that I did it and got through the weekend and I feel stronger from doing so!

The Gold Coast Equestrian Club was wonderful! The day  ran so smoothly and professionally and everyone was smiling. It made it such a lovely experience for us.

You can find the clubs Facebook page here if anyone would like to check it out.  

Happy Riding & Keep Smiling… Mel

 

 

 

Fred’s X-Rays – 20.09.2017

So… Here is the Melissa tip for the decade!! Always trust yourself.

As we know, from Fred’s profile, he has always been hard to Canter to the right. This has been a 4 year battle to get us to the point where we can pick up correct canter leads without bucking, bolting, disunited back legs and plain old moodiness.

To start with I thought it was psychological. The girl who owned Fred previously had said to me and I quote for your amusement “He doesn’t like to canter to the right, so we only canter to the left”. ???????? I seriously had a Zoolander moment!!

index

Perhaps Fred could just have a modelling career and then they can hit the end of the runway and Fred turn left and Zoolander turn right. It does sound like a plan 🙂

 

Whilst a great deal of horses are hard to canter to the right, (this is because most of us humans are right handed and so our weight naturally sits to the right, directly on top of that shoulder) it should never have been as big an issue as it was. points.gif

About 2 years ago I thought when I was riding ‘It’s his Stifle’. To be honest I didn’t know exactly why I thought that, it just popped into my head!

Whilst, as you can see, I wasn’t close to what the problem actually is (which is the Hock) at least I was somehow realising it was physical not mental.

Instead of trusting myself, which I normally always do, I took the advice of other people and didn’t look into it further. This is because I was worried about looking silly, even if I only subconsciously thought that. That is a mistake! Always trust yourself, after all, nobody rides Fred but me; so how could they possibly know what I am feeling when he moves…

So moving on… I got a vet out, I wanted X-rays but of course I got talked into Nerve Blocking him (GRRR – $200 bucks down the drain) and once he was nerve blocked at the front their was a problem with the right Hock. It was at this moment on a intensely warm Winters day whilst I was jogging around a dressage arena at midday in jeans I felt the penny drop “Yes, this is what is wrong!!”

Fred was trotting beside me with a strong energy of “Well der Mel, been trying to tell you for years!” but happy that mum had finally discovered the issue.

So a week later I took him to be X-rayed. I figured why not get the two front done as well as the Hock (as he does have sore heels so I wanted to rule out Navicular).. I was so tired, i’d started work at 4am and his appointment was 2pm so by the time I got there I was buggered.

But in true Fred style he gave me no drama’s and was a good boy, even in a strange environment with all the happenings of a vet clinic. When he turned up he was like, “um where are the Dressage Arena’s mum?”

Freddy Rose-X-0000054F-3.JPG

Then we took an X-ray of the Right Hock…..

Oh boy!!! Take a look… So see all that black stuff on the right, thats Arthritis and it must be painful. 😦

Freddy Rose-X-00000550-3.JPG

I decided to spend the money and get the left Hock X-ray as well. Best to have a comparison I thought. Freddy Rose-X-00000554-3.JPG

 

So here is the Left Hock…

As you can see, there is no Arthritis.

Freddy Rose-X-00000553-3.JPG

This explains so much.

Now even though the first foot-fall of the Canter comes from the opposite hind, he can’t get his right under him to balance and that’s why he falls out of Canter or can’t stay in it without it being rocky and awful to watch and ride.

The Vet wants me to start him on on injection directly into the Hock of Depo Medrol then a spell of two weeks. Then either a supplement called Technyflex (or the likes) or injections of either Pentosan or Epitalis Forte. So of course I googled all of these things. I detest pharmaceuticals on so many levels!!

I’m still undecided what to do, for the moment I have popped him on some Tumeric and I am keeping him warm. I always use herbs for myself rather than prescribed medications.

He is a lot better and more happy then a few weeks ago, that is because it is also warmer here now. Yesterday it was 31 degree’s and he was in no pain at all… Any idea’s and comments are welcome from anyone, please comment below or send me a direct email using the Contact Form on this site… Knowledge is power as they say. 🙂

Here are the front legs/hooves… No Navicular, a good Pedal Bone and lovely thick and even soles on both sides. 🙂

Freddy Rose-X-00000555-3.JPG

Freddy Rose-X-00000556-3.JPG

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Freddy Rose-X-00000551-3.JPG

 

Freddy Rose-X-00000552-3.JPG

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, what did I learn. A bunch of stuff about my horses skeleton but also to trust myself also. Never underestimate the power of your gut-feelings and follow them always

🙂

Happy Riding & Keep Smiling

Mel x

Equestrian Books – 19.09.2017

I saw a post on another persons blog (I can’t remember who, but if it was you please comment below) and I thought wow she has a lot of books!! I surely don’t have that many I thought… How wrong I was!!

What’s the go with the box of books that is somehow always in the back room of an equestrians home? They aren’t on a bookshelf, they are way too valuable for that, they are in a back room in a secure area as if they are the location map to Area 51. I had to walk through a locked door with a Rottweiler guarding them at the bottom of a stairwell to find them (almost). Well not quite. They were in the back back of the room anyway.

From time to time us equestrians stop the grooming, riding, competing and countless hours of mucking stalls and yards to stop and open a book that we once felt we “had to have”. I counted my books last night.  The final count is 32 plus a few DVD’s.

I realised I have some books that I have never opened. I also realised I have a book on Apaloosa’s, yet I have never owned one and probably never will!! Why do I have this? Why have I moved this with me when I moved homes?  The mind boggles…

So let’s be reasonable, and well… lie, and say that each book is probably worth about ten bucks. That’s $320 I’ve spent on books that are in a box in the back room of my home. What the hell is wrong with me????

So of course in being me, I quickly went onto the Horseland website to see what $320 could have bought me instead of books I barely read and now I am wishing I didn’t have a few of those books. 😦

Don’t get me wrong; there are a few there that I would trade my life for (well I wouldn’t, but I like to be dramatic) but there is probably five I would have to have. You know, the kind that when you are asked what you would take on a deserted island with you, and you say “Well I would take, Free Rein by Gillian Rolton, Rob Thomas and some Tim Tams for sure”

So here they are:

Happy Riding & Keep Smiling

Mel x

 

 

 

 

So… You Bought a Horse, Now What?

jpegcoverartMy Book is due to be published very soon and I am super excited!!

I have worked on typing this book up for years; but it has really been a lifelong accumulation of idea’s, advice and study.  I am so proud!

I wanted to share the Table of Contents and an excerpt from my book to my faithful followers…

Table Of Contents

Chapter 9 is one of my favourite Chapters in the book.

I am a big fan of being on the ground for the initial stages of training and then transitioning to being in the saddle.

I like to be able to see my horses mannerisms, their eyes, their ears and let them take a big old look at me and work me out. They cannot do that if I am sitting on top of them. I like to also be on their level, physically, and let this relationship evolve. It is amazing how much your horse looks at you and takes you all in. Every now and again just stop what you are doing and look straight into their beautiful eye (or eyes). Look at them looking at you and feel the magic!

Chapter Nine

If you have any Comments or Feedback you can contact me via the Contact Page of this Website or by emailing me directly at melissa@melroseequestrianservices.com.au

Happy Riding & Keep Smiling

Mel x

 

 

 

15.09.2017 – Be You…

 

This is one of my favourite songs if I am feeling low. I love it.

I don’t care what they say about Miley Cyrus, I like her. Whether we agree with the things she does or not, at least she is brave enough to be herself,  you can’t take that off her.

Wherever you are today be happy that you are YOU 🙂

The good news is, there is nobody else in the world exactly like YOU.

That makes YOU special.

Happy Riding & Keep Smiling

Mel x

 

 

The 4 Bird Personality Test

bird-personality-test-dove-owl-peacock-eagle-1024x576

“To Know Thyself is the Beginning of Wisdom” ~ Socrates 

I am a big fan of knowing myself. I think if I get to know who I am more and more each day then not only does it make life easier by knowing how I may react or cope to things, but it can also help me discover things I may need to work on to be a better friend, relative or co-worker.

I first took this test in 2007. I had a boss who was an amazing individual. She was very thoughtful, kind and goal-oriented and I thought she was also a well rounded individual. She asked us if we wanted to take this test and I thought why not?

I was a Dove/Peacock mix with hardly any eagle and not much owl.

Here are the breakdowns of each bird:

Dove

The dove has a high emotional intelligence, while being very passive with communication. Positive traits of the Dove in the four bird personalities:

Patient, Giving, Trustworthy, Introverted, Avoids risk-taking, Respectful, Honest, Reliable, Easygoing

Negative traits of the Dove in the four bird personalities:

Dependent, Predictable, Follower, Gullible, Dependent on others

Owl

The owl has a high logical intelligence, while being very passive with communication. Positive traits of the Owl in the four bird personalities:

Introverted, Calm, Meticulous, Just, Mindful, Determined, Conservative, Detail-oriented, Careful, Curious

Negative traits of the Owl in the four bird personalities:

Distrusting, Self-centered, Indecisive, Vindictive, Short-sighted

Peacock

The peacock has high emotional intelligence, while being very active with communication. Positive traits of the Peacock in the four bird personalities:

Talkative, Open- minded, Energetic, Emotional, Charismatic, Social, Enthusiastic, Adventurous, Competitive

Negative traits of the Peacock in the four bird personalities:

Scattered, Emotional, Selfish, Controlling, Dominating, Power-hungry,

Eagle

The Eagle has high logical intelligence, while being very active with communication. Positive traits of the Eagle in the four bird personalities:

Charismatic, Honest, Takes initiative, Independent, Driven, Aggressive, Motivated, Compelling, Fearless

Negative traits of the Eagle in the four bird personalities:

Blunt, Unsympathetic, Egotistical, Controversial, Impatient, Pushy, Stubborn

The eagle is the most common personality type of the four birds, with just over 29% of the general population being an eagle type.

 

I took the test this morning to see how much I had changed (and grown) in the past ten years. The test results are much different then ten years ago.

Dove – 1, Owl – 3, Peacock – 7 and Eagle – 13

I like to know that I am capable of change, because change does mean growth. I am much more independent and driven then I have ever been with some sort of weird motivating and fearless growth spurt coming around age 38.

Perhaps it was because I was nearing the age that my mother was when she died. Perhaps change and age go hand in hand.

Either way knowing myself is key to success in my eyes.

I have done similar tests on my horses personality with the series Parelli Horsenality 

I found this so useful in training my horses and helping others assess their horses.Untitled.jpg

Knowing that Freddy and Moo are entirely different in their emotional needs and psychological set ups helps me be able to make their lives as stress free and enjoyable as I can. 

Both my boys are left-brained, with Freddy being an Introvert and Moo an Extrovert. Fred can be so indifferent and disinterested it’s like he isn’t even there.  

It can drive you mad!


Where as Moo is super smart and playful and so willing. He is always there, 100%, he is your wingman when you are riding him. 

So, get to know yourself and your horse’s personality and see how you can better relate to each other. It’s all about the relationship. 

Happy Riding & Keep Smiling

Mel x 

 

 

 

 

 

Halley’s Comet

Oh boy this is where I confess I am a space nerd 🙂

2This morning I tracked Halley’s Comet and this is it’s current position for anyone interested. 

I love this comet. I  love that I saw it. I love that I will see it again. See, I have decided that I will so it must happen. That’s how I work.

I love it, not only because the comet is linked to one of my favourite Authors Mark Twain but also because I saw it last time it flew past Earth and it was one of the most vivid memories of my life. 

I can’t be certain, but my memory tells me that we saw it in it’s outward approach past Earth in April 1986.

I was in the backyard, at my Grandparents house and we were setting off fireworks (those were the days) and my dad lent down to me (I was only 9 at the time) and he said “Lissy, you need to look at this, it’s important.” He picked me up and pointed and there it was. I can still remember it.

I track it’s position often. It keeps me grounded on how the world and the universe goes on without any help from me, there is beauty in that, a reminder that whilst we are relevant we are also quite irrelevant and we should always live in the now.

Live now, love now, get your dreams now. It’s that simple really.

My space fascination began when I was quite young; The Challenger disaster and the Apollo missions having only been completed in the 70’s gave me so much to read upon. It was a fresh topic in the world’s mind and was discussed at school a great deal. I remember I collected pictures of all of the Apollo mission patches and kept them in a diary. I built a paper mache space shuttle (much to the horror of my mother) when I was 15. It was over a metre tall and stood proudly (well to me) in our loungeroom.  download (21)

I remember when I first saw the Apollo 8 mission patch and it has always been my favourite. 

Jim Lovell is my favourite Astronaut. Not many people realise what a huge part he played in the Apollo and Gemini missions as he is remembered for the Apollo 13 mission and it’s near disaster. I still believe he should have been the first man on the moon, sorry Neil.

Back to Halley’s comet. So what will you be doing in 2024?

Halley’s comet will be at the Aphelion and swinging back to come toward us for it’s next flyby in 2061.

I will be 47 when it turns and 84 the next time I see it. I can’t wait.

I have riding goals that are set between now and 47. I also have other goals, but here are my riding ones…

Goals to 41 are to ride Novice.

Goals to 42 are to win a Novice Championship and ride Elementary.

Goals to 43 are to compete in Amateur Owner Championships, and State Championships.

Goals to 44 are to buy a second home, preferably a farm with stables and an arena and such and win an Elementary Championship.

Goals to 45 are to ride Medium.

Goals to 46 are to start a horse rescue facility for Ex-racehorses and perfect training the perfect Pony Club mount from an OTTB.

Goals to 47 are to win a Medium Championship.

So what are you going to do with your time until the comet turns? Write down some goals, map them out and get them done, life is here for the taking.

Happy Riding & Keep Smiling

Mel x

 

 

 

 

 

 

07.09.2017 – The OTTB – Part Six

This is Part Six of a series of blogs I am writing on OTTB’s and tips for training them. Please refer to Part One , Part Two,  Part Three , Part Four   and Part Five if you have not read them as yet.

Part Six; Routine & Work. But don’t forget Fun & Rest.

Routine

This one seems pretty self explanatory but I see so many people get it wrong time and time again. I really believe that if you do not have a balance of Work and Fun or Routine and Rest you will not end up being successful with an OTTB.

OTTB’s are used to a routine at the track, so keep that going. If they have been used to a routine since they were a baby then it is pretty fair to say that they will appreciate routine in their new life with you.

Routine’s are good for a number of reasons for your OTTB:

  •  They have a purpose; OTTB’s thrive on a sense of purpose. They love attention, can thrive under the correct kind of pressure and love to know what is coming next. So give them a sense of purpose by showing up to them and asking things from them.

 

  • It keeps them interested; Boredom in an OTTB is like boredom in an anxious person. It will do no good whatsoever. A horse that is bored can become that horse who gallops around the paddock bucking and bolting. Sometimes that is okay if he/she is having a little play time, but if they take a fall or slip in the mud; it’s vet bills galore! So keep them interested and in work and they can mentally rest for the remainder of the day in your absence.

 

  • Exercise; A healthy mind comes from good energy, exercise, breathing and a big hit of Seratonin! So keep that exercise coming for both of you.

 

  • Consistency; Being consistent is key to any good relationship. Turn up on time, be the same cheery partner to your equine friend. If a certain behaviour is rewarded one day it cannot be corrected the next. Be consistent with him/her and they will know what to expect but also what is expected of them.

Work

Work is one of the things I see people make mistakes with the most. Work is not putting your OTTB on the lunge and getting him under the whip in Canter until he is sweaty and dead-dog tired and “safe” for you to ride. That is cruelty. That is not work. 200w_s

And you will end up with a horse that looks at you like this !

Work is working together, well at least that is what I think and like us humans work can be physical or mental.

When you are riding your horse it should be broken into a few stages.

The first stage being a Warm-Up, the second stage being a Revision, the third stage is Work/Training and the fourth stage is Cool-Down.

So work is only a quarter of what you should be doing when you ride.

Work can come in many forms. Work can be walking and learning to leg-yield. Yes it is more mental than physical; but it is work all the same. Work can be Walk to Canter transitions which is both mental and physical. You need to also be aware of how much work you should do with an OTTB. They are all different and all learn differently so try to make your training sessions to suit their needs and your work will seem easier.

I do not work my horses a great deal. Freddy is worked twice a week maximum and three times a week in the lead up to a competition.

The two rides are training and revision and quite possibly for 30-45 minutes total (for the four stages). The third ride may just be a little 10 minutes on the lunge. A walk, trot and a canter both directions to see if he is sound. Or it may be a little light trot on a loose rein. Nothing more.

Moo is worked two to three times a week and four times a week in the lead up to a competition.

The first ride on Moo is just a Walk, Trot and a Canter both ways. I usually do a few pirouettes and a couple of leg yields at the trot and call it a day. The second and third ride is where we revise our learnings and maybe perfect a canter transition or work on a square halt. The fourth ride is the day before or the morning of the competition. Just to see where his mind is at, if he is responding to me and listening. I usually make this a very early morning ride; 6am if I can. OTTB’s are used to working in the morning and Moo loves the beginning of a day, so the day before the competition I appease him and give him a super happy time with me to build his confidence for the next day.

200_s

 

At the end of the day at a competition you want a horse that is happy and willing. A unicorn that canters and is positive and you feel as if you are in a magical story that is all about you!

Fun

Fun with your horse is what makes all the hours of work looking after them worthwhile. Owning a horse is a 24/7 hobby. You do not get to throw your horse into the shed like a set of golf clubs, leave your shoes full of grass and mud and then not see them again until next Sunday.

Owning a horse is like having another member of your family. It is expensive, time consuming and can break your heart if they get hurt or something goes wrong. So have fun when you can!

When I am at a competition or riding I have fun. If Moo puts in a little hump because he feels fresh I giggle at him. If he keeps searching my back pockets for carrots and nuzzling my back when I am picking out his hooves I go with it and laugh at him and enjoy the moment for what it is. Sometimes he laps at the hose like a dog for a drink so I let him enjoy that moment. Don’t be so serious and never ever forget how it felt when you were a little girl and Mum and Dad bought you your first pony!

When it comes to competing we can all forget at times to have fun and when you do, you miss out. The best thing about horses and animals in general is that they live in the moment. They do not worry about money, houses, careers, image or status. They just enjoy the sunshine and the day and moment for what it is. Remember to see the world through their eyes and when there is time for fun grab it with both hands and enjoy it!

Rest

Rest is so important in not only training an OTTB but life in general. If you do not get enough rest or enough sleep then you are no good to anyone and neither is your furry friend.

Ensure he/she has enough rest by providing them with a safe and secure home, a consistent feeding schedule, rugs and good quality hay to snack on if there is a cold winters night and clean fresh water that they can access at any time.

Resting to a horse is not the same as what rest is for us. Resting for a horse is about no stress, not necessarily sleep. They do not need a vacation to Hawaii to feel rested; they simply need to be left alone and have no stress.

I spell or rest my horses a lot. After each competition I give them at least 4 or 5 days to themselves. I rug and feed them but nothing more. I also give them most of December off. It is quite hot in Australia in December, it is also Christmas and my birthday so it is a good time to have a spell for both of us. A spell is a period of time where you do not bother your horse. In all relationships; whether that is with your OTTB, your friend or your partner, a period of not seeing each other can sometimes be just what is needed to come back to each other fresh.

So spell your horse often and give him/her a break from work and from you.

Happy Riding & Keep Smiling

Mel x

 

 

TVEG – 01.09.2017

On Saturday Moo and I travelled to Murwillumbah, NSW to attend the TVEG Winter Series #3 Dressage Day. 

_20170902_193341

It was a beautiful morning. A pre competition selfie was again an important part of the day 🙂 

Moo looks good 24/7, it’s amazing! I look good from about 14:00 to 14:03 (this was not one of those times)  🙂 This was about 5am.

He was like “Hmm, mum is here and it’s early and she is all excited? Yup, it’s a dressage day.”

And from there he put his game face on and his A-Game for me. 

DSC_2160

 

He travelled beautifully and we scooted up the highway and had this beautiful image in our sights most of the way. 

There isn’t much to complain about when this is what you can stare at for a few hours first thing. It makes me feel so peaceful and grateful for all that I have.

Meanwhile… Those are my fingerless gloves on the dash. Now explain to me, who came up with fingerless gloves? Do they realise that your fingers are cold when you wear them? Did they have unusually warm fingers and didn’t need gloves with fingers? The mind ponders….

But I digress….

IMG_20170902_111324_877

 

We arrived and there was nobody else there, so of course I panicked and wondered if I had the wrong day! But then another float turned up and I realised all was again good in the world.

Moo tied to the float like a superstar and was as cool as a cucumber. See Exhibit A !!! A rested hoof at a show! Crazy times… I was so happy. Look at him looking at me, he is thinking mum is being a lunatic because I have a hoof rested. I was stoked.

My little guy has come so far in only three comps. In July he had to be put in a yard because he just couldn’t tie to the float.

On Saturday I was able to leave him tied there in between tests while I searched for the perfect cup of coffee at morning tea time. I returned to find my little guy still tied there. These are all ticks on my list of small and achievable goals for Moo. 

Then came the big goals. Competing. I entered him in Preparatory D and Preliminary 1:3. I don’t much like riding the Preliminary 1:1 test. I don’t know why, but I realised a long time ago to not try to work out why I am particular with things so I just go with it. If I don’t want to ride a certain test (and there is no championship on the line) I just won’t ride it. Plain and simple.

The first test was at 10:00 and he felt lovely. We had warmed up for 55 minutes. 40 of those minutes were spent walking around and showing Moo everything, that way I could have his undivided attention when we trotted in at A. And I did. He was wonderful. I messed up a few times. I didn’t keep my legs on and his quarters drifted at times. In the first test I didn’t push him forward enough and he lacked impulsion in his test. But we still got a 60% and I was very happy with that.

IMG_20170902_193129_374

 

There was a 4 hour break until our next test (I know, dying over here) and so I went and gave Moo a bath at these executive wash bays.

Talk about goals. And look at the design of these. 🙂 Seriously why do we not have a reality TV series of stables and wash bays being renovated. Just saying…!!

“I would like a bespoke wash bay and a parochial style stable. “

 

We then warmed up for our second test at about 12:30. I could see Mt Warning the whole time and I realised that I need to hike that. So I will be in the next few weeks. Watch this space. 

I feel as Edmund Hillary when I think of hiking that Mountain and one of his most famous quotes.

“It’s not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves” 

It’s one of my favourite quotes. I’m a bit of a quotes person (as you would have realised).  🙂

It’s so true what he was saying. That the first real goal is to conquer ourselves, our own minds, our decisions and convince and push ourselves to do the things we want to do.

That’s life though isn’t it?? You get knocked down, you get up, you keep going. There are your choices right there. There aren’t any others. 

And back to the day.

I was fortunate enough to read the Judges comments on my first test before competing in the second. The Judge had said I needed to move Moo more forward so he would engage his back more. I took those comments on board. I have respect for our Judges and I take in what they say and learn from it. Being able to accept and absorb constructive criticism is key to success. 

So in the second test I did just that. I rode Moo more forward and into the movements rather than giving him time to adjust. I pushed him into his A-game and he got 7’s for his canter work and 6.5’s for his transitions. We are still having some resistance in the downward transitions (yes, yes, my seat is failing me I would think) and so I will work on that in the next few weeks before our next competition on the 17th September. 

Moo ended up with a 62.31% and 5th place in the Preliminary 1:3. I am so happy. If Moo continues to post these awesome scores I will be moving him up to Novice in October. I actually thought we wouldn’t get to Novice before the end of next year so right now he is a year in front of our goals in that respect. 

DSC_2174

And again Moo the ribbon-magnet comes through.

Hey look, my favourite primary colour is there LOL 

This was at the end of a 14 hour day, but I wouldn’t have spent it any other way 🙂

Our Goal for 2017 is to post a 65% in Prelim, so watch this space. 

Happy Riding & Keep Smiling

Mel x

26.08.2017 – The OTTB – Part Five

This is Part Five of a series of blogs I am writing on OTTB’s and tips for training them. Please refer to Part One , Part Two,  Part Three and Part Four  if you have not read them as yet.  

Part Five, get ready for it; Ignore the Haters. 

Everyone has a bad OTTB story. I tire at times. I think that not even half of the stories are true. I think the rest could quite possibly be inflated stories. I’m not trying to dismiss accidents I am just trying to be realistic.

Remember that most of our Gold Medals at the Olympics have been won on the backs of ex-racehorses. Just saying. 🙂

Granted, I have to admit it,  there are possibly a few OTTB’s that deserve their bad wrap. These may be the OTTB’s that were not rehabilitated or retrained properly or with the care and attention to detail they need and they have gone sour.

Buck Brannaman, who I think is phenomenal told a lady to destroy her horse on a video I saw once as he was a lost cause. If he can say that, maybe there is such a thing. That horse lost his chance because he was not rehabilitated properly. 

I take for example Sunline, the racehorse. She apparently hated people, bit her trainer, bit stablehands and jockeys; but she was a freak and could run like the wind. All the rave is about Black Caviar who had earnings of $7,953,936 in her career, but Sunline is still second on the list (to Makybe Diva) and had earnings of $11,351,607!!

Sunline’s racing career ended in early 2000’s and the prize money was less then than today. 

All I am saying is that yes, talent and nice manners aren’t always in the same room, but Sunline still never killed anyone nor was she involved in a major fall / accident. This means she is a good mount and partner despite all of this. And who knows, perhaps after racing, Sunline was a cool cucumber who loved people; maybe she hated racing. 

I am not having a go at the racing industry, but OTTB’s are there to make money plain & simple and if they don’t make money then they are not wanted anymore. In this environment, how could the true gentle nature of the OTTB shine? The racing industry provides me with good cheap horses who have a heart of gold.

Anyone who knows me, knows I am a massive fan of the OTTB. I think they are unicorns! The one thing I have learned over time, is to ignore what other people say about them.

I will do a disclaimer here though and I have said it in the series already. If you are a beginner or a first horse owner, an OTTB is not for you, this isn’t because they are dangerous, this is because they need to be taught some manners and you have to be horse savvy to accomplish this. If you cannot afford or do not live near a trainer, a stock horse is a much better choice. An OTTB has to be in the right hands to be able to have this gentle nature brought to the surface. If you are a beginner you could always purchase your OTTB and then send them to a trainer/coach for training; that could work also.

The best thing about an OTTB is that if they can handle life on the track and still be sound, you have a really good horse to begin with. Their agility, strength and mental stamina is amazing and they can be used for so many horse related activities once re-trained. Also, once out of the racing environment, given some freedom and lots of kindness their true gentle nature comes out.

I really do believe that all horses, including the OTTB are kind. Horses are not malicious, vengeful or hateful by nature. Prey animals just aren’t like that and the horse is no different.

OTTB’s are given the wrap that they are spooky and unpredictable. I’ll give you a big nod to that, yes they are. 

'I am Prince Fiffleniffle II, my lineage can be traced back 300 years and I am worth millions.'

But probably no more spooky or unpredictable than a Fresian or Warmblood at their first dressage show either.

The problem is if an OTTB spooks and you can’t handle it, you have a horse that is trained to run over 70km/h underneath you, so this is going to scare the banana’s out of anyone (I’ve been there, done that, I even bought the T-Shirt). 🙂

I found the best way to get an OTTB to settle is trust. It is the same as any relationship really. You have to trust each other and you have to trust your OTTB in his decisions, even if you don’t understand them. A good friend doesn’t deliberately scare their friends.

For example, I am afraid of clowns, there I said it. This awesome fear comes from my Sister who I will thank now, Thank you !!!! :/

We had been to a local show and my parents bought my sister a clown mask. I don’t remember the purchase of said item. What I do remember is her waking me up that night and me rolling over to the most downright scary clown mask I have ever seen. It was white with big scary crosses for eyes with yellow hair on it and she was making  ghost noises.

Again thank you!

Every time the circus is in town I can barely look at the poster, even at 40 years old.

So, don’t deliberately scare your new friend, your OTTB. If you see a person coming with an umbrella, a small child with a toy bike or a dog that is yapping maybe walk around them in a large circle. Don’t let things come up behind your OTTB and scare the willies out of them. Think like a friend and he/she will not spook. 

Once you gain their trust, you then have a super fit athlete who can jump the moon and have the trot of a dutch warmblood (ok, maybe not exactly lol) but you will start to have better competitions and you will slowly but surely go up the placings and the grades.

I saw a shirt the other day. It said “You don’t scare me, I ride an OTTB”

Riding an OTTB and training him/her takes guts because you have to untrain and retrain something. That ain’t for the faint-hearted. So go you if you are doing this. 🙂

Happy Riding & Keep Smiling

Mel x

 

 

23.08.2017 – The OTTB – Part Four

This is Part Four of a series of blogs I am writing on OTTB’s and tips for training them. Please refer to Part One , Part Two and Part Three if you have not read them as yet. 

Part Four is by far one of my favourites; Building Confidence.

Building confidence is not just about your new furry friend, it is also about you.

Taking an OTTB fresh from the track to a Dressage Competition, Show Jump show or a local Club day can be daunting. 

download

He/she may be a little nervous and scared at all this new stuff !!

Any of us who have been there will know you kind of have to roll the dice on the day!

Especially the first outing.  

You can prepare as much as you like by hacking them out on trail rides and driving them around and visiting places on the float, but nothing is going to prepare you for what you might get at your first show.

And you need to be mentally and physically prepared to go through it. The Dressage test, even if you are an Eventer, will be the most difficult. Your OTTB cannot run and get the anxiety out of him that way, he has to accept the 60×20 and go through it; and that even means walking! 15

I relate it to the top of Everest, that’s your goal!

Everest is a nice supple, soft and responsive horse who ties to the float, is a dream and stands still when you want to get a coffee or break for lunch and in the ring gets 6’s and up the entire test.

Everest sounds awesome yes! Getting there will be a hard slog of a climb, but when you are there the view will be breathtaking and everything will seem worth it.

That’s what building confidence is like. 

It’s a bit of a double-edged sword at times too.

70dfe1b048a7b3a8b452e3dc1ae95517

 

You want this awesome new horse of yours to go out and do his thing (and let’s be honest; win a ribbon or a rug maybe too!) 

but in order to do that you have to go to probably a dozen or shows before he/she gets their head in the game.

Those shows can be hard work; plain and simple.

As I am a goal-setter from way back, (yes, my Grandmothers next door neighbours dog was quite possibly a goal-setter) I find it easier than some to conquer this part of the plan. I do not expect much and I am therefore surprised often.

I will admit though, the first time I took Moo to a Dressage Comp, afterwards I cried like a child. I threw a tantrum and was very “poor me” about it all, but then I realised; Mel you set yourself up for failure, and I have never done it again.

It had been a while since I had trained an OTTB and I had forgotten how bad that first show can go! 😦 I put way too much pressure on myself and him and well… I blew it.

So here is my first piece of advice to building confidence “Expect the unexpected and yet expect nothing also” (maybe that should be on a shirt somewhere). 🙂 

Don’t expect too much; out of you, out of your horse. It’s not fair on either of you and nerves will do you no favours come competition day.

Horses feed off energy. They are herd animals and in a herd environment, well.. they react like the rest of the herd. They do not think for themselves if there is spook in the air. They react with flight, fight or freeze the same as us humans do.

If you are a nervous wreck your OTTB will be like “Why are you nervous? Is there something to be nervous about? Am I about to be eaten by that giant yellow umbrella?” They will feed off you and you will make them anxious and they will in turn

download

make you anxious by being anxious and you will again be more anxious and so will they.

(Insert a new Dr Suess book here) 

This one is my favourite though just in case anyone was wondering 🙂 

All I am saying is Building Confidence and fear cannot be in the same room together.

I have learned that it is okay to be scared and anxious but to not show it. But to be truthful I am not scared or anxious when I am on a horse, very unlike my two legged self. I have the same fears as other people but when I put my foot in the stirrup I accept that the worst possible thing that can happen is that I am killed. The second worse is that I end up in a wheel-chair.

Can I accept that fate? Yes. So what is their to be anxious about really?

The way to build confidence is by having fun, making everything a positive, even when it isn’t and just getting on with it. That’s life though isn’t it, just keep on keeping-on. One foot in front of the other; always. 

If your horse is nervous then I have a few little tips I use and they quite often work.

  1. Be prepared and get there early. Just be early, be prepared, try to get there when the place is empty if you can. If you arrive and there is 50 floats there and 80 horses then it is alot more daunting then pulling into a deserted show ground and cars and floats arriving.
  2. I try to walk as much as I can, I mean like for an hour or so before I start to warm up; just walk. If I am on at 10:00 I will be in the saddle by 8:30 at least. 
  3. Transitions. Just heaps of them ok. Walk to Trot, Trot to Walk, Rein backs, Halts, Canter circle for half a circle then walk for minutes. Just mix it up, keep them interested in you. 
  4. Kicking it up a gear is the one Moo responds to most. If I am walking and he is not listening I then Trot. If I am trotting and he is not listening I Canter. I go Trot to Canter, Canter to Trot until he gets a little puffed and then goes “Hey Mel, can we walk? Let’s go back to where you asked me to walk!” This one works ever time.

If you are at a show and someone offers you advice, at least listen to what they have to say. You never know, they might have trained OTTB’s for twenty years and can help you out. Never be afraid to take sound advice.

Also, never be afraid to ignore advice that is not in the best interest of you or your best mate. 

Happy Riding & Keep Smiling 

Mel x