Monday, 2 January 2017

2017 - Making it the Best Year Yet!!!

I decided to start a new blog this year, to cover what I'm working on with my horses and share the posts to my Facebook pages, as it makes it easier for me to navigate older posts. Then I found this blog already set up, which I'd totally forgotten about (I am a serial blogger!!!), so I'll resurrect this one.

I've been having fun for the last few weeks with Natasha Altoff's Make 2017 Your Best Year Yet. I haven't joined her program as she's a bit more organised than I'd even like to be but I love her energy and enthusiasm and have been very inspired by her free videos on goal setting. I tend to be a bit too laid back and inclined to procrastinate so I need to sharpen up my act a bit for 2017!!!

So, with that in mind, I'll list where I am now and my goals for this year, and beyond:

Now - we have fairly solid passage (still can't believe I can say that!!!), piaffe is coming along and her canter is better than I once would have ever dared to hope! Trot half pass is coming along well. All her lateral work in walk is very well established, and, with the exception of half pass, all the lateral movements in trot and canter as well. Thanks to clicker training she is almost always one hundred per cent on side and motivated to give everything her very best (the only exception being very occasionally when she's really rampantly in season and just wants to stop and gaze at the boys!!!)

Goals - working on improving everything further, especially her canter work, and starting working
towards tempi changes and canter pirouette. Getting piaffe well established under saddle and improving expression in passage. Getting half pass really solid in trot and working on canter half pass. Keeping everything fun for her (and for me) by doing lots more liberty playing around, pole work (which she loves) and anything else that takes our fancy. Last year I was a bit too focussed on ridden dressage schooling and, although she didn't seem to mind, I think I was in danger of losing the fun element a little.

 Now - Rico is now nearly five and a half years old and so far I have only sat on him a few times in the stable but I do think it's taken him until now to mature enough mentally for me to be able to hopefully back him safely and without incident (fingers firmly crossed!!!). Now he's turned out near the barn I lead him in and out on his own which means we do a little bit of clicker training twice a day on the way in and out. He understands how to stay calm and concentrate, even when other horses are galloping about. He has learnt to offer shoulder in on both reins, which he does very elegantly, and will stop, start and rein back on a loose lead, copying me. He has also taught himself, as a product of shoulder in, to tuck his nose in and draw himself up through his withers, to tempt me to click and treat him, so we already have the beginnings of collection

Goals - After much deliberation, and much as I'd love to stay bitless, I am going to introduce Rico to a bit and see how he feels about it. I have just found with Bella, after much experimentation, that a bit makes obtaining and maintaining correct bend and flexion so much easier. The small amount of in hand work I've done with Rico so far has been in a bitless Micklem, and he's been very light and responsive in it, so if he really hates a bit I'll go back to that, for now anyway, but I will give a bit a try. 2017 will be the year when I start riding him properly and continue introducing him to all the lateral work, in hand and ridden, all taught with the clicker, of course!!!

 Now - Jack is my other Dales and Bella's half brother. I've had him since he was an unbacked three.year old and he will be sixteen this year, a year older than Bella. He was born with a slightly deformed eye which he only has partial sight in and he has always had confidence issues, particularly when ridden. I haven't ridden him for quite a few years now as, although I got him to the point where he was pretty confident and happy working in hand, I always felt he was too anxious to ever really relax and enjoy being ridden so eventually I stopped. Jack has always been the master of lateral work and has always found it easy, and whenever I forget how to do anything in hand I always get him out to teach me again!

Goals - Recently it occurred to me that I can't remember the last time that anything spooked him when I'm leading him around, he is so calm and confident these days, so I thought maybe I'd give riding him another go and see if I can get him to enjoy it now. He is lovely to sit on, so much bigger and more powerful than Bella, and he's such a personality I have always loved him to bits and been sorry that I couldn't seem to find a way to get him to really enjoy being ridden. Maybe now is our time!!!


  1. That all sounds great! I look f*wd to hearing how it all goes. (That word is my own personal F word, i hate it, so many people say you more of it, without having the faintest idea of self-carriage or balance...)

    I too love the combination of in hand, ridden, and liberty.... and the idea of playing with stuff. I love my dressage/fine, precise dancing... and need occasional reminders to keep it fun. I've enjoyed thinking about my goals with Natasha. My aim is to keep my eye on "improving" my work with my horse. I always say i love the "journey", and i totally DO! But i believe i can ALSO move our work up the levels - something i've been a little unfocussed about - AND keep it fun for Looli.

  2. Thank you very much, Shan, and I'd love to hear about how you and Looli progress this year too!!! Xx