Friday, November 4, 2011

Rex in the Morning Sun

Early mornings are never my best friend, not unless my real best friend, large coffee is up to salute the rising sun is with me. With the hour time change last weekend, I expected marvelous bright mornings to whistle my way to work, instead it’s just another grey dreary sky to kick start the day. The saving grace after mucking out is always the prospect to sit on some beautiful horses.
These last few weeks we’ve been working on letting them down after a hectic show season. It’s refreshing to be able to work all the boys and not have to push to be ready for shows each weekend. Each horse has so much to teach me and even though they all have their own foibles the training can be similarly gratifying. Working on stretching, allowing muscles to work and get stronger but still be able to loosen and ease out any kinks from the work. Sessions can now be extended but with more breaks and less emphasis put on actual test movements but patiently taking the time to really feel every step.
With each horse I’ve made a point of closing my eyes in the walk and just asking myself what can I feel, what is my horse asking of me, where he needs support and how can I guide him best. Rex, my main horse is always a pleasure to exercise but recently he’s taking huge steps forward. With the new saddle, the help of a great farrier and massage therapist the final work is all down to me and it’s perfect not to have any excuses. I always remember an old trainer of mine telling me the hard work always outs in the end, those who makes excuses now on the grey rainy days will be the same ones making excuses on competition day. Well, at nationals this year I made far too made excuses, it’s time to get down to work and show how fantastic this horse is.

It’s time to send my show jacket off to the dry cleaners, put my show boots away and just spend some quality time with each horse.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

The Picture of Elegance (Thin and Tall?)
I just got back from the gym, first time back in over three weeks. A bit of a switch from the fanatic every day six days a week, sometimes twice a day. If I’m truthful, I didn’t miss it one tiny bit. Usually when I miss a day I get that niggling feeling in the back of my brain, right around the same place, towards the back on the left near guilt. This time however I took a few moments to muse why and where it was all coming from.
Most of you who know me, know the I have this annoying habit of talking without thinking, uncensored and incessant. It turns out that it hasn’t really worked in my favour.

Run like You've Stolen It

Friends in the horse world like to tell me all about what I should be doing in the gym or not doing, friends in the fitness world like to do the same and friends in bodybuilding and weightlifting are equally as outspoken. I suppose if I’m willing to discharge my thoughts to all and sundry, all and sundry will offer an opinion back. Amongst all of that, I never really took the time to figure out what I wanted from all this time and effort at the gym.
Other riders and trainers are so determined than it’s all about being slim, constantly telling me to watch the weightlifting. Trainers at the gym want me aiming for marathons, despite the fact I can’t abide running, and those ever friendly bodybuilders who just can’t help coming up to me in the gym when my head’s about to explode from the amount of weight I’m lifting to tell me I’m not lifting nearly heavy enough and why am I so thin. Why are we so quick to decide for people whats right for them?

All About The Size

While I’m getting my head right deciding where I want to go with the gym work, let me allay some of your fears. I am naturally slim, always was and always will be, I will never be too heavy, too muscled up for my horses. I can run and regularly do, usually after my horse as he cavorts across the paddock and thats all I ever want to be able to do, and for those of you wondering if I’m ever going to add some size or muscle, since starting in the gym I’ve added over nearly 50lbs of muscle, for those of you who are horsey, that's a big bag of horse feed.

A work in Progress

Friday, September 30, 2011

National Notes

I woke up to bright blue skies, the kind of blue that looks photo-shopped. Day one of Nationals, after a hazy confused moment I realised I was looking at a travel brochure that I’d fallen asleep reading the night before. Outside the window, it was pitch black and I could hear the sound of wet socks, saggy muddy bandages, smelly boots and wet horses rain. Maybe there was a chance of it clearing as dawn came through, fat chance!
Cavan Equestrian Centre, host of the 2011 National Dressage Championships, a place that is both dear and dreaded in my eyes. Nationals are the culmination of the years training and hard work, signifying the pinnacle of knowledge gleaned and experience gained. If it goes well, the year is worthwhile, not so well and you’re left wondering what on earth have you been doing for the last twelve months.
This year I did have the advantage of a really good support team going with me to Cavan. The moments of sheer magic with my horse was interspersed with joviality and laughter making it much easier to let of all preconceptions and just enjoy the moment and be very proud. I was proud of a horse, now grown up, now stronger, more mature and so much more willing to give me everything he could in our combined effort to do well.

I like to think the work he does at home in training, I reflect in the gym, stretching, exerting, sweating, building muscle, speed and stamina. Both of us developing a better mental capacity for the work involved. For him, his gym has changed, a new stables, with facilities that allow him to flourish and concentrate on being his best. New trainers have been not only helping me learn but helping me refocus the effort and show him how to make work happen in a more harmonious way, building a more willing partnership. My gym has changed too, with the new job I had to narrow my mind down to work leaving gym time somewhere on the horizon. Luckily before long I found somewhere that came as close to the superb gym I had been training at in Kilkenny. The trainers that I worked with could never be matched for support not only on the gym floor when I thought something was too heavy too lift or I felt I had no energy left but in simple more useful ways, calling me at seven in the morning when I hadn’t shown up outside the gym door when it had opened. The new gym, Naas Health and Fitness boasts outstanding facilities and really clued in staff that are always on hand for help. Several weeks down the road I truly find myself hitting a spot where it’s becoming like a third home, home being number one, the horses number two.

National Dressage Championships 2011

National Dressage Championships 2011

All this training, did it pay off? I didn’t win if that’s what you are wondering. The work the horse offered couldn’t have made me more happy. More and more he’s offering rather than me having to ask of him. On my part I can happily say the only thing lacking was as usual, the old noggin power. With the weight training, mindfully engaging different muscle groups in lifting exercises allows me to use the same feelful muscle connection under times of stress when I’m riding. With Rex at 18 3, a strong lower back is essential unless you either want to come to a grinding half or shoot out of the competition arena at high speed. I managed to not judge the warm up time with the days temperature rise in mind meaning the final test had us ready twenty minutes ahead of time pushing him past his peak and making it impossible to for him to do anything but bowl about the arena on his head, good quality walk and trot work but canter work that resembled a runaway train. Poor bugger was exhausted by then but all that said, he worked his heart out and gave it everything so I couldn’t ask for more.

National Dressage Championships 2011

National Dressage Championships 2011

National Dressage Championships 2011

National Dressage Championships 2011

National Dressage Championships 2011

National Dressage Championships 2011

National Dressage Championships 2011

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Pictures from Marlton Autumn Dressage Festival 2011

Marlton Autumn Dressage Festival 2011 with a little help from sponsors GT FIT, thanks to Ger at GT FIT for helping keep me on top of my gym training and nutrition.

From drenching downpours!

To Sublimely Sunny

"Back" In Action

I do like to telling every passerby that I’m practically Atlas with the weight of this pear shaped world on my broadening shoulders, in reality I might be exaggerating but I think everyone will agree I’m doing my fair share, with hitting the iron in the gym every morning, training the horses and running around trying to keep horsey and fitness clients happy, there might not be an entire planet on my shoulders but there’s a definite chip.

Luckily my horse has come to the rescue again or indeed Lesley Dempsey, his neuromuscular massage therapist has come to the rescue. Lesley has been working with my larger competition horse for well over a year now to great success. I always ask her to be frank, honest and open in her diagnosis and this time she surely took me at my word. She posed the question, was it possible that if my horse was so tight and knotty across the back that I possibly was too? Was it possible that my tight and knotty back was making him even tighter and knotter?

My Knotty Back

His Knotty Back

Also a spanking new saddle from the good people at Albion has helped us both hugely allowing him much more expression in his movement and me a much easier time finding my correct position and allowing me to engage my core muscles properly.

Full of Oomph at Marlton Dressage Festival

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Writers Witterings

Earlier this year I had the good fortune to be included on part of Kilkenny Arts Council Literary programme. I managed to get a much coveted spot on the creative prose writing course with Ken Bourke. Ken is a professional writer and is best known for his play “Wild Harvest” which was produced with Druid Theatre Company.

There was a superb group of fellow writing enthusiasts and the few weeks we had wasn’t nearly enough to absorb all the nuggets of fantastic information Ken had but it was long enough for me to recognize some patterns I have with my writing and how much of it in fact is fueled by caffeine. So I'm not sure whether I then need to lay off the coffee or increase the amount, it depends on your like or dislike of my many musings.
Ken Bourke

Maybe it just means you can field your complaints about my creative cursive to Ken!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Idiot Clarification

I was trying to find a picture to go with the exercise I was describing, I eventually came across it. Just to make sure you didn't think I was randomly throwing my being and some weights around in the gym. Secretly I was scoffing at how weedy the weight is that the guy is using in the picture considering how big his arms are in comparison to mine but then I realised that was probably half the reason I managed to get in a knot, trying to lift something the weight of my upper body! Seems in my effort to put aside your fears for my safety have only highlighted the problems, oh well, back to the drawing board.

A President and a Queen!

I took a moment this evening when I was out in the howling gale force winds trying to catch a young horse to look up at the cavalcade of helicopters flying over the fields, now I'm the most uninformed person on the planet but I'm assuming that it was President Obama on his way back to Dublin. He may have traveled by car but I'm choosing to believe it was him, I'm also choosing to believe in that moment both he and Michelle had a look out the window and thought, gosh, who's that hard working young man, he should have cup of coffee. Who am I to disrespect the president! So here I am coffee in hand writing this update.

"Ah come on, who gave him a hurl"

Between Obama and the Queen visiting I'm feeling terribly patriotic and wearing lots of green. Well, I had been until someone told me how sickly it made me look.

"At least the Queen got to see some pretty horses"

Speaking of sickly, my old back was aching somewhat terribly when I cottoned on the idea of having it checked over when my horse got his checked over. Surely there's no point in having one of us MOT'D and not the other. In hindsight, I should have been a bit more prepared for the outcome. Both the horse and I were a veritable bag of knots and tensions, I'm not sure who caused who to lock up through the back but I suppose I have to be the bigger person and take the blame! Actually, now I mention "bigger person" the reason for some of the back problems were revealed. Far too much lower back work done in the gym, ridiculous stuff involving balancing with big bloody weight plates, ridiculous because my main aim was not to increase strength or muscle mass but mostly not to fall over and look like an idiot. Luckily my back lady is also a personal trainer so no more bad technique, lifting in the gym for me.

"This kind of thing is far too familiar!"

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Signs of Summer Madness

There is so much life after tearing through in the last week, with the combination of sensational sunshine and gauzy rain at night, everything has blossomed! There's instantaneously vibrant colour everywhere, like someone flicked on the high definition switch. I'm back full time in horses again and I had forgotten just how wonderful it is to be outside all day, apart from developing a farmers tan!

I went shopping in TRI equrstrian last week, finally decided I needed to buy a new pair of breeches and settled on the waterproof ones, (I blame my mother's pragmatic voice in the back of my head) AFTER!! buying them I was warned that they might be a bit slippery because of the material,
well, all thanks to this particularly fluffy looking yet totally obnoxious sheep we got to test out that theory. As she gamboled towards the edge of the outdoor with her little cute lambs in tow my horse decided to shoot completely in the opposite direction at amazingly high velocity. Slippery doesn't describe that light floaty feeling I had as the saddle disappeared from underneath me. Luckily we stayed on but I spent the remainder of the session hurtling down the long side past the onlooking ewe!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


This is complete mindless wonder wandering so if you’re expecting something insightful or factual, log out now!

I’ve really been in a hazy daze these past few days... (see what I did there) Seriously I’ve have been meandering around in a sort of cloudy unclear bubble the last few weeks. It’s been a terribly long year and in some ways really terrible and in others an illustrious era, but of course we humans always endure, that’s exactly what we seem to do, endure. I have been wracking whats left of my brain examining this notion. Are we merely here to endure or is there any enchantment left for us?

My Moments of Enchantment

My Moments of Enchantment

Most Days, I’ve found my moments of enchantment with my horses, often more than glimpses of sheer and utter contentment, long pauses that trick me into a quietness that isn’t often enough afforded us. Just the soft serene noise of a horses hooves skimming the sod, breathe heavy in the cold air and a breeze that oh so gladly blows away the thoughts and troubles of everyday life. The feel of a horses muzzle snuffling through your hair as you stand lost in though by their side. The fantastic feeling of connection they allow us. Not to say that I haven’t a great connection with my fiance Shawn but those of you who know me know I can be a bit cantankerous and reactive so his job isn’t always the easiest one in the world, so I should thank him for that.

My Moments of Enchantment

Okay, back on point, this elusive enchantment, I’ve decided to buck the trend, again, much to the annoyance of most everyday sane people (May I mention here how little I like you sane people, I’ve been pretending!) I’m going to surround myself with only things that enchant me. Whether they are profitable, practical, pragmatic or normal isn’t going to affect my judgment one minuscule, microscopic bit. If It intrigues me, makes me muse, makes me smile, that is my one and only priority.

My Moments of Enchantment

Now, here’s the important bit, please take note. If you meet me out and about and I look like I’m having a swell time in my own world, please do me the courtesy of leaving me there and not mentioning, recessions, elections or lack of money. Perhaps, I might even be able to offer you some of my supply of enchantment for your own use or you might just be one of those “sane” people I actually dislike intensely and don’t want to have to tell you why so lets just smile and enjoy the sunshine for now, not living in doubt but just living in a little place of enchantment.

My Moments of Enchantment