Saturday, 26 July 2008
For those of you who wonder why Wiola isn't writing any updates let me tell you, this is all because of Roise! My Connemara friend has landed herself some sort of lameness and is hiding the problem so well that she has to go the vet clinic (scary!) for further investigations.
As Wiola comes to my yard to teach My Feed Provider on Roise and one other servant who works for a friend of mine (the chestnut in nearby field), my schooling is somewhat put on hold. Not that I am complaining too much really ;)
Monday, 16 June 2008
Our today's session was very successful and I must say I am impressed with his improvement. I wouldn't say he is the cleverest of horses but he does try to understand and you can almost hear his brain cells working!

Getting ready: hmm, I think I spotted an unattended polo...


After the ride: all tired :)


I rode with some classical music in my ears today and it worked wonders. I seem to focus more when riding with music. It's almost as if the creative/feeling part of my brain gets switched off with double power.
We worked a lot on bending today and I asked him to flex his neck a lot both ways without drifting from the straight lines. He definitely improved on this since last time and didn't try to turn even once. His stiffer right side still need a lot more work than the left side.

Transitions were generally better too with more quality to downwards ones than at last session. I challenged him today with plenty of changes of rein across diagonals and half circles in trot and worked on him taking the outside contact.

He strongly evades me on the right rein which unfortunately is my weaker side and I don't progress there as much as I would wish. He still felt easier today than a fortnight ago so some messages must be getting through!

And some more pictures from today, all thanks to Helen who arrived just a minute before I was due to finish and snapped us coming back from the field :)




And this is what Columbus always does after I spend some time sponging him down:

Tuesday, 3 June 2008
Pic.: I bet she has polos...

Columbus felt a little stronger today than a fortnight ago and his winter coat is almost completely gone.
He was argumentative to start with but settled very quickly. I worked a lot on stretching his very stiff left side (unusually!). His left rein work is reasonably soft in comparison to the right rein work.
He coped well with 45 minutes workload and I will be increasing the amount of trot and canter we do as we go along.
For now, it is very much down to basics with major focus on suppleness and acceptance of the outside rein. There is a lot of horse to ride when you are on him and balancing his body around the corners and circles is a mega challenge!

Pic.: Can I go back into my field now?...

Pic.: Let's monitor the pudginess...
Monday, 19 May 2008

It was great to see Helen and Columbus again today! The Big Man has rather substantial fatty deposits but is now back into systematic fitness regime and who knows we might even have a play with some local unaffiliated dressage tests once he muscles up and gets fitter.

He had a bit of a strop to start with but once over, he remembered everything we worked on last year and I was really pleased with him. He makes me work mega hard as he is so wide that he virtually eats the whole of the length of my legs (not that there is much to it anyway!) but after riding him any other horse seems narrow and easy ;) Riding Columbus feels like being sat on the top of a mountain!

We worked a lot on flexions and softeness in his mouth and I must say I was pleasantly surprised at how much he remembered and how well he coped with the workload. I am looking forward to the next schooling session in a fortnight.

Columbus seemed rather proud of himself and hopefuly enjoyed meeting his Personal Trainer again ;)))
Wednesday, 20 February 2008
There is a big chance Columbus and I will meet again very soon! He is now being put back into work after winter off and Helen is starting to walk him.
Stay tuned!
Monday, 29 October 2007
Last moment update: due to a very sad circumstances Columbus is now roughed off until early January when we might meet again.
Friday, 12 October 2007
Columbus felt stiffer today than the last time I rode him and his breathing was not quite right. I am told he has respiratory problems at this time of the year so that would explain why he was tired and out of breath quite quickly.
We did, however, had quite a good session and there is definite improvement in his reactions.
Here is what we did today, step by step, so it can be replicated if desired by Basil - the owner and regular rider.
I work a lot in walk on Columbus because he is a little overweight and very inflexible. Walk work allows me to teach him various things without overtiring him.

Arena at the top field. Work consisted of:

20 minutes walk work
One round on the left rein (loose rein) followed by change of rein (paying attention to seat aids - inside seat bone heavier; and asking for bend with inside leg) and one round on the right rein.
This I repeated three times and I kept Columbus on the inside track (1m or so away from the outside track) making sure he is walking straight and is looking straight (no looking around).

Then I picked up good contact (steady, firm but no backwards pull) on both reins and, still in walk, proceeded onto circle work. Because Columbus has major stiffness problems I started riding 20p shape instead of a true circle. I kept it roughly of 20m diameter and rode on a straight line for a four strides, then slight turn (shifting the weight down to my inside seat bone, bringing my outside shoulder forward inside shoulder back - to position them parallel to his shoulders; using the inside leg to bend the body to the inside, outside leg to move the quarters in, outside rein steady, firm and pressing slightly against his neck, inside rein slightly away from the neck showing the direction; slight 'sponging' on the inside rein to move the bit in Columbus's mouth and encourage him to flex the jaw), then straight again and so on.
I repeated that 2 times on each rein, then moved onto true circles in a sequence: 20m circle left, change of rein 10m circle right and so on in a figure of eight. Changes of rein in this manner improve the balance and circle work on different diameters have suppling qualities.
After about 15 minutes of that work he started coming rounder and softer on my hands. It is a very hard work both for him and the rider because he would happily just turn bu barging with his inside shoulder and turning his neck and head the opposite way. It is the matter of showing him that he must move away from the inside leg towards the firm but sympathetic outside rein (allowing for the bend but keeping the contact).

10 minutes walk to halt and walk to trot transitions with frequent changes of rein (every round)

Columbus has a tendency, when asked to halt, to immediately resting his left hind leg and to pull on reins and play with the bit. I gave him a firm nudge with my left leg every time he rested his leg and although it took us numerous tries he finally started halting with all four legs planted on the ground. As to playing with the bit/pulling I groaned at him 'No!' every time he did it and gave him a slap with the rein against his neck. Again after several tries he stopped and halted with his head quietly positioned.
I then started to ask him for a little flexion in the jaw and the poll by moving the bit in his mouth when we halted. He is very stubborn and stamped his foot a few times but when he understood he will not be allowed to do anything else but to soften the jaws he finally did it. I was very gentle and never pulled backwards but simply kept persevering.
Once he offered softer outline I repeated the walk to halt transitions asking him to stay on the bit and rounder. He did it quite well about 10 times!

Once I got him responding well we moved to walk to trot transitions - three strides in walk, several in trot, back to walk for three strides etc. I made sure I half halt with my body first (engaging stomach muscles, sitting tall and centred in the saddle with leg contact to maintain impulsion in trot) before applying the half-halt on the outside rein, then full halt. After a few transitions that were a bit all over the place he got the idea of working his back legs a bit better and some of his transitions were very good - sharp yet calm, soft and very obedient.
Transitions like the above sharpen the horse and teach him to use the back end. They also work on horse's sense of balance and connect the front end with the back end thanks to rider's contact (correct one!) on the reins.

8-10 minutes trot work on three loop serpentines

Three loop serpentines are a great exercise as they ask for a change of rein and a change of flexion.With Columbus this requires a full-time effort from the rider as he evades at every step! It is worth to stay on his case though as he really gets the idea and tries to bend. This is very much a work in progress and needs to be done as often as possible.
He looses impulsion on top of the loops and needs the rider to keep legs on. Bending is very hard to him but he was trying and we managed inside flexion most of the time.

Every few minutes throughout the whole session I also gave him a minute or so breaks asking for a stretch alike one on the chambon.

5 minutes canter work

Columbus was very tired by the time I asked for a canter and so I only did a few rounds on each rein. His canter is still very unbalanced and laboured when confined to the arena. We did two 20m circles but the ground was slippery and he was quite tense.
There is a lot to be done on his canter but we need to wait for him to get fitter, loose weight and for his respiratory problems to settle down.

10 minutes cool down walk on a long rein in the big field,

In the end I jumped off and walked him back to the stands. After having him sponged down and fed him polos (shouldn't really as he looked a little porkier than last week!) I took him to his field and did some ground work with him asking for a turn on the forehand both ways. He tried and stumbled his way around to get the polos! He managed a few correct steps.

The he proceeded to roll in the muddiest place.


Hi, my name is Columbus and up until July 2007 I didn't really have to do much. I know I am a rare breed i.e. I am special and so everybody should treat me like a king. I mean, I spend all days with two nice Connemara ladies; we chat, eat and enjoy life! What more could one want!
I am an easy going chap but if I don't understand something I can get stroppy and will let you know I am not quite happy, that is for sure.
I have great owners but Lady Owner (who also owns this nice grey mare -Rosie- I share my field with) decided she wanted some lessons and so I somehow got involved.
I was not overly happy with my first training session but then my Owners got a little more involved. I started getting more attention and I figured that this whole training might not be too bad...Then I heard Wiola saying I have 'presence' and 'could be great with a bit of training' so I thought I would participate in this circus...for now!

Wiola decided to keep this diary to record my progress. Well, I won't be arguing...