Hippoi Athanatoi

Dogs & Horses

A Testing Time

This week the time had come for our group to ride through the dressage program our instructor had put together for us. The weather, alas, wasn’t on our side. It has rained a lot the last few days, and it kept on raining for most of today (well, yesterday, seeing as it is just past midnight now). It did clear up in the evening, but the wind remained behind and got a lot stronger. Lovely conditions for warming up in the paddock. ;P

Fortunately, the horses had already had some lessons today, so Murphy was pretty much clean and shiny when I got to the stables. I had entertained some notions about braiding his mane, but given that they recently pulled it, it was much too short and thin to do anything with. He’s got a thick tail (sadly its a rather odd blend of colours, though) and thick fetlocks, but a fairly sparse mane. I did make sure to brush him thoroughly, though given the conditions of the paddock that was pretty much a waste of time, and his mood was quite good today as well.

It Doesn’t Get Much Better

Last summer, I took three private lessons. It managed to rain each time. Today, I had a private lesson again, and sure enough, we got rain for the first time in a good while.  Not a major problem, as such, since the plan was to be indoors either way, but when I got to the stables I got a small shock. I passed by the pony stalls, and saw a grey pony I didn’t recognize. Oh, a new pony, I thought. Then I looked again. No, not a new pony, just a Ricki. However, he was so covered in mud that he appeared grey instead of black and white. How he managed to get so spectacularly dirty I’ll never understand.

Murphy, fortunately, wasn’t quite so badly off, though his white patches weren’t really that colour any longer. He was also soaking wet across the back, and had some dried mud in awkward places, like over much of his head. Fun, fun, fun, I thought, especially considering his usual opinion on people spending a lot of time in his stall to pretty him up. But I was in for a big surprise. Not only did he not glare at me with his ears pinned back as soon as I got into his stall, but he actually appeared to enjoy being brushed, standing there quite relaxed and half asleep. Even his right shoulder, normally a forbidden zone, posed no problem at all. He was a totally different horse from what he’s usually like in the evening, and he clearly prefers it when the stable is nice and calm, without too many people moving around.

In Theory

Today, alas, was just a theory lesson, which we spent discussing the little dressage program that we’ll be riding next Tuesday.That should merit a much longer report, to make up for the rather brief one this week. Hopefully, I’ll be on Murphy, though admittedly he’s far from ideal for this kind of thing. In theory, it is an easy enough program, but I will really have to work hard during the warm-up to get him forward, attentive and happy enough to keep him going once we get inside. The canter passages will be especially tough.

Of course, I’ve got one small advantage: I am having a private lesson on Thursday, which should be on Murphy as well as long as nothing unforeseen happens. That, too, will merit a more thorough report.

Moving Forward Sideways

Since we’ve all of a sudden been overwhelmed by summer temperatures in early May (not precisely normal for around here), I was figuring the risk of us riding out was pretty big today. Now, I know I get Murphy for these little outings, so I don’t really need to worry (I am a total chicken riding outdoors, and big horses are a total no-no then), but for my single riding lesson per week I much prefer to do some serious work. Especially since we have very little in the way of riding paths around the riding school since a bunch of new houses were built. Given this, it was a pleasant surprise to hear that a) I’d be riding Murphy again and b) we’d be doing dressage.

Much, Much Better

Today’s lesson could actually be summed up with a single word (and one exclamation sign): wow!. However, that’d make for a pretty boring post, so I’ll elaborate some. ;)

After last week’s small glimmer of improvement among all of the so-so riding, I had really been hoping I’d get to continue on Murphy, so I was very pleased when I got assigned to him again. Murphy, alas, seemed less pleased, since he made a serious effort to take a bite out of my face as I was trying to get some of the mud and sweat out of his coat beneath his belly. These last weeks he has behaved quite well, and he’s been very good about moving aside when nudge him on either shoulder, but today he was clearly in a mood again and threw a real tantrum when I nudged his right shoulder. That’s the one he can be really difficult about, but today he started threatening quite a bit when I insisted, and even after he had given in I had to really watch my back. Still, he looked positively charming next to the new horse (Tierra), whom I suspect won’t last too long at the riding school.

Still in a Slump

With my whip (it broke off towards the end last week) fixed up like a broken leg with a thin nail and some black thread, but without any new boots or leggings, I headed off for today’s lesson at least decently prepared. At the stables, I found a new horse in Teneriffa’s stall (she’s recuperating in the loose box reserved for sick horses). Quite a pretty lady called Tierra who looked like she might not be too much taller than Fleur or Sammy. Perhaps someone I can try out, I thought, though when I asked about her later she sounded a bit frisky, so we’ll see. Either way, I didn’t have to worry about riding anyone frisky today, as it was Murphy time for me again.

Speeding on Sammy

Today was, quite clearly, not a good day for riding. At least not for me. First, my whip broke off towards the end. I knew I should have gotten a new one during the horse show. ;P Now I have to wait a year if I want the same, or track down something similar from another vendor. Plus, its another thing on my rapidly growing list of horsey things I need to buy.  It currently reads boots (my old ones have only thin, smooth soles left, with no traction at all, plus they’re cracking), leggings (to go with my jodhpurs), hat (I think its a bad sign when the insides of it are crumbling), a couple of shirts/t-shirts (just to look a bit more presentable) and, now, a whip too.

The riding itself didn’t start so poorly, though. I was assigned Sammy, and then I ended up switching with Gamir’s rider during the brushing & tacking up since she’s a bit scared of him. He tried to take my fingers off again when I was bridling him, and this time I noted it to the instructor once we were down in the arena, since he’s never been quite so bitey before. Sammy seemed a bit testy too, as well as quite a bit frisky. I should have known he’d have lost of extra energy given that they’ve had an extra rest over Easter,

Horse Show: Sunday

Today we had tickets for the horse show again, but fortunately for the afternoon show instead of the one in the morning (as was the case on Friday) since too much food and too little sleep meant that we had a pretty hard time crawling out of bed at a reasonable hour. Still, we did manage to get there about an hour and a half before the final show jumping event (the final of the Western European league of the FEI World Cup) started, which allowed us to spend that time browsing through the trade show.

Horse Show: Friday

We spent the day at the 30th annual Göteborg Horse Show, which I have attended every year since the early 1980s (more precisely, I think I went for the first time in 1982). The program today consisted of a speed class to start with, the Young Rider (under 21) final, a display by police dogs and their handlers, mounted games featuring teams from Sweden, England, Scotland and Ireland and another pair of jumping classes to finish the day off.

Serpentines, Shoes and Shopping

The improvement in my mood from last week’s riding lesson started to wear off around Sunday, leaving me pretty badly off on Monday and early today. I could definitely use another riding lesson each week, to keep that from happening, but right now that just isn’t doable. Perhaps next semester, though. And hopefully the positive effects from this week’s lesson might last a little longer, as I got to ride Murphy again and did reasonably well too. There’s also the horse show to look forward for this weekend.

My Fingers Do Not Taste Like Chicken

Last week was a theory lesson, plus I couldn’t make it to the stables anyway since no one was around to give me a lift. So, it has been a long two weeks, and the last few days I have been seriously depressed. Not just because of the missed lesson, I imagine, but it sure didn’t help. Given that, I was really looking forward to today’s class. Unfortunately, the rearrangements of the various groups on Tuesdays has meant that we now have some people in our group that used to be in a dressage-only group. One of them was feeling very nervous about jumping, and of course the instructor ended up putting her on Murphy. Argh!

I mean, I don’t begrudge anyone who is nervous a calm horse, because I know the feeling, but the jumping lessons have been the only lessons I have been more or less certain to get Murphy for. Now, she’ll likely get him for the rest of the semester for the jumping, so I really have to hope I get him for more dressage lessons instead. I got Gamir today, and he’s likely to be the one I’ll get for jumping classes if she continues on Murphy, and that’s not a bad deal at all—as long as I still get to ride Murphy regularly.

A Curvy Class

When I got to the stables this week, I found a new horse in Malupin’s stall (he’s injured again, so he’s resting in one of the shiny new stalls in the newly built addition to the stables); a gorgeous Fjord-horse mix called Prins. A touch on the small size (around 140 cm, I think), though he may be sturdy enough to carry my weight-group, and if so I really hope I get to try him. Today, however, I was back on Murphy, so I was pretty happy with that. ;) I was a little less happy about the fact that we’re now a full group (i.e, 10 people), plus we had one extra rider today by mistake. Better, though, than this group being cancelled, but I really do hope it thins out a little bit in the next year. Down to 7 or so would be nice.

Running Around

Before I got to the stables today, I had read on the club webpage that they were temporarily cancelling the two classes following upon ours. They’ve had trouble filling those up enough for them to be profitable, so the decision was made to cancel them until it looks like another class for adults is needed. Initially, I worried that we might end up with a new instructor due to this, as she would get quite few lessons on Tuesday and might switch to another day, but it seems that isn’t happening. The change might also allow us to do a double lesson now and then, for example for jumping, or to extend the lesson to a full hour, so that’s good news. I am just hoping it won’t mean we end up with all the big horses to an even larger extent than before, since we’re now the only adult group of the day. We’ll see how it works out in the next weeks, I guess.

Frosty Toes & More Turns

March 7th, and still winter, with piles of lovely white snow ... and wickedly cold evenings. I guess that’s what I get for wishing for a real winter for years. ;) And to be honest, I don’t mind it most of the time, just for when I go riding. I don’t want to pack on too much clothing (though the Mountain Horse jacket I bought last year is fabulous, so I do pretty well with that and two thin layers underneath), and its particularly tricky to keep hands and feet warm. Particularly when you don’t have much in the way of blood circulation. ;P

However, I really shouldn’t complain. After all, I got Murphy again! At first, she thought she had put me on Gamir, but then realized it was supposed to be Murphy. I told her I really didn’t mind, even if Gamir is a very lovely horse too. ;) As it happens, I ended up getting both Murphy and Gamir ready, because the woman who was given Gamir is a bit scared of him in the stables. No wonder, really, as he’s surprisingly acrobatic when he kicks, which he does for much of the time when being brushed and saddled. So, I got to deal with two slightly grumpy horses, but I really feel so much more confident on the ground these days, and I think they noticed it because both of them behaved quite well. Murphy is still not happy to move his right shoulder away from me, and just has to put on his best threat-face whenever I insist, but he does end up doing what he’s told.

The Other Irish Boy

As I had figured, my instructor had already forgotten about keeping me on Murphy for a while. Well, that or she wasn’t able to use him for our lesson today. Either way, I ended up with Sammy, the other Irishman in the stables. I think this was the first time since our not-so-successful lesson together between Christmas and New Year’s, when too little exercise + cold weather + firecrackers had Sammy what felt like half a meter above ground for much of the lesson. As a result, I was feeling a teensy bit nervous, and given the cold weather & snow I was expecting some friskiness today as well.